Saturday, January 31, 2015

Saturday Scripture, Sayings, and Suggestions: January 31, 2015

Happy Saturday!  This will be a quick post as I have a very busy morning and need to be at my mother's house for a luncheon by noon. Hoping all of you had a wonderful week.  I was blessed to meet some new homeschool moms at a relaxing get-together earlier this week.  Had flowers delivered to my house…confirming forgiveness and friendship.  Took my kids skating yesterday morning - several falls, but no broken bones, praise the Lord.  All in all, a great week.  How about you?  How are you keeping your spirit full and yourself occupied during these cold winter months?


And ye shall be holy unto me:  for I the Lord am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine.  -Leviticus 20:26

Blessed be the Lord:  for he hath showed me his marvelous kindness.  -Psalm 31:21

For I said in my haste, I am cut off from before thine eyes:  nevertheless thou headrest the voice of my supplication when I cried unto thee.  -Psalm 31:22

Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.  -Psalm 31:24



So, I played hooky from my own blog yesterday and went of over to hang out at the newly formed Network of Silver.  You will still find me there today, so please come on over and join me for coffee (or tea)!

Have you ever felt that you and your prayers were completely insignificant in the eyes of our great God?  Many of us have felt that way from time to time.  Good grief, even David, the man after God's own heart, felt that way (see above for Psalm 31:22).  A friend of mine, who is going through one of life's most difficult journeys, talks about how she once felt this way and how she now knows that God thinks her prayers are worth listening to.  While you are there, please take time to read all of her posts….and pray for their family.  

This week, would you do me a favor?  Better yet, would you please God?  Find someone who is down or hurting - you may have to truly look and listen to those around you - and encourage them.  A smile.  A gift.  A note.  "…and some have compassion, making a difference." (Jude 1:22) Make a difference in someone's life this week. 

Have a wonderful weekend, my dear friends!  Lord willing, I'll "see" you again Monday.  

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Just Another Day on the Funny Farm

Originally posted October 24, 2007

This photo has nothing to do with the post.  Just a good Throwback Thursday shot: Our 4 oldest meeting their few-hours old baby brother a few months before this post was written.  

I got up at 6:33 a.m. Never mind the fact that I went shopping at 9:00 last night, got home at 10:00, went to bed at 11:00 and woke up at 2:12 a.m. with a baby boy who wanted to party. Seriously, this kid can sleep through the night - he just has decided he doesn't want to. So, at 3:30, I finally took him downstairs to sleep (or cry) in the playpen. Peace at last.

For three hours.

I quick got dressed and put in my contacts. Hair and make-up would have to wait. My daughter needed me to help her with her new chore - taking care of an 8-year old female goat.

We got her yesterday. It's like having a dog - with horns. Really, she's very sweet. Only thing is, she's...well...having her feminine time of the month.

Yeah, goats have that, too. Who knew? I didn't. Neither did my 8 year old daughter until 7:00 this
morning.  That was fun trying to explain.

Later on in the morning, I went back out to the stables to help coerce this new pet to come outside. If you were to have driven into the farm around 10:00 a.m., you would have seen me leading/dragging/bribing this goat with the help of a leash and a graham cracker. You do what you gotta do.

Mom stopped by around 11:30. She acted like she was happy about the goat, but, she can't fool me. However, we had a nice visit over some much needed caffeine-in-a-cup.

Once she left and the children had finished lunch, I went up to clean my son's room. This wasn't on the agenda for today, just as none of the aforementioned things were. This was a desperation-cleaning as my son's toys seem to have a habit of calling his name during school hours.

He has a habit of answering their call.

So, I had to do the "tough-love" thing and clear them out. Seriously. The kid now only has a bed, dresser, clothes rack, and a table in his room. No more distractions, right?

Around 4:00, his light switch "just falls off the wall." Has anyone else ever had that phenomenon occur in their home? He already had 2 out of 3 bulbs blown and then, I quote: "I was sitting doing my work and the light went out and the switch fell on the floor." If it was going to happen, it only made sense that it would happen today.

5:00 p.m. - I finally clean up the lunch dishes.

By this time, I've already decided that church just wasn't going to be a part of our evening. I hadn't had a chance to lay the younger kids down for their naps, the goat had to be found and put back in the stable, daddy still wasn't home, and the crock-pot dinner that's supposed to cook for 4 hours wasn't even started.

Eric came home. I fed the kids leftovers while he went out to buy light-bulbs and some stir-fry. He fixed the lights and switch when he came home and we ate a romantic candle-lit dinner at 8:00. Well, as romantic as you can get when your youngest is screaming his head off and your oldest is still hashing out his math problems - out loud.

I'm sure I wasn't the most lovely dinner guest - I never did get around to doing my hair and make-up.

Welcome to my life. Come by and visit sometime. We'll let you feed the goat a graham cracker and watch light switches fall off our walls.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Levitical Priesthood vs. The Royal Priesthood: Part One

Lately, my Bible reading has found me in Exodus and Leviticus. That's right - smack-dab in the midst of all the laws, sacrifices and requirements for the priests. While no one would argue that this is a fairly dry area of the Scriptures, I usually force myself to stay focused so I do not miss one of the many nuggets in these passages. 

God had the temple built. God made the laws. God gave the requirements for the priests...those who would represent Him and present to Him. God's personality and desires are all over these 'dos' and "don'ts"

It is on the priests I would like to focus. I have noticed this time more than any other time I have read through the Law the correlation between the Levitical priesthood and the royal priesthood of Christ.

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath call you out of darkness into his marvelous light.   -I Peter 2:9

Aaron was called to be the priest of God for the nation of Israel - God's chosen people.  He was made peculiar in the laws he had to follow and in his attire.  Just as Aaron was, we have been called out to shew the praises, glory, goodness, and holiness of God.  We are now the holy nation and, in our lives and our attire, we ought to be a peculiar (odd) people to the world.  We are to be a light in the darkness - just as God's holy fire lit up the night over the Tabernacle in the wilderness.

In Exodus, we learn about the required garments of Aaron and his sons when they worked in the tabernacle.  There is the breastplate, the girdle for the loins and a piece for the head.  We in the royal priesthood are encouraged in Ephesians to put on special apparel, as well. It is known as the armor of God. Among other things, it, too, has a breastplate, a girdle for the loins and a headpiece.

Aaron's breastplate is referred to as the "breastplate of judgment" (Exodus 28:29).  As a part of the armor of God, it is called the "breastplate of righteousness" (Ephesians 6:14).  Righteousness and judgment go hand in hand.  Our God is a righteous judge.  Through wise judgment, right is made.  

Aaron and his sons had their loins girt with a girdle of needlework "for glory and for beauty" (Exodus 28:40).  Those of us who are of the royal priesthood are to have our "loins girt about with truth" (Ephesians 6:14).  Truth is beautiful.  Truth brings glory to God.  God is full of grace and truth and He is beautiful. 

Finally, the priests of the old testament wore a headpiece which is called a bonnet in Exodus 28:40 and a crown in Exodus 29:6. On the crown was a "mitre", defined as:   a sacramental ornament worn on the head by certain religious leaders on solemn occasions.  On the mitre was engraved, "HOLINESS TO THE LORD" (Exodus 28:36).  The armor of God is topped with the "helmet of salvation" (Ephesians 6:7).  Aaron was found worthy to enter into the dwelling place of God - he was holy.  Those of us in whom the Holy Spirit dwells are holy (perfect, entire, made whole) to God in that we have been made "worthy" of heaven by the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ.    Aaron's mitre  could also be seen as a proclamation to God's holiness.  As Christians, we also are to proclaim the holiness of God to the world. 

We are, indeed, priests of the One True God.  Are you peculiar?  Have you put on your armor?  Are you serving Him today and proclaiming His holiness?

Next time, we will discuss how this relates to a controversial subject amongst Christians today.  For now, go and serve!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Saturday Scripture, Sayings, and Suggestions - January 24, 2015

It's Saturday!!!!  Here's a first:  I am excited about getting to deep-clean my kids' bathroom today.  I don't think I'm ill…no fever, no aches or pains.  Just getting my house in order and cleaned these days and today is bathroom day.  I know I will be pretty happy when it's over and my kids have a sparkling bathroom.  Oh, I'll be cleaning my bathroom, as well, but, let's face it…2 adults don't make nearly the mess as 7 children!  After that adventure, I am off to do a bit of shopping with the kids and then a little date with my sweet husband this evening.  We feel like we keep missing each other these past couple of weeks and really need to spend some time re-connecting.  I know we just went out 2 weeks ago…but sometimes, you just need to spend a little extra time, ya know?  But, before I get to my busy day and you get to yours, grab a cup of coffee with me and be refreshed...

And Moses did look upon all the work, and, behold, they had done it as the Lord had commanded, even so had they done it:  and Moses blessed them."
Exodus 39:43  
What had God commanded me to do?  Have I done it?  If I have, have I fulfilled His command exactly how He commanded me to do it?

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind…Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
Matthew 22:37&39

And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be  abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.
Matthew 23:12


 As you probably noticed through the above quotes, I am reading a book by Sally Clarkson.  Her latest, in fact:  Own Your Life.  This is not a title that would normally draw me, but the author does.  I have read a couple of her books and have followed her blog intermittently throughout the last two years.  Though only three chapters into Own Your Life, I have already been blessed by her words and testimony.  I will admit, the Lord has already been dealing with me in many of the areas in which she speaks so much of it, at this point, is confirmation for me.  Check it out.  This time, I got the edition I can hold on to rather than the Kindle.

My kids had some fun directing and "starring" in this short video this week.  Just makes me smile.

Speaking of kids, isn't it awesome when the lessons you teach finally seem to stick?  Those of you with little ones, keep on training.  Keep on teaching.  Keep on loving.  Keep on.  There will come a day when the fruit of your labors will begin to ripen.  I have had the joy of seeing some of that fruit as of late, such as in this blog post by my daughter, Cassia.

I mentioned this challenge earlier this week, but I am going to mention it again.  Because, why not?  Don't we all desire to have a clean house?  Sarah Mae's 31 Days to Clean challenges us to take our cleaning day by day without becoming overwhelming.  I will admit, due to the size of the house and family I have, some of these assignments have taken me a couple of hours…but they are hours well spent and I feel very happy with the results.  This is the reason for my excitement of really cleaning my bathroom today!

I read this post, "24 Lessons I Want to Teach My Daughter (Before She Leaves Home)" last week.  As I have a 15 year old daughter, this resonated with me.  I would have to say to most of the things on this list: ME, TOO!!!

I invite you to check out the new blog, Network of Silver.  This is a blog written by various women in different stages of life with the purpose of encouraging women.  I have already been encouraged and challenged.  It has definitely made it to my daily reading list.  I am honored to be a part of this community and will have a post up in the very near future.  Come, read.  And if you desire to write, there is an opportunity for you, as well.

Well, I have enjoyed my time with you here this morning, but I really must get to my cleaning.  Enjoy your day and may the Lord bless you all abundantly this coming week!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Welcome to…My Life!

Originally posted April 7, 2008

Everyone wants to move out to the country. Away from the noise. Away from the lights. Away from the crime and danger. Normally, this is true. Except for yesterday morning - which happened to be my birthday.

Um, no, it wasn't a birthday celebration out of hand. I just threw that in for some extra comments.

Anyway, back to the country.

I woke up yesterday around 4:00 A.M. (yes, there is such an hour) to the sound of a police siren. Interesting. We live on one of those country roads where everyone goes 55 m.p.h or faster and the stop signs are, apparently, optional. The results of this deadly combination are often...well...deadly. Therefore, upon hearing the sirens and noticing my husband had already left the room, I decided to go downstairs to see what was going on.

When I got downstairs, I noticed cars traveling ever so slowly up and down our road shining very bright search lights in the field. Normally, this isn't done for your average lost house cat, so, being the super-sleuth that I am, I knew something more was amiss.

Eric, of course, was outside running in his bare feet down the road trying to catch up with the police officer to see what information he could get out of the guy. These guys, however, have nerves of steel and won't give any information - no matter what grueling interrogation methods your local farmer may use. All Eric could get out of them was that they were looking for "someone."

Very informative.

Little information creates big worries on my part. Eric comes in with this tidbit and I instantly reach back into the Reader's Digest/late night movie department of my memory and begin to envision a murderer running around our fields and possibly targeting our house as a good hostage/ransom/murder scene.

Eric, on the other hand, thinks the whole thing is exciting. He decides to go outside and watch the action first-hand. I beg him not to go out there. For all I knew, this guy is hiding out in our barns with a gun ready to shoot the first person he sees. That's all I needed on my birthday - my husband wrapped up in a body bag. Then I got to thinking of being in the house unprotected if the mad-man decides to go through with the formerly mentioned hostage/ransom/murder plan.

After taking some time out for great consideration and thought on my logical arguments against him going out to the war ravaged country side - Eric left. (Ok, so he listened to my hysterical begging as he got his coat on.) I was now on my own to protect our house.

Soon, we have police cars driving around the farm shining lights into tractors, barns, swingsets, etc. Eric actually got to join the search as the policeman hopped on the back of Eric's ATV and took him around the property and into the woods. Do you know they don't care if you drive without a helmet at night as long as you're helping to search for a crazed murderer? I mean, really, what's a helmet when you could be staring down the barrel of a gun?

At this point, I was seriously considering waking a great woman of prayer from our church with a phone call. Do I or don't I? Lord, are You telling me to call her? If this criminal comes in my house to implement the hostage/ransom/murder tactic, I won't be able to call 911. Yet, if he comes in while I'm on the phone with Alice, she can call 911 for me.

I finally decided to stop wasting time and just pray to God on my own. Seriously, I was praying all along. But, now, I was able to pray with some reasoning. The Lord truly did give me peace.

And my husband came back without bullet holes.

Turns out, the police had pulled over a car for questionable driving and the driver was an illegal immigrant. Somewhere after handcuffing him, he ran off. Must be pretty disheartening to lose your prisoner. Really messes up your morning.

Shortly after Eric came in from his police work, the helicopter started flying overhead. They were still searching for Mr. I. Alien when we went to church. Far as I know - they never did find him.

Cops, escaped prisoners, lights, helicopters, and a husband risking his life for the welfare of the neighborhood. Welcome life in the countryside!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

31 Days to Clean (via

photo courtesy

This is just a quick mid-week post in case some of you would like to join me in participating in Sarah Mae's 31 Days to Clean.  

If you are like me (and, apparently, Sarah Mae), you would rather do anything but clean.  As I experience a great measure of peace in a clean home, I do clean on a regular basis, but that does not mean I like it.  My problem, I find, is that once I start, I have a tough time stopping.  It's the A.D.D. in me.  I start sweeping the floor, then figure I should mop.  Once I'm done with that, the windows look dirty, so I start in on those.  While I'm washing them, I notice the dirty trim around the windows and wipe those down.  Of course, I then notice the dirty walls…you get the idea.  All the while, I am supposed to be helping my children with school, making supper, or some other such necessary motherly duty.  Truthfully, I often rope my kids into the whole escapade, which they just rejoice over - as you can imagine.

Anyway, I saw that Sarah Mae was going to do this 31 Days to Clean thing and it intrigued me.  I ordered the book (Kindle edition) for .99 on Monday, but you don't need to do that.  You can just follow her daily blog posts.  I love the fact that she breaks it down to a job or two a day.  Definitely do-able.

Today, was not a job I love.  In fact, it is my least favorite of cleaning-jobs.  It took me a while because I am an over-achiever and if I am going to do a job, it needs to be done right.  But, now that it's done, I am so glad that it's out of the way…and clean.  And, yes, I had to resist the urge to continue cleaning everything in the immediate vicinity.  My challenge this month is to stay on task and stick to the assignment so I don't become overwhelmed.  

To find out what my least favorite, most detested cleaning job is (that I did, indeed, complete today), head on over to Sarah Mae's blog.  Maybe it's your least favorite, too.  Do what I did…turn up the music and get 'er done!

NOTE:  To start at the beginning of 31 Days to Clean (we're only 2 days in) click on the second link in post. For today's assignment, click on the first and last.  

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Life with Teens

I currently have three teenagers residing under my roof.  In 2 months and 2 days, I will have four.  Yes, four teenagers in my house.  There will be a 10-month span where I will have 5 teens, but that is not for another 20 months, so I just won't think about it right now.

In all actuality, this is the time my husband and I were most looking forward to in our parenting journey.  A bunch of teenagers would be fun, we thought.  I believe my husband's exact words were, "this will be a hopping house!"

Hopping is right.  Let me give you a peek into our life:

-There is a girl usually baking something in my kitchen several times a week
-There is a boy tackling younger brothers or picking them up and turning them upside down several times a day
-Questions whether school work will be done in time for graduation
-Discussions of college courses
-My son talking about buying a vehicle
-Driving lessons - I just have to say, I always thought I would be exempt from this terrifying job.  How wrong I was.  I am declaring right now, though, I refuse to teach parallel parking.  
-Late night discussions about the seriousness and hilarity of life
-Animals I never dreamed would be in my house.  Particularly, pet mice.  Mom, Dad, and babies.  I admit it, I have actually gone to the store and bought mouse food.  Not one person warned me of this.
-Seeing my youngest son sitting happily in my oldest son's lap while the family plays a game
-Seeing my youngest son perched on my oldest son's shoulders
-Planning a graduation
-Having my phone auto-correct the word "no" into "pecan pie" because one of my teens is smarter than I am
-Having a clean kitchen after supper and I didn't have to do anything
-Keeping track of which kid is involved in which ministry, where, when and what day
-Hearing piano duets
-Hearing piano/violin duets
-Seeing my son go off with friends to shop, get pizza, hang out.  I am blessed that he has amazing friends so I never have to worry.
-Girls arguing over a favorite skirt
-Learning to figure out when to mother and when to step back.  This is hard, people.
-Seeing my kids laugh with friends
-Seeing my kids say goodbye to friends not knowing when they will see them again
-Tears...lots of them
-Laughter...lots of it
-Harsh words
-Watching my three oldest learn to deal with each other with more grace
-Praying harder than I have before.  That God would keep them and use them.  That He would guide me...and them.

We have three teenagers.  This is, indeed, a hopping house.  While I often want to pull out my hair or feel completely inadequate, I sit here now and realize that I truly do love having teenagers.  This part of the parenting journey is a pretty cool adventure.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Saturday Scripture, Sayings, and Suggestions (January 17, 2015)

Ah, Saturday!  I will enjoy a leisurely morning in the Word with a cup of coffee.  Then, it's off to do some fun shopping with the kids.  We had a great week with Grandma joining us for dinner on Tuesday, out with friends after church Wednesday night, then a good-sized group of friends gathered around our long table on Thursday for dinner.  Friday night, it was just the nine of us.  We had such a great time fellowshipping amongst ourselves with make-your-own pizzas and then we all played a new Trivia game while munching on popcorn.  Nah, we're not exactly the Waltons, but we do enjoy spending time together!  Hoping you will be spending time with your loved ones this weekend.  But, first - some scripture and thoughts to ponder…..


But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they failed, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.
Matthew 9:36



Did God choose one particular person for you or did He give you a free choice in marriage?  Matt Walsh discusses it this week on his blog.

Yesterday, I told you a bit about the book Unbroken - the biography of Louis Zamperini.  The next few links will lead you to more of his story.  

 In 1976, Zamp was interviewed about his salvation experience at a Billy Graham Crusade.  I cannot get the audio to work on my computer, but the text is written.  A beautiful testimony of God's amazing grace.

In 1998, Zamperini carried the Olympic Torch in Japan.  His story is told in this moving short-docmuntary made at that time.  Interviewed are Louie, his brother Pete, Louie's co-pilot Phil, co-prisoners of war and The Bird.  I will be sitting down with my kids today to watch this 30-minute video.  

Billy Graham introduced Zamperini in his 1958 crusade - 9 years after Zamp accepted Christ - proving that people who have gotten saved do, indeed, remain faithful.  Louie is introduced around the 5-minute mark.  Although, if you are like me and love to hear the "old" Billy Graham speak, you will enjoy the entire 6 1/2 minutes.

I love the Piano Guys!!  I love a lot of their music.  Though "Peponi" is one of my least favorites (basically do not like it at all), I LOVE the behind the scenes video.  The making of Peponi is amazing - a true "cliff-hanger"!  :)

OK - you've spent too long here already.  GO!  Make some memories with your family today!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Louie Zamperini & the Apostle Paul

Louie Zamperini (photo found here)

Unbroken.  It is the true account of miraculous endurance and survival.  For those who are unfamiliar with the book written by Laura Hillenbrand,  I will give an incredibly brief summary:  It is the story of Louis Zamperini.  He was a kid headed toward a life of crime until his brother saw his potential as a runner.  Then, he trained and ran and became one of the fastest runners in the United States.  He was an Olympic competitor during the Belgian Olympics in 1936.  He did not win a medal, but he did make headlines in setting records.  His plans for the 1940 Olympics were thwarted by the US entrance into World War II.  Louie joined the Army Air Corps, instead.  In a search and rescue mission, his plane goes down into the Pacific Ocean.  He and two other crew-members are the only survivors and spend the next 47 days on a raft in the middle of the ocean, during which time Zamperini promised God he would serve Him for the rest of his life if God would just get him through.  Louie sees land on the 47th day, only to find that it is an island under Japanese control and, consequently, spends the next couple of years in Japanese war camps.  His prison guard sees the strength of this athlete and challenges it to an inhumane extent.  The beatings should have left him dead more than once.  The living conditions resulted in the death of many prisoners, but not Zamperini.  He lives through unbelievable odds.   While nature, war, and men tried to break him, he remained unbroken.  He lived a long life.  He accepted Christ and served Him.  He forgave.  He carried the Olympic torch in Japan during the 1998 Olympic Games.  Louis Zamperini entered into Heaven just 6 months ago.

The point of this post is not to give you a book review, though I highly recommend the book…for adults.  However, as I recently listened to a sermon about the Apostle Paul, I could not help but realize that his was a similar story.  Read what this former-prominent-religious-teacher-turned-follower-and-preacher-of-Christ went through:

Are they ministers of Christ?  (I speak as a fool) I am more;  in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.  Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;  In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;  In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.  

This man endured much throughout his ministry.  He was imprisoned continuously;  whipped until one could not count the stripes on his torso - at least 5 of those whippings were by his own countrymen.  As if whips were not severe enough, he was beaten with rods three times.  

He was stoned once.  If you read that specific account, they stoned him until they thought he was dead (could he have been and then raised again?).  Think of the damage done to his body and head from that experience. 

Three times he suffered shipwreck.  I'm sorry - one bad experience on a boat and I would be finished.  But not Paul.  Nothing would stop him from doing the work to which he was called by God.  He may not have spent 47 days in the ocean, but he did spend at least 24 hours in the cold, shark-infested waters.  

Then, there was the traveling.  Traveling was not the luxury it is today (as proved by those wrecked ships littering his past).  On land, he either walked miles and miles resulting in blisters on his feet or rode rough donkeys or carts resulting in a sore derrière, I am sure.  Either way, robbers were plentiful along the way.  Paul had friends, but he had countless enemies, as well - and it seems all people groups loved to hate Paul the Apostle.  Louie Zamperini may have had a handful of people who wanted to kill him, but Paul had hundreds.  There were few safe-places for him.  

Paul was a man, not a superhero.  He, understandably, suffered exhaustion and pain as well as hunger and thirst.  He spent many a cold night in damp prison cells in nothing but rags that were torn from his beatings.  

While Louie made it through his captivity, Paul was eventually beheaded at the hand of Nero.  Yet, I would dare say the apostle was a man who was truly unbroken.  No ship, no storm, no beatings or stoning, no rejection of men, no pain, no hunger, no advice from his caring friends…nothing would break Paul.  Nothing would break him from his focus, his goal, his calling.  

Nothing would break him away from serving his God.  

Louie Zamperini's mantra was, "If I can take it, I can make it."  While Zamperini promised his life to Christ, he did not give it to Christ until years after the war (and I am so grateful he did).  His endurance during his tribulations throughout World War II was self-preservation.  Truthfully, God preserved him for future use.  God knew He would use Louie in a wonderful way.  

Paul, however,  was going through tribulation because of his service to God.   Paul's mantra was, "For me to live is Christ."  He self-sacrificed for Christ.  To get to land would mean another soul would hear of the salvation of God.  To make it to the next city through the obstacles of robbers, hunger, and sore feet meant making it to the next church that was so in need of encouragement.  To endure and live through that 3rd, 4th, 5th whipping meant he could tell the prison guard about Christ.  If he lived, Christ would be served.  If he lived, Christ's name would be proclaimed.  If he lived, people would accept Christ.  Because Paul lived, Christ's name was spread to the regions beyond.  

The story of Louie Zamperini is an incredible one.  One that inspires us to endure, go further, and forgive.  Yet, the story of Paul outshines Zamperini's - and I'll bet Zamp would have agreed. Paul endured arguably greater not for self-preservation;  rather, he self-sacrificed for Christ-proclomation.  

May we all live unbroken for Christ.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Throwback Thursday: This Day in History (originally published January 13, 2009)

Note: We just passed the 9 year mark of Michael's diagnosis.  He stands tall at almost 6 feet and is looking forward to graduating high school this May.  Thank you for all who have prayed for him in the past.

January 13, 2006 - Michael is diagnosed with scoliosis.

Mike had been complaining of back pain for a few months. At his 8 year check-up in October 2005, I mentioned it to his pediatrician. We did the scoliosis check then - just as routine. Nothing out of the ordinary. Figured he was having growing pains or just repeating the complaints of his aged parents!

However, on January 11 Michael seemed to be in real pain while trying to sit through the Wednesday night church service. Again, I didn't really know what to do with these complaints. We're not the type to run to the doctor for every little ache and pain and, besides, he just checked out fine 3 months before.

On Thursday or Friday, Michael was hurting. I gave him a hug and one side of his back felt a bit swollen. "Pulled muscle," I thought. To make sure everything was ok, I called the doctor to make an appointment. Neither Eric or I thought it was anything - just wanted to assure Michael that everything was ok.

So, late Friday morning, January 13, I took Michael to the doctor and filled him in on what was going on. He had Michael bend over so he could look at his back. What I saw made me sick to my stomach immediately. He had a huge hump on the left side of his back. I couldn't believe it. The doctor said he was pretty sure it was scoliosis, but he needed to have x-rays done right away. We were to return with the pictures as soon as they were developed.

I couldn't move. I literally had to put my head between my knees as the room was spinning so fast. How could I have missed this? I messed up HUGE this time around!

I called Eric and told him I couldn't do this by myself. I needed him to come to the hospital with us. As I went back to pick him up, I stopped in the house to make sure our babysitter could stay a while longer. My life had just turned upside down.

Michael? Oh, he was taking the whole thing in stride. No big deal. I'm trying not to pass out and he's thinking it's kind of cool to have x-rays taken.

I waited in the waiting room while Eric went with Mike for his first of MANY pictures throughout the coming years. My mind went crazy. What if there were tumors? What if it was more than "just" scoliosis? What if he had cancer? I began to pray that it WAS "just" scoliosis.

The x-rays were developed and the three of us went back to the pediatrician's office. He took them out of the big envelope and held them up to the light. I wish I could post those pictures here. Mike's back looked like an "S". I'm not kidding. And, it got worse in the next 2 1/2 years!

Michael took one look at the pictures and said, "Um, isn't my back supposed to be straight? Wow!" He was actually more IMPRESSED than he was nervous!

Can I just stop here and say that God has blessed us with the most wonderful pediatrician EVER? This man referred us to the BEST pediatric orthopedic surgeon in the area (possibly in the state). That's not just our opinion - that's the opinion of other doctors and people in the medical profession. Our pediatrician made the appointment for us knowing that if we were to call, Michael wouldn't be seen for a few weeks. He needed to be seen almost immediately. Our doctor ALWAYS has referred our children to the best specialists, has ALWAYS acted quickly when needed, but has never over-reacted. If you live near us and are looking for a great doctor, I highly recommend ours.

Anyway...Eric, Mike, and I went out to McD's for lunch. I was trying SO hard not to cry in front of Michael. I didn't want to scare him. I didn't know how much longer I could keep the tears, so I told Mike I had to return his grandma's call and then I'd follow he and his dad inside. After I called her, I allowed myself to shed some tears.

We knew this whole thing was a result of his NF (so the tumor scare was a real possibility...I wasn't really too far off with that concern). We had never discussed his NF too much. Now we were going to have to give him a little more information. Everything seemed so overwhelming. "Lord, please give us the strength to go through this and the wisdom to help Michael!"

When I went into the restaurant, I thought I had it all together. But, I just had to look at my son and I had to fight the tears all over again. Eric was explaining to Michael why he had scoliosis. Explaining how God chose for him to have NF. That it was something that God was going to use in his life. Michael took all that information with faith greater than I had. He already knew he belonged to God and he seemed pleased that God had a special plan for him.

All the while Eric was talking to Michael, I couldn't speak afraid that the tears would flow. So many thoughts were running through my head: Why did I wait so long to take him to the doctor's? If I had taken him earlier, maybe we could have gotten control of this thing. That hump was unbelievable! That curve - my baby was damaged! He'd never be the same! What have I done? I failed!!!

Right then, Michael turned to me and said, "It's a good thing we found it now when we did. Just think how much worse it could have been!"

That's when I had to turn my head and just cry. Eric knew I was blaming myself. Michael was looking on the bright side - just like he did through most of his ordeal. Oh, there were some down times (the time he got his brace and couldn't even eat his dinner; when he would have a growth spurt making the curve worse and causing tremendous pain; the recovery from his surgery which you can read about herehereherehere,and here), but through most of it, Michael always remembered that God had a plan for him and he kept his eyes on his Father, trusting in Him.

I know this is long, but I want to quickly tell you what the surgeon said on that first visit. First off, he subtly suggested that Michael leave the room with me while he gave the information to Eric. I knew it was bad when Eric barely spoke on the way home and I could barely choke down my dinner waiting to hear what he had been told. Michael just went about his life, not concerned. Later that evening, through the first tears I had seen my husband cry in years, Eric told me that the doctor told him that Michael would probably need surgery in 2-3 years. That his back would never grow any more after that surgery.  That there was a possibility of Michael dying or becoming permanently paralyzed during that surgery. In four days time, we had a diagnosis, a prognosis, and some scary possibilities put on our shoulders. But, as Eric had tears streaming down his face, he helped me to see our opportunity to offer Michael on the altar, just as Abraham offered his son Isaac. God would choose to do His will.

We put our son on that altar. God was gracious. We may have to put Michael, or another child, on that altar once again. May God continue to give us the strength and grace that He did beginning on that day - Friday, January 13, 2006.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Move with Compassion

Matthew 9:36 - But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them…"

As I read this verse the other day, I realized that Jesus did what He did on this earth because of compassion.  Jesus Christ travelled on foot from one city to the next village to the next house to the local synagogue.  He preached.  He taught.  He fed multitudes food.  He fed multitudes grace and mercy.  Jesus made the blind man see, the lame man walk, the dead damsel live, the lepers clean.  The old woman with an issue of blood just touched his garments and He healed her.  The centurion believed and his son was healed - without Jesus ever laying physical eyes on the lad.  Jesus healed hundreds, perhaps thousands, of hurting people.  He raised many to life.

Then, He allowed Himself to be arrested.  He allowed His holy body to be beaten and bruised.  He patiently allowed His healing hands and traveling feet to be nailed with large spikes onto the rugged cross.  He forgave and then He died.  But then, He rose again to go to heaven to prepare a place for us, promising to come back and receive us to Himself.

Jesus Christ did all of these things because compassion moved Him into action.  Jesus was not just filled with compassion.  He did not just feel compassion.  Oh, he had to feel and be filled first, but then, the compassion that filled him fueled Him to move.  He was filled with such compassion that He could not just sit by and watch people hunger, watch them wander in the dark, watch them deteriorate on a bed, watch parents grieve the loss of their child.  The power was in Him to do something…to heal, to raise, to feed, to love.  His compassion moved Him to use that power.

I just finished the incredible book Kisses from Katie.  Katie Davis first had a feeling, then a filling of compassion.  The filling has fueled her to move with compassion on a daily basis.  She hugs and loves dirty children, she treats children who have worms, she helps nurse HIV and AIDS patients, she cleans up vomit, she lives far away from the luxurious lifestyle in which she was brought up.  Why?  Because compassion moves her.  

So many of us feel compassion.  A few of us may be filled with compassion.  But, are we filled so much that we move with compassion?  When I see a need, do I feel badly or do I move to do something?  What power or gift has God given me that compassion can move me to use for the benefit of another human being?  What material goods will I be moved to give away because of compassion?  What comforts am I willing to forego because compassion is fueling me into action?

A truly compassionate soul is moved.  To tears.  To prayer.  To more.  What does that more mean for me?  For you?  

There are multitudes in need.  In need of food.  In need of shelter.  In need of clothing.  In need of love.  In need of Jesus.  Lord, fill me and fuel me with compassion enough to move me.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Saturday Scripture, Sayings and Suggestions - January 10, 2015

Happy Saturday!!  We just completed our first week back to school after the holidays.  I am grateful for how smoothly our week went and I hope yours did, as well.  Today, my girls and I are headed to a friend's baby shower.  Friends, celebrating new life, and tons of cheesecake….what better way to spend a cold Saturday afternoon?!  Before we get on with the Saturday festivities, take a moment to be encouraged, touched, and challenged.


…Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses. -Matthew 8:17

The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.  -Psalm 9:9

And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee:  for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.  -Psalm 9:10



What does it mean, "till death do us part"?  This.  Right here.

I first "met" Kara Tippetts story when Ann Voskamp posted her letter to Brittany Maynard.  
I checked in on Kara's blog the other day.  All I ask is that you go over and read…and fulfill her desire:

Do you have a teenage girl who would like a little bit of encouragement from another teen?  Or maybe you just need some encouragement to keep trusting in God.  I happen to know a sweet girl, who happens to be my daughter, who shared a jewel of wisdom this past week.  

I might have mentioned that I had a date last night.  It was wonderful!!  My suggestion to you?  Plan a night out with your spouse.  If you can't do it tonight, get it on the calendar before you go to sleep tonight.  Whether it's dinner, coffee, a movie, bowling, skydiving….do something together and focus on each other for a few hours!

Now, go!  Have a fabulous weekend!!!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Date Night

I have a date tonight.

I have an appointment to get my hair trimmed and looking nice late this morning.  I am still agonizing over WHAT to wear.  I will spend approximately 90 minutes getting ready and will, undoubtedly, be unsatisfied with the results.  But, I have the confidence knowing that my date will love me and think me pretty, anyway.

I've been dating this guy for 24 years.  One special "date" over 20 years ago made him more than "this guy," but we still date.  I used to get all nervous and butterflies in my stomach before he'd pick me up.  I don't get butterflies anymore…but I do get a very happy feeling knowing that we are going to get a few hours together…just the two of us.

Tonight's date is a special one.  It's our annual date to our favorite restaurant.  It's got romantic atmosphere, great food and wonderful service.  It's also a bit pricey, which is why it's an annual date.  Tonight, we will also do something extremely rare for us….go to a movie.  Kinda excited about that.  After the movie, we will probably find a great place for coffee and dessert (hoping to go to my favorite dessert place, if any money is left after dinner and the movie).

Let me clarify the word "annual."   We go to this restaurant annually.  By no means do we go on just one date a year.  On the other hand, we do not have a weekly "date-night."  Our lives are a bit crazy with farming, kids, homeschool, ministries, etc.  However, we know when we need a date.  And, I do mean need.  In our busy-ness, we often need to just sit down, look at each other, and let each other know that we're still here, still supporting one another, still loving whole-heartedly.  Maybe it's a late-night run to a local fast-food place for a milkshake.  Maybe it's a couple of hours to sit and talk at one of our favorite coffee spots.  Maybe it's dinner and some shopping.  We may do several little dates in a few weeks time.  But, we usually end up having a "real" date, like tonight's,  about every 4-6 weeks.

Our kids, no matter how old, are still not crazy to see us leave.  Sometimes, I make them something special or order out for them.  Other times, they fix their own dinner.  A couple of our kids pout.  Oh, they do a good job of laying on the "guilt" but it never works.  We go.

We talk.  We sometimes just stay quiet.  We hold hands.  We laugh.  We discuss the future of our children and our own future as a couple.  We reminisce.  We just enjoy each other.  We spend a few hours removed from the hustle and bustle and hurry and stress of daily life.  We refocus on us, on our marriage, on this gift from God - on this "for better, for worse…in sickness, in health…for richer, for poorer…for as long as we both shall live."  We come home feeling connected once again.  Refreshed.  Ready to face reality again having re-confirmed that we are together in this thing called life.

I am so excited.  I have a date tonight!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Throwback Thursday: (my first-ever post!) - Zane's First Smile

The following was originally posted July 25, 2007.  It was the first post here on Love & Rewards.

Today, our 3 1/2 week old son smiled for the first time. He is our seventh child, but that first smile never ceases to be the cause of great joy and amazement! It is so amusing to see how much work it takes for an infant to get those smile muscles working. How many times will this little guy smile throughout his life? The smiles will be beyond numbering, I'm sure. I pray each day of his life will provide him with multitudes of reasons to smile.

Do I smile enough at my family? Is it getting harder for me, or for you, to use those smile muscles? Proverbs 15:13 says that a merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance. Our children are a reflection of us. Are they smiling? If not, I need to check my heart and my face!

Monday, January 5, 2015

It Doesn't Make Sense

Reading Genesis 16-19 today, I noticed a general theme:  Distrust in God.

Genesis 16:  Sarah and Abraham distrusted God's convenant with them that Abraham would be the father of a nation whose people would be as numerable as the stars in the heavens.  Instead, Sarah gave Abraham her handmaid.  Tell me that's not messed up.

Genesis 18: Again, Sarah doubts God's promise to her husband.  When she hears God tell Abraham that she will bear a son, she laughs!

Genesis 19: The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah are going to be destroyed.  The angels tell Lot to go to his daughters and sons-in-law to warn them to leave.  However, the children just think Lot is joking around with them.  They don't believe.  The angels tell Lot, his wife and daughters not to look back at the city once they leave.  Sadly, we all know Lot's wife did not heed that warning.  The angels told Lot to relocate to the mountains, but Lot was afraid "some evil would overtake" him and he would die there.  He convinced the angels to allow him and his family to go to a small city nearby, instead.  Interestingly, once his wife turned into a pillar of salt, Lot high-tailed it to Location Site A (aka - the mountains) anyway.

In defense of Sarah, Abraham and Lot, none of God's plans made any sense.  God promised Abraham  that he would become a prosperous nation, yet Abraham was now in his 80s and Sarah in her 70s.  A few years had already passed since the promise had been made.  Maybe, just maybe, this child was not to be born of Sarah?  Maybe, just maybe, Sarah was to entrust her handmaid Hagar to her husband to "help" this covenant move into action?  Because, surely God didn't expect old Sarah to have a baby.  It just didn't make sense!

Then, a few years later, God makes a visit and is talking with Abraham outside the tent where Sarah can overhear.  Sarah couldn't help but laugh.  Seriously, her menstrual cycle had ended (probably years before - maybe around the time she gave Hagar to Abraham) and she was almost 90 years old.  You go find a 90 year old woman and tell her that she will have a baby.  See what she does.  She may be the most miserable woman you know, but I can almost guarantee she will have a good laugh at that!  It just doesn't make sense!

Lot's son-in-law is sitting in his living room relaxing after a delicious dinner and is reading the Sodom & Gomorrah Gossip Column when Lot charges in the house without even knocking and starts speaking quickly and loudly about how the city is going to be destroyed and they must leave NOW!!!!   "Lot….enough with the practical jokes.  I'm tired and not amused.  Slow down Lot.  Yeah, these two strangers you have staying with you tonight have really messed with your head.  Maybe you just need to go home and get some rest.  Go.  We'll check on you tomorrow.  Bye now."
Their city was going to be destroyed?  By God? It just didn't make sense!

Lot and his family were dragging their feet to leave their beloved home-town so much so that the angels had to grab them by their hands and pull them out.  When they finally were out of the city limits, they told Lot where to relocate:  to the mountains.  But, Lot complains that he will probably die in the mountains.  "Wouldn't it just be better to allow us to go to this tiny city nearby?  It's closer and it's only a little city.  What kind of trouble could we possibly get into there?  Did I mention how little this place is?"  The mountains where there is nothing but man-eating animals and cold air just didn't make sense!

Then, there's Lot's wife.  Maybe Lot's whining about whether to go to the mountain or that itsy-bitsy city caused her to forget the first instructions given by the angels as they left Sodom - don't look back.  But, maybe it was because of her mother's heart.  She was being dragged from the city in which she birthed and raised at least four daughters.  Two of her daughters had stayed behind with their husbands.  Did she have grandchildren that were about to be consumed, as well?  Not look back?  Not even one last time?  It just didn't make  sense!

We know that God's ways are not our ways.  Often, they don't make sense.  It makes sense that a child grow to become an adult and live a full life.  It makes sense that a man and woman marry and stay married until death parts them.  It makes sense that a person gets a college education, finds a job and stays until retirement.  It makes sense to live in the home in which you raised your children and have your children remain within driving distance.

But God….will often mess with our senses.  A child is diagnosed with an incurable cancer.  Children are devastated by their parents' divorce and need to choose between the two adults they are designed to love and trust most.  The college-educated man with a family and a mortgage and medical bills is suddenly laid off - for years.  A child is called to the mission field and grandparents see their grandchildren grow up via social media.

When God replaces what makes sense with the senseless, that is when we must trust.  If you know your Bible, you know that none of the above instances worked out well.  However, Psalm 5:11 tells us, "But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice:"  Proverbs 3:5 - "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart…" Psalm 118:8 - "It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man."  Isaiah 50:10 - "let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God."

We followers of Christ speak of trusting in God.  We pray that our trust will grow.  But, when the challenge comes, we cry, "WHY?!  It just doesn't make sense!!!"  That's why it's called trust.  Believing, carrying on, following, rejoicing, when it doesn't make sense.  Trust is hard.  Trust is scary.  In the midst of trusting, there may be great sorrow and great pain.  But, trust reaps joy.

Trust brings joy?!  I know.  It doesn't make sense.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Saturday Scripture, Sayings, and Suggestions - January 3, 2015

It's Saturday!!!  Today, our family will be taking down the Christmas decorations, organizing and cleaning up to return to "normal" life.  School begins again on Monday, meaning I need to sit down with the books and plan the daily lessons.  Something in me enjoys getting back to the routine.

Let's get a little encouragement before we begin our day, shall we?

Genesis 5:24 - "And Enoch walked with God:  and he was not; for God took him."

This is the verse from which my goal for 2015 was formed.  It is my desire to walk with God.

John 13:34-35 - "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another;  as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." 

"I'm not here to eliminate poverty, to eradicate disease, to put a stop to people abandoning babies.  I'm just here to love." 
-Katie Davis Kisses from Katie

Whether in a third-world country or in our homes here in the US, we are here to love (read John 13:34-35 above).  Love those around you today.  
(Note to self:  that means not yelling at my 9-year old daughter for breaking my favorite necklace.  It means apologizing and showing her I love her more than a piece of jewelry or any thing on this planet.)


I just began reading the book Kisses from Katie, the story of a young high-school graduate giving her life and love to the people of Uganda.  It's a book I have long wanted to read and I quickly got to it after hearing Katie tell her story on Family Life today.  Check it out and listen to it with your family!

Every January, our church encourages "Sanctification Month."  This month we take a rest from all ministries (choirs, orchestra, nursing homes, children's outreach, etc.).  We try to avoid meetings, big parties, etc., as well.  Individuals often choose to take a rest from internet use, social media, phones, TV, etc.  The idea is to take the month to focus on Christ and family and be rejuvenated for the rest of the year.  We are setting ourselves apart unto Christ so that we may better serve Him.  My suggestion?  Try this with us.  Take a break from something this month.  In its place, spend more time in the Word, in prayer, in worship to Christ.  Take time to read a missionary biography or another book to edify you in your walk with Jesus.  Finally, take time to just enjoy your family, whatever that may look like for you.  

Enjoy your weekend!!!!