Tuesday, December 21, 2010

a social media christmas

i was reading a friend of mine's blog (she has a great sense of humor, so i love to frequently read her little stories about life for a good laugh) and she had a link to a really cool video ignitermedia.com created about the christmas story of Jesus' birth as if it was during the social media era we live in.  i decided to put the video below so all of you could enjoy what my husband and i enjoyed watching last night.  at first i thought, oh how cute.  by the end i had tears in my eyes.  it was just one more reminder to me that this isn't just a story.  this is real and Jesus really came as a baby to be Emmanuel - God with us.

merry christmas!  may the truth of the story of christmas hit your heart in a new way as well!

have you had a renewed revelation of the reality of the christmas story this year?  what has gripped your heart in a new way this year while celebrating the christmas season? 

please share in the comments below.


Monday, December 6, 2010

a few of my favorite things

 christmas... ah... christmas.

contrary to the commercial concept of this time of year of spending money, going further in debt, stressing about the crowds and busyness and keeping up with the jones's... christmas is to me is a time of traditions, family, and most of all Christ. christmas is my favorite time of year.

sights and smells and sounds create a warmth inside and a remembrance of happy times past as well as reflection of the declaration in the skies many years ago of tidings of great joy!  peace on earth!  goodwill towards men!

i can fall into the same temptation as everyone else of being so busy and consumed with the ever-growing checklist of all that december can bring, that i can lose sight of what this is my favorite time of year.  

and so, i want to share with all my readers, ... a few of my favorite things. 


snowy evergreens.  there is something enchanting about evergreens kissed with sparkling snow even for someone like me who dislikes being cold.  my sibling and i started a new tradition for this next generation of our family of going up to the very close snow capped mountains to cut down a christmas tree and play in the snow (since it doesn't snow where we live much more than once every couple years and it is even more rare for any of that to stick!).  even though i am too much of a wimp to live in it, it is nice to live surrounded on 3 sides by snow covered mountains so we can take a short drive to enjoy the snow, but come back to a warm snow-free house. 

silent night.  every year, and i mean every year, my grandma (who is the most amazing pianist i know) plays a version of silent night on the piano that she has had memorized since she was 8.  this in not one of the simple silent night sing-a-long arrangements, but a beautiful classical style, using the entire keyboard length, with running scales, delicate treble clef bells sounds, and deep resounding bass notes version of silent night.  and equally enjoyable to listening to her play is to watch her beautiful piano hands dance on the ivory keys.

decorations.  my grandma made us a christmas dome adorned with almost 100 small ornaments around wooden blocks custom to our individual family.  she made these for all her kids and grandkids as they had families of their own.  on mine is a grand piano, a guitar, a jeep, a toy train, and other things specific to our little family.  on the top of each one she always puts the nativity scene because, after all, Jesus is the center of christmas.  this nativity scene is one of many that adorn my house as our main decoration of choice to remind us wherever we look what this season is really about: Jesus, God eternal and yet Emmanuel, God with us, dwelling with us to bridge the gap between a Holy God and sinful humanity and becoming both the ultimate miracle and sacrifice that we may know God.

lefse. a traditional norwegian flat bread called lefse made from potatoes, cream, butter, flour, and salt, adorns our tables at christmas time.  it is tradition for generations in my family in addition to many butter based norwegian cookies.  we norwegians love us some butter!  special foods are one of my favorite things about this time of year.

a look of wonder.  i love the priceless looks of children who are full of wonder and excitement during christmas.  the best part of giving gifts is to see them filled with delight and giggles.  sparkling shiny eyes fill a parent's heart with joy.  i am reminded that God is our Father and He too delights in giving good gifts to His children!

the music of laughter.  i love all the sounds of delight and joy during family gatherings.  i especially enjoy the laughter of my husband.  my mom once said when we were newly married that she especially enjoyed watching bill watch tv because of how heartily he would laugh.  (not having a tv any of our married life, we only watch it over at their house.)  and laughter is contagious!  i once told bill that my dad is the one who makes the hard things of life better, and that he is the one that makes me laugh in the thick of it all.  christmas and time with family can especially be a time of laughter and joy, no matter what hard circumstances of life may surround us.

love.  what a time to remember God's love for us, our love to Him in return, and the overflow to love for others.  i love my family.  i love my children.  i am thankful that God gave me a family who have never neglected to show, live, and tell me i love you.  others may not have had the same experience growing up in an obviously affectionate family, but now is always a perfect time to start with the next generation!

snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes.  i cannot resist the sweet faces of my children.  i cannot resist the love and joy and thankfulness that wells up inside when i watch them experience the sights and sounds and smells with the newness of being a child.  it reminds me to slow down, to reflect, to come as a child, that i too may experience the majesty of His creation.

life.  one of my favorite things is this little guy will get to experience Christmas for the first time.  being surrounded this year by so many trials, i do not take for granted this new little life that the Lord entrusted to us at a time such as this.  i found out i was pregnant with him in the midst of one of the hardest assaults on hope i have ever had in my life.  just a couple weeks before the Lord gave me a word for the new year that centered on the word life.  it was cool to me at the time but took on a whole new level of meaning when in the days following i found out about some serious health battles my dad was facing.  i clung to the word of life God spoke to me, Him not being surprised like i was at the health battle we as a family would have to walk through.   i also clung to the positive pregnancy test i took a few weeks later, the day before my dad had to have surgery, just a small testimony that He would bring life out of all these trials.  hope.  and hope that does not disappoint us.  that doesn't mean that everything in life just gets magically better and nothing bad or faith-trying ever happens.  people get sick.  loved ones die.  relationships have strains.  resources dry up.  hope flickers even in the best of us.  and yet, He promises to bring life, and life more abundantly to all who believe on His name.

...and this promise of life is definitely my favorite thing.

what are some of your favorites things about christmas?


Saturday, December 4, 2010

simple woman's daybook 12.4.10

for today:

outside my window...there are leaves all over the ground and still falling off the trees.  we have great big shade trees that help with our energy costs in the summer, but are a bear to clean up after in the fall!

i am thinking...about how much i have to be thankful for.  God is always faithful, even when i am lacking in faith. 

i am thankful for... the peace that passes understanding.  i was struggling with anxiety the past couple months and i asked a group of ladies i meet with for prayer.  i have felt their prayers because circumstances haven't changed all that much, but i can feel the peace of God instead of being overwhelmed with the circumstances that are staring in my face.

remembering... to be thankful.  there is always something i can be thankful for.  God is so good to me.  He has never failed me.  i will be able to look back when i am very very old and have lived a long full life and say, He was always faithful.  He never failed me.  He is always good. 

from the learning rooms... i got to chaperon a field trip for asher's class at school this week.  it was so good to be with him all day and get to be a part of his school day.  i felt like we were needing a connecting time and we definitely got a good one this week.  i enjoy my oldest son so much.  

from the kitchen... i have been in full on fall comfort food cooking/baking mood!  we have had soups galore and i made the yummiest mushroom risotto with homemade turkey stock!  yum!  i have been in the apple crisp, blackberry crisp, and snickerdoodle mood... and yummy warm starbucks espresso roast with half and half or rooibos tea with local organic honey... well let's just say that we are keeping warm with what we are eating and drinking!

i am wearing... jammies right now.  that is right.  comfort is the key.

i am creating... christmas presents!  i am trying to do a large part homemade this year... partly for budget, partly for creativity, and partly because i want to be thoughtful and not just buy the same old things i have in the past.  no, it will not be an all homemade christmas, but moreso than i have ever done in the past.  it is really fun!

i am going... to my sweet niece havyn's 3rd birthday.  i love that quirky cutie!  can't believe she is getting so old. 

i am reading...2nd samuel in my Bible reading challenge!  it has been a while since i updated you all and i am still sticking with it, though i had a very sick spell recently that put me about 10 days behind again!  i am slowing catching up and am currently about 7 days behind where i would like to be.  but, i am loving it!  how are you doing in your Bible reading?  i am sure enjoying reading about the life of king david again.  oh, how i should write a post about all the fun stuff i am learning and enjoying in this read through of the Bible.  soon, i hope i will soon!

i am hoping... that my kiddos are totally well soon!  they got hit this week with feverish sickness and i am ready for this thing to get out of our house!

i am hearing... christmas music.  oh, how i love christmas music.  i am not talking santa songs, though they are alright, but i am talking songs like coventry carol, hark the herald angels sing, o holy night, ave maria, and songs like that!  oh, how it moves my heart!  i just feel like the power of Jesus actually coming to bring us salvation and God becoming man... wow.  there is so much gospel message in these songs sung every year. 

around the house... we are fully decorated!  we got everything done the two days after thanksgiving.  so, i am blogging while i am looking at a lit tree, we have our lights on the house outside, and nativities adorning our piano, mantle, and any flat surface in our living room.  i am loving it.  
one of my favorite things... is just realizing that this is a time of year that i am to take time from the busyness and to really meditate on the incarnation of Christ.  i mean, yes, i want to get all my gifts finished, wrapped, and i still need to figure out how we are going to make ends meet this month because we live completely on cash and we had some unexpected expenses come up recently in addition to regular bills and christmas expenses.  but... what is this time of year for?  stress over money?  no.   i think it is for reflection on the amazing gift that God gave us in becoming one of us so that He could be the perfect mediator between God and man.  in paying the price for our sin, He came to do it and Jesus forever will be in the form of a human... "only God could do it, and only man should do it," is a quote from allen hood (from the kansas city international house of prayer) in talking about the mediation in Christ between God and man and paying the price for sin.  i agree with c. s. lewis in his book miracles that God becoming a man is the greatest miracle that ever was and ever will be.  the incarnation is absolutely one of my favorite things.

pondering... philippians 4:6-7:  be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  and the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

a few plans for the rest of the week: since it is the weekend, those of us in my house who are well will be celebrating my niece's birthday, then hanging out just as a family for the weekend.  hopefully going to church with a healthy family of kids is in store for sunday and time over with my parents and my siblings and their families seems to be something we really enjoy... so may we all be well enough to do it!  no matter what, we will all be together.

picture for the day:

me and my thumb sucker up getting our christmas tree.  picture is compliments of my great sister who always documents me being at events.  i try to return the favor. 

more of the simple woman's daybook.  

please feel free to add a link in the comments below to your own simple woman's (or man's) daybook as well as link up at the link above.  i would love to read yours as well! 


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

5 things i am thankful for today

5 things i am thankful for today

1. my parents.  really, i could write a really long list of the things they have done for me and how they have been there for me over the past 31 years, but that would take several blog posts to adequately describe.  i am just thankful to have such amazing, generous, God-fearing, loving people as the ones God chose to be my parents.  they are great advice givers.  they would give you the shirt off their own back they are so generous.  they have me and my siblings families over every sunday for lunch for the past forever amount of weeks... buying all of us and our kids food every week.  buying food for my growing boys is an amazing thing in and of itself.  they are fun to hang out with.  they have taught me so much about the Lord both in the way they live and by instructing me and giving really good advice.  they are really amazing grandparents to my kids and nieces and nephews.  i don't like to ask them for help often because i know they would literally give to me so much that they would make sure i had enough even if that meant they did not have enough... i hope i can be just like them in their generosity.

2.  music.  i am not talking about the generic term music, but i am specifically talking about the degree i have in music and the skills my parents sowed into by years of paying for private lessons for me to be able to now teach private piano lessons.  music has been an amazing way to supplement our missionary income and because i have both skill and a degree to back it up, it pays really well an hour so i don't have to work very much with 4 kids and one being a newborn to make some supplemental cash.  it has been such a blessing in our lives.

3. an exersaucer.  it is a baby toy gym kinda thing and let me tell you it is priceless.  i know they are pricey up front, but it is one investment/gift idea i have told new moms that will get plenty of mileage out of.  my kids have all loved being about to stand before they are able to stand and play with all the fun toys around the circle.  the exersaucer is how i am able to blog right now.

4. my piano.  it was given to me by the husband of my childhood choir director who died of cancer about 10 years ago.  this is a beautiful piano.  it is a turn of the century upright baldwin which is both a beautiful instrument and piece of furniture.  it has brought much music and joy into my home.  thank you patty!  you are loved and missed and appreciated every time someone sits down to play your beautiful piano.

5. holidays.  life is so busy and with 4 little boys running around and keeping me up at night, it is seldom that i slow down from the busy pace of life to just enjoy all that has been given to me by God.  i love the occasions to enjoy family, the food He has provided, the change of seasons, and take the time to really reflect of all we have to be thankful for.

what are you thankful for today?  i would love to hear the ways God has blessed your life below.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

what i have been reading

here are links to some of the sites that i have been reading lately.  i want to try to make this a semi-regular type of post on my blog.  enjoy!  let me know which you found helpful and interesting!

laughing when it's not funny : randy bohlender

8 handmade and homemade gift ideas : simple organic

m1p - a new blog for a growing movement : my one pursuit 

why social media is a better investment than seo : problogger



Thursday, November 4, 2010

so... what is it that we do?

i recently realized that as i write on here and my audience of readers has expanded to many people i have never actually met in person, many of you reading may not know what it is that my husband and i do.  the reason i think it would be important to even know is it is a context for a lot that i think about and write about.

so... what is it that we do?

my husband and i are overseers (would that be the right title?) of a house of prayer that is starting in redding and that is connected to bethel church.  the vision of the ministry is to serve the entire city of redding.  being a part of  bethel church, we have bethel as our main covering and have our prayer meetings in a room on their campus.  right now we have 16 hours of prayer meetings, but overseeing the building of a community dedicated to prayer, worship, and intercession is a very full-time job.  we have found, at least to my surprise, it to be a lot of administration and a lot of pastoring of people.  we have monthly teaching meetings with our staff, monthly intro meetings for people who are wanting to get involved, worship practices, leader meetings, and home groups we oversee, as well as the counseling and pastoring that comes in one on one sessions too.

the house of prayer here is called the watch of the Lord.  we affectionately refer to it as "the watch" and are considering transitioning it to that as the main name of the ministry.  do we have a website?  yes and no.  we have one at this point for our team, but not one open to the public at this point.  did i ever even think of needing to develop things like a website when we dove into this ministry?  absolutely not!  (my husband, the one who sees more of the needed details of structure i am sure saw this and many other things as needed parts of our "job.")   however, our house of prayer is similar in general style to the house of prayer in kansas city called ihop.  check it out and you will have a little bit of an idea of what we do, but they do it on a much much larger scale.

why a house of prayer?  what is a house of prayer?

well, simply put, it is an earthly model of the unceasing worship and intercession around the throne in heaven.  it is also based upon the model of the tabernacle that king david established during his reign, where 4000 musicians and 288 singers ministered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to the presence of God bringing both songs of adoration and petitions before Him for justice on the earth.  it is also rooted in the passage in luke 18 about speedy justice when there is night and day prayer.  you know it... the parable of the persistent widow:

now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them?
"i tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. however, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?"
luke 18:7-8 

so i know you are all wondering... how do we feed the kids?

by our own choice, our income is based solely on support, similar to a missionary.  (we do supplement with a few private music lessons we each teach one afternoon a week.)  some have even coined the term "intercessory missionary."

why do we do this?

well, for one we would like to be a blessing and not a burden to the body of Christ in our region.  second, we know full well by the amount of work it is already taking to build the house of prayer that it isn't a job that can be done by one or two salaried positions.  it takes a lot of people, just like in the days of king david, to staff a 24/7 gig!  third, we believe this is real, we believe the Lord is doing this all over the earth, and we realized at the beginning that we could be an example to many many others who feel night and day ministry to the Lord is their full-time calling.

...if we can do it, surely they can do it! (family of 6 now, remember.) 

we have found the dynamics to be very similar to when both moses and david received the heavenly vision to establish on earth what they saw happening in heaven.  they would cast the vision and some people's hearts were stirred.  these people built the house of prayer in their generation.  have you ever wondered why God gave all the gold and silver from egypt during the exodus to the people and not simply to moses or aaron?  He doesn't just want a job done.  He wants the hearts of His people connected to it.  this is why money plays such a dynamic role in our relationship with God.  Jesus even said in the Sermon on the Mount:
for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
matthew 6:21

it's a team ministry

some will be called to give their time for the mission, others may be called to an administrative role, and then there will be those who fund it.  all three receive the same reward when it is all said in done because all three joined their hearts with the Lord to see His vision accomplished.  in the Bible, it is extremely rare to find a situation where it was 1 man called to accomplish the mission.  God is into teams.  why?  because He is into people being connected with one another and loving one another.

so, this is what we do.  

this is what helps shape my perspective and the context in which i blog.  you are welcome to ask questions and, if you heart is so stirred, to join with us in one of the 3 parts of the team we are building to build the house of prayer here.

the road to how God led us here is for another post, another day.  


Monday, November 1, 2010

simple woman's daybook 11.1.10

for today:

outside my window... is sun!  after a week of gray skies and lots of rain, i welcome the blue sky and temperatures in the 70's back.  what a great start to november.

i am thinking...about the fact that there are less than 8 weeks until christmas.  yikes!  i know that we have entered the season that seems to be the fastest time of the year.  

i am thankful for... the sunshine.  i am hoping to get some good outdoor time today and enjoy the fresh air.

remembering... to stay present, take life one day at a time, and not get overwhelmed by the big picture.  sure, planning and goals are good, but sometimes it is just necessary to not look too far ahead and purpose to be present.  

from the learning rooms...life seems to be full of learning. one of our teams at our house of prayer, the watch of the Lord, is starting an intense study of the book of isaiah using commentaries and all.  it is a bit intimidating for this busy mommy of 4, but i am so excited for what i will learn.  makes me feel like i am in college again.  

from the kitchen...i am feeling like i am in need of some new ideas for my weekly meal planning.  any suggestions that you have been enjoying?  i would love your ideas.

i am wearing... jeans... every time i write this it seems i am wearing jeans.  probably the same pair of jeans too.

i am creating...and yet, there are so many more things i would love to be working on than i am right now.  sometimes i wonder if i will ever get back into painting again.  oh, how i miss it!

i am going... to celebrate my nana's birthday tonight.  i love my nana.  she is an amazing woman who is constant, loving, funny, beautiful, and generous!  happy birthday yesterday nana!

i am reading...still in the book of deuteronomy in my Bible reading challenge, but i am almost finished with it.  i have made up some ground for the days i got behind!  deuteronomy is such a great read that it was easy to want to read more and catch up to where i should be to finish my goal on time.  can you believe i have already read almost 18% of the Bible and i am still in the 5th of 66 books?  that just amazes me!

i am hoping... that i am not getting sick.  i have that itching in the back of my throat and sinus drainage that either is telling me i am having allergies or fighting off something.  

i am hearing... my number 1 son talk to my mom on the phone.  now i am hearing my mom talk to me on the phone.  hi mom!

around the house... i don't even want to talk about it, i mean write about it.  seriously.  so glad you cannot see it right now.
one of my favorite things... are baby feet.  awwww.  if you haven't rubbed the bottom of a new baby's foot, you just have to try it.  they are so soft and completely free on callouses.  they are amazing.  addicting really.

pondering... some stuff i was studying today in the first chapter of the book of isaiah.  wow.  i think i am going to have to chew on it for a while before i can communicate it.  let me just tell you that this is going to be a great study and i am so glad we are doing it with our watch of the Lord team!

a few plans for the rest of the week: well, we will see.  a parent teacher conference with my number 1 son's teacher, teaching piano lessons tomorrow, some good house of prayer time, crocheting, and on and on.  oh, yeah, and working on this disaster of a house.  how does it fall apart so quickly and take so long to put back together?

picture for the day:
 myriah grubbs photography

my baby's toes... when he was much smaller than he is now though not that much younger really.

more of the simple woman's daybook.  

please feel free to add a link in the comments below to your own simple woman's (or man's) daybook as well as link up at the link above.  i would love to read yours as well! 


Saturday, October 30, 2010

weekend links

weekend links

i want to share with you links to some blog posts i have read lately that i have really enjoyed so you can take a look and enjoy them as well.  here is a sneak peak of the kind of stuff i read throughout my week.  enjoy!  be welcome to share a link to a post you have read this week that you like as well in the comment section and i will check it out!

the love with which we perform - (in)courage

seasons in parenting: the newborn baby months - simple mom

big girl shoes - jones design company

chicken cacciatore - the pioneer woman



Friday, October 29, 2010

He is nothing like me

"God is not a man, that He should lie
nor a son of man, that He should repent; 
has He said, and will He not do it? 
or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? 
                                          numbers 23:19

for a while it has been on my heart to blog on this verse.  i may struggle to adequately put into words what is swirling around inside, so i  welcome your feedback, thoughts and questions in the comment section below.

the back story
balak, the king of moab, hired balaam the diviner to curse the hebrews.  when balaam went to curse them, he could not.  all he could do was speak blessings over them because the Lord had spoken to him and commanded him to bless His people.  so, in context, this verse is actually about God's faithfulness to His chosen people israel.  this faithfulness to a people who have repeatedly been unfaithful to Him and eventually rejected God when He came in the frame of a man in the person of Jesus is a remarkable story.  the sheer fact that we as gentile (just meaning non-jewish decent) believers get to be a part of the whole story of redemption of mankind is amazing, and yet does not change God's plan for israel.  we as the church by no means replace them in the promises laid out for them in the Bible.  God will do all He has promised to do and they will love Him and choose Him and accept His Son before all is said and done.

what does this have to do with me?
though the verse is directly talking about God's faithfulness to israel, this is not exactly what i want to focus on at the moment.  i did need to put this verse in proper context lest we misunderstand why balaam said this amazing statement about God.  if we lose sight of His faithfulness towards israel, even through their great unfaithfulness to Him, we cannot stand confident in His faithfulness towards us.  if He cannot bring about His purposes and promises towards them, then how can we be confident that He will do the same in our lives?

if in any way God had to replace israel with the church, then we don't serve a God able to complete the good work that He has started in any of us.

all of that being said, i have been meditating on the implications of this verse and the great faithfulness of God.

a case of flakiness or lies?
we all have people in our lives that have backed out of their commitments to us, have forgotten and no-showed, or promise the moon and never deliver, that we don't really value their commitments very much at all.  i am also sure we have all been that person in someone else's life.  it is so common to our human condition to not follow through with our word that Jesus addressed it in the sermon on the mount to His disciples saying that they shouldn't swear by important things that they were going to follow through on something, but
simply let your 'yes' be 'yes,' and your 'no,' 'no'
                                 matthew 5:37
failing to follow through on our commitments is not the exception but rather the norm.

it only takes one or two times of being disappointed to start protecting our hearts by devaluing what is promised to us.   in my own life i see it affect my kids the most.  i have stopped telling my kids about something exciting that is going to happen until sometimes just moments before it is actually happening because i have tired of seeing their little hearts crushed when their expectation isn't fulfilled.  since they haven't yet become cynical of people, i have tried to put a protection around them to keep their hearts innocent as long as possible.  for me, i know there are certain people that i highly doubt the things they promise to do because of their track records.  it could even be the repeated pattern of not showing up to an appointment on time (which i have been terribly guilty of myself since having kids - still not really a valid excuse).  i begin to arrange my schedule according to when they will probably actually show up, so i am not sitting waiting for someone who is always late.

it isn't always a matter of the failure to follow through being a straight up lie about what we desire to do because i think most of us really want to follow through with our great ideas for life and what we tell others we will do for them.  more often i think we are simply weak people, unable to do the grandiose things we would like to be able to do.  for me, a grandiose plan may be showing up everywhere on time when i pack my schedule too full and fail to accommodate my children.  it doesn't mean it is impossible for me to get somewhere on time, it just means if i am really going to do it i need to make provision for my weakness and not over-commit.

the result: a cold hard heart
the disappointment and gradual hardening of our hearts to cope with failed commitments affect our relationship with the only One who is completely faithful to everything He promises.

i have found myself wondering if He is even able to do the things He has promised.  then other times, when my soul is doing better, i totally believe He is able, but struggle with the doubts of if He is willing to follow through.  then at the end of the day, even if i believe He is both willing and able to do everything He has promised, i will lie in bed and the thought will come, but is He willing to do it for me?

so when i read this passage of God using balaam, a wicked man who was willing to pronounce curses on nations for the right price, to boast of His own faithfulness to His people i couldn't stop thinking about it.

who is He?
God is not a man.  yes, Jesus cloaked Himself with humanity, but He was the same substance as the Father... our human frame being merely a shell that held the fullness of God. 

God does not lie.  He does not tell half truths.  He doesn't just follow through when it is convenient or when the circumstances line up just so.  He doesn't over-commit because He has no weakness He must account for.

if He says it, He will do it.  His faithfulness to me is not anchored in whether i deserve it or not because i do not deserve anything.  His faithfulness is anchored in who He is. 

He is the faithful God.  His unspeakable name, sometimes translated as Yahweh or Jehovah, i have heard could be rightly translated as ALWAYS.  He is ALWAYS who He says He will be.  He is ALWAYS faithful.  He is ALWAYS good.  He is ALWAYS our provider.  He is ALWAYS our helper.  He is ALWAYS our healer.  and the list goes on and on and on.

and when i sit and ponder this unfathomable God whose name is ALWAYS, i struggle to reconcile His faithfulness with the unfaithfulness of everyone else, including myself.  i have to come to the conclusion again and again that He is nothing like us.

He is nothing like me.

and this is why i can put my trust in Him and not be afraid of disappointment.


Saturday, October 23, 2010

5 keys to understanding the book of numbers

used with permission by www.sxc.hu

well, as i am finishing up the book of numbers and just about to dive into the book of deuteronomy, i decided it would be a great idea to do an overview/reflection of each book of the Bible as i go through all 66 books on my cover to cover Bible reading challenge.  you like it?  just as i told you all the top 4 things about the book of leviticus, i will give you my general take on the book of numbers.

5 keys to understanding the book of numbers

1.  a sad book - as david pawson writes in his book, unlocking the Bible, numbers is a very sad book because most of it never should have been written.   a journey that could have taken only 11 days on foot ended up taking 40 years because the people listened to fear rather than believed God to be faithful to His promise.   

2.  it is all about the numbers - the book of numbers starts with a census of the people who left egypt and ends with a census of the people who enter into the promised land - hence the name of the book being numbers.  God waited til the entire generation that He delivered from egypt died off before He took their children into the promised land except for two men, joshua and caleb, who chose to believe God would be faithful to deliver the land into their hands as He had said He would. 

3.  God's faithfulness displayed - the faithfulness of God is wonderfully displayed in this often ignored book.  even though He vowed that He would wait until all but two men in a generation died in the wilderness, He still cared for them every day by supplying all their needs.  they always had enough food and water for each day and their clothes did not wear out.  He was faithful to them, though they were unfaithful to Him.  His lovingkindness did not fail them.  they missed out on the greatness of His promise for them because they refused to enter into it, but they did not miss out on His great faithfulness.  i think this quote from numbers 23:19 says it best,
God is not a man, that He should lie
nor a son of man, that He should repent; 
has He said, and will He not do it?
or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?
His faithfulness has nothing to do with us, but entirely to do with Him.

4.  a prophesy of the One to come - there is a beautiful messianic prophesy (which just is a fancy way of saying a prophesy of Jesus) hidden in the book of numbers.  a diviner named balaam was hired to curse israel by balaak the king of moab, and every time he attempted to curse them all he could possibly do was bless them.  the climax of his blessings upon them was this: 
i see Him, but not now; i behold Him, but not near;
a star shall come forth from jacob,
a scepter shall rise from israel,
                        numbers 24:17a

5.  the priestly blessing - the most well known passage from the book of numbers is the priestly blessing that aaron and his sons were to bless the people with (numbers 6:24-26).  this blessing is the same prayer my husband and i pray over our 4 sons every night.    
the Lord bless you, 
and keep you; 
the Lord make His face shine on you, 
and be gracious to you;  
the Lord lift up His countenance on you, 
and give you peace.
 sound at all like a misty edwards song you may have heard her, or maybe even kim walker of Jesus culture, sing?

all in all numbers is a very good book.  there was a lot more narrative to keep my attention, and just the fact that God had to wait for the next generation to inherit His promises both fascinates and warns me.  i want all He has for me and the apostle paul said that the book of numbers was written as a warning to us of how not to live.  it is a book we are to read with a sober heart. 

are you inspired to dive on in?  what have you taken from numbers in your reading of it?  have you had promises in your life where the opposing "giants" simply seem daunting and you are tempted, like me, to doubt the faithfulness of God?  

as always, your comments, questions, and thoughts are welcome below.  this challenge has been so good for me and i am so thankful so many of you have joined me in it!  thank you so much for your accountability and encouragement!  


Friday, October 22, 2010

simple woman's daybook 10.22.10

for today:

outside my window... it is gray, crisp, and rainy!  can anyone say fall?!  with the indian summer we have had around here (we are not known around these parts for having a real "fall"), this weather is a welcome change.

i am thinking...about how great it is to be a stay at home mom and get the opportunity to be involved in my kids' classes at school.  i chaperoned a field trip yesterday to the pumpkin patch with my youngest strapped to me in a sleepy wrap.  i love being fully involved in my kids' lives in ways it would be difficult to do if i was back at work.

i am thankful for... winning the pays555 drawing yesterday!  i won two checks to local businesses for $55.50 each!  one was to a local restaurant and the other was to a local grocers.  you better believe i already spent the one for food!  i came home yesterday with 6 grocery bags full of free food.  thank you Jesus!

remembering... to thank the Lord for all He does for me every day.  i want to remember what He has done to build expectation for all He will continue to do.
from the learning rooms...i love that we never stop learning in life.  as i have been lately very into knitting and crocheting, i was naturally excited that my talented sister-in-law started a blog about all things creative.  today i learned how to upcycle a thrift store sweater into big balls of yarn i can use for any project i can dream up. 

from the kitchen... in honor of my shopping spree at the local grocer's and the cool crisp weather, i am making beef stew.  can you just imagine the rich smells floating around my house?

i am wearing... my favorite jcrew faded blue hoodie and jeans.  it is so officially fall.

i am creating...hats, hats, and more hats!

i am going... to have to structure my time better to blog more.  there is so much on my heart to write about and so little time.  i must make a way to make it happen.

i am reading... the book of deutronomy in my Bible reading challenge.  shortly i will be posting about what i took from my reading of the book of numbers.  fascinating really. 

i am hoping...to find creative ways to do christmas gifts this year.  we don't have much money, but that doesn't mean we can't be generous and give.  so... i am exploring both ways to earn a little extra to spend for this time of year and searching for good ideas of what to give (or make) on a budget.

i am hearing... the kansas city ihop prayer room free streaming in the background.  i love to have it on when around the house and did i mention it is free?  check it out if you haven't already!  they have worship and prayer around the clock 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

around the house... i finally tackled the dreaded craft shelves in the kitchen.  i keep the craft/art supplies up high, which requires the kids to ask first but also keeps the mess it can become out of sight and out of mind.  it was a 2 day task with a newborn, but so worth it.  i think seeing me tackle the challenge won a deeper affection from my husband (who loves an organizing challenge) as well.
one of my favorite things... is baking with home roasted pumpkin.  since my #2 son had a field trip to the pumpkin patch, and we do not celebrate halloween, that means lots of yummy baking to fill my heart with gladness.

pondering... the great importance of israel in the eyes of the Lord.  these thoughts may inspire a series of posts at a later time when i can go deeper into them.  blessed is everyone who blesses you [israel], and cursed is everyone who curses you. numbers 24:9b

a few plans for the rest of the week:  since it is the weekend, i am relishing the time i have with the family.  whatever we do, we are planning on doing it all together.  there is nothing better.

picture for the day:
this is from my time at the pumpkin patch with my son's pre-kindergarten class.  it just says fall!  don't you love the big pumpkin?

taken by me - please ask permission to use
more of the simple woman's daybook.  

please feel free to add a link in the comments below to your own simple woman's (or man's) daybook.  i would love to read yours as well.  have a great weekend!


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

4 things you can take from leviticus

why this picture?  i took it and it just inspires me.

Bible reading update for you all (because i know you are sitting on the edge of your seat dying to know how i am doing!):

i am still a bit behind my 3 chapters a day reading goal to make it through the Bible cover to cover in a year.  i did make some catch up progress in reading when a couple days i had the time to get through more than my 3 chapters.  unfortunately, the last few days i have once again been reading less than 3 chapters.  but i keep on going.  can't give up or i will never finish. (deep thought, i know.)

i went to youversion.com and set up a reading plan that started back on my first day of starting this challenge.  i am quite encouraged when i see the progress i have made, even though i am behind.  i have read 10.7 percent of the Bible so far!  now when i am only in the last chapters of leviticus, that is pretty encouraging.  i would highly recommend starting up a reading plan on the youversion site, as you can make any custom reading plan.  you can even do your reading online or on your phone and check off the chapter when you are finished to keep track of where you are in your plan.  something is so rewarding about marking the little box with a check. 

so, i didn't have very high hopes for getting much out of the book of leviticus, but i have been pleasantly surprised at how much i have taken from it so far!  it really helps that i have been reading david pawson's book, unlocking the Bible, as a companion to my cover to cover reading challenge

here are 4 cool facts and reasons to read leviticus to help inspire you if you are daunted by the third book of the Bible as i have been in the past:

4 things to take from reading leviticus

1. be holy as I AM holy - this is the key text to the book of leviticus and is frequently quoted and alluded to in the new testament writings.

2. the call to be holy versus just being "good" - in our culture and mindset we separate all life into either good or bad.  leviticus shows us that God doesn't separate life the way we do.  He separates life into three categories:  unclean (sinful or bad), clean and common (secular or good), and holy (sacred and godly).  what i take from this is just being good isn't what gets me to God.  He is looking for a people who will be set apart unto Him alone, even separated from that which is permissible and not considered sin. 

3. the laws for God's government - there is talk in many circles about what God's government would look like.  well, we know exactly what God's government would look like if we take a look at leviticus.  He took israel to be a people for Himself and set Himself as king over them in a theocracy and these were His laws for His nation.  no, we are not held under the law now that we are saved and being sanctified by the blood of Christ, but this is how God governed when He was the only governor of His people.  my husband compares reading through leviticus to reading through our country's constitution.  it was the "constitution" of israel.

4.  imagery of Jesus - if one is not familiar with the book of leviticus, it is difficult to fully grasp the imagery that is used in the new testament of Jesus being the sacrificial lamb for our sins.  also, there are many many places in both the gospels and in paul's letters that something is referenced from leviticus and the audience they were talking to were very familiar with it; we are not.  reading through this book makes so much more of the new testament make sense in context.

just try it for yourself

there is much much more you can get from reading leviticus, but i just wanted to help with a couple reasons to not be afraid of it any more!  and if you are reading it, i do recommend going through it at a quicker pace rather than getting stuck in it for a month.

thanks for accountability here on my bible reading challenge.  sometimes what keeps me from quitting when life gets busy and it feels daunting to keep on going is simply knowing that you all know i committed to do it.  accountability can be a powerful thing!

what is something you have taken from a time you have read leviticus?  if you have never read it before, would you give it a try just to say you did?  what other book of the Bible have you read that you were pleasantly surprised by what you got out of it because of not having high hopes for it?  


Friday, October 1, 2010

life captured

                                          used with permisson by myriah grubbs photography

used with permission by myriah grubbs photography

for your weekend enjoyment - take a look at my amazing family/maternity pictures and my sweet simeon's newborn pictures, both by my talented sister (in law) myriah.  (did i ever mention that my sister and i schemed and picked her out for my brother to marry without him knowing?  yes, we take full credit for her entry into our family.)  

what better gift than to have these memories to keep forever and in such an artistic way.  i am so in love with the piano shot, i don't know what to do with myself.  as i look at simeon's huge chubby 2 month self, it is hard to believe he was really that small once or that he ever fit into my belly!  thank you myriah!  i cannot begin to express how priceless these are and how much they capture my life and love and boys.  

enjoy friends and leave comments.  you know i love to hear from you.  

have a great weekend!  happy october!


hold His hand

used with permission by garrison photo on stock.xchng

God would not give the darkness
if He thought we could handle the light
but we would not cling to His guiding hand
if the way were always bright
and we would not choose to walk by faith
could we always walk by sight.

Monday, September 27, 2010

5 things i am thankful for today

i wrote a past blog post about why i like to take the time to list what i am thankful for.  i think i would like to take time every week/every couple of weeks to make a thankful list on this blog and i invite you to either do the same in a comment below or do so on your blog and put the link to it in a comment below.  it is so valuable to our perspective on life to cultivate hearts of thankfulness!  plus, it is one way we worship God by offering a sacrifice of thanksgiving.

my thankful list

1.  provision!!!!  this past week we have seen 5 specific times God has provided unexpected money and it has literally been what is getting us through to the end of the month.  we were able to pay late bills, put gas in the car, put groceries in the fridge, and even go on a $5 coffee date.  i am so thankful for the Lord's provision and for people who are sensitive to His leading.  He always provides through other people - it is one way He is committed to partnering with us to accomplish His will in each others lives.

used with permisson by www.sxc.hu

2.  homemade bread.  we have been making homemade whole wheat bread almost every week for the past couple years.  it saves us money and it absolutely amazing straight out of the oven.  almost every week at least a half a loaf is devoured while still hot, making it necessary to make 2 or 3 loaves so we have bread for lunches.

3.  plenty of clothes for my children.  it sounds kinda silly maybe, but one way i keep a good attitude while doing the endless amounts of laundry for a family of 6 is to continually tell God how thankful i am that He has provided clothes for my kids to wear.  lots of clothes.  cute clothes.  i am honestly thankful even when it means i have to clean, fold, and hang up those clothes. 

4.  free babysitting!  this is a big one for us.  we have been blessed to live close to family and also have great friends that we really trust with our kids who have been willing to watch our kids time to time.  we have never had to pay for babysitting yet, which with 4 kids is a miracle.  it has always been important to me that our kids are with one of the two of us the majority of the time and we have worked really hard at arranging our schedules to make this a priority.  but when they do need to be watched for some reason (date night, we both teach music lessons in the afternoon on tuesdays, and other random occasions we may need to be kidless), i want them with people who love them like i do and who i trust to care for them.  those of you who live far from family know how blessed i am to have this free babysitting in my life.

5.  my hubby took my oldest to school today so i could get a little bit of extra sleep and not have to do the 40 minute round trip this morning.  awwwwwww, it was so nice to stay home! 

what are you thankful for today?


Saturday, September 25, 2010

my sister maternity photo shoot

i have mentioned my sister-in-law in several of the pictures i have put in recent posts.  she even is the one who took the picture of me in my small avatar picture.

she just recently posted a bunch of maternity pictures on her photography blog of a photo shoot she did with my sister and me while we were both pregnant. 

used with permission by myriah grubbs photography

our due dates were on 10 days apart and our babies ended up being born 13 days and 13 hours apart.  we call them the twinsie cousins because my brother and sister really are boy/girl fraternal twins and we had a boy and a girl who had the potential of being born on the same day.  (my mom gave us some of the matching outfits she had for my brother and sister when they were babies and we had them wear them and took pictures.  so fun!)

though i didn't get my wish of having our babies on the exact same day, i did get to enjoy literally my entire pregnancy with my closest friend.  we have overlapped for some amount of time with all of her 3 pregnancies, but this was by far the closest and it was so awesome to go through the whole journey together and now each milestone of our babies together. 

here is the link to the sister maternity photoshoot.  if you are in the northern california area, myriah is an amazing photographer.  you can see in this shoot that she has such a creative eye and makes it tons of fun. 

have a great weekend.  i know i am planning on it.


Friday, September 24, 2010

simple woman's daybook 9.24.10

for today:

outside my window... is a beautiful fall day.  well, not so  much in color, though i hope that comes soon, but in the perfect "let's go outside" weather.

i am thinking...about how good God is all the time.

i am thankful for... the class that asher is in at school this year.  it is a multi-grade class and the teacher has a montessori background.  the coolest part is she uses the Bible as her main text book, and constructs her lessons around using Scripture to teach almost anything including handwriting exercises.  i love how the Word of God is getting in the kids from all angles.  it isn't the christian school experience of a classroom the same as a public school but just with an added chapel once a week, but it is more little house on the prairie like.  i love having him in there.

remembering... all of your kind comments on my last blog post about not giving up in the pursuit of knowing God reminded me that the journey of knowing God is not one we walk alone.  though we ultimately must stand and give account for our lives by ourselves on the judgment day, we have this life to spur each other on in the faith and encourage each other to pursue the most important reason for life: knowing Him!  if you haven't had a chance to read the comments, please take the time.  i believe they are as encouraging as the post itself seemed to be to many of you.  

from the learning rooms... so a little more about asher's class.  yesterday the kids went to the watch of the Lord meeting and prayed for the church and believers in our area.  then they went back to class and wrote out a prayer for the same topic (these are 1st-4th grade kids).  some kids had a couple sentences, others up to three quarters of a page.  then they had to draw what it would look like for their prayer to be answered.  after that we got in small groups and each kid read their prayer to the group and showed their picture.  lastly some of them were brave and sang their prayer in front of the group.  in one assignment on prayer they covered the following subjects: Bible, writing, reading, art, public speaking, music.  coming from an education background, but only having this example in the little house on the prairie books, i think my whole view on how to integrate faith with learning is being transformed.  i love it!

from the kitchen... i am wanting something yummy (the term my sister uses when she is craving sweets).  i need to figure out what i should make.  ideas?

i am wearing... jeans and a long sleeve green shirt.  there is a lot of green in my wardrobe.

i am creating... the coolest hat ever.  i will have to post a picture soon.

i am going... to be a part of a teaching today on how kids can be involved in the house of prayer at the watch of the Lord today to a group of homeschool kids and parents.  originally 40 parents and kids rsvp'd, but now we found out 50 kids will be there then plus their parents.  it is going to be a fun time!

i am reading... the book of exodus in my Bible reading challenge.   i would have to say this is one of my favorite books of the Bible.  i mean, moses led the original signs and wonders movement, right?  i like this book so much i even took a class at azusa pacific university called exodus/deuteronomy. 

i am hoping... to get a start on fall cleaning soon.  it is time to get life in order.

i am hearing... my two year old talk baby talk to the baby.  i love how even little ones get high pitched voices when talking to a baby. 

around the house... it is fall cleaning time!  that means time to purge, organize, and go out with the old and in with the new.  my first project - going through the kids' closets deciding what fits, what doesn't fit, what to save for the next kid, what to pass on, what to turn into cleaning rags, and so on.
one of my favorite things... is how God provides for us over and over again in the most amazing and unexpected ways.  three different people, unbeknownst to each other, gave us cash this week enabling us to pay all the left over bills this month that we didn't know how they would be paid, put gas in our cars, and pick up some groceries.  the coolest thing was they had no idea we needed it because we hadn't told anyone where we were at right now.  it was as tight month, but i am finding with the Lord it doesn't matter how it looks at the start of the month.  He always makes a way whether through what we are expecting or what we are not expecting.  it has to be one of my very favorite things. 

pondering... this quote my mom emailed me after my last post it counts big time "courage does not always roar. sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying 'i will try again tomorrow.'" mary anne radmacher. 

a few plans for the rest of the week:  it is near the weekend, so i plan to spend good time with my family. 

picture for the day:
used with permission by myriah grubbs photography
 i am loving sharing pictures by my talented sister-in-law/favorite photographer myriah grubbs.  this one is of my youngest son and youngest niece who are just 13 days apart.  we call them the twin cousins.  aren't they a pile of squishy-ness?!

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