Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Three Stranded Rope

"And if somebody overpowers one person, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not easily broken." Ecclesiastes 4:12

In this picture, from left to right, is Faith, Olivia Faith and Olivia. No, I didn't stutter. And they used to all refer to each other as "Two Wawa" (as in two Olivias).

We go to a large church. When I saw an announcement in the bulletin for twin girls just 3 months older than my baby, who were named Faith and Olivia, I knew I wanted to meet the mom who chose the same names I did for my daughter, Olivia Faith.

Never would I have guessed that when I finally did meet her, when our girls were 3 years old, that she would become a God-sent friend to us. Crystal (a.k.a. Dr. Crystal) was the one who eventually led us in the natural direction that helped us deal with our youngest daughter's medical issues, including her severe allergic reactions.

The three girls have become fast friends, not to mention their mothers. How could they not? It almost seemed "meant to be." I just love how God puts people in our paths.


For more inspiring Word Filled Wednesday, visit Amy

Monday, October 27, 2008

Just an Ordinary Day

Today's Topic:

Arise and Shine: Being an Exceptional Mother in the Midst of the Ordinary

Today's Hostess:
Lisa at A Second Generation of Homeschooling

Lisa has this to share about homeschool mothers, but any mother I know, homeschooling or not, can relate:

"Homeschool mothers can most assuredly relate to the feelings that come from drudgery. The days are long and tedious. The success that comes of the toil sometimes goes unseen for months, maybe even years. Our lives seem downright plain and ordinary. Our work goes unnoticed. Our existence remains unobserved. Life can become commonplace. Where do we go from here? How can we keep going from day to day?"

She asks us the following questions:
1. What daily tasks seem mundane or monotonous to you?
2. How can we change our outlook when completing these tasks?
3. What impact do these tasks have on our husband and children? How does it make a difference in their lives?
4. Is it okay to focus on earthly recognition when completing these tasks for our loved ones, or is receiving an eternal reward sufficient? Which does Jesus think is more important? Shouldn’t that be our focus, as well?

Today I'm keeping it simple. There are a lot of "mundane tasks" that need to be done around here, and my blogging time needs to be short.

I want to share briefly about recognition and motives in our daily lives because God has done a work in me this year in this area.

I have the privilege of getting to stay at home with my kids. I have since I was pregnant with the first. I always knew I wanted to stay at home once I had children. I also pictured myself very involved and active in church, ministry and volunteer work.

And that's what I set out to do. I volunteered for local ministries, completed additional certification classes, became involved in Bible studies, moms groups and hosting ministries at our home. I started an at-home business with my sister.

I kept busy.

And then in January, something changed. The best way I can describe it was I had a constant lack of peace. I always felt overwhelemed, underaccomplished and scattered. I didn't feel I was being an attentive wife, an involved mom or a productive volunteer. My household duties felt like burdens and a day where I didn't load my kids into the car for one reason or another was hard to come by.

The light bulb moment was when I got sick and was thankful that I had an "excuse" to stay at home and enjoy my family. At that moment, I knew my priorities had been turned upside down.

As I began to make changes and learned to refuse different opportunities, I was surprised by the backlash. God really used that time to prune out the things that didn't bear fruit, including church activities and friendships. I was criticized, belittled and accused because I made a choice to spend the majority of my time in my home, taking care of my family, instead of in service to others. I was even told I was not in God's will because the most important thing to Him was that I go outside of my home to bring people to the Lord and that I was a example of selfishness to my children.

It's been a year of pruning and loss. But I feel lighter, because I'm not carrying around more than God designed for me. The mundane chores and household responsibilities are not overwhelming anymore. There is satisfaction in having the time to do them well. Overall I feel closer to God, more at peace and balanced as a family.

I received this story in an email today and thought you might like to read it. I wish I knew who to give the credit to, but it was one of those anonymous forwards. True story or not, it really speaks to the heart of a mother.

"Invisible Mother"

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store.

Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone?'

Obviously, not.

No one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all.

I'm invisible. The invisible Mom. Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this?

Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, 'What time is it?' I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What number is the Disney Channel?' I'm a car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.'

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated sum a cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going; she's going; she's goooooooone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in.

I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself.

I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you this.'

It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe.

I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription:

'To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work:

No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names.

These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished.

They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.

The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, 'Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it.' And the workman replied, 'Because God sees.'

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place.

It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, 'I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become.'

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life.

It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride.

I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on.

The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.' That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, 'you're gonna love it there.'

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right.

And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Great Job, MOM!

"Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."
Hebrews 11:1


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Team Hoyt - Father and Son

My Redeemer Lives
Nicole C. Mullen

Who taught the sun where to stand in the morning
And Who told the ocean you an only come this far?
And Who showed the moon where to hide 'til evening?
Whose words alone can catch a falling star?

Well I know my Redeemer lives
I know my Redeemer lives
Let all creation testify
This life within me cries I know my Redeemer lives

As I watched this video, I could hear myself having one of those very personal conversations with God. (And as such, certain details will remain nameless.)

"Lord, I'm inspired. And if I could ask for anything, I would want to do such and such. But I know it is near impossible."

And as unfeasbile as it would seem to everyone else, including me, God's reply would be

"My daughter, you desire what? Well, here's what I can do. I made the heavens and the earth. I can move mountains. I can fulfill the desires of your heart for my glory. While it may seem inconceivable, I will accomplish it in you. Trust in Me."

And then I would be reminded that because my satisfaction, my happiness and my contentment are found in Him alone, He has given me the desires of my heart. If He has placed them there, how could they be preposterous? Would He not fulfill the work He Himself started in my heart?

"Delight yourself in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass." ~ Psalm 37:4,5

What is the impossible in your life?

For more songs that inspire, visit Amy.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Challenge Outcome

Today I am thankful for the work God is doing in my marriage. I started the 30-Day encouragement challenge 2 months ago because of an At the Well post on building up your spouse.

Wow, how our marriage has been transformed! Or should I say, how hasn't it been transformed?

I knew it would take me a few months to get it down pat, so after I completed the first month, I started the challenge over. All the while, I did not tell him (my husband) exactly what I was doing. He noticed the changes and asked me about it often.

In the middle of the second month, Troy and I made a date night to see Fireproof at the theater. I had it in my head that I wanted to support a movie based on godly principles while it was in the theater, so the world would see that there is a market for wholesome and godly.

Without revealing the storyline, there is a key element in the movie very similiar to my 30-Day Encouragement Challenge. I was so excited, before I realized it I nudged my husband and said, That's what I am doing for you!

By the end of the movie, we were both equally stirred in our hearts. We had a wonderful, meaningful conversation on the way to dinner, about where our marriage was and where it was heading. We made new commitments to each other, with specific promises of what we would each try to do for the other person.

I'm not one to gush about a movie, but this is one that is worth taking the time for. Even if you have young kids. It's worth the trouble of finding and paying for a sitter. Consider it an investment in your marriage. If you live nearby, Troy and I will watch your kids so you can go see it. Yes, you heard me, free babysitting! We believe in it that much.

Slightly related, I am thankful for an encouragement I received from Peggy today at Amazing Grace ~ Mazes, Messes and Miracles. She wrote a note, passing on some blogging friendship awards to me that made me smile. Unfortunately, I could not access them at the time I was writing this or else I would share them with you.

Peggy also has, in the same post, a link for The World of Chelle, a discussion blog that is born from the book THE LOVE DARE which came from the movie, you guessed it, Fireproof. I was so encouraged when I read parts of it, that I made an extra stop today at the Bible bookstore to grab my own copy. I was just getting ready to start a 3rd month of the 30-Day Encouragement Challenge, so I decided to give this one a try instead.

Stay tuned and I will let you know if the outcome of my new challenge is as successful as the first challenge. I am believing it will be!


Today Iris was thankful for special friendships. What are you thankful for? For more words of inspiration visit her at Sting My Heart....

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Therefore, if anyone is in Christ,
he is a new creation;
the old has gone, the new has come!"
2 Corinthians 5:17

Isn't it amazing that when God agrees to take on our messed up, garbage-filled lives and make us into new creations, that He knows exactly what has redeemable value and what needs to go immediately?

I'm forever grateful that God saw enough value in me to pull me out from the garbage and breathe new life into my soul. By the grace of God, I am a new creation!


For more inspiring Word Filled Wednesday, visit Amy.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Home Reflections

Today's Topic:
Our Home is an extension of who we are.

Today's Hostess:
Natalie at I Am (not)

"They are to teach what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands and children, to be sensible, pure, good homemakers, and submissive to their husbands, so that God's message will not be slandered." Titus 2

Natalie simply asks us, How does your home reflect who you are?

If you head over to Natalie's blog, you will no doubt agree that she was blessed with the creative gift of interior design and decorating. I, on the other hand, was not. Getting the house (or even a room) the way I like it, takes me way too much time and alot of hard thought.

In spite of my designing deficiencies, I feel that our home truly reflects who we are and what we value by what it is used for. Two and a half years ago, my husband and I were blessed to be able to build our own home. He works in the construction industry and did much of the actual designing and building himself. I admit, I had never fully valued his abilities until then. He built us an incredible home!

We collaborated alot during the design phase. We talked about our goals for our family, our future ministry, our kids, their friends. I think that is how our home reflects who we are. We especially felt if we were going to build a large home, it had to serve a higher purpose than just existing as a house for us. Because of my husband's business, we felt we would be in this city for quite some time. That being said, we designed our house with longevity and ministry in mind. I think pictures show it the best.

When you enter our home, the view is the Living Room. We designed this room, from the layout to the furniture, to be an open, comfortable area where we could entertain and host events or meetings for ministries, especially Bible studies. The blue couch belonged to my great-grandparents and reflects a special part of my family line.

In the dining room, we replaced our long table with a square one. It seemed to fit the room and foster conversations between all the guests better. This is also where I house all of my tea things. There is nothing like inviting a friend over for a playdate, getting out the fancy tea sets and serving her tea while the kids run around and play.

My bedroom reflects a love of reading and studying. We built a window seat, so I could read and still keep an eye on the kids while they play outside. We also put in a low table for writing and study supplies. My favorite spot is the oversized chaise lounge for cozy reading times.

The kitchen was made for fellowship. I made sure to have extra roomy aisles so as not to get grumpy when everyone is milling around while I am cooking. With chairs along the breakfast bar and connected to the Family Room, it's naturally a place people gravitate to.

The Guest Suite is my favorite. Our intention was to create a private retreat, with it's own outdoor access, to host traveling ministers, missionaries and out of town guests. We tried to create the feel of a fancy hotel room, even equipping one of the closets with options for a coffee maker and microwave.

Lastly, the kids playroom in the basement which has seen many playdates. Our goal is to keep an eye on our kids and their friends. We hope to host many get-togethers here. We pray that we can have the kind of house kids will want to come hang out at -- inviting and comfortable. And we hope this extends well into their teen years. They are young yet, so we started by creating a playroom that is interactive and organized for easy clean-up. Years down the road, we plan to turn it into an older game room, ping pong, lounging couches, etc.

What I hope our home reflects is a desire to serve, host and bless others. We want to use our home for ministry. We want to open it up and treat our guests special, with the intention that they feel as comfortable as if they were family.

There is just one thing missing in our home. We want to incorporate Scripture verses on the walls. One place is in the Kitchen, above the stove on the flat front of the hood. Another is to post the girls "life verses" in their rooms. And we also want to hang our family verse on a wall. This is one of my projects for the year. I will share new pictures when I get that completed!

To read more, head over to the well at Natalie's blog I Am (Not).

Sunday, October 19, 2008

October 19-25th, 2008: National Infertility Awareness Week

Today I am recognizing National Infertility Awareness Week, a movement to raise awareness about the disease of infertility which affects 7.3 million Americans.

My "About Me" says after overcoming a few obstacles, I am blessed to be a mother. My husband and I dealt with infertility from the moment we thought about starting a family. I met with my family doctor for a check-up, explaining we were going to try to get pregnant soon, and after a month of tests, found myself with a brain tumor diagnosis (pituitary tumor). To top it off, I was assured that if I got pregnant, the hormones would cause the tumor to grow rapidly.

Months later, after an MRI confirmed that God had indeed healed me, (the doctors assured me this was completely impossible), we sought advice from an infertility doctor who specialized in patients with pituitary tumors. During our first appointment she advised me to undergo a round of chemotherapy drugs. Immediately after that statement, she took a phone call from the nurse advising her we were already pregnant! The pregnancy was not without it's trials (including 4 months of bedrest due to preterm labor), but no ill effects from the tumor. Olivia Faith was born full-term and healthy.

Our story continues with another couple years of what is called secondary infertility, usually defined as the inability to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term after successfully and naturally conceiving one or more children. Many diagnoses were given, including severe endometriosis. One surgery later, and once again a natural pregnancy was confirmed by an infertility doctor. Another eventful pregnancy ensued (with more bedrest). And Madeline Joy was born full-term as well.

We again experienced secondary infertility, including one early miscarriage, due to the endometriosis. This time our infertility doctor gave us less than 0.5% chance of conceiving on our own. I was in need of another surgery. The next month he was dumbfounded, confirming that once again we were pregnant. Unfortunately, this time we lost our baby boy at 3 months.

Once again, we find ourselves in a season of secondary infertility. It's a tough place to be. The tug of war between my overwhelming desire to add to our family and the guilt I feel in appearing ungrateful for the children I have often keeps me from sharing anything at all.

This week seemed like a safe time to share my story, and a few facts I've learned along the way. From what I've read, Secondary infertility is often unrecognized as a problem, and many couples find it hard to receive support from their family and friends. Some couples are even criticized as seeming ungrateful for the child or children they already have.

The emotional impact of infertility is profound. Unless you have had a close encounter with it, you probably wouldn't begin to guess the ramifications. RESOLVE published an article, "Coping with Infertility" that had this to say:
From the shocking diagnosis and demanding treatment to the disruptive day-to-day experiences, this emotional assault can leave an infertile individual depressed, angry and guilt ridden. Of the eight types of loss researchers have identified which can lead to depression in the average man or woman, the infertile individual may experience them all: loss of self-esteem, status, important relationships, health or an acceptable body image, control, security, important fantasies and someone or something of symbolic value. The cumulative effect is profound, creating a life crisis that impacts a person's ability to cope and has no immediate or foreseeable resolution.

It goes on to say: Ultimately, many infertile women....feel the wound of infertility in every part of their being, and there are no simple remedies to ease such deep pain and extensive loss.

I agree that infertility is that intense. I've often said it is like grieving the death of a dream every month. But it's here that I would have to agree to disagree with the article. There is a simple remedy to ease my deep pain and my continued loss. It is my continued relationship with God. He is able to take my questions, my fears, my grief, my disappointments. In Matthew 11, Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

That doesn't mean I am not sad. I grieve the babies I've lost. And many months I grieve the lost dream of having another child. But even in my sadness, there is a promise that eases my pain and loss, Psalms 34, "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed." God has never been closer to our family than these last few months since we lost our baby boy. We are overwhelmed by His goodness towards us.

For those have journeyed the road of infertility, though our paths may never cross, this traveler holds you close in her heart. My prayers extend toward you this week.

For those who have never carried the burden of infertility, my hope is that you can reach out with understanding and compassion, and help carry the burden of a tired friend. You can't fix it, but you can lift her spirits.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Today's Topic:
"Interruptions, Delays and Inconveniences"

Today's Hostess:
Lori at I will take it Lord, all You have to give

Titus 2 reminds us "...to be kind."

Today, Lori asks some great questions. In the face of day-to-day interruptions, delays and inconveniences, are we really as kind and open as we can be in our daily lives? Are we able to pause and recognize God in those potentially frustrating situations?

I am at the kitchen counter innocently attempting to prepare my own diet-restricted breakfast, after getting the kids settled at the table with their drinks and food, and I realize the knife I am looking for was left in the sink and needs to be washed before I can continue. But right as I reach for the dish scrubber, the girls start asking for more food and the phone begins to ring simultaneously (which I ignore in an attempt to get some nourishment together for my apparently starving kids). But my husband comes on the answering machine begging me to look up just this one thing for him real quick.... and all of the sudden that little phrase from Titus 2, "be kind," is not so easy.

This topic is right on time for me! I can't tell you how many times lately, armed with my well-intentioned desire to get a job done, I've heard myself say to someone in my family (for the 100th time), "Yeah, in just a minute. I need to finish [you fill in the blank]."

I find myself getting grumpy from the pressure of being pulled in multiple directions all day and longing for those late night hours when I have my time to myself and can sacrifice a little sleep in order to complete a job uninterrupted.

Lori asks, How do you handle interruptions in your days? Do you plow right on over them missing opportunities God has placed on your path?

Ouch! Back to that "just a minute" catch phrase I seem to have adopted. I can almost picture my daily path laid out before me, and God walking my kids or my husband right through the middle of it. Too often I miss out on what God has for me by thinking my family are the "interruptions."

Lori wrote, "I often imagine a day when I have an opportunity to stroll around heaven, where it will be revealed to me how many things I "missed." Missed in my attempt to be in control of "my day" and do it in "my time." I imagine a tour that reveals to me the times when I had only tunnel vision and missed the opportunities that God was trying to lead me to."

I don't want to miss out! Even in my pursuit to be a Titus 2 or Proverbs 31 woman, I want to make sure I am balanced. The real goal isn't the tidy house or the wonderful meals or the checked off to-do list. Serving my family is supposed to be the goal!

What interruptions frustrate you the most? How are you working to overcome that?

The things that frustrate me the most are the things that get in the way of my agenda. If I keep in mind that I am a servant, and that I can use those interruptions as a way to serve others, I have a feeling it will be a little easier to respond graciously with kindness. And if I embrace the idea of trusting that God has directed my day, then I must become more flexible in order to receive all He has for me.

Since I know I will need help in this area, I decided to commit my entire day to the Lord, interruptions and all, with a prayer from Psalms, first thing in the morning when I wake up. Usually I'm not much on doing things when I first wake up, because it's not my most coherent time of the day. But I think this is really going to help my outlook on the day.
Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you.

Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you.

Rescue me from my enemies, Lord; I run to you to hide me. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God.

May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing. ~ Psalms 143:8-10

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Rejoice Over You With Singing

We chose a life verse for each of our girls. A verse that simply expresses something God has laid on our hearts for their life. We have plans to display each of their verses in their individual rooms. For Madeline, we chose Zephaniah 3:17.

"The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." ~ Zephaniah 3:17

If you are at all familiar with her story/testimony, then you will understand why this verse is so very special for her. Madeline has battled one physical issue after another. But we KNOW God is with her and that he takes great delight in her just as she is. We also know that He is the ultimate healer and we continue to pray that he will take care of all her physical limitations.


For more inspiring Word Filled Wednesday, visit Amy.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Keeping a Home

Our Hostess: Chelsie at Joyfully Living

Today's Topic:
Keeping the Home

"These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God." Titus 2:4-5

Another version says "keepers at home." I looked up the root to the word keeper, which is - a guard, be "ware." The definition throughout the Bible is "caring for the house or working at home," which means: a) the watch or keeper of the house, b) keeping at home and taking care of household affairs and c) a domestic (relating to the family or household).

At the Well is a little different for me today. Since Chelsie is focusing on (b), keeping a clean and tidy home, today is one of those days when I am acutely aware that I am one of "the younger women." A day when I admit that I have much more to learn, than I have to share. My ears are open and I am ready to be trained!

I decided I would share a quick story, and then mosey on over to the other women at the well and see what wisdom they have to share with me. My story begins in January of this year, when I really felt God telling me to stop doing things that kept me away from my home and my family. As hard as that was for me to hear, I was sure it wouldn't be forever, and even my husband called it a season.

These words from the Bible about a wife of character were critical in my decision:

"She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness. Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her: “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!” Proverbs 31:27-29

While many people might have given me praise for all the "capable" things I was doing, I was sure my husband and children weren't one of them. As a wise woman once said, "You can't do a hundred things well." So in an effort to get my priorities straight, I took a break from extracurricular activities.

It wasn't easy at first. Being busy was a habit I had formed. But eventually, what a difference it made in my attitude! I went from looking at making meals and doing housework as a burden, to seeing it as a way to bless my family. I began to understand that this is my responsibility, that God has given me. And because it is God-given, it is just as important as my self-given responsibilities. No, it is more important.

I'm starting to treasure time with my family. I realize this time with my girls will come to an end soon enough. At some point, they will grow and move on. This season is a wonderful one that I have been given to bless them, teach them and model what a wife of noble character looks like.

OK, now for the practical stuff. I'm on my way to learn from the other women at the well....

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Cardboard Testimonies

How He Loves
by John Mark Mcmillan

Verse 1
He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

And oh, how He loves us so,
Oh how He loves us,
How He loves us so

I never felt I had much of a "testimony." I grew up in a Christian home, our church family was as close as our real family. I knew the presence of God in my life at a young age. And by the time I was 10, I knew I was supposed to use my life to tell others about our amazing God. I continued to stay close to God. Attended Bible College. And began to work in ministry.

But after hearing this song and incredible video, my definition of 'testimony' was redefined. I realized I had many, many cardboard testimonies. Many of them physical. Some emotional. And the most important ones, spiritual. Even as I struggle today in some of these areas, it inspires me to look back and remember all that God has been to me.

Diagnosed with a pituitary brain tumor -- "impossibly" healed, according to my doctors

Told I had many reasons for infertility -- have had 3 miracle pregnancies

Heart breaking miscarriages -- Peace and joy beyond my understanding
What is your cardboard testimony? I would love to be encouraged by yours as well.

For more songs that inspire, visit Amy.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

God Shed His Grace on Thee

I am thankful for our country. I am thankful for the opportunity to live in America. Even though the upcoming elections and issues can seem overwhelming to me at times. (Although I must admit I thoroughly enjoyed the Vice Presidential debate tonight for a couple different reasons.)

Two days ago, I had the privilege of reconnecting with an old college friend by phone, who has been a missionary for the last 10 years or so. (I am choosing to leave the country undisclosed for safety reasons). She explained to me from a firsthand perspective, how dehumanizing governments can really be. And the horrific effect that has on not only a person's view of themself, but also their basic view of others.

I came away from that conversation, with two things in mind. First, I began to pray harder than ever for souls around the world who do not have the same Christian freedoms that we can so easily take for granted. And second, how blessed I am to live in a country where we have the option to value human life.

I know our country has problems, and fittingly I kept thinking about the lyrics for America the Beautiful, especially "God shed His grace on Thee." They seem so perfect during these times. As do all the prayers included for our country (below in bold).

O beautiful, for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea.

O beautiful, for pilgrim feet
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America! God mend thine ev'ry flaw;
Confirm thy soul in self control, thy liberty in law!

O beautiful, for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America! May God thy gold refine,
'Til all success be nobleness, and ev'ry gain divine!

O beautiful, for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years,
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea!


Today Iris was thankful God has lifted her dark cloud. What are you thankful for? For more words of inspiration visit her at Sting My Heart....

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Autumn Rains

Be glad, O people of Zion,
rejoice in the LORD your God,
for he has given you the autumn rains in righteousness.
He sends you abundant showers,
both autumn and spring rains, as before.
Joel 2:23

We had our own rare and refreshing autumn rain two days ago. Tell me, what's more carefree than a permission-to-get-your-clothes-soaked dance in the rain?

Today, let yourself soak in the promise of God to send abundant showers to bless your life.


For more inspiring Word Filled Wednesday, visit Amy.