Saturday, June 30, 2007

I Spoke Too Soon...

Those Israelites. I spoke too soon when I said in my last post, that they seemed like they had stopped complaining. In my last readings in Numbers, that's all they did!! Whine, whine, whine. And, this time God got ticked. He really started wiping some people out in this part of the book of Numbers. Rightly so. I mean, here they had seen God show his power and love to them in a variety of hugely miraculous events, and then they forget all about it, and complain about water and food. Please!

This morning, I was thinking about life application regarding this portion of Numbers. Don't we all do the whining thing? I think we do. I think we forget about the things God has done in our lives, and what we have seen Him do in others' lives, and we start to complain when things aren't going well. I've done the "why me" thing more than once. We would probably do well to remember the power and love of God shown throughout the Bible. He's the same God!! He is the same, yesterday, today and forever! Maybe if we compared our circumstance to God parting the Red Sea, or rescuing the Israelites from Egypt, we could have more faith that God is going to redeem our situation, too. Like the Israelites, I think we forget who the God is that we serve - what He's capable of and how much He loves us. Man - do you think if we saw with our own eyes, the parting of the Red Sea, that we would ever doubt God again?! It seems hard to believe that the Israelites did, but it's kind of what we do when life gets hard, if we really admit it.....

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Paper Crafts

Here are a few pics of the book I made in my paper crafting class! You can see how the edges are antiqued with the Tim Holtz distress ink pads. The ink can be smudged on with your finger, brushed on and sprayed with water! I love it.

Each page was folded in such a way, that there was a little "peechee" to hold things. You can see a decorated tag poking out of this page. I spelled out the word "PEACE" on five pages of this book.

This is a top view of the book. Each page is folded from an 8 1/2 X 11 page of cardstock. Then, the pages are connected with ribbons and fibers. There are extra fibers tied all over the top, so they stick up and then fall down in between the pages. So fun.

These are the tags I made, that fit inside the peechees in the book.....You can see the crocheted lace that has been antiqued, using stamp pad re-inker. The buttons are even antiqued. To make the tags, we crumpled the paper, and flattened it out again. Then, using the Tim Holtz distress ink pads, we rubbed it against the paper, which created an "old" look. After that, we sprayed each tag with water, which made them flatten out. I had never done that before!

I love this tag! The grasshopper is actually stamped on a little piece of balsa wood. I can't wait to go get some more of this and work with it.


A little blurry-I couldn't use my flash.... Isn't her dress gorgeous and sparkly?

Costume change for the Disney montage.....See their tiaras?

There was a beautiful harp duet....

Every year, my daughter participates in her violin teacher's formal recital. Each student must qualify for the recital and wear tuxes and floor-length gowns. The recital is 2 1/2 to 3 hours long, and is quite wonderful. The students range from junior high to college age. There is usually a theme, and little drama. This year, there were two ballet dancers, dancing to a Carmen piece. Each student is accompanied on the grand piano. Afterwards, there is a lavish reception, with various artwork by each student displayed. Any graduating seniors set up a display of their school and music careers, as well as the college they will be attending. The three seniors displayed this year, will be attending U of Washington, Stanford and Harvard!!!

Teddy Bear Picnic and Graduation

These are pictures of Ben's "teddy bear picnic" at his school. Everyone made the cute visors they are wearing that have faces of teddy bears on them. They also did teddy bear activities. The day finished out with an outdoor picnic with their bears.

Here are some pics of his kindergarten awards/diploma assembly.

Ben received his diploma, as well as a participation award for being in the Missoula Children's Theater play this year.

What day is it again?

Do you ever have a day that is more like two days? Yesterday, my oldest got her wisdom teeth removed in the morning. It only took an hour, but I left the office to kill some time. There wasn't anything open at 9 AM, except Target. Oh, and of course, Starbucks. But, it seemed like the hour took two. After I got back to the office, I waited for her to become more alert, and we got her to the truck. Once home, taking care of my daughter pretty much consumed my day. Not to mention, my other teen daughter had a fever and was sick. Then, my son was feeling neglected, and bugging me to watch him ride his bike. My husband works nights, so he was sleeping most of the day. It was just a long day! Maybe it seemed long, because I was writing down the times I administered my daughter's meds, so I wouldn't mess up. Plus, going up and down the stairs checking on her, making sure she wasn't in pain or nauseous. Then, I got up at 3 AM to give her more pain meds, so she wouldn't wake up on fire in the morning....Anyway, it's one of those days, that was so focused with caretaking and calculating the last time I gave her meds, it seemed like two, and I forgot what day it even was. I couldn't remember: was it yesterday that she got her teeth removed, or today? Oh yeah - it was today!

I did get my Bible reading in. I'm reading Numbers. Numbers is....well....very dull. In fact, I skipped over some stuff that was quite repetitive. It talked about the tribes of Israel and their leaders, and the counting of all of the males 20 years and older (and the Levite males one month old and older). Then, what the leaders of those tribes sacrificed for their clans. It also talked about how the clans were organized in their family groups with a banner representing them, as well as the order they would be in in a battle. I guess what I get from all of this is, that after the Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt, God was bringing order to His people. Most of them had never known freedom, so they probably didn't know how to govern themselves. They were now their own people, so they needed leaders, and priests, and laws, and consequences for breaking them. Most importantly, they needed a way to restore their relationship with God when they sinned, and that was through the sacrifices of animals (and grain). This was how God said they could be purified. Anyway, so ever since the people left Egypt, God was about the business of forming them into an organized, lawful people who followed Him. So, all of this detail in Numbers as far as counting all the males for battle, and all of the Levites (priests) shows how orderly God is. Numbers even talks about which groups within the Levites would take care of certain portions of the Tabernacle. Very specific stuff. Maybe it was a loving thing God did to give the Israelites these specific instructions, so they would prosper. After all, they are called His "sheep," and sheep are known for being very stupid, and just following along with the crowd. By showing them exactly what to do, and how to do it, they were able to be successful. Hey-He was being their loving Shepherd! And, I noticed while I was reading, that they were sure doing everything exactly as God had told them. It kept saying that: "Moses did everything exactly as God had commanded him." They seem to have all stopped complaining for the time being, and are finally trusting God and doing what He says....

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Wisdom teeth, smoothies and Leviticus

My oldest is having her wisdom teeth removed tomorrow. I think she's a little stressed about it, because she is very quiet and has gone to bed. I can't say that I want to be her right now. I had it done when I was her age, and it's just not a fun thing you have to do. We went to the store today and got some DVD's for her, as well as some special things to eat during her recovery. We got milkshakes, pudding, ice cream, flavored waters, etc. I also have on hand, a bunch of stuff for making smoothies......

Speaking of smoothies, I like to make fun things to drink in the summer, so we've been making fruit smoothies. I found umpteen recipes on the internet. Ben and I had a yummy blueberry one this morning. We also like to do root beer floats in these cool glasses we chill in the freezer.

I finished Leviticus today. I can't believe I'm actually reading this much of the Bible right now. And, it's not very hard at all to do! I don't have much to say about Leviticus. It was pretty much God telling Moses more rules and how people can purify themselves from disobeying these rules. It really makes it sink in for me, how burdened the people were with working so hard to be right with God. It was all about doing this and not doing that, and being in constant fear if you were sinning or not. And, lots and lots of sacrificing of animals and blood being splattered, etc. It really makes me think about how the people must have been so grateful for Jesus death on the cross - what a relief that must have been to them!! They didn't have to be burdened with constantly worrying about keeping each little rule, and if they were right before God anymore. Jesus paid the price with His shed blood, and purified them (us) all for all time. No more wondering if they were OK in God's eyes, no more laboring to keep all the rules....Reading Leviticus, and all it's many details about rules and sacrifices, you start getting a clearer picture of the significance of the future birth, death and resurrection of Christ....It's pretty cool.

Monday, June 25, 2007


OK. So, about Exodus. This book proves that God cares about small details in our lives, that's for sure. Exodus goes on and on and on (yawn) about the specifics of how God wants the people to build the tabernacle, the ark of the covenant, etc., etc. God even talks about what the priests are to wear, down to the color of the threads and decorations of their garments. He picks a craftsman named Bezelel (you'll never forget his name after reading Exodus) who is filled with the Spirit, and a gifted craftsman to do the work. (I love that God values designing and crafting skills). Anyway, Exodus isn't exactly an exciting read, unless you really love details and picturing what the tabernacle and curtains and arc of the covenant looked like (which I kind of did) . It doesn't miss a beat in the descriptions, down to the finest detail. (Don't read it if you're tired). It is interesting, but I find the people stories more interesting.

Take Aaron. God chose him and his sons to be his priests. After all, he had done a good job of being Moses' spokesperson. But, this is what I don't get. When God calls Moses to Mt. Sinai to speak with him and give him the stone tablets with the ten commandments, Aaron is down there in charge of the people at the foot of the mountain. The people, for some weird reason, decide they need to make an idol to worship, and say that the idol rescued them from Egypt! After all that they have seen God do for them, and how much they praised God, they decide to do this! How dumb. Even dumber, is their temporary leader, Aaron, a priest chosen by God, who gets caught up in the people's enthusiasm, and allows them to do this - even helps get it done!!! So, God sees this, and is furious. He tells Moses He is going to wipe them out. Moses pleads with God to change this mind, which He does. But, hold on, as soon as Moses gets down there, he is furious with Aaron, and asks all those who don't worship the idol (the Levites) to go kill a bunch of people (they killed 3,000 of their own family members). On another note, I noticed that Moses, in his anger with the people, becomes quite a good speaker and tells the people off (remember how he told God he wasn't good with words before?) But, back to Aaron! Even after all that Aaron did (or didn't do), God still keeps him as priest and the book of Exodus goes on to describe how his garments are especially made. My big question is: why did he keep Aaron as the priest after what he did?

So, I was thinking about this. Maybe this is God's way of saying that His plans won't be hindered, even when we mess up! That God is going to carry through with His plans through us, no matter what kind of screw-ups we are! He is still going to accomplish things, using us, even if we make mistakes! That's pretty awesome....

Leviticus is next!

Sunday, June 24, 2007


On Friday night, I took a paper crafting class at an awesome, little shop called Paper Muse. The teacher taught how to use the Tim Holtz "distress inks," which are small-sized stamp pads in colors that can give paper crafting stuff an antique look. It's pretty fun. As we constructed a folded, paper gift book using stamps and the inks, she taught us various techniques.

I almost didn't go, because I was having a bad day. But, I knew how good I feel when I can get to do some art, so I went for the therapy. It was pretty, darn good therapy if I do say so myself!

So, today, I'm thinking about self-care. One of the reasons I started a MOPS group a few years ago, was because I saw lots of mommies taking care of little ones 24/7, and doing nothing for themselves. I had great concern for these mommies and their emotional well-being. I have seen way to many women depressed due to their lack of self-care. I was surprised at how many women feel guilty for getting away and doing something for themselves! It's craziness. I also know way too many couples who have never gone away overnight together, since they have had kids. For some - it's been ten years!!! Ugh. It makes no sense to me. I'm not sure how they think their marriage can survive if they don't nurture that, too....

Anyway, I think self-care is important at any stage in life. Our world is too fast paced. It can become all work, work, work. And when you come home from work, you have a list of a million chores to do around the house. It's a life of imbalance.

When I read Genesis last week, I was reminded about the fact that God rested on the 7th day, after he created the Earth and everything in it. Now, really, God didn't need to rest. He did it because He is our Father, and He was being an example to us. In this crazy world, we would do well to follow God's example and rest. Schedule it into our list of to-do's if we have to!

God showed us an example of self-care. And, if you think about it, our families need us to take care of ourselves. Otherwise, we'll burn out so hard, we can't be there for them at all. Our kids won't die if we leave them with a babysitter for two hours. And, they're not going to die if we go away for the weekend with our spouse, either! In addition, there will always be something on our to-do lists. It will never be completed!

We can't keep doing this to ourselves, thinking that somehow, somewhere down the road, we'll have time to rest. We won't. Later won't come. It's become a lifestyle at that point. Until.....we come to the end of ourselves. We find ourselves depressed. We find ourselves without energy. We find ourselves dissatisfied with life and unhappy. We find that our marriage lacks companionship and affection. Good. Maybe now that we've hit rock bottom, we can make some changes. Stop. Rest. Relax. Enjoy. Just be.....

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Bible is full of dysfunctional people

Whoa. Today I finished the book of Genesis. Now, I have grown up hearing and learning about the stories in Genesis. As an adult, I took a "Walk Thru The Bible" class, which gave an overview of the Bible. However, I have never read the entire book of Genesis in a few days like I just did. It was familiar and enlightening at the same time. My thoughts on Genesis are this: God sure didn't sugar-coat anything by putting some of the most dysfunctional people in the very first book of the Bible. In fact, the first family was pretty dysfunctional! HAHA! This is pretty funny to me in a validating sort of way. Think about it. There never has been a functional family!! I mean, Adam and Eve were without sin for a very short time, but soon after they ate the fruit from the tree they weren't supposed to eat from, their son murdered their other son!

And, every family after them was just about as messed up. There were a few shining stars, like Noah and Joseph. But, even Abraham, Isaac and Jacob did stupid stuff. Yet, through it all, God continued to love them. He still kept His promises to them. He was so patient with them!

I think those of us who have grown up in church hearing the stories of Abraham, Jacob and Noah, might place these guys on some kind of pedestal, since they're in the Bible. However, the cool thing is that they were ordinary people, like us, who sinned, lacked faith at times, made impulsive decisions, etc. I think it's kind of funny how we teach little kids all these stories of all these people in the Bible, almost like they are exalted in some way. I know that's how I grew up learning about them. When, in reality, they were just as screwed up as everybody else on this planet!

I think God put these guys in the Bible right away, so we could immediately see that we need Him - that we can't do this life on our own. We're going to mess up. Even so, He never changes His mind about us. He keeps His promises to us and keeps on loving us. Praise the Lord!!

On to Exodus....

Monday, June 18, 2007

Admitting it...

I'm admitting it to you all, because maybe it will help me stick to it. I started my "Read Through The Bible In 90 Days" plan today! It's rigorous, I know. But, if I can handle the rigors of three college classes, I can surely do this. I read the first twelve chapters of Genesis today. I'm reading from the NLT, which is a new version to me. It's one that is often used at our church, so I bought Joe one for Christmas....Anyway, I'm really up for this reading plan right now, and I am excited to see how it gives me a new perspective on the Bible. I also know that God will probably use it to say something to me, and that excites me even more.

I was thinking it would be really fun to read "The Message" version of the Bible in this way. If you have never read from this version, I highly recommend it for "fun" reading. It's more like reading a novel. There are no verse numbers to distract you, and the language is totally, everyday English. It's not a study Bible, and it may be paraphrase (I'm not sure on that), but it does give you more of a feeling of the tone of a particular passage. I think that's what I like the most. Occasionally, if I am reading something in a certain translation, I will read what it sounds like in "The Message" to get a better feel for it.

Well, there ya go. I've admitted it now. I'm reading the Bible in 90 days. I have no idea why this sounded appealing to me, but it just did. I'm no super-Christian, nor do I have it all together. I think I would just like a big dose of God and His Word this summer. I need Him.

Drumroll please......

Biology 101: A-
Pre-Calculus: B+
Computer Inf. Sys.: A+

And darn proud of it!!!

West Side Story

There are things I want to blog about, but never get to, due to lack of time....But, I must talk about West Side Story!!!! I took the girls last Thursday night. It was their first time at 5th Ave., so they were enamored with how it looked inside - just like I was when I saw my first play in 5th grade. I saw "Annie" there. I got a tape of the music and a big "Annie" button. Then, I got my hair cut and permed like Annie. After that, everything my sister and I did was about Annie. My Barbie was the "orphanage lady," when we played Barbies. Our pretend playing usually included orphans and a mean orphanage lady, too......I digress....

The sets in West Side Story were incredible, and the casting was very well done. There is a lot of dancing in this musical, and the dancers were fabulous. It's so awesome that even a fight scene is done in dance form....Even today, this musical pushes the envelope, so I can only imagine how people felt watching it in the late 50's when it first came out. For example, when harsh, racial slurs were made by the police chief, the audience audibly cringed. It was pretty powerful. The singers were marvelous, and the acting so believable. It's hard to describe in words....

We had great seats, and we snaggged some cushions that lifted us up so we could see over some tall people. The girls loved it. We keep singing the music.....There's just nothing like going to see a live show. It takes you on an emotional journey like none other. It is truly magical......

Saturday, June 16, 2007


Yesterday morning, I awoke early for my last final exam. Ben got up at his regular time and started showering for school. He asked "why are you getting up so early?" I said, "Remember, today is my last test!" Then he said, "And then you're freee!! FREEEEEE!!!" You can tell he's heard me say that before! HAHA!!

Yes. I am free. Boom, boom, boom. One final Wednesday, one Thursday and one Friday. I'm done. Aaaaaahhhhhhhh......

Now, all of you who thought I dropped off the face of the earth, will find me available for park days, phone calls, and even email!! :) Through all of this craziness this quarter, my blog was my only creative outlet. I had no time to do any thing very fun for myself. But, since I was at the computer working and studying anyway, I could quickly type a blog post. So, thank you all for listening to my endless entries about spring quarter......

I will proudly post my grades once I receive them. I worked dang hard, so heck yes, I'm posting them!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

My Treat

Simple things make me happy. This is my special treat in my special cup. It is a wide-mouthed cup that just makes me feel special to drink from. I like it. Drinking my vanilla latte just isn't as good and enjoyable without this cup. When I find that it is dirty, and I have enough time, I'll wash it, even though there are plenty of other cups to choose from.

I feel like this is a special treat to myself everyday. Maybe I learned to be happy with these simple things from not growing up with a lot of material stuff. I also think I learned it from being a young mom married to a military man, and basically being poor. I learned how important it was to stop and take care of me, amidst meeting the needs of little ones 24/7. I would get special bubble bath and light a candle and escape for an hour. Or, I would just go sit outside to be alone with my thoughts. Or, I would also get a special china tea cup and make loose leaf tea with a little strainer - actually boiling the water in a whistling teapot instead of the microwave.

I think there's something good for our souls to stop and enjoy. To take care of ourselves in this way. Even to appreciate God in this way - I stop often and marvel at flowers. They're everywhere, but I think, God didn't have to create so many different kinds in so many different colors, except that He wanted to because He liked the diversity. He enjoys them, and He set them on our planet for us to enjoy, too.

I get sick of flash and fancy-shmancy sometimes. I get sick of the too-fast life sometimes. I want the peace inside of slow and simple and enjoyment. To truly observe without having the brain whirling with to-do lists and busy thoughts.

It's fun for me to observe kids around 2 years old. Just sit back and really observe them sometime - how they are processing the world and interacting with other little ones. It'll just fill you up.

And, that's the thing. I get filled up when I stop to observe and enjoy and appreciate. Filled up with peace and a sense of God's presence. He is so very, very good and true. If only we would allow our soul to stop and soak this in more often....

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


There are senseless things that happen in this world. Things that demand an answer to the question "Why?" But there isn't one.....

Sunday, June 10, 2007


What a week I'm having! (Do you remember this line from the movie, "Splash?"). I have spent just about every free moment studying. My knees and butt actually ache from the hours of desk time. On Friday, I got to stretch my legs when I had to go to the zoo to complete a Biology lab. I thought about bringing Benny, but the requirement was to observe animals for twenty minutes at a time. I was imagining all the whining I would have had to listen to, and decided to go alone. It is really fun to go to the zoo by yourself! I got to spend time observing the things my kids only spend a couple of minutes on, and want to see the next animal. I observed puffins, an elephant, tiger, Bay pipefish, purple sea urchin and an Anoa (an amazon cow). Let's say that the urchins weren't having any parties and the tiger was as dull as a rock, but the other things were fun. I even asked the zookeeper a bunch of questions about the elephants. Did you know they have a six-inch skull, and their trunk weighs 400 pounds? One of the elephants they have has actually killed a person. She is a very angry elephant, but the zookeeper says she has come a long way. I also observed plant life and recorded information about those. I actually love botany, so I was thrilled to observe Black Mondo Grass (it's really black!) and a little baby, Chinese Fir tree. Creation actually makes me appreciate and experience God on deep levels...

Once I got home from the zoo, it took me hours to type up the zoo lab. I had to list the phylums of each animal and talk about what adaptations (ahem) I observed that allowed them to obtain food, reproduce and avoid predators. Yadayadayada.....Not as fun as actually watching them.

This coming week I have three, count 'em, three finals! Prayer would be good.

Last night, I went to church with my family. I love going on Saturday night. The worship was awesome. The words of the songs they chose were all these things in my heart, and I poured it all out to God that night. How cool to worship next to my family in freedom, with their hands stretched up to the ceiling, seeing people praising Him, fully engaged, wiping tears away. No stiffness. That's big for me. I've been in churches that might have nice music, but there is a level of stiffness that is very noticeable. It's like there's some unspoken "rules" about how much you can let go and be engaged in loving God in the music time. Then, it sort of becomes more of a thing where people are watching a staged concert, instead of coming there to join with others to love on the Lord. It's like the people are so uptight, I get a feeling of being trapped and restricted in my expression to God. Eeeew......I don't want to give the impression that my church is wild and crazy or anything. There is order in the place. There is just not this sense of a hidden "fence law" about how a person should or shouldn't express themselves.....It's freedom.

OK. Back to other stuff. Amanda took the test in order to be accepted to the college, and passed! She is going to be attending college, so she can earn high school graduation requirements while earning college credit at the same time. She would like to graduate from high school with her associate's degree! I think it's pretty cool. She's the kind of kid who is mature, and gets tired of the high school drama. She will still take orchestra and a math class at her high school. Anyway, she is going to be getting her license this summer, so she can drive herself to school and stuff. We have the two cars available during the day, so she should be good to go.

Both girls are going to church camp this summer. I'm so excited for them. Camp is so awesome. I'm going to try to get Ben in a VBS as well. After my experience in Biology class, it is my goal to educate my kids this summer on the truths of creation. I purchased a DVD and a book so far, and I am excited at the prospect of preparing my kids for life in this way. I want them to be able to defend their faith and beliefs in an educated way - me, too! :) We will be exploring "The Case For A Creator" books and DVD. I highly recommend it.

I also set a date to read through my Bible in 90 days. Heck- if I can handle three college classes, I can handle doing this!! I'm excited to see what God is going to say to me over this time!! Maybe that will be the main subject in my summer blog posts....

Wednesday, June 6, 2007


He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.
Psalm 40:2 NLT

I praise you Lord, for the freedom I have in You! I thank you for removing the "stiffness" of religion and pleasing others and the bondage of sin by focusing on rules. I thank you that I can worship You freely as You lead me: to dance, to sing, to pray, to yell, to cry....I thank you for a body of believers with the same stiffness removed, where there is an energy and a love for each other and for You. I thank you for Your Word. Your beautiful, truthful Word, in a world with so much gray. You are my solid ground and my Rock. You are my fortress and my Deliverer. You are the Light on my path and a Lamp for my feet. You are Holy and above all things! Praise You God! Praise Your Holy Name!!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007


There are just voices everywhere. They tell us who we are, what to do, what's right, what's wrong and what are the best choices to make. Some voices are like an annoying Dachsund next door. They just yap, yap, yap....Some voices are like cunning foxes, saying things with an ulterior motive based in their own agenda. The fox might sound wise, but it's motives aren't really in your best interests...Some voices are like a cuddly, Golden Retriever, who offers a comfortable place for you, but doesn't offer much substance or wisdom.

If we start listening to the Dachsunds and the Foxes and the Golden Retrievers, we get all mixed up and confused. Life becomes chaos, listening to all that yapping and howling and barking. We don't even know which voice we should listen to, or which voice has the right answer, or which voice is in our best interests anymore.

At this point, it's important to stop and listen to The Voice. Go tell the Dachsund to shutup all his yapping, chuck a rock at the Fox and make him run away, and go throw a ball far, far away for the Golden Retriever so he'll take awhile to find it.

The Voice is the only one who matters. For it's He who is the only one you're accountable to. Stop trying to please the Dachsunds, the Foxes and the Golden Retrievers. One day, you'll stand in front of One, and One only. You'll have to answer to Him about yourself, and yourself only.

Listen to The Voice. He'll show you who you are, what to do, what's right, what's wrong and what are the best choices to make. If you're listening to Him when the yapping, barking, and howling comes again, you'll hardly be able to hear them anymore.....

Monday, June 4, 2007

Read The Bible in 90 Days

I'm considering something. I heard on KGNW/820AM this morning, about a schedule to read the entire Bible in 90 days. It's really about 12 pages a day. In fact, there is an actual NIV Bible called "The Bible in 90 Days." In the summer, I usually have some great, intimate times with God. And, I've been thinking about what I could focus on. So, when I heard about this on the radio, I went home and looked up the blog, which is There is a schedule you can print out to read from your own Bible, or go ahead and buy the special Bible. I just think this sounds like a cool thing to do this summer.....

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Underwater Adventures

Look at how long I can hold my breath, Mom!

I kinda get lost in those eyes....

Ben had to test drive the goggles we bought last night, in preparation for our new pool we should receive soon (thanks to!). It's not a huge pool - 8' by 30", but it's deep enough for many underwater adventures.... :)

Saturday, June 2, 2007

An Article by Kim Wenzel

Musings on Freedom
By Kim Wenzel from Smoldering Wick Ministries

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." Paul's words to the Galatians ring loud in our ears today - or do they? When we look about and notice how many churches and denominations seem to enslave their people with a variety of ideas, programs, requirements and expectations that, at times, seem extra-biblical, I can't help wonder if many of us are missing the boat on freedom.
Coming into relationship with Christ is supposed to be the greatest liberating experience we have, yet for many, including pastors and ministry leaders, freedom in Christ has become a-burnout-experience. To those who become angry, disillusioned, and cynical, freedom and church are two words that don't belong in the same sentence. Could our whole approach to church and ministry be far off base?
When we look at the scriptures we see Jesus having a very different approach than many ministers and leaders of today. Jesus seems so easy going. He enjoys hanging out and eating dinner with the biggest sinners in town. The only people he gets upset with are the religious people. Those are the hard to get along with people! When a woman caught in adultery is brought to him for judgement, he doesn't condemn her or even give her a moralizing sermon. He loves her. No pressure. No guilt trips. Everything he says to her is restoring, loving and healing. Everything he says to her is out of the tree of life. Everything the legalists that want her stoned to death say and do is out of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. I can't help but think so many of us still have much to learn about freedom.
My home country is Canada. My wife's homeland is America. Our two countries have the same problem. We have lots of illegal immigrants sneaking into our two nations. There are no walls built around Canada or America with machine guns and guards ready to shoot citizens who try to escape. We have no problems with people wanting to escape. Our problems are with so many people trying to sneak in! Do you have that problem in your church? Too many people sneaking in because your church is such an awesome place where people can become all they dream they can be? Is your church so freedom oriented that people are slipping in the basement windows and back doors and passing themselves off as members so they can enjoy the full benefits of living in a church family environment where freedom allows them to reach for the stars? Hello?
Why are so many churches highly controlled environments? Where do we get these ideas and patterns of management and organization? Many ideas and methods stem out of the old way of the written code and flourish because we really don't understand the fullness of the new covenant. Some of this controlling culture stems out of our worldly egos and desires to have the biggest or best church around.
The age old struggle for power and control is as much alive in some congregations as it is in the political arena. Boards, trustees, deacons, leading members - sometimes arm wrestle for office of power broker, and the pastor or ministry leader becomes a puppet, pretending he/she is in charge. In reality this self-deception on the part of the pastor becomes a contributing factor in future burnout.
In a free environment like Canada or America, the highly creative and innovative individual can become all God blesses upon them. They can grow up to become nation shaping adults that change the way we live, work and play. Ideally, that is the way church should be. Our congregations need to be launching pads that teach and show God's will for people and then give them the tools and freedom to launch into ministry with God's blessing upon them - rather than the church board's control or denial burdening down the individual with a weight that seems too great to carry.
What happens to up-and-coming superstars in countries where the government wants to control everything? The creative and innovative become frustrated, and even though they love their country, they eventually move on and immigrate to free nations where their talents and innovative new ideas can be launched and appreciated. Is this fact any different in our churches? How many congregations have lost their young because the old leadership is over-controlling or unwilling to see a new paradigm? How many very creative para-church ministries have been launched apart from a local church because the local church was too stifling or controlling?
There is a law of leadership that states a leader usually cannot attract any followers who have greater leadership skills or creativity than themselves. Thus, the majority of churches in North America have attendance between 80 and 120 people. Why? As people attend a church they begin to realize the have more on the ball than the local pastor - especially if the local leadership are controllors and manipulators. Especially if the leadership stifles freedom. The church member then makes a decision to stay and fight the system, or move on to another church where the leadership has greater skill then he does. Or, in some cases, the up and coming star may drift off and start their own ministry or church. If he/she stays in the local congregation and pushes for their new ideas and ministries, they may be asked to leave - fired, kicked-out, excommunicated, tossed out the door, sent packing, etc! This has happened millions of times over in churches and businesses in North America.
Allowing the freedom Jesus gave us to flow in all the congregation's activities accomplishes two wonderful things. It takes huge pressure off the controlling pastor, and it allows everyone in the congregation to live happier and achieve what God has in mind for them. Until freedom reigns in our congregations, burnout in both leaders and members will continue. There is much more to the subject of burnout, but understanding freedom and living in freedom will do much to take the pressures off our lives and give us the chance to experience the joy of the Lord.
It is a good test to look at our ministries and ask "How much have I been a controller and how much of my frustration has come because people were not living up to my expectations? Did I place burdens on others that were too hard to carry? Did I judge more harshly than the Lord Himself? Or even, did I make certain decisions to please the power wielders of the congregation rather than for the good of the church? Am I frustrated because I expect more from myself than I can give? "
Answer the questions honestly then give the whole package to Jesus and ask Him to forgive the sin of putting the will of man above the will of God. Then relax, have a good laugh at yourself for thinking you were in charge, and have fun watching Him take over in the real administration of the Church, through the life of freedom that has its best expression in serving the Lord. What a beautiful bride the church will be when she can be loving, self-controlled, wise and joyful all out of her own free will and desire, without fear of judgment and rejection, always confident that she is loved!

Friday, June 1, 2007

Happy Days

I was thinking today that I'm starting this summer in a much better place than I started last summer. Last summer, we had just left our old church and I was recovering from burnout. I'm so excited about how good I feel now compared to then. It's a good thing to remember, because when other hard times come, I can tell myself: "six months to a year from now, you'll feel better than you do right now." It's probably true for all recoveries, but you're so deep when you're in the middle of the process, you don't think of it, I guess.

Anyway, I'm excited about how I feel because it's a "moving on" feeling. If I think about what I went through, I still feel feelings, don't get me wrong. They're just not hanging over my head like a cloud anymore.

If you don't think burnout is a big deal, think again. People use the word as a cliche term, but it is a real condition. I know. So do lots of others. There is a website for burned out ministry leaders that I found very helpful to me. It is They have helpful articles and book recommendations there. I've read a few of them.

Like I said, I'm doing and feeling better today! I have been in an awesome church for a year. I've been given permission to hang out and heal there, which has been a freeing thing. I'm actually feeling ready to join a small group. I'm going to test the waters, and see how it goes. At least I didn't give up on church. Lots of people do. I just love God too much to not get to go worship Him with other believers. Plus, I know that church people are not God, and they will fail us, but God never does......