Tuesday, December 13, 2011

My Favorite Christmas Decoration

Do you have a favorite Christmas decoration? One that sets the tone for the season or maybe has sentimental value? I do.

There is one thing on my Christmas tree that makes me smile a little more than anything else on display.  Its the tree topper. Instead of a star or an angel, ours is a cross. A cross made out of a cardboard box and painters tape and covered with a nice coating of spray paint.  Carl made it a few years ago and its different than most tree toppers. 

Why a cross? To have a great reminder of why he came into the world. The baby born in the manger grew up, conquered death and became my Savior and yours. We celebrate His birth because of what was conquered at the cross.  Without the cross there would be no celebration and no hope for eternal life with God.  

If you take a good look at our homemade cross, you can see all the imperfections on it. One piece of tape overlapping another piece, wrinkled edges, and a less than perfect paint job. It was done with the intentions of fixing it up and making it look a little nicer, but that never happened.  

This year before letting it adorn the top of the tree, we (the kids) spray painted it again, but left all the other imperfections there. Its grown on me.  As I look at it I'm reminded of all the imperfections that I bring with me to the cross and all that Jesus did to set me free. 

Does your Christmas decor reflect Jesus as the reason for the season? 
How are you reminded of Jesus love this Christmas? 


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Standing Besides "Men of Courage"

Have you gone to see the movie Courageous yet?
If you haven't I want to encourage you to go see it!!!!

It was a great movie and one particular part really struck me.
It's when Adam is speaking to the church and he calls the men out.  He begins by saying, "so where are you, men of courage?...

This led me to ask,
 "where are these men of courage?"
Yes, these men that lack the courage are a product of a fallen society, a fatherless nation, that has continued on a spiral decline of morality, as well as irresponsibility, towards fulfilling their God-given role. 

 But can we, women, sit here and cast all the blame in one direction?
Or can we, sometimes, be part of the problem?

Now, you have to admit, there is that Eve streak we all possess.
You know what I'm talking about...
we want it our way,  
we manipulate circumstances, 
we just know think we know better.

There's a reason why the submission verse in the bible addresses us specifically, ladies.

Now, I wish I could say that I am the perfect submissive wife...
but I'm not.
 I constantly need to remind myself to follow my husbands leading;
there are times when I doubt His direction.  

What if He's wrong?
What if this is not from God?
What if He didn't pray enough about it?

Well, those are legitimate concerns, 
but I've learned to focus on doing what God calls me to do 
while leaving my husband and his decisions in God's hands. 

I've seen way too often, 
women rob their husbands out of their duty to lead 
because they didn't like the direction they were being led in.

 I've seen men shrink back and take a back seat, 
missing out on the blessings that were probably before them,
 had they chosen to step out in courage and lead.  

God knows our concerns and He has them in mind, so we can be reassured that His plan will prevail over our marriages, parenting, finances, career etc... without us taking control.

As God-fearing women we need to encourage our men 
to live up to their potential 
so that when God calls out these "men of courage," 
we can proudly be
 standing besides them.

Are you standing besides your "man of courage?"

Linking to:

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

An Attitude of Gratitude

It was a normal manic Monday. I was sporting my lovely paint-stained sweats with a classic oversized hubby t-shirt. It was almost four in the afternoon and everyone was doing their chores. Well, almost everyone. Michael was not taking directions well from his older sister, so I had to step in.

"Why do we go through this every time? Chores are a part of life, so get used to it. Fighting or complaining won't get you out of it...," and on and on I went, telling him how opting out of his responsibilities was not an option.

He was upset. I was frustrated. So I went back to what I was working on while carrying on a conversation with myself about my frustration.

Then Gabriela, my 30 year old daughter disguised in a 6 year old body, walked in and asked me a question that changed my whole mood.

"Mommy, do you have a hard life?"
I cleverly answered her "Jesus style", with a quesion.
"Why do you ask that?"
She smartly-so didn't bite and responded by saying, "I asked you first."

Well...this was a loaded question, don't ya think?

On some days, yes, life seems hard as I race to a never ending finish line of fulfilling the duties of the many hats I wear. It's a feat just to get everyone going in the morning (including myself), get the basic laundry done, and keep track of schedules,

but do I have a hard life?


I'm here in my comfortable home with the temperature set to just right, as I load my dishwasher. I have clean running water, choices for dinner, and five kids who keep me running going.

I get to home school my kids, live in a free country and speak of my faith in public (like right here) without persecution.

With that thought, my perspective was adjusted, and my attitude shifted to gratitude. I looked at my inquisitive child who was waiting patiently for an answer.

"No, my life is not hard, but sometimes Mommy needs to be 
reminded of that."

Do you need reminders like that?
Does God sometimes speak to you through your children?

       Luke 18:16

But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 

Encouraging Word Wednesday

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Day 40: Bread of Angels

Our journey, which ends today, took our faith to new heights.  We adventured down a road to explore inquisitively a spiritual truth which we applied physically and spiritually for 40 days. We called it the Manna Principle.  

Exodus 16 tells about the way God provided for the Isrealites daily by sending them Manna from Heaven. We set out to find the different ways, in which, God provides for us daily. Sometimes we can overlook these blessings because we're so used to always having them, seeing these things as necessities instead of gifts from our Heavenly Father. 

Even during the rebellion of the Isrealites, our gracious Lord, provided more
than just meals, He provided the very best for His children,
 "the bread of angels."

Psalm 78 
he rained down manna for the people to eat,
   he gave them the grain of heaven.
Human beings ate the bread of angels;
   he sent them all the food they could eat.
Our family took on this challenge as a faith building exercise and the Lord provided answers daily.  For 40 days I have journaled about what we gleaned from God and in reality, there is so much I didn't even get to write about yet.

When we come before God with open hearts and open minds, He answers, because HE is faithful.

Today, I challenge you to build your faith further and live a life that is daily pleasing to God.
Seek out His will for your life and taste and see that the Lord is good. 



Saturday, June 18, 2011

Day 39: Transformed

Romans 12:2
  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

A few years ago I bought a butterfly kit for the kids to watch a few caterpillars turn into butterflies, as part of our nature studies.  It was fascinating to watch this ugly (at least I thought so) caterpillar make a cocoon for itself and hang upside down in its tent-like home.  Patiently, the kids and I watched and waited and watched and waited for this caterpillar to morph into its beautiful state.
Finally, after much anticipation, the cocoons started to break open and these beautiful butterflies broke free and began fluttering around in circles.  It was great watching them flutter around in their newly tranformed state, enjoying their new found freedom.

My kids would agree that the transformation was worth the wait to see the beautiful results that awaited these caterpillars-turned-butterflies.

  Well, over the past month or so, we have waited patiently to see what God  would show us through this process and how he would use this experiment to transform us. 

 Daily, God allowed us to experience His presence and gave us a new way to look at daily living through the eyes of our Savior and with fresh perspective.

 He refreshed our faith and brought new meaning to the "everyday."

Sometimes it takes questioning the reasons behind the
things we do instead of following a pattern, so that we can
 grow instead of remain stagnant. 
So, like the butterflies, did we come out of our
cocoon exuberating radiance?

In Exodus 34:29 we see the results that come from spending
time speaking to the Lord.

When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of

the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was
radiant because he had spoken with the LORD.


Moses glowed because he had been in the
presence of the Almighty. 

Today, I can say I feel like a radiant butterfly who has left the cocoon ready to take flight and carry with me everything I have learned.

I glow, because I have been in the presence of the Lord, daily, for 40 days and 40 nights and I have been transformed.

2 Corinthians 3:18
And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which
comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

He used the ordinary to show us the extraordinary.

Its been a time of growth for our family as God has allowed us to search out these answers sitting at His feet daily and waiting on Him. We have connected more as a family and have seen our children applying spiritual truths to simple everyday occurances.
So as we end our experiment tomorrow, will our life go back to the way it was before?  I hope not! Somethings, will change... I will not be food shopping on a daily basis anymore, but other things, like, our rich time with the Lord will remain the way it is now.  

Day 38: Walking In Moses' Shoes

Its hard to believe that in two days we will end the 40 day journey of the Manna Principle.  Its been a long but great time of learning. 
Journaling this experience has been difficult at times because of the amount of time it's taken.  Yet I find that I will miss blogging everyday about it.
Sharing this experience with all of you has been a true blessing. I have received many kind words from many who have followed along.  I see how God has used this experience not only to teach my family and I, but also so that this experience would become a blessing to others as well.

During this time, I feel the Lord has taken me through a similar path as the Isrealites.  The journey began with much excitement and adventure.  After some time though, the enthusiasm died down and I hit a wall.  The wall of exhaustion combined with a dry spell. Somedays I wondered how I was going to make it through 40 days of journaling straight through.   I was able to overcome it and the time spent in God's Word and in prayer became a rich experience again; I entered a peaceful state of mind. (No physical rest, but peaceful anyway)

Yet my experience has even gone beyond just getting a glimpse of what the Isrealites experienced.  I've felt as if I've even walked in Moses shoes.  To get a better understanding, look at the Exodus passage:

Exodus 17:8-12
Now Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim. And Moses said to Joshua, “Choose us some men and go out, fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand.”  So Joshua did as Moses said to him, and fought with Amalek. And Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.  And so it was, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.  But Moses’ hands became heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.

All day long, Aaron and Hur supported Moses' hands.  It was because of their support that Moses was able to hold up the rod of God and give the Isrealites the upper hand in this fight. 

For me, Grisel (playing the part of Moses at the moment), it was my family (playing the parts of  Aaron and Hur) that helped me to be able to share my experience with all of you.   When I was tired and they saw me struggling along, they held me up by taking on most of the chores at home.  They supported me through it all along, and even cheered me on along the way

Daily, they supported me.
They stayed up late with me, helped with the baby and sacrificed a great deal.   Because of their support I was able to remain steady and continue on sharing everything God was showing us.  

So today I wanted to acknowledge them because they held up my hands high when I was unable to do it alone. I am so thankful to them. I am thankful for my husband because He is a strong spiritual leader who does everything with the purpose of pleasing the Lord.  He challenges me and helps me reach new heights in my faith. He is also a huge supporter of anything I do.  He believes in taking risks to follow dreams and he has always pushed me to go after the things I want.

Then there are my children.  So sweet, caring and selfless.  They love to love me with surprise breakfasts, fancy table settings, and well thought out details.  They love God so much and their love for their family is evident.

What more could I want in life when God has blessed me with a family such as this? Who's daily love, support and adventurous spirit never ceases. 
Like Moses, I've cried out many times "Lord, why me?
Send someone else to do it, pleeeaase!

But for whatever reason, regardless of my qualifications,  I'm the broken vessel He has chosen to work with.  He had supplied me with the support of my family and has shown me the way to the foot of the cross, and it is there that I see Him clearly and realize,  I'm walking on Holy Ground.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Day 37: All You Need Is Love

Lately, I've been praying and really begging asking God to help lighten our load and help us to slow down.  We're always so busy that our tight schedule leaves little room for spontaneity. 
It always a mad dash to the finish line.  Whenever I step out my front door it's because I'm headed to the car and running off somewhere. What happened to the days of sitting on the front porch? Or talking to the neighbors?

I have been blessed with living in a great neighborhood with fantastic neighbors.  Yet how often do I take the time to  enjoy their company when I see them?  It's usually a "Hi, how are you?"or "Nice seeing you, goodbye."   

This has been something that has been on my mind and in my prayers for a while now and tonight I was convicted about it during life group at our house. 
We were discussing the value of friendships and connecting with one another. One of the ladies who grew up in a different country was saying how where she grew up it was very different.  They visited each other daily and everyone was like family.  It was the "borrow a cup of sugar" type of enviornment.

I started to think how its so different today.  We work and go about our own business that sometimes we don't even get to know our neighbors, the very people God has placed us next to. 

It's the reason we've started life groups at church. To make it a point to visit with others and be in community because if its not planned, it doesn't happen.  

I think about the way it was when the church first started.
Acts 2:42-47
 All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
This passage screams LOVE to me because it shows how intertwined they were with each other.  They were sharing more than just a cup of sugar, they were actually selling their things to share with those who needed among them. 

So selfless.

They even met together daily. I realize today, geographical and with the complexities of our lives, its not possible to meet that often.  The problem is sometimes we don't meet with our church family, except for in the church. 

 I think of my own excuses and I'm ashamed that my focus is not just love.  
This needs fixing...
That needs cleaning...
The food needs to be perfect...

So selfish.

What strikes me most about this Acts passage is the last sentence of this scripture. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
It was their unpretentious love that others noticed.  It was the fact that they were selfless and loved deeply.
It was love in pure form.

And something amazing happened.  Others took notice and wanted the same thing...and they were saved, daily.

Thats it.  No organized evangelism program, just love.

I wonder how many times we've missed out on being blessed through friendships because we've been too preoccupied with other things or waiting for perfection to happen.

I wonder how many people would take notice and be led to Christ if we would make ourselves available and be more hospitable, more often?
All you need is love. 

John 13:35
By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

So sweep up your entryway, dust off your mat, and make way for the people God is putting before you
 to love. 


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Day 36: Decompress From Stress

Psalm 91:1
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
What do you do after a long difficult day?  Most of us look to decompress.  We look to shut our minds off and do something to our liking that shifts our focus from the days event to other things.  

Yesterday began a cycle of one of those days. One thing went wrong and offset a domino effect for the rest of the day.   

It was Carlos' birthday so we went to the movies.  Easy enough right? No...I got the time mistaken, so we were there two hours early.  It just didn't make sense to go home because it was too far and gas is too expensive to waste it. The movie he wanted to see was also being shown in 3D and when we went to buy the tickets, that viewing was half hour later. (The things we do for our kids)

So two and a half hours later, the movie finally started!
When we left, the mad rush began. Racing to soccer training, finishing a cake, getting ready for scouts, surviving scouts! When the night ended we were tired! I wanted to decompress.

Today began the same way.  I had so much on my mind that I misplaced the keys and had a frantic family search party to find it. Then, as we were about to leave the house the baby pooped and it was all over the place.  A bath was in order.

When I finally got around to running my errands, things settled down.  I was at Michaels looking for some things for our scouting ceremony when I felt like I was finally decompressing!  It felt really good.  I was by myself and shopping!  What could be better?  Well, actually it would have been better if I were in a clothing store shopping for me, but nonetheless, I was shopping. 
As I put things in my handbasket I liesurely walked the entire store, going up and down aisles I normally would have no interest in.  I was decompressing and in the mood to just buy something.

Now, I haven't had any psychological training but I recognize warning signs real well.  I was making myself feel better by buying things to make up for the last two days of craziness.  This was my method of decompressing today.  When I noticed my basket full of nice things that I didn't need, I put the basket down and without turning around and changing my mind, I walked out of the store, emptyhanded.

I was trying to fill my void of feeling out of control with something that made me feel good.

Do you ever do that?
Sometimes we use food (for me its potato chips).
Sometimes its TV 'til the wee hours in the morning or the computerWe all usually have a way to "decompress," although I think God would call our ways distractions.

Distractions from Him. 

I think God understands decompression.  Isn't that why he gave us the Sabbath?  But what about daily? I think he knew that daily we would need to unwind as well. 
Thats why he put things around us that are beautiful in sight and relaxing in its own nature.  The rivers, the stars, the trees. Think about a trip to the beach or the mountains.  He created it all for our pleasure so that we might remember Him and turn to Him during those times.

Yet usually, instead of turning to the source of true rest we turn to the things that bring on more stress.
Staying up late watching TV means we'll be tired tomorrow.
Eating half the chocolate cake means more pounds added.
Shopping carelessly means spending unnecessarily, or worse, debt.

God is there waiting for us to come to him and let him take our daily burdens.  In Him we can find peace and comfort, love and joy. In Him we're where we should be, and He's all we need.

Where are you turning to decompress from the daily burdens of life?
Isaiah 40:31
But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Day 35: Listen Up

Parenting is a tough job! And just when you think you might have found the formula that works, the next child challenges it.

Throughout my scripure reading for Good Morning Girls and the book study of The Ministry of Motherhood, I've been noticing many bible verses that I never saw as parenting verses applied in a way that have made me think of my relationship with God in a more direct Father-Daughter type of way.

I can see how I sometimes treat God in a way that would frustrate me if my kids treated me that way.  God speaks...I ignore
He directs me...I choose to do things differently.

Sometimes,(although it seems like always) we remind our kids when we're going out, to have a listening ear out for when we call their name. Of course, they nod their little heads up and down in compliance, only to forget by the excitement of being with their friends and having a good time.

 Well, we're no different. 
God spoke clearly of the Isrealites and the way they had chosen to rebel.
It seems that when they got together with their friends,  they began listening more to each other than God,

 Hebrews 3:15
Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts
as you did in the rebellion.”
This is God's parental warning to them.  It's His version of when we say "Now."

God is telling them, this is your warning, if you hear me do not turn away because remember what happened to you when you did.

I'm sure they remembered their 40 year punishment.
Sometimes it seems simpler to turn a deaf ear to God and continue on the way we were headed instead of following His leading.
Listening takes work because when we listen we have to follow through on what God has asked of us.    
Do you ever ignore God's voice?

Have you ever read something in the bible and you get that sinking feeling in your stomach because you know what coming next? You can either follow through on God's leading or ignore him. 
Follow through always means change, something most humans don't adapt well too.  Getting uncomfortable... being stretched...being refined. It's a difficult process but it has great benefits when we follow through.

We grow. In character, in understanding, and closer
to our heavenly Father.
So today, when you hear God's voice, what choice will you make?
Make the choice to obey His word, daily. 


Day 34: Dress For Success

"I have nothing to wear!" Did you ever utter those words? I have...many, many times.   My husband will tell you (actually, he wouldn't tell you because he's been married long enough to know a hot topic when he hears it) that it usually comes with frustration, as I search the closet endlessly for an outfit that goes well with the occasion ahead of me.

Since Carl is a wise man he has learned to ignore me during my high estrogen level fits as opposed to telling me to "just wear anything."

Then there are the kids.  They love to throw this phrase around when we're out shopping and they're trying to persuade me into buying them something, even the boys! (I thought boys weren't suppose to care about what they wore?)

There's a mystery surrounding this question of not
having anything to wear.
How come if we have nothing to wear, our hampers overfloweth?
...as far as I can remember we've never left the house undressed either!

Today lended itself perfect for this topic because I've been
catching up on laundry. Lots of it, too!

So I was thinking about all these clothes and how Jesus
told us he's provide for us (and he has). He told us not to worry
about our life because He provides our necessities daily.

Jesus knew we would have this struggle and so he taught on this...
Matthew 6:25,28-30
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life,
what you will eat or drink;
or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food,
and the body more than clothes?...

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?

So, we always have SOMETHING  to wear, its just that it's
not always what we WANT to wear. 
(Read post of Day 24: Be Content with what God Sent)

Does God care about what we wear on a daily basis?

In Colossians 3:12 we read what we need to wear on the inside.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

Before we begin searching our closet for the perfect
outfit for the day, we should be hitting the prayer closet
and asking God to clothe us from the inside out,
for the perfect accessories.

After all, accessories make the outfit, and if you like a little bling,
nothing shines brighter than wearing the characteristics
of our Heavenly Father.   
But that's not all God wants us to wear on the inside. We need to add good deeds to it all for a complete statement that screams "Godly Woman." 

1 Timothy 2:9-10 says,
I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.

Are you wondering what that scripture means?  It means that God wants us to be less concerned about our looks and more concerned about our life.  One day we will stand before the Lord and we will be clothed with our good deeds, which we don't do to earn salvation but out of gratitude for what the Lord has done for us. 
Since we're done dressing us inside, let's see how God wants
us to look on the outside.

We clearly see that God wants us to dress modestly
but along with modesty there are certain things He wants
us to wear daily that never go out of style.  

The top 6 in the lineup are found in this passage:

Ephesians 10:10-17
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,  and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
1. belt of truth- standing for the Truth daily even
when we're the only one standing
2. breastplate of righteousness- living daily with God's
standards out of faith in him and love for him
3. feet fitted with readiness-  preparedness to bring the
truth of Jesus daily to any situation
4. shield of faith- defend against false philosophies that
are contrary to the truth of God
5. helmet of salvation- enough confidence in the hope we
have in Jesus that we don't get pulled into
the daily worries of the world
6. sword of the spirit-using His Word to resist daily 
temptations to indulge our desires instead of God's.  
Keeping these in our closet for daily wear will ensure that
we're sporting a fashion that is eternal and we'll be ready to face 
the day and whatever it brings. 

So before you go screaming
"I have nothing to wear!" remember that God has
given you a complete customized wardrobe to
add to your look.

Wear it well!

 Are you daily dressed for success?