Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A budget

How is it that we have summer one week and winter the next? I think here in the northeast we have enjoyed ohh about two weeks of beautiful fall weather and yesterday....my car said 39 degrees....it was cold! The wind was blowing...hard! Those 150 foot poplar trees I told you about on Monday, that stand tall in my back yard....you know the ones I love so much for all the leaves they give us for some leaf jumping fun...well they were a swaying today! They looked like twizzler sticks bending back and forth. You can't watch them for long because your mind goes to "what if one of those trees just snaps??" Yehh...not a good place for my mind to go. The rain poured down and it was just down right cold and dreary.



My husband had to travel in to NYC for the evening for a dinner appointment...so the kids and I were flying solo for dinner last night. When my husband is away, dinner is usually either take out or breakfast: pancakes, cereal, french toast....I personally could east breakfast for every meal. Anyway, I had to take Luke to piano lessons and Ben chimed in and asked if on the way home, we could get take-out. (He knows the drill as well and likes to know what is coming next......ummm does he get that from me??)



As much as I didn't really want to make dinner last night....I had to tell Ben no. Trust me, my mind had already gone to take-out.....but we are turning a new corner around here. I told Ben, we weren't getting take out tonight because it is the end of the month and there isn't money. He looked at me with a confused face, as that response is not usually one he gets....can you see where I'm going here.



A household budget.......



For those of you who have household budgets that you are able to adhere to.....I am in awe of you and inspired by you. I have a lot to learn and God is dealing with me graciously.



Here's what has happened. We are all facing tighter times. Our oil prices this year have doubled. Last year I could pay $100 a month on the budget plan to fill our oil tank, to heat our house, this year that monthly payment is $200. The same goes for putting gas in our cars. We have a little reprieve right now, but not holding tightly that those gas prices will stick around for long. Food prices have gone up.....feeding 4 growing boys and a little girl tends to add up, not to mention clothing my crew. We are all feeling the same pinches......some of us more than others. I know many people being severely stretched financially right now with husbands being laid off, the self-employed struggling to find construction bids, family who is sick and unable to work etc... As the global financial markets have plummeted, people have lost thousands in the stock market. Times are tough financially. It seems like that one world economy isn't too far in the distant future....a cashless society.



That Satan is in the mix of it all really gets me. I know it is all leading up to our Jesus coming back and taking His church home. Trust me....I can't wait for that day....come, Lord Jesus...come. I can't wait to be worshipping God in heaven and holding my son again. But today...God is calling me to be a good steward of all that He has given. Today, I need to be responsible with what He has called me to. I need to be accountable to what I spend on food, on clothing, on the children...on running this house. It is no different than the manager who oversees a whole department and is in charge of the budget for that department. If you are in the red....you are losing money and not managing properly....over time....you are in big trouble.

Mind you, I am not a saver by nature....but I am always looking for a good bargain to save money. Barclay will chuckle at the fact that I won't shop at Linens N Things without a 20% coupon...and if I get to the store and forgot the coupon....well back home I go to get it (crazy...I know!). I don't usually buy anything full price....because I just can't justify the price tag knowing that at some point, it will be on sale. I shop consignment stores for the kids. I sell Faith's clothes on Ebay and then use that the money I make to buy her clothes for the next season. I love Marshall's and TJMaxx....always discounted! I am usually a practical spender and have to think through how much use each item will get and I will definitely shop around for the best price! Give me a coupon and you've got my business. But the trouble is....I do like to shop. A sale really doesn't matter if you don't need the item to begin with. That seems to be my trouble. Buying to bring some sort of satisfaction or fulfillment.....when I should only be buying what I need and no more. All of this stuff will some day fade away, get old, get broken, be out of style, get a hole in the knee......be gone. I desire to be content. It is a choice to be content.

"Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money if a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." 1 Timothy 6:6-10

Well, this weekend, Barclay and I sat down to do the budget. We have "done" the budget many times before....actually added up over the 14 years of our marriage....we've tried many different scenarios: I've done it myself. I become overwhelmed. I ask him to manage the money. His time is already spread thin. We try it together, but no one really oversees it regularly....and we end up spending more than we should. We fall away from any real budget and just try to stay in the "loosely" held amounts for each area. It is really the miscellaneous money I am talking about here....not the money that goes toward set bills.

About 2-3 years ago, we began moving away from credit cards completely and into a debit card only. I can't tell you how wonderful this move alone is. But the problem has been that if we overspend, we take the money from savings. Not really that wise. And sooner or later, the savings account isn't what it was in the beginning.

Did I mention I was a writing major in college......math and science are far from my area of wisdom and expertise. God is so working on me in this area right now. What it really comes down to for me...is discipline and obedience.

But back to the cashless society.......what a trick by Satan. I have found that when I don't actually watch the money leave my hand and have to place it in the cashier's hand.....when I don't see the amount of money decrease in my wallet......I overspend. That is the trick by Satan and lures us into credit cards. Spending what we can't actually see and don't really have. When I'm not using cash and not watching the money regularly, I forget that I spent "way too much" at Target. I forget that I spent more than I should have on groceries. I forget that at the beginning of the month I bought myself some new clothes. I forget that we already had take-out too many times that month. By the end of the month, I've overspent.

But when I use cold, hard cash and watch the money dwindle.....I stop spending....because when it is gone, it is gone. My younger sister, Tasha, has used this system for a long time and as much as I wanted it to work...and it did when I used it, but then I would fall into my old ways and whip out that debit card...and fall back into the same sin cycle of overspending. Indulging instead of restraining.



Well, God has been convicting my heart of our finances for awhile. It is an area that I haven't really wanted to address and an area that I have only half given him. Partial obedience is really disobedience. I have been disobedient in not being a good steward of His money. All that we have is God's. It is all a gift from Him. He is the ultimate provider. He has blessed my husband with a wonderful job, but my hope cannot be in my husband's job. My hope has to be in God alone because tomorrow, my husband's job could be gone. Jesus is my hope. I have to trust Him that He will give the manna we need for today. Just like the Israelites, I can't hoard the manna and store it for tomorrow because then it is in my own strength. Then I am not trusting Him and relying on Him fully. Tomorrow's manna will rot. God says:

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." Matthew 6:34

"Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you. O you of little faith?" Matthew 6:30

And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom his master will put in charge of his servants, to give them their rations at the proper time?" Luke 12:42,43



So, beginning this Friday, we are embarking on a new household budgeting system. My husband and I prayed together this weekend about it. We are giving it to God. We are committed to spending only what we have and staying within the budget. We are using cash for all of our miscellaneous purchases. Kind of like a weekly allowance system. We have set up separate bank accounts for groceries only, bills only, savings and then cash for miscellaneous needs like clothing, birthday presents, take-out, etc....I pray that God will give me the discipline I need so desperately to be obedient. I pray that as we tend to our finances and give them all to God that He will do the work and He will be glorified.

"No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." Matthew 6:24

I pray that God also gets our first fruits. That we give to Him all that is due Him in our tithes and our offerings. It is built into the budget. Our finances, our money....it is all His. I am excited about the changes in our household. As with everything, I can't do it in my own strength, only through Him...but I must choose today whom I will serve. I must choose today to spend wisely, to save wisely and to be faithful with everything He has blessed us with.

I would love to hear from you if you have a budget and system that really works for your family. I believe this is such an area of our lives where we dishonor God and my heart cries out for that to change. That God would be honored in everything.


Change is always good.

In His hands, Stacy

Monday, October 27, 2008

An afternoon in the leaves



Ohh, the joy of jumping in the leaves! A couple days last week, my son, Luke, grabbed the rakes and he and Jed (our 4 year old) worked tirelessly raking the fallen leaves into a pile. Each afternoon, they came inside beaming with a sense of accomplishment for the pile that they had made and the fun they had enjoyed as a result.

Have I told you we have a lot of leaves???

We live on a wooded acre with 150 foot poplar trees towering over our backyard. Around late August, the first few leaves begin falling and don't stop until early December....at which time the tall luscious trees look a bit stark and cold. For three months, my husband tries to "keep up with the leaves." My husband also likes to have the right tool for every job! I have been blessed with a handy husband who loves to work around the house and yard. I am very thankful for all of his skills and the way he blesses us all so much...and saves us lots of money through his handiwork and willingness.

When we moved here around 6 years ago, he went out and bought a backpack blower...you know, the kind that the landscapers use. I must admit, I baulked at it in the beginning, mainly because of the price, but can't tell you how much we have used it.

When it comes to the leaves, it is invaluable. Anyway, on Friday afternoon, the three younger kids were running around outside. I thought I'd surprise them with an even bigger leaf pile and went out and grabbed the blower. (It is about 10x the speed of raking...and hardly any manual labor! :) They sat patiently next to a tree and watched, as I basically vacuumed a portion of the grass with the blower and got all of the leaved in a really big pile!




As they waited by the tree, they were bursting with excitement. I tried really hard to get a good picture of them waiting...but you see they weren't really cooperative.....was it the bursting at the seams thing?? Mind you, Jed, on the left....he is our comedian...often trying to vie for a shining moment.





The pile was finally done and I told 'em to have at it.....they all raced for the pile and basically flung themselves into it. You would have thought they were jumping in a swimming pool. Even Faith, my cautious one.....went right for it......with complete unabandoned joy. How the giggles were sweet sound to my ears. Look closely at the picture below and see if you can find the top of Luke's head buried and camouflaged in the leaves.




Being the daredevil that I am and looking for the thrill, I like to pass that on to my children.....so had the great idea (also a little dangerous, I must admit) of putting the Little Tykes slide next to the pile. That quickly became the jumping platform instead of the slide, as you see Luke demonstrating his moves. Thankfully, Faith used the slide as was intended and went down, (most times), feet first on her bottom. I do try to teach them about being responsible, too! :) As you can see, darkness descended and the kids were still out having a ball.

They couldn't believe it when I jumped in with them and buried myself in the leaves! What fun.





When the two older boys came back from playing football with the neighborhood boys, they were bummed they had missed out on the leaf fun. See, you're never too old to jump in the leaves.

It was such a wonderful afternoon. All else was put aside to just enjoy being with the kids and laughing. Somedays, I don't think I do enough of that, especially with the two smallest children.


Here's a picture of our backyard to give you an idea of the blanket of leaves that cover the ground. No sooner does my husband mow them up.....within days the ground is covered again.
But, I wouldn't trade the yard we have which offers our children tons of room to run and explore and just be kids...it really is all worth it! And the beautiful trees that shade the house and give a canopy to the back yard...in the fall they sure make for one really, really big leaf pile!




"Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous; And shout for joy, all you upright in heart!" Psalm 32:11
With such joy-Stacy

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Sing My Soul Saturday-Meeting Us Where We Are



Here is another beautiful song from my new fav...Kathleen Carnali! This was a song she lead during worship and it spoke so intimately to my heart as I have been teaching and studying through the women of the Bible.

Hagar, who met God in the desert when Sarah had run her out of the camp. Sarah couldn't bear looking upon this woman any longer. Hagar could do something that Sarah couldn't...she could bear a child and conceive. Sarah had become despised in Hagar's eyes. Sarah was probably humiliated and embarrassed. She felt shame and contempt for this woman. She was a constant reminders of her sin and weakness, shame and guilt. In her sin and weakness, she offered her maidservant, Hagar, to her husband Abraham.

Sarah was barren. She wasn't able to conceive and give Abraham a son....Sarah became impatient with God's timing and was tired of waiting for His promised child....she had waited 10 years....isn't that long enough, God? She took matters into her own hands. But God is faithful and did give Sarah and Abraham a son....Nothing is impossible for God....Isaac was born. But God didn't forsake Hagar. He loved Hagar and He loved Ishmael. They were his children, too.

"But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now." Galatians 4:29

"So he (Abraham) went in to Hagar and she conceived, her mistress became despised in her eyes." Genesis 16:4

"And when Sarai dealt harshly with her, she fled from her presence." Genesis 16:6

But God met her in the desert as she fled....God meets us right where we are. He says come to me what I have for you is living....it is my son, Jesus Christ.

"Now the angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur. and He said, 'Hagar, Sarai's maid, where have you come from, and where are you going?'

She said, "I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress, Sarai." Genesis 16:7

What do we flee from? What do we try to push down and hide from view? We can't hide anything from God. He knows each of our pains and each of our struggles. He loves us and wants to pour out His love upon us.

What does He say to Hagar?

"Return to your mistress, and submit yourself under her hand." Genesis 16:9

That is the heart of God. Return. Accept....and He will bless.

He blessed Hagar. He blessed Ishmael. The Lord heard her affliction. He cared.

Just like the woman at the well in John 4. What a beautiful account of a woman, meeting a man who says....come, drink and you will never thirst again.

May this song encourage you, lift you and guide you to the man, Jesus Christ....who loves each of us with everlasting love.







On a totally seperate note....I just couldn't resist sharing my sweet daughter with you. Each night at bed I sing to her. God didn't give me a beautiful singing voice, but to my daughter...it seems to soothe her soul. We sing He's Got the Whole World in His hands and go through all of our children and others held in God's mighty hands. We sing Jesus Loves Me and she also asks for Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. She likes to sing along with me. I had to tape it as I never wanted to forget her sweet voice singing. You only get 15 seconds, as that is all my camera will tape...but I hope you enjoy the 15 seconds....:)


video

Have a wonderful weekend!

In His love alone-Stacy

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Full Heart

To be blessed and uplifted as others sing God's praises and thanksgivings,

What a week it has been around the Davis household this week. I stand in awe, once again at the majesty and the faithfulness of our Father, Jesus Christ. I am so thankful to be called His daughter. He is my King.

"That I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving, And tell of all Your wondrous works." Psalm 26:7

-I am thankful for the strength God has given me this week as my hubby has been out of town all week. I praise God that He is coming home tomorrow night. My husband has to do a decent amount of travel with his job and God has used that time (and over many years) to teach me so much about submission with JOY (I have been a slow learner, but my husband says he sees the growth...thank you Jesus!)

God has also used my husband's travel to teach me more and more about faith in Him alone. Trusting Him. I don't like being alone. When Barclay is gone, I feel like my covering is missing. I get scared at nighttime and usually stay up really late so that when I go to bed I am really tired and Satan can't mess with my mind...which often happens and fear falls like a blanket over me and I tell you I think I hear every noise in my house thinking that someone is coming in to do me and my children harm. My mind goes to places that I know grieves the heart of God. I praise God that this week, that hasn't happened once. My mind is on God and I know and believe that even if someone broke into my home, God is my protector and my ultimate covering. If He chooses to call me home....I will be in His presence! I trust Him. What a journey that has been. Thank you Jesus for the work He has done in my heart to get me to the place where I can accept my husband's travel, and fall asleep each night he is gone....trusting in my Father's protection.

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."
2 Timothy 1:7

-Thank you Lord, for the Godly women you have surrounded me with as I lead the mom's ministry at our church and am wading through the new waters of being the Women's Ministry Coordinator, as well. My plate is so full right now....but God is faithful and He equips for all that He calls us to. I have been asking Him to get rid of the time robbers of my day so that I am doing exactly what He wants me doing, when He wants me doing it. It means I have been up rather late most nights, but again, praising Him for the strength He has given....and my hour nap today!

-Thank you Jesus, for bringing my mom here for the week and for the blessed time we have had with her. I'll post later about our trip apple picking....or should I say the huge hike to the apple orchard with 5 children and my mother (who walks with a cane because of a stroke), which my children later said was the equivalent of 4 football fields! But....I praise you Lord because you blessed us with a glorious day. My children loved it. My mother was more than thrilled to pick Jonagold apples, which are her favorite (mind you, they were the farthest most apples in the field....but to see the joy and smile on my mother's face.....worth it!) The children were obedient, they helped carry the apples, gave Faith piggy back rides when my back was killing me, the sun was shining so brightly and to see the compassion and gentleness my children displayed for their grandmother....thank you Lord.

-Thank you Jesus again for blessing us with a wonderful day in Philadelphia on Tuesday....again...whew...what a day! It was an amazing day of exploring and learning at the Penn Museum, eating Philly cheesesteaks on South Street and seeing the Liberty Bell. GPS lady guided through the city...and I kept my cool even when finding parking was a bit of an issue. God directed the whole day and His countenance shone through each of us onto each other. I am a blessed mommy and daughter.

-Thank you Lord for friends. You know, as I have gotten older, God has taught me so much about friendship and it isn't how many friends you have. Friendships are investments. I don't take them lightly. If you are my friend, I invest in you because I love you, hopefully with the love of Jesus. You make me a better person in Christ Jesus and you bring me to His feet over and over again. Godly friendships are a gift from God as together we seek after Him, as opposed to the ways of the world. I am richer for the Godly friends Jesus has given me.

Today, Jill, at Forever n Ever n Always gave me this Friendship award. She is such a beacon of God's light, love and Truth. She boldly shares her faith in Christ Jesus and loves me for who I am. She encourages me. She prays with me and for me. God has filled her with so much wisdom in the short amount of time that she has been a believer and I truly believe that is because she seeks after Him continually, fervently and unabashedly. She immerses herself in Truth and where there is truth, no darkness can prevail. She is a gift, and a gem. I am humbled and honored that she calls me friend. Isn't the award beautiful....her daughter, Lexi, designed it!



Thank you Jill for this beautiful award and for sharing your heart with me. I love you!

Thank you Jesus for my friend Beth. She and I have watched over the years, as God has taken our friendship to knew heights. I am so thankful for her friendship and for her heart for Jesus. When I am with Beth, I can be silly. I can be playful. I can be completely transparent and she will love me all the same. She has walked the valleys with me and she has touched the mountaintop with me. She is a faithful friend. She and I met at Starbucks on Monday night as we haven't been able to spend as much time together. I thank you Jesus for Monday night. I thank you that you have given me a friend who is honest, who loves you so much and who isn't self seeking, who always wants to go deeper. If Beth were a blogging kinda girl...she would get this award from me! I love you.

-I am thankful for all of my blogging friends whom God has taken our lives and our testimonies and woven them together allowing our paths to cross through this blogging world. I am so thankful and blessed by so many of you who have introduced yourself, emailed me, and shown me Jesus as He's living inside of you. I wish we lived around the corner from each other to sit face to face and share even more. Someday....

My heart is truly full this week of all of God's goodness. He never ceases to amaze me, thrill me and sweep me off of my feet. We serve a God who deserves our honor and praises.

I pray we each take the time to shower God with our thanksgivings....from the least to the greatest....

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning." James 1:17

With Thanksgiving,Stacy

Monday, October 13, 2008

Delete?

"Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in
you will perform [it] until the day of Jesus Christ." Philippians 1:6


Have you ever written a post that you go back and read later and think.....what was I thinking?? I said all of that?? That is kinda how I felt this morning as I went back and read my Spectator Participant post. It sat with me like a lump in my throat. You all saw the not so pretty side of me and there was certainly a part of that not so pretty side that said...hit the delete button.

Ummm....pride again.

Get rid of that post.....what will people think? (you know all of those acceptance issues come smack dab face to face with me).

And then I saw all of your beautiful comments and words of encouragement. (What a gift we have in the body of Christ!) Thank you to each of you. And God reminded me of all that He was teaching me through my disobedience that weekend...and continues to speak to my heart today. I know that God had a purpose in that post. And even if not one person commented....that was ok...for it is HIS approval I seek. I pray over each and every post and pray that His Words will come forth...not mine. And that in everything I say, He receives the glory....because ohhh how my flesh wants you to like me.

But you know what....I think it is important for us to be real together. I am a work in progress. God works on my heart each and everyday, teaching me more about Him. I can either have a heart hardened to His truth or I can have a heart that is teachable and able to receive.

After the Harvest Crusade....I needed a heart that would receive His correction. I was disobedient. I wanted to serve under my terms and not His.

But you know what is so cool....God uses us even when we mess up. When we humbly repent and receive His correction our relationship is restored immediately. He doesn't dwell on our mistakes. He forgives and He moves on.

Well, onward, I go.

I opened up my email this morning, to an email from one of my neighbors (who mind you was one that God told me to ask to the crusade). She asked if I wanted to start walking together in the neighborhood......and asked if I wanted to go to lunch with her one day this week.

Why me? Not too sure. But I know God has a plan. He will accomplish His plan with or without me. He wants a relationship with her. He wants a relationship with each and every one of us. We were created to be in fellowship with our God and Father. He desires for no one to be outside His presence. I pray, I am obedient this time, to all that He asks of me. That I will boldy share His love whether in word or by example and that His light will shine forth mightily in my neighborhood and to this woman.

I know God brought us to this neighborhood for a reason. You can go to the ends of the earth and preach the Gospel, as there are so many lost and hurting people. Or you can go to your backyard, down your street or around the corner. We are surrounded by mission fields.

My friend, Allyson, was over this weekend and had read my post. She shared something with me something that I have been mulling over. She encouraged me and shared a story with me about a friend of a friend who came to know the Lord. These ladies were friends for over 10 years...one was a believer, the other wasn't. When the non-believer accepted the Lord, she went back to her believing friend and said, "You knew this all these years and never shared it with me?"

Why do we let our pride, our acceptance issues, our SELF....get in the way of all that God wants to do in and through us. How many people have I neglected to boldy share His Truth with because I feared rejection....How would this reflect on me?

Really.....who cares! All that matters is that I am an empty vessel, emptied of self and filled by the Holy Spirit and through His power, I am poured out to all those around me.

If I am empty of self, then I won't worry about how I am received, liked or accepted.

I long for this.

And so, after reading over that post.....if you see some ugliness in me, if you see some brokennes in me....if you see my mistakes and all of my imperfections and struggles....that is ok. I am a work in progress. There is no perfection outside of Christ Jesus.

But, I pray that most of all.....you will see the work that God has done in this selfish, prideful, broken women and that who I am today is by God's grace, His mercy, His never failing love and His redeeming work. To Him be all the glory.

"Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting
may appear to all." 1 Timothy 4:15

Thank you to each of you who are walking this road with me.

In Christ's love and grace-Stacy

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Sing My Soul Saturday









Kathleen Carnalli has become one of my favorite new Christian artists. Her voice is like an angel and her words penetrate my heart so deeply for Jesus Christ.

How this song is my heart's cry!

Be blessed.

Love in Him alone-Stacy

P.S. If you'd like to hear more Sing My Soul Saturday, visit Amy over at Signs, Miracles and Wonders. What a great idea!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Spectator vs. Participant

Last weekend, the Harvest Crusade with Pastor Greg Laurie was in Philadelphia. The Crusade takes place about every 10 years and travels to major cities throughout the U.S. It is quite an event filled with big name Christian musicians (Jeremy Camp, TobyMac, Mercy Me) followed by Pastor Greg speaking God's word and sharing from his heart. But most importantly, the crusade reaches the lost and hurting who don't know that a Savior died for them to take away all of their sins. A Savior who offers Living Water that will quench their thirst forever. A Savior that offers eternal life in His presence; without pain, brokenness, disease or death. A Savior that loves you more than you can even fathom. It is a message of love and redemption.

At the end of his message, Pastor Greg invites those attending to make a choice: A choice to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. A choice to enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ or recommit their lives to Christ.

It was amazing to be in the midst of the Jesus's Harvest. We attended on Saturday night last week, with our three oldest boys (who love love love TobyMac-I might add! They were completely starstruck and my oldest, Ben, was even on the big screen jammin to TobyMac!) We watched as over 1,000 people walked down from the stands and onto the floor of the Wachovia Center (where the Phil. 76's play) bow their heads in prayer, giving their lives to Christ. It was a moving experience, watching as these people took the steps that would forever change the course of their lives for all eternity.

This is where God spoke to me. I didn't want to hear these words.

"The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few." Matthew 9:37

Ouch!

See, there was preparation for the Harvest Crusade for months leading up to the event. Churches around our area mobilized together handing out invitations to the community. Signs were posted at every church inviting people to attend. This was an outreach.

There were many training seminars that were held for ushers as well as Decision-Follow Up workers. These people were allowed to go down on the floor and follow up with the people who made a commitment to Christ. I wanted to be involved. This was good, right? I needed to mobilize with everyone else and do my part. I wanted to be a laborer.

I attended the Impact Training class. In the training, the Pastor teaching said something that has stuck with me for weeks. He said, "This is an outreach. You are to be a participant, not a spectator."

When he said this, in my prideful self, I nodded in agreement. I was being a participant. I patted myself on the back and continued the steps to being a follow-up worker. I went home with my packet of information, my slip saying I was "approved" and a handful of Harvest Invitations.

I am ashamed to admit this....but I didn't hand out one invitation. Why....because I got in God's way....I let my insecurities, my fear, and doubt override God's call to sow seeds for His harvest.

So, I made excuses. And as God gently told me who to invite...I ignored Him.

I can't Lord.

More like....I won't Lord.

Can't I just go to the crusade, put on my pretty and official name tag saying "Follow-up Decision Worker", go down on the field when the workers are called forth and hand a new believer a Bible?

No!

Can't I just go with my husband and children and watch the joy on their faces at their first Christian concert featuring none other than their absolute favorite artist....TobyMac? I mean, seriously....as a parent...I was so excited for them.

No!

It is not about me! Doing this, I was just a spectator. I wasn't being obedient to what God was calling me to do.

You know when God is speaking to your heart and you try to suppress it. You push it down, hoping that the urging will just go away....that God will change His mind. But He doesn't. He is constant. He doesn't change His mind because when He speaks...He speaks confidently. He knows what is best and what He desires. He doesn't vacillate.

I knew who I was suppose to invite, and didn't.

Why was my comfort more important than the eternal destination of these people? That is a question I have been wrestling with.

Because stepping out of my comfort zone meant stepping into the unknown. I was so wrapped up in me and not trusting God. Not resting in the fact that my acceptance comes from Him and Him alone. He is the one I need to obey, follow and believe.

This is the difference between head knowledge and heart knowledge. I know this all to be true. But I acted on what I knew in my head. What I could figure out....not walking in faith. I didn't believe and I didn't obey.

So, we went to the Harvest Crusade on Saturday night. I loved it. My boys loved it. Pastor Greg gave a powerful message. Over 1000 people flooded the floor for the invitation....I walked confidently down onto the floor, as instructed...there were people everywhere.....overcome with emotion of and Truth of Jesus Christ....I stood next to a girl as Pastor Greg prayed with the magnitude of people....then I was to turn to her, introduce myself and give her a Bible.

I was ready. The harvest was great.....and guess what happened.....

I turned to this girl and as I made eye contact a lady behind me, who was also a follow up worker, locked eyes with this girl, brushed past me and embraced this girl.

There I stood...alone.

At first, I must be honest, I was a bit frustrated with this lady. Hey, wait a minute....she was mine! (ownership....Lord forgive me...she is Yours!)

I walked through the crowds of people, looking for someone else who was alone. I prayed, Lord show me who you want me talking to. I am ready.

There was silence.

I stood still for a moment and scanned the crowd. Nothing. Everyone was paired up.

I made my way off the floor and walked back to my seat....disappointed. I guess you didn't need me, Lord.

It wasn't until the next day when God spoke to my heart.

He needed me all right.... he needed me to obey. God desired for me to be a participant. He asked me to sow seed before the event. He had asked me invite my neighbors and I didn't.

I wanted the glory. I wanted to 'be seen' as a laborer. I wanted to serve my way, not God's way. I set the parameters and didn't quite care for what God was asking of me.

God doesn't bless our actions when they are outside of Him and wrapped around ourselves and what we want.

"Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness." Romans 6:16

"What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed?" Romans 6:21

"Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God." Colossians 3:22

I know God has given each of us His gifts. He doesn't call us all to be street evangelists, not all of us are teachers, not all of have the gift of healing, administration, prophecy....but we all have a responsibility to spread God's love and Truth to those around us. We are called to be a light.

"You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:14-16

Here I was hiding His light under a bushel....you know the song we sing to our children...this little light, I'm gonna let it shine....well I hid God's light and tried to replace it with my own. I wanted my light to shine....isn't that what pride does.....puts ourselves above others....above God.

A couple years ago, my husband and I were having a conversation about pride. He was saying how he deals with it as a manager at work, as his group develops high profile products....I said to him at the time that pride wasn't really a big area for me.....ha-laugh is on me!

It was an issue....but there were even bigger issues God had to straighten out in me first. Well, as He has been so patient with me and chipped away at the many other boulders....He is now working in me with pride. Yeh...I do deal with pride. Don't we all, after all isn't that what sent Satan outside of the heavenly realm. He wanted to elevate himself to God. Pride really is elevating ourselves to a place that only is reserved for God-alone.

May He be high and lifted up to His rightful place!

In Christ's love-Stacy

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

WFW - Steadfast Devotion







1 Corinthians 15:58


"Therefore my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing your labor is not in vain in the Lord."

When we were pregnant with our 4th son, Joshua, who is now in the presence of the Lord; God gave me this verse while I was attending a women's conference. I was about 20 weeks pregnant. Little did I know it was just days before we would find out that our son had a fatal genetic condition and our lives would forever be altered and transformed. Little did I know that my son, whom God was forming within me, would only be with us for 119 days following his birth. Little did I know that God was preparing me for what laid ahead. Little did I know that God was telling me in advance that I needed to be steadfast and immovable in all circumstances and that in Him, my labor: that which requires effort for its accomplishment was not in vain. He was working behind the scenes transforming me, purifying me of self, teaching me and revealing more of His character to me.

What will move you from the love of Christ?

Will death? Will disease? Will financial crisis? Will an unfaithful husband? A broken marriage? Will past abuse or pain? Will anything on this earth cause you to waiver in your belief in God or your steadfast devotion to what God has set before you?

God doesn't move...we do. His love doesn't change. He is steadfastly devoted to us.

Look at your circumstances as the vehicle by which God is calling out to you. God loving you so much that He wants more of you. He wants to go deeper and reveal more of Himself to you. He desires for each of us to be steadfast and immovable to Him alone and all that He puts before us.

"For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Hebrews 9:38-39

Whatever God has laid before you, whether it seems like a boulder or a small twig, keep pressing forward secure in the love of Christ.

For some of us our labor is the daily calling of being a wife, a mother and all the work that comes with that calling. For others, it is working outside the home, a full-time ministry. For others, it is caring for a sick child, spouse, parent or even ourselves, it is wading through the uncertain economic times or maybe a new health diagnosis that seems too big for us to handle. Whatever "work of the Lord" is before, your work is not in vain in the Lord. It is important. It has a purpose....a Godly, eternal purpose.

May we all be steadfast and immovable in our calling and our love for Jesus Christ.

In Christ's love - Stacy

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Lukewarm

At the beginning of the summer, I woke up one morning unable to turn my head from side to side. The pain was excruciating. I couldn't remember doing anything specific that would have caused the pain. The muscles in my shoulders and neck were like hard pebbles and as I moved, my whole upper body had to move in a single motion. I was a little scared, as I wasn't sure what was happening, but knew I needed some medical attention. I told my husband I needed to see a chiropractor (which I had never done before, nor really knew what they even did) or I needed a really good massage. (again....where that came from not sure, but was grasping at straws and looking for a quick fix.)

The next day, I was suppose to be getting on a plane and meeting up with my two sister in NY. We were all going to the Women of Faith Conference and some unsaved family members were coming with us. We had an amazing weekend planned. A getaway that doesn't happen very often for me. None of my children were coming....just me. I don't get the opportunity to see my sisters very often. I couldn't wait to go and this literal "pain in my neck" was impeding those plans.

I knew of a chiropractor that attended our church and I knew some people who highly recommended him. I gave it a shot knowing that I wouldn't make it through a weekend in this pain. He was able to see me within a couple hours. I was a bit skeptical. My husband works in orthopedics....on the spine.....and is in the business of fixing the spine through operations, not adjustments. But he encouraged me to go. I was in dire need of relief.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I walked into the chiropractor's office and through a gentle exam, x-rays, a slight adjustment, amazing electrical stimulation on the muscles and ice....He gave me some relief. He then sent me on my way for an MRI, as He presumed I had a bulging disc in my cervical spine.

I had never had an MRI before and didn't know what questions to ask, or again, what to expect. It was an enclosed MRI (I know now to always ask for an open MRI) and as I was being carried into the tunnel....the buzzing and clicking sounds began....fear began to take over. It was like a wave washing up on the shore.....coming in quickly and taking God's peace. I immediately went to prayer. I spent the next 30 minutes fixing my mind on God and yielding to His thoughts. Allowing Him to fill me. Fill me He did.

I left for the conference the next morning, pain still there....but manageable. Each day, it lessened more and more. God had a lot to tell me at that conference, through conversations with my sisters, about sharing His truth with others.....He opened up a lot of wounds from earlier years, pain that I had never addressed, agreements with Satan that I had made about who God was and is to me....lies that I had believed. He revealed so much truth to me. He spoke to my heart. He brought me to His feet and again asked..."Stacy, will you surrender to Me?"

I will, Lord. Show me more of You.

I came home and learned that I had two bulging discs. How, I asked does a person get a bulging disc....just like that?

Well, it doesn't happen just like that. It is usually a gradual process. It is from years of abuse and loads on your spine. The spine degenerates. The muscles work harder to stabilize the spine. The disc is weakened and it pops out of its purposeful place, into an area it wasn't intended...and in my case, hitting the spinal cord...causing numbness to travel down my arm. I had remembered things that had happened months before, that now made sense. Times I had quickly turned my head and felt a twinge go up my neck. Times I lifted something heavy and my neck and shoulder ached. It was making sense.

I didn't know years ago, I was abusing and hurting my spine when I was a gymnast. I didn't know that carrying six children in and out of my body would bring me to my current state. I didn't know running impacts the spine. Many, many I didn't knows. But gradually, over 36 years, this was the damage that was done.

The course of treatment....going to the chiropractor 3 times a week for three months. Who can do that???? And the expense......who knew??? But that was what was needed. So, off I went each Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning, before the kids woke up. I wasn't looking forward to the new addition to my weekly schedule.

But God used that time to bless me and teach me more of Him. I would spent the time on the decompression table in prayer. I spent the time under electrical stim. in prayer. I sang my heart out in praise going and coming from those early morning appointments. Instead of time I dreaded, it became time I looked forward to. And God was healing me. The pain was going away. Movement was returning.

Well, summer came to a close, homeschooling responsibilities were back in full swing. My lazy days became busy and scheduled. I just didn't have the time to keep up with my appointments. Three days a week dwindled down to two.....two days a week dwindled down to one....and next thing I knew a month went by and I hadn't gone to a single adjustment.

You guessed it.....last week...the pain slowly crept back in.

It wasn't quite as bad as the beginning of the summer, but it was there. It was a little painful to turn my head, to put my chin to my chest. I knew I needed to go back in. I was embarrassed that I had been gone so long. I felt guilty that I had neglected my appointments. How do I show back up in that office asking for help again, when I hadn't followed their protocol to begin with? They knew what I needed and I didn't obey.

But I knew I needed to go back in. The pain was there. It would only get worse if I don't go.

Friday morning, I got up early. I was out the door at 6:45 a.m. for my 7:15 appointment.

As I was driving to the appointment, going over all of these details of the last three months....what had brought me to this place of neglect.....God turned my thoughts onto Him.

This mirrored complacency.

Complacency in our walks and our devotion to Him.

For years, in my relationship with Jesus Christ....I would go from on fire....to lukewarm. I would go from clinging to Him and Him alone....to clinging to previous Truths that He had spoken to my heart. I would go from being immersed in His Word, to being in His Word every other day, to once a week. Sometimes, to not at all. How this saddened my Father in Heaven. Those times I wasn't daily in His Word allowing Him to give me NEW Truths and peace grieved Him and the longer I was away, the more the pain came back. It would linger all around me. And the pain would lead to an open door for Satan. His lies would creep in. Different times in my life, I had ridden on the coat tails of previous lessons learned. Not letting Him speak into what I needed to learn in the present moments and trials.

In those days of complacency.....of being lukewarm.....slowly, I would fall back into my old selfish ways. God would be there, but I would be first. I was on the throne of my heart...not Him. I knew His Word. I knew His Truths...but I wasn't seeking after Him for more. I was saying what I had was enough....But it wasn't and it isn't.

And then, He would grab my attention through a trial, through a circumstance, through whatever means necessary.....and show me my weakness and my insufficiency all over again. Just like with my neck......constancy....obedience....surrender. We know what we need to do....now do it!

"I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, "I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing"-and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked-I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments that you may be clothed........As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him and he with Me." Revelation 3:15-20

God does not want us to be lukewarm. Either on fire or stone cold.....lukewarm is not ok. He will vomit you out of His mouth. It seems harsh, doesn't it? But the truth is....He is always....always standing at the door knocking. He always wants to give us more! He counsels our hearts....come to me....buy the gold that I have for you so you many be rich!

When He met the Samaritan woman at the well. He told her that the water from the well will cause her to thirst again. It only temporarily satisfies. But what He has to offer is eternal. It is living water.

"Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life." John 4:13,14

"Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoever finds me finds life." Proverbs 8:34

"Yet they seek Me daily, and delight to know My ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and did not forsake the ordinance of their God. They ask of Me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching God." Isaiah 58:2

Abide

To abide means to remain stable or fixed in some state; to continue, to face or submit to without shrinking, to stay and dwell.

God desires for us to abide with Him daily. To remain fixed to Him and continue daily to seek after His wisdom, His understanding, His healing, His commands, His face.

"He shall abide before God forever. Oh, prepare mercy and truth which may preserve him!" Psalm 61:7

"And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever." John 8:35

"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me." John 15:4

There is no better place to be. When we abide and stay in God's Word. Stay connected to Him....He brings peace. He brings understanding. He brings healing. He relieves the pain.

On Friday, I walked back through the doors of the chiropractor and you know what....they smiled at me, they greeted me kindly and my doctor said "welcome back."

That is just like our Father, God. "Welcome Back!" He is always there waiting with open arms. When we turn aside instead of abide....He is grieved. We will face consequences...just like I did as the pain returned....but He never leaves us or forsakes us. He wants our whole being....always.

I pray I've learned the lessons of previous times of complacency. I haven't been there in a long time. I am on fire these days. I don't say that in a prideful way....I say that as a woman who has been there and knows I don't want to go back. Thank you, Jesus! I desire all that He has for me....no matter what. But there are days when I don't get out of bed at 5:30 and start my day with Him. There are days when a verse is what sustains me.....not a chapter or more....but most days....I am lingering at His feet letting Him fill me with all that He has for me that day. I know I need that. I know I can't survive without Him. I don't want to. None of us can survive without Him.

So, somehow, I will find the time to schedule in the chiropractor for as often as He feels I need to see him. God will work out the details and logistics. I just need to abide.

In Christ's love-Stacy

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Please Pray....

***Thank you so much for the prayers that were lifted up to God on behalf of L and A. Praising God for His goodness and mercies. For His hand of protection and for His love and strength. L came out of surgery around 7:00 this evening and will be in the ICU overnight. The surgery was deemed a success by the neurosurgeon and all of the tumor was removed without complication. The tumor is believed to be benign and a complete recovery is expected. L is in a great deal of pain. If you feel lead, please continue praying for his healing and pain managment. He will be out of work for approx. 3 months recovering. Please pray over this family for their needs to be met by our gracious and loving Heavenly Father. I am so humbled and honored to serve our mighty Lord. I stood hand in hand in His presence today with dear sweet sisters and brothers in the Lord. To You alone, God, is all praise and honor given!
"For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:15-16

"And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up....and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much." James 5:15-16

For any of you who pass through today, may I ask you to please pray for my dear friends. They are part of the body of Christ and have two small children. L has a brain tumor at the base of his brain and will be in surgery this afternoon (Wed. 10/1 @ 1:00 pm EST) to have it removed. The doctor's believe that it is benign. The surgery will take about 4.5 hours. Please pray for healing. Please pray that the doctor's would have steady hands and that all of the tumor would be able to be removed without damaging any part of his brain. Please pray against complications. Please pray for all of the hospital staff that will be operating and assisting with L. Please pray for a quick recovery.

Please pray for A, his wife, as she will be waiting: that God's strength and peace would remain upon them all. Please pray over this surgery and the details of the day, their children at home, their unsaved family and friends....that God would be magnified in and through A & L....as He already has been. All praise and honor be given to Him. He is the great physician.

I will be with A tomorrow at the hospital. Please pray that God would give me the words to speak to her, to minister to her, to encourage her and that I would be used however He pleases.

Thank you so much. It is an honor and a privilege to pray for one another in the body of Christ. May we go boldy before God's throne of grace.

In Christ's love and amazing grace-Stacy

Monday, September 22, 2008

Week in Review.....



Once again, I feel like I have been out of blogland for too long this past week. Seriously, though....I don't know how some of you loyal posters do it!! I am in awe of you and maybe a part of me covets the ability that you have to post regularly! I know, I know.....I shouldn't be coveting. I am really content with where God has placed me and what He has put on my plate right now. But I do wish there were a couple extra hours in each day. :) Thanks for you loyal readers who have stuck with me, despite my absence. I love checking in on you all and hearing how God is moving in your lives each day and week and how we are all a'changin!

Last week, my dad, my stepmom and my brother, Billy visited for the weekend. We had such a great time. I don't get to see them very often and so treasure the time that we have to spend together. They came Friday night and left on Sunday. The boys had another race on Sunday, and my dad, stepmom and Billy were the first spectators the boys had at the races, other than me and Barclay. Somehow, it is a little more exciting to them to have "other" spectators.
My dad thinks I have officially lost it as a mother, allowing the boys to participate in such a dangerous sport. At one point, he leaned over and said to me, " Aren't the boys good swimmers....don't you think you could have coaxed them into that sport???" I think he was kidding. Yes, call me crazy.....I don't know what has come over me......it is another level of trust in God.

The boys had another great race. Despite Ben psyching himself out for this race and being completely intimidated by the track, he finished 5th in his division and came home with a plaque. Seth finished 3rd. It was a proud moment for me to see them both place and receive plaques this time.



Seth right before his race.


Ben on his starting line....trying to overcome the mental anxiety. Boy, is he a child after his mother....always having to get the mind to come under subjection to Christ! Praying it doesn't take him 36 years to master that....like his slow learning mother.

It was a beautiful, warm fall day on Saturday and we ventured out to a miniature golf course for some family competition. My dad is an avid golfer and has taught Jed, our 4 year old, the art and skill of golfing. It is something sweet shared between the two of them.






Taking a picture break on the mini-golf course.....can you imagine being in line behind us! We definitely didn't play the course very quickly. We were quite a crew.



I think this is my favorite picture. Faith felt like such the "big girl" for finally being able to walk the course and actually play. She was a bit puzzled by where her ball went each time she hit it in the hole!



My stepmom, Bobbie, and Faith after a hard 18 holes!

Being the competitive bunch that we are....my dad and brother, Billy had a shoot-off at the end (you can't leave with a tie...there must be a winner!) Here is my very humble father doing his victory dance. :)


We also love board games around here. I grew up playing them. Last Christmas, we went to visit my older sister, Heather, and her family in Texas. She introduced us to this awesome family game called "Ticket To Ride." Upon coming home, we bought it last year and it has become our family favorite. Many an evening, after we put Faith and Jed to bed, the three older boys, Barclay and I settle in for a friendly match of the game. I have had to learn to control my competitive spirit, as it isn't a very good example, or very motherly to try to beat your boys at a game! They have become quite good. Shame on me, I know.

We introduced my dad, stepmom and Billy to the game and once again, the competitive edge in my family came out full force! We had a ball laughing and trying to block each person. I highly recommend this game. You can't find it in stores and have to get it online through Amazon or Ebay. There is also a European version which is just as good. It would make a great family Christmas gift!


We had such a great weekend with them.

The rest of the week went pretty smoothly, other than the normal busyness around here. Barclay was out of town for a couple of days at a Pastor's conference in upstate NY. We had our Moms In Christ Bible Study Thursday morning which was on Sarah and her example of faith. Wow....did God work on my heart last week as I studied to teach about faith and unbelief, about how God has very specific plans for each of our lives, plans that were determined before the foundation of the world....hard to imagine, isn't it?? Plans that He desires to see come to fruition and it is our obedience and faith in Him....alone.....that He desires. The verse that has stuck with me all week is Hebrews 11:1:

"Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

Oh, that God desires our confidence to be in Him. Faith: believing what God promises for the future...our hope in Him and eternity. Our hope and confidence in His plans for us. Faith: is the proof or the unseen reality of what God is doing in the present....today. He is forgiving our sins, interceding to the Father on our behalf, pouring out His love and grace upon us all, each day. That faith goes against the flesh. The flesh cries out: ME, ME, ME....my plans. Faith cries out: All You God. All You....no matter what.

It has been a week of laying my flesh down before God, and all the unbelief that comes with fear, worry, doubt, control, pride, envy....etc..."Lord, I believe, help my unbelief." Mark 9:24

It has been a week of rashes. Yes, we are back in the season of viruses and colds. I dread this season because as one gets sick....the rest are quick to fall. Last Friday, Faith woke up with this crazy rash all over her arms. It was really red and hot to the touch. It has since spread over her entire body and she looks like she has the plague. Come to find out, she has Fifths Disease and this nasty thing takes a couple weeks to run its course. We are on day 9. Thankfully, her temperament hasn't changed as her skin has. She hasn't run a fever and has been pretty happy, go lucky. I am praying her clear skin will return this week.

Here is a picture to round out the week. We love dress-up around our house. As Faith is the only girl, I try to have the princess dress up laying around and the fancy, sparkly dress up shoes....but somehow she finds her way to the cowboy hat, the superman cape and the bug catching net.......please tell me there is hope that my little princess will be a girlie girl!! I know, lay it down....she will be whatever God designed her to be! :) And that's ok with me.

I'm off to catch up with each of you and read your blogs. I'd love to hear from you. Drop me a note and say hi....introduce yourself, if you haven't already.....have a blessed week.

In the palm of His Hand-Stacy

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

WFW-God wants our Hearts


"And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but he did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell." Genesis 4:3-5
"So the Lord said to Cain, "Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen?" v.6
"If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire if for you, but you should rule over it." v.7

Welcome to Word Filled Wednesday from the 160 Acre Woods. If you read my blog regularly, you'll see that I love posting on WFW...there is nothing greater than sharing God's Word with each other to exhort, encourage, comfort and teach....I pray God ministers to each of our hearts each week as we sit at His feet. Stop by the 160 Acre Woods to hear from the heart of God through so many women! You will be blessed.

This week, as I was having my quiet time and studying through Eve, I came upon this verse in Genesis about Cain and Abel. I stopped when I got to it and really just let God speak to my heart and meditated on each and every word. At first, I found the words confusing...."accepted....you do not do well." I know God accepts us as we are, sin and all. He loves us in spite of all that we do wrong each and everyday. His love is never ending. His mercy is new every morning. He wants none to be outside His presence. But....

"Because the carnal mind [is] enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God." Romans 8:7

Enmity....it is a form of enemy. The mind that is of the body and flesh is an enemy, a foe, hostile against God.

"For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh" Romans 8:3

Sin is a part of us from the day we are born (thanks to Eve!)...but God in His mercy gave us His son, Jesus Christ as a ransom for our sins. His death, when He allowed His body to be put on that cross and those nails hammered into his hands and feet, was all for us! He knew that this sin would overtake us. That apart from Him, we walk in sin each and every day.

"And its (sin...Satan's) desire is for you, but you should rule over it."

"And if Christ [be] in you, the body [is] dead because of sin; but the Spirit [is] life because of righteousness." Romans 8:10

We all have a choice. Doesn't so much in life come down to choices....each and every day what do we choose? Christ never leaves us...but we have to choose Him. He wants are heart. He wants all of us. He doesn't want the leftovers. He deserves more. He deserves the best. I know I don't give Him my best each day. I know I fall down more times than I'd like to admit.

And here we have the story of Cain and Abel, the sons of Eve. Eve, after she selfishly and pridefully falls into the temptation of Satan and lets Satan lure her in her fleshly weakness, takes a bite into that piece of fruit....from the one and only tree forbidden from her....she is cast out of paradise: perfection in the garden. All is lost that day. Eve later has two sons with Adam: first Cain and then Abel. Cain planted and harvested from the ground and Abel kept sheep. As a planter, Cain brought some of his harvest to the Lord, but Abel brought the lamb that was born first and its fat.

Why was one offering more favored than the other? Why did God look with favor on Abel's offering and not Cains?

Because God was looking at the attitude behind the offering and the offering itself. Abel offered the best. Abel offered a blood offering knowing that sin needed to be covered. Abel was a man who believed in faith. (Hebrews 11:14) God saw His heart.

Cain, on the other hand, offered from the work of his hands. Cain's offering was only an acknowledgement to God as Creator...it wasn't done in faith and sin wasn't even recognized. Cain's offering was about him...it was about good works...not a heart attitude.

God saw that Abel's offering was "more excellent" (Hebrews 11:14)

And God in His mercy and love approaches Cain with tenderness and asks him why he is angry? He doesn't accuse. God gives Cain the opportunity to acknowledge his wrongful sacrifice and to look inward at his heart. Not to compare himself to Abel, but to look at himself before God.

And here Cain has a choice. He can either repent before God and choose to change his attitude. Choose to give God His best, from His heart or He could follow in his selfish ways and the sin of self would overtake him.

Cain chose the later. He became angry. He let his emotions overcome his actions. He allowed himself to be ruled by sin and for Satan to overtake him. He acted out of anger. He acted out of pride. He acted out of sin.

As a result, He killed his brother....and he became a fugitive, fleeing from the face of God. More sin was heaped on top....shame, guilt, anger.....hopelessness.

If we would only give God our hearts. If we would give Him our best. If we would walk in faith and trust Him. If we would see our sin and take it to Jesus for His forgiveness and the washing and purifying that comes only from Him. Through the power of Jesus Christ, we can rule over sin. We can choose to put our minds on Christ and conquer the sin that so easily takes us in the wrong directions. Sin is there lying at the door.....but God is standing at the door at well. May we all open the door to God and choose to lay down our sin at the feet of Jesus and follow Him with our hearts, souls and minds.....may He have all of us!

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. Revelation 3:20
Have a sweet and blessed Word Filled Wednesday. Thanks for stopping by-Stacy

Monday, September 15, 2008

Boys Will Be Boys.....



First of all, let's just say, I never thought I'd be a mom to 6 children....let alone 5 boys and a little girl... Patience, self-control, gentleness, meekness, selflessness, domestic duties.....(many of the fruits of the Spirit) are not a part of my make-up.....if left to myself (thank God He loves me in spite of the workings of my flesh and He works mighty hard on this girl to bring forth the fruit of the Spirit) and my own tendencies (ie..sin)... without Jesus Christ I would be a fouled up mess. It is seriously only through His work and refining that I even remotely exhibit patience, self-control, gentleness, love....etc... all of those qualities/fruits that we as Godly moms should be displaying. Seriously, I think some days I absolutely exhaust Him.....forgive me Lord. As I said from day one...I am a work in progress.

"being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ." Philippians 1:6

Anyway, God began putting the desire in my heart for children at a young age (23 to be exact). When my husband and I discussed having a family, we would joke and say 4 would be nice. I thought I could handle 4...and that way, there wasn't a middle child. But as usual, God always has bigger and better plans and for Him the number was 6. He worked that all out in my heart and I, too, was thrilled with each blessing God gave us. There was always a little fear with the next pregnancy, as I am also a worrier by nature (add that to the list) and always had health issues alongside each pregnancy. On top of that, I had to have c-sections due to Ben's premature delivery. Yes, that would mean 6 c-sections. (I have the deep scar to prove it...6 cuts in the same spot...ouch!) But after each birth, while holding our newborn babe in our arms, my husband would look at me and ask, "When are we going to do this again?" I am so blessed today, to be the mom to 6 children. God always knows better than we do.....always.

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD. Isaiah 55:8

And as for the boy thing.....I can't tell you how many times I would get the questions when I was pregnant..."so, are you trying for a girl this time?" Oh, that would make me so mad. No, we were never trying for a girl....50/50 chance....not good odds. We always just desired another child....whatever God would bless us with we were thrilled. By the time I was pregnant with Faith (and that is another story I'll blog about sometime....what a walk of faith that pregnancy was....I thought I was done after 5...you know the fear and worry thing...Satan had that smack dab in my face....and my ob was right there telling me I would die if I had another c-section.....but again....God's ways are so much higher!) I keep digressing....sorry. Anyway, I am pregnant with Faith and thought for sure she was a boy.....at that time....that's all I knew.....and then God blesses us with a little girl. But people everywhere would see me coming with all my boys and see me pregnant and say...."Just kept trying for that girl, hugh?" I don't think some people think before they open their mouths. I would graciously smile and continue on.

But as for the boy thing and the original thought behind this whole post was to share the whole mom to boys angle and how these boys of mine are so much different from what I ever knew. I grew up with all sisters. My parents divorced when I was really young...so didn't even have my dad around full-time. My childhood home was inundated with estrogen. Barbie dolls, doll babies, playing dress up (girlie dress up that is), playing grocery store and library, doing our hair and taking each others clothes....these are the things my sisters and I did. I did enjoy the occasional climbing trees and building forts, making mud pies in the backyard and hiking in the woods.....so I wasn't really a girlie girl...but I also wasn't a tomboy. But boy stuff......who knew?? Raising boys...that was a whole different matter.

That brings me to the original picture: dirt bike races. This year, we ventured into the sport of motocross. Yes, boys will be boys! After a couple years of running from soccer field to soccer field between my husband traveling and having small little ones in tow....I was always on the run and we were always divided as a family. It wasn't what we desired and the boys didn't either. Last year, we were introduced to the world of hare scrambles. We had a little KTM motocross bike given to us and then bought a Honda dirt bike...went to one race as spectators....and let's just say that was all that was needed to turn the boys onto this new sport. It is quite an adrenaline rush, I must say. So, this year, we bought each of the three oldest boys race bikes and have joined the many families that travel on the weekends to these races. We have traded in the soccer games and weekly practices for weekend family races. Seth and Luke race in the pee-wee division and Ben is in the youth division. Our backyard has turned into the practice track and my husband and boys have learned the art of caring for dirt bikes, among other things.

Now, my little "princess" girl....when asked by her brothers, "Faith what does a Kawasaki say?" She promptly responds with a smile......"vroooom, vroooom!" Is there any hope that she will turn out a girlie girl??? :)

The boys raced the weekend of the 6th and are racing again this weekend north of Harrisburg.

We try to go to at least one race a month during race season. Their best friend races, as well, and he is pictured in the picture above.

Here is Ben after he finished his race. It had rained the day before the race....so the track was super, super muddy. It was also a really hot September day...around 80 something and humid.




Here is Seth as he was going off a small jump in his race. His race is on a 2 mile track that goes through fields like this, and in and out of the woods.






As for the boy part again.....there was this really huge dirt hill off to the back of the fields where the race was being held. For boys....this is like slice of heaven.....see dirt hill and have to climb....and get dirty....really dirty. Off they all went after their races to climb what to me looked like a mountain!

And there they are all at the top....conquered the mountain! This might be more of an accomplishment than the race itself??

So, the boy fun didn't stop there.....as I mentioned....it had rained the day before....really hard...so what was left of the rain was mini-mud ponds everywhere. Luckily, I had thought ahead and packed an extra pair of clothes for each of the kids....and also the mud boots. I don't think a home with small boys is complete without mud boots. As a little girl....I never had mud boots: Snow boots, yes, but mud boots? I learned quickly that mud boots were a necessity!

Well, this little oasis beckoned the smaller children all the more. The boys had been running from one race track to the next across the fields....the temperature was creeping up...and this may have well as been a swimming pool to the boys. Here's the progression......

The mud boots are now gone and Luke is walking across the roadway connecting fields...toes squishing into the cold mud....heading toward the mud watering hole.

The boys wade in....Luke, Jed and Luke's best friend Sam (when you have 4 boys....what's adding a few more....they all fall into the mix......Sam's brother is Seth and Ben's best friend who races and we take both boys with us to each race.) By this point, the boys are looking at me with the longing faces of...."please can we just lay in the muddy water???" That was the question that came next.....and the answer was....

Sure....have at it boys!!! They rolled around in that muddy mini-pond like swimming pool like pigs in the mud on a hot day. And it didn't stop there...they then decided it would be nice to paint their bodies in the mud. That is what took place next.



Here is Luke and Jed showing off in all of their mud...dripping from their fingers...quite happy with themselves.


And then one last time...Jed sits in the mud hole to try and clean...funny yes, cleaning off with muddy water!


While all this was going on....here is how our girlie girl, Faith, travels at the races...although look close...she, too, is wearing her mud boots! Thankfully, she stayed put in the backpack...and didn't want anything to do with all that MUD!



All in all, we had an awesome "boy" day. Dirt bike races, dirt hills, and mud holes.....what little boy (and big boy) could ask for more! And to top it all off....Seth came in 2nd and won his very first trophy and his friend, Jared, came in fourth. Ben came in 6th in his division, and didn't win a trophy......it took him about 30 minutes or so to handle his pride and his disappointment and be happy for his brother and friend. I was quite pleased with him as he worked through those emotions....and in the end.....put a smile back on his face.


Here's to a house of boys.....and one sweet little girl! I wouldn't change a thing and am learning this whole boy thing as I go....what's a little mud?

In His love-Stacy