Friday, October 24, 2014

Day 24 ~ DARE

While in Guatemala with World Help our team was introduced to the many needs in the areas in which we visited.

Building a church
Building an addition on an overcrowded school
Building a home

At hearing each need my heart would ache as I desired to do something. My head swarmed with ideas on how I could help yet when I returned home those dreams ceased as I busied myself with my own life of work, managing a home, homeschooling and a too busy schedule. Soon my dreams and desires were replaced with thoughts of inadequacy. How can this work-at-home mom possibly do something of this magnitude? 

Yet shouldn't my faith allow me to dare to dream? I've been reminded that nothing is impossible for God and if it be His will, He will make my dreams a reality.
But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matt. 19:6
 So I'm daring to dream again and praying that God equips me to do more than merely dream. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Day 23 ~ Look

I'm so tired and ready for bed but instead of heading to bed this 31 day blog challenge brought me instead to my computer. Trying to get inspired I headed over to Facebook to play a couple game of Candy Crush. In between games I did a few word searches on, a favorite place of mine for studying and for inspiration. Feeling defeated I headed here and scrolled through old posts (I should do this more often for there many blessings in my life that I've forgotten). One year ago today I wrote about "Eyes of Wonder". It may be an old post but it's worth revisiting. Life is so full of blessings, my friend, but sometimes you have to open your eyes and LOOK! 

Here's what I posted last year:
I appreciate snow but only the view from my window as I sit inside my warm home with my hand cupped around a mug of something warm. This morning however the snow surprised me. Wasn't it just a week or so ago when I was still sporting shorts and flip flops?

So although I do not look forward to winter, the excitement of the daycare kids over the fresh layer of white stuff caused me to join in the excitement, grab my camera and head outside. It's amazing how the wonder of a child can spark a little wonder in this "old girl". As I snapped a few shots of the snow I went to check on my girls...usually by this time in the morning they have flown the coop and are rooting around the yard. This morning they were still roosted. My heart swelled with appreciation for the girls that would be providing eggs for our evening quiche.

Back inside I went to search for my coffee......ah! Gratitude again overwhelmed me when I found my favorite cup (one my dear hubs spent weeks searching for - I have a few particular characteristics I like in my coffee cups) next to my chalk-board-planter-turned-pencil-holder (a sweet gift last spring from my sweet girl).

Blessings abound when one chooses to see with eyes of wonder. May my eyes always be open to the wonder, the miracles, the blessings found in each and every day.

I'm thankful that today, one year later, that we've yet to see snow. If the forecast for tomorrow is correct, I may even be sporting shorts and flip flops! 

What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Day 22 ~ Expect

When I was pregnant with my first I read several the books (of course "What to Expect When Your Expecting" was included in my stack of books) and payed attention during my birthing classes, well I paid attention to most of the information. I skipped over the parts about complications or circumstances such as induced labor, c-sections, and anything else that would be different from my expectations. Those circumstance weren't going to happen to me.

I was sure that my bundle of joy would arrive beautifully with little complications and little pain. I did not expect to have my water break during my last scheduled day at work or that my husband, after dropping me off at work, would head to a friend's house in our only car. Not to mention that my boss had left me in charge of the restaurant while he went for a hair cut. This was before cell phones so I left a message on the home phone and sat patiently waiting for either my boss or my husband. Delivery was not full of flowers, sunshine and singing birds but seeing my beautiful daughter erased the memory of the double contractions that seemed to last an eternity.

As the years went by I realized that many expectations would be shattered by reality. Sleepless nights. Spit-up shoulders. Worry and fear about whether I was doing this parenting thing right.  I never expected parenting to be hard but I also never expected to love so deeply the children that I've been blessed with. Nothing turned out exactly how I expected but even though it hasn't been perfect, it's been beautiful.
August 5, 1990 The day I became a mother

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Day 21 ~ Second (Chances)

When my son was little I tried to teach him the value of sincerity when he'd apologize. I also taught him that apologizing was like a promise, a vow to never again offend in the same manner. My mantra for those moments was, "Sorry means that you'll never do it again!" Although my intentions were good, I see now that my mantra was lacking grace.

We fail. Each and every one of us. 
"there is none righteous, no not one!" (Romans 3:10)
Often we continue to fail. So many times I've gone to bed praying, "Oh, God, I blew it...again! I held negative thoughts toward my husband, I lost my patience with the kids, I forgot to talk to you all day!" Somehow instead of God saying, "Laurie, sorry means you'll never do it again!", I imagine he'd give me a tight squeeze and say, "Child, we'll try again tomorrow." It's amazing that he hasn't given up on me. 

Just as God has given me second chances that are smothered in grace and forgiveness, I must give the same to others. 
"But if you don't forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins." Matt.6:15

“Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?”  Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven." Matthew 18:21-22

Oh, Lord, help me be more like you. Fill me with compassion and forgiveness. May I smother others with grace and forgiveness as I loving say, "We'll try again tomorrow."

Day 20 ~ Fear

Some fears are obvious. Fear can present itself through that queasy feeling I get when I'm peering over a cliff. Heights have a tendency to do that to me. Sky diving, bungee jumping and the like are not activities I care to pursue. 

I also have a fear of speaking in front of people, whether it be a crowd of five or fifty, I somehow get tongue twisted as I feel my ears turning a bright shade of red; my hands and voice begin to tremble ever so slightly. 

Other fears are not so obvious. They creep in, just like Satan did in the garden, whispering doubt. Doubt of self but mostly doubt of God's faithfulness, His power, His goodness. These fears have a tendency to steal joy and crush faith. 

Fear is a result of not fully relying on God for my every need. Fear is my lack of ability to give up my tightfisted need to control my own life so that I may place my life completely in His hands. My fear tells God (and others) that I don't trust Him. Yet I know well that He is a God in whom I can trust! 

Isaiah 31:10 says, "fear not, for I am with; be not dismayed for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." 

And Psalm 56:11 says, "In God I have put my trust, I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?"

How it must break His heart that after all he's brought me through, after all he's proven to me, that I still allow fear to creep in. 

Father, forgive me for my fear, for I know that I can trust in you! Rid me of all doubt and fear that I may be available for your service.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Day 19 ~ Honor


Proverbs 31:25  Strength and honor are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.

Yoga pants, t-shirt and a ponytail. Yep, that's how I'm clothed most days. Somehow I see the Proverbs 31 woman looking a lot different than me. She's put together with every hair in place, a light touch of make up and a pretty blouse without coffee stains or spit-up shoulders. But maybe the descriptions of her have much more to do with her attitude than her dress. Her beauty within spills over and radiates to create an outward beauty. 

She stands tall but is humble. She is majestic in her simpleness. 

She is strong in her convictions and isn't afraid of hard labor but her hands are gentle and she cries with those who are in need. 

She is dignified but not proud. 

She is gracious, full of integrity, kind, giving....ah, the list goes on! I think that all these characteristics are simply proof that she is a daughter of the King as she shines HIS majesty!

Oh, Lord, help me to start each day by clothing myself with you. May I be filled with strength and honor not so that I can look all "put together" (even in my yoga pants) but so that you alone may be glorified. 

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Day 18 ~ taste

Today I had but a taste of God's goodness as I spent the day with my children. We saw his beauty as we traveled winding roads along the river and bluffs covered with vibrant colors of red, orange and yellow. 

Today's blessings
I am so grateful for today's blessings.

Barbie's Weekend Brew button

Friday, October 17, 2014

Long (day 17)

long (verb): to have an earnest or strong desire or craving; yearn

I have many desires. A month full of "sleep-in-Saturdays", financial security, a return trip to Guatemala, a peaceful home, a new-to-me car that actually works, world peace, a backpacking European trip with my kids for my 50 birthday (yes, that's the next "big" one!) are just a few of the things in which I long for.

Funny how one email can totally erase all those longings, causing a new list to formulate. 

I long for the end of poverty and hunger.
I long for every child in the world to have a comfortable bed inside of a safe home, with a family that eats dinner together and never worries about when the next meal may be.
I long for every child in the world to have opportunities to dream and to read and to be educated. 

I long for every child in the world to be shielded from the evils of the world ~  war, abuse, injustices, the darkness of violence and human trafficking, that their innocence could be protected and preserved.

I long for every child to know Jesus, know the hope that is found in Him and the eternity that waits for us in heaven!

The email which changed my perspective this morning came from World Help announcing the arrival of the new Christmas catalog (yes, I'm a little excited)! 

Check out the World Help Christmas Gift Catalog here

P.S. You might want to check out Kate's place today because she's having an awesome give away. But don't enter. I want that cute Krafty Kash necklace! ;)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Day 16 ~ Adjust(ments)

I have a habit of changing recipes, making adjustments to use what I have on hand. Sometimes I have success. Sometimes, well, not so much. Today's recipe adaptation was a success! My Pumpkin Muffin in a Mug topped with pumpkin cream cheese "frosting" and walnuts was so yummy! 

Pumpkin MIM (muffin in a mug)
1 T. Almond Flour
1 T. Coconut Flour
1/2 t. baking powder
a "glob" of coconut oil
heaping T. of pumpkin puree
1/4 t. caramel extract
sprinkle of NuStevia
1 egg

Stir all ingredients in a coffee mug and microwave for 1 minute. Top with "frosting" and walnuts.

Unfortunately I didn't measure the ingredients for the frosting. It was something like this:

Equal parts pumpkin puree and cream cheese. Sprinkle of NuStevia and a few generous shakes of pumpkin spice. Mash it all together. 

Another great adjustment today? My attitude. If you read last night's post you may have detected a bit of weariness. Today's lighter work load topped with a beautiful, warm day and a walk with the kids to park was just what I needed (thank you, Lord!). 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Day 15 ~ life

Treading water. Some days are like that.

The only goal is survival. 

To keep treading. To keep head above water.

This is not how I choose to live.

I want to live a life of purpose.

A life which glorifies my Savior.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Day 14 ~ away

So if you've been around my space this month you may know that I decided to join The Nester's challenge to blog every day for the month of October. You may also have noticed that I've missed a few days. My excuse? I caught a horrible cold, went to the True Woman Conference in Indiana (had every intention of blogging while there but after full days of great teaching I was spent!), returned home only to be run down from busy days and traveling. So there's my excuse. I've decided to give myself grace and I hope that you will also. :)

So I'm back! I may make up those missed day.....or I may not. No promises here. Just jumping back in.

Prompt word today is AWAY.

Sometimes I let my tongue get away from me. 

I'd like to believe that I am one who breathes life into others, offering encouraging words with compassion and love yet lately I've become aware of the fact that I often fail. Words uttered from my mouth in the past days, words which hurt instead of encourage, has left me feeling ashamed. 

Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. James 4:11
I had convinced myself that venting irritations and frustrations to a trusted confidant such as my husband was harmless. I've come to realize that venting only gives roots to bitterness and anger. Neither of which do I want to find a home in my heart. 

See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble... Hebrews 12:15
I am learning that I must always guard not only the words from my mouth but also the thoughts which I allow to roam my mind. May the words from my mouth always be spoken with kindness and compassion, full of grace and love.

 She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. Proverbs 31:26

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Day 7 ~ GO

My bank account said, "NO!"
My fear said, "NO!"

It seemed like a wild, selfish dream to go to Guatemala yet as I cried in disappointment I heard him whisper, "Oh my dear Laurie, where is your faith?" Much like Jesus rebuking Peter.
And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:31

Just months before I had written, PRAY! GO! GIVE! I had prayed for Guatemala. I had given to the efforts of World Help and had sponsored sweet Karina. But despite my words I was hesitant of the GO! Doubt crept in as I thought there was no way that a trip was possible. Not for me, this busy mama trying to make ends meet. 
By my own means, my own efforts, there was no way that I'd travel to this country my heart ached for yet in the hands of a great and mighty God all things ARE possible!
But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26
Soon after I was able to relinquish control, put my precious dream in His hands and with all sincerity pray, "thy will be done"  I heard Him whisper, "go!". When I wasn't sure that I heard Him correctly He said a bit more loudly, "GO!"

God showered His blessings upon me and made my dream a possibility. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Day 5 ~ Stuck

Although our team was reluctant to leave the comfort of our air conditioned bus, we were stuck. Everyone had to evacuate the bus in order to get the bus back on the road.
Look at this view that we may have missed if we were still on the bus, busily chatting with our teammates. 

We were headed to the village of Los Limones to distribute bags of food and other items our team had brought (clothing, art supplies, toys and personal care items). 

Our team packed over 27,000 meals!

Earlier that week we had prepared the food bags to bring to Los Limones. Our team made an assembly line and we quickly began filling the bags with Feed My Starving Children "manna packs" as well as packages of nuts and dried fruits. The manna packs consist of rice, protein, dehydrated vegetables and vitamins, a combination which could literally save the lives of malnourished people. 

Serving with World Help at Hope of Life in Guatemala, even getting stuck and working in the hot, humid weather, was a wonderful, life changing experience.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Day 4 ~ Learn

So I'm only four days into the challenge and I'm struggling. FOUR DAYS! Usually I start challenges out strong, only to lose momentum about half way through. 
The challenge I speak of is The Nesters 31 Day, in which we write each day in October. I also am joining Five Minute Friday host, Kate Motaung as she's given us prompt words to write on during this challenge! You can read my intro here.
This year a facebook page was started for the "31 dayers" and I'm spending any spare time reading. These women are amazing! Many were having difficulties in making blog "buttons" and others offered advice and some even designed buttons for others. One blogger has posted each day encouraging words. I am loving the community that is developing. I am also loving the wonderful writers that I'm discovering as I spend a little time each day visiting different blogs. I've even started a pinterest category just for 31 Days because there are just too much awesome to cover in my days. 

My word for the day is "learn" and I had it all planned to make a list of the important stuff that I've learned over the years but instead I just kept thinking about all the I want to learn and who better to learn it from than "colleagues" who offer a wealth of information and encouragement. 

Here are a few things I'm looking forward to learning:

Art Journaling - I've been reading Jenn's blog for quite some time and love her sweet, encouraging posts. This month she's given her 31 days to teaching techniques for art journaling. This is something I've been intrigued with but have allowed the little voices in my head to stifle my creativity. 

31 Small Ways to Grow Your Blog because I'll let you in a little secret here....I dream of being able to make a living off writing which would enable me to write anywhere so that I could pursue my biggest dream of living in Guatemala. Yep, in that room with a view

31 Days to Take the Stress Out of Christmas I love Christmas - decorating, festivities, buying gifts for the people that I love but I'll be honest, Christmas often causes me to become stressed out! I've done a pretty good job over the past couple years of simplifying Christmas a bit so that it can be a time of joy but I could always learn a few more tips in this area.

31 Days to Self-Publish Your Book This may come in handy if I ever write a book - another dream of mine. I have the book practically written in my head but only a dozen paragraphs actually written. 

31 Days of Living Well and Spending Zero Less spending means more in my savings which means less stress, possible chance of retirement and maybe even pursuing a few dreams (I'd love to do more mission trips and I'm also dreaming of taking my family on a European vacation for my 50th birthday).

Now I have to get back to my reading, I have a lot to learn..... 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Day 3 ~ New

photo credit

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: old things have passed away; behold, all thing have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17

This verse gives me great comfort knowing that He has made me, this imperfect mess, new. He has made me new. He loves me and has redeemed me despite of my imperfections. I am in awe, without words, of how well he loves me. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Day 2 ~ A Room with a View

I fell in love with the home before I even saw the view. It was our first day at Hope of Life in Guatemala.  Raphael, our translator and guide, was showing us the houses that had been built on campus which provide family-style orphan care. As he explained the vision behind Safe Haven Village, a vision to provide orphans not only a family environment but also one which could give the children an opportunity to live with siblings, my heart skipped a beat. It wasn't until I walked into the house, into the modest living room which flowed into the kitchen, that my eyes welled with tears. I whispered to my daughter, "I feel like I'm home". No, it looked nothing like my home, the home in which I live, but it felt like a place in which I could easily call home.....a place in which I was meant to be. Wiping the tears from my eyes, I continued my tour down the short hall which led to the 3 bedrooms - a room for "mom and dad", a room with bunk beds for the boys and another room of bunk beds for the girls. From the master bedroom window was this view ----

Breath-taking isn't it? A room with a fantastic view but even before seeing the view my heart longed to stay here, to love on the beautiful children and to make this my home. 

Lord willing, I will return someday and who knows, maybe I'll even be able to call it home. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Just Move -- Day 1 of Just Write

....."and he gives us the power to live, to move, and to be who we are. 'We are his children,' just as some of your poets have said." 
Acts 17:28

As I pray for God to move in me I'm recognizing that this may call me to action and action quite frankly has the ability to leave me paralyzed with fear. 

Taking up my pen and writing my heart. Fear as my mind runs wild with the "what ifs". 

What if I say it wrong and I am misunderstood?

What if speaking my heart leaves me vulnerable, transparent, and open to criticism? What if someone sees me for what I really am. Broken. Worthless. A mess. 

But what if I allow fear to immobilize me? What if I, out of fear, continue to ignore God's nudging so often that He stops whispering in my ear? What happens when I don't use His promptings, when I don't use the gifts that He has equipped me with. 

Lord, give me the ability to move. Rid me of all fear that I may follow you completely and obediently.