Monday, March 31, 2008
He preached on John 20. This is what it says:
"NOW on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.
Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him."
Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb.
So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first.
And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in.
Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there,
and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself.
Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed.
For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead."
In verse 1 it says that Mary went to the tomb and "saw" that the stone had been rolled away.
In verse 5 it says that Peter went and looked in and "saw" the linen cloths lying there.
In verse 8 it says that the other disciple (John) went to in and he "saw" and believed.
Three different people went to the tomb that day and three different people did basically the same thing. They saw.
Insert a personal story: One day, this past summer, I was driving to my mom and dad's house in Columbia. It was raining cats and dogs and it was really scary to be driving on the interstate with a little one in the car. I was driving along looking intently at the road and really trying to concentrate when I saw a bird in the top of a tree. It was BIG! Like a vulture or something kind of big! Well, I noticed that he was taking flight and headed for the median. Thinking that he was going to fly behind my car, I just quickly glanced at him and kept driving. About that time WHAM! That huge bird hit my windshield!!!!!!! It scared the life out of me!! I remember calling my dad just to say that a huge bird hit my car!! It was gross! It was black and had long ugly feet. It bounced off of my car and into the road. I was terrorized for a few minutes as I tried to keep it together and not just CRY!
I saw the bird in a glance not thinking much of it... it had no real impact on me as long as it remained in the top of the tree. I looked intently at the road and studied it in order to have the information that I needed to be safe, but when that bird hit my car... OH! I KNEW... I fully believed that what they say about driving on the interstate is true... You never know what will happen and you have to be careful and alert at all times! I was a believer!!
The three "saw"s in scripture are three different words in the Greek.
Mary's "saw" means to see something quickly or at a glance.
Peter's "saw" means to look analytically or examine
John's "saw" means to see and place trust into what you see.
"While three people saw the empty tomb that day," the pastor explained, "John was actually the first witness of the resurrection because he saw and he believed. It changed him and he would never be the same because he knew that Jesus was the risen Christ, just as He said."
The example of the bird is a little lame, but it made an impact on me. It was not until I came into actual contact with it that I fully saw how big it was. I saw it's colors and it's feet. I saw it's beak and realized the damage that it could have done. I realized the seriousness of the situation after it hit me too. It could have caused an accident that day that could have impacted my life. Thank the Lord He was with us and protected us.
John's experience with the empty tomb was similar. He saw it as he approached the tomb. He even saw two other people who had been in the tomb, but it was not until he went in himself and saw the evidence that he believed and allowed it to impact his life for eternity. He realized at that moment that Jesus was who He said He was and he believed that Jesus' death had changed him.
My retelling of the bird story is probably a little funny to you, and actually looking back on it it makes me laugh out loud! It means something different to me though because I experienced it! John's encounter with the empty tomb also meant something different to him than it could ever mean to anyone just reading the account, and our encounter with Jesus is the same. We can and SHOULD tell people about His impact on our lives, but it isn't until they experience Him for themselves that the Lord really changes who they are. We must pray for those that we know are lost. The fact that they have never known forgiveness and love and compassion like that of Jesus is so sad to me. This world is crying to believe in something that is real and life changing.
Do they SEE Jesus in us?
1)Pray about anything. He listens and He cares no matter how big or small. Even if you have limited language ability you can always muster a "Mama" when asked how we can pray for you.
2) Encourage one another. Even playing the kazoo is a gift! Celebrate it!
3)Hold hands when you pray. Don't leave one hand out!
4)Jesus loves me.
6)Two snacks a day is ok. Sometimes necessary.
7)Say please and thank you
9) Hug your friends when you leave
I can not tell you how many times I had to fight back tears as I saw these precious children and adults say that Jesus loved them. They believe with all that they have and they have the purest hearts. I hope I grow up to be just like them one day.
Friday, March 28, 2008
These with the jewels are super cute too and they are new for us this season. They are brown with turquoise beads and they are super comfy!
We also have aprons, key fobs, pottery, monogrammed buttons, frames, car monograms (that can go anywhere... candles, lamp shades, car windows, pottery, etc) and other cute items! You can also visit us at www.adesignoffaith.com to shop if you would like! We would love to have you stop by the store or the website!
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
So I won't be able to remember it word for word, but let me just tell you what I do know and I will pray that it has the same impact on you that it did on me. The following was the very beginning of his sermon and it definitely got everyone's attention. He had other great points too, but this one will be for this blog! There's more to come!!
He was talking about Jesus' death and burial. (Very appropriate for Easter. I am not making fun. I am just sayin'.) And he said that it would have been so much easier for the disciples if Jesus would have just stayed in the tomb. He said that every day that they were with Jesus they were on the move. They were being taught in large groups of people. They witnessed miracle after miracle and they moved constantly. There was never time for them to rest or to take the time to soak in all that Jesus did or said. He said that they had to be tired and the commitment was hard, but so worth it to be with God, Himself, on earth.
So when Jesus died they were very broken and saddened by His death, but it would have been so much easier on them had He just stayed in the tomb. It would have been so much easier to just go to the tomb and pay their respects than to have Him come back from the dead. When He was here He was their life... they ate with Him, slept with Him, traveled with Him and learned from Him. With Him gone... they could do as they pleased.
And then he asked, "What about YOU? Are you just here today to pay your respects for Jesus or are you here to let Him be your life?"
You could have heard a pin drop in that packed church. It was as if that pastor had stood on every toe in the building and asked each individual to answer.
OH! I wanted to YELL! "PREACH IT!!" He could not have been more dead on!
How do we view Jesus? No, He's not here in the physical form. He does not pull us along from town to town or have us sleep in the wilderness. He does not teach us through an audible voice or touch us with physical hands. His piercing eyes to not follow our every step.. not so that we can see.
Are we showing up each Sunday to pay our respects? Are we living our lives like He does not see? Do we give token time and energy His way?
It was so evident as we sat in that room that the silence indicated guilt. Every single one of us are guilty of paying our respects and not seeing Jesus for who He is or for the life that He lived and gave for us. That pastor challenged me that day to look at myself and the things that I do in the name of ministry or "going to church" and evaluate my motives.
If I am attending church for social reasons or for the simple sake of going then my attitude is in complete need of an overhaul. If I am ministering to people for any reason other than to bring them closer to the knowledge of Jesus' love and forgiveness then I am not ministering and my actions need to change.
Lord, thank you for the hard lessons. I need to learn that You deserve so much more than my respects, but You deserve my all! I am sorry for being so shallow at times. Lord, please help me to see Your people and Your church the way that You do. Help me to love You more and to adore Your for the life that You lived and gave for ME! Your eye is ever on me and I am grateful! You do not let me fall and You are always faithful to hear my cry. Help me to be faithful to love You with all that I am.
Monday, March 24, 2008
I love Easter time! It is so much fun to be with our families and celebrate!! I love shopping for new dresses and getting things ready and, most of all, going to church! This year we went with my mom and dad to their church in Columbia and honey, that man did some shuckin'!
(Here in the south when someone is really preachin' people call it shuckin' corn! AND honey! Let me tell you! This man was doin' some shuckin'! It's a topic for a whole nother blawg!)
So on Saturday I wanted to get my nails done and get a pedicure so I had my mom drop me off at this place. You know... nail places are in every shopping center you pass. Well, I got my nails done and had my toes painted and I asked for a flower on my big toes. The flowers are fine, but look at the dots! What's up with the dots???
It's kind of hard to see in the photo, but there are dots coming off of the flower and I knew that if I asked her to remove the dots that I would be there for ANOTHER ever and I had already been there for one!! So with my green (very cute) peep toed pumps I had the dots. Whatever.
So here are me and Caroline once we were ready for church...
I almost needed counseling.
She made this face EVERY single time I took it! My mom kept saying, "Aw! How sweet! How good!" I kept saying, "Are you kidding me? She is being a brat!" Happy Easter.
So we made it to church. Without killing anyone. That was good.
But my dad was taking these pictures. I kept saying (as you can see I am talking to him in this picture) "Zoom in dad. Don't worry about our feet, but zoom in and get a decent close up." By the time I fixed the camera for him and then got Caroline back with us my jacket was gaping and I was all frazzled.
There are 5 like this.
So we go into the service and it was GREAT! It was so packed that we had to sit on the front row. I didn't mind at all. And we later joked that my dad could NOT EVER dose off in church if they sat up there every week. I mean the pastor (who is new... and awesome!) starts off at the pulpit, but when he gets going he is down on the floor... right AT the front row! I mean, you can get some on ya!
Then we went to lunch. Caroline was doing a little better by this point.
She was finally smiling and looking at us. I think she was so exhausted from being at moms and she just was in a foul mood. Well, that's fine, but does it have to be on Easter?
She looked really pretty in her dress and white patten leather shoes!
We later drove to Grammy's here in Charlotte and when we got there no one was home. I love this picture of Caroline looking in their front door.
You know... to be honest... I was so caught up in the toe nail polish and the dress and the photos that it wasn't until I got to church and sat down that I totally realized that I was totally missing it. We could have gone to church in jeans and a t-shirt! The message is still the same! Jesus DIED for me! He rose again so that I could LIVE! No one's life is picture perfect and no one has it all together! It is because of Jesus that we even get to KNOW life and have abundant joy!
Pretty nails, a pretty dress and kickin' shoes... they are fun, but in the eternal scope of things... well, they will burn one day! Trash compared to the treasure of eternal life!
Thank you LORD that you see the heart and not the outer appearance of man! You are so amazing and I do not deserve the price that You paid for my soul!
Monday, March 17, 2008
It is a huge deal because last year at this time I had a T-K teacher tell me that my little one would need a lot of prayers to make it in a "regular" kindergarten class. We were very concerned that she might be border line autistic or have asperger's syndrome. She was showing some developmental delays in her motor skills and she was having a hard time in the classroom. She was not doing a lot of the things that other kids were doing and she had some odd behaviors.
She would bounce in her chair instead of doing her work. She would not be able to follow directions and do crafts like the other children. She needed lots and lots of help with writing and she always scribbled when she colored. She could not swing herself and she still can not ride a bike. She seemed very anxious in groups of children and she always needed to know what was next in her day. She could not just be! She would flap her hands or put them up to her face if she was excited or scared or unsure of something and she still does these things if she is angry or frustrated or excited. She had real bathroom issues and we still go through times of messy pants.
We started by having her tested academically just to see where she stood when given a standardized test. I was a special educator and so I was most familiar with these assessments and was most comfortable with starting her testing in this way. They found that she had average to below average intelligence in several areas, but she had high verbal skills. I knew that this girl was smarter than this and come to find out... girlfriend would just choose not to answer or participate during testing!
We were referred to a psychologist who did a battery of tests and while she could not give us a formal diagnosis she did recommend occupational therapy for sensory/auditory processing disorder. It seems that our girl could not take in all of the stimulus around her, process or cope with it, and then know what to do with it all.
Lots of kids means lots of energy and she was having a hard time taking all of that energy in and still function in the classroom. She also did not seem to comprehend blanket statements like "Children get in line" or "I need everyone to come to the table." It was almost like she needed a special invitation. It seemed as if she was rebelling, but she was not processing a blanket command or request. She also had no sense of appropriate personal space, and did not read emotions of others except sadness. She talked to strangers because she did not comprehend the danger. It's all processing and she had not developed in that area somehow.
So before school started for the year we started therapy. She goes once a week and the therapy helps her organize her body and her thoughts so that she can better process the information around her. IT IS AMAZING! They are able to explain to me about the different activities that they do with her and why they are helpful. We know that she can't balance because she can't cross her mid line... she can't balance when going across her body with the opposite arm (like touching your right knee with your left hand) and that requires all of your body to balance when riding a bike, for example. There are so many other things that they have taught me about her and I am CERTAIN that they are a gift from the Lord.
So... today my little one brought home a report card. She can read almost 50 sight words. She is spelling and sounding out words and learning to read. She is telling time to the hour and half hour and learning to add. She is reciting Bible verses every week from memory. She is playing and maturing and can swing and hold onto monkey bars. She is doing all of this with a little support from a special needs teacher (just pulling her out to review and take tests) and she is doing it all with 20 children in her class!!!!!! It is THE MOST AMAZING THING and my husband and I read that report card with tears in our eyes. I can't stop the tears even now. We are so proud. So proud.
Her teacher has had her share of difficulties with my girl. We have been on good speaking terms all year and she has called me several times just to ask what she should do. It is frustrating to have to cater to one child when 20 need a teacher, but she has hung in there with us and it doing an incredible job!!
This past summer I went on a prayer retreat and while I was there the Lord gave me a scripture. It is 54:13 and it says, "All your sons will be taught by the Lord, and great will be your children's peace." That scripture is hanging on Caroline's bedroom door and I pray that for her every single day as we go to school. I pray that when things are hard to understand that the Lord will be her teacher. When things are hard for her teacher to understand that the Lord will give her wisdom and be Caroline's teacher THROUGH her teacher. I also pray that He will be her peace. One version says "exceedingly great peace" and that is what I pray for her so that she will be able to take it all in and not allow things to overwhelm her.
I really am so very very thankful to the Lord. He made her. He knows her and He is doing a work in her that amazes me every day. She is doing better than any of us thought by this point and is headed to first grade!! This year they gave her 3 weeks to start with just to see if she could handle it and then advised me to have another plan in place where she could get more special help than they can offer at her present school. She may not be able to stay at this school forever, but I will not make that decision now!! The Lord... who started a good work in her... is more than able to sustain her and help her make it to the 12th grade there if it is His will!!
Oh, Lord. I can not praise You enough! Your ear is not closed and Your arm is not shortened. You are able to do far more than the human eye can ever fathom and I praise Your matchless name!! You are doing a new thing (Is. 43:19) and I will praise You Lord. Apart from You and Your hand I would be wasting away in fear and doubt, but You have worked in my family and in my child and You have answered our prayers. Please Lord! Do not stop! Continue to be Caroline's teacher. Be her exceedingly great peace and show her Your ways Lord. Help her to be drawn to You so that she might know You as her Savior and Lord.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Our friend, Chad, is a group leader at someone else's home this weekend. I am so excited for our Sunday School class as they have stepped up to help feed the kids, drive them back and forth, support us financially and lead a group! The involvement of more than just the host home is giving our church the chance to be more hands on and get to meet kids that we may not otherwise be involved with. It is really a great idea and is helping the kids to see that while the host families care about their spiritual growth, there are others that might not be able to host that are praying and supporting them just as much.
Our girls have said several times to please thank our class for the support. They are realizing that the church DOES care and DOES want to see them grow into Godly men and women. It's not just the youth pastor or people with kids their age, but the CHURCH. We are a family of God and it is vital that we function as a family.
I remember when I was growing up in church that if I was talking or writing notes and my parents could not see... well, the others of the church could and they would call me out!! They did not care who's kid I was... I would not be disrespectful in God's house! They helped to raise me to respect God's Word, His house and His people because they cared enough to hold me accountable. They didn't just hold me accountable though... many years later after I graduated from High School and college then worked for four years and then met my husband... those same people traveled two hours to support me as I got married, had a baby, and they continue to love me through my mom and dad by asking about us. They are my church family and I have now been married for almost 12 years!
God calls us to love others. It is actually a privilege to have these girls in our home and to see the Lord do something new in their lives this weekend. To see Him work in the lives of others is so encouraging and it makes me want to know Him more. Hopefully, our church is making these kids feel loved and supported as they participate this weekend. Hopefully they are seeing that their church wants to see them flourish as young men and women of God.
Lord, I lift our youth to you. They face so many challenges and difficult choices these days. Please help them to see Your house as a place of refuge and love. Help our church body to reach out and support them so that they may know what unconditional love feels like. Work in their lives, Lord. Give us ears to hear them God. Help us to make the time to listen and not see them as kids without a voice. They have much to offer our society and our church body. Help us to come along side their parents in prayer and support. Thank you for giving us a church family, Lord. We love you! Amen.
Monday, March 10, 2008
If you stand on roots for long your feet begin to hurt. You adjust, back and forth, trying to get comfortable. You are off balance and ever trying to find "normal" when it comes to standing.
Just this weekend we stood out side of an abortion clinic. We were there to pray for the lives of unborn babies and their mothers who might be thinking of taking the life of their child. As we stood there it was very unsettling. To think that a mom could end the life of her child for convenience sake made me cry. I was not there to condemn, and I did not want to judge. I was there to pray and ask the Lord to change hearts before grave mistakes were made. I wanted to ask Him to please show moms that other options are best and to seek forgiveness for our nation! I wanted to pray for the parents of teenagers and beg Him to help them hold their kids accountable for their actions.
The ground beneath us was full of roots. We stood near the road where cars sped by. I am sure, had I not known about the building, I would have sped by too, totally unaware of the travesties that take place inside.
My friend, Faith, commented that her back hurt when we walked away. My feet were killing me as I adjusted back and forth on the knobby ground. It was an extremely small price to pay when we thought of the prayers that might be answered on behalf of innocent children. To think about nurses that might help end the life of a human being instead of working to save their lives just made me hurt. Not my feet or my back, but my heart.
Our society will punish a criminal with double murder for killing a woman who is pregnant, but looks away when a doctor helps a mother kill her unborn child. Our society sees abortion as an answer to a mistake instead of the killing of a child that could one day be a doctor himself! We never know whether the life that was taken could have been a great artist, singer, composer, preacher or the next person to make major advances in medicine.
God has a plan for every child that He brings into existence! He never, ever makes mistakes and He has to be extremely saddened by the roots that we stand on! We are unsteady. We are easily swayed from right decisions when we make mistakes that will altar our lives and we take things into our own hands. We are eager to make ourselves comfortable again instead of withstanding the temporary pain never thinking that our choices will cause pain far into the future for ourselves and others.
Lord, may we stand on Your solid ground! May we seek You in our decisions and find rest in Your guidance. You never want us to kill! Lord forgive our nation for allowing such terrible things to happen to our children, YOUR children, Lord! Show us how to turn back to You! Help us to return to Your Word and Your will for our lives. Lord, forgive us! We are a nation far from You and we NEED You to intervene in our lives. Lord, protect the innocent and bring a saving knowledge of Jesus to the lives of those who are searching for peace.
Friday, March 7, 2008
The other night she was in the bath tub. She was yelling at me as I was downstairs cooking supper.
"What Caroline? I can't hear you all the way down here!"
"WELL, I HAVE A QUESTION!"
I can not stand for her to do this to me. I do not enjoy conversations that are yelled back and forth. I thought her question might be about taking her bath so I went to the bottom of the stairs so I could hear.
"What's your question?" I asked.
"When you are on the playground and you do something bad to someone does God see that?"
I almost stopped this conversation and said that we would discuss this when I could see her face, but I didn't.
"Sure He does honey. Why?"
"Well, I was just wondering. My friend hit my other friend and the teacher didn't see it. I didn't know if God saw it."
The definition of character is who you are when no one is looking. Sometimes we think that just because we are within the walls of our homes that no one is ever going to know how we speak to one another. Maybe we believe that within the confines of our church that the world will never know how we act with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
That is SO far from the truth.
Psalms 139:15 says, "My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place."
If our Father can see us being formed in our mother's womb can He not see us in the walls of our homes or in the center of our church? He absolutely sees every thing that we do and say. He absolutely knows what we will say before we say it, and yet we live this life as if no one is really paying attention! I say things in frustration to Caroline ALL THE TIME and I am not proud of it. My mouth gets me in so much trouble... especially when I do not think before I speak!
We are wise to consider every action and every word before it is expressed in any way. Thinking that no one sees is just foolishness.
Look at Psalms 139:1-12.Look at all of the ways that the Lord sees us. The Psalmist does not see it as a hindrance to his life, but as a blessing.
I know that Caroline would like nothing more than to not be seen when she does somethings. She would rather get away with doing things that she knows she shouldn't than to be caught! All of us are like this! We would like to be able to have an ugly attitude or say ugly things and have no one call us out on it. Well, fortunately when we became a child of God He promised us that He would never leave us. That verse always brings comfort, but it can also bring conviction. He is always with us and He sees it all!!
Lord, I fail miserably in this area sometimes. Thank you for dying on the cross for ALL of my sins. My lack of patience, my strong willed attitude, and my out of control tongue are all areas where I need Your forgiveness and help! Your eyes ARE ever on me. You never leave me and You always care about my actions. Please help me to remember God. Help me to never be satisfied with my attitude when it does not honor you or build others up. Help me to be an encouragement to others even when it seems like no one is looking. Lord, You are so worthy of a Godly character in my life. To live for You means to be all that I can be for you... even when no one is looking! I love you Lord!
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
"Mom." she said quietly.
"Yes, honey. It's ok." I said.
"Can you keep me? Keep me with you?"
"Yes. Come here."
"Mom, just keep me until it stops."
"Ok, come here. Let's rock in the chair."
She comes down the stairs with hair in a mess all over her head! Carrying her baby that she has had since she was an infant and wearing sweet little purple pajamas. I pick her up and we sit in the chair with her facing me.
"Mom. How long will it last?"
"Well, until Jesus tells it to stop," I said.
"Like in the Bible?" she asked.
"What do you mean?" I was so curious about what she would say.
"He said, 'Peace, be still' and the storm stopped mama. That's what He will do with this storm too. He will say peace be still and it will stop."
"That's right," I said. " The disciples were scared too, but Jesus told the storm to stop and they were not afraid any more. You don't have to be afraid. He is with us."
We rocked for a few minutes. Her sweet head on my chest.
"I know. I think I will go to bed now. I love you mama."
Oh, to have that faith! I am convinced that THAT is the faith that Jesus spoke of in His Word.
Look at Matthew 18:1-4. Notice how the Lord speaks about those that will be great in His kingdom? It is through child like faith that we come to Him. Fully trusting that the storms in our lives are never too big for Him. Eager to go to sleep, resting in His arms, assured that He is in control and all He has to do is speak to that storm and it will cease.
I do know that there are storms going on in the lives of those that I love. There are storms in everyone's life at some time or another. We are His children, and in the same way that I was MORE aware of the dangers of the storm than Caroline, He is aware of the dangers that we face while facing our storms. I knew that trees were blowing all around that could have fallen. Lightening can cause a fire and rain can cause flooding, but Caroline knew that if I would "keep her" that she would be ok.
God's view of our storm is greater. He knows the repercussions and consequences better than we do. He is fully aware that the storms in our lives can cause us harm, but He keeps us. He wants us to come to Him and ask Him to hold us as we face the storm together.
Not long ago I heard Anne Graham Lotz speaking on the radio. She said of storms, "Whatever is hard, pray about it then rest. Bring it to the Father and then rest in knowing that He has it. If your children are causing you pain or your husband or wife is being difficult, pray and then rest. Look for His answer and rest. He is in control."
"He replied, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the waves and it was completely calm." Matt. 8:26
Jesus, keep us in the storm. Be our comfort and our peace. Speak to the storms of our lives and help us to know that You are holding our lives in Your hands. Thank you that you are aware of the circumstances that we can not see. You are not surprised by the storms in our lives. Your words are sufficient to calm the waves and the winds that blow our way. Help us to rest in You and know that You have our best interest in mind. Help us to encourage others as they face their storm. Keep us mindful of Your purpose to make us holy, set apart, for Your purpose. We love you Jesus. Help us to love you more! Amen.