May 28, 2009

Thankful Thursday

1. I'm thankful for Jesus. I don't want to ever stop being thankful for His love and His grace. There is so many times when His love for me is the only thing I know for sure in this world.

2. I'm thankful for my husband of almost 17 yrs of marriage (this June). When I was first married Skip I could not imagine that I would still feel so in love after all this time, that I would still laugh at least 10 times a day with him, that he would still know how to melt me with just a touch, and that he would be the awesome man of God that he is today.

3. I'm so thankful for my sweet babies. Yes, I know they are 14, 12 and 9, but they will always be my babies. Seth and Annie performed last week at their Spring School Show. Wow, Seth can play the guitar! Annie did a great job singing and looking cute. She's my girl. I am also so proud of Ashley this year too. She finished her freshman year strong, even though we were concerned about the difficult academics she would be facing at her new school. Her highest grade is in Greek. She has consistently kept around an 97-99 average in the course and will be taking Greek 2 next year.

4. I'm thankful for my friends. I love each and everyone of you so much. Some are only a few miles away, some are hundreds of miles away and one is literally a continent away. You encouragement me with your support and prayers and make me want to live for God even more. A special thanks to my friend Tiffany in Florida. I went out for a 4 night stay with her beautiful family. Let's just say that girl could put Martha Stewart to shame. What a hostess! She lives right on the bay in New Symrna Beach with the most amazing view of a sunset I've ever seen. I miss her sweet and funny kids already and can't wait till we visit again. Thanks also to my dear friend Liana in Germany who recently showered me with gifts in the mail. She is just like that. I always joke around that I'm her sponsored child from the USA. Can't wait to bless her family back this summer when she visits.

5. I'm thankful that in less than 2 weeks my family is moving back home. That is, we are moving back to the home we own, but couldn't sell after a year on the market, and then we finally leased it. Remember? We had to rent here for six months and then that turned into a year. Anyway, we are so happy to go home and thank God for all of it!

That's all I have time for today. Hoping all of you have a very blessed day and find something to be thankful for too. If you would like to join in on Thankful Thursday, go here and leave your link.

May 26, 2009

Jon and Kate Plus 8, Mel Gibson and The List Goes On

DIVORCE. I'm sick of it, and I'm not even the one going through it. Every time I turn on the tv, or tune into a radio show, I am bombarded with the fact that one in two marriages end in divorce. It doesn't even seem to matter if they're Christians or not, it is still happening every where and every day.

Since my parents divorced after 24 years of marriage, I have a personal negative feeling when I hear about about a couple splitting up. It is not that I don't love the new step parents that I have (because I do so much), it is just the family unit is never the same. Every time we have a birthday party, a holiday celebration, or anything we want to share with the family as a whole, I always get a small sick feeling in my stomach. Will everyone get along? Will everyone feel equally loved and comfortable in the surroundings? Will anyone not come because of who will or will not be there? This is just a few of the questions that divorced families have to consider. I can't even imagine if my parents would have divorced when I was young, but a lot of my friend's parents have and there were often serious problems that stick with them even today.

Unless you live under a rock, you may not have heard about the Gosselin family's recent marriage problems. My kids absolutely love Jon and Kate Plus 8. In fact they know each of the Gosselin kids so well that they could pick them out of a line up, describe each of their personalities, and tell you what their favorite things to do are. I never watch Jon and Kate with them unless they beg and last night, they begged. What I was not expecting to see was the reactions I got from each of my kids. The emotions ranged from sadness to anger, complete silence to confusion. My kids have grown to love this family and look forward to spending time with them each week via the television. It is hard to watch this family they love so much go through the struggles they are now facing.

I guess my kids are going through some of the same emotions I faced recently as I've watched some of my closest friends recently seperate. It is hard to understand, it is hard to believe and it is often hard to find sympathy. I feel immediately for the children and not my friends. I know it's wrong, but it is the truth. The kids are not the ones responsible-Period! However, they will have to pay the price for the parent's decision. You see, I know what happens down the road. I know on a small level, but I know. I also have close friends who have been through a divorce and have shared with me how very hard the road is ahead. Even when they know they made the best decision they could, it still is tough. Divorce is hard, plain and simple.

Since the Gosselins have not yet divorced, we are going to continue to pray for a miracle, a change of heart. We want that for every family who is struggling right now over a possible divorce. I know only God can truly heal a marriage and bring a couple back together when it seems impossible. Luckily our God is a God who specializes in the impossible.

If you are going through a tough time in your marriage, please get counseling, please share your struggles with your christian friends who can pray for you and encourage you. Don't wait until it is too late to be open and honest. Most of all, give your marriage over to your Saviour who is ready and willing to do a mighty work. Let Him in and believe that things can change through His power and strength. God bless!

May 15, 2009

Calluses of the Heart

The dictionary defines a callus as an especially toughened area of skin which has become relatively thick and hard in response to repeated friction, pressure or other irritation. I have actually had several of these come about on my fingers and feet through the years, but they eventually go away. However the ones that you can't see, the ones on my heart, are taking a while to heal.

Have you ever had a best friend move? I never quite understood why some of the best friends God gives me are for such a short time? When I think about 3 girls in particular that God literally snatched hundreds, even thousands of miles away from me, just when we were at that comfortable call each other every day stage, it makes me wonder if God didn't want me to focus less on them for my growth and enjoyment, and instead bring my focus back to Him.

Have you ever left a church? I hear the "Uh huhs" coming through the blogosphere now. I know because some of you have shared on your blogs the heartache, the hurts and the experiences that were almost unbearable. Why is it that church is more like a family than family sometimes? I know the answer, but just asking your opinion. It is because the church is family to us. When I look back just 4 years ago, most of the friends I saw and shared life with on a daily basis are not my gals now. Sure we still chat on the surface and pray when a need arises for one another, but the bond was broken because of a choice where to serve (or in my case, where my husband followed God to serve). I think the part that hurts the most when you choose to leave is that the bond between the other girls is still stronger than ever, just you are no longer a part of it.

A third callus causer is really hard to share because it is the callus that develops because of me. I have only severed a few close friendships in my life. The reasons vary from they hurt me continually with their words, I couldn't deal with their personal decisions, and honestly the last one is the friendship literally wore me out emotionally. Looking back on these three are the hardest because I did have a choice. I had a choice to keep the friendship and just love the person through it all, but I didn't. Thankfully out of these 3, there is one I am once again working on. Building trust and healing a wound that lasted over 3 years is hard, but when the girl was your best friend since your Barbie playing days, there is something that's definitely worth fighting for in the end.

Just a few days ago I read a blog post of a friend. She was calling out her friends by name and thanking them for being so supportive to her through the last few years. It's funny because I almost expected to see my name. I haven't shared life with all of them in a couple of years and I somehow momentarily forgot that I wasn't in "the group". I actually started crying and feeling sorry for myself. "Why God?" I asked. "Why do I care and why can't I just be grateful and happy where you have placed me today and make those new bonds with the girls who need a friend like me?" My human understanding and answer would be-Why would I ever want to love and bond so fully when I could just as easily get hurt again? I also asked God right then and there "If you really love me, can't you just give me a new start? Or can't I just have some of the old friendships back again?"

His answer came the next morning as I was reading Deuteronomy 30. Somehow I've never, ever in all my years of bible study, come across these verses. Maybe they just never stuck before, but they did this day. I'm going to write out the entire passage, but I'm highlighted where I feel God said, "Listen up child."

"Here's what will happen. While you're out among the nations where God has dispersed you and the blessings and curses come in just the way I have set them before you, and you and your children take them seriously and come back to God, your God, and obey him with your whole heart and soul according to everything that I command you today, God, your God, will restore everything you lost; he'll have compassion on you; he'll come back and pick up the pieces from all the places where you were scattered. No matter how far away you end up, God, your God, will get you out of there and bring you back to the land your ancestors once possessed. It will be yours again. He will give you a good life and make you more numerous than your ancestors. God, your God, will cut away the thick calluses on your heart and your children's hearts, freeing you to love God, your God, with your whole heart and soul and live, really live. God, your God, will put all these curses on your enemies who hated you and were out to get you. And you will make a new start, listening obediently to God, keeping all his commandments that I'm commanding you today. God, your God, will outdo himself in making things go well for you: you'll have babies, get calves, grow crops, and enjoy an all-around good life. Yes, God will start enjoying you again, making things go well for you just as he enjoyed doing it for your ancestors. But only if you listen obediently to God, your God, and keep the commandments and regulations written in this Book of Revelation. Nothing halfhearted here; you must return to God, your God, totally, heart and soul, holding nothing back. This commandment that I'm commanding you today isn't too much for you, it's not out of your reach. It's not on a high mountain—you don't have to get mountaineers to climb the peak and bring it down to your level and explain it before you can live it. And it's not across the ocean—you don't have to send sailors out to get it, bring it back, and then explain it before you can live it. No. The word is right here and now—as near as the tongue in your mouth, as near as the heart in your chest. Just do it! Look at what I've done for you today: I've placed in front of you Life and Good, Death and Evil. And I command you today: Love God, your God. Walk in his ways. Keep his commandments, regulations, and rules so that you will live, really live, live exuberantly, blessed by God, your God, in the land you are about to enter and possess. But I warn you: If you have a change of heart, refuse to listen obediently, and willfully go off to serve and worship other gods, you will most certainly die. You won't last long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. I call Heaven and Earth to witness against you today: I place before you Life and Death, Blessing and Curse. Choose life so that you and your children will live. And love God, your God, listening obediently to him, firmly embracing him. Oh yes, He is life itself, a long life settled on the soil that God, your God, promised to give your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob."

I have to add that the day before God placed these verses before me, we found out that our lease tenants are leaving 2 months earlier than expected. It puts us back in our home sooner than expected with many obstacles to overcome in the next month before we move. I think it is so strange that God is bringing me back to my exact home that we could not sell, same neighborhood and same surroundings, yet he is taking all the human comforts and many of the friendships I knew there completely out of the picture. I think He truly does want to give me a "new start" here. I can't wait to see how, as the verse says above, how God, my God, will outdo Himself! Your prayers are so appreciated.

May 3, 2009

Such an Amazing Night: Jaci Velasquez, Salvador and CircleSlide

What an amazing night of worship! Corpus Christi was treated to a concert by Christian recording artists Jaci Velasquez, Salvador and CircleSlide Friday night at Real Life Fellowship Church.

Here is front man Nic Gonzalez of Salvador taking the stage. They played some of my favorites such as "How Far is Heaven", "Shine" and "Aware." The whole crowd was on their feet as Salvador brought down the house, or I guess that would be church.

Jaci played all my favorites and blew everyone away with her phenomenal vocals on songs like "Lay It Down", "On My Knees", and "God So Loved". There are so many memories of my walk with God in her songs that I couldn't hold back the tears, especially during "Lay it Down." Even my 12 yr old son (who had no idea who she was) loved her!

Okay, this is my new favorite picture. Isn't it cool that I was able to meet someone face to face who has sung to me about my Heavenly Father so many times in my ipod. She was precious! Jaci has two little boys and one is only 8 weeks old. She also happens to be married to Salvador's lead singer Nic Gonzalez.

Nic was awesome to take a moment to chat with my son Seth and take a picture. This guy is not only a extraordinary musician and vocalist, he is madly in love with his wife and kids and talked about them constantly throughout the show. Can't wait to see all the great things ahead for Salvador and Jaci Velasquez. If you would like to check out their sites go here and here for more info.

Last, but certainly not least, we have the opening act of the concert. CircleSlide was OFF THE HOOK! I had never heard of this group before, but me, along with everyone in attendance, became instant fans. They quickly sold out of all their cds and special orders had to be taken on the spot. They are a christian rock band that I'm sure you will be hearing more from soon. I got to hang out with lead singer Gabe Martinez's sweet wife Debbie and quickly saw their passion for reaching people for Christ through their music. My son Seth was blown away by Gabe's guitar and harmonica sounds that left everyone on their feet wanting to hear more. Gabe also took time to talk with my son and everyone in attendance. Great guy and great band!
Go here to check out their music.

May 1, 2009

My Sweet "Esther" Friends

We concluded our last Esther Bible study group this Thursday with a very first for me as a bible study leader. The same six that started are the same six that finished strong. It was a small group, but it was an amazing group. I am so proud to be called their friend. God put together a group that faced some private huge obstacles and prayer needs like I've never encountered before, but God brought each of us through victoriously.

We laughed, we cried, we prayed, and we got to know our beautiful Saviour even more. Every week the ladies seem to outdo each other with our brunch items. I blame all my weight I am trying to work off on their yummy treats. Here is Debbie and my "English" friend Heide. I could listen to her accent forever. They became bestest friends during this study. It makes my heart melt with joy.

Here is my girl Michelle and our youngest member Theresa. Talk about some hearts of gold. Theresa's sweet man is coming home from Bahrain this next week. We all tried to shower her with love to fill in the gaps from her husband being gone for months. Have fun Theresa and we wish you the best on your next season of life. Wish you were stationed here next.

Really and truly we are all waiting for our King who is coming for us. I gave each of the girls a crown and scepter to remember our study of Queen Esther. If this picture looks weird with me in front, it is because Skip had to photoshop me in since I took the picture of us. My man is good for anything media/techie.

My sweet girls blessed me with a beautiful card, picture frame and candle. As much as I want to burn that candle, I'll try to save it for our fall study. If truth be told, I don't think I'll make it another day. I needed a new candle in the worst way.

I love these precious "trust God" gift bags I found at the dollar store this week to fill with a few goodies for my girls. One of the main things God taught me during the study of Esther is that even though He wasn't on the written pages of Esther, He was ALL IN IT! I need to trust God that even when I can't feel Him or see how He is working something out in my life...He knows, sees and is at work for my good. He is for your good too!