Thursday, December 29, 2011

"Mary, Did You Know?"

Mary, Did You Know? danced on Christmas Eve.

What you don't see is me rolling my left ankle on (of all places) "The lame will leap" and the incredible pain I am in.  "In my weakness, He is strong."  I am healing well.  It was a little scary at first.  I couldn't even drive my car home after the service.  Yikes!  But I know prayers are going up and though I am a wee bit swollen still, I am functioning on it just fine.  Even did a day walking on it at the Wild Animal Park the other day, so it can't be that bad, right?  Enjoy.  And forgive the wobbles...

To God be the glory!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


I am reading what I think is a revolutionary book about living the abundant life in Christ.  I love being a Christian and I love being serious about it.  I love challenging people to go deeper in their relationship and walk with the Lord.

Why should we be content with the status quo when Jesus Himself promised us life and that more abundantly?!!  Do we really believe He can give us the fullest and most satisfying life?  He can!  And He does!

Ann Voskamp is an out-of-the-box, independent thinking, committed to Christ, believer.  Her amazing blog is and her book is One Thousand Gifts: A Dare To Live Fully Right Where You Are.  Get it!

I am hoping to consistently post my list of 1000's of God's gifts to me on an ongoing basis.  I hope it will cause me to see His hand always around me and encourage you to do the same if you don't already.

Here goes!
Thank You, God, for...
1.  painful twisted ankles forgotten because Christmas excitement and Jesus' hope is overwhelming.
2.  steamy hot noisy running water baths that drown out the loud din of the world.
3.  suction cup balls stuck to the side of the shower reminding me that there is new and young enthusiastic life within these four walls.
4.  Bibles in prison cells that forever change lives without a preacher.
5.  hot cider vapors consuming my face in the cold early sunrise-y morning as I sit near the window with my Bible in my lap loving the cactus and mountain view.
6.  unopened Christmas packages promising that the receiver will soon occupy my home.
7.  skinny black cuddly doggies that snuggle close for warmth and companionship.

More to come!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Proverbs 17

"He who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished." (v. 5b)
Calamity (def.) = a state of deep distress or misery caused by major misfortune or loss

On September 11, 2001, I turned on my t.v. and witnessed the most horrific attack on America in our history.  I also saw a gleeful woman in the middle east surrounded by equally wickedly gleeful people celebrating and dancing in the streets in celebration of the murder of 3000+ innocent Americans.
Romans says "Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay,' says the Lord."  (Rom. 12:19)  I have know this verse since early in my conversion and wrong or right, it has always brought me comfort and taught me to not retaliate.

"...the glory of children is their father." (v. 6b)  

My Jamie is the glory, honor, hero to Brandon and Silas.  How true this is!  They utterly adore their daddy.

"He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just,
Both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord." (v. 15)

"[Abraham Lincoln] was... a man of integrity.  He never tried to win more for a client than he felt the client deserved.  And if someone wanted his services, he had to convince Lincoln that his cause was just.  Moreover, if it turned out that a client had deceived him, Abe would simply quit the case. --- On one occasion, Lincoln had present his client's side to the judge.  After he was through, the opposing counsel produced a receipt proving Lincoln's client had lied.  Before this attorney had finished talking, Lincoln had left the courtroom and returned to his hotel. --- 'Go get Mr. Lincoln,' the judge ordered. --- 'Tell the judge I can't come,' Lincoln replied to the clerk. 'My hands are dirty, and I came over to clean them.'" (Sounding Forth the Trumpet for Children. p.152)
I loved this story as I read it to my boys yesterday morning.  As I read this scripture this morning, I was reminded of it.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Nuggets from Francis Chan

"God is the only Being who is good, and the standards are set by Him."

"The point of your life is to point to Him."  
Will that be the theme of my life?  
When I look at my life now or the synopsis of my years on this earth, 
is it about 
"making much out of God"?

"Jesus began speaking in parables 'so that' those who weren't genuinely listening wouldn't get it. (Luke 8)  ...He just wasn't interested in those who fake it."

"Lukewarm people love others 
but do not seek to love others as much as they love themselves.  
[They are] typically focused on those who love them in return...
[but not those with] whom conversations are awkward or uncomfortable."  

"Lukewarm people are thankful 
for their luxuries and comforts, 
and rarely consider trying to give as much as possible to the poor."

"Lukewarm people ask, 
'How much time should I spend praying and reading my Bible?' 
instead of 
'I wish I didn't have to go to work so I could sit and read longer.'"

"If life is a river, then pursuing Christ requires swimming upstream.  
When we stop swimming, or actively following Him,
we automatically begin to be swept downstream.
Or... we are on a never-ending downward escalator.
In order to grow, we have to turn around and sprint up the escalator,
putting up with perturbed looks
from everyone else who is gradually moving downward."

"We are consumed with safety.  Obsessed with it actually.  [W]e've made safety our highest priority.  We've elevated safety to the neglect of whatever God's best is, whatever would bring God the most glory, or whatever would accomplish His purposes in our lives and the world.  ---  Would you be willing to pray this prayer? God bring me closer to You during this trip whatever it takes..."
"People who are obsessed with Jesus aren't consumed with their personal safety and comfort above all else.  Obsessed people care more about God's kingdom coming to this earth than their own lives being shielded from pain and distress."
"Joy is something we have to choose and then work for."

"Oswald Chambers said, 'Never make a principle out of your experience; let God be as original with other people as He is with you.'  I would also add, 'Be careful not to turn others lives into the mold for your own.'  Allow God to be as creative with you as He is with each of us.  God is a Creator not a duplicator."

"[Y]ou must learn to listen to and obey God,
especially in a society where it's easy and expected
to do what is most comfortable."

"The world needs Christians who don't tolerate the complacency of their own lives."

Crazy Love by Francis Chan

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

No gray areas, but grace areas.

"I know I chatter on far too much...
but if you only knew how many things I want to say and don't.
Give me some credit."
~Anne Shirley, Anne of Green Gables

So many things pass before my eyes and ears day to day and some create a burning in my soul.  I must not be silent!

Recent descriptions of me by others have often included the word "passion."  A relative (who will remain unnamed) recently accused stated that I was far too black and white.  Well, she didn't really say it like that, but she meant it that way.  And I can't say that I am really all that offended except for the fact that I obviously meet with this person's disapproval in this area (as well as several others, I am certain).  That as she has grown older, more "gray areas" have come to prominence in her life.  I know it is fully possible that I am immature, impulsive and too rigid in many areas.  But even Jesus said, "I wish that you were either hot or cold, but since you are lukewarm, I will spew you out of my mouth." (Rev. 3:16)  This critic of my black-and-white-ness stated that Jesus was more of a gray-area guy and she proceeded to use the example of the woman accused of adultery (John 8) and how the law was clear but Jesus didn't condemn her.  My response (partly out of pride, self-righteousness and maybe truth) was , "That's not a 'gray' area, that's a 'grace' area.  Jesus doesn't have gray areas, He has grace areas."  I too want to be a woman of grace.  I try to exhibit that with my children.  I appreciate Sally Clarkson's position that we ought to be practicing grace-based parenting, and I really strive for that though my natural black-and-white inclination causes me much trouble in this area.

So, is life to be gray gracious and merciful, or black and white?

In some things, love and forgiveness must reign rather than the rule of law...for the sake of teaching and promoting the loving character of God.  But sometimes, we should never shrink, never compromise, never back down.  In ideals, standards, holiness, righteousness.  Now, I am in no way a master of which scenario is grace-based and which is uncompromising.  I tend to lean toward grace with my kids; with people who have sinned immensely and suffered grave consequences but God has given new life to --- after all if God gives second chances, I ought to as well.

Still I don't think the black and white lines ever blur to gray.  But I think grace supersedes law.  And we need to ask God for wisdom to know how to handle every circumstance and offense.

And we ought to stand firm on those things in which we ought not to waiver:
the one true God,
His institution of family,
loyalty to the country in which He has caused us to reside
(so long as the governing principles of that country are in line with His perfect word).

What do you think?
Are things black and white, and gray?
Or are there no gray areas but only "grace" areas?
My tunnel vision mind can only calculate black and white at the moment.
Enlighten me.  :)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Goodbye, Vicente Ibarra.

Our sweet friend, Vicente, is gone.  What a fighter.  What a worker.  What a lovely and special person who was far more influential in my life than I ever let myself think...until today.

Vicente left this world last night.  Battling cancer for so many years and really giving it a run for its money.  He could cook like no one I know.  He landscaped our entire property.  I can't look anywhere outside my home and not see his handiwork.  He let my boys set their hand and foot prints in the concrete on the patio.  He called the patio "the freeway" since the boys would blast across it on tricycles and little play cars.  He built a little mound for our cactus and cemented rocks in the side of it in the shape of a "B" and an "S" to honor our two little sweeties.  And while he did this work, my little Silas would call out the window to him, "Hi Ma-sentay!"  And Vicente would call back "Hello little mijo!"

I honor my friend's life today.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011