"I hold on to You for dear life, and you hold me steady as a post..." Psalm 63

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Meet Amena...

I was just "introduced" to this woman this morning in our Youth Sunday School.  Her name is Amena Brown and she is a very talented poet. Check out Amena here on her website, which describes her work like this: 

"As a poet, speaker, journalist, and event host Amena Brown’s words excite, ignite and inspire."

I think you'll find her inspiring and thought provoking.  There isn't really anything else to add here that could do the following words justice...she says everything my heart cries and more...ENJOY!


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Dear Wisteria....

I will miss you...

You've grown so strong and healthy over the years.  Your blooms have brought beauty in the spring, and your branches have provided privacy all summer long.  I will miss sitting underneath you each morning as I read.  You are one of the many things I will miss about this house that has become our home....
You are sometimes hard to keep up with..you grow so quickly and grab hold of anything that sits nearby.  But you've lived a good life with us...

It's hard to believe you started out as small as this. 
And even harder to believe you will be dug up and discarded when your new owners arrive!  I will miss you when I drive by, straining my neck to see how the old homestead is surviving our absense.  Apparently you cause allergies, but don't take offense...you've done your job well for us.
We will miss you...

"Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in,
where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul."
~John Muir
In your stead we will inherit one of these...
she is also beauty and grows abundantly...
and one of these...
a bit overgrown from neglect, but still beauty awaiting an appreciative glance. 
I guess it's a little case of give and take...
And in the end, it's all good...
all of it.

"Good heavens, of what uncostly material is our earthly happiness composed... if we only knew it. What incomes have we not had from a flower, and how unfailing are the dividends of the seasons."
~James Russell Lowell

Monday, May 24, 2010

The new Mr. and Mrs.

I thought you might enjoy a little story..

Once upon a time there was a little girl named Lydia, who grew up in the Amish-faith community.  She came from a large family where she enjoyed a happy childhood in Strasburg, Pennsylvania.  Her family enjoyed their lifestyle of farming on Miller Street, and often visited with their "English" neighbors along the Street and throughout the community.  As the years passed and Lydia grew to become a woman and start her own family, she would often happen by a little brick house on Miller Street and watch to see how it changed and matured. She remarked to her friends and her family how much she loved that little brick home, calling it her favorite house in the town. She came to know the elderly owners of this brick home and as with so many of her other "English" neighbors, called them her friends. 

 Many years later the elderly couple of this brick home passed on and the home was occupied by a new family.  It was a younger family who wanted to give the home a new look both inside and out...and so the young family hired an Amish carpenter to add two new bedrooms and a bathroom in order to accomodate its growing children.  The children enjoyed the presence of this Amish carpenter each day as he worked, and were sorry to see him finish his project...but he did a job well done, and was on his way.   For ten years the young family went about its business, enjoying the peace of the little brick home...and the Amish carpenter went on to do what he did best.  Each continued on with the duties of life and their paths ceased to cross anymore. 

Until one day when Lydia, who had since raised all of her own children, happened along Miller Street, along her normal route to her errands.  Upon passing this little brick home she'd come to love, she was stunned speechless to see a sign announcing "FOR SALE" in its front yard.

Without a second thought, Lydia jotted down the phone number on the sign and promptly arrived home to hurridly dial that number...never even stopping to tell her husband what she had seen. Just hours later, bubbling with excitement, Lydia directed her carpenter/husband, who had in recent years left the Amish faith, down the driveway of the little brick home to view what was inside.  It was all she could do to contain her excitement as she entered the doors and immediately fell in love with what was inside.  The young family, which had now grown ten years older, immediately recognized the carpenter-husband as the very same man who had built the upstairs.  Lydia marveled over the sturdiness of the little brick house and excitedly explored her husband's handiwork...all the while remarking more than once during their visit,"I don't think I can sleep tonight!"  She opened every cupboard and closet, explored every nook and cranny, and gave her husband the secret look of approval...
....and the rest...
Is history....

THE END
{picture taken with permission and eager participation of the subjects!}

Meet the new Mr. and Mrs. who will occupy our little brick home when we are gone....
Welcome, Mr. and Mrs. Zook!

"It takes wisdom to have a good family,
and it takes understanding to make it strong.
It takes knowledge to fill a home
with rare and beautiful treasures."
Proverbs 24:3 

“A house is made of walls and beams; a home is built with love and dreams.”

Thursday, May 20, 2010

WARNING: A very long blah-blah-blog post...

Where I'm blogging...


Don't laugh at me for taking this picture!  I do not personally own a laptop, so the fact that I am sitting outside on my porch in the sun blogging is a big deal to me!  {Two of my favorite things being done simultaneously!}  My parents went away for a few days and left their laptop for Emma to use for a project.  Project is done, and I have confiscated the laptop for my own enjoyment.

Dear Mom,
I may have lost your laptop.  Please forgive me if I cannot find it to return to you.  Please do not stop by my house to look for it.  There is NO WAY, NO HOW that you will find it.  It is lost for good.  Do not look on the porch for it either, you will just be wasting your time.
Sorry.

Anyway...there really was a point to my blogging this morning.  I almost lost sight of it for a minute in my momentary outdoor-blogging-bliss.

As I mentioned a few posts ago, I'm reading a book called "Crazy Love".  I'm still working my way through it, mostly because I have to stop and mull it over for a while before moving on.  I read some things this morning that are just raking over me.  I can't shake them, but I think it will take a while for them to work their way deeply in me and settle out in understanding. 

"Do you want to SEE God more than you desire security?"

Do I? And if my answer is "yes", am I just saying it because I really mean it, or because it's the right answer to give?  Do I REALLY desire Him more than security?  In my daily pursuit of a job, am I desiring Him more than a paycheck?  Or does the paycheck bring security....and then I can feel free to See Him?  

Our feet are here on earth, and bills are part of the deal....so it's only right that I pursue a way to pay mine.  But what is the heart of my desire?  How should this play out in my life? 

"Having faith often means doing what others see as crazy.  Something is wrong when our lives make sense to unbelievers."

I'm pretty sure my life doesn't make sense to anybody {sometimes including myself}....but is it because I live by radical faith?  It should be.  Noah spent 120 years building a boat so big and unconventional in a time when no one had a clue what rain was...much less world-wide flooding!  Talk about radical!  Could I do that?  WOULD I?

"How would my life change if I actually thought of each person I came into contact with as Christ - the person driving painfully slow in front of me, the checker at the grocery store who seems more interested in chatting than ringing up my items, the member of my family with whom I can't seem to have a conversation and not get annoyed??"

That paragraph in itself annoys me.  Because sometimes people are just plain annoying....and I feel like I have the right to point that out.  But, I don't.  Because right living requires me to see every face as the face of God Himself.  Shoot.

{Hold that thought while I take off my sweater so I don't get a crew-neck tan...}

The next part of the chapter really has me stumped as to how this falls down in my own life. 

"He expects us to treat the poor and the desperate as if they were Christ Himself"

Sometimes I think I am the poor and desperate.  But, in light of the rest of the world I live in luxury and abundance.  And, I know it.  How dare I ever have a thought of "need".  What I need to do is man-up and stop thinking I deserve better. 

I spent two weeks in Africa last summer.  I know need, I've seen it on the faces of beautiful, beautiful people.  Some of them had no clue that they were in need....because they were busy giving to others.  They give out of their abundance to those who have less.  From my perspective none of them had much of anything....but what they did have in abundance was contentment.  They were content to use what they needed and share the rest. 

So, here's my struggle today. 

What does this look like in my life?  How do I live with what I need and bless others with the overflow?  {Or maybe more accurately, how do I recognize that I even HAVE overflow?} 

The truth of the matter is that I'm about to move my family into a house that is twice the size that I need, more than I could have afforded to actually buy outright, and contains more rooms than I actually have furniture to fill.  {Which only means that I will have to buy furniture to fill up those spaces, because, heaven forbid they should remain empty.}  Granted, it's the pursuit of a thrify bargain that will actually fill those rooms eventually, but the point is...I have more than enough already. 

"As we begin to practice regular giving {to others}, we see how ludicrous it is to hold on to the abundance God has given us and merely repeat the words thank you."

"The concept of downsizing so that others might upgrade is biblical, beautiful...
and nearly unheard of."

God is challenging me to trust Him more.  To care about what others need out of my abundance instead of an empty room or two. To live with less, and to be content. 

I haven't decided if I'm going to finish reading this book...It is really undoing me.  Apparently I have alot of issues that need a good Spring cleaning. 

I was thinking this morning that I was going to look into purchasing the next book written by Francis Chan called, "Forgotten GOD". 

But when I looked up some info about it, this line
popped out at me:

"...Churches have become filled with self-focused consumers instead of Spirit-filled believers...."

Oh, wow...I can't take it!  I always figure that conviction that hurts bad feels good when it's done its work. So, I guess I'll finish Crazy Love and head to the store for Forgotten God when I'm done.  I'm already in neck deep.

What started out to be a few minutes on the porch has taken about an hour to complete...what with my need to change tanning positions and all.  The rest of my day will be spent between mowing two lawns and continuing my tanning with irritating sneaker and long short tan lines. 
Thankfully I have alot to think about...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

{SOLD}

Dear Blog...
I have missed you.  I don't know why I have been away so long.  I think it has something to do with being distracted by getting my house ready to sell, maintaining the clean, keeping up with my kids schedules, looking for a job and moving Alex back home from a great year of college...all the while just living life.  Not great excuses, but they're all I have. I plan to get back on schedule now though...
because after 19 days with a For Sale sign in my front yard, tonight I signed THIS...
I'll share more about the new owners of my house later...all I can say is I'm SO excited that the new inhabitants of this house will pick up loving it right where we left off.  They will grow and nurture their family here and find joy here just as we have.

Two and a half weeks ago it was Emma's job to push the sign in the ground...


So, tonight Nick got the honor of pulling the sign OUT of the ground. 


So long, you're outta here!

There are still things to finalize and MUCH painting left to do at the new house...but step1 is done.  It was my hope, of course, from the beginning that the house would sell quickly, but in this market there are just no guarantees.  There are houses For Sale in this town that have been on the market for months and months.  But, I am completely surprised and humbled at the Lord's gracious timing for us.  As I told my kids tonight...never forget that He cares even about the little things in our life.  With so much else still unknown in my life, tonight was a reminder to me that we are not forgotten.  Not only the sale of our home, but also the details of my job search are known thoroughly by Him and each step has gone through Him first.  I need that reminder often...and He faithfully reminds me just when it is needed. 

"For the Lord is good.
His unfailing love continues forever,
and his faithfulness continues to each generation."
Psalm 100:5

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Crazy Love...

I'm reading this great book. Let me introduce you to the author...
Meet Francis Chan.



{Picture by Kevin Von Qualen}

He's an ordinary guy who had a rough start in life.  His mom died when he was born and his dad was a tough character, who to his recollection told him "I love you" once {at his step-mother's funeral} before he also died.  Alot for a young kid to carry, but somehow he didn't just make it through, he made it through in a big way.  Somehow his hardships brought him face to face w/ Christ and his outlook on his life changed.  And he began to speak, and write and preach.  I've heard him speak several times at youth conferences and he can literally silence a stadium with a crowd of several thousand teenagers. 
He's real and relevant and in love with Jesus. 

And he wrote this riveting book called "Crazy Love" that I am only 4 chapters into, but loving.  The "Love" part is God's LOVE for us, and the "Crazy" part is how unlikely and ridiculous it is that a God big enough to speak the universe into existence with a word is also personal enough to want a relationship with us.  This Crazy Love God has for us is totally undeserving on our part.  Even at our best, we're still lightyears away from being deserving of even a flicker of His attention.  And yet, He gives it..to each of us...all at the same time....uniquely meeting us right where we are.  That is some kind of crazy love.

So, if you need a reminder that someone loves you like crazy and you've forgotten that that someone also personally holds the planets in orbit and the sun at just the perfect distance from us{all the while stooping down to listen to the thoughts of your heart}, then I HIGHLY recommend this book. 

"The very fact that a holy, eternal, all-knowing, all-powerful, merciful, fair,
and just God loves you and me is nothing short of astonishing..."
Francis Chan 

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