Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Tools............and oh me

I watched a video from a lady over at TheMomathon Diaries on Facebook.  She so challenged me. I am a woman who also struggles with consistency in devotional and prayer life. Life, kids, work, let's admit it, we all struggle with it from time to time. I am way better than I used to be but have so far to go. After I listened to her video I decided to make a poster for my war room bulletin board.  This is the image I found and will color and put on my bulletin board.

Then it  hit me, it was just the one God wanted me to pick. It has a tool box.  That tool box represents so much to me. First, God is working on us, refining us (like the story I shared on Facebook about the silver being refined).........yeah God is talking to me............letting me know........He's still working on me. 

Anyway, back to the picture. The tool box also represents me. I have tools. Tools of prayer, of love, of the Word of God at my hand. I can choose to use them, or I can choose to let them sit in the tool box waiting to be used.  I have to use them. I have to make the choice to be active in the use of those tools. They aren't going to just get up and do it for me. Our faith, it is an active faith, not passive. Yes, we are saved by grace and love but we have to walk, act and move in our faith for it to have an impact on others.

 I have to say, God, I'm sorry for not using the tools You have given me like YOU have called me to do.  Am I saying I don't use my tools? No, not at all. I am saying I don't employee them like I should, in a consistent manner they are designed to be used. Am I saying I don't read my Bible and pray, daily, NO?  I am saying I need to be more proactive and not reactive as the lady said over at Momathon Diaries.  It pricked my conscience that I need to build up my tool box. I am being transparent here and admitting, I don't always use my tools when I should. 
That being said, I know there are more Moms, wives, women, men, teens, kids, and others out there that do not use their tools like they should. There are pastors and leaders that don't use their tools the way they are designed.  I just think we are in such a time as this, like in Esther in the Bible, that we need to make sure our tools are in constant use. We need to keep those tools busy and we need to keep them strong.

 My great grandfather was a carpenter. He kept his tools in pristine condition. His cutting implements were sharp. He kept them in a safe location. He oiled anything that needed oiling and so on. He was a master carpenter. His tools were important. If he didn't care for his tools they would rust. It is the same with our spiritual tools. We have to keep them busy We have to take care of them. We can't let them get rusty.

 It is not a shameful thing to admit you need to be better or make changes. It would be wrong of me if I didn't take what God showed me today and do something with it. God wasn't bashing me, nor was He getting on to me. He was saying, hey sweet daughter, I know you love me. I know you do your best, but you need to step it up. I have told my kids that very same thing. Required more of them when I knew they could do more. That is what God is doing to His children. He is requiring more because we can do more. 

I challenge each of us, to use our tools more, be more consistent. If you are sitting at a traffic light and you see people passing, pray for those people as they pass. Pray for anything and everything and everyone you can possibly thinking of. I can call to mind right this moment of moments I could have prayed that I let slip by. I will not let that happen again, to the best of my ability.  

Our tools are helping build the Kingdom of our God...so let's get building and get those tools active.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Zones, weekly, plans and home work

I have been attempting to bring more order to the chaos in  this adventure called life.  Our kids are at an age, we can try a new system and hopefully more order to things.

We had a family meeting a couple of weeks ago with a fun devotion, prayer, and input from everyone about respect, rules, school and work.  This is my 2nd year working 4 days a week.  Last year, I never did find a balance and feelings and emotions could get out of whack. I decided it was time to take control.  Life is always going to be busy, full and filled with ups and downs. That being said, we can bring some order into it without turning our world upside down.

To start off, I divided the main chores into 5 zones with everyone responsible for their own rooms and everyone pitches in on pet care and yard work.

Zone 1- Kitchen
Zone 2- Dining Room
Zone 3- Living Room
Zone 4- Bathrooms
Zone 5- Laundry

We each take a zone per week and rotate through each zone.  If someone needs help they can ask for help or if someone sees someone needs help they can offer. We also enacted the mercy rule. You can pick a family member and show them mercy by completing their chore on any particular day.  If someone is sick or has extra homework than other family members are to show them mercy and do their chore without complaint.  This type of action shows love and respect for each other.

We are on the beginning of week 3 of our Zones. It has been GREAT!  Everyone loves it and everyone is on board. Our chores are done quicker and the house is more orderly.  I printed out a list for each zone of what needs to be done in that zone to call the chore complete.  That has been a huge help for the kids.  It leaves nothing to question and helps them learn to do their chore correctly.

Quite honestly, I wish I had thought of this YEARS ago. It's awesome.

This weekend we decided to go with a plan the meal for the week and grocery shop accordingly plan. There has been no question what is for supper since Saturday. NO, I don't know, what do you want or honey pick up this or that. We know what we are having and we have all ingredients needed. Each of the kids get to help on one of the nights that isn't leftovers or breakfast for dinner or pizza night.  Leftovers night is the same each week as is breakfast for supper and pizza night.  I am loving it already.  Today's meal is already in the crock pot and the house smells wonderful. I also think this will save money.

Homework is happening at a set time each day, unless there is church or an event planned. In that case, they do their homework immediately upon arriving home.  On the days we have nothing scheduled they start homework at 4 and need to be done by 5 or 5:30 depending on what they have to do. They must show me their planners and make sure they are using them.

This too is going way better than last year.

We are also sharing the responsibility and privilege of leading devotions. Everyone gets a turn. We pray as a family and the kids are really loving getting to lead devotions. I am determined that as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

We are also going to start exercising together as a family at the Y and sometimes at home. I am amazed at how this has already changed things for the better.

We are by no means perfect and I know there will be bumps and obstacles along the way. I just feel more in control of the chaos than ever before.

This is what is working for our family in this season.  God is go good and He is so faithful and I praise Him for our family.

Friday, July 15, 2016

My heart grew three sizes that day

Our missions trip to Guatemala and the Casa Shalom Orphanage has changed the course and direction of my life.  100 something children, different ages, needs, genders all had a profound effect on who I am and the direction God is leading me.  I walked on the grounds of that orphanage as one person and came out completely different. I held babies, played with toddlers and children. I hugged teenagers and I watched the miracles that are unfolding in the lives of those children.

Five children came into the orphanage while we were there. One little boy came in whistling and singing and a bubbly, bright little boy full of hope and sunshine.  He captured my heart with his bubbly personality. He was part of a sibling group and they still had the light of hope and a future in their eyes. I do not know if their placement by child protection will be long or short, but they still had hope. Their eyes still sparkled with the magic of childhood.

Three more children came in that weekend. A baby, a toddler and a 7 year old boy. On those sweet faces was written a story far different than the other two children. Agony, devastation and horror were in their eyes. Their world came crashing down and despite all the love that was being offered and that will still be offered as they find their fit in the orphanage, their eyes did not have sparkle.  Their eyes were full of pain and sorrow.  The baby had the protection of infancy but as I held her frail little body in my arms and felt the weightlessness of a child who was malnourished my heart broke. She looked into my face as I sang Jesus loves me to her in my language. A language she does not know, but she looked into my eyes and she smiled. She knew love when she felt it. Not because of what I was doing but because Jesus stepped into that moment and touched that sweet little baby with a little bit of love the only thing I had to offer. 

I looked into the face of her toddler sister, age 2 and I saw pain. Occasionally, a smile could be pulled out of her but her face was so full of pain.  I do not know all of what those little eyes have seen. I do not know everything she has experienced but in her two years of life she has known great sorrow and it is written in her eyes. The thing is, she is now in a place that can give her love, love of people, the love of Christ and peace.  She has a chance to become something wonderful.  She let me hold her and talk to her in my broken Spanish and did not shy away from gentle touch. She was hungry for love.  She has house parents and staff at that orphanage who will be able to minister to the broken places through the love of Christ. 

I watched as her 7 year old brother grieved the loss of his family. Yes, he was "rescued" but to him, despite his home life, it was not a rescue. His world had just been turned upside down. That's the thing, with abused kids, that I learned back in the day when I worked as a foster care counselor.   Just because we as grown ups know we are doing what is best for them, these kids do not feel that way. They love their parents, no matter how good, bad or ugly their lives have been.  It doesn't matter to them that they have been rescued when it happens. It WILL matter one day. He will understand one day. The orphanage has a psychologist and staff that is and will continue to help him heal.  I watched him at a window, tears rolling down his tiny face, begging for us to take him to his Mama. I watched him make a connection with one of our team members who though she could not speak his language she gave him unconditional love. I watched the staff and house parents minister to him. The last night we were there, I began to see the beginnings of hope blossoming as he found his voice to answer a question or would talk to someone.  I held him in my arms during movie night, his frail, body waiting expectantly for his world to right again.  He would ask me what time it was, simply because he has hope that at a specific time he might get to see his Mama again. I don't know when or if that will happen, but I do know that the orphanage is helping him.  

I watched little children want to keep their party plates because they were pretty. I saw a little boy try some garlic toast. He did not like it, but he ate it anyway because he has learned in his life before Casa Shalom, you eat what you have when you have it. 

I saw poverty unlike anything I have ever seen in a near by village and it was one of the less effected areas as far as poverty is concerned. 

I enjoyed working on the projects we did and working along side a team whose main goal was to show the love of Jesus in everything, we did, said, sang, touched, etc.  Our goal was to show love to not only the kids but the staff and anyone we met. I think through the help of Jesus we did that. 

In all of this, God has called me back to working with abused children.  I said back in the day, I would "never" do that again.  He has called me to learn Spanish and work with abused children. I do not yet know how this will unfold but it will happen.  I am on a mission to learn Spanish so that I can work with both English speaking and Spanish speaking families in our communities here in Chattanooga.

I am not nor have I ever been a Grinch, but you know the line where it says and "the Grinch's small heart grew three sizes that day"(Dr. Suess-how the Grinch stole Christmas).....I feel like my heart grew in Guatemala.  I can't explain it. I can't prove it. I can't even show it. I just know my heart, soul and mind changed through this missions trip. 

I do know that life is forever changed for me, greatly impacted by the children and staff at Casa Shalom. From the head to the cooks to anyone and everyone that works on that campus, the children and the house parents. It's amazing what one week can do to your life.  I haven't even touched on half the stuff I learned or experienced.  All I know is God is powerful and He is changing these little  hearts and healing them through the loving ministry at Casa Shalom.  I pray that this ministry will send out future missionaries, preachers, teachers, doctors and more for the glory of God. 

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Good intentions...summer time

(credit for photo goes to train track photography)
I had high hopes and grand ideas for writing in my blog this summer, having the kids read X number of books, complete workbooks etc etc etc.  High hopes but only part of that has been done. We have had more "lazy" pajama days than productive, keeping the mind going days.  There was a time, I would have fretted, felt guilty or been hard on myself.  Yet, this time, not so much. My kids are having a good summer. We have had fun doing much of nothing.  Sleeping in until our eyeballs pop open. I work 4 days a week so that has taken a big chunk of time  I think it has been fun to just have some lazy days.

I think too often as Moms we get on the Mommy train track and think we have to stop at all the "mommy stations" along the way in order to make the best journey. That's just false. We are all making different journeys. My journey looks different from any one else's journey and so does my kids.  We are taking this journey step by step, from faith to faith, trusting  that God is leading us.  It's not about what we do but how we do it with God.  I once would have let guilt and shame color my journey, but God healed me of that over the last few years. I do the best I can with what I have to do with and what I know at the present time. I surrender it all to my Father, HE is the one in control. That being said, sometimes I miss the mark and get off a little before the station and have to hike to catch up. That's how it is.  I mess up as a parent sometimes, as a sister, as a daughter, as a friend. Then I say I am sorry and move to the next step. It sure isn't always a pretty path. Yet, when I look back God has done something with my screw ups, my victories, my sorrows and my joys. He is weaving something yet to be seen as I do my best to teach my children to trust and follow HIM

Intentions...are hopes not guarantees.  Intentions are plans, not rules. So if you don't always get it done just as YOU intended, maybe, just maybe God changed the route up just a bit to bring about an adventure you can't even see yet.  

Lead on Lord, Lead on. My life is  YOURS , lead me on the path You have planned. If I get a little of track some times, guide me back and help me do it YOUR way. Help me realize that sometimes my intentions are not Your intentions and that as long as I am trusting You, following you, that I will not get on the wrong track but the detour is part of a bigger purpose.  If something comes along and seemingly derails us, let me trust You to put us where you want us to be in order to heal, recover, grow or what ever the purpose might be in YOU.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Summer 2016 days 1 and 2

Summer started officially yesterday.  We picked up Jennifer's report card which was awesome. (The other two report cards will be mailed).  Then we went to the park and met our neighbors for a play date.  It was a beautiful day and the weather was perfect.

Later in the day my sister, Mama, niece and nephew arrived for the weekend. We have a house full of teens and tweens.  It is going to be an interesting weekend.  We are starting off the day with movies and donuts.

We haven't all been together in a year. I have seen Mama and Theresa and the kids for a short time when my sister had surgery. This weekend we can just hang out and enjoy each other's company.

I have lots of plans for the summer to try and cram stuff in on my days off. This is my first summer as a working Mom.  It's surreal. I love summer with my kids.  I will miss being free to come and go as I wish.

The biggest thing happening for me this summer is a missions trip to Guatemala.  I can't wait. I plan to keep a diary while there and blog it later.

So glad summer is here. Hopefully...I will find some interesting happenings and stories to share along the way...time will tell.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Prayer--War Room

I watched the movie War Room last night. It spoke deeply to me and it ministered to my heart in ways I can not even explain in words. If people take it to heart, the message behind the movie, it can be life changing.

  Image result for war room movie images

I haven't written in this blog in over a year but I wish to change that.  I wish to chronicle changes and miracles that are going to happen in our lives. Some I may detail, some I may not but God knows all the details. There are so many things I am believing God to to in our lives, our bodies, our church, our extended family, our community, and our nation.  Prayer it may feel small or even inadequate but when we utters words of heartfelt, faith and hope fueled prayer, not one word, not one syllable goes unheard by the Father. The older lady in the film was a warrior, a prayer warrior.  She touched lives, one person at a time, one prayer at a time. That's what I want to do. I want to change lives through God, not of my own power or volition but through God. I want to be a force to be reckoned with when it comes to prayer. 

So today, I decree and I declare that our house, the one we live in, WILL BE a house of prayer. I want people to feel the power of prayer when they walk through the doors of our home. I pray God help me as I learn to pray as I ought, seek God's face and stand against the storms that rage. I am able to be a strong warrior of God because greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world. I don't have to be exactly like Clara in the movie. I can be the Thelma God called me to be and I can be mighty in prayer.

 I have often felt in the past, that yes I pray, and sometimes I touch heaven. However, due to the lies the enemy attempts to feed my mind; I often felt like my prayers were these itty bitty things that God heard and answered but were like little candle flames instead of a bonfire.  Well, God showed me last night ALL prayer matters. If you pray with a heart that is humble and filled with faith before God, it doesn't matter what that prayer looks like or sounds like, it is powerful. Do not underestimate your power through the Lord Himself.  I will be a woman of prayer.  I don't care if people think I am crazy, I will be a woman of prayer.  

God Himself, gave me a deeper call to prayer last night. He sounded the battle cry, the cry to pray like I have never prayed before. The cry to not doubt His power in a simple woman who just loves Him. I don't have to be eloquent. I don't have to have anything, but faith, humbleness and love.  I don't have to have a fancy place to pray. My closet, my prayer closet can be simple or elaborate but it will be a place of prayer, 

I think if we as a people, believers, prayed like is portrayed in the movie; we would see things we can't even imagine. Prayer it is alive.  You can feel it. When you are in the midst of a storm and people began to pray, you feel it. I know there have been times in my life that I knew people were praying without them even telling me they were praying.  

My challenge to anyone who wants to pray, believers, new believers, people struggling with faith, people who don't believe; try it, just try it and don't stop. Even if it is 5 minutes a day. Pray and ask God to teach you to pray and to send true prayer warriors into your life to stand with you in prayer. When we pray, we can just pray that God will release His power and His will into the situation, person or thing we are praying about. HIS WILL, not ours. He isn't a magical genie BUT we can go to Him about anything. Nothing is impossible for Him and nothing is too small or too insignificant to pray about.  Don't give up, even if it seems nothing is happening, don't give up. Pray....just pray.Talk to Him like He was sitting next to you having a conversation. 

My prayer is Lord, make me a woman of prayer.  Help me fight every battle of this life, from my knees. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Thorns and flowers

I saw these lone 3 flowers on a bush in my backyard. One Sammy, has not yet decided to eat, since it has thorns. The beauty is not even a good representation in the photo.  The deep burgundy colors are rich and warm and silky but has many layers of color.  The beauty comes with thorns.  Thorns than can prick and make you bleed. That is so much like life. Life is beautiful but it comes with thorns.  To appreciate their beauty is to respect and be careful of the thorns.

 Life has to come with thorns and beauty, how else would we appreciate the good moments. It doesn't matter what part of this life you walk, who you are, what you have, what you believe, life comes with thorns. It is what we do with getting pricked that matters.  Are we going to stop enjoying the flowers because we might get pricked? Are we going to stop living life because, sometimes, frankly life is hard and has no explanation. We are all going through things, good things, bad things, somewhere in between things. We laugh, we cry, we hurt, we love, we live. It is all blended in to our lives to make a depth of color and beauty the Master is weaving through our lives.

Through it all, in my life, there is one thread that keeps me all together: It is the love of my Savior.  I want to make Him pleased with me. I want to spread the true love of Christ, the one that says, For God so loved the WORLD.  He didn't give of definition of who He would love. He came for whosever believeth in HIM.  I want to spread that kind of love. He walked, talked, ate with the ones society would not. He loved the "unloveable" by society's standards. That's who I want to be. My legacy in HIM, is love.  I want to be so filled with Jesus that His love is evident to everyone I met.