Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Prayer Request

My friend, Laura, gave birth today to twin girls at 20 weeks. They are now in the arms of Jesus and basking in God's glory. Please pray for God to comfort them in their terrible grief. Pray that God enables us to love them well. 

Molly Piper has some great tips for helping your grieving friend.

I Wanna Try

Here's some more wonderful things that I want to try...

I want to eat this soup:
Yummy Italian Sausage Soup
From Susan at Living with Punks

I wish I could sew better so I could make this:
DIY Pleated Dress
From Sarah at Welcome to the Good

I wish I could sew better so I could make this too:
Anthropologie Squeeze Box Top DIY
From Sarah at Welcome to the Good

I want to print these out (and laminate, of course):
31 Ways to Pray for Your Children Cards
From Danielle at Yet He Abideth Faithful

I want to sit here:
Tutorial: Land of Nod Inspired Floor Cushion
From Susan at Living With Punks

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Giveaway at Tyndale House

Who doesn't love a good book? I have been reading Francine Rivers for years and she is a wonderful writer. All of her books are thought-provoking and so different from each other that you don't feel like you're reading the same story just with different characters (which happens a lot in Christian-fiction). She's a wonderful author and in honor of her 100,000th fan-ship on Facebook Tyndale House is hosting a giveaway. Check it out for your chance to win!!

Thanks to Hannah at The Wonder Woman Diaries for a heads up on this great contest!

Monday, March 28, 2011

More Music That Makes Me Cry

You can tell I've been in a "worshipful-mood" lately as there have been so many songs that have touched my heart. This one was recommended by Kristi K. and it really spoke to me. Sometimes the lyrics of a song can touch deep down in your soul, so much that it can be healing.

The chorus is really powerful as a grieving mom and I think the words that made me cry the hardest were,
We know the pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home,
It's not our home.
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise
 And that's what I've been thinking about over the past few days. I recently told someone that I've always looked forward to heaven, but I wasn't really "ready". But after losing our two precious babies I feel ready for heaven. I'm past that stage in life where I don't want to die because there are things on this earth that I want to experience first. Sure, I want to see my boys grow up, accept Christ as their Savior, see them become young men in the Lord, get married, have children of their own, watch them minister in whatever occupation they are in. I want to continue in ministry with my husband in our neighborhood, in our church, in our family, in our youth ministry. I want to experience all those things...but not as much as I want heaven.

I also think of others who are experiencing pain: friends from Mommies with Hope, Christians who are being persecuted, missionaries spreading the Gospel to unreached people-groups, those who are grieving, those who are dealing with illness (Joanne), those who are suffering in their sin, and many more. A lot of times I don't see the pain as mercy in disguise. I'm more apt to cry out in anger, disappointment, fear and I question the promises that God gives us in His Word. I need music like this to remind me that the aching points us toward heaven; it spurs us on to the day of Christ's return. That we need to rejoice that this suffering is only for a "little while" while we wait for our eternal and perfect Home.

Laura Story - "Blessings" Lyrics

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd have faith to believe

‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
And what if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know the pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home,
It's not our home

‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise

 Are there any songs you've heard lately that have been healing?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I Wanna Try

Here are some sewing, well one of them doesn't involve sewing, projects that I'd like to tackle some day in the distant future soon:

Jaime at Prudent Baby's DIY Burp Cloth (with link to DIY Pocket Bib)

Jaime at Prudent Baby's Adorable DIY Ear Warmers

Jenny at Little Green Notebook's Make Shades Out of Mini Blinds

What's on your "I Wanna Try" list?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Reminder to Rejoice

It's been a rough few weeks. And I've been very emotional. I keep blaming my thyroid but really it's more of a heart issue. I'm still sad. I'm having a hard time thinking of the future without our little boys. I'm having a hard time wondering if I will ever feel a life move inside of me again. I'm having a hard time wondering if I'll give birth to a healthy child ever again. It's painful. And we're in it thick. We have 20+ friends that are pregnant or have just had their babies. I'm totally not exaggerating - we've started a list with names. Most of these people are close friends, and the others are still friends, not acquaintances. So it's rough.

Facebook is especially difficult for me. Family and friends with their ever-expanding bellies, hospital pictures of moms and babes, updated family pictures with moms and dads and kids and newborns. It's rough. I keep reminding myself of Romans 12:15, "Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn." And I need to remember to do that. Even if it's just a "congratulations!" on their facebook page.

And sometimes it's more than that. It's planning baby showers for friends and family. Buying party favors, baking cake, making snacks, sewing gifts, searching registries, gathering guest lists and sending invites. It's writing a thoughtful heartfelt card and meaning the words that you say. It's bringing families meals when they are recovering from having their babies. To truly rejoice with women, it's work for me.

Just to be clear: 
  1. I don't write this to get people's pity or to have them feel bad for me. 
  2. And I don't want to hurt people who are excited about their little ones. You have every right to be excited and you don't need my permission. 
I write this because it's my reality. That I need to remind myself to rejoice with expectant moms, whether it's their first or tenth baby. I need to remember to rejoice for the little lives who are born healthy. I need that reminder that as I wait for what God has in store for me, I am called to serve and worship. I am called to rejoice.

It's been a blessing to be on the worship team again. I'm on the team for April 10th and we are singing John Waller's song While I'm Waiting. It was made popular by the movie Fireproof. But I'm focusing on the words as a mom whose lost two precious children, as a mom who is unsure if God will ever bless her family with another baby, as a woman healing from a broken heart. There are some words from this song that hit me hard:

"And I am hopeful, waiting on you Lord." Oh, it's hard to say that aloud. It's hard to cry that out to God. I want to be hopeful but it's so hard to let that guard down and trust Him. I pray that I will be a hopeful person.

"I will move ahead bold and confident." Again, it's heart-wrenching to sing those words. I ask myself, am I confident? Am I acting out of bold faith?

"Though it's painful...though it's not easy, but faithfully and patiently, I will wait." And I pray that I can remain faithful and patient through the pain; that I will someday be an oak of righteousness (Isaiah 61:3); that through perseverance I will be changed and that God will see me as mature, lacking nothing (James 1:2-4).

And I need to remember that I am called to serve and worship as I rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15).

Friday, March 18, 2011

New Goals

I have to admit that I'm back to "normal." That's not a good kind of normal. It's a chubby kind of normal. Remember when I looked like this? Well, I haven't gained any weight back, but I've lost my muscle tone and have become squishy all over. Really a bummer after working that hard. And I have to say that if we could have afforded to keep me at Goals In Motion, I would have! It's was the best thing for me. I feel like I was just mentally there. My body changed but my brain needed time to catch up and realize the results from all the hard work that I did. I was in a good place to kick it into another level, but alas, that's not what happened. So, I have some new things in store:
  1. Follow the Goals In Motion eating plan (some of it anyway): more protein, more water, no carbs after 3p, eat 5x a day.
  2. Along with GIM eating plan I want to try The Lord's Table. I have a friend who wants to do it with me and I pray that it will help me break the cycle of emotional eating and focus on food as fuel. (The diet portion will be modified for my hypothyroidism.)
  3. 30-Day Shred. I've done this before and it's worked great. I just need to do it
  4. Try this: 100 push-ups, 200 sit-ups, 200 squats. It looks like a good program and I'm anxious to give it a try. Maybe I can get my husband to do it with me. :)
  5. After the 30-Day Shred, C25K (couch to 5K). I've never been a runner and I don't know if I want to start now. I need to get through the 30-Day Shred first. :)
  6. I also want to see what the Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans is up to when they start their next challenge (current challenge ends April 13th). That will hold me accountable to working out, weighing once a week (not daily) and reporting. I've been in the sisterhood before and it was really good for me and I'd like to join again.
So, this all begins on Monday, March 21. There's a sad but important anniversary coming up that I need to feel good for. I know it will be hard emotionally and mentally so I want to feel good physically.
Who's in? Who wants to join me? Who's willing to take the challenge?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thoughts on Lent

Eugene Cho has some pretty thought provoking things to say on his blog about Lent and how we choose to prepare our hearts for Easter. It made me think about giving myself to God and how that has to be a daily choice, to give up my will for the Father's. It's difficult and I can say that most days I probably don't do so well, but I can wake up each morning and try again. Check out Eugene's blog and his post Lent: Giving Up Coffee or My Life?

How do you prepare your heart for the Easter season? Is there a Lenten devotional that you read daily? Do you fast from something specific? How can we abide with the Father through this season?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I Wanna Try

I've been all over bloggyland and found a few recipes that I really want to try:

DIY Kale Chips by Dana at House Tweaking
(a favorite DIY decor blog)
Cheddar Cheese + Apple Pie by Jamie at Prudent Baby
(a fun DIY craft blog)

Yummy!! What have you been cookin'?

Day 2 of Giveaways at Doorposts

Ever feel like you need a parenting check-up? Do you have days where you need to refocus on your ministry as a mom (or dad)? Do you have days where you feel like you just haven't measured up and need to refresh your heart? Do have areas of sin that you need "surgery" on? Do you have trouble explaining your role as a parent/disciplinarian to your children?

Today Doorposts is hosting it's 2nd day of giveaways with A Checklist for Parents - Questions and Scripture for Self-Examination. Some days I just need something to help me check my attitude towards my husband and my children...along with my attitude towards God. This sounds like a great resource for my husband and me. Make sure you stop by their blog and become a follower (facebook, email, blog follower) to qualify for this giveaway.

Music as Worship

Music is one of the main ways that help me feel connected to God. Through lyrics and melody I can feel God's presence in my life, in my heart. I've been having a really emotional week and a friend sent me the lyrics to Bebo Norman's I Will Lift My Eyes and the words hit me hard. This is a song that I've heard before and even sang as a duet on worship team, but I've never really thought about the words. After a season of heartache and pain the words of this song is a cry from my heart just as David cried out in the Psalms using music and lyrics. I'm thankful that there are those whose gift it is to create music and write lyrics that call me closer to God.

I Will Lift My Eyes
Bebo Norman

God, my God, I cry out
Your beloved needs You now
God, be near, calm my fear
And take my doubt

Your kindness is what pulls me up
Your love is all that draws me in

I will lift my eyes to the Maker
Of the mountains I can't climb
I will lift my eyes to the Calmer
Of the oceans raging wild

I will lift my eyes to the Healer
Of the hurt I hold inside
I will lift my eyes, lift my eyes to You

God, my God, let Mercy sing
A melody over me
God, right here all I bring
Is all of me

I will lift my eyes to the Maker
Of the mountains I can't climb
I will lift my eyes to the Calmer
Of the oceans raging wild

I will lift my eyes to the Healer
Of the hurt I hold inside
I will lift my eyes, lift my eyes to You

'Cause You are and You were and You will be forever
The Lover I need to save me
'Cause You fashioned the earth and You hold it together, God
So hold me now

I will lift my eyes to the Maker
Of the mountains I can't climb
I will lift my eyes to the Calmer
Of the oceans raging wild

I will lift my eyes to the Healer
Of the hurt I hold inside
I will lift my eyes, lift my eyes to You

I pray that God will give you a new view of worship music, maybe even songs that are familiar to you. I pray that He will open your heart to the music you sing in your home, your church, and even your car. I'm thankful that God uses music to speak to me and I pray that it continues to prompt me into the Word and into God's presence.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Good Friends

My friend, Rachel, posted about friendship at her blog The Wonder Woman Diaries and she had so many good points. I've seen her grow so much in her faith, in her marriage and in her "new" role as mom. She's a wonderful mom and I've seen her blossom in so many ways since having her first little boy. God is using her in so many ways and she's been such a blessing to me. Here's her list to making strong(er) friendships:

1. Encourage, encourage, encourage.
2. Know what "language" your friend speaks.
3. Listen!
4. Go out of your way to serve.
5. Take care of yourself.
6. Pray for her.
7. Quit saying you're too busy.
8. In fact, it just takes 5 minutes. ;)
9. Be transparent and humble.
10. Don't be so insecure.
11. Prepare yourself for the worst.
12. Remember, friendships are never perfect. Be gracious.

She includes a lot of helpful tips after each "strengthener" on her list. Make sure you check out her full post, "Friends are the Flowers in the Garden of Life...err, something like that."

Oh, and enjoy the music. The Wonder Woman Diaries is used as my radio most afternoons. :)

Giveaways at Doorposts

**Update: this giveaway is closed and winner has been chosen.

Doorposts is a great resource for training your children in righteousness. They just launched their new blog with "Biblical parenting ideas, weekly character-building projects, book reviews, and lots more." Along with the launch of their blog they are hosting 10 days of giveaways with the last day, Saturday, March 26th, as the Grandprize giveaway - all of their products!! That's a good deal!!

Doorposts Day 1 Giveaway is Plants Grown Up (for boys ages 5 years and up) or Polished Cornerstones (for girls ages 5 years and up). They are great resources for training your littles to become faithful, thoughtful, godly men and women. The book includes Bible study projects, reading lessons, and activities to do together. It's been on my wish list for a while. :)

So check out their new blog and make sure to leave a comment to be entered into their drawing.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Angie's Secret Code

Kids' Christian music...

I have a lot to say about that but most of it isn't positive. I think it's good to have Christian music around the house, especially music that your kids can relate to. But most of it hurts my brain. The melodies, the instruments, the kids singing, the Bible lesson before the song actually starts.....

We have the Steve Green kids' music CDs and they're all right. The CDs were recommended to me by family and friends and so I bought them. I enjoyed them the first run-through but knew this was not the kind of music that I enjoy, and maybe there was something else out there that was more enjoyable to me and my family.

Our good friends Clint and Jess live in Arkansas and he was the director of the Kindergarten through 2nd grade program at their church. Several years ago when we went to visit them and tour the church he played some music that they use on Sunday mornings and I was in awe. What were we listening to?! It was upbeat, directly from the Bible, and it was fun! That's when we were introduced to Seeds Family Worship.

We now own Seeds of Courage and it's so great! I have memorized more Bible verses from this CD than I have in a long time. :) (That's not something that I'm proud to admit, but it is true.) The music is not annoying or lame. I enjoy this CD so much and have ordered another one using the 20% off code that my friend Angie has on her blog. So hop on over to get your 20% code now! It will be well-worth the extra click. :) The Seeds CDs are well-worth the investment (especially when you have a coupon code) and they make great gifts! Check out the Seeds Music Store today.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Pennant Bunting

I asked my dear friend, Rachel, if she would be willing to design my blog (yes, this blog) for me. I want a new look, something that's my own. :) Anyway, she asked me if we could do a swap in lieu of payment. And I was totally on board with that!!

So she asked me to make pennant bunting for her son's first birthday party. And it turned out great!! I love it and am proud to say that I made it! Sometimes I'm hesitant to admit, "Yes, that's mine...I made that..." But I can say proudly that this is my creation and I made it up all by myself.

I visited some Etsy shops to find the "look" that I wanted and most of them were a little more "professional" looking and not as homey. Don't get me wrong, they're all great but I knew what I wanted. So I made some stuff up. Some of it worked and some of it didn't.

First of all, I love sewing. I don't mind cutting, it's the pinning and ironing that I despise. But it is so helpful with this project. I wish I took the time to make a tutorial (it would be my first) but I didn't. Because, heaven-forbid, I take the extra 30 seconds to take a picture of what I'm doing. :) Maybe my next go-round when I'm not nervous because I've never done this before and I have no idea what I'm doing and was self-taught how to sew so I'm kinda anxious because this isn't just something I'm making for fun for myself but is sort of payment for the work that I want done on my blog so I can't screw this up. That's how my brain works.

Anyway, I started with triangles 8.5x5.5 and a package of fat-quarters that Rachel sent me in the mail (from Etsy). That way she got to pick out the fabric and we didn't need to make a special trip to the fabric store together with all the kiddies. I got 12-14 triangles per fat-quarter which made 6-7 pennants.

I admit that I didn't use my rotary to cut but I made very straight lines with my pencil and therefore cut and watched a movie with my husband. I have a very steady cutting hand. :) And, I admit that I didn't pin when I sewed them together. But they turned out great and I only had a little trimming to do.

Then I had to use my math skills. And they are lacking. Math is not my strong-suit. It just takes me longer to figure that kind of stuff out. I did well in math all through school but usually after class I would have to go home and read the book to figure it out. Practicing lots of problems so I could get a good grade on my test. Well, those skills came in handy yesterday when I was trying to figure this all out...that, and a calculator.

notice my trusty iron in the background
17 triangles x 5.5 inches each = 93.5 inches of triangles
15 feet x 12 inches = 180 inches
180 total inches - (5.5 inches on each end x 2) = 169 inches total
169 inches - 93.5 inches = 75.5 inches of space
17 triangles = 16 spaces
75.5 / 16 = 4.718 (rounded it to 4.75 - the extra length didn't matter in the end)

See, I told you that was a lot of math. And that's for each strand. Then I thought I needed to graph it out because I'm a visual and a hands-on learner. Even though the graph didn't really matter in the end.

Then came the fiasco. I had the pennants sewn for days and I was dreading the "rope" that held them together. I needed 15-foot strands. And I was not looking forward to sewing a bunch of strips of fabric together so I plotted how I would do this.

my sad little ball of trashed ribbon
Ribbon. That was my answer. Only after I had sewn a whole 15-foot strand did I realize my mistake. I had vintage-looking fabric with shiny satin ribbon - stupid! I didn't have a Plan B. :( I went to my sewing supplies and found an off-white sheet that I had gotten on clearance  and thought I might have some sewing-use for it (buying cheap sheets for sewing projects is a great idea, by the way). I grabbed it, ironed it, folded it, and cut it into 2-inch strips, lots of strips.

I sewed all the strips together, and that wasn't easy either. I kept getting the seams flipped. That was a source of frustration. Then came the ironing. I knew I would have to pin the pennants on, but I dreaded all the ironing. In fact, I started pinning without ironing, just using my fingernails, well that resulted in failure and more work at the sewing machine so that was all ripped out too. Trial and error baby. :)

I finally realized that I needed to iron everything! So I did. I took the 2-inch strips, folded it in half and ironed. Then I went back and folded the edges to the center so I could get a clean line and then ironed that. :) It was very time consuming.

But then it went so fast. Who knew that pinning onto straight, ironed fabric would be so easy?! I measured my ends, pinned a pennant, measured my space, pinned a pennant and continued through all 15-foot strands. Then the machining, which was slick (that's my favorite part too) and I was done!! It it looks really nice.

So, if you try this project, hopefully you'll learn from my mistakes by ironing the first time, not using ribbon (which I just found out there's this thing called bias tape - I'm going to have to research that cause it sounds nice) unless it fits your theme, and have fun.

Thanks for letting me ramble about this project. The next time I make pennant bunting I'll make sure to make a tutorial to go along with it. :)

I'll link to her blog when she posts pictures of the pennants hanging in all their glory.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Gettin' Crafty

I've been busy at my sewing machine making some bunting/pennants for a friend. It's been taking more brain power than I expected so I was in need of a quick project to boost my "craft" spirits. So I made this cute wreath for my door:

It was pretty cheap too!! I spent $4 on the straw wreath (I recommend the next smaller size), $3 on the yarn and $1 for the felt (total $8). And it only took me an hour. It felt so good to finish something. Yay!! Oh, the color scheme was inspired by some ribbon I found at Hobby Lobby. I was going to go with green and blue but I think purple looks great with the lime green.

Now, back to the sewing machine, I have work to do. :) 

As with most things in the blogosphere, one thing leads to another. It started with Maggie at The Wonder Woman Diaries working on a wreath which was inspired by Danielle at Take Heart so I went over to Danielle's blog and was also inspired by her great tutorial. Yay to blogs!!

Friday, March 4, 2011

What's Wrong With this Picture?

Seriously the only ice in the whole parking lot was right by the handicap parking spot. My dad and I said that if you didn't arrive handicapped, you would be by the time you left.

I wanted to take more random funny pictures while we were on our Mississippi adventures, but I'm usually living in the moment instead of behind the camera. So, I apologize for not having more great pictures like this. :)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


It's always fun finding something unexpected in the mail. I opened my mailbox and it was stuffed full of bills, coupon fliers, my favorite magazine Cook's Country, and even a package with my name on it. I didn't think I had ordered anything and there was no return address. I opened the package to find this book:

And this note:

What a pleasant surprise!! And what a blessing. :) I'm looking forward to reading One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp as she's always so thought provoking on her blog, A Holy Experience. I'm behind in the group discussion but I look forward to viewing the videos of Ann sharing her thoughts about each chapter. What a blessing to receive this book as a gift from an anonymous sister in Christ. Thank you!!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Dr. John Perkins and Dolphus Weary

We were so privileged on Monday to hear some wonderful men encourage us with their stories: Dr. John Perkins and Dolphus Weary. These two men have been very instrumental in the ministries that are happening in Jackson and in the rural towns around Jackson.

Dr. Perkins and Jo Caswell
Dr. Perkins had lunch with us today (and even asked me to get him a second piece of cake - my claim to fame) and then spoke about where is heart is after all his years of ministry. And he's at a season of blessing and fruit. He called the group from Northwest Iowa (lovingly referred to as "the Dutchies") his friends. And he couldn't have been successful in ministry without the help from friends. He's led an amazing life and it's great to see him enjoying this season of fruitfulness, which includes traveling and speaking. He has a wonderful story and you can read about it in his book, Let Justice Roll Down. "For the past 50 years, Dr. John Perkins has dedicated his life to empowering people and ministries to work alongside the poor and vulnerable." He has been a civil rights leader for many years and has been a part of the beginnings of many wonderful ministries: Voice of Calvary, Christian Community Development Association, Mendenhall Ministries, and many more. Dr. Perkins' life verse has been Galations 2:20 and he sums it up like this:  "Love is the final fight."

This evening Dolphus and Rosie Weary joined us for dinner and then he spoke about his ministry and how God led him back to Mississippi even after he said, I Ain't Coming Back (the title of his book). Dr. Perkins led Dolphus to Christ and encouraged him to find out where God was calling him. And his wife, Rosie, also wrote a book, Stepping Out from the Shadows, from her perspective as they journeyed through ministry together. We had some time for Q&A and I asked how she remained passionate about her husband's ministry when their children were small and she said, "'ll have to read my book." :) Made us all laugh. But she was honest and said that it was hard, and she needed to refocus on her part in ministry and that it's not just being an encourager or a prayer warrior. I bought the book and am anxious to read it. (The proceeds of their books go into an endowment fund to help rural Mississippi high school graduates attend a Christian college with the intention of returning back to Mississippi to serve in ministry (doctor, nurse, pastor, banker, etc).) Dolphus also works for Voice of Calvary Minitries in Mendenhall and the surrounding rural areas/towns.

It was such an honor to hear both of these men (and Rosie) share where God has led them and where He continues to lead them. A few things that stuck out for me were:

1. Rosie said that her ministry was more than being an encourager and prayer warrior for her husband's ministry. Although both of those things are very important, it causes me to pause and think about how my husband's ministry is our ministry. How moving to another part of town may help me to become more passionate in ministry with him and how God can use me in my daily walk to advance the Kingdom. Looking forward to get into her book. :)

2. Dr. Perkins is at a stage where he is enjoying seeing fruit, seeing how his many years of hard work has paid off. It's a great encouragement to know that someday there will be fruit - in my children's lives, in my husband's lives, in my life, in ministry. During those dark stormy hours where we are feeling heavy with the load of the Kingdom we know that it is only by God's grace we are able to play a part in building His Kingdom. That it's not by our power that there will be fruit but we are only the farmers planting the seed and it is Him who causes all things to grow. Even if we never see the fruit of our labor we know that God is faithful and we need to remain focused on that during the heavy times of ministry in our communities, churches and in our homes.

3.One thing that stuck out from Dolphus speaking was that in ministry, we need to measure success with the small victories. "We send 10 students to a Christian school (using their scholarship program) with the intention of all 10 returning to serve in rural Mississippi and only 3 come back. We can become downhearted about the 7 that didn't return or we can rejoice with God that 3 returned home to serve and share the love of Christ with their neighbors and friends. We must measure our successes in the small victories." And that's something that I wanted to pass on to my husband in the midst of his ministry year and all the changes the ministry has experienced over the last 18 months. I think that's important for anyone in ministry to hear, even a mommy. The reminder to measure success on the small things is a big encouragement for me.

Again, it was a blessing to hear from these godly people and I can't wait to get into Rosie's book (and then write a review). :)

Sunday's Day of Praise

This is a longer post because of all the wonderful messages we heard on Sunday (February 13th). Hope you enjoy and don't forget to leave a comment with your thoughts. :)

First, I have to tell you that 12 years ago my husband and I went on our first date (kind of a real date, kind of a "just friends" date and a double-date): Sioux City Musketeers hockey game and McDonald's; I ordered a fish sandwich and fries. I sat with my hands on my knees the entire night because I wanted him to hold my hand so badly, but he didn't...until we were half-way home. Just a little tid-bit of my love-life. :)

We woke early to a great breakfast of Cinnamon Coffee Cake. Then headed to church at Voice of Calvary Fellowship for services at 8am. Reverend Neddie Winters preached on the free gift of salvation  and it was a wonderful message. It was kind of sad going to VOC Fellowship because the church has really shrunk in size and a lot of our old friends have moved on to other churches. They were the first racially integrated in church in Jackson so it's sad to see that little church struggle as all of our friends have left and joined other churches.

One of the churches that our friends have migrated to is Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Jackson. What a! It was so wonderful to see our friends singing in the choir just like the "old days." :) The church was so multi-cultured. It was a delight to my heart to see all the colors blended into God's holy people, dearly loved. It was a bit of heaven. And I'm not just talking about skin-tone. I'm talking about the spiritual culture of the church as well. To see the worship progress with quotes from John Calvin, to some quiet "Amens" from the crowd, to the choir boisterously lifting praise Almighty God, to the college and high school students filling the pews, to the gray heads that bowed in prayer, to the reading of Old and New Testament Scriptures, to the singing of popular worship songs and hymns. It was a beautiful church that is making strides not only racially but also spiritually. It was just indescribable the feeling of that church. It was a piece of heaven.

Pastor Campbell shared a message with us on the Omniscience of God from Hebrews 4:12-16. And it was powerful. Omnicience of God is something that a lot of us Christians know but it's not like we think about it a lot. God knows everything: about Himself, everything actual and possible (doesn't have to learn), about us - whether we want to admit it or not. It's easy for us to know that God is omniscient, but it's hard to really believe it.

Believing that God sees us nurtures sobriety - and not in the alcohol/drug sense. Sobriety - sober. Believing that God knows everything gives a seriousness to life. This sobriety means that we believe that we can not hid from God and we can not manipulate Him (to make ourselves feel better or to get what we want). Hiding from God is sin. And God sees our supposed confession without repentence. He knows when we are not being authentic. "There is no right to privacy in God's constitution." :)

Believing that God sees us nurtures sanctification. It causes us to become more purposeful in our pursuit of holiness. "Here's your motiviation: I SEE YOU" - God. We must give an account (vs 13). This is not a picture of a vindictive father. We see in verse 12 that the sword cuts to the deepest part of us, parts of us that we can not separate, where even we don't know what is happening (that we're sinning). How do we turn that sword from judgement to healing? How do we open ourselves up to that kind of penetration? We need to praise God that He really sees us and reaches down in there to heal our sinful hearts.

Believing that God sees us nurtures supplication. That fact that God sees us shouldn't make us run away but run into His arms because of what Jesus has done for us (vs 14-16). He understands our weaknesses and our struggles. He covers us and sees us through our sorrow. He is the perfect covering for our sin and we needn't hide like Adam and Eve. We must boldy go to him (with confidence - as Rev. Winters preached early in the morning), not with arrogance. Arrogance is thinking we can "do it ourselves" and we don't need Him.  Every moment we have access to the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings. God looks at us because He wants us to be a reflection of His Son, not to smack us around. He sympathizes with our weaknesses but in our weakness we must come to Him. His is a love of mercy and of grace.

See, I told you it was really good. :) I just thought it was great to know that God knows Himself, because there are times when I don't know myself. Why am I crying? I don't know. :) Why did I just do that? I don't know. And the fact that God doesn't see us so He can cut us and wound us, He uses His sword with skill to heal us and remove the sin in our lives. And it may hurt but God offers healing through His Son, Jesus Christ and understands that we are weak. But at the same time, it's serious business. God seeing us should cause us to become serious about our relationship with Him, should cause us to be more purposeful in living like Christ and should humble us enough to boldy go to Christ and ask Him for cleansing and renewal of our spirits and our hearts. Something that I need to be reminded of.

We relaxed for the afternoon and visited some of the places around Jackson that have been dilapidated for years and have been revitalized into a wonderful downtown area. They still have a long way to go but what a beautiful start.

Then we returned to Redeemer for their 6pm service, which was their 6-year anniversary celebration and installation of new elders and deacons. Our friend, Arthur Phillips had a solo and what a solo it was. He played piano and sang, while three young men accompanied with bass guitar, drums, and organ. Beautiful!

Because it was an anniversary celebration, one of the founding members came up and shared about how the church was started and the purposes behind it - a multi-cultural church. It was a wonderful testament to the healing and reconciliation that is happening in the South. It was a blessing to hear her heart and how the church has grown in the process. Hearing about the background and see the passion of these godly people spoke to my heart.

And the choir was inspiring. So energizing. The visiting pastor, Reverend Wy Plummer (African American Ministries Coodinator) said he needed a little time to calm himself after worship and even asked, "Am I really in a PCA church?!" That comment produced lots of chuckles. Another testament to the multi-cultural aspect of this church (racially, spiritually and in worship).

Rev. Plummer's message was based on Psalm 51 and was titled, "Repentance as a Way of Life." He commented on how this may seem like a heavy message for an anniversary celebration but he told us it wouldn't be too heavy. :) This Psalm was written by a repentant David after he was rebuked by the prophet Nathan for killing Uriah and sleeping with his wife, Bathsheeba. It's a wonderful description of how repentance should work and how it can be a growth experience for us.

David expresses how his sin has caused tension in his relationship with God, and that grieves him. And we should be grieved when we sin against the Holy God. But we need to learn to hate our sin instead of beating ourselves up. God doesn't judge us because he's already judged Jesus and that sin has been paid for if we have a personal relationship with Him.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
(Romans 8:1)

We need to confess our sin, and tell God "I have sinned against you" and focus on change. True repentance produces the fruit of evangelism (revival). Our story of sin and forgiveness involving life-change is not a time of sorrow but of joy as we see God's love and grace. It's a blessing to share our "story" with others as they may be struggling in their sin. We offer hope as repentance is the gateway to a joyful life with Christ.

It was a very powerful sermon and Rev. Plummer related it to the work in the church. How the sins of the past have been forgiven and how we need to seek out the hope that is offered through reconciliation and repentance. It was a blessing.

And I didn't think I could ever get emotional about installation of new elders and deacons but I was moved. To see generations of hate and fear vanish as both black and white men embraced as they accepted the new church leadership was so moving. To know that there is true forgiveness, love, and joy was a picture of heaven and the hope we can have that one day there will be true peace between all men (and women). :)

It was a busy day full of spiritual enlightenment and my heart was renewed. That's why it's taken me so long to post about this because so much of the day struck my heart. I think my husband would have enjoyed the time at Redeemer as he has a passion for multi-cultural ministry. It was truly a blessing to hear the Word of the Lord.