Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Ocean, Sea Word, USS Alabama...

Worship & Vacation Memories

I know it's a strange title, but really, it should be nothing less.  I'll seek to explain it with our story:
     We were blessed to be able to take a break from the business of this world, lock ourselves in our suburban for 13 hours, and be a family focusing on one another and the granduer of God's beautiful creation!  Just being in a car together for that many hours is bound to build some character....in all of us, but to see God's mighty hand at work in our plans draws our hearts to worship. And, isn't that what this life is all about!!!! 
    We began our trip on June 26th, and as I was just relaxing in the hummm of the air conditioner it came to me that it was my birthday.  Not just any birthday, but the day my soul had life breathed into to.  It was 20 years before at Bogg Springs Youth Camp that I sat in a service, and through the gracious hand of the Holy Spirit realized my need of a Saviour.  I took one of my best friends back to the cabin with me, climbed under a bunk bed, and cried my heart out to God.  I repented of my sins, asked Him to cleanse me and make me white as snow, and to take control of my life.  Now, 20 years later, sitting with my husband who loves the Lord, with 3 beautiful chidren, and soaking up the glorious thought that I am a redeemed child of the King...I must say I was overcome with worship!  Jonathan and I began to talk about different ways that we had seen God's mighty hand at work. As I look at all the things of this world that I was exposed to at an early age, things that include ungodly anger, pornograpy, alcoholism, pride, deceitfulness, and the list goes on, it is amazing that God protected my heart and sought me for himself. I could have so been drawn into so many different lifestyles of sin, not to mention the fact that my own sinful heart was wicked enough without the opportunity of new sins! Even with all the things I was exposed to, it doesn't make my salvation any more significant than Jonathan's salvation who at the age of 5 after being raised in a God focused home was convicted of his sin and need of a saviour.  It's just a wonderful and unimaginable thought to realize that we've done nothing to deserve or earn the new heart and life that has so freely been handed to us. 
With these thoughts heavy on my heart we headed to Florida.  On day two we reaced Tampa, where we headed to Turtle Beach to give the kids a dose of some of God's handiwork.  On our way there we talked about how God made the ocean and all the waters of the Earth and how He told them to stay in place.  On the different beaches of our vacation, we talked about the sand and how God knows how many grains there are.  It doesn't bring much excitment to a 4, 3, & 2 year old, but with 20 years of worshiping the God of creation behind me...well, it brought tears to my eyes to think that God would care about me.  Jada saw the tears and quickly hugged me, smiled and ran off into the waves.   She knew they were happy tears b/c she sees them often, but I don't appologize.  I want her to know that my heart overflows with thankfulness. 
   On days 3-5 we stayed in Orando where we prepared to do a timeshare tour (this was part of our hotel/seaworld ticket vochure).  It ended up that there was a misunederstanding, of which I tried to fix for 2 hours but did not succeed.  The experience left me in tears over frustration, but Jonathan immediately helped me to focus.  In the end it really didn't matter, we were all together, having a wonderful time and we would continue to enjoy God's blessing....just differently than planned.  He prayed with me and immediately my heart was calm.  Later on that day we meet with Aunt Ne Ne and Clint for supper, and by then I had been able to completely rest in God's plans for our time...and not mine! 
    On Thursday we left our hotel at 8:30 headed for Sea World where we spent the day blessed again by the many thoughts of the marvelous mind of our Lord.  The kids were dazzeled as well. Ian and Eli loved the dolphins, sharks, and fish while Jada celebrated the roller coasters and stingrays. Clint was an expert tour guide and Aunt Ne Ne was well, the wonderful Aunt Ne Ne that she is! We are thankful for our family!  It was a wonderful day!  We left the park late that evening and decided to head towards Arkansas.  It was such a peaceful trip home because we were able to take our time, play on new beaches, and even tour the USS Alabama in Mobile.  When we arrived at home late on Saturday we went to bed thankful for all the many blessings that God had allowed us to enjoy.
    With all the many blessings and joys that this world has to offer, I pray that Jonathan and I spend more time dazzeling our children with God's greatness and less time with the things of this world.  In 20 years I don't want them to have a great appreciation for sports, nature, music, history, and to want to spend their time seeking the next thing that will dazzel them.  After our vacation, and thoughts of my own walk with Christ, I am convicted that Jonathan and I dedicate even more time to showing our children what it means to worship the Lord and not this world.  "Where your treaure is, there your heart will be also". Matthew 6:23 rings constantly in my heart.  We are always worshiping something!  Is it the world or the Lord?  I know that how I worship affects how I treat other Christians (Rom.14:18): winning the lost is a result of worship (Rom. 15:16), Philippians 4:18 says my holiness is an act of worship, prayer for others is worship (1 Tim. 2:3),  gratitude is worship (1 Tim. 5:4), and righteous suffering is worship (1 Pet. 2:20). 
Worship is the most defining element of our lives!  My prayer is that Jonathan and I will have hearts that are sensitive to the Holy Spirit as He teaches how to worship.  Please God, give us "clean hands and pure hearts" that we may spend less time thinking about this world and more thinking on eternity!  I'll close our vacation with a favorite Psalm of Kind David,
Make me know Your ways, O LORD; Teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation;
For You I wait all the day. Remember, O LORD, Your compassion
and your lovingkindnesses, For they have been from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
According to Your lovingkindess remember me,  for Your goodness' sake, O LORD.
Good and upright is the LORD;
Therefore He instructs sinners in the way.
  He leads the humble in justice,
And He teaches the humble His way.
All the paths of the LORD are lovingkindness and truth to those who keep His covenant and His testimonies.  For Your name's sake, O LORD, Pardon my iniquity, for it is great.
Who is the man who fears the LORD?
He will instruct him in the way he should choose. 
His soul will abide in prosperity, and his descendants will inherit the land.
The secret of the LORD is for those who fear Him, And He will make them know His covenant.
One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I amy dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD and to meditate in His temple.
Psalm 25:1-14; 27:4
May You be what Dazzels our Hearts!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day Thoughts

I can remember a very difficult couple of years when I dreaded sitting in church and listening to awards being given to the oldest mother, the mother with the most children present, the youngest mother, etc.  I prayed earnestly that God would bless Jonathan and I with children.  Children to raise in a godly home, children to nurture and love with the love of God, and hopefully children that would one day live for His glory as well.  Today, I sit with little Eli in my lap, Ian to my right and Jada Kathryn leaning on his shoulder as we read the Bible together.  Jonathan is fixing his supper, as he has just come in from work, and he interjects comments about the stories we are reading.  Afterwards, he questions the kids about what we've read and they eagerly answer each time.  I take a deep breath remembering the prayers I cried out to God and the answer I see before me.  I know that God wants us to bring our greatest pains to Him, and that sometimes we see answers to those prayers and sometimes it seems that He doesn't hear....but we know in our hearts that everything is for His glory.  So, as I recently celebrated a day that use to be painful, I am fully aware of those who are still praying.  I ask God to give them a peace, and a joy about this life that only He can provide when we don't understand His plans for us. 
This year I especially enjoyed Mother's Day as my pastor, Bro. Doug, read from 2 Timothy where we find that Timothy's faith comes as a result of his mother and grandmother's faithful life.  I couldn't help but think how this was an example to those who have children and  to those who do not.   Every believing woman has the opportunity to be a spiritual mom to someone.  If we are a child of the King, we should be sharing our faith with those around us, and specifically to those individuals that we come into contact with on a regular basis.  We are pouring our lives into something, and the question is, what?  Is it our hobbies (which are not bad in and of themselves), the t.v., yardwork, work outside of our homes, etc.  I guess Karlyn, my sister-in-law, stated these truthes from Timothy very clearly in her song yesterday..."Generations will reap what I sow".  What are we leaving behind for the generations that follow?  It doesn't matter if they are our biological children or our spiritual children....what harvest will they reap from our lives? 
Needless to say, it was a very powerful Mother's Day for me.  From the joy and blessings of children, to the convicting message in church, to the sadness of a mother not here to hug, to a blessed afternoon with a loving and faithful mother-in-law, to laying down my head last night with the weight of responsibility that I awe to generations to come.  I think I'll close these thoughts with a handwritten letter from Jonathan's grandmother, who though now in Heaven, she led the way for Jonathan to become a child of the King as she faithfully took her children to church.....and now generations later follow her lead.  Her great-grandchildren are hearing the great truthes of Scripture because she was a faithful mother( with the help of her faithful husband).I was cleaing out an upper cabinet in her old house when I found this poem: 
I prayed, "Oh, Lord, bless all the world.
And help me do my part".
And Straightway He commanded me to find a broken heart. 
I prayed, "Oh, bless each hungry child. 
May  they be amply fed".
He said, "Go find a straying soul and share with him thy bread".
"Oh stir the hearts of men", I prayed
And make them good and true".
He answered, "There is just one way-
They must be stirred through you".
Dear friend, unless you really mean exactly what you say,
 until you mean to work with God;
It's dangerous to pray!

May we be faithful to work for Him,and may our eyes see clearly where He's leading!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Wind!

I decided that since it was such a beautiful day and the kids were all asleep that I would take a long run.  Most days I average 3 miles, but I like to get in long runs or endurance runs when I can.  So, I set out for a light hearted six mile run.  I begin my run facing East, and I hear the hummmmm of the wind blowing past me.  I preatty much ignore the sound until 2 miles into my run I take a right turn and begin running South.  With this one turn my body almost completely stops.  I am now running into the craziest wind my Grant County mind can fathom.  In Grant County we have trees, lots of them!  As Jonathan would say, "This ain't Grant County, it's the Prairie Sweet Heart!".  Determined as I was to finish my run, I pressed on.  About 1/2 mile running South and I was ready to turn around.  I knew that if I turned around that the wind would give life back to my tired legs.  I could hear my high school coach saying, "Tuck your chin, drop your arms, relax and just run Rachel!". 
As I continued on my way I couldn't help but think about running in relation to my walk with Christ.  How often am I tempted to give up when situations get difficult.  How often do I just want to turn around and feel the wind at my back.  Sometimes God allows the wind to blow fiercley at us, sometimes He causes it to blow and then at other times He calms the winds of our life. 
Several verses came to mind during this struggle to endure.  I thought of James 1:2 where we are told to "Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds, b/c you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."  Then in verse 12 James tells me "Blessed is the man who perseveres under tial, b/c when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him."  And of course Phil 4:13 kept coming to mind, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me". 
So often when I'm in a trial I just hear the constant hummm of the grass beside me, the electrical lines above me popping in the wind, and I feel pain in my very bones.  It is during those times that I am the closest to my Lord, and it is during those times that I remember it is through His strength that I can do all things, not mine!  So I prayed today, "God please help me to accept difficult relationships, challenges at work, emotional battles, and just struggles in general as tools that you use to make me more mature in my faith.  Help me to live out what I know in my heart, and that is, this world is not my home." 
Thankfully, God allows me to turn around and run with the wind more often than I run against it. But, my run today helped me to focus on my eternal purpose.  I was reminded to tuck my chin (stay in God's Word), drop my arms (accept God's will and purpose for this day, without turning from it-embrace it), and just run (live one day at a time, focused on His glory). 
When I got home I asked Jonathan if the winds were blowing around 18 miles per hour.  He checked his ipone and laughed....they were 28 miles per hour with gusts of 32 miles per hour!  Who needs Grant County hills when ya have Grand Prairie winds!!!!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Grumbling or Disputing!

As I read and re-read Philippians 2:14 "Do all things without grumbling or disputing" I am convicted of how many times a day I have to ask God to forgive me of this very sin!  I have found myself this morning telling the kids to stop arguing, play sweetly, be loving, stop complaining, share, share, share, and share!  I wonder if God feels the frustration with me that I feel with the kids.  Does He ever want to throw His arms up in surrender?  Thankfully, I know the answer. His mercies are new every morning, and his grace is enough for all my failures. 
I guess today God is working on the part of me that grumbles and the part of me that does not embrace the humble and quiet spirit that I am called to in 1 Peter 3:4. I know that God is good and that I am blessed, it's just that I don't always act like it.  My words and my thoughts show that I am not focused on the eternal and that's when I become the grumbler who has a loud spirit. 
This past week we said good-bye to my sweet Grandma, and just thinking about her legacy has really convicted me of the previous struggles I guess.  It was such a blessing to be able to let her go knowing that she was going home!  My memories of her include those of her taking me to church, reading the Bible to me, teaching me to cook, letting me go with her to visit and take care of the elderly or widowed, and watching her love her children and grandchildren by word and deed.  She loved the Lord and her words proved her faith.  Her spirit was always humble and quiet and that's what made her so comforting to all she came in contact with.  She left a legacy that will be handed down for many generations to come!  I pray that someday my grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great great grandchildren can say the same of me, and that God's great love is thought of just at the mention of my name.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

2010 has come and GONE!

This season of our lives has brought many sweet memories, and we give thanks to our Lord for His unfailing goodness. Jonathan & Ryan had a difficult year farming with a combine that kept breaking, too much heat, too many bugs, poor rice prices, etc. BUT God has provided for our every need and probably too many our wants. Farming is a way of living that constantly keeps us reminded of God's sovereignty and providence!
We have spent another year living on the farm and in the home that Jonathan's Grandfather gave us. There are so many wonderful things that we get to experience as we live in the wide open beauty of God's creation. Ian, who is now 3 1/2, loves the fact that his daddy works on a tractor (sometimes in the front yard), that we have barn owls, that horses roam near by, that on clear nights the heaven's come alive, and above all he absolutely loves to play in the fresh plowed dirt! Ian is quickly developing the fine art of being able to sit on tractors for hours at a time. I must say I am pleased at this not only because it allows me some free time with only two children, but because I think it helps him see that there is a time to "be still and know that I am God". Jonathan uses their time together to teach him about farming but also to plant seeds in his little heart that will hopefully someday produce fruit! Ian enjoys watching Deigo and many other cartoons that we have to limit him to. He has a sweetness about him that I pray God protects, but I must say he is quite firery when his sister becomes too opinionated.
Jada Kathryn loves the farm as well but for many other reasons. She loves the fact that her Uncle David lives right down the road, and he comes to visit fairly often with ice cream bars, rides on the four wheeler, horse rides, and lots of hugs and kisses. And he is only allowed to call her "honey" which she adores! Jada really enjoys summer time when she can run half-clothed through a sprinkler in the front yard...OK, well no clothes if she thinks she can get away with it! Jada is very aware of her adoption, and she is often full of deep questions. A few months ago, while we were saying her bedtime prayers, she asked me if Mirna carried her in her tommie. I explained to her that Mirna only took care of her until we were allowed to bring her home, and that we were never told the name of the lady that carried her in her tommie. Her reply was one of great depth. She simply said, "Mom, Can we call her Grace". So for some time now we have been praying for a lady that we call "Grace". Jada spends a lot of her time coloring, looking at books, and talking! For a four year old she has a pretty impressive vocabulary, and I pray God uses this gift of gab for His glory some day.
Then there's sweet little 19 month old Eli. As the baby child he takes his role seriously. He spends his time following Jada and Ian around watching their every move, and he has just recently begun to mock Ian with every step. Words are coming more easily now, a few weeks ago he repeated back to me "I love you", and of course he melted my heart. I will have to say that he melts his daddy's art as well though. When Jonathan goes to leave for work Eli will try to put on his shoes and all the time saying "Me too" "Me too"! While Ian has a sweetness, Eli has a gentle, loving spirit that draws you to him. Eli likes to play with cars and tractors and he has already spent several hours on the tractor with his daddy. As spring time draws closer I think he will follow in Ian's footsteps and begin longing for long days at work with his daddy.
Jonathan has been busy this past year working on renovations to our home, and I must say I have been very impressed! He and his brother Ryan must have gotten their Papa's carpenter abilities. The have taken walls down past the studs and rebuilt rooms, laid tile, sheet rocked walls and ceilings, put in recessed lighting, and the list goes on! It has been such a blessing not only financially but also relationally as I have watched my husband of now 10 years make a home for his family! Jonathan spent the past few weeks entertaining friends and family with duck hunts on the farm, and he took Ian on his first deer hunt (they've killed ducks, but no deer).
I still work three days a week as a "pharmacy tech/accounts person" at Coker Hampton. I love my bosses, and they have blessed me in so many ways. God has provided this job so that our health insurance is taken care of and I am still allowed to be at home the other four days. I treasure my days at home with my children, and I try to invest every moment that I can into training them in the ways of the Lord. I pray God helps me do it better in the months and years ahead. I have always ran as a hobby, but this past year I decided to use my hobby to raise money for causes that I thought were important (like Easter Seals). I ran my first of what I hope to be many more 1/2 marathons. Jonathan has joyfully taken care of all three of the kids when I leave early on Saturday mornings to go run my 5k/10k's. Running in races has also opened up the opportunity for new relationships with other ladies that run. Some are Believers and some aren't, but having something in common to talk about helps build bridges that normally I wouldn't have. My prayer is that God uses my hobby for His glory, and when it's time to move on to something else- that I will without hesitation.
Now that we can access our blog I hope to do better in posting things that are going on in our family, and in posting the many ways that God is teaching our family and me personally as a wife, mom, and child of the King. I look forward to 2011 and I'll begin this year with a prayer from Scripture, "Two things I ask of You, Do not refuse me before I die: Keep deception and lies far from me, Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food that is my portion, That I not be full and deny You and say, "Who is the LORD?" Or that I not be in want and steal, and profane the name of my God (Proverbs 30: 7-9)."