Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Hugo is here!

Welcome to the World!

I'd like to announce the arrival of my new nephew, Hugo Larson Matthias!

He was born to Dave's sister, Nancy, and her husband, Todd, on Friday, October 26, 2007! He weighed in at 8 lbs. 6 oz. and was 21 inches long.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

It's All Because of Jesus I'm Alive!

It's all because of Jesus I'm alive
It's all because the blood of Jesus Christ
That covers me and raised this dead (wo)man's life
It's all because of Jesus I'm alive
-Casting Crown Song

This is how I truly feel about my life. I look back at some of the things I've done or at the things that have happened to me, and I can say without a shadow of a doubt that it's only because of Jesus that I'm alive. I mean that in both the literal sense and the spiritual sense.

Yes, I am alive because Jesus willingly made the sacrifice of His innocent blood in order to cover my shame and my sin. That truth brings me to tears frequently; there are simply no words to express my gratitude for what He has given and done for me. He loves me, and He has provided the way for me to live with Him eternally.

But, I also feel that I am only alive in the literal sense because of the protecting hand of Jesus Christ on my life even while I was still far from Him. He has protected me from accident and death on more than one occasion. Sometimes those occasions were my choices, and other times they were due to the sinful actions of others. When I was still far from Him, He protected me so I would be around to fulfill His purposes for me. I wasn't even wise enough to know that there would ever be a purpose for me, but my loving Father had His hand on me. To be honest, the wonder of that can be hard to accept. I couldn't see further than the hurt I felt and the needs I had during those years (sometimes I still can't), but God had ordained all of my days, and He was lovingly waiting for me to realize His presence in my life and to turn to Him. Then He knew that He would have to do a purifying work in me by exposing my heart, my sin, my failure, my hurts, my violations, and my fears. Do I need to say that I'm still in process?! :-)

Yes, I thank my Heavenly Father for giving me physical and spiritual life, and I praise Him that He is the one who sustains me! It's all because of Jesus I'm alive!

Me, too!

I had two different people tell me this week that they had put me "on a pedestal." I find that so funny because if people know anything about me and my life, there is no question about my not belonging on a pedestal. And I seriously wonder what I do that makes people feel like I don't struggle with the things others struggle with. I don't understand the thinking that because I'm married to a pastor, I'm somehow different as a woman than every other woman. And...when someone makes the effort to tell you that they HAD placed you on a pedestal, that means they no longer think you belong there! It means that somehow I failed in some area that they noticed, so they rethought their opinion of me. I am choosing to take that in the most positive light, because it can seem negative if thought about too long. :-) (Both times this week, I believe the women were being positive in their remarks, stating that it gave them comfort to know I'm just like them.)

I'm not sure how to keep people from placing me in a position I don't belong. It is not appropriate (or safe, or possible, or wise) for me to share all of my past sin, hurts, and current struggles with each new person I meet, but it seems that unless I do that, I look like I'm trying to show that I have it all together and have a perfect life. I never try to purposely present an image that is not who I really am, and I sometimes even look for ways to present how NOT perfect I am so that others will sense a bond with me and feel safe to not be perfect themselves.

I listened to a woman speak the other day and she said, "The two most comforting words in the English language are, 'Me, too." Don't you just love that?!

I am calling for all women to be real and to let others know, "Me, too." Remember, we are all on this journey together, and I think, "Me, too," is the motto that will bind us together in unity as we strive to walk in His ways and to fulfill His purposes.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

All or Nothing

I had a great time today helping a friend organize some files at her house. What might have seemed a confusing mess to someone else, seemed like a great challenge to me.

You see, I can't keep my desk cleaned off at my house (I'm a great pile maker!), and I find it depressing to clean my house only to have it messed up again so quickly by my busy and lively family. But....put me in someone else's house, and I find great peace in organizing and cleaning things and being able to walk out knowing I am leaving something ordered and clean. It may seem strange, but this truly energizes me! I get great joy out of finding ways to streamline processes and organize systems to be more efficient. I love having things lined up and in their place, yet in my own home,when I know it won't stay that way, I have a hard time wanting to do anything.

Those of you who know me know that I have struggled with "all or nothing" thinking. Are you with me in this? I either have to have time to completely clean every nook, cranny, cupboard, drawer, baseboard, of a room, or I feel like I can't do it at all. I don't like to start anything if I'm not sure I'll have time to actually finish it. I'm sure you can understand why I don't get as much done as I'd like because with my busy and full household (there were seven kids here today at one point), there is rarely time enough to do anything all at one time. God has been at work in me in this area of my life, and some days.....I'm making progress; other days.....well, not so much.

All or nothing thinking even tries to translate into keeping this blog. I feel like I should be able to post often with well-written entries, or I shouldn't be blogging at all. I am working to be okay with only posting when it doesn't interfere with my primary responsibilities of being a wife, mom, and teacher. With all that is going on with my family and my job, posting on this blog just doesn't need to take time away from those more important areas. So, I'm sorry it is so long between posts, but that's just the way it's got to be right now. I've got to be okay with doing little bits when I can. Just because I can't blog everyday doesn't mean that I have to give it up all together. It doesn't have to be all or nothing; sometimes life just is what it is, and we need to do the best we can to simply manage it and be in the moment.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Every American Must See This! (video at bottom of blog)

When Dave and I had only been married a year and a half, we moved to Fresno so that he could finish his Master's degree. We moved there with no jobs, no friends, no safety net, but we moved out of obedience to what we felt called to do. I got a job working for some wonderful people who have become lifelong friends. They treated their employees so well, and one Christmas, we were the recipients of their giving hearts.

With very little money, and knowing that no one outside of our youth group students would be coming over to our apartment, we decided to not get a Christmas tree. To be honest, there was a part of me that was very sad about that because no matter how hard Christmases had been in my single-parent home when growing up, we had always had a Christmas tree. It was part of the magic of the season when we could sit in a darkened living room and gaze at the beautiful lights; it provided a sense of peace, comfort, and wonder.

Well, that particular Christmas season, being so strapped for money and having made the decision to not get the tree, made us look at the whole Christmas tree issue in a little different light. There was a thought that came to me one evening as I drove by one of the many white, ply-wood huts on a corner lot filled with trees. It was a small thought, but it was as if a whole new revelation opened up to me. I thought, "What if every American gave up getting a Christmas tree for one year? If everyone would donate that money instead, how much money would that add up to? What could we do for the poor in our communities, or in other parts of the world, if we gave up this one thing for one year?" I never found out an answer to that question, because of course, it hasn't happened, and it won't happen anytime soon, I suppose. Really, I don't want to rob people of their trees and traditions, but does that come before giving to the poor?

That particular Christmas back in 1989, we did end up with a tree after all. My boss and his wife bought one and left it for us on our doorstep. For them, it was in their spirit of giving to others that they gave to us. That tree represented so much to me; it represented the fact that God does bless us through others, that he sees our wants, not just our needs, and that I need to be looking for ways to bless others. Their thoughtful and generous gift is still remembered, and it still prompts me to look for ways to bless others, especially if it is unexpected.

We always adopt Angel Tree children, or more recently a set of three siblings God has placed in our lives, to bless at the Christmas season and throughout the year. If it came between buying a tree for our home or being able to give to these kids, I'd skip the tree. Sure, my kids would miss the fun of hanging the blue lamb all together as the first ornament of Christmas, but I know God would use it to help show them the true meaning of what His gift to us was all about. We have been blessed enough to have a Christmas tree each year, but our tree always reminds me to make sure I'm giving to others outside of our home.

God has blessed us beyond measure, but when I saw this video this morning, it resonated with my soul. This is the same thought that I carry with me about giving up a Christmas tree for one year, but said it in a way that I think every American can understand. Please feel free to share this wherever you can. God is turning the tide of consumerism in our country, and sadly, the younger generation is grabbing on to this thought much faster than the older generations. What is God speaking to YOUR heart?

God, give us YOUR eyes and YOUR heart. We confess that we have been a self-centered and egotistical nation that has cared more for our own comfort and excess than for all of our brothers and sisters in need throughout this world, our nation, and our very own communities. O God, forgive us of this sin, and help us to live out your word that says that we "should also excel in this grace of giving." Amen.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Fabulous Friday and a Winner

Even though I've just completed two in-service days at my school site, today has been a great day! I was able to complete the work assigned to us much more quickly than I thought possible. We are revising and updating our course of study curriculum guides for each class, and of course, English covers a lot of territory in different areas: literature, writing, grammar, and vocabulary development. After finishing my course of study guides, I realized again just how much we cover in one year. Sometimes I feel as if we're not making much progress, but over time, we continue to add to our base of knowledge in many areas. I am continually praying that the Lord will miraculously fill in all the gaps, as it is impossible to accommodate all the various learning levels when there are 32 students in a class.

This morning, I spoke with a colleague as we poured ourselves a cup of coffee (always a necessity on in-service days!). This humble young woman oozes the love and spirit of Jesus, and I find myself wanting to be more like Him when I am around her. It was just the two of us in the teacher's room, and as we were finishing up, she suggested we pray for one another. We shared such a sweet time of connecting with God and one another, and I was blessed. It can sometimes seem as if we are all working independently with no real support, but this morning we were supporting one another in prayer, and it made a difference in the rest of my work day. Thank you, dear one, for being a blessing in my life.

Well, my post about leaving a comment so I would know who is reading didn't go so well. There are those of you who have told me you are out there, but you don't want to leave a comment. That's fine, but you weren't entered in the drawing, thus making the odds better for those who did leave a comment. :-) (You know that's a joke, right?!) I wrote down everyone's name who emailed, left a comment, or sent a snail-mail card, and I had my daughter, Hannah, draw one for me. I know there are many fancy bloggers who use a random number generator for their drawings, but I'm not that technically savvy, so I used the old fashioned method of drawing out of a hat (well, make that a bowl).

And the winner is....................Cindi!!! :-)

Yes, she will be receiving a Starbucks gift card, and I think I'll surprise her by dropping it by her classroom today when I pick my youngest daughter up from school! That will be a delightful end to a Friday, don't you think?

Anyway, thanks for reading and responding. I still wonder why I feel the Lord is wanting me to do this. I've stayed away all week because I simply haven't had the time, and I realize I run the risk of losing those of you who get tired of there not being something new posted. But really, I'm doing this blog in response to the leading of the Lord, not because I need a huge readership kind of thing. If this blog helps me to connect with the few of you the Lord desires me to connect with, then that's enough for me. I don't have any desires for being well known in blogland or anywhere else for that matter. I read a few blogs regularly, and I click around to other blogs that I see listed on those sites, and really......I think some women (people) must have nothing other to do than sit around writing posts. Even if I wasn't working, I probably wouldn't post more often because I have a husband and four children who are higher on my priority list than blogging.

Well, I'm off to pick up Cindi's gift card! My blessings to each and every one of us on this beautiful fall day!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Women of Faith

I'm heading out to the Women of Faith conference, but please do respond to my last post. I will pick a winner next week! :-)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Stop By and Say, "Hi!"

I simply cannot count the number of people who have told me this week that they are reading this humble, questionable blog of mine. I knew that there were a few faithful ones who checked in now and again, but I was surprised (and humbled, scared, and awed) by some of those that said they stop by here. So, it got me to thinking, why don't I just ask those reading to leave a comment saying, "Hi!" so I know who's here (and also YOU would know who's here). It's not that I will change what I post based on who's reading, but to be honest, it is a little weird to post things not knowing who is actually reading them. There are a few points of etiquette in Blogland that I've discovered this last year, and one of those points is that it is nice to leave a comment on a blog that you have begun to read so that the blogger has an idea of who is reading and is able to check your blog/profile, also. That doesn't mean you have to leave a comment every time you check in, but it gives the blogger an idea of who is out there. So, I'm asking you to leave a comment after reading this post.

In case you wonder why I'm blogging, click here. The whole reason I titled this blog, "Traveling Together," is that I wanted this to be a way to interact with some of you great people that call New Life Christian Center home. An added blessing is that this blog has helped me connect to others outside of New Life, also. Some I have known, and others are new friends gathered through this modern mode of communication. However, this blog hasn't turned into the connecting point between us that I had hoped it would. It has seemed rather one way, a lecture if you will, rather than back and forth, or a discussion. I simply long for this blog to honor the Lord, and if it honors Him as is, I'm fine with that, but if He wants it to be something more, then that's what my heart desires also.

So, please stop by and leave a comment. To help motivate you, I'll do a drawing from the names of those who comment to win a yet-to-be-determined prize. (That means that I haven't thought this all the way through yet, and I'm just throwing it out there!) (:-)

Also, as something to draw from for future posts, please feel free to email me, or leave a comment, asking any questions that you may have for me that we can discuss.