Friday, June 19, 2009

seasons



The blessings of Summer are appreciated all the more after we have survived the Winter season.

If you look closely at the photo above, you can see a green pot just barely poking out of the snow on the right. Can you see it? That, my Friend, was our Hydrangea plant just six short months ago.

The picture at the very top of this post was taken yesterday. Beautiful, eh?

Who would have thought that this plant could survive such a crazy, cold Winter like we experienced in 2008? Especially here in Oregon?!?


As I look out my window, I see Summer everywhere I look. The trees are green and full of leaves, the flowers are in bloom. It's absolutely gorgeous outside. Everywhere I look I see beauty just waiting to be captured in a photo.


And yet, I have to admit, if my world looked like this 365 days a year, I don't think I would hold such great appreciation for all of the beauty I see.


In my own life, I have experienced cold, harsh Winters . At times everything in my life appeared to be lifeless and lacking color. It seemed like all hope was lost.

Just when I thought I couldn't survive another day, the snow and ice started to melt and the clouds began to part. Sure, the Spring rains came, but so did the sunshine and new life. And just like now, Summer followed right behind.

I have to believe that God chose to create seasons on Earth in order to help us better understand the spiritual seasons He brings us through.

As hard as the Winters may be, they are always, always worth the wait once we see the blossoms He brings in Spring and Summer.

One of my most favorite songs is Every Season by Nichole Nordeman. You can listen to a preview and purchase it from Amazon.com if you like it.


Every evening sky, an invitation
To trace the patterned stars
And early in July, a celebration
For freedom that is ours
And I notice You
In children’s games
In those who watch them from the shade
Every drop of sun is full of fun and wonder
You are summer

And even when the trees have just surrendered
To the harvest time
Forfeiting their leaves in late September
And sending us inside
Still I notice You when change begins
And I am braced for colder winds
I will offer thanks for what has been and was to come
You are autumn

And everything in time and under heaven
Finally falls asleep
Wrapped in blankets white, all creation
Shivers underneath
And still I notice you
When branches crack
And in my breath on frosted glass
Even now in death, You open doors for life to enter
You are winter

And everything that’s new has bravely surfaced
Teaching us to breathe
What was frozen through is newly purposed
Turning all things green
So it is with You
And how You make me new
With every season’s change
And so it will be
As You are re-creating me
Summer, autumn, winter, spring

Whatever season you find yourself in, Friend, know that He is always with you and His love is timeless.

LIVING A BLESSED LIFE and thoroughly soaking up this season's rays of Son.

Sweet blessings,

Thursday, June 18, 2009

beach day







What a day! I am blissfully tired...
and LIVING A BLESSED LIFE!
Praying you are too, my Friend!
Happy Summer!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

clean slates

This morning I was thinking about a key relationship in my life. After experiencing a season of incredible closeness and love, it feels like we have started growing a part.

When the realization hit me, I immediately felt sad. That feeling quickly changed to feeling hurt and offended. Before I knew it, I had a list of all of the recent ways that person had wounded me lately. Words spoken. Or not. Actions taken. Or not.

When I first realized there was a problem, my first thoughts were, "I wander what I can do to bridge the gap? What kind of nice gestures would this person appreciate? How can I make them feel special and loved?"

Godly thoughts, right?

Within seconds, however, the enemy had turned my attention from acts of love to thoughts of sin and judging. Surely, I wasn't the one in the wrong, right? (Wrong.)

Relationships take two people. Whenever a relationship is struggling, both individuals have a responsibility to take steps towards each other. It's never easy though, is it?

As soon as I realized the thoughts I was meditating upon weren't mine, I sought God's wisdom (and forgiveness.)

He responded immediately. I love it when that happens!

I heard the words "wipe the slate clean" whisper within my spirit. As only the Holy Spirit can do, He began to show me and teach me exactly what those words meant.

Yesterday I became so frustrated with one of my children's attitudes towards a sibling that I lashed out with harsh words and then went on to lecture. In anger. :-(

As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I knew I was doing exactly what my child was. And I knew it was sin.

I felt horrible. Awful. Dreadful. My sin not only hurt all three of my children, especially the one it was directed at, but it grieved my spirit. Deeply.

As soon as I could reign in my control (actually, as soon as I had my say,) I apologized, asked their forgiveness and then prayed out loud to God for forgiveness.

I won't lie. I carried that grief with me until this morning. Instead of feeling angry with my child, I was now angry at myself. I continued to rehearse over and over my sin and the horrible feelings that resulted.

In my mind I know that God forgives me every single time I sin and repent, but I couldn't imagine that He could forgive that sin.

It was so wrong. So hurtful. My poor child. And yet, I knew that I needed to receive His forgiveness in order to move forward.

As I heard the Spirit speak the words, "Wipe the slate clean," the struggles from yesterday soon began to meld with my struggles this morning. And then everything became crystal clear.

God was calling me to forgive the person I felt distant from. Rather than keep track of all of the ways this person I loved had hurt me or let me down, I was to forgive them. Immediately.

"Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart." Matthew 18:32-35

When I fail to forgive those who hurt me, I prevent the Lord from forgiving me. As my heart began to understand the complexity of this, I saw myself carrying a backpack full of stones. Each time I am wounded by another, I add that stone to my pack. Along with my own sins.

The reality is that I sin many times every day. Others sin against me many times, every day. The sins add up.
And, unfortunately, just living in this world can cause me to be offended. And the sins begin to multiple, as do the hurts.
"Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times" Matthew 18:21-22

We are called to wipe the slate clean each and every time we sin. Each and every time we are sinned against. If we choose to do it immediately, we reap the blessings God has for us. Peace. Love. Joy. All good stuff.

If not, we suffer the consequences of sin multiplied. Anger. Hurt. Pride. Revenge. Anxiety. Fear. Doubt. It goes on and on. And none of it is good.

I realized the beauty of Jesus' words. If someone sins against me 490 times, that's more than once a day for a solid year. If I forgive them immediately and allow God's Spirit to wash my heart clean, then the enemy loses his power and control over me. As does the hurt the sin brings.

I imagine that before I ever reach 400, I will no longer be phased by that particular sin. What an incredible thought that is. What freedom!

(That doesn't mean that we should allow someone to hurt us repeatedly. Boundaries and safety are in fact godly.)

And so, today, I wiped the slate clean. I chose to allow Christ's sacrifice on the cross be enough.

He carried the cross and bled for my sins. There is no reason that I should be carrying around such a heavy backpack. In fact, who needs a backpack anyway? :-)
Forgiveness and clean slates = LIVING A BLESSED LIFE!

Loving God's eraser,

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

swimming?

Last Friday I had a couple of hours to read while Chelsea was taking her test. Although I brought along my new copy of Tom Davis' new book, Scared, I wasn't able to relax enough to really enjoy it. (I was too busy praying for my sweet girl to remember all I had taught her this past year. Grin.)

Instead, I ended up reading my first copy of Relevant magazine from cover to cover.

Jay Kim wrote a short, but poignant article titled Swimming in the Sacred in the Reject Apathy column.

His fourth and fifth paragraphs especially struck a chord for me. (Personally, though, I'd rather not comment on Brad's personal beliefs. Not my place. Although I do understand the point that Jay is trying to make.) :-)

If you like the article, you may want to also check out some of links to related articles. While I may not agree with every viewpoint expressed by the magazine, I admit that I love being challenged and forced to look at tough topics.

Oftentimes, God uses others to show me that the box I've been keeping Him in a box. The best way for me to grow in my faith in Him is through a good dose of reality and an extra large helping of His love and goodness.

By the way, I have since started devouring Tom's new book and all I have to say is "Wow."

God is SO good, and in Him, I am LIVING A BLESSED LIFE!

Ready to go swimming?

Monday, June 15, 2009

what a weekend!










Friday started early. Chelsea had her 5th grade testing. She did GREAT and we are both thrilled to have that major milestone behind us. Bring on Summer!

After enjoying a nice lunch out, just the two of us, we made our way to Salem to finish off some adoption paperwork. Our official referral is supposed to come any day now. :-) Yay!

We met up with Geoff, Liam & Sara for the girls' dress rehearsal.

Sara practiced her dance to Stuart Little. We are so proud of her! The whole thing was a bit intimidating, but she seemed to have enjoyed herself.

Chelsea performed a very long tap dance to a song from Hairspray and a beautiful ballet dance to a song from Ella Enchanted. I can't believe she's been dancing for 8 years now. God has blessed her with an incredible gift, as well as self-confidence. Her smile just radiates during her performances.

The next day, Chelsea danced in two shows and Sara danced in the evening recital. Our good friends, the Ponds joined us for the evening show and ice cream afterwards.

Wow. What a full weekend! We are so proud of all three of our kids and how hard they have worked all year!

(I had to include a picture of Liam who supports his sisters during recital time, even though he's not really into dance!)

Praying your school year is finishing off well and that you'll be able to enjoy a nice summer break with your kiddos.

Ah, summertime. Need I say more? :-)

LIVING A BLESSED LIFE!