Sunday, March 30, 2008

Laughter, The Best Medicne

"Bad Escape Plan"

Wow, Looks like we haven't blogged for a few days. The last few days and weeks have been chock full of highs and lows,and everything in between, let's just say both Tom and I are emotionally and physically exhausted. It seems the stress of Tom's job and my involvement in women's ministry has finally caught up with the both of us. To top it off Hailey woke us up in the middle of the night throwing up all over herself and the bed. Oh, the joys of parenting! After Tom and I gave Hailey a bath and finished washing all of her bed linens we both looked at each other and just had to laugh! They say that laughter is the best dose of medicine anyone can take and that surely rang true with us last night... After a good laugh we both felt so much better and decided to finally let go of all this stress and worry and give it all over to God! We reminded ourselves that our identity is in Christ, and He has not given us a spirit of fear (2 Tim 1:7). Jesus gave us a solemn promise in the gospel of John: "No servant is greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also" (John 15:20). All in all, the blessings of this life are still overwhelming, and when we begin to "count the ways" God has blessed our family, we quickly cheer up and realize just how great life really is, despite the times of persecution. Life could be so much worse....

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Inside Jobs and Daggers That Cut Deep

Have you ever been hit by something so unexpected that it stops you in your tracks and makes you question all that you've once believed?... Well that happened to me today! I'm normally a pretty strong person, but every so often something hits me at the core and cracks my armor... When I read a good friend of mines blog yesterday called "Inside Jobs", I had no idea I'd be experiencing something very similar today... It's amazing how Christians can hurt each other in the name of God/ministry... I won't go into details, but just know it was something I never saw coming or would have ever expected in a million years... In fact, I'm not really sure "they" understand the betrayal/huge impact it has had on me... To think all in the name of ministry??.... Over the years I've often wondered how Judas could have walked, talked, cried, and ministered along side Jesus, and still betray him?... To be honest it still boggles my mind how one can know someones heart and still set out to hurt them... But the one lesson I've actually learned from Judas, is no matter who you are or how much you think you've grown in your walk, the devil seeks to destroy all that you believe is good! If he can leave you feeling defenseless, question yourself, cause you to become bitter, or even question God's very existence, he's won ... I refuse to let that happen! So please pray, pray, pray for me!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Our Beautiful Girls

Sarah 10

Hailey 6

So Much For Spring

Just when you think Spring has finally arrived, you take a Saturday trip to Ljubljana Slovenia and get snowed on all day long. In fact, when we were about 30 miles out of the city, it was snowing so hard, Hailey said, "It looks like Narnia." Thank God it wasn't sticking too badly because the road conditions were still pretty decent if you drove slowly (something Tom hates to do). Some may be thinking, "Why Ljubljana?" Shopping and eating of course! One of our friends (Bohdana) had been wanting to take us there for quite awhile so we all hopped in the Odyssey and took off on Saturday. For the eating portion, Bohdana wanted to take us to this really cool Argentinian restaurant aptly named Argentino. You'd have to live in Europe for a while to really appreciate this place. Most places in Europe don't spend the majority of their money on the decorating aspect of the restaurant but focus on the quality of the food. It's rare to have both. As you see by the pictures, the architect and designer of Argentino's didn't leave anything to chance. Everything from massive chandeliers to a huge fireplace adorned this restaurant. We took so long walking around taking pictures that I'm sure the waiter wondered if we'd ever order. Finally, we did. Sarah had Empanadas (A small savory pie from Spain and South America filled with meat, seafood, or vegetables), Hailey had French Fries, Michelle had vegetarian fajitas, and I had fajitas with chicken and beef. Along with a good Slovenian Beer, it was a perfect meal. Of course Sarah and I needed "a little something sweet" to finish it off so she had a crepe filled with Nutela (Europe's version of peanut butter, but it's actually hazelnut cream), and I had some kind of ice cream with hazelnuts. We must have been there for 2 hours before we finally decided to do some shopping.
Bohdana wanted to take us to a big mall since they're so hard to find in this area. The mall was everything we expected and had all the right stores to include H&M, Zaras, Celios, and a pet store for the girls. It's always nice to be indoors shopping on a cold and snowy day outside. For the most part, it was a very successful day of shopping. We were able to get out of the mall for under $200, which might be a record for Michelle. After 3 hours in the mall, we went searching for some place to eat. Michelle heard about a sushi place from another one of her friends, so we were off to find it. After one stop, Bohdana had us on the road to Sushi Mamas.
After no more than 5 kilometers we were at Sushi Mamas. What a cool place. While deciding what to order, we saw a couple with a huge plate of assorted sushi and sashimi. We asked about that, and before you know it we had no less than 50 different types of sushi sitting in front of us with plenty of ginger and wasabi on the side to spice it up a bit. The experience was awesome, and we were very glad we topped the night off at Sushi Mamas. With 200 kilometers of snowy road to navigate, it was time to go home. Fortunately, the snow really didn't stick to the road too badly, and we were back safely in a couple of hours. I still think I'll have a hard time explaining to most people that we went to another country for the day just to have Argentinian and Japanese food (and a little shopping).

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Sunday! - He Has Risen!

In Jerusalem there is a place called Gordon's Calvary. It is outside the Old City of Jerusalem and includes a tomb dating back hundreds of years… possibly to the time of Christ. It's believed this tomb is a pretty decent depiction of what the tomb of Jesus may have looked like in 30 AD. Although historically there is no exact account of where Jesus' tomb was actually located we do know that Jesus’ body is not there!

He is risen! The tomb of Jesus… wherever it was… is empty! Not because his body was stolen, but because he rose from the dead! Jesus appeared first to women... then the Apostles... then to more than500 believers at one time. The Scriptures record that Jesus gave "many convincing proofs” that he was alive. That was almost 2,000 years ago. Ever since then… every year… Christians celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. But as wonderful as that it, Jesus’ resurrection is not the only thing Christians celebrate! There is more cause and reason to celebrate than just that He was resurrected. The greater celebration is yet to come… because one day Jesus will come back to earth the same way he left. Yes… Jesus is alive! And for that we celebrate. But the greater celebration is that Jesus is coming back! And when He returns it will be in power, glory, and majesty! The next time Jesus is on earth He will be Ruler, King, and the Sovereign Lord who will crush all His enemies and bring rewards for all those who long for His appearing! Now that's something worth celebrating, not just today, but everyday of the year! But the truth is so many don't celebrate that truth daily. They wait to do it twice a year. Which was so evident this morning as our church swelled to over 318 verses the usual 150-200. Our pastor even shared to the many visitors that they were invited to come back next week as well. I sat and pondered for a while and then wondered if any of the 100 or so would be slightly convicted by their lukewarm Christianity. Especially since we conducted our service the same way we do every week. Do you think they were aware that all the regulars knew who they were?... Or that Christianity has very little to do with getting dressed up and going to church on Easter?... I hope so! My prayer is that our many visitors realize all they're missing out on and hopefully begin to see all God is doing, not just today, but everyday of the year. So from our home to yours, we wish you a blessed Easter Sunday , but more importantly we hope you make a point to celebrate Christ's resurrection, not just today, but throughout the whole year!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Easter Eggs and Resurrection Cookies

The Girls had a blast making Easter Eggs and Cookies this year! I've included the Easter Story cookie recipe for those of you who would like to try it. It's a great way to share the Easter story with your children or anyone else for that matter! Oh, by the way, I included the last picture because during all of the Easter festivities Hailey lost her second tooth... Once again we were not prepared!

Hailey and her lost tooth!

Easter Egg Hunt

Hailey's Kindergarten class had a Easter Egg Hunt yesterday. She even made special bunny ears for the occasion. This year she did really well without any illegal coaching from her parents. Tom and I were pretty proud of ourselves as we just sat back and watched her find eggs all by herself... No, we haven't lost our competitive spirit! ... The real truth is we just don't need anymore candy! Just when we had finally finished all of our Halloween candy, Sarah and Hailey brought loads more home from Valentine's Day.... Let's be honest ... You can only eat so many M&M's and NERDS! But by the looks of her basket, even without our help, it seems as though we'll have candy for a while longer at our house.

Bag & Bunny Ears

Plastic Eggs filled with more candy!

Hailey and her Daddy!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday!

Just recently my youngest daughter, Hailey(5) asked me, "What is so good about this Friday, shouldn't it be called Sad Friday? These people killed Jesus!" And my oldest daughter, Sarah(10) quickly replied, "It's Good Friday because on this day Jesus chose to die for us so we could spend the rest of our lives with God, besides now we don't have to kill a little lamb each week. I could never kill a cute little lamb." Hailey replied, "Hmm, me either, this is a Good Friday. Thank you Jesus!"

Don't you just love the simple truth of children! Let's be honest, I'm not sure if I could kill a little lamb every week either. There is no way I could have been raised on a farm. I'm so glad that Christ, the Lamb of God, the perfect sacrifice, paid the price of our sin, so that we could have eternal life!

It is likely that the term “Good Friday” came from the earlier English phrase, “Godes Friday,” meaning “God’s Friday.” In much the same way as “God be with ye” was shortened to “goodbye,” so did “Godes Friday” become “Good Friday.” In one sense there is nothing “good” about this Friday in that Jesus was murdered by being crucified. He spent 6 hours enduring the shame and ridicule of men. Then it was on the cross that Jesus received all of God’s wrath for all the sin of all those who had… or will ever believe. The worst part of Jesus’ suffering was not the crown of thorns… it was not the lashes he received from Roman soldiers… it was not the beatings or the embarrassment of hanging on a cross naked for hours. No, the worst part of Jesus’ suffering was expressed when He cried out on the cross, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?!”

To think... It was on the cross that God punished Jesus AS IF he had committed every sin we've committed in our entire life. That includes every sinful thought, word, and deed of ours (Meditate on that). Then add that God punished Jesus for every sinful thought, word, or deed committed by EVERY believer who has and will ever exist. Hell is the absence of God’s presence and His wrath/punishment for sin. On the cross, Jesus literally went through hell, IN THE PLACE OF, every person who would ever believe! And in so providing salvation for everyone who would believe. Wow!

But it’s only Friday… Sunday is coming!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Maunday Thursday

Today is Maunday Thursday. On this day in Italy and around the world four events are remembered: The washing of the Disciples feet, The Last Supper, the agony of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, and the betrayal of Judas.

“Maunday” would best be translated to mean… “Mandate.” It reminds believers that Jesus gave a mandate to the Apostles as he washed their feet which was… “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you” John 13:34

Take a moment today to reflect on these 4 events and the impact they have on us as Christians. Especially be mindful as these events unfold, Jesus was actually in the process of working to provide our salvation. And to think God's only commandment in return for our salvation is for us to love one another; as he loved us.

Thank God for what You've done!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Monday, March 17, 2008

St. Patrick

A friend of mine wrote this on her blog and I enjoyed it so much I thought I would post it on ours...

A bit about Saint Patrick...

* He was a pagan until he was 16 years old

* He became a Christian during his enslavement to the Irish marauders who kidnapped him from his family's wealthy estate on the British mainland

* He escaped after 6 years and was so convicted of the need to spread the Gospel that he went to study at the monastery for 12 years

* In saving many souls for Christ, he was despised by the Celtic Druids who were pagans... he was captured and imprisoned by them on numerous occasions, but miraculously escaped each time

* Saint Patrick originated the symbol of the shamrock as he used it to teach the concept of the Trinity: three leaves connected by one stem (and isn't it cool that each leaf is in the shape of a heart?)

* He died on March 17 AD 461, which is why we celebrate his life on this day

* Although he is celebrated as a Saint, Patrick and the early Celtic Church of Ireland rejected any foreign control of the church, recognizing only Jesus Christ as head of the Church. Roman Catholicism was not embraced until many years later

From The Confession, written by Saint Patrick as he neared the end of his life:

"And there the Lord opened the sense of my unbelief that I might at last remember my sins and then turn with all my heart to the Lord my God, who had regard for my low estate, and took pity on my youth and ignorance, and watched over me before I knew Him, and before I was able to distinguish between good and evil, and guarded me, and comforted me as would a father his son. Hence I cannot be silent - and indeed, I ought not to be - about the many blessings and the great grace which the Lord has deigned to bestow upon me in the land of my captivity... for this we can give to God in return after having been chastened by Him, to exalt and praise His wonders before every nation that is anywhere under the heaven."

So I challenge you, today as your kids dress in green, pinch each other and wear shirts that say, "Kiss me, I'm Irish" and joke about leprechauns and pots of gold, take a moment to teach your family and children the truth about Saint Patrick. And the real reason we celebrate his life. He devoted himself to following Christ and teaching others about the Good News. Even though it meant returning to the place of his initial enslavement, he followed God's plan for his life, "to exalt and praise His wonders before evey nation that is anywhere under heaven." How inspirational is that!? He was a man with a passion and a purpose. And he changed the face of Christianity forever and in doing so he saved countless people for Christ.

Now THAT'S something to celebrate!

Our Final Evening - Istanbul, Turkey

On our final evening in Istanbul we decided to eat at one of the local restaurants and try their version of a pancake or crepe. These sweet old ladies sit for hours as they make and roll dough from scratch. We curiously stood by as we watched them fill the dough will various fillings like spinach, cheese, vegetables, and chicken or beef. They were very good! We also had a few Turkish dips and some stone oven bread. It made for a perfectly relaxing evening, and Tom loved it because it was actually cheap.
After dinner, we took one final stroll down the bustling Sultanahmet and enjoyed the 60 degree weather. We took some beautiful pictures of the Blue Mosque from every angle and stopped at our favorite restaurant for some tea and dessert. It was the perfect ending to a wonderful trip to Istanbul.