In ALL things

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When I’m going through a particularly difficult time in life, I put on my Euchareste0 bracelet given to me by a dear friend.  When I would see it, it reminds me to give thanks.  Strong’s defines eucharisteo (pronounced yoo-khar-is-teh’-o) this way:  to be grateful, i.e. (actively) to express gratitude (towards); specially, to say grace at a meal:–(give) thank(-ful, -s).  Thankfulness ushers me into His presence.  Ingratitude leads me further to despair.  Thankfulness reminds me of what I truly believe about my Heavenly Father:  He could be trusted in all circumstances.  Ingratitude leads to the false belief that I’m all I have to see me through, counting out God’s presence and help.  The painfulness of a solitary journey through difficulties lead me back to Him pronto!  Make sure, He doesn’t leave when we choose the opposite of Truth – yet when we walk in unbelief, we are acting as if He’s not there.  That, I’ve found, is painful for myself and I believe for Him as well.

1  Thessalonians 5:18 New International Version (NIV) give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

The Message (MSG) puts it this way:  16-18 Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.

Life is difficult, full of problems, challenges, dreams unfulfilled, failures, disappointments. One of the conversations I continue to have with my children is: What are you going to do with disappointments? When things don’t go your way? How are you going to respond? And they think….and I allow them to think. Offering them the opportunity to prop themselves up on the Truth of God’s Word.  My prayer is they will choose to lean into God’s Truth to see them through anything.

M. Scott Peck’s take on “life is difficult” goes like this….I think I like it.  I want to transcend it.  John 16:33 (NIV) puts it this way:  Jesus is speaking and says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  Several other versions say “take courage” or “be of good cheer.”  I find that possible when I’m looking to the One who is with me through it all.

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So how can we cultivate this giving thanks in all circumstances – thanking Him no matter what happens?

  • Speak out loud your faith in Him – when I’ve found myself floundering in unbelief, I’ve gone back to what I know about Him, and I begin to speak it out loud.  And you betcha, other people, especially my children, have been around during this time of remembering who He is to me.
  • Handwriting scripture – during the holidays, my boys and I were practicing our writing most days by writing out scripture; it was such a blessing to each of us.  We would remember the Truth throughout the day and it would minister to our hearts (well, at least mine – I’m trusting it was in there’s as well).  I’ve been meaning for us to get back to it – here is a great resource for that at Sweet Blessings.  She has a daily scripture writing plan for each month.  If you’re a recovering perfectionist like myself, get yourself a pretty notebook – but if that’s not near TODAY and  your heart is needing some speedy recovery TODAY ushering into HIS presence, get a blank piece of paper and get to it!  You’ll be blessed!
  • Sacrifice of Thankfulness jar – I’ve wanted to try those “Thankfulness” jars during the month of November, or a yearly jar of gratitude.  But those are for the wonderful things happening, big or small.  Perhaps what we need is a sacrifice of thanksgiving jar, because we’re wanting to practice giving things in the hard spots of life, trusting God to see us through.  Then at the end of the year, we would read the slips of paper of the hard things, and recall God’s faithfulness to see us through.

God’s best to you and yours,

Stacy

 

The Stone Sunday Chronicles

Today seems like the best day ever to TRY to begin my weekly Stone Sunday Chronicle where I’ll share a bit of our worship experience.  Why is today the best day ever?  Because HE IS RISEN!  Celebrating this Truth for me and my family brings me great joy.

By God’s grace, we woke up  late but made it to church early enough to get some coffee!  So today, we find ourselves in worship all together, including my youngest who is 9, as on other Sunday’s he is in his classroom.  So while I’m taking notes on my phone app provided, he’s taking his own…my heart exploded with joy as I unfolded his church bulletin I was about to toss in the trash to find the following:

So, I’m thinking he gets it.  That Christ passionately pursues him with a never-ending, never-forsaking love.  To love the heart of Christ is to recognize His heart for you.  My Momma-heart rejoices and turns to pray that my dear one will daily recognize the Truth of God’s love for Him that sent His Son Jesus to the cross to bear the weight of our sins – so that we could be with Him forever.  And that God IS with him NOW, by the power of the Holy Spirit that lives in his 9 year old heart – a seal of promise that my boy belongs to God.

Well, this one also offered up a hilarious moment that I hoped did not turn into a meltdown, as Pastor ask for those wanting to accept Jesus to raise their hand, to which he did.  Why?  Because he wanted to do it – again (he’s already accepted Christ several years ago), so that….he could get the new bible they were offering to new believers (this child needs a new bible…).  So I joyfully promised him a new bible forthcoming.

After worship, our oldest and husband and I then serve in our preschool ministry.  I love seeing these kids each Sunday.  All of the 4 year olds were together as we waited to go see our special guest, an Illusionist that would present the gospel.  Each Sunday, seeds of Truth are being planted in the hearts of these children.  Our family considers it a privilege to be a part of something bigger than ourselves – seed planters that others will come along and water, and God will grow in His time.

Our afternoon was spent with both sides of our family as we celebrated Easter with a burger cookout.  My man is the king of the pit.  We were blessed with great time together.  Our oldest wanted to lead in our prayer of blessing.  Past the food, he was looking forward to some basketball court time with his dad and uncles.  I was delighted to visit with one of my SIL, my Mom, and a friend that stopped by.

May you and yours be blessed,

Stacy

 

 

 

Dogless in East Texas

Dear Arlis

This is how it all started: (husband) “There are Australian Shepherd Puppies for sale.” (me) googling and researching Australian Shepherd. Musing and even asking him “Is Heavenly Father suggesting we get a dog?” (husband) “What’s He telling you??”

That was how the conversation/consideration began which quickly took a turn for the worse.  For in one day oldest took the antenea off Ole’ Blue (94 Ford) and decided to see what banging on the already-cracked windshield might yield. It yielded a $175 new windshield and a boy that gets to rake the front yard this season.  And that afternoon husband’s glasses fell apart. The $300 frames. Replaced by black frames for $60. He lookes very astute, I’d say.

So for several weeks the discussion ended. Until the pain of unexpected expenses could fade just a bit.

The discussion picked back up as I compared a Wii to a dog. I’m lo-tech. And I plan to stay that way. Our kids are 6 and nearly 4. They need to be outside, outside, outside. I need to be outside, for that matter! And I don’t want another thing I have to monitor or limit. Dog won. And was approved.

I diligently began seeking the Stone Family Dog. Researching the breeds I think we’d be interested in, which are Border Collie, Blue Heeler, Australian Shepherd and possibly, Lab or Golden Retriever.  Our past dogs were both Schnauzers and we loved them.  But we wanted our boys to have a big boy dog.

I went through a series of dogs:  Kady, a beautiful border collie; Pepper, a 15 lb. Fox terrier/Blue Heeler that stole our hearts on the web site. Next was Lucy, an Australian Shepherd at our local humane shelter and Fraydo, a black and white short haired Australian Shepherd mix.Then there was Danny, a border collie black lab mix.  Beautiful markings and trained perfectly for our family.  

Surprisingly my dog-lover heart was able to rebound from several disappointments.  What I found was that working with rescue organizations is a bit interesting.  And I think there are some interesting practices occuring within these organizations.  Perhaps I’ll leave that for another blog entry.  I was able to walk through our local humane society without wanting/believing I needed to rescue every dog there. 

So over a week ago we spent some time with what seems to be an obvious choice, although previously eliminated – our neighbor’s 2 year old Border Collie, Arlis.  Dear Arlis came to our neighbors as a stray over a year ago.  One day he followed them home from a walk down the street.  No one responded to their info posted of a found dog and so they chose to keep him. 

We’ve had the pleasure of helping care for Arlis when they have been away.  When he’s darted out their door, we’ve come to the rescue and lassoed him to safety.  But youngest was not convninced he was for us until we had Arlis over to see if he would not jump on him.  Several larger dogs, including Arlis,  have knocked him over and he doesn’t care for this, of course.

But as we sat down to have the dog discussion several weeks ago, Sawyer’s testimony to his dad was “He not jump on me!’  And so it became final:  when our dear neighbors, who have become dear friends, move into town next month, we will get the pleasure of homing dear Arlis. 

For now, we are housing him during the holidays while our neighbors are away.  Arlis has been the perfect gentlemen and he and I have enjoyed some quiet time together after every one has gone to bed.  He enjoys being inside – and is perfectly content to be outside, guarding, waiting, watching.  This morning he was joyfully playing with his new tennis balls – alone or with us! 

Making a decision guided by Father brings peace.  There’s poop that obviously needs to be scooped in the back yard, as there are now at least 3 pairs of shoes that need to be de-pooped.   Yesterday he got out the back gate once and had to be lassoed.  This did cause a bit of anxiety, but after marking his spot, he seemed to tune back in to his name!  Tony and I were doing prep work in the kitchen last night for todays meal – with a 45-50 lb dog lying in the middle of the floor.  “Oh, excuse me Arlis!”  After finishing placing the gifts under the tree I got a perfect pic of our “Christmas dog” laying at the foot of the tree.  He is part of our Christmas this year!  And tonight I’ve enjoyed the company of a sweet and gentle dog lying at my feet while I end this beautiful day.

A year ago I was very uninterested in having another dog.  What a difference a little time makes!

Merry Christmas, Arlis!

God in Me!

So this is how it went down.  Boys were up at 6:30 this morning (I’d been awake since 4:30; made them stay in there room until 7am and I’d had my coffee.  This morning was BSF (Bible Study Fellowship), which is usually on Wednesday, but holiday week pushed it up a day.  These are generally easy mornings for us as the boys LOVE going to BSF as well as I.  They are tired when we depart from BSF, we pick up lunch, come home and they have to finish cleaning their room and doing their kitchen chore.   They generally eat and play outside while I veg inside for a bit before it’s time to come in.  Rest time is a MUST on BSF days.  At present, school is not a priority on this day, unless we squeeze some in after rest time. 

SO, it’s rest time in our house.  I can tell I’ve got some tired boys on my hands.  I’m tired but I’m not melting yet, although ready for MY nap!  Oldest starts getting grumpy and mouthy while we’re trying to put his bed back together (linen washing day) and by the time he’s snuggled under the covers he’s said “I’m tired of you” and something else I can’t remember…..but hurtful and unnecessary, nonetheless. 

I’ve been meditating on the Love Chapter in 1 Corinthians 13 – back to the basics is what I like to call it.  I’ve been reading it each morning and usually stick around “Love is patient.  Love is kind.  It is not easily angered. ”  Today I added on “Love is not self-seeking.”  So, basically, love is self-less.  Anyhow.  I continue to thank God for His Spirit in ME that I can be patient, kind and not easily angered – and thank you for the opportunties you (God) continue to present that allow HE and I to walk that out – mainly in my home! 

So today, as my ears heard these unkind words from my child, instead of being “easily angered” as I had been in the past, and could have responded differently (’cause I’m human and sensed those things rising and about to bubble forth), I walked away and recalled God’s word that I’d been meditating on – walked back in his room and gently touched him, told him I loved him and to have a good rest with a smile, and asked if I could give him a hug, which he declined…until youngest wanted a hug – and then he was ready for one 🙂 

As I came into the kitchen, I realized I’d just experienced God’s transforming grace in ME.  And rejoiced.  And wrote it down in my journal, thanking Him for His goodness to make me into His instrument of love to my children.  It wasn’t difficult.  It was HIM.  And my boy experienced HIM.  And for that, I exhault HIM and bless HIS Name.

Stone Sunday Chronicles – Last week!

Today began early as we were scheduled to serve as MVP (most valuable parent) in Saw’s class today. It began with Tony and I working together to throw a pork loin roast into the oven. Fortunately (albeit grudgingly) I am learning to bathe the night before so there’s only makeup and hair to contend with. Easy breakfast with farmers cheese (tvorog), honey, granola and banana. Sammy would love a return of my “famous Sunday muffins” but he and I are going to have to make it a routine to mix the dry ingredients the night before.

Way before we had kids, Tony and I were involved in a large Sunday school class where everyone was having kids before us. I loved that class and the people in it and was very passionate about encouraging others in their relationship with Christ. One of the members had twins at one point – and then “fell of the face of the earth.” And I remember it making me sad that she no longer attended our class, or church, that I knew of. Perhaps to make it more challenging, I think her husband worked on Sundays. And although our class visited and encouraged her, nothing changed. However, believing that a parent, as a Believer, had the greatest responsibility of leading their child to faith in Christ, and in my opinion, worshipping with other believers is a part of the process of teaching them to live out God’s Word, could not understand her absence and rememember thinking “God didn’t give you those babies for you to drop out of church!” Well, this was my simple prayer when I got home and was changing clothes “Thank you Father, for helping us to work through the challenges of GETTING to church! Thank for for the tenacity and perseverance it often takes on a Sunday morning to not give up and to keep moving us (especially 2 small people!) forward so that we can live out our faith by worshipping with other Believers.” Because believe me, I encountered some small, yet viable opportunities this morning to throw my hands up in the air and say “FORGET IT! IT’s TOO HARD!”

Our time was well spent in worship (didn’t get there for song, only message). Pastor is still preaching on 2 Corinthians and giving/money. It’s been a great series. Tony is PUMPED about starting Dave Ramsey’s course in a few weeks.

Our next tour of duty was changed – we were to be MVP’s in Sawyer’s class (a breeze) but were asked before worship if we could switch to Sammy’s class. My response: I’m not prayed up for that! That class is 30+ strong. But we were willing – and always will be, to step in where we’re needed. Sammy was NOT happy about Momma being in his class, but Dad is the fun man of the two of us and was able to win him over by playing a game of “ball” in the fish tank (no fish or water) and this won him over easily. They divide the boys and girls up after getting started and we were in charge of sharing about Jesus being in the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights, how hard it must have been for him and how He made the right decisions to lean on/into Father during this testing. We made a 80 link chain yellow/black, representing day and night. My Sammy was a great help. I don’t know who was the rowdiest, the girls or boys. But both groups LOVED my husband. This is how it always is. Our previous next door neighbors had a daugther – she saw me more than Tony (he was working nights at the time), but she ALWAYS remembered his name and would ask about him – and then say “What’s your name again?” Anyhow, we survived 30+ kindergartener’s and were glad to get home!

Since I’m finishing this post a week late, I can’t remember much past that! But there were a few things I thought worth reading. Maybe a sentence or two.

Teaching my kids to pray

My greatest responsibility as a parent is teaching our children how to have a living faith in the One True God through His Son, Jesus Christ. It is a joy and privilege to share Him with them. Daily we have this opportunity to seek Him together wherever we find ourselves. And usually, by the time the kids and I find ourselves in the schoolroom, that’s the first thing we do! Sammy has begun to lead us in prayer before our school time and it is so sweet to hear.

Wednesday night we found ourselves at church. Tony and I will be taking Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace study and Sammy is in Mission Friends, while Sawyer has his own pre-school activities. Sammy is learning a verse a week for his class. He earns coins when he says his verse and every two weeks they go “shopping” at the “store.” He loves it!

But this Wednesday night was a stormy night for East Texas. We listened to the weather reports on the way there and felt it was safe to continue. Although, honestly, the North area gets more activity than we do where we live, so I would have turned around if it had just been me and the kids. But my Love was with us and I trust him, so we headed on to church and got everyone in their places.

Fifteen minutes into our intro video the sirens go off, so we hustle to the main building (we were in a portable) and make sure our kids are good; they are hustling Saw’s class (with windows) to an inner classroom. Tony’s making pc’s to the PD to get the status on the possible tornado. I’m making pc’s to check on and alert neighbors. Finally, we’re given the all-clear, only to watch another 15 minutes of the video and have the kids dismissed. So we had to leave and pick up sweet kiddos.

Before leaving T wants to know the status of storms so we don’t head off into one. Sure enough, there’s a strong cell moving from South Tyler that has spawned a tornado. So we make our way to a local car wash and pull in for safe keeping. This safe keeping lasts at least an hour before the storm has passed over our area and it’s safe to return home.

When we get to the car wash, my oldest is a bit scared and crying and his baby brother says “God is with us, Bubba.” Wow. Divine music to my heart! This reminder (along with a homeopathic Hypericum) and holding Mom’s hand, is helpful to calming my dear Sammy. The kids did GREAT waiting patiently in the car. We’re studying the letter “R” this week, so Sammy and I did some “I spy and “R”” with some junkmail left in the car. We talked about their crafts they made in their class. Sang “I’ve been working on the Railroad” (part of our studying the letter “r”). Made a phone call to check on our parents. And they ate my church mints by two’s – I guess I should have used that as a math lesson!

But to keep this Momma calm, I began to pray. And as I began to pray, my right hand began to move as if sweeping over the area the storm was passing and I asked Father to weaken the storm. So I had my kids join in and practice praying with me, asking Father to weaken the storm. Sammy also prayed for those who were in the storm and had damage, as we had heard reports earlier of folks trapped in their homes from a tornado farther East. Finally, probaby by bribing Saw with some mints, he said a prayer for our home repeating after me. Even Daddy had joined in. This brought peace to my heart, regardless of how Father would choose to answer that prayer. But more importantly, it continues to further my children’s education in praying to Father, about the big and the little things in life, because He cares for us.

We were able to rejoice as a family when we returned home that everything was in tact and our home, neighbors, and family were safe! Thank you Father! Now our hearts prayer is for those who did receive damage and have been displaced from their homes. May they know Father’s love for them in the midst of their loss and my He provide their needs abundantly.