Friday, April 18, 2014

Good News

But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5 NKJV)

And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center. Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. Then many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. Therefore the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘He said, “I am the King of the Jews.” ’ ” Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.” Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments and made four parts, to each soldier a part, and also the tunic. Now the tunic was without seam, woven from the top in one piece. They said therefore among themselves, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be,” that the Scripture might be fulfilled which says: “They divided My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.” Therefore the soldiers did these things. Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home. After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!” Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. (John 19:17-30 NKJV)

No matter where you are today . . . no matter what you've done . . . hopeless or happy . . . at peace or in turmoil  . . . there is a Savior. His name is Jesus. He gave everything so that you could live. He was crucified for sins He never committed. He hung on the cross and took all the sins of the world, past, present, and future, upon Himself. Can you imagine the absolute darkness that descended upon Him as he did that? Can you fathom having the face of God turned from you? Yet, He willingly did it for you and for me. He died on that cross while others jeered and ridiculed, and He was quickly placed in a borrowed tomb. But here's the good news, the reason we celebrate, that tomb was only temporary. That grave couldn't hold Him. On the third day He arose victorious over sin and death.

But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. Then they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’ ” Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her. (John 20:11-18 NKJV)

On Friday we remember His sacrifice, and on Sunday we celebrate His victory. Do you know this Jesus? The One who came to wash away your sins? Have you asked Him to live in your heart? Have you accepted His salvation and forgiveness? It's not difficult. You don't need a pastor or a priest. All you need are your words. Just tell Him. Tell Him you want Him to be your Savior. Ask Him to forgive your sins. He will. That's a promise.

That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9 NKJV)

Sunday, April 6, 2014

My Bluebonnet Obsession

People often say that Texas has only two seasons . . . summer and winter. Well, I beg to differ. We actually have three seasons . . . summer, winter, and "Bluebonnet Season". And if you've spent more than ten minutes in Texas in the spring then you'll understand the level of obsession that we have for these little blue wildflowers. You'll see us pulled over on the side of the road; our babies plopped down in a sea of blue, that is quite possibly home to a snake or two, trying to get the perfect Bluebonnet picture. And we do this year after year. Because we can't pass by a field of perfect Bluebonnets.

This first group of pictures were taken out at my parents' house. Andrew wasn't thrilled to have to take pictures right in the middle of a patch of wet Bluebonnets, but I didn't let his lack of enthusiasm stop me.

The other day I was out running, and I looked to over to the side and saw this. Gorgeous.

 And to continue my obsession I drug Andrew out to the state park to take some pictures of the Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrushes.

This last picture is my absolute favorite, and it's not one I took. The other day my Aunt Susie sent me this picture of the field beside her house. It's just too breathtaking not to share (so I hope she doesn't mind).

Sunday, March 30, 2014

On Sin and Truth and Change

Oh y'all. The Christian world is in an uproar right now. First, there was Worldvision's little stunt followed by a quick rethink of said stunt at the start of the week. Then, there was the impending release of the "Noah" movie in all its controversial glory . . . And well, suddenly, let's all have a fight.  I mean we do that well, us Christians. We've got the fighting amongst ourselves thing down.

I thought about throwing my proverbial hat into the ring. Then I thought better of it. I mean who really cares about the opinion of a 30 something year old mom and housewife from Texas? But then, someone, who just so happens to be relatively big in the evangelical world made a statement in the wake of the Worldvision debacle that made me pause for more than a minute. The statement was something to the effect of the Bible being open to interpretation and how we're never going to all agree. I'm not calling this person out. That's not my point. But y'all there are certain things in the Bible that are not open to interpretation. The definition of marriage falls well into that category. But more and more I see this attitude of inclusion and acceptance that is absolutely allowing and giving people permission to stay in bondage rather than be set free.

Before you burn me at the stake give me a second or ten to explain. Here's the deal. I feel like we're afraid to call sin what it is, "sin". We're so jaded from fire and brimstone, legalistic teaching and preaching that we think to point out sin is to negate God's grace. But y'all we need to stop being afraid of sin. We need to start understanding what sin it truly is. It's more than a bad behavior, an action, a screw up. It's more than I yelled at my kid, fought with my husband, cheated on my wife, or stole my neighbor's car (extreme examples . . . stick with me). Sin is a heart problem. Sin is the absence of the power of God in our lives. Jesus wasn't afraid of sin, He didn't ignore sin. He repeatedly said, "Go and sin no more." And so we think He was saying stop doing what you're doing and do something else. But y'all He didn't say that. He literally said, "Go and sin no more." How is that humanly possible? News flash: it's not! But see Jesus wasn't just healing physical ailments. He was transforming hearts.

If we're afraid to point out sin, then we're missing an opportunity to allow God to do an effective work in a person's life. But, if we try to do it without God, if we try to get people to just change their behaviors, we're setting them and ourselves up for disaster. We need to start looking at the condition of people's lives and realize that the behaviors are symptoms of an inward problem. Then we need to point them to Jesus and explain that He can do what no counselor, pastor, teacher, psychiatrist, friend, or foe can do . . . He can change a leopard's spots. He can take who you are and make you who you never dreamed you can be. That's what the cross is all about. That's what grace is for. Not to excuse our sin, but to empower us to turn to the One who can erase our sin and transform our hearts.

And just so we're clear, if you come to me a mess, know that I'm a mess too. I won't shame you or condemn you. There's more than enough of that to go around. What I will do is share with you about Jesus and His transforming power. I have no desire to drag anyone through the mud, but I also have no desire to see anyone live out their life in the mud.

So there's Worldvision and there's "Noah". I'm sorry for Worldvision because quite frankly, I don't think they get it. I think they're trying to please whomever cries the loudest. And "Noah", I'm not afraid to say that I'm not thrilled with the fact that it's being touted as one of the most, if not the most, "unbiblical" biblical movie ever. But I'll withhold my opinion until I actually see it for myself.

And well, I guess "I threw my hat into the ring" after all.

Friday, March 28, 2014

No News Is . . .

Well, no news.

I'm frequently asked if we've received any news on the adoption.

Last Friday afternoon my phone rang. It was our adoption agency. Generally, we communicate with our caseworker via email unless we have a reason for a phone call. She also makes quarterly calls, but I wasn't expecting the quarterly call until April. So when the phone rang, I was hopeful, for a few seconds at least.

She quickly let me know she was starting quarterly calls. Although, I was hopeful, I wasn't (too) disappointed. I didn't really expect a referral. Not yet anyway. There are others in front of us who've been waiting longer. Based on the latest statistics we're closer than we've ever been (that's kind of a given), but we're still a ways out. I refuse to go into more detail on the time line because I'm choosing to remain optimistic. (And if you plan on commenting or emailing me to "rain on my parade" don't . . . I'm not naive, clueless, or an imbecile. I just so happen to serve a God that's bigger than any time line. His time line is all that matters.)

Last Friday, I also saw a summary of a couple of the International Adoption Committee (IAC) meetings from February and was happy thrilled to see that there were quite a few referrals for young, "healthy" children. It's a relief because sometimes we wonder how many children within our parameters are even being referred. Having said that, even if there were 50 or 100 referrals, that's still just a "drop in the bucket" so to speak.

So to answer the question, "Have y'all heard anything?". Yes, we have and no we have not. How's that for ambiguous? Yes, we hear from our agency regularly. But referrals have been sparse.

BUT . . . We're praying and believing for movement, and we won't stop praying and believing until we receive an answer. We're tenacious like that.

Luke 11:9-13

New King James Version (NKJV)

Keep Asking, Seeking, Knocking

“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 11 If a son asks for bread[a]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 a fish? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 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!”

Friday, March 14, 2014

On Swimsuit Shopping

I'm blogging, or attempting to blog from my iPad. My laptop has a virus and has either through malware or hacking my email, started sending wonky emails to friends and family. If you got one, I'm sorry. DON'T OPEN THE LINK! Anyhow, I know exactly where I got said virus, and until my laptop is fixed it is disconnected from the internet to prevent further issues. And yes, I also changed my email password (again).

So here I am blogging from my iPad. Not an easy task, I tell you. But that isn't even close to what this post is about. Read on.

Last night, I tried on swimsuits. The End.

Just kidding. Although I think for most women that just about sums it up. Last night, I tried on swimsuits, and the skin on my stomach is permanently loose from pregnancy, I have a road map of spider veins right above my knees, and more than a little cellulite on the back of my thighs. It's hot!

And I quit after four suits. I put them back on the rack and walked out of the store because I did not have the energy at 8:30 p.m. to deal with loose skin, cellulite, and spider veins.

But I learned a few things. Bear with me, and I'll share:

(1) All women look in the mirror and struggle with what they see. Like it or not, we are byproducts of our society. The one that puts starving, airbrushed models on display for us to use as a comparison. Skinny or heavy, tall or short, it doesn't matter we can't measure up. Why? Because we're trying to measure up to a lie.

(2) Appreciate the body you have today. I'm not saying don't try to better yourself. If you need and want to lose weight, then more power to you. If you need and want to get in shape, then go for it. But in the process appreciate your body. Don't beat yourself up. You are "fearfully and wonderfully" made (check out Psalm 139:14 - the Bible doesn't lie). I have come to the realization that I'm 32 (almost 33), and I'm not going to look the same as did when I was 22. I'm in just as good of shape (maybe better), and I need to focus on being healthy not looking 10 years younger. I don't need to act, dress, or look like a 20 year old. It's called "aging gracefully".

(3) Don't try on cheap swimsuits. I know it seems foolish to buy an expensive swimsuit, but here's what I've found: cheap swimsuits are just that, cheap. The material is thin and clingy and accentuates every lump and bump known to womankind. Unless your 16 and tiny, cheap swimsuits will only depress you. So save your pennies and invest in something with a little better material (and it will last longer which is a plus). And while I'm on the subject, it's okay to let go of your youth, and buy something that covers a bit more if needed. Believe me you'll feel better and less self conscious if you do.

Once I recover from last night's swimsuit shopping disaster, I'll try again. This time with a hopefully better mindset.

The End (for real this time)