Tuesday, December 30, 2008

More Gift List

We can do no great things, only small things with great love...’

~Mother Theresa

451. Quiet, peaceful, cool evenings listening to the crickets with my sweet husband.
452. Faith – I’d certainly not be the person I am today without great faith.
453. A wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends, enjoying traditions and laughter from little ones running around in excitement.
454. My new long awaited camera, Nikon D80, which takes such clear, crisp pictures at the drop of a second!
455. Family time together, sharing about the person of Christ, inquisitive questions from a sweet natured three year old.
456. The close of my M2M group for a month, it was such a blessing to have older and wiser mom’s to talk and share with.
457. My husband – always faithful – always joyful and full of peace.
458. John’s faithful prayers as we ready for bed, he hasn’t missed a night in over a month. Now that is how to cherish his wife!
459. Blessing neighbors with baked gifts of love, smiles as they remember the same yummy candy from last year!
460. Laundry piles – fresh and warm, waiting for my hands to come fold.
461. Filing completed and desk cleared off for November end!
462. My company which enjoys blessing their employee’s at the end of each year.
463. Christmas lights, Drew’s excitement as we drive around looking at displays.
464. Kroger expiration deals – so appreciative that they marked down their organic soy yogurt, it will add a little variety to Gabe’s non-dairy meals.
465. Gabe’s love for tissue paper, all the Christmas bags with tissue paper are void of silver glitter paper which are strewn about the house.
466. Drew’s love for learning – sharing the Christmas books with him was so precious.
467. Advent – a new tradition that added much to our family centering around Christ this Christmas.
468. Drew’s love and passion for Jesus, Drew loves to talk about Jesus and his Catechism’s are starting to come out in conversations which was so encouraging today.
469. Sweet husband with Christmas Starbucks in hand – Soy gingersnap latte!
470. The look on Drew and Gabe’s face Christmas morning when we opened the homemade book detailing what Jesus received for his Birthday. Drew enjoyed the pictures and talking about water buffalo!
471. Nana taking Drew on a real 1 hour train ride, he was so excited. I wish I could have been there to see his smiling face!
472. Family together for Christmas – we missed those who weren’t able to come this year.
473. An American/Puerto Rican Christmas dinner with rice, beans, turkey, plantains, Puerto Rican pudding and Apple pie!
474. My husband downstairs doing laundry and dishes!
475. Completed end of year projects that have been looming overhead.
476. My father visiting from snowy Seattle – it was so much fun being together, especially with mom, Julie and Ruben in tow.
477. Park and pond trips!
478. Fishing in the pond Christmas afternoon!
479. Kind words shared together with family
480. Being saved by grace through faith.
481. Sword fighting competitions on Christmas day.
482. Matching pajama's for the boys from the Thomas family for Christmas - they have never had matching anything!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Free Financial Tool

I thought I'd let you all know about this cool financial program my sister (Thanks Julie!) showed me this weekend. It is an online program that maintains all your finances in one place - it downloads your info consistently when your logged in, so your data is always up to date! The site then categorizes the expenses and gives you tips and ideas on how to get out of debt, what categories you can improve, and investment options. The program is completely free and I really love their budgeting section - it sends you an e-mail/text when your close to going over your budget. I also enjoy that my husband can get online at any time and look to see where we're at - how much is in each account and what bills are next to be paid. It also sends e-mail/text reminders when things are due so you can avoid late payments. I've set it up so my husband receives the same e-mails I do so he feels in the loop and knows what's going on - other than reading my spreadsheets which tend to loose him at times. You can check balances, budgets, transactions, and investments anywhere - especially convenient if you have an I Phone or Palm.

You may be wondering why its Free? Well the site makes money off of the savings ideas it gives you. For example, if your credit card has a high interest rate the site will find you a card with better benefits - if you sign up the company is rewarded. You can put in your credit score which will then bring up better options on cards that would suit your needs (air miles, cash back, etc).

I've looked into the company and personally feel very confident in its integrity, there are video's on their website about security and their maintenance of personal data. Certainly check it out yourself so you feel comfortable with your decision. I've been paying bills online for years so adding this as a financial tool was a hard decision, however if your leery about having personal information stored online, you probably won't like this site. Here is a link to a video about their security and privacy. As a site note, the mint.com doesn't store any of your personal information, only an e-mail address and your selected password. It has also been tested by various security companies. Here is what others have said about the Mint.com.

"Money magazine rates Mint.com best online personal finance service."

Time Magazine states, "50 Best Websites of 2008 Can’t afford a personal financial planner? Here’s the next best thing."

Business Week states, "101 Best Web Freebies "One of the most useful free products and services available online"

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Caught Not Taught

This December we focused on Advent - remembering the Lord through various Biblical names. It was so much fun to see Drew captivated by who God is, not just one aspect of God, but God in all his Glory and Abundance. We put the ornaments away yesterday and Drew was so sad to see the Advent ornaments and tree leave our entry way. It was sweet watching him place each ornament back in the "puzzle" book that they came in. He called each by name as he placed them back - "Goodbye Father of Light," "Mommy, here goes the Bright Morning Star," "Where does the Good Shepherd go?," "Here is the Cross, I mean Savour," "Good Bye Bread of wife."

We opened Jesus' gift first on Christmas morning - so it wouldn't get lost in the gift opening. His gift -- a home made book filled with pictures and verses and personal writings about the gifts we gave Jesus in December. Though we would like to see our children giving all year long, this month in December it was especially important for Drew and Gabe to see that giving is intentional and the way we give gifts to our Lord is through sacrifice and love. I tried to impress on Drew's little heart that we're blessed to live in this wealthy country, yet with great wealth comes great responsibility. We can't keep all that wealth for ourselves, we must give it back to the Lord generously through blessing others and the church.

We tried to explain to Drew how others live, so we watched a little video about the impact a Water Buffalo can have on a poor Asian family, we also looked at pictures from the children receiving their Christmas boxes in Mexico. We also looked at pictures from India and China - pictures of little children his age. Here is how the conversation went, in the end I think I learned a lot more from Drew's reaction, than Drew learned about giving. I am so grateful that children learn best from watching their parents, instead of from their parents words, because my words weren't very impactful. I think God was smiling at me; smiling that he was sending His message through the simple words of a child. A message that -- life's circumstances can't be an excuse for not pursuing a relationship with God,God can work all things together for good and in the process, often changes our hearts instead of our uncomfortable circumstances. A joy filled life is a personal, daily choice that has everything to do with Christ Himself!

M: "Drew, look at that house made of cardboard, could you imagine living in that"
D: "Oh, that would be fun, its just like camping! I love camping."

M: "Would you like to play and wash dirty clothes and drink from that same water source? Doesn't it look dirty, would you drink out of that water?
D: "That is yucky to drink, I'd get sick, I would like having a mud fight mommy, could I have a mud fight with those little children?"

M: " Drew could you imagine if mommy only fed you rice each day?"
D: "Rice, that isn't good!" "Could I have pizza?"
M: "No we couldn't buy pizza, we could only afford rice."
D: " Oh, I'm not hungry right now."

M: "Wouldn't you be sad if you had to dig in that dirt all day long preparing the land for crops, that is really hard work! If you had a water buffalo it would do all that work for you in much less time."
D: "I would like working there, look at all the dirt, I could build a fort or a train track for my trains."
M: Sigh......

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Innocence of a Child

"I tell you the truth,
anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God
like a little child will never enter it."
Mark 10:15

Tonight I met Jesus, it wasn't because I was in a church, or because I was worshiping, it was because of a child - my precious child gifted for a moment, in my heart for a lifetime.

Our little Drew, only 3+ years young showed me the meaning of Mark 10:15 tonight. More than the Eve service, it was our son's innocence that reminded me of the holy relationship I have with my Father. Drew's entire life has centered on Jesus, this God -- this Spirit living amongst us. Drew memorizes catechism's about Him, we share Bible lessons for life, we pray to Him often, we've created a home where Christ's love is modeled. Naturally, Drew is fascinated with Jesus, he is especially fond of the Christmas story, the nativity -- Emmanuel, "God with us" in human flesh.

Tonight as the nativity scene is acted out before us Drew's fascination exploded!

"Mommy, its Mary! Oh, and Joseph, and baby Jesus! Where are the angels? Ooooh, here they come...... Why aren't they flying? Where is the star of Be.. Beth...Bethlehem? Isn't in suppose to be a bright....bright morning star? Ooooh, there it is mommy, look the star! Look, shepherds! They have staffs and oh, where are the sheep? They need sheep, oh where is the donkey?" (Mommy informed him that they must have been left outside).

Drew's innocence was precious and so sweet to watch, but after singing a few songs Drew adamantly pulled my hand and insisted that he needed to go, "Why" I asked. Drew's response melted my heart. "We must go see Jesus, lets go mommy, go see Jesus, he is right there, there to see. I need to see Jesus." What does a mom say to that innocence? Yes, it seems so natural for Drew to want to meet this Jesus that we talk about in the morning and afternoon and night, when we get up and go to sleep and many hours in between. Feeble word's couldn't sway his mind that this story was real 2,000 years ago, and now it is real in our hearts. What was done once, can not be repeated -- only remembered.

Finally, the Lord's supper was taken and all Drew's frustrations were put to the test because he wasn't able to partake. We pray daily that he would make that most important choice to accept Jesus as his Lord and Savour. For today, all that we share are just words and truths poured into his moldable heart, but they are all still but words, someday when he is older those words may light his heart and he would come to understand the magnitude of such a gift! For today he sits dejected, asking, "why can't I have com...commUnon, why can't I see Jesus, he is right there!"

And so I met Jesus through the innocence of my son, the simple virtue that delights in meeting Jesus for the first time -- "Why don't I delight in meeting Jesus like that each day?"

Lord, purify my soul, make me like a little child - innocent, tender, shallow roots that long to meet You in person, to grow deeper, to grow more excited with each breath, with each closing of the day.

Freedom Found In The Silence

There is great freedom in being a Christian – the battle was already fought and our Lord is the victor! The last two weeks I have spend some large quantities of time just being silent – silent before the lord, silent before my family, and silent in all that I am doing about my day. Silence brings forth the benefit of true listening. Now, the Lord has a very funny sense of humor, about 5 days into my thoughtful silence the Lord allowed me to get a nasty cold, which has turned into laryngitis! Obviously, there is much for me to learn and the Lord is helping me along my quest and teaching me how to find Him in the silence of the everyday. My world often seems so chaotic and loud; seeking out silence has refreshed my soul and allowed me to look at all aspects of my life – finding those things that are pure and those that need some New Year adjustments.

One thing the Lord has been revealing to me in this silence is the victory I have in Jesus. Galatians 5:1 says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” So often I look at where I want to be spiritually and immediately feel defeated – attempts and failures spring into my mind and I relive many sinful choices that keep me enslaved to sin – this defeatist attitude is like putting on a yoke of slavery each day. As I was contemplating what the Lord was revealing in my life I read chapter 9 of Esther – the entire chapter is about the Jew’s victory! My did I need to be reminded of God’s victory! The Jews in chapter 9 chose, against all odds, to stand up and fight, they had great faith that the Lord would deliver them. The Bible says that by God’s sovereignty the Jews mastered their enemies and their sorrow turned to gladness and morning turned to holiday (Esther 9:22). In the New Testament, Roman’s 8:31 reminds us of, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
So if you feel defeated today, spend some silent time seeking the Lord and quietly ask him what yoke of slavery you’re choosing to put on each day - for our battle has already been fought, and the Lord is our victory. Knowing that should conquer our defeatist attitude, since the battle has already been won, we are no longer slaves to our sin, but slaves to righteousness (Romans 6:17).

Sunday, December 21, 2008

You know... Ribs Mommy?

From the mind of an almost 4 year old!

Tonight we went to our church team Christmas party. While driving there Drew asked what we were having for dinner. I told him I wasn't sure, but we were bringing ribs to share with everyone! There were a few seconds of silence, then I heard,

"Ribs? You mean we're eating the rib like, from Adam?"
I didn't fully grasp his statement so I answered, "Sure."
Then Drew commented,

"So God made Eve out of Adam's rib, why are we eating Adams rib?"

Oops, then I tried to explain that cows have ribs and their yummy to eat.

He still looked a little confused!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Gifts

John made his clients some really awesome Christmas gifts, I had fun taking some great shots of them!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Cute but All Too Real

Tonight Drew came to a very interesting epiphany while going to the bathroom. "Look, Jesus washes our sins white, just like toilet paper!"

I laughed hysterically when he said it, he didn't mean to be funny but was very proud that he was finally beginning to understand, not just regurgitate information back. I think he got it just right! We've been reading a Christmas book about Christ which details what the colors and shape of a candy cane can represent. The red on a candy cane represents the blood and the white is for Jesus washing our sins away. The shape of the candy cane is a J for JESUS! Drew loves this book and will have us read it at least 1-2 times each day.

Our season of Advent has not been without some hiccups! Tonight I was ready to surrender to the "family devotion spoiler!" I sat with Drew in the library while John rubbed my shoulders and we went through the various names of God that we've studied. While going through Gabe waddled in and started to grab Christmas ornaments off the tree. My sweet husbands loud voice yells, "Gabe no!" right in my ear which I think set off my bad attitude. Then Drew kept wiggling in my lap and accidentally kicked me, then the ornament we studied was taken by Gabe which threw Drew into a fit. It took a few minutes to recover then we all started again, learning about "Jesus - the light of the world." Again Gabe grabs for the tree then throws a temper tantrum when scolded, then the phone rings and I about loose it. Third times a charm, we all come back and begin again. Then Gabe decides to throw a fit just for fun, he ends up falling into a picture I badly positioned against the wall so John could hang. The picture falls on Gabe's head and he starts to cry. That is an honest look at our family Advent night. It ended with Gabe going to bed and John finishing the lesson with Drew alone. I retreated for some solitude to get a little better attitude. I'm praying tomorrow goes much better!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Weekend Fun!

Earn $ for Searching

Are you constantly searching for things on google? Why not get paid to search? Check out this link here to swagbucks. The link above will allow you to sign up and get free points just for joining. Then when you use swagbucks to search you'll earn 1-3 points per day, also if you get others to sign up then you can earn more! I would suggest keeping google or firefox, swagbucks searches are not that great.
I earn about about 50-75 swagbucks without trying each month. Gift cards start at only 50 swagbucks so it isn't hard to earn 1 per month. Give it a try!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Frugal Friday

Well today was a frugal day - not intentionally frugal but I'll take those days whenever I can. It started with a trip to the "toy store" or Goodwill in our household. I spotted a dirty Graco high chair, it wasn't much to look at, it was filthy - to say the body had never been clean would have been an understatement. The cover was filthy too, but it had no rips and it was only priced at 6.00! I have been in need of a high chair, but I'm picky. I wanted it to have rollers and be adjustable. There hard to find on Craigslist for less that 40.00 and I gave up months ago because the few I called on were already taken. So, today was such a find! The high chair model was actually the one I looked at when Gabe was born and it was around 100.00 - though we had the funds set aside I just couldn't pay that much. Instead we used our portable chair which has been working just fine. Anyhow, with 1 hour of scrubbing and dis-infecting and a run through the washing machine it now proudly sits in our kitchen looking brand new! In fact my mom came over tonight and thought I broke down and bought one new! The perfect compliment. Gabe thoroughly enjoyed sitting up high for dinner and proudly ate the dropped leftovers from his lap - something the old chair wouldn't allow, they always fell right onto the floor and the dog would eat it.

Next I made weekly trip to Kroger for the staples and a few additional items. I left with over 100.00 worth of food for 41.00! They were marking down everything from ground beef to soy milk, oh and a killer find was .35 sour cream. I bough 4 and put them in the freezer. They cook up just fine, just make sure they are thawed and used for baking. I even found a fresh kit for making real salsa for 1.39. I actually bought it because it came with 4 Roma tomatoes, but now that I've looked it over I might just mix up a batch of fresh salsa for tomorrow?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Next Time Use Green Frosting!

I forgot to post this very funny incident from a few weeks back. After Thanksgiving we made yummy Aunt Ethel's Christmas cookies. I was debating red or green frosting and decided on the "Christmas red!" Unfortunately, I picked wrong! I put so much of this bakers red die in the frosting and it still turned a bright pink. I was very disappointed but the cookies were still yummy! The following day Drew was in the bathroom and he ran out yelling, "Mommy my bottom is bleeding, my bottom is bleeding!" I ran into the bathroom and to my horror there was "blood" all over his toilet paper. A few hysterical seconds passed before I realized it was from the red food coloring! So, the moral of the story is "Next Time Use Green Frosting for the Christmas Cookies!"

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Advent: New Family Tradition

We've been having fun this December learning about the coming of our Savior - commonly called Advent. This is our first year adding this tradition so its definitely a work in process. We purchased a set called "adornaments" for the kids a few years back, Drew is finally old enough to enjoy listening to the stories. We set up a small fake tree in the entry way with little lights and each night read a verse out of the Bible which is associated with one of the adornaments. We also added a few of our own - a snowflake to represent Luke 3:16 to remember the importance of water and the miracle of baptism and God's outpouring of love and forgiveness for each of us.

"John answered them all, "I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire."

We also added an angel which was passed on to me by my Mother In Law, it belonged to her mother, the little green angel sits proudly under the tree and represents Luke 2:9-11 to represent the fantastic news that the angel brought to the shepherds.

"An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord."

Finally on Christmas Eve we will be placing our gift to Jesus under the advent tree. This special tree will be the home for our most treasured and prized gift - the gift of ourselves. In this little laminated book , it will show pictures of various ways we've served others this Christmas season - the most exciting is the water buffalo that we were able to help purchase for a family in India (http://www.gfa.org/).

As Advent continues through the month of December, I'll be posting little bits of how our new tradition goes. So far Drew is loving it, he really understands the scriptures and stories of Jesus which is making this Christmas extra special for me! I love it when all that hard work starts to pay off!

Another Day

Curt Collins - Another Day video

Sometimes when life gets a little hectic I play this song. It encourages me to keep my hearts affection and minds attention on Jesus. Also, since prayer has been something I've been working on, I'll pray this song for a few people I know who are going through especially hard times. Somehow praying lyrics to songs conveys my conviction much better than trying to combine words in my head. Lyrics to songs make great prayers and evoke emotions that I have but can't articulate.

I’ve known along
This wouldn’t be easy
The pain last so long
And my strength grows weak
So just send down a little more Faith, Lord

Cause I don’t wanna give up hope Lord
I wanna see this thing through
I know your word is true
And I’ll hold my hands up higher
Lord it’s my desire
To live my life for you
Just give me the strength to endure all this
For another day
Another day

Move through my heart
And take away all the darkness
Heal all my wounds
Break away all the chains
And just send down a little more faith, Lord

Cause I don’t wanna give up hope Lord
I wanna see this thing through
I know your word is true
And I’ll hold my hands up higher
Lord it’s my desire
To live my life for you
Just give me the strength to endure all this
For another day

One day I’ll worship you in Glory
And I’ll be free from all this hurt I’ve known

Cause I don’t wanna give up hope Lord
I wanna see this thing through
I know your word is true
And I’ll hold my hands up higher
Lord it’s my desire
To live my life for you
Just give me the strength to endure all this
For another day

Friday, December 5, 2008

Tradition Night

Today was wonderful, thanks to my very sweet husband! He took the boys the whole day while I worked, I caught up on some things and thus was able to spend the whole evening hour with my family. Drew desperately wanted Pizza tonight since it is Friday, but on Wednesday I was so tired we had our "pizza" night then. So, John told Drew if he vacuumed the whole living room and put away all his toys then he would be paid 5.00 and could buy pizza with it. Drew was so excited, he worked so hard and used daddy's small garage vacuum, I think I heard that thing on for at least 40 minutes. Drew proudly came upstairs and showed off his reward. So tonight I took him to buy his pizza. It was so sweet, he ordered and even put the money on the counter, I graciously added the $ for tax. Then we went over to Family Video and Drew picked out a movie. We spent the evening as a family eating Drew's pizza, watching Diego, and after.......

We turned on Christmas music and decorated the house. It was so fun and exciting to see Drew's face when I put the lights up in the library. Gabe was actually in good humor tonight and giggled and smiled. He is into waving and giving people high 5's. If John says "Daddy" he breaks into a giggle and lunges towards him. Gabe was very chatty tonight and he had us all laughing! Drew's favorite part of decorating was the nativity scene and the Christmas books! He fell asleep tonight listening to a children's Christmas CD. Drew is so excited about Jesus' birthday and is quick to remind that his birthday is right after Jesus'!

So, its been a very joy filled day - one I desperately needed. Our live tree will hopefully go up next weekend, assuming we can find one at a decent price!

Tooth #4

Poor little Gabe, he has been feeling icky for months! His top left tooth is coming through and it looks so painful. The gums are so swollen and black and blue. He doesn't want to eat anything yet is very hungry. I've given him some baby Advil which allowed him a nice sleep last night. However this morning he just follows us around crying, then when we pick him up he cries some more. He finally went down for a much needed nap a few minutes ago. I let him sleep in his favorite spot - our closet in the car seat. I just want my sweet little boy back - that one who always giggled and smiled at me. He has been gone for so long.

On a brighter note, Drew is learning to share with his brother and also learning patience. Last night he said he didn't want patience, he wanted it now. Oh the battle with the flesh, I hated to tell him that it only gets worse the older you get. Drew has been saying very funny things these days and using his imagination. He is into pretending - "Mommy, eat this cookie I made for you." Then he will go mix up some more batter and bring you more "pretend" cookies.

Well, my break is over, back to work I go!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Fighting For Joy

Tonight I sit fighting for joy; overwhelmed by the pressure I put on myself. There is that constant pile of never ending laundry, the cooking, cleaning, playing with the boys, instructing, book reading, the lawn that needs mowing, the gifts that need purchasing, plus that real full time job that provides ample work; there is the Bible reading, the letter writing, the time spent serving, the time spent disciplining, and the list could go on and on. As I sit here struggling to find joy in the midst of it all, my husband asks what he can do to help. I have no answer. The real issue isn't what I or He can do to check those boxes and complete that never ending list - for there is always a list and always things that need to be done. The real question is "Why am I choosing to live a stressed out life, instead of choosing a heart of thankfulness which generates a spirit of everlasting and contagious joy?" After all Joy is the second fruit of the spirit, so if you have the Holy Spirit you posses unending joy!

Joy is a choice that is worthy of fighting for. I've been choosing to selfishly accomplish those things that bring immediate happiness or accomplishment, yet missing the blessings from those things that take time to develop - like investing quality time in my kids, by ignoring those phone calls that can wait and just being with the kids doing what they want to do - no agenda, no schedule, just a box of cars and a nice dirt pile. Now schedules are needed and often necessary, but the schedule is just a guide, it won't scold you if its not followed to the minute or even the hour (I wrote that as a reminder to myself)! Joy is only found in God, all the rest is just happiness - which always disappoints. Happiness is based on circumstances, joy flourishes amidst harsh circumstances because it is filled and energized by the One who created us - Jesus Christ Himself.

Have you ever met a person who puts you in a great mood just by being around them? We had a lady at our old church named Cindy. Every time I saw her she would wave at me, she would smile and ask wonderful questions that inspired me to talk. When I would leave her presence I always had a smile on my face and an extra leap in my step. She has always been a model to me of how godly joy can change lives - not just momentarily but also for eternity. Cindy's witness to others was vibrant and real! Her joy was contagious and she was happy to share about the source of that joy! I want to be like that. True lasting joy isn't ever faked, it is always genuine!

So tomorrow is a new day and God says that "joy comes in the morning!" I am choosing to be filled with joy the moment my head lifts from the pillow! Tomorrow may not accomplish anything on my to-do-list, in fact my list may grow longer, but life won't end. I am choosing to not be stressed, I'm choosing to give it all to the Lord and allow Him help me. Below is a great list I found while searching for some ideas on choosing joy, I loved John Piper's suggestions and will be practicing many of them tomorrow! Today is a gift - that's why they call it the present!

How Shall We Fight for Joy?
By John Piper
January 1, 1995

1. Realize that authentic joy in God is a gift.
2. Realize that joy must be fought for relentlessly.
3. Resolve to attack all known sin in your life.
4. Learn the secret of gutsy guilt - how to fight like a justified sinner.
5. Realize that the battle is primarily a fight to see God for who he is.
6. Meditate on the Word of God day and night.
7. Pray earnestly and continually for open heart-eyes and an inclination for God.
8. Learn to preach to yourself rather than listen to yourself.
9. Spend time with God-saturated people who help you see God and fight the fight.
10. Be patient in the night of God's seeming absence.
11. Get the rest and exercise proper diet that your body was designed by God to have.
12. Make a proper use of God's revelation in nature.
13. Read great books about God and biographies of great saints.
14. Do the hard and loving thing for the sake of others (witness and mercy). 15. Get a global vision for the cause of Christ and pour yourself out for the unreached.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Just a Mom?

This stay-at-home mommy of 2 was deeply encouraged by this article, I encourage you to link over, the excerpt below is just a mere reminder of what we "workers for Him" are called to do each day as we Shepherd our little flock of disciples. I for one didn't do well at shepherding my flock today, I was tired, irritated and longing for the bedtime silence! I pray tomorrow my heart will be much more purposeful and my minds attention focused more on my Shepherd.

"If I identify myself as the culture does, as a “stay at home Mom”, one who has no intellectual contribution, gross-national product contribution or status symbol contribution, I become just that: a woman who sees herself as one who has grunted and groaned out another human being and now stays behind her four walls, in self-imposed seclusion. Not much of a vision there---it actually sounds strangely psychotic.

If I deem myself as a woman employed by the Creator of everything ever created, as on work assignment in a sacred domain for the sculpting of souls that will exist forever and forever without end, I have a burning passion of purpose. And a paycheck that is said to be beyond what eye or ear can even comprehend!How does an engaged, vibrant, passionate woman forever vanquish the nagging, satanic lies that she is nothing
more than a stay at home Mom?"

Linked from Holy Experience

Monday, December 1, 2008

Fun with Apples and Trees

Look and see what fun we had last night here at our friends the Minter's blog!