Wednesday, June 29, 2011

the seeming contradiction of Christianity

You know I think one of the biggest contradictions I face now is the contradiction of the fact I know God wants me to be blessed and prosperous on this earth... and the fact that I've lost two loved ones at way too early of an age. Plus I see lots of family members and friends struggling with health or finances... yet I know God wants to bless each and every one of His children.

I think it's a contradiction that our mental capacities will never be able to comprehend.

God can bring help and hope and some answers to comfort, but as Paul said, we see in a glass dimly on this earth. We can't see the real picture, and we won't until heaven. We have no idea how many "wheels are turning" or pieces are in play right now in addition to our lives. Plus, we're not God. We don't know what's best. The only thing we can imagine is that trials can't be best because they hurt.

But what if we are wrong and we will face some type of trials here on earth because we live in a fallen world and something like this song is true...



What if we learn best in difficulty what God has been trying to show us all along?  Perhaps it's God's best that we don't learn it through difficulty, but we're too stubborn or distracted during the good times to listen.

I don't know, but it's something I'm pondering today. I know God doesn't bring adversity and during adversity, we do everything we know to do. Sometimes, though, things happen that we don't understand and/or are out of our control, and that's what I'm talking about here. I know I've done other blog posts along this line... it's 'cuz I'm processing. :-)

P.S. I still fully believe that God wants us to live blessed lives here on earth. That thought will not change.

Monday, June 27, 2011

our cake adventure

Happy last weekend in June... CRAZY! As people have been saying for years, "Time flies!"

This weekend was super nice. We spent it in Erik's hometown celebrating Erik's grandma's 80th birthday. The party was on Sunday and it was a huge success!

I'm not 100% sure where the idea for this began, but Erik and I decided a while ago that our birthday present to Grandma would be to make her a birthday cake--not just any birthday cake, but a big, tiered cake.

We did a test cake to try a few of the recipes a week or so prior to this weekend and then we bought all the ingredients, brought them home to his parents with us, and spent Friday, Saturday, and Sunday morning making a three-tiered, completely homemade topsy-turvy birthday cake! It was a lot of work, but a lot of fun!

Here are a few pics...


Some of the cakes... each layer was four tiers so that we could make it topsy/turvy looking. The cake recipes were really good!!!



Here's the chocolate cake... you can see the white buttercream on each layer, but that was just to hold in a homemade raspberry filling that I would love to eat by the spoonful!

Here's the white cake with buttercream frosting. Erik's cutting out the top so we can make a spot to put the next layer in it.



Here's the final product! That's marshmallow fondant on there. There's a buttercream "crumb coat" underneath the fondant. The bottom layer is chocolate. The top two are white. Kudos to Erik for really driving the design. He did awesome!

We've watched enough cake shows and challenges on Food Network and other stations... it was time for us to try it ourselves! We had a ton of fun and everyone liked how it tasted and looked. Who knows when we'll just decide to make our next one... actually, ideas are already in the works. :-)

All that to say... if you ever want to do something fun, just do it! Don't let impossibilities or the whole "that's crazy" factor stop you. Take dance lessons, make a huge cake, or paint a masterpiece, all because you can. :-)

Monday, June 20, 2011

the ancient request for God to move

I opened up my Bible to Isaiah chapter 64 and immediately related to the sentiments written:

"Oh that you would rip open the heavens and descend
make the mountains shudder at your presence--
as when a forest catches fire,
as when fire makes a pot to boil--
to shock your enemies into facing you,
make the nations shake in their boots!" (Message)

I think if we were God and all the bad things happening around the world (and back then too) were happening, we would do exactly this. Rip the heavens open then come down and declare, "I am God! You enemies must scatter!" We would use (okay, abuse?) our godly power and make sure everyone knew how awesome we were.

That's why I think Isaiah's wish is probably echoed by many of us today... "God, just show up and make your power known so that all the bad guys will see that they are wrong, and all the good guys (us!) can cheer!"

But God is God. And obviously, He's smarter than us and abides by rules way better than we do.

Somehow in the middle of our questions, God is doing exactly what needs to be done. He knows the big picture. He knows that he handed over authority and dominion in this world to Adam... and Adam handed it over to Satan when Adam sinned. As a result, God's not going to barge in on that transaction until the time is right.

And boy, am I ready for that to happen! I'm super excited about the day I get to meet Jesus and see him be victorious and conquer the world and see evil be humbled (although I feel bad for the people who will find out they were wrong that day! so not cool for them!!).

If you aren't excited for the day Jesus comes back or you have no idea what I'm talking about, here's a link that explains more about a relationship with Jesus.

By the way, Isaiah continues with some good stuff in chapter 64...

"Still, God, you are our Father.
We're the clay and you're our potter:
All of us are what you made us."

Somehow in the middle of chaos, pain, and hurt, God is still God and He knows what He's doing. We'll never understand his ways - as Isaiah says elsewhere in the book, His ways are higher than our ways. His thoughts higher than our thoughts. Paul says that we see now in a glass dimly, but one day (in heaven) we'll see things much more clearly.

So that's all for now. As my best friend says, "God's still on the throne." :-) That's all we need to know!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

happy early father's day!

First of all, happy first father's day to my honey, Erik. I cry thinking about our honey up in heaven and not here with us. I know he's in a better place than we are... but that doesn't mean we can't miss him and wish he was with us. I know you would have been amazingly wonderful to Brody and in my imagination, he looks just like you. I really believe you'll get to be a father here on earth one day. Thanks for standing by me through all of this past year missing our son. We'll still miss him a lot in the future, but that's okay. It just makes me extra excited for the day we get to meet him in heaven.

Secondly, happy father's day to my dad. It's been such a crazy few years, but you and your faith have been a rock and an example to me and many others through this time. Thanks for helping Erik and I so much through these past months as we dealt with Brody going to Jesus. Here's to a future of living our faith and to the day I get to see you be a grandpa to my kids here on earth. (Given how awesome you are with Brian's girls, I know you'll be amazing!)

Thirdly, happy father's day to my father-in-law. Thank you for taking me into your family so easily! You'll never know the impact you had on me when you took the time to make sure I had an "outhouse" for my first big camping trip out on an island with no amenities. It did help make my camping experience a good one, but more than that, it showed you were watching out for me and cared.

Lastly, thanks to my grandparents and Erik's grandparents. Thanks for providing an example of faith and love to me and all of our family. I have an incredible family and family-in-law that I believe shows God's love to others.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

the deadly game of comparison

Ever compared yourself to someone else?

It's a dangerous activity, I promise. It can sneak in without being recognized and change your attitude from happy to sad before you even realize it is happening!

That's happened to me plenty (as I'm sure it has a lot of us!). Today I remembered the verse 2 Corinthians 10:12, "When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise" (NIV).

It's foolish to compare what we see in someone else's life to our own, but it's something I think everyone on earth deals with, simply because of that common phrase "the grass is always greener on the other side." The thing we don't realize is that if we switched places, we would get someone else's trouble, junk, trials, and difficulties, right in the middle of all the "goodness" we see.

Someone may look perfect on the outside, but that doesn't mean they have a perfect life.

Take Hollywood for example. Say I wish I was Jennifer Aniston who makes how many millions for every movie she makes. She's a superstar. We trade places and you know what I'd get? A life of being followed by paparazzi, every move of mine scrutinized by the public, and a whole list of other things that she's dealing with in life. Yeah, you'd get a lot of money, but money doesn't make a life good!

Okay, take a more realistic example. You see your friends doing ________ and wish you could be doing the same thing. You'd love that person's life. In reality, if you swapped places, you'd inherit all the junk they've gone through in life... maybe they lost someone they loved or have a family member who is an alcoholic or were abused as a kid. Nobody's life is perfect.

When the ugly heads of discontent and comparison appear, smush them down like you smushed the mallet on top of the little heads that pop out of that video game at Chuckie Cheese (you know which one I'm talking about?). Recognize that we all have things we deal with, and every life has beauty bloom in its time. We just take turns experiencing it.

Friday, June 10, 2011

it's the little things in life

For those of you who know me, you know that I am very easily amused by the little things in life.

For example, I got two colored bottles from the Bachman's idea house this past spring. (I love the idea house - they fix up an old house with new and vintage items and reuse items in unique ways. You look at what they can done and then you can buy some of the things you like and creatively find ways to use them! bachmans.com has all the details. I think today or tomorrow is the last day for the summer idea house.) Here's a picture of the porch of the idea house when I got the bottles.


See the bottles hanging from the ceiling? I purchased two of them and one is now my watering "can" and the other holds change. Okay, it holds some change. Nickels and quarters don't quite fit (whoops!), but pennies and dimes do. 

I am thoroughly stoked about the day that jar will be filled with dimes and pennies... I can picture us bringing our kids (it will take a while for the jar to get filled!) in to dump out the money and find out how much we have! I'm so excited about the potential of the full jar that I LOVE finding pennies and dimes. Pretty much any dime or penny I see will quickly be rushed to the jar. 

The bottom right now is barely filled, but again, I have a vision of one day having enough coins in there to fill it to the top! :-) 

All that to say... I was in Erik's truck yesterday and saw two dimes at the bottom of his cup holder. I asked, "Can I please take these dimes?" (and yes, I may have had a begging look in my eye...)

He replied, "Sure. I know you're get much more enjoyment out of taking them then I will with them staying in my car." 

I laughed because he was absolutely right. 

:-) I love being amused by little things. Makes life a whole lot more fun. :-)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

giants don't own the land... i do

This morning the devo in the Life Application Study Bible was this:

Psalm 13:5-6: "But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me."
"David was faithful to God and trusted wholeheartedly in him, but he felt the pressure of his problems as much as anyone. Instead of giving up or giving in, however, David held on to his faith. In times of despair, it is much harder to hold on than to give up. But if you give up on God, you give in to a life of despair."

It reminded me of what I was pondering last night. God told the Israelites that the Promised Land was their land. The problem was that giants and huge walled cities and a bunch of enemies who had no intention of giving up their land were currently living in that same land.

The Israelites had to fight to see the promise of God manifest in their lives. Now I know that Jesus has purchased so much for us on the cross and when He rose from the grave, but I also think that we can learn from the Israelites. They had to look past the fact that giants and enemies were everywhere, and trust in the word from heaven that they owned the land and God would help them get it.

Same goes for me. When I face difficulty (a giant), by the grace of God, I need to keep focused on the fact of what God has promised to me in His Word and be persistent in believing that truth until I see it become a reality in my life.

Joshua was the one who led the Israelites through these battles and before heading into the land, God tells Joshua over and over again in Joshua chapter 1, be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you may go.

God is with me and Erik (and you!) and no matter what difficulty we face on this earth, somehow God has given us a way to fight the fight of faith and see those giants disappear. I don't know how that always looks in the natural sense, but the grace and favor of God is there to help me figure it out.

May His grace be evident in helping you today. Hugs.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

He's my healer

Today while working, I played the song "Healer." I just want to internalize these lyrics (and truths) and make them a living part of my life. Sometimes the hardest part in life is letting go and actually trusting. I can say, "I trust" and think, "I trust" but actually trusting can sometimes be tricky... you know what I mean?

Have a God-filled day. :-)

You hold my every moment
You calm my raging seas
You walk with me through fire
And heal all my disease

I trust in You
I trust in You

I believe You're my Healer
I believe You are all I need
I believe You're my Portion
I believe You're more than enough for me
Jesus You're all I need

Nothing is impossible for You
Nothing is impossible for You
Nothing is impossible for You
You hold my world in Your hands

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

today's top 5 (6/1)

Halfway through 2011. Wow! As is seemingly quoted all the time... "Time flies!"

Here are today's top 5 things I'm grateful for...

1. Family. They provide joy in every week and are always ready for an adventure or a good belly laugh. Last weekend, Erik and I got to be with his family. This weekend we're going to be with my family. Yay!

2. Family, part 2. I have to give a shout out to my cousins (I think they are actually second cousins, but cousins is so much easier to say!) who have been a huge blessing to us. They watch our dog when we are gone and we get to watch their dog when they are gone. Tucker loves this because he has a playmate whenever we are away and I love it because it tires out Tucker. After his "playdate" with the other dog, Tuck's wiped out and sleeping around the house for at least a day and a half.

3. Camping. We just went camping this past weekend, and there's something about making a home in the middle of the nature that I truly enjoy. We did get rained on and dealt with some wind, but that's okay. I love the feeling of crawling inside my tent and laying on my sleeping bag and air pad while listening to the wind swoosh by me and the rain patter on top of the tent, all while none of it touches me. Somehow that tent is what I want my life to be like. I want to hear the rain and wind in life when it is stormy out, but know that it can't touch me because I'm safe in the shelter my God provides me (Psalm 91).

4. Pudgy pies. Camping story... my hubby's family introduced me to "pudgy pies." You have these... wait. Here's a picture...
  

You butter the pie iron and then put a piece of bread down and then fill it with pie filling or pizza sauce/pepperoni/cheese or whatever you want. You put another piece of bread on top and clamp down. Give the dog the corners of the bread that don't fit and then put it in the fire until warm. Very nummy and a fun camping treat. 

5. Christian music. This helps me keep my focus on God amidst the clamoring of everything else in the world. 

Happy Wednesday! Hope you had a good Memorial Day weekend. Thank you to my family and friends who have served in the military. I am grateful and awed by your dedication to God and our country. Thank you.