Thursday, November 29, 2007

Where has the time gone?

It has been days since I have even thought of "down time" on the WWW! I cannot believe we are already over a week past Thanksgiving! Lest you all thing I have been just sleeping in late and enjoying bon-bons when I awaken, I have some pictures to share!

Last year at this time we were still on the African Continent, and weren't even home until after Dec. 9th. Knowing we would be moving shortly after the new year, the thought of decorating, Christmas cards, or even a family picture (which all you with more than one child know it is an all day affair!) didn't even cross my mind! Well this year is certainly much different!

We are in an amazing home that has a perfect place for our tree! We didn't have to rearrange the living room, nor are we sitting on the couch with a pine bough (albeit FAKE) in our faces! These things are a very big deal! There are electrical plugs in close proximity to the windows for the single candle light I love to put there. So Pretty!

As for social events, I am actually having, in my home, a cookie exchange party! I am expecting upwards of 16 people, and I am not stressing (too much!) about seating room! Yeah! for a big living room! Making 12 DOZEN cookies has me a little freaked, but that cannot be helped right now! I can only contemplate the mess it will create because I can't bake them until the day of. You all do remember what is in my freezer, right? Many pounds of salmon with very smelly tasty seasoning all over it! I would be thrilled to offer Chocolate Buried Cherry Cookies with just a hint of fishy gourmet goodness for interest, but my guests might question my sanity decision! So Tuesday has been officially BLOCKED to all activity outside my home. Nothing but baking, cleaning, and deciding how to arrange seating for 16+ ladies and teens! (Also figuring what form of entertainment and food choices will be the best to keep three adolescent boys occupied so that they will be sufficiently distracted and not plotting ways to crash join my LADIES ONLY evening! ) Not too much to do in an average day in the life, huh? Oh, and I forgot! I have to take Molly to the Vet for an ultrasound at 9:00 am. It had to be that day, too, of all days because it is DAY 30 of her pregnancy, and will be THE MOST ACCURATE to determine how many puppies she will have! Of course it was the same day! For sure more to come about the puppies!

OK enough BABBLING! Here are the wonderful pictures! Only after I had agonized over outfits and color schemes, did I remember my bloggy friend's decision to do hers in sepia!!! Wise girl! I had settled on brown and pink and did OK after all! Ready? The following is for your visual pleasure!
My beautiful oldest daughter Olivia. It is beauty inside and out!

#1 Son, Josiah. A true gentleman, and quite the artist as well. At 13, he is 5'8" and already has a size 12 shoe... we are truly afraid of what a growth spurt will do to him!

#2 Son, Levi. The quieter of the bunch, but do not be fooled! When you least expect it, he will say the most hysterical things and you will just crack up!

#3 Son, Micah. Name your children on purpose! This boy is an evangelist from the get go, and will surely be a Prophet of the Gospel and reach many for Christ! Those eyes get more "yes's" than are good for him!

Child #5 and daughter #2. Alliteration does well to describe her! Precious, Peppy, Precocious, Persuasive, Positive, and Pulchritudinous. (go ahead...look it up!) There are five years between her and Micah. The Lord knew we needed to gear up!

Here is a sneak peek of our Christmas card picture!

Many thanks to Kate, Olivia's BFF for the amazing photography! Thanks K8! We love you!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A few light hearted reasons for Thanksgiving!

Reason #1- I am thankful these are not my children!

Reason #2- I am thankful my children would not have mistaken them for kitties!

Reason #3- I am thankful my children have never seen a litter of baby skunks... because if they ever did I am positive they would find a way to keep one or two! (and the sad truth is I might let them!)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Ah Lord God!

The phrase "Ah Lord God" is exclusive to the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel in scripture. I can just picture these unique men in rich Jewish accents saying these words! When they were said, it was with passion in awe of God, or with a great burden for their nation of Israel.

Our teen class sings a song taken from the verses in Jeremiah that contain this phrase:

32:17-19 Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee: ... the Great, the Mighty God, the LORD of hosts, is his name, Great in counsel, and mighty in work: ...

In this verse, Jeremiah is praying to God, and he is acknowledging the limitless of the Lord. Later in verse 27 the Lord asks Jeremiah, "Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?", almost saying... "You said this a few minutes ago, but do you really believe it? What action will follow your knowledge that nothing is too hard for me?"

Enter my thoughts as I sing the song taken from the above verses. It makes me want to know more this amazing God! What is too difficult? NOTHING! And He really wants to use me to show it... to anyone... in any circumstance! I want my life to show the works of this great God so that none will question the source. It will be painfully obvious it is none of myself!

Now enter the current challenge before my church family. We have a beautiful facility that we owe A LOT of money on! There are humanly insurmountable obstacles before us that we will be slammed into if they are not removed. And it WILL hurt! What are we going to do about it?

Did you ever read the verses in Jeremiah that talk about God, and how nothing is too difficult for Him? Am I - are WE! - going to wait until He asks us "is there anything too hard for me?"

We have been called to prayer from our Pastor. We are led by the example of our deacons to around the clock prayer for this situation specifically. We have been challenged to allow God to give through us, sacrificially, to this cause. Anything up and above. ANYTHING!

Have you had an extra hour or two on your schedule at work? Did you get to the register and something rang up cheaper than you thought it would? Did you go out to lunch and your friend picked up the tab... that you expected to pay? Think about it and be purposed to faithfully look for the BLESSINGS OF GOD!!! He is just waiting! Get out of the way and let Him do it!!!!! Let us prove our God! Let Him be high and lifted up! Loudly Tell of His great works that are being done through you! Be creative in your understanding of just what God will use to show you He wants to bless! Acknowledge the commonplace and things we would normally chalk up to every day as the direct working of God in your life. It is only by His mercies that we are not consumed!!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

A year ago...

2Corinthians 8:10 And herein I give my advice: for this is expedient for you, who have begun before, not only to do, but also to be forward a year ago.

The theme of verse seemed to become a "buzz phrase" a while ago, but it still is so true! Are you "forward a year ago"?

This was so very clear to me yesterday as it was the one year anniversary of two very big things in my life.

One, was the day we (4 of my family) left for Zambia. November 16, 2006. The purpose of the trip was a return visit for my husband to see the mission field he feels called to. A survey trip is what some call it, we chose to say "vacation" because it sounds so much more rich... and we aren't! We also took our oldest two children to whet their appetite for Zambia. By the time we are actually ready to start our first term on the field, they will be "old enough" to decide to come with us or not. We want to do all we can to ensure their choice will be "to come"... at least for a year or two! It seems so long ago, and yet only yesterday at the same time! I know we are hard to spot in the picture! ;) This is of a church in Chipata, a town in the Eastern Province of Zambia.

That was an amazing trip. Our children both want to go back, and for that we are thankful and blessed. To God be the Glory!

Are we forward from then, though?

As I look over even the mission monday posts here, I know yes, we are. God is so amazing in His ways, we are only glad to be a part of them. As I read in I Corinthians 14, "There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification. " I realize our significance is only because of Christ! Let us be bold in His work, for His glory, and purpose!

The second event was, on November 16, 2006 my close friend's 1-year-old daughter was diagnosed with Lukemia. The irony of all of it was two weeks before we left she said to me (jokingly!)..."Jan, what am I going to do without my friend for three weeks!!!" I found out at the Rochester Airport (before we even left home!) about little Angela being in the hospital. I couldn't call her to tell her we had heard and would be praying. I couldn't sit in the hospital with her 24-7 while her daughter's little body was pumped with chemo. I couldn't pray with her, cry with her, help her other 4 children at home with dinner, laundry, school. The Lord was teaching us both some things! I might have tried to be "God" for her, and she wouldn't have had the sweet care of her Heavenly Father the way she did. She might have tried to ask the unanswerable things to me, instead of Jesus, and I might have never known feeling of powerlessness that is only overcome by fervent prayer. I am so used to being like"Martha", and God forced me to be like "Mary". All of these were lessons well learned!

Yesterday, the one year anniversary, I was privileged to sit with Tonya for a few hours at the hospital while Ange had a lumbar puncture to draw out spinal fluid. Chemo doesn't cross into the spine, and needs to be injected directly. The fluid will be tested for any stray cancer cells-so we all pray with them for a negative. While she is in remission, the treatment will continue for another year. Med's, chemo, procedures, lumbar's- all the crazy things that are part of their every day normal now. They have learned a new vocabulary through all of this!

The question though... are they forward a year ago?

Yes, and again AMEN! yes! Angela is in remission, Thank You, Jesus! Their marriage had been tried, tested, and strengthened from the refining fire. Their finances have been strained, and God has miraculously supplied. They have been such a witness and a testimony to anyone who has seen them. Tonya gladly rests in the Lord's provision for her, spiritually, physically, and most of all emotionally. I have seen her become a pillar of strength because she rests in and on the Lord. She has no shame in telling anyone of her hope in the Lord, and I have learned so much from her.

It is good to look back and see from where we have come. It is even better to recognize Who has brought us here!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

My Chains are GONE!

This is a song that I will be using with about 20 FBBC teens at the Teens Involved (TI) event with Word of Life. It is a great song with amazing lyrics, re-written and arranged for the movie "Amazing Grace". Never thought the original could be made better, but I do like this!

At TI this will be accompanied by 2 violinists, a flutist, pianist, as well as vocals. It will be visually impactful with about 15 students doing sign language. Pray for the event, the ministry we can accomplish with this, and the students I will be working with. I am neither a music major nor fluent in Sign, so this is all God's, for sure! There will be no chance I could take any credit if it is awesome. (If it bombs, then yep... all ME!) I hope to video the Finished project, and will post it here if I do ;D !

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The depths of shallowness!

I wonder why I think the way that I do! If you must give me your thoughts, please do be kind... I may be forced to moderate...! (hey, if you comment, I would make sure to leave it... It may never happen again!)

Anyhow, the reason the wonder came up about the way I think is...

After teen class today Pastor T. offered all the students little plastic bracelets to remind them all to pray for a student that is taking a trip to Dominican Republic for a missions/hurricane relief trip. Nice idea, cute bracelets-kind of like the hospital issue ones only red. Therein lies the problem, They are red! I, for a fleeting moment, thought no way! It is red! I don't like red! It is bright and just a little obnoxious! Someone might ask, "So why do you have a red hospital-like bracelet on?" Then I would would have to tell them.... WAIT! That would be a good thing! I was being so shallow! I would definitely think about this young man much more with that little piece of plastic strapped on my wrist, and that would accomplish the desired result... I would remember to pray for him!

This entire discourse actually occurred in my tiny little head... in the span of about 1.2 seconds! I quickly placed it on my wrist, and haven't thought another moment about it's color. I did, however, continue to think about the reason behind the whole hesitation. Am I really so vain that I would forgo a reminder to pray because of the color? How many other things in my life have I allowed to go on unchecked? Is this really a big deal? OH MY! I could be in the middle of a crisis, and not even realize it!

Now lest you think I am serious here and begin planning an intervention to save me from myself, I must also tell you what the message in church was. It was out of Ephesians, and Mr. G was saying that every day we should have a goal set forth to be accomplished. Every day there should be lasting fruit that is pleasing to God. We should work -every day!- to the end that it would be a profitable day in light of eternity, not just school, work, facebook... whatever consumes our day! (I was already beating myself up on how much time I waste. It wasn't going to take much more to knock me out completely ... the little red piece of PVC really had the advantage over me!)

I kept thinking of all the days I (only!) do laundry, cook, clean, school...., yet never leave my house! How will that ever produce spiritual fruit? Can I really pray, "Lord, my goal is that all of my children will be fed, clothed and still breathing smiling at the end of the day", and expect lasting fruit to be laid up in heaven? Yikes! I would be ashamed to tell you all the days I would pray that! It would be more times than I care to think! I guess the phrase "the heart of the matter is the matter of the heart" applies here, too. ( Just like it does every where else! )

I have a verse I cling to whenever I would really, really, really rather be doing something OTHER than what I am doing at the moment.

Ephesians 5:22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.

I know the verse applies directly to my attitude to my husband and being subject to his authority, but it really does do wonders for me when I think of it in reference to all aspects of my life. This laundry is my daughters, but I am doing it as if it is for the Lord. I am cleaning this bathroom, again, for the Lord. I will wear this ugly cute red band and pray for Spencer, as I would if it were for the Lord! Wow! It all seems so much, well, more worth it! I would do anything for the Lord! Especially if it was HIM, right here in front of me in flesh and blood asking me to do it, right? OF COURSE!!! Well, if I know my Bible... he is!!

Matthew 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Matthew 25:45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

The end of shallow and the secret to lasting fruit!

Hey, there are extra bands... anyone want one?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Winter is Coming!

The past few weeks when we all pile outside to go anywhere, it is so neat that the season change is so obvious, by even the not so obvious things! Of coarse brilliantly colored leaves falling all around and shriveled up flowers are the give aways to those with less than keen perception. But for those with a gift for attention to detail there are other clues.

While we were leaving a store, the weather was just beginning to get a chill. The fact that we had turned our calendar page to November did not matter, and we failed to grab coats before going out the door that morning. As the first bite of the wind hit our faces, little S. said "Mommy, I love it! It smells just like snow!" Now, mind you, she is only four! How does she know what snow smells like? Well, she does, and for sure the air did! We scrambled to the car and all talked about the things we love about the change in weather.

I said how much I love to dress in fuzzy sweaters and make all kinds of soup and chili recipes. Usually I have two or three favorite sweaters and by spring I have to throw them out! They have been so over worn, even Molly our dog is sick of looking at them! Another thing I notice by often donning the same thing a time or two (!) between washings, (though not always so great!) is I can tell exactly what soup or chili I made the last time I wore it! Off it goes and into the wash! (you see it guarantees circulation. I inevitably have the favorite, and might never give the others a chance... Please don't categorize me as a complete lazy slob!) But it still gives me the reminder. Yum!

Smell is said to be the most effective memory maker and reminder. I cannot open a new box of leather shoes and not think of the time when I was about 9 and got my first pair of shoes that "I chose!" Every time I smell doublemint gum I think of my mom, and the smell of Love's Baby Soft perfume makes me remember (with a little twitch in my eye) junior high school! All of this nostalgia! where is all of this going?!?!

We have a spiritual smell too! God says our prayers are a smell to Him.

Psalms 141:2 Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.

The smell of our prayers are to be sweet and pure. The book of Leviticus is full of specifics on the incense and smells in the temple. I am sure there are huge applications on all of that, but another blogger will have to do it better justice than I will do here! Suffice it to say... we have a smell before the Lord! Whether fresh or rancid, it is there. I cannot help but know that others can "smell" it too! How often do we spend time with the Lord and let his aroma get all over us? Is our "spiritual perfume" the first thing someone notices? Is it good or bad?!

Back to memory being so closely tied to smell, I know one reason why God made us that way. We need all the help we can get! I want every sense to be able to connect me with God and his ways! I hope to be a sweet smell to Him, and in overflow th others around me. I hope to be like Onesiphorus, who oft refreshed Paul in prison. I hope to see others how God would have me to, and in seeing their need be a conduit of God to meet it.

All this hoping is for naught unless there are actions behind it. Like faith without works is dead, hope deferred maketh the heart sick! Let me not defer these hopes! God has given me all the tools I need to ensure I smell great, and I need to put into practice those things.

"Read your Bible, pray every day and you'll grow-grow-grow!" Funny, even as a kid I always thought of a flower when I sang that song. Flowers smell good, don't they?! :)

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Pride goeth before destruction...

Last night I went to a concert at our church sponsored by FLN. It was a fun night because there was food, a lot of my friends, and I was away from home for a while and able to unwind. Originally I wasn't intending to go at all, but a friend wanted to volunteer at the event, and her 3 month old was going to be just a 'lil hindrance to her. Being the great friend that I am, (please don't choke on the sip of coffee you just took!) I sacrificially offered to take her precious bundle for those times she would need to be doing other things, and thought it would be nice to help her out. Then she decided it would be better to be at a missions conference in Florida trying to raise support with her husband for their mission in Italy. Whatever. I guess we all have our priorities!!! :)

Anyhow, I am glad it worked out that I did end up going. Not because I particularly loved the concert... though it was very nice. I would have liked to take home with me a CD of hers, mostly the Christmas one... never can have too many of those! Low (actually NO) cash flow prevented that.

What I did take home with me was something she said between songs. She kept reiterating how she used to seek fame and wanted a secular singing career. She would make a dramatic stop in her body language and emphatically say with a tinge of sarcasm, "I am just glad God has not struck me dead!" We all laughed, but a while later she continued the thought. She said her sin was the same wickedness that got Satan kicked out of Heaven- a prideful desire to get some of God's glory. The only reason she did not receive the same fate was God through Jesus Christ made a plan of redemption.

WHEW! That made me stop in my mental tracks, and think of all the times my pride has put my agenda ahead of Christ. All the times I blew the chance to glorify God instead of talking about what I did to achieve something in my life.

I would like to say I had an alter call moment right there in my nice stadium style seat, but it took me a while to really come to a place of surrender. God really wants to change the fabric of my heart, and still hasn't let me stop thinking of it. Even through math integers and terrestrial biome studies, the Lord continued to press me and ask "Am I the Lord of all? Are you fully surrendered?" My heart says yes, my head says yes, but I just know that my flesh will war with me. I know it is THE battle I must fight to live victoriously in this life, and I know fasting (...!!!...) will play a major role in winning this one. And not just once! Nice time of year for all these thoughts to take root. Yeah, I know!

p.s. The picture is compliments of my daughter... becoming quite the photographer, she is!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Mission in Progress

After being told we are planning to go to the mission field, a woman asked me... "So do you feel called to go too?"

My response was likely a surprise to her, because I said..."No."

She probably had ideas of our marriage splitting up, or my husband dragging me by my hair- we are after all going to Africa... isn't that accepted practice in such a heathen and tribal continent? :)

To explain... my not being "called" to Africa isn't a problem. I am called to my husband, and therefore by mathematical property, I am called to Africa.
1. Jan called to Dan = God's will
2. Dan called to Africa = God's will
3. Jan called to Africa = God's will

Not too hard to understand, but maybe a better question would be... Do I want to go to Africa? Inquiring minds want to know!!!

I could get real spiritual here and give book chapter and verse on why I should want to go. Or, I could tell you that as a Godly woman I should go whether I want to or not. But none of those would make for interesting reading. Well not too interesting.

What I will tell you is... I do want to go! I did not receive the call to the field of Africa, or any other place on this earth. I will tell you I decided that I want to do what the Lord's will is for me. I will also tell you...the Lord has changed my natural desires.

What do I mean? I will give you an example in one area of my life.

I used to live for nothing else than the next room to decorate or the next wall to paint. Sales at the local store... department, warehouse, hardware, any! ... used to lure me with even the lamest commercial or sales flyer. I was a spender, buyer, shopper, consumer- you name it, I was it! Now lest you think I was frivolous, I will tell you I was the most frugal and conscientious shopper their was! I could save over 70% off the retail price on a bad day. Without coupons!

Now, I still enjoy all that stuff! I just no longer have the drive for it. I have the same likes of fashion and taste with regard to how I like to decorate, I just don't feel consumed by it. I am also making many decisions on "to purchase or not" through the filter of two questions. "Would I ship this to Africa?" or "Will I get my money's worth out of it before we leave?" That makes a lot of decisions really easy!

OK, I need to get a little spiritual here.

Psalms 37:4 Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

I have experienced this verse. He put within my heart the desires I now have. As I continue to delight in the Lord, He does so much more for me than I could ever imagine! I marvel at the things- large and small- that are mine. God is so good, no matter what. If going with my family over seas and living in another culture is what puts me smack in the middle of His will... that is where I will be! There is so much more joy and happiness there... just ask Jonah. Well, on second thought, don't. Read the book, and then try out obedience for yourself... it is great!

"If a commission by an earthly king is considered a honor, how can a commission by a Heavenly King be considered a sacrifice?" -- David Livingstone

"I have but one candle of life to burn, and I would rather burn it out in a land filled with darkness than in a land flooded with light" - John Keith Falconer

"If God calls you to be a missionary, don't stoop to be a king" -- Jordan Grooms

"Go, send, or disobey." -- John Piper

Saturday, November 3, 2007

It's Hunting Season!

I love venison! My children love venison. My husband is a hunter.

This sounds like a great working relationship. It's all about supply and demand.

And, thanks to the tireless efforts of my husband and two of my sons, we have a freezer full.

The only problem... this is what it is full of!

Needless to say, only my hubby and this Field and Stream caliber fisherman are eating well these days! It was a nice catch! 14 lbs and 35" long. Pretty good for the equipment he had to use.

While at lower falls here in our great city, there was a professional there who works for ESPN, and he had a bunch of "special recipe" Salmon eggs. (hmmm, should I include them on my Thanksgiving table?) Micah had no problem going right up to him and striking up conversation. The man asked how he was lucky enough to be fishing on a Thursday morning when all other kids were in school, and M. said this was a field trip with his dad and that we home school! It turned out the man was a Christian, and was very generous with his special recipe bait. Micah hooked on a glob of eggs, and with his "Mickey Mouse" pole (that is what Mr. ESPN called it!) and 20 lb test (sounded good to me, but again Mr. ESPN informed him that was WAY TOO HEAVY...!) proceeded to reel in this beauty! (again Mr. ESPN's title... definitely not mine!)

Salmon are some of the ugliest fish in the world! They have teeth that look like they were transplanted from a shark- much better suited for survival in the great Ocean of Life, and not the rinky dink streams they find themselves in! Now to be fair, they do quite well in those huge rivers, too! I think when they are muscling their way upstream they are just chomping all the water up and that propels them forward!

Anyhow, I am putting out a plea. If anyone out there in blogdom has a surplus of venison... I would be glad to take it off your hands!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

It is good to be prepared!

Watch This!
It made me think twice about how many I want to invite over for Thanksgiving Holiday. Well maybe not how many, but who! I need one really strong someone!

Just helping y'all to be thinking ahead!