The Early Buds of Spring

March 27, 2015 at 2:37 am (Family, Personal, Uncategorized)

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The first buds of spring!  The temperatures got into the 70s here today, and I am getting so excited for our first spring in our new home.  So many fun possibilities to think about.  I’m pretty sure this scrawny tree in front of our house is a lilac…my absolute favorite.  It started budding this week, and I am so looking forward to seeing it come to life!

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The flowers hubby got me are still going strong, too!  I fell in love with the orange lilies and the beautiful daisy, so I have big plans for those in our flower garden this year.

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And our heirloom vegetable seeds arrived this week, too!!!  Hubby is going to till up the plot in the next week or so and then it’s planting time!  I can’t wait for those fresh veggies and herbs…plus a fun variety of pumpkins and gourds for fall.

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The kids have had a really good week, too.  My son is really taking off with his reading and likes to read everything he can get his hands on.  He even started reading by flashlight after he goes to bed…so much like his mama was when I was a kid :).  But my favorite thing is watching him read to his toys!  He sets them up in the playroom and plays teacher.  One of his favorites to read is Brown Bear, Brown Bear.  He has three copies of that one, so he gives a copy to each of his two “students” and even makes sure their pages are flipped so they can follow along with his reading.  He may have some communication delays, but I absolutely adore this kids’ imagination!

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And while my son is thriving at reading and piano, my daughter is loving her gymnastics class and being able to spend a lot of time outdoors.  She’s become quite the little gardener even though we barely have any plants to water yet.  She faithfully takes her little watering can out to water the baby willow, the lilac and rose bushes in the front, and the wildflower seeds we planted around the mailbox and a tree stump.

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She’ll be loving life when she has the vegetable garden and the front garden to water.  I’m so excited for the front garden.  I’ve never really planned out a flower garden before, but it’s a really fun and almost therapeutic thing to do.  My dad is hooking us up with some of the plants he has.  He’s an incredible gardener!  And then I picked out a few of my favorites to add that I ordered online because it’s way cheaper than the local nurseries.  By the end of April, I’m hoping this house will be bursting with color!  Maybe it will detract a little bit from the remodeling mess inside the house and make this place feel a little more homey :).  At any rate, the kids and I are just really happy that it’s that time of year when we can spend most of our free time enjoying the great outdoors!

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Happy Friday!  And have a very blessed weekend!

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Spring’s Here!

March 22, 2015 at 6:39 pm (Crafts, Family, Personal)

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Exhaustion is setting in this week.  It’s been a whirlwind of great things, but just a lot of early mornings.  Yesterday, we held our monthly women’s breakfast Bible study.  It’s starting to attract more ladies, which is really encouraging!  And it’s always such a blessing to meet with other Christian women.  This month’s topic was the discipline of submission – a wonderful study and a great time of fellowship.  Unfortunately, I haven’t had a night where I was able to get a full eight hours of sleep in more than two weeks, and at almost 6 1/2 months pregnant, it’s wearing me down.  But this week also brought fun stuff like my daughter starting gymnastics again, St. Patrick’s Day, and the first day of spring!  We had to celebrate St. Patty’s Day a day late this year, since I’m gone from the house on Tuesdays from about 5 a.m. till 9 p.m. with work, my son’s piano lesson, and a stop by the library.  But I love St. Patrick’s Day…not just because I’m of mostly Irish heritage.  I love what St. Patrick stood for and his story.  I’ve always had a thing for finding four-leaf clovers…and for clovers in general…so I love that he used the clover to explain the trinity.  So I had a couple of crafts for the kids and then made a yummy Shepherd’s Pie similar to this recipe for dinner.  And here are the crafts…

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The top ones are just watercolor stripes in the colors of the rainbow.  Of course, my son got bored with the rainbow colors and just started painting :).  Then we took strips of cardstock, folded them in half, curved the top ends into a heart shape and stapled the ends together.  We glued the clover leaves and stems down with Tacky Glue and that’s it.  The original idea had six smaller clovers, I think.  But I liked using this for our Trinity discussion and just preferred the one big clover.  The other project we did came from a combination of a couple of different ideas.  I painted the kids’ hands and they made handprints in the colors of the rainbow.  Then we made a cloud with a cross sticker on one side and a pot for the other…

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The first day of spring brought cold temps and a lot of rain mixed with some snow.  But yesterday was gorgeous!  I finished my final paper for my current class early and we spent the early evening outside.  My daughter was so funny…she got mad at me because I was on the phone with my parents some of the time and couldn’t help her ride the bike.  So she huffed and puffed and yelled about how much she hated the day.  She also kept trying to hide from me taking a picture, but I got a few fun shots :).

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And she cheered up considerably when she found a beam to climb on.  It’s amazing how much fun kids have when a house is getting renovated!

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And that’s about it for our week.  I’m looking forward to starting on the garden with hubby and the kids today!  Have a blessed week!

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Victory

March 19, 2015 at 2:25 pm (Faith, Personal, Uncategorized)

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I was out taking some pictures of the neighbor horses yesterday and got this shot of one of the horses running.  Ignoring the fact that it was our dog that made him run, I had to take advantage of getting more than just the typical grazing pictures :).  And I wanted to put this picture to a Bible verse.  This one from Proverbs seems particularly poignant to me right now.  It seems as though everyone I know is doing a study on Revelation.  We have three going at our church now and my sister is doing one with her Sunday School class.  It’s a little disturbing when everyone seems to be flocking toward Revelation studies.  So much in the Middle East is lining up to fulfill prophesies right now, and there is an increased urgency in many Christian circles to get the Gospel out there, not to mention impressive numbers of Muslims converting to Christianity in the Middle East.  On top of the Revelation studies, a dear friend of mine also just had a life-changing dream about the rapture and being left behind.  It impacted her so profoundly that she went on a liquid-only fast for a week.  I have no idea what all of this means and, obviously, none of us can know the day and hour of Christ’s return.  Might it be in our lifetime?  Our kids’?  No one knows but God Himself.  But there is no doubt that He is always preparing us.  And ultimately, victory will be His…we already know the end to that story.

We do live in interesting times as Christians though.  I went with my family to see the Sight and Sound Production of Noah’s Ark a couple of years ago, and the visual of the Ark door closing as the people outside screamed struck me deeply.  One day, the church age will end and God will change His focus from the Gentiles back to the Jews.  Those who have not accepted Jesus as their Savior will be shut out forever.  It’s devastating to think about.  I also think it’s worth noting that Benjamin Netanyahu just won an upset victory to remain Prime Minister of Israel.  He’s a fascinating personality.  If you haven’t looked into his background and stances, it’s well worth it for any Christian to understand who is at the helm in Israel right now.  His past personal indiscretions bring to mind King David, but he is quite impressive in his strong leadership, gracious speech (seriously, some other world leaders, ahem, could take a note or two from Netanyahu’s ability to address political allies with maturity and respect even when they are clearly at odds), and clear grasp on what’s at stake in the world.  How many people knew that American tax dollars were spent supporting Netanyahu’s opponent?  That our own government was trying to oust a world leader in an effort to get Iran nuclear arms?  Money well spent, I’m sure.  But Netanyahu clearly has a place in Israel’s historical line of leaders.  Time will tell what that place is, but I do believe Christians should take note of him and understand who he is and where he is leading the Israeli people.  Fascinating times.  Have a blessed end of the week!

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Making the House Pinteresting

March 18, 2015 at 6:15 pm (Crafts, Family, Personal)

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The past couple of weeks, I have finally had a chance to work on some Pinterest projects I’ve been dying to do!  The one above is for my son’s room.  I refinished some thrift store shelves we found, ordered his initials from Hobby Lobby, and got the tin baseball pennant off Ebay. I also had to get a $6 stud finder from Amazon since I am decidedly terrible at locating the studs on my own!  But, overall, I like how it turned out and, most importantly, my son was thrilled.

The other major project was the hall bathroom.  Here is the “before” that was taken by the people who sold us the house…

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Plasticy white walls with powder blue trim, a really age-worn vanity, and black stick-on tile that was crooked and peeling up.  And here’s the after…

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I refinished the vanity and a cheap thrift store mirror, along with the towel and toilet paper holders.  It’s Behr paint in an espresso color.  Then hubby tiled the floor with some ceramic tile we had picked up on clearance at Lowes a few years ago…

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I don’t brag on him enough, but he does really wonderful handy work.  He was meticulous with laying this tile, and I love how it turned out.  We also painted the wall gray and the trim purple.  The purple was actually left over from the colors the previous owners used in my daughter’s room and perfectly matched the $15 shower curtain I got at WalMart.  I couldn’t get the lighting to look right in this photo with white balance or color filters, but here’s the curtain, paint, and the Pinterest-inspired shelf décor…

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I’m working on a few other projects that will hopefully be done soon.  It’s making me happy to see some of these coming together.  I really can’t wait to get our house out of the remodeling stage and just live in it!  And while I’m bragging on hubby, he has also been really great this pregnancy about doing the little things, like getting up on my work days to warm up the car and make me breakfast, and making sure I regularly have fresh flowers on the kitchen island.  These are some that were waiting for me when I got back from a weekend at a women’s conference.  They may be my favorite yet!

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And with some Photoshop fun!

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And here are just some fun shots of the kids I was playing around with in Photoshop…

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So glad the white stuff is finally gone and spring is moving in!  The kids helped plant a tree our good friends gave us…

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It’s some kind of willow, but I can’t remember the name.  All I know is the people who gave it to us said it’s a fast grower. That will be nice.  I’m still pushing for a magnolia for the front yard, though :).  We’re also going seed and fruit tree shopping for our garden this weekend!  I can’t even tell you how excited I am to get a garden started again.  I really missed it last year when we were getting ready to move.

And now I’ll close with the sky this afternoon.

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I love how God paints such a beautiful scene each day…every one different.  Happy Wednesday!

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Girls’ Weekend!!

March 15, 2015 at 8:25 pm (Faith, Personal)

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“Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

~ Titus 2:3-5

This weekend was such an amazing experience with some wonderful Christian women.  God put a strong burden on my heart for other Christian women a couple of years ago, as well as a calling to help revive the women’s ministry in our church.  These beautiful ladies are the ones who are working with me to do just that.  This weekend, we spent three days attending women’s leadership workshops and Beth Moore’s “Living Proof Live” in Atlantic City.  It was such a blessing to be surrounded by women with a heart for God and each other.  We weren’t there to judge or compete or nag or gossip – just to love and encourage one another and grow in our walk with the Lord.  It was a beautiful thing.  I left with an even stronger feeling that we women need to step up and break some of the cycles Christian women have fallen into.  We have to get all generations involved in fulfilling Titus 2:3-5.  Women should not become irrelevant as we age; we should become revered as women of experience who can teach and encourage.  In a culture that values youth in women so much, Christian women need to look and behave differently. We need to show that there is value in age and experience, that there are things older generations can teach the younger ones.  We need to teach each other what a biblical woman, wife, and mother looks like and encourage each other to walk that path.

Walking by faith is so intimidating.  When God calls us out on the water, as Beth Moore said, we are like Peter.  It’s not that we don’t believe Jesus has the power to help us walk on the surface, it’s that we don’t believe He can do it through us.  I have not a leadership bone in my body.  I’m not a public speaker or a charismatic personality.  I’m not inspiring.  But I feel God’s burden on me for the women in my church and in my life, and I pray that God will help me to have faith that He can use me to help others.  I’m so thankful for the incredible women with which God has surrounded me.  I’m so thankful for a weekend with some of the most beautiful Christian souls.  Getting to know these women better is something that will change my life forever.

May your week be full of blessings!

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Fixing My Eyes

March 11, 2015 at 11:05 pm (Faith, Family, Personal, Photography)

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“I learned the lines and talked the talk
But the road less traveled is hard to walk
It takes a soldier
Who knows his orders
To walk the walk I’m supposed to walk, and

The things of earth are dimming
In the light of Your glory and grace
I’ll set my sights upon Heaven
I’m fixing my eyes on You, on You
I’m fixing my eyes on You, on You
I’m fixing my eyes “

For King and Country

I’ve been so energized today.  I had another good OB appointment, the kids had great dental appointments, work is done, homeschool is done, schoolwork is (almost) done, pot roast is making a wonderful aroma from the oven, sweet rolls are rising in the muffin pans ready to bake, the house is clean (except for the remodeling parts), and laundry is almost done and ready to pack for the weekend.  That’s what I’m so excited and energized about!  Tomorrow, I head out with four of the amazing women from my church to attend a women’s ministry leadership conference in Atlantic City.  I’m so looking forward to the time with these godly women and really to just spending a few days focusing on nothing but my relationship with God.  Fixing my eyes on Him alone.  I’ll miss my kids like crazy, I’m sure…though they’ll be enjoying a sleepover at my parents’ with their cousin.  But I know this is going to be a wonderfully rejuvenating weekend.  It’s a time to get away from the hassles of work and the stresses of life and just fellowship and praise.  I’m praying this will help refocus me on the most important thing in life…my love for my Savior!  Have a blessed weekend!

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Week 23 and Counting

March 9, 2015 at 10:46 pm (Family, Personal)

“As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.”
~Ecclesiastes 11:5

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Already at week 23!  It’s amazing how fast the first two trimesters fly by…the third, not so much.  The baby bump is already pretty ginormous.  Since my son was 8.4 and my daughter 9.2, I’m thinking this one is going for a record…yikes…  The verse in Ecclesiastes stood out to me as I thought about this precious third baby.  I have been able to feel him moving around for a few weeks now, and it never ceases to amaze me how awesome it is to grow a little life, such a blessing.  It really is a testament to God’s incredible power.  When hubby and I first found out we were having another little one, we had mixed emotions.  It’s hard returning to the baby stage after finally getting the other two fairly self sufficient.  But the one thing I didn’t consider was how wonderful it would be to have older kids marvel at the thought of having a baby sibling.  My son had just turned two when my daughter was born, so while he found her interesting, he really didn’t understand having a sister.  This time, both kids talk to the baby and talk about the baby.  They are enjoying the idea of him, and that’s such a beautiful thing.  Thankful for the blessings in life!

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Musings

March 9, 2015 at 1:13 pm (Faith, Family, Personal)

I am so looking forward to 60 degree temps today!  Even though my morning started out with a commute in the 30s, I know those warmer days are almost here for good and that makes me smile.  But it’s crazy – no matter how many years I’ve been through the wretched spring ahead time change, I never remember how difficult the Monday morning commute after the time change really is.  Going to bed an hour early the Saturday before is the easy part.  And even last night, as I was enjoying a walk through the neighborhood with my kids, chats with neighbors and watching the kids scooter in the driveway until the sun was just starting to set around 8, it didn’t really occur to me that the longer daylight would mean a very dark commute this morning. I woke up feeling like I was having one of those exceedingly rare days when I’m actually ahead of schedule getting out the door for work.  Then, halfway through my bus ride, as I’m gazing out at a still ink black sky, I realized I wasn’t early…it’s all the time change’s fault!  And just when I had gotten used to seeing the sun begin peeking over the horizon on the last leg of my commute!  How does this always take me by surprise?  Oh well.  Another week or so and I guess it will start getting light earlier again.  But I am missing the days in Arizona where there is no time change.

The other thing that made the morning rough was my daughter waking up before I left for work.  I work in a very small office of active duty military members and could easily set any work hours I want.  I choose to get up at 4:30 each morning I have to commute into the office because it allows me to get home to my kids earlier and make dinner each night.  But my other motive for getting up at that ungodly hour is that I can get out the door hours before my kids wake up.  It’s not that I don’t want to see them in the morning.  I would love to be there every morning to make them breakfast and give them a hug goodbye.  But there are few things more heartbreaking for a mother than seeing the sweet faces of her littles peering up at her with sleep heavy eyes asking why she has to go to work.  It was much easier when they were babies because they weren’t aware that mama had to spend some days away from home.  But now my kids are just old enough to realize I’m gone but not quite old enough to understand that someone has to work and provide for the family.  So there was my little daughter, a sweet Cindy Lou Who catching me getting ready to leave and breaking my heart this morning.

The truth is, I really hate having to leave my kids to go to work.  But I’ve come to accept over the years that this is God’s plan and not mine.  I’ve planned and plotted and looked into schools for hubby relentlessly over nearly seven years of being a mom.  But reality is that even if we spent thousands of dollars sending hubby back to school, he would not be able to make half the salary I am making and he would have far less time with our family than I have through my job.  And every time I start to feel like I can’t take this anymore, I get some new perk at work that reminds me God has me here for a reason and He is telling me to be still for now.  I have learned to be thankful every day that God has given me a good job that provides for my family; that my husband is able to stay home with the kids and pick up part time work on nights and weekends; that my work allows me to telecommute two days a week and comes with a lot of leave time; that we are able to homeschool so I can spend that time with my kids and watch them learn and grow; that even when I have to go in to the office I am home by 5:00 to make dinner and play with my kids.  On mornings like this one when the commute is dark and my little girl breaks my heart asking why I have to leave, these reminders about the blessings in life are so important to me.  And I always have to remember that God promises,

“I will instruct you and teach you in the path you should walk; I will counsel you with My loving eye.”

~ Psalm 32:8

Happy Monday, and best wishes for a very blessed week!

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Winter’s Last Hurrah?

March 6, 2015 at 10:57 pm (Family, Personal, Photography)

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We got one more good snow day!  Possibly the last of this winter. And for this one, I actually got the whole day completely off since the government shut down.  It pretty much made up for the past two weeks when I’ve had to drive in winter nastiness to get to school and work.  Apparently some people didn’t get the memo that people from this state don’t drive in winter weather…  But I’ve made peace with all that now that I had a full snow day :).  Normally, my work goes on a two-hour delay and, even though I get to stay home, I still have to telework.  It’s so amazing what an extra day with no work can do for a girl’s morale…and house :).  I’m feeling somewhat caught up on house work and laundry.  Plus I got to get in extra homeschooling!!!  The first part of the day started with just a lot of freezing rain…awesome because we got homeschooling knocked out.  Just when I was beginning to think the snowy forecast was completely wrong, the white flakes came pouring down with a vengeance…and didn’t stop until after dark!  Some pictures from the wintry day…

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The kids outside in the snow…

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My son got the first trip down the slide this time…and the pile of snow was even bigger than last time!

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My little girl going to check the mail…yeah, big surprise that the mail didn’t make it yesterday…

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Then we came in and tried a recipe my friend posted on Facebook a while back, Snow Cream!  Just get about 8-10 cups of snow in a bowl.

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Add about 10 oz. of sweetened condensed milk and a tsp of vanilla.

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And voila, a very yummy treat!

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My sister made something similar in chocolate…definitely going to have to try that!  I also finally got the Ninja Turtle hats done for my kiddos.  I got the pattern from here.

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We topped the day off with chili from a copycat Wendy’s recipe and honey cornbread muffins from a Neely’s recipe…mmm.  I’m not a chili person, but I could eat that Wendy’s recipe every day.  I had to sub baked beans for the kidney and pinto beans since I didn’t have any on hand, but that actually turned out really good.

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Perfect snow day food.  And then it was time for our favorite snow day activity, family movie night with popcorn and hot cocoa!

We tried to build a snowman yesterday, but the snow was just too powdery.  So thankfully the snow was still around today and we actually got one made!  Both kids helped roll a little bit.  My daughter was most excited..

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Yes, you might notice the snow ball didn’t get any bigger…but she did try :).  And the finished product…

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This really was a labor of love for me.  I was bound and determined my kids were going to get to make a snowman this year.  It took awhile…a lot of rolling, a lot of packing, some packing with bare hands (seriously hate being cold, but it was worth it to make the kids happy).  Hubby made an awesome armchair snowman maker…opening the front door once in a while to tell me how easy making a snowman should be…LOL!

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And my daughter behind the snowman saying, “Look, there’s a bird!”  And yes indeed, there was a little bird scrounging for food in the spots where the snow had melted, poor thing.  And the snowman by the tree…

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Then it was time for snow angels in the back field.

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And my sweet little girl…

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And a shot of the treacherous looking icicles hanging from our front porch…

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Stay warm and have a blessed weekend!

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Comfort in the Cold

February 24, 2015 at 8:02 pm (Faith)

So my day started out with one of those mornings we warm-weather people truly despise.  After standing out in 14 degree temps (without wind chill, mind you) for 20 minutes waiting for the bus, enduring an extra long bus ride to work, and dragging my 5-months-pregnant body up an out-of-order escalator (they’re not too bad to walk up when they’re moving, but wow are they awful when they’re stopped!), I was less than jovial when I arrived at work this morning.  And when days start like this, I tend to search out Bible verses to bring me some measure of comfort.  So I started searching and instead of finding anything particularly comforting about the cold, I found this convicting set of verses in Haggai:

 Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”

This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord. “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house. 10 Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. 11 I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the olive oil and everything else the ground produces, on people and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.”  ~Haggai 1:5-11

This got me thinking about how much time I spend working on building things up in this world and how useless it all is, how unsatisfying.  It’s frightening to think that no matter how much we toil, if we are working to build our own house while leaving God’s house in ruins, we will never be filled, never be warm, and never have a real harvest.  If things aren’t going well in our own lives, in our communities and in our country, it may very well be time to consider carefully where we are investing our energy.  My prayer today is that God will guide me in my pursuits so that I will continually work to build up His house rather than following my own selfish pursuits that only end in ruin and pain.

I also want to share another verse, Job 37:10: “From the breath of God ice is made, and the expanse of the waters is frozen.”  As I was taking the Metro over water, I was struck by how fascinating frozen expanses of water truly are.  The hard surface was slightly rippled as though the water had frozen mid-movement.  It just stands still in time, locked in some sort of strange state.  It’s really quite impressive.  And this verse in Job captures the awesomeness of that phenomenon beautifully.

I hope you are all having a blessed Tuesday!

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