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When you’re kids run you ragged

First off I love my kids and am blessed to have them. They are amazing and that’s why they are exhausting. I have been a mother for four years and you would think with time it would get easier. Oh contraire it is definitely getting harder. I am seeing now why some mommas sing the hallelujah chorus when their kids are old enough for school. It gives you a break at least for a few hours to regroup and get together a game plan for when they are home with you. I don’t know how mothers of more than one do it, or those that homeschool, which I am doing currently. It is so hard to balance life with structure, play time, attention, independence, guidance, trust and the list could go on and does.

I realize that my kids already learn differently, I see the difference in how they interact with others and how they go through life. Jacob is turning four this weekend he is my Fourth of July firecracker baby. He is so smart, can hear and see things before most know what’s going on, he is smart and picks up on things quickly. He is also very stubborn, he can wait you out and wear you down into giving in.  He doesn’t like to be left alone, even if that means you are just in the room with him. He loves to talk through movies and explain what he sees and can remember parts to movies and stories moments and months later. He needs attention when he is doing something that he doesn’t really enjoy, but you are making him do; for example school work. He longs for friends, but it takes a certain friend for him to actually want to spend time with you. He is sensitive and can be a cuddle bug, but he can also be rude and mean spirited when he is in a bad mood. He loves sweet and salty things, thank goodness we have steered clear of pop with him because he would be addicted. He gets red and hot easily, but loves to play and get dirty (especially when it’s rainy and muddy). He loves his family and would defend his sister from anyone who is trying to mess with her.

Parker is two and my other crazy kid, she loves to dance and sing.  She hates wearing clothes and very rarely wants her hair up in a nice bow. She says she is a princess and at times will say she is a baby too. This is unfortunately a nickname and a common way that she is referred to in Uganda “hi, baby”. She loves being near mom and will also give a good cuddle with dad when moms not available. She also loves being held, unless it means she is being kept from getting into something or she sees something she wants to do or touch. She is my eater, but Jacob is also getting there with consumption, however she is not as picky. She can be a bit of a diva when she knows that mom will give in and share her food. She also loves her candy, but has not mastered gum as thankfully it has only stuck to her butt and not in her hair PTL. She is also a dirt collector and only gets upset when she falls and gets dirty, but doesn’t mind when it is just from her digging in the dirt. She doesn’t like movies, but does like some cartoons.  She still takes naps and gets to a breaking point if you don’t hold her or have her in the car seat to take a nap. Just the other day I was trying to finish up with a class with the Rising Star kids and she was just not cooperating.  I held her and continued teaching and she fell asleep in my arms even though it was loud. She hates bugs and fears animals unless they are at a distance or she gets to know them well.

Every day, I have the choice to either be patient, loving, kind, and nurturing mom or lose my mind, sad, upset, disappointed mom. It at times is a moment to moment kind of thing and that it is why it is so important for me to have that time with my Bible, time to myself and to have an open dialog with God throughout my day. I am still trying to figure out this mom thing, but hopeful and prayerful that they learn to love God and love others the two greatest commandments. I wouldn’t mind if they also obeyed their parents too.

Prayers welcome!

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It’s not about the skin it’s about the sin!

It’s not about the skin it’s about the sin

I am getting really annoyed that as a world we are still so consumed by such unimportant things. It’s getting worse by the day. All our problems come from our lack of acknowledgment that Jesus is Lord and all sin is a separation from God.

The world is so fixated on our differences and then labels those differences as an excuse for sin. It’s not a red, brown, yellow, black or white issue it’s a sin issue. Remember the song “red, brown, yellow, black and white they are precious in his sight.” Let us stop labelling sin as anything but just that sin. Sure it helps people define it, but why? All sin is sin whether you are cheating or hating, stealing or lusting. Guess what, the punishment is still the same, death, separation from God in Heaven. If you are a Christian, a believer in the one true God, believe that Jesus died for that very sin that you struggle with daily, and that without Him you can do nothing right, then you can be the solution.  Cue Michael Jackson music, “We are the world, we are the children, we are the ones who make a brighter day, so let’s start giving…there’s a choice we’re making, we’re saving our own lives, its true we’ll make a better day just me and you.”

I was moved to tears today. I get that way when the spirit moves. The kids stayed in their rooms and enjoyed children’s church. Allowing me to hear the message. The pastor hit on several great points especially how without Jesus in our life we are still in bondage and that we need to be in the word to stay strong against the devil. So how can we overcome this hate in the world? Do as my momma always said, “kill it “sin” with kindness.” We can’t change the world unless we ourselves are willing to make the changes. We need to equip ourselves with the tools necessary to change, to grow and that is The BIBLE. Not by reposting blogs, and articles, watching the news and just talking about it, we need to be spending time in quiet time with just the Bible and God and pray for His spirit to move in and through us and through others. Praying is doing something, but actions are only beneficial if they are motivated by the scripture instead of some good article we read the other day. Read the whole thing, not just quoting scriptures that support what we claim. Speak truth!

The truth that I felt God was telling me was that without Him we can do nothing!

God is love, so love one another. 1 Corinthians 13 so much of this chapter is great so I am going to write it out for you, but my prayer is that you would pick up your Bible today and read it, pray over it and follow the Holy Spirits lead.

“If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it, but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! But when full understanding comes, these partial things will become useless.

When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

THREE THINGS WILL LAST FOREVER-FAITH, HOPE AND LOVE- AND THE GREATEST OF THESE IS LOVE.”

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Care Package

So I was thinking about what would be nice to get in a care package that we can’t really get here. I started a list but really had no real good ideas except little reward stickers and movies for the kids. So I asked Jacob and here is his list.

Jacob’s list

My own Computer

Big coloring pencils like Parker has

Pretend toy cat- pull string that makes it talk

Stickers that I can wear on my shirt

Strawberries

Big Hero 6

More chocolate from Todd’s Bakery

Band-Aids

Good fruit snacks (Scooby doo)

Spiderman costume (2 to go with my two masks one for me and one for Parker)

Toy house with little people

Jacob says that’s all and Parker says she doesn’t want anything, Jacob chimes in that he will just share.

Pretty funny kid.

I was actually able to think of things after Jacob said his list. I figured I could be just as random and wishful.

My list

Poptarts- brown sugar

Flavored oatmeal- maple and brown sugar (impossible to recreate the flavor and texture)

Starbursts

Nail polish and remover

Foundation that isn’t just for dark skin

Face lotion with spf that doesn’t leave my face a grease ball

Glue sticks

Any good books

It is strange how I go to the mall here and attempt to find things, usually kid or craft related and I can’t find it or it is not in the budget. I was saying the other day how nice it would be to just go to Target or Michaels and find whatever I needed and of course use a coupon or get a percentage off. Granted I can get some great deals if I work hard for it and there are plenty of things that are super cheap. People have asked what we would want in a care package and how to send it to us. If your in Omaha, give stuff to my mom Cindy she works at the church so that would be easiest. If you are in Michigan then Matt’s mom would be the go to person.

Honestly we don’t NEED things but it is a nice thought.  Really all we need is your prayers, kind words and thoughts. But if you enjoy giving gifts then by all means. If you need any info send a facebook message or email and we can answer your questions there. Update things are going well here. We are adapting nicely and really starting to get into a good routine balancing ministry and life. We have some help with the kids on days that I need to go into work, her name is Jackie and she is great. We only have her for a few months until she starts going to college but we are utilizing her as much as needed until then. We have been doing lots of training and revamping things with the ministry and are excited to put into place those things. It’s been a full week with the dogs and we have had some loud nights but hoping that the barking starts to calm down. They are getting used to the kids and overall doing well. The power has been good here, water is coming when it needs to but it would be nice if they would finish with the connection to the main line. Internet has been touch and go but it just means I have to type in advance and pray it sends when I am ready. Blessings to you all as you enjoy your summer months and be thinking about next year making a trip out here to see us J. Speaking of that we do have some great things going on at the new land too and hope to be able to utilize some of the space there, Matt will be posting pictures soon of the before and after pics. Until next time, God Bless.

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A little love goes a long way…

So I had to forward this great devotional on to you all. It is from Bible Plan (reading the Bible in a year) Today’s devotional was what I have been having on my heart, especially today. Hope you also get something out of it.

Love

In February 1977, Bishop Festo Kivengere fled Uganda in fear for his life. A few days previously he had been part of a group of church leaders who had delivered a letter of protest to the dictator, Idi Amin. They had spoken out against the beatings, arbitrary killings and unexplained disappearances taking place across Uganda at the time. The delegation had been led by Kivengere’s friend and leader, Archbishop Janani Luwum. Within twenty-four hours of delivering the letter, Luwum had been killed, and Kivengere driven into hiding and then exile.

Soon afterwards Kivengere published a book entitled I Love Idi Amin. In the book he explained the extraordinary title: ‘The Holy Spirit showed me that I was getting hard in my spirit … so I had to ask for forgiveness from the Lord, and for grace to love President Amin more … this was fresh air for my tired soul. I knew I had seen the Lord and been released: love filled my heart.’

Love is more than a feeling or an emotion. It is a decision about how we treat one another. As Bishop Stephen Neill wrote, ‘If a mathematical analysis of “love” in this sense were to be attempted, it would probably assign 10% to emotion; 20% to understanding; 70% to will.’

Jesus was the supreme example of love in the history of the world. He tells us to love God, to love one another (John 13:34-35), to love our neighbour as ourselves and even to love our enemies. He demonstrates all this in his own life through loving everyone (even Judas who betrayed him as we see in today’s passage), and laying down his life for us all in love.

Psalm 66:13-20

1. Love God

When you are in trouble do you ever bargain with God? Do you ever make a promise that if God were to answer your prayer you will do something (… or you won’t do something ever again!)? The psalmist made such a promise – and when his prayer was answered he fulfilled his promise. He wrote, ‘I will … fulfil my vows to you – vows my lips promised and my mouth spoke when I was in trouble’ (vv.13-14).

God loves you. He does not withhold his love from you. The psalmist praises God: ‘He stayed with me, loyal in his love‘ (v.20, MSG). Your love for God and others is a response to his love for you, ‘We love because he first loved us’ (1 John 4:19).

God, in his love for you, hears and answers your prayers. If you want to enjoy God’s love to the full, experience answered prayer, and show your love for him, there is one thing you need to avoid. The psalmist writes: ‘If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened’ (Psalm 66:18).

If there is sin in the past, you can confess it and repent of it and be forgiven. What really blocks our relationship with God is if we deliberately plan to sin in the future. Then we cannot come into God’s presence with a clear conscience. This blocks the experience of his love.

It is because God, in his love ‘has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer’ (v.19), that in response the psalmist wants other people to listen to him. ‘Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me’ (v.16). It is so encouraging to hear other people’s testimonies about what God has done in their lives. It inspires the rest of us and increases our faith.

Lord, thank you for your forgiveness, mercy and love. Thank you for the many times when you have listened and heard my voice in prayer (v.19). ‘Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!’ (v.20).

John 13:18-38

2. Love one another

Nothing is more of a hindrance to the message of Jesus than a lack of love between Christians. If our nations are to be changed, if people are going to turn back to following Jesus, we must start loving one another. This means loving Christians of different churches, denominations, traditions and different views to us.

It means loving one another in the local church. Disunity destroys. Love unites. Love attracts others to the person of Jesus. Loving God and loving one another in Jesus’ name must be our overall ambition above all others. That is the kind of love that can change the world.

The author of John’s Gospel knew the love of Jesus in a very special way. Of all the disciples he was the one closest to Jesus. He was the one who ‘was reclining next to him’ (v.23). Four times in this gospel, John describes himself as ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved‘: here (v.23), at the cross (19:26), at the empty tomb (20:2) and with the risen Jesus (21:20).

Perhaps, because of this unique experience of Jesus’ love, his gospel and letters speak so much about love. He records that Jesus told his disciples, ‘A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another’ (13:34-35).

People fail to love for different reasons. Judas betrays Jesus in spite of being so close to him: ‘He who shares my bread has lifted up his heel against me’ (v.18). Satan entered into him (v.27). Here we see the very opposite of love. Yet Jesus continued to love Judas.

Peter loved Jesus. But he too failed. Peter said that he would lay down his life for Jesus (v.37), but Jesus tells him, ‘You will disown me three times’ (v.38). And that is what Peter did (18:15-18,25-27). Yet Jesus continued to love Peter.

Jesus sets before us this amazing challenge: ‘As I have loved you, so you must love one another’ (13:34). Jesus loved us by laying down his life for us. He says that we are to follow his example and show self-sacrificial love for one another. This is the mark of a true Christian. ‘By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another’ (v.35).

Love is the most effective form of evangelism. When people see real love they see God. The best way to tell people about Jesus is to love them and to love other followers of Jesus.

Generally, in the world, people get into groups with people they are naturally attracted to and who think the same way as them. The followers of Jesus are meant to be quite different. The church of Jesus Christ brings us together with a variety of people from different backgrounds, of different interests, different ages, ethnicities, races, perspectives, opinions and different views: all who love one another.

This is one of the reasons I love gatherings, such as Alpha International Week. The week gathers people from over 100 countries and numerous different churches and denominations, representing every continent, race and ethnicity. One of the features of these biennial weeks is always the extraordinary love that breaks down every barrier and unites us all in our love for Jesus and our love for one another.

Lord, help us to love one another as you have loved us. May we see a new love between Christians of all churches, denominations and traditions in the local, national and global church. May the world be changed by our love.

John 13:18-38

3. Love like God

There are times in our lives when we may feel outnumbered by problems – illness, temptation, attacks on our faith and so on – but God is able to save us, if he acts on our behalf. However much we seem to be outnumbered by our enemies, if the Lord acts on our behalf we will be saved.

We need to trust God not just when things are going well, but also in the difficult times. God is looking for men and women of faith.

Samuel said, ‘The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people’ (13:14).

God’s heart is full of love, compassion, mercy, justice and creativity. He is looking for people who are like him – like Jesus. Only the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts can make us like Jesus.

Saul failed. God had told Saul to wait until Samuel arrived. When Samuel was delayed, the people became restless. Saul cared more about what the people thought than what God thought. He became impatient and panicked (vv.6-12), just as we so often do. We need to learn to be more patient – to wait for God to act – and not panic if little things go wrong, such as Samuel being late. We must not rush into rash decisions in the heat of the moment.

Jonathan, on the other hand, trusted ultimately in God’s love. He said ‘Perhaps the Lord will act on our behalf. Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few’ (14:6).

Lord, please give me a heart like yours – a heart of love. Help me to trust in your unfailing love. Thank you that your love is poured into my heart by the Holy Spirit, who has been given to me (Romans 5:5). Lord, please pour your love into my heart today.

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Ruth and Truth

With the world looking to social media for affirmation on what they believe you can find your point of view supported by someone. Sometimes I wonder if the articles that would have been written even 5 years ago would have never been seen like they do today. It is interesting to see how many people write on what they believe to be truth. It is also interesting for me being a “blogger” that literally anyone can write on a topic. I think with this realization that I am trying to put more importance on basing my truth on the Bible and not just my opinion on the matter. I generally stay away from controversial topics in regard to commenting or reposting because frankly I don’t like having discussions via typing. I like to talk about topics in person so I can really feel out the situation and filter when necessary. It’s not always a good thing to speak your mind when you need to really pause and reflect and gain more information before putting YOUR truth out there.

I was reading Ruth recently and afterward I was prompted to break down the chapter and write out what I thought was the important pieces necessary to retell the story without reading it word for word. I then thought what that story would look like in modern day or rather how could the story be rewritten to express the meaning it wanted to convey?

Here is my silly modern day twist on the story of Ruth:

Bob moves his wife and two sons to California for more opportunity, due to the severe drought of jobs in Nebraska. His kids find wives, but tragically the three men die in a car wreck. The young wives are very close to their mother in laws because their parents live far away. One daughter decides she will move back home with her parents, but one daughter decides it would be best to take care of her mother in law. The weather turns for the best and it is now looking to be best to move back to Nebraska it is corn harvest time and they can find work among the friends they left behind. So Mary and Lisa move to Nebraska, where Lisa finds a job with a distant relative of Bob. She is a hard worker and is noticed as such by the head farmer, he makes sure she is taken care of. She is grateful and asks if she could work for minimum wage, he grants her request but allows her to work as much as she wants allowing for overtime pay. She lets her mother in law know what her day was like and her wise mother says that she should make sure she works harder, longer and to the best of her ability. She encourages her to clean herself up, put on some nice clothes and perfume and go to the banquet that is being held for the employees of the farmer Mr. Johnson. Lisa makes sure to blend in and not seek out attention, and when it is best to talk to Mr. Johnson alone she does. She again thanks him for his generosity and asks that he would consider to let her continue to work throughout the entire holiday. He is pleased with her hard work and over time he falls in love with her for not only her beauty but also her loyalty and kindness. He talks with another family member who has been making sure that Mary and Lisa are cared for, and asks to marry Lisa. Lisa and Mr. Johnson get married and have children who later make big impacts on the world globally. The end.

I am sure that there is a deeper meaning that could be conveyed and someone probably could tell it better, but I gave it a shot. The lesson that I get out of reading about Ruth is that she was loyal, hardworking and trustworthy. Because of her faithfulness she was blessed with more than she ever thought she could. When you think you’re down and out, just remember the perseverance of Ruth, and her amazing character.

To tie a little bow around my ramblings, don’t look to the world for your importance. Don’t look to the world for their truth for you, seek ye first the kingdom of heaven. Basically call on God to help you and guide your decisions, back up those thoughts with scripture and find someone who can mentor you. Ruth I believe was able to make good decisions by seeking Godly counsel and listening to what God was also telling her. In the end she was blessed with a husband, family and a legacy that is still impacting the world today (great grandson was David fyi).