Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Wishes

I love Christmas.

Christmas is simultaneously a time of joy and sometimes sad nostalgia.  I can't help but think about Christmases past.  Often times those memories include people who have passed away, and I can't help but have a small heart ache for their loss.  However, Christmas present is such a joyous time.  My four year old daughter keeps saying, "Mommy, this is going to be the most wonderful Christmas ever!"  Her enthusiasm and genuine excitement and wonder, are so heartwarming that I know that Christmas present is by far the happiest of all Christmases.

Christmas past

I grew up in deep South Texas.  That is to say that it was never really cold.  We had a faux fireplace in our house, and no snow for sleighs or reindeer.  I have both a brother and a sister, who are, and I say this proudly, both older than me. ( Insert evil-smiley smirk here!)  One Christmas, I have no idea how old we were, but I am guessing around 4, 7, and 8.  On Christmas Eve the three of us all slept together in one room. We were NOT going to bed.  We were going to wait for Santa and his reindeer. We talked, laughed, and planned on how we were going to catch Santa leaving our gifts.  My mother had come in several times to tell us to go to bed, because Santa could not come unless we were sleeping.  On her last attempt, the most AMAZING thing happened, we heard Santa land on our roof.  There was a definite sound of running, and a very realistic sound of a sleigh.  To hear my mom tell the story, three children had never been to sleep faster than that night.  That was the night that my dad, took branches, and ran up and down our roof pretending to be Santa!  Of all my Christmases, I think this is the one I remember the most.  I don't remember the gifts but  I remember Santa landing on our roof.  Thanks Mom and Dad, for making it fun!

Christmas Present

I find that I sometimes am sad over missing the Grandparents who have passed and the family too far to visit, wishing that I could share Christmas with everyone I love from all ages of my life.  The reality is that Christmas present is for making new traditions and celebrating Christmas the way we want to celebrate for our daughter.  Even though I am called an adult, most of the time I don't feel like one.  It is foreign to me, to be creating new traditions for MY family to start and celebrate.  I keep thinking how much Santa is too much Santa?  How do we properly emphasize Jesus, but still have fun with Santa?  Other simple decisions like do we have turkey, prime rib, or ham seem to have me in a quandary. 

That is when the gentle nudge of the Holy Spirit puts things into perspective for me.  Jesus was born in a manger!  Mary and Joseph had no room at the inn, and probably no fancy meal.  They had something so much better, than stockings of candy, gifts, and big meals.  They had real joy and heavenly love.  They had the newborn baby, Jesus, the Savior of the world.  They weren't focused on earthly stresses like their hotel, or their meal, they were focused on LOVE.  With this in mind, I am thinking that we may just change the way we do things.  I want stress-free and love filled!  I think that this year, while we will still have a meal, and gifts, we are going to take it easy.  We are going to Church, then home to relax.  This year there will be no major table setting, no fancy crystal, no unnecessary stress, just family and love.  Who cares what the table looks like, or if I am in my pajamas!  Jesus came as a gift.  He came to forgive of us our sins, he came to show us great love.  This Christmas, that it what I want for my family.  I want smiles, lots of hugs, I love you's all around.  I want to live out loud the call to "love one another as I have loved you."  This Christmas will be a celebration honoring Jesus, and His unfailing love for us.

To each of you my dear friends, I pray that you will honor Jesus by showing love and mercy where you haven't been showing it.  I pray that love overflow your homes, and hearts with the knowledge that Jesus came to save us, and show us love.  Finally I pray, that if your heart does not have a home with Jesus that you will hear his knock and open the door, to the best Christmas gift ever given.

Merry Christmas!

Luke 2: 8- 14
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 1112 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.
 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
   and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Monday, December 19, 2011

My top 5 favorite Christmas Songs

I decided to do something a little different.  I have had many things floating around that I wanted to write about but decided to try something new.  When I can complete a thought that is not about baking, wrapping, and figuring out all the family stuff, I will let you know!

O Come Emmanuel.

I think this may be my absolute favorite Christmas song.  First may I just say, I love Third Day, and think Mac Powell can sing the Oscar Meyer Hot dog song and I would love it.  However, I find this song to be incredibly powerful.

I admit that growing up, I was like, Silent Night again?  Really can't we mix it up?  I believe this might have been the only Christmas carol that my Pastor must have liked, because it seems like it was all the time, and frankly, I grew tired of it.  Now when Mercy Me came out with this version, I found a new love for it.  I enjoy Mercy Me, and I like the guitar, and "folky" sound they give this carol.

It is all about the simple guitar.  You can hear the words and they are heart felt.  Love it!

Again acoustic rock sound, you just can't go wrong.

One word: Elf
"Cotton headed ninny muggins!"

Bonus Track:

I hope this helps you get in the Christmas spirit.  As you rush around this week to prepare for celebrating, I pray that each of you will remember the gift of the baby Jesus.  I pray that you will remember that, Jesus was the most important gift ever given.  God Bless each of you and Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Naughty or Nice: Good vs Evil

 I wonder why it is sometimes hard to do the right thing.  This has been echoing in my mind for a few days now.  I keep thinking about the age-old battle of good vs evil and the war on Christianity.  After listening in Sunday school today, I am certain that this should be the topic of my blog. 

I believe there is a war on Christianity.  I believe as Christians we are constantly under attacked by those who do not believe and want to end the hope and love found in Christ Jesus.  However, I will propose, that while this is a very important battle, we also need to address the other parallel and equally important war.  That is the war within us, often pictured as the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other.

Here is an example of why sometimes doing the right thing, can be hard.

This week I visited a friend in the hospital.  I previously wrote about this same family.  This couple is watching their child die, and they have shown the most amazing faith and courage.  I only had a few minutes to visit.  I wanted to show God’s love, I wanted to pray with them, and I wanted them to know they have support.  I walked into the hospital room, and was greeted with a warm smile from the mother.  I gave her some chocolate because frankly, that is what I want in times of crisis.  Then I felt this overwhelming sense of what do I say now?  What do I do now?  How can I really help?  All these questions began flooding my mind filling me with doubts about my presence being there.  This gave way to nervous small talk about irrelevant stuff.  I prayed with her, and then I left.  I left feeling as if everything I said and did was all wrong!

Now, as you read that paragraph, what did you notice?  Once at home, I had an epiphany.  The epiphany was two fold.  First, there is way to much “I” in the paragraph above, not nearly enough God.  Secondly, was that I let the “devil on my shoulder” convince me that what I was doing was not good enough, and unnecessary.  You see, I think that we often don’t do good things because of the awkwardness of the moment.  I believe that most people want to do good things, but often hear that voice saying, “No don’t do that YOU will look stupid or YOU will look fake.”  When the truth is, God calls us to love one another, and to take care of those in need.  Any small gesture is better than no gesture at all.

John 13: 34-35
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Romans 12: 9-10
9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.

2 Corinthians 11
 11 Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.

The verses are so convicting to me.  Love sincere, honor others above yourself, encourage one another, and the God of love and peace will be with you!  After my epiphany, I thought, regardless of what my own insecurities are I know I did the right thing.  God calls us to love, to take care of one another, to serve each other, and provide needs when someone cannot meet their needs.

I believe we are in fact at war.  I think that the devil creeps up on us in so many more ways than we even realize.  He uses our guilt, our past, and our insecurities to keep us from moving forward.  While we easily see the war on Christianity in the media, out of Hollywood, or the Middle East, it is the war on our shoulders that may be the biggest threat to our souls.  In this season of Christmas, when the birth of Jesus is celebrated, I think it is easy to find myself on the naughty list.  It isn’t because of an abundance of naughty deeds, it is because there are few sacrificing nice deeds where there should be an abundance.  There are whispers in my ears from my shoulders telling me to show more love, give more fully, and live with more Christ and less me.  These whispers are not just for Christmas, they are for all the time, when Jesus, the one who counts is watching.

As Christmas quickly approaches, I ask these simple questions, which shoulder are you listening to?  Are you on the naughty or nice list?  Where is Christ in your celebration?  By your love, can anyone tell you are a disciple of the God of love and peace?  The answers for me, if I am being honest, can sometimes change from minute to minute. My hope is that as I continue to seek God, my consistency will change from minute-to-minute, to week-to-week, to year-to-year.

This is my mindset, now let me hear yours!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


I am going to tell you a story.   This is a true story about a family from my church.  This family is a beautiful example of Faith in God.  The thirteen-year-old daughter in this family was admitted to the hospital almost a month ago.  She had a persistent fever and a rash, then septic shock.   All of this has lead to many complications that has her currently in a vegetated state with no answers, only questions.  This family has endured so many trials and so many emotional days, that it is hard to comprehend how they are getting out of bed in the morning.  That is except that they know Jesus, a loving and faithful God.  While I do not know them well, I still pray for them every day.  I stand amazed at the work God is doing in their lives.  The mother is one of the first people who tried to be a friend to me when we joined our church.  We attended her Sunday school class and another trying to decide where God wanted us.  While we ended up in another class, she is always showing God’s love to me whenever, we see each other.  She is a blessing.
In all of this I wonder why?  The strangest thing is that the answers to the why continue to come straight from those faithful parents.  Here are a few verses that they have used as their prayer rocks in this difficult time:

  • “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28 NLT
·         "In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and His children shall have a place of refuge" Proverbs 14:26
·         “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5 NLT
  • “The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.” Psalm 9:9 NLT
·         “Lord you are more precious than silver, Lord you are more costly than Gold, Lord you are more beautiful than Diamonds, and nothing I desire compares with you. This is my song and my prayer for the day. I want to desire nothing, including my daughter getting well, except for God in my life. Here I am Lord, use me today for your glory.” –written by the mother of the family.
·         "Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth." Psalm 46:10.  So I have to keep my mind and heart still and rest in the comfort and peace of knowing the one true living God. –written by the father of the family
Amongst all these comforting verses, these parents are hurting, but their faith seems unshakable.  While I know, there are many quiet moments of tears and wishing things were different; this is what they choose to share with the world.  This is their testimony to God.  The answer to all the why questions are for God’s purpose and plans, and refuge is only found in Him.  When I get to heaven, I often think I want to walk the streets of gold and ask Jesus all the things I’ve always wanted to know.  For now, I am going to stand in amazement at how God is showing himself through these faithful servants.  This time and circumstance is painful beyond what I can imagine. There are no words to describe the angst this family is feeling.  I am hopeful because the Lord hears all, and knows all. Isaiah 40:31 confirms the gift of hope:

 “31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”   

I have hope in the Lord, that he is meeting their needs, not their wants but their needs, and they will “not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”  I believe that in their example, they are planting the seeds for the salvation of many. 

As the Christmas season approaches so many of us will be preparing for family meals and parties.  We will be so busy with life and celebrating the season that we will find ourselves reflecting less of God and more of the world.  After watching this family struggle and praying for them daily, I want to be better this year.  I want my CHRISTmas season and every season to be more about reflecting God.  This family has touched my heart, as a sister in Christ my heart aches for them.  I find myself asking, how do I show God in my life?  When I react to the situations of life and the CHRISTmas season, am I acting the way God truly wants me to?  Am I showing his love, mercy, and grace?  I don’t know, but I am determined to be more conscious about it.
Today, in conclusion, I ask that you please life this family up in your prayers.  Let us bombard the Lord with prayers of love, let’s cry out this CHRISTmas season, with prayers of love for God, love for one another, and let’s make our lives reflect God everyday.

This is my mindset, now I want to hear yours!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thankfulness and Thanksgiving

At this time of year, everyone has his or her minds on thankfulness.  As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, it would be quite easy for me to rattle off the many good things that make me thankful.  However, it was brought to my attention at Bible study, that God says we should be thankful in all things.  One of my favorite chapters of the Bible Philippians 4 also discusses being thankful.

Philippians 4: 4-7

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

While there are a ton of things these verse are talking about and I believe I have covered some of them before, my take home today is in ALWAYS and EVERY situation we should be thankful. It occurred to me that I should come up with a few things that are not so easy to be thankful for, and take the time to thank God, for them as well.  So, here goes…..


God, I am thankful for my diabetes.  I have said this before, but I am thankful that God gave me diabetes for a couple of reasons.  The first reason being no one and I, mean NO ONE else in my family could have taken the tests that diabetes has given me.  I firmly believe that this is one of those situations when the saying applies: God never gives you more than you can handle.  He selected me because despite my ups and downs, PUN INTENDED, I have this because I have HIM.  The second reason I am thankful for having diabetes is because, I believe it makes me a kinder and more understanding person.  I can have empathy for others who are struggling with their health. I know what it is like when you just do not feel good; there is nothing you can do about it, it just has to pass.


God, I am thankful for loss.  There are many times in life when I have had loss.  Maybe it was loss of a loved one, a broken friendship, or an opportunity.  Each and every time I experience a loss there is always a moment in which I see that it was a blessing in disguise.  While I might mourn for someone who has passed and long to share more moments, I think the Lord in His perfect timing has saved a life from suffering.  Or maybe the loss of an opportunity has me feeling like a failure, but I am thankful that God closes the doors that need closing.  Loss is maybe the thing to be most thankful for….


God, I am thankful for housework. If you read my blog than you know, housework is like my mortal enemy.  You realize how much I dislike making my bed and mopping floors.  It is the season of thanksgiving so I am thankful to have a bed to make.  I am thankful to have a house to clean.  I am thankful that my floors need mopping and are not made of mud.  I am thankful that of all the things I could be complaining about, this is a “good” complaint to have!  Lord, I am blessed in my life and in this moment, I am truly thankful for housework.

This thanksgiving, I pray that when you join your family to spend time and share meals, that you will take time to thank God for all the many good and bad blessings in your lives.  To each of you God bless you and have a wonderful and truly THANKFUL, thanksgiving.

This is my thankful mindset, now let me hear yours!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

I want to Scream!

Lately I find myself wanting to yell, “Really people? Really?  It seems that we are in a situation where the world has gone crazy.  I have never been one of those, “it is a sign of the end times kind of people.”  Frankly, up until a year or so ago, that kind of talk scared me.  However, these days I find that it is much easier to pray for the quick return of Jesus.  Here are a few things that just make me want to scream, “Really? What the heck is wrong with you?”

The Penn State Scandal:

UH HELLO!  It baffles my mind that there were so many people who knew of the situation and NOT one called the police.  NOT a single person told the parents.  I guess I might be able to understand why the witness did not say something or stop the perpetrator during the time that he witnessed the abuse.  However, I cannot wrap my mind around why no one called the police.  No one did anything; it frightens me to think that winning a football game is more important than that kid’s life.  Then to add insult to injury, the students of Penn state are protesting and rioting over the firing of Joe Paterno.  I happen to agree with my mother-in-law that says some parents need to have a serious conversation with their student.   Someone needs to tell them, that they are wrong, and to behave or they should be cut off!  I realize that while Joe Paterno did nothing illegal, he just did nothing.  It baffles me, for a man so respected and supposedly responsible for turning out quality athletes, this is the example he set.  Really, people where are your heads?

Occupy Wall Street.

UM…Hmm, I am actually surprised that it took this long to hear of the crime and violence.  I thought the words of one of my Sunday school friends say it best.  The absence of order is chaos, chaos breeds sin and sin is violence and crime.  The Occupy people think that if we are all equal that we can live harmoniously with each other, wrong there has to be some form of order in society.  Granted there are things not everyone likes about Government, but ultimately, having rules/laws/ordinances keep people from running a muck and hurting each other.   Please Occupiers, stop occupying and start trying for a real solution, or just move to another country please, preferably one that already supports your socialist views.   REALLY, PLEASE!

While I don’t often go off on these tangents it is just incredible the total lack of a God conscience we have in the United States.  While it seems to be all of the sudden, I realize that this has been like this for quite some time.  There are things that began to jeopardize our society long before I was born.  The one that comes to mind first is the Woman’s Rights movement.  While I am sure it intention was to do wonderful things for women, it has in turned killed the American family.  It has inadvertently made it so that staying home with your children is a bad thing.  The Woman’s movement also, I use this word loosely, accidentally, encouraged the accepting of promiscuity and the idea that a woman does not need a man.  Now, we kid ourselves that we are happy with the choices made to work instead of teach our children, or that we are happy being that single mom trying to achieve it all.  Achieving it all is a lie, something has to give, and it usually gives with the behavior and absence in the life of the children. (**Disclaimer, I know that there are single mom's who had no choice in the matter, and are doing what they can to make the best of a bad situation.  I am not talking about you.)

While all of these scenarios make me want to scream, “What is wrong with you people?”  I know the answer.  The answer is people are not seeking God.  I think the majority of people have a surface knowledge of God.  I mean to say, they know a few key scriptures or the Lord’s prayer, but they have no idea of God’s promises, and standards for living.  I think many people think that living by God’s standard is too hard to do.  Actually, God says in the Bible, “Delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalms)  I use to think this verse meant if I was good, God would give me what I wanted worldly, like a new car or something.  Recently, I heard this verse explained that God will give you the desires of your heart, meaning, He will make your desires.  He can make the tasks that seem hard, seem like the things you love to do.  Can I get a WOW? 

I guess now the question is how can we show God to those who are not seeking and make following him desirable?  The good news is all we have to do is show God’s love, share His word, and God will do the rest. 

This is my mindset, now I want to hear yours!

One more thing:  I know I have readers who aren't following me, but I would like to encourage you, to come along!  God is teaching me so many things, and we are laughing together along the way!

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Ranch

This is something I wrote a few weeks ago, but finally feel it is the right time to share it. I hope you enjoy it!

This week, I have felt like going to the ranch.  You are probably wondering what does that mean?  Well, my family has a cattle ranch.  The property has been ours for over one hundred years.  We have always had Santa Gertrudis cattle, the cattle of the famous south Texas King Ranch.  I grew up going to the ranch with my dad and brother.  My mom and sister went with us occasionally, but for the most part this was something that I shared with the men of my life, grandpa too.

We spent many summer days working out there.  Well, that is what we called it, but most of it was play.  I learned to drive a tractor and then a truck out on that property.  I learned how to shoot a gun, and go jack rabbit hunting.  I learned that when Juan, our ranch hand,  agreed with my dad, that I just NEEDED to go lift the lid on THAT barrel, it meant the bottom of the barrel was filled with live rattlesnakes.  (Juan use to catch them and sell them for their venom.)  I also learned how to haul hay, back when we used square bales.  I was never great at lifting them, but I gave it my best.  I also know what cow feed tastes like, what being kicked by a calf feels like, and what being covered in dust and cow crap is like.  

My favorite ranch story includes my dad and Juan again.  We went out to check on a heifer that had been sick, and to give her a quick shot.  Earlier that week, we had another animal that was bit by a snake and died in the same pasture.  That animal was now a feast for the buzzards.  Buzzards are really nasty birds up close.  As we left the pasture there were a few buzzards parked in a tree.   As we drove by, at the last minute one of the birds decided to fly away.  Buzzards are big, and slow, that is when the SPLAT happened.  Now initially I thought that we had hit and killed the bird with the truck, because there were guts that had flown in through the open windows.  However, we quickly realized, as my dad’s arm and shirt were covered not with bird guts, but bird poop.  As much as I was ok with a little dirt, there are some things that make a girl draw the line.  Buzzard poop is one of those things, it was nasty!  As I am having my teenage girl freak out, yucky moment, my dad looks at me and says, “Mirm….Mirm (my nickname) did you know that buzzard’s poop maggots. That is what they eat!”  This made him and Juan laugh pretty hard while I grossed out a little more.  Needless to say, I actually sprayed my dad with Lysol and we drove home windows down, because the smell was so bad.  He got the first shower that night.  After that Juan used to laugh and tease me saying, “Mirandita, Cuidado con los pajaros!” (Little Miranda, watch out for the birds.)

What I really mean when I say I want to go to the ranch is that I am a little home sick.  The constant hustle and bustle of life make things loud and sometimes out of focus.  There is no better place to talk to God than the ranch.    The ranch is the place I know as one of God’s great creations.  I know that ranch land in South Texas may not be as beautiful as say, the mountains of Colorado, or the forests of Alaska, but it is still an amazing creation.  The ranch is a symbol for a place to go where you hear only the buzz of the bugs, the wind in the grass, and the melodies of the cows mooing in the pasture.  It is a place where you can sit on a tractor for hours and talk to God about your life.  It is a place where it is possible that the stillness and quiet can offer the opportunity to hear the voice of God.

All of this struck me during Bible study this morning, as we studied the life of King David, and his anointing.  King David had many wonderful characteristics the Bible calls him, “a man after God’s own heart.”  The discussion we had this morning was about King David’s commitment to prayer, to waiting on God, and to listening for God’s answers.  I thought where is my “ranch?”  Then the speaker pointed something amazing out.  Many times as David was praying and listening for God he was in the middle of a war, or running from some one trying to attack him.  Now, I can relate to that!  I think it is great to have a quiet place to get away, but what am I doing when there is no quiet time?  What does my prayer life look like when I am swallowed up by life?  My "AHA" moment, there is no perfect quiet time.  If King David and God can have a prayer conversation in the midst of the war, why can’t I have one with the washing machine and dishwasher running?  The best take away from today’s Bible study, “God does not want perfect women, he wants women who are seeking him with their whole heart.”  I think sometimes I get caught in a legalistic thinking of these things, when the bottom line is relationship. 
This week, I am going to try to bring “the ranch” into my everyday, but instead of the hum of bugs and moos of cows, I will embrace the sounds of the dishwasher, washing machine, shower, or worse the water running in the sink preparing to mop, and make it all time to talk to the Lord.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Loving Old

I am still thinking about the Sermon from Sunday morning.  While I know there were great truths about Jesus being the Son of God, I am stuck thinking about the love.  My pastor talked about how as the world grows further away from God, love will dry up.  He mentioned that while we live in the word, it is easy to be jaded, cautious and untrusting.  He said that love will get harder the older we get because experience will teach us to be weary of being hurt or disappointed.

WOW, this totally changes my plans for old age!  I was already prepared to be that loud mouth old lady who says whatever she wants whenever she wants.  I want to “call them like I see them,” but it occurred to me that, this approach may not be the most loving.  My husband and I constantly remind each other that GOD calls us to love one another.  We think God may have also called us to ride in separate cars to church on Sunday, because there is less arguing that way!  Better yet, if every Sunday can be like this passed Sunday, when I was quiet before church, there was a remarkable difference in our love on the way to church! LOL.  For those of you who know me well, know that me being quiet for long is almost an impossibility.  After all, I love to hear myself talk, and I love to read myself blog too!  LOL

The incredible impact of what Pastor David preached about on Sunday is sitting in my heart and relating to all the wild things going on in our country.  I think that the Occupy Wall street people might proclaim that they are seeking peace and love, but I ask are they really?  Love is one of those words that is loaded far deeper than people really invest in it these days.  If we take our love and compare it to God’s standards, then it may be that we never truly love.  There is a whole chapter devoted to love in the New Testament.  In actuality, the whole Bible is about love, but in 1 Corinthians, there is a great definition for love.  

Our world today is so caught up in political correctness, but that means nothing if you do not have love.  Think about it, why would we need political correctness if we were all treating each other with love.  It is almost laughable that we have to legislate equality.  I saw a report earlier on a group that made their bake sale prices reflect affirmative action.  After watching the report, I thought what was meant to do good really only made the divide between race greater.  After all, if we are going to give a discount to one group shouldn’t it be to all groups?  What if you went to Macy’s and the prices were structured to reflect that the group you belong to absolutely never got a sale, I think it would hack you off after awhile.  God help you if you complained, you would be vilified.  Then in turn it is likely that resentment would form toward the sale group.

Now, let’s take this back to love.  Is there anyone who doesn’t love love?  Is there anyone who doesn’t want to share love, or feel love?  Love can give you wings, it can give you strength, and love can give you life.  I mean that literally, if you know Jesus Christ.  When the Bible says, “…That the greatest of these is love,” this is more profound than we allow it to be.  This is one of those “Churchy” verses, every one says it, everyone knows it, but how many of us live it every day?

Everyone has someone around that is hard to love.  Usually they are part of your family.  Just writing this, I can bring to mind a few that I find difficult to love.  There are two categories for me:  someone who has hurt me in some way, and then the type who drives me crazy with their crazy beliefs or lack of belief. (Let’s face it, I can almost not carry on a conversation with someone who is what I will politely call a raging liberal democrat.)  The thing about it is God calls me to love them anyway.  

How do you love a raging liberal democrat?  Or even more importantly how do you love that person who hurt you?  I think for me, I just have to tell myself over and over again, that God calls me to love.  Love means everyone, all the time, and then I have to hit my knees and pray really hard until I can love.
I guess I will change my old age plans and be the loud mouth old lady who is full of love and laughter.  I think I will redefine old from grumpy old to old and loving.  Although it sounds like a cliché, couldn’t we all use a little more love in our lives?

That is my mindset now tell me yours!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

No Pinterest

I have received over the past two weeks invitations to the website: Pinterest.  Many of my friends have discussed how addicting it is, and how fun it is.  Today, I tried the website for the first time, and I believe it is the cause of a minor identity crisis.  This is when I suddenly realized, I am no ordinary woman.

You see the concept is simple.  Create a bulletin board.  Select various themes and then “pin” things to them that you want to try.  The boards can be about anything examples, cooking, arts and crafts, and sewing ideas.  Pintrest gives you a few default board titles, to help get you started.  The board that started this minor identity crisis was called “Things I love.”

Immediately I was screaming on the inside uh…ok….hmmmm…. what do I love?  Wait, oh my gosh, I don’t love anything!  Social Crisis!  I was acutely aware, that no one was going to care or want to “follow” a board on my love for chips and queso.  I confess, I missed the day in school when they taught girly! 

Confession 1:
I have never owned a hot glue gun.  I have seen it used once or twice by my mother-in-law, but I have never really done anything with hot glue. I have no “craft closet” in my house.  When I go to Hobby Lobby it is to buy something that is already made, or to fill a list for work or my daughter’s school.  I have never looked at ribbon and said I can make this into a beautiful bow.  Nor have I ever been on the scrapbook aisle and thought how fun it would be to cut and paste. 

Confession 2:
Sewing is not my thing.  What makes this statement so incredibly funny is that I work at an embroidery company!  However, I am not allowed to touch the machines.  I know just enough to make me dangerous should I ever get behind a regular sewing machine.  The only thing I have actually sewn is our Christmas stockings.  They are quite possibly are the saddest looking little stockings, but they are special.  My mother-in-law spent a whole afternoon showing me how to use the little sewing machine that I have never visited since.

Confession 3:
My cooking is simple, and my menu the same.  I cook the same things over and over.  I try new things, but nothing has ever made the long term cut.  I bake, but again it is chocolate chip cookies, or cake from a box.  You will not find me slaving in the kitchen over some exotic dish.  All good things can be bought pre-made! 

All of this is to say, that I have NO PINTEREST!  This website has given me a complex.  I actually spent time trying to think of hobby things I really like to do.  This is what I came up with:

I like to eat chips and queso.
I like to listen music.
I like blogging/writing.
I like funny.

I don’t know if these things can be “pinned” but there all I got and I am sticking with them.

For now, I end my blog with this conclusion, while I have no passion for any particular "womanly" hobby, I do love my family and my friends.  That love and their company must keep me content, and that is better than any silly hobby!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Dang toilet paper is expensive!

Lately life seems like it has me saying things like this.  It is as if all the sudden I have turned into one of my parents, walking up hill in a snowstorm to school because it made for a great lesson!  Literally, I was in the grocery store, and I had to buy toilet paper, and my usual brand, Scott tissue, price had increased almost $2.00.  I screamed on the inside, “What the heck!”  After all, this is paper that I will literally be flushing away after one use, and it costs more than my bath soap.  At least I get multiple uses from my bath soap, but don’t even get me started on how expensive soap is these days!

I guess I am in somewhat of a cantankerous mood because my house is in disarray.  Yes, it would be easy to laugh this off and say, what has changed?  I have never been an excellent housekeeper.  I will settle, yes settle, for being an ok housekeeper.  Over Labor Day, we had a pipe in our home break, and thus started a trickle down effect of things we are now doing to fix our house.  While there is still a hole in the wall and some missing carpet, the toys are off the floor for now.  Shoes on the other hand, have a way of creeping around.  While they have a proper home in a closet or shoe basket, they some how end up all over the place.

I tell you all of this to say that this chaos has wreaked havoc in my life.  I admit that I feel a little out of control and, inadequately prepared for almost everything.  This only confirms my current conclusions of Proverbs 31.  (I don’t know if you have read it, but it is a synopsis of what a Godly wife/woman should be.)  Frankly, I think the woman described here, was either an over achiever, and or taking speed.  I look at the list of noble character traits and find myself feeling like these are impossible to accomplish, and even more impossible with a happy heart.  I think, if I had lived back in those times, a trip to the well would have been interesting.  In my current state of mind, going to the well with a kid strapped in a papoose and water jug on my head would have only resulted in some major complaining.  The well would have been the modern day coffee shop or nail place.  It would be filled with women sharing the things that women share, or gossiping.  I can just hear it, “Did you see Miranda, there were dirty dishes in her hut, and even more shame, her bed unmade!”  While I admit that I have some real work to do in my interpretation and opinion of Proverbs 31, I know God has a reason for it.  At some point, I will find joy in mopping my floors and making my bed.  

It always strikes me as funny the way God works in life.  I am in a bible study about the Life of David.  It is called Anointed, Transformed, and Redeemed it is written by three amazing Christian women: Kay Arthur, Beth Moore, and Priscilla Shirer.  This week’s lesson was about going through disappointments.  Beth Moore gave many examples of situations when you expect something good, and then you get something bad.  I admit that with all this chaos, I felt lucky as I read the lesson.  I feel lucky, because lets face it in the middle of the chaos, I still have a roof over my head, food in my fridge, and a job.  God is choosing each “stressful” situation to teach me something, and prepare me for His plans for me.  While, I admit, that accepting God’s plan as oppose to my own is a hard pill to swallow, but it is ALWAYS for the best.  My house is suddenly like a metaphor, what God chooses to fix first is not necessarily where I would start!

Beth Moore wrote something that was so profound to me.  She wrote this:

 “If we only understood that any part of us crucified in doing His will becomes a hotbed of resurrection power.  Where we die to self, the Spirit of Christ is raised in us.”

While, I have heard and read verses that discuss this very subject, I don’t think they ever really sunk in.  This time the big bad word OBEDIENCE came to mind.  If I submit in obedience to God/ His will, then I am capable, prepared, and able to do anything.  WOW!  What an awesome thought!  If I am obedient, then my heart will find joy in the things that myself and the world are telling me is no fun.  Obedience is a scary word, I am not sure that anything in my life has been done obediently.  I think that God is telling me that he is going to work on this with me.  If I am being honest, the thought of working on obedience scares me!  Obedience is foreign to me!  I will have to trust God and see where this takes me.  I will let you know after I mop my floors and make my bed just how I am feeling!

This is my mindset; feel free to share yours with me!

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Big Things

I kind of like starting my blog as if we are in the middle of a conversation.  We have just spoken moments ago and you know exactly where I am coming from.  However, the truth is my blog has been  a slow conversation these days. Things just seem to come up and steal my time.   However, I am back in Bible study and so far my study as been enlightening.  It has me thinking about the BIG THINGS.

You see, I often think that God is not doing anything important in my life because there are NO big things happening.  I am waiting for my special calling.  In case you didn’t notice, I am what some people would call a “DRAMA QUEEN.”  Actually, my husband likes to say, I am like TNT, I know drama!  Well, for the most part he is right.  I often overreact and expect that the world should actually stand still when I stub my toe.  This is why I have an issue with the big stuff.   I keep thinking I am going to wake up one day and God is going to be like, “Hey Miranda, you are ready to be the next Anita Renfroe, or  here is this place where you can make a BIG difference in the lives of many.”  There are so many great examples of BIG stuff in the bible.  A whale swallowed Jonah.  David beat Goliath, the GIANT, and for that, matter won most every fight he fought.  Naturally I think that when I am called it is going to be something BIG, like sounding the horns at the walls of Jericho.

This week, during study, I read a profound revelation.  While reading about the anointing of God, and how it creates a super natural way to live, the author wrote this:

“While you have patience in your mothering, holiness in your singleness, gentleness in your response, contentment in your circumstances, and empowerment in the face of your challenges, you are experiencing the greatest miracle of all: God’s presence appearing in your life.”

This was a major AHA moment for me.  God’s work in my life is not at all about the big things, it is mostly about the little things.  It is how I react to life.  It is how I exhibit my Christianity.

Sooo, I went to Galveston on what I considered a last minute trip.  It was at that point that all God’s presence vanished from my life.  You see, my husband and I, while we love each other dearly, we do not travel well together.  We have two very different styles of travel.  I like to know where we are going, him not so much.  I like to plan, him not so much.  All travel with us starts with a few small arguments here and there, like did you pack this? Or don’t put my bag there!  Then it progresses into, I don’t want to go, you are being a pain!  It always turns out fine.  Once we are out of town the mood changes and the laughter starts.  We joke about how silly we acted, and how this is just part of some weird travel routine we have.  We agree that we should approach travel like Sunday morning church.  It would be better if we rode in separate cars!

Now that we are back from our whirlwind trip to Galveston, I have to question myself about the small things.  After all, the small things will drive a person insane.  The small things are the pieces that add together to make a great day or a bad day.  While I admit, I have never been detail oriented; I would say that the small things are where the real work is done.  I have to remember that sometimes God chooses the small moves to prepare us for the BIG THINGS, and there is blessing in preparation.  I will probably always have that drama queen in the back of my head, wondering what great cause God has for me.  However, I think now, I will cherish the small details of God’s presence more.  I will rest in His participation in the small things, knowing that my God is not only present in the big things, but also in the small. 

  So, I close this conversation with a verse, that really inspired me this week:

“In ALL THESE THINGS we overwhelmingly conquer, through Him who loved us.” Romans 8:37

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Fellowship and Prayer

 A while back, I saw a post on a friends Facebook page.  It went something like this:  If your excuse for not coming to church is because you think it is full of hypocrites, then you will fit right in!  Please join us in the pews!  I loved it, because I use to think that way.  I have had my fair share of bad church experiences.  My most memorable went something like this….

I was in Junior high and it was around the time when the jr. high kids transitioned to being the sr. high kids.  There was a lovely trip to the beached planned for us, and I was excited.  I really wanted to go.  That of course is when; the adult sponsor called and told my folks that I could not go, because they did not want the responsibility of having a diabetic child on the trip.  I would like to tell you that I was ok, but in fact, I cried, and I cried a lot.  At that impressionable age, I felt singled out, left out, and discriminated against.  It only took the one bad experience to make me not want to go to church or participate in any of the church programs.
As I grew, I attended church sporadically.  My motto then was, I just want to go and listen to the word, and then leave.  I do not want to invest in any of the people who will just ultimately disappoint me with their lack of Christianity.  (Insert HUGE laugh here!  REALLY, I don’t know what I was thinking; the only perfect example is Jesus.)  I guess I had this idea of Christianity but no clue as to the real relationship with Jesus it is suppose to be.  I just figured that Christians were Holier than Thou and always out to judge you.  I was wrong, so very wrong, and not in the right Church.

I have learned that in the right church, fellowship can be so much more than expected.  There is nothing like assembling with a group of Christians who are struggling with the same struggles, but at the same time-sharing, the same laughs.  I will take this moment to give a BLOG SHOUT OUT to my Bunco girls!  They are crazy, funny, and sweet women that God uses in my life.  I know that in this group, there are friends I can count on that will pray for me faithfully when I need it.  There is nothing more refreshing than a room full of Christian women laughing together!  My husband and I also attend a Sunday school class.  They are a wonderful group of people that share in our lives.  The group has a genuine quality and sense of care for each other.  As a Sunday school family, we lift each other up as needed.  They are the people we consider friends, even if we have to “Bible” them! (Bible is our code word for letting some one know they have talked too long, or gotten off subject.)  We learn about God, share His love, and have a few laughs too!

I guess the reason this is on my mind is, without fellowship in the name of the Lord, life and struggles would be harder.  The people that you share God with are also the people who will pray with you, lift you up and hold you when you cannot.  I have a dear friend who is struggling with Cancer.  She is the epitome of humor and love.  The people, who are in fellowship together, praying for the same goal, have magnified the effect of prayer in her struggle.  This is how she describes the fellowship of prayer for her:

“I want to start this out by telling you a story...Everyone is asking me how do you feel and I (am) going to describe the feeling. You know how at rock concerts they body surf a person through the crowd? Well I feel like everyone is holding their hands up in prayer and you all are body surfing me through with prayer. Everyone is touching me with their hands in prayer, chanting and thoughts, as I go through this crowd. IT IS AMAZING!!!! I wish everyone could experience this sometime in their life, without having to go through a hard time of course. So this is the best way I can think of to tell everyone that every prayer, every thought and every chant is felt, and is holding me up high. WOW!!!”

I know that people often say, “Church just isn’t for me,” but there is something special in a fellowship of believers.  As a community of Christians, we need each other.  We need to pray together and for each other, our community and country.  The Bible says in Matthew 7:7-8:
 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

I don’t know about you, but if fellowship coupled with prayer can lift me up and send me body surfing through a crowd, on my way to a miracle rock concert lead by the King of Kings, I am in!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What exactly is too Churchy?

It was brought to my attention that some of my blogs are “heavy.”  I can only translate this as too Churchy.  Now I realize that Churchy is not an actual word, but y’all know what I mean. 

I will just say a few things on the subject.  First, I believe in the Apostles Creed.  The Apostles Creed goes like this:

I believe in God the Father, almighty maker of heaven and maker of earth, and in Jesus Christ His only begotten Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilot, He was crucified, buried, and dead.  He ascended into Heaven and on the third day, he rose again! He ascended into Heaven where He sits at God’s mighty right hand. I believe that he is returning to judge the quick, and the dead, and the sons of men. I believe in the Holy Spirit, one Holy Church, the communion of Saints the forgiveness of sins, and I believe in the resurrection. I believe in life that never ends.

The band Third Day does a great song of this creed.  The lyrics that follow the creed say, “I believe what I believe; it’s what makes me who I am.  I did not make it. No! It is making me.  It is the very truth of God and not the invention of any man!”

Now if you feel this is too Churchy, well, let me also explain why I need God in my everyday life.  It would be simple to say please, just watch the evening news!  However, there are smaller issues that need addressing regularly with me.  I have discussed on many occasions my lack of obedience, which coincides with a lack of discipline.  These are things I pray about, but even more than that, I need God for the even smaller issues.

I need to remember God when I am driving.  If I did not have God, then most people would get the finger from me, when they cut me off on the highway, or worse when they do not know how to yield!  That is not to say that I have never slipped up on that one.  I also need God when I stub my toes, because it is in that moment that my mouth automatically wants to shout, “OH ---- pick an expletive.”

Although I firmly believe that praying for patience is a prayer foul, I do need it.  My definition of a patience prayer foul is simple, pray for patience get tested until you finally get it.  That is usually not fun.  There have been occasions when I admit to my impatience, and the Lord and his sweet sense of humor put me in check. For example, the night I was trying to get my four year old to wash her hair in a timely manner.  I mentioned that I was not trying to be impatient, but she needed to hurry anyway.  She stood there, put her hands together in a prayer position and said, “Dear Lord, please help mommy not to be so impatient.”  As I contemplated my feelings, laughter and guilt, I decided I should be proud that she had in fact been listening about prayer.  I chalked it up to a win.

My churchy-ness is sometimes not just about sharing my Faith with others; it is also a reminder to me.  God calls us to love one another, and to be Christ like.  It is really hard to remember to love when you are too busy being upset over the little things.  For me, I take solace in the Bible and the promises it offers, and try to remember God has a plan for everything.  He has a plan for me, and He expects me to carry it out with the same mercy, grace, and love that he has given me.

I guess if you think I am being churchy, then be glad God calls me to be nice to you!  

Monday, August 29, 2011

The In-Laws

For those of you who don’t know I live across the street from my in-laws.  Yes, that is right; I live in the real life Everybody Loves Brent!  My in-laws are great people they have taught me a thing or two, and I would like to share this wisdom with you.

Lesson 1: 

I find that love is something you learn more about with each passing day.  My husband and I moved to San Antonio after we had only been married a year.  One day I was watching the news with my in-laws and husband.  As we watched the weather, weatherman Albert Flores was on television.  My husband said, “Hey, did you know that Albert Flores is really the Spurs Coyote?”  I was a new Spurs fan and so I said, “What?  Really?”  I had disbelief thinking that he was too chubby to be in the costume, but then I asked my father-in-law.  A little background here, my father-in-law, may be the nicest man on the planet, and at this point, I thought he would never lie to me!  His answer was straight faced as well as a bold face lie, “Yes, Albert Flores is the Coyote; he has been doing it for years.”  That answer solidified it for me; Albert Flores was the Spurs Coyote.  For the next six months, until they finally came clean, I believed Albert Flores was in fact the Spurs Coyote!  I learned then, that Gravett love was funny, and put me at risk for being a fool.

Lesson 2:

Don’t leave your water hose unrolled in the yard, and fix the flag!  As my neighbors, my in-laws believe in keeping up the neighborhood, and so do I.  However, there is nothing like the phone call in the middle of dinner that says, “Can you believe our neighbor?  That house looks so tacky with the hose in the middle of the yard?”  My response, naturally, “Which neighbor?”  Then with a hearty laugh, the answer comes, “Yours! Go roll up your hose!”  Then there is the flag that constantly needs untangling.   On a side note, CONFESSION, I hate to make my bed.  I make my bed nearly everyday, but it is a fact that when I do not, my mother in law WILL come over!  I know there is a pride issue here, but I often think when I am standing in front of God Almighty, I am pretty sure, he won’t be asking me if I made my literal bed everyday! 

As far as a neighborly role, I often tease them that I am going to plant all fake flowers in my yard.  I also tell them for Christmas I will buy huge inflatable decorations that light up and sing loudly to drive them and their dogs insane.  In response, they say don’t waste your money, we will sneak over in the middle of the night and pop the inflatables and pull out those tacky flowers!  There is a constant banter of neighborly issues. “Did y’all take my water sprinkler?” The responses is always deny first, laugh hard, and confess later, much later!

Lesson 3:

This by far is the most important lesson, love without condition!  I have to say, I am honored and blessed to have such sweet in-laws.  They are shining examples of loving unconditionally.  My husband is there only son.  My mother-in-law told me very early on that she decided she was just going to like me no matter what.  To this day, even when we have a bad day, I know that at the end of the day she still loves me.  My father-in-law is my biggest ally when the evil twins get together.  (That being my hubby and his mom, I call them evil twins because they have the same sense of humor and are usually on the same page.  I will often get the same conversation from them separately in the same day.)  My in-laws are always giving to us, and to our daughter.  Their actions truly show their hearts and their hearts over flow with love for Brent, our daughter, and me.

While living so close to my in-laws we have our funny quirky moments.  We always seem to have a good time, and there is always laughter in our homes.  The laughter isn’t so much with each other as it is AT each other.   

Finally, I just want to dedicate this to my sweet mother-in-law, who called me last week and gave me some insight into our relationship.  It was at that moment, I knew I must do something special for her, and this is my little love letter to her humor, grace, and love. SO THERE!  :)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Simple Yet Complex

This week’s mindset has been a tough one.  It is on my heart to write about obedience.  However, I am not very familiar with this subject.  I think both my husband and family would agree in saying, I do not listen worth a darn!  

In Sunday school, we have been in the book of Jeremiah.  Jeremiah is a prophet, and he is tasked with telling the people that God is angry with them for their disobedience.  It occurred to me that in reality, what God was asking was simple to an obedient heart, yet complex to the disobedient.  There is always a catch, right?

Here are a couple of examples of the simple yet complex:

Example 1:  I ask my husband does this make me look fat.  

The correct answer is always the truth; however, the truth is relevant to the day.  I do not want to look like a cow when I exit the house, but I also want a halfway sensitive answer if in fact I need to change.  The blanket you look beautiful darling only makes me angrier!  This is a simple question, but the answer can be very complex!

Example 2:  What do you want for dinner?

I hate this question!  It seems like a simple question, but it is always greeted with,”Uh, I dunno, what do you want?”   My point is that if I knew what I wanted I wouldn’t be asking you.  UGH!  This is a huge thing in my household.  The funny thing is we both want the same thing, a decision.  Then inevitably the first suggestion is greeted with a no, I don’t want that.  This leads back to the original question, a few minutes of the silent treatment followed by dirty looks.  Simple yet complex!

There are many examples in the Bible when God does or asks something simple, and we as people are left questioning, over analyzing it, and making it complex.  Jesus says,” I am the way the truth and the life, no one gets to the father but by me.” John 14:6.  Yet, people believe that if they are a good person that is enough.  It simply is not.  The faulty logic here falls in the relying on self.  I think that is what makes Jesus’ simple promise so complex.  It is hard for us to rely solely on someone else's goodness and sacrifice.  It is our nature to say I have to do something, or I have to be good enough to earn it.  God asks us to accept His son and His love, and all we have to do is simply accept it.  We don't earn it, it is a gift.
Now what in the heck does all this have to do with obedience?  My guess is that obedience is simple.  If you have a rule designed to protect you, then you should just follow it.  I think sometimes in life you just have to accept the answer to the question even if you don’t like it.  It is simple, until you have to live it!  After all, how do you loose weight?  Simple, diet and exercise…. well maybe not so simple!