Praying for our brothers and sisters- Day 1

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the the judgement, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. Psalms 1:1-6 ESV

Dear Father,
Thank You for planting us by streams of Living Water. Let the life that Living Water brings us, come to fruit in our lives. Bless our brothers and sisters that are being persecuted for Your Name sake! Bring about the fruit of Your Peace and Love in their lives. Bless them and keep them Abba God! Let Your Word be sustenance to their souls. Thank You that through Your Son we are made righteous, for there is no other way. Lord, as Your Word says let the wicked be as like the chaff that wind drives away. Drive the wicked away from Your loved ones! Just as Saul on the road to Damascus, let these wicked oppressors be blinded by Your light. May they know You as Saul did and change them as much as You changed Saul to Paul. If you can change this zealous killer into a man after You, so You can do the same to those that now persecute Your children.
Amen.

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Of Comfort and Love

Cheery flowers

Cheery flowers

Have you ever been sick or in a stressful situation? I think the majority of us would say yes. If you are one of the lucky few that hasn’t, then count yourself blessed! It is in times like those that your friends and loved ones can be such a comfort. From kind words, prayers, flowers like the beautiful ones above, food, or just plain being there. When difficult times come, the little things make you feel so loved and blessed.

Recently I have been through a difficult time, and I have never felt so loved! I was surrounded by prayers from my friends both near and far, I treasured them so much. I received several sweet cards and flowers. I had friends and family help with the children. This was so helpful allowing me time to rest and heal. I also received scrumptious food. While I wish that I had thought to take pictures of all that I had been given, the memories will be ones that I cherish. I might not remember exactly what was given, but I will remember the love by those that gave. Like a hug, spreading warmth encompassing your whole being. The physical effect might fade, but the feeling stays like a the memory of snuggling under a favorite blanket.

parmesan chicken, garlicky green beans, lemon dilly carrots, and a brioche roll

parmesan chicken, garlicky green beans, lemon dilly carrots, and a brioche roll

When I came home after surgery my throat felt scraped and raw. Simply taking a shower left me feeling like I ran a marathon. The warm comforting chicken noodle soup not only soothed my tender throat, but warmed me by the tender expression of friendship. The velvety potato soup and sweetly spiced rice pudding brightened my day. While I am not eager for the opportunity to return the favor (I don’t wish illness or sadness on anyone), when life eventually happens (as it so often does) I will eagerly return or pay forward the love. Hopefully when the next opportunity presents itself it will be for a blessing (like a new baby or adoption)!

a delish chocolate Bundt cake

a delish chocolate Bundt cake

Have you ever been delightfully spoiled as I have? Or perhaps you were the one to spoil someone else? What are your favorite memories? What are some of the meals that you like to share with people?

Making Progress~ Baby Step 1 complete!

So after starting Financial Peace University at home in the beginning of December we have met our $1000.00 emergency fund! Woot Woot! Time to cancel all those credit cards! Wait already done~ well except 1 card, hubby needs to call that one in. Either way, the cards are still gone.  It is sooooo freeing to not even have the temptation anymore. Buh-Bye Mastercard….you will not be my master anymore!

On the debt front we are working on baby step #2 The Debt Snowball. I paid off 2 medical bills today (high-five!) and we’re working on the next one. We started off with a total of 7 creditors and $45k in debt. This is credit card, student loans, and medical. We are now down to 5 creditors 🙂 Yippee! The goal is to by the end of January be down to 4 and by tax return time be down to 3.

Littlest Fruit

However there is a slight glitch in the plan…..littlest fruit has to go see a neurologist soon. She has been recently having a few issues caused by something that happened at birth. It is no big deal as far as her health goes. Everything will be fine and the problem should be treat-able. Now we are staring down another medical bill that we didn’t know was coming. Her umbilical cord was too tight against her spine as she came out  which we were told could cause a pinched nerve. It doesn’t always happen and just to keep an eye on her. A few days before Christmas we started noticing a few of the signs that they told us to watch for. Unfortunately hubby’s medical insurance has a LARGE deductible that has to be met before they will pay even 80%. Given that he also just got a smallish raise, we have decided to have that amount put into our HSA pre-tax to help cover any new medical expenses.

This is disheartening on so many levels. I want my baby to be healthy and whole. We were relieved as she was hitting developmental milestones without a problem and even a few early. I am so thankful that we caught this problem right away and that it shouldn’t (other than financially) be a problem to correct. It is also frustrating on another level to feel like we are getting somewhere with this debt only to have more future bills that are going to delay our goals. Don’t get me wrong I will pay ANYTHING to help my baby or any of my other kids. My top priority is their health, education, and happiness. I also recognize that this is also our fault for not putting more into our HSA to begin with. My mentality is that in general we have a very healthy family so what was being put in the account would have been sufficient. Aside from the occasional ear infection, we don’t need to go to the doctor unless I’m pregnant. We have been praying asking the Lord to show us things we can sell or ways to make extra money so we can stay on track with our goals and  be able to pay off the new medical bills is full when we receive them. Our God is faithful and I believe that since we are acting in accordance to His will, in regards to paying our debt, that He will provide a way! We would appreciate prayers in this as well!

Looking Forward

Hello Friends!

It’s been a while since I’ve been on here. Starting Coop for my daughter’s schooling, taking a trip to visit my dad, and just life in general. I have several recipes that I have been working on and I hope to get them on here soon. However today I want to address something that has been on my heart. Half of the country is celebrating the re-election of the President, while the other half is angry and perhaps even fearful. This country is changing, whether it’s for the best or not is in the eye of the beholder. While I am not going to make this political in the sense that I will say one man was a better choice than the other, but I want to address the concern many may have. To be honest with you I didn’t like Obama or Romney. I think it’s a sad time in America, if that’s the best we have to offer. Many felt they had to pick the lesser of 2 evils, some felt that was Romney, while others clearly felt that was Obama. Who was right and who was wrong doesn’t matter. This is for my friends that are concerned about the President’s stand for Israel (or lack thereof) and their civil liberties.

In my Bible Study we have been studying the story of Balaam and Balak in the book of Numbers. As many of you are aware God uses real people and real events to teach us about Him. Also Jesus says we can search the scriptures and find Him. This morning I felt clearly the Lord telling me to remember the story of Balaam.

The story begins in Numbers chapter 22. The Israelites are camped by the river Jordan and Balak King of Moab became terrified (v1-3). For those curious Moab is where the modern-day country of Jordan is located. So he summons Balaam, who seems to have some sort of spiritual authority/ power. Not necessarily power given by God.

“….(v6) For I [Balak] know that those you [Balaam] bless, are blessed, and those you curse are cursed.”

Here Balak makes clear that he is summoning Balaam because he wants Balaam to curse the Israelites, in hopes that Moab will not be destroyed. So Balaam spent the night in prayer over Balak’s request and the God of Israel spoke to him that night.  God tells Balaam not to curse Israel. The next morning Balaam sends Balak’s messengers back to tell Balak he can’t curse them. However Balak isn’t going to take no for an answer and sends more messengers (vs. 8-17)So again Balaam spends the night in prayer. God again comes to Balaam and tells Balaam he may go, but he is to obey God.

Now on a side note, I have been taught that many Jewish historians believe that Balaam is the great great nephew of Laban. That’s correct, his uncle is Leah and Rachel’s father. If you remember Rachel hid her father’s idols when leaving his home. Apparently these idols were objects that people could “divine” information from. Similar in the way people use magic 8 balls, or Ouiji boards. The objects were not little statues as one might think, and apparently spoke. The Jewish scholars believe that Rachel took them with her to keep her father from using them against her and her husband. So if these connects are true, then Balaam quite possibly would have knowledge of these practices and also through knowing of Rachel about the God of Israel.

So then the next morning Balaam set out on a donkey, but God was very angry. and set out an angel to stop him (v21-22). So why would God be mad a Balaam for going when He told Balaam to go? Remember men look at outward appearances, but God looks at the heart. So God must have looked at Balaam’s heart and saw that Balaam intended to curse Israel after all.

As Balaam goes on his journey the donkey is able to see the Angel of the Lord with his sword drawn and turns from the angel 2 times. Both times Balaam beats the donkey for what he believes is non-compliance or disobedience. The 3rd time the donkey sees the angel, he can’t turn away from the angel as there is nowhere to go. So the donkey lays down, once again trying to protect Balaam. Balaam becomes enraged, beating the donkey with his staff. The Lord opens the donkey’s mouth and the donkey asks why are you beating me? What have I done? (v28)

Now I don’t know about you but would have run if a donkey started talking to me like the horse from the Mr. Ed show. Yet remember Balaam is use to using objects (perhaps even animals) to divine information. In verse 29 Balaam responds to the donkey “You have made a fool of me! If I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now.”

Then later in v31-33 God opens Balaam’s eyes to see the angel. The angel informs Balaam he was going to kill Balaam if it had not been for the donkey. Yet (remember this part) he would have spared the donkey. Balaam repents and continues to Balak telling Balak that he will not curse Israel.

Now some Christian scholars believe that in the Bible the donkey is often a type of shadowing of the church. Ex. Jesus riding the donkey into Jerusalem is Jesus leading the church, heading to what will soon be His crucifixion making the redemption of the church possible. On a whim I decided to look up what the name Balaam means: foreigner or one without people. Next I re-read the story with these to things in mind and found something surprising. So let’s look at the story again and put in the type shadowing.

The foreigner, one without a people, is leading (ruling over) the church. In his heart he has decided to curse Israel on behalf of Moab (Jordan) despite what God has told him. God sends an angel to destroy the foreigner, yet the church sees the angel and makes the foreigner turn unwillingly from his present course. Both times the foreigner beats the church for what he sees as noncompliance with his demands. Finally a 3rd time the church sees the angel of God and can not turn away. So the church lays down (and in essence digs in its heels). Finally the foreigner begins to beat the church with his rule or law (staff). Yet God finally opens the foreigner’s eyes to see the angel that would have destroyed him, but spared the church. The foreigner repents (v34) and says to Jordan I can’t curse Israel.

Take of it what you will. But God admonished Israel (and we dear ones are grafted into the line of Israel) to remember Balaam and that journey. What I see is that God has in this story and in many others clearly states whatever happens, Israel will not be cursed. So fear not for Israel, however we are to be on the lookout and turn just as the donkey did. Pray for our leaders so that their eyes may be opened as well, so that they do not curse Israel. That doesn’t mean that our leaders will necessarily become saved. If you continue the story of Balaam, you will see that Balaam tries to get Israel to defile itself. Yet remember what the angel of the Lord said. He would have destroyed Balaam, but he would have spared the donkey (church). So no matter what happens, we may be beaten down, but God will not have us destroyed and He will not allow Israel to be cursed.

Maranatha!

The Wolf

His minion came running in excitedly “Master, Master! I have something you must see!”

Irritated the Wolf looked at him “This better be good, for you to bother me!” The minion shoved an article under Wolf’s nose. Quickly he scanned what was on the page

Pay attention*** Mary had a little lamb. His fleece was white as snow. And everywhere that Mary went. The Lamb was sure to go. He followed her to school each day. It was not even the rule. He made the children laugh and play, to have a lamb at school. And then the rules all changed one day, illegal it became; to bring the Lamb of God to school or even say his name. Every day got worse and worse. And days turned into years. Instead of hearing children laugh we heard gun shots and tears. What must we do to stop the crime that’s in our schools today? Lets let the Lamb come back to school and teach our kids to PRAY!!!

The Wolf just chuckled, wadded up the paper, and threw it to the floor.

“But Master, shouldn’t we be afraid?” asked the minion.

Wolf gave him a tolerant look, and started putting on his suit. Then he began patiently explaining his plan.

” This battle is as old as time, but I finally came up with a plan not so long ago. You see these people seem to have forgotten that it is written in their law that church and state should not be mixed at all! So what did I do? I whispered in some people’s ears that wouldn’t it be grand, to offer free education across the land? The thought spread like wildfire even though some resisted. For those I allowed the lamb in, to wave away their fears. It was my plan all along, and the Shepherd knew this too. I slowly began to exclude the lamb from everyday. The people didn’t notice as I was ever so subtle….”

“But Master they are noticing now!” cried his underling!

“I’m getting to that!” growled the wolf as he sat down at his dressing table. Picking up a brush he continued, “It was so subtle that by the time they realized it, it was too late. To stop my plan that I had put into place! There were more who followed me, than believers in the school. Oh they protest, complain, and sometimes pray. However they don’t understand I have them just where I want them!”

“Where is that Master?!?!” asked the minion excitedly!

“Why it is simple! They are completely dependent on me to teach their children! So much so that they are blind to what the Shepherd has warned! They don’t worry me in the least! There’s another group that has me concerned!” murmured the Wolf.

Eyes wide with concern the minion questioned “Who are they Master?”

“They are the ones, that have allowed their eyes to be open….and are no longer content to send their children into my training camp. They’ve seen through me and know me for who I am. They take the charge to teach their child seriously and heed the Shepherd’s call not to be unequally yoked. They know that I am who I am and refuse to partner with me in the upbringing of their children. I’m concerned that they will sound the alarm for others to see.” With that the wolf rose and turned his transformation complete. Before the minion’s very eyes his Master suddenly looked like a sheep!

Quiet

This time of year encourages reflection and study. God is on the move among His people, and Heaven has never felt so close before. Dear one this is a time of equipping and showing God’s love. Dig in deeper to His truths. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. In a time when the world is in an upheaval God hasn’t changed. He loves all of us, we are all His creation. Don’t forget that when you see the sinner on the street. Christ came in ultimate love, what right do you have to look down your nose at someone else? Remember you are a sinner as well, saved only by His grace! Instead seek the Holy Spirit at all times, ask Him to allow you to see people the way God does, to love them the way God does. Ask God what plans He has for your life, and ask Him for His will to be done. Take all thoughts captive and remember:

Philippians 4:8- The Message (MSG)
Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.

The Message (MSG)
Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson
http://www.biblegateway.com

Simplify

Have you ever seen the commercial where the Dad comes home, looks around and sees everyone is off in their own world. Then he has a brilliant idea! He goes to the basement, flips the breaker box off, effectively shutting off the power. He goes outside and start-up the grill, and his son comes out and asks “Hey Dad what happened?” The Dad replies “Oh the power went out, want a hotdog?” The next scene is everyone sitting around an outdoor table eating, talking, and laughing. Then the boy notices something “Hey, why are the Johnson’s lights still on?” For an add it is an effective one, it portrays what everyone seems to want to achieve but has difficulty doing, quality family time. Not that the hotdogs can provide quality time, but the fact that the father took drastic measures to make it happen.

Now I am not going to go on about how our Heavenly Father does this, cause He does. He puts situations, and yes even allows disaster to occur, to draw us to Him. Think about the book of Job, he was a godly man, loved the Lord, yet God allowed him to be tested. But I digress….

A couple of weeks ago we had a service change done to our house. For those of you who are not familiar with it, they added more electrical capacity to our home. This winter (due to increasing prices) we will be switching from a gas furnace to an electric one. So we were without power for most of the afternoon. I was amazed with how much I was able to get accomplished and even still have free time with the kids! I was sweeping and mopping the floors, cleaning the kitchen, managed to cook lunch for 3 adults and 2 kids, and even picked beans. Then I spent quality time playing with the kids.

So it has got me thinking…..what is keeping me from being able to do this every day? Is it the pull of the tv, computer, or making complicated meals just because I can? What can I cut out to save time and even money? Or is it worth taking extra time to do things to save money, but somehow make it a family effort?

Since I haven’t been milling grain lately I decided to sell all my wheat and mill. That brought in a nice chuck of change in and freed up some space in the house. I’m looking into getting rid of more things, like an extra tv, switching out my high-end Dyson for an old-fashioned vacuum (non-electric kind). I also want to get a clothesline to let the sun dry our clothes 🙂

What I have been told and I think I will find to be true is that ridding your self of material things is freeing. You will feel less burdened and have less to clean/maintain. The plus side?!? You won’t be as tempted (hopefully) to run out and purchase more stuff. Can you say more $$$ 🙂

If you have money, live like you don’t save up that extra moolah for a rainy day or give to those that are in need. After all it is better to give than to receive. If you don’t have a lot of money, budget, budget, budget. Also remember you don’t need a lot of money to have fun. There are lots of places to go that are free and sometimes imagination is the best thing to create memories.

Spring Cleaning

We are experiencing a blessing of warm weather right now, which means time in the garden! I took the kids outside to play and the garden was calling me. Come weed me! Come till me! I couldn’t ignore it, so I set the kids up near me and told Vivian if she would “babysit” brother that I would pay her. The carrots that I let over winter are now over run with weeds. So I began the arduous task of pulling them out.

I began to ponder how weeds are much like sin in our lives. If left un-attended they will root and grow until it is out of control. Not only does it look ugly, but it chokes out the beautiful things that God has given (or wants to give) us until it dies. The weeds in my garden (like sin in our life) was hiding my carrots (blessings) so that when I went to pull the weeds, I almost pulled up the carrots! Likewise when we go to remove the sin in our life we can’t just yank it out so easily. We have to let the Gardner pull them out for us, but first we have to submit to His will and His plan for our garden.

Finally there needs to be a layer of mulch put down around our veggies (or as the Bible says our fruits 🙂 ) to keep the weeds from coming back or new ones from popping up. No matter how much mulch you put down there will always be a few stray invaders, but if you recognize them you (with the help of the Gardner) can eliminate them immediately. So what is mulch? Well in the literal sense I personally plan on trying straw in my garden this year, but spiritually speaking it is spending time in the Word, prayer, worship, accountability, and not forsaking the assembling of the Church. Sounds like a lot? Well you need the best combination of mulch to surround you if you plan on getting rid of weeds and growing!

So this spring let us do some cleaning and ask ourselves (and our Gardner) what areas of our garden have weeds? Which areas need tilling? Is the Gardner wanting to expand your garden? Happy gardening/ spring cleaning dear ones!

Urgency

Dear Heavenly Father,
Please let my words be of You. Let the words I share be an accurate reflection of You. My hearts desire is to do Your will. To hear Your voice, and follow the prompting of Your Holy Spirit. In all things that I do, say, and speak I desire to only please You. This is not about me, I do not want this to be about me, I want this to be about You. You are the Alpha, the Omega, the beginning, and the end. Praise You my Father, wonderous is Your love, mighty is Your grace and forgiveness. You are Holy, worthy of all our praises and so much more. I thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus Christ, to die for my sins. Father I confess my sins before You, I have broken all Your commandments. As You say if I have broken one I have broken them all. No matter how good I try to be I never can be perfect, I am only perfect through Your Son, who has washed away my sins. For You have said “Whoever confesses their sins, You are Faithful and Just to forgive us of our unrighteousness.” I feel so unworthy Lord, thank You for all You have done.
Lord I have felt a quickening in my spirit, that can only be of You. An urgency Lord, and I wish to obey it. I no longer want to be ashamed to boldly speak of what You have done. To not feel like I have to worry about who will over hear my conversations. No matter whom they are with. Father I ask for Your forgiveness, earlier this week I was speaking Your truth to my daughter in the parking lot of the gym and a man was behind me. The entire time all I could think of was “what does he think of me talking to my daughter of these things, does he think I’m a fanatic?” I am sorry Lord, if he doesn’t know you, please use my conversation to speak to him, despite my failings. Help me to be bold for You and Your glory. I know that Your word says that You want none to perish but have everlasting life. Yet You also say that No one can come unto the Father but by me (Jesus). Use me Lord, guide me, show me Your will. I will be one of the ones like in Your word that says “Hear am I Lord, send me!” I pray for my brothers and sisters in Christ. I know that You must be quickening their spirits as well, I pray that they hear Your voice, and that You give them the strength to follow. You have jobs for all of us, and they aren’t all the same. Please keep Your people from bickering and putting each other down. For those who are criticized for speaking out what they have been told to do by You (and I am one of them) give us the strength to keep going and the grace to forgive our siblings, for they simply do not understand. In fact Lord, forgive me for getting upset with those that have spoken against me, give me Your grace and love, so that I see them as You do and not just the hurt that I have felt. Lord let me be used of You.
Praise You Father! Praise You Jesus, our soon coming King! Let Your praises ring out through out the world! May Your truth be boldly proclaimed! Forever and Ever! Amen!