Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Yes, I'm quoting from Clement Clarke Moore's The Night Before Christmas, but it seems to be about as much as I can muster after a wonderful Christmas filled with much family, love, and laughter.

I pray that each of you was able to experience His good gifts of love, peace, and new life this Christmas. Yes, every good and perfect gift is from above (James 1:17), and God gave us the perfect gift in His son, Jesus. His sole purpose in giving us this gift? That we might be redeemed and reconciled to Him, able to live with Him for eternity. That, my friends, is the extent of his love for us. May we each be able to grasp that truth of His love more fully in the coming year as we grow in our knowledge of God, and may our hearts be more completely His.

Much love and wishes for a Merry Christmas to you all!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Hmmmmm.......

In this world where we are always wired, we're never where we are.

Just my thought this morning.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Prayer

I pray that each and every one of you has a thanksgiving filled with true knowledge of your blessings. We take so much for granted, don't we? Anyway, this prayer is from Donna Partow and I thought it so appropriate for me. Perhaps it is for you, too. Happy Thanksgiving from my heart to yours.

"Dear God,

I want to thank you for what you have already done. I am not going to wait until I see results or receive rewards. I am thanking you right now.

I am not going to wait until I feel better or things look better. I am not going to wait until the pain in my body disappears. I am thanking you right now.

I am not going to wait until people say they are sorry or until they stop talking about me behind my back. I am not going to wait until my financial situation or the economy improves. I am thanking you right now.

I am not going to wait until the children are asleep and the house is quiet. I am not going to wait until a different season in my life unfolds. I am thanking you right now.

I am not going to wait until I understand every experience in my life that has caused me pain or grief. I am not going to wait until the journey gets easier or the challenges are removed. I am thanking you right now.

I am thanking you because I am alive. I am thanking you because I made it through the day's difficulties. I am thanking you because I have walked around the obstacles. I am thanking you because I have the ability and the opportunity to do more and do better. I'm thanking you, Heavenly Father, because you haven't given up on me. You are good and you are good all the time.

Thank you for all the good you've done for me. Amen

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Simple Moms

One of the many websites that I love to check in with is Simple Moms. Today, they are having a great giveaway, so I thought I'd direct your attention that way.

I don't know if you've ever seen Lisa Leonard's jewelry, but........Oh. My. Lands! I've admired Lisa's work for a couple of years now, and entered other giveaways hoping to win one of her gorgeous personalized necklaces or bracelets. Trust me; once you see her things, you'll be hooked.

Anyway, I get an extra entry today for posting about this giveaway on my blog, so there you go! That's why I'm willing to share the giveaway with you all. Of course, the more people who enter, the lesser my odds of winning, but you'll love looking through her online store. Perhaps you can even do some Christmas shopping while you are there.

Have fun checking it out!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Consider This

I don't have a lot to share today, but I heard a quote from a fellow in our small group last night that will simply not leave my brain. I think it's profound and we all decided that there is enough in this one statement that it could be a sermon. Our small group discussion time was awesome last night; I appreciate the honest sharing from each person.

Consider this:
"Forgiveness is giving up all hope of having had a different past."

Some of my thoughts about this quote:
  • I don't know that I would say "giving up all hope," but to me it means accepting that we cannot change the past or a decision no matter how much we would like to.
  • The "different past" could be my own decisions and sin, but it could also be the actions, words, and sin of another who hurt me. No matter how much I wish that person wouldn't have said this, done that, or hurt me in whatever way, it is what it is. I am doing myself no favor by holding on to unforgiveness - hoping for a different situation to have occurred.
  • As has been said, "Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person will die." It doesn't work that way, when we don't forgive, we are the one that whithers and dies.
  • Sometimes the hardest person to forgive is ourselves. I know there are things in my past that I would love to go back and do over (responded differently, chosen better, not done, etc...), but I need to give up all hope of having done something differently and choose to forgive myself. If I say I accept God's forgiveness after confessing and repenting of my sin, I am, in a sense, turning my back on His gift if I don't forgive myself.
  • I can't move forward in life unless I deal with areas of unforgiveness towards myself.
  • And concerning unforgiveness towards others: even if a person(s) doesn't ask for forgiveness or acknowledge how they have hurt or damaged me or a relationship, I can make a choice to release them from my desire for justice. It does me no good to spend my time and life hoping that they will own up to their part in a hurtful situation. If I choose to forgive, I give myself permission to move forward. I will allow God to deal with that individual or persons, and even if I don't see any movement on their part towards accepting their part in a situation, I can be free from obsessing on the fact that I was wronged/hurt/etc...
  • Forgiveness can sometimes be a process. We must make A CONSCIOUS CHOICE to forgive, and then when our emotions bring that situation back to mind with all those same, old feelings, we can CHOOSE AGAIN to forgive. We may have to do that many times at first, but as God allows us to experience His forgiveness immediately each and every time we need it, we can learn and move towards those times being farther and farther apart when those feeling rear their ugly heads.
Okay, forgiveness is a big, ol' subject, and I didn't start this post to address every issue regarding the topic, but I did want you to ponder my friend's statement:

"Forgiveness is giving up all hope of having had a different past."

Friday, October 30, 2009

Liberated from Fear

As I was cleaning up my computer files the other day, I ran across my favorite quotes folder. Anytime I see or hear a quote that means something to me, I open my "Favorite Quotes" file and add that quote to the others. I've got an assortment of quotes saved - some are funny; some are thought-provoking; some are from famous people; some are from cartoon characters; some are worth sharing; some are not worth sharing. I ran across the following quote, and it spoke to me just as much as it did the first time I read it. Take some time to ponder this today.

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

~ From A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson

Project Day

Many of you know that I became a demonstrator with Uppercase Living almost two years ago. Never in a million years did I think that I'd be part of a direct-selling company, but I just loved all the possibilities that Uppercase Living makes possible. And I have an easy outlet for my creativity. Anyway, if you are interested in participating in my next Project Day, go to my Uppercase Living blog (glexpressions.blogspot.com) to see the projects available for this time. Contact me ASAP if you'd like to sign up!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Mish Mash Monday

This quilt pattern is called, "Mish Mash," and I'm sure you can see why. It is a pieced work of various colors, prints, and sizes. Much like this quilt, today I'll share a mish mash of events and thoughts.

Yes, life still swirls all around us, but we've been blessed to be involved in some great stuff lately. First of all, our small group is AWESOME! It's a comfortable, talkative group, and guess what, we aren't the leaders and we get to just be Dave and Gena. Can't tell you how great that is!

Last Thursday night, I was able to spend the night at my mom and stepdad's home. I had a great time; it was just like staying at a bed and breakfast! I was spoiled.

Eric is in his final cross country season as a senior this year. This Wednesday is the THS/Pitman cross country meet at Donnelly Park. Cross Country has to be one of the easiest sports to watch. All of the parents and spectators set up their chairs around the finish line at Donnelly under the wonderful pine trees. We hear the gun go off by all of the runners lined up at the lakeside. We cheer as all the runners come through the finish corridor for mile one. We then visit amongst ourselves for another couple of minutes until the runners come through for mile two. We cheer again and watch them take off for the final mile. As they come in from mile three, we cheer them on one final time. I'm always amazed that these kids have so much left in them to sprint the last little bit of the course. Then we parents say our congratulations, pack up our chairs, and head home. A good half hour, and then we get on with our day. Yeah, easy.

I find that the most spiritually mature people I know are the ones who simply live out their faith without trying to judge others and without being spiritual snobs. We're all just sinners in need of His grace and love; no one has a corner on how a relationship with God has to look.

Kari is playing soccer again this year and Dave is the assistant coach, so we're having lots of fun with that. She's got a big, ole bruise on her knee today as a result of a kick during Saturday's game.

October is a busy month. Let's see.....Outdoor Ed for one child, Youth camping trip for two children, RIOT Jr. High night for another child, conference for Dave, Men's retreat, a very quick road trip to Portland, OR to meet our new niece and nephew, the Harvest Festival, six Uppercase Living open houses, soccer, small group, AWANA.......oh, and laundry. :-)

Blogging is good for some purposes, and not so good for other purposes. Today, I read these verses and think they apply to blogging, too: "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths (blogs), but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen (read). And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Follow God's example, therefore, as dearly loved children, and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." Eph 4:29-5:2

Yesterday, my mom and stepdad had all of their children and grandchildren to their place for lunch. Four were missing, but the other nineteen of us were there together. Yes, that's right; when we are all there, we number 23. My mom, single-handedly, prepared a wonderful lunch for all of us. She rocks. Really.

I love this fall weather, and it's supposed to rain tomorrow! I'll be a happy camper. :-)

Right now, I'm putting off cleaning my bedroom to write this post. Not a good choice, so I'll be going. What random, mish mash thoughts run through your mind this Monday? I'd love to hear. You can comment or email me to let me know.

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thes. 5:23

Monday, October 5, 2009

You Might Say, "Ouch!"

I was directed to this video through an email that I received. Since you find yourself here at my blog (regardless of what brought you here - internet search, link from another blog, or simply checking in), you might want to watch this. You can check out Josh's blog HERE, if you haven't been convicted not to after seeing this video clip.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Late to Church

Our family usually gets to church in three different vehicles at three different times on Sunday. Since I want my children to actually love the Lord and not hate church, I only make them attend two services most of the time. I usually have the three younger kids with me on Sunday mornings, and on the way to church, we listen worship CDs to prepare our hearts for worship. We often pray for the services and for our hearts to be open to what the Lord wants to speak to each one of us. Do you believe this? If so, please stop reading right now because you are about to be disillusioned! We're just like your family; sometimes by the time we get to church, we've had it with each other!

We are usually at church in time for service. I may not walk into service until after worship has started, but that's just because I love visiting and connecting with others so much that it's hard for me to get away to be in auditorium by the time the worship team starts playing. But then there are other times. Well, let's just say that we're a typical family, and people (read that - children) don't always cooperate like we think they should. This morning was one of those mornings.

Dave had taken my youngest with him, and Hannah was going by herself because she had to leave for Sacramento immediately after second service. So that left me with the two boys. I let them sleep until about 45 minutes before it was time to leave for church. After getting them up, amazingly, they were both "ready" in about 20 minutes. Since I was still putting myself together, they went to sit in the car. I am not kidding; they sat in the car, in the garage, with the garage door closed, for 20 minutes waiting for me. Once I had everything together, I headed out to the car, pleased that my boys were ready and waiting so patiently for me.

By this time, it was about 20 minutes before service was to start - plenty of time for us to get there. I put the car in reverse to back out of the garage, and as I did so, I looked over at my son and could tell he hadn't even washed his face. My mistake was assuming that "ready" meant the same thing to both of us. You'd think I'd have learned my lesson on this by now. So, I asked my son if he had washed his face, and he said, "Yes."

Now what was I supposed to do with that because it was clear to me that he hadn't? So, I said, "Are you telling me the truth?" to which he replied, "No." I think I was supposed to feel better about it because at least he owned up to it right away. So I told him I would not leave the house until his face was washed, and of course, he was angry with me because, as we all know, it was MY fault. Then, I looked back at my other son, and I could tell he hadn't even "done" his hair (whatever that really means for boys). Last night, I had told him he needed to take a shower before church since he wasn't taking one that night. Again, I assumed that he would obediently do that since I had specifically told him to do so JUST LAST NIGHT! He was also wearing a wrinkled t-shirt that was actually clean, but it had been wadded up when he put his clean clothes away in his drawer.

So, I put the car into park and told the boys that I wouldn't leave until they had both done everything it takes to be fully "ready" for church. I also did the typical mother thing and said, "At your ages, I should NOT have to ask you every stinkin' morning if you've washed your face (or brushed your teeth, or made your bed, or put on clean clothes - insert what you want here). So, now I have two boys who are angry with me because I am asking them to do what I consider to be NORMAL, EVERYDAY, GET-READY STUFF!

Both boys got out of the car (can't you just hear the car doors slamming?) and headed back into the house. They proceeded to tell me to go to church by myself and they would just stay home. Well, in my opinion, that would have been letting them off way too easily, so I told them that they WOULD go to church and that we'd leave whenever they were ready.

At this point, I was their favorite person in the whole, wide world! NOT! Anyway, we didn't even leave our house until 7 minutes after service had started, and it was a silent ride for the most part. Finally, we arrived at church and both boys exited the car, put their hands in their pockets, and walked off towards the youth room, with nary a "Goodbye," or even a shrug to me. Ah, the joys of parenting.

I gathered my Bible and purse and headed towards the auditorium not looking forward to having to walk in late. I realized, however, that there was an up side to arriving after the service had started; I got into auditorium much more quickly because there was no one to stop and have conversations with on the way in. :-)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Most Requested Recipe - Chicken Strips Marinade

I am not one of the best cooks out there, but I do have a few dishes that always earn requests for my recipe. I just thought I 'd share one of those today.

A little background: I used to be in a food group that met once a month and did once-a- month cooking. It was GREAT! We did this for quite a few years, but somehow it fell by the wayside a couple of years ago, and I just haven't created a new group. There were usually five or six of us in the group (some months just didn't work out for everyone for one reason or another) and we would meet together with some tried and true recipes and create our menu for the month.

We would then divide the recipes between us so that we each had four main dishes that we would make. We each would go home, buy the ingredients for each main dish (times 5 or 6 depending on the number of members that month), and create 5 or 6 of each of the main dishes. So, if there were six of us in the group, I would go home and make four different main dishes, but I would make six of each one. Get it?

Anyway, after we had all created our four main dishes times 6, we would meet together and swap meals. This meant that we came home with 24 different main dishes! That would last us more than a month usually, and when we were running low, we'd get together to plan our menu again. We learned some tricks along the way; we deleted some recipes that just didn't work out; we came up with some new recipes that were great; and most importantly, we had fun doing it and helping one another out.

So................all that to say that this recipe comes from that group. It was one that we did EVERY month because EVERYONE liked it! (Now that was rare in a group that included six families representing thirty people!)

Be warned! This recipe makes enough for two families. You can cut this in half, or do what I do: use half for that evening's meal and then freeze chicken or turkey strips in the other half so that you have another meal ready to go down the road!

Chicken Strips Marinade (also works well for turkey and beef)

1 pint canola oil
1 C. lemon juice
1 pint soy sauce
3 Tbsp. sherry
3 cloves garlic
1/2 C. dried onions
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. ginger

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Pour over chicken or turkey strips and freeze in a ziploc. Defrost and grill.

Marinade can be cooked separately to serve over the grilled chicken. Serve with rice and vegetables.

Well, there you have it! My most requested recipe. Let me know what you think of it if you try it out.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Mish Mash Mondays

Hello, again, Hello. (Isn't that a Barry Manilow song?)

My summer hiatus was just what I needed. To be honest, I still didn't connect with my kids as much as I would have liked, but we did have some fun time together on vacations and such. Even just days around home are good for us all now and again. Summers are always busier than I think they will/should be, however, and this summer was no different. Weddings, conferences, birthdays, vacations, sleepovers, work, appointment, movies nights..........yeah, the days just seem to slip away faster than I'd like them to.

Anywhoooo..........it's been a while since I've posted, but I only have one thought for Mish Mash Monday this week.

I wanted to share a new internet site that I've found. (In)courage.me launched a new site this summer, and I think we all can use a little more encouragement in our lives. I check in often to get a little encouragement boost. In fact, I added it to my RSS feed so that I always see new posts.

What encourages you? I think it's important to know the answer to that because then you can actively work at having those things in your life. And goodness knows, we all need encouragement, don't we?

What encourages me? Well, seeing my children love one another and do well in relationships with other people encourages me that perhaps, just perhaps, in spite of all my imperfect parenting, my kids are doing okay after all. I am also encouraged when I can fix something or organize something. (I'm weird, I know.) Notes and prayers from friends also encourage me greatly and mean so much to me. And......staying in God's Word and in prayer encourages me and give me the courage to be who He made me to be and to fulfill His purposes for me.

Just a thought this morning. Hope this finds you well.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Revelation Song by Kari Jobe

The following video was shot at a concert for Gateway Worship with worship leader Kari Jobe, and I think if you take the time to listen, you can't help but have an encounter with the Holy Spirit. Sometimes you just need to hear a great worship song to get yourself back in the right frame of mind. :-) Enjoy!
Holy, Holy is He!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Summer Hiatus

My Beautiful Children




In an attempt to actually interact with my children, I will be taking a break from posting for the summer.  Unless something truly interesting happens (which, face it,  99.95% of my blog posts have not been about anything interesting), I won't be posting.  I also will not be checking my email regularly; I plan to pick one day a week to check my emails (by then I'll have hundreds, but oh well).  So.......if you would like to contact me, you'll have the old-fashioned choices of either picking up the phone to call me or (horror of horrors) writing me a letter and sending it snail mail.  

As I step away, I will be in prayer regarding whether this blog is something that will continue.  I was only doing this blog as a step of obedience to what I felt the Lord was calling me to do two years ago, but I know for certain that His plan for me was NOT to abandon my children as I became more and more addicted to checking my email and keeping up with blogs (both mine and others).  As my children grow and go forth into their lives, they won't remember if I answered every last email or text, or if I kept up with posting or reading the many blogs I've come to enjoy, or if I always had some witty, little saying for my facebook status, or if I cared about twittering, blackberries, instant messaging, or online devotionals.  But my children will remember if I took the time to play that game of Sorry, or to walk to the library, or to read out loud to them, or to visit family, or to swim, or to roast marshmallows, or to just sit down face to face with them and really, I mean REALLY, listen to them.  

I am ashamed to say how long it's been since I've given myself to my kids.  I meet needs (sometimes); I wash clothes and buy groceries; and I'm in the same house with them, but I am not WITH them.  There is great value in being fully present in the here and now, and I'll be really honest and just tell you that that is a struggle for me and how my brain is wired.    I don't care where I am or who I'm with, my brain is going a hundred miles an hour, thinking of anything and everything except just enjoying the current moment.  Lack of engagement (disconnect) is also a part of my battle with depression.  I am praying that the Lord will help me to be able to change and overcome this.  I would covet your prayers regarding this issue.  

I am the only mother that will be standing before God accounting for the training, parenting, and loving of the  four precious children He has given me.  I don't think I will hear "Well done," if I have neglected my husband and children because of my over-involvement with keeping up with emails and blogs.  I am choosing to step out of the technology fast lane (well, with me and technology, it's more like stepping out of the right hand, slow lane on the freeway, but you get the point).  

I am feeling such a sense of empowerment by making this choice, but I also wonder about those who may email me and not get a response right away.  I do not have an "auto respond" with my email address, so I don't know how to let people know I'm not being rude, but that I'm only checking my emails once a week.  I know that others have become accustomed to me checking my emails multiple times a day, but I just don't want to do that anymore.  I think I have "Disconnect Anxiety,"  which is an actual disorder now, I guess.  Click the link for a very interesting article that I just found when writing this post.  I guess the pain of continuing to be chained to my email and computer is more than my worry and anxiety about hurting someone's feelings or missing something important.  

So, my friend, I bid you goodbye for the summer.  If you have children, please join me in evaluating the amount of time you spend being with your kids, but not WITH your kids.  

Thanks for joining me in the journey for these last two years.  I consider it an honor that you have given some of the measured moments of your life to traveling this path with me.  I most earnestly pray blessings, peace, and health for you all.  

In His name and for His glory,
Gena

Oh, and in case you think I'm overstating the case that my family needs me to be more attentive and involved with them, just take a look at this.



Yeah, I thought that would help you understand.  :-)

Health Handbook - Good Thoughts

Today I am posting something that I copied from a site on the internet a while ago.  I had pasted it into a Word document, but for the life of me, I can't figure out the original source for it, so if someone knows, I'd be more than happy to give credit where credit is due.  I googled several of the phrases, but never found the original site.  Take a few minutes and read through the following list.  What would our lives be like if we truly lived by these suggestions?

Health Handbook

HEALTH

1. Drink plenty of water.

2. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a beggar.

3. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food manufactured in plants.

4. Live with the 3 E's -- Energy, Enthusiasm, and Empathy.

5. Make time to pray.

6. Play more games.

7. Read more books than you did in 2008.

8. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.

9. Sleep for 7-8 hours.

10. Take a 10-30 minutes’ walk every day. And while you walk, smile.

PERSONALITY

11. Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

12. Don't have negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.

13. Don't overdo. Keep your limits.

14. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

15. Don't waste your precious energy on gossip.

16. Dream more while you are awake.

17. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

18. Forget issues of the past. Don't remind your partner with his/her mistakes of the past. That will ruin your present happiness. 

19. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Don't hate others.

20. Make peace with your past so it won't spoil the present.

21. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.

22. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the  curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class but the lessons you earn will last a life time.

23. Smile and laugh more.

24. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

SOCIETY

25. Call your family often.

26. Each day give something good to others.

27. Forgive everyone for everything.

28. Spend time with people over the age of 70 & under the age of 6.

29. Try to make at least three people smile each day.

30. What other people think of you is none of your business.

31. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.

LIFE

32. Do the right thing!

33. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.

34. GOD heals everything.

35. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

36. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

37. The best is yet to come.

38. When you awake alive in the morning, thank GOD for it.

39. Your Inner most is always happy. So, be happy.

40. Don’t just read this; apply it to your life! 

Monday, June 15, 2009

Words of Life & Mish Mash Monday

  • If you have the time, Beth Moore wrote devotional for Life Today, and it would be well worth your read.  You can check it out HERE.  
  • It was so exciting to hear about Jimmy Webb's cross country trek to raise money and awareness for Teen Challenge.  You can check out his progress on his blog HERE.  I love that he and Cindy have a quote of the day at the top of the posts.
  • Dave would love for me to use iCal (a computer calendar system that lets us sync our individual calendars), but it just means extra work for me.   I take my regular calendar with me everywhere to be able to make appointments and so forth, and then he wants me to come home, get on the computer, open the program, and put all those events on iCal.  And.....I usually have many more events on my calendar because I am coordinating my schedule along with all the kids events.  I've tried, really, I have, but it's a constant struggle for me and I really don't like having my calendar only on my computer.  I'm old fashioned, I know, but I like a hard copy that's easy to take with me.  Coordinating our schedules and keeping one another informed of our various activities, meetings, and events has been a pretty constant struggle for us throughout our marriage.  How are you all handling that?
  • Loving this weather!  I guess the warm weather is on the way, though.
  • Missing my Hannie.
  • Praying that I can get my life more in alignment with Philippians 2:3-8.  Dave spoke on these verses on Sunday.  My "attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus."  Ouch.   Wish I could say that was true of me all the time, but I'm asking God to help me grow in that area.  How about you?
  • Happy Monday to you all.


Monday, June 1, 2009

Mish Mash Mondays

Thoughts on this beautiful Monday:
  • My boys LOVE being out of school!  Eric slept on the trampoline last night and Peter has a friend over; oh yeah, it's Summatime!
  • Dave and my older two are headed out to do some painting for a woman who needs some help; a sort of still-Servolution project.
  • Dave's message yesterday was totally what the title of my blog is all about.  He even titled his message something similar, "Loud Together."  He should have just called it, "Traveling Together."  ;-)  It would have been a great plug for my blog; not that anyone would know that though..........except for you who are reading this......but then you already know I have a blog; oh my, circular thinking at its best! :-)
  • Some thoughts from that message:  
  1. I am broken and flawed, and I need a Savior.  Boy, how well I know this.
  2. When we are grace receivers, we become grace givers.  This is proven in relationships, and when we give grace, it leads to peace.
  3. "Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God."  Phil 1:3 - Totally how I feel about my New Life family!
  4. God gives us confident hope.  Thank you, Jesus!
  5. God's given us the church (the body of believers) so that His love can overflow into our lives.  His people are the distributers of His love in our lives to keep the fire going.
  6. An ember pulled out of the fire, dies.  An ember in the midst of the fire, revives.  This is why we need one another.
  7. We can only learn to dispense grace if it is actually needed in a relationship.  If there is never a situation that requires grace from us, how on earth would we ever learn it?  I don't think Dave said this, but it was something I wrote down on my note-taking sheet.  You do that, you know, when you sit through multiple services.  You begin to add your own notes as you build on what you've heard already once or twice that morning.
  8. God has things to teach us that we can only learn through "the church," meaning other believers.  (Wow!  I had more notes written on my note-taking sheet than I thought!  :-)  It was good stuff, though, so I thought I'd share my take-aways.)
  • Servolution post event meeting is tonight.  It's where we give and get the lowdown on how everything went.  There's always tons that went right to celebrate and tons that didn't go quite-so-right to be re-evaluated.  
That's it for this installment; until next time......

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Post Servolution Videos

In case you weren't able to be in church last Sunday, here are the post Servolution 2009 videos. If you weren't able to be a part of Servolution this year, be sure to join us next year as we again go out into our community to serve and to love. And.....you don't have to wait until next year to serve as a part of Servolution. Our prayer is that Servolution will become a way of life for us all. You also have the opportunity to serve the second Saturday of each month (sort of a mini-servolution) with people from the church; watch the bulletin for more information.

Some stats from this year:
1300+ volunteers
120+ projects
500 Food Baskets given away
300 people were given community resources
117 people went through our health screening
73 haircuts given
1800 hot dogs eaten
70 people gave blood at the blood drive and.....
Approximately 15,000 man hours of work was donated by those who joined the Servolution!

Now THAT is love in action!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Eric's Sectional Meet Photos

Just thought I'd post some pics of my son at the Sac/Joaquin Division 1 Sectional Meet. Eric has had a great season and did well at the sectional meet, but, alas, he didn't make it through to State Finals.  The sectional meet was a great way to end the season, though, and he has a lot to look forward to next year as a senior.  It should be fun.



Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Death is not Dying

Today, on the Desiring God blog, I was directed to THIS AUDIO and THIS VIDEO  by Rachel.  I tried watching the video, but it wouldn't run smoothly, so I decided to listen to the audio.  The audio is approximately 55 minutes long, but I'll tell you what, Rachel presents the gospel in the face of death in a way that is both beautiful and powerful.  

After four and a half years of vigilantly fighting breast cancer, Rachel Barkey, a 37 year old wife and mother of two, was diagnosed with terminal cancer.  But for Rachel, the essence of life is found in her relationship with God through Jesus. And that's why Rachel is convinced that death is not dying.

You will not be sorry for giving an hour of your time to listen to her speech.  It reminds me in some ways of The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch because Rachel hopes that someday her children will watch the video to know what she believed in and lived for.   She gave this talk at a women's event for her church, and I am sure each one left the evening with a changed perspective. 

Please remember to pray for Rachel, as well as the many other people that I am sure, like me, you know who have cancer.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Mish Mash Mondays


Time for another exciting edition of Mish Mash Mondays!  (Humor me here, okay?) Lots of thoughts today:
  • I love me some baptisms!  Seriously, I cry every time we have baptisms and yesterday was no different.  Seeing the life change that God has begun in so many people encourages me to continue in my pursuit of Him.  I love hearing the stories of those who come to be baptized; they get me every time!  
  • I am hearing more and more about events that took place on Servolution. Yesterday at church, several people stopped me to say, "Did you hear.....?"  and proceeded to fill me in on some great things that God did through Servolution.
  • After church, we were able to spend some time with Dave's family, including his aunt and uncle from Clovis, and his cousins who are here from back east.  We had a lovely lunch and a relaxing time visiting.
  • It's HOT!  It was so good to be able to jump in the pool last night to cool off.
  • Today's To Do's?  Going to the bank, grocery shopping, laundry, writing a few notecards to people, and work for a job I am doing.  It's gonna be a great day!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Birthday Brunch


A couple of weeks ago, it was "Birthday Brunch" time with my mom and sisters.  Twice a year we get together at Mimi's to celebrate two of our birthdays.  In April, it was my two sister's birthdays, in case the presents in front of them didn't give that away!  Aren't they beautiful?  I am so proud of the two of them.  They are great women, fantastic moms, and the best, most fun and loving sisters I could ask for.  

At the restaurant, we almost always sit at the same table and can easily spend a couple of hours catching up with one another and sharing the latest news in each of our families. Between us there are ten children, so there's never a shortage of news to share.  As you can see in the picture of me and my mom, there usually aren't too many people in the room where we sit, and that's probably a good thing because we girls can laugh rather loudly.  (I'm sure you find that hard to believe!) 

The birthday brunch tradition is one that I look forward to because it's just the four of us.  We see each other at other times, of course, but usually it's with our husbands and children in tow, and although it's tons of fun, we don't often get time to visit with one another.  Carving out some time alone with just the four of us is just what we need once in a while!  These times take me back to when it was just the four of us in our home, and I find a great strength in the reconnection that takes place when we are together.  Yes, I am blessed.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Long Time Coming

This post has needed to be written for a long time now.  I’ve started it a couple of times, only to erase it all because I just couldn’t find the words to finish it.  I’ve gone over and over what to say and how to say it, and I haven’t sensed any divine revelation, so I’m just going to wing it here. 

You see, God has begun a mighty change in me and I find that for every step forward in faith, I take two steps back with fear and insecurity.   I am embarrassed to write this post, to some degree, because I have to share a message that God has been trying to smack into me for quite some time.  Okay, just being honest here, it’s been years that He’s been trying to break through to me in this area. 


A couple of months ago, unbeknownst to me, a friend and fellow staff wife got a little bug up her sleeve to have a surprise for me at our Women’s Retreat.  Many of you wrote wonderful and beautiful cards to me and, embarrassingly, gave of your hard earned money towards a gift for me – me of all people! 

The last day of the retreat, my friend, Tricia, called me up to the front.  I had no idea as to why she was calling me up there, and she proceeded to say some things that I can’t quite remember.  (When I am standing in front of a group of grown ups, I usually have a sort of “out of body” experience because I am so embarrassed and insecure to be there).

The gift of the cards was such a sweet and unexpected surprise, and I was touched that so many women would make the time to write me a card.  I was full to over-flowing with the love that I felt in the gift of those cards. 

But then……Tricia proceeded to say something that my simple mind didn’t have a category for, and I didn’t even understand what she was saying at first.  She told me that the women, along with their cards, had given money, towards a gift for me. 

I simply cannot find the words to say how totally embarrassed I was that anyone would give in these difficult financial times towards a gift for me.  I certainly haven’t “earned” it, I certainly don’t “deserve” it, and I certainly can’t believe it.  I must have looked so silly in that moment because I truly did not understand what Tricia was trying to tell me.

Long story not so short, Tricia told me that there had been enough money to buy the club chairs that we had picked out when we had bought our sofa two years ago!  I KNOW!  What is up with that?

Well, after mumbling something (probably not at all intelligible), I headed back to my seat with the treasured box of cards in my hands.  As I sat down, I was engulfed in the hugs of the two women sitting on either side of me, and in that moment…….something broke.  I felt a love wash over me like a tidal wave and I “heard” the voice of the Lord speaking straight to the depths of my soul.

Now, there have been two times in my life that I clearly sensed God speaking straight to my heart in a way that was all but audible.  In both of those times, I can tell you word-for-word what God spoke to my spirit because it was so vivid, real, and true.  This time was no different; I remember word-for-word (it’s all but etched in my heart) what God said to me. 

I’m a little hesitant to share what I heard because, well, I’m sure God speaks to you all in grand and eloquent ways, and me?   Not so much. 

Anyway, as I sat enveloped in the hugs of those two women and overwhelmed with the love that those cards represented, as clearly as anything, I heard these words, “Gena, it’s time to put your big girl panties on and step over all those danged insecurities you have hidden behind for so long.”

Yep. That’s it.  That’s what I heard.  To be fair, I also heard, “You can do all I’ve called you to do, and you can trust in this love.” 

God gave me no grand discourse on His immutability, or why He sent his son, Jesus Christ, as propitiation for my sin, or His transcendent nature.  Nope.  None of that; just “Put your big girl panties on.” 

I don’t mean to be flippant at all about the reality of the Lord speaking to me.  I really don’t, but I simply can’t rephrase what I heard because that’s what I heard.

And you know how God has to say some things over and over for us to get it?  Well, believe it or not, I recently attended a one-day conference with two speakers, and both, BOTH, women used that exact same phrase at one point during the day in their talks.  I mean, what are the odds of that? 

Well, those words have come back to me over and over again since the retreat and I continue to pray that I can truly accept what He told me.  I desire to stay on the other side of my “danged” insecurities that I all to often willingly and fearfully hide behind.  I want to trust in the love of those God has so graciously and wonderfully placed in my life.  And, I want to feel free to release the deep, honest-to-goodness love that I have for others in our church.

Anyway, as I came home from the retreat to read all of those sweet and heartfelt cards, I was again amazed at the gifts God has given me in the women of our church.  I will always keep that box of cards, and I will reread them every so often (especially on days when I wonder if I can do anything right!).  I don’t deserve the love that was expressed in those cards, but you all gave it anyway.  Do you even know how humbling that is?

And on top of that most precious gift, you all gave me some chairs. CHAIRS!  I couldn’t believe it, and guess what?  They are here!  You all need to come over to see them and rest your little hienies in them!  I like them just as much as I did two years ago; they match our sofa so well! And when I sit in them, I am amazed at the gift of love that they represent to me.

Yes, it took me until the chairs got here to post this because I’ve been embarrassed at your overly gracious and generous gift.  I mean, how do you accept something like that?  And yet, I am afraid that my inability to say thank you earlier might have been seen as being ungrateful. That wasn’t it at all!  In fact, it was just the opposite; I was so grateful for the undeserved gift that I found it hard to accept.  Why you all would bless me that way, I don’t know, but I want to let you know how very much I appreciate the gift and the love in which it was given.  

So there you have it, a long overdue and heartfelt THANK YOU to you all who have dared to love me and bless me.  I can only pray that I will be faithful with those gifts and that I will turn around and pour those gifts out to others.  I love you and thank you with all that I am.