Friday, April 29, 2011

Prayer system?

Lately I've been feeling like I am lacking a system....in the area of my prayer life. Not so much for me and my personal prayers with the Lord - those are always fresh in mind and on my tongue and the Lord hears from me frequently :)

But I feel I'm lacking a system that allows me and reminds me to pray through the many requests of people in my life: health issues, family members, relationships, difficulties, and just general requests shared by all of you and those in my small groups. I say I will pray and I want to pray, and most times I do. But not as regularly or consistently as I would like.

So here's my question: what kind of prayer system works for you? How do you remember to pray through various requests for people in your life? A notebook, a prayer journal, note cards, a simple list of names? Anyone know of a computer-based system? I seriously think that might be a good option for me since I am on the computer frequently throughout my days.

I'd love to hear what works for you or what you've tried and it didn't work. Please share! Except, of course, if you are one of those people that can remember every name and every request of every person in your life who has a need :) Then just tell me so I can give you my prayer requests...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Devotional

Recently I came across a devotional I wrote a couple years ago for church. I love the passage in Matthew 9 about the woman who is healed because of her faith. I thought this was worth a post....and I'm thinking 2011 needs to be a year when I pray, "Lord increase my faith!"

Matthew 9:22

Key Verse
Jesus turned and saw her. "Take heart, daughter," he said, "your faith has healed you." And the woman was healed from that moment. - Matthew 9:22

Do you believe?
Each year in January I pick a theme for the year. My theme is a word I want to focus on, learn about or an area I want to improve on in my life. In the past I have chosen words like discipline, obedience and truth. This year I chose faith as my theme: growing in my faith and believing that God is faithful.

Matthew 9:20-22 is all about faith. There are just a couple sentences to her story, but it is a powerful one: Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, "If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed." Jesus turned and saw her. "Take heart, daughter," he said, "your faith has healed you." And the woman was healed from that moment.

There are three parts to her story:
1. Her belief that she only needed to touch Jesus’ cloak be healed.
2. Following through on her belief.
3. The woman was healed.

Verse 22 says, She said to herself if I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.” How did she have so much faith that she believed she only needed to touch his cloak to be healed?

She believed so strongly in Jesus’ healing power, that she reached out and touched his cloak. She stepped out in faith. 

And what happened? Jesus responded, “Take heart daughter, your faith has healed you.” Matthew says that she was healed from that moment.

Take a moment to read Matthew 9:27-31. “…the blind men came to him, and he asked them, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?"

"Yes, Lord," they replied. Then he touched their eyes and said, "According to your faith will it be done to you"; and their sight was restored.”

Do I believe? Do I have faith? Luke 17:5 guides me in how to pray about faith: “The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!"

I want 2007 to be a year when I pray to the Lord, "Increase my faith!" Would you consider praying that as well?

Reflections
If Jesus were to ask you today: “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” what would your response be? Do you believe? Call upon the power of heaven to help you believe. While you are praying for faith, pray that God would heal you physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Ask God to pour out his healing spirit on your broken heart or broken dream, your disease, your loss, sadness, depression, or anger. Ask God to heal you from anything that is not of him.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Acts 2 Easter clothes?

I took lots of pictures on Easter. It was a warm, sunny day and in Minnesota, warm, sunny Easter celebrations might be few and far between.

As I watched my two little ones run, hunt eggs, play, and laugh, I looked at them in their sweet Sunday clothes and felt overwhelmed with gratitude.

You see, my children were not wearing a stitch of clothing that I purchased. Not a single thing.

Lauren's clothes consisted of a dress from Averee, a sweater from Morgan, shoes from Makaela and a hair clip from our neighbors, Bella, Olivia and Monika.

Samuel's clothes included a shirt from Isaac and Micah, pants from the Lovett family and shoes from Charlie.

My children were dressed for Easter, looked so sweet and I was so grateful as I looked at them and realized that this is an important piece of community for me in this season of life: lending and borrowing things, particularly clothes. It is ridiculous to buy brand new clothes for both kids for every season. There are so many friends and family members who have children of similar ages/sizes, that it just makes sense to share clothes.

I'm not sure if that's what the author of Acts 2 was thinking about when he wrote the fellowship of believers. But I believe this is just one way we can live out Acts 2 today. Giving. Sharing. Borrowing. Lending. Offering. Creating. Teaching.

It's such a silly thing really. Easter clothes? Why do I even care? I care because when I look at these pictures it makes me feel loved. It means we are part of a community of people that believe in the same values as our family does. Some live close to us and some live further away, but it doesn't matter. We receive and we give and we are blessed beyond measure.










Saturday, April 23, 2011

Jesus is alive!

Saw a glimpse of my son's future last week when I walked upstairs to get Lauren up, and heard Samuel preaching to her, Bible in hand, shouting, "Jesus is alive!"


I'm not sure my heart has ever been so full nor have I been so proud of my son as I was at this moment. Totally unprompted and so full of passion.

May the true message of Easter, that Jesus IS alive, bring you deep joy and peace as you celebrate Easter this weekend.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The greatest story ever told

We read a lot of stories to Samuel. A lot. Mostly Curious George lately, but it all depends on the day.

Lauren likes to read to herself. Maybe she'll be a reader like I am someday, and doesn't want to mess around with mom or dad reading - she just does it herself. If we can read one book to her without her trying to take the book from us, we're happy.

But lately, she's been letting us read - even asking us to read - from Samuel's Read and Learn Bible. It has stories of Adam and Eve, Noah, Moses, David, Daniel, Mary, Joseph and Jesus. She loves these stories. Just like Samuel did at her age. 

And I love that she is learning about these men and women of faith.

But this week I wondered: how do I communicate to my children that this isn't just a story?

It is the greatest story ever told....but it's a true story.

It's a story for everyone, for all time, for all ages.

This story is not about honoring the memory of a man. It's a celebration. Of life. It's about a gift we can receive. It's about grace and belief and trust.

This story is about a cross. But it doesn't stop there. That's just part of the story. The greatest part of the story is conquering death. We celebrate the empty tomb. We serve the resurrected Savior.

This story has been told thousands upon thousands of times. And this coming Sunday the greatest story ever told will be shared again. Maybe heard for the first time by some people.

Will you pray? Will you join me in praying that hearts would be opened to this story? That lives would be changed? That the words and truth of this story would impact families, homes, and futures for all of eternity? That kids would be deeply loved, marriages restored, relationships saved, and difficulties faced as a result of this story?

Would you petition the Lord with me that the fun of Easter eggs, bunnies, hunts, candy, dresses, pictures, brunches and lunches and dinners, would fade into the background and that the greatest miracle of all time would reign in our hearts and minds this Sunday?

The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the Word of God [and the greatest story ever told] stands forever. - Isaiah 40

Stacy

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Miscarriage due dates

Today is one of those days.

Last year I forgot about this date.

Two years ago I was remembering what today represented.

And three years ago I would have been ecstatic to know there was even a due date on the horizon.

But today is 2011 and it's simply a tender reminder of the journey I'm on. It's one of those times that reminds me of the hard moments in this journey: sitting on my couch in the living room, a few friends or family members sitting with us, and asking my friend to erase the upcoming weeks I had written on my calendar to signify the progression of my pregnancy.

As I think about this date and the baby I never got to meet, I'm grateful for my son and daughter who ease my pain and heartache.

What hurts even more today than the reminder of my own loss, is the knowledge that many of you are experiencing the pain and grief that comes with miscarriage due dates. I know because you tell me so. You email me, FB me, comment on a post and tell me. And when you write I feel your pain. I hurt for you. I understand.

Because I have been there.

And when your womb is still empty on the due date - and for some of you, you've even experienced another miscarriage before your due date - your loss is magnified even more.

I wish I had words for each of you.

I wish I could hug you and walk with you and cry with you.

I can't, but I know the One who can. He would love to gently dry your tears, heal your hurt and fill your heart with hope. He's a big God and He too lost a son. He understands your pain. Cling to the promise of the One who walks this journey with you. Be filled with the knowledge that our God is one of compassion and comfort. He is the Prince of Peace. He is our strong tower and our refuge. He is abounding in love and He is sovereign over all. He is fighting the fight for you and He is on your side. When the world shakes around you, He is steadfast, He is our firm foundation and He promises to turn your mourning into joy.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sacred waiting

So a couple weeks ago I got a new book. I had a gift certificate and truth be told my husband surprised me with a Nook for our 10-year anniversary. So with my gift certificate I bought my first Nook book: Sacred Waiting by David Timms.

Why did I choose to buy a book on waiting? Seriously Stacy.

I haven't read enough to give a thorough review but I will do that in the future. For now, I wanted to share a point that I haven't ever heard or read anywhere else before: In Scripture waiting is not an option but a mandate.

"Wait. Wait. Wait. We don't have time to waste. Life feels too short, the opportunities (and needs) too many. Besides, he who hesitates is lost. But time again, God calls us to wait. He refuses to fit our demands and schedules. In contrast, He expects us to conform to His plans and rely on His timing. And in the process we learn deep, transforming truths. Waiting on God runs against every cultural instinct that we have. We wait for nothing. Yet we find that in Scripture, waiting is not an option but a mandate."

A strong theme in the book is that while waiting typically means killing time until we get what we really want, Sacred waiting (waiting on God) is nothing like that. Sacred waiting involves presence and service. Drawing closer to God and responding to His leading. Sacred waiting is a deeper spiritual journey during our wait. 

The author goes through the stories of Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and Jesus, and how God mandates waiting for seasons (decades) of their lives. I'll share more as I read in the months to come.

Here is a question I have for you:
Do you think waiting is a viable option? Is it a viable option for you

God's promises are not offered within a time frame. Scripture is filled with countless promises but they are not given to us on our timeline - or even as we believe a promise might be fulfilled.

There are times in my life when I have just waited. I bid my time, cut corners as much as possible, and daily tried to take the reigns.

And there are other times when I have experienced and pursued sacred waiting in order to
seek to learn deep, transforming truths.

I could have just bought the second book in the Hunger Games series. I cannot wait to read it. And soon I will. But for now, I'm practicing the discipline of waiting. I'm learning what it means to pursue sacred waiting. And if I believe that my waiting is a mandate, I must also believe it's for a purpose far beyond anything I can ask or imagine.

Monday, April 18, 2011

My home

Ryan and I first laid eyes on our house in June of 2008. It was old. And in need of repair.


But it was a hidden gem and we jumped on it quickly.

That was nearly three years ago.

A lot of time, money and sweat has been poured into our home. We remodeled the entire kitchen.

We painted. Tore down wall paper. Repaired holes. Replaced light fixtures.

And today we love our home and I'm learning to live with cold, hardwood floors and drafty old windows. 

However, we didn't move to this part of town because of a house, but rather because of a dream to be part of something bigger than ourselves.

We helped launched what is now known as Mill City Church. Two years ago on Easter we held our first official service. We didn't know anyone who already lived here when we bought this home and moved.

Two years later we are in a City Group with six other incredible couples. I am in a mom's group that meets weekly on Thursday mornings. We are part of a community of people that strives to love in the name of Jesus. And through this community we have been served in small beautiful ways and big, sacrificial ways.

Sunday night we held a meeting in our home. There were 15 adults present and 16 kids (with two on the way). We met to discuss the idea presented in this article. We came to no conclusion, but rather provided a time and place for thoughts to be shared and questions to be voiced.

The people that came are our friends. Our neighbors. The families we do life with. Our children love one another and play together frequently. We celebrate together. We break bread together. We grow together and mourn together.

For some unknown reason, I was deeply touched Sunday evening to see our home used in this way. And Thursday morning many of these same moms will walk through my front door with kiddos in hand and be ready to study and discuss what we're reading in Luke.

In our home we've held meetings for marriage workshops, core team meetings, City Group meetings, and enjoyed countless meals with friends.

I didn't know when I walked through this home almost three years that God would use it like this. I didn't know the conversations that would take place, the relationships that would be built or the laughter and tears that would be shared together.

But God knew. He had a plan for our home. He moved us here. He led us to this home. He has blessed it beyond measure and it is being used for His glory.

Amen and amen.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Collecting stories that celebrate adoption

Ryan is part of a local non-profit organization called Adoption Option of Minnesota.

They are working to gather stories about domestic adoption in Minnesota to post online. The due date is tomorrow, April 18. If you live in Minnesota and have adopted, please consider submitting your story! What a fantastic way to share your story and raise awareness about adoption.
Here are the details:


Hello! In celebration of adoption, our organization is creating an online, living scrapbook that will capture those life-changing stories of love that define adoption in our state. This special project will help all Minnesotans better understand adoption as an act of love.


The “Minnesota Loves Adoption” scrapbook will open by Mother’s Day 2011 and will be recognized in many ways throughout the year.



Specifically, the scrapbook stories will:


* Capture adoption journeys -- in stories, letters, poems and photos -- of Minnesotans.
* Celebrate domestic adoption stories (children born in the United States).
* Share stories of birth families, grandparents, adopted persons, adoptive families, friends and supporters.
* Reflect on how adoption has had a positive impact on the lives of individuals, families and communities.


To submit a story, please keep in mind:


* Each adoption story is unique and emotionally powerful, including joy, pain, delight and grief.  Please share your story honestly, in your own words, keeping a focus on the loving outcomes and the positive impression you want to share with others who may consider adoption in the future.
* Keep your story to about roughly 300 words long and include photos and/or a short video clip. Only your first name will be used unless otherwise requested.
* Submit your information to jenny@aoci.org. It will be reviewed and formatted to fit the scrapbook.
* You will be asked to sign a consent form, giving our organization permission to share your story.
* To ensure your story is included in the initial version of the scrapbook, please submit your information no later than April 18. After Mother’s Day, submissions will also be welcome from the public.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Easter Challenge

Last week I posted an Easter Challenge. The challenge involves reading two chapters of Luke each day until Easter.

We're only three days into the challenge and I think it's truly challenging me!

It's so easy to read email, check FB, take a quick peek at some blogs, pick up a book I'm reading, watch some Netflix...do just about anything when I have a few free moments rather than open my Bible.

Why is that? I'm 35 years old - shouldn't it be easier by now?

Maybe not. Maybe that's why I called it an Easter Challenge - because it's challenging me to do what doesn't come natural.

But as I read these life-giving words, the story of my Savior, the sacrifice of my King, I am reminded of where I want my heart and mind to focus in the days leading up to Easter.


Maybe the challenge also comes in celebrating the resurrection more than Easter eggs.

If you want to join in, please do! It's not too late!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

This is not our home

Last month I posted a video of the song Blessings.

I absolutely believe that the Lord leads us to specific Scripture, messages and music to speak to our hearts during certain seasons of life. This is one of those songs for me. I have listened to it so frequently that I will forever associate Blessings with this time of unemployment and waiting on God.

There are two phrases in particular that keep running through my head as I go about my days:

We know the pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home,
It's not our home

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy


Trials and suffering so often lead to questions and doubts. Why me? Why us? Why now? Why God?

But here's the thing that this song reminds me: this is not our home. We were not created for this world. We are created for eternity. We are created for Heaven. We are created to worship and glorify God all our days.

We have this incorrect idea that our goal in life is happiness. Or at least the absence of sadness and pain.

That is not scriptural. That is not Biblical.

Every disappointment
Every trial
Every heartache
Every loss
Every rejection
Every ounce of pain
Every moment of sadness and grief
Every bit of suffering

These are reminders that this is not our home. We will never find the kind of satisfaction and fulfillment that we desire this side of Heaven. We will always be left with a bit of aching and longing for something more.

These things are revealing a greater thirst that this world can't satisfy.

My human flesh wants to run with passion away from loss, heartache, pain, rejection, and trials that this world brings. I should want to be conformed to the image of Christ, but that process can be so painful.

I no longer need to ask why. I know why. Because this world is not my home. God has never promised ease of living this side of Heaven. That's a hard truth to swallow, but I believe recognizing that truth can change how we view our days on earth.

Remind me Lord, and my friends too, that the dark days, hard moments, oceans of tears, hours of heartache, endless trials, physical pains - they are of this world. And you are not. We are not. We are made for eternity. Remind us that our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. We love you Lord and we are so thankful that this is not our home.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Birthday affirmations

In March we celebrated Ryan's birthday. The morning of his birthday he had breakfast with three friends as he does almost every Thursday morning. They talk about every topic three guys could potentially discuss when meeting for breakfast every week. My husband thoroughly enjoys these times with his friends.

The day of his birthday they celebrated Ryan with birthday affirmations. They spent their breakfast telling Ryan what they respected most about him, what they appreciated about him and what his friendship meant to them.

A week later we celebrated my friend's 30th birthday. We had a precious time of telling my girlfriend what we most loved about our friendship with her. There were some tears. And there was some laughter. And it was a touching time for all of us to share in the joy of celebrating a friend.

Last week at my mom's group we had a time of affirmation because five of the nine women had birthdays within a couple weeks of each other. Moms affirmed what they saw in the other moms and why they were thankful to be in the group with these women.

Today at work we had a staff lunch and I was, unexpectedly, the focus of a time of birthday affirmations. A handful of people told me the attributes and qualities they saw and appreciated in me. They told me how they saw God working in my life. They made me feel loved, cared for and valued on my birthday.

As I was thinking about this on my way home from work, I decided that every single birthday should include a time of affirmation. Every person, parent, grandparent, friend, sibling, co-worker, and spouse should hear from others things that they may not hear the rest of the year.

Presents wrapped are oh-so-fun. Delicious sweets are a must. Celebrations are memorable. Affirmations are needed.

Now, to be honest, I dislike this time very much. I don't care to be in the spotlight and have all eyes on me. But I need to hear these words - they are good for my heart.

And others need me to say the words that I believe to be true about them.

Birthday affirmations. Try them and see if it doesn't change your birthday celebrations.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A birthday question

If you had one free afternoon the weekend of your birthday, how would you spend it? Alone, with a friend, with family, with your spouse? Doing what? I've been pondering (and anticipating) this dilemma all week....

I did loads of laundry today, baked, and Ryan got groceries (I'm spoiled). I'm ready for a weekend of no cooking, no cleaning and lots of celebrating. 

See you next week!


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

An Easter challenge


A couple years ago I read through the book of Luke prior to Easter. I'm planning to do that again this year.

Starting a week from today - Tuesday April 12 - I plan to read two chapters from Luke every day. In doing so, I will read the entire book of Luke by Easter. Two chapters a day seems quite doable, and will take me through the birth, life, death and end with the resurrection of Christ.


Spending 12 days leading up to Easter focused on the life, sacrifice of Christ on the cross and the miracle of His resurrection, will help prepare my heart and mind for the incredible celebration of Easter.

Because you see...

I've already made plans to celebrate Easter with family this year.
I've already looked in the closet to see what dress Lauren might wear for Easter.
I've already thought about the Easter Egg Hunt outreach our church holds on the 23rd and what fun that will be for the kids.
I've already bought - and eaten - Easter candy.

What I haven't yet done is take time to think about the miracle of Easter. The reason we celebrate. The foundation of my faith and all I believe rests upon the fact that we love, serve and believe in a risen Savior.

I do not want Easter 2011 to pass me by without taking time to still my heart and acknowledge the miracle of this celebration.

Would you consider joining me in this Easter challenge? If so, leave an "I'm in" comment and I'll be praying for each of us as we open our hearts and minds to the most incredible story ever written.

It's getting much easier!

A year ago I wrote this post: Sabbath Sundays.

Reading it now makes me laugh. And shudder. And think, "Wow. That was really crazy."

And it makes me realize something incredibly wonderful:

It's getting easier.

I know I've written that before, but it's really true.

Lauren is 18 months and Samuel is 2 1/2 and it is getting so much easier.

Easier to go places. Easier to communicate. Easier to teach and see that they are comprehending.

There are no morning naps to worry about before church. There is no more nursing or pumping or even bottles.

One diaper bag. Two kids in the nursery (one happily, one that still cries when she is left).

No more poop blowouts.

Samuel can better understand when it's time to go, boundaries and listening. Lauren is still learning all that, but she's not nearly as fast or as curious as her brother was at 18 months.

Things are still crazy....I mean, c'mon....I have a 1 and 2 year old.

But they are not insanely crazy.

It's just the normal, parenting craziness of little ones.

I am thoroughly enjoying this wonderful stage and I am thanking God I made it through the toughest part.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Dear Samuel

Dear Samuel,
Yesterday you were officially 2 1/2 years old. I love you more than ever and I am so proud of you.

You continually amaze me with all you learn and all you do. One of my proudest mom moments was last week: We were at target and you were looking at some things in the dollar section. My heart stopped when I heard you quietly singing, "Blessed be the name of the Lord, blessed be the name of the Lord." You had heard that song a couple times that morning as I played it before daddy's interview. And just a few hours later you are singing the words at Target. You make my heart full Samuel.

From time to time you wake at night and I go in to check on you. Recently I went in and you said, "Rock me." I picked you up, went to the chair in your room and rocked you...because soon you'll be too big to rock. Until then, I'll rock you every time you ask Samuel. Every single time.

Some phrases we hear from you these days:
What should we do?
What time is it?
Why? (Thanks for teaching your sister to ask this wonderful question!)
Look at that digger mom. It's HUGE!
Would it be all right if I had a clementine mom? Would it?
There's a city bus!

We were playing with your firetruck on the porch yesterday. I cut a straw to make it into a fire hose and we walked your little fireman up the ladder...again, again and again. While playing you held your blue teddy and blue satin blanket. You are such a big boy. And yet, still my little boy.

You have endless energy. You can count to 10. You can dress yourself, but mostly you just undress yourself and run laps across the house with just your diaper on while yelling, "Look at me run mama. Look at me run!"

I love everything about you Samuel. You are such a GOOD boy. You are happy, fun, energetic, sweet, and  tender-hearted. You love to laugh and play jokes with us.

Last week as I put you to bed our conversation went like this....
Mom: Who should we pray for Samuel? Aaron, Evy, Jonathan? Auntie Sherry? Gma and papa? Makale and Cole? Wyatt and Noah?
You: Trains.

You love all things trains, construction vehicles, buses, airplanes, and fire trucks. I didn't used to notice these vehicles around me, but I can't help but notice them now because your excitement is contagious.

The other day I put sweet potatoes, peas and pineapple on your plate while I was getting the rest of your food ready. You ate it all in about 2 minutes. You are such a good eater. Could you teach your sister to eat like you?

I love you my little man. I love watching you learn and grow and change. I treasure these days and these moments with you. I am amazed as I watch you cling to the infant world with your nuk, teddy and blanket, and yet strive to be a big boy and ask to drink out of a "boy boy" cup.

Thank you for being such a good helper. I love that you can listen and obey at 2 1/2 and that when I tell you to pick up your coat or put something away, you can follow directions.

I feel privileged to be your mom. These days are fleeting and I hold them close to my heart. I treasure the brief moments when I get to hold you close before you're off running, growling, dancing, building, jumping, chasing, and learning what it means to be a 2 1/2 year old boy.

I can't wait to see who you become Samuel. I pray every night as I tuck you in that you will love Jesus with all your heart, all your mind and all your soul. I pray you will follow hard after him. I pray for good friends to influence you and wisdom to make wise decisions in life. I pray you will hide God's Word in your heart and that your life would bring glory to God.

I love you to the moon and back my little man,
Mom


Here are a few of my favorite photos from the past couple months.....

Found you eating your gotcha day cake at 6:30 a.m. while sitting in daddy's chair. You pulled it off the counter and helped yourself to breakfast.




I turned around in the kitchen and you had built a tower. You are ALL boy!