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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Odd and Ends

Random stuff for today.

1) Bought the latest release from Alison Krauss, "A Hundred Miles or More: A collection". It's good. I have been an Ali K fan for many years now. She is so talented that whenever I hear her sing I feel compelled to shut my mouth and never attempt singing again. She's amazing. This new CD isn't my favorite, but I will never slam her work ever! I was listening to it as I was housecleaning and nearing that more emotional time of the month...... consequently, I shed a few tears.

Trk7 Baby Mine is a cover from the Disney movie Dumbo . You know the song when Dumbo's mommy is rocking him in her trunk from behind the bars. Yea, that one gets me every time. Trk 14 is one of the most amazingly written songs. The lyrics blew me away and so it is my fav of the album but is also tied with her duet with Jim Taylor another love of mine. Trk 9 How's the World Treating You is so lovely. They sound wonderful in duet! I enjoy Bluegrass music and so Trk 5 is fun. You'll never hear an Ali K CD without some kind of hymn or inspirational song on it. Trk's 6 and and the tear jerking Trk13 are this album's contributions. I love that about Alison Krauss.

2) I broke the cardinal rule for hairstylists which is do not EVER cut your own hair! No matter how fabulous of a stylist you believe you are and HOW desperate you feel, DON'T DO IT!! My bangs were hideously over grown and my layers too heavy. I conned myself into believing that this time, unlike the others, would be different. Well........ it wasn't. It's just that there's a flexibility issue and a lack of visibility. I am in so much trouble with Gina!!! (hairstylist to the hairstylist)

3) I have a stack of "to read" books that is 6 high right now. I am freaking out because I want to read them all but I have no time! I am a compulsive reader and when I begin to read..... well life stops. Dinners cease to be cooked, laundry putrefies, and children feel neglected. What's a mom to do?

Friday, April 27, 2007

Our Gift Giver

I want to tell you the story how how it was that Dustin and I made it down the isle and are actually married today. It's seems like a weird topic but trust me is has a purpose.

I was just turning 20 as our wedding neared. Dustin was 23. We were broke! Can I say FLAT BROKE! We knew the Lord was calling us to marry and we knew that some people would think it a bad decision. We were young, and to be honest we had NOT previously been very responsible. We really could not afford a fancy or dream wedding, but we both thought ( and I more accurately insisted) that we ought to have a decent wedding (i.e in a church and with a reception hall, a nice dress and some kind of catered food. I wasn't asking for the moon here.) so as to assure our families that this would indeed be a legitimate marriage and that just because we were young and had made some mistakes we truly were seeking the Lord and heading in a direction we knew He was pointing us.

Right before it came time to book the reception hall and place a down payment to reserve our date Dustin had all of his tools stolen from the back of his truck. This was the hugest financial blow to us! He needed tools for his livelihood and we had no choice but to pay every penny of our wedding cash towards the replacement of his tools. I was crushed. He was in a panic trying to figure out a way to earn enough money to give me this appropriate wedding I was so desperate for.

We had faith that the Lord was in control and that even if we had to have a back yard wedding with dixie cups and (goodness grief) a pot luck, or something of the sort, that it didn't matter. We loved each other and that was all that mattered.

But you know God is so good! You know God is so gracious. He cares about our hearts! He wants the best for us.

We never saw it coming when we were given a Bank One money envelope from an anonymous giver/s full of cash. Cash we desperately needed for our wedding. Let's be clear this was NOT from a family member of ours. The best we could figure was that someone in a small group of people we had prayed with ONCE must have felt led to give to us. Someone we didn't know!

We were speechless. I mean utterly humbled because to us there was nothing more important at that moment in our lives and nothing more treasured than that gift. We were amazed that someone out there (an anonymous someone at that) cared for us enough to give their own hard earned money for our personal enjoyment. What!? Who does that? Worse we couldn't even thank them profusely! It was if they, in their anonymity, chose to say, this is really from the Lord. (I have chills just remembering it!)

Needless to say we have NEVER forgotten that moment! In fact the true gift we received from our beloved gift giver/s (?) was the lesson in sacrificial giving. Their gift truly was an eternal one. The quintessential gift that keeps on giving! I shudder to think what kind of giver I would be if I hadn't been on the humbling receiving end of their generosity. Praise God, He is a good teacher!

I started out this post with the section of writing that begins in the purple. I decided to put this story first because in the end it's always about Someone else's sacrifice, which came first. In the case of the funds for our wedding it was the anonymous giver/s (?) who by their simple act of obedience have laid a foundation for us and set a standard for giving that we have never been able to ignore.

I want to tell you that the original Giver is Christ Himself. He is the foundation for our giving and is the ultimate Teacher! His act of obedience is SO profound! We will spend eternity experiencing the profoundness of it. Let's not wait until then, though. Let's begin to live by His example. Let us, by our own acts of obedience, pass on the Gift to those who have not yet come to believe.

Yep! Pastor Greg isn't a liar! Tonight was a so much fun! I just had my socks blessed off!

God called. I believe that as far as it goes for me and Dustin we have said "Here I am Lord."

As I look back over the history of our walk with Christ through the years of our marriage I am amazed at how far the Lord has taken us! I am so thankful for His redeeming power and His transforming Holy Spirit at work in us. (Read that sentence again. Those are not idle words I just wrote.) He has saved us! I mean truly and utterly saved us!!!!!!!

I am overjoyed that we are able to give. To give freely and with full confidence in the Lord. With confidence that we have been blessed to be a blessing to others. We wait in confident expectation on our Lord! I began this blog with my very first entry entitled Believing God for BIG things. I am so glad that we cannot ever get to the end of God! He never runs out! There's always so much more, and deeper yet to dig..... if we are willing. Let us all say "Yes! We are willing Lord!"

SOOOO Excited

Tonight is a big night for Palm Valley Church. That's because we are having a leadership committment event to kick of the financial contributions for the building campaign. True to Biblical form, those in any leadership capacity are asked to give first.

We have already been involved in a church-wide spiritual gowth campaign. Pastor Greg told us at one of the desserts that this committment event is gonna be tons of fun. I am stoked. I am looking forward to praising Jesus tonight and, together with my husband, bringing in our sacrifices to the Lord.

Tonight, for me, will be a super exciting kick-off to a new season of my faith walk. Dustin and I are ready! We are going for "it" with gusto! We're running after Jesus, and praise God He lets us catch Him!

Come on guys! Let's offer all of ourselves and every inch of that campus to the Lord and watch what He does!

My heart is ready, now it's time to live out James 1:22 in a fresh new way.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Did I mention I will soon be a Home-Schooling Mother!

Wow, so we made the decision months ago but I haven't written about it once. We will be home-schooling next year. This means I will be teaching 1st grade and Kindergarten to my two oldest kids while wrangling my 3 year old. Am I scared? OH YEA!! Do I feel absolutely convinced that this is what the Lord is calling our family to do at this season? Yes. Is it going to be hard? I would bet the farm on it!

I considered Home-schooling briefly when Rienne was an infant (hahaha I laugh to think of myself) before Rory came along 16 months later and rocked our world. As soon as I had spent a solid two years in confinement with my adorable droolers I thought better of the idea of locking myself up with them for the remainder of the next 16 years. By the time Ally came 23 months later I was sure I had my mind made up.

This year Rienne began Private Kindergarten at a school which has been wonderful. I have enjoyed the experience so much! Her teacher is a great lady who, God bless her, manages those 13 kids wonderfully. Rienne learned to read quite quickly and is a little bundle of awakening brain mass and a burgeoning genius. Dustin and I both agreed that it was only too easy to write a check every month (a big check, but more on that later) and have our precious girl come home reading like a champ!

I can hear you asking, "Why then jump ship and cross over to the home-school side?"

It's all God's fault! He is good though. He warmed me up to the idea of HS-ing first by introducing me to some awesome HS mom's and their kids, who impressed me a ton before I ever had a hint that the Lord was heading me in that direction. They weren't anti social freaks who dressed really badly and had horrible haircuts. Not kids who used Olde English words like forsooth every other sentence and certainly not kids who were without friends. I had previously pictured Napoleon Dynamite as the poster boy for HS kids which is so wrong I know (and yes I know, you ND fans, he went to public school, but it just fit in my mind)! Even a dear friend of mine and an avid opponent to ever HS-ing her kids went over to the HS camp! If she could do it, I could.

Next, almost too sad to admit, was MONEY. Money began what I call the "negotiation talks" with the Lord. It all started with the building campaign at church. We kept thinking that we'd have lots of money to contribute if we didn't have to pay tuition. Yes, those checks were big ones, as I said, and with Rory enrolling for Kindergarten for the '07-'08 school year tuition would have cost us nearly $11,000.00. Two years later with Ally joining the ranks we'd near $17,000.00 annually.

I heard you gasp!! I know, isn't that insane! I mean to tell you!!!! We have three kids and we'd like to have more, God willing. We have college to think about here! Estimates are that it will cost approximately $1,000,000.00 per student by the time they enter college. We sure wouldn't make any headway saving for college if we continued to dole out that kind of cash!

The "negotiation talks" began with me telling the Lord I would look into the whole HS thing for Him and get back with Him on it. I read everything I could find. I mean BIG, FAT books on the subject. I did online research which gave me data to lay to rest the argument that HS kids are socially defunct and ill-equipped to handle the real world when the enter the work force.

"Ok Lord, I will consider..... that is consider, HS-ing the girls BUT you have to be with me and bless me because I feel a nervous breakdown coming on!"

Then He pulled out the big guns! The reminder of how at around the beginning of the New Year He spoke to me about learning to serve my children in a greater way. About how I have failed, at times, to value my mission field as a mommy, always looking outside of my home for a way to make a lasting impact, instead of grasping that I hold the keys to impacting the future in my developing girls' brains.

"Oh, really? Are you sure that this is the way we gotta do it Lord?"

He assured my that "Oh yes! it is."

There are some serious character deficiencies in myself which I am beginning to feel the Lord zeroing in on. As He takes aim I feel almost at a panic. Like the apple I wrote about yesterday I sense this is gonna be a messy operation. Being a perfectionist I tremble at the thought of not getting everything absolutely perfect when we begin school. I know this is going to test my commitment to excellence as I will have to WORK HARD. No throwing in the towel if the first lesson goes terribly wrong.

This is Jen being a (gulp) Home-school mom. This is Jen trying to: Be BOLD Jen

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A Devotional: Apples to Apples

This post is in the same vein as previous posts of mine (see Faithful To Me and also point 2 of Serious Jen is Back) This is Jen, once again, trying to breakdown something that is theologically over Jen's head. Sometimes I understand a thing better when I write it out, so this is just my brain in blog format. Please, if you read this post also read the scripture I reference. If you don't have a Bible you can look up the references on

Two apples came to mind. One was a bright red, shiny and firm apple. It was plump and I imagined it smelling very sweet. It looked so appetising. The other apple looked maroonish but it was heading quickly towards brown. I noticed visible bruises which foretold of the mushy fruit lying in wait just under the covering of skin. I imagined no sweet smell this time, but a faint bitter odor instead. Since fruit is a very biblical concept I am not surprised that this visual aid came to mind. After all, I am continually praying for spiritual fruit (Gal 5:22-23) and it would help to know what kind of fruit I am. Often, I absolutely feel like the second apple. I think God spoke to me something about this yearning for the first apple and the eventual fate of my fruity-ness. ( Though some might say I am more nutty than fruity!)

We know that those of us in Christ Jesus have already undergone a major core transplant when we heard and received the Word of God, the Gospel of Christ (Eph 1;13-14) and God Himself in the form of the Holy Spirit is sealed up in us, there to remain until we come into our full inheritance. We also know that Faith was credited to Abraham as righteousness (Romans 4:8-10) and we know that faith is they key to the door which opens our salvation (Romans 4:16-17, Phil 3:8-9) and that in faith we are Abraham's descendants and the promise applies to us as well. (Isaiah 56:1-8)

What about my bruised and brownish outside. If my core has been made solid and firm in Christ and the salvation he offers, why am I, in my opinion, still such an unappetising piece of fruit? Next came the second mental image. (John 15:1-8) One where my apple is plucked from the rotten tree and is grafted into the healthy tree. The gardener also cut out the bruises and the damaged fruit. It was painful and I looked like a mess. The gaping wholes were obvious and made me feel incomplete. Oh, how I wanted to hide my surgical pruning from everyone's eyes. I was even tempted to prefer the ugly bruisednes of my previous state to the decidedly more open and vulnerable state of pruning which I was experiencing. Worse than that, sometimes I stopped trusting the Gardener. I forgot that the holes in me were from the removal of decay. I neglected to remember how He was cleaning out my wounds so healthy fruit could grow. But it doesn't matter if I am always on the same page as the Gardener. The restoration of health is on track just the same, my fruit is changing and growing healthy with His care.

There is some sort of a link between abiding in Christ (He is the Word of God), healing, and the bearing of much fruit for our Father's glory (John 15:8) and surely as followers of Christ and imitators of Him we want to follow Christ's example and Lift up His father's name! (again read John 15:1-8) The link is one which at present I feel ill equipped to explain. I think back once again to the fact that my core can't lose it's foundation in Christ. It is safe and in the vine it remains healthy. What about my apple flesh? That flesh that is not quite fully edible. I am told to "remain" in the vine and bear much fruit. How do I go about "remaining"? What does that look like?

I believe "remaining" and "abiding" must look a great deal like feasting on a continual diet of the Truth of God's Word which by it's nature can't help but create in me a strong faith (Romans 10:17) and an attitude of great expectation while I submit to God's process of pruning. Action seems to be the proof of understanding and acceptance of the Truth (James 1:22) Next, here comes obedience rounding out the "remaining" role. Every call to obedience is a call to faith, an opportunity to ACT like I BELIEVE, showing I trust and understand God to be Who He says He is. When I obey I get to experience God as He says He is! All of a sudden obedience is joy, not a burden!

This is just what I needed today! I hope it helps you too.

Thank you Lord for Your Word, for Who You are and all You do for us! Help us to hear all you speak of in Your Word. Let us obey You LORD! You are so worthy of praise!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Let me introduce you to this awesome organization

Hi guys! Today I thought I would write about an organization I really value. Dustin and I have been contributing to this organization for over 2 years now. It's the International Justice Mission or IJM. Find it at

IJM is a Christian human rights group that fights for justice (as the name implies) on behalf of those most likely to be abused by government. I found out about them via a PBS special about human trafficking. The man who started IJM is named Gary Haugen. He has written a book titled "The Good News About Injustice." Go read it or ask to borrow my copy. It's a good read (not cheerful, but important).

This group is NO JOKE! It is a professional and hardworking organization. They get the job done and are extremely effective in aiding victims. They fight HARD against human trafficking and do a remarkable job. While they get a lot of press for their trafficking efforts they are in the business of helping the poor, widows and children just as the Bible mandates.

I know we all have a building campaign coming up and we are all excited about what we can contribute to that, so I don't write asking you to contribute (unless you feel called to) but please at least make yourself familiar with this organization and let your friends and family know about it too. The season for giving may not be right for you but maybe a freind or relative would be able.

Love to all!

Friday, April 6, 2007

The air conditioning is on and the door is wide open

Oh my gosh!! The largest flying insect EVER has flown into my home!

The girls have left the sliding door open and let the BIGGEST bee in recorded history into the TV room.

As soon as I hear the mammoth wings buzzing I run .....( quite gracefully and full of dignity... who am I kidding? I am running like the wind... crouching and screaming at the highest octave possible at my age).... I run and shut the french doors leaving my fearless doggie Wyatt to take down the gruesome beast while I immediately, and with speed dial precision, phone my hubby to see exactly what is taking him so long in coming home from work. Hubby proceeds to laugh hysterically over the phone. He receives a quick hang up from me as soon as I realize that no help is soon coming from him. As I watch my pathetic little designer pooch with his face pressed up against the glass pleading for me to release him from behind the doors which are keeping him locked up with the beastly bee I wonder how Dustin ever thought this dog could be an effective deterrent to robbers.

"Ok girls I am heading in to take one for the team!" I announce while armed with my daughter's favorite blankie. I prepare to do battle "The Lord is my strength.........."

My heart is pounding. I begin to picture myself slipping into anaphilactic ( hope I have the spelling right 'cause spellcheck doesn't do medical terms) shock after receiving the death blow of a sting from this thing, all the while I am swinging furiously this blankie, which is my weapon.

10 minutes later I am out of breath and this stupid bee is NOT showing signs of slowing down. What am I to do? If Dustin comes home and I haven't licked this bee I will look like a fool! I must conquer this foe! I WILL conquer this foe!

AH HA! The bee has flown into the corner and is repeatedly bashing it's gargantuan eyes into the sliding glass door. Now's my chance. He's dazed and confused and trying to regain composure while resting in the track of the sliders. Why didn't I think of this 10 minutes ago? I will simply slam the slider all the way back on the track and squash him.

What? There must somehow be room for him in the track because despite his extra large size I can still hear him buzzing inside the sliders.

Enter three girls asking me "Why did you put the bee int he wall?"(that is how LOUD the buzzing is!!!) I begin to issue threats that if ANY of them even thinks of closing that door they will be grounded until high school!

Husband calls for an update. I proceed to relay the events as you have read them. He asks for a detailed description of the bee. Seems the bee I have is a carpenter bee according to my inspect specialist husband. I prefer not to take his word for it. He says the don't sting.

"They eat wood, honey. You don't need to be afraid of it." He assures me he'll be home shortly. I assure him the door is staying put with the bee securely locked in the track until he arrives.

My AC is on and the door is WIDE OPEN!! It's 5:51PM and I am worn out from boxing with a bee. I will soon be listening to the jeering of a smug husband who will feel like a divine deliverer when he ushers this 5 pound bee back outside where it belongs. The girls will probably even clap for him and cheer him on, thus adding to his grandiosity. I will then have to endure his snickering and giggles as he tells the girls that mommy was afraid of a little bee.

HMMMMM.......I think I will let our hero cook dinner tonight! Seeing as he is so mighty and able!!

A day in the life!!!

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Not my way....... but yours

It's happened. I am miscarrying again. No wit or wisdom to be found from me at this moment. Just a whole lot of questions and tears. Not the "why me" type questions. Now the "How" type. Not the "does God care" kind either.

It's just that I cannot fathom what is going on. I still believe in everything I've said all along. I still trust and rely on the Truth that God loves me and will take care of me. I have just come to realize that I have absolutely no clue as to what His proper care will look like.

I have been camping around Isaiah 55 a lot lately. I have never felt the impact of verse 8 more intensely in my life as I do right now!! It says:

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD.

You said it LORD!! You got that right!! This is not how Dustin and I would have chosen things to work out BUT we know who "has our back" so to speak! I look forward to the day when I can post a blog that is able to rejoice over the beauty that has arisen from these ashes!

One last thought that my beautiful and brilliant husband brought to my attention last night which is so appropriate for me to remember this Easter. In the midst of our deepest pain God never forsakes us. It humbles me to know that there is only One who God has forsaken, and that was Christ on my behalf. At the moment Christ embodied my sins on the cross and endured separation from His beloved Father, Christ gave me His assurance that I would never have to endure the same thing. He suffered all of that for me, on my behalf.

I know there is comfort for me in the midst of this pain. Christ offered Himself up to ensure I would have it. I am so thankful! Praise God, death could not keep Jesus. Truly His ways are NOT my ways!!

With so much love this Easter!


Sunday, April 1, 2007

Without words

Now let's all just take a moment to laugh at my title for this entry!!!! If I was truly without words would there be any typed here? Alas, more proof that even when I think I have run out of words there are still more left inside of me which just needed to be shaken up and poured out. (Are you feeling so sorry for my husband right about now? Just imagine what the Lord has to endure from me!!!)

Here I am. At the end of MANY prayers, tears, and mood swings that would make that head spinning, green vomiting girl from the Exorcist movie look down right demure and sweet. I have arrived. I think this is brokenness ( I sure stinkin' hope so!!!) but not hopelessness. I am hoping in openness not concession, in trust and also inquisitive testing out. I am waiting on deliverance while actively seeking out righteousness. I am stepping out, maybe even be in the wrong direction, but I have come to see that God has the ability to overcome my propensity to sin.

I have a test tomorrow. One that measures the HCG levels in my blood. One which is a strong indicator as to the health of this pregnancy. One which at this moment feels very, very important to me. I do not know the results of that test. I do know the results of all these many prayers though! I know that God on high hears me. I trust in Him alone. My prayer: Jesus be glorified in me.

Ok, so I am officially changing the title to With Some Words (but significantly fewer than usual!)