Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Love gives.

Kristin and Ethan
Have you ever noticed how often gifts are given when love is involved? Love is often expressed by the giving of a gift. Some years ago my husband and I attended an I Still Do conference. Dr. Joseph Stowell was presenting a concept until that point I had never heard of. He shared with us the 5 love languages as described in the book, The 5 Love Languages written by Gary Chapman. Those languages are the manner in which a person best receives love, they are Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Acts of Service, Physical Touch and Receiving Gifts. None of those really woke anything in me up until he went into the detail behind the feeling loved by being given gifts. It was like a big warm and tingly meteor hit me. My childhood flashed before me. My father enjoyed bringing things home for my brother and I. He would bring things to me that I found to be wonderful. He had impeccable taste, in my child's mind, in clothing. We are talking the 60’s here folks. Big hot pink flowers on bright turquoise background on my shorts and skorts with poor boy tee shirts brightly embellished too. Then the go~go boots and ... well you get it. He did this regularly. I grew up and became a giver, I thoroughly enjoy giving to people, and that is how I receive love. Now, when I got a little revelation on that being my love language, I felt incredibly shallow. Some years later I got another revelation.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16

Let’s read that again.
For God so loved the world that He GAVE His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Take a look at those 5 love languages. I have never read this book in its entirety, but God began to remind me of those languages and you know what??? Those are 5 different manifestations, ways to show love, but at the heart of each one, the person showing that love is GIVING  something of themselves. I determined I was not the shallow person I thought I was. God shows love by giving. I want to go into so much here about the things God has given us, and I will do that at a later date. For now, I have something I deeply wish to share.

I have a wonderful friend whose name is, Carol. She has a son and three daughters. Her daughters are the ages of my three daughters and they grew up together.  All four of her children are amazing and love the Lord with every thing in them. Carol and her husband have modeled that before them all of their lives. The youngest of Carol’s daughters had a beautiful baby boy in May 2008.  June of last year, June 19, 2011 little Ethan Ryder Hazen Brown passed away, he sustained a head injury that took his life. This injury was brought about by his step-mother Stacie, who was charged with battery resulting in the death of a minor. I see no need to go into the horrible details of this awful thing, but on Valentines Day I do see it appropriate to share the love side of this story. I look back on those days of Ethan being in the hospital and the days following and my stomach still cringes and I still well up and cry. But I in no way can walk that horrible dark road that dear family had to walk. And therein is what I want to share. Were there moments of anger and maybe rage and certainly unbelief, absolutely. Did they choose those emotions to dwell on and fester about? No. Did they assume a vindictive and hateful stand against the step-mother that committed this heinous crime? No. This lovely family pulled together and became closer than they had ever been before, and they were quite close to start with. But most of all, they ALL drew on the love of God. The mother of that little boy and the family as a whole have not made hateful remarks about the woman that did this. Instead, they have asked for prayer for her. They have not highlighted the fact that Ethan is gone, they have expressed thankfulness and praise to God that he is in Heaven being held by Jesus until they can hold him again. This family knows what God’s love is and they know how to show it, and have done so in the worst of circumstances. I find it most appropriate to tell you this on this Valentine’s Day, a day set aside to honor love, because this morning was this woman's sentencing. Today from about 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Ethan’s family was in a court room reliving all of this with Stacie who committed this painfully grievous crime. This is s snippet of the message my friend Carol sent out just hours after they left the court room.

We have returned home after four long hours listening to evidence, deliberations, statements, judgments.  Stacie Brown has been sentenced to 50 years in prison- more than we dared expect.  God held us very tight through all the emotion.  We all got to share a statement about our relationship with Ethan, our loss, and our trust in God.  I believe your prayers were answered as we were spared any details we did not already know.  The gospel "appeared" more than once in our statements- so we can pray now that God uses His Word which will not return to Him void. And so, there is a certain sense of closure, no satisfaction, really, but some finality.
Thank you with all our hearts for your fervent prayers on our behalf.  There is not despair, there is victory because of our Lord Jesus Christ.  All praise and honor and glory be to God on high.
Carol and Tom (and the whole bunch of us)

This is a portion of what Ethan’s mom Kristin put on Facebook this afternoon.
I know so many of you have been praying and I want to say thank you! God was listening and carried us through this long morning... We were there from 9am to almost 1pm and Stacie has been given a 50 year sentence, which was the maximum. I'd like to say it feels great and I'm am grateful to see justice served, but it doesn't take away the pain, just as expected. But we praise God for getting us through this difficult morning and as we all had a chance to tell Stacie we've forgiven her, we continue to pray for her. And we ask those of you who have lifted us up this morning to pray with us for her. A thousand thank you's to you all. I believe everyone left the courtroom today knowing that no matter the devastation life can bring, God is still good and He loves us ALL.

There is no way I could have shared that with you and done it right. I think what these amazing women have said deserves to be read straight from their heart.

God loved us so much and He wanted us back in fellowship and right standing with Himself. He wanted to fellowship with us so much that he offered up His perfect Son. Jesus loved us so much though perfect was willing to pay the sinners debt by being mocked and brutally murdered, and God the Father endured it in the name of forgiveness. Now there is a gift of love. Forgiveness is a most tremendous gift, and God freely gave it to us, we only have to receive it.

Carol and her family have in the most painful of situations given Stacie their forgiveness. Their hope is that she will receive Jesus and though in prison physically be freed spiritually. That is a story well deserving to be told and commemorated on this day honoring love, Valentine’s Day.
Tom, Carol and all of your family, I am so thankful for all of you and so honored to have been in your lives. I love each of you and want you to know that. I have not talked much at all about this, I have found it so painful and I grieve for you. But today, I wanted to honor you, memorialize your dear Ethan and give glory to God by sharing your testimony of faithfulness and love, real and true love.
Kristin and Ethan
There may have successfully been a defining of 5 ways to show love for the purpose of building better relationships so they can last, but love, real God love, the unconditional agape style love is eternal because God is eternal and God IS love. That love as we can see in my friend, and her family is understood in every language.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Deciding to GO.

I stumbled on to the pictures below in my iPhoto yesterday. They reminded me of something I thought I might share here. For a few years I had been frustrated, significantly frustrated, with a number of things. At the heart of it all; it was me I was frustrated with. I think I knew that all along but oh how easy it is to find other reasons and people to blame. This of course, only magnifies the angst of the frustration. I can be quite resourceful and so I put myself to the task of peeling off the layers that were weighing me down. With every plan I came up with to clear away a situation bothering me I became more confused and yes, frustrated. Once the confusion got annoying enough I had an epiphany (the one from which I had been running), I knew where confusion came from and it was not God. God is the giver of peace, such peace we can’t even understand, but we do have complete access to. I also knew my frustration and confusion were directly related. I was frustrated because I was not giving God 100%, and I was becoming increasingly confused the more ran from what he was asking of me. James is clear about the end of that, For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. James 3:16

As a young girl one of my favorite things to do was go out to my father’s garden. I enjoyed gardening but what I really liked doing was teaching the vegetables. Dad’s asparagus stood straight up and at attention. The staked tomatoes were tall and seemingly attentive the way the seemed to reach upward and outward. The pole beans on their wig~wam style sticks just climbing up so quickly seemed eager to hear what I had to say. Imagine my delight when dad decided to give Brussel Sprouts a go. For one thing by autumn the other plants were in canning jars but the Brussel Sprouts were just coming up, a couple more months to teach! And, each plant had many attentive little heads, what joy!!! Yes, each vegetable plant was a part of a wonderfully captive audience.

Somehow, no matter what I considered, I always knew that sharing and teaching was to be  a part of my life. Truth be known, I knew it was to be what I did with my life. I love my family, nutrition and healthy habits for healthy living are things I enjoy reading and talking about, but it has always been the Bible, God’s Word, that I have enjoyed hearing taught. I even enjoyed just the simple Sunday School stories and the flannel-graphs and well.... really anything at church as a child. When I decided to make Jesus the Lord of my life those stories became real to me, they started to become a part of me. As I grew older and life presented less than fun experiences; the Word of God became what I leaned on and trusted in. By this time I was enjoying the Bible on my own. Have you ever thought about how a baby needs milk from its mother and as that baby grows it begins to feed itself and can manage meat on its own? I look back on that time in my life when I picked up my Bible and began to feed myself rather than counting on a Pastor, Youth Leader, Sunday School teacher or Grandmother to nurse me. What a warm and lovely thing to to ponder. I felt so independent and yet knew that I knew I depended on God and God alone. I could just stop here and bask in that, but I want to say something so I will move forward.

Forward. I have wonderful children, each unique and amazing. I love to look back and think of some of the wonderful times watching them grow, think about some hard times and how God molded all of us through them. I enjoy thinking about their accomplishments, everything from first steps to some of the things they have done just recently. I enjoy thinking about some of the things God has done through me. But.......  You know that verse that Paul encourages us to move forward?

I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Philippians 3:12-14 NLT

I have heard that verse used to preach how we must not look at our failings in the past, after all Paul was the in the natural, and by his own admission, one of the worst of sinners. I do not remember ever hearing a sermon or teaching on not dwelling in the past about our good memories or accomplishments. Only a handful of times did God tell His people to wait to do something and there was always a purpose for future benefit when He did. For instance, when Jesus told some of the disciples, his mother and some other women and his brothers to wait there in Jerusalem until they received the Promise His Father had made about sending the Holy Spirit. He did this because once He was gone they would need the Holy Spirit to endue them with power to continue in ministry. Overall however, God is a GO God. We are told to GO to all the nations. Abraham was always being told to GO. Moses same thing, GO. God told Joshua that yes, Moses was dead, now get up and GO over the Jordan, you and all the people because He was giving them the land He promised. He told Joshua just as He promised Moses, every place Joshua placed the sole of his feet God had given him. God also as with Moses, told Joshua He would never leave or forsake him, just GO. I am not saying it is not good to remember good things and to think on the wonderful things God has done. What I am saying is we are not to camp there. We are to continue walking, GOing forward in the steps God has put before us and Jesus left example of.
I had become most frustrated and wanted to find any reason I could to not take responsibility for it. I did begin to talk with God about how the frustration was getting to be too much and that the pain of staying in that rut was quickly surpassing the pain of facing whatever it was I needed to face to get to the other side of the barren land of Frustration. In a later post I will perhaps go into some detail about how that happened, but for now suffice it to say when I completely yielded myself,  God showed me why I was being so resistant. I stopped my world right then and there. I had known on some level why I was not moving forward in the things God placed before me. Now, He gave me a clear and pretty full picture of the whole of that dilemma. Somehow now I believe I am suppose to put that out there, so here it is.
God called me years ago to teach, and not just anything but to teach people how much He loves them and specifically teach His Word. Here it is. There are things in my past I am not proud of and things I regret. As with things that bring shame and remorse; those things were sin. People look at the actions of people to judge God by. People that want to discredit God do this, but more grievously people who claim to be Christians do too. I did not want to bring anymore blows to the name of God and I thought stepping out in His Name, teaching His Word would bring undeserved marring to Him. The enemy had me right where He wanted me, and deception at its finest, I thought I was doing God a favor.

When God got through to me that day last August, and I realized the bondage I had been in and that God wanted me to do exactly what He called me to do and He would take care of me and anything that came of someone trying to taint my testimony or tarnish Him, I made a quality decision to get up and GO. God will never leave or forsake me and when my journey on this side of glory is done I want it to be said of me:

[That] I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to doJohn 17:4 NLT

So now I am pressing on to do just that. I enrolled August 11, 2011 in college and am majoring in Biblical Studies. I have eight classes done, my lowest overall class grade being a 94.40% with my overall grade thus far being 98.25%. Even at that, the beautiful thing is I have had that peace that passes human understanding that we have access to, and I have had that peace from the moment I decided to follow God and give Him 100%.

These note cards are one of the little projects I did back then when I was so frustrated. I went through some time of searching my heart and seeking God. These were made while I was earnestly seeking Him and just prior to my decision to obey God. Thank you Father for your patience and for never giving up on me. Thank you that you will never leave or forsake me. I love you, all of You, with all of me.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Blessing for your Birthdays

I actually made this card last year but thought today would be a great day to post it. Today is my granddaughter's birthday, and it would have been my mom's 78th birthday. Happy birthday, Sweetie! I miss you, Mom. That particular granddaughter and her great grandmother were very close and I know she still thinks about her. Tomorrow is my son~in~love's birthday, 30 years young he will be! And last but not least, Thursday is my dear friend Kim's birthday. Happy Birthday, Kim!!  I love all of you!

Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy...,   and I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Philippians 1:3-4a, 6

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Random cards I thought I would share.

I don't plan to post cards much, but I have made a few in the last year I thought I would put on here.

You have seen a version of this one before. My friend Kim made one like this for my birthday and I posted it last April. Okay, she did not make one like this one, I designed this card off of her beautiful card. It was fun to make, one of my favorites.

This card was also so much fun to make. I felt like I was playing, sort of how I loved coloring as a kid.

This little poem came to me in an instant. I had started this card but was not even thinking about it when this popped in my head. It is a bit of a spin off of a nursery rhyme that one of the recepients of this card loved when she was a little girl.

This card was so much fun. One of my favorite color combinations and so Sweet!

Sometimes you just have to stop and say a simple thank you to someone that has shown you love.

A small gift for a dear woman going through a horrible time and would be sending some Thank You cards.

And then a special card just for her went with the Thank You cards.

Just a grace note.

Simple but great message, such sweet words, Bee Happy!