Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Peace Like No Other

A little over a month ago, I began to pray about a couple of different issues. All of these issues weighed heavily on my heart. For some, I had an idea as to what kind of answer I would prefer; while others I really didn't know what was best. In every case though, I earnestly and sincerely prayed, day after day, that God would lead me in the best path whether it was as I would imagine or otherwise.

In the last week, I have seen answers to two of those prayers. Neither came in the form that I expected and both present me with a daunting task that initially left me worried and wondering "Can I handle this?". In the days to follow, I have had a chance to talk with a few people about these situations and through those discussions, something became clear to me. God answered my prayers. While the answer may seem daunting to me now, God knows this is what is best for me. Because of that, I can rest assured that I can handle what is to come. It's amazing the immediate and all-encompassing peace I found once I realized that. It is truly a peace like no other- even though the circumstances have not changed.

You see it all comes down to how I go about with the handling of it and where I look for strength and guidance. When I look at all of the circumstances before me through my human eyes alone, they are intimidating, daunting and overwhelming, but when I look at them through eyes of faith in God's might and power, I know everything is possible. The issue is not now nor has it ever been whether or not God is able, "for nothing is impossible with God." (Luke 1:37) The issue is and always has been do I have the faith to believe in the limitless power and knowledge of God? We are taught in Matthew that we limit ourselves when we lack faith. "He replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." (Matthew 17:20-21) Nothing within my ability could make a mountain move, but for God, such a task is a breeze. I am able to take hold of such power when I place my faith solely and completely in Him. So in the end, it all comes down to daily, minute by minute, relying on Christ for His strength, His comfort, His guidance and power- placing my complete and uninterrupted faith in Him.

While finding peace in the knowledge of God's answer is a blessing in and of itself, this is not the end of how I have watched God work in my life and thoughts this past week. Of those situations I was dedicated in lifting up a month ago, there is still one that is not completely answered (or so it seems to me). As I wait upon the Lord for His guidance and answer, I have found that my worrying and questioning over this situation have been replaced with great peace because I know there is nothing better than to wait on the Lord and allow Him to work His will in my life. If I but let Him, He will lead me down the best path in this situation as well. It may not be what I would want, but it will be amazing all the same because I know my patience and willingness to wait will lead to a better ending than I could create for myself.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Beyond the Manger

This morning at church, our minister preached on what the babe in the manger had to tell us about Christmas, and specifically, what the babe had to say was the reason for why he came. The sermon took me back to a lesson I learned last Christmas from none other than our little girl. She was right at 18 months old and I remember she was fascinated with my various nativity sets. Her greatest interest was the little baby Jesus in the manger. This interest was not perhaps what you might initially expect. Without fail every day, she would remove (or try to remove-depending on the set), Jesus from the manger. She was determined that he did not belong there. I'm certain part of this came from her interest to understand how things come apart and go back together (a quality she has had since infancy), but as I picked up each baby Jesus and placed him back in his manger, I realized there was a great lesson there. Yes at Christmas, we think of Jesus as a little baby born in humble circumstances with nothing but a manger for a bed, but the story didn't end there. Hallelujah! The story continues to this very day because after his birth in the stable, he went on to be a man who walked this earth, become the Savior of this world, and rose victorious as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Our little daughter was right. Jesus doesn't belong in the manger. What a wonderful blessing to remember this at this time of the year. What we celebrate at Christmas would mean nothing if Christ didn't later allow himself to be die on the cross and then rise again, victorious over death. Instead of a little baby in the manger, I serve a risen Lord, one who sits at the right of God in heaven watching over and interceding on behalf of those who call him Lord and Savior.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Living A Blessed Life

"By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world's corruption caused by human desires. 

In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God's promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.

The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."

2 Peter 1:3-8

I had no intention to stop journaling about my blessings; honestly from the beginning I never had a time frame or number I had to reach before I was finished. You see for me this has never been about reaching an arbitrary goal or personally-assigned benchmark. I was not concerned with whether I could count 100 or 500 blessings. I did not tell myself I had to count my blessings daily for one month, six months or a year. Yes, I have celebrated and been excited when I hit various points along this path, but it has never been about that.

I wanted to change me. I was not happy with what I saw within myself. I saw attitudes and even some behaviors that disappointed me and that I knew I didn't have to accept in my life. I knew I could be more and rise above those attitudes and behaviors, and I knew it all went back to how I looked at my life. As our minister has said recently in his sermons, "Thoughts affect our attitude. Our attitude affects our behaviors and our behaviors lead to habits. So if you want to change a habit, look to your behaviors. If you need to change your behavior, take a look at your attitude and if you want to change your attitude, you must first change your thoughts." I needed to change my thoughts because I knew God had given me everything (and more) that I needed to have love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness gentleness, and self-control. My thoughts were focused on the wrong things and because of that, my attitude and behaviors were wrong as well.

It took me a long time to write up my last post(s) of blessings. Not because I couldn't think of any new blessings; I did every day. Not only did I think of a new blessing but each day at some point- maybe in the shower, while cleaning, while driving or some other quiet time- I found myself mentally writing out my latest journal entry with the intent to sit down and put it "on paper" later that day. That time was very busy because of several different events in our family plus I was not always feeling stellar. Thus my physical journaling suffered, but the count and focus on all that God is and has done continued. One day I realized, I wasn't thinking of a specific new blessing, but I was living the life of one truly blessed. By no means does this mean I am perfect or that I have it all figured out. I still have moments or days where my emotions get the best of me and affect my attitude, but overall and by a huge margin, I don't just count or mentally know that I am blessed. I live in the knowledge that I am blessed and with that, I am living more in the power of my Lord Jesus Christ and the fruits of his Spirit. Suddenly, I found that I didn't need to write. This doesn't mean I won't write more, but I will not likely journal on a daily basis.

God has done more for me than I deserve and has worked wonders in me, and I am so grateful and thankful for His patience with me as I came to this realization. So as I sign off today, I will not say "God bless you" for that has and continues to happen despite you or me. Instead,

May God's blessings be abundantly clear to you and may you live your life as one who is blessed.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thy own dear presence to cheer and to guide
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside.

Great is thy faithfulness!
Great is thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning, new mercies I see.
All I have needed thy hand hath provided.
Great is thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Long Overdue Part II- Four Fifty-Six thru Four Seventy-Five

"But the Lord reigns forever, executing judgment from his throne. 
He will judge the world with justice and rule the nations with fairness.
The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.
Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you."
Psalm 9:7-10

Tuesday, October 4th

456) Family gatherings- Tonight four generations from my Dad's family were gathered together. My grandparents, my uncle, aunt, and cousins here in Albuquerque and our family all spent the evening together. It was wonderful- almost like a little taste of family gatherings from when I was a child. I loved it and am so thankful we were all able to spend time together as a family.

Wednesday, October 5th

457) "What's that?"- This is our daughter's latest phrase and sometimes, it is the only thing she says for an hour. She will ask us about items that she knows. She will point to something way out in the distance making it next to impossible to know which item she is talking about. She will ask and ask again- without a break until I can almost wish for silence. Yet, I am thankful for this phase in our daughter's life. She is curious and she wants to understand the world around her. I am thankful for that interest and the chance to teach our daughter more of and about the things in this world.

Thursday, October 6th

458) A long way to go- I know and recognize that even if I have grown and changed for the better, I still have a long way to go. At one point, this might have discouraged me, but now I am thankful to recognize how much more God has in store for me. This is not the end, which means what is yet to come must be awesome and indescribable.

Friday, October 7th

459) "No h'air balloons."- We planned to go to a hot air balloon glow this week and once even were in the car with the hopes that the balloons would inflate. Sadly the weather has not cooperated and on that night, we had to tell our very anxious and excited two year old that we couldn't see the hot air balloons that night. We were worried about her reaction which made us so delighted when she told us just a few minutes later, "No h'air balloons tonight." What an amazing reaction and sense of acceptance from such a small child.

Saturday, October 8th

460) "The field is cleared to go."- This morning was our last chance to go to the Balloon Fiesta. We were up and out the door early to insure we didn't miss any of the festivities. So how discouraging it was to hear that the balloons may not be able to take off. The weather was questionable to the north and might make landing troublesome. We would never want to endanger the balloonists but it was still hard to hear. After nearly a 45 minute delay, we heard, "The field is cleared to go." What excitement as that first balloon lifted into the air and hundreds of balloons followed after. I'll never tire of watching hot air balloons and so I am thankful for another chance this morning.

Sunday, October 9th

461) Life is unfair- I am grateful I don't always get a fair shake. We often see how unfairness robs us of things we think we deserve or we recognize how life is unfair when it works against us, but so often the unfairness of life works to my advantage. With all the focus in our government on tax reform these days, I realized we benefit from the fact that life isn't fair. If it was, we would all pay the same percentage period. There would be no exceptions. (At least, that's how I see fairness playing out. I realize others have another idea of what would be fair). However we don't. There are deductions and credits that can help reduce an individual or family's tax and that is the case for our family. We have been financially blessed to the "unfairness" of our current tax system. More importantly, I am grateful for unfairness as it applies to my eternal life. Christ didn't deserve the punishment; I did. If life was fair, I would never have the chance to spend eternity in His presence because I am a sinner and have not kept God's law perfectly.  I was saved not out of fairness, but out of love and sacrifice.

Monday, October 10th

462) Herbs- Herbs are seemingly rather small, but oh, what a wonderful addition of flavor they can bring.

Tuesday, October 11th

463) Online shopping- Every move requires some new items for the house. With this house, the biggest issue is that there are quite a few more windows than we had in our last place and they are not similar in size. What this has meant is that we needed to purchase quite a few curtain rods and curtains. After looking for curtain rods at any and every store I could think of (I can count at least 10), I turned to the online world with more options and greater stocks at my disposal. This proved to be a good move as I was finally able to locate what I was looking for, in my price range, and thereby was able to finish one of our main living spaces.

Wednesday, October 12th

464) More visitors- I wasn't expecting any more visitors until the holiday season, and even then, I wasn't expecting to see my side of the family until sometime next year. What a wonderful surprise to find out my older sister and her son and daughter are coming to stay with us for a few days. I am so thankful they can come and cannot wait to spend time with them!

Thursday, October 13th

465) Being Uncomfortable- Recently I have found myself in some uncomfortable spots. There is really nothing I can do to change the situation; it is what it is. It stems from something that is just a part of who I am and cannot be changed. I have rarely had to deal with such a situation before, but I know others who must face this same kind of situation a lot. Through my uncomfortableness, I can and am learning more about me and others. It reminds me of God's ultimate design and plan in this world. So in the end, maybe being uncomfortable isn't always a bad thing.

Friday, October 14th

466) Re-purposing- With all our moving, I find that I re-purpose items each and every time we live in a new house. It cuts down on our expenses and allows me to get more use out of the items we already own. Plus it gives me some chances to flex my creative muscle.

Saturday, October 15th

467) Open late- We have been potty training our toddler the past several days and as it is in the early stages, I have not gotten away from the house much while she is home. I've wanted to focus on teaching her the basics in the hopes that she will apply them on her own in the future. All of this makes me quite grateful for stores that have later hours so I can run an errand or two after our little one is asleep. Not only am I grateful for the stores but I am also thankful for those individuals who work the later shifts that allows the store to maintain those hours.

Sunday, October 16th

468) A little ditty- Our daughter loves music, so to help encourage her during potty training and at the same time teach her some lessons about the potty, I have come up with a few potty song(s).   Not only have they helped pass along our expectations and goals to our daughter without being too "preachy" or serious but they have also helped keep my stress level down throughout the process.

Monday, October 17th

469) Confidence- Whenever I take on a new endeavor, there is always a little doubt. Can I really do this? I felt that way as I began each job I have worked. I felt that way at times throughout my pregnancy and I felt that way as I watched Drew commission into the Army. My confidence may still waiver or flag at times, but with each passing day I find I have a growing confidence that I can do the work set before me.

Tuesday, October 18th

470) Patience- I've known this was a blessing for a long time but haven't commented on it because it's not something I always have in great supply. I like tangible results and when I can't recognize progress, I get impatient and question myself. I see that happening now as we work to finally and fully potty-train our daughter. Sadly I can also see that my impatience is likely affecting her and slowing down her ability to be completely successful. Patience- a great blessing and something I need more of.

Wednesday, October 19th

471) Curtains- One of the first things I like to do after we move is arrange the large pieces of furniture and hang curtains. Since we have always lived in rentals, we cannot paint the walls so curtains have proved to be an excellent way to immediately add a bit of color as well as warmth and a sense of home.

Thursday, October 20th

472) Recipes- I've never been very confident with my cooking. I can cook basic things, but I would never try to just throw something together. I don't trust my knowledge of blending flavors and knowing tastes (like with herbs), so I am ever so thankful for recipes which allow me to expand our meal repertoire without the fear of absolute failure or disaster.

Friday, October 21st

473) New avenues- My last visit to a doctor concerning my migraines left me a little defeated. I knew I still had other options that I could pursue, but I just didn't feel up to it at that time. I've visited with many doctors and never walked away with more answers than I already had; this last doctor was the same. Today I was reminded that defeat does not have to be the final verdict. There are others- some who specialize in headaches- who I could still possibly see, and there are other non-medicinal options out there as well. I cannot say whether there is relief in my future, and if not, I am thankful for the level of functioning I do have and the friends and family who are here (near and far) to support me. However, I am not ready to resign myself to this life of migraines and I am blessed to be reminded that there are still other avenues to pursue.

Saturday, October 22nd

474) Allergy acceptance- When we found out that our daughter might live with a restricted diet because of her allergies into her preschool or even early elementary years, there were some concerns. One of those was how she would handle the fact that there are a lot of foods she just can't eat- even if everyone is. I am so grateful for the understanding and acceptance our daughter has, even at such a young age. Instead of throwing a fit or trying to sneak something she knows she can't eat, our daughter reiterates that the food will give her an "owie in her tummy" and asks to merely smell the forbidden food. It amazes me.

475) Waiting- Sometimes waiting can lead to incredible blessings, particularly when you have given a situation to the Lord and are waiting upon him. Many people have talked to both Drew and I about another child or the benefits to having children closer in age. Despite all the positives we have heard, I am thankful that we have waited to have a second child. We had our own reasons for wanting some time between our first child (and any future children we may be blessed with), but lately I have seen so many unplanned benefits to us and our daughter because we waited. I know it would be a joy to watch our daughter with a sibling, but I don't mind the wait.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Long Overdue Part I - Four Forty-Three thru Four Fifty-Five

"I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God's love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God."
Ephesians 3:16-19

Wednesday, September 21st

443) Breaks- Getting everything ready for a move can be crazy and hectic. The list of things to do seems never ending. I am thankful for those breaks we took, whether to go to the Lobos/TTU football game, attend church or just sit down for dinner. Whatever it may have been, it was a wonderful rest and helped to re-energize and get us through this crazy time

Thursday, September 22nd

444) Unknowingly prepared- There are times in my life when I have realized that unrelated previous experiences have helped me better handle and cope with my current situations. Once again, I find myself in the same position, particularly as it applies to our military life. Things are still rough and often difficult but I can see how God has prepared me through other events so that I can have a better chance now.

Friday, September 23rd

445) Easily asleep- As with many little children, new places peak our daughter's interest and curiosity and make it difficult for her to lay down for a nap or bedtime.  With our upcoming move however, she was going to take a nap at our friend's house, so I could continue working on things for the move. I really didn't know if she would sleep, but I was hoping for at least some good rest. What a wonderful blessing when I found out she had gone right to sleep and took a good nap. (Not only that, but she did it again the next day!)

Saturday, September 24th

446) Help- What an incredible amount of help we received today as we moved nearly everything from our old house to our new house 30 minutes away. Without their assistance, there is no way we would be ready to move forward and settle in at our new location. To anyone and everyone who helped us today- whether moving items, doing some light clean up, or watching our little girl, thank you! You truly blessed us this day!

Sunday, September 25th

447) Finding something lost- On our wedding day, Drew and I exchanged gifts. They were nothing elaborate or drastically expensive, but they are still quite special to us. Three years ago, Drew misplaced the gift I had given him. He felt certain it would turn up, especially after not one but two moves. Yet as of yesterday, it was still MIA. Then today, I decided to sort through all of our bags (duffles, backpacks, luggage, etc) and wean down our growing collection. I checked each bag to make certain I had removed everything that I had packed in them for the move and in the process, I pulled out his missing watch. What a surprise and what a delight! I had resigned myself to the idea that it was gone and there it was in my hand.

Monday, September 26th

448) Magic Eraser- I have been doing a lot of cleaning as we finish our move and return our last rental to the owners and new tenants. My goal has been, and continues to be, that we leave the house as close to the way it was given to us- minus nail holes etc. Thanks to reliable cleaning products like Magic Erasers, I have found that it is more reasonable of a goal than ever before.

Tuesday, September 27th

449) Clean windows- As I finished cleaning our old house, I did a good cleaning of the windows. For whatever reason, that is one item I forget to clean regularly. Before I started cleaning they didn't appear too bad, but after cleaning one and comparing it to one right next to it, I realized how much we had missed out by not having truly clean windows. For me, this was a physical representation of a deeper lesson. In my life, small issues can build up with time and fog our lives, taking away clear perspective and direction and robbing us of all the beauty this life can hold. Just as the windows became fogged from a film of dirt and dust, so it is with my life. I am thankful for clean windows that allow me to enjoy the beauty of nature around me even on the stormiest or coldest of days and I am thankful for the deeper lesson they taught me today.

Wednesday, September 28th

450) No watch- Years ago, I consciously decided to stop wearing a watch because I realized that my life was more stressed and rushed as I was always worried about what time it was and what I needed to do next. For the past week or so, time has again taken a huge focus- for one reason or another, so today when I was able to again let go of the watch, it was a blessing. I appreciate being punctual and do not like being late, but even more than that, I appreciate and am thankful for the lessons I have learned about flexibility and leisure since I took off my watch.

Thursday, September 29th

451) A regular schedule- Our daughter has had a crazy schedule for several days due to the move. Naps were hit or miss and bedtime came when we were through with our tasks. This may not be a huge issue for some children, but it doesn't work well for our little girl. How nice it is to be back to a regular schedule and how wonderful to know that the disobedience and fussiness that has come about from a lack of sleep will soon pass.

Friday, September 30th

452) Drew's toothbrush- When you first read this, it may seem a little odd. I know Drew thought so when he saw that I had listed it as one of my blessings, but it is absolutely true. I love seeing Drew's toothbrush on the counter. Why? Because it means he is home or will be coming home after work. We keep our toothbrushes on the counter so when he is going to be away for days or weeks, that is usually one of the first things I notice that is different because of his absence- no toothbrush. Even our little girl notices. This last week of traveling, she commented on his missing toothbrush the first day he was away and she noticed when it was back in "its place" the morning after his return.

Saturday, October 1st

453) Family visiting- One of the hardest aspects for me that is a built-in part of military life is the distance from family. Family is so important to me. I love my family and I want to be able to share in their lives. I also want our daughter to have the same kind of relationships and love for them that I have. I try my best to visit as often as I can, but I find that it is getting harder and harder and I know as our daughter gets old enough for school, we will have even more to take into consideration. Therefore, I am so thankful when family can come out to visit us. I love sharing our home and lives here in New Mexico with them and I love the time we all have to spend together. I know it is not easy- neither the traveling, the expense or the changes in schedules- and that makes me even more grateful.

Sunday, October 2nd

454) Multiple generations- I love worshiping with people from various generations. There is so much that we can offer one another: wisdom, guidance, experience... flexibility, energy. We would be sadder and poorer people if we did not look to those who have gone before us and embrace those who will come behind us.

Monday, October 3rd

455) 365 days- I started this blog 365 days ago and as I thought back on where I was, how I felt and what bothered me then, I realized what a huge blessing these 365 days have been. I have a better relationship with Drew, a better relationship with our daughter, a better appreciation for my duties as mother, a better perspective about the irritations and struggles of this life, a greater appreciation for all that I have and greater hope for the days to come. None of this occurred because of me or my own doing. God is at the core of all this. He gave me the perseverance to continue with my writing when my head said stop or asked "why?". He has blessed me more than I have even begun to count and as I have focused more on him, he has changed my thoughts and heart.

I have shared in 365 days of intentionally counting my blessings and recognizing God's constant and continuing presence in my life and I have been blessed even more because of it. Thank you for your part. To each of you who told me how my thoughts had encouraged you and made you think and to each of you who encouraged me to keep going, God used you to work these changes in me.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Seeing Anew: Four Thirty-Six thru Four Forty-Two

"This is why I speak to them in parables:

'Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.' 

In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: 

'You will be ever hearing but never understanding; 
you will be every seeing but never  perceiving. 
For this people's heart has become calloused; 
they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. 
Otherwise they might see with their eyes, 
hear with their ears,
 understand with their hearts 
and turn, and I would heal them.' 

But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear."

Matthew 13:13-17

Wednesday, September 14th

436) A new endeavor- Since our daughter has gotten a little bigger, I have struggled more with my role as a stay at home mom. Don't get me wrong. I am so thankful that I can stay home and I feel that is where I should be, if at all possible. However there is another part of me that wanted something more. Not a full time job, but something where I felt like I was contributing in another way, using gifts and talents that have only gotten rusty as a homemaker. A little over a week ago, I was approached by someone from our church about a part time job. The position was something I have some background with and a good foundation to help me as I learn the rest, and it was a fairly limited number of hours. For me, this position was an answer to my prayer and, from the sounds of it, the answer to other's as well. It offers me a chance to do something helpful outside the house, while still being home with our daughter during these formative years.

Thursday, September 15th

437) Two hands- It is incredible how easy it is to take things for granted when you've never known anything different. Tonight after burning four of my fingers while cooking (not smart on my part), I found out just how much I appreciate having two hands instead of just one.

Friday, September 16th

438) Moving companies- Packing for our move has begun, but unlike our last two moves, we have to do the packing on our own. For both of our PCS military moves, we have had the military handle our move which meant they contracted a moving company that came in and did everything- packing, loading, and later unloading. It really is something incredible to watch. They come in, get to work, and have a homey house packed and ready to move in a matter of hours. The moving company and employees have saved me a great deal of planning, stress, labor and worry.

Saturday, September 17th

439) Packing for yourself- Seems kind of ironic that I would list this as a blessing right after saying that moving companies are a blessing, but I have a reason. With a moving company, you have a general idea where items should be, but it seems like there was always one item that I needed and/or wanted from the very beginning that was always at the bottom of the very last box I unpacked. However when you pack for yourself, you know where everything is, making it much easier when it comes time to unpack. So really, both methods have their perks and are a blessing in their own way.

Sunday, September 18th

440) Always learning - You can hear something over and over again, but sometimes you just need to have the right teacher, the right mindset and an open ear all at the right time. I am thankful that learning need not end but can continue throughout this life because the more I learn about this world and its Creator, the better I become.

Monday, September 19th

441) Surrender- Recently I have been re-reading Crime and Punishment which deals at great length with the psychological toll a criminal act can have on an individual. Frequently in the story, the leading character, who committed murder, debates his desire to go straight to the police and confess. Then today I heard a song on the radio, "Here with Me" by Mercy Me

You're everywhere I go
I am not alone
You call me as your own
To know you and be known

You are holy
And I fall down on my knees

I can feel your presence here with me
Suddenly I'm lost within your beauty
Caught up in the wonder of your touch
Here in this moment I surrender to your love

I surrender to your grace
I surrender to the one who took my place

I can feel your presence here with me
Suddenly I'm lost within your beauty
Caught up in the wonder of your touch
Here in this moment I surrender to your love

We can surrender to the authorities; we can surrender to one's love; we can surrender to grace; we can surrender to the Lord and Creator of this world, and I am certain we can surrender to so much else. Generally though I don't think we, as humans, like to surrender to anything or anyone. In doing so, we are giving away some of our power or authority. Yet while each act of surrender takes courage and vulnerability, they also can give us great peace, joy and confidence. Surrendering some of my own rights and some of my independence has allowed me to have a better relationship with family members, a wonderful marriage to an amazing man and the humility to accept the love, grace and salvation of my Heavenly Father.

Tuesday, September 20th

442) The here and now- When I was in high school, I remember wishing that I had been born 100-200 years earlier. I used to dream of what it would be like to be a southern belle during the time of the plantations. I didn't agree with the use of slaves, but the rest of the lifestyle always seemed so romantic and genteel. I have also held highly romanticized views of the Elizabethan and Victorian ages and wondered what it would be like to be the daughter of a noble or even part of the court during those times. Then one day it hit me that if I had lived during any of those eras, I likely wouldn't have been a southern belle or a nobleman's daughter. Most people weren't and their lives were much less romantic and genteel. In addition, there is the reality that the lifestyle of anyone during those times included several hardships I can hardly imagine or fathom enduring: no running water or plumbing in the house, no heat but a fire that must be stoked throughout the night, inadequate and limited medical knowledge that led to earlier deaths- including many young children, the role of women, the same vices we face today. When I really take an honest look at those times- even in the finest of homes, I realize that while there is something romantic and alluring about the stories you read, I don't belong in that age. I was brought into this world at just the right time, and I am so thankful for God's providence and foresight regarding the matter.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

To Everything It's Time: Four Twenty-Six thru Four Thirty-Five

"There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace."
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Sunday, September 4th

426) Shared experiences- I have made some wonderful friends since moving to New Mexico and I have been blessed to have family in the area as well. Both of these facts have made the difficulties of Army life more manageable. However up until just recently, I did not have much interaction with other military spouses. It was not for a lack of interest; circumstances had just hindered it. We have found some ways to work with and around those circumstances and I have had a chance to spend some time with a few Army wives from Drew's platoon. What a wonderful addition to my life! I have known this was missing and I am so grateful to have someone who understands because of their shared experiences.

Monday, September 5th

427) Rules and laws- Children need boundaries; likewise we all need rules and laws to follow. The rules and boundaries of a parent actively show us that we are loved and that our parents care about what happens to us. There is security and comfort in this knowledge- even if, as children, we think it ruins some of our fun. The same continues to remain true as adults. We may think it is in our best interest to have the freedom to do whatever we like and may feel that the phrase "to each his own" should reign supreme, but in the end, we do not find peace, joy and contentment in such an environment. We butt heads with other people following their own way and never seem satisfied. I am thankful for the boundaries and rules that my parents had for me as a child and I am eternally grateful for the loving boundaries and commandments of my Heavenly Father, who has placed me securely on a path of joy and peace despite all odds.

Tuesday, September 6th

428) A lesson on gossipNumerous years ago when I was still in my young teens, I felt convicted that I was a gossip and that needed to change. So at that time, I did a study on what the Bible says about the tongue, it's dangers and the need for wholesome speech. After that study, I worked very hard to tame my tongue and discard any gossip or unnecessary comments from my speech. Since I am such a talker, my tongue can still cause me some trouble and so I still go back to my notes from that study to remind myself of how I am called to speak. That Bible study and all that I learned from it has been absolutely invaluable to me and I know that it has spared me from many disagreements, estranged friendships and strife.

Wednesday, September 7th

429) Being a friend- I have listed more than one friend type who have blessed me. Sometimes I feel as though my friends have blessed me far more than I have blessed them. I always hate that sense of incongruity because I want to return that blessing. There really is a blessing not only in having friends, but in being a friend- someone a person can turn to in times of celebration, uncertainty, trouble or sadness. I am always blessed when I have a chance to really be a friend.

Thursday, September 8th

430) New house- While we have been content in our current residence, we have recently come to the conclusion that moving could have several benefits that outweighed the work involved with the move. Over a week ago, we put in an application for another house which would definitely offer us those additional benefits without stressing our budget. Today we were given the approval. This is truly a blessing but I feel we will be able to do more- with friends, our church and within our unit- because of this new house.

Friday, September 9th

 431) My playground injuries- Today I came away from a play date a sore and wounded hand. Why? I was showing a four year old how the monkey bars worked. Before I even tried, I knew I was probably going to feel it later. However it was a wonderful portal back to my days at recess, and a little reminder of my time playing with some wonderful kids.

Saturday, September 10th

432) A truly penitent "I'm sorry"- Today our daughter and I ran out for a quick errand. It should have been in and out and back home. However during the trip, our daughter decided she would have none of it. She was disobedient in the store (which was addressed) and threw another tantrum as I tried to place her in her car seat. This tantrum was also addressed, after which we headed towards home. Everything seemed to be going just as they do with every other tantrum, except that when I went to get her out of the car, she looked at me and said, "I'm sorry." Those words truly are amazing. They erased from my memory all the disobedience problems we had had that day. I know we still have a long road ahead of us with our little girl, but this was a wonderful moment of encouragement.

Sunday, September 11th 

433) Remembering- I may not be old enough to remember the day Pearl Harbor was attacked or the day President Kennedy was assassinated, but I remember September 11, 2001- the day a few handfuls of terrorists attacked our country- flying planes into the World Trade Center towers, the pentagon and aiming for another point in Washington DC.

I remember watching previous footage of the smoke rising from a side of the Pentagon and the first tower's collapse.
I remember watching live as the second tower came crashing down and hearing of the downed plane in the fields of Pennsylvania, and I remember what I felt.
I remember feeling fear and terror- wondering could there be more attacks to come, and if so, where?
I remember the sadness as the death toll rose.

I also remember our response, on that day and in the days to follow:

I remember the countless heroes who did not have to enter the Towers but did just that in the hopes of saving as many as possible.
I remember the overwhelming stories of valor and sacrifice.
I remember those heroes who gave their very all before the day was out.
I remember the men and women of United Airlines Flight 93, who learned what was occurring and sabotaged the terrorists' plans for that plane- likely saving many, many lives.
I remember the subsequent unity of our country.
I remember people coming together in friendship and neighborliness, and I remember a renewed sense of charity and generosity.
I remember American flags flying high all across our nation.
I remember the signs across the country proclaiming God bless America, and I remember the overflowing church pews on Sunday mornings as people searched for peace, understanding, and comfort after the terrible event.

Our response has slowly faded back to the norm as the demands of everyday life have weighed upon us, but I remember. We do not need another national disaster or act of terror to bring out those amazing qualities that we, as a country, do possess. Those qualities are in us just waiting to come out and could become our norm.

I remember.

Monday, September 12th

434) A set of fuzzy, warm pajamas- Last Christmas, Drew gave me a set of fleecy pajamas (pants and a long sleeved top). He did so because he knew I often get cold before everyone else and therefore need warmer clothing on or a blanket. Well cool nights have returned to New Mexico and while Drew and our daughter sleep better with a slightly cooler house, I freeze, especially from about our daughter's bedtime until I myself slip under the covers. It sure was wonderful to slip into my warmer pajamas for those last few hours. They definitely were not a necessity but oh, what a blessing!

Tuesday, September 13th

435) Cuddles- The last few weeks with our little girl have been fairly rough. As her allergies are ones that she should eventually grow out of, we have tried a couple of those foods to see how she handles them. So far, none have been successful and it has left us with a cranky, demanding and tired little girl. On top of that, she was a little sick over the weekend and is cutting her last 2-year molar. The crankiness, tiredness and subsequent disobedience have persisted. Despite all of that, I am blessed. The most obvious reason is her; no matter her mood or level of exhaustion, she still blesses me. On top of that though, I can count on the fact that our little girl will cuddle with me at least for a little while each morning after she first awakes and again before she lays down at bedtime. She is a little cuddlebug and I cherish those moments with her.