Sunday, September 26, 2010

The King's Christmas List

I received this book for free from Thomas Nelson Publishing in exchange for my honest review. I really appreciated the new direction that this book takes in the realm of Christmas stories. So many Christmas stories for kids are centered around Santa Claus and gifts that it is easy to forget that the holiday is about celebrating the birth of Christ. Christian Christmas stories celebrate the birth of the King, but often stop there. This story goes one step further.
Just what does a king want as a birthday present? Obviously we would want to give him the very best things we have to offer, but is that really what He wants from us? I like the message given in this book. Reading through this book could easily become a family holiday tradition that sparks some great conversations with your young children. Not only that, there are opportunities for your family to take part in giving a gift to the King listed at the back of the book.
This is a good story for your children. The pictures are also very engaging. My biggest complaint is the name of the little girl's dog, Shu-shu.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Count Your Many Blessings

I woke up this morning and took a deep breath. My husband smiled at me. I got out of a comfortable bed in my beautiful home and chose what to wear from a large selection of clothing. I went downstairs to gather my healthy children so that I could drive them to cross country practice in one of our cars that my handy husband keeps in working order. There was a bright, full moon out to light our way. I was able to spend a peaceful 30 minutes after running reading my Bible and praying.After exercise we headed home so everyone could shower (thanks to my husbands ability to fix the pump last week). All of the stinky clothes went into the washer which Stan fixed last night. We ate breakfast, once again choosing from a variety of available foods. I have hardly started my day and the blessings are more than I can write. It is amazing that God has given me so much, and I still whine and complain.

One of the first verses my kids learned is Philippians 2:14"Do everything without complaining or arguing." Memorizing that is so much easier than the actual practice. I keep trying to say, "But, God..." Funny, I don't let my kids get away with that, but I try it on my heavenly Father just the same. Anyway, one of the things that has helped me out is a little further along in Philippians. Paul writes in 4:11-12 "I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have leaned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation..." Learning to be content where I am keeps me from complaining about where I am. The best way that I know of to learn to be content is to try to list the blessings that God has already given me. I can't even think them fast enough, much less write them down.

God has blessed each and everyone of us more than we can begin to understand or appreciate. He created the whole amazing universe. He gave us life. Most of us walk on two good legs. We see. We hear. We feel. Someone somewhere cares about us. We have food to eat, water to drink, clothes to wear and a bed to sleep in. We are blessed, blessed, abundantly blessed and it is about time we started realizing it. When we do, I am convinced we will be more than content to let God continue in the same vein and stop complaining that we don't have the "latest and greatest". We have something so much better.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Enthralling Beauty

I have such a terrific husband. We have been married for almost 29 years, and there has not been one day gone by that he hasn't told me that I am beautiful. The best part is that he really means it. It is a real blessing to me to hear that from him, but I know that I frustrate him a lot because I just can't see it. I think that our eyes must work differently because when I look in the mirror, beautiful is not the word that comes to my mind.

Lately, I have become aware of my sin in this. Stan is a man of integrity. Why do I think he isn't telling the truth here? It is because I have allowed myself to believe the lie that Satan is selling, that I just don't measure up. He tells me that in so many ways, not just in the looks department. Does he whisper in your ear too? Are you not nice enough, generous enough, doing enough, smart enough, loving enough, peaceful enough, blameless enough? Stop right there. He is leading you down a path of lies. Grab yourself a Bible and start filling your head with the truths found in God's Word.

I still don't think that I measure up to America's standard of beauty, but I have learned that I am downright gorgeous in God's eyes. Psalm 45:11 says, "The king is enthralled by your beauty; honor him for he is your lord." He knows me inside and out, the good parts and the truly ugly stuff, yet He tells me that I am beautiful, that He is enthralled, and that I should honor Him. I still may not get it, but I am working on believing. Stan is not going to hear me answer him with, "Are you crazy?" or, "You need some glasses." anymore. God has made me and I am beautiful. Like we said as kids, "God don't make no junk."

Monday, September 13, 2010

How Great Is Our God

Do you ever start to think that you are all that and a bag of chips? Yeah, me too. Sometimes (more often than I would like to admit) I start thinking that the planets are shifting ever so slightly and beginning to revolve around me. It seems logical at the time, after all, I am the center of my own little universe. Then I walk out the front door on my way to some meeting or other and look up at the night sky. Wow! That is humbling.

Just the little bit of sky that we can see from our own front yard can remind me of who is really the center of the universe. God's awesome power is there on display for all to see and say, "Aah, yes, THAT is God's work. He truly is amazing beyond what we can comprehend." I am in awe of God, the creator of everything. At times I wish my mind was big enough to "get" even a little piece of Him, but, then I realize that if I could, then He wouldn't be God.

If I thought that the night sky was an incredible example of God's power, creativity, and care, can you imagine my reaction to pictures from the Huble Telescope? THAT, my friends, is truly an awesome God worthy of all our praise, adoration and worship. He alone created all of that with just a word. Can you imagine? I can't. Isn't it wonderful that our God is so big? How can we possibly have a single worry or care in the world when we know that the God who created about 350,000,000,000 galaxies yet knows the number of hairs on our heads is in control? The very same God that set the world in motion is the God who hears your prayers? He is all powerful, all knowing and all sufficient. Praise Him for He alone is worthy.

I now own the book "The Heavens Proclaim His Glory" which contains pictures from the Huble. It sits on my coffee table. I don't have to wait for a clear night to bring my back to my place. I am reminded each morning. "Astronomers are now convinced that there are more stars in the universe than grains of sand on the beaches of the world. When you consider that our sun - the star - is a grain of sand, this makes Earth infinitesimally small! And on this eensy speck of earth, out of the billions of people, the Lord of the universe came to earth to save you. Truly, the heavens declare not only His glory, but His mercy! Joni Eareckson Tada
Is that the God you are worshipping?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Heavens Proclaim His Glory

Even though I received this book as a part of Booksneeze for my honest review, I would willingly have paid the asking price. I have often sat outside on a clear night and marveled at the creativity and awesome power of God. This book has just made that reality even more apparent. The incredible pictures from the Huble Telescope begin to open our eyes to how truly vast and wonderful this universe is. It is a reminder to us that "His art, His handiwork, and His creation all echo the truth that HE is glorious." Franci Chan. I am more in awe and more inspired by God after seeing these pictures and reading about the enormity of our universe. How powerful he must be to have spoken all of this into existence.
Not only did the book have the most spectacular pictures, there was much information about the stars, planets, and galaxies. My children were able to study this for their science lessons. We realize that there still is much for us to learn and we have only just now begun the lessons.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Of Combat Boots and Swim Fins

God surprises me sometimes. Really He surprises me most of the time, but when He reminds me that He cares about the little, "unimportant" things in my life, I am amazed and feel like falling down on my face in grateful adoration for such a loving father. I want to share a couple times in the past few months that God has blown me away with His generosity.

Jesse is involved in the Sea Cadets program (I can't say enough good things about the program and his unit. If you have kids 11-17, you should check it out). This winter they did a field training exercise that meant they were out in the wild for three days, marching and wearing their combat boots the whole time. The unit provides the uniforms for the kids as long as they have some that fit. That means that Jesse has been wearing combat boots that are really a half size too small for a while because there were none his size. I wanted to get him some that fit, but they don't come cheap and everyone needed other shoes and stuff, so those were a low priority. I daydreamed about buying him boots, but that was as far as it went, for me anyway. God had another plan. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills and I guess He owns a bunch of combat boots too because the unit received a brand new pair in Jesse's size that he was able to get and use. No marching for three days in boots too small. God is good!

When Jesse got back from field ops, we began to research summer training opportunities. He picked out the ones for this year, and we looked at what he might be interested in the following summer. Many were advanced training that would involve scuba training. I began to long to expose him to scuba training before next summer so that he would feel more comfortable about doing an advanced training. Silly me, did I go to God to ask for this. No. Not me. I don't want to bother Him with that. He has important things to care about. So, again, I daydreamed about scuba lessons for Jesse and investigated the cost (wow, they are not cheap), but that was it. This past Saturday at drill we were informed that the cadets will become scuba certified as part of their drills this year. They will receive their lessons, masks, snorkel, dive bag, weight belt, boots, fins and log book along with scuba certification. They will even be taking a weekend trip to do their open water dives. All that for $125 (less if we can do some serious fundraising). How incredibly good is God?

I am so richly blessed to have a God that cares so much for me that He provides ALL of my needs and so many of my desires. As pitiful as it is, He deserves all that I am. I can't wait until heaven when I am able to worship and thank Him as He deserves for ever and ever. I hope that you know this God and have that same longing to meet Him.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

What's in a Name?

A dear friend of mine died a couple of weeks ago. That's right. She died. She didn't pass away, move on, kick the bucket, check out, or go to Davy Jones' locker. She died. Just like the rest of us, she was a sinner and, as the Bible tells us, the wages of sin is death.
Sometimes it seems like, in an effort to be more gentle and loving or to not offend, we tone down the message of the Bible and lose something in the process. Dead. It sounds so final, so complete, so desolate. Unlike those alternatives we like to use, death sounds like what it is. Death is the end of this life here.
Fortunately, that doesn't have to be the end of the story. Jesus came to live a perfect life, die on the cross, and rise again in order to defeat death. He paid the wages of our sin. Yes, death is the end of this life here, but for those whose hope is in the Lord, it is only the beginning of eternity.
Let's stop trying to sugar-coat the message of the Bible and just tell it like it is. You are a sinner. You are going to die. You deserve an eternity in hell. The good news is that God's free gift is eternity with Him for those whom He has chosen before the foundations of the Earth. I am glad that Carolyn was one of those women, and I look forward to joining her in heaven one day.