Thursday, January 21, 2010

Hope and Love

It has now been 10 days since the earthquake shook, destroyed and crippled the small country of Haiti. I have been trying to get my head wrapped around all of the images and stories that have been coming out of the devastation. Some days I just look up towards heaven and quietly say, "Why?" Other days the tears just begin to fall and my heart aches with a pain that is so intense I am unable to understand. I watch the news reports and cry with joy when a child or an adult is pulled from the rubble and is breathing, talking or stretching their arms towards the sky. The images are so clear, so raw and yet I feel so far away from the reality of life in Haiti. I'm just one person who lives in Iowa and wonders what can I do? How can I help? Where do I begin?

So I pray and pray and pray and place my offering for Haiti in the plate on Sunday. And again I ask myself, "What can I do?" I pray again and again and again and this Sunday I will put more money in the offering plate designated towards Haiti. I am just one person with a heart full of hope and love for all of those affected by the earthquake, here and there. I know that my prayers are heard and my money is used. I might not be able to go but God has sent those who can. I may not be able to purchase the supplies and place them on a plane but God has directed the people that can. I might not be able to take in an orphan but God has placed it on the hearts of those who will. My prayers may seem small and my money a drop in the bucket of what is needed. But my God will take all of those prayers and they will make a difference and my money will be put with all of the other money and it will buy the supplies, food, water and will rebuild a country that will one day flourish and I know this, because my God is LOVE!

If you would like to give but are unsure where to send your money. Go to And click on UMCOR Advance #418325 give now. The United Methodist Committee On Relief is a great organization that will use your money for the purpose of buying supplies, food,water and more for those in Haiti. They have teams of people in Haiti right now who are helping those in need. If you go to their website it has updates and information on what they are doing in Haiti.

May the God of love bless you and your loved ones today.


Saturday, January 9, 2010

A Lovely Day

Today was just a good day! Kayla and Andrew both had to work and because I cleaned the house yesterday, Dave and I got to just hang out. We don't get to do that very often, so today was so nice. After returning two Christmas presents to the store and making a trip to the Christian bookstore (I purchased another study Bible) we headed off to Barnes & Nobles to have a coffee and read magazines. Two hours of chatting, sipping a cinnamon dolce latte and looking at magazines is a real treat. Especially without any kids interrupting. Dave and I actually had an adult conversation. You know the kind; discussing current events or insights into what one of us had read and sharing opinions and questions. It was wonderful. Thank you God for such a lovely day.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Better Late Then Never

This evening I finally got around to doing my Christmas cards. I know, Epiphany was yesterday and in the "real" world Christmas is over, but I knew that if I didn't get them done it would drive me mad. I had already written the Christmas letter and made copies so all I had to do was sign the card, slip the letter inside, stuff both into the envelope and address the envelope. While going through my address book I realized that so many of the people in my book have since gone to reside in heaven. After I got done with the cards I decided to get out my new day planner/address book and put the names of those who are still with us into it. It made me sad looking at all of those who have already gone ahead of me. So many of my relatives and a few friends.

Life is short here on earth. We aren't given much time and the time that we are given we seem to waste with petty problems that escalate into major drama in our lives. Why is that? Why do we gravitate toward the drama and slink away from the peace? Maybe because we see so much of it on television? The news, reality shows, movies, even commercials are filled with drama. But so much of it is not the big drama, it's the little drama. Big drama to me is a tragedy, a death, a car accident, war, a child disappears, a family breaks up. But it's the little dramas that have everyone so out of control. The "he said she said" statements, name calling, a misunderstood look, giving your opinion or advice and finding it wasn't wanted even though it was asked for, too much money, not sharing, not giving, being over weight or under weight, the clothes that you wear, the house you live in, or the car that you drive, someone hooking up with someone.... I could go on and on. What does this say about our world?

Have we become a world of me, me, me? Do you remember the old coca cola commercial where all of those people are standing together, holding hands, drinking a bottle of coke and singing, "I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony...."? I love that commercial and I wish they would play it again or even remake it. Isn't that who we are to be? Isn't that how God wants us to be? Standing together, all different races, colors, languages, ages, male, female, young and old? Sharing a smile, a laugh and a song?

But maybe that's what heaven is like? Wouldn't it be nice if we had a little heaven mentality here on earth? Just something to think about.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Fast That Didn't Last

Last evening I had to make the decision that my 21 day fast was not going to be completed. After 2 days of feeling sluggish, cold and having a major headache I decided that I would not be able to keep going. I believe it has a lot to do with the weather that we have been receiving since Christmas. The temperature has dipped down to between -20 and -30 degrees below zero and the snow continues to fall. We are in the depths of winter and I think that the physical body is unable to deal with a fast in sub-zero weather. I feel that God was speaking to me yesterday and telling me that it would be okay to experience it when the temperatures rise and that is what I am doing. I'm finding that I am still having that deep connection to God regardless of abstaining from food. The snow which caused our Christmas eve services to be cancelled has hit again tonight and the first Wednesday evening activities of the New Year were cancelled as well due to blizzard warnings throughout the evening. With not much else to do except to watch football or read, I am spending much of my time reading his Word and journaling. This is one of the hardest winters we have had in a very long time. We have almost 30 inches of snow on the ground and it makes for slippery and treacherous driving and with the bitter cold you find yourself not going out of your home at night. I find it refreshing and a saving grace. It has forced myself and others to slow down. Our driving, walking and activities have all gone down to a snails pace and it is good. The weeks leading up to Christmas found most of us running around and trying to complete task after task. Sure we usually slow down for a few days between Christmas and New Years but then it is back to the "rat race". The snow has changed everything and for that I am grateful. A few days before Christmas I told my husband that I would like to have just 5 days of nothing to do. Just nothing to do and no one making me feel guilty for not doing anything. God has answered my prayers plus so much more. He has blanketed the earth with snow and has given me a lot of down time to reflect on all of the blessings that I do have. Like heat, electricity, a home, a car that starts every morning, food that I can turn into comforting meals for my family, time spent with my family and time, lots of time. I pray that everyone will be able to experience a little God given down time too this winter.


Monday, January 4, 2010

21 Day Fast

Last year during Holy Week I experienced my first time with fasting. I had been wanting to try this spiritual discipline and so with a lot of thought and prayer, I decided that Holy Week would be a good time. It was an awesome experience. It took every bit of strength to go that week with only liquids to fill my stomach. But it was well worth it. I developed a deeper and greater relationship with my Heavenly Father. By the time Easter morning came I felt open and raw. My emotions were fresh and my mind was clear.

I decided that I would fast again. So over the past few months I have been thinking about when I should. While in the Christian book store after Christmas I came across a book by Jentezen Franklin titled "Fasting". Jentezen is the pastor of Free Chapel in Gainesville, Georgia. He explains in the book that for a few years he fasted for the first 21 days of each year. He found that it made the year start with an opportunity to develop a closer to relationship with God. The relationship became more intimate and powerful. He then felt called to share this with his congregation and so now some from his congregation have started to fast the first 21 days of the year too. They begin on the first Sunday after January 1st. I liked this concept. Starting off the year fasting and in prayer with God.

Due to a family commitment yesterday, I started my 21 day fast today. Just like during Holy Week my family is trying to grasp what I am doing. My husband worries that I will get sick and my son wonders if it means I won't fix supper. I reassure them that everything will be fine. I drink a lot of water, tea, juice, milk and broth based soups. There will be many times that I will be around food, but I know that God will be right there with me. Jesus says that there are 3 things we are to do, give, pray and fast. If Jesus can fast for 40 days with the devil constantly tempting him, I can fast for 21 days. It will be a challenge, but what I have learned in my 44 years is that no matter what you do or don't do, life is going to throw you challenges. But with God I can make it through anything.


Saturday, January 2, 2010

Packing Up Memories

Today my husband and I took down and put away all the Christmas decorations. What a job! I don't remember it being so bad putting it all up? I guess the excitement of Christmas makes it a lot more fun. When we got to the tree, I wasn't prepared for how sad it would be to separate our daughter Kayla's ornaments from all the others. This was her last Christmas she will be spending at our home. Next year she and Jerod will be married and putting their first Christmas tree up in their first home and all of those beautiful ornaments will hang on their tree. Ballerinas, princesses, cheerleaders, etc... will be missing from our tree. Another box of ornaments packed up and ready to hang on a different tree. When I packed up our oldest daughters ornaments I cried too. All those years of watching them pick out that special ornament. So many memories and a virtual scrapbook of what they were interested in that particular year. Each has their name and year that it was purchased on it.

This new year will again bring changes and learning to adapt to another child beginning a new life away from this home. Change is good. Change helps us grow. But it is those growing pains that hurt so much.

I'm excited for the new life that she will be starting. Being able to watch her become a married woman is gift. This year I will find myself reflecting on all of those years that she was just our little girl. But I am so happy to know that this year there will be many new memories that will be made between mom and daughter as we share these last few months before she is married.



Friday, January 1, 2010

Exciting Anticipation!!

A new year brings an excitement of anticipation for me. What will this year bring? Where will I be a year from today? What new journeys will God direct me to? What challenges will I face? These are questions I ask myself every January 1st. This year is no exception. 2009 was filled with challenges, changes, tears and joy filled moments. In 2009 my husband started a new job, our oldest daughter left a bad relationship and moved back to our city, our son decided to be home schooled, our second daughter got engaged and I graduated from the School of Lay Ministry and became a certified candidate for ministry. Our family has worked through and overcome some very difficult challenges that have followed us for five years (we are still working through them but there is a very bright light at the end of the tunnel that we can see). While working at our church I have had to say goodbye to a few members this past year who have gone to live with Jesus. As 2009 came to an end I am so excited for what 2010 will bring to us. We will watch our daughter graduate from college and then walk down the aisle to marry a wonderful young man. Our son will begin his last year of high school and decide what he will be doing after he graduates. I may have an opportunity to be appointed as a pastor to a church this year. My husband and I will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. These are blessings that God has given to us, but it will be the challenges that we will face that will make us stronger. These will be the moments that I will face with the knowledge that God will help us through. I know in my heart that God will carry us through and when I call out his name he will comfort me, guide me, sustain me and redeem me. These are the reasons that I am excited for the new year.
Resolutions are a big part of starting a new year, but not for me. Resolutions usually bring disappointment. How many of us ever completely fulfill the resolutions we make. For me I like to set little goals. My goals for 2010 are to continue to try and be a better person everyday I am on this earth. To not get dragged into all of the drama that everyone around me creates. To not let the little things get to me. To create more peace in my life, work and home. To judge less and love more. To relax more and enjoy the little moments that God creates for me.
I will not look back on 2009 and say "I wish I would have" or "If I could go back I would...". I will look forward to 2010 and thank God for everyday that I wake up and thank God for everyday that I can lay my head on my pillow and go to sleep.
My wish for 2010 to all of my family and friends is that God will give you much love, laughter, joy, peace and all of the strength that you will need to face the challenges in 2010.
Happy New Year and God bless,