Wednesday, October 31, 2012

One Fun Afternoon

Children need the freedom and time to play. Play is not a luxury. Play is a necessity. ~Kay Redfield Jamison

Sunday afternoon we celebrated a child's birthday with her parents, our friends. They planned to go to an inflatable place so our children could jump around after going for pizza, but when the mother discovered the hours had changed and that the place was only open for just over an hour on Sunday, she called me to find out if Saturday would be better as the place was open for a few hours.

I knew that her husband and mine as well wanted to go hunting on Saturday, although mine did not end up going. I knew I might not be up for going out on Saturday myself. However, above all that I knew that one hour jumping around and climbing those large inflatable structures was more than enough time to tire any child of any age and activity level.

I have gone a few times, just a few, in the past with another homeschool-maybe parent and her child. From experience with watching the other children as well as my own, I could see that after that first hour things go south with the children quickly. There are more injuries, whining, tattle-telling, crying, and just plain unhappy children who never want to leave, but then can barely make the walk to the car in the parking lot.

I mentioned to the mother that I felt an hour and fifteen minutes, which was the span of time the place would be open, was just enough for the children to be worn out but not tip over into that frame of mind that spoils the entire event. Besides, after pizza they could come to our home have cake and ice cream and leave about an hour or so later allowing time for everything digest enough that the inflatable event would not have additional bad memories.

I could relate with this mother as I am a thrifty person wanting the most for my money and I am the mother of an only child also. I think it is common of parents with one child to try to have more experiences and pack in as much as you can because the child has no siblings and so few playmates. This family lives in a more remote place than we do, but her child goes to school. I have had about five and a half more years of experience wrestling with this compensating the only child syndrome, so I reassured her that it would no matter how long the children were there, it would not be long enough for them from their point of view, but it would be plenty of time for them to wear themselves out.

The fathers spent fifteen minutes in one inflatable with the children and returned worn out and sweaty. The mother was not going in one herself, but just a few minutes before closing time my daughter ran up to say that her daughter was hurt and crying. Next thing I knew we both were in front of the inflatable. She quickly kicked off her shoes and dove into the opening of the inflatable maze--I should take this moment to explain that opening was a rather snug fit so when she dove in, she did not clear the opening easily. She began laughing at her own predicament immediately. Realizing it would take her a few minutes to get to her child, I walked around the ouside and spotted the child. She was no longer crying. I inquired about what was wrong and she said she had bent her toe as she dove towards the next chamber in the maze all smiles. Her poor mother was still in the first chamber still laughing at her own struggles and now our husbands were pushing the sides back and forth so she could not keep her balance at all and she wasn't doing that well before they began. She finally exited the maze some minutes later saying that was the hardest thing she had ever done in her life...and I did not have the heart to tell her at that moment that she is still young in her motherhood. hour and fifteen minutes was plenty time enough to wear out everyone. I felt worn out before I even got there as I was still not over this illness myself so I did not tempt fate.

When we arrived at home, my daughter poured herself out of the car and walked so slowly that I felt she was in a time warp. When she got inside, she sat down and stared blankly at nothing, as if she could not hear me saying the cats needed to be fed. She could barely function even after a shower and eating. Her mood the rest of the evening was precarious at best, but I was sure she would sleep well and she did.

~ Thank you, my Lord, for the fun times we enjoy with our children and friends. ~

Saturday, October 27, 2012

It is All About Pleasing God

Will God ever ask you to do something you are not able to do? The answer is yes--all the time! It must be that way, for God's glory and kingdom. If we function according to our ability alone, we get the glory; if we function according to the power of the Spirit within us, God gets the glory. He wants to reveal Himself to a watching world.
~Henry T. Blackaby, Experiencing the Spirit: The Power of Pentecost Every Day

I have begun to think of each church service as a gardening experience with our hearts being the soil where we should want God's Spirit to take root and grow. Unfortunately, we all have some weeds that need to be uprooted because the heart's soil is vulnerable to so many kinds of seeds, and weeds can grow fast to choke out the Beauty purposely planted. Our hearts must be prepared and willing to have the Gardener pluck those weeds out. Our church services have sermons to cultivate spiritual understanding so we will bear the fruit of the Spirit. The praise and worship through music is the nourishment that prepares the soil and feeds the plant. Music is the orchestration of both rain and sunlight. It breaks up the hardened soil and moistens it with spiritual tears so that not only the Spirit's seeds easily spout, but that weeds are easily pulled out.

I wonder each week which seeds have taken root and grown. If each garden was well tended during the week, or if we are starting all over again with weeding and working hardened soil trying to give the Spirit every opportunity to break through.

Leading praise and worship is not a task, but a ministry. I knew that when I accepted the position. I knew that I would do it differently than it had been done. I also knew that I would do it well...NOT because I knew how to do it, but because I would devote it all, with my abilities and inabilities, completely to my Lord. I would sing with a weak voice to glorify His strength and He healed my vocal chords. I would listen to music and pray each week about which songs would please my Lord to be sung in the next service and then listen to Him as He guided the selection process. I was receiving compliments, which I admit was so encouraging to me personally, but I had to pass all to the One who deserved the credit and not consider compliments to be important to myself. I did not accept this ministry to please anyone else but my Lord.

I just have to write that again with emphasis (for me)! 

  • I did not do it because I desired or even like the responsibility of church leadership.
  • I did not do it to win approval from the church members.
  • I did not do it to continue how it was done before.

I did not accepted the praise and worship
ministry to please anyone but my Lord!

This week the opportunity to be reminded of this conviction was provided. It was a merely a suggestion to change my approach done in the nicest way, but it made me think and pray and pray and pray and...stop praying to listen closely for the words from my Lord. Talking with God is always such a good thing! Adversity's greatest virtue is that it brings a person to his knees with a broken spirit seeking God's heart on the matter. So, let me praise in adversity, my Lord!

What can I say? There was a time that I might have done the same and I still might again. I may have suggested something to be done in a way that I would like more and have good reasons to back it up--but the only good reason is because it comes from the Lord, otherwise it does not necessarily have His blessing. Church people must to be open to change, I included as well, but more so, we need to be willing to change towards pleasing God more and more. My little heart is not without its own stubborn weeds, so I needed to take some time with my Lord to be sure I actually am pleasing Him with how I am doing everything.

My Lord reminded me that he healed my vocals cords, which He knew I wanted but did not ask for as a sign that I should accept the responsibilities of this ministry. He reminded me of how I go to Him each week in prayer while choosing songs. He reminded me of the times I had some songs in mind and that I scrapped all that work at the last minute on Saturday to use the songs He gave me then or that I was awaken early Sunday morning to change one song out for another or the order of the songs or add something else to the service I had not planned. That is God's doing because I like to know what I am going to do well in advance.

My weakness, His strength.

I am not without my weeds, but God reminded me of my willingness to listen and be guided and my heart's desire to please Him. Now I again have peace.

~ My Lord, how beautiful You are. Pull out the weeds of my own heart so that people will see the Beauty of You through me. Help the people of my church hear and feel the prayers and pleadings of their hearts in the songs we sing. Let our songs be pleasing to You. ~

Friday, October 26, 2012

Sick (and Tired)

In order to change we must be sick and tired of being sick and tired.  ~Author Unknown

Even though my brain is not exactly working on all thrusters--and I write that because it disturbs me that you might not notice the difference--I will attempt to describe the last few weeks of my life. Let's see, three weeks ago my husband's mother woke in the very early morning with a familiar acute symptoms that happen when she is passing a kidney stone so she asked visiting family members of a nearby neighbor to take her to the hospital and take care of her dog. Her dog is in a very fragile state and needs lots of extra care. This time the doctor wanted to insert a stent, which is a minor surgery.

When Mom gave him that news, my husband decided to fly down to Florida to help out. The Princess had been begging to see her grandma for months so I suggested she go as well and let me have a break as I was pretty burned out. We used up all our SkyMiles on this one because it was booked on the day of the flight, but it did not cost us anything. I believe that was on Sunday afternoon.

They took over care for the dog and visited Mom at the hospital. They were booked to return on Friday, but as it happened Mom did not pass the stone and her heart began beating out of rhythm, so she was still in the hospital on Friday. Now, here's the thing. My mother-in-law takes medication for high blood pressure regularly and anxiety as needed, and whenever she is given news she does not like--for instance, "you will not be released today because you have not passed the stone" and later "your heartbeat is irregular so you need more tests"--it is very likely her anxiety level goes up and when her anxiety level increases it is very likely it could and would effect her blood pressure, therefore her heart as well. My husband told the hospital she would be checking out, after this cycle started getting too obvious and ridiculous. A few hours after she knew she was going home, her heart was fine--big surprise! She went home after my husband dropped off our daughter at the airport.

I jumped ahead a bit. My husband had taken a whole week off from work and was asked to work in Tampa (three hours away on the other side of Florida) the next week. At that point, Mom was still in the hospital and my daughter was still in Florida too. My husband was determined to have Mom home on Sunday afternoon at the latest but he was not absolutely certain about that and he could not get a seat on the same flight so the Princess would be flying back...ALONE!

Now I know she has flown a few times with her father and I know the flight attendants are very attentive of the unaccompanied children, but that was my child on that flight. Without either of her parents. All by herself. Alone. Now my anxiety levels are up and my heart is not beating in a good rhythm.

I arranged the praise and worship for Sunday services so that it was incredibly simple as someone with no experience would be running the media. Later, I would be leaving to get to the airport in plenty of time. I even found an excellent parking space! I began thinking this would all go quite well.

But...that is where the all-is-going-well stuff ended.

As much as my husband has flown in the past few years, I have not flown since 1997...yeah, that was before 9-11-2001 and all the changes in security, additions to the airport, and the remodel. I have not even gone into the airport except to pick up my aunt and uncle once some years ago. My husband had it set up that I would be able to get a gate pass and pick up my daughter when she got off the plane. However, I had to go to a particular counter to get it. There is only one person in front of me, a younger woman with a four-year-old who missed his nap is acting like he had too much candy for lunch. The family had just moved here a few months ago and her eleven-year-old son happened to have been visiting his grandma in her home town so he was on the same flight as my daughter.

We waited...and waited.....and.......waited. The two people working at the counter were busy but with only two customers. One was answering a woman's questions about her daughter traveling alone and the other was dealing with some kind of issues with a dog. The questioning woman leaves and her counter person goes over to help the other with the dog. In the meantime, two groups come up escorted by airline employees. One is an elderly woman in a wheelchair and the other is a family having issues with a missing boarding pass. Both do not get into line behind us, but are placed in front of us. Now we have been waiting about 20 minutes before we get our turn at the counter which takes another five minutes and we still have security to get through...and I will not bother to write what an ordeal security was with a crabby preschooler as I was waiting for his mother. Plus, the Atlanta airport is very big and it takes quite a bit of time to take the transport and then walk the remaining way to the gate.

As I walk up to the gate, I see a flight attendant walking out holding Rachel Rebecca, my daughter's large doll. My daughter was right behind her and did not yet see me so she had that look. If you have ever been a parent you know that look--it is the searching the horizon on the edge of abysmal panic. It silently screams "Mama, where are you?" I was only fifteen feet away, but it felt like I was in a dream where I am running but not really moving. I called her name and said "I am right in front of you"...twice, before she finally connected. Then the child was all smiles. My first thought: I would go through hell to get to you, my child. And the realization of the depths of this truth actually surprised me!

Anyway, she was home with me again and we started on our week. Monday was what I expected it to be with trying to ease back into routine. That following Tuesday was the last one with us taking care of the horse barn. (I still am trying to figure out how to "do it all" and keep doing the barn just feels like I should be able to do it all, even though in practice it was just so not working.) On that morning, the Princess mentions she had a sore throat. We did the barn; by afternoon she is acting like she really does not feel well and does not want to eat. I had a pressure headache, which I thought was from the dust at the barn. Wednesday, the Princess was worse and she started having a fever. I still had the headache and it was worse so I finally took half the dosage of a sinus medicine because I hate feeling doped up and it was just enough to work, thankfully. Thursday we cancelled piano lessons, but the Princess was beginning to feel better in the afternoon although her sinuses were draining constantly and she had that residual cough she tends to get with any tickles in her throat.

My husband originally had scheduled Thursday and Friday off, but he only needed to work a few hours Thursday morning and came home in the early evening, so we had to pick him up at the airport. Sugar, my daughter's breeding rabbit, finally had her kindle of nine before we left for the airport (One kit was outside of the nest and had gotten too cold but warmed up and survived when I placed him back in the kindle.) My husband also had Monday and Tuesday off. We were planning to go to apple country, just a two hour drive north to get apples and enjoy the autumn colors and hike. My husband planned to hunt a day or two also. Instead he processed the rabbits he had hoped to process the previous weekend and took care of other things.

One of the other things he took care of was...well, everything. On Sunday, we went to church and did our usual things. I led praise and worship, my husband handled the media, and the Princess played "It is Well with My Soul" flawlessly on the piano. We came home and ate. Things are normalizing and maybe we can go to the apple country on Monday or Tuesday, if my daughter's little cough gets under control. We might pass on hiking and enjoy the downtown shops instead. That would have been so nice, but after Sunday dinner, I ate something sweet and then...BAM! I had a really bad sore throat. Just like that. I did not have it and then I did.

So, it has been two days of sore throat with fever starting on Tuesday. Fever broke Tuesday night, but Wednesday I still feel bad with sinuses draining. I did go out briefly to get water and vote early. Thursday, which was just yesterday, I felt so drained and sinuses were still draining, but my daughter had not been to a piano lesson for two weeks. The teacher was sick two weeks ago and the Princess was in Florida the week after, so I was determined to get her there as she has a casual recital at a coffee shop on the first Sunday in November. However, I really should not have gone out. My mind was not with me all day as I made silly little mistakes and I felt drained of energy.

By the time we got home--I have to stop and write how much it is such a treat when my husband is working from home for the week and even more so when he is home in the early evening! By the time we got home, I was done for the day. My husband and daughter, without me saying a word, put away most of the groceries and took care of the animals and dinner. I checked my temperature and it was not has high as it was before, but still higher than it should have been, so I rested in bed all evening.

Today, I am still not feeling well and I am not going anywhere. Did I mention that I do not do sick well?

~ My Lord, thank you for reminding me of how limiting sickness is. I accept Your healing. ~

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Product Review: Glade Expressions Collection

Who doesn't like their home to have a pleasing fragrance? As a Bzzagent, I was given the opportunity to try two Glade Expressions products free in exchange for this review. I chose Pineapple & Mangosteen for the oil diffuser with the wood grain décor because I love tropical scents. It is described as a blend of freshly cut pineapples and hint of tangy mangosteen, creamy coconut and passionflower. The first ten days the fragrance was quite strong and yummy smelling--it made me crave pineapple. Later it was a nice subtle fragrance that I prefer. The diffuser has a pleasant look and I like that the oil cannot spill.

For the fragrance mist, I wanted to use Lavender & Juniper Berry, however after hunting for it in six different stores, I could not find it. I could only find that scent in the oil diffuser. I ended up getting the Pineapple & Mangosteen in the spray as well. Had I known it was going to be impossible to find I would have switch fragrances using the Lavender for the diffuser and Pineapple for the spray.

As fragrances go, there are only four from which to chose, but you are likely to find at least one you will like--unless you live in my area and are looking for Lavender & Juniper Berry in the fragrance mist, that is.

Generally, I enjoyed the fragrance, but I am not one to like scented products because of potential toxins, but S. C. Johnson & Son has made efforts to avoid known carcinogens and other harmful chemicals. Still, I have concerns about using any fragrance continually, but it is refreshing now and then.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

My Lord Heals! He Healed Me

Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed; Save me and I will be saved, For You are my praise. ~Jeremiah 17:14

I did mention this in a recent post, but I feel I was just too timid about it. Perhaps I really did not believe it or just was not as sure as I am now so I buried it in a post. I am one who believes yet asks my Lord to help my unbelief. So, forgive me if you have read this before. It is not a brag on me, but on my Lord.

Let us dance and sing and praise the Lord today for His love shown through His miracles. For the miracle itself is wondrous but His love is far more the greatest gift, the greatest miracle!

My Lord Loves Me!

My Lord Healed My Vocal Cords!

I have cowardly tried singing songs now and then since, testing the waters, but in fear that a plunge would prove my disillusion. Instead, I found that my voice is stronger than I have ever known it to be and it sounds so much better. Still, I knew from over years of experience since my speaking days that the more I sang, the more I would eventually stress those weaker cords too much and have problems getting through some songs again, so I would not want to stress them too much.

There are tricks I had to do to dealing with the loss of my voice right in the middle of my range when singing, like choosing songs that are on the lower end of my range or higher and purposely softening around and into the notes I knew would not hold the same volume so as to mask my voice dropping off abruptly. No one really knew except when I told them. I think everyone thought I had a nice voice but I was just not a strong singer...well, I did tell everyone I was not a strong singer so I suppose that is what they would believe.

Healings differ. Some happen over time, some happen miraculously days later, and some happen in an instant, but all happen at my Lord's pleasure. This one happened quickly. Perhaps too quickly. One day I noticed a heaviness at my throat as if it was being pressed against and when I asked my Lord, He told me He had healed my vocal cords.

I believed it in that moment. Later, however, I was afraid that I just thought He told me this. That it was just something I wanted to believe. That even if He did that I could mess it up. The way my Lord heals may differ, but when He heals, there is healing.

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
O my soul!
Worship His holy name!
Sing like never before,
O my soul!
I'll worship Your holy name!

And, this is the part I would like for you to understand, my dear friend, if God loved me enough to show His love through the healing my vocal cords, He also loves you enough to heal you in your need also. There is no doubt in my mind that God heals and desires to heal us as all are healed in His Kingdom. Are we not already in His Kingdom when we come to accept His Son as our Savior?

I have seen too many healings to doubt my Lord's love, but I am still amazed when it happens to me. Wouldn't you like to be as amazed by God's love today? Please give me the opportunity to pray for and with you today by leaving a message here or email me. I love being an obedient servant in God's healings as much as being a recipient!

~ Thank You, my Lord, for Your Healing Love. Bless You. ~

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Book Review: Unglued

Why had I become completely unglued about bathroom towels? Towels, for heaven's sake. Towels!
~Lysa TerKeurst in Unglued

Ladies, I have the book for you! Trust me, you need it. First of all, let's judge this book by its cover: a woman bent over on top of a rock in the middle of a nowhere field screaming into a large yellow bag. Need I say more? How many times have you felt just that way?

Unlgued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions by Lysa TerKeurst is a raw emotion vs. spirit empowerment revelation with intimate confessions of unglued moments and engaging Biblical wisdom. She invites the reader to journey with her "imperfect progress" toward holiness. Although there are large portions of meat in the principles, there is the spice of sarcasm and sweet, tender desserts in the author's personal and humorous confessions that compliment this spiritual feasting. Yes, this is a book I ate up eagerly. It is written in a lighthearted style, but is raw in conviction. I felt Lysa TerKeurst's welcoming embrace of been there, done that, might do it again but trying not to understanding and love through her writing. Perhaps it spoke to me more because it was such a timely read as I was struggling with my own overloaded schedule and was having more unglued moments than usual.

TerKeurst describes four types of unglued reactions that women tend to do (men too, I suspect): the exploder who shames herself, the exploder who blames others, the stuffer who builds barriers, and the stuffer who collects retaliation rocks. I agree with the author's comments that there is not one that we do all the time, but rather we do them all in differing situations. Identifying and classifying our reactions is one thing, but then what do we do?

The author created a "Biblical Procedure Manual" for the purpose of "positioning [your] heart into the flow of God's power"--such a compelling description!--for those oncoming unglued moments based on the story of King Jehoshaphat reaction to being hopelessly surrounded by armies of neighboring nations.

  • Step 1: Remember who you are (to and in your Lord).
  • Step 2: Redirect your focus to Jesus.
  • Step 3: Recognize God's job isn't your job.
  • Step 4: Recite thanks and praises to God.
  • Step 5: Realize reactions determine reach.

TerKeurst's descriptions of unsubstantiated, imprisoning, critical, negative mind chatter sprinkled throughout the book is spot on. Her technique of using scriptural ammunition to fight it off is effective and practical. However, the very last chapter is what surprised me and thank you, Lysa, for also writing that coming unglued isn't all bad, that it can be an outward expression of internal indications (things that we hide away but eat at our spirits) or just an overloaded, overwhelming schedule...both are fixable. The things broken inside us can also be used to bring us broken spiritually before our Lord and knowing that we come unglued on others at times, can also help us to understand that when others come unglued on us that it may not be about us, but something internal in them that needs tender, loving us the opportunity to position our hearts into the flow of God's power.

I received this book for free from Zondervan in exchange for my honest review.

~ My Lord, thank You for providing this book when I needed it most and bless all those who were involved with bringing it into my hands and heart. You are so amazing!~

Friday, October 5, 2012

One Less Thing

All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another. ~Anatole France

My aunt has always been the all-or-nothing type of person and she has lived her life as though she believed that anything she had not mastered was just something she had not yet tried. She also has always been quite discerning about matching her desires and talents, but no job was beneath her. In times of necessity, she just does what is necessary. She has always been one to get by with what she had, learn about what she did not know how to do, and then just make it work. She loved music so she took piano and voice lessons. Then she formed two singing groups: one large one with about 50 teens and another small one that started as a soft Christian rock band and evolved into the country gospel one I was in. Even though she is in her seventies now, she is still leading a choir for two productions each year. She always scheduled time to read, play an instrument, do art, and rest, because even she believed she worked hard enough to earn time for those pleasures. She still milks goats twice a day and works in the gardens. From the time I can remember she could out work most men and always took on more than most people would do. In fact, she worked at a technical college after having graduated from there with a business degree in her forties and when she retired in her sixties, they hired three full-time people to replace her and still begged her to come back to work part-time.

Needless to say, my aunt is one of the people I admire and strive to be like. Actually, we have some similarities in that when I do something, I give it all I have and try to it better than it was done before or do more than would be expected. I throw myself into whatever I do, until I am completely exhausted and unable or quite roughly tossed back out, because I just see complications and difficulties as expected in life's course, rather than signs. There must be a way that I can make it work!

Obviously, there is a downside to being this type of person:

There is always more things I can take on
...and once I have committed myself to a long term task,
I have difficulty ending it.

This leads to sometimes having too much to do
...and not enough of me to do them.

Sadly, I rarely take hints, even from my Lord, that I need to back out politely and gracefully at times, so He usually has to be very direct and leave no doubt in my mind and even back me into corners so that I have only one choice, which is out. I don't like giving up or giving in, yet in my heart, I want to listen better, obey quicker, and please Him more, which sometimes requires me to do those things.

My dear readers have been reading the moanings of my heart: Time Slipping Away and Where Has My Peace Gone? My poor husband and daughter have been enduring my weekly meltdowns for weeks mostly because I now have the added task of preparing the praise and worship part of our church services. At this point, it takes hours to do this well, probably because of my inexperience with picking music to flow, preparing lyrics to be projected, and learning the songs well enough to be comfortable to lead them. I would enjoy them more if I did not feel that I have to squeeze them into a schedule that is already overloaded. Still, I feel this new task brings pleasure to my Lord.

In fact, I am sure it pleases Him, because this week my Lord healed my vocal cords. Yes, He did! I had been asking for this because I caused damage to my vocal cords when I used to lecture. Within the tight range I used for speaking, my singing voice would just be extremely weak on certain notes and I tend to go hoarse after phone conversations or speaking for just a half an hour. I felt a heaviness in my throat last week asked my Lord what was happening and felt Him tell me that He was healing my voice. Last Sunday, I sang without a crack, without weakness on any note! I ran scales on our piano and my voice range is strong and nearly as broad as it was when I was young.

I have an amazing God! Worthy of all praise!

So...the question has been: am I to keep doing everything that is the most pleasing to my Lord for He is worthy of my obedience?

A few nights ago, my husband asked me to consider a Christian private school for the Princess, because he felt I did not enjoy homeschooling anymore and we are going to be out of credit card debt before the end of this month. (YAY! to that payment being gone.) I would have time by myself every day to devote to other things that I would like to do, but we would be constrained to a school schedule and that alone is not really appealing with my husband's erratic work schedule. Worse is that we would have to rearrange everything from helping at the horse barn to piano lessons, because everything would have to be in the evening when she would have homework to keep up with a class. When would she have time to play with friends? No, I felt certain that was not a solution nor God's leading. The main reason I have not been enjoying homeschooling is because I feel I am not doing it well and I feel rushed to fit everything into three days each week, so that my only child has some time to play with friends as I feel that is important for her.

Am I to give up the classical homeschool approach? To be honest, that is not been given the full commitment necessary to make it work for us and a good part of that is that I really am only doing the core lessons on three days each week or less if my husband takes off Monday or Friday as a comp day, or gets home early on Friday (rare but it happens). What falls by the wayside is art, violin, writing, science, or history. I try to rotate which so that they are all covered some, but that is not the way I would like for it to be. She loves science, writing, violin, and art. She also seems to like history to a lesser degree, but that may be because I am not really working history the way I hoped.

I still feel called to homeschool. I feel called to lead praise and worship. I feel called to be a wife, mother, and keeper of my home. I feel my daughter's calling has something to do with art, writing, and music...and maybe the last one has something to do with why I am the praise and worship leader now?

Here's the part that hurts...I do not feel called to take care of the horse barn. I prayed before she was born that my daughter would be gifted in music and ride horses. She is gifted in music, very much so, and she has ridden horses, but she may not love riding and caring for the horses. I love it so much. I would go everyday if I could, but my daughter seems to be basically okay with it. We have been going to the horse barn since we had the second van, over a year and a half. We have been working the barn in the mornings mostly by ourselves for over a year. My daughter still does not have that knack for horses I hoped would develop and that may be in part because there are so many to care for all with their own personalities and quirks. I am thinking if she had just one or two with which she really could interact more intimately, she would feel differently. Maybe riding lessons would be a better solution...?

At this point, I feel whatever we do with horses, if we continue to do anything with horses, it would be better to do in the evening. She still wants to be a part of 4-H and that is doable for us as it works around school hours on evenings, weekends, and school breaks, but not every week. I feel at peace with this decision finally--perhaps the wake up call was my husband suggesting private school, which would have forced this change anyway--still, I am not looking forward to talking with Miss Annette to tell her. I know that it is difficult for her to care for all the horses herself with her health conditions and there are few homeschooling families in the club, who are willing to take mornings, fewer she feels are confident with the horses and trustworthy for the barn responsibilities. I know that giving it up will burden her, so I am praying that my Lord will fill her need, so that it is not a burden for her.

~ My Lord, letting go of a commitment is very difficult for me, especially one that I love to do, but I am believing that there was a reason You placed working at the 4-H horse barn in ours lives for a season and a reason that You have lead us away for another season. Please, my Lord, be kind to your servant, Miss Annette, as I know she loves you and serves you through 4-H. Provide her with help at the barn so that she is not burdened from us no longer continuing to come on Tuesday mornings. ~

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Let's Talk About Miracles!

Miracles never cease to amaze me. I expect them, but their consistent arrival is always delightful to experience. ~Mark Victor Hansen

I knew for a few weeks that a praise and worship service was to be held on September 30th, which meant there would be no visiting pastor giving a sermon so I would be preparing the entire service. The thought that came to me when I first found out was that the service should be about miracles. As the week of planning approach though, I decided for myself (and not consulting my Lord), that doing a service on miracles was just what I wanted and I had doubts it would go well so I began thinking of doing it on some other topic. However, the question came up the previous Sunday and out from my mouth I heard, "It will be on miracles." Even I was surprised I had said it, so then I got to thinking maybe, just maybe, my Lord wanted it to be on miracles and He had been leading me to do it all along. I am more than willing to concede that all brilliant ideas are really not my own, so I was okay with it being God's idea, but my husband loves to say:

--And that's when the fight broke out!

I ashamed to say that fight was between my Lord and me. Yes, I have been known to wrestle with Him about some things now and then, I am ashamed to say. You see, my church--that would be the people--is not only conservative in nature but on the reserved side as well. We are friendly and accepting of anyone who comes in the door but not really outgoing to get people into that door. We invite and are welcoming, but we do not pursue and draw in well. I guess for the most part, we are not risk takers and that definitely includes me. I began to fear that a service on miracles would be...well, it could be risky! Not the "stone her" or "throw her out" risky, but "you need to tone it down, girl" or "we appreciate your enthusiasm, but we would like the praise and worship more like it used to be."

The people of my church are loving, committed, steadfast believers, who I believe really desire to follow God wherever He leads. Most churches have 20% (or less) who are the doers...we are that 20%. Everyone else has left. So, now that we are down to the core, what would God have us do?

What, indeed.

Apparently, my Lord would have a woman with a weak voice, who has never been considered a leader before, leading the praise and worship portion of the Sunday services and periodically the entire service when we cannot schedule a pastor to deliver a sermon. Sometimes, I am amazed at how God picks the weak to show His strength...and I certainly needed His strength to do this. I think I have surprised people, because given a mic and an audience, I am not the quiet (tongue-biting, actually) person they have known and given that I am leading in the worship of my Lord--well, I can barely contain my spirit within the confines of my body. There is still a little girl in me that wanted and promised--yeah, I actually did promise and it seems God has a really good memory about such things--to sing for my Lord forever.

Singing one well-rehearsed solo song once in awhile is one thing, singing in a group with well-rehearsed songs is another thing, but choosing several different songs and leading a congregation in singing every week is quite different...but then my Lord knew that and He said I could do it, even though I still need convincing from Him nearly every week.

I asked everyone to share any miracles they have experienced or witnessed. A few shared some very good things. My husband surprised me too. I personally had a difficult time choosing which miracles I would share that day. Yes, I have seen many and been the recipient of quite a few also. I chose to tell of my uncle's deliverance from smoking pipes, even the smell of tobacco was gone from his clothes and their home from that moment on. My aunt was told she would be blind by the time she was thirty and she was healed that same night, but the evidence of the healing of her eyes was gradual over several days.

You have to understand that my aunt and uncle (and myself with them) were Baptists and Baptists are cessationists, believing that the gifts of the Holy Spirit ended with the apostles or when the Bible was canonized. Being a teenager, I was not into theology, but I knew that things we talked about at home were not things others discussed at church. In my aunt's home, we lived believing in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, so I have seen, heard, and received many miracles in my life. I expect God to do miraculous things...He's God!

Over the years, I have come to realize that most Christians I know believe God can do such things, but doesn't or just doesn't really do miraculous things for them. Few ask for signs of confirmation. Few ask for intercessory prayers. Few ask for other believers to pray for confirmation of a message they believe came from the Lord. I do all these and have been asked by others as well. Fewer ask for healing while believing that healing is God's will. Are some not healed? Yes, that is true and that makes praying for healing risky, but I believe far more people would be healed if we who call ourselves Christians trusted God first instead of placing our first faith in modern medicine and then seeking God when it fails us.

We need to exercise our faith and that requires risk. When we exercise our faith, we also need to recognize God's miracles. To illustrate this point, my husband, daughter, and I performed this skit...

During the service, I read a bit from The Essential Guide to Healing: Equipping All Christians to Pray for the Sick, a book I reviewed a few months ago. It has had so much impact on me. I read it wanting to understanding healings, but what I learned is a healing ministry is not about understanding but about doing as God wills and believing. Apparently I chose well for the service--again, that must be God's doing, not mine. My church not only received God's message well through songs, readings, and testimonies, they experienced something special with our Lord. I could see it. That in itself was a miracle to me and that I lead them to that--WOW! God is just so powerful in my weakness!

~ My Lord, thank You. Praise You for what You have done, are doing, and will do. Open our hearts and minds to not only be willing to receive, recognize, and acknowledge Your works, but to learn to give and do such works through Your Spirit. ~