Thursday, December 31, 2009

Welcome 2010!

I was reminded today that we are talking about a decade gone by... the "O" somethings are no more. So I thought I would also do one post on my decade in review. (In no particular order!)

3 jobs (4 titles)
6 Estes Parks
2 boys dated
1 church family
3 Beth Moore studies
5 countries visited (3 continents)
1 week of intense counseling
3 Ironmans spectatheleted
5 beach trips
1 broken heart
11 community group combinations
2 cars (1 for 90% of it)
3 trips solo
5 roommates
1 ring
6 months on anti-depressants
1 marathon relay
3 boy crushes (not dated)
17 people on children's ministry team
10 Aggie girl weekends
3 canon cameras
1 Masters degree
And the few things too numerous to count...
words written in journals
hours writing curriculum
cell phone minutes used
kleenex needed for tears
shoes purchased
other marathons and triathlons spectatheleted
pictures taken
words said out loud for processing
AND people God has brought into my life that have changed me over the last 10 years!

Excited to see what the next decade holds!

Reflection #9

So I was trying to decide what the last one should be about and I remembered a letter I wrote right before I left for Ethiopia. And when I say right before, I mean 2 hours before I was heading over to the Fournets. I got this feeling that I needed to write a "goodbye" letter if I did not come back. I have never done this before and I had never had that feeling before. So I wrote it.
I then had to think through who I should send it to so that it could get sent out if something did happen. That was an interesting conversation in my head... "If I send it to her, she will not let me get on the plane," "She would probably be ok with it," "Not so sure about her." Kaigler was the lucky recipient. I knew he would be fine, but the conversation upon receipt was pretty interesting. :)
I did not necessarily think I was going to die. I was definitely not stressed out about dying. But none the less... the letter was written.
It talked about my happiness of knowing where I was if I was gone. The joy I would be experiencing meeting God and having all my questions answered!!
It also talked about how much I love all of you and my hope that you would celebrate. Oh, and I made a small request for Marble Slab to a be a part of the celebration.
Writing the letter helped me think about a couple of things... I don't fear death. I am ready to meet my Creator, Savior, Father, Redeemer, and Best Friend face to face whenever it is time. AND as I have said often on this blog, I am thankful for the many many people He has shown Himself real to me through.
Well... obviously I made it back and experienced the rest of 2009. It was a great year and I'm excited about the year ahead, serving the Lord, bringing Him glory and being a part of all of your lives.
So here we go... welcome 2010!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Reflection #8

I'm still amazed I get to do what I do for a living!  
When I look back at last year and having to take a month off in February 2008 because I was either burned out or had lost my passion for this ministry and compare it to this year it is pretty nuts.  This year I have woken up every day ready to go to my "job."  
-I have a passion for what I get to do each day.
-I love that we are bringing the truth to our kiddos in a creative and memorable way.
-I love the people that I get to do it with.
-I have been challenged in my role of leading a team of 5, but feel like the Lord has given me exactly what I need to do what He is calling me to.  
-I have met with a talked with parents and been amazed at the work the Spirit has done.
-I really do feel pretty blown away at the movement that He does and chooses to use me to do it.
-I am less stressed than I ever have been in this job.
-I feel more laid back and able to choose my battles.
-I communicate better and I cry less!
Could it get any better than this? :)

(PS: the pic above is of our Children's Ministry Team. We are missing Robbi in this picture.  When I get back home I will upload with her too!)

Reflection #7

I don't have much time to squeeze in my last reflections for the year... yikes.
But I have been thinking about the books I got to read this year and the studies I did.  Here is a small sampling of the list...
The Rest of God by Buchanan
Scared by Tom Davis
Lies Women Believe by Nancy Leigh DeMoss
Bible by God
Daniel by Beth Moore
Maggie by Charles Martin
TrueFaced by Bill Thrall and others
A handful of years ago that would have totaled the number of books I had read in 10 years.  But now, I love to read.  I like books that challenge my thinking and draw me deeper into truth about God and I like books that tug at my heart strings.  All of these books are ones I would recommend (most of them do not do both of these things.) 
If I was at home I would pull them all out and give you some highlights of what I underlined. But instead I will give the top 10 things I either learned or was reminded of by reading them...
1) There is always more to the story than the initial picture that you see.
2) Lies steal so much from you but truth can defeat anything.
3) Giving up fried foods for 6 weeks is challenging but not impossible.
4) Trusting people with who you really are brings great freedom.
5) God is sovereign and in control.
6) Every time I read about some one's long time pet dying I CRY!
7) Being hungry is not always a bad thing.
8) An apple is used to represent the fruit that Satan used to lure Eve away from God, God's word is to be the apple of our eye, and we are called the apple of God's eye.
9) Making time for "sabbath rest" in my life is extremely important.
10) Reading through the entire Bible in 90 days is a crazy idea!  (I didn't make it this year but I hope to accomplish the task in 2010!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Reflection #6...

GETTING OLDER... has a lot of ups and a couple of downs!!!

I am just going to focus on the downs in this one, not because I want to be a downer, but they are what I am reflecting on for now :)!

This one came to me when I realized that I am posting at 5:30... AM!!! I'm not suppose to be up at 5:30AM... EVER! But one of the downs of getting older is sleep seems to be different than it use to be. I don't always sleep through the night and sometimes I will get up for an hour or two, read or journal and then go back to sleep. And I seem to function pretty ok the next day. Most of my time when I am awake in the middle of the night is spent with the Lord and it is really sweet time. So in some ways, it is an up from what sure seems like a down of getting older.

And I learned this year that I can not sit with my legs folded under me for long periods of time like I use to. Nothing real thought provoking here, except that it is pretty funny when I try to unfold! Oh, and it is one of the few things that reminds me what my age really is, because most of the time I don't "feel 36." I'm not sure what 36 is suppose to feel like, but I am pretty sure this is not it. Because for the most part, I feel awesome and love my life!

So I guess if this is it... 36 is not old.
Ok, back to sleep for a while!
(Picture from my birthday lunch this year.)

Reflection #5...

These two pictures represent at least 2 things. One... I work with some pretty awesome people. Truly! If I was going to reflect on who I work with, I would have to reflect on the last 7 years on staff at Watermark and that could take a lot of posts. So I will just say, "I LOVE the people I get to work with everyday!"

This past year I was in more of a management role in my job on staff. I used to be in all the details of everything we did in Children's Ministry. Then we hired a bunch of people who are better at what they do than I ever was or ever could be. It has been fun to see each of them thriving in their gifts. But this "shift" pulled me out of the creative aspects a little farther than I realized.

AND so, to the 2nd thing the pics represent and to the point of what I learned... I NEED a creative outlet!!!

I found myself at different points in the year grabbing hold of little projects and going a little over the top. (I can hear some of you saying right now, wait, how is that different than she normally is?) It's not so much that the over the top was different than it was before, just more that I was snagging someone else's job from them to get my "fix." They were are all very gracious in my moment of weakness, but it did show me that I need to be sure that I am allowing for places to be creative.

And so... 2010... watch out, I will be looking for those outlets!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Reflection #4...

It seems to me there have been more and more things created in the last couple of years that can completely consume/waste your time. Where you literally look up and at least an hour has just ticked off the clock. Facebook was one such thing for me this year. I had to make some very conscious choices to RELEASE!

It has its ups for sure... seeing fun pictures of friends and their families, knowing a little more of what they are up to, and of course... pulling weeds out of your garden.
I have basically refused to take any tests, join any clubs, start a club, or own a farm. Oh wait... I did become a fan of Bob Costas.

But one really great upside has been connecting with old friends. Just yesterday I got to see face to face a friend I grew up with in church. We got in lots of trouble in church together, for talking (imagine!). We also spent a lot of time playing make believe at her house. We encouraged each other through the hard junior high years. It was so great to see her and talk about life growing up.
It also reminded me of how much I have changed. I thought back to how insecure I was then and how I wasn't willing to ruffle feathers for truth. I am thankful that the Lord has given me confidence to speak truth and to be great with who He has created me to be.
So thankful this year for the chance this year to reconnect with old friends.

PS: The photos above are 3 of my profile pics... clearly I am a little more secure with who I am :)!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Reflection #3...

I went electronic!!!

I fought against getting rid of my paper calendar for my outlook calendar for years. I am VERY visual and I couldn't carry computer around with me everywhere so I refused to switch.
In February when I switched to AT&T for phone service. I made the plunge. Now my life is in living electronic color.

Looking back at my calendar has reminded me of all the lunches, dinners, meetings and coffees I have had with the many people God has allowed me to come in contact with this year.

I have seen Him do some pretty awesome things in people's lives...
-restoring worth where shame and guilt lived
-healing broken hearts
-giving life
-opening eyes to His truth and love
-bringing joy and freedom
-allowing belief in truth instead of lies
-watching the struggle to trust and believe Him and His faithfulness always there
-scripture bringing hope
-freedom from bondage
-light into darkness

It has been a pretty awesome year. So grateful to all who have let me into their lives to see God working!

Reflection #2...

This year has marked a new frontier in my walk with the Lord. Scripture memory! I have never been a great memorizer. Sure, songs seem to stick in my head that I hear over and over again, and I use to have a steel trap of a memory on events that happened. But getting scripture hidden in my heart had proved to always be VERY difficult. Now don't hear me say that it has all of a sudden gotten easy, it hasn't. BUT... He has definitely given me a renewed desire for it and is helping me with the process, OK sometimes dragging me through the process!

I read a book by Janet Pope called "His Word in My Heart." I would highly recommend it. She challenges you to memorize scripture by entire books or complete passages (like Sermon on the Mount.) This has proved to be pretty cool. It has been fun pushing through and I have seen the benefits for sure. Scripture is TRUTH and it transforms both my mind and my heart. I am thankful for Robbi who has attacked the challenges with me. We meet every week to go over what we are learning.

I'm in the process of working through Psalm 119. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME YOU ASK? I have actually asked that a lot, but really do feel like the Lord wants me in this challenge. Even if I never make it to the end it has taught me a ton! Psalm 119 is PACKED with amazing truths of the benefits of knowing and obeying God's word. It has challenged me to really look at God's two greatest commandments. I am challenged to ask, "are they what I run after most?" And it has caused me to stop and ponder God's UNFAILING LOVE. Did you know that 120 times in scripture it talks about His unfailing love? That is a lot of love people! The word unfailing has really been a great one to ponder and I have been so blown away and thankful that He chooses to give it to us.

So as this holiday season is upon us...

I am so thankful that God sent His Son... His Unfailing Love... to us so that we could have an eternal relationship with Him. (John 1:14, 17)
And thankful that He is showing me more and more about HIMSELF as we work to hide His Word in my heart.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Reflections of 2009... #1

One of the biggest events of 2009 was getting to go with my friends Beau and Natalie to pick up their twins from Ethiopia. They took along their two other children, Caleb and Hannah. I had the joy of praying with them for over a year for the "ok" to fly over and pick up Beck and Deshi. It truly was an amazing experience.
Their adoption was one of the more complicated ones. Most adoptions have court delays and interesting things that happen. I think everything that could happen, happened to their case. They asked me if I would be willing to go with them and I jumped at the chance. Who could say no when it has to do with... adoption, Africa, the Fournets and a 16 hour plane ride.

I had a lot of emotions going into the trip wondering if there would be some big answers for me on this trip. Would I hear direction for my life while over there? Would I fall in love with Ethiopia and not want to come back? Would I be more devastated with the orphans that I met than I had been before?
The trip definitely proved to be an adventure.

Here are some things I learned...
-Solomon, a man that drives for Gladney and is joyful about everything.
-there are lots of kiddos waiting for their new families to pass court and come pick them up.
-the food was pretty good and I love the boiled egg.
-I can survive showers with really cold water and on very little electricity.
-monkeys up close and personal do scare me a little.
-I don't really like warm oatmeal.
-Michael Jackson spanned the globe.
-I love my new camera and I am thankful to get to capture so many great adventures with it.
-being a part of bringing sheep to Kidmia was cool, and you can cram a lot in the back of a jeep.
-look in other rooms of the house to see if there is a heating apparatus attached to other showers.
-orphans anywhere break my heart, but I need to listen and be obedient, I can't save them all. (DARN IT!)
-Kaldes has great gelato.
-Sally and Tom Baer are great hosts and are doing some cool stuff over there.
-the kids at Kidmia are precious sweet.
-the flight attendants on Emirates were awesome as we played in the kitchen area, for hours.
-not getting sleep for over 16 hours, having a delay in the Houston airport, not eating, heat, and a buzzing noise add up to a small emotional breakdown.
I am sure I could go on all day-but most importantly...
I learned that getting to see and be a very small part Beck and Deshi leaving hopelessness and be united with family who already loves them was priceless.

Thanks Beau and Nat for the opportunity to go with you and be a part of your amazing journey.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Cookies

Today I received a box in the mail from my sister. She mailed me cookies as a sweet reminder of my Grandma. You see, we made sugar cookies with her when we were at their home in Kansas for Christmas. If we couldn't be with her she would always mail us a bunch of her Christmas goodies. One of my all time favorites is her peanut clusters.

One quick cookie story: We had finished making the dough, rolling it out and cutting it with all the fun cookie cutters. We stuck them all in the oven and made icing while they cooked. When they came out of the oven, Grandma tasted one. It was then that she realized we had forgotten to put the sugar in the sugar cookies. But of course, once we got the amazing icing on... they still tasted pretty good!

Remembering my Grandma today was a sweet moment. She is suffering from Alzheimers now. She doesn't remember any of us, but Grandma... we remember you today!

Friday, December 4, 2009

ALWAYS read carefully...

Sent from "no tellin' where!"