Tuesday, December 30, 2008

And, Again, My Perspective is Changed

I just finished reading The Shack. It took me two days and I want to go back over most of it again. I had put off reading it for over a year because I pictured some intense, gut-retching experience that would just wring me out. And, to be honest, I didn't really like some of the things I heard about it. I'm not big on so-called Christian things that are "best sellers" and all hyped up. Many times it is more about the money and the power rather then a true act of worship to God. This book, however, is an eye opener. But, only if you want it to be.

I've been struggling whether to blog or not to blog about it. For those of you who may have not read it I would not want to put any preconceived ideas in your heads. Yet, this book just begs for a discussion. It is so profoundly unique and while I can't say it was life shattering, it certainly gave me some interesting things to ponder and pray about. It revealed some things in me that I need to change. Despite the controversy surrounding it, I was not offended by anything in this book. Uncomfortable, yes, but not offended.

So, I'm "polling my audience" and wanting to know if I started sharing a little more in detail about my thoughts of this book, would you be interested in commenting back your thoughts if you read it, too? Or, should I just leave it alone so as not to ruin it for anyone who hasn't read it, yet?

I'm anxious to hear from you......

Saturday, December 27, 2008

It's Soon Payback Time

I did a little post on my the results of my holiday overindulging....you can check it out by clicking HERE.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Wii Are Blessed!

We are having a blast enjoying our new Wii. It has taken "family game night" to a whole new level! And, because it was a group gift from various family members it has greatly decreased the clutter we normally experience each Christmas trying to figure out how to make room for all the new "stuff"!

Overall, this Christmas season has been filled with thanksgiving, joy and a greater understanding that we are called to help those in this world who are less fortunate. It is so wonderful to be blessed with our Wii; however, there are so many people in this world who don't even know where the next meal will come from. I'm trying to keep the girls' perspectives and priorities in order without making them feel guilty for enjoying what we have...it is a delicate balance I must admit.

I do have to take this opportunity to acknowledge how amazing our Savior is....to thank Him for laying down His life and loving me at my worst. Life apart from Him really isn't life at all.

So, God bless you and I pray for His joy to be in you and for your faith in Him to multiply in the coming year.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Extreme Home Makeover - Gingerbread Edition

I challenged myself. I took over the annual tradition of making a gingerbread house with the girls. The Husband always does it because I'm a little "structurally challenged", but he was stuck out of town over the weekend when his truck broke down. We were running out of things to do and it was way too cold to go anywhere! I looked at the box and realized that this was a deluxe gingerbread house, that quite honestly, a monkey should be able to assemble. Except for a little roof "splittage"where a peppermint slipped down inside the house never to be seen again, I'd say I built a pretty stable structure!

We had fun and I must admit, as the girls grow older projects like this are a lot less stressful! I also noticed that I get a little more daring as the years go by at trying new things!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

What Can I Give a King?

* My cards are mailed (most of them).

* My gifts are bought. Many wrapped and all the out-of-town ones shipped today.

* The cookies, truffles, Yule Log and toffee are in their air tight containers waiting to be delivered to co-workers, coaches and teachers.

* Tomorrow I turn in my Angel Tree gifts and Saturday we bless a single mom and her kids with a slew of gifts some friends and I gathered in lieu of our own gift exchange (the highlight of our Christmas this year).

* My house is (reasonably) clean and decorated.

Yet, I sit here and know there is still something more I need to do. What gift will I give to Jesus this year?

What can I give Him? What do I offer up to the One who gave it ALL? Can I follow through with the desires of my heart to worship Him in all that I do, only to fall short and miss the mark?

Lately, I am so very much aware of my inequity and my NEED for a Savior. Grateful doesn't begin to cover how I feel. It is in that moment I decide what to give Jesus in celebration of His birth and in response to His extravagant love for us. I want to carry His fragrance with me. Like a refreshing perfume. I want to be an overflow of Him...a vessel....so, I can give Him away to others.

That's the gift that keeps on giving....

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I Was a Mess. But, in a Good Way.

It is difficult to put into words. How do you begin to define a spiritual encounter with our Living God? It isn't about being religious or following a man-made routine. I look back at the last fifteen years and try to pinpoint what I was doing when I sensed the mighty presence of God. Was I worshiping, had I just moved in obedience or was I simply expecting God to fill my hunger?

The truth is, there is no magic formula. Because out of the clear blue He rocked my world on Friday night. I do believe there is a measure of going after Him with no distraction, but to be perfectly honest with you it had been a long, sort of lonely time of pressing in and feeling an occasional touch. Then, me trying to figure out what I must be doing wrong to be missing out on His Presence. I even wondered a few times if maybe what I was calling "mighty encounters" was just emotional hype?

Sounds a little like a Melissa-made religion, huh?

Which is why He caught me off guard at our Youth Staff Retreat on Friday night. I thought I was going for fellowship time and instead a pastor/prophet in the area was there to minister to our team. Before he even stood up to speak I felt God's presence very strongly. Then, we began to worship and I knew that something was sort of changing inside of me. I had this picture of a faucet being turned on and water was just flowing freely. This pastor then began to teach an amazing lesson about the miracle of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. He pointed out that Jesus performed the miracle, but He instructed the disciples to remove Lazarus's grave clothes that were binding him. I thought that was very cool that Jesus included His disciples in the miracle, just like He wants to include us. That could be a whole post in and of itself. It was powerful stuff! Then, we were each prayed over prophetically and I was a mess. Messed up for Jesus! Yeah, Baby!

I guess the point I'm trying to make was that God knew what I needed to hear and there is no formula needed to connect with Him. He knew that I was wanting to have an encounter with Him that was life changing. And, that's what happened. Since then God has opened a variety of doors to pray for people and He really gave me a clearer vision for youth ministry. I feel like I belong there and the prayers and desires of my heart to reach the youth of this region are not in vain.

I'm ready. And, I'm thrilled to see what God has in store!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Chalk One Up for the Super Mommy

One retreat, two birthday parties, a soccer game, 120 frosted sugar cookies and three Christmas parties later, I sit here with my potato soup all packaged and ready for the teacher's luncheon tomorrow. It is truly the season for Christmas miracles! Thank you, Jesus that I survived the weekend and here I sit with a (tired) smile on my face reflecting on all the wonderful memories we made this weekend. Not a bit stressed out (except for The (evil) Dog having the stankiest, stinkiest diarrhea from eating two socks. This while I'm in the middle of having 17 children at my house for one of the three Christmas par-tays....and, let me mention that The Husband was 4-wheeling during the festivities and doggie excretions). I give you the highlight reel (minus The Dog's contribution):

I have more to share about the weekend; however, I can barely put two words together to form a thought right now so I'm going to bed!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Super Mommy or Idiot?

You be the judge.

I'm still here, peeps! I have approximately 1 minute, 37 seconds that I can devote to a post or I will never get my projects finished tonight.

Today was my day off from work and I shopped and took GAS to get her hair done. First thing this morning I trayed up snacks for the teachers at school for our Moms In Touch group because "don't worry ladies, I'm off work on Thursday so I can do it".

Except that #1 missed her bus. Yup. Not the best of days for that to happen, but her bus driver usually has a 10-minute window and apparently, she didn't hit her snooze button this morning.

No problem, with visions of cheddar and ring bologna dancing through my head, we dashed away, dashed away....ok, I'll stop that. To avenge the fact #1 missed the bus, I then felt it was necessary to verbally express all the things I needed to do today, this weekend, and basically until Christmas morning. #1's eyes rolled back in her head a few times, but at the end she simply said, "it's okay because you are Super Mommy".


awwww....my heart went pitter-pat. Super Mommy, huh? I like that.

My co-workers? No, they think I'm completely OUT OF MY MIND. But, I think they're just jealous. They wish they had an entire class of 3rd graders coming to their house to decorate several hundred cookies on Sunday, after being gone all weekend at retreats, and parties. Then, when the third graders go home they can make soup for the middle school Teacher Appreciation Lunch for delivery the next morning before work. Soup, not soda or paper products. No, the non-Super Mommies (you know, the ones with their brains still intact) signed up to bring those items.

Yup. They're jealous alright.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Days 2 and 3 of Endurance (Advent)

Last night our Day 3 challenge was to cooperate together and find someone to pray for. Again, I explained some things can be hard or feel strange, but God encourages us that many times the right thing to do isn't always an easy choice! The girls all decided on a lady that #2 had pictured on the way over. This was one of the first times they actually initiated it on their own without me along to do the talking. They were nervous and basically #1 did most of the talking and praying. But, they did it together and I was proud of them. It wasn't like goosebumps on the back of the neck or anything, but it was obedience to the Lord (I gave them the choice to do it, I didn't want them to feel pressure from me). Here they are at Giant talking and praying with her (and, yes there is actually a woman there and they are not talking to the trashcan!):

Tonight was Day 4 of our Advent adventure and they got to take their craft items they bought on Day 2 and turn them into a banner that we'll keep as a reminder of God helping us to "endure". It is really cool, but their real names are on it so I didn't want to post a picture close up. We talked about the scripture from Romans about challenges and difficulties making us stronger. Then, I read them a story about a chick breaking out of its shell and how hard it looks. But, if someone else breaks that shell open for it, that chick will end up being weak. I sort of let my girls know that there are times I am choosing not to "break open their shell" for them! Yet, I'm close by and praying for them to get through those tough times.

I wonder if that Mama Chicken ever wants to take control and just go over and start pecking to help those babies like I want to help mine sometimes! My children aren't the only ones being ministered to during this Advent season....their "Mama Chicken" is learning to endure, as well!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Endurance (Advent)

As most of you know, I like to celebrate Advent with a little creative lesson and devotion each night. We have done several themes in earlier years such as The Names of Jesus and praying/crafting for each extended family member. This year I decided to try something different since they are getting older.

My girls all really enjoy watching Endurance on Discovery Kids. It is a "Survivor" type of reality show and they are all really into it. I had been praying and asking the Lord to give me an idea for Advent and while a few came to mind, nothing really seemed to stick out. Then, I felt like He dropped a wonderful idea in my brain...take their favorite TV show and turn it into an Advent study on the fruits of the spirit, particularly "endurance".

The first night, I typed up James 1:2-4 (Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing). We then talked about how easy it is to have faith when everything is going well in life. But, it is so much harder to have faith and trust God when bad things happen. That is where endurance comes in. We then did our first Endurance Challenge. Each one randomly got to choose 2 jars/cans. I explained they had to hold the items they chose over their heads while standing up as long as they could. They laughed and said how easy that would be.

They stopped laughing about 3 minutes later. They started sweating about 7 minutes later. They hung on and and at the 10-minute mark I told them they could be done (I started picturing them with muscles so sore they couldn't get out of bed in the morning!). I was so proud that they hung on, even though it was obvious they were very uncomfortable. We, then prayed and asked God to help us in our own personal areas where we felt we lacked endurance. We ended by making ice cream sundaes as their "prize".

Tonight, their challenge was "teamwork" and they didn't do so good. Therefore, there was no reward. I gave them $5 and told them to go through Michael's and buy the materials they would need to create a banner with all 3 of their "team" colors (red, green and silver). Things got a little ugly, as I pointed out that each one of them are good leaders, but they must learn when to give in and cooperate. There were some tears, but by the time we got home, they had all apologized. We re-read our scripture and asked God to help us learn from the mistakes that were made tonight. It wasn't really what I had planned to happen, but the lesson was powerful and I didn't have to yell at them.

I believe that the Holy Spirit is really guiding us! Tonight was a lesson in endurance that I'm hoping will really impact how they treat one another in the future. It wasn't really "fun", but it was meaningful. I told them that some of the most important things we learn in life will not be "fun" and/or "entertaining". Like algebra. And, learning from the mistakes we make.

Next up...Joseph. Now, there's a guy who endured......

Holiday Gift Guide and Giveaway!

Check this out if you are interested in some great ideas for gift giving...it's even better then Etsy (I promise). I'm personally hoping to win a pair of Joe's Jeans so I can be as cool and look as hott as Natalie does in her expensive jeans!

Monday, December 1, 2008

I Like That...Reindeer With an Edge!

You Are Comet

A total daredevil, you're the reindeer with an edge!

Why You're Naughty: You almost gave Santa a heart attack when you took him sky diving

Why You're Nice: You always make sure the sleigh is going warp speed