Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Privilege and Challenge of Leading


It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is not effort without error or short-coming; but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement; and whom, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.

-Theodore Roosevelt, "Citizenship in a Republic," a speech delivered at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

My Place of Abundance

As we approach our one year anniversary of our decision to leave our old church, I have been reflecting on the last year of adjusting. I have to say that the last two days have been really good. The fact that I had that "light bulb" moment back in the beginning of May really has given me clear perspective on the trials of last year. I think that there has continued to be confirmation in so many ways. So, suffice it to say that in many ways I KNOW that what happened was not just something I fabricated in my head or overreacted to. It was serious. It is also very sad that behavior continues to go on being tolerated and ignored. It is hard to deal with things, but in the long run, it is a better way of peace and for creating a culture of peace.

Talking to different people, my reaction is not resentment, but true compassion. I am praying for growth and transformation. I feel no ill-will toward anyone. I feel compassion and forgiveness. I have felt that for a long time, but in light of the newest revelations in the last few days, I could have a "I told you so!" attitude, but I have a somber sadness that someone can't take the hard road of looking at themselves in light of God's infinite love and make some serious steps toward obedience. This makes me not mad but ultimately sad. I don't want to become that way. I really and truly don't want to harden my heart that way. I want to continue to surround myself with people who will "speak truth in love" regardless of how I feel about it. In regards to last year, I feel like I have been the one to receive all the benefit and blessing from the trial, and I want to spread that around a bit, not out of resentment, but out of genuine concern for individuals AND for the health of that local body AND the larger body of Christ!

This morning I read those confirming and comforting verses that I have underlined and dated more than once:

For You have tried us, O God;
You have refined us as silver is refined.
You brought us into the net;
You laid an oppressive burden upon our loins.

You made men ride over our heads;
We went through fire and through water,
Yet You brought us out into a place of abundance.

Psalms 66:10-12


I wrote in the margin on September 24, 2006 "SCC is my place of abundance. :)" I wrote again on April 6, 2007 "Still true of SCC." I know this talks of Israel's struggle out of Egypt, but in a way, I had my own struggle "out of Egypt" in that it really was more of a captivity there for me.

So, I am glad to be in a place of abundance. I am glad that I heard yesterday from one of the pastors that there are no power struggles in the women's ministry. The people in charge are there for the right reasons. No one is nursing old grudges or trying to prove themselves or jockeying for position or trying to meet an unmet need they never got as a child. The skies are clear above this ministry, and I know that it is a place of abundance and growth for me. Thank you God!

How is your commitment to the Lordship of Christ?

Excerpt from p.219-220 of Dear Sister:

The bible tells us that we are not our own, but that Christ purchased us with His own blood and we have become God's own possession (1 Cor. 6:19-20; 1 Peter 1:18-19; 1 Peter 2:9).

If these Scriptures re true of us, we will:

  • Love what God loves and hate what He hates.
  • Not question His Word.
  • Be willing to lay down our own plans and wishes and submit to His.
  • Have no resentment in our hearts when God sends us to a place we don't like to go.
  • Be content with whatever He provides for us, whether little or much.
  • Accept the lowest assignment with the same glad attitude as the highest.
  • Do our best for Him with all our heart, all our soul, and all our strength.
  • Not ask for an easier or more comfortable life.
  • Always seek to please Him instead of ourselves.
  • Choose to serve others instead of ruling over them.
  • Be satisfied with God's approval and not be affected by people's opinion of us.
  • Walk in humility toward God and our brothers and sisters.
  • Not seek--even secretly--for honor, position, or recognition for our service.
  • Be willing to suffer if it brings glory to Jesus and advances His kingdom.
  • Never consider stopping our service to the Lord when other believers or leaders fail us.
  • Find our fulfillment in obedience to His will instead of in the things we want to do.
  • Place no restrictions on what God can do with our lives.


How God Equips You to Serve

I thought this chapter in Dear Sister was so appropriate for the "Experiences" section of SHAPE that I wanted to take some notes here for future reference:

. . .I would like to explain a little why God leads us through times of waiting for answers to our prayers, testing of our faith and struggles from within and around us.

It's for our personal growth as Christians. If God would fulfill our prayers and expectations and give us a smooth life without any adversities, we would forever remain weak, immature Christians. As much as physical exercise is vital for a small child to learn how to sit, stand, and walk, we as believers need spiritual exercise to develop in our Christian lives.

The more we are forced by circumstances to learn to trust God and overcome adversities, the more our faith grows and the more Christlike we become.

(She encourages reading the story of Joseph from Genesis 37 on - how cool that I will studying this with Kim, Rachel, and Lisa in July!)

. . .count how many struggles he faces. He was misunderstood and hated by his brothers, thrown in a well, sold as a slave to Egypt, separated from his family, lived as a Hebrew among idol worshippers, falsely accused, imprisoned for many years and forgotten by the royal official who could have helped him get out.

. . .I am certain there were hundreds of smaller [struggles] Joseph faced daily in his heart . . .wondering if his father, mother, and brothers are still alive and if they ever found out the real reason for his disappearance . . .wondering why God had not rescued him , answered his prayers or fulfilled the dreams.

God used each of these obstacles in Joseph's life to help him grow not only in his faith, endurance, and ability to cling to God, but also in his character. Joseph became a man of integrity, faithfulness, forgiveness, obedience, and patience. He learned courage to stand alone, serving and caring for others --instead of wallowing in self-pity--waiting for God's timing.

It's also for equipping us to serve others who face similar circumstances. The apostle Paul wrote in 2 Cor. 1:3-7:

. . .the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the same comfort which which we ourselves are comforted by God. . .(I didn't quote the whole passage).

This Scripture says that God doesn't leave His children alone in their struggles. He has already prepared someone who faced a similar trial to understand, encourage, comfort, and strengthen us. . .

Even if you find no one else who faces the struggles you go through, you will always have Jesus. He faced all our temptations (Hebrews 4:15), and He bore all our sorrows and afflictions at the cross (Isaiah 53:4-6). His comfort is perfect and His grace sufficient in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

As believers, our ministry in the Body of Christ expands with ever victory we win in our battles. Through trials, testing, struggles and adversities are things we would rather avoid --and often complain about--they are the very things that cause us to grow, overcome, and become useful in serving God.

(Dear Sister, p.136-138)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Dear Sister


I am reading the book entitled Dear Sister,: Letters of Hope and Encouragement
You can find the book at www.gfa.org
by Gisela Yohannan.
She is the wife of the founder of Gospel for Asia and will be the speaker at our women's retreat.(Click here for her bio: Jubilee Women's Conference)
The chapter I just read is "Do You Share God's Expectations for Your Life?"
Here is an excerpt:
. . . I planned to take a few hours off to reflect on the past year, pray,
and think about what I should specifically believe God for during the next 12
months. (Wow! That is what I have done every New Year's Eve/Day for about 25 years!). I wanted to write those things down and make them a matter of prayer, faith, and expectation.

This brings me to the question I wish to ask you:

Do you have any specific prayer requests and expectations for this
year? . . .
what I want you to consider is your spiritual life: the
depth of your personal walk with the Lord, your growth as a Christian, the
progress you have made toward developing a Christlike character, and, most of
all, how real your relationship is with Jesus --if the things you proclaim can
be seen in your life.

Our time here on earth is so limited . . .it would be
tragic if we let them pass by carelessly and simply live each day without being
conscious of our purpose. . . The quality and depth of work we will be able to
accomplish largely depends on the quality and depth God is able to work into our
personal life and character. Our steadfastness, genuine love, and trust
in God's word -- and conversely, our shallowness, lack of faith and worldly
mind-set -- will be reproduced in our disciples.

Why should we have expectations for our life as a child of
God?
Because God does! . . . He looks at each one of us, He sees
not only our potential through Christ but also the finished result, and He longs
to bring us there. (She then uses examples of what God saw in Moses, David,
Peter) . . .The highest expectation that God has for each of us surpasses that of a
deliverer, a king, or an apostle (referring to Moses, David, Peter). He wants us
to become like Jesus (Ephesians 4:13).

We need to agree with God, and with all humility, share
His expectations for our lives.
. .there is no hindrance to
what God has in mind for you. . . He needs two things from your side:
your cooperation and your faith!. . .

At least once each year, we should take a serious look at our
spiritual life,
keeping God's expectation in mind. How do we know if we
come a little closer to God's goal . . .? Look for signs like these:

  • My tongue has become more hesitant to speak out, spread rumors, and judge
    others.
  • I find myself more often praying and doing something about the needs of
    others than my own.
  • My conscience seems to speak louder and alert me faster to confess sin,
    forgive others, and stay away from things that I would not have recognized as
    dangers to my spiritual life six months ago.
  • Instead of depending on [others] to rescue me and comfort me each time in my struggles, I have become increasingly able to draw strength from the Lord on my
    own.

Evaluations like these don't make me more spiritual, but . . . are helpful in determining what I should pray and believe God for, search out in God's Word, work on and pursue for victory. . .take time off and learn where you are
in your walk with the Lord. Think of several areas where you struggle the most,
and make them your specific prayer requests for this year. Expect that God will
change you, and it will happen according to your faith.

GOTTA LOVE THAT!




SHAPE Wrap Up

WHEW! Last night was the last night of SHAPE teaching, and I think, overall, it went very well. The women were so fabulous to work with. I love the openness of the women and their desire for discovery was awesome. People make the class, and this was a great group to go through the process with. I loved the streamlining of the Spiritual gifts part that I did, and it made me wish that I had done that for the women in Women Becoming, but I "lived and learned" through that experience. I also think doing this right off the bat with the Women Becoming women probably wasn't the best thing to do. It would have been better to start off with Inner Life Growth and "telling our stories" and done the other things along the way.

The only thing about this SHAPE class that I am still unsure about is the whole "Experiences/Abilities" time with them. I just didn't know how to have the "warm up" teaching. I think the one for Spiritual Gifts/Personality Type/Heart Passion "warm ups" went really well (about 25 minutes for each), but how do you teach on life experiences? I think maybe I should have just talked through my own time line and how I came to some conclusions based on this one. So, I am going to get some feedback on how to make that time better. I do think that it allowed for more time in the small groups, and once the things got going it was really good to hear the stories, but I feel because people weren't "warmed up" that it was sort of clunky in the small groups until people started warming up. Then, it was phenomenal. So, praying for wisdom about all of that. It also made it more difficult because I was trying to do two letters in one night.

Also, I need to work on the "wrap up" part and still need to talk to Claudia and Carol about what that would look like and how it might help them in the whole process of moving women toward transformation. I do think that Claudia has such the "transformation" philosophy that I have. The whole concept of "life training" is so great too.

What I do like is that this was done in the context of people being in relationship before we launched into this. With Women Becoming, we used it as a "tool" for getting to know one another, but it may have caused us to "pidgeon-hole" one another and also not be able to affirm each other in our gifts after a year of being together. It would have been better to do it toward the end and to go right into the Life Mission Statements for follow up.

Another reflection is that I love being part of a team of people in Claudia, Carol, Mary (and Lynne, who became a new small group leader naturally). Now, Claudia will carry on with having a follow-up discussion on accountability/mentoring next week, and this is also a perfect follow-up to this, but she is so much better at doing this because she is a more global thinker than I am. Give me the little specialized details, and I am good to go, but let me team with some global thinkers and I am more than good! YIPPEE to a great team of mature and godly women. I was so alone, especially last year. One exception in my previous church experience was when I worked with Terri on Watchwomen. That was a good team effort (because she is mature and godly!), but it didn't encompass all my gift-mix, and I was not fulfilled in that there was no relationship with the women out of that two hour block of time on Tuesday afternoons every other week. It was really just about prayer (which is important), but it didn't encompass other aspects of discipling and accountability. The accountability with Terri and I was great, but I needed more "life-to-life" contact with the women, but they were all women going their separate ways. After two years, I needed to get back to my "roots" of accountable relationship in a small group setting.

I also think that women in some of the Bible studies I led were good teams too. The Kim, Lisa, Cheryl, Mary Ann, Mary, Sharon group was fabulous. Those women are just dream women.

Well, that is my pondering for a Thursday. So glad I did not go to the Swiss Family Robinson play today. It is great to just "be."

My right leg is in pain today, and I am waiting on the doctor for what to do about that right now.

So many things wrapped up and coming to an end

WHEW! My four weeks of teaching the SHAPE Class are done, and I think, overall, it went very well. It gives me such a "zip" to hear what people are learning about how God has wired them for His Kingdom purposes. Just loved hearing stories of people. I am very grateful that it went well. Just the third week of the "Experiences/Abilities" section was a bit clunky. I need to work on how I can have a little "warm up talk." I had them go directly to small groups, and this was a bit "clunky," but I honestly didn't have a clue about how I could talk about that one. So, praying for wisdom for the next time I do this.


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Tale of the Three Sisters


Walter Women, originally uploaded by carolfoasia.
My cousin was murdered at 7:10 a.m. Saturday morning. See article here .These are some reflections on the question that is instantly asked by all, "Were you close to your cousin?" I relected on that question this morning and journaled about it. It became a reflection on families that I wanted to document here.
"Were you close to your cousin?"

We grew up in El Segundo (on the beach near LA Airport) and they grew up in Corona (inland Riverside). So, yes, we grew up together, but we didn't live in the same town. We would usually have a "kids swap" where they would come to our house for a week, and we would go to theirs for a week in the summer, and sometimes we would all go to my other aunt's house for a week (who was childless for the first ten years of my life). I specifically remember them all dressing me up like a Christmas Tree in the middle of summer and hanging bulbs and ornaments on me. Being the youngest for ten years, it was always interesting to see how much they would abuse me (In a fun way. So, it is a happy memory). I also remember my Cousin Arlene running down the street with a knife wanting to kill Robert (I was so scared. Not a happy memory.).

He was from the home of my mom's sister, Annie, the one who died in March from a fall and hit on the head. Annie did not get along well with my mom's other sister, Eleanor. My mom sided with Eleanor (they are best friends). Consequently, there hasn't been a whole bunch of "mixing" between our families and theirs, especially since my grandmother died and the "fight" over the money (because there was lots of it and Annie wanted it because she has never been as "well-off" as the other two sisters and thought she deserved more) left some hard feelings. Every time I have gone down to visit, I have wanted to see these cousins, but my mom hasn't wanted to have that happen. Even in January, at my mom's 80th birthday, she did NOT want to invite her sister or my cousins and their families to the big party, even though my aunt called repeatedly asking if there was anything going on for my mom's 80's. My mom kept saying, "They will only cause trouble." Six weeks later, my aunt was dead. Four months later, my cousin is dead. What a tragedy. It makes me sad that I was not able to see them. Such is the family dynamic of this irrational Swedish family though. SIGH The drama growing up between all of them always made my father, brother, and I sigh. Big sigh as I type. Is there a sigh emoticon?

You asked if we were close. Robert and I always got along. He was kind to me (not to his sister, as you will read below), and we were both the youngest children in our respective families of very LOUD, OUTSPOKEN, IRRATIONAL people. Consequently, there was always this unspoken bond between us. Believe it or not, I was the quieter one in my family, and he was in his. He was 18 months older than I was. He was more passive in how he dealt with things. He was gone alot as he grew older, and below you will see why.

FATHERHOOD PONDERINGS

The difference between the three families of the three sister can be summed up this way:


My mother and Eleanor married wonderful men (my dad and my Uncle Kenny)

Annie married a jerk.

(Above is a photo of Annie, My mom, and Eleanor. The wedding picture is at my parents' wedding. The two sisters and their husbands are the people in the wedding party.)

My Uncle Glen was an alcoholic, and a mean one. I didn't realize just how mean until the last couple of months. My cousin, Arlene, tells me that he was drunk almost every night, and he would annihilated her personally with verbal barrages. He also could never hold down a job. So, my Aunt Annie was a pretty crabby lady growing up, and she took things out on her children.

Add to that the mix of my Aunt Annie. My mother's family of origin was sort of luny. So, my mom and Aunt Eleanor have their issues, but their husband's stabilized the lunacy. My Aunt Annie had no stabilizing, only further lunacy.

I remember going there for that week in the summer and feeling so insecure with all the yelling. My mom remembers me going there once and coming back as a young child saying, "I didn't like it there. They never put us to bed. I am so tired."

So, as adults, their three children (Gary, Arlene, and Robert) didn't fair so well. Gary was a schizophrenic. Arlene married at 19, got pregnant by another guy, divorced at 20, jilted at the birth of her daughter by the birth father, married an abusive husband who doesn't work and abuses her verbally to this day. Actually, Robert was the one who was the "golden boy" of the three. He started a successful roofing business and married a nice girl. According to Arlene though, he always drank and had a mean streak. His wife divorced him in 1995 after almost twenty years of marriage and three children. He was doing well on his own though until he met a woman two or three years ago (a former prostitute) that took him into crystal meth, speed (I don't know if they are the same thing or not) and more alcohol.

The most recent issue involved my Cousin Robert trashing my aunt's house after she died. My cousins, Arlene and Gary, went to the house, and Robert became angry. They left, and he tried to run them off the road with his car. They called the police, and he resisted arrest and was charge with assault with a deadly weapon. He tried to get out of jail by calling my brother and having him bail him out, but my brother is into "tough love" (Chris and I have a half brother who is an alcoholic. So, Chris has learned that) and Chris told him that jail would be the best thing for him. So, my Cousin Robert went to jail and would have been in jail had not one of his friend bailed him out. Within a week, he was murdered.

My Cousin Arlene is in agony because their last phone call was him trying to get her to drop the charges, and she encouraged him to get help. She said last night through tears, "He died HATING me, Carol!"

What is really interesting is that the Thursday before Mother's Day, my Cousin Arlene went to visit my aunt's grave and told her mom (in the ground), "Robert is not far behind you. I feel his time will be short."

Sixteen days later, he was dead.

Her daughter also had a dream where my aunt came to her and said, "Tell Robert I don't like what he is doing, and he is going to be talking to me soon."

We suspect that someone knew that my cousin had fifteen thousand dollars in cash on him because he had just sold his house and was going to have his son put the cash in a bank account for him. He must have gone to San Ber. to buy drugs and met his end.

Anyway, that was a long story, but it helped for me to write this out. Murder is a weird thing. I have never had this connected with my family before.

My brother and I were commenting on how his own life has turned out and could have gone down a similar route. He strayed for some years too which included some partying with Robert, but I am really pondering the power of a father this day. Even when my brother strayed away, he always had a standard and reference point that pointed back to my dad who is my brother's hero of heroes. Robert didn't have the reference point with my Uncle Glen.

I am so sad.

Thanks for listening. I am crying.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Well-Educated Mind: Part I

So, I may not have a Part Two for the Well-Watered Soul for a while. I just wanted to talk about the fact that I am

DONE WITH HOMESCHOOL!!!!!! See here for my final moments on that with Michael. Apparently, about the same time (Noonish), George was finishing up math with Paul at home. Who knows? Maybe they ended at exactly the same time! TEE HEE. They are so connected at the hip, I would not, at all, be surprised.

Anyway, in summary, we had a very good year. Things seemed to be so balanced in getting through things but still having flexibility in going to plays and field trips and the like. I think taking out the literature/read-alouds and only having them at night has made our days run so much more smoothly. Sometimes, those LOOOONG Sonlight readers would really bog down our history because I didn't want to move on until we were done with the book for that time period. Now that we have been through the read aloud favorites in their catalog, we can pick and chose what choice books to read at night, and I am not caring what time period they are from. George has gotten through some fabulous books with them. He is currently reading The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring. That will take them well into the summer, no doubt.

So, we got through Ancient and Medieval history this year. I used The Story of the World CD to give them a quick overview and then I went back through those time periods with 2-4 pages per day of The Kingfisher Encyclopedia of World History. IMHO, the Usborned Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of World History is much better, but it is nice to go through another one. We also did cover the dinosaur/early animal stuff in the Usborne this year. It was pretty weird, but the boys have always been curious about it.

For Science we used the Kingfisher Science Encyclopedia. Again, I think that the Usborne is far superior. We went through geology, earth science, conservation, ecology, and astronomy. We will continue with the astronomy studies throughout the summer as we do stargazing with our telescope in the clear summer skies.

A Reminder

“When life hands you lemons, don't just make lemonade. Open up a lemonade stand.”
- Anonymous

Friday, May 18, 2007

Summer Study Goals

Well, speaking of Bible study. I am looking at my calendar and realizing that SUMMER IS RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER. We just wrapped up Bird's Eye View of the Bible last night. It was a great overview and review of the entire Bible. I am so pumped to be in the Word of God this summer. So, I am looking at where I have been and where I am going, and I would like to have some personal Bible study goals. I still have that goal of studying through Precept Upon Precept with others in these key main books:

Genesis (Halfway through with Kim in 2003-2004)
John (Done 2002-2004)
Romans (Doing now!)
Ephesians (Many times, last was Fall 2006)
James (Done 2004-2005)

So, here are my goals:

Romans 1-5

WHEW! Kim, Nancy, and I finished up this a couple of weeks ago, and we aren't going to continue with Romans until after they get back from Korea. There is just too much on their plate, and we are going to spend our Thursdays in prayer for this. It is a good stopping point, but I realized that I had straddled doing Brenda's study and trying to do the Precept Upon Precept Study (Romans 1) and realized that I preferred to do just one of the other. So, I chose to continue with the Romans 2 Precept Upon Precept Study for Romans 6-8. So, I want to go back and fill in the holes that were left in my Romans 1-5 study. This should be good. (Finished the last day of May!)

Genesis

I realized that I had done the Creation Genesis study and got through seven out of ten of the lessons in the next Precept Upon Precept study and stopped. I can't remember what was going on, but I would like to just finish up those last three lessons and go on though Abraham (6 weeks) Isaac and Jacob (4 weeks), and then get to Joseph (4 weeks) and do this with Kim I, Rachel, and Lisa S. in July. So, I think I will spend June in Genesis! That should be fun.

Misc.

I did a Precept training and we did just the first two lessons of 2 Thessalonians for the class. I would like to finish this too since it is just a short little study.

Revelation

I know I probably won't get to it this summer, but this is another one of those studies that I got through the whole book, but Precept has the Prophecy studies related to Revelation that I never finished. I would love to have closure on these too!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Well Update: The Well-Watered Soul Part 1

Haven't given an update of "The Well" in forever and a day!



THE WELL-WATERED SOUL



I would love to write a book with this title someday. :) This is really the priority and passion of my heart for myself and for others because I really believe that all other things flow out of a well-watered soul! I remember once when I was on the Well-Educated Mind loop I talked about the Well-Watered Soul and one of the ladies emailed me telling me she had spent all day trying to find that book on the internet, and she wanted to know who the author was! Tee-Hee, just a phrase I coined in reaction to the assertion the The Well-Educated Mind was the be-all end-all of life. THIS is the priority!



I just spent the last two hours (yes, it is only 7:30, but it is springtime, and I am up with the sun for the next few months, just how my body clocks it) in delicious savoring of every bite of the first five chapters of Romans. Oh how yummy! Better than the Chai Tea I imbibe every morning. :) I have been studying this with two incredible women, Kim and Nancy:
(sorry about the blurry picture, but this was taken in March and before I had some tutoring on taking low light pictures by changing the ISO on my digital camera. Still learning there.)


We have just "unpacked" the first five chapters of Romans and are heading into the "sanctification" chapters of 6-8. They are great to talk this through with. Kim is a real "global thinker" looking at themes and how she can apply them to her ministry and Nancy is a wise woman with an amazing spiritual heritage under her belt. So, part of my well-watered soul is from the interaction over Romans with these women.


(Note: We really need to study with other people! Personal Bible study is the first step. It is like you are packing up precious truths in your suitcase for life, but it is amazing to see what happens when you go on "vacation" every week with other people and see what they packed in their suitcase and what you didn't and visa-versa. It is like when you forget your hairdryer on the trip and you are so glad that so-and-so didn't forget hers. Thank the Lord for the person with the mosquito repellent or the sunscreen that you forgot, but I digress into analogy. Group Bible study (as opposed to just doing Personal Bible study) multiplies the understanding and learning and love. So, I heartily recommend grabbing a couple of friends and studying the Bible TOGETHER! Synergy. I'll have to share more of my convictions about small group study someday. I think they are all "S's". Somewhere buried in one of my journals.)


Since we are moving on to Romans 6, I got out my new Romans 2: Precept Upon Precept study, and did the review in the first lesson. Water to my soul when I read and chewed on:


While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (5:8)
Who was declared the Son of God with power by the
resurrection from the dead (1:4)
So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all
men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of
life to all men. (5:18)
For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of
His Son, much more having been reconciled, we shall be saed by His life. (5:10)




We had such an ephiphany moment in study a few weeks ago when we talked about what reconciliation really means. I used the example of going through the process of peacemaking with someone (that is another part of my "well-watered soul" that I will expound upon in another part on another day because this post is getting extremely long and if you are still reading my ramblings, you get a gold star for the entire day!) and you confess and they forgive you and they confess and you forgive them, but many times the friendship is never the same after that. Haven't you had that happen? It is so bitter, but I thankfully I have had it where you have had conflict and forgiveness and the relationship is TEN TIMES better and sweeter and there is true restoration and beyond of the relationship (Can I give a shout out to Missy as this is the one that comes to mind when I think about that fact?). Just like that reconciliation means that restoration of RELATIONSHIP with God and even better because of Jesus. I love reconciliation, the sweetness of realizing what you might have lost had it not been for Jesus. Still pondering that one.


So, we always go back to that word RELATIONSHIP in all aspects of Romans.


There is more to Romans though, and this is where it has been so great for me to read the Holman New Testament Commentary on Romans after I have done my own investigation. One of the authors is one of my favorite relational evangelist/discipler, teacher, theologian authors KENNETH BOA!!!! (Thank you Katrina for turning me on to this commentary). He is another person (with William Kruidenier) who has packed some things in his suitcase that I would never really ponder or think through. So, today, after some meditation I read his introduction to the commenatry portion, and he said that this is a "teachers" commentary for Romans. Something he said just made my heart sing:

"Therefore, the goal of the commentary is to help you, the teacher, represent
the apostle Paul to those you teach; in representing Paul, you can expect those
you teach to capture and keep a passion for reaching the world with that
most valuable of possessions - the gospel of Jesus
Christ (Yahoo!)
. . .our prayer is that you will have a fresh and intense confrontation with the
power of the gospel as revealed through Romans; that the nations of the world
that Paul longed to reach will become the objects of your own spiritual longing;
and that the horizons of the earth that filled his eyes will fill your own as
you contemplate the fields that are yet white unto harvest, and that you will
consider the one thing, the only thing, that can bring the fruit into the
storehouse - the power of the gospel!"


YAHOOOOOO!!!! Gotta love the fact that Boa and Krudenier are praying that for us! So my heart's desire. God is a missionary God. :)

There is much more to tell, but I have just spent the last 45 minutes rambling, and I want some more prayer time before the 'chillins awake for homeschool.

TTFN.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Encouragement

A Letter:

Dear Carol,

. . .You are much appreciated! How thankful I am that God has chosen to bless the ___ women by placing you in our family! Thank you for your love for the women that has translated into leading this segment of the Wednesday Bible Study. It has been such a joy to watch the women explore what God has given them. Thank you for the years of preparation that have gone into that which you teach us now!

I'm looking forward to what God will do in you, in me, and in the women of ___ as we continue to love and serve Him and His women!

What a joy to watch you delight in Him and to sense His delight in YOU!

Love,
____

I can't tell you how encouraging this made me feel yesterday when I found this letter tucked in a book that she gave me to read.

GOD IS AWESOME!

This letter came to me last Sunday:

My new friend, Carol,

. . .I am so grateful to the Lord for sending you to us. I clearly felt the Lord's presence and saw His hand move before and all through the retreat. Thank you for investing your heart, time, and energy in our women.

I'm looking forward to our future of serving the Lord together.

Many thanks . . .Let's do lunch soon.

Love,

_____

:) These are both the women's ministry directors of my new church. I am so glad to be part of a team of lovely women like this! YAHOO!

It has been a long road over the last two and a half years, and these two letters just confirmed to me that God has led me on a good road. I finally belong!

Thank you God!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

25 Points to a Lightbulb Moment

I spent some time reading some Blogs this afternoon, and I am so impressed with what some of these people think to write.

I just don't think I have that many profound things to say.

So, I will treat this more as a journal that processes my thoughts of the day.

I already did this a bit on my photo blog which is right here (just had to do that because I just figured that out tonight!), but I wanted to journal a bit about how I process things so that I might get a better grip on how to more quickly get back on the "road."



  1. I anticipated that something might be hard for me in the interaction with a friend today. So, I prayed about it. I asked George to pray about it too. My last "funk" occurred after interaction with this friend. Nothing that the friend has done wrong. This is a lovely person, but my heart is tender still. It is still mourning. So, I went into it thinking, "I might get hurt."


  2. I heard some things that made me mourn. It was not anything huge, but I mourned. It made me question relationship. The good news is that I didn't say anything out loud that would cause me to have to make a confession later on. In other words, I remained silent and didn't let my tongue go wild. (For that alone, I can rejoice and say today was really a GREAT day).


  3. I go down to a "funk."


  4. I wrote George and email, asking him to pray about it. He expressed his concern that this might happen.


  5. I considered having distance from this relationship in order to give me time to heal.


  6. I called a friend who is part of the funk. I heard something from my friend that made me wonder why another friend hasn't told me about it. Is she hiding it from me to protect me? Does it help for me to hear it from other people? It made me wonder why this friend doesn't initiate an "open conversation" about thing. It made me fear in the friendship. It made me wonder. I tried to call, and I got an answering machine, but that is what I really think is best. I still needed to process more about all of this before I talk it through with someone. (Again, another reason to rejoice. How many times have I, in hindsight, been glad that someone wasn't on the other end while I was still raw emotionally?)


  7. I got an irritating phone call from a person I order home school books from, and they were very inflexible about when I could pick up the books. I am already tender emotionally. So, I am not happy with the inflexibility. I know it is because I still haven't processed this morning.


  8. I was still in a funk when I take the kids to music (This is funk from 9-1:15 p.m.)


  9. I was irritated that the music didn't start on time and the person previous does not leave knowing that I am paying for her to sit and talk to the music teacher.


  10. I was sitting there, and I realized that it is a beautiful day. I didn't have to be here. I can make a choice to walk out and get a better perspective on the day.


  11. I drove straight to Sam's Station. While in the parking lot, I called George to ask him to pray once again.


  12. I armed myself with a journal, Face to Face Scriptures, camera, and I ordered a chai and pay that extra .60 for the whipped cream. I am served by the sweetest, kindest woman.


  13. I prayed. I journaled. I processed. What do you know? God showed up!!!
    "No purpose of Mine can be thwarted (Job 42:2). My life is not my own; it is not
    for me to direct my steps. O Lord, corrects me.(Jer.10:23-24). May I receive the
    words of wisdom (Proverbs 2:1). You turned my mourning into dancing, You removed
    my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my heart may sing praise to You
    and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever (Psalm
    30:10-12)" In the margin I had written "8-6-02 - You really have turned my
    mourning into dancing. Thank you for healing. Thank you for Carol C! Thanks
    again for Carol C., visited her on 11-4-06 and cleaned out some stuff!" I was
    reminded of Carol's words to me last time we met (In Dec). "You are my hiding
    place and my shield; I have put my hope in Your word (Psalm 119:114). You are a
    shield to those who take refuge in You (Prov. 30:5). You look upon the lowly,
    but the proud You know from afar. (Ps. 138:4-6)." Lord, I don't want to be
    proud. "My days are like a lengthened shadow, and I wither away like grass;But you, O Lord, will endure forever."
  14. I confessed my bad attitude toward that bookseller. I need to be gracious regardless of her inflexibility. I don't want to be proud.


  15. I "got it." A light bulb went on and I looked up and saw this. (blurry, but I had to include it because it is totally what happened to me!)

  16. It is a light bulb planter! It is a hanging planter. The title of this is "Piece of the Puzzle," and I felt like I had some pieces fall together for me today. I ended up buying this piece of recycled art. (It was made by that sweet lady who greeted me at the door BTW! You can see more at Sam's Station Website and click on "ART"). I have to have it as a reminder of a light bulb moment for me.
  17. I imbibed the Chai on Ice with whipped cream with passion (you have to have a little pamper time in your processing with God too).
  18. I realized that I am protected by His power. He doesn't allow anything for the purpose of defeating me. I went into that walk today almost expecting that something was going to hurt me in the conversation. As I related to George on the cell phone as I left Sam's Station, it was almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy. I realized that I don't have to go into things in vulnerability like that. I don't have to wear my heart on my sleeve! I am protected, and I can go in there and be proactive and positive in my approach toward all of this.
  19. I returned to the music lesson and that instructor must have thought that I had been through an exorcism in the hour I was gone. In some ways, I had been. Garbage was cleaned out! :)
  20. I came home and God confirmed by what Carol C. had told me in an email (You can read the quote here).
  21. I called Kim and I processed what I heard from God, and it was so confirming
  22. I posted to my photo blog a bit about what I have processed. It just helps to have a photo to say that I am looking ahead and not behind. I also cannot distance myself from these dear friends even though it sometimes hurts to hear about how things are going on "without me," but Carol C. said it right about the loaves and fishes.
  23. I enjoyed a good processing with my dh when he came home
  24. I ate dinner with an incredible family
  25. I posted my thoughts here and will go work on my SHAPE for tomorrow night.

That is my 25 point process for working through a problem. LOL!

back on to the road . . .

Sunday, May 06, 2007

A Kind of Dream Day

Slept in until 8. Prayed a bit. Read a bit. Got ready for church. Went to church and the new Sunday school class for mediation training. The conversation was so RICH in the class. There are two elders, one pastor, one of the women's ministry directors, and people from the marriage mentor training team. I loved the honest dialogue. I loved the sweet prayers lifted up to God.

We are SO in the right place.

Afterward, we stopped for a lunch date at the Mexican restaurant near church. We saw a family that asked us how we were doing at our new church. When I mentioned that I needed a place with an established women's ministry so I could grow in my passion and gifting and that George needed to be in a place that was more missions-minded, they both said that this was exactly what was brought up in a meeting that their Bible study had with two elders that came an talked to them. People in the group both targeted in on two areas: women's ministry and missions. This is precisely why it was not good for us to stay there. We cannot fix something that does not want to be fixed, and this is our passion and gifting. We had to go where we could grow.

So, I look around me and see C and S from our new church who are so a big part of why we are growing! That was so nice.

Then, we left. George went to tie flies with Doug, and I went to work out for 100 minutes and walk home in the warm and beautiful 72 degree day.

I have been home and enjoying all that is today.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Too long since I posted

To say my life is full is an understatement, but I wanted to say that another hill has been overcome. I have determined what happens in the Vortex sucking, and I am doing my best to avoid any hint of allowing myself to get sucked back in.

I told George that I haven't struggled for weeks, and he said that just that morning he was thinking that he had not heard me relay any "vortex angst" for quite some time.

Yes, I think we are over a huge hump. It just takes time to get over traumatic experiences, and it also needs to be replaced with similar experiences that are much more positive and encouraging. Going to the women's retreat on the 20th and teaching SHAPE on the 2nd has made it abundantly clear that while my activities and ministry are very similar these days, the environment is much better and for this I am eternally grateful.

So, I am off to meet with Sherry (the manicurist) for church!

Bye for now!

Old Herbaceous

This was a sweet story about a gardener in England from the time he was a boy to an old man. It made me cry it was so short and sweet.  Here...