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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Seasoned With Salt

I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Do you want to know what my biggest temptation is? The thing I struggle with the most? My greatest battle where I am constantly defeated?

My Words.

I like to talk. I love to write. I love to read. I'm a wordy person. By themselves, words are a wonderful thing. A person can do so much with them. They can convey feelings and thoughts, experiences. Without words it's hard to live; whether they are spoken aloud, written, or signed. A person needs to communicate.

My words on a daily basis get me in to trouble. I find that too often I'm using them to hurt someone. My greatest weapon is my mouth. It can be my best friend, but at the same time, it is my worst enemy.

I've either said too much, or I've not said enough. It goes both ways. When I fight with anyone, my mouth does the hand to hand combat. I've seen the daggers my words can inflict on a person. I've seen the fallen eyes, the tears that roll after. You can never take them back. They are a wound that doesn't always heal. I've patched a few injuries from my speech, however the scar always remains.

Maybe you find this surprising about me. Maybe not. I'm sure those closest to me would have to agree. My children and my husband are the ones who I can be at perfect ease with; the ones who hold my biggest battle scars.

Your words are a fire.

I am always reminding myself of this verse in James chapter 3, "It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell." verses 5-6

The entire third chapter of James says it beautifully.

God has been speaking to me about this for many years in fact. When we are wounded people, we tend to hurt others. The more healing that I have received from my past hurts, the greater ease I have in fighting my temptation. Ten years ago, I would say I was extremely wounded and angry all the time. Over the past two years, God has changed my life.

I am not the same person.

I would say there is a difference as though it were night and day. God opened my mouth literally, and life has poured forth. On another day, and another time I will share the story with you. To me it was nothing short of miraculous.

The more healing I get, the more vocal I become; the greater responsibility that I have. I can use my words to tear down those who are most precious to me, or I can use my words to build them up and encourage them.

Yesterday as I was reading my Bible, the verse I highlighted was this: "Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person." Colossians 4:6 [ESV]

The Message says, "Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out."

I put these words to memory so that I would be reminded of them the next time I wanted to run my mouth. Just that morning I lost the fight with my mouth, and I gave in. I used my words to hurt, instead of spoken in love; they were spoken in anger. I apologized as I always do, but I still know the scars can take time to fade.

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt.

We had the discussion at dinner what does this mean. I have a daughter who gets her mouth from me, and needed the exact same admonishment from God. I included the definition of gracious.

gra·cious [grey-shuhs]
1. pleasantly kind, benevolent, and courteous.
2. characterized by good taste, comfort, ease, or luxury
3. indulgent or beneficent in a pleasantly condescending way, especially to inferiors.
4. merciful or compassionate

The first and fourth definition stand out the most to me. I think being kind and courteous is very obvious. I especially liked the last one, "merciful and compassionate" It also read, "Like a king extends mercy."

How many times am I using my words to give mercy? To pardon or lesson a punishment. That's what the dictionary says. I often use my words to give the punishment, or to make it more severe.

May your words be seasoned with salt.
seasoned with salt
Have you ever had dish without seasoning, one that decidedly needs it? It tastes very bland, with no flavor at all. Seasonings are designed to make things better, not take away from.

Our words should be the same way. Full of life and flavor, changing the person for the better.

"Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person." Colossians 4:6

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Walking With Jesus

This week may seem very simple, but nonetheless, it's what I felt God wanted me to share. He is continually dealing with me on a daily basis, and I'm constantly reminded of the phrase, "What Would Jesus Do?" Some of the things are very personal, and it would be difficult to share the specifics all the time. Not only for my own sake, but also the sake of those involved. I'm sure you understand.

Christmas is fast approaching and my list of items to buy has been long. I love this time of year! My love language is receiving gifts (mostly giving them). I am so excited to spread the love with my friends and family.

One of the easiest and most effective ways to shop is through EBay. I have found many deals there, and most of them have been to my benefit. This month is seems almost every week a different package is arriving at my home, sometimes even twice a day. It's so fun!

Yesterday, I found one of my children's presents in the mailbox. What was even more exciting was the packaging. It appeared to have come through free of charge. The person who sent it attached several stamps to the envelope. Normally you will find the stamps to have been marked in some way showing they have been used. This time, they were exactly like you find in a book of stamps. I thought to myself, "Yes! Free stamps I can use again."

It was as I was preparing to throw out the trash, or used mail envelopes and scraps, that God sweetly reminded me, "What would Jesus Do?" Would He reuse the stamps, trying to get a free deal out of it? Or would He simply take it that they served their purpose and toss them into the trash?

I tossed them. There is great satisfaction in knowing that you are trying to follow closely in Jesus' steps. I want to continue my walk with Him, never needing to release His hand. It would have been pretty hard to keeping holding hands with Jesus, while at the same time trying to use my scissors to trim the stamps from the envelope...

Friday, November 18, 2011

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

I cannot believe the day has finally come, and Joseph is upon us. We have all worked so hard for this day. I don't say that in jest either. Everyone in this family has given so much to make this possible for Ariel.

The days have been long and full of activity. The first month we had practice twice a week, and the second month it changed to almost every day. This past week has been the most work; with practices sometimes lasting almost 3 hours! Gabriel and Zechariah have both been real troopers. They have not complained once.

Each day we would bring our bag of tricks and treats, and they loved it. We played many games of pick-up sticks, they had toy soldiers and blocks to work with, coloring books to color, snacks to ingest, and our biggest savior was the DS. For the past month we've had practice in a dark theater where there isn't much light to do anything but watch the show. The boys can even sing several lines and I believe would be perfect understudies. I am so impressed with their ability to adapt, and they seemed to have enjoyed every minute of it. In fact, Gabriel mentioned he was going to miss seeing Joseph all the time.

I don't think the high school kids in the production realize this, but to my boys they are stars. As they got more and more into the play, our seats kept shifting closer to the stage each day. We finally ended up on the far right side so we could catch a close look of Joseph when he walks down the aisle in his opening number. During each company meeting, we would need Joseph in Zechariah's eye sight. If he couldn't see him, he would get very antsy and loud. As long as he had the boy where he could see him, he could quietly wait on my lap.

I have really enjoyed our time at the theater. There are days when I was ready to pull my hair out because I was overwhelmed with keeping my children's voices quiet, or I couldn't bear to hear another song. But there were lots of days where I felt so privileged and proud to be a part of the audience. These kids have done such a great job, and I was pleased to see their progress. I paid attention to all the details, I see where the director corrects them, and how they rise to the occasion, and pull it off beautifully.

It's been an awesome experience. I'm so thankful that we as a family have been a part of it. Ariel received a show shirt with the logo on it, and already Gabe has requested to be able to wear it when she outgrows it. Our family is committed to this, and I'm so excited that tonight is the night!

I posted a few photos from CJOnline. All the photos were taken by Bill Blankenship. I chose the ones most relevant to me. Okay, most of them have a glimpse of my daughter.

There are three scenes done where the kids get to have a little action. They kept it pretty simple, most of the time the children's choir sits on the risers and sings. This is one of the scenes where the children get to circle around Joseph.

If you aren't familiar with the play, it's a musical. There are no spoken words at all, and basically no scene changes. It's one continuous show with lots of lively music and dance. Each song has a different theme: cowboy, retro, Elvis, French, and Caribbean. It makes the show very fun and unexpected.

This is probably Ariel's favorite scene of the show that she is in. From the day of her audition she has been constantly singing this song around the house. It's a little bit slower and softer. The kids all get to light their electric candles, and circle behind Joseph as he's locked in jail.

I think my favorite character of the whole show is Pharaoh. This guy does such an incredible job! From day one, before I even knew he was supposed to be Elvis I went home and told my husband about his song. I loved it! He's got this great voice, and he is so expressive. On the days where I couldn't stand to be there any longer, I still had a smile on my face when Pharaoh would come out. If you're not sure about the play, just go for this one scene. You won't be sorry!

It doesn't matter how much I would pay attention to the play, as soon as Jacob would come out at the end of the play, I would tear up. Joseph runs to his father after a long absence not of his own accord, and they embrace. Even now, it gets to me. God is so amazing. This part of the play brings the whole thing home for me. God had a plan all along, and Joseph might have had hardship along the way, but through him, his family was saved. Not only were they saved from hunger and starvation, but they were blessed beyond anything they had experienced before. God is good all the time! We may not understand our circumstances or why He allows them to happen, but He can turn all things to good. It gives me goose bumps. I'm overwhelmed that I get to serve God, and He loves me just as much as He loved Joseph.

If you're not familiar with the story from the Bible, you can read about Joseph and his colored coat in Genesis chapter 37 through chapter 50.

This is the last time my boys would hear the play and see the performance. We all enjoyed our time, and I know God is going to bring about something new for all of us to do. He always does!

"You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people." Genesis 50:20

How amazing is that? We have no idea all the people we have an impact on. We could be saving lives every day...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Kids Say the Darndest Things

A couple days ago I gave my son, Zechariah, a haircut. I quickly brought him to the shower when we were finished. He hates the little hairs all over his face and neck so we must do this as fast as possible. When he was dripping wet, I grabbed the bottle of soap and told him, “We’ll cover you with shampoo now.”

He laughed out loud at me, “Shampoo!! We don’t have that movie anymore!”

Apparently Winnie the Pooh is confusing as can be. If you remember back a few months, he kept laughing and calling him Poop. Now his name is changed to Shampoo.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Love Notes

The Bible is full of romance and words of love.

For a long time now I've had the desire to read through the Bible in one year. I've tried this many different times, and I've always given up. It seems like I don't get much out of that way. I do much better to focus on just a verse or two, rather than several chapters at a time. I find myself going through the motions more often when I'm trying to check off my chapters to read for the day.

With all that said, I'm still trying again. This time, I have been reading the required chapters, but each day I find one verse to highlight in my reading. I underline it in my Bible and I think on it for the rest of the day. (Or at least I try to)

Yesterday, the verse I found was a love note. Now this was no ordinary love note found in the Bible. This was from my husband.

I know there is a certain context the Bible is written in, and was written to specific audiences and so forth. I also know that I completely took this out of the context the Bible was meaning. Or maybe I didn't. Maybe God wanted me to find a love note hidden in the pages of my Bible from my husband yesterday.


If you look up 2 Corinthians 7:14-15 in your Bible you will find these words, "For whatever boasts I made to him about you, I was not put to shame. But just as everything we said to you was true, so also our boasting before Titus has proved true. And his affection for you is even greater, as he remembers the obedience of you all, how you received him with fear and trembling."

That may not sound like a love note to you at all. However, when I look up those two verses, I will always see the love from my husband, put there especially for me. "Titus has proved true. And his affection for you is even greater."

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Smiling With Jesus

As I sit and right this, I am reminded in a physical way that walking with Jesus is very hard work. Some things may come more easily, more naturally, and some will be a struggle. Yesterday was definitely a struggle, and I'm not sitting as pretty today.

The day after I wrote so proudly of my son and his desire to personally clean-up the world, I was approached by our children's pastor, and asked if I would be willing to come help out. They were doing a fundraiser for new sound equipment for KidZone, our K-5th grade Kid's church.

I found it pretty interesting and a bit of a coincidence (not really) that the day after I wrote a post about how I should just be picking up the trash instead of complaining about it, that I was asked to pick up trash on a large scale level. How could I say no? This was very obviously what Jesus had told me to do, walking in His footsteps.

I did the most logical thing I could. I tried to come up with excuses on why I couldn't do it, and I volunteered my husband. Surely, that must count with God, right? The day I was asked to volunteer it had been extremely cold out. I was already in tears a few times that day because I was so cold. I'm a big baby when it comes to the temperature outside. I wanted to make sure I was covered if it was freezing the next week when everyone would be cleaning up the KU parking lot outside of the football stadium. I didn't want to come across like I didn't care, so I made a deal with our children's pastor that the weather would have to be 60° or above in order for me to go. I was laughed off and my husband's name was written down.

KU jayhawk clean up
As the time drew closer, just days ahead of time, my diligent working husband realized he was going to be on call for work the day of the KU Clean-Up. I had no way out, even if it was FREEZING out there. I couldn't very well back out now.

I dreaded it! In fact I was a little perturbed that Jesus had to tell me to do that. I shouldn't say this, but I was mad enough I might have even called Him a name. He should have left me alone, and guilt free. After all, I've turned down helping at this event in years past. Why not this time too?

The night before, I had a nightmare. It was freezing outside, the bus was coming to pick me up for the clean-up, and I couldn't find my clothes. I wanted lots of layers, and I could even find my dresser in the house. The bus was getting angry, and I thought they would just leave me, but they didn't. I was forced to work in the icy winds, with no extra layers, no coat, nothing.

Needless to say, my dream didn't come true. First, there was no bus to pick me up at my front door. Second, the thermometer on the drive to church read 59°. God gave me that! In hindsight I realized I should have asked for 60° and NO wind. Oh, well. Not only was it 60° outside, but it was clean!! Everyone was taking great care of their beer cans this time and for the most part using the trash cans. We were completely done in less than 5 hours. I've heard that past clean-up's were much longer.

So while I'm still very sore from all the squatting, bending, reaching, sitting, standing, walking, it wasn't that bad. I brought my daughter along for moral support, and she was wonderful. If you ever have a job to do, she's the one to help. Ariel is full of positive thoughts and energy! She loved cleaning up and begged to be allowed to do it next year.

I was very glad to have fulfilled by end of walking with Jesus. I wish I could say next time I will do it with a more cheerful attitude, but sometimes He asks things that are not in my nature. I HATE to get my hands dirty in my own home, with my own trash. This was a stretch, but I'm very happy to say that it's over, and done.

I might have gone kicking and screaming, but once there my attitude adjusted. I was pleased to be used by God, and my thoughts were much more upbeat. I did the best I could. I wanted our church to be reflected in a positive way, and I wanted no trash to be left behind. I grabbed the gum wrappers, cigarette butts, bottle caps ground in, anything that didn't naturally grow there. At one point I was told we didn't have to get all the little stuff, just the large trash items. But I couldn't in good conscience, when I was working for God, leave it behind. My back and legs are paying the price today, but my heart is full.

I would challenge you to ask God today what His agenda is for you. And when He replies, don't just do the bare necessities to get by with it. Look for ways to go above and beyond with a smile on your face, because remember, you're working for a King, worthy of your service.

I found it very appropriate that the verse of the day is found in 1 Peter, chapter two, verses fifteen and sixteen.

“For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people (sometimes this could be yourself). Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.”

Life as a slave may be grievous and hard work, but the satisfaction and rewards are totally worth it.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Kids Say the Darndest Things

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of watching my friend's baby boy. Zech didn't realize we would be babysitting that day, and wasn't even aware when the baby's dad dropped him off. He was busy playing with his cars.

Zechariah seemed very shocked to find Chaseton sitting in his car seat right next to the cars. I don't know how he missed the arrival, but he was completely caught off guard. He asked me, "Who gave us that baby?"

"Where did that baby come from?" (A little too complicated to be explaining to my four year old right now.)

Just last week, Chaseton came and visited us again, this time with his mom. He was sleeping in his car seat, and Zech took notice.

Lately when Zech wants my attention about something, he is very persistent to a fault. He was getting exasperated at me and wanted me to follow him. He had something to show me. "Mommy, come here. Mommy, COME HERE! Mommy! We had that a’fore!"

I had to laugh when I saw what he was pointing to. I thought at first he was referring to the blanket that was covering the baby, since I had made it for Chaseton when he was born. We had it in our home for a long time, in many pieces, in many different places. That’s not what he was talking about.

"Mommy, we had that baby a’fore."

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Nothing Can Separate Us

"And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38-39

For the past week this has been the theme of my life. Over and over again the verse has come to mind, and I've been reminded that nothing can change the fact that God loves me. Nothing.

Every year on Halloween, I take my kids out of school and we celebrate fall together. We usually go out for lunch, spend some time at the pumpkin patch, and finally we come home to work on a special craft. The kids enjoy giving out their craft to all the "treat-or-treaters" that come visit our home.

God goes bats over you Romans 8:38-39This year we made a bat. It was very difficult to come up with a clever phrase like all the years past. My mind was a complete blank. I prayed about it, and when I woke the next morning, this verse was running through my mind. "Nothing can separate us from the love that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

God goes bats over you
I constantly have to remind myself that I am not trying to earn God's love. He gives it freely. There is nothing I can do to deserve it.

A few months back I heard someone use this phrase, "We feel bad when we let God down, but when have we ever really held Him up?" Shouldn't that take the pressure off?

God doesn't need our help. God is God. He allows us to help Him, just like a small child might help out with the chores around the home. Sometimes it doesn't even improve when our hand has touched it. But it does help our heart and mind.

It's almost a selfish thing. I want God to use me. I want the benefit of having God work through me. He doesn't need me. But often He allows me to be used for my sake. In that same way, no matter how often I'm used, nothing I do makes God love me more.

He unconditionally, wholeheartedly, sincerely, unreservedly, passionately, powerfully, zealously, selflessly loves me. He literally goes bats over me! He has a crazy, unexplainable love for me, and it has nothing to do with what I've done, or not done. It's because God is who He says He is.

"My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn't know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can't know him if you don't love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they've done to our relationship with God." 1 John 4:7-10

"God goes 'BATS' over you!"

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Walking With Jesus

It's hard to believe it was only a week ago that I stepped out in faith and decided from now on I would continually ask myself, "What Would Jesus Do?" It seems to me there are hundreds of things He would do differently if He walked around in my shoes. I'm taking it one step at a time.

This week I wanted to share something in regards to Gabriel.

He has been on a mission to singlehandedly clean up the earth and free it from pollution. I, the caring mother that I am, have been a bit skeptical. In fact, there have been a few times, I've been rather angry over this new endeavor.

Everywhere we go; there is some kind of trash on the ground. It never fails. People litter.

It wasn't until Gabe's fourth or fifth time of picking up the trash that it finally hit home with me. He really has the right idea. Do you think Jesus would walk by the trash and comment to Himself about how disgusting people can be? Or do you think He would simply walk over, pick it up, and throw it away?

Here's what I think. I believe He would cover His children and family in lots of healthy prayers, carry a big bottle of antibacterial gel, and try to make the world a better place; a trash free place.

Sometimes this is no easy thing. It has actually involved Gabriel carrying other people's trash home in my car! Eww Gross!!! But I know that it's the right thing to do, and I'm proud of my son for opening my eyes. I can no longer walk by without doing something about it. It may seem small to you, but I believe when we obey God, it's huge to Him.

A funny side note, when Gabe does find trash on the ground, he will immediately start gagging and choking. He always explains it the same way when I ask what the matter is, "Can't you feel that pollution? It's making the air so hard to breathe!"

What would Jesus be doing if He walked around in your shoes this week?


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