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Do you ever feel STUCK? In 2000, I began looking for answers to some tough questions in my life. I'd searched high & low and finally conceded to search the promises found in the Bible. Those promises have sustained & guided me through the loss of a parent, the struggle with anxiety & depression, the loss of a valued relationship and so much more! I've found joy amid the pain. And, I want to share it with you!

25 January 2013

Dirty, Rotten Scoundrels!

What do "dirty, rotten scoundrels" have to do with LOVE? And what do "dirty, rotten scoundrels" have to do with walking a tightrope?  

My words today are aimed at ME. I've consistently battled against being a black & white girl when it comes to wrong & right. I've had a tough time knowing exactly how to love a person (or how to appropriately to show my love) when I don't necessary care too much for the person or condone their choices & behaviors. 

I am "balance" challenged most days!
Does anyone else find it difficult to walk that fine line between helping someone & enabling them to continue on their path of poor choices? And, what about the fine line between showing love to someone & appearing to support choices & behaviors

God is showing me daily--often moment by moment--that UNCONDITIONAL GODLY LOVE has nothing to do with wrong & right! Completely LOVING someone doesn't have to mean that I have to COMPLETELY agree with their choices. 

The circumstances of my life in the past 3-4 years have been a great awakening for me about God's love. I've never had a problem with loving my own children unconditionally... but, that's a mom thing isn't it? Even when we feel like we could string our kids up by their toenails, we seem to giggle inside & know that we still love them no matter what they do. 

But, how do we show LOVE & ACCEPTANCE to those who just don't seem to deserve it? I truly believe that the only way is through Christ. It doesn't seem to be a humanly possible thing... on my own. It's a miraculous to find that you truly love someone you don't really "like" that much :) 

And, for me to base my love upon right & wrong choices of others is very detrimental to my personal relationship with God. By taking the name of Christ & calling myself a Christian, I believe that I am being called to be a person of LOVE! The more I read God's word & the more that I talk with Him, the more convicted I am about loving without conditions. I can't say that it's easy. But, my spirit tells me that it's the only way my heart can be clear in front of the Lord. 

It's easy to say that LOVE is my guide. But truthfully, sometimes life gets in the way of knowing how to best show love. For me lately, it's a constant act of discipline & obedience to my Lord.

His words: 
  • "Don't just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good." Romans 12:9
  • "Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance." 1 Corinthians 13:17 
  • "Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works." James 2:26
  • "Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13:13

I'm so very thankful for the opportunity I have to serve as a volunteer in my home church, Madison Park Church of God, through Worship Arts & Women's Ministries. This note was written as I was working on a weekly Worship Arts note for them.

Linking with Ann Voskamp - A Holy Experience today... 

12 January 2013

Today's Joy Dare! 07 Jan 2013

In keeping with the One Thousand Gifts Joy Dare from Ann Voskamp, today the calendar says to make a note of the following gifts... today's Joy Dare...

07 January 2013

GRACE from my husband who loves me despite my winter blues (#1097)

GRACE from my girlfriends who read my "brief updates" that usually aren't that brief! (#1098)

Hi Friends,
I wanted to give you a quick update...
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Love you,

1099. GRACE from friends who understand that my husband is obsessed with his HiDef TV & wanted to bring his flat-screen over for the Notre Dame/Alabama game
since they have an older "bubble screen" TV
OH MY! (#1099)
Seriously? Take a TV over to friends' house?

"Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God's grace." 
Romans 6:14

January's FULL JoyDare List

2013 January ONE THOUSAND GIFTS #JoyDare

One Thousand Gifts (by Ann Voskamp)
#1000Gifts #JoyDare

Buy book here...      

I've taken the 1,000 Gifts Dare for 2013... and I am already to number... 
January 2013
Today I find JOY in...

Tues 1/01
3 gifts heard: 1. snoring of the LOML while I watched "When Harry Met Sally"  2. the cat purring sitting on the headboard 3. the news of baby piglets being born this morning :)

1079. a night that ended around 4am - 
however, the LOML was asleep beside me around 3am :)
1080. nowhere to go - nothing to do :)
1081. visiting brand new neighbor baby piglets :D
Born on 01/01/13 - 8 baby piglets to  Chesie
(a Cheshire White)
Wed 1/02
3 gifts outside, inside, on a plate: 
1082. covered with THICK frosting of frost today & a wonderful walk about

1083. warm hog barn full of sights, sounds & smells! 

1084. awesome leftovers for the LOML & I...  warmed up after 1st day back to work! 

Thurs 1/03
3 graces I overheard: 
1085. HEARD: the YouVersion on my iPad - reading aloud the word of God! 
1086. HEARD: children playing & getting along by giving apologies 
1087. HEARD (and FELT): my friends not giving me a hard time when I cried at the death of one of the little piglets

Fri 1/04
 3 gifts old, new, blue:

1088. A gift OLD... the house down the road which is over 150 years old... and such a beautiful place to see each day when I walk or drive somewhere :D

1089. A gift NEW... Chesie's baby piglets (born on the first day of the year) doing better (most of them)...
Dinner time :)
1090. A gift BLUE... the color of the sky on a snow-covered day...

Sat 1/05
 3 gifts of something I'm reading, making, seeing:
1091. READING - the Bible through in 2013 :D
1092. MAKING - new resolutions
Birthday present for the mother
of a soon to be here daughter :)

Sun 1/06
3 gifts your bag, your fridge, your heart: 1. pictures of loved ones 2. FOOD - many don't have that  3. assurance of a hope & a future! 
1094. church & breakfast with Tyler & Kelsey
1095. a Sunday afternoon nap
(despite an unhappy husband over the play-off games)
1096. a safe (yet very quiet) drive to/from Cinci to drop the kids off

Mon 1/07
3 graces from people you love...

1097. GRACE from my husband who loves me despite my winter blues
1098. GRACE from my girlfriends who read my "brief updates" that usually aren't that brief!
1099. GRACE from friends who understand that my husband is obsessed with his HiDef TV & wanted to bring his flat-screen over for the Notre Dame/Alabama game :O
Seriously? Take a TV over to friends' house?
Tues 1/08
Dusky light, surprising reflection, lovely shadow... 1. the sunsets in my new location  2. the stream along my walk 3. the long shadows that cover the snow on the lawn
1100. lunch w/daughter & the LOML
1101. contractions & cramps that calmed down!!
1102. loving children who might be needing some extra love!
Wed 1/09
A gift held, passed by, sat with...
1103. HELD: a gift from a friend for our soon-to-be here girl

1104. PASSED BY: the beauty along the way to work

1105. SAT WITH: memories of sitting by my father as he went to be with the LORD - will never be forgotten or feel any less significant 

Thur 1/10
A gift sour, sweet, just right... 1. my stomach was sour - but, I got to stay home from work & rest  2. my boss was sweet for understanding  3. the EXTRA rest was just right for making me feel better through the night!
1106. a quick walk on country roads
1107. good music on my iPod
(helps when you don't feel well!)
1108. lots of rest - perhaps due to being sick but, none the less :) 

Fri 1/11
3 yellow gifts of fresh mercy: not really sure about this one :) 
1109. feeling better
1110. work going well :)
1111. home on a Friday night
(I LOVE that!)

Sat 1/12
Something above, below, beside... 1. the Lord's plans are ABOVE my hopes 2. the ground below was mushy when I walked  3. the LOML (aka, my husband of almost 25 years) is a huge blessing as he walks beside me in this crazy chapter of our lives!
1112. walking outside with Ruthann & Koko - conversations that I pray will bring both of us closer to the women God knows we can be

1113. laundry for a new LIFE soon to be here

1114. time to write - again... FINALLY!

Sun 1/13
3 things about ME that I am grateful for: 1. crazy, passionate love for the LORD 2. stubborn about the promises of God 3. I don't mind being silly & having fun

1115. reflections of the sky in puddles (and PONDS) in the fields as we drove to church
1116. 3 hours sitting beside my sweet daughter (soon to be mother)

1117. relationship, connection, support from my Women's Ministries sister-friends

Mon 1/14
3 startling graces of God: 1. beauty from ashes 2. new mercies every morning from Him - no matter what!
3. sins forgiven & cast further than the east is from the west!
1118. text from a friend just to check up on me
1119. making kids smile by being "Mrs. Frizzle"
1120. Downton Abbey with the LOML

Tues 1/15
3 gifts worn, given away, shared: 1. layers to keep warm in NorthKids van! 2. hugs to kids who don't seem to get enough  3. stories about childbirth with my soon-to-be-a-mom daughter 
1121. 19 degrees & a beautiful sunrise!

1122. sitting by my daughter at her doctor's appt
1123. being worn out from a busy day (sounds bad but, really a blessing!)

Wed 1/16
3 witnessed blessings: 1. face to face w/Jesse  2. being there for my daughter giving birth to our sweet grand baby 3. new beginnings in many relationships
1124. 2:30am phone call from daughter in labor
1125. 3:30am at hospital beside my daughter
Approximately 1 hour before
giving birth!!
1126. 8:18am sweet, sweet Ayla Morgaine

Thur 1/17
A gift bringing laughter, prayer & quiet: This would have to be Ayla!
1127. a friend God sent as I was bursting into tears
1128. Jessica wanting me to be with her as much as possible
31 hours old 

1129. reconciliation between family members
Fri 1/18
3 gifts from God's Word: 1. Romans 8:1  2. Psalm 119:50 3. John 10:10
1130. getting ready to leave the hospital with a NEW life :)
1131. Mini Coopers being SO small

1132. first shared meal... in almost a year...

Sat 1/19
3 gifts that might never have been: 1. Ayla (we are glad our daughter chose LIFE) 2. a room full of family members that were estranged  3. our daughter as a mom
1133. visit by GreatGrandma B from Fort Wayne

1134. visit from Jessica's friend since the College Corner days!
Nikki is expecting Gunner any day now :) 
1135. an interruption in our romantic evening

Sun 1/20
THE DUE DATE -- and Ayla is 4 days old & home now!

3 gifts only seen up close:  1. baby's eyelashes  2. true love  3. a 4 leaf clover
1136. sleeping in w/the LOML beside me
 1137. Operation Keep Out the Possums - my hubby (aka the LOML) is too funny
1138. avoiding the basement!

Mon 1/21
a gift in sky, water, memory: 1. the sunrises & sunsets lately 2. reflections of God's glory 3. my own little red-haired girl
1139. first visit to DeeDee's house

1140. naps by the fire

1141. PINK dryer lint :)

Tues 1/22
3 gifts wrinkled, smoothed, unfolded: 1. me  2. my heart  3. the mysteries ahead will be unfolded by God's own hand!

1142. sleeping in heavenly peace

1143. the love of my family
my older sister can't stop sending
little care packages for Ayla
1144. a city-boy shooting a possum (don't ask)

Wed 1/23
3 gifts found in Christ: 1. hope   2. peace  3. assurance
1145. gaining weight
From 7lbs 5.5oz to 7lbs 15oz in 1 week!
1146. making a difference by being "Miss Frizzle" on the church day care van
1147.the awesome LOML possum catcher

Thur 1/24
3 things blue: 1. sky  2. ocean  3. every car that my father ever bought - LOL! 
1148. gorgeous sunrise on a VERY COLD morning

1149. listening to awesome music w/Ayla in the car as "Mommy" meets w/her professor
1150. it's almost Friday!

Fri 1/25
a grace borrowed, found, inherited: 1. lots of things for Ayla  2. a new hope  3. my family values
1151. Silly photo shoots with DeeDee

1152. There's nothing like a mother's love

1153. Friends who send me text pictures while I'm at work are the BEST!

Sat 1/26
a gift before dawn...
1154. woke up EARLY in the morning & had a great time of prayer
at noon...
1155. breakfast in bed by the LOML
after dark...
1156. a new little one born to Jessica's good friend Nikki

Sun 1/27
3 gifts in the kitchen: 1. my husband (who is enjoying cooking more & more lately) 2. 4 people around a dinner table that haven't been together for TOO long 3. a great view of the south field
1157. Jesse, Jessica & Ayla over for a YUMMY Sunday dinner
1158. Visitors from Cinci

1159. Family members with RED hair :)

Mon 1/28
3 graces found in friends:
1160. Melanie Denniston for letting me have time off to be with Jess & Ayla today
1161. Lisa Bitar & Kimberly Majeski for tangibly showing LOVE to my "girls"
1162. Bethann Webb for reaching out to us at the "BreastFeeding Club Meeting" 

Tues 1/29
a gift in a song heard, a soft word, a light seen: 1. Schumann - Byron Janis. Romance in F Sharp 2. whispering while Ayla sleeps 3. sunlight & shadows at Maplewood Cemetery 
1163. Jessica back to classes at AU = me babysitter :)
1164. wonderful classical music & heated car seats
1165. working on my bad attitude about working part-time :/

Wed 1/30
3 old things seen new: 1. places now with new meanings  2. former failures as learning opportunities  3. reusing things from when my own 2 children were babies
1166. Deluxe Donuts - went there in college - today went there with Ayla

1167. 1st pediatician appt w/Ayla
1168. Dinner at Bonge's w/the LOML

Thur 1/31
a gift seen on a paper, in a person, in a picture... 
1169. PAPER: adorable baby cards that still keep coming in
1170. PERSON: AYLA - can't get enough of her!!
1171. PICTURE after picture after picture of our sweet grand daughter!

JANUARY 2013 #1000Gifts #JoyDare

I've taken the 1,000 Gifts Dare for 2013... click on the name of each month below for each one...

One Thousand Gifts (by Ann Voskamp)
#1000Gifts #JoyDare

Buy book here...