Sunday, March 31, 2013

Count Your Blessings

Picture 19

March 24-March 30
1.  Service was such a blessing...just being able to stand in awe of Jesus!

2.  Ordered Project Life for the girls from HSN and watched its debut with Kianna late, late into the night

3.  Alicia had her dad/daughter day at Randy's job and I enjoyed my time with Sara

4.  Enjoyed spending extra time with my nieces Kianna and Genesis although she thinks I should get the rod:)

5.  Spoke to my BIC, Alexis, in the Dominican Republic and enjoyed hearing the testimonies about my FIC there

6.  Sister Maria is with us once again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

7.  Received lots of packages (including Project Life) although some of it has to go back:( 

8.  The Lord always intervenes and ministers me, delivering me from hardening my so thankful He is the One who guards it since He never sleeps nor slumbers!

9.  Enjoyed learning about Pearl Harbor with the girls

10.  Ran errands this week and was glad to come home to Mami's yapingacho:)
Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again:  Rejoice!
Philippians 4:4

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Count Your Blessings

Picture 19

March 17-March 23

1.  My FIL celebrated his birthday...still have to deliver his gift:)

2.  Visited a SIC and surprised a BIC with an unexpected treat...his reaction blessed my soul

3.  Ali got a spring jacket and I got some boots from Mami

4.  Enjoying drinking tea at night instead of coffee

5.  God has been bringing a visitor to church and we rejoice in seeing God's work in his life

6.  My BIL came to work around the house and I am beyond grateful for his help

7.  Working on albums has brought back so many memories of God's faithfulness

8.  God also returned a BIC to us and we delight in His goodness

9.  My nieces have been spending time at my house and I am loving it

10.  Randy's testimony is such an encouragement to me...he'll never know how much this side of eternity
Your love, O LORD, reaches to the
your faithfulness to the skies.
Psalm 36:5

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Past the Pain

After a hiatus of doing my full body workout, I wasn't excited about jumping back in.  So, I decided to ease my way back in so as to not end up with a swore body.  I stayed on the treadmill for a week but I knew it was time to move on.

I worked out the arms, stomach, and sides.  Then I got to the legs.  The first two sets were fine.  But then....burn.   That's what my muscles felt like---on fire!

And I thought about how easy it would be to quit.  After all, I had already done a lot.

Aren't we like that?  As soon as we start to feel the slightest pinch of pain, we want to quit.  It's easier.  We forget the goal and only focus on the present pain.  

We have to press past the pain.

We have to persevere despite:
  • difficulty (how hard something is)
  • duration (how long it takes)
  • discouragement (no matter how you/others feel)

but he who stand firm to the end will be saved.
Matthew 24:13

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
James 1:12

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Organizing Tax Papers

As I mentioned here, Mr. Tax was impressed with our record keeping for the 2012 tax year.  Our desire is to make it as easy as possible for him so that in return it can be easy on us.  Win-win situation.

Our organization could definite use some fine tuning and here is what we've done and plan to implement this year.

1.  Begin Now
Start planning how you plan to corral your papers.  I find it so much easier if I have a system set up beforehand.  My desk contains a folder labeled 'Taxes.'   Any paper that enters the house under this category immediately gets filed away as opposed to getting lost in some paper pile.

2.  Stay On Top of It
Some things are not as easy as slipping a paper into a file folder such as mileage.  So, in order to stay on top of it, I am using this binder to keep track of our mileage monthly and plan on updating this monthly into a spreadsheet (Mr. Tax likes spreadsheets).

3.  Make a Checklist
This year as Mr. Tax went through our expenses, I realized that I had forgotten a receipt.  I only remembered because it was in Mr. Tax's file from last year.  So this year, I plan to make a checklist of our usual paperwork so that I do not overlook anything.

Because some of these tips were implemented last year, this tax season went smoothly but I did forget some receipts because of disorganization.  Hopefully, practicing all these tips will make for a smoother appointment with Mr. Tax.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Count Your Blessings

Picture 19

March 10-March 16

1.  Alicia running her fingers through my hair as we talked

2.  Funny comments during Sunday School about future spouses (I teach little ones:)

3.  Pastor and elders praying for Sara

4.  Staying in touch with my oldest sister

5.  Target trip with Sydney and Genesis

6.  Alicia did so well on her presentations

7.  Spelling is so important...I accidentally texted Sydney about massacre instead of mascara...oops:)

8.  Kianna invited Ali to go with her to volunteer at an art class and her expression afterwards is priceless.  She even came home and made dinner:)

9.  Listened to my SIC testify about what God is doing in her life....Glory Jesus!!!

10.  BIL came over and enjoyed fellowship with him right before tackling our day and making donation drop off, Target trip, Costco run, and Craigslist sale....busy...busy...busy...ended with dinner at Mami's

Our mouths were filled with laughter, 
our tongues with songs of joy. 
Then it was said among the nation, 
"The Lord has done great things for them."
Psalm 126:2

Friday, March 15, 2013

Book Review--The Full Armor of God

Larry Richard's The Full Armor of God claims to be a handbook that offers an ironclad defense plan against the spiritual forces of this dark world by wearing the full armor of God as detailed in the Bible. 

The book is broken into seven parts and two appendices. The first and last parts seek to help us understand spiritual forces and presents a conclusion while the parts in between seek to demonstrate each part of the armor of God and its function. Appendix A deals with Biblical Demonology whereas Appendix B offers the "Live Free Support Group" Lesson Plans. 

Whereas, I can not agree with the author's Trinitarian theology, I appreciate his desire to shine light on the subject of fending off demons, identifying possible open doors to demons, as well as casting them out.

The author goes into detail describing the function of each component of the armor against demonic attack in correlation with its original usage in the Roman army. He also goes into depth describing our role in weakening our defense against the enemy as well as the enemy's actual schemes. Examples to illustrate his points are clearly laid out making it easy for the reader to understand the material. 

Each part included exercises for the reader such as prayer, Bible memorization, and journaling. While these are useful, there are some other practices that seemed too much like contemplative prayer which is actually antithetical to this book's purpose since it opens door to the demonic. 

The appendices are very useful in identifying the need for casting out demons as well as facilitating the process in a group setting. Bible memorization is a key component in appendix B which was especially encouraging. 

Whereas I do not agree with the author's theology, I appreciate his boldness in taking on such a hard topic and providing additional resources for the reader.

I received this book for free from Bethany House for this review.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Guilt or Grace?

My sister and I were texting back and forth.  We had spent the morning together shopping at Target and Bed Bath and Beyond.  Our excursion was over but not the conversation.  

In the midst of talking about the Target tees we missed,  I texted her:

Amen...the enemy knows if we hang on to guilt we can't hang on to choose!

Even as I typed it, I knew I too had to make the choice.  We all do.  

How many times have the sins I have committed left me feeling impotent to change and dejected?  Many.

How many times has His grace been sufficient?  Countless.

Not coincidently, yesterday I was reading from 2 Corinthians 7.  I wrote in my notes:

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation (leaves no regret)
Godly sorrow produces
1. earnestness
2. eagerness to clear oneself
3. indignation
4. alarm
5. longing
6. concern
7.  readiness to see justice done

I don't want to wallow in guilt.   Worldly sorrow only brings death.  I would rather spend my time receiving His grace and asking for a repentant heart because it will lead me to salvation and I will have no regrets.  

Today, I have that choice and so do you.  

Which will you choose:  guilt or grace?

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Count Your Blessings

Picture 19

Week of February 24-March 2

1.  Children's Service was such a blessing

2.  My BIL came over and we enjoyed sitting a spell then praying

3.  Family Bible Study

4.  Picking 3 words for the day is ggggrrrreat!

5.  Mami is back from Ecuador....yaaaay!!!!

6.  Late night gym work outs aren't the best but they get the job done

7.  Homeschooling in bed

8.  Enjoyed fellowship with FIC

9.  Mami cooked dinner

10.  Visited another church where my Pastor brought the Word...I will wait in You, O LORD

Week of March 3-March 9

1.  Watched The Bible on History Channel...was not impressed but maybe the books are better...enter for your chance to win one here and here

2.  First Monday prayer back with Mami

3.  Library Trip....sooooo many goodies:)

4.  Car prayers

5.  Watched Restart with Alicia

6.  Randy took some days off to rest...we were spoiled having him here:)

7.  Mami sent us food

8.  It snowed

9.  Prayed with my SIC who lives in the Dominican Republic

10.  Craigslist to the rescue for purging and making some cash in the process:)

20We wait in hope for the LORD;
he is our help and our shield.
21In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
22May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD,
even as we put our hope in you.
Psalm 33

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Book Review--So Shines the Night

So Shines the Night by Tracy L. Higley is a story of escaping the past only to find that its secrets begin to unravel in the present and threaten to destroy the future.  

The story is centered on the competing forces of the worshippers of Artemis, a group of sorcerers, and the followers of The Way for the city of Ephesus.  Lucas and Daria find themselves at the center of the conflict as they try to overcome their own dark pasts in order to secure a future free from the evil that surrounds them. 

Daria's initial goal of survival quickly turns into one of salvation, but not for herself but rather for her employer, Lucas.  Lucas on the other hand finds himself beyond redemption and bent on justice which has morphed into an all consuming vengeance.  Where will the two ultimately find salvation?

This is their story--Lucas' and Daria's need to let go of the past evils and cling to the truth of salvation found in Jesus.

The first one hundred pages were a difficult read.  The various names, obscure scenes, and terminology seemed to drag on.  The constant inner battle within Lucas, Daria's uncontrollable quest to save him through knowledge, and the dark and dismal characters of Demetrius and Hektor caused boredom at times making it difficult for the reader to be drawn in and take interest in the characters and plot.  Not until Paul's arrival did the story become intriguing although the depiction of Timothy's character in the story was not credible.  

As the story progresses, Lucas and Daria interchange roles, leaving Lucas no longer her rescuer but as the victim of the vengeance he seeks to unleash.

He was everything that terrified her, this.  And everything she needed.  But she could not be part of his vengeance or it would annihilate them both.  Perhaps he was the antidote for her disease, but it would kill before it cured.  p.275

Ultimately, Lucas and Daria come to the realization that salvation can not come through human effort, but not before the unfolding of mysteries, suspense, and drama centered around the Biblical account in Acts 19.

Overall, though the author sought to paint  a clear and descriptive portrait of the time and places, it seemed to drag on just a bit, undercutting the ability for the reader to become engaged in the story.  Efforts may have better directed into developing the characters.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, March 4, 2013

March Goals

1.  Work on Proverbs with girls on weekdays
2.  Memorize 2 Bible Verses
3.  Pray for SIC for the entire month
4.  4 Meatless Meals (good recipe to try)
5.  Freezer cooking 2x
7.  Mail out package and letters for Nthati & Abdi
8.  Finish 6 weeks of Project Life 2011
9.  Finish workout weeks
10.  Date night with husband

February Goals Update

1.  Work on Proverbs with girls on weekdays
2.  Memorize 2 Bible Verses
3.  Pray for SIC for the entire month
4.  4 Meatless Meals (I have to look for some recipes:)
5.  Freezer cooking 2x
7.  Mail out package and letters for Nthati & Abdi
8.  Finish 6 weeks of Project Life 2011
9.  Finish workout weeks

You'll notice that a lot of my goals seem to be the same every month and there is a reason for it.  I am trying to create habits in my life.  While checking off things on a list appeals to me, creating lasting change appeals more.  So, my goals will begin to change once a habit has developed in me concerning areas in my life I want to SEE change:)

Some things I have learned along the way?  GRACE!  The biggest example of this has been my workouts.  Because February had some extra family to do's (like taxes), I had to focus on getting our paperwork ready (post to come on how to stay on top of this one).  When it came down to whether I would pray in the morning or go to the gym, prayer won!  So I had to learn to do with out some workouts or rearrange them in my schedule.  

Catching up on PL 2011 has been a fun walk down memory lane but I really want to get this done.  I am going with Shutterfly albums for this year and am excited to start on those asap.  

The only goal that carried over for this month was mailing out a package which I have to confirm the address first, then it's off to the post office for me!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Remind Me

I woke up after skipping out on going to the gym early in the morning. I gather my supplies and begin to get ready for prayer.

Even now as I write I am thinking about my prayer request that morning and thinking of its important for my life especially right now. God has a way of stirring me to change. He knows how I can be very resistant to change and thus it usually becomes a process for me. It usually begins with Him giving me a thought and then slowly I can see His picture. 

Sometimes during this process, my vision becomes blurry which is hard in itself to explain since He is giving me clear directions. But I bend down and begin to pray. 

He leads and I follow. My heart prays, "help me to receive Your love, help me to demonstrate Your love."

Intrinsically, I know that God loves me. He is love. But I firmly believe that there are things in our lives that prevent us from receiving His love which is why the Bible tells us in Ephesians 3:

16I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

I finish my prayers. I start on my day. No apparent bolts of love hitting me but I know that it is there. His love is always there.

Now we are sitting in the car, heading to church. I am in the second row because God's love touched a BIC's heart to come to church tonight. We are listening to music. I am in the back praying. Asking the God of the impossible to help each of us. We continue moving on the highways of NYC heading to church. 

As we approach the neighborhood of our church a song pierces through the air. Suddenly the bolts hit its target-my heart. I immediately know He's watching. I throw my hands in the air and raise my voice independent of those around me and begin praising my Father. Tears start streaming down my cheeks because I know that He's answering this morning's prayer. He listened and now I am receiving the response although it was always there--yes His love is always there.

I just needed His reminder.