Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Small Things

This week has been inside out and backwards for me, so I'm pulling out a rerun--one of my favorites, and one of my earliest posts. It's also one that is right where I am...again--so it's one that I needed to hear.
*****


2 a.m. and my eyes popped open. I knew immediately I was sunk. Being wide awake at that hour always makes me think.

“Ok, Lord, here I am. You have my attention, what is it I’m missing? Is it someone I need to pray for, or something in my life I’ve missed? Open the eyes of my heart so I can see what it is, so I can follow after You.”

I slipped from bed and wandered the house, praying for my family and my friends, then moving on to examine my life. I knew there was something, I could feel the quiet calling to me as I prowled from window to window. The yard light illumined the yard, but nothing was moving out there. It was as if the quiet had permeated everything, even the wind. I switched to examining my home, touching things as I passed by them. The sigh came from deep within, I’d found what I was missing and I wanted to take care of it right away, but I couldn’t.

There were things my husband had mentioned as needing care, and I had passed over them. I was too busy. I was tired. I forgot. But those things were still there, and still needing to be taken care of, and I was the one to see to it.

I had been ignoring the things my husband requested of me. Those small things were eroding away my relationship with the man God gave me, and in turn, eroding away my relationship with God.

I had been searching for a person in great need of prayer, or a great revelation to my life, but had found something so simple that I almost passed over it, again. Sometimes the simplest and smallest things in life are the most important.

I slipped back in beside my husband, thanking God for him and resolved to do those small things. Sleep came quickly--I had found what I was searching.





Friday, November 28, 2008

Keeping Company ~Fiction Friday


Today IS Friday, and I'm late. My week is so turned around! This week Rick is hosting for us over at Pod Tales--but sure to visit him for more links to some fun fiction--and I know some of them are fun this week!
***


“Mom! They're here!” The door slammed closed just before Lacey got to it, making the windows rattle.

When will they learn to close the door without slamming it? Lacey pulled the door open and smiled at the sight of kids tumbling out of Amanda's van. Within moments there were six kids running around the yard and the normal volume had quadrupled. Good thing we live in the country; this noise would drive neighbors nuts.

“What a wonderful yard, Lacey; no wonder you love it out here.” Amanda smiled as the kids ran past, pouncing on the scooters for a spin around the deck. “Wow, I love this deck, and your flowers are beautiful.” Walking over she gently fingered a blossom. “Look at your pots; how charming.”

Lacey laughed. “Drew hates them. Mom thought the kids might be able to play with them in the sand box, but I nabbed them so I wouldn't have to buy pots.”

Lacey scanned the yard, counting kids. “C'mon in. These guys will be fine for awhile and we can enjoy some iced tea before they miss us.”

Amanda stood inside the door, her mouth hanging slightly open as she looked around. “Isn't this a pole-barn house?”

“Uh-huh.”

“You'd never know it from in here; it's beautiful. You are so lucky...” Amanda's voice trailed off as she followed Lacey through the living room and into the kitchen. “Ok, now I'm positively green.”

Lacey turned away from the cabinet and looked at her friend. “Green?” she asked.

“Definitely green with envy,” Amanda responded. She walked to a cabinet and smoothed a hand over the oak door. “This kitchen is gorgeous, and it's so big and airy.”

“Oh, don't be green.” Lacey quickly said. “You have to remember Drew's a contractor, but his first love is building furniture. He made my cabinets,” she chuckled. “He built this place from the ground up, while we lived in it. Trust me, that's the only way we could afford vaulted ceilings and skylights.” Lord, please don't let her be jealous. It'll ruin our friendship and her life.

“You lived here while it was being built?”

“Yeah. You should've seen us: two preschoolers and a toddler. It was constant chaos.”

“Wouldn't it have been easier to just buy a house?”

“We were working with limited resources and wanted to borrow as little as possible. We saved a ton of money by taking our time and doing it ourselves. So tell me, are you glad you've moved back home?” Lacey asked.

“Well,” Amanda began, stirring sugar into her iced tea, “sometimes.”

Lacey cocked her head, listening as she squeezed a wedge of lemon and gave her tea a swirl.

“We had a real nice house but when we moved back here we had to choose between smaller and nice or larger. We went larger because of the kids.”

“I take it your new house isn't as nice?”

Amanda groaned. “It doesn't even come close to being nice; it needs so much work. Mark says we can do it ourselves and have it completely redone in five years, but it's awful right now and five years is a long time with little kids constantly underfoot.” She took a sip of tea and looked around Lacey's kitchen. “It's driving me crazy. I wish it looked like this,” she waved her hand indicating the kitchen.

“You'll make yourself miserable doing that, you know.”

“I think I'm already miserable.”

“Well, are you gonna stay that way?”

“You gonna keep me company?” Amanda asked with a smile.

“No way.”

“I didn't think you would; you've got it made.”

“What? Did you ever see what we lived in before we built this house? It was an ancient, tiny trailer. Our bed was side-by-side with our table, which was right next to the counter. The tile flooring was peeling and the bathroom was tiny--I couldn't turn around in it when I was pregnant.” Lacey shook her head. “Believe me, I know about being discontent with what you have, and I don't ever want to go back there. And I'm not talking about the trailer; I'm talking about being miserable and discontent. It wasn't until after I learned to be content where I was that we were able to build this house. No, I won't keep you company if you're going to make yourself miserable.”

“Thank you,” Amanda said quietly, with a small smile. “You're right. Why don't I keep you company instead?”




Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Joyful Cow!

I know this picture is rather UNconventional and very UNdignified, but I really needed it the other day!  It was the crummiest day I've had in months—sure, a lot of it was hormone related, but even knowing that didn't help much--except to remind me to clamp my mouth shut.  My tongue had skid marks by the time the day was done, but it sure beat the damage I would've done with it otherwise. 

I was relaxing while scrolling through pictures, looking for a certain picture I thought I'd seen earlier, but I never found it because of this one.  When it popped up I just sat there and laughed--for the first time all day. I knew it was the one I needed. 

By the time I'd searched through all the joyful Scriptures, and found the right one, my attitude was back to where it should be.  Thank goodness.  So, for this time, here's my Unconventional and Undignified Word Filled Wednesday—I hope it helps someone as much as it's helped me!


For more Word Filled Wednesday run to the 160 Acre Woods!






Monday, November 24, 2008

Having a Thankful Heart


This week At the Well is being host by Laurie at Women Taking a Stand. She's asked us some tough questions about having a thankful heart and thankfully, Pastor Mike preached on this for our Thanksgiving message and his words not only rang true, but they expressed this topic extremely well. (LoL--So here's my sermon notes.)

How do you give thanks during difficult times?

Understand God's promise and believe it!

What's God's promise?
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
~Romans 8:28

Understand God's purpose for our lives.

~~Sometimes the purpose of our difficulties is to bring us to repentance. Just like we, as parents, discipline our children to bring them to repentance, so God sometimes disciplines us.
It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with your as with sons...He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness. ~Hebrews 12:7,10

~~Sometimes the purpose of our difficulties is that we can turn around and help someone else through hard times.
Who comforts us in all our afflicition so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. ~2 Corinthians 1:4
God can work through the witness of your life as you life through difficulties, and so reach others for Himself. What a powerful light and testimony that is!

~~Sometimes the purpose of our difficulties is so that we have to trust Him.

Understand God's process.

God wants to conform us to His image.
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. ~James 1:2-4

...For He is like a refiner's fire and like a fullers' soap. And He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the Lord offerings in righteousness. ~Malachi 3:2-3
A silversmith leaves the silver in the fire until he can see his reflection in the silver. God wants us to reflect His face.

Understand the presence of God.

He is in our difficulties with us!
Even though I walk through the valley of the shado of death, I fear no evil; for Thou art with me; ~Psalm 23:4

By following God, we follow in the wake of victory because He's already been where we're at, and He's come out victorious!

There's no excuse for being ungrateful! Sure, there are times when it's humanly impossible for us to thank God, but we aren't confined to what's humanly possible.
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. ~Philippians 4:13

Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can obey God's command to give thanks in everything. There is no exception clause or loop hole in that command.
In everything give thanks for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.
~1 Thessalonians 5:18

Deliberately turn yourself away the problem and focus completely on Christ—fall at the foot of the cross and hold on for dear life.

How God brought me through a difficult time.

When I was barely 16 my life suddenly revolved basketball. Not only did I love it, but I found that it was something that I could do and I threw myself into it. I also discovered that in order to play, you have to have legs that work fairly normally, and mine were doing funny things. Things like not responding when I told them to hurry up and tripping over dust mites—things that just weren't normal for me.

We learned that I had Guillian Barre—a disease that deadens the nerve endings in your muscles and allows your muscles to atrophy—and mine did. It took me 20 minutes to walk what my boyfriend could run in 2 minutes, but it was only like that for a few weeks before I started healing.

Being 16 and having the legs knocked out from under you wasn't fun, but I'm thankful for that time. It sent me running to God, who I knew was bigger than Guillian Barre. He used that experience to change the direction of my life and to teach me some important lessons—lessons that have not only stuck with me all these years, but they also laid the groundwork for other lessons.

A Thanksgiving Memory

During our years in Ecuador I don't remember ever having a traditional Thanksgiving dinner—we probably did at some point, but I just don't remember it. What I do remember is the times we ate sandwiches along the side of the road--Thanksgiving Day sandwiches of peanut butter and jelly—and we were thrilled. Who wouldn't be? We were on our way to the beach for a long weekend of playing and relaxing with friends and family. It was wonderful. It didn't bother us at all that we missed out on the turkey, we were blessed with a South Pacific holiday, and the times when my grandfather or older sister were able to be there with us made it absolutely perfect.

Looking out my window today, I miss the South Pacific holidays, but I'm with my family, and that beats even palm trees in my book. The only thing that would make this better would be having the other 20 members of our family crowded in here with us.




Friday, November 21, 2008

Fangs ~Fiction Friday


Welcome to Fiction Friday! On Monday I blogged about marriage and one of the things I mentioned was husband bashing, which happens to be a soap box issue of mine. So I decided to post "Fangs" for this week to make me feel better. *grin*
********


Well, I must admit that when I grabbed that snake by the tail I never expected it to turn around and strike, but that’s exactly what it did. No hiss, no warning, just fangs striking at me. I mean, I thought it was just a harmless ol' snake. Boy, was I ever wrong.

“That man drives me crazy! I swear he’s the most inconsiderate person on the face of the earth. I’m sick to death having to follow along behind him, picking up his dirty clothes when he walks in the door after work.” Brenda took a deep breath, ready to continue her tirade, but Jill handed her a cookie.

Now, normally I keep my opinions to myself, but I must’ve had one too many Mountain Dews or something, because I was feeling mighty bold.

“I’m so thankful for my husband. Quite often he’s the one who empties our hamper. He’s great about helping out around the house.” I smiled at Jill, but when I turned to smile at Brenda I wondered what I’d done to make her scowl so. All I was trying to do was flip that husband bashing snake out from under our feet.

“It must be nice being married to Mr. Wonderful,” she said.

“Oh, believe me, he’s not perfect. There’s a million little things about him that would drive me bonkers if I let them, but I’ve decided to ignore those things and focus on the good instead.” I said. I gave that snake another tug.

“Are you sure your name’s Tess and not Rebecca?” Brenda looked down her nose at me.

“Huh?” I’m not the smartest egg in the basket and she’d completely lost me with that one.

“You know, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm?” I must’ve still had a lost look on my face because she spelled it out in a way I finally understood. “Miss Goody Two Shoes Tess.”

I was floored. Had I been transported back to fifth grade without knowing it? That ol' snake struck at me and I hadn't even seen it coming.

Brenda glared at me. “When did you become too good for the rest of us?” She stood and walked over to the others who were watching the Annual Sunday School Washer Tournament.

I sat there in shock until Jill handed me a cookie. It was chocolate chip, my favorite.

“Jill, I’m sorry if I offended you. I've just been really convicted about husband bashing so I wanted to stop it before it got started, again. I thought if I pointed out something good about my husband it'd get her to think of something good about hers. I didn't mean to come across as high and mighty or to offend anyone.”

“Oh, you didn't offend me; in fact, I'm glad you spoke up. I've hated the husband bashing, but I've not had the guts to say anything.” Jill smiled and took a sip of lemonade.

A few minutes later some of the other ladies joined us.

“Wow, you've really done it this time, Tess,” one of them said. They had smug looks on their faces and I was sure I was in for it. “Brenda's fit to be tied. What on earth did you say to her?”

Jill hid a smile behind her glass. “She let Brenda know that you can talk about your husband without bashing him.”

Their eyes rounded. “You didn't.”

“I did.” I wanted to crawl under the nearest rock. “But I didn't mean to offend her and I certainly wasn't trying to be Miss Goody Two Shoes.”

The ladies traded looks and burst out laughing. “Oh, Tess, if not joining in on the husband bashing makes me a Miss Goody Two Shoes, then I'll gladly be one. I'm sick of all that.”

“Yeah, me too. It's killing marriages and I, for one, would rather have a good marriage,” another one said.

“I'm just glad Tess said something. It needed to be said a long time ago, but I didn't have the guts.”

Jill raised her lemonade, “Here's to agreeing to stop the sport of husband bashing and to having good marriages.”

“To good marriages,” we toasted.

With a silly smile I raised my glass with its one last swig of Mountain Dew in it. “To grabbing snakes by the tail and ignoring their hissing and striking.”

Jill snickered. “If husband bashing is the snake, I definitely I saw some fangs, too.”

So it wasn't just me.

“The wise woman builds her house,
But the foolish tears it down with her own hands.”
~Proverbs 14:1

***************


I hope it was clear that the snake was the husband bashing, and not Brenda. LoL--I don't get into friend bashing, either!

Thanks for joining us for Fiction Friday!





Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Creeping Clutter

There are two very distinct parts of my house: the public area and the private area. The public rooms (the living room, kitchen and dining room) are kept neat and clean, but the private area—ay ay yi! They're a mess! If there were a contest for the biggest and best piles, I'd make it into the finals.

I've been operating my life—the internal workings of my life—in the same manner as my housekeeping. The front, public part is kept neat and clean, but the private part of my life—ay ay yi! The clutter has been accumulating there my whole life. Sure, I've gone in and cleaned and weeded out and sorted through and gotten rid of a lot over the years, but there's still clutter in my heart.

The problem with clutter ANYwhere is that it tends to creep, and before you know it, there's evidence of your clutter everywhere. But it's not just that. Living and working in a cluttered place leads to misery. You may not recognize it as misery while you're living in it, but it is. You can't think clearly, or function fully, when there's clutter piled around you. You have to keep stopping what you're doing and search through the clutter, over the clutter, or around the clutter. Or you have to shove it out of the way so you have a place to work, or a place to put more...stuff, which turns into more clutter unless you take care of it correctly.

The same principles are true in your heart as in your home. If the space in your heart is taken up with clutter, there's less room for God to place things. And if He does place something there, will you be able to find it when you want it or need it? How about when God gives you a job and you need to use that certain thing—will you be able to reach out and easily put your hands on it? And don't even try that famous excuse of knowing exactly where things are within the piles. It may be true, but it's even easier to find, and get to things when they're are neat and put away in their home.

Then there's the fact that within your (ok, my) millions of piles, there's millions of things that can be gotten rid of. Things that I should never have kept in the first place. They're eating up valuable space in my home and in my heart.

When I come right down to it and strip away all the excuses, clutter in my home, and in my heart, is just plain SIN.

...let us also lay aside every encumbrance,
and the sin which so easily entangles us...

~Hebrews 12:1

Clutter entangles us just as surely as sin.


Have you tried running while wrapped up in a blanket? How about in a floor length skirt? Your legs become tangled in your skirts and you are, at the very least, slowed down, and more than likely tripped up and taken down. The skirt hinders your progress and your speed.

Get rid of the sin and get rid of the clutter and you'll discover just how free and fast you can move. In your life and for God.



Monday, November 17, 2008

A Worthwhile Choice


I've been wanting to join At The Well for several weeks now, but haven't been able to. Now that my missions emphasis/blog giveaway is over, I'm hoping to start participating.

Chelsey, at Joyfully Living for His Glory is hosting this week and our questions are about marriage.
What does commitment in marriage mean?

What kind of wife are we called to be to our husbands?

What are ways that we can Biblically stand for our marriage?


For me, commitment in marriage meant sticking with it even when the love dried out and blew away. Jim and I have been married for 19 years, but if we had given up when we fell out of love, we probably wouldn't have made it much beyond our brief honeymoon. When the love ran out, we operated on commitment...for a long time. Sure, there were periods of harmony and loving each other, but they came and went. We knew we were existing on commitment, and wanted more, but it took years for the love to be there on a consistent basis.

When we didn't feel love, we chose love. By choosing, we not only stayed committed to each other, but our emotions eventually followed our conscious choices.

Without the commitment, our marriage could have ended before the first year was up. By sticking it out, we are reaping the harvest of commitment. And it's a wonderful harvest. Do we always act in harmony now? No. But I'm told (commanded!) to obey my husband. The problem is that I'm extremely stubborn and hard-headed, and exceptionally selfish. That's multiplied by the fact that I'm married to the most UNselfish man in the world. I would rather do what I want, how I want, than to simply do what he wants. If I would do that, our life would be much more peaceful—especially since he truly has our family's best at heart.

When I quit asking God to change my husband, and asked for God to change ME, our marriage started to turn around.

Am I a door mat? Most definitely not. Jim wants nothing to do with door mats and gets very aggravated when I act like one. 'Poor lil ol me' doesn't float with him. He wanted a partner when he married me and he still wants one—realizing and accepting that he is the head of our home. (In all honesty, I'd hate to be in his shoes! What a weight he—and all husbands—carries!)

Being a partner entails fulfilling my responsibilities, voicing my opinions thoughtfully (which isn't always easy for me to do because for years I clung to the misperception that it was easier to keep it to myself) and helping my partner.
It also means not bad-mouthing him. Will you hear me say I'm ready to wring his neck? Sure. This week end has been one of those times! But you'll also hear me say that he's right in what he's saying, even though I hate hearing it. Will you hear me putting him down? No. Will you hear me husband bashing? Most definitely not.

Husband bashing is one of the fastest roads to discontent
and even divorce.

You don't look for a candy bar in the pickle aisle of the grocery store, and you won't find your husband's good points by looking at his dirty laundry—so don't bother looking there. When I'm tempted to, I deliberately turn and look at my own dirty laundry and ask God to help me remove the log from my own eyes.

“You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.” ~Matthew 7:5

It's a choice I make. Some days, I have to make that choice on a moment-by-moment basis, but it's proven to be more than worthwhile. Here's how worthwhile it's been: Number 19 is Prime.




Sunday, November 16, 2008

Pick me!


Monday Manna is hosted this week at An Open Book.


One of my favorite scenes in Shrek (the first one) is actually the menu. If you don't choose fast enough, Donkey will start bounding up and down, hollering “Pick me!” Ever since I first saw that, there have been times when my soul has cried out with him, “Pick me, Lord, pick me!” But I'm finding that, at times, I'm just like a little kid sitting in the classroom. No, not the one bouncing up and down, waving, and saying “Oh, oh!”, but the one studiously rubbing the scratch in the desk, hoping the teacher doesn't notice her and call on her.

I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. ~Romans 12:1

Slithering down in your chair when the teacher is looking for volunteers, or even slipping out the door, is not “presenting your body a living and holy sacrifice”. It's trying to get out of service. When we do that to God (and we do!), we're trying to get out of service, which is not acceptable to God, just like it's not acceptable to the teacher.

How many times have you shown up somewhere to help or work with a smile and a willing spirit? How many times have you gotten up in the morning wearing a smile, eager to do even do the dirty jobs for your family--simply because you want to serve them, and so serve God? I'll answer that one (for myself). Not many times at all. Sure, there are times I'm like Donkey jumping up and down hollering “Pick me, pick me!”, eager to serve God as He's wanting me to. Other times I have my heels dug in the ground like a donkey, doing all I can to get out of doing the thing God is asking me to.

Presenting my body--myself--as a living sacrifice is something that I usually have to do on a moment-by-moment basis, and one that I struggle with greatly. Selfishness is like a fence that keeps me caged up, far away from willingness to serve, and far away from peace, joy and freedom.

This is one time that I want to be like Donkey—always. I want to be willing and eager to do what my Lord and Savior asks of me, and to do it joyfully. I want God to be able to use me.

Pick me, Lord, pick me!


Don't forget to stop by An Open Book
for links to more thoughts on Romans 12:1.




Friday, November 14, 2008

A Tiger Doth Make ~Fiction Friday


Welcome to Fiction Friday! This week our host is Laura, at LauraLee's Lifesong. You are more than welcome to join us there for links to more fun fiction--whether you write fiction or just enjoy reading it.
********

A Tiger Doth Make

Matt hadn’t been eavesdropping; there was just no way he could help overhearing the ladies at a lunch table behind him. They were young, working mothers and they were talking about all the demands placed on them and how they felt about it. What he heard shocked him. Did Katie feel the same way even though she was a stay-at-home-mom? He jotted down some notes as the ladies behind him thoughtfully finished their conversation with things they wished their husbands would do for them.

On his way home from work Matt stopped and bought Katie roses. She would be surprised since he hadn’t given her roses since Mark, their oldest, had been born three years ago.

“Daddy!” Mark and Luke, who was a year-and-a-half, ran to greet him when he walked in the door. Katie called out a hello from the kitchen, over the fussing of baby Becky.

Matt brought the roses into the kitchen, stopped in the doorway and looked around, astounded by the mess. “What on earth happened here?” The Tupperware cabinet had been emptied, undoubtedly by Luke, a box of Cheerios was spilled across the linoleum, the broom and dust pan were lying on the floor beside a broken glass and Katie looked like she was about to fly into a million little pieces.

“Roses?” Matt thought he detected a little hysteria in her voice, but he wasn’t sure. “After a day like this you brought me roses?! Can’t you see how busy I am and that I’m exhausted?”

“Yes, roses for you. Simply because I love you.” He tried to drop a kiss on her cheek but she pulled away.

“Don’t even try sweet talking me. I’m not up to dealing with you, too. I still have to clean up this mess, supper to finish, dishes to do and kids to put to bed. The roses are beautiful, but I’m almost too tired to enjoy them.”

He wrapped an arm around her and propelled her toward the dining room where she had a vase or two stashed. “I’ll take care of the mess, you take care of those.” He was very careful to keep his hand on her shoulder and not goose her as he usually did. When Katie turned around and looked at him strangely he just waved her on, chuckling to himself. “How can women misunderstand so many things?” he wondered.

“Ok. What are you up to?” Katie demanded later that night as she nursed Becky one last time before putting her to bed.

“Do I have to be up to anything?”

“Of course you do.” She slanted her husband a look. “Roses do not a tiger make.”

Matt laughed. “So I’ve heard. Guess it’s a good thing I wasn’t after a tiger.”

“So, if you weren’t after a tiger, what’re the roses for?”

“To say ‘I love you’ and that I appreciate all you do around here. I know it’s not easy.”

Katie’s eyes opened wide. “You gave me roses for the first time in three years, just to tell me you love me? For no other reason? Not even in the hope of having a tiger in bed?” Her disbelief evident.

“That’s right. You’re exhausted and you needed a pick-me-up.” Matt was enjoying himself, but he could clearly see how run-down she was.

Katie shook her head. “Matt, you’re incredible.” She reached down and smoothed Becky’s fuzzy hair as she fought the tears that threatened to overflow. “You are the most unselfish and thoughtful man I know. I’m sorry I’ve been so tired and cranky.”

Matt went over and crouched in front of Katie. “Honey, it’s ok that you’re tired. I just wanted you to know that I love you. That was all. I wasn’t trying to bargain for loving; you need rest more right now.” He reached out and took the baby from her. “I’ll get her settled, you go on to bed.”

“Thank you.” Katie cupped Matt’s face in her hands and kissed him. “Any other man would expect a tiger when he brought home roses, but you brought home roses and are making sure I get some extra sleep. You have no idea how much this means to me. You are the most wonderful man in the world.”

Katie started for the hallway, but stopped. “Roses make for loving feelings and sweet sleep, and sleep a tiger doth make.”
********


My husband, wonderful man that he is, often stepped in and saved me from sheer lunacy--and he's still doing it even though we no longer have Cheerios in our house. He's still the most wonderful man in the world, too!


Don't forget to join us at at LauraLee's Lifesong for links to more fun fiction!



Wednesday, November 12, 2008

It's Today!

The past 40 days have been truly wonderful for me! (Busy but wonderful. LoL) When I started this giveaway I had NO idea if anyone would even show up, and to say that I've been blessed by it, is an understatement! I've gotten to meet new friends and reconnected with old ones. Thank you so much for helping me celebrate. God is so incredibly good!

Today is the wrap-up of my blog giveaway—but first I want to link to those that have come in since November 2nd, when I did a Linky post. I don't want you to miss out on them.

Gery wrote in about The Children of Timor.

Heidi, in Asia, told us how a verse posted at her door changed lives—and not just hers—in One Day to Give—A Recipient's Perspective. (You really don't want to miss this one!!)


Rich Brown told us about going to jail for Crossing the Double Yellow Line, and how it changed his view of things.


Allan Jackson sent lots of pictures and wrote about their ministry in Manta, Ecuador, For Love.


And my dear friend Laury slid in this morning with God's Smuggler. (I'm gonna hafta find that book and read it again now!)


While Laury slid in, Katy Lin squeaked in by telling us about the Hoyt family in Uganda in her post Missions Matter. (hehe, I love the title, Katy Lin!)


Some of you may have noticed that I set up another site for this project called Missions Matter! The site will still be around, and I'm deciding what I should do with it now that these 40 days are over. I feel there's more that can be done with it, but at the moment, I'm clueless as to what. SO, if any of you have any ideas, please let me know!! Missions is in my blood, and if there's a way that site can be used for good, I want to do it. The whole purpose of this giveaway was to boost awareness of missions, and I do NOT want to stop doing that. So, let me know your ideas! If you don't want to put it in a comment, you can always email me at patterly [at] gmail [dot] com. I'd love to hear from you!

NOW, what you've been waiting for! I asked my girls and my 'little boys' to help with this...
Drum roll, please!

The winner of Green Leaf in Drought is: Kim Roof, who is a missionary in Peru. She sent an email about the Lasting Impact of her parents, who were also missionaries. I thought this was wonderful because she caught THREE typos in her post--which I posted for her. THREE! (and no, you do NOT get bonus points for finding my screw ups, so don't even ask! LoL)



The winner of By Searching is: Tracy, who told us about her missions trip to Mexico

And since I just happened to win a book that I had recently purchased, I drew an extra name! Laury is the winner of Courting Miss Adelaide by Janet Dean.

Send me your snail mail addies and I'll get them in the mail to you.

Since the giveaway is over, Patterings will be getting back to normal—whatever that is. Oh wait, Patterings has normal, Patty does not. LoL—I've totally given up on normal. Totally. Truly.

What's normal at Patterings?
Patterings is about how God uses everyday happenings to draw my attention to Himself and to teach me spiritual lessons.

Patterings is also the home of Fiction Fridays, so every Friday I post a short story that I've written. This is a meme that anyone and everyone can participate in, whether they write fiction, or simply enjoy a good story. There's a great diversity in our 'regulars', so there should be something for just about everyone.

Come back and join us!
And thank you, again, for helping me celebrate! It's been wonderful!
Hugs to each of you!

Missions Matter! ~Blog Giveaway coming November 12th!


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

For Love

Although this will be my last missions post for my Missions Matter! blog giveaway, I will be posting (sometime) about my years in Ecuador--after I figure out how to use a scanner and scan in some of our old photos. I had wanted to post it before this, but time has not cooperated with me, so I'll just post it later since I'll be still doing some missions posts. *grin* Be sure to come back Wednesday afternoon to see who the winners are for my birthday gifts!


This year Allan and Pearl Jackson celebrate 8 years of working with abandoned youth in Manta, Ecuador, and 2 ½ years since Montañita Verde Children’s Homes was built.
Not only do they administrate the children's homes, they are working with the Manta City Dump Community and the many other ministries of the Por Amor Foundation. Both Allan and Pearl were brought up in Ecuador as Mks and their love for the people is so very evident. Allan worked as a contractor, while Pearl administrated the orphanage, but now they are 'full time' at the Children's Homes.

Por Amor Foundation
Foundation For Love
By Allan Jackson

Nothing is as simple as it looks.  And it is not easy, but since we decided on full time work with orphans and abandoned kids, we are just plain happy.  This work, and the Children's homes, have survived at times day to day, mostly month to month, not knowing at times where food etc. will come from, and yet we are all here and fine.  All because of many others who I consider true partners in raising and reaching kids that otherwise would have no home and little hope.  It all means nothing if not done for higher reasons than just humanitarian effort.  We cannot speak of this without pointing skyward and thanking our gracious Creator, Friend and Bringer of Hope. (LoL--is bringer a word?) 

Here are two of my latest concerns that keep me up at night. (What keeps you up at night?)

We plan to open Home 2 soon--Lord willing. There are tons of needs, but we are thankful that good interim house parents are in place.  We still will be needing to find the monthly support for this house raising 14 kids--equipped to house at least 5 babies.  House one is housing 17--3 more than what it was made for.

There's also a new project using up my brainwaves.
Project Soup Kitchen --Barrio Los Esteros, Manta
Here's a prayer item that can be voiced over this next year as we proceed. 
I met with Giovany, who is the pastor of a small church planting work of our church. This fairly new church (they have been meeting for a few years) is located right down where the rubber meets the common road--close to downtown and yet in the industrial tuna packing plant neighborhood. This has been a red light district, and has been a bit of a shady place.  The building was built to be a small fish packing plant and they started renting the building a year ago, giving them a building to meet in.

It is unfinished, and some of us, along with our pastor Velez, are asking God to provide the money to buy and finish it. The third floor will be ours, the Por Amor Foundation, to set up as a soup kitchen specifically for drug kids living on the streets. Currently no one does anything for these cases here and this will be a first step until we develop relationships and see need for taking some in...which will not be in Montañita Verde, but a different home. --Anyhow, we are in beginnings of this so I don't know all the details... God knows. This has come about because I have had this desire for many years and have not been able to reach these kids that no one wants.  And now "coincidentally" I have met others with same desire.  Too much coincidence to be accident.

The second floor will be a clinic for ladies since most of the thousands working for these tuna plants are women. The church seeks to draw them to God by ministering to medical needs--this is a group of doctors from our local church--they are also wanting to tackle an HIV/AIDS clinic--I will also be fund raising to finish off clinic.

I had a meeting with our Salvation Army brethren who have moved into the area two years ago, the Captain is new, actually she's a captainette and she's Aussie. She has seen this need also, is supportive of these efforts, and willing to send personnel for training in dealing with addict kids. Well, there are too many coincidences on this one, different Christians from all different walks, meeting and wanting to push towards this.

I'm not asking for folks to switch focus away from Montanita Verde Children's Homes, just simply to pray for this effort and keep us in mind.  Right now our focus is on opening Home 2---Keep people praying about that also!
********


This is a clip that a visiting church posted on you tube after visiting Montañita Verde Children’s Homes. Also listed there is a clip about the dump ministry that Por Amor is involved in: http://www.youtube.com/PorAmorEcuador

Pearl is a mother of four and works at Por Amor Foundation office each day.  She is the Executive Director of Por Amor, so she has way too many responsibilities--I don't know how she does it, but, that's just our Pearl.  She spends her spare time enjoying school activities with other parents, hanging out with family at home, doing farm chores together, and painting toe nails every fifteen days.

Allan is the gopher, builder, cleaner, secretary, Director's Assistant and let's not forget the "Joe the Plumber", the Grounds Logistics, and Construccion Manager.  He stepped down from the president position a year ago, so as not to have to attend as many meetings.  Now they call him Director of Construction and Maintenance (titles are very important here), but really he's just the kid's favorite uncle.  He's got the guys raising chickens and pigs currently.  The local university is helping teach agriculture on the small farm which also part of Montañita Verde.  Allan likes to ride bicycles with his boys around Montecristi, ride Honda 650 XRL up northern coast, and most of all, when not overly busy, every 3 months, fishing the Cojimies Inlet.
********


This is a ministry that has been on my heart since I first reconnected with Allan a couple of years ago when our class was getting ready for our class reunion--which is tough to do when everyone is, literally, scattered around the world. I love hearing how God has worked in his life, and how God is using his family. Be sure to check out Por Amor Foundation.

Missions Matter! ~Blog Giveaway coming November 12th!


Sunday, November 09, 2008

Crossing the Double Yellow Line

A Missions Matter! blog giveaway post!

Every time I think life is getting back to normal it throws another challenge at me. I think that maybe I should quit hoping for normalacy--whaddya think?

At the beginning of my 40 days of celebration, Rich and Lisa Brown sent in some articles, and I posted Lisa's Forgotten People article right away, but every time I've gone to post this one, something else has come in, so I've saved it. This is a story I got to experience on the praying grapevine end--which is the best grapevine to be involved in. My friend, Debbie, forwarded an email to me about Rich being in jail, and I (and my family) began praying for him. Not just for him to get out quickly, but that good would come from it. This post shows how God answered both of those prayers.

Crossing the Double Yellow Line
By Rich Brown

As I strolled along in my car I knew that today would be an easy day. All I had to do was go about another 30 minutes and I would surprise Aaron, a Peruvian musician recording in Cayambe, Ecuador. It was his birthday. I would take he and the other two guys out to eat and make it special for them even though they were far from home.

There was a gas truck going so slow up the hill, that three cars in front of me passed it on the corner, and I followed behind. When I came to the corner, crossing back in front of the gas truck, I noticed that the dotted yellow line was now a double yellow line (NO PASSING ALLOWED). I quickly slowed down in front of the gas truck, just as I heard a car honking his horn. He was very angry. I pulled over so he could pass me, but he was dressed in a Colonel uniform and motioned for me to follow him to the police.

When we got to the police, the Colonel made it clear that they were to put me in jail for what I did, passing on the double yellow line. In Ecuador, it is against the law, with penalty of minimum 30 days in jail for passing on a double yellow line. He threatened to put the two policemen in jail if they did not put me in jail. He copied my information and said, “I will check tonight to see if you put this man in jail.”

I quickly called, and text messaged all my friends. The ones who I was supposed to surprise thought I was faking it and this was all part of the surprise. I finally convinced them to come and pick up my car and take it to a safe place.

People from all over the country started calling me, some trying to help, others saying they knew someone that could help, and others just wanted to visit me and keep me company.

The jail was filled with about 60 people in one big room with 30 bunk beds. I had to pay $20 for the bed, and quickly did as I saw that the beds were filling up fast. I was able to get to know others who were there, most from drinking and driving, or driving without a license. I played cards with the guys and spent a lot of time reading, writing and praying.

My devotions that day were on Romans 12. I sat on my bunk and read it with different eyes. All of it brought on new meaning. “Don’t think of yourself higher than you ought…” and many other verses that stuck out in my mind. It talks about us being the body of Christ with different gifts. I decided right away to sacrifice things right in jail. Every meal I got, I made sure I shared half of it with someone else (food is not provided for you in jail in Ecuador, you have to find family or friends that will provide it for you.

Miracles happened as the lawyers worked the system to try to get me out. They knew that my wife and son were in Canada visiting her parents, and I was supposed to be taking care of my other three kids. Thanks to Heather Martin, our intern, they were in good hands.

We went to the hearing, and on the way the policeman that had to accompany us said, “that same Colonel put me in jail for sitting down for five minutes on the job. I had been standing for 7 hours straight.” I said, “you know what, God put me in jail, not the Colonel.” I had learned that God was doing something in me and in the men around me in Jail.

God worked another miracle as the secretary that took down my information said, “I am also evangelical. I go to the Alliance Church in the Valley.” I said, “Really! My parents helped start the mother church to that one.” We started talking about all of the pastors we knew etc. She heard my story and said, “You will be back with your kids tonight.” I said, “I hope so.” She said, “You will. The man in there that has to sign all the papers also attends the Alliance Church in the Valley. My lawyer’s mouth dropped open. He is not a Christian but he said, “Even with all of my contacts to try to get you out, you were supposed to serve 15 more working days. But who would have thought that God would help us out today.”


I was only in jail three days. I got home and had a party at our house. There were two women from the women’s prison here in Quito, Ecuador who were out on bail, who were baptized right in our apartment complex. We celebrated together. I didn’t say a word about my 3 days in jail; these women had been in prison for years.

Inca Link Ecuador, and Soul Light Link are organizations working closely with the Alliance that are now making plans to find jobs for people in the prisons of Ecuador. This will give them an opportunity to work, not be bored, and live a more dignified life. One youth leader said, “I have several machines to make clothes, I will donate them for this ministry.” Another said, “Our church is going into the men’s jail now every Thursday night to do a Bible Study.” Another one said, “My Dad just did a leadership training in the women’s jail.

Crossing the double yellow line changed my life forever. It was not the Colonel that put me there, it was God. Now, I expect to be more involved in jail ministry. Finding ways to help those who were where I was. And, I don’t plan on passing on the double yellow line any more.
********

Rich Brown and his wife, Lisa, served with the C&MA in Lima & Trujillo, Peru, from 1994 to 2004. Now they are in Ecuador working with Youth Leaders in Ecuador, Peru and Colombia. To learn more check out Inca Link.

Missions Matter! ~Blog Giveaway coming November 12th!


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