Friday, December 31, 2010

A year of realizations, revelations, and reminders

As the year draws to a close I think back to how the year began. I began this blog with a letter I had written to and for myself. It was written because I needed it to be recorded, because I needed to remember.

That is what I love most about writing here. It's a place to come and write down the things that need... must be remembered.

As I think back over this year I see a constant struggle. Months where I completely trusted Him with no hesitation. Then there were months I didn't even search for His voice. Over the last few months I finally recognized this and searched for reasons why.

I think I found it.

Words have not yet been formed into sentences for me to write on this reason but I think that is because I still do not know the depth of it.

I recently took some time to reread that letter I had written this time last year. Lots of memories came flowing in, memories of pain, confusion, and loneliness. The way I learned so many of those lessons are very vivid in my memory and it took me a little while to get through it.

The past year has been very different from the previous one. It has been the year of realizations, revelations, and reminders. Throughout the year I have seen very little growth and for a while I felt guilty about this, then I realized that what the Lord has been doing is pruning. He has been cutting here and cutting there the things in my life that have...  that are slowing me down.

First I realized that the whole thing about God doing His best in you when are at the end of yourself is true, however you must empty yourself of yourself daily. Being empty is not a one time process, and it is amazing how quickly I am at filling up on myself.

I realized that last year was a year full of lessons on grace, and so was this year.

He revealed to me that while  last year I did a good job listening to this advice: you can ask God why... just don't get stuck there; however this year I got stuck.... a lot.... a WHOLE lot.

I realized that I still struggle with what it means to be empowered by the Holy Spirit. Day after day, night after night, He encourages me, sends His words to surround me, and yet I still have days when I feel unable, alone, and weak.

He revealed to me that I still have problems with the word trust.

I realized that I need Him more than I realize.

I remembered that I am forgiven.

I remembered that grace came free of charge, no strings attached, and on the house. Although I failed to give it that way enough.

He revealed that grace is one of those things that will take a lifetime to grasp... not just a year.

He revealed to me that writing is good for the soul.

I realized that giving thanks will change the way you see Him.

I once again remembered that He is faithful even though I am not.

And I realized just how blessed I am to be apart of this bloggy world that is full of amazing, faith-filled people like you that He uses to encourage and strengthen my faith.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Things that need to be remembered

The day of celebration for the birth of the King has come and gone. The decorations are mostly packed back in their boxes to be stored until next year.

The nativity is taken down, carefully wrapped and placed in a box. I wrap each piece and pray that as the box gets stored away that the thoughts of them do not.

As I sit here typing, rain is falling. A steady flow of drops for several hours. Rainy days.... my absolute favorite (although a snowy one would top it).

It's the type of day that forces me to sit and do nothing... a day to sit and ponder on the holy. My prayer is, as I think about those small figurines sitting in their box, that they will not be forgotten.

I want to remember the shepherds, and their rejoicing at the sight of the infant Christ. May they remind me throughout the year that the Father chose to send angels to some lowly shepherds, the keepers of sheep, ones thought to be ignorant, and a job looked down upon in that society. I pray that my response to Him is like that of the shepherds who immediately went to see that which the angel told them. And that my reaction, like theirs, is to be filled with worship.

I want to remember the kings who came to see a baby... who by faith followed a star having no idea what is was that they would find. I want to remember that even though He came as Immanuel, He is first and foremost a King and deserves respect and honor.

I want to remember the story of Joesph and Mary. Joesph, a man who trusted the Lord and did as he was told even though it must have been hard. Mary, a woman who had found favor in His eyes... oh to be one in whom He has found favor, is that not the ultimate achievement in life!

And lastly I want to remember this year that He came as a babe. He fully understood His purpose and what would be required and yet He came willingly.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Hope you all are having a very Merry Christmas:-)

Most importantly I hope you all are take a few minutes today to thank the One who is the reason why we celebrate this day.

Here is a short video telling the Christmas story in a very unique way.... enjoy and Merry Christmas!!!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas Eve

It's Christmas Eve!!!!!

The Eve of the birth of the Promised Messiah!!

Oh what a night that must of been so very long ago. I can't imagine what was going through the minds of Joesph and Mary that night. I am sure they were quite frustrated that they could find no one willing to put up a very pregnant woman and her husband that evening.

I wonder what Joesph thought about laying his new little boy in a manger full of straw, after all he was a carpenter and if they had been at home I am sure that the newly born King would of had a hand-crafted cradle.

I wonder if Mary was just simply thankful for a quiet and dry place to welcome her precious baby into this world. That's how I imagine her; simple, humble, and thankful. I imagine her touching Joesph's arm reassuring him that a stable is just fine. After all there is no need to worry about whether or not this baby would make it to the world safely.

I wonder if the shepherds had any idea that in just a few hours their life would be changed forever. Maybe the sheep could feel a change in the air.

I wonder what heaven was like that night, all the angels knowing exactly what was about to happen. If the ones who were going to tell the news to the shepherds were shaking with excitement.

I wonder where the 3 wise-men were on their star-following journey. I wonder if they had even the slightest clue of what is was that they would find.

I wonder if Jesus was counting down the minutes till He would enter the world and begin His journey to the cross, to the moment that He would make it possible for His bride to have eternal life.

I wonder if the Father let tears fall as He watched His Son come into the world as a baby, knowing exactly the cost His Son was willing to pay for some mere humans.

"Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call His name Immanuel,
(God with us)."
Matthew 1:23

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Gingerbread football stadium

A few years ago the oldest P kid and I decided to build a real gingerbread house.... not one of those things out of a kit.

The first one was a Victorian style house complete with a bay window. It was about a foot tall and we were really impressed with ourselves.

Little did I know what I was getting myself into:-o

This year I asked Aust what we were going to make and he didn't bat an eye, "the razorback stadium."

"Oh really!" said a very surprised me.

"Yep, I thought we could use a challenge."

"Hmmmm.... welll...... ok as long as you figured out how to support it."

While shopping for materials the 8 yr old P daughter and I ran into a friend and was asked what we were doing... she replies, "getting stuff to build a gingerbread football stadium." To which I just smiled and said that we didn't know how to do simple at the P house. KK didn't miss a beat!! She just looked at me and said, "Well that would be boring!"

Oh my, what kind of monsters have I created??!!!

Since my handy iPhone has been causing me all sorts of problems I don't have pictures of the first few stages. But here are the first ones I took.....

At this point we had already spent 10+ hours on it

Yes that is a hot glue gun you see.... we are cheaters.... but did you really expect us to use just icing???

Other then hot glue and some popsicle sticks baked into the gingerbread for support, everything else is somewhat edible.

For those of you who are Arkansans you will notice this is NOT Donald W Reynolds football stadium, it happens to be War Memorial!!

We decided to scale back just a bit when we saw that our original plans wouldn't fit on the 4x5 (FOOT!!) table Aust built to hold the thing:-) So no upper deck and the stands don't go all the way around.

Here are the two end zones in process

The words are M&M's cut in half and glued down.
The middle picture is the field house (I know War Memorial doesn't have one but the original plan was for this to be the D.W.R. so we just stuck with the field house) and behind the field house is the where the jumbo tron will go.

Monkey wanted to help and she LOVES washing dishes and did so for over an hour:-)

Ok so next up is the almost finished field... this process of laying white coconut and green coconut took FOREVER!!! At least 4 hours with three of us working on it!!!

This pic shows the almost complete stands. The corner took a few times to get right:-/

And this is what it looks like after at least 20 hours put into it.... Jumbo tron still needs to be finished, i.e. the final score of that wonderful AR vs LSU game that was played a few weeks ago:-)

Closeup of the finished field with the uprights in place.

I tried to get an aerial pick my phone wouldn't cooperate with me. Here's the best one I got.

It really is pretty sweet.... (no pun intended, hehe)

Now what to create next year..........

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tis the season..... for pondering

Driving in car, listening to a favorite album and doing a whole lot of thinking.

The incarnation consumes my thoughts.. for days now I can't stop pondering on. The theologian in me desperately wants to grasp the complexity of it. I know it is impossible here on this earth, with this mind, but someday I will.

The question why... how.... they are asked. But the one I cannot stop asking is, "What was it like?"

What was it like to be fully man/baby.... and yet fully God?
Was the cross on Your mind the moment You slipped into this world?
Did You remember carefully knitting each and every face that came to see You that night?

I want to know how it worked??

Was Your mind that of an infant, or that of the One who has always been?
Did Your eyes work like that of an baby, or did could You still see the unseen?
Were You confined to a body or where You still working alongside the Father creating the very souls that would one day crucify You?

Did You know that the whole world was resting on You shoulders?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Monday's gratitude list

It's only a few days now till the day we celebrate His birth.

I love this time of the year.. when it seems like the whole world celebrates for His birth, and most don't even realize that they are doing just that.

My play is over... the kids did a fabulous job and I had so much fun getting to know all of them.

My presents are all wrapped and some even delivered.

I got my first gifts this weekend. My favorite.... dinner with a family I have come to call my own.


A weekend with friends and family

Watching the parents reactions to their children in the play

Watching those that I wasn't quite sure would remember their lines remember and do remarkably well.

Seeing baby Ben as baby Jesus.... and what a fantastic job the 6 month old did:-)

Watching the Pat's game with my favorite 8-yr old who gets just as excited as I do:-)

Snuggling with the little ones before they go to bed

Watching their faces light up as I play their fav worship song that I finally remembered to upload on my phone

Listening the littlest one singing about His love coming down to rescue us, if only we all could learn at this at the age of 4.

Creating masterpieces out of gingerbread with the now teenager of the group.

That masterpiece finally getting finished after at least 12 hours of working on it

Watching the kids open their gifts and excited that they are just as thrilled to get books as I was to give them books.

Finally sitting down to dinner with this sweet family... first time in the new house!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Oh the holidays.....

The holidays are upon us and as they were approaching I was full of anticipation, eager to bring out the decorations, and full of excitement for what was ahead.

Now that they are here, the excitement dwindles.

I forgot about the loneliness that creeps in with the holidays.

I forgot about the hurtful part of greeting old friends.

I forgot......

You see being a single girl, amongst a group of married friends and family is quite difficult, in a way that you wouldn't understand unless you've been there. And I mean really been there. And the difficulty of it is magnified during the holidays.

It's hard to always here, "Well I need to check with..." or, "No, ....and I already did that."

And there is nothing fun about showing up to every function by yourself.

But the worse part of it is seeing those you don't normally see throughout the years and having to answer all those unwanted questions about your life and how unsuccessful you have been (in their eyes of course).

It takes everything I have and some strength from the One above to answer each interrogating question with a smile.

"Yes, I'm still single."

"No, I am not seeing anyone."

And the really ignorant ones go a step further... "Don't you think it's time to be settling down?"

I force a smile and just say no, after all I really enjoy the freedom that comes with singleness.

Sometimes I even chuckle and tell them that my four-legged boyfriend leaves no time for a two-legged boyfriend (which is partially true thus the chuckle)

Little do they know the tears that are flowing beneath the surface. Of course I want to be settling down, its the deepest desire of my heart to be married.

The question I wish I could ask them is how I get the Creator of the Universe, and the Director of my steps to put that plan in motion? Is there a secret that I am unaware of? Is there some magic prayer that I need to be saying to get Him to understand just how much I want it to be my turn? Because I would love to be enlightened.

So, I suppress the strong urge to be hateful and remind my self that people rarely think before they speak.

.... and to be full of grace.

Because the One I serve says it is not man that I should seek to please but Him and only Him.

And then someone ends the conversation with, "you look so happy."

That's because I am.

Because I am in the center of His will and that my friends, is the very best place to be.


The beauty of Christmas, a time to celebrate the promise of our Messiah

The beauty in knowing that the promise was fulfilled.

The way Christmas lights make everything look so pretty.

Enjoying the cold... and everything that comes with it like...

Hot chocolate...

And hot tea...

And warm blankets.

The love for my warm snugly, blankets piled on high bed.

The struggle to get out of that warm bed when the morning alarm goes off.

The joyful feeling once I finally get out of that bed, pull on the thick layers of clothes and trudge out to fix breakfast for my fuzzy children.

The greeting from an old friend every morning as I walk out to serve her a steaming, hot breakfast.

That sweet nicker I hear as I near the gate.

The sweet smell of hay as I toss out a flake for each.

Watching those fuzzy children race around in the morning cold, full of energy and life.

Realizing that feeding them makes getting up early worth it.

My 4-legged boyfriend  :-)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

What now

I do not believe in coincidences... because I believe in the Holy Spirit.

And it should not surprise me that while in the midst of my own struggles that I am lead to a story about struggles.

And it is through this story that He speaks to my heart and reminds me that He is a faithfully forgiving and grace giving Father.

A character asks her great-grandma what she should do about the trouble she seems to have gotten herself into.

Immediately she is answered, "You're going to eat right and get your health back.You're going to stop kicking yourself. You're going to get back up and put one foot in front of the other and get on with your life. That's what we all have to do."

The reply is very much a cry from my own heart, "You make it sound so easy."

Her Oma reminds her that nothing is easy. "Life isn't easy. We do the best we can with what God gives us."

Still unsure of herself she states, "I've made a mess of everything." A cry that I'm afraid I know all too well.

Then come the words from the wise old grandma who has been in that spot so many times herself.

"It's not about what you've done. It's about what you're going to do now."

The very same words my Father whisper to me each time I think I've reach the point of no return.

Because He never kicks those who are down.

He does not dwell on our past.

The Almighty tells us that He takes our mistakes, our wrongdoings, our sins... and cast them as far as the east is from the west.

All I have to do is let them go.... it is I.... never Him who dwells on those things already done... already in the past.

The story mentioned above comes from Francine River's book "Her Daughter's Dream"

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Just do the next right thing

I've been reading this blog for almost a year now... at first I thought the idea of counting blessings was a sweet one. I read a few other blogs that joined in the counting and enjoyed reading their lists. Then just before summer arrived I joined in the journey to a thousand gifts. Little did I know just how much of an impact that small, yet ever growing list would have on my life.

The impact of this list slowly crept in, at first unnoticed. Then I forgot about it... got to busy to take the time to count. I'm sure you know how that is.

But here recently the Almighty keeps whispering in my ear about it. He doesn't nag me about it, it's more like a constant tapping on the shoulder. An encouraging tapping, because He knows the importance of this lesson and apparently wants me to grasp its importance.

I think, maybe, just maybe, I am beginning to understand the importance.

You see a few weeks ago the counting became something pushed to the back burner. One of those I'll-do-it-tomorrow things. And then I wrote this post and realized that I desperately needed to get back in the habit.

But I kept forgetting. Or maybe a part of me didn't want to?

I'm learning that when we live in a constant state of gratitude their is no room for selfishness. And I am a selfish person. One thing that counting my blessings has done is show me just how selfish I really am. It has brought out the child in me. I realize that when things don't the way I want them to I tend to shut Him out.

Because the way my life goes primarily depends on the plans He has for me. 

I forget that the one who allows the Lord to direct his steps is one who will be richly blessed.

I forget that His ways are better then mine.

I forget....

Then I realized that my enemy has been successfully diverting me from this task because he is fully aware of just how dangerous giving thanks can be.

And that just makes me mad. When I start to look at life through His eyes I begin to see my flesh for what it really is.

It breaks my heart... because once again I have strayed from His arms.

But I do only what I can do... and that is to do the next right thing. Which is to count....

# 530-540

Thanksgiving.... because we must learn to give thanks.

Family.... because they are who I have for the rest of my life

Friends.... because without them I think I would be lost

The holiday season.... because it reminds of the 2 most important things: gratitude and the birth of our Savior

Christmas... because of all the decorating
                   and all the glitter
                   and its the season giving
                   and baking
                   and Christmas music
                   and because without the birth of my Savior I would           
                   be forever lost