Thursday, December 22, 2011
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
I know that Hurricane Irene was not "the storm of the century," but for a Virginia girl the mashing of an earthquake and a hurricane was enough to have me "rattled." While feelings of fear and anxiety took hold, most of all thankfulness to God flowed through me.
We all survived a lethal dose of wind and earth shaking power, but God’s hand of protection was on our community. I keep thinking that in times of "storms in our life," where are we rooted? There is such a parallel between the roots of a tree and our roots of faith. Worldly roots, like those of an old oak tree, can be uprooted from their source even after hundreds of years of growth. When we’re deeply rooted in our faith, we have a root system that will never be displaced.
As Paul told the church at Colosse, we are to let our “roots go down into him.” When we follow him and build our lives on him, our faith will grow. We will overflow with thankfulness even in our darkest most fearful times.
"And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness."
-Colossians 2: 6-7
Today, Lord, I thank you for your protection for my family, the ones I love and my community. I thank you for your blessings of food and shelter even when we did not have electricity. I thank you for your mercy that you have shown us as a people. I also pray that the people around us will know that every tree that fell perfectly away from their home was placed there by you. Thank you Lord for your blessings in the storm.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Betrayal of our trust.
I believe that family members almost always start off with a basic level of love and trust, even if it is for no other reason than just being “family.“ From the moment children are born they naturally develop an attachment to their parents and siblings that usually grows deeper with time. Families are considered the most natural relationships in our culture. We consider the family bond to be sacred.
Cultural and historical importance of genealogy
The Bible illustrates time and time again the importance of genealogy. The Old Testament describes in great detail the lineage of King David and ultimately Jesus Christ himself. Thrones, family fortunes, legal rights and much more are determined by blood ties exclusively in many cultures.
Shared history and shared memories.
For some people shared history makes it easier to forgive family members. There are happy memories of better times that provide motivation to reconcile and return to the way things used to be. Yet, a serious hurt at the hands of a family member can cause some people to question every thing they thought they knew about their "loved ones." It seems that the history can sometime be erased given a serious hurt.
Families don't stop doing what families do when there's a rift between individual members. Many family members ignore the issue and “pretend” as though nothing has ever happened. Holiday meals, weddings, and birthdays are events when unreasonable and unfair pressure is forced on the ones who have been hurt. Often, they are expected to grin and bear it for the sake of the family, even when the family knows about what happened. While their intentions may be well-meaning, families often throw the wronged family member under the bus in the interest of maintaining the illusion of family harmony. This only adds to the pain of the person who has been hurt. In reality this only deepens the already open wounds and sets the family up for more bitterness down the road.
For me, it is extremely difficult to forgive the folks in my life, family or not, who do not identify their wrong and deny it repeatedly. I choose to forgive for my own well being as to not let bitterness take hold yet my heart is still very guarded. Forgiveness is especially difficult when the person appears to be a “repeat offender” with no remorse for the wrongful doing. I am not saying that I am perfect and there are more times that I can count when I needed to ask forgiveness from a family member. It is a humbling experience. I do find it amazing though that when Christ is in the center of your relationship with one another forgiveness is easy, bitterness never takes hold and peace reenters the relationship. In those relationships the act of forgiveness makes the bond stronger. I have found in my life that on the contrary, when Christ is overlooked in a relationship the act of forgiveness is a struggle and almost seems unnatural. Bitterness time and time again attempts to rear it’s ugly head and it is a struggle to push it away. The relationship is saturated in prayer and yet the forgiveness always seems one sided. It is very difficult to talk about forgiveness with someone who does not believe that they have wronged you and appears angered by the thought. Bingo- that is when I made the choice to focus on Jesus and His forgiveness for me. He forgave me before I even acknowledged it as He did for all of us. When I get to feeling upset or irritated about dysfunctional family dynamics I try to bring myself back to the foot of the cross. That is true unconditional forgiveness. I think if we can model sacrifice and humility in our own lives as Christ did for us forgiveness would be so much easier.
It is my prayer that no matter what hurt you are dealing with in your family that you meet it with Christ like humility, love and forgiveness. Only then will we see the miracles He has in store for us!
Sunday, July 24, 2011
So that was Tuesday. On Friday I called her home to check in and just see how she was doing. Her husband answered the phone and said that she was in the hospital! I called VCU and was transferred to the transplant unit. I spoke to the nurse and learned that my dear friend received a cadaver (donor) kidney on Wednesday morning! Isn't God awesome! She had been on the list for over 5 years and the morning after my intense prayers for her He provided in a way that I could have only dreamed of! I am in awe and amazed at His mercy and compassion for us.
Can you imagine getting that call that you need to come immediately that there is a kidney for you!? I get chills just imaging this. I pray that God will use this experience to minister to her family. I pray that they will see how real God is and how He wants so desperately to bless us.
Friday, July 22, 2011
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
I have had many people including family members say that Tom and I are "too hard" on Julia. I can't even count the times I've heard "she's just a kid". "She's only 2." Oh, the list goes on and on. Tom and I believe that our commission as parents is to raise her in a way that would shape her to be a women filled to the brim with Christ's love. Julia is old enough to know right from wrong. She can be manipulative at times and she is very saavy when it comes to stacking us up against eachother. Sin is not learned, we are born with it seeped inside of us. We whole-heartedly believe that now is the time to help form and shape her into a respectful and kind child who will grow in the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Thats the goal!. Parenting isn't filled with doom and gloom and constant correction, but I do believe that there is a place for correction and discipline. Tom and I understand that children need boundaries, in fact, they yearn for them. There is comfort in knowing your boundaries and children thrive in an environment where there are clear cut boundaries.
With that being said we believe that there is also a strong obligation as parents to encourage our child. Encouragement in the terms we use is more than merely praise for an act or good behavior. We strive to help Julia internalize positive feelings about herself through interactive encouragement with us. We are raising Julia to feel good about who God made her to be and to acknowledge that He is responsible for her gifts, abilities, and accomplishments. We want her to feel good about Jesus in her, enabling and empowering her for the mission of her life!
By no means do we think we are perfect or that we have this all figured out. We struggle and sometimes anger gets the best of us. We pray, we read and we surround ourselves with people who propel us in a Godly way of parenting. Above all, we see such an overwhelmingly awesome task that God has given us in being parents. We take it seriously and know that we play a large role in the molding and refining process for our child. It is humbling, it is scary, and it is such a blessing!
Thursday, June 9, 2011
When I read this passage this morning I found myself lingering on the words “I will be found in you.” I happily savored the memories of playing hide and seek with sweet Julia. When it is my turn to hide and her turn to seek, I always make myself easy to find. Sometimes I make noises or leave the door slightly open to the closet so that she can find me quickly. Sometimes I hide in the same place repeatedly. I want Julia to search for me, but always find me. I look forward to her pure joy when I am found.
This memory deepens my understanding of the Lord’s love for us. He wants us to search for Him, He also wants us to find Him---what joy we have when we do. He doesn’t try to mislead us or trick us; He does all he can to help lead us to Him. He gives us His word, prayer, He guides us through the power of the Holy Spirit, and He also blesses us with people around us to propel us in our search. If we find Him somewhere once, we will be sure to find Him there again.
“I will be found in you.” What a promise to savor! In a world where heartache and pain find us so easily, it is certainly reassuring to know that our greatest source of strength is so easily to find.
It is my prayer that you will recognize His love for you, receive it with humility, and let His love overflow in your life.
Love and Blessings, Allison
Friday, May 20, 2011
When I begin to feel down, I try not to dwell on my problems, but take the opportunity to reach out and lift someone else up. There is no greater joy than helping another! A kind word, a small gesture, or an act of love can make all the difference in someone else's life. In turn, I am encouraged and God allows my heart to swell with His gratitude. The Word tells us in Galations 6:2:
"By helping each other with your troubles, you truly obey the law of Christ."
With this in mind,I ran across this story not too long ago and it really spoke to me. Please enjoy the following story written by Nanette Thorsen-Snipes. It is truly touching. For me, this story helped open my eyes to see the big picture in less than perfect situations. I think tha the key to a lifestyle of gratitude is not just being aware of these situations, but relishing in being a part of them.
LOVE IS THE ANSWER
My day began on a sour note when I saw my six-year old wrestling with a limb of my azalea bush. By the time I got outside, he'd broken it.
"Can I take this to school today?" he asked.
With a wave of my hand I sent him on. I turned my back so he wouldn't see the tears. I touched the limb of my favorite bush as if to say, I'm sorry.
I wished I could have said that to my husband earlier, but I'd been angry. The washing machine had leaked on my lineoleum. If Jim had just taken the time to fix it the night before...I tossed my husband's dishes in the sudsy water. Later, I lugged wet clothes to the Laundromat. Thinking of how the love had gone out of my life, I stared at wall graffiti, feeling as wrung out as the clothes in a washer. I hung up shirts, then left for school to pick up my son.
I knocked on the classroom door and his teacher motioned for me to wait. She whispered something to Johnathan and gave him crayons.
"I want to talk to you about Johnathan,"she said when she walked over to me.
I steeled myself for the worst. I had had a fight with Jim, my son had broken a limb off my favorite bush, and now this.
"Did you know that Johnathan brought flowers to school today?"
I nodded, trying to keep tears in check. I glanced at my son coloring the picture. His hair flopped beneath his brow. He brushed it away and grinned at his handiwork.
"See that little girl?" the teacher asked.
Watching a bright-eyed child laugh out-loud I nodded.
"Yesterday she was hysterical. Her parents are going through a divorce. She said she wished she could die. I watched her bury her face in her hands and say,'Nobody loves me.' I did all I could to console her, but-"
"I thought you wanted to talk to me about Jonathan."
"I do." She touched my arm lightly. "Today your son walked over to that child, and handed her some pretty pink flowers. Then he whispered, 'I love you.' "
My heart swelled with pride for what Johnathan did.
I reached for his hand and said to his teacher,"You've made my day!"
Later that evening, I pulled weeds from around my lopsided azalea bush. My mind wandered back to the love Johnathan showed to the little girl and the biblical verse came to mind: "Now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest is love." My son practiced love but all day I had only thought of how angry I was at Jim.
I heard the familiar squeak of Jim's truck breaks as he pulled into the drive, and I snapped a small limb bristling with hot pink azaleas. I felt the seed of love God had planted in my family begin to bloom once again in me.
My husband's eyes widened in surprise as I handed him the flowers. "I love you." I said.
When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not shouting "I'm clean livin."
I'm whispering "I was lost,"
Now I'm found and forgiven.
When I say..."I am a Christian"
I don't speak of this with pride.
I'm confessing that I stumble
and need CHRIST to be my guide.
When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not trying to be strong.
I'm professing that I'm weak
and need HIS strength to carry on.
When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not bragging of success.
I'm admitting I have failed
and need God to clean my mess.
When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not claiming to be perfect,
My flaws are far too visible
but, God believes I am worth it.
When I say... "I am a Christian"
I still feel the sting of pain,
I have my share of heartaches
So I call upon His name.
When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not holier than thou,
I'm just a simple sinner
who received God's good grace, somehow.
Monday, May 2, 2011
I’ve known all day today that this is not how Christians behave. We do not celebrate the death of a human being made in the image of God and loved by our Father. Didn't our Lord create Osama Bin Laden in his mother's womb? Did he also know the number of hairs on his head. Our God who we love and serve created this man as He did us... a sobering thought. No matter how ruthless and vile Bin Laden may be, we love our enemies. NO MATTER WHAT. Our God DEMANDS it. We pray for our enemies and their families. NO MATTER WHAT. Our God DEMANDS it. We do good things for our enemies. NO MATTER WHAT. Our God DEMANDS it.
The Bible we study reads "But I tell you love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” ~Matthew 5:43-45
God’s children do not dance and rejoice in the death of anyone. To join in the worldly celebration of the death of a man who did not know Christ is to deny our Savior and his Gospel. After all, our Lord died for us (Bin Laden included) while we were his enemies. That’s the part I’ve not been able to understand today: doesn’t the excitement and taking great joy and pleasure in the death of another human being deny just about everything Scripture teaches us about the nature and the will of our Father in heaven? Does it not oppose the clear commands from our Lord?
“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” ~Luke 6:27-28
I know that this will probably offend some, but I believe strongly that God is expecting more out of the people he’s blessed with his good gifts and matchless grace. I pray for our Christ family that this can be a time when we can show the world matchless grace, compassion and humility.
Friday, April 1, 2011
I got to thinking about how we are a lot like DVDs and CDs. They are discs that hold beautiful music and pictures. We are designed to play beautiful music through the living of our lives. Sin and abuse grind into our souls and leave deep painful scratches during different seasons of our lives. Our lives can fall apart literally in moments.
The CD will not work as designed, music may start to skip, and will eventually be unable to play. I think some of us probably get used to the damage and the stratches and de-value ourselves. If we go to the Lord and confide in Him who makes us whole He has the power to "re-furbish" our soul and renew our minds. The scratches may still there but they are covered and healed through His sacrifice and we are again able to play the beautiful music we were designed to play.
I have been reminded daily in the recent weeks and months that the Lord desires to heal our hearts and our spirits. Sometimes the difficulties that we face are merely an avenue to bring us closer to Him. I see the pain so many others endure and I cannot help but think that is it partly a love cry from the Lord that He wants to be your source of healing, comfort and joy.
It is my prayer that no matter what you are facing, that you draw close to Him.
Thursday, March 31, 2011
I actually think that everyday life and real people are much more interesting than reality TV. But... in real life, people are so much harder to get to "know" since we don't always share our struggles along with our strengths. I think that we all have ways that we'd like to present ourselves. I know for me I would like people to see me as a cheerful, helpful person with a delightful litle family. Of course, the reality is that while I may truly be those things sometimes, I can obviously be cranky, unhelpful, and sometimes my little Julia is NOT much fun to be around.
I think that one of the hardest places to be real for many people is, unfortunately, in a Christian community. I think there is often the temptation to present an image of having it "all together" at church and with church friends. (I suspect that people even censor or edit their prayer requests!) But I think it's also somewhere that it really "pays off" to be real with other people, if it is truly a community of people who love Christ. If I can't be real about issues or struggles I have, especially within the church, then I don't want to be there. I want to be somewhere that it's safe to struggle, to need prayer, to need encouragement and support. And to actually be able to receive it.I believe that my closest friends are those who share my faith and they see me, all of me...the good, the bad, and the very ugly. The beauty of it is that they love me anyway.
I am so thankful to have this family that walks along side of us in our struggles as parents and husband and wife. There is trust, compassion and encouragement surrounding us. Receiving this love compells Tom and I to live this way as well. I can honestly say that my relationship with the Lord is strengthened and nurtured when I am in the presence of others who love Him. There is a connection with these folks in our lives...a connection that is deeper, I believe, than what our culture sees as "family" because it is rooted in the blood of Jesus. I am thankful to be a part of a "faith family" who desires to love, no matter what. I know that I can be unlovely at times and I am so very thankful that they love me, pray for me and encourage me every step of the way.
*I don't usually "name call" but there are a few people that have especially made an impact on me as a wife and mother. Mom, Jillian, Gretchen, Deborah and Christy---you have without a doubt encouraged me in ways you may never know. Thank you for being used by the Lord to encourage me and love me. Your tender words and sweet spirits have made unbearable moments bearable...even beautiful. I love you ladies and how you have made my life so sweet.
Friday, March 25, 2011
The Challenge of Godly Parenting
Knowing when to encourage
and when to exhort,
When to release
and when to restrict,
When to correct
and when to assist,
When to give hope
and when to warn,
And most of all...
Knowing never to stop loving,
being a friend and praying --
as if their lives depended on it.
Because... they do.
I encourage you as mothers, fathers, and friends to cling to these words. They are powerful. The greatest way that we can show love to our children is to pray for them and guide them to His saving grace. There is nothing more tender in this world than for me to hear Julia's sweet voice lifting the ones she loves in prayer. She prays fervently with all belief in God's healing and power. If we could all have the faith that is bottled up in her mere 2 1/2 years...
Friday, February 18, 2011
The Bible teaches that at creation God assigned differing roles to both man and woman. Man was created to work and keep the garden. Woman was designed to help man in his tasks. They each had two very distinct and differing roles. However, they were both created in God’s image, and therefore, their roles were equal in value, but differing in function. These roles were assigned before sin entered the picture. After the fall of man, Adam continued to provide for his family and Eve would be the bearer and nurturer of the children. The punishments because of the sin did not change their roles; it simply complicated the already existing roles. When Adam and Eve hid in the garden, Adam was called upon first by God, even though Eve had committed the sin first. Why? Clearly God placed Adam as the leader, but Adam chose to be passive. Eve had the role of helper, but had violated it, taking leadership. The roles were reversed during the fall of man, when the first sin occured. I think that it is interesting to note that the "original" sin occured when Adam and Eve did not stay within the marital guidelines God had laid out for them.
In the New Testament, the roles of husband and wife are symbolic of Christ and His church. In Ephesians 5 it says Christian men are to lovingly lay down their lives for their wives. They still maintain leadership, but this must be servant leadership. Husbands are not to demand obedience, but by their humility, guide their family. In 1 Peter it says husbands are to honor their wives. The biblical roles for men continue through the Old Testament and into the New Testament: man is meant to lead and lovingly serve his wife.
In Proverbs 31 God exalts womanhood in the home, and places great value on it. Woman’s role from creation has not changed. In Titus 2, Paul commends women to love their husbands and children. Women are to follow their husband’s leadership with respect, choosing to submit to that leadership. 1 Peter states that when wives submit to their husband’s leadership, they are doing it as service to God. A woman can be a great blessing and help to her husband, just as Eve was to Adam at the beginning of creation. For me I have struggled with feelings of inadequacy because I am not cut out to stay home. I. Just. Can't. Do. It. Period. I have wrestled with this because biblically a woman's first priority is to her husband, family, and home life. However, I have realized that I can have a career and still fulfill my role as a wife and mother. I may just need a little more help in the time management department. :)
I found more joy and contentment in my life when I seriously began to model my life through God's design for me. I have learned that there is such freedom in not being in control and not WANTING to be in control. There is so much freedom in not trying to steer our family in the direction I think we should go. There is so much freedom in simply respecting my husband and nurturing my child. It is my hope that God is doing the same work in your lives. Mariiage is such a beautiful thing and I am so thankful for the blessing of my husband, my friend, my protector.
Saturday, February 5, 2011
Change is sometimes joyfully accepted, but for me change is sometimes riddled with fear and discontent. If I do not anticipate a situation, it brings unwelcome feelings of angst for me. Some change brings feelings of discomfort, even intense heartache. In those moments I find myself pleading that the Lord would remove this change from our lives. I long for the day that just moments ago seemed so ordinary. So typical.
Quite often God's timing is not ours. We must wait on Him, deal with Him, and most importantly delight in Him despite our selfish desires. Sometimes in particularly difficult circumstances I have to focus on choosing the Lord over my fears. I know that may seem silly, but fear and the joy of the Lord cannot co-exist. I am choosing one or the other. When I am fearful and worried, I am saying "God, you aren't good enough." That is a powerful statement.
"Lord, I understand that change is an expression of your will in my life and I am thankful to have the opportunity to wait and relish in the change that you lay before me."
Thursday, January 27, 2011
We are extremely blessed to be surrounded by wonderful Christian families who have the same desires to raise their children to know and love Jesus. How awesome it is to be inspired and have the support of other young families along the way.
Still, the feelings of inadequacy set in. I can justify myself saying that we do all the "Christian" things with our child. We take her to Church, we pray before meals, say bedtime prayers, we talk about God and His hand in everyday life and read Bible stories. We focus on the fruits of the spirit and we are striving to train her in first time obedience. However, sometimes I have to check myself. Am I doing these things because I love Jesus with such a fierce passion that my hearts desire is for my child to love Jesus with all her heart? Or is it just my pride motivating me to strive towards these things? I mean really, who wants a poorly behaved child. I have to catch myself and remember that the goal is not behavior, but a heart attitude that gleams for Jesus.
I have been praying fervently, and will for as long as I'm her mom, for wisdom in training Miss Julia to love and life daily for God. Obviously I believe that ultimately it's all up to God as to whether or not she will live her life for Him or not. I am also aware that I am going to make many mistakes along the way, but as Christian parents we clearly have an obligation to teach our children intentionally and diligently. You know what my mind keeps coming back to? The scripture where Jesus tells the people that the glass is dirty on the inside but clean on the outside. I need to first look at my own personal relationship with God before I'm too quick to harp on my child's sin and shortcomings. When I think about the impression I want to leave on my child, I want her to know I love Jesus, but I also want her to realize that I'm not any better than her and I'm on the same journey she is....to love the Lord and serve Him until he takes me home. :)
Saturday, January 22, 2011
I am learning to slow down, enjoy and soak it all in. I've learned to find joy in the chaos and embrace the unexpected...