The beats of my heart!

Life can be lived in the simple moments of family and nature, enjoying two of God’s priceless gifts.

I reflect, and often, on how my life was once full of sorrow at the hope destroyed of a baby we lost, bitterness at a marriage struggling, fear of a son dying, and exhaustion that it all never seemed to end. Seasons that seemed to toil forever.

Then I see these perfect mountains and I count 3 perfect children and I see a man I admire most on this earth and I realize that time can pull you through all things.

And God was there, steadfast, through it all.

Silence and struggle does not erase quiet, infinite care.

God bless you and yours, our friends, in your seasons of life.

#hisloveenduresforever #greatishisfaithfulness

Leftovers

hosea scripture

(Photo Source)

There is very little in life that is as comforting as leftovers.  Like, seriously, leftovers…

Leftover dessert.

Leftover dinner.

Leftovers.

Many of you already disagree with this statement.

Piping hot!  Fresh out of the oven for you.

But, the thing is, with many dishes, the longer the food remains — the more the flavors are absorbed.

The better the food is.

Today I ate leftovers for lunch.

Indian food from Valentine’s Day.

Amazing—delicious—mouth watering leftovers.

Perhaps you feel like a leftover in life.

Like you are tomorrow’s lunch or dinner.

That you are no longer piping hot—or as fresh and delicious as yesterday’s meal.

But I am here to tell you something…

You are perfectly seasoned for today!

So, no matter where you are or what your life looks like, I pray that you don’t feel like a leftover but a LEFTOVER!

Wahoo!

God bless,

b

Minion Mom Wednesday: Unprecedented Access to the Far Reaches of Space!

 

monicaandfamily

25 years ago, NASA launched the Hubble Telescope in an effort to better understand the cosmos in its current and past states. The images sent back to earth are breathtaking and have given scientists and the world unprecedented access to the far reaches of space and a new understanding of the heavens. No other generation in human history has ever witnessed what we’ve been privileged to see: star nurseries, new planets, never before seen galaxies (really, really far away), and the incredible “pillars of creation.”

All of this is new to us, of course, but all of these “discoveries” were in existence long before humans ever dreamed of the concepts of space travel or HD imaging. Isn’t it incredible to think that all that extreme beauty and complex creation existed for all that time solely for the purpose of God’s glory? Before an audience of One, the heavens twisted and turned, spun and exploded in a symphony of light and vibrant color, simply to declare the majesty of the Creator.

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Psalm 19:1

I can’t help but wonder what else God has for us that we haven’t yet discovered. Our God is an awesome and wonderful God in the truest sense of those words. The breadth and depth of His creation will never be fully explored or comprehended but isn’t it amazing that he lets us in on just a little of it? Little by little he gives us the wisdom and knowledge to see just an inkling of what he has done and who he is.

What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Psalm 8:4

What about things a little closer to this planet? What might God have for your life that is yet undiscovered? Looking back we often see how God orchestrated things in our life for our good and his glory, but how often do we think about what might lie ahead. What spectacular things might be in store for you that, at this point, you can only dream about or imagine? I love that the infinitely creative and inventive God who manifested the intricacies of the universe, designed me and has equally spectacular things for my life just waiting to be discovered. Little by little he gives us the passion and the desire to be who he created us to be, and the power of the Holy Spirit to proclaim, just like the heavens the unimaginable glory of God.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:21-22

The Way a Toddler Prays. Don’t Hinder It. Learn from It!

the nun men

My son does not start his prayers reverently with, “Dear Heavenly Father…”
Or even, “Dear Lord God…”
Not even, “Dear…”
He starts them by folding his hands in front of his body.
He hovers over his food.
He looks at his plate of food.
He looks all around him.
And then he prays.
“Mommy, Daddy, Sissy Adelyne, GoGo (our family’s affectionate name for Josephine), Nana, Papa…”
This is where he pauses and looks around,
“Apple juice, nana (for banana this time), Minnie plate, ah, (short pause and then he points his finger up in the air as if he thought of it) Ruby Max (as in the television show), fork…”  And the list goes on.

Maxwell takes his time when he prays.  He prays for those dearest to his heart first.

After that, he begins thanking God for what he loves (not people related).

Following that, he takes time to look around him and thank God for what is in his surrounding, appreciating even the fork that he uses to eat his food.

Sometimes we hold our hands forever while we wait for this little boy to finish his lengthy prayer…I may even sigh.  Or try to hurry him along.

But, and perhaps it’s because it’s the 2-yr-old age of stubbornness, he does not allow our influence to affect his prayer.  When he is done sharing with God what he is grateful for—when he is finished sharing his heart of gratitude, THEN and only then does he shout excitedly, throwing his hands into the air, “AMEN!”

And his small sister next to him, Josephine, gets a HUGE grin on her face and wildly air slaps her hands (because the coordination of clapping them together is still to be learned—she is 10 months).

Maxwell and Josephine rejoice in prayer time.

And by the end of his prayers, no matter how cold our food is getting, his heart of gratitude and devotion to express praise for it all, rubs off on us, too.  Where we may have found ourselves sighing moments earlier in hopes that his gratitude would run out, seeing his excitement and rejoicing about those he loves and the gifts of life around him rekindles sparks in our hearts that serve to remind us that our time with God, no matter the circumstances, should never be rushed.

Even at the dinner table.

Your Christmas Tootsie

tootsie!

I am entering the Christmas season with a new perspective.

And it is one that will never be Tootsie-less.

You see, my only living grandparent just graduated to heaven this past July.

But, technically, she wasn’t just my “only living grandparent” as I wrote. She is the woman that we named our first daughter after—-Marguerite. Known to all as Tootsie.

She passed at 91 years young. With a full heart. And family by her side.

Not me, however, I was a world away. On the last night that I saw her before flying across the continental US and then the Atlantic, I gave her a kiss on her lips, told her to behave, stay out of trouble, and I would see her in 3 years.

I left fully believing I would see her in 3 years—and fully knowing that perhaps I would not see her in 3 years. A conundrum of the worst sorts.

There is not a day that passes that my heart doesn’t skip a beat thinking about our Tootsie.  Beloved, feisty, kind-hearted, slap-happy, Tootsie.

The woman that ate ice cream for breakfast and caramels for dinner.  It’s a true miracle she even lived to see 91 years.

But as Christmas Day approaches, I want to make sure that my life and the lives of my children are never Tootsie-less.  How do I go about that?

In the following ways…

Devotion!

As a child-bride (1 day 15 and married to the same awesome Papa Charlie for 54 years), I want my children to learn devotion.  Ups.  Downs.  All arounds.  Devotion.  You are never too young to learn devotion, commitment, and how to stick to it.

You can be too young, however, to learn how to cook.  Tootsie asked her mom, one time years after she married, “How come Dorothy is a good cook and I am not?”  Dorothy being her sister.  And her mom answered, “Well, you never stuck around long enough to learn.” Tootsie said after that answer she stopped asking her mom probing questions.

How else do I want to ensure my children live Tootsie-full lives?

By dancing in the barn!  

When my grandma and I were in New Zealand together (yep, she took me to New Zealand with her), we were talking about her life.  She said one of her favorite things to do with Papa Charlie was go down by the border (she lived on the border of Mexico) and go barn dancing.  And then she picked up her pants a little and showed me her footwork.

You know, my Papa always whistled at those legs of hers—and I know why.  Even as she aged, they were hot stuff.

Where am I going with this?  In life, take moments to run to the border and dance in the barn!  Take moments to have fun.  Take moments to embrace the one you love and let him whistle at your legs.  Take moments where you make moments and turn them into life-long love memories.

Yep.  I want my children to one day, with the ones that they love, to dance in the barn!

Eat Dessert First!

Now, do my kids actually get to eat dessert first every morning?  No!  But I have taken to getting them donuts for each Thursdays breakfast.  And they are thrilled.

You may say, “Sugar kills!”

But so do cars.  So do storms.  So do viruses.

There is a lot out there that can end your life.  Sugar being one of them.

But Tootsie lived 91 years strong (only weeks away from 92), and she had the sweetest 4 teeth known to man.  Yep.  4 remaining teeth.  She did have dentures, but she didn’t find them comfortable.  And so, with her 4 remaining teeth, we would always say, “Smile, Tootsie!”  And then she would laugh and laugh and laugh!

You know, in our household, we are all for eating well.  But, and I’ll paraphrase Cheaper by the Dozen II, when the mom of the dozen runs into the mom of her husband’s rival family, “You need a little sugar in your shopping cart!”

I agree and believe it’s true.

Life should include the sweet.  Even if it means eating dessert first.  Tootsie-style!

And, finally, Live in love with life.  Live in love with the Lord!

When I was in the 3rd grade, and we were in the mountains for Christmas as a family, Santa showed up at our door.  He was short and rosy-cheeked and stuffed with all sorts of goodness.  Unfortunately, Tootsie wasn’t there to see him, but we did, and we told her all about him when she got back from her errand.  And she relished the moments of our excitement and stories, with rosy cheeks of her own.

And even though she loved living with us in our hearts and minds of excitement, she never failed to praise God for his goodness—even in the silliest of moments—like winning in dominoes!  Although, in our home, that’s quite a serious moment, too.  Any domino game (smile and wink for all competitive families out there).

You see, she was a top-grandma…Teaching us to fish in the rain barrel, watching Papa chop the head off of a rattlesnake, allowing us to raid her closet-putting on her shoes, bras, and makeup, or teaching us how to make porcelain dolls.

But she lived her life devoted to her husband, her children, and her God.

Her God that got her through the death of two of her infant baby boys.  The death of her husband.  And then the death of her adult son.

Tootsie lived life encouraging our childhood imaginations and joys—but Tootsie lived life more by encouraging our devotion to God, teaching us, “God remains your constant.  So, go out and continue living!”

And with a mighty slap on the shoulder, coming from a petite figure, you would know that Tootsie meant it.

Live life with God as your constant, and go out and continue living!  And let your children invade your closet.  But NEVER lose in dominoes!  And I mean Never.  Oh, and cheer for the Arizona Diamondbacks!  Always.

You know, Christmas will bring with it many beautiful gifts, all glowing warmly beneath the evergreen tree.  But I hope this Christmas to give my kids the greatest gift.  A Tootsie Christmas. One where I teach them:  Devotion; Dancing in the barn; Eating dessert first; Living in love with life and living life for God.

For those are truly gifts that will last.

Just like my memories of Tootsie.

Now, tell me.  What about you?  What lasting gifts can you give your children this Christmas?

Failure to Live Faith Results in Failure to Teach Faith

brooke

I have been the VERY unfortunate teacher of Genesis of recent.

Boy! What a way to start an article, eh?!

Very. Unfortunate. Teacher. Of the Bible.

I sound like an extremely swell Christian, don’t I?

But let me elaborate, and I hope that you will join me for this article and journey.

You see, we have been following the reading encouragement of Good Morning Girls to read through the Bible with a group of ladies.

And we have had an AWESOME semester to date.  The books have been fantastic, the conversations unbelievable, the ladies (from all over the world in our study:  Poland, United States, Russia, Turkmenistan, India to name a few) have been purely lovely, and the topics OOOOH Boy!  Tough.

But real women like TOUGH.  Right?

Well, when it comes to reading the Bible, I say, “Eat nails.”

I believe the common expression is, “Eat your Wheaties!”

Or, in general, just prepare for the difficult.  No wimpy women, please 😉  Okay, wimpy women still welcome.

We started by reading Esther.  Then we read 1 and 2nd Peter, 1-3 John, Jude, Psalm 1 and 2, and now we have been reading through Genesis.

But, you see, we did not start with an easy book.  I mean, really?  Is Esther really a lovely story about a young girl becoming a queen?

I don’t personally think so.  I mean a queen was banished from her marriage and position because of her failure to satisfy the instruction of her husband.

And then women from all over the dynasty were chosen to come and present themselves to the king where he would get to decide upon a new queen.  And Esther was chosen to be one of the potential suitors but was instructed to NOT share her heritage.

And then there was a plot to kill a king but his life was spared; later an entire race for failure to honor one man in authority; a woman that did not want pretty much any job given to her; then boldness accompanied by a change of heart—despite if she should die; later a hanging;  and then the opportunity for the people scheduled to be slaughtered the right to defend themselves and their properties.

I mean.  Esther.  Did she really want to be queen?  Did she have a choice?  What fate did become of her later when one of Xerxes sons took over the throne?

And, yet, the conclusion is just as Esther states, (I’m paraphrasing), “Perhaps she was chosen and put in her position for ‘Such a time as this.'”

And currently, in Genesis, it has not gotten any easier.

Our conversations are honest and blunt.  And we question the people in the Bible and the scriptures we have read.

And there is one question we find ourselves asking over and over again after watching these people fail big time.  Not once.  But once more.  And then yet again.

We wonder—how can God use these people?  They are okay.  Pretty normal.  Not that courageous or strong.  Not too convicted at times or quick to make decisions that were not okay at others.

And why, sometimes, were such harsh punishments bestowed upon some?

And how could Abraham be considered a great man of faith?  Not just once but twice he claimed that his wife was his sister so that his life would be spared?  Wouldn’t it be better for him to defend his wife with his very life?

Oh, my, my friends.  I haven’t even begin to touch all of the scripture we have covered.

Sodom and Gomorrah?

Lot.

His daughters.

Tragic tragedy after tragic tragedy.

And we are not shying away from any scripture.  Not any verse.  Not any choice, decision, or consequence of action.

Lives altered.  Years numbered.  Families made.  Families destroyed.  Children had.  Children abandoned.

Where am I going with this?

This past week as we finished reading through the story of Sodom and Gomorrah with Lot, his wife, his daughters, his sons-in-law, and the death of his wife, sons-in-law and then what took place after with his daughters, my stomach was sick and my heart heavy.

But let me first say, If you want to read a pretty story without gory details and blunt honesty, find a different book.  The Bible has never shied away from sharing the ugly truth along with the redeeming truth.

And, if you only look at it in parts, you will miss the beauty.

Which also came by way of ugly.  Death by brutal crucifixion.

But let me stop rambling and get to the title of this blog post: Failure to Live Faith Results in Failure to Teach Faith.

You see, story after story in the Bible shows men and women taking life upon their own shoulders. They choose to be angry or self-indulgent.  They choose to live loosely or make choices based on fear of their future.  And they choose to go about their lives in ways that separate themselves from God.

Sin will always separate us from God.

And, believe it or not, when we fail to live in faith we have opened up a whoop-bottom (I did want to write the other word for emphasis) can of trouble.

Because when we fail to live in faith we fail to teach faith.

And that, my friends, is the moral of my rambling…

So many times through the scriptures we have read so far, people have taken it upon their own shoulders and lives to make decisions EVEN if God has directed them in a different path.

As I continue to teach through the scriptures, not shying away from any, I had a HUGE heart check!

Am I faithful to teach my children that despite an overwhelming task set before me; despite fear of the future of the unknown; or despite feeling as if better is deserved—I must teach faith!

As a Christian that believes wholly in God the father and the gift of salvation through his son, Jesus Christ, I struggle daily.  I struggle daily with doing things my own way.

I struggle with fear.  Fear that what I believe needs to take place and how it may not come to fruition.

I struggle with trust.  Trusting that if I remain faithful to God’s instructions, His way will be done.

And perhaps that is also why I struggle.  Because what if God’s will is not my will?  What if I desire a different outcome in my finite mind than he has planned in all of his omnipresent knowledge?

What if????

All of these questions and doubt and fear are probably EXACTLY why the scriptures in the Bible share the blunt honesty of the stories of the men and women in them.

Because these people were not perfect.  They were not all full of “God is awesome and I will never sway in my faith of him!’

They were human.  Human and fearful.  Human and fearful and real.

And real is sometimes very ugly.

Ugly and not understood.

We can all shake our heads in understanding.  What we need to do, however, is STOP.

Stop living in fear.  Stop living in half-hearted faith.  Stop living as examples of “I’ll take care of this on my own!”

You may not know the future.  Heck, you may not even know your current present.  But what you do need to know is that God is here in your present.  And God is there—in your future.

And I believe one of the main reasons the scriptures are so clear to show the good with the bad and the ugly is so that we can see that God has always had a plan, but sometimes we like to try to change it—instead screwing it all up.

And the greatest lesson I have learned along this reading journey is this.  God’s way will be done.  But how we go about fulfilling it or accepting it is up to us.

Do I want to live in fear of the unknown and make choices along the way that God had wished I wouldn’t.  Teaching my children and those around me that faith is only okay when I don’t have fear?

Or do I want to live in faith.  Making difficult decisions along the way despite the unknown, my faith remains?

In faith, I am choosing the latter.  And, I hope through my life, my children learn to trust and have faith.  That my children learn to overcome fear.  That my children learn that God has, is, and will be there.

And we are to live according to His Will in our lives-even if we are unsure what that is.

Because that is what it means to have faith.  And this is what I hope to teach.

After all, as FDR once stated, “…the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

And when you choose fear over faith, you, too, are paralyzing your efforts needed to convert retreat AWAY from God’s will in your life to ADVANCE for what plans he has for you.

Today, my friends, that is what I pray for me.  For my husband.  For my children.  And for you.

God bless.

Thanksgiving all Pilgrim and Fajita Style

From the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, the definition of thanksgiving (not the holiday) is:  1.  the act of giving thanks  2.  a prayer expressing gratitude  3.  a public acknowledgment or celebration of divine goodness

And pilgrim is:  1.  one who journeys in foreign lands :  wayfarer  2.  one who travels to a shrine or holy place as a devotee  3. capitalized  :  one of the English colonists settling at Plymouth in 1620

And, therefore, today as we celebrate capital THANKSGIVING, we do it as pilgrims full of thanksgiving.  Ones that have journeyed to a foreign land and participated in the act/prayer/public acknowledgement of God’s divine goodness in our lives.  

But, because we live in a foreign country and are a bit on the side of rebels anyway, we decided to be Pilgrims all Fajita style!

We hope your day of family and giving thanks was fantastically wonderful!

Thanks for joining our crazy,

B and R and our gang of rebel Pilgrims…Enjoying life fajita-style

*Only cows and chickens suffered at the hands of our meal.  All turkeys were spared*

A Psalm of Thanksgiving.

1 Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! 2 Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. 3 Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.  4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. 5 For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.  Psalm 100 (NKJV)

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