July 17, 2018

His Eye is on the Sparrow

Recently, we were temporary bird owners.

Ok, so we didn't actually "own" them, but for some reason, this momma bird claimed our 5th Wheel hitch as the prime location to create a nest and lay her eggs.

To be honest, I didn't even realize we had "pets" until one day, while ducking under the 5th Wheel, the momma bird swooped past me, nearly scaring the life out of me.

Admittedly, it didn't strike me as that significant.  "Oh yay!  We have a little bird family!"  Then, it dawned on me...  "We have a bird family and of all the times of the year, this is the time we are preparing to pull to Watsonville for our Campmeeting.  "What are we going to do?"

As a family, we began discussing what, if any, options we had as far as moving our little momma bird and her babies.

After the babies had hatched, we noticed the momma bird was spending less time in the nest.  By now, the babies had little fluffy feathers and were able to stay warm without momma's help.

Still, we were running close to the deadline to either move them and let those poor baby birds be abandoned by momma or maybe not even pulling to Campmeeting.  Yes, we are semi-extreme animal lovers and not pulling down to Campmeeting, in order for those baby birds to survive, was definitely an option we considered.

Each day, we would check the nest and we would see those little baby birds snuggled in there together, and momma was hovering close by on a nearby trailer.

One day, Trent noticed that the baby birds were no longer in their nest.  I assumed that they were out for a flying lesson and would return.  We waited all that day.  No birdies.  Coincidentally, it was also the same week we needed to pull our trailer.

Now, I am a big believer in how carefully and perfectly God orchestrates our lives.  I have witnessed way too many times that God has timed, planned and executed the most amazing outcome in various situations.  But, I had never really considered how He is capable of not only moving in working in OUR lives, but also the lives of the creatures of this earth.  Yes, that scripture is true...His eye really is on the sparrow (or the type of bird we housed for several weeks).

After we were extra triple sure they were permanently gone, Trent took the nest out of its little cubby hole and inspected it.  Would you believe that momma bird had used MY HAIR to help build her nest?  I didn't even know that in some small way I was responsible for the well being of those babies.

Which brings me to this thought:  How often in life do we play a role in someone's future.  Maybe it's a small thing (hair in the nest), such as a kind word.  Maybe, it's much more significant, just like the momma bird's constant care and we invest hours of counsel, love, prayer and friendship in those around us.  But know this, as children of God, we ARE affecting someone.  Not just those close to us, but those that are bystanders in our lives.  I never had direct contact with that bird family--despite the momma trying to swoop down on me to keep me away, but a part of me was invested into their future.

It is critical that our lives reflect Him.  We must show love, which is the very definition of God, to everyone we come in contact with.  Our words should be weighed heavy before we let them fly from our lips.  Will this hurt or help?  Will this uplift and encourage? Will this cause confusion, pain and grief?  Will this reopen those wounds that have remained healed or buried for years?

God, help me to see others as You do.  Help me to see their potential, not their imperfections.  Help me to love them as You do.  Help me to control that part of me that wants to fix or correct all the wrong.  Encourage the "momma bird" in me to protect, nourish and guide those that are depending on me-whether they know it or not.

Warning, Low Clearance

If you follow me and my husband on Facebook, you are likely aware that we are in Manila, Philippines.

Trent is here preaching in local churches, as well as teaching at ACTS Bible School.  I have also been teaching and since we got here later in the year, we are currently preparing for Final Exams.

It happens...we get here and there is like a week or so of adjustment to the time zone and schedule before we start to feel normal, however, there is ONE thing that we no longer need an adjustment period.

In the AIM apartment, there are some low ceilings.  I would measure them, but I don't have anything to do so, but I will say that the bottom of the ceiling hits Trent just above the eyebrow line.  After our first stay here, years ago, we learned all too quickly to DUCK every time we step into the kitchen or into the bathroom.  And, in case we forgot, we were immediately reminded (in a rather painful way) that there are low clearances here!

Now, we don't even think about ducking.  We just do it.  No head injuries happening now!  HA!!

It struck me that in life, there are situations or instances where there are and always will be "low clearances".  Or, opportunities that we must learn to navigate.  Things we need to avoid or steer clear of.  If we forget, we are reminded (sometimes painfully) that this is a potential hazard.  We are forced to adjust our walk, our behavior or approach in order to prevent ourselves from being "whacked in the head".  

These situations, like the low ceilings in the apartment, do not have warning signs or labels.  We must learn to detect them and be able to quickly maneuver or adjust to keep ourselves from being hurt. 

If we are not aware, or don't pay attention, we get a gentle (or not so gentle) reminder to "get out of the way" or duck.  

It stuck me, after teaching several classes here, that there has been a sort of repeating pattern to the things I was discussing.  Primarily, character and perspective.

I have always been a half glass full kind of girl.  Sort of a Pollyanna...there is a bright side to everything.  I can usually find something to be grateful for, even in the most frustrating of situations.  My perspective on life is to find the good, even if its only a small thing.  I choose to see the best in everyone and in every trial or conflict.  

The "low clearance" moments of life are an opportunity to for us to learn to trust what we've learned from past mistakes and to continue to move forward and to be prepared to duck or avoid future pitfalls or troubles.  While we are not always able to avoid them, we can be aware of them and learn that there is some good to these moments.  We can appreciate the leading and guiding that God gives us.

December 2, 2017

We Survived the Toaster

This morning, as usual, I made my breakfast.  The same breakfast I've eaten for YEARS.  And, if you know me well enough, you already know what I eat for breakfast.  

Toast with whipped cream cheese, egg and coffee with fat free half and half.  

Most every day of my life starts with this same breakfast.  It's got protein, carbs and COFFEE!  The necessities of life.

However, this morning, when I put my toast in the toaster and "flushed" it...I noticed this strange burning smell.  I figured Everlee had crammed something plastic in there. I keep our toaster stored in a low cabinet, when not in use, and unfortunately, Everlee can reach it very easily.

I quickly hit "cancel" and peeked in there.  Nope.  Just my toast.  But, the coils didn't seem to be glowing red when I started it again.  Hmm.  Could it be?  My toaster is dying?  Say it ain't so!

We received that toaster as a wedding gift nearly 19 years ago.  It's a Sunbeam toaster, not fancy, but it gets the job done...and has been doing really well, up until today.  It managed to finish my toast with a nice golden brown hue, but it worried me.  Would I be replacing this very STAPLE part of my routine soon?

And that got me to thinking about when I received the toaster...which reminded me how close we are to our 19th wedding anniversary.  Like 17 days away.  19.  Years.  YEARS.  

I am not sure how 19 years passed so quickly, how I ended up with 3 kids, how I've lived overseas, how I've traveled across country, how I've lived in California--thousands of miles from my family, and all of this shared with the same man.  

In my wildest dreams, I never thought my life would be where it is today.  I mean, I knew marrying an evangelist would have SOME adventure attached to it.  I just didn't realize how amazing and rewarding that would be.  I knew there would be some hard times, some good times, some sad times and some happy times--but never imagined the things we have achieved and the things we have endured.  And yet, know that I am blessed beyond my own merit.

And while 19 years isn't quite a lifetime, it is longer than the life of a toaster...which is something I am quite proud of.  

Happy Anniversary (to be) to my one and onliest Pookie.  Here's to another 19 and then some...  

April 4, 2017

We Belong Together

As some of you may know, I am a Sectional Director,in the Western District, for our Ladies Ministries.

Last Friday, our section met for our yearly meeting and I took the group of ladies that were there into a side room and we had a little time of fellowship and fun.

Part of my activities included an object lesson.  I got several single stem flowers and arranged them in a vase and brought them to the meeting.  Well, I did not have "filler" or greenery and quite frankly, my "bouquet" was a bit rough around the edges but I was ok with that, because I knew what we would be doing with it.

Lo and behold, my luck was shining that day because a florist, that attends the church, was there helping to set up.  I immediately asked for her help.  And she arranged this GORGEOUS creation that I was thrilled with.

Once I had all the ladies gathered, I asked them all to take our their cell phones and snap a pic of the arrangement.  We all admired it and talked about how beautiful it was and I share with them about having a little help making it look even more fabulous.

After a couple games, I decided it was time to share my object lesson with them.  So, I asked each lady to come and choose her favorite stems and take them from the bouquet.  One by one, they begin to pick apart the bouquet until about half the arrangement was left.

I then had them take a pic of the aftermath.  I have an app on my phone that lets me put pics side by side and I did a comparison photo.  Together, the bouquet was gorgeous, full and colorful.  Once it had been separated, it was puny and rather pathetic.

When we stand together, we can accomplish beautiful things.  We have a sense of community and belonging.  Sure, individually, we have value and can be "beautiful", but together we have an opportunity to be a part of something bigger than us.  Something that can be admired, not only for it's individual beauty, but the beauty that comes when we are all together.  It was a cool visual and I hope something the ladies could take home and remember.

I left the remaining flowers/bouquet with the host pastor's wife and on Sunday, the florist had messaged me a pic of her having put it "back together again."  I was impressed!  Even with fewer flowers, it was still a beautiful arrangement.  Which struck me with this thought, we don't have to have MORE or ALL of something to be beautiful.  We can still hold value and purpose, even in the few remaining flowers.  We just need a master to come and arrange us to fit in our vase.

I am thankful to serve a God that can take my abundance and my lack and combine it with others to make something beautiful.  I am happy to be a part of the family of God.  To have community is His Kingdom.
Together vs. Separated 

Brought Together Again


February 14, 2016

It's Dark in Here

This post is dedicated to my daddy...

Dear Mom,

You won't believe what I've been through.  It's crazy in here.  Lots of noises and sloshing.  Sometimes it's really dark and other times there is this bright light that makes me squeeze my eyes shut.

I hear you talking and singing and I realize you have the most lovely voice.  I can't wait to see your face and look into your eyes as you sing to me.

I hear other voices too.  One is really rumbly sounding.  And at times, it gets very loud, like shouting.  It's my daddy's voice.  He sounds like someone I can trust, but also someone who loves adventure.

There are other voices.  One is very quiet and soft, almost like whispering.  Sometimes I hear him making another loud racket.  I'm not sure what he's doing, but it sounds like he's having a good time and seems to really enjoy whatever he's doing.

There is another voice that seems to sing all day long.  She's very loud and chatty.   She seems happy and is always having fun.

Even though I haven't met these voices, I love them.  I listen for them and smile or sigh contentedly when I hear them.

At times, these voices talk to ME.  I can tell because they call my name, and I feel very loved and secure hearing that they are all waiting for me to arrive.

There used to be lots of room in here.  I could do flips and roll and kick and stretch as much as I wanted.  Now, it's getting harder to move.  Sometimes I just feel like stretching my legs out as far as they will go.  And it seems you like it, because you rub against my foot, letting me know you can feel me too.

I also can feel hot and cold.  Hot is nice.  It makes me feel snuggly and relaxed.  Cold is awful!  I do not like cold at all.  It makes me stretch and kick, trying to warm up.  I don't know what is causing this, but wish you would do something about it.

I have to admit, it's pretty nice here in the dark.  It's cozy, feels warm (most of the time!), and safe.  But, I'm also very curious as to what you and the other voices look like.  I'm not exactly sure how to get out of here, in order to meet you, but I'm working on a plan.  It's hard to explain, and I'm still working out a few details, but I'm almost ready to put this plan into action.  I hope you're as ready to meet me as I am to meet you.

Well, I should go.  It's about time for me to sleep again.  I hope you are resting well.  Once I arrive, I will be anxious to learn more about you.  I plan on spending as much time as possible learning as much as I can, as quickly as I can.  It's going to be exhausting and an around the clock job, but I'm trying to rest and prepare myself for this as best I can.  See you soon!

Much Love from the Dark,

Your Baby


The Waiting Room

No, this post is NOT taking place with me sitting in a waiting room or hospital bed...

The closer I get to meeting our new baby girl, the more reflecting I am doing.  Since there is not much more I actually CAN do, thinking seems to be the safest and easiest for me to manage.

Today is Valentine's Day!!  I actually dreamed I went into labor on Valentine's Day, so in the back of my brain, it's a possibility...  Haha!!  Anxious much?  Nah...

Really, the thing that I've been thinking on most is how MANY things in our life is a series of waiting games.  Hoping.  Praying.  Believing.  Trusting.  In fact, there are very FEW things that give immediate answers or satisfaction.  Chocolate being one of the few things that satisfies immediately, although briefly.

The thing with waiting is...it can get boring.  Tedious.  Stressful.  Nerve-wracking.  This is especially true if you aren't sure what you are waiting on.  For instance, our baby girl, what will she REALLY look like?  Will she have red hair?  Will she be a "good baby"?  Will she sleep through the night quickly?  Will she go to college?  These are not things I am worried about, just things I'm waiting to find out.

So, what's the purpose of waiting?  Is it God's way of teaching patience?  Grace?  Perhaps.  I truly believe it's God's way of positioning the best possible outcome.  The perfect plan for us.  And, He includes roadblocks, obstacles, trials and frustrations along the way too.  And, His perfect plan is perfect to Him for us, not necessarily our idea of perfect.

As humans, this is very hard to accept sometimes.  We feel that the perfect will of God should be all sunshine and rainbows, huge flashing neon signs and absolutely clear and focused direction from God.   And often, it is.  But sometimes, He asks us to wade through some tough stuff.  Our emotions get trampled.  Our hearts get broken.  We feel disconnected, lost and abandoned.  But, the reality is, He's never left.  He is still guiding and He is STILL in control.  Who do you think brought the fog?  Who do you think brought the heartache?  Does He ENJOY our dilemma?  No.  But in His wise way, it is yet another opportunity to trust Him.  To turn to Him.  To depend on Him.

While we wait, we should make sure that we stay in the waiting room.  Even if it means sitting in the dark.  Once our name is called, we should be ready to walk through the doors and receive the answer He has for us.

Abandon the waiting room...and you abandon the blessing, the miracle, the answer.

Waiting rooms are seldom fun.  Out of date magazines, screaming toddlers, cold and uncomfortable plastic chairs...but oh, the feeling when your name is called...  Somehow, all the unpleasant parts of waiting just seem to slip away as you stand up, look forward, walk through that door and into the thing you've been waiting ever so patiently for.


September 14, 2015

15 Weeks!

We've announced it on Facebook, which makes it official, but I have more to say about this pregnancy.

First of all, I feel great!  Not like, run a marathon great, but great.  A little fatigue, which is fairly normal, but other than that, GREAT.  I've had ZERO morning sickness this go around.  Thank you, Lord!

The scariest thing I've encountered was some spotting for about 3 weeks that worried me some, but at the same time, I also had a peace about it all.  I also had some great friends that checked on me (DAILY) and that made a huge difference.  I firmly believe their support is what kept me thinking so positively during that time.  Sadly, this occurred the same time my husband was supposed to be in the Philippines.  He cancelled his trip to stay home with me, just in case.  I kept telling him to "go", but he wanted to stay.  I love him for it, but feel bad that he missed out on a trip because of me and baby.

The spotting was especially worrisome to me because I have miscarried before.  When Jon was about 5, we got pregnant again.  I had just started working and I really needed to be working and we had just started a church and even though we had planned for that pregnancy, God needed our little one Home with Him.  While I had some sadness, I never really got depressed over this loss, as I had tremendous peace/comfort from God during this time.  I knew that our angel baby was in His care and He could take better care of her in Heaven than we could on earth.  To be honest, I felt something was "wrong" from the beginning of the pregnancy, so losing this baby was painful, but not a huge surprise.

Some of you may recall, my pregnancy with Ella was a BEAST.  I saw every "ologist" in the book.  Passed out while sitting in a chair, dealt with a whacked out thyroid and ended up going into the hospital at 36 weeks to be diagnosed with pancreatitis.  I was later told that I was pretty close to dying.  Nice.  Yeah, Ella was nearly the death of me and yet...  I am now pregnant again.  Women are crazy.

Secondly, I'd like to say that this pregnancy was TOTALLY planned.  Yes.  We CHOSE to have another.  There are lots of reasons why we shouldn't have (hello, we live in a 5th wheel and spend most of our days in a truck traveling church to church AND we like traveling overseas to the Philippines), but there were enough reasons why we should that I didn't want to regret at least trying for another.

Lastly, and I can't explain this, but I'm not NEARLY as hungry/starving as I was with Jon and Ella.  With Jon, I'm pretty sure I ate all the time because it was my first pregnancy and I was just totally ignorant as to how much I was actually eating.  With Ella, I stayed a bit nauseated all day long and having food on my stomach helped, so I basically grazed, like a cow, ALL DAY LONG.  With this pregnancy, I'm "normal" hungry for the most part.  I'm eating way less (but still managing to gain weight and look much further along than I really am!!!) and mostly craving healthy stuff.  Proteins, cheese and citrus seem to be the things I gravitate towards.  Too much sugar makes me a little sick feeling, so I've been "indulging" but not as much as I have in the past.

I'm 38.  Now, most days that doesn't seem/feel all that old.  But, the docs consider pregnancy high risk for women over 35.  I definitely qualify.  This does make me a teeny (okay, more than a teeny) bit nervous.  I see all kinds of scary diagnosis on Facebook and spend way too much time googling baby stuff and at times,  I have tiny little panic attacks.  And yet, I feel very strongly that this baby was definitely meant to be and will be exactly what we need, no matter what.

I'm excited!  I'm feeling super strong BOY vibes, as this pregnancy is much like my pregnancy with Jon.

I cannot think of a cool name.  *sigh*  Apparently, "Jon" and "Ella" are the extent of my naming capabilities.  Oh, I have a few that I've been tossing around, but none just FEEL right.  Yet.

The kids have agreed it MUST be a boy.  Jon wants a baby brother and Ella refuses to share her "girl toys".  HA!

I have my next doctor appointment on Thursday and I'm hoping 15 weeks is far enough along to find out boy or girl...I'm hopeful, but won't be surprised if I have to wait longer.

So, there are some random thoughts floating around in my brain.  I apologize for all the grammar mistakes.  I tend to over use commas...  I am pregnant and that is going to be my excuse for the next several months.  Enjoy and feel free to comment!