Monday, December 1, 2008

Ordinary Gratitude!

It's official, Thanksgiving is my very favorite holiday!!

You know that sadness that sometimes comes when Christmas is over? I am feeling that right now about Thanksgiving. What is not to love about this holiday?

---Everyone is focused on what it is they are thankful for....
---The leaves are still somewhat colorful and the air has finally begun to turn cold/crisp...
---Football is being played everywhere from backyards to the TV.....
---It is a 4 day weekend (at least for most)......
---There are HUGE amounts of food.....
---It is finally appropriate to play Christmas music and put up the decorations...
---It is a kickoff to shopping season & party season.

This Thanksgiving was especially good in our home. Nothing out of the ordinary happened but maybe that is the point; just being grateful for the ordinariness of our lives. From Dad's handwritten "Happy Turkey Day" on the message board in the kitchen, to the unexpected attendance of my 91 yr. old Grandmother, it was a day of special moments being lived out and memories being made.

One tradition we have at our house is a "Thanksgiving Gratitude Journal". Anyone who shows up is welcome to write in the journal and we have had lots of friends and family share with us over the years. My heart is especially humbled at the words of my children as they have written over and over again how thankful they are for their family. What a gift that is to a Mom!!

I think the best part of Thanksgiving for me is that it is a barometer of our hearts. The one time we intentionally think about how blessed we are and we aren't afraid to share that with those around us.

It's also a time we slow down to focus on Jesus and what lies ahead in the celebration of His birth. The challenge is to keep that same spirit over the next few weeks as the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season attempts to take over and distract us from the true meaning of the season.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Strength Training...

Sorry to have been away so long again but I have been undergoing some "strength training" in different areas of my life.

Some of it I have brought on myself and some of it I haven't. Either way it has been a tough few weeks and at times I feel like a boxer in the ring, not sure where the next blow is going to come from.

Much of my "strength training" has occurred at the obvious place - The Gym. I have continued to visit "Cruella's" classes, and have even come to appreciate and actually like her very much (even if she does seem to enjoy torturing me, lol). The result of continuing to push myself is paying off and I am definitely feeling stronger! I can lift more weight, do more reps and not feel quite so sore the next day!

The other "strength training" I am undergoing is much more personal. It is strengthening as a Mom and in myself as a Christian woman. As I am stepping out to serve the Lord and teach at CBS I am watching my personal life come under attack like never before! Satan knows exactly how to push my buttons and I have definitely been feeling it recently.

I know that raising children is a challenge (and the fact that I have more children than most means I should probably expect more challenges than most) but it doesn't make it any easier when you are facing an attitude of rebellion. Rebellion that runs so deep as to say, "I want to behave this way and if you try to punish me I will hate you forever."

And as if that rebellion weren't enough to deal with, there are phone calls from the school regarding another teenager (Skipped classes, failing grades....) Of course there are the younger kids (field trip money due, programs to attend, schedules to keep...) and the older ones (do you ever stop worrying about your children???....) and even my husband (working late again, not listening, disagreements over how to handle just about everything....). Worst of all there is someone close to me who continues to disrespect me and speak derogatorily behind my back.

Yeah, Satan is pushing my buttons big-time! And, just like when my muscles are pushed to the limit by Cruella at the gym, it is at this point in my "training" that I want to give up. I want to say:

"God, I can't do it! It is too hard and it isn't worth it!"
"You can do it!"
"But it HURTS! I am not strong enough!"
"Find your strength in Me!"

So I press on and I can honestly say that whatever strength I have comes directly from the Lord: I must trust my children and their future to Him, I need to choose to let Him defend me against those who criticize and gossip behind my back, and I must not let Satan use those attacks to deter me from what God has called me to do. It hurts and it isn't easy but it does strengthen my faith.

As hard as a "strength training" class at the gym is, I love the feeling when it is over. I feel weak but I also feel strong and invigorated. It is very much the same as I go through this "strength training" with God. At times I may feel raw and vulnerable but I know that I am HIS and the more I depend on Him the stronger I feel!

I don't know why I am in this valley right now. Perhaps it is because God knows I need to have "thicker skin"; maybe I need some lessons in dealing with conflict; or it could be because I need to pass this lesson on to someone else. Whatever it is, I can be sure that there IS a good reason behind it and God will not let these lessons be wasted.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

WFW~~Standing Strong....

I have always been envious of those people who say they heard a personal message from God. You know "God told me....." or "I clearly heard God say...."

Since I returned home from the She Speaks Conference last June I have been praying hard about what God wants me to do now.

It is frustrating because I feel like I was obedient in going to the conference, I was very motivated by what happened there and optimistic that God was going to use me through what I learned. Oh yeah, my life was going to be radically changed!!

And yet here it is 5 months later and it seems nothing is different. I don't know what I expected but I am still the same "stay-home" wife and mom I was before I went. Yes, I am giving teaching lectures at CBS but I guess I just thought that God would open all kinds of new doors and I would sashay through them.

Then one morning about a month ago I woke up very early. I was sort of half conscious and a verse from scripture kept playing and replaying in my head:

2 Timothy 4:17...2 Timothy 4:17...2 Timothy 4:17.....

It was like I had a song "stuck in my head" and it was keeping me awake. So I grabbed a pencil and paper from next to my bed, wrote it down and then fell back to sleep and forgot all about it.

Later that afternoon I saw the paper and reached for my bible to look up 2 Timothy 4:17:

"But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength so that through me t
he message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the Lion's mouth."

After months of wondering if going to the conference was a mistake and praying about what God's purpose for me is, I believe I heard the voice of Jesus whisper in my ear that morning.

It was a whole new perspective on how God was using me. Two weeks later I gave my first CBS teaching lecture of the year and I can't count the times I have been able to shepherd and encourage my friends and family through knowing and applying God's word.

This may not be the way I expected God to use me but since when does God do things the way I expect Him to? I was telling God "I am ready to impact the world for You!!" And He said, "Impact those around you. Your class, friends and family." Perhaps God will enlarge my territory one day, I don't know, but I do know that if I am not faithful with little He won't entrust me with much.

So even though my kids get tired of hearing those "bible stories" and my husband thinks I am loony when I call him at work and say "Guess what, Jesus whispered in my ear this morning!" I am going to keep on proclaiming the message! And today as I speak to my CBS class I know that I won't do it alone "the Lord will stand at my side and give me strength."

Check out more Word Filled Wednesday inspiration by clicking here.

Monday, November 10, 2008


AAAhh! Another weekend comes to a close. The past week has once again been a crazy one! I think it is funny that as much as I look forward to the weekends I am almost relieved when Monday rolls back around!

In case there is anyone who is still reading this blog, here are some random events to relate from my recent past:

~~HELP! I've Been Shot.....
A couple of weeks ago I took "Pablo" to the pediatrician for his kindergarten immunizations (yes kindergarten started 3 months ago but that's how we roll around here). Come to find out he needed 4 shots and since they offered adult flu shots I decided I would get a shot too (just to show him it was no big deal). I am proud to say that we both were very brave and didn't cry at all when they stuck us with the needles.

Did I mention that I have never had a flu shot before? Well I don' t know what happened but by 5 o'clock that night I was in bed with what seemed to be a case of the flu (chills, headache, cough, fatigue, achy and weak muscles....).

I was feeling so bad that I was giving my husband instructions on what I wanted for my funeral. And poor little Pablo kept coming into my darkened room apologizing for making me get a shot. Luckily his flu shot hadn't affected him at all.

By the next morning I was fine. In fact I went to a class at the gym and did a weight training class. I guess I won't be having a funeral just yet after all!!

~~A "Lot" to Learn.....
This week I am scheduled to present a "teaching lecture" on Genesis 19 in my CBS class. It is the story about Lot & his family as Sodom and Gommorah is destroyed. The last teaching lecture I did was on Lot being rescued by Abram. HMMM, I am kind of wondering what God is trying to teach me through all of this Lot business? Whatever it is, I am doing my best to share those lessons with the class and my teenagers as well!

Our family participated in something new this weekend as Sophie competed in a big cheer competition. It was very fun, exciting and intense. I get the feeling this can be a real "cut throat" sport! Not only did the girls look sharp and professional, many of the moms looked like cheerleaders as well. Our squad took 2nd place for 3rd graders in both cheer and dance. Which reminds me, I also learned that my daughter can really "bust a move"!

Family Support....

~~Grandma Me???
Here is something I never thought that I would say: "I can't wait to be a Grandma!"
I agreed to babysit the 3 month old son of my daughter's friend over-night on Saturday while they had a party. Oh my gosh, we had so much fun with that sweet little guy!! Even my husband was so ga-ga over this baby that he spoke the words, "It makes me want another one!" however he quickly followed that up with "but then I know what they turn into!"

I think we both agree that we are going to love being Grandparents someday. Meanwhile we have said we will watch this little guy anytime they need us to!

I am hoping that all of this exciting and intriquing information hasn't sent anyone into a coma! It truly isn't easy to live such an exotic lifestyle and find time to blog about it as well!!

Seriously though I am grateful for the "everyday" things in my life. I have learned that it is the "boring details" that really make a life livable because it is in these details that relationships are developed and strengthened and that memories are made!

I pray that you will can find the blessings in your "everyday moments" as well!!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Here is a "little known fact" about me. I LOVE to sew! I don't get to do it much anymore (in fact I haven't seen my machine in about 4 years) but together my trusty Kenmore and I cranked out some glorious creations, until I somehow ran out of time and creativity.

More than anything I loved making Halloween costumes. In the kids' elementary school I was known as the costume lady and every year I would spend weeks making costumes for my kids, my husband, myself and anyone else who needed one.

The beauty of costumes is that they don't have to be perfect (size is approximate, they fasten with Velcro...) and they are unique. When you make it yourself you won't find anyone else dressed quite like you are. Unfortunately I learned that making costumes doesn't save money. In fact homemade ones can cost more than store bought.

I know Halloween is a Pagan holiday with all kinds of wicked associations but I can't help it, I just melt when I see all of those little children in their costumes! In our house we like to think it is an innocent day when we can all let out our "inner child" and play dress up together!!

I have put together a slideshow of some of our favorites over the years........

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Another Word-Filled Wednesday.......

I first memorized Philippians 4:7-8 several years ago in a scripture memory contest. I think I won a giant sized 3 Musketeers bar but the real prize was burying this verse in my heart. I can't tell you how many times I have come back to it.

I don't know about you but my life seems to be "extra anxious" these days: The election, teenagers, the economy, natural disasters, gas prices, teenagers, juggling schedules & deadlines, and did I mention teenagers (lol).... Not to mention that Satan is roaring around looking for a way to devour me and those I love.

What is a girl to do??? Thank goodness Paul has given me an answer: " be thankful, tell God all about it through prayer" and in return He promises "a peace to guard our hearts and minds." Sounds like a good deal to me!

Of course it doesn't hurt if you are able to pray for peace in a peaceful place (like at a lake retreat) but Paul is saying that God's peace is available in the chaos of every day life as well. That is really the peace that transcends all understanding and it is the peace that I need today!

Check out more WFW posts here.....

Monday, October 27, 2008

Be Wise -- Prioritize....

Since I was a little girl I have been a people-pleaser. Let's face it, who doesn't want to be loved and validated, especially by those closest to us?

On the other hand, one thing I love about being over 40 is that I am so much more comfortable in my own skin, and I don't feel the need to impress or live up to other people's expectations.

That doesn't mean I don't wish for acceptance by others (I don't think that ever truly goes away) I just don't live for it. And since each individual has different expectations, values and priorities I have come to terms with the fact that I will never be able to please everyone! As soon as I do, you can be certain I am letting someone else down.

What I have learned, and am continuing to learn, is that as an adult woman (and all of the roles that includes) I have a responsibility to set my own beliefs and priorities and not compromise them to please other people. If I fail in doing that then my life will stand for nothing and my purpose will never be fulfilled. I am reminded of the country song "You've Got to Stand For Something or You'll Fall For Anything."

So what are my beliefs and priorities?

First and foremost I am building my life on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ and the Grace that He offers.

How do I do that? Through spending plenty of time studying His word and on my knees in prayer. Some might think this is a waste of time; I disagree. It is the BASIS on which my entire life is built. For me the Bible is a literal translation of how to live my life and I consider prayer the privilege of entering into a relationship with God. I don't understand why people would bother praying if they don't believe in the POWER behind it. Not only are our prayers eternal, they are also the most powerful weapon we have against the darkness of this world! God has issued us an invitation to commune with Him, how will you respond? I will respond with nothing less than complete submission to His call on my life to spread the Gospel through the ministries in which He has placed me (my marriage, motherhood, CBS, Church, Lifegroup).

Following faith, the next in my list of priorities is my family. Meaning, I am investing my time and energy into my husband and children. I believe that being a mom carries certain responsibilities. This may mean missing out on some things (parties and social events, travel opportunities...etc) but as Laura Schlesinger says, "I am my children's mother." If I don't put my children first, who will?

One of my favorite verses in scripture is: "One generation will commend your works to another, they will tell of your mighty acts." My husband and I neither one come from a "biblical" background but it is our deepest desire that our children (the next generation) will know Who God is and have a personal relationship with Him. Yes they will make mistakes, just as I have made and will continue to make mistakes, but together we will know the grace our Heavenly Father offers when we humble ourselves, ask forgiveness and submit to Him. My heart rejoices at the knowledge that my husband and 5 oldest children have confessed Christ as Lord of their lives and been baptised.

Fitness and Finances would be next on my list of priorities . I have been blessed beyond measure in both of these areas of my life but in very different ways.

Although I would love to lose 15 pounds I realize that after birthing 7 babies things could be a lot worse! However being in my mid 40's I realize it is more important than ever that I have a healthy fitness plan. For me working out relieves stress and makes me feel so much stronger and better about myself so it is a crucial part of my life plan.

Finances are definitely a "hot button" for me. Although we have never been "poor" I would not say we have ever been "financially stable" either. But again, after 7 kids and several career changes things could be a lot worse. My background is one of financial struggle and being completely dependant on my husband's income (0r lack of it) is a scary thing for me. But then I remind myself that it is God who provides. He has gotten us this far and I can trust Him!

So there it is: Faith, Family, Fitness and Finances.

The areas of priority in my life. It isn't a list for everyone and I would never want to tell someone else what their list should look like. Even my children need to develop their own lists based upon what is most important to them. Yes, I would love it if they all looked exactly like mine but most likely they won't. It doesn't make them wrong, it makes them unique.

God has made us all as individuals with different gifts and talents that He wants us to use to please Him and when it comes down to it isn't that the One we need to focus on pleasing?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Meet the Parents (parent's edition)

Before I begin this post I have a confession to make....
I didn't really catch the fish in the previous post. The man of the house caught it in some kind of "fish cage" that sits in the water and we each took a turn getting our picture with it. I never even touched that fish.
And in case you are concerned, they let it go right after the photo shoot! Sorry if I was deceptive, I guess I was living out my fantasy of being a "Fisher Woman"! lol

Now today it is all about the child who claims I never write about her on my blog....

One night, right before Labor Day, my oldest daughter was visiting and explaining to my husband and I how wonderful her "on again/off again" boyfriend was. Even though we thought he was selfish and controlling she was convinced it could work if she would just change a few things about herself (like eat healthier, get in shape, wear more revealing clothes, be more fun...).

As her mom I wasn't convinced and I prayed for God to intervene. Specifically I prayed that somehow God would open her eyes and show her the plan He has for her life, and that she would have the courage to pursue it before she was burdened with big consequences from an unhealthy relationship.

Well God acted fast and I didn't have to wait long. The boyfriend broke up with her the next day, saying "he spent too much money when they were together." I know you must be thinking "what a charmer!" but she was devastated! For two weeks she cried until her eyes were swollen.

Then one day, about mid September, I got an emergency phone call from her:

"Mom, I have a date with a guy named Dominic!"
"Great! With a name like Dominic I'm guessing he's Italian."
"NO, I am sure he is not but he does come from a family of 8 kids."

First thing the next morning I received another phone call:

"Mom, it was wonderful! He is sooo nice but I do think he is Italian."
"Really? Why do you think so?"
"His brothers are Tony, Vinnie and Dimitri."
"Yeah, that is pretty Italian!"

Over the past few weeks she and Dominic have become almost inseparable. The old boyfriend has done his best to get her back but she has moved on. God's timing couldn't have been more perfect! If she had still been dating the wrong guy she wouldn't have ended up with this guy, and if she hadn't met this guy she most likely would have returned to "Mr. Wrong".

So this week we had Lauren and Dom over for dinner. We ate some yummy Italian Sausage Soup (yes, I'm sure the sausage was Italian, lol) and enjoyed some great conversation.

He seems like a really nice guy and it is good to see my daughter so happy! I know from experience that there is nothing like suffering through a bad relationship to make you appreciate a good one!

Here is a picture of the two of them........

And here is a link to the recipe for the Italian Sausage Soup I made. It is my favorite kind of recipe: Cheap, Fast and Easy!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

WFW~~Pursuing Peace......

My Word-Filled Wednesday post this week is a picture I took at the Lake last weekend. I chose a verse about the peace God offers because that is exactly what I have been craving recently.....

What I love about this verse is that God does the work (sanctifying).....I just have to allow Him to do it!

In an unstable world that encourages tolerance and conformity my prayer is that I will be receptive to God's sanctifying work in me. Only then will I be able to know the peace and hope that is found in Christ! I truly don't know how people get through the day (much less a lifetime) without it!

Below are a few more of my lake pictures. It really was a wonderful (and peaceful) weekend!

On the dock......

My turn to drive the Sea Doo.....

My big catch.....

Hiking for a beautiful view.....

Ready for the hot tub.....

Be sure to visit AmyDeanne's site for more WFW posts!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Checking My Tank....

What I haven't been doing lately:
~ Blogging

What I have been doing lately:
~ Going to the gym regularly for strength training
~ Running Outside for cardio
~ Saving money by making my own protein shakes (peanut butter/banana, yum!)
~ Writing and delivering my first teaching lecture at CBS (Genesis 14)
~ Traveling to St. Louis for a weekend Leadership Conference
~ Climbing mountains of laundry
~ Being a chef for picky eaters
~ Disciplining my teenage son who decided to "entertain" a few friends while his parents were out of the house
~ Advising my oldest daughter in her new relationship and how to deal with the old boyfriend who now wants her back (isn't that always the way it works?)
~ Encouraging the college daughter who feels stupid because she doesn't understand her Actuary class (??)
~ Mothering my teen daughter through a broken heart
~ Helping that same daughter find a job
~ Taking the 11 yr. old to get a leg X-ray just to find it's a "deep contusion"
~ Watching soccer games (two kids), cheerleading, basketball...
~ Driving carpools
~ Spending a girls weekend at the lake with women from my small group

I heard a great speaker at the conference I went to recently in St. Louis. His name is Wayne Cordeiro and one of the things he talked about was how we need to know 2 things about ourselves:
1) who & what fills us (relaxes us, brings peace and joy, inspires us....)
2) who & what drains us (causes us stress and anxiety).

Once we know this, and then find ourselves facing the drain of a stressful situation, we need to be especially intentional about "filling" ourselves back up. We do that by being with the people, and participating in the activities, that fill us.

Unfortunately, most of the time we do just the opposite and cut back on the things that bring us pleasure in order to concentrate on the stressful situation. The danger in that is, eventually we become so drained that we have an anxiety attack or nervous breakdown.

Here are a few conclusions I came to about myself...

~Writing and doing bible study!! (blogging, journaling, lectures, devotions....)
~Reading!! (both fiction and non fiction)
~"Down time" (blocks of time with nothing scheduled)
~"Working out" and running on a regular basis!
~Snuggling one on one with my kids!
~Time alone with my husband!
~Visiting different places!
~Talking with Girlfriends!

~Over taxed schedules!!
~Worrying about my kids
~Financial concerns (bills, college cost, large item expenses...)
~A messy or cluttered house!
~Unfinished business!
~ Friction in relationships/confrontation!
~Intense competition!

As I look back at my recent activity I can see that I have a lot of drain in my life right now (worries about my kids, an overtaxed schedule, a cluttered home, lots of competition, living under deadlines...)

Fortunately, at the same time I have been forcing myself to do some things that fill me back up (bible study, working out, going to the lake with girlfriends....).

It isn't easy because my inclination is to focus my time and energy on "fixing the drain" instead of "filling the tank" but that is a dangerous philosophy. The fact is, the drain will never be completely fixed. It may change over time and it may vary in size but it will always be there.

SO I am challenged to keep pouring into my life those things that "fill me up" and hopefully will keep me sane (or at least allow me to type on my blog a little more often, lol)!

How is your tank doing???

Friday, October 3, 2008

Where Does the Time Go?

One of my Christmas traditions is to send cards to friends and family. Many of these people I haven't seen in a long time and yet every year I write the same note: "Let's get together soon!" I have honest and great intentions but most of the time another year passes before I have a chance to make good on the suggestion.

Sometimes I wonder if they even remember who I am. I begin to think, "perhaps I shouldn't bother them with more mail" or "I'm sure it would be awkward to call them up out of the blue."

That is how I have been feeling about my blog lately. I haven't written in so long! The more I think about how long it has been since I have written, the more I think "just give it up, you are not a blogger."

There have been many things I have wanted to blog about over the past couple of weeks but when I sit down to type my mind goes blank. There is definitely truth to the idea that blogging regularly is like exercise for your brain, it trains you to think in "story terms". But just like any other exercise, if you stop using your "story muscle" it loses it's strength fast.

I have felt so guilty about putting off posting that I haven't even looked at my blog. I was sure you all had gotten tired of checking in with me and moved on to "updated" sites. But this morning I finally opened my blog and read the comments, prayers and words of encouragement! I feel a bit like Tony Orlando when he saw the "Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree..." Thanks for not giving up on me or forgetting about me. I do love this community and I have missed it (meaning all of you) very much!!

So now that I have "broken my silence" I do promise to write again very soon. No, really I mean it!!! LOL As usual my life has been filled with all kinds of activity, drama, comedy, highs, lows, laughter and tears (and of course a steady flow of laundry) but I have felt God's presence in amazing ways throughout the past couple of weeks and I can't wait to engage my "story muscle" and blog all about it!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Workout Rebellion

Now that my ankle has healed and the temperatures are a bit cooler I have started running again. Unlike my friend Susan, who runs mega marathons, I run just enough for a quick workout in hopes of fitting more comfortably into my clothes.

Unfortunately all the rumors about 40 yr. old metabolism are true and I'm afraid that for me running is not enough anymore. I now have to "mix up" my exercise routine in order to trick my body into burning fat. And even worse, I have to curb my eating habits! Of course as soon as I decide that is what I am going to do I am confronted with some kind of "Death by Chocolate" dessert. Get behind me Satan (and I don't mean on my thighs, lol)!!

Anyway, I have found myself in some strength training classes at the gym recently. After my brain invented several good excuses as to why I couldn't go (battling a cold, I was already "cleaned up" and didn't want to sweat off my makeup, it was too nice of a day...) my body paid no attention and I ended up in the middle of a military-like workout nightmare!

Not that long ago I prided myself on my workout endurance. I was determined to work as hard as I could, lift as much weight as possible and do whatever it took to keep up with the instructor (let's just call her Cruella). Perhaps it is my first-born, rule-follower nature that led me to believe I didn't have a choice but to LIFT when told to "lift" or SQUAT when ordered to "squat".

Well lately I have found myself in exercise rebellion. I start out the class strong but I have been shocked to find that there are times my body does not follow Cruella's instruction. She says "JUMP" and I hear my mouth say "I don't think so." She says "GIVE ME 4 MORE!" and I mumble "No Way!"

The thing is, my brain wants to keep up but my body is shaking and uncooperative. At that point I don't care if my arms jiggle or my rear end sags, I just want out of this torture!! Besides, Cruella is on my payroll and I don't have to do what she says. Why, oh why have I signed up to suffer like this??

And then Cruella said something that I have not been able to get out of my mind. She said, "In order to get stronger, sometimes you must make yourself weak."

~To build muscles I must be willing to physically push my body to its limit.
~To love someone I must be willing to be vulnerable.
~To be a good Christian witness I must be willing to walk by faith, not by sight.
~And I certainly must humble myself before God if I want to be filled with the power of His Spirit!

HMMM! Perhaps I need to listen a lot more carefully to those people God places in my life, including trainers at the gym. And more importantly I need to be obedient to endure the trials and struggles that come my way by persevering through pain and exhaustion in order to develop and strengthen my "faith muscles".

Who would have thought I would get all of that out of an hour workout class? Thank You Lord for using my weakness to speak so strongly to me!!

Romans 7:19; 2 Corinthians 12:9-10; 2 Thessalonians 1:4

Monday, September 22, 2008

CBS- More Than a Television Network!

A few years ago I was playing in my monthly Bunco group when one of my girlfriends invited me to attend her bible study!

I had participated in several studies at my church but this one was not affiliated with a particular church or denomination. It was simply called CBS, short for Community Bible Study, and they met at a nearby church that allowed use of the building.

To sweeten the pot they offered a program for children. At the time, Pablo was 2 and Sophie was a 5 yr. old afternoon kindergartener. HMMM! Free childcare while I met new women and learned more about the bible? Where do I sign up? The only problem was that it was May and the new class didn't begin until September.

September finally arrived and I somehow got the kids into the right classrooms and myself into the "lecture hall" where I didn't know a soul (my girlfriend was absent for the first two weeks). As I watched the Teaching Director and Associate Teaching Director present the details of the class I thought they were so smart, brave and Godly! I would love to be like that someday!!

I also remember looking around and thinking, "Who will God bring into my life through this study? After all, He knew before the foundation of the world that I would be in this place at this time with these women..."

The structure of CBS is:
1. you read scripture
2. complete "homework questions" about the scripture reading
3. discuss the lesson in a small group
4. hear a lecture covering the material

This four-fold approach is great because it addresses every kind of learning style.

As class began that first day I couldn't wait to dig into my lesson!! And when we divided into small groups I discovered most of the women in my group were around my age but with a variety of bible knowledge represented. Throughout that year I grew to love the women in my "core group" and I made many friendships I still treasure.

About halfway through the year I was approached by the Teaching Director (I couldn't believe she knew who I was!) and asked if I would consider being a children's teacher. Looking back I understand that this was a privilege but at the time I didn't feel that way. ~ Just as I was clicking with women they wanted to throw me back with the kids.~

Then the TD said perhaps I should work with the women. Now that blew my socks off and I said "YES" right away.

So two years ago I stepped into leadership by facilitating a "core group" of amazing women. By the end of that year I had accepted the role of "Prayer Chairman" even though I felt completely unworthy of that job. I figured this was God's way of stretching me and growing me in prayer. Besides it was mostly "behind the scenes" stuff. It wasn't like I had to speak in front of the class or anything.

Then one day in August of last year I got a phone call. The woman who was to be the Associate Teaching Director had to step out of leadership due to family obligations and would I consider the job?

NO! I don't want to do that job; it is HUGE and though I am growing I am still so little! I can't, I will fail!

"Not by might, nor by power but by my Spirit says the LORD Almighty," Zechariah 4:6b
NO NO NO! I want to go shopping and travel and spend my time at the gym, this would be too big of a sacrifice of my time!

"Seek first my kingdom and my righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well." Matthew 6:33

OK LORD, I have faith to do what you are calling me to do but I need to be sure it is you and not my own ambitions that are driving me:

"But now listen (Kelley) my servant, (Kelley) whom I have chosen. This is what the LORD says--He who made you, who formed you in the womb, and who will help you: do not be afraid, O (Kelley) my servant, (Kelley) whom I have chosen.......I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants." Isaiah 44:1-2, 3b

I am now in my second year as Associate Teaching Director (ATD). It's funny that one of the first things I had to do after accepting the position was travel in the form of an "all expenses paid" trip to Colorado Springs for training.

Pablo is in his 4th year in children's CBS and he knows more scripture and bible facts than all of my other kids combined! This is much more than "childcare", it is a phenomenal kids bible study!

No, I don't recieve a "paycheck" for what I do but I can honestly say that NOTHING else I have ever done (outside of being a mother) has given me this kind of purpose and fulfillment. This year my mom has been able to be a part of the class and I am thrilled that she joins me every Wednesday morning to grow in God's word with 150 other women. God has indeed blessed me!!

To learn more about CBS or to find a class in your area click here (and be sure to let me know if you do!!).

Exploring Garden of the God's in Colorado Springs bef
ore training.

One of the best parts of training "the food!"

Rubbing elbows with Camilla Seaboldt~ Executive Director of CBS
"Graduation Certificates!"

*CBS is very much like BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) but there are some differences. My husband has begun attending BSF with two of our girls. We are blessed to live in a community that offers so many options for worship and bible study!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Playing in the Past.......

Some people are just too much fun!

It truly isn't fair to the rest of us that they got all the "fun genes!" Linda at 2nd Cup is one of those people whose blog is like going to party every time I visit. Last week she introduced a site where you can "Yearbook Yourself" and see how you might have looked in the past.

Well this kind of thing is right up my alley so I have been having lots of fun "yearbooking" myself and my husband.

Remember, this is the "real" us......

But here is what my honey and I might have looked like in 1964.....

This could have been us in 1976...

And the early 80's might have found us like this.....

As I was "playing around with different "yearbook" looks I was puzzled by my 1952 picture. I thought, "Gee, that looks familiar to me".... And then it hit me, I have a picture of my Grandmother that looks very much like that!

She died when my Dad was 12 so I never knew her but I remember my Grandpa always telling me how much I look like her. I have always wished I could have known more about her but all I know is that she died young (under 40) of breast cancer. She had 3 sons and it was very hard on all of them after she died.

I pray that somehow she knows that she now has 2 granddaughters, 3 great-grandsons, 7 great-granddaughters and that one of them is named after her.

So here is the picture of how I might have looked in 1952 alongside the picture of my Grandmother Cecelia. It may not be an exact match but I can finally see the resemblance my Grandpa told me about!

If you enjoy this kind of fun then I encourage you to click here and Yearbook yourself too! Let me know if you do, I would love to check out how you might have looked in the past!