Saturday, October 30, 2010

Grace, Grace God's Grace...

Grace, grace, God’s grace,

Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.
Anyone else remember this song?  We don't sing it at church anymore (we do more Praise&Worship style), but as a child we sang this hymn and I can remember hearing the harmonies and trying to follow the notes so I'd sing the right part.  Ah, childhood innocence!  I never paid attention to the words.  I just liked the melody of it.
But as an adult I read these words and am awed by the grace that He has lavished on me.  Until 2002, I thought that to be a Christian meant that I had to follow a set of rules that someone else made for me.  I hadn't really read the bible for myself and had no idea what grace was.  But by the grace (no pun intended) of God, my father-in-law's teaching, and Bob George's message on grace I came to know the true freedom that being a Jesus follower can bring.
Grace allows for those times when you just make the wrong decision.  Grace allows for those times when you just say the wrong words.  Grace allows for me to not be making list after list of every sin I've committed every minute of the day.  And heaven forbid I were to die before I could ask for forgiveness for something.  God created the entire universe in 6 days...I think He knows when I commit a sin.  I don't think He needs me to remind Him.  I realize the importance of acknowledging that I've done something displeasing to Him.  But the better response is to thank Him for the work He did over 2000 years ago on Calvary when Jesus died and forgave every sin of every person that would ever live (past, present, and future).  If I have to keep asking for forgiveness then doesn't that mean He needs to die over and over and over again.  He died ONCE for ALL (Romans 6:10, 1 Peter 3:18) not He died for my gossip on Tuesday, my jealousy on Friday, and don't forget my lack of faith---He died for that on Monday!  So silly...
The point is that grace was given freely and it is a gift.  We have to receive the gift from the Giver of life and then we walk in it.  When you truly love Christ and desire to be like Him, you don't want to have sin in your life.  Granted it is still there and we will all sin (present company included) much more that we want to, but there it is--GRACE!

'he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace.'  Ephesians 1:5-7

Thank you God for your matchless grace...grace that is greater than all my sin...
For more thoughts on grace, hop on over to Chatting at the Sky and check out to 31 days of grace series...
Grace that is greater than all our sin  I don't know who this guy is, but he has an awesome rendition of the hymn...take a minute to listen it's well worth your 3 minutes :-)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

It's Beginning To Look Alot Like Christmas...

OK, so not really!  It's still about 75 degrees here during the day (which will change as of tonight according to John on WYFF 4).  But it is time to start thinking about Christmas cards if you want to get them out on time.  What kind of cards do you send?  Or do you send any at all?  Photo cards are a great choice for Christmas cards!  Shutterfly has an awesome selection of photo cards to choose from.  What better way to catch up family and friends with your life over the past year than to send a photo card?  They can see how your kids have grown (or dog, cat, etc. if you don't have kids) during the year.  There are so many neat ways to do them.  You can do anything you can think of!
As for our family this year, I love the selections found in the Religious Christmas card section.  For us, Christmas is about Jesus so what better way to show everyone?  In the past, we've used pictures that were taken professionally and ones I've taken myself.  It is so simple to upload your picture, type in your greeting, and order the cards!  There are so many to choose from I haven't decided which one we're gonna use this year!  You'll have to wait and see!
Shutterfly also has Address labels you can use throughout the Christmas season!  I love this time of year and am looking forward to designing our own one of a kind Christmas cards this year!  How about you?  Check out the links to Shutterfly I've included in this post to get started!  If you decide to do photo cards...send us one!

(from Agility, Ability-Diane Holleman)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pictures of Grace...

Over at Chatting at the Sky today a picture parade of grace is being held.  This picture represents grace to me in so many ways...the grace that was extended to us when He led us to Zach and made him part of our forever family..the child of my heart.  The grace that this mama extends by letting this boy keep all this HAIR!

And this one...grace that He gave us when He blessed us with a child from my body...a child that is not perfect physically but is on so many other levels...the innocence!


And last but not least this one....the grace extended to me when I was laying in a hospital bed in pre-term labor at 34 weeks...the promise He gave me that all would be well...what else can I say?

Happy Halloween or Harvest or Pumpkin Day (whatever you want to call it)!

Yesterday I shared some Thanksgiving tips out of the book Homespun Memories for the Heart.  Today I thought I'd give some tips for celebrating fall (or Halloween).  Since Halloween actually falls on Sunday (although most festivals and trick-or-treating will be done Saturday night) there are some great suggestions to celebrate that are church friendly.  Even if you don't believe in celebrating Halloween you can celebrate the Harvest.
Let's begin with celebrating Halloween.  We dress our kids up and go to festivals and they go trick-or-treating.  We don't get involved in the 'spooky' or 'satan-ish' aspects of Halloween.  Our kids just have fun with other kids.  One great idea is to have a Halloween party for your children and thier friends.  Zach went to one this weekend where they played games, had fun food, and just played like kids.  What fun!  If you didn't want to make it about Halloween, have it after or a few weeks before and call it a Harvest Party.  Have a bonfire (roast hot dogs and smores), hayride, games, and anything else you can think of.
Another idea is if you live in a neighborhood get together with some other families and make it a group outting.  Dress the kids up and go door to door.  Maybe even have a party before or after with cool Halloween themed treats!  Call it a Pumpkin Party!  We are planning to take our boys with my neices and go around my parents neighborhood on the golf carts (maybe even dress up the golf cart).  All fun things to make memories with the kiddos that doesn't involve scary things.
Ok so for the Sunday night part of the Halloween deal....some people think that churches don't even need to be involved with any aspect of the "devil's holiday" and that's OK.  Some churches use the day as a time to reach out to unchurched kids or to provide somewhere for their own kids to go that is not going to get them in trouble.  They have fun festivals, trunk-or-treat, or 'judgement' houses.  One idea in the Homespun book is to have a Hallelujah night...oh how I wish I'd thought of this earlier!!  Have the kids dress up in their favorite bible character, animal, or theme (family) and hold a fall festival.  You could have a pumpkin carving contest where the carving has to be based on an aspect from the bible.  What a great time of fellowship that doesn't involve "Halloween"!
Whatever you decide to do this weekend with your kids for Halloween (celebrate it or ignore it) go out and make some memories together!  Show your children that they can be the Light in an evil world!  Show them that Christians can have fun and praise Jesus all at the same time :-)

'The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.'  John 1:5

Monday, October 25, 2010

Simply Thanksgiving...

I recently won a gift pack from a blog contest that included a 'Homespun Memories for the Heart' book.  It is by Karen Ehman, Kelly Hovermale, & Trish Smith and it is great!  It's full of fun ideas to make holidays, birthdays, and any other day you can think of unforgettable.  This goes along so well with the idea of simplicity I've talked about.  What could be better than saving money by scaling down the gifts and making memories by spending quality time with the family?
One of the great idea's that stuck out for me was an acitivity for Thanksgiving.  I've always felt that Thanksgiving was an important holiday not just for it's meaning to America, but also a time that we can set aside to show our kid's how important it is to be thankful to God for all the blessings He's given to us.  But I've always just let the occassion pass and never really made Thanksgiving the example I wanted it to be.  So this year, I'm going to use an idea presented in the book that leads up to Thanksgiving.  They call it the Fruit of the Spirit in a Horn of Plenty.  Nine days before Thanksgiving you start filling the Horn of Plenty with one fruit per day that signifies a Fruit of the Spirit.  You can use your imagination (I'm gonna use the ones in the book) for which fruits to use.  You also memorize Galations 5:22-23 over those days and on Thanksgiving your kids can recite it for their relatives.  Fun!
There is also another activity that is mentioned that I definitely want to do one year and that is serve the Thanksgiving meal at a homeless shelter.  The ladies in the book recommend not eating breakfast before you go so that the kids really get a sense of how the people at the shelter feel most of the time.  What a lesson to learn...some things can't be learned by just hearing, they need to be experienced.  I'm thinking my kids are a little young for this yet, but maybe it's never too soon to learn! 
What about you?  Are you ready to make holidays more than 'Hallmark' days?  Do you want to make memories and teach your children (or grandchildren) about Jesus?  Make them not so much about materialism and themselves?  I know I am and this year I'm choosing to do something about it!

'But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.'  Galatians 5:22-23
Homespun Memories for the Heart (purchase info here)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Frugal Friday

Who doesn't love to save a little money?  I know I do!  We want to save all the money we can so that I can continue to work part-time and the hubby can stay self-employed.  It is so important to us to be able to invest all the time we can into our kids...
So, I thought that I'd share a few of the websites that I use to look for bargains.  The list is just a place for you to can search and find deals all day long (or for as much time as you have).  The thing to remember is once you find a good site you can trust--look on the sidebar where the links are posted.  They will also put sites on their blog that they follow to find deals.  It takes time, but it all depends on how much you want/need to save money.  So here comes the list:

She Saves

Southern Savers  (this is the most local one I have found)

Couponing to Disney

Free Stuff on Facebook

Saving Cents with Sense

Frugal Coupon Living

Moms Need to Know

Living as Mom

Ok- I think this is enough to get you started!  Word of caution--saving money can be addictive :-)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Between a Rock and a Hard Place -Journey to Our Son-Part II

I've shared a little bit of the story about how Zach came to be our forever son, but I thought that I'd give you a little more of the story...I could write about it everyday for the next year and still have something to say!  But for today I want to share about the hand of God and how He was all around us even though we really couldn't see Him (or at least I couldn't).  Kinda like in the book of Esther--His name isn't mentioned one time, but it's assumed that He is there.  Better yet, you know He's there because who else could've worked things out for the Israelites but Him?
But I digress...when we got Zach's referral in April 2004 (this was after losing our first child because the DNA didn't match with the 'mother') we were told we'd have him home in 6 months or so.  We were beyond excited!  We planned a trip to visit him that June...a trip that I regretted at the time, but now am so thankful we made.  As we left our sweet baby boy in the arms of the facilitator that June she said, "No worries, you will be back in 2 months to get him."  Yeah right!  We learned soon after to take everything the lady said with a grain of salt.  July, August, then September passed and still no Zach.  We got stuck at every point you can imagine.  International adoption is NOT for the faint of heart.  I had to depend on God with every fiber of my being.  I wanted to get on an airplane and get in someone's face and tell them to get the papers off their desk and get them moving.  This was my child!  And their slow poke, money hungry leaders were in my way.  (Not very Christ-like, but that was reality).
We finally began to move through the system when BAM-out of nowhere we got the worst possible news.  It seems that the birth mother had been married when she was pregnant.  In order to give a child up for adoption in Guatemala the mother had to be can't imagine the feelings that we had.  She was supposedly divorced and there was a paper somewhere in Guatemala that said this.  Getting hands on it was another thing altogether.  It just so happened all of this was occurring during the holidays.  Guatemalans don't just close on Christmas Day...they close for like a week or more.  Finally...the paper was produced!  Was it real?  I didn't care.  All I knew was that it meant we could get our son.
Did I mention that during this time Jon's mom was sick with cancer?  We had hoped and prayed that she'd beat it, but in October (on our anniversary actually) of that year we found out that her battle would soon end.  We wanted to go get Zach and bring him home so he and Mimi could meet.  But God had other plans.  We had planned to travel to Guatemala the week before we actually went.  But there were riots and the airport had men with guns in it and we didn't know if we could bring Zach home anyway...most of all, Mimi was admitted to the Hospice House for what we thought was an intestinal obstruction.  The day we were to leave for Guatemala...Mimi wrapped her arms around Jesus and was ushered into His throne room. 
We were so defeated.  This wasn't how it was supposed to be.  Where was He?  Why did He let things happen like this?
Less than a week later on Jan. 19 2005 we were in Guatemala with our precious child ready to bring him home.  Looking back now, I can see God all over our journey.  He allowed delays and doubts so that I would trust Him completely not in my own resources.  He allowed Mimi to die before we brought Zach home because He know how important Zach would be in healing my husband and his dad.  I know God allowed us to visit Zach so that we could bring him to Mimi in videos and pictures...I don't think she wanted to meet him in person this side of heaven...I think she knew it was better for everyone that way.
During the journey I couldn't see God.  I didn't know where He was.  I prayed and read the bible and listened to music that calmed my soul.  But in the midst of the storm I couldn't see Him.  Oh but He was there.  He never left.  He was what held me together and kept me sane.  He gave me strength I didn't know I had to make the journey.  He put boulders in our way...but He gave us rock-climbing gear to get over them.
And what a story do we have to tell of His faithfulness, love, and kindness!
Mimi and her boys Christmas 2004
'Adoption is not for the faint of heart, but for those who knows He has His part.'

'but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.'  Isaiah 40:31

I wait for you lord
My soul my soul waits
Well I wait for you lord
In your word I place my trust
In your word I rest
In your word I place my trust
For I know I must wait

Thou shalt not live on bread alone
But by every word of God
I will not live by bread alone
But by every word
(lyrics by Jeremy Camp)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

It's a Dog Hair Kind of Dilema

OK people...I've got a problem.  It's something I deal with everyday!  It's on my clothes, in my food, on my mouth, my floor, my couch, my's everywhere and I can't get away from it.  Yes--it is DOG HAIR!  How do I get rid of it?  It follows me everywhere I go!  I even find it on the table when we go out to eat sometimes.  The only solution I can think of is to get rid of Annie-the dear old black baby (lab, i mean) of the Morrison family.  For those of you who know us, you know that she is my hubby's daughter.  All 85 pounds of her will climb up in his lap and just sit there like she weighs 10 pounds!  She is the other love of his life.
So, getting rid of her is out of the question.  The only other thing I can do is try to contain her to one area of the house and sweep, vacuum, then sweep again everyday. 
Dad and his girls (+ Sam)
My dog hair dilemma reminds me of Satan and the havoc he tries to make in the Christian life.  He tries to be all over our lives.  In every corner of our minds sometimes it seems. 

'The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.'  John 10:10

He can't have our souls, but boy can he ruin our testimony, our peace, cause us to doubt...he's pretty powerful.  But only if we let him.  We are the children of God...Satan has no place in our lives or our hearts or our minds!  Goodness knows that he tries every conceivable method to get to us...take Job for example.  God allowed Satan to be all over him, to test his faith, and Job came out for the better after all was said and done.  Not to say he didn't suffer at the hands of Satan, but he overcame and was victorious in the end. 
What can I do to battle this powerful being called Satan you may ask?  I'm glad you did...put on the armor of God people-this is a war and it is real!
'Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.'  Ephesians 6:10-12
Oh, but there is hope...glorious hope.  Guess what?  Jesus has overcome the darkness.  He is Light.  We are to be His Light to the world.  Take heart...He will clean up your dog hair (aka: Satan) and you will stand victorious over it!
'You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world'.  1 John 4:4
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."  John 16:33

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

You Have To Be One To Know One (Friend, that is)

Rachel Olsen is holding a devotional carnival over on her blog this week so head over and check it out.  It's sure to be encouraging to all!  The topic this month is friendship...and I couldn't think of a thing to say about it yesterday.  But today is a new day and I have been given words to say (believe it or not :-))! 

When I think about friendship, I tend to think about what it has meant negatively in my life.  You encounter all kinds of friends over the span of a lifetime.  The early friends that you drift away from as you go through school.  The friends that you make in high school that you leave behind when you go off to college.  The college friends that are there to see you at your worst (or your best-depending on your college experience).  But what kind of friend is there that will last the test of time?
I am on a (mostly) superficial friendship basis with all of the girls I've been friends with over the years.  I speak to them when I see them out and about, but have no real relationship with any of them.  I am not a person that goes out of my way to establish or maintain friendships with other people.  That's just the way I am.  My husband used to say I was antisocial.  I am glad to say that I am much better at socializing than I used to be.  But still am not very persistant about seeking people out for friendship.
As I get more invovled in the blogging communities (I never knew such a world existed) I see the importance of 'girl-friends'.  Those girls that you can hang out with and do something fun that you've never done before.  Something you just couldn't do with your husband or kids.  Like knitting.  I don't know why I have the sudden strange interest in knitting, but there it is.  Maybe it's the fact of doing something with your hands that you can say 'I made this all by myself'.  Kinda sounds like the old Shake and Bake commercial...  Anyway, that kind of friend that will tackle something ridiculous with you.  The kind that you can count on when you need a hand or an ear to talk to without judgement or opinons.  The kind of friend that will tell you the truth even when you don't want to hear it. I have friends, but no one I've let be that much in my business...know what I mean?  I have good intentions, but life gets in the way and I make that my time for anyone other than my family.  That is just what it excuse.  Relationships are hard.  You have to put forth an effort.  But what if you're rejected?  But what if you're not?
God designed us for companionship.  He created Eve for Adam as a helpmate, but also as a companion I think.  So he'd have someone to share life with (although she ended up being his downfall as well-can't have everything, I guess).  So what I'm talking myself into is going out of my way to be a friend to someone in order to build relationships.  That shouldn't be so hard.  I can do that.  I don't want this earthly life to pass by and miss out on the thing that is 'girl-time'.  You can only have so much 'husband, kid, family-time' until you start to go a little bit insane :-) (no offense to those mentioned).

'Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.'  John 15:13
'Wounds from a friend can be trusted...'  Proverbs 27:6a
'A friend loves at all times...'  Proverbs 17:17a

Monday, October 18, 2010

Our sweet Sam...A tribute to Pediatric Therapy Works

Last week when I was looking in our old computer, I came across this speech that I wrote for the Camilla Ball this past February.  We were chosen as the poster family for Pediatric Therapy Works annual fundraiser.  Sam was the star of the show.  I was asked to tape a speech that would be played at the Ball itself--I am so thankful that it was taped as I am not a public speaker.  Anyway, I thought I'd share this as a tribute to all of the awesome girls at PTW and the work they do for our children.  Thanks girls!!

Good evening everyone. My name is Allison Morrison.

Many of you have had the opportunity to meet our sweet Sam tonight. He was the handsome little guy in the cool, blue wheels handing out fliers.
I must first say that as a parent, one of the hardest things you could ever have to face is the fact that your child is not going to be the way you planned for them to be. Whether it be a developmental delay, cerebral palsy, autism, I could go on and on…no diagnosis is easy to accept.
I can tell you that for me being a nurse, I knew something was wrong with Sam when he did not reach developmental milestones as I knew he should. In my heart I knew what was wrong with him. I didn’t need a diagnosis from a doctor. I knew!
But, of course, everyone else needed convincing, so we did the tests and saw the doctor’s. Our first thoughts were now what? What do we do with this precious child we’ve been blessed with? How can we help him reach his full potential?
That is when our lives intersected with the awesome girls at PTW. They took Sam (and us) under their wing and together we have traveled this road of cerebral palsy. The little brick building that you see from the road does not do justice to the large amount of love and accomplishments you find inside. My neice, Mary Beth Corn, also attends PTW and her mom recently said that it has never been about what MB can’t do, but about what she can and will do.
We have been at therapy at least three days a week for the past two years and I have spent many an hour in the waiting room. I have seen numerous children and parents and therapists coming and going. I can tell you that I have seen the love these girls feel for the kids that come through those doors. All of them from the staff at the front to the students who pass through to train.
Unless you have a child with special needs, you cannot imagine some of the personalities and needs of the children. I have never, not once, seen a therapist approach or treat these children in any way except with love and respect. And let me tell you that takes a very special group of people. To put your emotions and bad day feelings aside and love these kids and help them to reach the potential that they were designed for is a trait that we should all hope we could attain.
I want to thank you, the community, for the support that you have shown PTW tonight and in turn all of our children who are blessed to be touched by this special place. Without your continued support, some of the services that we have come to depend to better the lives of our kids could be cut. Please know that the money you give is not wasted or spent on frivolous things, but on our children, the future of this community.
And also a very big Thank you to all the girls at PTW. Your generosity and kindness with our children reminds us of how special we know they are and in turn, they know they are of value too. Thanks again and have a great time tonight.
Two-year old Sam Morrison of Belton walks near people dancing to The Swinging Medallions of Greenwood at the 16th annual Camelia Ball at the Civic Center of Anderson.  The event raised $160,000 for the AnMed Health Pediatric Therapy Works, benefitting children including Sam.
(From Anderson Independent Mail, Feb. 2010)
Sam is rocking the red Ba...
Two-year old Sam Morrison of Belton and his father John Morrison are near people dancing to The Swinging Medallions of Greenwood at the 16th annual Camelia Ball at the Civic Center of Anderson.  The event raised $160,000 for the AnMed Health Pediatric Therapy Works, benefitting children including Sam.
Sam and Daddy

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Our journey to find our son...

My Father-in-law asked me yesterday if I had a story about Zach's adoption journey.  I said sure, somewhere.  Well, I found this that I wrote I guess about 3 or 4 years ago.  Enjoy!!

He has made everything beautiful in its time…’ Ecc. 3:11
We adopted our son, Zachary, from Guatemala in January 2005. We were told by doctors that we couldn’t have biological children without medical intervention. Our faith in God was tested and proven true many times as we waited for our promised child. Below is just a little of our story to find Zachary that we’d like to share…

As I was sitting in the fertility specialists office one afternoon, a bright orange flier caught my eye. I picked it up and it was information about an upcoming adoption seminar.
I went on to the appointment and talked with the specialist about different types of medical interventions, but the entire time, I had a sense of uneasiness. I went home and immediately contacted the adoption agency that a co-worker was using. I got the information in hand and confronted my husband with it. He was open to the idea of adoption, as neither one of us was too sure about the medical intervention route.
We looked through the material and both decided on Guatemala (without the other one knowing). We went to an adoption meeting and the next week had our fingerprints completed and started the paperwork. Thus began a long road that changed our entire family for the rest of our lives. We thought that adoption would be easy…boy were we ever wrong. If it could go wrong, it did!
During this time my husband’s mother, our rock, was diagnosed with lymphoma. We were sure she was going to beat it and were looking forward to welcoming Zach home together. As it turned out, God had a different plan. Mimi passed away 6 days before we traveled to get Zach. We love our son and are so awed that God would entrust his care to us, but he has also been a healing balm for our entire family as we travel this life without Mimi.
As we look back over the course our adoption took us through, we are amazed by how God was at work the entire time. There are things that happened that without a doubt were from God. His timing was perfect. Even though we questioned every delay and agonized over it, He knew what He was doing. Zachary is a gift to us and everyone around him. We thank God everyday for His goodness to us.

In closing, I’d like to share a few things that God gave me as a tangible expression of His love and kindness…
         His Purpose
As we are here waiting for you,
We pray daily for God to see us through.
This journey is for Him and His glory,

For we know that He is giving us an awesome story-
One to share with others who come behind,
A journey to shed His Light to those who are blind.
To His purpose, His lovingkindness, mercy, and grace.
His love shines down upon our face…
All we must do is open our hearts
And receive His life into our deepest part.
He will fill us with Himself, His best
And there we will find our peace and rest.

          An Angel Smiles
An angel smiled the day you were born,
Upon my heart your name was worn.
Big brown eyes and a smile so sweet,
Surely you are the one for me.

All that stands in our way to each other,
Is a vast ocean that a plane will have to cover.
So I learn about you from strangers and pictures,
Couldn’t this journey be a little easier?

God has set me upon this path,
Perhaps I should step back and relax.
He has everything under control,
For his plans are for good, not evil.

So here I am, waiting, but not alone,
For the day another angel will smile
Because God has led you home.

Referral picture
April 1, 2004

Zachary Carlos Morrison
Gotcha Day
January 5, 2005
Zach September 2010

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

What could be worse than being trapped underground?

I'm sitting here watching the Chilean miners being rescued from about 1/2 mile underground.  Can you imagine?  They've been there for 69 days...underground!!  The whole thing is a miracle really.  God allowed these men to be spared...although most of them won't give Him the credit, I'm sure.  These guys had this whole system going on down there.  One that would sustain them and help them not to lose their minds until a rescue was possible.  Wow...I just really can't imagine.  Of course, I wouldn't have been down there in the first place.  I wonder what they thought when the collapse first happened?  Did they think they'd live underground for 69 days?  Probably not.  But for them, rescue is happening even as I speak.
I can't help but to think about what the bible has to say about what eternity holds for the unbeliever.  I'm sure all of the unbelievers (and some believers too) don't believe that hell is a real place.  But if we believe that God's Word is true, then we have to know that hell is for real.  It's hard to fathom that good people will spend eternity in the lake of fire.  But the bible tells us that the only way to heaven is belief in Jesus Christ.  All others will spend their eternity in the lake of fire.
'If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.'
Revelation 20:15
'Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.' John 14:6
When man was created in the image of God, he became an eternal creature.  He will spend eternity in heaven with the Father or he'll spend it with the father of the earth, Satan, in eternal hell.  But our God is merciful.  The bible tells us that He has tarried His Son's return and the redemption of the earth because He desires that no one should perish.
'The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.' 2 Peter 3:9
He's giving the world time.  Time to come to Him.  Time to recognize their sin.  Time for His children to help build up His kingdom.  We, as Christians, should be doing all we can to snatch our fellow man out of the fire (Jude 1:23) while is still time.
It would be terrible to be trapped underground for 69 days, but what about spending eternity burning...and burning...and burning....with  no relief, no water, no one to save you.  Horrific.  But the bible tells us that will be the case.  I'm glad I won't be there, how about you?

'The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.  If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.' Revelation 20:13-15

'He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.'  Revelation 2:11

Monday, October 11, 2010

An organized mess

After more thought on the issue of simplifying life I decided to take action.  I started my mission in the boys room and organized/cleaned out their closets.  Now it is still cluttered, but it is an organized mess now!  Then I moved to our closet...that is another story all together.  I couldn't even walk in it, but it looks much better.  I'm still not done, but by doing a little everyday I am making progress toward my goal of an organized mess! 
You may be thinking, 'Why would she want an organized mess and not a clean, clutter-free home?'  I'll tell you why--as long as I have a house full of boys it will never be mess-free around here.  And that is just the way I want it!  A lived in house is a happy house where it's OK to spill something on the floor or scratch the coffee table!
Kinda reminds me of our "house" that the Holy Spirit resides in.  Our life will never be without some kind of mess going on--we aren't perfect (if we were we wouldn't need Jesus) and we're gonna make mistakes.  But isn't it awesome that His grace covers us?  When I make a mess of myself or a situation, I can go to the supreme "clean-upper" and He can come in, sweep up the messiness, and make me whole again...until the next time.  Because let's face it, as long as we're on this planet we'll mess up.  I'm glad my eternal life is not based on what I do in this life--it's based on Who I've trusted in for my life--and that is Jesus!  I'm glad He's in the cleaning-up business, aren't you?
We won't be perfectly like Him this side of heaven and He'll graciously clean up our messes if we allow Him to--the end result being our resurrection in His likeness when our race here is complete.  In the words of the great servant Paul: 
'I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.'

So keep pressing on, a little more everyday, in your'll be worth it all in the end :-)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The most important thing a mother can do for her children

I read a devotional post over on Proverbs 31 this morning that really got me to thinking.  It was on praying boldly for our children and I had to ask myself, "Self, do you do this?".  My answer to myself was--NO!
I don't pray for my kids as I should.  Why?  That's a good question...I do pray for my kids, but do I dare to ask for something other than protection and safety for them?
In all honesty, I don't pray for them like I should because I don't know that it makes a difference.  I know that sounds harsh, but it is reality.  My head knows what the bible says about prayer and about Christ being our High Preist who intercedes to the Father for us...I have head knowledge of that, but not heart knowledge.  So what does that mean?  Does it mean I don't believe what the bible says?  No, I don't think so.  I think it means I am questioning the truth just like the Bereans did in Acts (17:11). 
I am a visual person and it is hard for me to live by faith...I guess that's why it's called faith though.  I have to reach beyond what my mind can concieve...what my eyes can see and believe that God is God and His Word speaks truth. 
Even Jesus spent a lot of His time here on earth praying to His Father.  If we are to be imitators of Christ then isn't it safe to say that we should spend a lot of our time in prayer also? 
For those of you who know my kids, you know how special they are--one is adopted from Guatemala, one has cerebral palsy, and the other was born at 34 weeks with no problems so far.  They each have a testimony that Satan would love to supress or eliminate all together, but I want them to use their lives as a testimony of the love and faithfulness of God.  In light of this I know that I, as their mother, must petition God daily for my kids.  If I don't, who will?  This could be the single most important thing I ever do for my kids.   I don't want to give the enemy an open door to sneak in and run off with my children!  He can't have them...they are God's children and I will pray boldly for them!

'But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.' Matthew 6:6

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Ah, the simple life...

I have read a lot of devotions this month about simplicity.  Simplicity-what does this mean to you?
Merriam-Webster gives the definition of simplicity as 'the state of being simple, uncomplicated, or uncompounded'.  I want this.  I think God wants this for me.
'I do want to point out, friends, that time is of the essence. There is no time to waste, so don't complicate your lives unnecessarily. Keep it simple —in marriage, grief, joy, whatever. Even in ordinary things—your daily routines of shopping, and so on. Deal as sparingly as possible with the things the world thrusts on you. This world as you see it is on its way out.' 

1 Corinthians 7:29 (The Message)
If our focus is only on the things we can get in this life then how can we be an asset to the kingdom of God?  Paul says in Philippians 4:11-12 that he has learned to be content no matter what his circumstances.  I mean, this man was in chains and beaten all the time for the sake of Christ.  I imagine none of us have been there, but shouldn't we be content with the basic's this life has to offer?  Anything above that we are blessed with should be used for the kingdom work.  What can we take with us when we die?  Not a thing from this earth.  But we can take the fact that we were obedient to Him on this earth and in return won souls for Him.
I want my life to be simple and uncomplicated with my thoughts daily being centered on 'What can I do for Christ and His kingdom today'?
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal."  Matthew 6:19-20

Friday, October 1, 2010

Special Teachers for special children

I just saw a post on Facebook that reminded me it is Special Education week.  For those of you who don't have special needs kids this doesn't mean a thing to you, but for those of us who do these teachers are AWESOME!  We've had experience with special ed teachers and they are something special.  To have the desire to help children who are not "normal" in their ability to learn or interact takes a person above and beyond most of us.
Without these teachers our children would not have the opportunity to learn and be involved in normal, everyday activities like school.  It gives the child a chance to interact with other people and it gives their caregiver at home a little break in their day.  This can mean so much more than anyone can ever know.  Caring for a special needs child is challenging and tiring.  But so rewarding...I wouldn't change it for a minute!   
I've heard people say that they don't know why some parents send their special needs child to school-especially the ones that don't appear to be "teachable".  No one ever knows the value of an education for a child.  Even if we don't think they are learning anything (and they may not be) the interaction and change of scenery alone is enough to make a drastic difference for some children.
I believe that the most severe needs children will be taken to heaven upon their departure from this world.  There they will be whole and new...and who's to say that they won't remember the teacher that took time to teach them and love them when no one else saw the need? 
We are blessed that Sam's CP is mild, but my niece has severe disabilities.  I choose to believe that she KNOWS what is going on around her and she KNOWS where she is and who is caring for her.  I don't want to get to heaven one day and see her but she doesn't recognize me because I didn't think she could know me here on earth (does that even make sense?).
My point in this rambling is that our special needs children are special no matter how mild or severe their disabilities and the teachers that care and teach them are out of this world!  And we want to say Thank You!

"On that day the deaf will hear the words of a book,
And out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see.
The afflicted will also increase their gladness in the Lord,
And the needy of mankind will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel."
Isaiah 29:18-19