Saturday, April 24, 2010

Being Filled.

Our fast is almost over. We have emptied our bodies, deprived ourselves of all kinds of foods. In a few hours we’ll eat again, and there are lots of choices of what to put into our waiting stomachs. You can put in junk food. You can choose healthy alternatives. I recommend taking it easy. Choose foods that are gentle on the stomach and easy to digest.
It’s very much the same on a spiritual level. I looked up all the verses in the Bible that talk about being filled. You can be filled with anger, hate, malice, envy, evil, fear, worry, terror, self, pride, and deceit. You can also be filled with compassion, love, joy, mercy, righteousness, knowledge of the glory of the Lord, awe, glory, justice and power of the Spirit of the Lord. You can be filled with the Holy Spirit, God himself, in you.
If you’ve been on your face before God, I’m sure that He has helped you empty your spirit of the junk you found there. Maybe you found yourself truly hungry for righteousness, desiring to have God fill you. That is what God wants to do!
God had this crazy idea, because He is crazy in love with you, that he would send his son to the Earth to die for us, to give us the Holy Spirit, so that He can fill us up. He is crazy about you, and He wants you to be crazy about Him, so that you can live in fellowship with Him forever.
Paul writes, “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:14-21
In these last few hours, meditate on how wide, long, high and deep the love of Christ is and what it means to be “filled to the measure of all the fullness of God”.

Read Acts 2
What happened to the people gathered together?
What did people on the outside think of them?
How did those filled with the Spirit live afterwards?
In what way does this apply to you today?


Feed the Hungry

I’ve said it. My kids have said it. You’ve probably said it too. “I’m starving!” Really? If you’re like me you’ve probably skipped fewer meals in your life than you have fingers on your hands. Most of us have never known true hunger, much less starvation. We’re definitely feeling hungry now. And that’s good because we’re going to feel a lot more compassion for the people we meet today who may only get one meal a day, maybe less. What you’re feeling right now, for some, is a normal, day in, day out feeling.
I bet you’re thinking “There’s a whole hungry world out there. I can’t feed them all.” (I’m sure you were thinking that, not how hungry you are!) Have you ever heard the story…
There was an old man walking on the beach one day at low tide. Another man watched from a distance as the old man bent down picked something up and threw it into the sea. As he got closer he discovered that the old man was tossing stranded starfish back into the sea so they would not die in the sun. The man called out to the old man, “You’re crazy! There are millions of starfish dying on the beach, you can’t save all of them! No matter how many you throw into the sea, it won’t make any difference, millions more will die.” The old man looked at the other man for a moment. Then he bent down and picked up a starfish and as he threw it back into the sea he said, “It made a difference to that one.”
Jesus said that loving others is the most important thing next to loving God himself. And not just loving your friends and family, but loving those who don’t love you back and those who can’t repay your kindness. That goes totally against our nature, doesn’t it? It’s just not normal.
It’s not normal for us, but it’s very normal for God. God is Love. Love is not just what He does, it’s who He is. When we love others, people we don’t know, people who don’t love us back, even our enemies, we are showing them the very nature of God. Think about these words, “For God so loved the world that He gave…” He gave to a world that doesn’t love Him. He gave to a world that can’t pay Him back.
When we show love to others, it is a form of worship. It tells God that we know who He is and that we want to be like Him. Maybe we can’t reach everyone with God’s love, but we can show God’s love to our neighbors. We can make a difference to someone.

Read Matthew 25:31-46
Were these people surprised by the way they were sorted? Why?
Why was it so important to the King?
What does this passage mean?
How can you apply it to your life today?


Getting Bit by Procrastination.

Last night I was going to blog about the 4 scheduled posts I set up, but I ran out of time and didn't get back to it. I had decided I would post about it early this morning (Friday). As luck would have it (if I believed in luck which I don't), I woke up with a screaming migraine, complete with puking that took me out for the entire day. So, my scheduled posts started appearing, um, as scheduled, with no explanation whatsoever. And they seem a bit out of place without an explanation. So, mid-schedule, here it is....

Our youth group, of which I am a sponsor, is having a 30 hour famine. At noon today (Friday) the kids started fasting, and it will go until 6 pm on Saturday. I was asked to put together some devotions for the kids to read/do during the fast. It was a great project for me and I wanted to share the devotions with you.

So that is what is going on. Sometimes when you procrastinate it comes around to bite you in the backside. And thanks to my lovely migraine, my fast started 15 hours earlier than scheduled. I still haven't decided whether I will end my fast at the 30 hour mark or whether I will make it a 45 hour fast, to continue fasting with the youth group.


Friday, April 23, 2010

Being Hungry

Right about now you might be getting hungry. It’s time for everyone else to eat and you’re not that far into this 30 hour famine. Physically your blood sugar may be getting low, triggering your stomach to start producing acid in anticipation of food that should be arriving from above, but isn’t. You might be thinking about food and causing a salivary response. Soon every cell in your body will be waiting, wanting, desiring and craving nourishment.
Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Matthew 5:6
Ok, we’re hungry, but what is righteousness, you ask. Good question! Righteousness is the quality of being pure, without guilt or sin.
Think about His words. He’s saying that it’s a good thing when every cell in your body is waiting, wanting, desiring and craving being without sin or guilt, and He is promising that those who crave righteousness like that will be filled. Simply, when you want with your whole self to be without sin, God will meet that need!
You are going to get more and more hungry. Really, it’s the truth. As you feel the physical effects of being hungry meditate on Jesus words, and what they mean. Are there areas in your life, your present or your past that cause you to feel guilt? Have you talked to God about those areas? Do you have a deep desire to be made clean?
1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” That’s it. If you want that hunger and thirst to be filled, all you have to do is confess it to God, and He will forgive, cleanse and purify us, not just from part of our sin, but ALL of it. Not just a snack, or a drink of Gatorade, but a feast!
Imagine, you've been snacking on the bus after school on candy and chips, and you walk into your house and your mom has prepared a gourmet feast just for you. Only, you’re not hungry. You’ve filled up on junk food and you just can’t fit in another bite.
God wants us to be hungry. He wants us to be empty of all the junk that can’t satisfy us. He wants us to experience how much we need Him. Because, when you get to that point, when you know just how empty you can get, He knows that He can fill you. He’s got a feast of righteousness just waiting until you are hungry enough to come to Him. And when you know just how hungry you are, you will be able to taste and see how good God is!

Read Psalm 34
What promises do you see?
How are the righteous treated differently than those who do evil?
How do these promises apply to you today?


411 on Fasting

Fasting is to abstain from all food or from certain “choice” foods for a period of time. It literally means to have firm control of oneself. Fasting can be a physical cleansing of the body, and it can be a spiritual cleansing of the soul. It was used in both the Old Testament and the New Testament as a way of drawing near to God.
Nehemiah 9:1-3 says, “On the twenty-fourth day of the same month, the Israelites gathered together, fasting and wearing sackcloth and having dust on their heads. Those of Israelite descent had separated themselves from all foreigners. They stood in their places and confessed their sins and the wickedness of their fathers. They stood where they were and read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their God for a quarter of the day, and spent another quarter in confession and in worshiping the LORD their God. “
The Israelites did this as a nation. They wanted to turn their hearts back to God. They realized that they had sinned for many years and they wanted a new start, united together, turning toward God and asking for His help and favor.
Our fast this week is similar. We want to unite as a group. We want to turn our hearts toward God. We want to ask for His help and favor for our missions trips this summer. And we also want to understand what it means to be hungry.
The Israelites did four things: separated themselves out, confessed their sins, studied God’s word and worshipped their God. Jesus told us that fasting is not about getting attention for ourselves, but about our relationship to the Father.
As you begin your fast, find a time today to be alone with God. Take your Bible, paper, and pen to a quiet place. To get your mind and heart into a humble position, I recommend getting your body into one too. Flat on your face on the floor works pretty good. Seriously!
Begin your time by asking God to show you any areas in your life that are not pleasing to Him. Stop and listen. When God brings things to your mind, confess them—agree with Him. Stop and listen some more.
Next spend some time worshipping God. Recognize how awesome He is—tell Him. Think about the qualities of God, His faithfulness, His kindness—tell Him. Consider the things that God has done, remember things He’s done for you—thank Him.
Listen some more. Ask Him to talk to you about serving others at Mission Denver and on our summer missions trips. Listen. If any scriptures come to mind write them down and look them up. What is God saying to you? Write down things He brings to mind.

Read Matthew 6:1-18
What is Jesus saying and why?
What does it mean to you?
How can you apply it to your life today?


Monday, April 19, 2010

"Not Me!" Monday.

Welcome to Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week.

I am not blogging while on an anniversary trip with my husband, while he is off sitting in the sauna by himself. No way, not me!

Since we are celebrating our 18th wedding anniversary, it seems fitting that this post should be about the crazy things I have not done in my marriage or to my husband in the last 18 years. Here goes...

There is no way that we took 'R' rated pictures on our honeymoon. Nope, and no way that I would allow pictures of my in my sexy undies to be printed. Not me! If I did have those kind of pictures around there is just no way I would have made a scrapbook of them for my husband's private pleasure. Nope, not me!!!

I do not wish I still had the body of that girl in those pictures. I'm extra proud of every stretch mark and extra pound I carry because it means I'm a mom. (ok, that's sort of true) There's just no way I miss that flat tummy and skinny limbs. Not me!

It's not possible that I once thought my husband was having an affair with my best friend because he gave her dog a haircut. I was not completely hormonal at the time because we were trying to get pregnant. I do not get insanely irrational while on birth control pills, to the point where I have vowed never, ever to take them again! (note: I was taking birth control pills at the beginning of our IVF cycle, trying to get pregnant with our 4th) Nope, not me!

I have never in the last 18 years lost my temper. Nope, I'm calm and rational all the time. I would never in a fit of anger decided to take a 20 mile walk home from across town, at night, while 8 months pregnant, leaving my husband to answer questions from friends about where I went. Nope that was NOT ME!

Phew! There are so many more from the last 18 years that I could share, but I had to stop at just a few. It's been 18 mostly wonderful years with my precious, loving husband, and I look forward to the rest of our lives together. I love you honey!

So, what have you not been doing this week?


Friday, April 9, 2010

A Perfectly Healthy Heart!

Letha had her one year post-occluder /ASD repair check-up today with Dr. Miller.
The appointment included a chest x-ray, an echo, an EKG, as well as the exam. Her heart is now normal size. There is no more distention of the right atrium or ventricle! The Amplatzer occluder is in its place and doing its job. By now her heart has probably formed skin over the occluder, so it is a permanent part of her now.

As far as the effects of the repair, Letha has no more asthma symptoms. She is able to run better and participate in activities that she avoided at all costs just a year ago. Not that she really likes to do these things, but she can do them. She has tripled the number sit ups and pacers she was able to do last year in gym class.

As we expected, everything looks perfect! And I thank God over and over for letting us find the ASD, for being able to repair it so easily and definitely for the changes it has brought to Letha’s health! What an AWESOME God we have!


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Happy Birthday Kevin!

This boy...

full of joy...

is FIVE...


I'm so blessed to be his mom! If you want to, read about what a gift he is and how he blessed our lives five years ago (you know, by clicking those links).

Photos courtesy of Jennifer McKinney Photography



Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Dear Mom,

The other day I watched as they took you back to surgery. I waited a couple of hours wondering how you were doing. I received the news that surgery had gone well and I waited some more while you were in recovery. I sat by your bedside after you were settled into your room and held your hand. Later, when the medication was making you sick, I held the plastic tub for you while you puked, and I held a washcloth to your head and tried to soothe your discomfort away. I helped you through the night by getting you on and off the bed pan and changing the pads on the bed.

It all made me think back over my life, how you were there to wait for me while I had surgeries: eye surgery, two tonsilectomies, labor & delivery, and three c-sections. I remember how you held my hair out of my face while I puked when I was sick. I remember how you soothed me in my discomfort. I don't remember, but I know you changed many a cloth diaper on my bottom. I remember how you were available for me night or day. How you fixed Chicken noodle soup when I had a cold or brought 7-up and "Gator-gum" when I had the stomach flu.

And as I lay in the room while you finally slept that night, I cried. I hoped that I could give back to you even a fraction of the love that you have shown me in my lifetime. It was hard to watch you in pain and sick because I love you. But it was really a blessing to be able to care for you in that time, because I love you.

I know that you are a very independent woman, that's how you raised me to be. I know that this is very hard for you to go through. It's hard to depend on others. It's hard to feel so weak and immobile. It's hard to let your daughter give you a shower. But I want you to know that it is a joy for me. I want to help you. I want to give back to you. I want to show you that you taught me love selflessly, to comfort the hurting, to have compassion for the weak and give of myself.

You are a strong woman. I know you will get through this. And I will appreciate every moment we have together because you're here and we can be together!

And, Mom, just in case I forgot to say it, I love you.

Your baby,

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Do You Ever Wish...

Do you ever wish you were bold enough to walk up to the lady at the grocery store and kindly tell her that it's tacky to wear a floral bra under a thin white T-shirt, you know nicely with lots of sympathy because obviously her mama didn't share that tidbit of lady-like etiquette with her?

I'm not the queen of Lady-likeness, and if I was doing something tasteless that I was clueless about, I would hope that some kind person would gently inform me of my lack of tact or etiquette. I am the type of person that would tell a completely stranger if her dress was tucked into her waistband after a trip to the restroom, or tell her she had spinach in her teeth from her lunch. But addressing someone's lingerie issues in public is a little more bold than I can go. Probably in part due to the fact that I'm sure there are women who purposely dress this way. Surely you wouldn't leave the house not knowing that everyone can see the rosebud pattern on your unmentionables. But isn't that the point of calling them unmentionables? That they aren't seen, so we don't have to mention them?

So, tell me, how bold are you? What would you and would you not tell a stranger about their appearance?


Monday, April 5, 2010

"Not MeMy Child!" Monday.

Trying somehing new this week with MckMama. Being brutally honest about what our children didn't do and livng to tell about it.

It was not my son this week that went up to nearly every stranger he saw at Del Taco and asked their names. This random sampling of strangers did not include a homeless man in a wheelchair. My son certainly did not accost this man by grabbing the arms of his wheel chair and demanding his name, which was James by the way.

It could not have been my son that grabbed at the stump of James' missing right leg demanding to know how his leg got broken off. No sir, that was not my child!

He did not turn around and grab the sunglasses of another stranger and try to put them on, nor did he try playing with the man's computer. My son is not grabby and has much better manners than this. I'm certain that this was not my child!

So, what haven't you or your children been doing this week?


Saturday, April 3, 2010

Rebel Thoughts.

It's been a crazy few weeks. We've had lots of out of the ordinary activity. My mom had surgery last week and we spent several evenings at the skilled care facility with her, as well as an afternoon learning how to help her get around once she would be able to come home. She came home today.

We had Spring break last week for all the kids and the boys' continued through this week. I'm glad because I had to work a few later nights and needed the extra help in the morning to get a few more hours of sleep. We didn't really do anything fun for Spring break until today when we went to the Rec Center to swim.

Thursday, April 1, was the one year anniversary of Letha's heart cath to place her Amplatzer occluder. The day kind of passed without me thinking about it(one of those things I thought of before it came along and after, but not on the day). I did schedule her one year check up with the cardiologist. So, I'll try to post an update after that appointment.

We attended a Passover Seder with our Messianic Jewish friends on Monday. It amazes me how much the Seder meal speaks of Christ and what he did for us on the cross. As a Christian you simply cannot attend a Seder without recognizing the symbolism of Jesus at every turn. And the cup of Redemption, which in a Jewish Seder is left untouched is the one that Christ took after supper and said, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this whenever you drink it in remembrance of me." WOW!

Today is Good Friday, which is now over but since I haven't gone to bed yet I can still talk about it in the present. We went to services tonight at church which consisted of a musical cantata of the 7 last words of Christ with scripture readings. Simple. Absolutely. Beautiful. Moving. The service ended in silence, except for the sound of nails being hammered into the cross. We came home and watched The Passion of the Christ. And, for the first time allowed our older children to watch it. Again and again I think how completely crazy it is that God loves me enough to put His son through that to take away my sin. I really believe that the movie couldn't possibly portray what actually happened to Jesus, even so, it's horribly, graphically, visually as much as I can handle conceptualizing what He went through for me. It was enough. Dayenu.

Tomorrow another busy day. Choir practice. Egg hunt, which I could do without. I'm just not into the whole "Easter" thing. I really wish as Christians we would stop participating in the secular side of this holy day. Easter itself is a pagan celebration of fertility. YUCK. Having my druthers, I'm sticking to wishing people a Happy Resurrection Sunday, on Sunday of course.

If I get a chance tomorrow, I'll try to post a few of the awesome pictures I got of the boys at the pool today. I have a LOT!

Good night.