I have so many things running through my mind at this moment which makes it hard for me to decide what it is that I am suppose to write. My husband and oldest son, Hunter are on a missions trip to the mountains with some of our youth all this week. All last week our wonderful, God-filled church hosted Vacation Bible School. Our youth helped out all week so that they can take what they learned and put on a similar VBS at a church that would not have been able to do it otherwise. Isn’t that a perfect example of what Christ Jesus wants for us as Christians to do?
“The Great Commision” Matthew 28:18-20 Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in Heaven and on earth. 19- Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20- teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
It’s so comforting to know that Christ Jesus is with us always. One thing I never put together in the Old Testament that our pastor talked about was when God wanted Moses to bring the people out of Egypt into a land good and spacious, a land flowing with milk and honey. Exodus 3:11 But Moses asked God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and that I should bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” 12- He (God) answered, “I will certainly be with you,” the verses goes on giving Moses instructions and Moses, like most of us, questioned and gave reasons why he should not be the one for the job. Moses told God that he was not a good speaker. Exodus 4:14-17 Then the Lord’s anger burned against Moses, and He said, “Isn’t Aaron the Levite your brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, he is on his way now to meet you. He will rejoice when he sees you. 15-You will speak with him and tell him what to say. I will help both of you and him speak and will teach you both what to do. 16- He will speak to the people for you. He will be your spokesman, and you will serve as God to him. 17- And take this staff in your hand that you will perform the signs with.” God gave Aaron to Moses to speak to the people for Moses however Aaron rarely spoke for Moses. Why? God was with him. Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.
One of the songs sang today really touched me and got my mind to thinking about every time I sin and what Jesus might go through when we do. It is called "Feel the Nails" and I can tell you a bit of what it said. It was a person that talked about sinning and wondered if every time s/he sin if Jesus relived the pain on the Cross? While I don’t think he does, it sure is something to think about each and every time you sin!
This week has been a time of mind shaping for me as I read out of several of my books: ‘The Resolution for Women,’ ‘not a fan’ and the journal that goes with it. I must admit that I picked up reading ‘not a fan’ and ‘The Resolution for Women’ at the same time. At the point I picked both of them up, ‘The Resolution for Women’ won out and spoke to me more. I was not too thrilled with ‘not a fan’ at first, however it has grown on me and I do like it now. Plus, I’m helping out with Bible school on Sunday mornings for our youth girls and that is what they are reading. I find myself reading ‘The Resolution for Women’ then picking up ‘not a fan’ and as weird as it might seem they go together for me! One of my biggest struggles is being a parent and how I just don’t know sometimes (most of the time) is what to do with them or how to handle them. Not anything specific but in general. It’s so scary to think that God gave me theses perfect little babies that grow up to be adults and everything I say or do or how I live my own life shapes them. One wrong turn and I can do some damage however God knew this when making the little ones. He made them to endure crazy parents!
My lesson this week in ‘The Resolution for Women’ hit both at home and at work. Double whammy!! For those that don’t know what I do, I along with one other person are over all 12 of our Nursing Homes Business office managers along with billing and collecting money for our company. We are both passionate about our jobs and sometimes we tend to show that passion in our emails. The funny thing is the one I finally send out has been retyped several times before I hit send. It’s not retyped due to misspelled words either. I’m human and I’m passionate about my job. If it involves money or charges that will impact our company in a negative way, it is my job to speak up and get my point across! Or so I thought! It wasn’t until we had a family meeting with just my parents and my three bothers that I heard something that struck my heart as bad as when I went to go see a movie that I really shouldn’t have gone to see. One of my family members commented on an email I sent out with several replies sent by the person I sent them to and myself. The comment was, “He will not reply back against you because your words tend to cut them down.” Wow! My comment back to that, as ashamed as I am to repeat, was “He should put his big boys pants on. My email was not that bad.” Although, I really think my email was not as bad as it could have been, but it’s from my past emails that lead up to that comment I received. I do agree with my behavior and emails in the past has led me up to my reputation of “being just like my dad,” or “she’s her daddy daughter.” I am a very passionate person and I like to prove my point if I’m right and someone else is wrong. Big fault of mine.
Well, the two things weighing on my mind when I pick up my book to read is my parenting, how do I do what am I suppose do with my kids and that comment I received in the family meeting. I turn to my next Chapter, “My Blessing,” A resolution to esteem others with my time, concern and full attention. ‘This should be good,’ I thought to myself! The first thing that runs through my head when I think about blessing anyone is not giving them the gift of my time. After all, it’s my time that could quite possibly ruin them! She opens up the chapter with talking about her listening to one of the eldest and most accomplished speakers on her team deliver a message. It wasn’t as much as what he said throughout the message but how he ended his message that affected her. He ended with “I’m aware that the greatest gift you can ever give someone is the gift of your own time. Thank you for giving me that gift today.” Then she affected me with more of what she said that I didn’t put together or rather that I took for granted. She said “When people give you their ear, they are offering you a sliver of their life they can never retrieve again----one of the few gifts that can never be returned or retracted.” I don’t know what just went through your mind but my mind had flash backs of all the times my children have wanted to share something special with me and I told them that I needed to get the clothes done real quick or they wanted me to read to them and I got carried away with cleaning something else in the house and they had fallen asleep waiting on me. Waiting on me, they thought I was special enough to want to give me their time. All this time I have been searching for what I could do or how I can change to be a better parent when it was right under my nose! Time!
My next section hit both home and work. It also explain what I did wrong on my emails at work. This section title was “SHHHHHH!” I can hear my husband laughing as he is proofreading this paragraph. He knows me too well! Well, actually he’s probably not the only one that knows me that is laughing at this! Ok! I love to talk just like Forest Gump loved to run! But, there comes a time when even he has run as far as he can go before he realizes it’s time to go home. Wisdom: knowing what to say and not saying it. I got the first part down pat however the second half I’ve been steady working on! You would be interested in knowing that it’s also in the Bible. Proverbs 10:19 When there are many words, sins is unavoidable, but the one who controls his lips is wise. (HCSB translation) or Proverbs 10:19 (NIV) When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise. On a brighter side, all those times my husband was being silent in our/my arguing, he wasn’t ignoring me, he was being wise to not say the wrong thing in the heat of the moment. She also went on to telling of a story where she just could let it go she was right and in the end she caused embarrassment, hurt and regret to not only her but the other person as well. How many times have I done that just to get the last word in? How many of those times have my children witnessed it?
In closing, I started last week with a heavy heart. Hearing that your words have cut deep to others at work totally goes against what I believe or does it? Doesn’t the Bible say your actions speak of what’s in your heart? That’s not in my heart because if it were then it would not have convicted me to be conscious of my words that come out of my mouth. That’s the gift God gives each and everyone of his followers. The gift of conviction to turn away from our sinful self. Luke 9:23 “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me.” Not only does God give us the gift of conviction, he also gives us the gift of time. One of the greatest listeners in the Bible was Jesus and he really did know it all! He chose on many times to stop, to wait, to listen, to give attention to others before he spoke himself. I know it’s hard because I’ve been working on it all week along with being quiet. A couple of times, I almost bit my tongue to stop it from working. How can you stop being so selfish and take your own focus off of your own self and needs? Start with listening to the person talking to you. Remember how it felt when you knew someone was truly listening to you. You felt valued, important, accepted, loved and that what you said actually meant something to someone else. Wow! All that by just listening.
This is straight out of her book that I wanted to end with.
So Choose to listen. Resist the urge to criticize, insult, laugh or make sarcastic remarks. Battle the press of time and urgency and the hunger to get away. Just lean in, quietly, emphatically, purposefully. And Listen. It’s your gift. Your blessing. Give it to whomever you can.
Please being in prayer for our youth and the adults that are on a mission trip to the mountains all week.
Have a great week!
In my previous entry, I started talking about a new season of my life that I was fighting to not go in. You know the one where your youngest starts school and you’re afraid the rest of your time with them will fly and the next thing you know they will be graduating from high school.
In our family, my parents have 16 grandkids, soon to be 17 grandkids. It seems that when one grandchild hits a major milestone in their life the rest will soon follow. Our next milestone is driving. Oh boy! Thank goodness, Hunter has two more cousins in front of him before we hit that milestone. I’m having a hard enough time excepting my babies are starting school in another month!
Whenever I feel alone or distant, I turn to my devotionals for a pick me up along with my other inspirational devotional books. Which as I write this and read it back, I’m a little embarrassed about it. I am so thankful that God isn’t the same with me! Actually if you really think about it, where would I be if God only came to me when he needed me? I would still be waiting until the day I die because God doesn’t need me, I need him! God wants me. As a parent, the whole God our father thing really started making more and more sense to me when I took into account how I felt about my own relationship with my own children, my husband, my parents and my friends. Being parents to a soon to be 14 yr old, 12 yr old, 9 yr. old, and 4 yr old twins who all want to know why about everything, really opens my eyes to how I can understand why God put Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden, why he flooded the earth, the plagues he sent and the list can go on and on! I’ve been tempted to kick a few out of the house a time or two! What I began to see with my own children is how I feel when my children only want to be with me when they want something and as soon as they get it, they are gone to find something else. But, it not just my children, its how we all tend to be with our own relationship with God. Now, please don’t get me wrong, I have great children. They do want me around at other times as well and they are very loving and respectful. But, just as I am, we have our moments. I really do try to have daily time or at least a few days a week to read in my devotional or just thumb through my Bible reading the beginning pages introducing each book of the Bible. But, then I think about what I give up on a daily bases compared to what God gave up just so he could get a chance to spend eternity with me. God gave up his first and only son to save us for our sins. Jesus didn’t just go through a small amount of torture but according to Matthew 27:27-31
27-Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into headquarters and gathered the whole company around Him. 28- They stripped Him and dressed Him in a scarlet military rode. 29-They twisted together a crown of thorns, put it on His head, and placed a reed in His right hand. And they knelt down before Him and Mocked Him: “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30-Then they spit on Him, took the reed, and kept hitting him on the head. 31- When they had mocked Him, they stripped Him of the robe, put His clothes on Him, and led Him away to crucify him.
Why would someone do that for me? Why would he do that for people that deny his father? He was serving his Heavenly father. Abraham was the only person who came so close to doing a similar act with his promised Son, Isaac in Genesis 22. Because God is such a gracious, loving and forgiving God, Abraham was spared at the last second. He had the knife in his hand, ready to slay his son when God sent an Angel of the Lord to stop him. I could not even begin to imagine what thoughts were going through Abraham’s mind as he tied his son to the altar. The same son God had promised to Sarah and Abraham at a very old age and then have God test Abraham by telling him to sacrifice him to the Lord. I started to think about the whole story and how dedicated Abraham was to serving the Lord and how Jesus suffered crucifixion for us. As a parent, I hope and pray that I’ll never have to do anything close to what Abraham had to do but also as a parent, I know that the Love I have for my own Children will always surpass any pain I could endure as long as I know it will take the pain from then even if means I have die a horrible death to do it. I am by no means taking away from what Jesus did for us. Nowhere did I say I’d die for all to have everlasting life. I’m human and imperfect, Jesus isn’t. The point I’m making is this, take one person that means the world to you whether your spouse, children, siblings, parents, etc. now multiply that Love times a million or more that’s almost close to God’s love for us. Would you give your child up to serve God? Would you give up your life even if it meant torture to protect your love one? Would you let your own child or family member suffer the same torture for the same people that put him on that cross to have everlasting life? Maybe it wasn’t your child but it was God’s son. If God is your Father, then that makes Jesus your family member. In Matthew 26:37-42, it lets us know Jesus was fully aware of what was about to happen to happen to him. This takes place right after the last supper, Jesus takes Peter, James, and John to the Garden called Gethsemane to pray.
26:37- He (Jesus) began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. 38-Then He said to them, “My soul is swallowed up in sorrow---to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake with Me.” 39-Going a little farther, He fell facedown and prayed, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.” 40-Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping. He asked Peter, “So, couldn’t you stay awake with Me one hour? 41- Stay awake and pray, so that you won’t enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42-Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, “My father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, Your will be done.”
He repeated this prayer and went away one more time. Jesus knew what He was fixing to go through. Jesus’ sorrow resulted from His anticipation of His physical, emotional, and spiritual suffering, especially His alienation from His Father as He bore the sins of the world on the cross. The cup that Jesus was faced was God’s wrath against sin. With the words: if it is possible, let this cup pass , Jesus asked His Father to provide forgiveness by some other means other than His sacrificial death. Jesus knew God’s power made it possible for Him to evade the power of Jewish and Roman executioners, but He did not want to reject the Father’s plan to provide salvation to His people.
A few weeks back at youth camp our speaker had used Abraham / Isaac and Jesus and Our Father, God in his sermon. He opened my eyes to see the similarities in the Old Testament and the New Testament. So many times in the Old Testament, we get glimpses of the Great Plan God has in store for us through his own Son, our Savior. Just like Isaac, Jesus was the promised Son. Unlike Isaac, Jesus was not spared from death on a cross. Similar to Jesus, Abraham was fully committed to serving God. In contrast to Abraham who was permitted to spare his only son, God did not spare His Son. God had a perfect plan that took a Perfect Son to complete for all.
Today is Saturday, Saturday night for me now as I write this to you. Our day has been pretty busy but good for me at least. As I lay in bed this morning, I thought about all the things I needed and wanted to get done for the day. Emma, one of our twins added to my list when she came into our room letting me know that she was sorry but she wet Gracie’s bed. I told her that was fine and did anyone else get wet. She said “no,” and changed her clothes and hopped in our bed. Normally, I’d hop out of bed give her a bath and change the sheets but I just laid in bed with her nestled up under my arm enjoying Saturday morning with no plans but the ones I make for myself! I knew that I needed to write more on one of the blog post I’ve almost finished but instead I finished snuggling with Emma , hopped in the shower to start my day filled with the plans I made.
Almost a month ago I had gotten a new puppy for my birthday. And, for those that know me and my history with puppy’s and dogs, they don’t last too long in our house before I find the perfect home for them that is not my house! However, Wyndi is a twin to my Shit-Tzu that I’ve had for going on 8 years. Same color and markings as Stormy but Stormy is groomed and Wyndi got a nice haircut by me on Friday night. Not! Poor puppy! But, I did tell her that it’d grow back sooner or later! I think Stormy was laughing on the inside! Since the week day mornings are crazy, I try to pull puppy duty on the weekend. So, Wyndi, Stormy and me went for a short walk while I drank my coffee. When we returned the girls were up so my washing started along with the business of the day. Earlier in the week a tree had fallen in our dog, Bella’s cage so Jon had to take care of the tree, take of the trash, move some furniture and paint the twins room. I had to wash clothes, get a dresser for Hunter’s room, run to target, lowes and Wal-Mart along with washing sheets, clothes and empty the twins room so it could get painted. Needless to say, we had a lot to do!
Jon had gotten into something he was allergic to during cutting and removing the tree or while he was taking the trash off, we aren’t sure when but he wasn’t feeling all that good but kept going. We finally got to a stopping point for the day around 10:00 pm tonight. As I was finishing up my part of the painting, I started feeling guilty that I had not written any more on my blog entry that was almost finished nor had I really spent too much time with Jon or the kids. I wanted to finish my to do list. I did spend alone time with Braydon last night while we grocery shopped, I had alone time with Jon at supper last night after we picked up a new dish washer, Emma and I went to Target and Hunter and I went back to target to pick up knobs for the twins dresser. So, God did allow me some alone time with almost all my kids except two. But, still I had choose my plans for the day and did them. Now, at the end of the day I picked up my bag that has two Bibles, two notebooks, my “The Resolution for Woman,” book and laptop in hand just in case I am able to write to you tonight. Will God put me off until the end of his day like I had did with him? Now, I do talk to God first thing in the morning and Thank him for giving me another day, I talk to him in the shower because I usually never get disturbed unless I’m shaving my legs, I thank him every time during the day something seems to go my way and at night. What I mean by putting him off is not spending time learning something new about him every day or at least every other day. Lately, since I started reading the book, “The Resolution for Women,” and my mom bought me this new neat Bible, I’ve learned so much more about myself, God and the way I deal with things isn’t necessarily bad or inappropriate. Well, like I had said earlier in this blog I was feeling guilty about how I spent my day and how I could have chose to put my to do list aside for a little while or shortened it some to listen to what God would have me do. So, as I turn to the page where I was to pick up and read in my book, I see the title, “My Best A resolution to devote myself completely to God’s Priorities for my Life” I smile as I start reading. If I haven’t said It before, I’m saying it now, this is a book worth buying. It’s not just for moms and wives, it a book written for any woman young or old. It’s a book you get more than your money worth! They have them for Men as well. In the beginning of the book, she tells you that it’s not a book to read to finish. It’s a book you read to enjoy, take in, listen to and share as I am with you. One of the exercises she gives you is to label the picture of boxes with the different responsibilities’ in your life and shade them in according to the level of time and effort you put in them. I was not really shocked as much as I was a little embarrassed on the ones I labeled and the amount I shaded in. I have a lot of work ahead of me! The next section hits head on with how I was feeling tonight. It’s title was none other than, “Timing is Everything.” I showed it to my husband. I told him that I’d be crazy to even think there isn’t a God!! I’m only going to share a few things she wrote in the book because I think you’d get more out of the book if you read it yourself. Just consider me a preview of what you’ll read. She had said something that I found interesting which is, “ So don’t get so hung up on the ‘giving the best of myself’ part that you don’t get to the other part---the part that changes the playing field of this resolution: getting clarity on your ‘primary roles.’” Wow! I have always told myself and my kids to give the best of their selves. I have always felt that was the only way. Then she goes on to explain : “If you do your best, for example, but you expend much of it on the wrong things, you’ve not only wasted a lot of your energy and resources; you’ve also lost time and opportunities you may never recover.”
She goes on to talk about when the Hebrews had returned to their homeland after being exile. Instead of rebuilding the house of the Lord, they spent time rebuilding their own dwellings. She references Haggai 1:2-4 and goes on to say that while she understands why they did what they did. Almost everyone in their shoes would have done the same. It wasn’t what they did such as rebuilding their homes but maybe it was that it was their timing and focus. You will have to read the book to get further understanding if you don’t understand it because what I really wanted to share with you is Ecclesiastes 3:1-14. I hope it touches you like it touched me as I read it tonight. I also will include the footnotes in my Bible that I enjoyed as well.
There is an occasion for everything.
And a time for every activity under Heaven:
A time to give birth and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot;
A time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to tear down and a time to build;
A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance;
A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace and a time to avoid embracing;
A time to search and a time to count as lost;
A time to keep and a time to throw away;
A time to tear and a time to sew;
A time to be silent and a time to speak;
A time to love and a time to hate;
A time for war and a time for peace.
9-What does the worker gain from his struggles? 10-I have seen the task that God has given people to keep them occupied. 11-He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also put eternity in their hearts, but man cannot discover the work God has done from beginning to end. 12-I know that there is nothing better for them to rejoice and enjoy the good life. 13-It is also the gift of God whenever anyone eats, drinks, and enjoys all his efforts. 14-I know that all God does will last forever; there is no adding to it or taking from it. God works so that people will be in awe of Him.
Theses verses must be read from the context of the fundamental claim of the book: that we are mortals, doomed to perish, and that our work will perish with us. No human work is eternal, and our activities, whether building or tearing down, must change as the situation dictates. We naturally prefer to stay on the positive side of the list—to laugh rather than to weep, to love rather than hate, and to have peace rather than war—but as long as we live in a world of change, conflict, and death, we must accept the fact that we cannot have unchanging bliss. Even so, as verse 11 says, everything is “appropriate in its time.” Mourning and separation are painful but there is a time when it is right and even beautiful to mourn. We must accept the fundamental fact of mortality: we are creatures who live in time. We must respond appropriately to the seasons of life as they come.
I have only truly mourned one person over and over since her death. Since her death, she has had four more grandkids and a new “Daughter in Love,” that’s what she called us. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t wonder what it would be like to have her here now. While I don’t understand fully why she had to be taken away so soon I do know I will see her again. Every now and again I’ll get a whiff of her perfume and I can still hear her laughter and voice. Perfume? Yea, I smile now but she wore a particular perfume that I really didn’t care too much for. One Christmas she bought me some of that perfume. I can’t really remember ever wearing it but now it’s the sweetest scent and I Love getting a whiff of it.
Have a great day! I know I will! It’s Sunday now!
Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full---pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.
I started to type the blog I wrote the other night on relationships, parenting and God but I’m feeling pulled into another direction tonight. Don’t worry though, it is 99 % finished and I will type it soon. Tonight I just wanted to share what brought me back to writing in my blog again. I have heard the verse above a few times but it didn’t make an impact like it did the past week. I had been going through a rough patch in my spiritual journey. Work was getting to be a bit much on the stress level. I felt like I had no energy, no motivation, no time for my children, my husband or myself and what I did have time for, my attention wasn’t really there. I was going through the motions without any emotions. Been there? Usually I can pick up a bible study by one of my favorite speakers, listen to the Cd or just do some of the workbook and I can feel God speaking to me. It’s like when you are sitting in church and the message is so clear to you that it’s like God is only talking to you! After the sermon, you turn to your family or friends and ask what they got out of the sermon. They didn’t really get anything or they heard something so different that if they weren’t sitting next to you, you would think they were in another church service. Well, I did it several different times and nothing. I started getting discourage and alone. I started to wonder if I ever get that feeling of being in conversation with God again! I sat on my bed that night with my Bible in my hand and the Beth Moore bible study on “James.” I was bounded and determine I was going to figure it out. Then it hit me, what was it that I battled the most with at the present time? Ok! So we don’t have enough time for that list but the thing that hit me first and always the hardest is my relationship with my kids and my husband. I wanted to change. I wanted my children to know God and I wanted to give them the best of me because they deserved it! Same with my husband. I remembered a book I had bought from Lifeway by the makers of Courageous “The Resolution for Women.”
Resolution: the act of resolving or determining upon an action or course of action, method, procedure, etc. ; the mental state or quality of being resolved or resolute; firmness of purpose.
Wow! Really? The first page got my attention right from the start. As I read thru to page 27, I was drawn further and further into the book. I have read and done my share of devotionals and all of them had touched me and brought things out in my own self that I had not realized. Along with learning more about God, they brought me closer and gave me the longing to want to know more. However every page I read, I felt as though I was having my own little conversation with God once again. It was close to every aspect of my life I was currently battling with from page 3 stating, “First, this resolution is with God,” to “Second, this resolution will impact the people you love.” The page ended with, “Sometimes the greatest miracle of all is the one that happens in your own heart, the change that takes place in you and then surprises you as it filters into the seams and fabric of your whole life.”
It goes on to point out another important aspect of my life that hit home that got me into my “new Season.” One of my complaints is I never have enough time to just pause and enjoy my kids. Why?
I never could stop long enough to figure out why as crazy as that may sound! The author, herself admits that she too had not really been in attendance for a large portion of her own life. I had not really thought about until then but maybe that why this particular season of life is hitting me so hard. How many times have I heard from people I know, “Wow, they grew up way to fast!” If you really think about it time hasn’t changed, one year 30 years ago is the same as one year today. We have changed. I am always on the go. She makes the point about her own self, “I’m constantly overeager to get to the next thing, which looks more enticing than what is currently before me. I’m rarely satisfied in full with my present station.” What really hit my heart hard was this: “Only for these fleeing moments would my children talk, look and act exactly like this. And if I chose to hurry through them in an attempt to avoid the parts I didn’t like, I’d simultaneously miss all the things I did like about this season.” Tears streamed down my eyes as I replayed over and over in my head how many times I hurried through giving them a bath because I was tired, or I had something else to do that seemed at the time much more important to only me to get done. Keep in mind, I do have problems with OCD and up until recently, you couldn’t get in my house with it being messy unless you lived here. I have gotten a lot more relaxed with that lately. I had been so selfish with my time. The girls love to be read too and I love to read to them but I couldn’t get past the dirty living room, or clothes on the floor to actually sit down and read to them. My husband just wanted time with me to cuddle and watch a movie but I was way too busy to stop cleaning or folding clothes to enjoy him. No wonder I couldn’t feel God when I sat down to read my devotional. I need that quick fix to get through the next couple of days. Come on, God! Why can’t I feel your presence? Don’t you know, it’s all about me and what I want?
Then I pick up a book off my shelf in my closet that I bought three months ago, I pray before I start reading to please let me hear you once again. I need my quick fix because I’m dying on the inside. I read 27 pages, glued to every page. On the 23rd page I read:
Luke 6:38 Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full---pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.
I had stopped giving and started taking and taking without giving back. No wonder I had not heard God. No wonder my life was flashing by me so fast. I have to admit, not for brownie points or anything like that, but I do have a wonderful, caring and attentive husband. I’ve been told that a lot through the years from people I just met, friends and family. It’s funny because I’d get jealous at what people saw in Jon’s eyes as he looked at me because I couldn’t see it until now. I was too busy coming up with what bothered me more than having time to see what they saw. It made me wonder if I did the same with my children, friends and family. If I did, I’m sorry.
And, finally one last tid-bit then I’ll say good bye for the night! I have ended up reading to page 87 so far. I am now writing again because of what I read on pg 58 and the assignment it gave me on pg 59. I had stop writing because I felt scared and that I had no business writing anything about the Bible or anything concerning it. Then I read this: “ I frequently feel the same way—wishing I had more depth or creativity like I’ve admired in some else. And yet others have had to remind me of the same thing I wrote back to this young lady: some readers will only hear, understand, and accept certain things when they read it in your words, from your perspective, written in your voice. We were each created by God to do our part. And if we fail to do it because we don’t think it’s valuable enough, great loss will be suffered. Someone, somewhere, needs you---in all of your uniqueness---to step up to the plate of your calling.”
My assignment was to consider the things you may have failed to do because you felt unworthy to do. Choose one and start doing it this week.
God is so GREAT!!!
Have a great day!
The reward for obeying Jesus’ command to love your enemies, do good and lend without expectation… repayment will be great, though much of it will not be in this life. But your selfless love will reflect that you are sons/daughters of the Most High. He is gracious and merciful to all people and disciples of Jesus are to follow His example. (Luke 6:38;word studies; HCSB)
Everyone goes through seasons in their lives that can either pull them down, make them stronger and in the end they will be either changed for the better or for the worse. Sometimes we don’t even realize that we are going through such a season until we are half way through it and final realize “ Hey! This is just another chapter in my life.” If you are anything like me, you try to dismiss that you are embarking on another season in your life because you have finally gotten comfortable with your current season.
I have five precious gifts from God, my children and six if you include my husband. AS a child and through my growing up, all I ever wanted to do was get married and be a mom. Not much of a career in today society but to me it was my dream. I love children! After getting married we got pregnant 6 months after saying “I do.” Why such a short period of time? Mostly because before we got married due to health reasons, I was told by my doctor that either I wasn’t going to be able to get pregnant or it would be very difficult. I’m so happy to report that all my children were planned. And, to really prove the doctors were wrong is the birth of our twin girls after a tubal reversal. Yes, that’s right! After Grace, our 3rd child, we decided to get our tubes tied and 4 years later and two months after a reversal, we were pregnant with our twin girls.
God has been so good to me and my family. I wish I could honestly say I’ve been as good to him as he has been to me and my family.
It wasn’t until the week after the last day of daycare for my twins that I finally admitted I was going through another season in my life. It is a season I’m sure my husband probably didn’t understand at first. It was a season I’ve seen numerous friends and family go through that I didn’t want to go through. My baby girls were growing up! With tears in my eyes as I write this, I think about how the next years with them are going to fly by because as every mother knows that the moment their feet step into school they are no longer your babies. It’s like in the blink of an eye you have a 13 yr old that is going on a missions trip to a third world country! That was actually three weeks after the twins finished their last day at daycare.
My husband and I celebrated our 15 year anniversary on the same day we sent our 13 yr old on his first mission trip to serve the Lord. Remarkably, my husband had a harder time sending him off than I did. I guess it was partly because I felt he needed to see how good of a life he had and I had prayed for peace on sending him. I truly feel that when you are on a mission for God, he protects and holds you through the whole experience. I am well aware that missions can and are dangerous however I felt as though I have had Hunter for 13 years in my life, putting him back in God’s arms was an honor as a parent. God has never failed me when it comes to my children. Which I got to see a week after Hunter came back from Hondureas.
Hunter came back on a Friday and that following week, we had youth camp from 7:30 am thru 10:30 pm Monday thru Friday. We had a family vacation to Disney planned that next day, Saturday. On Thursday night, Hunter wanted to leave at 8:00 pm that night due to his stomach hurting. Jon and I thought it was just Hunter being tired from his mission trip and youth camp all week. Friday morning the youth had planned a day trip at the water park. When I went to get Hunter and Braydon up, Braydon was the only one to get up. I checked on Hunter while Jon carried Braydon to the youth building. Hunter’s stomach was still not feeling right. I left him at home to run to work for a couple of hours. I wanted to get Hunter seen by the doctor before we left the next morning for Disney. Since our pediatrician was out of town, I got my best friend to do the new express check in at the med stop. She did it and within a minute of her sending it in through the internet, I received a call from the nurse telling me to take him to the Emergency room. I told the nurse my hestitation taking him there and she informed me that you can do the same speedy check in there. So we did and two minutes later I received another call from the nurse at the emergency room. This time I was told to bring him in right away.
To make a long story short, by 5:30 that afternoon we got the news that Hunter was having surgery that night to remove his appendix. Before, I go any further with my story, I just wanted to say that up until 2:30 that day, I wondered if I was over reacting with Hunter but I had this nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach that kept pushing me to really not take “his ok” as his diagnosis. We had very good doctors that took their time checking Hunter out and took into consideration that he had been out of the country too. During this whole ordeal, I was confronted with a surgeon that really didn’t think there was anything wrong with Hunter and was ready to send him home. To put me as ease, he did order a CT scan than he didn’t think was necessary. After 10 minutes of debate, I was ready to just take Hunter home because I didn’t trust my own instincts about my child’s condition. Hunter’s nurse at the time and the radiologist tech came in and talked with me and my mom. Two hours later, we did the CT scan and within 5 to 10 minutes another doctor, that we had not seen, came in and delivered the news. She was very humble when she told me that this is one of those times where a doctor needs to listen to the parent that in fact knows her own child. Along with that, she told me that the same surgeon that doubt Hunter’s condition was the only surgeon that could perform the surgery. That was hard news to take in because I didn’t trust him to perform the surgery on my son. Then I thought back to when Ella was near death and the first doctor I saw at the hospital was the very doctor I did not like. He was the very doctor that is the reason Ella is walking around now.
Needless to say our trip to Disney was cancelled the next day. God’s hands were all over Hunter just like his hands were all over Ella. After Hunter’s surgery that night, the surgeon came out to talk to us. I ask him how bad Hunter’s Appendix were and how far away from rupturing. He shrugged and told us three or four days and it wasn’t that bad yet. In three or four days, we would have been in the middle of Disney with not only our five children but two nieces and a nephew. Would we have made it in time to an emergency room with Hunter during the tropical storm they were experiencing at the same time? It’s something we don’t have to worry about because God took care of it for our first born, Hunter. So, now when I hear, “In God’s time,” it takes on a whole new meaning to me. “In God’s time” is the perfect time for me.
I know I started out talking about the new season my life is in. I had every intention on talking more about it however it’s a season. Like every season, I’ll be in this season for a little while. And, to all mother’s out there, please keep in mind that doctors are wonderful people and they have a lot of knowledge on the human body but there is one thing that a book cannot teach that is a mother’s intuition on their own child. Trust it!
God bless each and everyone reading this!
Besides my introduction, this is one of the shortest entries I've posted. However, it's only the beginning in what I hope to be a pretty good blog entry. As you will read, I'm in the middle of a Bible study with a wonderful group of ladies from our church.
1 Peter 2: 4-5 states: As you come to him, the living Stone--rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him---5 youalso, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
A reflection of the two verses above in my Bible states: The church is not a buildng constructed by humans but a divine institution, built on the living stone, Jesus. He's the strong, foundational building block of the church, and hid followers are living stones who are being built into a spiritual house.
AS one of the many little living stones in the church, remember that each diverse stone has great worth to Jesus and to his body. When you're tempted to ignore your need for others or to discount those who aren't like you, remember that each stone is balanced by all those around it, and all rest on the living Stone himself.
(It refers to Ephesians 2:19-22. I would encourage you to look this up and any other verses that are copied because misakes happen by human hands.)
In the beginning of my walk with Christ, I had the same false preconception that I have found a lot of people not in the word and beginners to the word have. Christians are PERFECT! They live this happy and perfect live where they quote scripture, have perfect marriages, perfect kids and they do not mess up with daily everyday stresses cause they have none! Welcome to my life! I am a Christian and I am now PERFECT! That is so far from the truth as most everyone who knows me knows. I have a wonderful not so perfect husband that is married to a not so perfect wife (me) and five not so perfect kids along with an exchange student. I barely have time to do what I love to do most which is write but somehow today I put the halt on my life, read our Thursday night devotional with some wonderful ladies and decided to write about what I’ve learned so far in our Bible study and how it relates to my everyday life. I hope you can gain some insight as well. As I have learned from the past, God is what gives me the knowledge and strength to write and I love it!
About a month back I felt the backwards pull that made me struggle with insecurities and not feel the security of his presences. I knew I needed to do something to prevent my backwards slide so I prayed to God to fill me in his word. To give me projects that covered me with his word because my crazy schedules of school, work, soccer, ballet, gymnastics, work, being a mother, wife and that’s just my activities then I have to add the kids’ schedules to that! Just joking! I can hardly crawl in the bed at night much less run a soccer field, lift my leg for ballet and flip for gymnastics! All that left hardly any time for me and most important GOD. Don’t get me wrong, I was going to Church and doing my normal Wednesday nights with my 3-4 year old cubbies but I just needed more! I not only needed more, I craved more! I was trying to find a scripture that talk about needing more and growing more spiritually. I found Proverbs 2:1-22 but only writing down 1-10.
My son, if you receive my words, and treasure my commands within you, so that you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding; yes, if you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding, if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds victory in store for the upright, he hold a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the ways of the faithful ones. Then you will understand what is right and just and fair --- every good path. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
I just want to hear again… “For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be Pleasant to your soul.” Isn’t that comforting. How many of us are addicted or become addicted to things that are pleasant to our soul? How many of us try to replace something that will stay permanently pleasant in our souls for something that will always be temporarily pleasant in our souls. And, we keep going on and on because we are looking for that pleasant feelings in our souls and we can’t get it by earthly things. Anyone that is close to me know that I learn differently that the normal person which should not come to shock to anyone reading this because nothing about my life seems normal! When I look at the above passage, I relate it to food more specifically CHOCOLATE :0) ! I Love M&M’s !! Now, if I keep going back and forth to the candy bowl filling my hands with M&M’s because I just haven’t hit that satisfied feeling, I’m going to get frustrated and soon after sick of just the smell of chocolate! M&M’s are sin in my life. Every time I fell my hand up with M&M’s, I’m satisfied until I finish my handful, I get up and repeat the process and finally I see that I’m needing more and more M&M’s to get that pleasantly satisfied filling of the sin until I’ve hit glass bottom (rock bottom) and there is nothing that will get me back to that “pleasantly satisfied feeling my soul needs.” But, if I just turned to God to “For wisdom will enter will enter your (my) heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your (my) soul.” I will stay filled inside and what’s inside must come out. Moses was filled with the Spirit to the point he had to wear a Veil to cover his face. How awesome would it be to be shining so bright the atheist could see God shining through you that they couldn’t help but turn from their wrong ways and follow God? Read the Bible, study the Bible, get in a Bible study with others.
1 Peter 2: 1-3
Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
Take those verses in for a minute. Think about how you feel when you go to church, talk to a friend about good things going on in their lives or yours, and think about how you feel when you leave church, Bible study or Sunday school. Capture that feeling in your soul and hold tight to it! Now, wouldn’t you want to let others know that feeling? You want to share what feelings good to you so that others might feel the same blessings! Isn’t God great! Now, picture that wonderful feeling times a million! Wow! That what I picture Heaven like! So powerful that if I was to feel it now, I’d bust open! My skin could not hold it in!! That my friend is how it feels to follow Jesus daily!
This is just a bit of what I’ve wrote so far……I promise I have more coming in a few days. Maybe even tonight however my editor in chief is out of town (my husband) and I wouldn’t dare post anything too long without him checking my grammar :0) !
The Dead Sea, also called the Salt Sea, is a salt lake bordering Jordan to the east and Israel and the West Bank to the west. The sea is called “dead” because its high salinity prevents macroscopic aquatic organisms, such as fish and aquatic plants, from living in it, though minuscule quantities of bacteria and microbial fungi are present. Just north of the Dead Sea is Jericho. Somewhere, perhaps on the southeast shore, would be the cities mentioned in the book of Genesis which were said to have been destroyed in the time of Abraham: Sodom and Gomorra (Genesis 19) and the three other “Cities of the Plain”-Admah, Zeboim and Zoar (Deuteronomy 29:23) Zoar escaped from destruction when Abraham’s nephew Lot escaped to Zoar from Sodom (Genesis 19: 21-26) And, interesting fact I found among the ones mentioned above was that before the destruction, the Dead Sea was a valley full of natural tar pits, which was called the Vale of Siddim. King David was said to have hidden from Saul at Ein Gedi nearby.
This past week has been an emotional week mentally, physically and spiritually. I have questioned everything from my parenting skills to my spiritual growth or lack of it, my devotion to Christ and my own job abilities. I’m not depressed by any means, just beaten down little by little. I have prayed for God to get me through it all and he has because I am here. I keep my focus on him so I thought until today’s sermon. Now, I’m not saying that I don’t focus on him daily because I do. I carry on mini conversations with him throughout the day. In the mornings after dropping the twins off at daycare one of my favorite things to do is listen to either last week’s sermon on 9-11 or listen to one of my CD’s that has traditional Hymns and singing along with the singer while on my way to Starbucks for coffee before heading to work. Sometimes while I’m getting ready in the morning instead of my to do list playing over and over in my head, I hear one of my favorite hymns playing over and over in my head which is a lot more soothing. The focus that I’m talking about is a more intimate knowledge of Christ which turns into an intimate relationship with the one who paid the price for our sins before we even knew him, Christ. From the knowledge of Christ, to our intimate relationship with Christ shapes us into being more Christ like. For a while I didn’t understand what it meant to be Christ like but it clicked finally with what the preacher said today along with a few in your face realizations. The example he used was his relationship with his wife when they got married. Her interest started rubbing off on him until it became his interest. When we grow to know someone and spend time with that person intimately, you become part of that person. You will never be that person and you don’t lose yourself into that person, you just hopefully take on the better aspects of that person and in turn become a better person. I am a better person because of my relationship with Jon. He pushes me to be a better person whether I want to at that moment or not. I am a better person because of my five children. I am a better friend because of my best friend. God gives us the gift of relationships to understand and have a deeper understand of his Love and Commitment to us. We don’t desire it. It’s kind of like a relationship between a husband that is an abuser and the person being abused (his wife). And, it can be vice versa. That wife or husband (the abused) stays in the committed relationship in hopes one day the husband or wife (the abuser) will change and give them the Love they once gave in the beginning of relationship.
Our preacher today struck a nerve in me that I hope will encourage you as much as it has encouraged me today to stay more in the Word so I can gain the knowledge and have a more intimate relationship with Christ. He spoke on three of the seven Churches mentioned in Revelations. I could relate with all three churches. The seven churches were chosen since they represent the different trials and states that churches from that day until today would possibly face. The churches he spoke on today you can find In Revelation 2 and 3; the church of Ephesus, the church of Sardis and the church of Philadelphia.
The church of Philadelphia is the church we all strive to be a part of and in the beginning of our walk we resemble this church in the fact we are on fire for the Lord and we want to tell everyone. We have an open door that no one can shut because God’s presence is flowing through our blood. We believe that God is going to keep us from the hour of trial that will come upon the whole world. We are strong in our faith and nothing is going to take us down. We are pumped and are pumping everyone else up. We are similar to Rocky facing the Russian. Nothing can take him down, not even the Russian who had just killed his best friend in the previous fight, then reality and life hits us. We are okay for the first few trials and most of us can last through the next trial but we slowly lose our fight. Maybe because our fight is not guided by watching the true warriors of David and Goliath, Abraham, Noah, Paul and the best warrior of them all Jesus Christ but it’s based on movie characters like Rocky and the Russian or the winner of Survivor who managed to outwit and outplay other opponents by lying, cheating and sometimes stealing to win millions. My husband during Sunday school discussion said our focus needs more focus which is also on Karate kid. It’s so true.
The next Church that our preacher spoke on was the church of Sardis. This church had the reputation of being Alive but was very much Dead. It rested on its reputation and stayed there. It was in a comfortable state and became satisfied with its success which caused it to not grow at all. I take it to mean that it had decent sermons but never let it out. It was like the Dead Sea with inlet with no outlet. The Dead Sea has one tributary which is the Jordan River. The Church has one tributary which is the preacher. Now, I’m not saying that is how it was just how I picture it to be. I’m sure he was an awesome preacher because that’s what brings the people in. A new word that was added to my vocabulary today was Sponge Christians. I really liked that analogy of Sponge Christians because a lot of us are sponge Christians. We absorb it all in just as a sponge absorbs a spill however we don’t let it out and we sour just like a sponge would without it being released. How many of us hear a great sermon and instead of telling someone of it we tell them of our great weekend of shopping and laying around in our pajamas watching movies and that’s just Saturday! And, how many of us are guilty of saying, ‘Oh, yea….I went to church on Sunday and it was a good sermon. I got to wear my new dress or new shoes and was comfortable. So comfortable I nearly fell asleep but it was a great Sermon. What did you do?’ I’m just as guilty as the next person or we tell the one person about the sermon but it’s the same person we told ten other times because we are in our comfort zone with them. It’s like the Church of Sardis. Our reputation is good, we go to an awesome church, our kids rank the highest in Bible trivia and we are comfortable where we are at. Because of our comfort level we can either go to a church that has a reputation for being alive but dead or go to a dying church with is only a step above! This is the church that I could relate most to, although I can relate to all three. This is where I felt I was headed too. I’m by no means saying my church is a dying church because my church is the most like Philadelphia to me. Just take the building structure out for a minute and take the word “church” out and look at these letters on a more personal level. Look at it on your level with walking with Christ. Are you like the body of believers that are on fire for Christ, tell not only your friends and family but your co-workers and other people you meet on the street about what Christ is doing in your life, in your families’ life, in your church’s life, do you send out words of encouragement to fellow believers and others who might need a pick me up? Is your conduct worthy of the gospel? The list can go on and on.
The Church of Ephesus was the dying church. Christ knew this church’s good deeds and perseverance and that it could not tolerate wickedness. Christ knew that it had endured hardships for his name and still have not grown weary. It was still a busy church; however busy does not make it an active church. How many of us go to church almost every time the doors open and do our duties of awana’s, children’s church, meal preparation, nursery duty or any other job that needs to be done? Doing your duties is a great way to serve the Lord but doing it half-hearted is like not doing them at all. Before I truly started to understand what it meant to walk with the Lord, I half-heartily did my job at church. I would think it’s just church, I’m not punching a time clock and it’s not like everyone else is volunteering. My problem wasn’t so much volunteering my time because I love my Cubbies; it’s been more on letting my light shine out to others and to be more of an encourager than a sponge Christian. I need to find more time in my day to be in the word and less time in the day finding things to do that takes away that time with the Lord. When you plan a vacation, don’t you investigate where you are going, learn more the area and get directions? This is your life we are talking about. Shouldn’t you be getting directions on how to get to the very place you are spending eternity? This isn’t one or two weeks of your life that you get to spend with family and friends. And, don’t you want those same friends and family to go on the best, most rewarding vacation ever? The map can be found at church. And like all maps some roads are unverified but all are safe to travel with Christ leading the way. There will be struggles and trials along the way. Just keep in mind that with any race (life) that you are going strong in, your competitor (Satan) is right at your heels waiting for you to slip so he can get ahead and slow you down. The devil is not going to give up and will try harder and harder to remind you of the easy roads that lead you nowhere. Satan does that to believers that threaten his very existence. One more person that makes it to God is one less person Satan can use to further his kingdom. The trials we go through shape us into the person Christ needs us to be to defeat Satan and win the race. If you are wondering if you are in the right race, turn around and see if Satan is chasing you. If no one is chasing you then apparently you aren’t in a race worth winning.
A neat little side note that I read today in our upcoming devotional in Sunday school was something to think on and share with others as I am sharing you. I got this out of a devotional we are doing on Philippians. The word conduct comes from the root word ‘polis’ (“city”), which in earlier times usually refer to the city-states. The verb carries the basic meaning of being a citizen. But, by implication, it means being a good citizen, one whose conduct brings honor to the political body to whom one belongs. Philippi had the distinction of being a Roman colony, a highly privileged status that gave its inhabitants many of the right enjoyed by citizens of Rome itself. A responsible citizen was careful not to do anything that would bring disrepute on his ‘polis’ and he tried always to be considered an honorable citizen, so that he would never be removed from the list of citizens. If we, as citizens of this world, looked at what we are so devoted to that it takes us away from what truly matters and places our citizenship in Christ how much better do you think this world would be? Think hard on the excuses we give to our own selves on why we don’t make it to church or why we didn’t tell our friends about that sermon. I’m guilty of keeping it to myself because of fear my friends would think I was being too pushy or I couldn’t do Wednesday night because my friends would have thought bad of me for missing a night out. Last time I read the Bible, our reputation that we are trying to protect was not what was nailed to the cross. Christ is the biggest giver of all. He not only gave of his time, service, and self, he gave eternal life to not only believers but to those lost who may have a chance to repent and believe. How awesome is that?
A couple of weeks ago, I was talking with a few co-workers about Heaven, marriage and relationships we will have in Heaven. Along with death, this is another subject I try not to think too much about because of lack of knowledge and fear. When I was doing the Bible study on Heaven a lot of questions were answered and some were not or I just wasn’t in the bible study at that time to hear the answer. My husband and I were talking tonight after the kids had gone to bed on marriage in Heaven. I had been researching without much luck and I was bound and determined to write in my blog on marriage in Heaven. After getting frustrated and nearly giving up for the night, I prayed that maybe tonight while I was asleep, God would point me in the right direction to know what to write. Earlier in the night Jon had reminded me of a Bible verse I read to him a while back that gave me comfort and apparently it did the same for him because he wrote it down and gave it to another person today.
It is Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, the title of the chapter is: Oppression, Toil, Friendlessness. My Bible gives a brief back ground on each book of the Bible. This particular book states that it explores the meaning of life.
4:9- Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: 10- If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! 11- Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? 12- Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Our men’s’ group is doing a Bible study on Revelations and I have to admit, I’m so jealous! My very first Bible study was on Revelations and I was a new Christian. What a great way to be introduced to the word of God than to start with the least talked about and most feared book of the Bible, Revelations! I Loved that Bible study and I want to do it again! Well, this past Saturday I went to the Christian book store and got Jon two books on Revelations to help aid in his understanding of the book. Well, wouldn’t you know it, the above Bible verse was in it! Along with Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12, it listed:
Hebrew 10:24-25 : And, let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25-Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
James 5:16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
This verse hit to my core of why I blog. I get all my thoughts out on paper, maybe by my confessions on how hard I struggle daily with being a Christian someone might see that it’s SO normal to have issues and then I ask God to forgive me.
The last verse is 1 Peter 4:8-10: 8-Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins. 9- Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10- Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.
The book then went on to ask the question below. As Jon asked me the question, tears welled up in my eyes and I remember back almost three years ago when God took the security out of my life. I say security only because at the time it was security, whether false or not, it was my security.
According to Hebrews 10:24-25, James 5:16, and 1 Peter 4:8-10, how can you take practical steps to counter an attitude of self-sufficiency?
My answer to Jon: I can remember one day riding down the road and looking over into another car and thinking how lucky I was. I had healthy kids, a wonderful husband, great job and my life was wonderful! Like a blink of an eye, I woke up the next morning in fear. In fear of any and everything! I was scared to go to work, I was scared to drive down the road by myself, I was scared to breathe, to be alone and to die! You name it, I was terrified of it! I was embarrassed to tell anyone how bad it was in fear they would think I had totally lost my mind! I had said that maybe it was post-partum depression because the twins were still babies and I had a lot on me from nearly losing Ella to meningitis, to the demands of being a fulltime mom of 5 children, to working full-time. Now, looking back at it, I know it was God and he knew I was hard headed and it would take a huge jolt to shape me into the person he knew I could be. He had sent several life changing events to my life that made me turn to him but as soon as I felt secure again I’d stop going to church. So I think that God had every right to take my security away from me the way he did. I deserved it. A couple of days passed and we went to church and I felt safe. It was the only place I felt somewhat normal and safe. Days passed and it got to where I wanted Monday and Tuesday to quickly pass so I could go to church on Wednesday nights then it seemed Thursday thru Saturday took forever and Sunday went too fast! I did visit a therapist that helped me and the doctor put me on antidepressant/anxiety meds to help me but the side effects and I didn’t really agree. I felt ashamed because I wasn’t strong enough to pull myself out of it but God was! God was right there next to me and even holding me most of the time. I got tired of the battle and just wished I could find the security I once had. A song that Ella was singing today in the van when I opened the van door to get her out keeps repeating in my head right now. It’s by the Veggie Tales, “God is bigger than the boogie man. He is watching over you and me.” So true my sweet Ella. So true! He was watching over you when you had the meningitis and me when the boogie man was trying to get me.
It has been a few years since then and I wouldn’t change what happen to me although I have not been the same. Which I think that was what God intended. I would do it all again and endure the struggles of anxiety and depression and even go through the embarrassment of telling others all over if it meant I was helping another person see what God is doing in their own life. God deserves all the credit in my life.
Jon and I went on to talking about what he thought about marriage in Heaven. I told him that I couldn’t find what I was looking for to comfort me and tell my co-workers about. So, I asked him. He has always been so good at wording things the way I understand along with my office mate. I’d be lost in this world without them explaining things to me!
In the book of Matthew 22: 23 thru 33, (you will have to read it but here’s a somewhat summary of it) in trying to trick Jesus, one religious group, the Sadducees told Jesus of a woman who had seven husbands who all died. They asked Him, “Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?” (Matt. 22:28) Christ replied, “At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in Heaven.” (Matt. 22:30) This bothered me and Jon was okay with it. And, of course I was being a fleshly woman wanted him to explain how he could be okay with it. He reminded me of what Randy Alcorn had written in his book “Heaven.” Randy Alcorn had stated that he thinks we will be closer. In Gen. 2:18, God states: “It is not good for the man to be alone” and he is the giver and blesser of our relationships. He went on to say that our Life on this changing thought! Just think of who got you interested in coming to church. I can think of her right now and praise God for putting her in my life. From Her telling us about this great church, almost my whole family now goes to church there! Just one person speaking out about an awesome church created a domino effect in my own family and friends. Neat!
So, if what we do here on earth matters and we are able to touch strings that reverberate for all eternity and we are recognized by our families, then we must not change too much. And, by that I mean all our good traits stay with us and the evil emotions will apart from us just as those who Jesus does not recognize apart from him. One book put it this way: If when I arrive in heaven I’m not the same person with the same identity, history and memory, then I didn’t go to Heaven. In Luke 24:39, Jesus stayed the same. “Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” Then again in John 20:24-29, Jesus appeared to Thomas. Along with Thomas, Jesus dealt with Mary and Peter in very personal ways steaming off the assumptions of previous relationships’ and memories. My husband lost his mother in 2007. She heard the calling that God had placed in her heart, quit her teaching job of 20 plus years, went to seminary school, went on numerous mission trips and two months after she got her doctorate in theology she went to be with the Lord. The day she passed, her husband was shaving and getting ready to face his first day without his dear wife when all of the sudden his right arm went numb and he dropped the razor. In the past, Mrs. Martin had always told him she was his right arm. I think that morning she was letting him know that she was no longer suffering the pain cancer had caused her. She was with her savior. Just as Jesus appeared to his followers, Mrs. Martin (not in person) had appeared to her husband of 20 plus years still with the memories she possessed from her life on earth and the love she had in her heart for her earthly soul mate.
Jon and I both believe that we are soul mates that God put together. I can still picture in my head the first time I laid eyes on my future husband. He was wearing a blue cap, jeans and a white shirt. He had on brown boots, not the ones he still wears although you might think by looking at them he has had them that long. We were both trying to catch glimpses of each other without being obvious and then we parted ways for a month. I felt in my heart from the moment he came into my life although words were not even spoke nor were we introduced that my life was fixing to take off on a journey of a lifetime. I felt that God had spoken to me that day telling me to take this whole month to myself because after that month I would no longer be alone. We met the first part of December with no words exchanged and January 4th 1995, Jon and I had our first conversation and haven’t stopped since.
So, the question that I wanted an answer to was “Will I still be his wife in Heaven and what happens when you have married several different people whether due to death of spouse or by divorce, who will I be with in Heaven?” I’m sure a lot of devout Christians and leaders can tell you of different verses out of the Bible that point to whether or not you will still be married to your spouse. I have found the verse that tells us “At resurrection people will neither marry or be given in marriage; they will be like angels in Heaven.” My thoughts are old-fashioned and maybe in this day and age considered a fairy tale to those that do not believe in true love. I believe that everyone has that one and only person that God intends for us to be with and I call that our soul-mate. It’s that person that you connect with without words and your souls connect. It’s the connection you feel the moment you lay eyes on your new baby or the connection you get when you meet a stranger that turns into sisterhood for life and even the connection you feel at church with fellow believers. It’s like you’ve known them for life but you haven’t! When you start to follow Christ and ask Jesus to come into your heart, that immediate feeling you feel. You can’t describe it to anyone and you can’t contain it either! This past Sunday, our Choir with our choir director singing, sang a song on choosing Jesus. The emotions not only I felt but fellow believers felt was so explosive that you just wanted to cry for joy and beg Jesus to take you now! I have a hard time believing that God would take all those relationship and connections away from you in Heaven. We are the same in Heaven as we are here on earth but without the bad stuff. We will be closer with our spouse because for once we will understand and feel the true meaning of Love. My thoughts on the people who have been married and divorce are this: God has a soul-mate for you in Heaven, whether it was your first Husband, your middle husband, third husband or last, you will meet in Heaven. The difference Jon gave me on Love in Heaven verses Love on earth is it will be our love first to Christ, then our soul mate, our children, family and friends. Our relationship with Christ is not the physical relationship we have with our husband/wife on earth. It’s the relationship where we devote ourselves to him and he watches over us. It’s a love that we will not truly understand until we get there!
The benefit of writing a blog is the fact I can write what I believe. I’m not controlled on what others say or believe. And, from my research on the topic on marriage in Heaven, it’s all in how the Bible is interpreted by whoever reads it. I’m not down playing anyone’s interpretations and the way they believe. I think it’s great!
Heaven is a mystery that until we cross over to the light, we will never truly know everything in store for us. We can read books from talented theologians and even from those who claim to experience Heaven for a few minutes. And from what the Bible tells us in Revelations and other books of the Bible, we will never be able to fully comprehend in our fleshly bodies what God has in store for us. Until then I want to go back to the book of Ecclesiastes 12: 9-14. It is titled The Conclusion of the matter. If you will remember, my Bible states that this book explores the meaning of life.
9-Not only was the Teacher wise, but also he imparted knowledge to the people. He pondered and searched out and set in order many proverbs. 10-The Teacher searched to find just the right words, and what he wrote was upright and true. 11- The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by one Shepherd. 12-Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them. Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body. 13-Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. 14-For God will bring every deed to judgment, including every hidden thing, whether is it good or evil.
“To share an uncommon love where we have uncommon ground---now, that’s a marriage.”
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10: Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11: Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12: Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13: Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
14: Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16: Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
17: Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18: If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19: Do not take revenge, my friend, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head,”
21: Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
This past week was a pretty good week to share what God’s blessing were on me and how he really worked in me. Reading the above passage out of the Bible and looking back my week, I failed him but he still stood right by my side and lifted me up. I had so much to blog about without a good beginning to start my blog until this morning in Sunday school. Such simple and easy to understand verses, which are a nice change, but so hard to carry out daily. Maybe my past week of stumbling badly will help someone to see their stumbling only leaves room for God to pick us up and dust us off to try again better.
So far in the past month, my office mate and I have had a lot of Mondays; not just on Mondays but on other days as well. So, this past week I was bound and determined that we were going to have a Friday on Monday. I hope you are following me on this. I have found the best times for me to really pray to God is in the shower first thing in the morning before anyone else gets up otherwise I can pretty much hang up getting anything worthwhile said to him. So pray I did this past Monday. I prayed hard for a great Monday at work. Whether it was the peace I received from that prayer that came over me while at work, I’m not sure but my Monday during work was pretty good! (Notice I said during work) Well, since my day was going so great, I figured why not after picking up kids just go home. So, I did. Haewon first day of American school was that day and our kids had tons of homework. I wanted to start supper up, make sure Haewon’s first day was good, and help with homework. Our God-daughter was coming over for my husband to help with her homework so it just made sense. I don’t know how anyone else’s children act when there is a new member or even company in the house but mine forget rules, stop listening, and turn into little possessed creatures. No joke! Don’t get me wrong, I Love doing this exchange program but my children are wearing me out with the attitude and lack of listening and respect. Our oldest has started the 7th grade and he will be 13 on the 29th of September so I know it’s the teenage years kicking in but I don’t know if he will survive to 14 at the rate he is going. It wouldn’t be so bad if he was bad all the time but he’s not! It’s just a few things I want to pinch his head off for. Gracie, our oldest daughter but middle child has ADD and takes medicine for it. It helps her during the school-hours only which is fine with us. The sole purpose is to help her concentrate and sit still while in the learning environment. She does not take it on the weekends unless she has to sit in church and listen which is rare. Braydon is our only child so far that will sit, do ALL his homework, clean up his homework and not bother anyone but Gracie. Factoring all three of the older kid’s personality’s, 3 year old twins, our God-daughter and throw in an exciting person, our exchange student, it makes for an interesting afternoon of no one wanting to do homework, not listening and picking at each other. By the time Jon made it home, I was stressed. Not only did I need to leave for a few hours, I wanted to leave for a few hours to collect myself. Ever since Jon and I decided to take in an exchange student, I knew that some things were going to change in our house. I was prepared to watch my tone more closely with my kids, practice patience better than I have, set down the cleaning when there were opportunities to have family time, and just enjoy the experience of learning from our new guest as I hope she could learn from us. I know that it shouldn’t take a visitor to do these things but I’m not perfect and sometimes I need a push.
If it weren’t for my husband and very close friends and of course God, I probably wouldn’t have been able to handle this past week. I needed every single person closes to me to help me with my struggles of this week because the devil was after me!
Apparently my red eyes and not so cheerful self was another good indicator to my friend I was meeting that I was struggling with what I couldn’t quite put into words. I enjoyed our conversations and it felt nice to just get away for just a few hours. Without sharing any of our conversations I got to telling her that my anxiety was setting in but I would be okay. I was worried some about my dizziness but that was fading and just having time for everything and everyone was my biggest issue. (My everyone just meant my children, my husband, our God-daughter and our exchange student. I seem to make time for others and work. It does help too that one of my closest and dearest friends sits across from me Monday thru Friday in the same office.) I had gone on to tell my friend that I had thought about going back on my anxiety meds to help take the edge off but I don’t think that was the way I wanted to go. And, I know the next thing I said was what was a turning point in my night and angered the devil even more. I said that God had saved me from the darkest point in my life and this is nothing like that and he can do it again. I just have to give it to him. I want you to know that I got in my van, drove home and had a great rest of the night with my family all I needed was that person God put in my life for an ear and to give God the glory of saving me.
Wednesday was my husband’s 36th b-day. Yay! Now, he can stop picking on me by saying I’m 37 and he’s 35 because he is 36. Haewon was so sweet and got him a present. It was a set of pens with Korean writing on it. They were nice! I had still been struggling with anxiety and an issue came up at work that made me feel not too Christian. I have a certain person that I deal with often at work that I will honestly say brings out the not-so-nice side of me. And, for those I work with at the office that read my blog, no, it’s not you. I have a hard time being nice to this person because she has an air about her that makes you feel that she is talking down to you and you have no idea what you are doing. She’s quick to take credit for things that it took a group effort to do. I have issues with that type personalities and I’m so quick to want to put them in their place. This is where verses 17 thru 21 come into play and I got a big fat F on this! If I am really honest, I always get F’s on this if it means someone else is being mean to another or if someone else is taking credit for something I know other people helped with. Now, I get an A on it if it has anything to do with me. You can beat me, ignore me, mistreat me or take credit for something I had a hand in and I’ll be silent. I will even tell people, God will take care of them. So, why can’t I do it when it comes to others? I feel like I have to be the protector. I wonder if it’s just my mothering instinct kicking in to overload. That is what I want and need God to help me with. He helped me that day by kicking me off-line every time I went to email my reply of telling them how wrong this person really was. The only thing I could get to work on was my lesson for Wednesday night church! Go figure!
Friday was my Monday!!! All day long!! Our 10 year old son was diagnosed with Servers’ disease three or four weeks ago and x-rays showed he had a crack heel. He had been wearing braces on his legs at night and kept one on during the day to protect his cracked heel. His follow up appointment was Friday and we were eager to have another x-ray done to see if his heel was healed and what our next step was. Earlier in the day I had not been in the best of moods. I was feeling sorry for myself, I hadn’t gotten a chance to do my devotionals in two going on three days, and I had gotten an email from Hunter’s teacher on Thursday telling me he had not turned in two assignments so he was going to be on restriction all weekend. So when Jon and I took Braydon to the doctor only to find out that we weren’t going to get an x-ray because he didn’t think it was necessary, he took him off the braces and replaced it with two small heel pads you put in his shoes, I was irritated. He even told us to not limit him on sports. Relief to Braydon but it irritated me. I have seen how he walks after a day or two of running, I see him in the morning when he wakes up and can’t put weight on his feet. It might not seem that bad to that doctor but to his momma it was a lot more serious than what that doctor was willing to do for him.
Here are some recent conversations I have had with the twins. I thought it would make to the perfect ending:
Ella and I have had to squirt medicines up our nose for allergies. It is kind of comical when you look at us in the morning because I get the meds and Ella instantly tells me now that she doesn’t want that med today. That’s the answer to a lot of things I tell or ask the twins. The two funniest ones they have told me was: Me: “You need to wipe your hiney, Emma.” Emma: “No, I wiped it yesterday.” Me: “Emma, that’s not something you just do every other day.” Or Me: “You need to poo-poo?” twins: “No, I not poo-poo today, I poo-poo yesterday.”
Today was a pretty good day. It was Haewon’s first time in an American Southern Baptist church with an awesome group of church family, Sunday school teachers and God-given talented Preacher! I haven’t really had too much of an opportunity to talk with Haewon about the difference in her Church in Korea and our church. I did get a few similarities’ and differences. They do worship at the same time as we do however the kids and youth worship separately from the adults. I’ll get more as the day goes by, hopefully!
The bible reminds me of a map of the United States. It has 52 states, the bible has 39 Old Testament chapters and 27 New Testament chapters with a combine total of 66 chapters, each state has a capital, each chapter has a message, and within each state are cities, within each message are verses, within each city are people and within each verse is a powerful meaning. As I was growing up as a preteen, I LOVED to read. My favorite books were the Sweet Valley Twins and then Sweet Valley High. As I would finish one book and waited for another book to come out, I’d write my own stories. It was fun and I could imagine myself as anyone doing exciting adventures. A neat thing I thought that was kind of ironic was sometimes I pretended I was a twin myself. It might have been because of reading books about twin sisters or I used to think it was because I was a twin and they never told my mom she had two. Funny, I know but I did have an imagination! Now, I write because it is an outlet for me to express myself in a way I never could in public. It’s also therapeutic and humbling at times. I will never and have never claimed to be a teacher of Word, I just blog about my experiences and how I relate it with what I’m learning at the time whether with devotionals’, Sunday school class, worship service, radio stations, what my friends are going through and other ways that feed my need for Christ. If I inspire someone then God is using me and I’m thankful. I used to think that I took the summer off from writing because of writers block, busy summer and I just felt as though I was being looked at funny with different people who may have read my blog entries. I know it was more than likely the Devil putting those thoughts into my head because if one person is made to think twice about their journey with God or if one person decides ‘Hey, she’s nowhere near perfect but she knows she’s going to Heaven. I can too by getting in the word and excepting Jesus as my savior.’ then, I have served part of my purpose for God the rest of the blog entries are for my therapy and someone’s enjoyment! Enjoy my crazy life!!! I sure am trying! I know there is more to getting into Heaven than getting into the word and accepting Jesus as my savior but it is a GREAT start!
I have been dying to write a neat thought down but haven’t been able to work it into my blogs about the pearl. So, I’m going to do it now whether it flows or not! It’s not like my thoughts always flow slow and smooth all of the time. I’m on overflow most of the time especially when I think about Jesus Christ and I figured something out that I want to share!
In our Ladies Bible study on Heaven, we learned many things on who was going to be there, the different levels/stages, how we would get there, what we might be doing there and how it looked once we got there! Such exciting things to learn! At first I wasn’t too sure about the study, which was the same way I felt about the book of Revelations. My opinion is that the Devil wants you to be scared of dying so you don’t want to even read about either one because it is a very serious and scary thought. Well, I am living proof that as a mother, wife, friend, sister and any other title you may have for me, I am a much stronger and happier person for struggling to read and learn about both! Three years ago, I would break out in a cold sweat, suffer a panic attack and even break down into tears just to think my 5 precious children may live on this earth without me! Where would I be? Where would they be? Honey, I thought if I didn’t think about death, then I was going to live forever at least until my children told me ‘Ok, mom, you can die now.’ That’s not the way it is. Every day, every minute, every second people die, even mothers like me. We have to get in the Word, accept the Word, stay in the Word, live the Word and share the Word with our friends, family and even strangers. Our preacher spoke today on Matthew 7 vs 13 thru 23 about the Narrow and Wide gates into Heaven and Hell and the Tree and its Fruit. Several parts stood out to me because I can remember back to when I first started my Christian walk. I didn’t understand the part on entering through to Heaven in a narrow gate and the wide gate was Hell. Why would anyone want to go to Hell? Why weren’t Heaven’s gates wide? It’s got to fit my family and friends and their family and friends? Even now I compare it to the entrance to Disney World and if you have never been there then picture going to the fair, the entrance gate has many different lanes to get in through. Some have different gates for instances, the north gate or south gate. And, a lot of times the exit is one or two lanes. Now, flip that except take away the exit. From what I’ve learned, once you’ve entered either Heaven or Hell there is no exiting. One time entrance and the experience lasts for eternity! Why would you not want to try and at least get in? It might be a long, hard and exhausting path at times but the end is paradise! You should read in Luke 17 vs 19-31 about the rich man and Lazarus. I’m thankful that I do not know anyone who had a harder life than Lazarus and he ended up with the riches in the end. Read it and then thank God for your life and ask him what your role is in serving him. Sometimes, well actually most of the time, when you pray for God’s guidance a bright light does not shine bright for us to follow, you must listen first and have patience then the light will shine. It might not shine as bright as you would like but maybe it’s because God is shaping you as you are looking for the light.
Last thing I want to share is the story of the Pearl:
At some time in the course of the Oyster’s Development, a foreign substance such as a grain of sand gets into the little muscle and irritates the Oyster. The Oyster will then cover that irritant with a secretion. The longer the irritation is there, the more the Oyster coats it. Pearl Oysters vary in size and can be quite rough and ugly. Yet what is happening inside is a combination of rainbows, moonlight, and bits of flame. Once the Oyster accepts the irritation as part of itself, the pearl beginnings to develop. The worst storms, gales, even hurricanes will not dislodge it. As time goes by and this Oyster is finally pulled up from the bed where it has been for many years, it is opened only to reveal a beautiful pearl.
The pearl itself is a beautiful, single entity, formed through suffering in the heart of the Oyster. Unlike precious stones which must be cut and polished to reveal their clarity and beauty, the pearl is perfect as it comes from the Oyster.
Take from the story of the pearl whatever comforts you. Whether you see yourself as the pearl after all the irritations’ this world throws your way to reveal how God has shaped your heart into revealing you as a pearl in Heaven. Or maybe you see the Pearl as Jesus because he needs no polishing as he came straight from our creator. We are the precious stones as Jesus has cut and polished us to reveal our clarity and beauty to our creator, the Lord.
Revelations 21 vs 18 thru 21 (After reading theses passages, close your eyes and picture Heaven’s gates and tell me why you wouldn’t want to do whatever you could to tell you friends, family and strangers about such a beautiful place. And, then maybe you might get a better picture of who the pearl might be and who the precious stones are. :)
18-The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. 19-The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, 20-the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth and the twelfth amethyst. 21- The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass.
I want to close with a poem our preacher quoted today in his sermon. He knew it by heart.
It’s by Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference
I hope you have enjoyed this Blog entry as much as I enjoyed writing it. Have a blessed week!