Saturday, February 28, 2009

mom & dad...

my parents arrived yesterday from collierville, tennessee. they'll be with us for a week. we plan to see the dead sea scrolls, chihuly at the desert botanical gardens, maybe a spring training game and hopefully dad will fix some memphis B-B-Q while he's here! we're so excited for them to meet our sweet friends, visit our church and "do life" with us for the week!






Friday, February 27, 2009

perfect love...

"We need have no fear of someone who loves us perfectly. His perfect love for us eliminates all dread of what He might do to us. If we are afraid, it is for fear of what He might do to us, and shows that we are not fully convinced that He really loves us." - I John 4:18

"God is love. Everything He does is love in action. Our problem is we have such a limited picture of what love is all about. We've all been hurt and disappointed by human love, the kind that rewards us and accepts us when we're good and punishes and rejects us when we're bad. But that is not like God's love at all." - Power in Praise, Merlin Carothers

May God ease those hurts we've all experienced away. May I extend gracious love to those around me. May I rest in His perfect love for me, and may I truly believe that He intends good for me in each and every thing that comes my way. May His perfect love cast out all my fear so that I can love the way He wants me to.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

nothing left undone...


what are You up to, Lord?
i sense You leading me

the plan not in full view
for my simple eyes to see

but i know You're doing something
and i will seek Your plan to know

set my feet the right direction
and tell me where to go

in Your Word You said, "step out!
step out, possess the land!"

and because Israel didn't
blessings went unclaimed

o, God - i don't want to miss any
blessings You've prepared for me

help me to be obedient
give me eyes to see

the direction You are leading
the steps You planned just for me

nothing left undone
prayer and faith are the keys

here i am, Father
if it pleases You, use me

the path You will make straight
the foundation strongly laid

wisdom to know the steps
by the faith You also gave


*jb*

Joshua 1:3 - I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised.
(Israel claimed about 1/3 of the land God promised to them)

Ephesians 2:10 - For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

seeking His plans...


I've started praying in earnest about our school plans for next year. Each year it has been the same. I begin with these questions:

~what has been good, fruitful this year? what do we keep?
~what has not worked so well? what do we let go?
~how have our children changed this year? what do we need to do differently?

Then the big question...
What would you have us do next year?

This is when the surrender begins...not my plans, Father, but Yours! May I not be burdened by what the world says we need to do, or even what other homeschooling families are doing. It is the burden You give that I want to carry.

The measure:
"Everything is permissable
but not everything is profitable." ICor.10:23

The method:
"Discernment is not a matter of simply telling the difference between right and wrong; rather, it is telling the difference between right and almost right." -Charles Spurgeon

The means:
"If you need wisdom, if you want to know what God wants you to do, ask Him and will gladly tell you." James 1:5



God has been so faithful to lay out His plan each year. I will seek Him and I know He will lead me.


Savior Like A Shepherd Lead Us

Savior, like a shepherd lead us, much we need Thy tender care;
In Thy pleasant pastures feed us, for our use Thy folds prepare.
Blessèd Jesus, blessèd Jesus! Thou hast bought us, Thine we are.
Blessèd Jesus, blessèd Jesus! Thou hast bought us, Thine we are.

We are Thine, Thou dost befriend us, be the guardian of our way;
Keep Thy flock, from sin defend us, seek us when we go astray.
Blessèd Jesus, blessèd Jesus! Hear, O hear us when we pray.
Blessèd Jesus, blessèd Jesus! Hear, O hear us when we pray.

Thou hast promised to receive us, poor and sinful though we be;
Thou hast mercy to relieve us, grace to cleanse and power to free.
Blessèd Jesus, blessèd Jesus! We will early turn to Thee.
Blessèd Jesus, blessèd Jesus! We will early turn to Thee.

Early let us seek Thy favor, early let us do Thy will;
Blessèd Lord and only Savior, with Thy love our bosoms fill.
Blessèd Jesus, blessèd Jesus! Thou hast loved us, love us still.
Blessèd Jesus, blessèd Jesus! Thou hast loved us, love us still.

~Dorothy Thrupp, 1836

Saturday, February 21, 2009

before i even knew…













this bitter root You showed to me
came as a surprise
i didn’t know that deep within
i harbored in disguise

a root that sat there waiting
for a time to show itself
held so deep inside me
a hurt i truly felt

but You, Lord in Your goodness
showed me it was there
before it sank too deep in me
or i knew that it was there

help me to each day
submit my heart to You
knowing that I cannot see
what for You is in plain view

keep the pathway open
that leads me to Your throne
removing any sinful thing
prompting from You alone

search me Lord and try me
and see if there may be
something in me Father
that might keep me from Thee

i trust you to reveal it
to keep me close to You
where i’ll find grace and mercy
each day that I walk through


*jb*

Hebrews 4:14-16
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

saturdays...


skies of blue
breeze in leaves
grass so green
warmth of sun
pink & yellow flowers bloom
all reminding me of You

basketballs bounce
tennis shoes squeak
dogs run around
telephone rings
kids giggling, joking too
all reminding me of You

quiet for a bit
think for awhile
blending, mixing
watercolors run
yielding control
all reminding me of You

family time
golf bags & shoes
cactus, mountains, cart paths
father’s advice
everybody smiles
all reminding me of you

showers for all
fresh scent of clean
pink on our noses
smooth silky lotion
freckles run together
all reminding me of You

sizzle on the grill
evening settles in
more time together
end of the day
thankful for blessings
all reminding me of You

*jb*

I Thess. 5:16
Be joyful always.

His plans...


you know how the Bible reassures us over and over that our Lord has a plan, that He is over all, that we may think we have our plans, but it is He who controls our steps...

i am so thankful! as I look back at all the places our family has moved (we've lived in 5 different states in the past 14 years) i so see His providence to have us just where we are right now! He has blessed us with precious friends in this desert place, so different than our southern home, but the same warmth and kinship found with authentic Christian friends!

today, i am going outside to enjoy this beautiful Arizona sunshine and be thankful!!! may you sense my prayers of thanksgiving for each one who takes a minute to visit here! my heart is full of gratefulness!

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ ~Eph.1:3

For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers ~Eph. 1:15&16

Thursday, February 19, 2009

the pruning season…




my friend, Kim, gave me some beautiful lemons from the trees in her backyard. i immediately came home and made my grandmother's yummy lemon icebox pie! i put some of the lemons in a bowl on my counter. they're so pretty. i love the ones with leaves still attached! the pretty fruit inspired this poem!

the pruning season…

it is a pruning season
for some of my dear friends
they bend and break and yield
to the Gardener’s pruning hand

this season is so painful
and oft times brings a tear
but the hope of fruitful harvest
helps to keep the vision clear

the vision? one of bounty
where the Gardener is well-pleased
how to catch that vision?
it’s best viewed from the knees

i know you’re tired and weary
the ground is watered from your tears
my prayer for you: be thankful
the Gardener is so near

and when the season’s over
and the buds to fruit progress
the pruning then remembered
with the highest blessedness


*jb*

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

More of You…

Let my words, Lord, winsome be
Bringing glory just to Thee

Teach me, teach me, Lord I plead
To let others see You in me

Deeper, deeper I want to go
More of You I want to know

Let me not be satisfied
With the older things passed by

Take me to a newer place
Where I learn more to seek Your face

Roots that go down deep in soil
Fertile, rich. Where in life’s toil

I will find a growing place
To spread out wide, where I’ll be braced

So when the winds and rain both come
I will find in You the sum

Of all I hope, of all I need
This is my prayer. This is my plea.


*jb*

Colossians 1:9&10
So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of His will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.

thanksgiving & praise...


i'm reading a book my sweet friend ,Christi, recommended. It is called Prison to Praise. it is one of the oddest little books I’ve ever picked up. this is silly, I guess, but I am drawn to books that have beautiful covers. wouldn’t you think a “praise” book would have a beautiful cover? well, this one doesn’t! the cover is a series of snapshots of a man, Merlin Carothers. when It first came in my mailbox, I thought, this may not be the right book, but it is! he tells a wonderful story of how God worked in his life to draw him to Himself and then taught him the power of praise and thankfulness.

when the Lord over and over again brings up a topic in my life, I know I need to pay attention! well, the topic lately is thanksgiving and praise! He wakes me up each day with such a thankful heart. I really do get out of bed so glad I’m about to spend time with Him!

anyway, sweet Merlin, reminds the people he encounters as an army chaplain, over and over “…in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you…all things work together for good to them that love the Lord.” he relates that, “Jesus didn’t promise to change the circumstances around us, but He did promise great peace and pure joy to those who would learn to believe that God actually controls all things. The very act of praise releases the power of God into a set of circumstances…” imagine, we KNOW the will of God for us! the God of the universe tells us, in His Word, what He wants us to do…praise Him, thank Him, despite our circumstances!

so, I will thank Him that again this year I don’t know what our home schooling will look like next year. I will thank Him that there are relationships in my life where communication is sometimes difficult. I will thank Him that my sweet, extended family lives on the other side of the country, and speaking of this country…I will thank Him that He is in control there too!

“gratitude of mind for the favorable outcome of things, patience in adversity, and also incredible freedom from worry about the future, all necessarily follow upon this knowledge (of God’s Providence)…ignorance of Providence is the ultimate of all miseries; the highest blessedness lies in the knowledge of it.” ~ john calvin

Monday, February 16, 2009

It Happened on the Brooklyn Subway

Our pastor mentioned this story yesterday as we talked about God's providence. What a comfort to know He has a plan and that He is intimately involved because He loves us so very much!


Marcel Sternberger was a man of nearly 50, with white hair, brown
eyes, and the joy of a czardas dancer of his native Hungary. He always
took the 9:09 Long Island Railroad train from his home to Woodside,
N.Y.., where he caught a subway into New York City.
On the morning of January 10, 1948, Sternberger boarded the 9:09 as
usual. On the way, he suddenly decided to visit Laszlo Victor, a
Hungarian friend who lived in Brooklyn and was ill.
Sternberger changed to the subway for Brooklyn, went to his friend’s
house, and stayed until mid-afternoon. He then boarded a Manhattanbound
subway for his office. Here is Marcel’s incredible story:
The car was crowded, and there seemed to be no chance of a seat. But
just as I entered, a man sitting by the door suddenly left, and I sat in
the empty seat. I noticed a man who was probably in his late 30s. He
was reading a Hungarian-language newspaper, and I said in
Hungarian, “I hope you don’t mind if I look at your paper.”
The man seemed surprised to be addressed in his native language. But
he answered, “You may read it now. I’ll have time later on.”
During the half-hour ride to town, we talked. He said his name was
Bela Paskin. A law student when World War II started, he had been put
into a German labor group and sent to the Ukraine. Later he was
captured by the Russians and put to work burying the German dead.
After the war, he walked hundreds of miles on foot until he reached his
home in Debrecen, a large city in eastern Hungary.
I knew Debrecen quite well, and we talked about it for a while. Then he
told me the rest of his story. When he went to the apartment where his
father, mother, brothers and sisters lived, he found strangers living
there. Then he went upstairs to the apartment that he and his wife
once had. It also was occupied by strangers. None of them had ever
heard of his family.
As he was leaving, full of sadness, a boy ran after him, calling “Paskin
bacsi! Paskin bacsi!” The child was the son of some old neighbors of
his. He went to the boy’s home and talked to his parents. “Your whole
family is dead,” they told him. “The Nazis took them and your wife to
Auschwitz.”
Paskin gave up all hope. A few days later, too heartsick to remain any
longer in Hungary, he set out again on foot until he reached Paris. He
immigrated to the United States in October 1947, just three months
before I met him.
All the time he had been talking, I kept thinking that somehow his
story seemed familiar. A young woman whom I had met recently at the
home of friends had also been from Debrecen; she had been sent to
Auschwitz; from there she had been transferred to work in a German
factory. Her relatives had been killed in the gas chambers. Later she
was freed by the Americans and was brought here in the first boatload
in 1946. Her story moved me so much that I had written down her
address and phone number.
It seemed impossible that there could be any connection between
these two people, but as I neared my station, I looked in my address
book. I asked, “Was your wife’s name Marya?”
He turned pale. “Yes!” he answered. “How did you know?”
He looked as if he were about to faint.
I said, “Let’s get off the train.” I took him by the arm at the next station
and led him to a phone booth. He stood there like a man in a
daydream while I dialed her phone number.
I told her who I was and asked her to describe her husband. She
seemed surprised at the question, but gave me a description. Then I
asked her where she had lived in Debrecen, and she told me the
address.
Asking her to hold the line, I turned to Paskin and said, “Did you and
your wife live on such-and-such a street?”
“Yes!” Bela said. He was white as a sheet.
“Try to be calm. Something miraculous is about to happen to you.
Here, take this telephone and talk to your wife!”
His eyes were filled with tears. He took the telephone, listened to his
wife’s voice, and then suddenly cried, “This is Bela! This is Bela!” and
he began to shout wildly.
“Stay where you are,” I told Marya. “I am sending your husband to you.
He will be there in a few minutes.”
Bela was crying like a baby and saying over and over again. “It is my
wife. I go to my wife!”
Putting Paskin into a taxicab, I directed the driver to take him to
Marya’s address, paid the fare, and said goodbye.
Bela Paskin’s meeting with his wife was so emotion that afterward
neither he nor Marya could remember much about it.
“I remember only that when I left the phone, I walked to the mirror like
in a dream to see if maybe my hair had turned gray,” she said later.
“The next thing I know, a taxi stops in front of the house, and it is my
husband who comes toward me. Only this I know—that I was happy for
the first time in many years.....
“Even now it is difficult to believe that it happened. We have both
suffered so much. Each time my husband goes from the house, I say to
myself, “Will anything happen to take him from me again?”
“God has brought us together,” he says simply. “It was meant to be.”
Was it chance that made Marcel Sternberger suddenly decided to visit
his sick friend and take a subway line that he had never ridden before?
Was it chance that caused the man sitting by the door of the car to
rush out just as Sternberger came in? Was it chance that caused Bela
Paskin to be sitting beside Sternberger, reading a Hungarian
newspaper'
Was it chance—or did God ride the Brooklyn subway that afternoon'




Paul Deutschman, Great Stories Remembered, edited and compiled by
Joe L. Wheeler, Focus on the Family Publishers, December 1996.

Friday, February 13, 2009

last day of Teen Pact...


Well, one more day of Teen Pact. We have been so tired when we've come home in the afternoons. Elle will go today for the one-day program, and Sam will be in the public speaking class today. What a great program! They have learned so much about how the legislative process works and what leadership looks like. At the graduation ceremony yesterday, they introduced all the student leadership. Not one leader was above age 19. They were professional, confident, humble, funny and loving all at the same time! An amazing group of students!

I was thinking about doing this "good thing" and about how tired we have been at the end of each day. In John 4:6, the Bible tells us, "Jacob's well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime." I just LOVE that He came here and became one of us! That He felt tired just like we do, even in doing good things. What a Savior! That He could relate to our weariness...Give us strength for this day, Lord, and help us to be a blessing to those You put in our way.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

between the bedroom & coffee..


the other night at our small group, my friend, Valerie, said a funny thing. she said sometimes between the bedroom and coffee in the morning, alot can happen! she's right. my husband and i have a kind of deal that i won't be too cheery to him in the mornings before he's fully awake, or i may get my feelings hurt right at the start of the day. if we can just slow down a minute and before even getting out of bed say, "this is the day the Lord has made. i will rejoice and be glad in it." it will be a blessing all through the day. a grateful heart first thing in the morning is always a good start...



between the bedroom & coffee
is where her days begin
tired before she gets going
her head all in a spin

STOP, SLOW DOWN, step backward
before feet even hit the floor
whisper a prayer of thanksgiving
& maybe a little more…

remember, He was thinking of you
when, tired, you lay down you head
now, He’s still thinking of you
before you even get out of bed

whisper a prayer for your loved ones,
your work group, strangers & friends
pray He will show you the places
you may need to make amends

then be still just a few moments
see what He has to say
listen in this quiet place
to His plans for the day

this little time of reflection
these quiet moments – cherish them
they make all the difference
choosing to begin with Him

now between bedroom & coffee
more peaceful feet walk the floor
having met Him in complete surrender
walk with hope out your front door

*jb*

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Praying for children (last group)...

Pray for Their Future:

That they will be wise in their choice of a mate. Pray for the one who will marry your child, that he or she will be raised in a Christian home, remain pure, and that they will bring each other great joy (Proverbs 19:14)

That they will be wise in their choice of a career (Proverbs 3:6)

That they will be wise in the use of their God-given gifts, talents, and abilities (Matt. 25:21)



Some other verses I like to pray over mine:

Give my (children) the wholehearted desire to obey al your commands, decrees & principles (I Chron. 29:19)

Give my children “one heart and mind to worship God forever for their own good and for the good of all their descendants” Jer. 32:39

That my children will keep themselves pure, that they will be utensils You, Lord, can use for Your purpose. That their lives will be clean and they will be ready for You, Master, to use for every good work (II Tim. 2:21)

Give them an unusual aptitude for learning and that they will have wisdom and balanced judgment (Daniel 1:17,20)

Monday, February 9, 2009

Teen Pact begins...


Today Sam will start his week of Teen Pact. Oh, how I pray that the Lord will speak to him and the other youth participating. As they walk the halls praying for our state leadership, I pray that leaders will see them and be blessed. How thankful I am that my children still have the freedom to walk the halls of a government buiding praying, a freedom that may not always be ours. May God raise up future leaders of our country from within this group. May this empower them with a Godly boldness and a humble thankfulness for the freedom granted to us by our Creator. May we never take it for granted, and may we, when necessary, stand bravely to defend it.

praying for children cont...

Pray for Relationships with Friends:

That they will choose godly friends who will build them up in the Lord (Proverbs 27:9; Eccl. 4:10)

That they will be kept from harmful friendships that will lead them astray (Proverbs 1:10)

That they will be firm in their convictions so that they will withstand peer pressure (Eph. 4:14)

That they will befriend the lonely, the discouraged, and the lost (Matt. 25:40; Phil. 2:4)


Pray for Protection:

From the evil one (John 17:15)

From drugs, alcohol and tobacco (Proverbs 20:1, 23:31,32) (TV, pornography, Hollywood, any ungodly music, games books, entertainment)

From premarital sex (I Cor. 6:18-20)

From physical danger – accidents and illness (Phil. 4:6)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

praying for children...

Pray for Godly Attributes and Character:

That they will be protected from attitudes of inferiority or superiority (Gen. 1:27, Phil.2:3)

That they will respect authority (I Sam. 15:23)

That they will hate sin (Psalm 97:10)

That they will be able to control their tempers (Eph. 4:26)

That they will exhibit the fruit of the spirit in their lives – love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance (Gal. 5:22,23)



Pray for Family Relationships:

That they will obey (honor & respect) their parents in the Lord (Proverbs 1:8,9; Col. 3:20)

That they will accept discipline and profit from it (Proverbs 3:11,12; 23:13)

That they will love their siblings and not allow rivalry to hinder lifelong, positive relationships (Matt. 5:22)

That we as parents may so live before them as to entice them to the banqueting table, not drive them away (Matt.5:16)



That last one is so convicting for me! How I pray that as my children see me walk through the day, that they will see glimpses of Christ in me...

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Praying For Children


Last year at the CBS we attend, someone made available a prayer list, with scripture, for praying for our children. What a blessing it has been for me to daily pray through this list for our own children, as well as others God has laid on my heart. I'm going to divide it into groups over the next few days in hopes some of you will copy them and begin this beautiful offering up of prayers for you children too!

A friend whose daughter just became engaged, shared with me recently about God's faithfulness in answering her years of prayer about her daughter's future mate. What a blessing it was for her to be able to share with her future son-in-law, that she has been praying for him for years!

May God bless us as we pray for our own children, those the Lord lays on our hearts, and their future spouses!


I speak their names & You incline You ear O, Lord
I intercede & You intercede for me
Intimately interested in the children we seek to raise for You
Hear our prayers - Your faithful care we need.

*jb*



Praying for Children
Pray for Their Relationship with God:

That they may know "how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ and know this love that surpasses knowledge." (Eph. 3:18, 19)

That at an early age they may accept Christ as their Savior. (II Tim. 3:15)

That they will allow God to work in their lives to accomplish His purpose for them. (Phil. 2:13)

That they will earnestly seek God and love to go to church. (Psalm 63:1, 122:1)

That they will be caught and corrected when guilty. (Psalm 119:71)

Friday, February 6, 2009

happy b-day hershey!!

our silly dog, hershey (whom elle has given a complete personality) celebrates her 2nd birthday today! she brings joy to our lives and we're so thankful!











if you're interested in knowing a little more about hershey and her silly antics, let me know and i will send you our first story about her. we're hoping to write a whole little series: HERSHEY - Life Lessons from a Somewhat Silly Dog - Book 1 - The Adventure Begins!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

quiet mornings...



I sneak downstairs on tiptoe
Before the sun's first light

He's there, already waiting,
Much to my delight

I whisper how I love Him
Read His notes of love to me

No better start to my days
Could I ever hope to see

This time, these quiet moments,
Most times they seem to fly

I could stay forever
But the sun begins to rise

"Go, walk through your day"
I seem to sense Him say

"I'll be right there with you
Each step of the way"

But O, those quiet mornings
They are my precious time

I have Him all to myself
I am His and He is mine!

*jb*

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

waiting on the Lord...


I mentioned I'm trying to learn to draw and paint. The desire to express myself like this is so strong. I feel like I go around seeing things as watercolors. Last night I sat at a friend's house - it's a beautiful home full of love, laughter and inspiration - I could not quit looking at this lamp she has. I could just see it painted. The vision is there, just not yet the ability. I beleive this desire is from the Lord. He is doing something in me. I'm just not yet quite sure what. I'm in a hurry to know, to see results, but this is a time of learning, of growing, of patience.

Sam & Elle & I are reading At Home in Mitford again. It's so funny we just giggle our heads off at the characters, and then before you know it, I'm in tears at something precious that happens in the story - they think I'm silly! Anyway, we were reading yesterday and I just wanted to share this excerpt:

He looked around her small studio. Every inch of wall space was covered with some cheerful drawing or watercolor, or picture cut from a magazine. she had lettered a scripture from the sixteenth chapter of Proverbs that was push-pinned over her drawing table: "Commit thy works unto the Lord and thy thoughts shall be established."

"That," he said, "is a commendable way to do it."

"For me, it's the only way. I don't work at all without committing it to God first. I've done it the other way, and giving it to him makes all the difference."


That is what I choose to do...whether it be drawing, painting, writing, teaching...I will commit my works unto the Lord!

Monday, February 2, 2009

eyes to see...


i'm sort of undertaking the challenge of learning to draw and paint. i have a sweet, artist friend encouraging me along the way. today she was talking to me about drawing the "essence" of things...what?? you mean just capture the idea or feeling of something without the "burden" of having to draw it perfectly...what a concept! i felt as if she were giving me "permission to not be perfect" - perhaps the beauty of something would come off even better if it weren't so perfect - if i didn't have to "make it perfect".

later i was thinking about what we'd talked about -essence- and it led me in another direction...that the Lord would give me eyes to better see the "essence" of others...grace that gives "permission to not be perfect"...truly beautiful


2 Corinthians 2:14-15
but thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. for we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.