Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Catch my Joy!

Beth Moore says some things are taught but sisters some things are caught. She also says that contagious Joy is the most important thing you can ever have. I agree. Deuteronomy16:15 reads "The Lord your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the works of your hands, so that you will be altogether joyful". Another translation says "complete joy". My husband and I used to have a small church called "Joy Community" based on this principle. Living in "Joy" because of the gifts of our Lord and savior Jesus. From the joy we find in that most beautiful gift that we would then give to others and help them to find their joy in our example. I think the message gets most caught up in joy being a feeling. Something that can come and go. Living in joy as God talks about here is more of a verb. Living each day, doing each chore, talking to eachother in a way that shows the love of Christ to others because we can't not share it or live differently. We are changed, we have to let others know. We have caught something that causes us to live in a state of complete joy. I pray today that we can remember the gifts of love and sacrifice that are free for us all and that we live today complete in the joy that it brings. Catch the joy!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

He gives and takes away...

On some days it seems like God is trying to show me who is in charge just incase I forgot. Knowing myself I might have forgot. Ok, I did forget. But, lets face it. It is pretty easy to forget. You get in the groove of doing things "MY WAY" as Frank Sinatra would say and then BAM! God steps in and corrects your thinking. Ryan is making HUGE strides in his therapy. I would even use the word miracle, and I don't use the word miracle lightly. I know his new doctors have been directly sent by God to us. God is giving, giving, giving with Ryan's treatments.
One of my dearest students is having the worst week of her life losing her best friend, her grandfather. My heart is breaking for her. This loss will change her. Another student is having one of most exciting weeks of her life. She is about to start a journey that I just know is going to bring blessing upon blessing for her. This is the start of great things for her. One of my very best friends is suffering from a tragic loss yesterday. She is in pain and I want to help her. I'm trying to figure out how.
As I was running out the door this morning thinking about all of these things good and bad I actually put my hand on the door knob stopped and then turned around walked back into the house and got down on my knees and prayed. I prayed so hard for these three young women and my son. I PRAYED! I thought my mind could just take over for these situations but God reminded me that if I don't give these situations to him he can't take over. I have to give to get. I have to talk to be able to listen. I have to reach out to him. So, today I did. I have a peace and a comfort that I am so thankful for. I have a song in my heart that is of praise for a God that is in control even when we think we have it all covered and all figured out as well as when we have no clue and are blind and lost.
Today take time to talk to God about who and what is on your heart.
I promise that you won't be disappointed that you did.
You may be running a bit late for work and not have time to grab a coffee, but God will work that out for you too.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The easy part...

about being a Christian is saying; "Yes! I am a Christian". Well, at least if you live in the U.S. it is the easy part. It might not be so easy if you try that in North Korea or China! But, the hard part seems to be the living it day to day. How many days have I rolled out of bed into a foul mood instead of rolling out and onto my knees thanking God for another day. How often have I gone to the grocery store and been frustrated with the speed of the check out lady instead of looking for someone that might need my understanding or even a smile? We live in a society that sets us up to be self centered and uncaring. Your way-right away or you have a right to be grumpy. We look out for someone to do something for us instead of looking for a way to help others. Even those of us were blessed to be raised in a Christian home that taught these virtues struggle with it. It is part of our daily struggle as Christians. We have to fight against the way of the world. So often people say they are "worried" about me. I take on to much. I give too much. But do I really? I really don't think I am. How much is too much to give? Doesn't Jesus teach the spiritual principle that what we do for others our father will multiply back to us? It is just the practice of doing these things without looking for the spiritual tax return that is the challenge. Today I challenge you to look for those in need. In fact I'll go even farther I challenge us (me included) to pray to God to show us these people and to use us to help them. Lord, even if they simply need a smile let me know they need it. I want people to know I'm a Christian by my love. Not because I have to tell them I am. I want them to get that feeling from me at a few miles away. I want my home to shine Jesus in our little neighborhood. Gosh, I know that is will be hard. But I'm going to pray for it. God help me!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Nourishing Hope

Three blogs today, gosh I'm on a roll! Actually, it's all because I'm on winter break and I have more then 10 seconds to do anything other then teach or change a diaper. :)

I believe every mom should read this book. It is the most important book I have ever read. I wish I had it five years ago. I am thankful to have it now. It was recommended by Ryan's new doctor and it has BEEN HUGE for us. HUGE! A year ago if someone had posted this or told me about it I would not of thought I needed to read it. Today, because of my life the past 6 months I really feel the urge to educate about toxins, chemicals and pollutants that I feel are changing our children at a rapid rate. 1 in 94 boys! HELLO! This book explains all the different factors and changes we can make to better our lives and the lives of our children. I cannot express to you how important this information is for every parent. You REALLY, REALLY need this book if you know a child with Autism, ADHD, Tourette's, Asperger's etc. Trust me: you know one!
You can only get it here: http://www.nourishinghope.com/

Jesus is calling people home.

So much death. I feel like I have seen more people die the last six months then my entire life.

I feel at my core that Jesus is bringing some very special people home to him. It makes me feel so thankful for all the family and friends that I have with me. Love them! Love them like Jesus! Never take a second for granted. Don't let the sunset on your anger. Life is too short. Hug someone today. Never take a day that God gives you and decide that you are not important enough to make a difference in someone's life. You can. You will.

In Memory of Mom Sweetapple who would have been 59 years old today. We miss you every day Mom! Grandma Creech, Grandparents of Emma, Katie, Kate, Devin, Gina, Morgan. Francie's husband father to Kuba and Joslyn, and so many other people special and deeply loved. I pray they are dancing with Jesus.

On a happy note: Here is the newest picture of my family. I hope we will leave a legacy of love and lives lived for Christ. (Yes, that is snow and no we don't have coats on)

Note to self: Learn the lessons well.

I don't know how many people know that when I was 17 a producer for Sony/BMG and their Christian label heard me sing at church. I don't remember his name now. I don't remember all of the details but that I wouldn't be able to go to college and that it was scary. In fact I don't think I have thought about it much at all since then. This week with all the stuff going on with one of my students it has been on my mind. I didn't sign with them or pursue any of the ideas they had for my future because to be honest I didn't think I could do it. I had AWFUL body image problems and let's face it the only big girl doing the Christian music thing was Sandi Patty and I KNEW I wasn't as good as her. Have you heard the notes that woman can hit? For real, it is SICK! So, basically out of pure self doubt I walked away. Then this week when my student needed a pep talk and was about to walk away I became the person I needed 11 years ago. I got behind the pulpit and started preaching to her. Now mind you my student is BEAUTIFUL. She has WAY more talent then I did at her age and I think she has a better grasp of who she is as an artist. I myself was clueless. Ok fast forward back to this week and my dear and loving husband takes me to a Casting Crowns concert along with Leeland and John Waller (who also blew me away.) One of my very favorite Christian bands is Casting Crowns. They were AWESOME. One of the women in the group, Megan Garrett reminded me so much of myself. It was almost eerie. She is a big girl. In fact we were wearing the same jeans. We could have traded clothes. Her voice is so similar to mine. It is a beautiful, powerful Mezzo voice. I was so proud of her. She rocked. We made eye contact a few times while we were both singing. (Did I tell you my awesome husband got me amazing tickets?) All I could think of was the choices I had made and how they got me to that moment. Sitting on the other side of the stage with my husband. I realized at that concert that the only thing that holds us back from God's plans is our fear. I was so full of fear at 17. I was a big ball of mess. Hot mess as Ruby would say. But what is fear? Fear my friends is thoughts not of God. Thought of the enemy used to hold us back. How else can he control us? I had some major moments. God was very strongly speaking to me about my life from here forward. I've decided from here on out I am living my life even larger for Christ. I won't let anything or anyone keep me from who God wants me to be.
Even more then that I won't let the people I love be less then who they are in Christ. I will encourage those in my daily life to live to the fullest in joy!

Prayer: Beautiful Savior,

Can you hear the cries of your daughter for all off your beautiful children in my life.

Lord may you use all of my past; good and bad, right or wrong to help others.

Father, I lay my life to you. Use me. I want your Spirit to shine through me and wash over others in a way that brings comfort, love and peace that only comes with life in you.

Lord I am so thankful for my life. I am so blessed you call me yours.

In Jesus name.


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Lesson of the Day.

Don't fight God, you won't win. ever. He always will get you where he wanted to get you.
It will be better for you to let him move you, use you, teach you and guide you. God always wants what is best for you. God always knows more then you. God always is there to help you.
The WORST times of my whole life have been trying to do it better then God or thinking I didn't need God when I really, really did. In fact,you always need God. God has time for you. You are special to God.
Gosh, I sound really serious about this don't I? I guess it is because it is so hard for me to see people not let God into a situation that so badly needs him.
Let God in! (going off not to listen to my own advice) This is my lesson today. Maybe it is yours as well?
Prayer: God please search my heart. Please tell me where I need to seek you. Dear God where am I not meeting you, seeking you? Is there so part of me that wants the control, the power? God please help me to let only you guide my feet and my path. I will search Your Word for wisdom. I will fix my eyes on you. In my weakness you are strong. In my strength you are glorified. Thank you JESUS! Amen.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

My Lent Offering

So, mostly because it is impossible for me to go with the flow, this year, I have decided to give up nothing for Lent and instead give something of myself to God. I'm doing two awesome bible studies right now. One is a Beth Moore study on the Psalms called Stepping Up (I highly recommend it) and the other is a Moms Study on Prayer. In both of these studies I've been convicted to pray in a different way. So, as a trial during Lent I am going to try praying with my face on the ground. Yes, that's right face to the ground. Beth Moore explains that there is something different to this type of prayer. I'm ready to give it a try. I'll be sure to update my progress. It will be hard for me as I'm a on the go car and shower type of prayer but I'm willing to step out of my little box for this one. I suggest either giving something to God along with me or just simply changing up your prayer life. Step up or step out. Let us prepare for the great sacrafice of our Lord Jesus on the cross. His blood never fails me.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Dreams, Prayers and Wishes on a star....

Why does it surprise me every time God answers a prayer? Why do I often sit down to pray like I'm about to sit down to a roulette wheel in Vegas? I tell everyone I know I believe in God. I believe he answers prayer.... but do I really? Why do I get this weird sensation of Wow, it actually worked when he gives me what I ask for. In my mind it's like Ryan asking me for a toy at Meijer. Mom PLEASE!!!!!!! But really isn't God our father more giving then us? Shouldn't he know the needs of his children and be thankful that we come to him? I think God is always waiting. He knows as we walk down the path of life we are going to need him. In fact, I once heard it said that God does not like pain and suffering but he will use it to bring us to him. So how does all of this fit in with my life today? Well about three years ago I started working with a beautiful and talented young lady named Lauren. For about the first six weeks she started working with me I honestly thought she hated me. I remember listening to her sing a song "On My Own" from Les Miserables thinking wow, she has a sweet little voice. She lacked confidence and would hardly look me in the eye. At first I took it as her dislike for me and a slight attitude problem. Well, I started praying for her. In my head during our lessons I started praying for her. I asked God to give me some way to make her feel like she was worth something, that she had talent. It took me almost two years to do it but this summer in New York City I saw that little pretty young lady audition for the biggest broadway talent agency in the world. I kept praying. We didn't hear much of anything after the call back. We were bummed but I just knew that God has a special plan for her. She has something that only God can give.
She got another audition call in Chicago a few weeks back. I had a great feeling about it. I prayed every day. God, let this be her big break. It killed me this week when she started to doubt herself. She told me that she didn't think she was going to get a call. Wednesday I had a dream that she was going to get one. It was one of those dreams where I can see, feel and touch everything like it is real. Today at 4:57 pm she called me to tell me that MTV had called her to say that out of the 8,000 girls that auditioned at cities all around the USA she had made the top 20 and that they wanted her to come to New York to be on a show to find Broadways new up and coming young star! To be honest these are the kind of moments in my life that make all the little stuff seem so little. These are the days when I thank God that I'm a teacher. It made me think of our first lessons. It also made me think about my student a few weeks back at solo and ensemble that had worked for three years on only two songs because of a learning disability and got a 1st place. Her joy was my joy. How great is God working in all of my students? All the doubts all the fears all the prayers and nights up wondering if I'm doing what God really wants me to be doing all come to these great moments. I'm so proud. I'm so thankful. I'm so blessed. Yes, I believe in God and Yes, I know he answers prayer. What are you not talking to God about? What seems to little or unimportant to ask. Who do you work with, live with or love that needs your intercession with God? Pray. Pray hard and don't stop.

Friday, February 1, 2008

The truth about marriage... my marriage

Marriage is hard. I think it is harder then anything else you can do on earth. Even harder then child birth. Even child birth without drugs. The commands God gives about marriage are a challenge to say the very least. The husband should love his wife and as loves the church!?!?! Make her clean? The wife should both love AND respect her husband. We often just are simply going along doing the thing day to day. Sleeping next to eachother, doing the daily chores, eating a meal. If we are lucky we might get a kiss on the way out the door. Tonight God reminded me what a blessing the man he gave me as a husband is. I believe that God created Steve with me in mind and created me just for him. I know that God teaches me in all things, all relationships. The greatest person he can use is my husband. So often he frustrates the heck out of me. So often I forget that he is more then just the other half of the chores and the other one to pick up the kids from school. Steve is my gift from God. He is someone that can show me how much love God really has for me. Now, its not perfect as we are living here on earth, but it is home. It is safe. It is solid and dependable. It is love. We can have amazing debate and converstation on just about any topic. We laugh together we cry together. How can I so easily forget all these wonderful things that are all packaged in this one great brown man? Tonight we went to a movie. A romantic movie. We got popcorn and he held my hand and all was well with the world. I need to remind him more how wonderful he is. How thankful I am for him. I will be praying tonight that I remember more then I forget. That I listen more then I scold, nag, or yell. That I will be the woman for him that God so carefully designed. Marriage is the hardest thing because it yeilds the most reward. I look at my children and the joy that comes in being Mrs. Sweetapple as an honor and a blessing. Steve told me on our wedding day; Honey it won't be easy, but it will NEVER be boring. Boy he wasn't kidding.
Homework: Go on a date once a week. Even if only for a few hours. DO IT!
May each marriage be a blessing not only to those in it but to all those that it touches.