His Hands are Never Broken!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

There are a few things we do every year with the start of Advent...no matter how busy we are.  The tree goes up, the Nativity is set out, and the Advent wreath and candles are placed.  

This year we added a sofa table to our living room decor, and that is where we put the Nativity.  Right there in the middle of our living space.  Isn't that where Jesus belongs?  In the middle of life?  

Unfortunately,  right in the middle of our living space, life gets messy and broken. See, we have cats...and cats play and fight and chase and run. Inevitably ...there were casualties.  Over the course of the last 4 weeks of advent, one wise man was decapitated.  Another wiseman lost his hand and his gift.  Joseph sacrificed his fingers causing him to randomly drop his staff.  Mary lost one of her hands, but Jesus...Baby Jesus lost both of his...

So I have spent the last few weeks thinking about Jesus's hands....

I can't help but think about those tiny baby hands reaching up and touching his mother's face as he nursed.  

Or how he may have gestured as he taught the teachers at the temple in Luke 2.  

I wonder if John the Baptist grabbed his hand to help him into the water to be baptized.  

I thought of all the people he healed.  So many times the Word says he was moved with compassion, and, then, he reached out and touched them.  

What about when Peter saw him walking on the water and asked to go to him.  How Peter got out of the boat and walked to Jesus, but as he did he saw the wind and the waves and began to fall into the water.  Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and rescued him.  Matthew 14

How in Luke 18 people were bringing their babies to him so he could touch them and bless them. The disciples tried to stop him, but Jesus wouldn't let them.  He wanted to bless those babies.  

How in Luke 8 a woman that had been bleeding for 12 years touched him and was made whole.  Then, later that same day, He reached out his hand and a little girl was brought back from the dead.  

How his hands broke the bread with his disciples on the night that he was betrayed.  How those hands sealed a New Covenant as he prepared to fulfill the Old.  How he prayed in the Garden later that night and took his hand and healed the severed ear of the guard that was there to arrest him.  Luke 22

How those hand were nailed to a cross for the punishment of MY sin...not his sin...because he had no sin...

What about when three days later those hands came back to life.  And he showed himself to Mary and all of the disciples except Thomas. But soon after, Thomas took those hands in his own, placed his fingers into the scars left in them from the nails, and believed that Jesus was truly alive again.  John 20

And He is...Alive Again!!!

See the Baby Jesus in my Nativity set has hands that are broken, but the Jesus in my heart, his hands are mighty!  They save. They rescue. They heal.  The very best place for Jesus really is in the middle of my biggest messes!

 The Lord's hand is not to short to save.  Isaiah 59:1

Merry Christmas!
The Savior is born!

Be the Broken Cookie...

Sunday, November 13, 2016

My Mom did not make cookies very often, but when she did it was a big deal -  a very big deal with a very big amount of cookie.   One batch of Mom's cookies made 7 dozen, so doubling the batch meant 14 dozen cookies.  That's 168 cookies.  Her philosophy was a good one.   I mean, if you are going to make cookies,  make as many as you can. Two batches is not much more work than one, and then you can eat cookies for days and days.  And,  well, they're cookies.  Can you get much better than chocolate chip cookies or oatmeal cookies. (No raisins, please.  Raisins ruin everything.) Can you really have too many cookies?

But there was one step my Mom added, that would you not find in the cookbook.  Most chocolate chip cookie recipes state to drop the dough by teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  This was not acceptable to her.   So we would grab the dough by the teaspoonful, roll it into a ball in our hands and bake them this way. The result was perfectly round cookies.  PERFECTLY round.  But, you know not every cookie can be perfect. So, inevitably, one would be broken.  Another one would flip over while removing it from the pan to cool and get smushy.   Maybe another would be touched with the potholder when taking them out of the oven and be all lopsided. Sometimes, a whole sheet would be just a bit overcooked.   Now, those damaged cookies were the ones my brothers' and I were allowed to eat first. So, the more cookies that were less than perfect,  more damaged, meant more treats for us on cookie day.  I mean, the damaged ones tasted the same as the perfect ones. They just were not as pretty so we got rid of them first.  The pretty and perfect cookies were the only cookies sent to neighbors, or to class parties, or to whatever event we might happen to be making them for. 

There is a ton I could say here. About perfection.  About rejection. But today, I want to talk about being broken.

See,  I am a messed up cookie trying to be a perfect one.  I have lived the majority of my life trying to present a pretty and perfect self to the world.  I strive to look great put together. I want to have a perfect home, have perfect kids, and live the perfect life.  But deep down, I know I am living a lie. I am not perfect.  I do not have it all together. I live in fear.  I feel insecure.  I feel inadequate and insufficient. I make mistakes. I mess up.  I fail, and I sin.  I am just a broken cookie try to present an unbroken life.  And, as any baker can tell you, you may able to frost over a broken cake to hide the break, but there is no fixing a broken cookie.

The amazing thing is....God is not surprised about my broken and messed up places.  And even more amazing...those broken places and messed up areas He wants to use for His glory.  Did you see all the I statements?  I really am all of those things.  But Jesus is more!  I am not perfect or sinless or without mistakes, but Jesus is.  I do not have it all together, but Jesus is directing my steps and is making all things work together for good.  I am afraid, but the Bible tells us that He has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and sound judgement.  I feel insecure, but my place is secure in Christ. I am a co heir with him, and I am firmly held with in the Father's hand.  I feel insufficient, but He says His grace is sufficient. When I feel inadequate, He says my adequacy comes only from Him.

I am reminded of the woman in Mark 14:3.  Do you remember the story?  See Jesus was at Simon the Leper's house reclining at a table when this unnamed woman comes to him with an alabaster jar of pure oil of nard.  An expensive jar of fragrant oil believed to be worth about one year's wages. She brings in this jar, breaks it open and anoints Jesus's head with the oil inside.   She had to break the jar for the fragrance and the oil to be released. Did you get that?  The jar had to be......broken.  We could even say that until the jar was broken, the oil was useless.  

I am learning that I need not be afraid to be broken.  I don't need to fear my mistakes. And, most importantly, I need to let others see the mess.  Jesus is not looking for a beautiful alabaster jar to sit on a shelf. He is looking for a broken mess, that is bathed in His grace. Then, the sweet fragrance of a transformed life is released into this lost world.

You know as well as I do, broken cookies taste just as good as perfect ones.  And now,  I think they may taste even better. Because I know Jesus can use a broken life much more than he can use  a perfect one.  

A picture of Unforgiveness....and Letting it go...

Thursday, April 28, 2016

I am not and never will be a gardener.  The joke here at my house is that plants quake in their roots when I am around.  I can understand why my family and the plants feel that way.  Honestly, I kill them.  

So when our azalea bush in the front yard started dying several years ago, I didn't worry much about it.  It was just the same old cycle repeating itself.  The first couple years we lived here, it bloomed magnificently in the spring like an azalea should.  But, like most plants I am in contact with, it changed. The leaves turned dark.  The foliage grew thin.  The gorgeous and abundant flowers from the first few years were replaced by only leaves.  

Interestingly, my plant was being suffocated by a sly Virginia Creeper. Over the years, this creeper had planted itself right in the middle of my azalea, and slowly inched its way over much of the healthy plant....suffocating it....stifling its beauty ....crushing its leaves....killing it. 

 In the end, my bush was pitiful, misshapen, and pathetic.  The very beauty that it was meant to share was gone. 

Unforgiveness is just like that Creeper.  It takes root in our hearts and grows.  It invades every part of us.  Soon our lives are out of step with the Lord's will.  The hurt we are holding onto does not go away. It just gets worse.   It poisons our perceptions.   It consumes us. It leaves us stunted in our growth and misshapen.  

Don't forget that creepers creep.  The intruder didn't stay just in my bush...it was crawling up the house and had trails along the ground looking for more things to invade. Unforgiveness, too, spills over to other people and relationships.  The longer we hold onto it, the more damage we do.  

So.....I pulled out the creeper.  I cut, and yanked, and removed as much of it as I could find. The creeper had grown up around azalea like a prison.  It had choked out its beauty for so long and, now, it was finally free to bloom and thrive as before.

Yes....this is my actual bush.

Just like the azalea could not get rid of the creeper on its own, we cannot forgive on our own. We must take our offenses, our hurts, our injustices to the only one that can heal them...Jesus Christ. His word tells us in Isaiah 61 that he has come bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

Do you hear that?  He has come to heal the hurts....release the prisoner...comfort the mourning....to give a crown for our ashes...and joy for our sadness...and clothes of praise for our despair.  

He can give you the strength and the power to let go of the unforgiveness and get out of your prison and bloom just like you were meant to be.  

It's not easy.  It's hard... In some cases it may be the most difficult thing we do....but it is worth it. 

Oh and another thing...creepers come back.....

Taken the same day as the previous picture.

There will be times when that hurt returns, when something is said that brings all the feelings back.  That's when we must run back to Jesus.  Give it to him again and let him heal us ....again.  

Looks like I have some yard work to do.  That creeper will not leave on its own.  

*Our Bible study is working through Joseph:  A journey to forgiveness by Melissa Spoelstra.  These thoughts came after week 2.


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Grandma Mavis

Today we celebrated the life of my Grandma Mavis. I cannot tell you how bittersweet this week has been.  There is a huge hole in my heart, and yet, I know that Grandma is no longer suffering, no longer in pain, no longer in poor health.  She is totally healed, walking the streets of gold with her Savior, Jesus Christ.  Grandma lived  her life as Christ would want her too.  Loving him and loving others.  

Grandma and Grandpa showing us kids true love after almost 65 years.
Today was hard. I was asked to do a reading and share some memories during the service.  It was probably one of the most difficult things I have done.  I wanted to share my part as a tribute to my Grandmother.
Grandma Mavis (Seated) with 3 of her sisters.

No words could ever truly express how much Grandma means to me or how much I love her. So instead, I want to take a moment and share a few thoughts about my grandma. Grandma’s house was one of the most exciting places for us as kids, and the main reason was the people that lived there. Grandma made it exciting. We would play games, never ending games of skip-bo, phase Ten, Uno, and Bounce off. She would let me bake cakes, make brownies and cookies, and peel potatoes, even when more potato wound up with the peelings than in the pot. And the Ceramics…..I cannot tell you how many items she let me ruin with my lack of painting skills. Her love and patience with us was never ending.

I find myself trying to hold on to every memory I have, and searching for ones that may be lost to me. One that comes to my mind is from when I was very small. I distinctly remember her holding me quietly singing a lullaby with these words:

Go to sleep my baby dear,

I will hold you ever near,

Go to sleep and when you wake,

You shall have a piece of cake

Grandma’s caresses, Sweet loving kisses

Grandma’s caresses fall on you now.

And that is exactly how it was…She spent her life caressing us – Showering her family and friends with love in ways that will never be duplicated.

I could go on all day and tell you about the loads of laundry she did for me when I was pregnant and on bedrest, or just pregnant and huge. The cleaning, the cooking, the cards and the calls…but instead, I will leave you the wisest man’s description from Proverbs 31…

In Praise of a Capable Wife

10 Who can find a capable wife?
She is far more precious than jewels.
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will not lack anything good.
12 She rewards him with good, not evil,
all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
and works with willing hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from far away.
15 She rises while it is still night
and provides food for her household
and portions for her female servants.
16 She evaluates a field and buys it;
she plants a vineyard with her earnings.
17 She draws on her strength
and reveals that her arms are strong.
18 She sees that her profits are good,
and her lamp never goes out at night.
19 She extends her hands to the spinning staff,
and her hands hold the spindle.
20 Her hands reach out to the poor,
and she extends her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid for her household when it snows,
for all in her household are doubly clothed.
22 She makes her own bed coverings;
her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known at the city gates,
where he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes and sells linen garments;
she delivers belts to the merchants.
25 Strength and honor are her clothing,
and she can laugh at the time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom
and loving instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the activities of her household
and is never idle.
28 Her sons rise up and call her blessed.
Her husband also praises her:
29 “Many women are capable,
but you surpass them all!”
30 Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting,
but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised.
31 Give her the reward of her labor,
and let her works praise her at the city gates.

That is my Grandma. She has left me a legacy of love and of Christ that I can only hope to live up to. And I already miss her so much.

Get off the deck!!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Some writing from earlier this year.... We have had a family of robins build a residence in the Y of one of our gutters. Last week, three baby robins began their fledgling life into our big backyard. Now, our yard would be a perfect place for these little ones to learn about the world if were not for Allie, the demon cat, and Hank, the insanely jealous dog. So, as Hank was out to do his business later that day, Papa and Mama Robin were not happy. They were chirping out warnings, and dive bombing poor Hank. The diving commenced any time he stepped more than 2 feet of the deck. Hank would run after his ball. Papa and Mama Robin would swoop straight for him. Eventually, Hank did not even want to get off the deck. He would stand there, right on the edge, waiting and watching but too afraid to take the chance and move. The birds know Hank is powerful. They know that he can destroy them and their young. They are attacking because he has the potential to ruin them. Once Hank realizes he is bigger and stronger, those baby birds are in trouble.  Mom and Dad Robin are just trying to keep it from happening.

 The thing is -  This happens in my life too. I am like Hank waiting to step off the deck into the big thing God is asking me to do. But the moment I take a step in that direction, Satan starts fighting. He sends his bombs in the form of temptation and doubt and unbelief, and I run back to the safety of the deck. But I have the very Spirit of Christ living in me. I have been made more than a conqueror (Romans 8:23). Satan's blows are nothing more than hot air. It is posturing. He knows through Christ I can defeat him and fulfill my purpose.  The minute I step off the deck into what God has planned is the very moment I receive the strength I need to do God's will.

 A lot of things are going on over here. Not bad things by any means. But changes. The Lord is stirring some things up. I am not sure what is going on in your life. But I do know...over here...it is time to get off the deck.

Time4Learning Review

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I was offered a free one month trial of Time4Learning in exchange for a candid review of the program. Never heard of Time4Learning? Time4Learing is a Pre-K through 8th grade online curriculum for homeschooler. It is comprehensive, and you can use it as your entire homeschool curriculum, or, as in our case, you can use it as a supplement to you current curriculum. Time4Learning can also be used by a parent as a supplement to a private or public school curriculum.

has many great features. As mention before it is a comprehensive program. Every grade covers every subject for that level, Math, Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, etc. Time4Learning also has a playground area for the students to play at after a set time to give them a break from their studies. You can think of it as recess at a virtual school. Time4Learning tracks the students progress so parents can know exactly what the students are learning and how well they are doing.

Personally, I love the concept of Time4Learning
. I love the freedom that is gives me as a parent. I love that my kids are not dependent on me for every aspect of their education. My kids enjoyed the lessons that they did at Time4Learning, and liked learning things in a new and different way. However, since we were using Time4Learning as a supplement to our regular homeschool curriculum, many days we just did not have time for another activity and Time4Learning was forgotten or skipped. Another disadvantage for our family is the price. The cost for the curriculum is 19.95 per month for the first child and then 14.95 per month for each additional child. That is just too much of a monthly expense for our three kids to use as a supplement.

Overall, I was pleased with what the lessons my children did at Time4Learning. If I was looking for a complete online curriculum to use in place of our current curriculum, I would definitely consider Time4Learning. Right now, however, we just cannot afford it as a supplement.

For more information visit the Time4Learning website located here.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

I've been invited to try Time4Learning for one month in exchange for a candid review. Time4Learning can be used for homeschool, afterschool and summer skill sharpening. Be sure to come back and read about my experience.