Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Flight of Fancy

Back in June, I joined a CAL (crochet along) sponsored by Scheepjes.  We had the option of purchasing one of the kits that the designer put together or to use our own yarn.

I decided to go with the hummingbird kit.  And then later added the heron kit.

Each week, another clue was released.  Over the next 11 weeks, I crocheted 130 motifs (65 for each shawl).

Blocked them.  Bamboo skewers are great for this!

And then joined them together.  I added beads at the joins for a bit of extra sparkle.

So far only the heron has taken flight.  The hummingbird is in the process of being joined together.  Hopefully it won't be too much longer before it gets the chance to spread it's wings =)

Through this whole process, I learned some new techniques and got to work with some fabulous yarn.  I'm really excited to see what the next CAL is.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Are We Living Out the Scriptures?

We all go through different stages as we grow in our faith.  The first stage we go through is “curious.”  In this stage we are starting to ask questions about God and wonder if He can really change our lives.  People in this stage need to be encouraged to ask questions, but they also need to be encouraged to accept the answers, even if it’s not what they want to hear.  They need to be encouraged to move from this stage to becoming believers.

The second stage is “believers.”  At this point, they have decided to follow Christ.  Believers need encouragement to spend time in the Word, to memorize Scripture and to be involved in a Bible- believing church.  Many people spend the majority of their Christian life in this stage, but they really need to be encouraged to become disciples.

*Who were the Disciples?

They were the men that Jesus poured more of Himself into.  They were the ones that knew Him the best.  They were the ones that Jesus taught and shared the most with.  Most of us would think that we all need to be disciples, and that is true, but, more than that, we need to be disciple- makers.

*What would have happened if the Disciples stayed disciples?

If the Disciples would have remained disciples, Christianity would have died out with them.  Instead, they became disciple- makers.  Just as Jesus had poured Himself into them, they poured themselves into others, equipping them to become disciple- makers.  Matthew, Mark and Luke all record Jesus saying “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.”

Matthew 4:19- Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

Mark 1:17- Then Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”

Luke 5:9-11- For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon.  And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid.  From now on you will catch men.” So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him.

Even Paul became a disciple- maker when he taught Timothy.

1 Timothy 1:2- To Timothy, a true son in the faith

*What does this mean for us?

It means that we need to be Disciples of Christ, learning from Him, but then we need to be disciple- makers, going out to make disciples of others.  The Great Commission tells us to go and make disciples of all nations.

Matthew 28:19-20- Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen.

Just because we make a commitment to follow Christ does not mean that our spiritual journey is complete.  All Christians should be seeking to know God better.  Paul prayed for believers everywhere to “keep growing in your knowledge and understanding (Phil 1:9) and desired that Christ would “be more and more at home in your hearts” (Eph 3:17).

Philippians 1:9- And I pray this: that your love will keep on growing in knowledge and every kind of discernment

Ephesians 3:17-19- that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height- to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Psalm 105 tells us to seek the Lord and to keep seeking after Him.  We are to continually be seeking to know Christ better so that we can fulfill the Great Commission.

Psalm 105:4- Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face evermore!

At the beginning of each year, I write down my goals for the year.  This year, my spiritual goal was to follow Ezra’s threefold purpose.  Ezra 7:10 tells us what that is: to study the law, to obey it and to teach it.  I want to study God’s Word, more specifically, the teachings of Christ, so that I can obey what God has told us to do.  And then, as I am applying those teachings to my life (obeying the law), I want to teach others.  As I obey the Word, I hope to become more like Christ in all that I do.

Ezra 7:10- For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel.

Paul reminds us in Romans to not be conformed to this world, but rather to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.  We are not to let the things of this world become idols in our life.  We are not to let ourselves look and behave no differently than the rest of the world.  Remember, we are to be salt and light to the world.  In 2 Timothy, he reminds us that all Scripture is inspired by God and is useful training so that we can be equipped for any good work.

Romans 12:2- And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

2 Timothy 3:16-17- All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Paul tells us in 1 Timothy that we should be an example to the believers in speech (do you gossip? do talk down about people?) in conduct (do you try to live in such a way that no one can say anything bad about you?) in love, in faith and in purity.  Everything that we do shows the world what Christians are like.  If we aren't showing them Jesus, then who are we showing them?

1 Timothy 4:12-13: Let no one despise your youth; instead, you should be an example to the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.  Until I come, give your attention to public reading, exhortation and teaching.

Over the next few weeks, I'm going to be digging into Matthew.  This book contains a considerable amount of teaching on what it means to be a disciple of Christ.

Are you ready to live out the Scriptures in your life?

Friday, September 11, 2015

Snake, Rattle and Roll

Two years ago, shortly after we moved to OK, I had my first run in with a rattle snake...  And, to make matters worse, it was a zombie rattle snake.  Don't believe me?  Just read what I wrote about it back then...  The Snake Incident

I've gone blissfully about the business of getting a homestead up and running and haven't really thought about rattle snakes.  Oh sure, I still think about them and watch for them when I'm out, but I don't really think about them.  Like thinking there's going to be one coiled up under the rabbit hutch.

But, two weeks ago, that's exactly where I found one.  Well, actually my mother- in- love saw it first.  As she quietly said "I think there's a rattlesnake under there" and backed away, I leaned over to get a better look.  Yup, there's a coon tail under there.  (In this part of OK, western diamond backs are called coon tails because of the black and white banding by the rattle.)

So, I headed into the house to get my boots and .22 pistol and some extra ammo (remembering the last snake incident).  Boots because everyone does chores in flip flops and the pistol because it had at least 6 shots in it.

Back outside, I took aim (darn snake was at the far corner and it was getting dark out).  Six shots and he barely moved.  Deep breath, reload the pistol.  Darn it, how do I get the barrel open?  Another 6 shots and the snake starts moving. Eek!  It's coming out at me?  What do I do?

Grab the shovel, hoping it's sharp enough to cut the head off, and slam the edge down on the neck (about 6" below the head).  Nope, not sharp enough.  Now what...

Junior is now behind me and I ask him to reload the pistol.  I'm seriously doubting I'll be able to steady my aim enough to hit the head.  Wait!

"Tell Grandma to get the pitchfork!"

My sweet mother- in- love brings it over and stabs the snake in the body...  "No, no! Stab it through the head!"


"Girly, go call daddy and tell him what's going on."  Because, Sarge was at work.  Again.

"Daddy says he'll be home in 30 minutes."

Thirty minutes later, I'm still standing there with the shovel in one hand and the pitchfork in the other.  There was no way I was going to have another zombie snake.  

While I'm standing there, watching the snake continue to move, I got to thinking about Genesis 3.  Especially verse 15.  

"And I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel."

I'm certainly glad I was able to crush his head without him striking my heel...

Sarge finally got home and pulled out his handy dandy snake handling snare so we could drag the snake out of the rabbit area.  Once we got it out in the yard, we measured it at 64".  Gulp, that's a big one.

Yeah, even though I know it's dead, I still don't want to be standing by it.  And here you can see that it's bigger around than my wrist and longer than I am tall (I'm 64").  Sarge got to work on skinning it, because it is a really pretty pattern...

In the light of day, without the head (and about 5" of neck) the skin measured out at 6'2".  The thing keeps getting bigger and bigger!

Sarge thought this was all very cool.  He but the head in a jar of alcohol and took it to work the next day.  Once the hide was tanned, he took that in too.  He's going to be doing a snake presentation for the kids in three different grades over the next couple weeks.

Because Sarge is up for just about anything, he decided he wanted to save the meat.  For Junior's birthday, we wrapped one section in tin foil with potatoes, onions and carrots.  We cooked it in the fire, over the hot coals.

We took another section and smoked it.  We'll definitely be smoking the other sections.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Like a Child

The other day, I was watching Sweet Pea as she realized daddy was home.  A huge smile lit up her face and she started running towards him calling “Oshie! Oshie!”  She ran to him with open arms fully expecting him to pick her up and hug her tight.  And he did exactly what she expected him to do.

Somewhere along the way, I’ve lost that wild abandon, that trusting without thought; not only in my everyday life, but also in my spiritual life.

What can we learn from how kids embrace life?  Can we learn to express ourselves boldly, to dream big dreams, to take risks?  Can we learn to trust God wholeheartedly?

Luke 18: 15-17 says “Then they also brought infants to Him that He might touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them.  But Jesus called them to Him and said, ‘Let the little children come to Me and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.  Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.’”

How do we enter the kingdom as a little child?  Think back to the first part, where Sweet Pea flung out her arms and ran to her daddy.  We need to follow that example.  We need to fling open our hearts and embrace faith with a wild abandon.  We need to be teachable and trust God the same way that children trust their parents- wholeheartedly.  We need to accept it as a gift and not something we can purchase or earn.  We need to come to God without prejudice, without pride, without ambition.  We need to come with meekness and humility.

Proverbs 22:4: By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, and honor and life.

1 Peter 5:5: Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders.  Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

To be humble means to be modest.  To not be proud or arrogant.  For the Christian, it means to think of others more than your think of yourself.  To put the needs of others above your own needs.

1 Timothy 6:11: But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. 

Colossians 3:12: Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness , longsuffering;

To have a spirit of meekness does not mean that you allow others to walk all over you.  It means to be gentle, to be kind. 

Sometimes Sweet Pea flings herself into daddy’s arms, and other times she climbs in his lap to snuggle in and rest.  The day has worn her out, or she isn’t feeling well, and she needs to know that she can rest safe and be taken care of.

Just as a child will come to his parents when he is tired and hungry, we also need to come to God for rest.  We need to come to him for the peace that comes from being under His protection, His care.

Psalm 62:5-6 says “Find rest, oh my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken.”

What is this rest for the soul?  Why does it seem so elusive?  Dietrich Bonhoeffer said in his Sermon to the German –Speaking Congregation in Barcelona on July 15, 1928:
“We are nervous about quietness or rest.  We are so used to restlessness and noise that we feel uncomfortable in the stillness.  And therefore we run away from rest, we chase from one event to another, lest, for a moment, we find ourselves face-to-face with ourselves alone.  We are afraid to look at ourselves in the mirror.  We are bored with ourselves.  And it is often the most miserable and fruitless hour when we have to be alone with ourselves.
But it is not only fear of being alone with ourselves, facing up to who we are and our need to be cleansed, but far more we are afraid to be alone with God, lest He disturb our aloneness and discover us and deal with us.  We fear that He will draw us into a one-on-one relationship and chide us according to His will.  We are afraid of such an uncomfortable personal encounter with God, and therefore we avoid it, even dismissing thoughts about God in case He comes too near.  It would be terrible to have to look God in the face and be responsible to Him.”

What can we do to experience this rest that we so desperately need?  We need to be willing to spend time alone with God.  We need to let ourselves be still before Him.  We need to be in the Word daily and we need to pray without ceasing.  Only then can we find rest in God alone.

Psalm 46:10: Be still and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

Matthew 4:4: But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”

1Thessalonians 5:17: pray without ceasing

Sometimes Sweet Pea hides from daddy.  When she’s found a pair of scissors and has cut up something of his, she hides to avoid getting disciplined.  She hasn’t learned yet that discipline from the one who loves her is never a terrible thing to be endured, but rather a way for her to become mature.

Just like a child hiding from his parents because he’s done something wrong, we hide from God to avoid facing up to ourselves.  But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Which one of us would ever turn our child away?  Or give him something evil when he’s asked for something good?  Jesus said in Luke 11:11-13:
“If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead?  Of if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?  If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”

We have a heavenly Father who is so much greater than our earthly father.  We should never be afraid to come to Him with arms flung wide in joyful exuberance, when we need rest for our weary souls, or when we need to seek forgiveness.  Our heart’s cry should be “Abba, Father.”

Galatians 4:6: And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”

Monday, July 20, 2015


This last week has been kind of rough.  I have a family member who has been struggling with depression.  They have gone through multiple medications and ECT.  But nothing seems to be helping.  Early this week they were checked into a hospital for round the clock monitoring.

And it got me thinking about hope and peace.  How do we find it in our lives?  Then in church, one of the hymns we sang was “Because He Lives” and the chorus struck me.

“Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!

Where do I find hope?  When I’m struggling and the darkness is closing in, where do I turn?

Psalm 62: (HCSB)

Rest in God alone, my soul,
for my hope comes from Him.

Hope comes from God, freely given to those who have called on His name.

(Romans 10:9: If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

1 John 1:9 (HCSB)

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.)

1 John 5:13 (NKJV)
13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life,[a] and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.

But that doesn’t mean our lives are without trials and tribulations.  We still struggle with things because we live in a fallen world.  But instead of feeling hopeless, we can rejoice in hope.

Romans 12:12 Version (NKJV)

12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;

With this hope, we can have peace. 

Isaiah 26: (HCSB)

You will keep the mind that is dependent on You
in perfect peace,for it is trusting in You.

Peace.  Knowing that in the midst of the storm, in the midst of the waves there is an anchor for our souls.  A lighthouse that we can focus on to find our way to the shore once again.
We need to believe there is a reason for our trials. God is not far off and unconcerned. He is in control, using the circumstances in our lives to transform us from what we are into what He wants us to become. We need to accept trials and tests and understand what they are doing for us.
When Sarge was deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq, some of my friends couldn’t understand how I could be so calm about it.  There were still times when I struggled and was fearful about all the “what ifs.”  But knowing there wasn’t anything I could change by worrying, I made the effort to rest in Jesus’ gift of peace.

John 14:27 (HCSB)

27 “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Your heart must not be troubled or fearful.

Our peace was tested again four years later, when Sweet Pea was born and we learned that she would need open heart surgery.  I remember sitting in the hospital waiting for her to come out of surgery with a feeling of peace.  Other parents in the waiting room that day were pacing back and forth, looking fearful every time a doctor came out to speak to a family.  I knew that Sweet Pea was being bathed in the prayers of our church family.  I knew that they were praying for a successful surgery, but they were also praying that Sarge and I would have peace in the situation.
We’ve faced other trials that have tested our hope and our peace.  And every time we feel like things are spinning out of control, we know we just need to focus on the One who is in control.  By allowing Him and the Holy Spirit to work through and in our lives, we know that the spinning will stop and we will continue to grow in our faith.  And as we continue to grow, the fruit of the Spirit becomes more and more evident in our lives. 

Galatians 5:22-23New King James Version (NKJV)

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

As we continue to grow and mature as Christians, we can look towards the future with peace and hope and with a blessed assurance of what is to come.

Blessed Assurance By Fanny Crosby
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.
This is my story, this is my song,
praising my Savior all the day long;
this is my story, this is my song,
praising my Savior all the day long.
Perfect submission, perfect delight!
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.
This is my story, this is my song,
praising my Savior all the day long;
this is my story, this is my song,
praising my Savior all the day long.
Perfect submission, all is at rest!
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.
This is my story, this is my song,
praising my Savior all the day long;
this is my story, this is my song,
praising my Savior all the day long.

 Disclaimer:  It is always important to seek out professional help when dealing with severe depression.  

Monday, July 13, 2015

Lessons from the Garden

Genesis 2:8-9: The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

This Garden was perfection.  Everything that was needed was there.  It required no work to produce an abundance of food for Adam and Eve.  The Garden of Eden was a perfect gift to the first humans.

But then sin entered the world and the garden (and mankind) was cursed, changed, but not for the better.

Genesis 3:17-19: Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’:
“Cursed is the ground for your sake;
In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life.18 Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you,And you shall eat the herb of the field.19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground,For out of it you were taken;For dust you are,And to dust you shall return.”

When we were first looking at our land, it looked beautiful from the road.  We saw the tall trees and marveled at the views.  But then we started walking through and discovered the thorns and vines.  The way became impassible.How much does this resemble our lives before Christ?  We might look good on the outside, but the inside is a horrible mess.The land needed to be redeemed. It too hard work to clear places to be usable.  Heavy equipment, sweat equity and time all need to be given and used to clear an area for a house, a barn and a garden.

Christ came to redeem our lives.  The cross was not easy.  He was humiliated, beaten and rejected.   

Isaiah 53:3: He is despised and rejected by men,A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

But through that, came the gift of eternal life for everyone.

Galatians 3:13: Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”)

I John 1:9: If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Hebrews 9:12: Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.

I Corinthians 1:30: But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption

This last spring, we spent a lot of time clearing a patch of land for the garden.  It took weeks of hard work to get the thorns out and the soil ready.  Then we planted our plants.  We had the Genesis 2 garden.  Now all we had to do was sit back and wait for the fruits and vegetables to be ready.

But that's not what happened, is it?  Instead of a Genesis 2 garden, we ended up with a Genesis 3 garden full of thorns and weeds.  We "forgot" that we needed to keep working the garden for it to produce a harvest.  We "forgot" that we needed to be in the garden daily, working to keep the weeds and thorns out.

This last week I spent two days reclaiming the garden.  And as I looked at the garden plants that were now visible, I was struck by how much the garden resembles my spiritual walk.  Just like the garden  needed to be reclaimed, sometimes my thoughts and actions need to be reclaimed.

To keep the garden from falling back into weeds and thorns, I have to be out there daily, working.  And so I have to work daily at keeping the weeds and thorns our of my life.  How?  By being in the Word daily, by praying daily and by allowing the Holy Spirit to work in and through me.

Psalm 119:105: Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. 

Eventually, the garden will be what I want it to be.  It will produce food for my family.  I will be free of weeds and thorns.  It will be beautiful.  It will start to resemble the Genesis 2 garden once again.  It won't be perfect, but it will be closer that it was today.

Eventually, through daily work by the Holy Spirit (sanctification), my life will resemble what God wants my life to be too.

Ephesians 1:13-14: In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who[a] is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

It can be difficult to look at the garden and not see what we want.  To sit and realize that it's going to take time to see the fruits (and vegetables) of our labor, to be able to enjoy a bountiful harvest.

It can be difficult to face the same struggles again and again in our lives.  We need to be patient enough to realize that sanctification is an on going process that will not be finished until we hear "Well done good and faithful servant."

Matthew 25:21: His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Journey Off the Map

A couple weeks ago, our church hosted their summer VBS program.  It was called Journey Off the Map and the kids were treated to rooms decorated like the jungle.

My mother in love and I were in charge of the meals each night.  Using the *jungle* theme, we came up with some creative options.

Chicken nuggets, mac and cheese and graham crackers with chocolate frosting and mini marshmallows

Taco salad using Fritos instead of shells, chips and salsa, cookies and juice

We also had Knapsack bites (pizza rolls) and firewood (french fries), butterfly wings (sandwiches cut to look like butterflies) and survival sacks (bags of chips).

The last night was the program and we had snacks.  I ended up decorating 5 dozen cupcakes with sharks (Squish really wanted sharks), spiders, snakes and flowers.

All in all, it was a lot of fun.  I'm already looking forward to next year and the crazy meals we can plan =)