Saturday, July 23, 2011

New family picture

Yes, I am aware that we are desparately in need of a new/updated family photo (the one on the blog is almost 2 years old).  We had an updated picture taken last summer, but I never got permission from the owner to use it and I don't want any copyright trouble.  The picture currently on the blog, I have permission to use and I keep it on there because it's nice for people to put a picture to our family - although it's outdated.  Some time in the near future, I plan on updating it.  If I have any volunteers on taking our family pictures and allowing me to use it on my blog, I'd love to hear from you!

Sharing Service ~ Sunday July 31st

On Sunday July 31st, our Costa Rica team is coming together to create a "sharing" Sunday.  We will be sharing what God allowed us to do in Costa Rica!  So many times we see groups go out into the mission field but then we never heard what happened while they were there.  Our team is determined to allow everyone to see how God worked not only in the lives of those who live in Costa Rica, but how He worked in our own lives there and now!  I am posting this in hopes to rally support from my friends and family once more!  It would mean a lot to me if you would come to one of the services on Sunday July 31st - either 9am or 10:30 service - to hear the work God allowed us to do while we were there.  We will be showing a brief slide show of pictures and many of us will be sharing our personal experiences.  We will also be sharing some statistics on the eye clinics, wall, and other things like that.  We have put together a sharing service you won't want to miss! 

Jennifer and I are planning on singing our duet.  Yes, I am still scared.

Birth of my Doula business!

Finally it's new new webite...the "birth" of my new doula business!  I know it has taken awhile but I was truly waiting on God and His perfect (but usually slow and teaching-me-something) timing!  This summer, I have been learning how to listen to my spirtual gut.  This time, it was telling me to sit and wait for Him.  I wasn't sure why.  I was thinking I was waiting on a potential business partner but then it finally happened.  He had the perfect name picked out for me and I had to attend my summer bible study to discover it.  The name and new doula business will be called (drum roll please)....

Advent Birth ~ Doula Services

What?  That wasn't on the facebook name contest...where did you come up with it?  I see you weren't reading the above paragraph and you just wanted to find out what the name was!  It's sort of a long story but God revealed it to me during my bible study this summer called "Faithful, Abundant, True" with Kay Arthur, Priscilla Shirer, and Beth Moore (duh, she's my fave).  Here's the sort of the story behind the name (this is also a copy of my first post from my new business blog @  The blog isn't completely done.  I am waiting on a couple more testimonies and a neat logo.  Is anyone up for the challenge on helping me create logo?  Blogs are so boring - I am not coming up with anything but plain fonts, titles, etc.  I need help!

Advent means an arrival or coming, especially one which is awaited. We all know that a birth of a baby is a much awaited arrival!

Advent also represents Christ coming into the world. The first advent was Christ's birth. The second advent will be Christ's return, in which I am anxiously awaiting. We are currently living in the in between time (in between the two advents) in which we are feeling all the birth pains leading up to his second coming. These "birth pains" are documented in the bible. Matthew 24 explains the circumstantial "birth pains" we will go through while 2 Timothy 3 prepares us for relational "birth pains". As time goes on and the birth pains get closer together, we are getting futher along on that kingdom calendar between the two advents. We're getting closer to the second coming of Christ than the first coming of Christ. As we grow closer and closer to the day of all days, we will experience more pain (Beth Moore). But just as in the birthing process, joy is just around the corner. John 16:21-22 says "It will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she has brought a new baby into the world. So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice and no one can rob you of that joy.."

I believe that there is a God. He is the God who created birth. Who can deny that something so marvelous was created by God? He created a painful birth as a result to the first sin in the garden of Eden committed by Eve - the very first woman. He's the same God who provides away out of sin and pain- the cross by which His son Jesus died for all of us to be saved. He said birth would be painful but he didn't say He wouldn't provide a way out. A doula is a helpful way out of the painful birth exerience. See my post on "What is a doula?" here to find out more!

Please like my face book page also at Advent Birth Doula Services!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Slow Fade - part 2

After my post last week, not only did I receive a lot of feedback but also experienced several more examples (with my own eyes and through other's eyes) of how we let the world slowly fade us. I thought this called for a part 2 on this topic. Here are some that I witnessed or heard about this past week:

Friendships - we often say it is okay to hang out with someone who is not good for us (is a bad influence, opposite gender, etc) because it won't hurt us or influence us. We make excuses like we've been friends with them for a long time or maybe we'll be a good influence on them, or he's a guy but I have boundaries. While this might be true, I think you can see how hanging out with the wrong person, can slowly change how you view things in the world. Or the situation can change all of a sudden and you wonder how you got there (made a bad choice, ruined your marriage, ruined someone else's marriage). It could be as simple as a phrase that your friend says that you adopt as your own. What they said was funny, so you think you can say it once to be funny, but then it because a part of your vocabulary.

Parenting - we often cut our children slack when they don't have first time obedience. If we continue to say things several times before enforcing punishment (or before giving in), what does that teach our children about the world? It teaches them that if they whine long enough, they'll get their way...or that they have several chances before discipline happens. We should be enforcing first time obedience. And we should be their examples by obeying God the first time around. It's been a hard week for parenting for me. No more counting to 3...not more lost tickets...if there is delayed obedience, there is a consequence. Further we follow what the world views as good parenting. Everyone seems to have their own opinions on parenting and no one is afraid to give parenting advice. Who are we listening to? The world? or the word of God?

Having that "only going to do it once" mentality - I kind of talked about this last week but one big thing that I saw as an example was the Casey Anthony trial. You flip on the TV and it's all over. You think you'll watch just a minute of it, but then you watch an hour of it. The world ropes you form an opinion, you talk about it with others, it sort of consumes your life for a little while. This could be any TV show. Or facebook...I'm just going to check a few statuses, then it turns into a 1/2 hour of facebook time...does this happen to anyone else but me? Or maybe a man who says "I'll just look at that website once"...turns into many times because he didn't get caught which turns into a porn addiction. The list goes on when we think of this "only once" mentality.

I found it no coincidence that Pastor Scott had a similar message on Sunday (7/10). It could be I needed to hear this information more than once, but I don't think I am the only one...just sayin'! A common theme of his messages has been "Building His Kingdom" and not the worlds. On Sunday we looked at James 4:1-12 on how to experience Unity in Relationships. I talked with Pastor Scott about his message and he agreed to let me summarize using the notes I took. He also agreed to be my very first official blog guest/writer (later in the post!).

He asked us the question:

1) What is the source of quarrels and fights? 4:1-6 (New Living Translation) reads: "What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don't they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don't have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can't get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don't have what you want because you don't ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don't get it because your motives are all wrong - you want only what will give you pleasure. You adulterers! Don't you realize that friends with the world makes you an enemy of God? I will say it again: If you want to be a friend to the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. What do you think the scriptures mean when they say that the spirit God has packed within us is filled with envy? But he give us even more grace to stand against such evil desires. As the Scriptures say (in Psalms) 'God opposes the proud but favors the humble' ".

So where do the quarrels come from? They come from:

• v. 1 Passions/evil desires within you - within yourself and within your community. Our passions get the best of us because we want what we want!

• v. 2 Murders/Kill - not necessarily meaning really kill or murder...but possibly just a destructive hatred; getting rid of any obstacles that get in they way of our all consuming desires

• v. 3 All consuming desires - we don't have because we don't ask and when we do ask we ask with wrong motives because we want only what brings ourselves pleasure.

• v. 4 Friend of the world = Enemy of God. When this verse called us adulterers - in this case in means against God, not in marriage. Choosing the world over God.

• v.5-6 God is against those who will not follow Him. He gives grace to the humble.

Answer? Look to the Lord to be satisfied...not the world.

2) How do we experience unity in relationships? (4:7-12). It reads "So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor. Don't speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God's law. But your job is to obey the law, not to judge whether it applies to you. God alone, who gave the law, is the judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor?"

You can experience unity in relationships if you know (according to these verses):

1) How and when to submit

2) How to resist the devil - who comes to steal, kill and destroy. If you resist him, he will flee. Beth Moore says in her study "Faithful, Abundant and True" that "Jesus Christ not only tells the truth, He is the truth (John 14:6). Therefore, when we walk away from the truth, we are walking toward the agenda of a dangerous enemy with a plan to kill, steal, and destroy"

3) How to draw near to God - He will draw near to you; Don't ignore Him or wait until an emergency

4) How to mourn over sin

     a) Repent

     b) Have a realistic opinion of yourself and be emotional over it as a result - mourn, wail, sadness over sin

5) Humbly submit to the Lord

If we win the inner battle we will win the outer battle (with others). There is one caregiver and judge (and it's not you:). So don't destroy or injure others. First guest blog writer Pastor Scott says "some suggest that the idea of not judging your brother means that you can never correct him. This would be contradictory to James very strong words of correction just in these very verses. Rather, when it comes to correcting a brother or sister, two questions are paramount—1) What does the Bible say? The scriptures must inform all of our relationships, and we cannot ignore the call to care for our brothers and sisters; 2) What is our goal in our correction? Here we must be clear that we want to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Our goal cannot be to put a person in their place nor to relish in their wrongness and our rightness. Rather, the goal is always restoration, reconciliation, and a deep awareness of our own humble standing before Almighty God. Galatians 6:1-3 is helpful here."

He goes on to say "There are three important assessments of our own hearts when we are having quarrels and fights. 1) Am I an adulteress? That is, am I being unfaithful in any way toward my God?; 2) How “in the world” am I? That is, how am I allowing this world’s values and system to affect my thoughts and actions? (The “How ‘in the world’ am I” question comes from Dr. Robert A. Cook; see link here 3) Am I humble or proud? Those who ignore God’s Word and will or defy it will always find God resisting them."

Are you embracing the world's system? I loved this "definition" of the world that Pastor Scott gave. The world - a system of thought and activity that is geared toward self pleassure.

You'll notice that I finally changed the tip of the month. This is a phrase I came up with in our bible study last week. We, amazingly enough, are talking about the same topic in my weekly bible study. The question was asked: Why do we forget so quickly how able God is? I said "because we know the world better than we know the word". The world shows us how bad things shows us that we can do it on our own - that we don't need God or anyone's shows us things and tells us things to make us doubt the ability of our tells us that God doesn't care about our small little problems. But the WORD doesn't tell us that at all. It says not to lean on our own understanding (Prov 3:5)....that in all things, in prayer and petition, bring our requests to God (Phil 4:6)...that he freely gives us all things (Romans 8:32)...that God has dynamite power that never runs out (Eph 3:20-21), and that he cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). Priscilla Shirer says that "We can needlessly suffer anxiety due to our unwillingness to hand over our requests and petitions to God." No wonder there are so many of us with anxiety issues...we are refusing to hand over EVERYTHING to God. So what's the most basic thing we can do to have unity in relationships in this world (going back to Pastor Scott's message)? Pray about them! Kay Arthur and Beth Moore remind us that it's only going to get worse in end times when it comes to people. Look what 2 Timothy 3:1 says "the last days there will be very difficult times" because of PEOPLE, not circumstances. Matthew 24 shows us examples of circumstances we will face in end times, but 2 Timothy shows us it's people that will make life so difficult...we will be deceived! "For PEOPLE will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!" (2 Tim 3:2-5). It's going to be hard to have unity in relationships in a world like that! And we wonder "why can't we all just get along?". Look what the world is doing to our relationships. How has the world changed your friendships? Even more has the world changed your marriage? Of if you aren't has the world changed your view of marriage or who you will consider marrying - what does the world view as important in a spouse? Those are some tough questions we must think about, pray over, and give over to. I'm going to leave you with a question that Dr Robert Cook would ask you:

How in the world are you?

Titus 2:12 "It (the word) says to say 'no' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this PRESENT age..."

Matthew 5:14 "You (God) are the light of the world"

1 John 2:15 "Do not love the world or anything in the world"

Brody's first movie experience

We took Brody and Reece to Cars 2 over the weekend.  It was Brody's first time at the movies and he had a great time. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Are you slowly fading?

Have you ever listened to a song over and over, totally loved it, but never really knew what the lyrics were saying?  You know all the words and they come out of your mouth without you really listening?  Then you finally sit and listen to them and you are blown away by what you just heard - either good or bad?  It's like driving jump in the car and go somewhere and you hardly remember driving there at all.  It becomes such a routine that you don't even remember doing it. 

Ever since I was tiny, I have always loved music.  Any kind of music really...anything with a good, catchy beat.  I can listen so closely to a song to be able to pull out the harmonies and instruments...even tuning out the words for awhile.  It would (and still does) drive me nuts when a song would come on and I didn't know all the lyrics.  Back in the day of cassette tapes (for the young readers out there - we used these before CDs), I would sit down with my pencil and paper and play my tape.  I would listen closely to the first sentence, hit pause, and write down the lyrics. I would do this until the whole song was on paper. Even then, I didn't quite understand every lyric or phrase in a song - whether meaning or clarity in the words.  I did my best to write down what I thought the words were so I could learn the song.  I wrote them down and sang them even if I didn't understand what it meant.  I should have created, huh?  I have a folder of them somewhere!

Music, particularly the words in music, have been on my heart and mind lately.  For the past few years, I personally have only listened to Christian music on the radio station.  I know that what I and my children are hearing is good.  And the bible says what goes in, will flow out of the heart and mouth.  For me this was huge.  I didn't always listen to the best type of music.  The first thing that would attract me to a song was the catchy beat, not the words.  As we drove up to Branson this past weekend, we found a 90s station on our satellite radio.  Oh, how the memories came back when hearing those songs.  On this 6 hour drive, there was lots of meditating and actually listening to these lyrics.  I actually couldn't believe 1) that they played those songs on the radio and 2) that I was allowed to listen to them.  I can see how these words can slowly enter your vocabulary, your mind, your actions.  When I look back on my life, I see the evidence.  I have also had time (and a quiet car ride) enough to meditate on good songs.  When I use to listen to Christian music, they were just words to me also.  But now that I know what God's word says, I see the beauty in these songs.  I use to think they were just words, but now I see that these writers have pulled words right out of the word of God.  They have so much more meaning to me. I can see and hear the worship in the music.  I see how I use to worship whatever I was singing about.  How powerful music is!

I spoke at a MOMs group recently and shared that one of the things I do to put God in the center of my day as a mom is to only listen to Christian music.  I was actually surprised when one quiet lady spoke up and said "I am not convicted in that way. I don't think the music I listen to influences me".  Maybe it's true that some people have more control over what influences them but I think over time, certain things that you hear, see, and even say become okay...they don't sound as bad...they slowly become part of who we are. 

I was with my younger brother this past week.  He loves the Lord and is very active in the youth group and church.  I remember him "preaching" to his friends as a young boy.  He is very vocal to his friends about being a Christian and invites them to church.  Now he is evolving into a young man and I see how the world is slowly changing him.  I worry about the music he is listening to and the things he is allowing himself to watch on the computer and TV.  He had me listen to some awful song the other day...and by awful I am talking lyrics.  I told him I was surprised he would listen to something with words like that.  I told him he should just be careful to what he was listening to because that could slowly change him into someone he doesn't want to be without even knowing it.  I am afraid that this could be confusing the friends that he is inviting to church of who God really is.  I know that I am guilty of this too!  I read in some parenting book lately that we should always set their paths straight right away.  Not laughing things off as something our kids do in innocence.  We should always be talking to them about choices.  If we don't care about the small things, they will turn into big things.  Just as when my little brother at age 2 use to call himself Slim Shady and sing parts of the song (another horrible song that I was reintroduced to this weekend) and we all thought it was funny.  That's the world slowly making things a little more okay for us.  There is a theme within the bible that God is interested in the small things.  Frequently, we see incidents in life as “little things” and later we learn to our regret that God sees these same incidents as “big things.”  Jesus explains:

If you're honest in small things,

you'll be honest in big things;

If you're a crook in small things,

you'll be a crook in big things.

If you're not honest in small jobs,

who will put you in charge of the store?

No worker can serve two bosses:

He'll either hate the first and love the second

Or adore the first and despise the second.

You can't serve both God and money"
(The Message, Luke 16:10)

All of that reminded me of another amazing song by Casting Crowns called Slow Fade.  He talks about how people never crumble in a's a slow fade.  I found some information on the song and it comes from Psalm 1:1-2...I just love my New Living Translation. It reads:  "Oh the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers.  But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night."

The words of the whole song are located here if you want to see them all.  But the part that really sticks out to me is this:  "The journey from your mind to your hands is shorter than your thinking.  Be careful if you think you stand, you just might be sinking.  It's a slow fade, when you give yourself away.  Thoughts invade, choices are made, prices are paid, when you give yourself away".   When you go through this time in your life, you don't feel as if you are "giving yourself away" but little by little, you are really giving a piece of yourself to the are allowing a little of the world into your life.  John Mark Hall (lead singer and writer for Casting Crowns) says don't miss the slow fade of a man in Psalm 1:1 -listen (or read) close - "Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of scoffers"  First he's walking, then he's standing, then he's sitting...he's slowly fading...where did this all start?  It started in his counsel - who did he go to for counsel?  where did he spend his time? who did he listen to?  what's he reading?  what's he clickin on?  what's he watching?  Little compromise by little compromise we find ourselves where we thought we would never be doing things that we thought we would never do but because it was so slow, we are totally rationalizing it."  That is so powerful and so true.  You have to see this short video by John explaining this further here.  It could be something as small as something you really enjoy one of but end up having two...or three...or four (think chips, oreos, alcholic drinks...fill in the blank with something you love).  You say "it's not a bad thing to have one"...but then you can't just have one.  It leads to another and another until it's finally a sin or changed your life in some way.

I have to add something here to show you how God works.  Whenever I am about to write on the blog, God provides material.  I have said this before but time and time again God continously shows me things over and over so that it is very clear what I am to write about.  On my trip to Costa Rica, I gained a couple of new good buddies.  One new buddy (we'll call him PB) and I had a lot of serious conversations and learned lots of little things about each other.  One thing we learned is that we both use to write a lot of poetry in the past and feel that one of the gifts that God gave us was writing.  Just last night he sent me an email to see if I would take a look at a few of his poems and give him some feedback.  Here was the first one he sent written for his son.  He did not know that I would be writing on this subject the blog today - Coinscidence?  No! God?  Yes! (might need to click on it to see it bigger)

Who do we want our children...our family...or friends to be like - the world or God?  Who do we need to be like?  It's so hard but it's easier when we keep the right things in front of us at all times and not let that world slowly fade us.  It puts things in perspective for me even further than my radio hearing, TV watching, and computer clicking in my one drink that turns into two...or three...or four...Am I slowly fading by what I do? Am I unconsciously fading myself and my children as a result.  Am I walking or sinking? What about you - are you slowly giving yourself away?