June 14, 2014

Dinner and Recital with my girl

Sad that we didn't even know anyone performing in this particular recital...we just wanted to check it out...

June 13, 2014

Acts 10:9-48

Today's IF:EQUIP Acts reading was from Acts 10:9-48 (text included at the bottom of the post). These are the passages where Peter receives the vision and confirmation from God about the clean vs. unclean food and people, desiring to save Gentiles as well as Jews. These are such powerful passages to me because they involve such a huge twist in thinking. Peter and the others have spent their whole lives being taught what was clean and what to be avoided. And there are lots and LOTS of passages devoted to this topic in the scriptures they grew up hearing. What an internal challenge to Peter. On one hand he knows he is hearing from God, but he also knows it is in conflict with what he has believed. I often wonder if I am missing things from God because I am stuck in old ways of thinking and viewing things. I struggle with wondering if what I am hearing is from God or me and know that I must test it against God’s word and character, but in this case for Peter, what he is hearing is in conflict with the regulations of scripture. That must have been confusing for him and we see he spends time pondering it. What is encouraging to me is the lengths God goes through in this story to let Peter know it is from Him, with much verification in different methods. It is comforting that God knows when things will be hard for us to accept and he will go the extra step to let us know it is from him.
Acts 10:9-48 The Message (MSG) 9-13 The next day as the three travelers were approaching the town, Peter went out on the balcony to pray. It was about noon. Peter got hungry and started thinking about lunch. While lunch was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw the skies open up. Something that looked like a huge blanket lowered by ropes at its four corners settled on the ground. Every kind of animal and reptile and bird you could think of was on it. Then a voice came: “Go to it, Peter—kill and eat.” 14 Peter said, “Oh, no, Lord. I’ve never so much as tasted food that was not kosher.” 15 The voice came a second time: “If God says it’s okay, it’s okay.” 16 This happened three times, and then the blanket was pulled back up into the skies. 17-20 As Peter, puzzled, sat there trying to figure out what it all meant, the men sent by Cornelius showed up at Simon’s front door. They called in, asking if there was a Simon, also called Peter, staying there. Peter, lost in thought, didn’t hear them, so the Spirit whispered to him, “Three men are knocking at the door looking for you. Get down there and go with them. Don’t ask any questions. I sent them to get you.” 21 Peter went down and said to the men, “I think I’m the man you’re looking for. What’s up?” 22-23 They said, “Captain Cornelius, a God-fearing man well-known for his fair play—ask any Jew in this part of the country—was commanded by a holy angel to get you and bring you to his house so he could hear what you had to say.” Peter invited them in and made them feel at home. God Plays No Favorites 23-26 The next morning he got up and went with them. Some of his friends from Joppa went along. A day later they entered Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had his relatives and close friends waiting with him. The minute Peter came through the door, Cornelius was up on his feet greeting him—and then down on his face worshiping him! Peter pulled him up and said, “None of that—I’m a man and only a man, no different from you.” 27-29 Talking things over, they went on into the house, where Cornelius introduced Peter to everyone who had come. Peter addressed them, “You know, I’m sure that this is highly irregular. Jews just don’t do this—visit and relax with people of another race. But God has just shown me that no race is better than any other. So the minute I was sent for, I came, no questions asked. But now I’d like to know why you sent for me.” 30-32 Cornelius said, “Four days ago at about this time, midafternoon, I was home praying. Suddenly there was a man right in front of me, flooding the room with light. He said, ‘Cornelius, your daily prayers and neighborly acts have brought you to God’s attention. I want you to send to Joppa to get Simon, the one they call Peter. He’s staying with Simon the Tanner down by the sea.’ 33 “So I did it—I sent for you. And you’ve been good enough to come. And now we’re all here in God’s presence, ready to listen to whatever the Master put in your heart to tell us.” 34-36 Peter fairly exploded with his good news: “It’s God’s own truth, nothing could be plainer: God plays no favorites! It makes no difference who you are or where you’re from—if you want God and are ready to do as he says, the door is open. The Message he sent to the children of Israel—that through Jesus Christ everything is being put together again—well, he’s doing it everywhere, among everyone. 37-38 “You know the story of what happened in Judea. It began in Galilee after John preached a total life-change. Then Jesus arrived from Nazareth, anointed by God with the Holy Spirit, ready for action. He went through the country helping people and healing everyone who was beaten down by the Devil. He was able to do all this because God was with him. 39-43 “And we saw it, saw it all, everything he did in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem where they killed him, hung him from a cross. But in three days God had him up, alive, and out where he could be seen. Not everyone saw him—he wasn’t put on public display. Witnesses had been carefully handpicked by God beforehand—us! We were the ones, there to eat and drink with him after he came back from the dead. He commissioned us to announce this in public, to bear solemn witness that he is in fact the One whom God destined as Judge of the living and dead. But we’re not alone in this. Our witness that he is the means to forgiveness of sins is backed up by the witness of all the prophets.” 44-46 No sooner were these words out of Peter’s mouth than the Holy Spirit came on the listeners. The believing Jews who had come with Peter couldn’t believe it, couldn’t believe that the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out on “outsider” non-Jews, but there it was—they heard them speaking in tongues, heard them praising God. 46-48 Then Peter said, “Do I hear any objections to baptizing these friends with water? They’ve received the Holy Spirit exactly as we did.” Hearing no objections, he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay on for a few days.

June 5, 2014

"Pillow Olympics"

This is our best tough athlete look...

Our Gifts for Us or for God

Today's IF:EQUIP reading was from Acts 8:9-25 (bolding added by me)...
But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed.
Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” And Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.” 
Now when they had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.
The story of Simon is interesting.  He definitely had a gift.  His identity was wrapped up in his gift.  Even after he believed and was baptized, he was still wrapped up in his former identity.  Perhaps now he wanted to use his gifts for good, but it was still about him and what he was doing.  Like us, he needed to get rid of his old identity and take on that of Christ.   He needed a heart change and a submissive obedience to God. 

This is a great warning for us in how we perceive and use our gifts.  We need to check our heart and motives.  Even if the intended outcome is for "good", it is of no use or value to God if it is about us instead of Him. 

Late Night Reading and Writing

I love that Maddie loves to read and write.  I pray that she never loses that love as she gets older.  This is what I found when I went up to bed last night...

June 4, 2014

Today was one of those days I really felt God guiding me to exactly what I needed to hear.  I went to bed last night reading the following poem on one of the diabetes forums... "How God Selects the Mother of a Diabetic Child," by Erma Bombeck...
Most women become mothers by accident, some by choice, a few by social pressures and a couple by habit. Did you ever wonder how mothers of children with diabetes are chosen?

Somehow I visualize God hovering over earth selecting his instruments for propagation with great care and deliberation. As he observes, he instructs his angels to make notes in a giant ledger.

"Armstrong, Beth, son. Patron Saint Matthew."

"Forrest, Marjorie, daughter, Patron Saint Cecilia."

"Rutledge, Carrie, twins. Patron Saint Gerard. He's used to profanity."

Finally, He passes a name to an angel and smiles, "Give her a child with diabetes."

The angel is curious. "Why this one, God? She's so happy."

"Exactly", smiles God. "Could I give child with diabetes to a mother who does not know laughter? That would be cruel".

"But has she the patience?" asks the angel.

"I don't want her to have too much patience, or she will drown in a sea of self-pity and despair. Once the shock and resentment wear off, she'll handle it. I watched her today. She has that feeling of self and independence that is so rare and so necessary in a mother. You see, the child I am going to give her has her own world. She has to make it live in her world and that's not going to be easy."

"But, Lord, I don't think she even believes in you."

God smiles. "No matter. I can fix that. This one is perfect. She has just enough selfishness."

The angel gasps. "Selfishness? Is that a virtue?"

God nods. "If she cannot separate herself from the child occasionally, she will never survive. Yes, here is a woman whom I will bless with less than perfect." "She does not realize it yet, but she is to be envied. I will permit her to see clearly the things I see .... ignorance, cruelty, prejudice ... and allow her to rise above them. She will never be alone. I will be at her side every minute of every day of her life because she is doing my work as surely as if she is here by my side."

"And what about her patron saint?" asks the angel, his pen poised in mid air. God smiles. "A mirror will suffice."
I'm a bit emotional for some reason so the poem really touched me and made me cry.  I woke up thinking about it.  It is hard to be a mom to diabetic kids.  But I also know they are doing great and I am so grateful for the pump and insulin and Sam to help us with it.  We are blessed for sure.  But it is still hard.  It is hard when we have to stop playing to test or test before we eat or worry before working out together because it is low or try to figure out carbs when eating out.  I worry about them a lot, but I try to always focus on the good.  And sometimes that is even hard, because the truth is, it IS hard and I am sad for them sometimes.  I hate feeling like that because I know God is in control and we are truly blessed. 

This morning, the IF:EQUIP reading was Acts 8:1-8 where the new Christians are being persecuted, scattered, spreading the Gospel where they are relocated and there is great joy.  The video discussion talked about the flow of persecution > scattering > living/demonstrating the gospel in a new way > joy.  One of the comments to the lesson from Colleen really spoke to me:

I love what Jenni said – “Sometimes we need that persecution to bring out something different in us.” I always feel guilty or weak about feeling “persecuted” or like I’m struggling because there is always someone facing bigger struggles than I am. But perhaps by not acknowledging how much I’m struggling, I’m not letting God in to transform me and bring out that different thing. Maybe I’m letting false humility block me from letting God in to create true humility.

This really hit me.  We don't have to try to be strong or pretend like everything is okay or even always look at the bright side.  We just have to let God use it and transform us into who he wants, and created us, to be.  Our false humility or fake toughness can block us from letting God use us.  Wow!  That is something I needed to hear.

I moved from Acts to the Jesus Calling for today (June 4): 
Welcome challenging times as opportunities to trust Me. You have Me beside you and My Spirit within you, so no set of circumstances is too much for you to handle.When the path before you is dotted with difficulties, beware of measuring your strength against those challenges. That calculation is certain to riddle you with anxiety. Without Me, you wouldn’t make it past the first hurdle!
The way to walk through demanding days is to grip My hand tightly and stay in close communication with Me. Let your thoughts and spoken words be richly flavored with trust and thankfulness. Regardless of the day’s problems, I can keep you in perfect Peace as you stay close to Me.

Amazing how God works and speaks to us -- in multiple ways to make sure we get it.  I need to use challenging times to trust God and let Him use me and transform me and to admit I can't do it on my own and I need Him.  The only way to perfect peace.

June 2, 2014

Words of Jesus

I have started going through the New Testament specifically looking at words spoken by Jesus.  I get that the words of Jesus alone are not the end of the story, but this is where I felt a huge call to dig in.  Jesus was the Son of God.  He is God.  He is the Word become flesh (John 1:14).  He is the way, the truth and the life – no one comes through the Father unless through him (John 14:6).  He also said anyone who has seen him has seen God (John 14:9).  I wanted to hone in on what he had to say.  I have started a new blog -- http://wwjsstudy.blogspot.com/ -- to post all of my thoughts as I go through the words of Jesus.

June 1, 2014

2 Thessalonians 2:9-11

After taking a year hiatus from leading small group women's Bible study at my church, I am coming back in the Fall to facilitate Beth Moore's new Children of the Days study on 1 and 2 Thessalonians. Honestly I couldn't remember off the top of my head anything about these books so I took a peak to see what we were in for.

For some reason, out of all of 1 and 2 Thessalonians, these verses stuck out at me...

"The arrival of the lawless one will be by Satan’s working with all kinds of miracles and signs and false wonders, and with every kind of evil deception directed against those who are perishing, because they found no place in their hearts for the truth so as to be saved. Consequently God sends on them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false." 2 Thessalonians 2:9-11

It is scary to me how conniving and manipulative and deceptive the devil is. I know we like to think that we are safe from all of that as believers, but think how easily it is to get sucked into what becomes acceptable in our culture. It is a slow process. Yeast doing its work. Small and slowly working its way into something bigger.

What will we think of the amazing miracles and signs and apparent wonders? Will we be so easily swayed ourselves? Back in Jesus's time the religious leaders took great pains to memorize scripture, live in a strict manner, follow all sorts of rules and regulations made by them. But when Jesus came -- the Messiah they had been waiting and watching for -- they rejected him. They were so set in their views of what it would look like that they didn't believe, and worse, that they used fraud with their religious laws as a basis to put him to death.

What if we are the same when Jesus returns and instead believe the lies of the devil rather than the returning Christ, based on our preconceived notions and cultural beliefs? At first pass we make think, no way! But the devil is very tricky and we should be careful to be so confident like the Jews in Jesus's day.

On the flip side, what if we become so paranoid about being deceived by the devil and his signs, wonders, miracles that we miss the true signs, wonder and miracles of Jesus because we reject everything, including the Jesus himself.

God, help us stay so in tuned with You that we can recognize and discern Your truth.

Catching Up...Been A Long Time:)

Looking back, my last post on this blog was October 2012. Given that it is now June 2014, that has been a loooong time! I'm pretty good about posting regularly on Facebook, so that is pretty much my updates during this missing period. A lot has happened in these 19 months. I'm hoping to get back to posting more frequently, but I want a space to post more of my reflections during my quiet times and Bible studies. In the meantime, a friend asked me to write a guest blog post reflecting on my year as a homeschool mom. I thought I would copy it here since it is a mini-summary of the past school year and some other thoughts on homeschooling...

Recently my 9 year old asked me,
"Do you like being in charge of us? Are we fun to take care of? Are you living your dream?"
When you are in the day to day grind, that isn’t something you ask yourself every day, is it?

So many people are curious about homeschooling and ask me how we do it and what we do all day. Here is a peak into our year through a few of my journal Facebook post excerpts.

Everyone is full of joy and excitement and love at the beginning of the year. Year two, bring it…
Homeschooling provides so many great opportunities for the kids to grow and advance academically…
Graduate at 12 or skip school to watch the Gators last practice before the season starts? It is a toss-up, but we have chosen our priorities…we are simple people…
A lot of people worry about socialization with homeschooling and my fellow homeschool moms and I take this very seriously…
A huge homeschool plus is that bad hair days are no big deal at all…
Another advantage of homeschooling is being able to stay up late for important things like the FSU national championship game…
And by the way, I was texting Annie – who was at the game in CA with her family – the entire game. We are a mixed family, with Sam going to FSU and me to UF. My fellow Gator fan, Maddie, even Tebowed for her buddy, Winnie…
The possibilities are endless on where you can do school…the floor, the dining room table, the beach, Panera, Starbucks, a park, a candy store….the world is your classroom…
Being a homeschool mom is helping me learn so much about my kids and what their future might look like…
And after 2 years of homeschooling, Maddie is so into it and ready to homeschool her own kids…
So, I’m doing pretty good, right? All kidding aside, is hard not to recognize how amazing God is when we see how He sustains us and gets us through hard things. And sometimes not only merely getting us through them, but turning them into something very good. While I had always thought the idea of homeschool was interesting, it was a scary thing to jump into. I am the mom who said I would give the kids each $100 if they could make it through the summer without fighting (fyi, it lasted a day…and it was like a billion dollars in their eyes, so that was the best they had in them). Then Maddie was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes on Mother’s day while she was in 4th grade. We had a few weeks left to navigate school days with our new normal of testing blood sugars, counting carbs and taking shots with meals. I wanted my baby home. Suddenly I had another reason for wanting to homeschool. We discussed it A LOT as a family and decided to go for it. Then on Valentine’s day of our first homeschool year, Jake was also diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Having him home to learn the ropes and even start his new insulin pump was a blessing.
It was one example where I could experience Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” For me it was taking the leap into homeschooling, which I know isn’t for everyone, but it was good for us in this season of our lives. I respect and admire the moms of public school kids, private school kids and homeschool kids. We all rock and we are doing our best and praying like crazy for them.

I want to be a good steward of the time our family has together homeschooling. One of the big things I wanted to do this year was getting the kids more involved in serving others, and we have had some great opportunities to do that this year…
Ringing the Salvation Army Bell was amazing…
My absolute favorite was Maundy Thursday where we went downtown thinking we would be serving others and instead I cried my eyes out as this amazing gentlemen washed Jake’s feet and prayer over him the ENTIRE time. And not just prayers, but PRAYERS! (I was on a Lent Facebook hiatus, so this is from my other journal Instagram.)
While we recognize our blessings living in this country, we also know what a hindrance these blessings can be to us being in this world and not of this world. I think this is especially hard for our blessed kids. We want them to have fun, but we want them to know true joy comes in serving. We want them to have nice things, but we want them to know they are not what it is all about and there is a risk of things becoming more important to us than God. We want them to have great friends, but we want them to recognize what true friendship looks like. We want them to fit in, but more with God’s plans than with their peers. We want them to have role models, but we want them to recognize Jesus as the one true role model.

Since I am responsible for my kids’ education, I pray a lot about picking the right curriculum and focusing on the right things...in my quiet time and aloud with them. “God, help us do and learn the things we need to in order to grow into the people you created us to be, to do the things you put us here to do. Help us find our unique gifts from you and unleash the passions you uniquely planted within each of us. “

For me personally, this year has been a year of evaluating surrender. I mean really peeling away at what that means and if I can do it. I am a type A planner and lover of control. As such, my go-to verse has been, "I believe, help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24). I came to challenge myself regularly with surrender, which ultimately came down to belief/faith for me. If I really believed, I wouldn't be afraid. If I really believed, my time allocation would be different. If I really believed, my priorities for my kids would look different. This is really hard stuff. Are you living your dream? FULL surrender is the first step. And believe me, I know it is hard. I’m not there yet, but I’m at wanting to want to want it. That is a start.

As CS Lewis said, “Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’; aim at earth and you will get neither.”  God, let your dreams for us become our dreams for ourselves.

What specific prayers do you pray with and for your family? How do you maintain important priorities as your kids experience life? What new things have you embarked on or glimpses of God’s hand have you seen in looking back over your school year? We would love to hear your thoughts!
I am such a big fan of Annie’s ministry, Thou Art Exalted, and the amazing studies she creates for us moms (like PLANTED) and our kids (like JOURNAL WITH ME and all of the Art Camps). I pray daily for this ministry, and I am praying today for all of you. We need each other… for laughs, for support, for encouragement, as a sounding board, as a prayer warrior, as a friend to remind us it is okay when we mess up big time, and as seekers to deepen our faith together. “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:23 (NLT)