Thursday, October 7, 2010

Where's the Blog?

Well everyone, I know that the time is approaching when I'm about to get pounded with inquiries about where my latest blog is, so I thought I would send out a message.

I'm going through a couple of things right now. We all know that the busiest time of year is coming as well. I ask that you please pray for my family as we have had a rough month.

A couple of weeks ago Kamran's aunt took her own life. We are praying for his Uncle as he goes through this difficult time.

This past week has been equally trying on my family as we learned that my grandmother has colon, liver, and lung cancer, and is already in stage 4. It is very hard to absorb, but we must. She is active and of healthy body and mind, which qualifies her for chemo and radiation treatment. Her cancer doctor said that if it weren't for these factors, she would not be eligible. Her first treatment is next Tuesday. Her lift expectancy is drastically larger with treatment, so we are praying that she is one of those people who fairs well with chemo and radiation, knowing that so many don't. I feel it my responsibility to go and be with her as much as I can. That's what family is for. I love her dearly and I am glad to do it. I ask that you please join with us in prayer for this very special woman in my life. Oh how I would love to see her have a church home and family at this time. That choice is hers to make.

I'm also working on a project on the side. I'm keeping the details a little quit for now, but it needs to be done, and now is the right time. It will serve as a good distraction for me at times, and I look forward to the outlet that it provides. Sorry to be so secretive, but more details will follow soon enough.

Thank you for being faithful readers. You don't know how much your reading and positive feedback mean to me. Entries may be even more scarce for a while, but who knows, there may just end up being more!

Now... I'm going to take a deep breath and keep on going. Here's to hoping we talk again soon.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Butterfly Effect

I saved a butterfly last week.  Our family had just arrived at Wal Mart to grab some groceries for dinner. (Pretty easy to relate to, huh!) When we got out of the car and began to walk to the entrance, I noticed this little creature kind of struggling to not blow away on this windy day. It would appear that it had become trapped in the middle of the parking lot, much like a cat up a tree. So, I leaned over and picked the little thing up and watched it watch me. I showed both of my preschoolers the upclose view, which was a treat. 

Next, my husband and our son proceeded to go into the store, but instead of following, I took our daughter and did something else. We walked hand in hand, and I talked to her about how this butterfly was lost, and it needed our help. This quickly became one of those, "everyday moments, that is a teaching moment". We took the butterfly and put it in a tree away from the parking lot. It climbed around happily. We said goodbye and proceeded on our shopping mission.

What if this mattered? No, what if this, REALLY mattered?! What if taking the time to help this tiny, seemingly insignificant insect impacted the entire world?

It seems that often in this world, we are handed out hefty doses of discouragement, and disappointment. But what if we saw things differently? What if everything we did mattered? What if it mattered, and someone proved it?

Have you ever heard of the scientific principle, The Butterfly Effect? It is defined as this:the phenomenon whereby a small change at one place in a complex system can have large effects elsewhere, e.g., a butterfly flapping its wings in Rio de Janeiro might change the weather in Chicago.

I'm VERY EXCITED about today's blog, because the point that I am trying to convey to you, has not only already been PROVEN scientifically, but has been beautifully described in a new book by author and speaker, Andy Andrews, whom I was thrilled to hear speak last month. His book is appropriately titled, "The Butterfly Effect", and if I could, I would like to recommend it as a gift for someone special in your life. That act alone, according to this scientific principle, would change the world.

Much to my delight, when I went to his website to add a link to this blog, to pay homage to this talented author, I discovered something even better! Below you will find an online sample of this beautiful book!!! And let's add some icing to that cake: Andy has also graciously added an online sample of the children's version of the book, "The Boy Who Changed the World"! Thanks Andy. What a gift, you have given us.

Please take a few minutes to flip through and read these short books, found at your local bookstores and I promise that you will walk away with, not just encouragement, but a new sense of certainty through scientific PROOF that YOU MATTER! (The links at the bottom of the page do not include the books in their entirety, they are online samples.)

Taking this idea one step deeper, let me also remind you what the book of James says about life:

James 4:14 NIV
Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

I challenge you to spend this brief life making a difference and bringing honor to The Creator of the Universe with every breath you take and every move you make, bringing honor to Him. Overwhelmed? Then just take it one day at a time.

I saved a butterfly last week. How will you change the world today?

Here is, "The Butterfly Effect" sample link:

Here is, "The Boy Why Changed the World" sample link:

Sunday, September 5, 2010


(3 of 3 in the Grant inspired blog trilogy)

I was able to join some friends a couple of weeks ago for a two day trip to the Women of Faith conference when they stopped in Indianapolis. I was so happy and thankful to go, and had an amazing and inspired time.
That being said, like any mama, I was also happy to get home and have those tiny arms wrapped around me again. They missed me, and it showed. Luckily we arrived home early enough to spend some family time together before bed time. Treasured.

The next morning was Sunday. We had breakfast, and were off to church. All was well until we dropped the kids off at their Sunday School class. Grant had a bit of anxiety at the thought of me being out of sight again. I was able to convince him, because he has learned that he can trust my word, that we would all sit together and sing in the sanctuary very soon. Reluctantly, he agreed.
Sunday School finished up and as I exited my class, there was Grant with our friend Joe. Joe's daughter was teaching the toddler class, and he had gone in to say hello. During that time, he and Grant had buddied up. The way that Joe translated Grant's requests was: "Hey, can I sit on your lap? It's all girls in here, and I need a guy pal". haha

So, we all went into the sanctuary and began greeting and visiting before the worship began. Grant pleaded to go sit with Joe and his family. Since Joe was smiling, I figured that he was ok with it. They were sitting a couple of rows up, and just to the right. Kamran and I had a perfect view of Grant, and he also had a perfect view of us. He was being adorable. Smiling. Waving. Grinning. Singing the words that he knew.

That's when he looked over to his side. His face lit up. Nothing magical, out of the blue, or overly amazing happened. He simple saw Nikki and Eric.

Nikki and Eric are our friends, and they usually sit a pew or two in front of us. We visit most every Sunday. Grant grew more and more excited about seeing them. He smiled, and his eyes grew wide. He motioned again and again for his daddy and I to see them. "Look!" He would say in an overly loud whisper, as he pointed. I was giggling at his cuteness, and at the humor of him getting so excited to see the same sight that we always see....

And there was my moment with God. My lesson. Thank goodness I was paying attention! Did you catch it?
There isn't a whole lot of lesson to teach here, is there? It's all in the story. Grant, in his childish innocence exhibited the behavior that we so often lack as supposed learned adults.
He showed passion filled joy to see the friends that are ALWAYS THERE... 
I think we are kidding ourselves if we don't think that we don't short change God. Too often we give Him:

Our last thoughts, rather than our first.

Our pocket change, rather than a cheerful giving.
Our halfhearted attention, rather than being sold out.

Our leftovers.

Oh Lord, forgive me for my arrogance. Forgive me for my lukewarmness, and please forgive me for being a spoiled-rich-kid. May I always greet you with that same passionate joy that my son displayed, BECAUSE You are ALWAYS THERE.

*I feel that it's important for me to point this out. God shared that moment with me, but it wasn't in a shameful kind of way. He simply pointed out some inspiration for me. He didn't shove it down my throat, He didn't force me to act on it, and He even had me smiling in the midst of my conviction..... You have to give Him bonus points for using those giant brown eyes to get His point across. ;)
I want to be like Grant when I grow up :)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Oh WHERE is my hairbrush?!?!?

I supposed it's no coincidence that the day that I sit down to write the blog about the sweet and selfless reminder that my son gave me last week falls on the same day that he is pushing my patience to the edge. I guess in many ways, knowing his contrasting mood possibilities makes today's post ring sweeter still. 

Enjoy post 2 in my series of 3 consecutive blogs inspired by my 3yr old son, Kamran Grant.

I'm a flake. You know my type: We can never find anything. If we are used to carrying 3 items out the door, but randomly have an extra item to carry, we will most likely subconsciously check off three items, one of which is the random item,  thus causing us to forget one of the regulars. We, of course, don't realize this until we are half way down the road, unless we are lucky enough that the forgotten item was our car keys. 

I'm a perfectly otherwise intelligent and otherwise mature person, but indeed, I do find myself looking for my bra, my cell phone and my hairbrush on a nearly daily basis. (Sorry for the bra image, but it's a fact.) 

I was getting ready for work the other evening when I was searching for my hairbrush, regardless, I was in a pretty good mood, and I was joking out loud with my husband that you think that as frazzled as looking for these things makes me, I would practice more prevention. During this time, my three year old son Kamran Grant decided to intervene. He put down his toys and came into my bedroom and began searching right along side me. We chatted a little, and then he was gone. 

I decided to take a little break from my quest and do some other prep work for my show. About five minutes later Grant excitedly ran back into my bedroom. He couldn't wait to share his hairbrush with me. It was the one that he had gotten as a baby from a friend, with the soft bristles, designed for smoothing peach fuzz. "Here you go Mommy! You can use my hairbrush". 

Now, obviously this hairbrush would not do the intended job. It wouldn't begin to tame or part my thick hair. But don't you think for one minute that I let that steal my son's blessing. I showed him the appreciation gratitude and excitement that his actions warranted. I'm not trying to brag on myself here, but this is just one of those times that I knew that I did the 100% right thing. 

I whisked the brush out of his hands and began delightfully brushing my hair on all sides. I looked in the mirror, just as I always do when I get ready. As I brushed I poured out my thankfulness in elevated tone. Next I rushed off through the house calling for my husband by name. When I found him I shared with him the happiness that I felt because of Grant's offering. I will never forget the look on my son's face as he listened in the kitchen doorway. It was much better than the satisfaction that I got from knowing that I had taken time away from getting ready for work. 

The look on Grant's face was one of smiling eyes. He knew that he had made me happy and had gained absolutely nothing from it in return, and yet that was enough. He was happy that he had made ME happy. Even now, as I sit here and write this I almost tear up.

We Americans are all rich, whether we care to admit it or not, and that makes it very important that we make efforts of properly teaching our children the importance of taking themselves out of the center of the universe sometimes and practicing selflessness.

In the moment that I stood there in the kitchen looking into Grant's eyes listening to his father join in on the praises I felt a surge of different joys.

~I was joyful that a three year old took five minutes of his playtime and devoted it to helping someone else. (In my opinion, that is a long time for a toddler to stay focused on something that isn't self-benefiting)

~I was joyful in the feeling that I had, that I am doing something right in my parenting.

~I was joyful that I took the time to make the fuss that I made, even though the clock was ticking and I still wasn't ready for work.


~I was joyful to see this example of how perfect worship between us and God should be. 

Too often we have the attitude that loving and serving God is a trade off. That they are requirements that we must fulfill to stay in good graces with Him and hopefully have our needs met. 

Could it be that we usually miss the mark? Could we maybe be making this harder than it should be? I believe that true worship or service to our Lord is a heart issue. They are to be done for the pure joy that it brings to Him.... with no strings attached. 

2 Corinthians 9:7 NIV

Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  
(this is not just about tithing.)

In the moments that we spend with Him, in whatever way is most fitting for each of us individually, if we can loose ourselves in Him... if we just... delight in His delight, if we can just cry out knowing that He deserves all that we could give and more... I believe THAT is true, unpolluted, unadulterated, genuine worship/or service. If I were to guess, I would say that He smiles within His joy in those moments. The moments that we actually GET IT. 

I'll bet that these are some of God's favorite moments. On this day, He decided to share one with me. I was proud of Grant, and He gave me a small glimpse of how I make Him feel when my agenda is pure. Thank goodness for the times that we listen. The times that we "get it".

In the end, I didn't find my hairbrush before work. It didn't even matter, since I realized that I was also out of hairspray. (geez, I need to get with it) I smoothed back my hair halfback into a clip and went to work smiling anyway. Why wouldn't I be? I realized that Grant had "gotten it" and so had I, and that was all that mattered.

Monday, August 23, 2010

To Scrapbook, or Stroke Out..... That is the Question.

For whatever reason, God has chosen my son specifically to inspire my next 3 blog entries. Here is the first of the three. I hope you will enjoy them all.

A couple of months ago I was thrilled to not only join a group of wonderful ladies from my church family for an evening out, but also, to be the group leader. The event was our annual Wabash Valley Ladies Unity Night. As always it was wonderful, and the best part: It's always FREE! (The ladies that put on the event go to a lot of hard work, and put in a lot of prayers to make this happen. Kudos to them!) This year's special guest speaker was author, speaker, actress, wife and mommy: Lisa Whelchel. Lisa did a great job. She spoke about many things from growing up as a child actress on "Facts of Life" to surviving in healthy adult friendships. That night she shared a very sweet story that stuck with me...That story will define this blog entry.

Well, as hard as we try, us self-declared Super Mom's can't do it all. We can't get everything done, we can't always make everyone happy, and we can't be everywhere at once. That last one can be frightening sometimes. Sure, in all sorts of serious, "Mommy needs to protect her babies" ways, but also in other ways.... Like when you have a "budding artist" for a son.

I will recount the event for you. It was a Saturday. My husband Kamran was out picking up the childrens' new playhouse/swing set. (Yea Craigslist deal!) I was in our home office playing Princesses and Strawberry Shortcakes with Addison while Grant was planted in front of the television watching Saturday morning cartoons. (We don't have cable, so this is a big deal.) I noticed that he was being sort of quiet. I had just checked on him about 5 minutes earlier and we had "thoroughly discussed" how he should not play with the automatic water dispenser on the refrigerator door. My suspicions of him playing in the water sent me to check in. Well, my suspicions and also a pleasant smell that was filling the air....

He had listened to me. He hadn't touched the water at all. Not one drop. Instead, he decided to spend his time more creatively. What I walked into next was... One of those times when a mama must decide if she will grab her camera or have a stroke. Grant had gotten a hold of a full container of baby powder. I'm impressed at all he accomplished in less than 5 minutes.

Here is where the Lisa Whelchel story comes in. During her talk, Lisa shared this story about her two, then quite young, daughters. She set up and easel outside in the backyard and put out several shades of paint. She could see them through her window one minute, but not the next, so she went to investigate. She found her two daughters buck naked out behind the shed and they were painting one another. She grabbed her camera and snapped the memory on film forever. In this moment, God taught her a priceless lesson. He instantly took me to Lisa's story as He taught me the lesson firsthand, (although I'm thinking, "Hey Lord, Lisa's example would have done". ha ha)

When we misbehave, God isn't just some stern parent waiting to punish us. How many times is He tickled with us? How many times does our Father shake His head while laughing to Himself, "Oh, Brandi, my sweet and silly girl"? And then He does what Lisa did, and what I did. He takes us out of the mess and cleans us up. How comforting is it to think of Him in this way? I truly believe that God made us parents for this reason alone: So that we can have the best idea possible of how He loves us. Obviously, our minds can never grasp His love in its entirety, but being a mother has given me the closest and deepest coloration that I think I can experience.

I'm not saying that our consequences don't have actions, and I'm not saying that God likes it when we misbehave. What I am saying is that there is a difference between being childish and misbehaving. In this instance I think that Grant's actions were a sort of mix of the two. I believe that God knows our hearts, and our intentions. Imagine being 3. The texture of baby powder along with the fact that it's it makes smoke in the air and sort of drifts its way around would make it worth exploring. However, being 3 you would probably recall something about not touching the baby powder too. 

So, what did I do? I didn't raise my voice, but I didn't let him see my enjoyment either. (No need to let him think that this is how we please Mommy!) I simply picked him up and told him on the way to his nap, (a full 5 minutes early. I'm so mean) as I undressed him from his powdery clothes that he should not have touched the baby powder and that he made a mess that mommy would now have to clean up. I told him that I loved him and to have a good nap. Then I left him to go clean up the mess. He was screaming from the other room, "Mommy, I want to clean up the mess! I want to help clean up the baby powder!" Now I know that some of you have tilted your heads and let out an "awww". Not so fast. Let me translate for you, "Mommy, I wasn't done playing in that yet!". The little stinker LOVES to sweep. We got him a play broom for Christmas that sings while he uses it.

I won't go into great detail about the clean up. I will sum it up instead. Headache from fumes and breathing in powder while sweeping. It took 3 complete times with a broom and a bandanna on my face. Um, yeah. I was the Johnson and Johnsons bandit.

After his nap, Grant and I had a little bit more of a talk about things and I suggested that he sweep a little to "help me" clean up ;) Kam came home and added a hefty mopping to finalize the duty.

My hope for you today is that you see our Heavenly Father as the loving parent that He is. He is ready to kiss your boo-boos and brush you off if you let Him. He designed you to be you, and He simply delights in your silliness sometimes. God DOES NOT MAKE MISTAKES, He makes MASTERPIECES. You are one. A work in progress. Trust the refiner's fire continue to smooth out your edges, but just know that He chooses to enjoy the process each step of the way.

Today's blog is a treat. You will also get to experience the entry through photo. No clever words that I could ever come up with would come close to describing this properly. In fact, without the pictures I'll bet that you might accuse me of exaggerating a bit.... Enjoy the art show and make sure to read the captions beneath each photo. (Thanks Lisa for mentioning the camera, I'm so glad I took pictures!)

The Artist's "Signature"

His medium of choice. Tantalizing to the senses from sight, to touch to smell (I can not testify to the taste, however)

As you can see, a spoon was a tool he used

A lifelike snowy scene
 It takes most artists years to come up with this 
kind of depth to their work

 I'm not really sure what the artist was
trying to express with this one

This piece personifies how Woody felt during the
first half of Toy Story 2  

 Here we see the,
"I'd better try to clean this up" section

 I feel a sort of chaos being expressed here
Kind of similar to a crime scene don't you think?


 From chaos to serenity, this piece is like a 
peaceful labyrinth or rock garden

I doubt that Buzz's years at the
Academy prepared him for this.
(I like how he is covering his mouth as if coughing on the particles. If only his helmet was down. Poor guy.)

  I don't particularly like this entry. Our dishwasher is broken, and we just use the rack for drying. What I'm feeling here is that dishes must be rewashed by hand... Not my favorite theme, by far.

 And the pièce de résistance:
I was actually speechless

Maybe my having this photo of him
will be punishment enough 
(sorry about the blur, I grabbed my cellphone to snap this shot)

And God loves us both. That is what it GRACEFULLY comes
down to in the end <3

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Stubborn Biker

A couple of weeks ago I was on my way to our monthly jeweler training, one of the few times that I am ever in the car alone, enjoying the drive when this happened.

I was admiring a new bike trail that our city has put in. There have been several efforts in the last few years to make our area more biker friendly, and I for one am quite pleased with this. This newest path extends along side a sort of narrow and slightly curvy and hilly road. Before the bike path the road was surly less biker friendly and maybe even dangerous at some points. It will be well used also, because it connects with a State Highway at one end. To add to the appeal the path turns at the other end and heads into one our city's most loved and well known parks. Why yes, that is one nice bike path. I have been watching it's progress. The path is wide and well paved. I like the several points of entry and exit along the way where it crosses the driveways of many homes. In fact, when I borrow the bike that Alex is going to lend me, I may have to go take a ride on that paSCREEEEEEEECH!!!!!!!!!!! (Like the sound of a record player being abruptly stopped.) What?! ......What is that in front of me?.... What does that guy think he's doing?! Why, the nerve of him!

Yes, you guessed it: My happy fuzzy dreams of enjoyment on the bike path were interrupted by.... A MAN ON A BICYCLE. :/ He wasn't enjoying the path. He was on the road in front of me. I was behind him for the entire remainder of the road. He made no efforts to more or even get over so that I might pass.(And I know that he saw me in his fancy mirror!) He peddled as quickly as he could to get up the road's most prominant hill. All the while I am sitting behind my steering wheel looking back and forth between him and the empty bike path thinking, ".....really?!?".

Now, this blog could go in the obvious direction of PATIENCE, but it won't. (You can all thank me for that later since we all know that reading anything insightful about patience usually means that you will be going through a trial with it.) Instead I'm going in this direction:  
The Paths We Choose. In the scenario that I'm presenting I want us to be the biker instead of the  frustrated driver in the car behind the biker. We are "The Stubborn Biker". God paves the way for us. He uses His Spirit and His Word, and encouragement and healthy examples through the lives of others. He does not send us out there blindly. Don't get me wrong, I'm not under the impression that God's path is always sunshine lollipops and rainbows, (ok. That song is in my head now too, so here's the link:) 
God never promised that our paths would be that. In fact, quite the opposite. We will be persecuted because of Him and our love for Him at times. Someone will stumble on this very blog someday and think that I'm a nut job just because I have faith in a God that I can't see in His own living flesh. Regardless.... I choose this path. Possible persecution won't scare me away from my Father's plan.

So, what does God say about our paths then? Well, this subject is mentioned so many times in God's Word that I'm not even going to count them. Before I continue, I will list a few examples though.~

Numbers 22:32 NIV

The angel of the LORD asked him, "Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me."

2 Samuel 22:37 NIV 

(also Psalm 18:36)

You broaden the path beneath me, so that my ankles do not turn.

Nehemiah 9:19 NIV

"Because of your great compassion you did not abandon them in the desert. By day the pillar of cloud did not cease to guide them on their path, nor the pillar of fire by night to shine on the way they were to take.
I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path.  
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. (Notice that He only lights enough to get us from day to day on our path rather than lighting the whole thing. If He did that we wouldn't need faith. What kind of character would we have then?

Listen, my son, and be wise, and keep your heart on the right path.
And this last one is my favorite <3 :

Proverbs 3:6 NIV

in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

There are a lot more, but you get the point. 
Today, I want you to know why that that bike rider drove me crazy. It wasn't because he was more fit, it wasn't because he was going to make me late to my meeting, and it wasn't because the sun blinded me reflecting off of the fancy mirror that I mentioned before. It was because he was missing the point! In fact, I think it's safe to say that he was missing out, all together. This isn't me being judgmental either. Remember, in this scenario we are the bike rider. Keep following me here. How many times do we peddle our hearts out and end up completely exhausted trying to keep up with "traffic" when there is a perfectly serene and well paved path that we could have taken instead? How many times do we ignore the several chances that we are given to reenter the right path? And how many times in this life do we continue to fight to prove that we can make it on that wrong path? It seems to me that we too often fight for the wrong path and find that it isn't something that we needed or even wanted when all is said and done. Just think about that nice bike path that we could have been riding on instead. It promises to meet all of our needs. I hope this has gotten you thinking a little. But I'm not done! I have one more very important point to make.
If you have read this blog and you might agree that what I'm saying is true, but you, well.... don't really care, then this is for you: There was one more factor greatly affected by the bike rider's poor decision. That factor was me. Not to mention every other car behind me. When we blatantly choose our own path over God's not only are we thumbing our noses in insult to Him, but we are also hurting those around us. It's selfish of us. We grossly underestimate the effect that we have on others. Think about Random Acts of Kindness. Think about The idea of "Overflow"ing to our families, our community and our world, (which is our church's theme this year.) Think about the young people that are looking up to you whether you like it or not. God wants to use us to bless others. He could just do everything for Himself, but then we would never understand a thing and would end up terribly spoiled. And, if we do it right, He does get the glory. In that same way of thinking though, when we don't make efforts to live lives that are pleasing to Him, we hinder others. We don't overflow to them and at some point, everything dries up. I remember many years ago I was living a life that I knew could have been more Godly. It wasn't until I realized that my actions could influence others in a bad way that I cared enough to make some changes in my life. I am claiming in NO WAY to be perfect, better than. I'm simply making efforts on a daily basis to take God's path for me and am trusting that the God who created the Universe may know what He's doing in my tiny little life.
Taking the "Bike Path" is also a treat. They aren't  available on many roads around here. Just imagine how much more peace and rest that our rider's journey would have had if he would have taken part in the oasis while it was there to enjoy. I'm thankful that God's path always is.

*Oh, and here's a bonus for you: Always wear your "Helmet of Salvation". ;) 
(I can just hear my husband's groan when he reads that.)

Saturday, July 31, 2010

She is Wise

The Face of Wisdom, by Ezshwan Winding
We have been doing a study of God's love of women this month. In a time when they were devalued, and thought of as "less" God, and later Jesus, continuously lifted women up in equality. Because this has been our topic of study, more and more things have been opened up to me. I noticed tonight that in Proverb 3: 14-18 Wisdom is referred to as "she". Another example of God lifting and honoring his daughters. If God did not hold women up high then He would never have allowed Solomon to give something as sought after as wisdom the title of "she". So many times I have found throughout scripture that God can take you deeper and deeper into His word, and the same verse can speak to you in a new way. When I look at versus 13-18 and think of wisdom as a "she", I can draw a parallel between wisdom as an asset and an actual woman.

13  Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding,    14  for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold.    15  She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her.    16  Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor.    17  Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace.    18  She is a tree of life to those who embrace her; those who lay hold of her will be blessed.
If a woman is a Godly woman, a woman of wisdom, then how blessed would that man be to find her? Reread the versus and consider wisdom as being his Godly Wife. If a woman is the wife that God has called her to be, then the attributes in these verses would also be present in her marriage as she in turn lifts her husband up as well. 

Just as I count myself blessed to have a wise and Godly husband, I believe that he considers himself blessed to have a wise and Godly wife!  ;)

If you want to take your mind one step deeper, consider the following verse:
19  By wisdom the LORD laid the earth's foundations,

This one of many examples of a verse that helps women to see that God relates to all of what and who we are, even though He is a... well, a HE. Wisdom is called she, and the very next verse says that God used it to lay down the earth's foundations.

We are all failed and flawed human beings, but that does not mean that God does not have expectations. (Not to be misunderstood with earning one's own salvation, which is a gift) I believe that He asks a lot of us because He knows that when we have faith and trust in Him, we have the wisdom and the strength to follow through.

*And just in case you were wondering, yes, Proverb 31, "The Woman of Noble Character"  chapter does include wisdom also:
26  She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Blue Bucket

In this scorching heat my kids, like most, have enjoyed playing in a backyard kiddie pool. It's a figure 8 shaped double ringed blow up pool, and you bet your sweet tan lines that I'm not too proud to hop in with them. I am after all the lifeguard and the referee, and it gets pretty hot on the sidelines. ;)

We have a Little Tykes slide set up for perfect entry (for the smaller swimmers anyway) and just before they step onto the slide, I have set up a blue bucket. This blue bucket is important. It is filled with water and the kids must step into it and rise their feet off before getting back into the pool. If not, they carry in dirt, sand, and oh so many grass clippings!

It wasn't common yesterday to hear myself, my husband, or one of the kids simply  shout out "blue bucket!" as a warning to whomever was about to muck things up. I started to notice something after awhile. My son (age 3) would randomly say, while still in the pool, "mom, I'd better go get the blue bucket" or "I need the blue bucket" Obviously, he is missing the real point of the blue bucket, and how it washed off the ick from when he is outside of the pool, but as I sat there, trying unsuccessfully to avoid being splashed in the face, I felt God bring a parallel to my mind.

In many ways, the blue bucket in our lives is repentance: Asking forgiveness and getting the "ick" out of our lives. I believe that when I asked God to forgive me for my sins, that He was (and still is by the way) big enough to take them all away, even the ones that I hadn't yet committed. However, that does not mean that I as a follower of Christ can live life full of rebellion without consequence either. I want to live a life that brings honor to God, and so when I see grass clippings in my life, I know that it is time to step in the blue bucket rather than have them floating all around me, and messing up the life that He wants for me.

How many Christians fail to keep on the Helmet of Salvation mentioned in Ephesians 6:17?  A helmet protects your head. To wear the Helmet of Salvation means to protect your mind from the World and the doubt of one's own salvation that it can cause, which ultimately leads you to doubt everything. Think back to Satan's temptation of Eve.  1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?" He made her doubt the truth. "Did God really say....." Now let's look at the when he tempted Jesus at the beginning of His ministry. Matthew 4 3The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread."and 6"If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down. For it is written:
   " 'He will command his angels concerning you,
      and they will lift you up in their hands,
   so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.' "
Doubt, yet again. I have known many believers who have doubted, and will admit to even doubting at times, as a young Christian myself. That makes us like my son wanting to get out of the pool to go wash off our feet to get back in the pool. I have learned the true meaning of the Helmet of Salvation though, so I never have to live in doubt again. Yes, it's hard to imagine, and our minds can't comprehend it, but God's love does in deed stretch that far. He saves lossers, and sinners. No exceptions. The beauty in the whole thing is that our gracious God probably just smiles and shakes His head at us when we waste the time thinking, "oh my silly child" just like I did with mine. He does not expect us to walk through this life without err, but He does expect us to learn as we go, and I'm sure that He hopes that we err less along the way, because that means less heartache for us.

Oh, and one side note, I caught my daughter putting only one foot into the blue bucket at times. Don't try this. Jesus paid it all, go ahead and give it all to Him.

Telling girls how beautiful that they are, and that it's the beauty within that really counts

I wanted to post this to my site because it goes hand in hand with my last couple of blog entries. I can't wait to watch this show with my little princess :)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

You can sleep in high heels, attend funerals barefoot ....or, live in the middle.

For those of you who don't remember, I fell in love with these shoes, but alas, I never found them. Bummer! ha ha

It's my prayer that God will help me to express myself well in this blog, because the thoughts behind it become rather complex and can get a bit "muddy" at times.

How many times have I seen the same old behavior from my fellow women? The behavior of going to extremes. I've done it myself, I'm sure, and most likely, so have you. My hope is that being aware and enlightened may help keep me on track to living in the middle. Hopefully I can inspire you to do the same.

There is a beautiful medium between vanity and self neglect. The key is in finding and residing in that place. It's where God wants us to be. (You can quote me on that. It may be the most profound thing that I've ever written!)

Sleeping in high heels:
This is obvious. It's vanity. Putting on make-up to go pick up the mail at the end of the driveway, being too busy shopping to pick up your mother at the airport, and flat out thinking that you are a level above the common people. The truth is that in my experience, a majority of the people that I know or have met are not "High Heel Sleepers".

Barefoot in Public:
(I have to laugh at this description, because it's probably much more likely than the first, but bear with me and see where I'm going.) Much more common in my experience, but just as dangerous is Self Neglect. Having NO CLUE what size dress or pants you wear, going gray and frizzy because you "aren't worth the trouble", and letting people walk all over you are all examples of extreme self neglect.

I think that most women are smart enough to see that living life vain isn't a healthy choice. However, I must admit that I can't say the same about the other extreme. It seems as though we somehow tell ourselves that doing without and putting ourselves last is always the right choice.... This is the muddy area that I mentioned before. Is it right to put our childrens' needs ahead of our own? Well, any mother will tell you that it is. I'm not suggesting that we neglect our children. What I am suggesting is this: Our children are watching us. They are learning from everything that we say and do. Too many women fail to see the beauty within them that God placed there. I know too many women that don't think that they are worth a new pair of shoes. We somehow believe that we are martyrs of some sort and that we are being humble and selfless, and too often this leads to self neglect. I hope you are following what I mean. Being humble and selfless are admirable traits, but sometimes they aren't the issue at hand. Sometimes the issue is loving yourself enough to buy something pretty for yourself. Sometimes the issue is just letting someone call you beautiful and accepting it. Our daughters and nieces and so many other young girls are watching us! I for one delight in seeing my 3 year old run to the mirror when she is wearing new clothes, or dressed up as a princess as she exclaims, "I look beautiful!" She isn't being vain, she is being honest. Why are we afraid of sounding vain, but not of sounding full of self pity? We vocalize about our wrinkles, our gray hair, our extra pounds and our ratty clothes. Obviously, the hope for others to relate or reassure us comes to mind. But hold on to your seats girls, I'm about to break the cycle. I'm giving you permission to say that you are beautiful...because you are!!! What?! You don't believe me? Well read your Bible then. 1Peter chapter 3 tells us about our inward beauty. I can honestly remember reading that chapter once and feeling like God was calling me beautiful. (sigh :) What about the fact that we were "fearfully and wonderfully made"? God didn't use a grab bag when He made you! Read my favorite Psalm (139) and remind yourself that He carefully designed and knit you together in your mother's womb. God is TRUTH. His word is TRUTH, and His word calls you beautiful. So be honest like my daughter.

I am an independent distributor for a wonderful jewelry company. I love my job. The company honors God and is successful because of it. One of their main objectives is: "To enrich lives". So, it isn't about the product really, it's almost a fellowship at times! I get to help women feel more beautiful, and I LOVE IT!!!!! Whether they purchase a piece from me or not, I get to laugh and smile with them. Share my love and some brownies too! ;)

During my time as a jeweler, one thing that I have found to be true is that the way that I dress ABSOLUTELY affects how I feel, and how I behave. It has really brought to light the "middle" that I try to live in. I didn't realize just how far to the "barefoot" side that I was hanging out. What if I'm on to something here? Think about it: If we neglect ourselves and dress dumpy everyday we may just end up feeling... well, dumpy. The next thing you know, you sort of think you ARE dumpy, and you don't even realize that you think it. It just becomes a part of you... And all the while, there is that niece watching how to become a woman someday.

I'm not trying to come down hard on anyone, I'm just trying to open some eyes, as mine have been. Just as I wouldn't want my children to learn to speak profanely or abuse others, I also would hate to see them grow up without a balanced scale in the self-worth department.

I absolutely love my cute shoes and pretty earrings, but I am not wearing them to bed ladies! I will walk barefooted in the mud in the backyard during playtime and then wear my adorable pointy toed heels and matching handbag to church the next day, wishing that women still dressed in lovely hats as well. Ahhh yes, I like it here in the middle. Join me, won't you!?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

From "Blah" to "Blessed"

This blog entry is inspired by the story of the woman with the issue of blood, as found in the Gospels of Matthew (9:20-22), Mark (5:25-29), & Luke (8:43-48) You might want to refresh your memory by reading up before you read on.

I will admit that this blog is directed toward women, but I certainly hope that any of my male readers who check it out will be blessed also, and perhaps come out of this reading with more thought toward this story, tha
t is probably hard for you to identify with. (But consider yourselves warned that this is a womanly topic ;)

Blah! :P That's how she must have felt. Imagine.... She had her period for twelve years. Let that sink in, in real terms ladies. Think about what it must have been like for women in the past to get thorough each month without modern conveniences. Now quadrupole that inconvenience and you have this woman's every day life FOR TWELVE YEARS. It was m
ore than just the physical inconvenience also. Let's break it down a little:

As I already pointed out, she certainly must have felt BLAH. Cramps, bloating, headaches, and low iron. She was probably oh-so-tired all the time. She most likely had some pretty bad mood swings and terrible food cravings too. (and no chocolate anywhere!!!) Her breasts ached and felt heavy, and she had no proper bra to support them, so her back hurt too. She had no Midol, or Ibuprofen, no tampons or panty liners, no wet wipes, n
o shower, and no disposable tissue.

I know, when you think about it in detail, you feel even worse for her. But, there is more:

Socially, she was an outcast. According to the old law women were "Unclean" while they cycled, and had to perform a ceremonial cleansing after, each month to be considered "clean" again. While one was considered "unclean" they were forced, by law, outside of the city and a certain distance away from people all together. When they approached they had to shout out "unclean! unclean!" to inform others, so that they may be av
oided. How humiliating.... While every woman went through this embarrassment once a month, she would have had to do it every day for twelve years. There would have been snickers and rumors as to what awful thing she had done to deserve this "punishment". Her friends and family would have gotten used to life without her around. They may have considered her an embarrassment and a disgrace. She could not visit them because anything she touched would also be considered unclean. She missed hugs and fellowship and meals with family. She didn't get to welcome nieces and nephews into the world or watch them grow. It would have seemed similar to as if she had simply moved away.

What about her love life? Well, scripture does not say if she was m
arried or not, and If she was, I'm pretty sure that she would have had to live away from her husband according to law for this entire time. And let's face it ladies, even if that law weren't keeping her from him, she sure didn't feel sexy. Reread the above paragraph if you have any doubts there. So, even if she wasn't married, she probably still felt unattractive. She must have wondered if she would ever seem appealing to a man since she had probably grown to see herself as unclean and unattractive. An outcast. If marriage was something that she longed for, she must have wondered, "Will I ever become a wife?"

How about a mother? It is unclear how much the physicians in her time knew about fertility, but we know that the number of eggs that a woman is born with never increases. We also know that a woman sheds one egg with each cycle. My goodness, I wonder how young this woman was. She was within her childbearing years, but by all accounts would never become a mother herself because of her issue. To make matters worse, menopause was more quickly approaching, due to the frequency of the cycles. While the relief of that solution must have seemed welcoming, I'm sure that the thought of the infertility that would come with it brought much heartache as well.

Desperate. She was a fighter. She didn't give up. Her picture belongs on one of those billboards with the word "PERSEVERANCE" under it. She went to every doctor imaginable, no matter the price. She spent all she had, in fact. Sadly, the end result only left her suffering worse. And then one day.... He came into town.

She had, no doubt, heard about this man, rumored to be the Messiah. Scripture tells us that when she met Jesus the crowd surrounding Him was so large that He was pressed from all sides. So it is safe to say that all the buzz had been about this Miracle Man as He approached town. It would mean breaking the rules if she went to Him, but if what they were saying was true, the ends would justify the means. Perhaps she could hide in the crowd and no one would notice her because of the focus on Him. One thing is a
bsolutely 100% clear: She was filled with faith that Jesus was the answer. At long last, she had found her answer, and nothing was going to keep her from it. He wouldn't have to make a big fuss, she could just touch His garment and it would be enough.

So, the woman took her unclean self among the people and joined the crowd. Can you imagine the scene in town? Picture the people pressing themselves into Jesus. All of them shouting out requests as He walked through the crowd. The disciples probably did their best the surround Him, but it did not keep the multitude away. The woman weaved in and out of people drawing closer and closer until she was FINALLY close enough. She touched his clothes. (Mark 5:28) Immediately she was healed. Just like that. After all she had gone though, after all she had suffered: It was all over. She was healed, and she knew it.

What happened next is astounding to me. Jesus stopped. He was busy and on His way to do more, but He stopped. He felt the power leave Him and He stopped to find the source. How many times did I read this scripture through the years and miss something magnificent?! I want to share this treasure with you. When He stopped, Jesus said, "Who touched me?". Ok friends, don't miss this... Jesus asked who, but obviously, He knew who. As I pointed out, He was being touched from all sides. When He walked through that crowd they were glued to Him like teenage girls would be to Robbert Pattinson today. Different motives maybe, but it would have been similar in appearance, nonetheless. Even the disciples were puzzled as to why was He asking who touched Him when He was being clobbered by so many. So friends, why DID Jesus do this? Why? Why draw public attention? Why separate her from the crowd? Well, this just my interpretation, but I feel pretty strongly about it. I think that that Jesus did it for her. For years she had been looked down upon, neglected, and isolated. Her worth must have seemed small to everyone, including herself....but not to Jesus. I think that another healing took place at that moment. Not a physical one this time, but a mental and spiritual one. This outcast had gotten the attention of the One that none of them could. Not only did He commend her for her faith publicly, but He addressed her by the tender and loving title of "daughter". Nowhere else in the gospels do we see this from Jesus. She was His very special girl, beautiful and worthy in His eyes. I can only imagine the respect that she had from those among her after this. It makes me smile to think of the complete difference that Jesus can make in a life in an instant.

Even as He was speaking, Jesus was pulled away to another urgent matter. Where does that leave the woman in the story? She has a new life. A second round, with better cards. Jesus could have just healed her very bad physical problem and that would have been more than enough for her, but Jesus overflowed Himself into all areas of her situation instead. He went above and beyond. She walked away....healed, more completely than she had even hoped.

I close with these thoughts for women. You are so beautiful to God. Allow His Spirit to overflow in your life and you will find that you then overflow that same Spirit in love to others.
As the woman in the scripture knew, Jesus IS the answer. Don't be afraid to call Him "Abba" (Daddy) ladies. I believe that He will hold you close and call you Daughter if you let Him. :) After all, you are His very special girl.