No Greater Joy

No Greater Joy

Monday, October 15, 2012

Some Days I Just...

Want to give up. I want to throw in the towel and quit fighting because it hurts too much.

Make myself get out of bed. I am safe as long as I'm under the covers, right?

Live life to the fullest. I enjoy every moment and do things I really enjoy!

Cry. Some days are just like that.

Spend the day at home. I enjoy my family and my safe haven.

Hang out with a friend. I value my relationships with others.

Go on a date with my husband. My marriage is important and my husband deserves some undivided attention from me.

Clean the house in a way that no one notices. When I clean out containers or change clothes by seasons it always makes a bigger mess! :P

Grieve my losses. Sometimes I take the time to remember those I've lost and how I'll never be the same again because I don't have them here anymore.

Imagine the future. What will my girls do when they grow up? Where will we live?

Obsess over problems. I'm terrible at dieting. I'm too emotional. I'm just too tired.

Go shopping. You know, it's like therapy, but I usually end up buying stuff for my girls more than myself.

Watch movies or read books. It's fun to imagine a different kind of world and use my imagination.

Write. For years I've pondered the idea of writing a book to be published, but I don't know where I'd start. I also have several things I'd write about so I don't know what I'd pick either.

Pray. Some of my best moments come from talking to my Heavenly Father. He is the only one who hears my heart and knows my intentions.

Friday, July 6, 2012

My Desire

I feel like wind blown branches of a tall Southern pine.
Lord, strengthen me in every way.
May my character reflect the that of my Savior.
I will not stray from the Words you have given,
Inspired by You and given to men,
Men YOU chose.
Choose me to be just as trustworthy.
I will fail,
But will always get back up
repentant and recommitted.
Society will not define my faith
nor false teachers leading their own paths.
My voice will not fade as I defend the Word
knowing that it is powerful, life saving, and never changing.
Here I am,
willing to do what you've called me to do
who you've called me to be.
It is sacrifice.
If it isn't, then it's not living fully for You.
Use me to bless others,
to share Your gospel,
and please keep me strong and unmovable
with an legacy to leave behind
so I may be like the strong trunk of a live oak.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Letter to My Daughters

Dear Girls,

As I get older and observe the world around me I feel compelled to share some motherly advice. Though you've heard it before, you have it in writing to carry with you always.

1. You are valuable.
Your value is not measured in the following: clothing, hair style, shoes, money, activities, friends, and stuff in general.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2

2. Modesty will help maintain your purity as well as others'. You do not need to be part of anyone's imagination nor tempt others to sin because of the way you present yourself. Those that win a man through physical appearances and lusts will lose the man to the same thing. A real man will fall in love with your heart and spirit and better yet, a godly man will love your relationship with the Lord. He will love you the way God intended you to be loved.
Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a [k]temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.
1 Corinthians 6:18-20

3. Dating isn't easy. The purpose of dating should be to seek out a future godly mate that you will spend the rest of your earthly life with. Know that every guy you date will get a little piece of your heart, a piece you can't get back. Relationships cause pain, even healthy ones. Know the kind of man you want and don't settle for anything else. Trust that God will bring him to you in His time and be praying for that man regularly.
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

4. Friends will come and go but family is forever. By nature people will do what is in their best interest. Your father and I have your best interest in mind. God gave you to us meaning He trusted us to care and provide for you. Regardless of your choices, successes and failures, we will love you unconditionally and always be there for you.
Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you. Exodus 20:12

5. The name of Christ is easy to claim but harder to live. Many people will claim to be Christian, but if one truly is, they believe the Bible to be complete and true and inspired of God Himself. Look for actions to support their claims. Seek godly people for advice yet make sure they don't use God only when things are good in their lives or like an inspirational poster in their life. Godly people will hold to their faith in good times and bad. They know what the Bible says, church and godly living is a priority, and they will show interest in your spiritual life.
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ Matthew 7:21-24

6. Where you put your time and energy demonstrates what's most important in your life. Education, career, family, and health are not bad in themselves. Remember that when you put anything above God it will cause failure somewhere in your life. God doesn't need to be left out of anything you do. If you put most of your time into yourself, be prepared to be viewed as selfish. Be thankful for what you have and don't be afraid to give back to others. I'm thankful for my education and my job, but your dad and I have tried to show you that you come first. We value our family time at home. I don't want regrets in life, I want to be a mother before I'm someone else's friend. You are not an inconvenience in my life. When you become a wife and mother, you choose to go on a path with your husband and children; life is no longer a path you take alone.
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus. Philippians 2:3-5

7. Never forget the price that was paid for you! Know that you will fail in life. Remember to keep yourself pure by keeping short accounts with God. Take your sins and failures to Him, but only if you truly trust Him to to hear you and you are truly repentant in your heart. Remember that Jesus came to walk this earth and has experienced many things as you, but being who He is, could not sin. Yet because of His love He bore all that we will give Him so that we can share our eternity with Him.
This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us. 1 John 1:5-10

I thank God for you and pray for you continually. Become the women God wants you to be. No matter where your paths may lead, you'll always have a place in my heart. Stand strong in your faith and I look forward to seeing what God has in store for each of you!!


Sunday, April 8, 2012

He is Risen

1 Corinthians 15:55-57
'O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.'

I enjoyed spending all of today celebrating the truth of these verses. What a wonderful morning that began celebrating the resurrection of our Savior! It was so moving hearing the church join in song, especially in closing by singing Jared Anderson's "Great I Am". Our afternoon was treasured as a family celebrating at home. As I reflect on what my Savior did for me, I realize that it was His victory over death that allows me to enjoy these precious days with my family without fear of what tomorrow holds. Christ won the final victory, the victory over death.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Hunger Games

Understand that my 13 year old daughter is an avid reader! She first read The Hunger Games and begged me to read it. As I heard more about it and a movie to follow I engaged myself in the book over the course of 3 nights after the kids were in bed

I was surprised at how much I really enjoyed the book. Not "enjoyed" in the sense of a happy devotional kind of thing. I enjoyed the thought provoking nature of the book. This book gave a perspective of a post-Apocalyptic America renamed Panem. I won't give a summary of the story, but you can find one here. The book did a great job of showing the thoughts of the main character, Katniss Everdeen. You can feel her emotions, struggles, hear her opinions, and realize her true humanity in a system that seeks to dehumanize its people. This is a book that is most appropriate for teens and young adults (or older adults). :D It is a book that I feel shouldn't just be read to move on to the next. Instead it is a book that opens up incredible discussion opportunities and provides many lessons along the way. There is quite a bit of violence that was hard for a sensitive person like me, but I did see the point of it going along with the system of government and the past the culture has emerged from.

My daughter and I did hit the midnight showing for the movie. As usual the book was definitely better simply because of the depth of background information provided and the deeper level that you get to "know" the characters. There's more explanation of the relationships between several of the characters that are what made the book so difficult to put down. In the movie I did feel moved to tears on two occasions. The first was when she is saying farewell to Cinna in those final seconds before the games begin. You can see the fear taking hold over her. The book did a much better job showing a deeper connection between these two characters. Katniss is not good at making friends. The effects of her daily life in District 12 have an obvious effect on her emotions, the way she sees people, and the friendships she makes. Cinna takes her for who she is and sees beyond her tough exterior. They become friends and she confides in him. He also has great faith in her for the Games.

The second tear jerker was, of course, the loss of Rue. The book did a beautiful job with Rue. A sweet girl only 12 years old that Katniss tries to protect as she did her sister, Prim. No sooner had they bonded Rue faces her untimely death at the hands of another tribute. Here is where you see Katniss show her disdain for the Captol as she puts a human quality back into Rue despite her death. She carefully lays flowers around her body before she is taken away and you see the despair Katniss deals with. She is not playing the game, she has been dealt the game. She doesn't want to participate in this as the Careers do. She volunteered to save her sister's life.

Overall the movie was good. They stayed close to the story line of the book which was much appreciated. I have already begun the second book in the series. If you want another good review of the movie you can find it on the Focus on the Family site. It also provides discussion questions for you! There's also a site I found that has a discussion forum by parents if you want to see what others are saying about the book, too. You can find it here.

I am going to read the other 2 books to finish the series. Maybe I'll have more to add after that. According to my 13 year old things really do get intense in the 3rd book. As I mentioned concerns about the first book with younger readers, she expressed more concern for young people reading the last book. I guess I'll find out more about that in the coming weeks. Please feel free to add further comments below!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

An Extraordinary Mom I Am NOT!

Well I'm doing something new here! I love Hearts at Home and am excited to be going to the National Conference for my fourth year this weekend! I've joined their list of bloggers since I like to write and wanted the challenge, so here goes!

I've been thinking about this topic for days! How some days you just feel like an ordinary mom. However, I feel like too many days I'm ordinary when I'd love to be extraordinary! It is SO easy to get caught up in the routines that come with kids. Dance classes, speech competition, AWANA club, youth group, school, track, student council, and on and on the list goes. I love that my job has the same hours as my kids, but when we get home it's the same rush day after day! Do the homework, clean your rooms, help with supper, clean the dishes, check the homework, showers and bedtime routines. What is so great about that? I am learning little by little that I need to purposely become an EXTRAordinary mom. What can I add to the ordinary routines to make them special or *gasp* fun?! Sometimes I just have to let go of what "I" think needs to be done. After all, that same mess will be there tomorrow regardless of whether they clean it up today. How can I play games with them while doing homework to make it memorable for the test and when they grow up? My kids love to help me cook and it gives us time together. This beautiful weather is a set up for eating on the deck or in the sunroom, too. Nothing requires money or even extra time, but it turns the ordinary into something EXTRAordinary for me AND my kids!

So the question is posed:
If you could have a superpower....

Honestly as a mother of 3 girls I don't get to watch superhero stuff much. The princess theme has engulfed my life for over 13 years now (except my little 5 year old that loves The Avatar cartoon series)! I have always said that the one ability I would love to have is that of Mary Poppins. I would love to snap my fingers and see a task finished! I love that with Mary the kids were happy, fulfilled their responsibilities, had fun, and never wanted to lose her.

Ephesians 3:20
"Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us."
Though I'll not have the powers of the fictional Mary Poppins, I am reminded that it's not fantasy or fiction I need to give me power to be EXTRAordinary, it is only Him...Jesus...who provides me with all the power I need if I embrace the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to guide me into my desire for EXTRAordinary!

So how about it moms? What makes you EXTRAordinary and what powers have you secretly wished for!! Please share!

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Path Taken

Through every winding path this life leads me through
I will follow the voice of my Savior.
It comes as the rustle of the leaves,
the warmth of a spring breeze,
and even watching the clouds take shape overhead.
He gave me such beauty yet I know
my importance to Him is far above these splendors.

The path isn't guaranteed to be smooth
And I don't know how far it will go.
But I trust His promises
while I allow heaven's peace to fill my heart.

No matter the stops along the way,
whether they be easy or difficult
I will trust in my Savior
Knowing He will lead me all the way.

Jesus, my Lord, my Savior
May I never let go of your hand.
Renew me daily inside and out
For I want to depend wholly on you
Knowing that without recognizing your voice or following your lead
I will end up on a path that was never intended for me.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Whose heart are you after?

David, a man after God's own heart. As I review the struggles in my life, in the lives of my friends and family I think back on the life of David. A simple shepherd boy. No one, not even his dad saw it coming. The next king??! Yet David knew that it was in God's timing and he humbled himself to entertain for King Saul, and Saul's own son became David's best friend even though he would not follow his father as king.

David did not have an easy life yet he was "a man after God's own heart".
There was that battle against the mighty Philistine, Goliath.
Then there's that little matter of Saul trying to kill him every chance he got! So David trusted God anyway! He fought that giant and won! He was protected from Saul and he refused to kill Saul when he had the chance because he recognized that Saul was the Lord's annointed.

David did not always make the right choices yet he was "a man after God's own heart".
David's sin with Bathsheba seems almost unforgivable, yet God sent word through a prophet that David would be punished for his sin. David did "evil in the sight of the Lord" (2 Sam. 11:27). He took advantage of the position God had placed him in costing many lives, lives that were lost that he may fulfill his lustful desires. David repented, but there was still a price to be paid. A higher price than losing his own life was losing that of his son's. But David didn't let it anger him against the Lord.

This is an important message!!

David's sin cost something just as our sins cost something. We have been bought and paid for, but even after our purchase we continue to mess it up and fulfill our own desires just as David. Sometimes we are repentant, sometimes we are not. In the end it cost God's Son. Regardless of the death of a 7 day old baby or 33 year old man one thing is for certain, sin comes with a price. We must learn from David and seek to be "after God's own heart". It's not perfection, it's seeking His will and being obedient. Accept the consequences of your own actions from your Father. We do not wish our children to hate us or be angry with us when we punish them yet it's exactly what we tend to do with our Heavenly Father.

Will you commit to allowing your Father to be a father? Will you let him mold you and make you into someone that will be seeking after His heart?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

My Grief Continued...

I posted yesterday about the grief I've experienced in the last year after losing my grandmother to cancer. I posted some of the writing I've done in the last year. Here's the latest entries that I have written.

Christmas 2009: Our last. The girls loved her and she loved them.

"Faith's Resting Place"
January 4, 2012

Someday my faith will be my sight.
The splendor of Heaven will consume me.
The roaring of the Lion of Judah that filled my spirit will be heard as the gentle voice of the Shepherd that has beentending to me for so long.
I will cry out in joyful praises for the battles I have fought and are now overcome.
I will reunite with the saints that have gone before me.
I will take a tour of a place I will never grow tired of.
There is a brightness that opens up new views of color never before imagined.
I will learn the truth of perfection.
I am forever grateful for that choice so long ago.
And the security that came with that reward.
I will never tire of seeing my Savior face to face and my eternity of worship that lies ahead.
I will see where my faith is made visible and where the chains of sin are removed.
For here is the resting place of God's grace as promised for those who chose faith.

Our last Christmas together 2009.

January 21, 2012
I know God is allowing these trials so that I might savor the victory that much more. Were I to walk through this life without tribulation it would be equal to the life of a spoiled child. There would be no appreciation in overcoming a hardship and faith becomes rooted in self rather than God.

It's not to say I relish the trials that come my way. Instead I must look forward to the victory that will come at the end knowing my Savior has my life in His hand.

I sometimes live just to survive a day and some days just to make it hour by hour. My comfort comes in many forms. The hug of my child, a gentle word from my spouse, a line from a favorite hymn, success of a student, Scripture and the history of the prophets, a call from a friend. These are things not to be taken for granted as I know many do not have such comforts in their lives.

My mind tries to form my feelings into words that apparently do not exist for no words can bring out the feelings I hold inside. Some days I feel a hurt inside that I can find no origin for. I suppose it is linked, like an intricate spider's web, to events that continue to take their toll.

A day will come where peace sets in and I can finally allow the voids in my heart to be fully repaired. I'm not ready for that fix yet. As strange as it sounds I feel the need to hold on a little longer, to grieve. I do not know how much time that will require so day by day it is.

Me with my grandmother. She surprised me at my graduation all the way in Iowa!

February 8, 2012
Thoughts of Heaven fill my mind when I think of anyone I've lost. I realize I have much to look forward to as my personal 'tour guides' are training until I get there. :)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

My Grief Over the Past Year

February 17th marks the one year anniversary of the loss of my grandmother. I have been through a lot of emotions since then. In the past year I occasionally write out my thoughts so I thought I'd copy them here. Hopefully it will help someone else or give insight to people of what I've been going through.

March 9, 2011
You ever just sit in the moment and replay random memories? Or even contemplate ones that can't now be made?

Reality seems optional at times.

All the talk about closure but not sure that I want closure. That's like admitting defeat.

Grief began 20 months ago with the initial diagnosis. Little by little the thoughts of the looming 'death date' seem to creep further into my thoughts. There's no denying it's coming, but you would expect that having some advanced warning would make it easier or prepare you in some way. It doesn't. Even being blessed with what I consider additional time didn't soothe the grief I now carry.

It's a permanent change in life. Not the change I would have chosen.

June 18, 2011
Weird the things that trigger emotion. A tv show, a song, a smell or sound.

Staying busy all day has been the equivalent of a magical pill. There's no time for thinking on your own time which means no time for thinking back on what you've lost. I think there are times I've really put it so far back that maybe I will make it today. I think at this point I've had one night where I haven't cried. It's not wailing by any means. Often it's just laying on my pillow at night quietly crying so my husband doesn't hear me and realize I'm just a mental case now.

One thought that I can't displace is recalling the image of my dear grandmother lying in her coffin. I can't recall all the words spoken at her funeral or even many of the people there, but the image of her is burned in my mind.

June 17, 2011
I try as I might to find something to compare the pain of loss to. Metaphorically it's like an amputation of a limb or more accurately a piece of my heart.

School is down to the final quarter. I convince myself daily to hold on a little longer. Once school is out I can allow more emotion. I know the reality is that I will still stuff it. There's not much more to do with it these days. I think back to movie scenes in the olden days where people grieved for a specific amount of time. It was observed by all around. I think they had a better grasp on the process of grief than all of our professionals, technology, and society have missed out on. We're expected to tough it out and move on. I think the harder part for me is people assume a grandparent is older and nearing the end of their life anyway. Maybe that should make it easier and more acceptable. Maybe not. There's no doubt my grandmother's life was shortened by a horrible disease. Cure was never listed in the treatment. I know that losing her is painful regardless of any reasoning anyone has to offer. I wanted her cured. I want a phone call, a visit. I just want her back.

June 18, 2011
Days have turned into months. Just when I think I am getting through it I lose it all over again. The tears aren't daily now, but I'm not sure if it's healing or the medication I gave into to get me by. Still the tears come, trying not to forget that last conversation I had. Knowing then that she was saying her good-byes. It was nothing short of miraculous the time we got with her. I should be thankful, that I know in my head. My heart doesn't comply. I wonder if the two will ever meet. Part of me doesn't want to stop grieving. Perhaps it's fear of forgetting her.

July 2011
Some days I'm fooled into what once was normal. I wrestle with how deep my feelings really go. Work keeps my mind occupied. My evening is so busy with motherhood responsibilities that I land in bed too exhausted to dwell on the sadness that lies within.

Avoidance has become a new way of life for me as I fun from the depression that really holds me prisoner. I don't know who it's safe to confide in. Peace is out of my reach. I find pleasure in my children and my husband but don't desire to search beyond these walls in my house.

I'm afraid of being alone.

Where will this path continue to lead? If loss of one is this unbearable, how would I ever survive the loss of more? I know I'll survive, but now likely without losing a few battles along the way.

If you made it to the end don't lose heart...I will post other thoughts in another blog! Grief is painful and is a process. I'm glad for the ability to grieve, but I can't say I enjoy it in any way! It's not something to be taken lightly.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Dr. Grace

On January 31st my favorite college professor, Dr. Dave Reid, died in a skiing accident in Utah. He was 74. No surprise he was skiing at his age. He lived his life to the fullest and enjoyed the outdoors.

Dr. Dave was my Old Testament survey teacher as well as Hermeneutics and a couple of other classes. No one could fail his classes, thus he was known as "Dr. Grace". Some of his classes were "cake classes" and not because you didn't learn anything. He made learning fun and more important than his teaching was the investment he put into everyone he met.

I am most saddened that I will never get to go on his tour of the Holy Land. That was a dream of mine. I am thankful that he completed his work of recording talks of the entire Bible. His ministry reached beyond the walls of the college. More can be found at

So many people will mourn his loss for quite a while. College reunions will undoubtedly bring up conversations of "Dr. Daveisms" and remembering conversations and time spent with him. As a military wife I appreciate his wife. I never knew her, yet she was without her husband from Monday night through Thursday just so he could commute from Chicago to Dubuque to teach classes. What a trusting wife and an amazing dedication to the work of her husband.

I will forever remember the Walk Through the Old Testament (not enough to recite fully!), "Baaaaddddd Hermeneutics", "I'm so sorry", and many more quotes. I'll remember playing tennis with him, my ride from Chicago in the middle of the night with him, and talking to him in October and being impressed that he remembered who I was though I hadn't seen him in years. I'm thankful my oldest daughter could hear him speak. I remember earning grace points by playing in the OT band and classmates doing skits and just plain crazy stuff to earn grace points in his class. He was in a class where few reside. He was a model for all of us to look up to. Thank you God for the influence of such a man and I can only imagine he is having the greatest celebration now as he can hear the Old Testament stories from the prophets themselves. There is no doubt from anyone who knew him that he was greeted with "Well done good and faithful servant!"

Dr. Dave with his wife Margie (By Tim F.)

(By Linda W.)

In Greece

On top of Mt. Sinai at age 71!! (By Tim F.)