Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I once was lost...

My sister-in-law told me a story today that I really wanted to share.

When she and her husband got married, they stopped going to church, although they didn't really tell anyone they did. They weren't sure if they were going to be an active religious family or if they were just going to teach their children the "right" way to live.

They both had grown up in the Catholic faith and were married in the Catholic church. They both had attended Catholic school as well.

I have to admit that I didn't know where their faith stood after they got married. It wasn't a subject we had really broached, and I have to confess I should have been praying about it when I wasn't sure where they were at.

But no matter - God hadn't forgotten them.

They have a 1-year-old, and when the family moved to Florida, they realized that doing things the right way wasn't enough and they needed to find God again. They found a local church and planned to go to confession before mass. They missed the confession time and weren't going to take communion, and then during the service the priest said that he had run out of time and would hold another confession afterward.

If that wasn't enough to say that God was watching, the next part was.

When the priest gave his homily, it was on lost sheep. He started out by saying that he had heard a story in the news about a dog in Fairbanks, Alaska. (My sister-in-law and her family had just moved to Florida from a town just outside Fairbanks). The story was about a blind dog that got lost in a snow storm, and although it lasted three days the dog still found his way home.

The priest said that sometimes people also get lost, but God will always help his children find their way home in the storm.

I like the way my sister-in-law put it — "It still makes me a little teary-eyed when I think about it," she said. "That homily was meant for us and God really did guide us back home."

She said she was embarrassed to talk about it before, because she didn't want to tell me that she was questioning God. However, we both think it's something that a lot of people, especially our age, go through.

Sometimes when you're raised with a set of beliefs, you're not sure if they're your own or if they're your parents'. Although it's sad that sometimes we get lost when we step out to find our own way, it's so encouraging to hear a first-hand story that God is right there the entire time. He never leaves us or forsakes us. It's never him that moves away, it's us that sometimes take steps off the path and end up having to find our ways back when we get lost.

I love the fact that the story my sister-in-law heard was about Fairbanks, Alaska. It's obvious that God really was talking right to them, and it gives me goosebumps to think about. God is so big, and we are so small, but he obviously cares about us.

I'm so happy that my in-laws have strengthened faith now and that their daughter is going to be raised in the fear of the Lord. What a great God we have. He never gives up.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Just keep running

Last week, Nate and I went for a run at a local park.

Well, for one, he is a lot better runner than I am. If I run a mile without walking, I consider that success. He used to run cross country. He is just built like a runner and it comes a lot easier to him than it does to me.

We had gone about halfway around the park when my lack of activity for the last six months caught up with me. My throat felt raw, and my lungs were tight as a I tried to breathe. I stopped and walked for a few steps before Nate looked back at me.

"You can make it to the car," he said.

He told me I wasn't going to get any better if I just gave up. So I sucked it up and continued running with him.

I am 100 percent sure that if he hadn't been there, I would have walked the rest of the time. I was tired and it was hard, and I was not going to keep going.

Today, I was listening to a sermon on the radio that talked about running the race and how we should push through. That if the beginning is hard, we have to run even harder to the finish line.

In order to do that though, we have to have help. Alone, we'll give up when running gets too hard. I need support from Nate to not only get through running but to keep running the race in life as well.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Encourage someone today

I got a call on Monday morning from someone I wrote an article about in last weekend's paper. She just wanted to say "thank you" and that it had helped her business.

Today, I got a message on Facebook from a friend who read yesterday's blog and was inspired to continue supporting her kids and putting them first because she saw that it really is worth it, as I have experienced.

Those little moments make life worth it. It makes it worth the effort to keep writing a blog that I wasn't sure if anyone really read. It makes it worth it to keep doing a good job at work.

That's why it's important to encourage other people. When you appreciate what someone does, say "thank you" or "good job." Tell them that what they are doing is worth it, or they might just stop doing it.

Tommy Oaks said to never resist a generous impulse. And although that was about money, it's also about being generous with your support and encouragement. When you see someone with a cute outfit, tell them. When you see someone help out a stranger tell them you noticed their effort. When you see someone who is doing a good job at a mundane job, tell them. Encouragement is so important in a world today when we all seem to be on our own and no one seems to care.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Supporting me through the year

I just want to say that I am thankful for my parents.

Getting ready for my dance studio's recital this past weekend, I heard some girls say that their parents weren't coming. One girl is a senior and said her dad wasn't coming - and she didn't mind. (I doubt that). Another was a junior in high school. Her mom was supposed to join her for a mother-daughter dance, and she said her mom refused to come.

They acted like it wasn't that big of a deal and brushed it off, but I know it had to hurt.

However, that just made me realize how blessed I am. My parents sat through years and years of dance recitals, from kindergarten through my senior year of high school.

They attended dance performances at my college six hours away from home.

When I got a full-time job and started teaching dance on the side, they have been to all but one of my recitals. And one of them I wasn't even in, they just came to see the work I had done.

With each recital about three hours long - and some at my studio growing up even longer - that's a lot of hours of dance that my parents have sat through just to support me.

That's not even to mention the softball games, basketball games and volleyball games I played in through the years, the sports games that I cheered at, the plays I was in, the mock trial competitions they came to, the games that I danced at, the concerts I sang in, the concerts I played percussion in...the list goes on and on.

There might have been a few things one or both of my parents had to miss, but it was a rare occasion that they weren't there cheering me on.

And they have never complained. I have never heard that they were bored or tired or didn't want to go. All I have ever heard is "Good job," "you were beautiful," "we're so proud of you," and this year, "You're still our star."

It could make me cry thinking about how wonderful I had it and still have it. If only I can someday live up to the beautiful example of parenthood that my parents have given me.

I also want to give a shout-out to my wonderful husband who has also sat through numerous dance recitals as well :) What a good man!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A father's voice calling

I'm still struggling with the whole predestination issue. I never believed that growing up, thinking that although God knew ahead of time who would choose him - because he knows everything - we all had free will to choose or reject.

In fact, I have always stayed away from Reformed churches because they believed that only certain people have been selected by God and were predestined to accept Jesus as their savior. The church I attend now also has pointed out several Scriptures that seem to point to the fact that Jesus has called certain people, and that those who reject him actually can't believe.

That brings up a lot of questions I don't have the answers to - why would God only call certain people? What's the point in sending out missionaries if God has only predestined certain people?

Whether it's predestination or not, I like the way my pastor put it on Sunday. He said God being our father is like a father calling his kids playing in a gymnasium full of other youngsters. When he calls out, only his children will answer him, because they recognize his voice. The others will go on playing and doing their own thing.

This could be taken as predestination, that only some people recognize God's voice. Or I guess it could also be taken as those who have already accepted Jesus hear his voice and obey - at least we should. Those who don't yet recognize God as their father will continue doing their own thing. However, when we Christians hear God calling we are supposed to immediately drop the ball we're playing with and go running. It doesn't always happen - sometimes we ask for five more minutes or act like we don't hear the call, but we should always answer.

Monday, April 15, 2013

A lesson in mattress moving

Nate and I have moved from a king-size bed - that was part of our furnished former duplex - back to his old full-size bed.

Even moving that upstairs to our room in our new house was a struggle. The box spring didn't fit and we gave that away. The mattress would only fit if we could fold it enough to get it through the doorway to the steep, steep stairs.

Nate said he would pull the mattress up and I should stay at the bottom.

I couldn't lift the mattress from the bottom I didn't think, so I said Nate should stay there and I would go up the stairs and push on the mattress to fold it.

Well, I wasn't strong enough to fold the mattress either, so Nate and I ended up having to switch.

When we got to the top, Nate explained that was his thinking in the beginning. He knew I wouldn't be able to fold it enough to get through the doorway, so that's why he told me to stay at the bottom. "Well," I said, "You should have told me that."

However, he said that he shouldn't have to and I should just trust him. I told him I would be a lot less crabby and questioning if he would just explain his reasoning.

"I should just take you at your word?" I said.

Then I stopped, and we both looked at each other like, obviously, yes, I should just take my husband at his word. I continued to argue however and said that he should still explain his reasoning, but he knew that I realized what I had said and didn't say anymore.

I trust my husband completely, and he hasn't let me down when he has asked me to do things in the past. It's easier when he explains himself, but I should just take him at his word, because he is the leader of our home. I should just trust he has my good at heart and do as he asks in situations like this.

It's similar to how we act with God. We always want to know why, and sometimes God just wants us to do what he wants and not worry about the why. Like I should with Nate, we all should take God at his word.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Slow down

I just got off the phone with famed photographer David Plowden.

He's 80 years old, and still as firey as ever. He really struck me with one statement as he was talking about the need for people to slow down.

"Every shadow, every blade of grass is important."


Our world is so hectic. Car accidents happen because people aren't even noticing the other vehicles around them let alone slowing down enough each day to notice shadows and grass.

Yet when I think about all the times that have been the most peaceful, the most relaxing, the most enjoyable they are the moments that I have slowed down. I remember walking through my college town a few years ago and reveling at the squirrels in the trees. I said a thank you to God for everything beautiful I passed, and I felt so close to him. A more recent relaxing moment was on our honeymoon, when we spent a night in Key Largo on the way to St. Lucia. We were swinging in a hammock as the sun went down, and little silver fished jumped out of the ocean. It was pure peace and happiness.

Those slow moments are so precious, maybe because they are so few and far between. However, I think we could have more of them if we only prioritized our lives correctly. Life isn't about how much we get done. We have one chance at it; we might as well enjoy it.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Top 10 thankful items

I think it's time for a thankful list; what are you thankful for today?

1. Our new home!
2. My handy husband who can wire outlets and make his own workbench and hang shelves and so much more.
3. Weather that is warming up toward springtime.
4. My favorite restaurants reopening for the summer season, including my favorite crab cake pretzel roll sandwich that I got to eat last night.
5. A job as other people I know have been recently laid off.
6. A church that preaches straight from God's Word.
7. Friends who offer to help us move and come visit us and call just to chat.
8. Parents who plan vacations to come visit us and help us with our house.
9. Did I mention my husband? I'm doubly thankful for the wonderful man I'm married to.
10. Our dance recital that is coming up. I love dance, but it's also nice after the recital to have a summer break. It's almost like being back in school!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

So thankful

So far, this has been a week of Thanksgiving.

First, we celebrated Easter on Sunday, and that holiday is always a great reminder of what Jesus has done for us. Our pastor talked about how the death and resurrection of Jesus isn't a soft news feature story but a hard news story that we all need to know and need to know now.

Jesus died on the cross, the most brutal way to die conceived of at that time. Although he was without blemish in the sight of God, Jesus took on all our sins and guilt and died so that we wouldn't have to die an eternal death. He became the sacrificial lamb that was all any of us would ever need.

Nate and I are still in the first few books of the Bible in our quest to read the book in a year. We have read a lot in Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy about all the sacrifices the Israelites had to make to God to be in good standing with him. We don't have to do that anymore, because Jesus was our ultimate sacrifice.

What more is there to be thankful for? That's all we'll ever need!

However, there was more for us to be thankful for. This morning Nate and I signed a massive stack of papers that made us homeowners! It's our seven-month anniversary, and we are so thankful to be entering a home of our very own that we can fix and paint and decorate (OK, so the decorating joy is all mine) and never have to move out of until we decide to! No more landlords, leases and having to find a place to rent.

We are both so thankful that God has blessed us greatly in our lives, in our marriage and that we have secure jobs and finances to be able to take such a step. God is truly great!