My love

My love
Photo credit:Britt Lanicek Photography

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Sweet Cream Filling

Oreo /ˈɔːrioʊ/ is a sandwich cookie consisting of two chocolate wafers with a sweet creme filling in between, and are marketed as "Chocolate Sandwich Cookies" on the package they are held in. Wikipedia


You know them, you've eaten them, chances are... you love them. But, I will never again look at that little cookie without remembering what happened in October 2014 when 52 packages ended up on our doorstep. 
Our church had just began the study from the book "The Blessed Life" by Robert Morris. Small groups had just resumed in the church after taking a break for the summer. Now, I have been in small groups before and have loved the fellowship and instruction I have received, but this study was different. From the moment I picked up the book, I knew my life (and perception on giving) was about to change drastically. Throughout our marriage, my husband and I had been on a financial roller coaster. The tithing principle was a new concept for my husband and lets just say it added a little friction in the first few years of our marriage. Some seasons we gave, others we didn't. But, we began to notice that in the seasons of not tithing, the blessings began to fall away. Don't get me wrong... God was still faithful during those times and we had everything we needed, but there is a sweetness that was lost when we didn't give to God what was his. I can't remember the exact circumstances, but we eventually decided that tithing 10% of our net income was going to be first.. no matter what. 
After we started reading "The Blessed Life" we made the tough decision to start tithing off of our gross income... which was a very painful- faith building decision to make. I have been a stay at home mom and making ends meet with one income has not been easy, but we grabbed on to the principles we learned in the book that were directly link to God's word and knew that God would provide. 
We attended a Fall Fun Fest at our sons school during that same time. My boys were so excited about entering their name to win prizes from a drawing. I honestly didn't see what boxes they dropped their tickets into, but a few weeks later we received the call that our son Alex won the "Oreo Cookies for a year" prize! Sure enough, that next day, on October 11th we found several boxes on our porch containing the 52 packages of Oreo's! "What on earth were we going to do with all of these cookies" was my initial thought... you can imagine the thoughts of our 4 kids. We opened a package of  the Pumpkin Spice cookies. As we sat around the table eating these amazing cookies.. we talked about what we would do with the rest of the packages. We have a pretty open communication with our kids about what we are learning and experiences with our bible study or whatever issue God may be working on with us, so we talked about how BLESSED we were to have received the Oreos and how we could pass the blessing on to others. We tossed around ideas, but ultimately left the decision to Alex.
The next day in church as we continued studying more about the principles from "The Blessed Life", the pastor presented an application that I don't think anyone saw coming. He asked us to get our money out and hold it up. All we had.. Well, as debit card users.. we very rarely have ANY money. So we just stood there feeling very weird with $0. He then asked all of us without money to raise our hands. I was embarrassed but soon the embarrassment turned into shock as one by one, people began placing their money in our hands! The ones with money were instructed to give what they had to someone without. It was a beautiful, crazy kind of chaos that ensued in that sanctuary. People were smiling and sharing. Wads of cash and change seemed to fly around the room. I knew what God was doing in that moment was something amazing. People I didn't really know were throwing their money in our hands. I just stood there dumbfounded with cash piling up. As soon as the commotion died down, the pastor closed the service and we were dismissed. I however.. was still standing there frozen. I quickly shoved the ball of bills into my husbands hands. I started looking around and noticed a single mom that was a new friend that I was getting know through our small group. I grabbed the wad of cash and made my way over to her. I glanced down at the money but other than seeing a few $1 bills, I had no idea how much I had received. We caught eyes, and I said something like.. "God wants you to have this". She looked just as shocked as I had been. We hugged and parted ways. Soon after I received a message from her saying that the amount was $198.00!! I never would have guessed! But this was such an amazing blessing from God handed to us to deliver to this precious friend. She had $3 to give.. the last $3 she had that was going to by milk for her kids. She was obedient in giving and did God ever multiply that blessing! I call it "God's Math".. Thankfully his math is SO much better than ours! 
I quickly shared with our kids the miracle that happened that day at church. What God can do when we are obediant and give what he is asking us to give!!  I could tell Alex was stirring.. and I knew it was God nudging him. With tears in his eyes he made the decision to give away the Oreos.. not just a couple packages but ALL of them. Well..they were used to share with the other kids at the church as well as homeless feedings and he was so blessed by being able to share. 
From the events that transpired that weekend came a story that has been shared with the congregation and now you! God used those Oreos and this story to be a blessing and encourage us all to step out and give what we have and let GOD multiply the SWEETNESS of the blessing! 
Whatever you have, remember to PASS IT ON! 
Marlee posing with the boxes that contained 52 packages of Oreos!


Nov. 4th 2014- Alex is the 3rd one from the left as a stone carrier.
Just another blessing that came from this story. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

FULL CIRCLE

I have loved to sing pretty much all of my life. I watched my mom sing at church and then I got to see my sister follow in her footsteps. I would just be in awe of their voices. They both had this natural vibrato.. that I just couldn't seem to find. Not to mention the ability to harmonize! While I loved to sing I couldn't seem to overcome the feelings of inadequacy when I compared myself to the voices of others around me. I let this feeling drown out my voice and I stopped trying. I went to a very small country church that sang the good 'ol hymns, that I have come to appreciate and love, but at the time I was a teenager and wanted nothing to do with these old songs. Many times people would ask me if I would lead singing and I would constantly turn them down. Sure, I would sing specials whenever I could get the chance because they were some of the more modern songs that made ME feel like I was singing something worth while. But what I have realized now that I am older is that I totally missed the reason that we sang those old hymns AND I missed out on the support and encouragement from the older generation in our church. I chose to focus on the insecurity I felt by not being as "good" as other singers, including my family. I knew God was calling me to sing but I almost felt paralyzed. When Greg and I went to a bigger church I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to be involved in a worship team that allowed you to sing, no matter your ability. This to me enbodied the whole spirit of worship. God doesn't just want the best of the best to worship... He wants the best of you WHEN you worship. And..so what if you miss a note or mess up the words a little? As long as you bring your whole being to him, he will make it beautiful and it will accomplish HIS purpose... not yours. When Greg and I moved back to Ohio I asked some of the friends we had met at our new church how I would try to get involved in the worship team and to my surprise the ones I was asking were the ones leading worship that week! I love when God coordinates things like that. So to my surprise I was asked to join in that next months worship team. I was a little taken back that there wasn't a grueling audition process that I had experienced in our previous church. But I took the opportunity to be involved anyways. So I sang on 2 different occasions. The last one being the day right before my brain tumor was found. I remember feeling so good after singing that Sunday. I was so thankful that God had allowed me the opportunity to sing again despite the constant rejections and excuses I gave him when I was younger. "But God, theses aren't the songs I am comfortable singing", "But God, I'm not like my mom and my sister. Didn't you hear my voice? I can't sing like them!" So many wasted opportunities! But praise God, I got another chance.
When I was in the Emergency Room that next day, waiting for the prognoses of my condition, I remember praying to God- bargaining with Him that if I could just be OK I would take advantage of EVERY opportunity to sing for Him. I apologized over and over again for missing those chances I had to serve Him, because of my selfishness and lack of faith. I vowed to never miss a chance again! It has been 3 months since then and being fully recovered I took advantage of the chance to sing yesterday- the first time since my surgery. And despite Satan's attempts to remind me of my unworthiness and how much I didn't "deserve" to be the one helping to lead the congregation to worship.. I did it anyways. I kept my focus on WHO I was worshiping, not WHY I was the one up there. So incredibly thankful that God had brought me full circle. From that Sunday in November when I was so unaware of the journey I would begin that next day, to yesterday when I had the privilege to live out the promise I made to God in the ER.
I have a new found passion that I didn't have before because of my insecurities. So, my mission from now on is NOT to question HOW or WHY opportuinites present themselves to me, But to JUST SAY YES, and show up. God will take care of the rest!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

What season are you in?

We know that God takes us through seasons of life for a purpose. Winter: is for waiting, Spring: preparing, Summer: enjoying, and Fall: gathering. What season are you in?

One of the things that attracted me to Greg was his view on adoption. I have always had the heart for adoption but did not know if God was leading us there. We have two biological boys and due to my lack of desire to ever be pregnant again.. I had a tubaligation. I loved my boys, but pregnancy was not for me. Some say that they loved being pregnant, but that wasn't the case for me. After Alex was born we decided that if we were to have any more children, it would be through adoption. Over that past 3 years our desire for adoption has increased.  In 2008 we started out doing fostercare, hoping that God would just drop our baby in our lap and we could adopt through a simingly less financially stressful process. Wow, what a journey that was! Although it did not result in us adding to our family, it was a major growth process for us. It opened our eyes to the hurting children that are waiting for a family, as well as helping us come to the realization of our limits as parents. Not everyone is fit to parent every child. Although we did go through training, we weren't prepared to tackle some of the situations we were put in. We are fairly new to the parenting process and thankfully our boys have been "easy" to parent. We had no idea what it was like to care for a child who was wounded by abuse. We had no idea what challenges parenting a child with a mental disability would bring. In our time fosterparenting we had several children for Respite care and one "failed adoption" as I heard someone call it. A 16 yr old boy we had in our home for 7 months and were going through the adoption process. As the adoption date moved closer we soon  decided that this was not a good fit after a course of events took place. I won't go into all of the details, but we did learn a lot through this time and we often think about this young man. The boys still talk about him.Well, we were able to finish our homestudy for adoption in PA and we thought for sure that our child would come. Soon after our PA homestudy was approved Greg took the job in Ohio. We knew that we would have to go through the homestudy process all over again because of this move. I called around and found out about Ohio's fostercare program and Greg and I began training in October of 2010. Our last training was suppose to be December 4th, and as most of you know, that is the day I was released from the hospital after having a craniotomy. We took the last few weeks for me to recover and for us to pray about where God is leading us. I wasn't sure what kind of limitations the brain tumor had left me, but I am so happy to find that I have made a full recovery. After going through this uncertain time, we have grown closer as a couple, as a family. We have been overwhelmed by the love and support from our Christian family and we have realized the true power of our God. We haven't even considered international adoption because of the financial barriers.. until now. The God that saved me is the God that will walk with us through the adoption journey and will remove the barriers that need to be removed. We just have to get out of the way and let Him lead! Over the past few weeks we have had several confirming circumstances that lead us to believe that God is pointing us to International Adoption. Wow, even writing those words terrifies me. This is so major... and it is nothing short of God that will make this happen.

So, what now? Well, we have begun the research process. Trying to get a lot of our questions answered. Looking up what resources are out there and what we can do to spread the word and call on anyone who may feel God leading them to adopt or support us in our endeavor. Please pray for us as we follow God's direction. 

We felt Gods presense throught the winter of this process, even though circumstances confused us, they caused us to grow. We now feel that "spring" is coming and we must begin preparing... but not without His continued leading.
What season of life are you in? Whatever it may be, remember that God has a specific purpose and plan! Make the most of your season!


http://www.showhope.org/
http://www.adoption.com/

Update: Doors did not open for us to adopt internationally but we were able to find an amazing Christian based foster care agency and received our license in July 2011. We had a placement and a few respite experiences before God brought our little girl on March 7th, 2012. 8 1/2 months later we welcomed her precious newborn brother into our home. October 13th, 2013 we finalized our adoption and officially welcomed Marlena Marie and Maxwell Antonio into our family. God is GOOD!

Friday, December 24, 2010

CHRISTmas Miracle!!!

Monday, November 29th, 2010: I had gotten up early that day because Gabe was starting his first day of A.M. Kindergarten. It was the Monday after Thanksgiving break which meant Greg went back to work after having a week off and we would be adjusting to Gabe’s new schedule as well. I remember feeling a little overwhelmed that day because as most of you know, I don’t adjust easily to changes. I felt like we had just gotten used to things and now everything was changing again. I got Gabe up and ready for school and we saw him off around 7:40am. Greg got ready for work and headed out the door a little while after that. Alex and I lounged around for a bit and then it was time to get moving. I was eager to get the house back in order after the Christmas decorating frenzy that was my weekend. I had totes to put away and lots of other miscellaneous things to do around the house. I even decided to move the Christmas tree to the other corner of the dining room as I didn’t like where it was. Yep, I got down on my hands and knees and very carefully pushed the tree by myself, only knocking down a few bulbs along the way. I am always doing crazy things like that! If I get a vision or an idea for a project I usually jump right into it, regardless if Greg is home or not. I figured he would notice the moved tree later that evening and think “there she goes again.” I took a break before Gabe got home from school that morning and spent some time on Facebook and checked my email, paid some bills, etc. After I got up from the computer I started to notice a change in my vision. I wasn’t dizzy but I could tell that I wasn’t feeling quite right. I took some Ibuprofen and figured that I was probably getting a cold or something. Gabe got home from school and we ate lunch while he told me all about his first day in with his new class. After lunch it is usually nap time, which I was relieved because by this point I was really feeling crummy.  I told myself that I would take a nap while the boys were napping and I would wake up feeling much better. I woke up about an hour later, but instead of feeling better I woke up to the right side of my face drooping. I looked in the mirror and saw that my right eye and right side of my smile were noticeably different from my left. I even took pictures of myself to see if I was imaging this. The boys were awake by this point and they were watching cartoons, doing their normal after nap things. I had to pick up a few things at the store so I got the boys around and we headed down the road. I was determined to just keep going. When we were at the store I noticed that my peripheral vision on my right side was gone. I felt so clumsy as I bumped in to the shelves because I could not see that they were there. I found myself yelling for my boys because I thought they went around the corner, but they were standing beside me the whole time. When I got home I decided to get on webmd.com and check my symptoms. Well to my surprise Webmd.com told me that I must have had a stroke. The anxiety in my started growing by the second and I looked desperately for a phone number to call “ask a nurse” through our insurance company but found that we didn’t have that option through our plan. After I wrestled with the idea for about 20 minutes, I finally decided that I needed to let Greg know what I was feeling. I texted him “call me as soon as you can” and he called shortly after. He was able to have his boss cover for him so he could come home and take me to Urgent Care. Now, I had to figure out what I was going to do with the boys. I called my grandma’s house and no one answered so I called my Aunts house. Usually if she isn’t home she is there so I thought I would take a chance. My grandma was there and I told her what was going on. She was “babysitting” my cousin at the time and my uncle wasn’t home from work yet so she was trying to figure out what time she could be to our house by, but then I heard my uncle’s voice in the background as he walked in the door. She headed to our house right then. She made it before Greg did and I got the boys situated with crafty things to keep them busy while we were gone. As soon as Greg got home we headed to Findlay Urgent Care. It was around 4:00pm. I had no idea what to expect. I was hoping that it was nothing serious but at the same time I knew I would feel stupid if the doctor told me it was nothing. Mom died of a brain tumor almost 7 yrs ago and I guess you could say I have been a little paranoid when I start to feel any weird symptoms. Even over the past year I went to several different doctors because I was feeling strange symptoms that they diagnosed as “Anxiety/depression” and “Sinus” making me feel like I was a hypochondriac. So let’s just say I was a little apprehensive about seeing another doctor. But this time was different. These symptoms were extreme, no one could deny that.  I was seen right away because of my symptoms. After the doctor examined me she handed me an information sheet reading “Bells Palsy” at the top. She explained that this type of condition can come and go for no reason, but it had to do with facial nerves. I was relieved to an extent because it wasn’t serious but at the same time I was concerned that there was no reason or explanation that could be given. She went on to say that she wanted to send me to the ER for tests just to rule out any other cause. So we got back into the car and headed down the road to Blanchard Valley ER. I figured I should call my sister just to let her know what was going on but tried to reassure her that it was just Bells Palsy. The doctor I saw there was, well, let’s just say he had his doubts, and made sure that we knew that he didn’t see a reason for the CT scan to be completed, BUT he would do it anyway. I really wasn’t nervous at all, I figured I had this crazy unexplainable facial nerve thing that made me feel weird but would go away at any time. They wheeled me off and I was back to my ER room in no time. Greg and talked about how hungry we were and where we were going to pick up supper at. I believe we had decided on Arby’s? Anyways, about an hour later the doctor walked in and I really have no idea how long he was there for as time stood still for a while. All I remember him saying was that there was something that showed up on the CT scan, he believed it was a mass, but he needed to do an MRI to tell for sure. WHAT? Excuse me? I just looked at Greg with my mouth wide open in shock. When ever I am concerned our anxious about something I usually look at my husband to see his reaction. We are total opposites when it comes to dealing with fearful situations. I crumble but he remains calm. But this time was different. I saw the look on his face and the tears welling up in his eyes. Fear doesn’t even seem to fit the emotion we were feeling. The doctor left as quickly as he came in and there we were, just staring at each other in disbelief. All I could muster was “Ok….Ok…..Ok”. I instantly began shivering.  I was so cold. The nurse piled warming blankets on me until I could stop shaking. Greg began making phone calls. I can’t even remember who all he called. I remember talking to my grandma as we needed to tell her that she would have to stay with the boys a little longer than expected. The sound of her voice broke my heart. A lot of things about those next hours crushed us. I tried to remember what my mom said about MRI’s as she had a lot of them done doing her battle with brain cancer. I remember her saying that they were noisy and she would make up a tune in her head to go along with the crazy loud beat. About an hour or so later someone came and wheeled me to the MRI. I was numb. So many thoughts raced around my head. The main thing I remember thinking was about my two beautiful boys who by this time were warm and safe in their beds fast asleep, so unaware of how their world might change so drastically. I couldn’t take my mind off of them. I just laid there as they wheeled my down halls, around corners, through doors. It was all a blur. My beautiful boys, the very beat of my heart, I just longed to hold them. Once I got to the MRI I was able to talk to a sweet lady that was the MRI technician. I enjoyed our conversation and it helped ease my mind for a while. The MRI lasted for 40 minutes and let me tell you… it was pure torture! I tried mom’s trick of making up tunes but I couldn’t get passed the obnoxiously loud banging from the machine. Not to mention to claustrophobia I started to feel about half way through. I was so relieved when I felt the bed moving out of the MRI tunnel. When I was wheeled back to the ER room I noticed someone standing in the room with Greg. It was Dave; a man we met through connections in PA who was originally from that area but lived here in Ohio whose wife was related to the Pastor of CFCOG in Chambersburg PA that we were members of. We had only spent time with him on one occasion but we could tell from our interaction, as well as the things others had told us about their family, that they were prayer warriors and mighty people of God. I was so relieved to see him standing there, knowing that he was being a support for Greg as he waited.. and waited for me to come back from the MRI. It ended up being around 6 hours total from the time that we found out about the mass until I was admitted to the Neurology floor. Dave was with us throughout most of that time. I enjoyed our visit so much. He prayed with us, we shared stories, we laughed, we cried. It was an interaction Greg and I will never forget. Hour after hour past and finally another doctor came in to our room and said that they wanted to admit me and observe my vitals through the night and that a neurosurgeon would be talking with us soon. He was able to tell me that it was a tumor on my left occipital lope but he did not have any other specifics. Dave prayed with us one last time before going home. Someone came and wheeled me up to the 6th floor which was the Neurology floor. The moments after I left the ER seemed to happen so fast. We went from a state of panic as we waited in the ER to a sense of peace and sheer gratitude. As soon as I got situated in my 6th floor room a man came into the room and introduced him self as one of the neurosurgeons. He wasted no time at all in telling me that the racket ball size tumor I had was not in any way related to my moms tumor and that this type of tumor can be easily removed and he was 99.9% sure it was benign. It’s almost as if he said all of that in one breath! It was so fast. Greg and I looked at each other, smiling and crying. But this time it was tears of joy! A miracle was given to me in that moment. I had never felt the arms of God as surely as I did in those hours of waiting, and especially in that moment when the fear was gone. It was such an amazing moment. My emotions were everywhere!
Greg left around 2:30am on Tuesday morning to go home to be with the boys and tell my grandma the good news! We knew that the battle was not over yet though. I had to talk with Dr. Schroeder to determine the next steps to removing the tumor and what that all entailed. I tried to get some sleep that night, but there was too much going on in my mind. I thought of my mom as I lie awake that night. I knew what she must have felt when she found out she had a tumor. The paralyzing fear, the questions, the anxiety. But she didn’t get the chance to feel the relief and joy I felt when I was told that I was going to be ok. I almost felt a sense of guilt as I talked with God. I praised God over and over and then I questioned “why me? Why didn’t my mom get to experience this feeling?” How she would have longed for the doctor to tell her she was cancer free and going to be OK. I still wrestle with those feelings. I know that God is in control and I am so grateful for this gift I have been given, and I have to trust that he knew what he was doing when he allowed her to go through her battle. And I know that she wouldn’t have wanted me to go through what she endured and she was rejoicing with us that night. The tests, the procedures, the medications..everything reminded me of what mom went through. I felt so close with her through everything. I got a chance to see a glimpse of what she went through and my heart broke, but I tried to focus on my reasons for living: My husband, my boys, my family, friends, chances to share Gods love with others. There is so much to live for! Our time on earth is so short; at any moment any of us could hear the news that turns our world upside down. I know there will be days when I forget, but I am going to strive to live everyday as if it were my last!
Well the days that followed were busy. Overall I stayed in the hospital from that Monday until Saturday December 4th. My surgery was Thursday, Dec. 2nd at 9:30. The doctor was able to remove the entire tumor with no complications. I was in ICU until I left the hospital but the surgeon and staff were amazing.. And the food was pretty good too! The neighbors, who just happen to be the Principle of the elementary and her family, kept the boys during the day on Tuesday and Wednesday while Greg was at the hospital with me. My sister Amy and mother in law were both able to find flights from Georgia and Texas, respectfully, and were in Findlay by Wednesday evening. Greg’s mom stayed with the boys so he could stay with me at the hospital for a few days. Wednesday my dad and his wife made it to Findlay after a 14 hour drive from South Carolina. They were there for my surgery and left for home on Saturday. Wednesday I finally got to see my boys whom I hadn’t seen since Monday and I missed them beyond belief! We had such a good time in my private hospital room. It was like a party that night! My new friend Margaret Ann came on Wednesday evening and gave me a fabulous haircut (I wasn’t sure how much they would have to shave for surgery so I played it safe and opted for a shorter hair do). I had amazing friends and family who visited and brought gifts. People from Gabe’s school who brought food to the house and gave money. As far as recovery: I have 21 staples which were removed December 21st and if you didn’t know it you couldn’t tell that I even had surgery. In the weeks following surgery I have dealt with air pockets in my head (don’t recommend it), vision issues off and on, and messed up hearing in my right ear. But I am NOT complaining. I am alive and well and will be better than before, soon!  

Undeniable evidence of Gods hand:

- The mere fact that we are in Ohio is because of carefully orchestrated events (my longing to be home, Greg’s dream job, etc.)
-Medical insurance just started less than 30 days before I went in the hospital after waiting 3 months with no insurance
- That day: Greg being able to come home early even though his schedule was crazy due to finals.
- My uncle getting home just as I called my grandma for help.
- Dear friends Denny and Jean Koontz who prayed for us and who also had connections with Dave Draper who was our prayer warrior and support while we were in the ER
- Awesome relationships with other pastors who held us up in prayer (Neil Norheim, Paul Rutledge, Earl Mills and CFCOG crew)
-Love and prayers from friends we have met along the way
- My sister was able to get time off to stay with us until the 12th and was a big help!
- The time of year was a stress but a huge blessing! Due to the holiday Greg has 3 weeks off to be with me as I recover
- The fact that they found the tumor before any major damage was done
-The fact that the Urgent Care doctor requested the CT scan to be done in the first place!
 -The drastic change in relationships that I have been praying about for a while now. So excited for the future.


I’m sure I am overlooking many more. Just wanted to share the best gift I have been given with everyone else!!
Merry Christmas and blessings for a new year full of Peace and Love!


Thanksgiving 2010 (4 days before)

Margaret and me after my haircut at the hospital

My love

after surgery on 12/2/10

21 staples later.. the tumor is gone

Alex's birthday on 12/20/10 (so much gratitude)

Merry Christmas 2010!!!

Friday, October 29, 2010

I LOVE HALLOWEEN!!!

I. Love. Halloween... there, I said it!
Most of the things that I love about Halloween are instilled in me since I was a child. I loved planning months in advance what I was going to be that year. And my mom.. wow was she talented! I loved my homemade costumes. Most of the time growing up I wanted to be invisible, but when it came Halloween time.. I loved being unique! She was SO creative and could make something out of ANYTHING! I loved just watching her creative process and was so excited to see what she would come up with that year for our costumes. Some where along the way I picked up on that same enthusiasm for Halloween costumes. I make a really big deal about the boys', to the point that I have literally created MONSTERS! They already have the next 10 years in costumes already planned for me! I enjoy the time I get to spend with my little monsters, planning, creating, fixing their outfits. I love watching them as they go trick or treating and see the expression on peoples faces as they pass by. Its so fun!
As I sat last night passing out candy to the little, and some not so little, trick or treaters, I thought.. This is the best! I loved watching the little ones excitement as they waited for the treats to drop in their bags. They were so thrilled just to be what they wanted to be, even for one night. Maybe the little girl who doesn't feel special..could be a Princess and feel beautiful. Maybe the little boy who is picked on and made to feel weak could be a strong brave super hero, and save the day! I love the power of imagination! On Halloween you can be anything you imagine yourself to be!
There is one thing, however, that I don't love about Halloween. And it has to do with extremes. In the Christian world.. Halloween gets a bad rap. "Satan's Holiday", etc. And don't get me wrong, I feel that some people take Halloween to extreme! The blood and gore and scarey part of this day is NOT ok to me and some can get consumed by this! But then there is the opposite. The ones who avoid Halloween at all costs! They do everything in their power to protest the very idea! The make sure their house is dark and no light can be seen as little ones pass by with their candy bags.. as if to sort of "stick it" to the holiday. To them I say... What an opportunity you are passing up! How often do you get to see the majority of the people in your neighborhood all outside together sharing in this time!  give the kid a piece of candy for goodness sake... and while your at it- give them a smile! I love the idea of throwing in a little card with an encouraging verse or something that simply says "God loves You!" Don't be so wrapped up in avoiding this time of year that you miss the very opportunity to show love to your neighbors! Turn what satan has meant for evil into something good and glorifing to God!

Ok, off my soapbox.. for now :)
I wanted to share some of my favorite Halloween memories with you all... enjoy! (P.S. don't kill me Holly, Jake, and Amy!!!, you were all SO CUTE :P


                                         Oh yes.. the year of the clown! With my BFF Miranda :)

                                                           Holly and I were Crayon twins :)


                                                    Buzzing Bee... and check out cutie patootie Holly as a little leopard!!


                                      I was ready for a Sock Hop! All of these costumes are my moms originals!



                                                 Pumpkins with my sister and brother!!





                                      The back of this pic said I was 2... I loved Care Bears.. but not the mask LOL

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Strength in our weakness


Halloween is coming up and so many stores have creepy, spooky decorations meant to scare you. And believe me, this is the first Halloween I can remember with my boys that they are paralized with fear when they walk in to a store and see any Halloween decorations. They won't even walk by a display that moves and talks. They scream and of course everyone around knows just how scared they are. We, as parents, tell them that their fears are irrational and that nothing will hurt them because we are there, but to them the fear is real. Even if the ghost, goblin, or witch is made of plastic and runs on batteries.... it is every bit as alive as you and I are, to them.  I thought about our relationship with God as I was consoling my 3 yr old last week. I wondered how many times does God say to us the same things when it comes to our irrational fears. We create these fears in our minds but then they become so alive. And just like us parents say to our children, God is saying "They are not real, Listen to me.. I know what it real. Trust Me! I am here, do not be afraid!" So many times I have forgotten to rely on God's strength during moments of fear. I am a scaredy cat in many ways. I have fears about the death, fears of being let down, of not meeting someone else's expectations. Fears of being made fun of or ridiculed. Even writing my fears for you all to see is pretty scary. But I came across some verses today that I will keep handy when the sting of fear creeps up:

-I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13
-Nothing is impossible with God. Luke 1:37
-Nothing is too hard for [the Lord] Jeremiah 32:17
-In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans 8:37
-My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9

These are great tools to silence the voice of timidity!
Out with Anxiety, In with Confidence!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Eyes on the Prize

Create in me a PURE heart, Oh God, and renew a STEADFAST spirit within me. Psalm 51:10.

Webster Dictionary says:

Pure: Free from polution
              Genuine
              Sincere
Steadfast:   Firm
                           Resolute: Fixed determination
                           Fixed Purpose
                           Unwavering: to not fluctuate in allegiance or direction

I first learned this verse through a Church camp song back in 1991. The music was pretty and the words seemed nice, but I really didn't grasp the full meaning of the song until I recently disected what they words "Pure" and "steadfast" mean.
The act of purifying is a painful process. From the moment we are born we are constantly poluted with the ways of the world.It isn't until we have a relationship with God that we are able to allow Him to make our heart genuine and sincere through Him.
The word steadfast makes me think of a runner about to start a race. There is no question in his mind what he is trying to accomplish. He is determined and fixed on the goal of finishing the race. Maybe he is trying to finish the race to beat his own record or some other personal goal. Our walk with God is to be like this. The goal set and our eyes fixed and steadfast.
Two other bible verses that come to mind when I think about running a race are:

Hebrew 12:1; .....let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

1 Corinthians 9:24; Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

When I think about the goals that I have in mind for myself the word "pure" pretty much somes them up. I want to free myself of the worlds polution that distracts me from living the life we have been called to live. Whether that is to be free from overeating, gossiping, envy, anger... the list goes on and on. I also long to be genuine and sincere in all relationships that I have, whether that is my husband, children, family, friends, or neighbors.
A way to obtain purity is to be steadfast, to be firm and have fixed determination, unwavering from the goal. This isn't easily done. There are going to be distractions along the way. Even the demands of our day sometimes take our mind off of our goal of purity. We become impatient, stressed, and react in ways that are not inspired by God. Our relationship with God requires pure motives and a clean heart and this can only be obtained through a relationship with Jesus Christ.  Even if we stumble He loves us anyway! He is waiting for us to shake ourselves off and get back on track with Him. We just need to always remember to always have our "Eyes on the Prize".

Check out this song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmignZozEoA
Its inspirational.. and a great workout song too :)

Currently Reading:
 Sacred Influence by Gary Thomas
Managing Your Emotions by Joyce Meyer

Thanks for reading!! Have a blessed week!!