Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I AM WHO I AM... a review



I've been looking forward to writing this review for a long time.  Once in a while, I get the opportunity to write a review just 'cuz I want to... and this is one of those.


My God works in mysterious ways.  Last year, He caused my path to cross with my friend, D. J. Mercado's, through a Bible study I had written.  Several emails later and a phone call across this broad country, a friendship was born.  D. J. has prayed for me, mentored me, and even edited that particular study.  I count it a privilege to review the book of my friend.


from the back cover of I Am Who I Am-- God's Words to His Beloved...


Has God ever spoken to you?  Has He spoken so clearly that there was no doubt in your mind that it was Him?

If He has, then you know that when God speaks, lives change.  His words are never frivolous, empty, or pointless.  They are always precise, powerful, and life changing.

Every person goes on a unique spiritual journey in life.  God tugs at people's hearts, drawing them to Himself.  However, many are enticed and led astray from ever finding the true and living God.  They go everywhere on their journey but to where God is actually found:  His Word and His throne room.  I Am Who I Am--God's Words to His Beloved aims to guide you to both.  Using only the Scriptures, I Am Who I Am is written as if God is speaking personally to you.  Through sixty daily readings, God will reveal Himself to you by His names.  You will learn His character and come to know His feelings, desires, and plans for you.  Whether you are just beginning your spiritual journey or you have been on it for many years, this devotional will drive you to your knees and lift your spirit as you come  face to face with the great I AM. 


I AM WHO I AM is a devotional written for a 60 day journey of discovering just who this God I serve is.  In reading Mercado's book, I've learned more of who El Elyon-- God Most High is.  I've read His words to me when He tells me more of Himself, El Shaddai-- The Almighty God.  Each day's reading is written in first person... Him speaking directly to my heart.


The best part?  The Index of Scriptures that D. J. Mercado includes at the end of this book. Each day's devotional is taken straight from God's Word and divided by paragraph, so that I can easily cross-reference in my own Bible.  For instance, on day three, when I read about El Elyon--God Most High, this is the first paragraph...


I am El Elyon, "God Most High."  I alone am the LORD, the Most High, supreme over all the earth.  I am high above the nations.  My glory is far greater than the heavens.  Who is like Me, the One who sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth?


When I turn to the Index of Scriptures, this is what I find for this paragraph...


Genesis 14:20
Psalm 83:18
Psalm 113:4
Psalm 113:5-6


At the end of each day's reading, space has been included for journaling a prayer in response to what was read.


I love this book!  I actually fell in love with it when I first talked to D. J. about it.  It has been my own desire for years to know God more, to love Him more, and to understand even a tiny glimpse of who He is more and more.  Reading Mercado's book leads me deeper on that quest and mentors me along the way.  


I Am Who I Am-- God's Words to His Beloved by D. J. Mercado is available through Tate publishing as an eBook pdf for $9.99 or in paperback for $16.99.


This is one I'll buy more copies of to pass out.  It's that good!


**disclaimer... this is my own review.  I bought the book and wrote the words because I believe in this product.  I received absolutely no compensation for this review.

Monday, February 27, 2012

on a healing Monday...



After another migraine weekend, this sunrise looked amazing to me this morning.  Saturday and yesterday I did all I could to avoid the brightness of the sun's rays.  Today, I wanted to stand on my deck with open arms and say "welcome, sun!"  For fear of my neighbor's reactions, I simply snapped some quick pics.


Healing does that to me... I seem to appreciate things much more after I have had to avoid them for a while.


Speaking of healing... the boy seems to be healing marvelously.  His splint is now quite loose...


Mom... I can look down it
and see all the way to the incision

...oh joy!  

He starts his "modified PE" today... which really just means riding a stationary bicycle.  But, it counts and that is what matters!

On this sunny Monday, I continue counting with the gratitude community at Ann's.  Care to join us?

For these and so much more, all I can say is "thanks God!"

... for clear thinking
... and clearer vision
... and a man who goes out of his way to buy me more medicine
... for the advice of those who care
... for big kids who can make dinner, do dishes and do laundry

... for healing for the man-cub
... to catch glimpses of his heart
... to see him play with little ones
... for Aunt Susy and Truman's "heal soon!" card and the smile A. Susy's artwork brought

...for an invitation to pie, which lead to dinner and wii fun
... friendships
... laughter
... joy

... a new phone!
... a man who went out of his way to find me one that takes great pics

... being a team of two with him
... being married to one who lives gentleness

... for a new day
... and mercies that are new every morning!


Friday, February 24, 2012

heart grit...

Writing and practicing today with the community at gypsymama.  We write for five minutes on one common theme.  No worries about misspellings, grammar or incomplete thoughts.  Just writing for writing's sake.   Today's theme?  


GRIT

Grit...
go


Grit... sometimes it's the grime on my counter or the mud on my floor.  Other times it's the ring around my bathtub or the stuck on toothpaste in the sink.  Unless I get the broom, the rag, or the sponge, those things seem to grow and multiply until the house is a wreck.  


But what about the grit in my heart and the grime in my soul?  The stuff that sneaks in and takes up residence... the bad attitude, anger, disappointment, envy, jealousy, self-righteousness, etc.  Much like my own home, if I don't clean it out, it seems to grow.  


Lately, it seems as if mothering and motherhood has shown me the grit in my heart.  In the eye roll, the sass, the deep sigh, I hear my children echoing their mother's attitude.  It stinks in my own heart.  It stinks, even more, when I hear it in theirs.


Time to clean out the grit.
stop


... care to join in?





Wednesday, February 22, 2012

the {heart} of an athlete

I'm not an athlete.  I wasn't born with an athlete's heart.  The kind of heart that deeply desires to be on a team... to compete... to fight through pain.  I wasn't born that way, instead I bore one... a boy with the heart of an athlete.


I'm convinced, now more than ever, that you are either born with the heart of an athlete or you are not.  I think it is intrinsic... not learned.  




I've watched the "greats"... Michael Jordan, Pete Rose, Bret Favre... these who were the best-of-the-best in their day seemingly not know what to do with themselves when their bodies were no longer able to compete at a high level of competition.  I've watched them try come-backs and fail.   I've seen the aged veterans resent the young upstarts.   I've judged them harshly.   I judged that which I did not understand.



I've watched and judged these, and others, not understanding that within them beats the heart of an athlete.  An athlete's heart continues to thump long after their body gives up.


I've seen this one {the one running in the black sweat pants} run and push himself to be faster, better... for the sake of the team.  It's not that he likes to run, because he really hates it.  Instead, he runs because he loves the competition.  I've seen him cheer on his teammates because he loves being on the team.   I've seen him play through pain because it's better than standing on the sidelines.



I don't always understand the heart of this one that I bore fifteen years ago.  I pray often for it, though.  I pray that he will use this athletic heart that God has given Him to give all glory to God.  I pray that his heart will choose good and not evil.  I pray that his heart will always follow God's will.  And, I pray, mostly, that he will allow God to use this time to mold and shape him into a man after God's own heart.



...because right now the heart of my athlete is very restless. 

the complexity of it all..

Is obeying God complex or have I made it that way?


I've struggled this week... well, I struggle every week, but particularly this week on this particular issue... the complexity of Lent.

I haven't grown up with Lent, but the good girl in me wants to be sure I don't miss out on something I'm supposed to do.

So... I've prayed this week and, in my pathetic way, offered many things up to God...

Do You want my sugar?
You can certainly have it, I've been trying
to give it up anyway...
it would be great to lose some more weight.

Do You want my blog?
I guess I could go 40 days without writing

Really...
I think I will give You anything...
if it would mean I would be doing something right.

So too, at the present time 
there is a remnant chosen by grace.  
And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; 
if it were, grace would no longer be grace
Romans 11:5-6

The complexity, for me, comes in the comparison.  I watch others... I see God call them to something and I immediately assume they are more Spiritual than I...

...but, God,
You've called others to give up
to sacrifice for this season...
don't You NEED 
me to do this too?

Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
   as much as in obeying the LORD?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
   and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
1 Samuel 15:22

His commands are simple.  It is me who makes it complex when I compare myself to others... striving to earn His favor.  I do this not because I want to lay down my idols, but because I want to be as good as others.  

Grace... it's a foreign concept to my sinful heart.  At the very core of its definition is the complexity that I can do NOTHING to earn it.  NOTHING...

...so, God..
does this mean that for this Lent season,
You would rather have my obedience
in responding in love to 
others rather than anger?

You would rather have 
my seek Your face
than offer you my sugar jar?

And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
   and to walk humbly
 with your God.
Micah 6:8

My God is big enough to call some to the obedience of offering a sacrifice during the 40 days of Lent and call me to seek Him rather than sacrifice.  I'm the one who makes it much more complex than it needs to be. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

coffee on a snowy day...


Joining in with Amy for {virtual coffee} again... Amy thanks for hosting this each Tuesday.  It gives a name to my random posts. 


If we were really meeting for coffee this morning, I'm sure we would talk about the snow.  Beautiful snow fell in the dark hours this morning.  Just wet enough to stick to everything and just enough to cover the ground.  It'll rain later and turn it all back into mud, but for now, I'm loving on it!


I laugh at how many local people say to me things like... "If you had to drive in snow every day, you wouldn't like it..." or "If snow interrupted your schedule, you wouldn't like it..."  I guess I laugh, because, folks, we do live in Northern Indiana.  This isn't Michigan, Wisconsin or Minnesota which see snow by the foot, but we do get snow.  It's what happens in the winter months around these parts.  Driving Eric to school this morning took 40 minutes round trip.  His school is only 4.5 miles away.  I loved every minute of the trip.  The early gray dawn and the stark white accents on all the skeleton trees was just gorgeous.  It was obvious at the long lines and slow moving vehicles that not everyone was enjoying the drive.  It was those same long lines and hesitant drivers that made the trip so long.  I still enjoyed it!


Right now, I'm laughing with the not-so-little-one.  She's controlling the remote this morning and stopped at the Today Show.  We're watching some fashionista show Ann Curry the latest spring fashions... neon, neon, neon and skinny ties.  Can anyone say 1985?  I should have saved all of my high school clothing....


Speaking of high school... I spent my weekend working with them trying to get Eric back into his PE class.  Seriously, how many parents fight for PE?  Why did it have to be a fight?  In the end, I think we have a resolution for Eric to do a modified PE curriculum while his elbow heals.  At least, I hope so... if not, I'll be back in the office.... they've already labeled me as the anxious mom, so I might as well act like it.  


Many have been asking how book sales are going.   It's slow and it's good.  God knows.  Others have asked if the sequel is done.  Honestly, I haven't worked much on it.  I've been working on getting the Bible studies I wrote a few years ago reformatted for eBooks.  It's a bit of a slow process because I really don't like doing it.  Hopefully, I will get back to writing soon. 


Well... once again, I've talked so much my coffee is cold.  I still need to take a shower, start school with Ellen and go to the grocery store.  Guess I'd better move on to the rest of my day.


Thanks for the quick visit and for listening to my randomness.  Care to join in and share a cup of coffee and your thoughts with us?







Monday, February 20, 2012

uncomfortable...

Lord, we have become too comfortable,

Sitting across my living room last night, he prayed this.  Of all those gathered in my home, I've known him the longest.  I first met him 1983, years before I met the one I call my man.  I've known his wife almost as long.  Through the friendship of our sons we've become reacquainted.  

make us uncomfortable

He prayed this and my heart screamed NO!  NO MORE!!  A miscommunication with the facility that our church of 160 rents week after week and a bigger miscommunication with my man and I and I am welcoming sixty-six people into our home five minutes after I dash out ahead of them to do some sort of preparation.  How do you prepare for ten crock-pots and five salads?  Where do you put twelve desserts and eight casseroles?  Even more... where do you put 66 people?

so that we rely on You

...oh... yeah.... So that I rely on You.  Your power is made perfect in my weakness.  Your love shines through a dirty floor and a stack of towels on the bathroom counter.  Your grace offers nursing moms a closed door and an unmade bed for some privacy.  Your kindness says "Welcome!  Come in!"   Your goodness says, "Please, help yourselves."

I am the weaker vessel.  I did not say any of that.  In hindsight I only wish I had.  I wish I were Jesus gracious.  I wish I were Jesus kind and Jesus good.  I spout such platitudes... "this house belongs to Him, I want to use it for Him" and "all that I have is Yours" until He uses them.  Then I stomp the feet of my heart and clench its fists and allow "that's not what I meant" to seep in and start to poison my heart.  

I'm glad the other Chad prayed those words last night... words of insight, words of truth, words of grace.  The words that cooled my hot heart.  

When the last walked out the door and all that was left was a big bag of trash, I sat in the silence and listened.  I could still hear the laughter and the joy that these friends of ours brought.  

I'm sure I would have enjoyed that laughter and joy more, though, if I had listened when I was surrounded by those I love.


My list of grace gifts continues...

... for the right surgeon at the right time to put Eric's elbow back together
... for a great week with my son
... for no more pain
... for a return to school
... for surprisingly little school work to make up

... for lessons learned in communicating with the school
... for two emails this weekend as school officials strive to work with us
... for a heart that has cooled off 
... for the times God closes my mouth just as He closed the mouths of the lions with Daniel
... for the relationship my man has with Eric's surgeon

... for friends celebrating Sabbath with us
... for their wisdom in all things triathlon
... for laughter
... for great stories
... for life

... for a church that my children love
... for heart felt corporate prayer
... for honest prayer requests
... for friends
... for my man's hospitality

... for a slow morning
... for healing for my mom
... for fun phone conversations
... for family that stays connected over the miles
... for life lessons I still learn at 42

... for these and so much more, I am grateful.  

Care to join the gratitude community at Ann's and join in counting gifts to 1000 and more?

Friday, February 17, 2012

amazing Grace...

I wish you could have known her.  You would have loved her, I'm sure of it.  She was amazing... Amazing Grace!


She was born May 10, 1917.  I met her November 1991.  She met Jesus February 15, 2012.  


I have no idea how to explain this woman my man called Grandma Grace.  Words fail.  She's was the first of my in-laws to embrace me into the family.  She went out of her way to introduce me to Chad's cousins.  She fed us every single chance we gave her.  She loved me, she prayed for me, and she never failed to write and tell my man how proud she was of the man he became.  She encouraged me to keep on keeping on as a daughter of the King, wife and mother.  


The best part?  I'm confident I am not alone.  I would love to gather with the other wives of Chad's cousins... the other husbands of his cousins and ask them... was Grace the one that first welcomed you into the family?  I think I already know their answers... and I think I know why.


Grace came in to the family later.  She is not Chad's biological grandmother.  In fact, before he came along, Chad's grandfather took a new wife.  His grandmother had passed away and Allen Kreider took Grace Kautz to be his new wife.  All of Allen's children were grown with children of their own.  Grace had never been married, never had children.  Her "I do" brought with it 7 step-children, their spouses and numerous grandchildren... an instant family.  Not long after that "I do", God took Allen Kreider home to heaven and Grace Kreider became the matriarch of the family.  She was welcomed in and loved by all.  She never forgot that and often commented to me about the grace that was extended to her.


She remarried twice.  And, in the end, out lived three husbands.  Though she married and took a new name, she remained a Kreider by love.  She lived by these words...


to whom much is given
much is required

... and so those of us who came into the family through love were welcomed with open arms and a warm embrace.  We were never judged... never expected to be anything other than who we were.  She loved us because we loved hers.

Today I dropped Emily Grace off at school.  There was never any doubt that our first daughter would be named for the one we call Amazing Grace....







Wednesday, February 15, 2012

post Valentine gift for you...


This is what being intentional looked like yesterday... intentionally saying I love you fourteen different ways.




Amazingly, the thought came to me while I was writing yesterday's post.  My initial heart response was..."I don't have the time for that!" ... why?!?  Why is that ALWAYS my first heart response.  


Reality?  Writing four lists took me about 20 minutes... not much time to invest in these I love.




Sometimes I wonder if the surprises are from him... or are they from HIM in disguise?   Just when I write my heart and essentially swear off the materialism of Valentine's Day... he comes home with these... and I smile and say thank you and thank YOU for grace and mercy, and for HIM putting me in my place.


Today, I marvel much over grace gifts... the many gifts that come my way day in and day out.  The many answers to spoken and unspoken prayer. Most specifically, the answers to the prayer of the Mom's heart that says... give me mercy, give me grace, help me endure the days he's home recovering.




Instead of endure... I have enjoyed!  Gifts of sweet time and sweeter conversations.  A few moments to sit by and immerse myself in this moment before it's gone.   All too soon, he will be back in the adventure of life and we will be running here and there.  Soon, too, he will be off on his own life adventure.   So... I sit and I soak it in... this time with the one I can hardly call man-cub anymore.


...and, I offer you this gift...




... just $.99 at Amazon or Smashwords.  


...happy belated LOVE day!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

this mother's heart...

Having a child is 
deciding to forever 
watch your heart walk around
outside of your body.
~unknown~

Valentine's Day... the day of hearts, flowers, chocolate, and cupid.  The day decked out in pink, red, white with streamers and balloons.  A day set apart to celebrate love.  A day that will reap billions of dollars in consumer spending.

Yesterday I watched my heart be wheeled away by those in scrubs, hats and face masks.  I waited and I wondered.  I prayed and I pondered...  

Does he know how much I love him?

Did I say it enough?

Will they take good care of my boy?

Is he even my boy?

No... he's HIS...

Does He know I can hardly breathe?

Does He know how much I love him?

Do I trust enough?

This morning, I read this from a friend on facebook...

say it today
don't imply it

and I think... how often do I imply?  How many Valentine's Days have I gone out and spent $10 or $15 dollars to imply that I love the four I love the most?  How many times for anniversaries, birthdays, Christmas have I done the same thing?  

I KNOW my heart.  I KNOW I have done this.  When did implication take over communication? 

Today... this mother's heart looks different.  Perhaps it was because I realized that billions will be spent today.  Some will say I LOVE YOU... others will imply it with flowers, chocolate, hearts, valentines.  

...or maybe it was because yesterday my heart went missing for three hours and when I could finally see him, touch him, kiss him... I realized...  I haven't said it enough, because there is never enough.

Today... I want to say it in words and deeds.  I want to love on all four of them.  Tonight there will be a homemade meal... not fancy but tasty.  There will be no cards to open or gifts to unwrap... not because I think those things are wrong but because I have used them wrongly in the past.  

I don't want any implications this Valentine's Day.  I simply want to say it from my heart to theirs. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

when I have it backward...

Yesterday's JOY DARE... 
three hard eucharisteos

...why is this so hard for me?  

why do I easily say thank You for the hard things...

... the low checking account balance that leaves me trusting 
... the broken bone and that it is only one 
... the phone call to the surgeon, who was in California, because my man, the OR nurse, trusts him with our son

Why is it these things that I find to be the hard eucharisteo?  Why do I stumble saying thank You for these...

... the ones whose comments make my head spin
... the relatively easy conversations with the school this morning to get the mancub out of school for a few days
... my man's knowledge and expertise that this mother's heart fails to trust

I've wondered if I live life backward?  Why is the hard easier than the simple?  Why does my tongue stumble over thank You...

... for miscommunication that ends in abiding love
... for a mancub with heart full of adventure
... for the intent of the heart rather than the words of the mouth

The longer I live... the less I know.  Today, I seem to know very little... except that I live the hard eucharisteo backward.  

It's easy for me to say thank You for things I deem out of my control.  It's much harder to say thank You in an effort to control the attitude of my heart. 


join me in joining in the gratitude community at Ann's on this Multitude Monday?


Sunday, February 12, 2012

when all you can do is shake your head...

There are times... as a mom... when all you can do is shake your head... in bewilderment.


There are times when a text like this...


the trainer says I should have an x-ray
I fell and hurt my left elbow
pretty bad its in a sling

turns into this...


which turned into a weekend like this...


which, in turn, has led to surgery scheduled for tomorrow...

all because my kid failed to clear a hurdle at practice on Friday...

...and I'm still shaking my head in bewilderment that the kid made it through football season just fine.

Friday, February 10, 2012

reckless trust...


Joining in, again,
with the 5 minute Friday
community 

the goal?
write for 5 minutes
without stopping
on one topic...
no correcting...
no cut and pasting...
no revisions...

the topic?
TRUST

GO

Do I trust Him or me?  To I sell out to "playing it safe" or do I wholeheartedly jump in with reckless trust?

The irony?  It's in the reckless trust that I'm safest.

Moses.  The man God chose to free the Israelites.  The man God chose to use in mighty, mighty ways.  The man God chose to get under Pharoah's skin.  

This Moses.  He spent 40 years in a dead-end job.  He worked for his father-in-law shepherding his sheep.  Poor guy!  Oh yeah, it was his own fault.  He killed an Egyptian and ran away.  

This Moses was hiding in a sheep field working a dead-end job keeping his in-laws happy when God suddenly came down right in front of his face... in a desert bush that burned without burning up.  

Moses!

The thing that strikes me the most, lately, is that God commanded Moses to throw down his staff.  His staff... the one thing that identified who he was.  It was his weapon against prowlers, his tool to guide his sheep, and his identity to those who saw him.  After 40 years, it probably became a very real part of who Moses was. 

"What's that in your hand?"  God asked.  

"A staff."  I wonder what Moses was thinking.  It's probably not polite to say "Duh, God!"

"Throw it down!"

Ummm... ok... but really?  It's just a staff.  A piece of wood.  But... it's MY staff... my piece of wood... my identity.  

I wonder how many times God tells me to let go of something and I don't.  I want to be a Moses... I want to trust Him and let go of the very things that identify who I am.

Why?

Because that staff turned into a snake!!  Yep.  Moses' God, my God... maybe your God.. He does stuff like that.  Moses' identity turned into God's identity.  God used it to change history.  No longer just a shepherd's staff... this staff turned snake turned staff again became God's tool, not Moses'.  A mighty, Mighty tool, too!

STOP

** a little disclaimer... I just learned that I'm lousy at exercises like this... I never realized that I use my "delete" aka "backspace" button like a regular button on my keyboard.  Without stopping to think, I reach up and backspace and correct myself all the time! Ooops... so there are still probably big errors because I haven't proofed this... I fail miserably at the no correction thing.

also... I loose track of time when I write.  This was 8 minutes.  

.... much to learn!

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

600...

I remember asking my 6th grade English teacher to sign my yearbook.  She handed it back with a smile.  


May you grow intellectually
as you are growing verbally.

I haven't seen that yearbook in a many, many years... but I have never forgotten her words.

Now, all these years later, I wonder if I ever did grow intellectually.  The fact that this is my 600th post on this blog is a testimony to the fact that to this day, I continue to grow verbally.  

I {heart} words.  I think I inherited this from my mom.  She loves words more than anyone I know and has a vocabulary that is stellar.  I can only hope to ever come close. 

I love words and using words.  Stringing them together into sentences that are powerful with just a few words is my favorite challenge.  Writing is my creative outlet.  Words become so much more when tied together.  

Words also have the ability to heal or destroy.  The power rests in the tongue.  Such a small muscle that wields such great strength.   I often allow my tongue to run at will rather than exercise the self-control to reign it in.  The result is usually devastation of some sort.

Thirty years ago, my sixth grade English teacher was on to something.  I think if I were to grow intellectually, I would learn to use my verbal skills for good rather than harm.   

I wish it wouldn't have taken my thirty years to see her wisdom.