Thursday, July 28, 2011

Tomorrow is the Big Day!!!

Late tonight, Sydney and I will officially launch the new and improved "Serve One Another in Love" website! That girl is AMAZING with blog design and has made our site more beautiful and organized than I could have ever done on my own! There are already a few posts there, waiting for someone to read them and we will have some features coming up soon!

In addition to our regular posts, there will also be a section devoted to Teens. We feel that the teen years are a particularly slippery time for Christians and we want to do everything we can to foster a healthy relationship with Christ.

I hope you'll stop by the new site when it launches and let us know what you think!  

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Leaving the Details to God

When I originally started this blog and it began to grow quickly, I worried about how God would provide for our family if I followed my calling to write and spread His word.  The answer came in the form of my husband being offered a job that he had wanted for over 3 years, one that paid well and offered insurance from almost the first day.

As the time passed, I went through a roller coaster of trusting in God and doubting my own contribution to the family. My husband, who most of my readers know is an unbeliever, was very upset with the amount of time I was devoting to a ministry and felt there were better things I could be doing. That's not why I stopped blogging, but I'm sure it played a part in the decision and the circumstances.

A few days ago, I decided that this blog was a major missing piece in the puzzle of me. I felt a purpose when I was spending time with Christ every day and praying for Him to give me a message to share with the world. The two hang-ups were my husband and the domain and hosting for the site we had built.

The answer to both "problems" came within 24 hours. First, Sydney worked tirelessly to find a way to bring the site back to life and purchased a new domain. That night, we stayed up late planning the rebirth of the Serve One Another in Love site, she dove into the design and I started writing new content.

The second solution came the next morning while my husband was at work. It seems that he's made quite the impression on some of the team leaders at his work and they are asking him to go out of town next week. This is not something they ask just anyone to do, so I'm very excited for my husband!  And this morning, he came home to tell me that his trip may be extended another week so he can visit other locations. The man who used to hop from job to job is stable where he is AND he's beginning to climb the ladder.

As of right now, I remember how amazing life can be when you leave the details to God. There's really no point worrying about them all the time because He knows what he's doing!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Coming Back to Life

I first of all want to apologize to everyone who read this blog for my dropping off the face of the earth. There were many issues that led to me not posting anymore but it is something I regret. I hit a moment of darkness and pulled away from many of the things that I loved so much.

First and foremost, I have to admit that I pulled away from God. Rather than turning to him when life was overwhelming me, I allowed Satan to win the battle. There are many ways he was trying to pull me away from Christ and it worked. Until now.

For those who have read Serve One Another in Love when it was self-hosted (which it soon will be again, thanks to Sydney) I have battled depression for a number of years. This year has been one of the worst, which seems odd since so many things were going right in my life.

It will take time to get back into the swing of things, but I truly hope to start posting again and building my relationship with Christ to where it was and beyond.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Way He Works

It hasn't even been three weeks since I started this blog and yet it feels like I've been doing it forever.  When I started, I figured that someday it was supposed to grow into something more. Well, "someday" is now.  Well, someday is as soon as the hosting company emails me back and we get some kinks worked out so I can start getting the site ready to go live!

The same day I started this blog, I had a self-proclaimed stalker named Sydney.  It was cute, the way she commented on every post, both here and on my Blog Frog community.  I fell in love with her writing and her compassion for others.  She was the first person to jump in and help me when I needed some posts for the time I was out of commission this week. She has become a sister in Christ of the best kind!

I'm excited that she and I will be working together to form a comprehensive ministry site. She is working on a newsletter that she felt called to begin, we will have bloggers posting on different aspects of Christian life and I hope to begin an online study group in the near future.  This will also become the home of all of my book reviews.

I truly hope that you will keep watching and join us as soon as the site is ready to go live!

If you would like to be a part of this ministry, please email me at galatians513blog@gmail.com and let me know what topics you would like to write about!

Day 16 - Prayer for Morality and Purity

Today is the 16th day of the 40 Days of Prayer challenge. If you missed yesterday's prayer and would like to add it to today's prayer, you can find it here.

When you hear words like "morality" and "purity" you may think, at first, that these are very old-fashioned words that aren't heard in 2011.  That is what makes it especially important for us to pray that we can hang on to these character qualities in our lives. As children of God, we need to be especially mindful to live a life for Him, avoiding all immoral actions. We also need to work very hard to avoid the pitfalls of the world we live in and live a pure life for Him. 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Changes Are Coming!!

I'm not going to get into too much detail yet, but please stay tuned for some big and exciting changes!

Rising With God Winner

Congratulations to Wander, comment #7, you are the winner of "Rising With God."  Please send me your address so I can send the book!

Putting Things in Perspective

If you frequent any message boards that cater to bloggers, there is a common theme that runs across every site, "How do I get more followers on my blog?" I will admit, I have posted those threads and been slightly upset that no one seems to have the magical answer.  It took a discussion with my pastor to put things in perspective for me and lead me to ask Christ to place contentment in my heart with the growth of my blog.

Pastor Sue has been a huge source of encouragement for me as I have begun this ministry. For the first time ever, I too the news of my calling to her rather than to a member of my family. As strange as it may sound, my first email to her solidified that I was doing what He wants me to do.  You see, I've always placed clergy on some sort of pedestal and viewed them as too busy to focus on my joys and concerns.  Yes, I know that's foolish but the pastors of my youth were somewhat intimidating.

Earlier this week, I was in her office and we were talking about the blog. I told her how many page views my blog is getting per day.  Now, I'm not unhappy with how many I have but, as with anything, I would love to have more. Then, she told me that she doesn't get that many people into the seats in church on Sunday.  That really hit me. Maybe I'm not doing as bad as I thought since I have people choosing to come to my site daily and every single day I have more views than we have members in church. Boy, sounds like I need to just take what the Lord has given me and be happy with it!

In some ways, I think we are even more driven to have huge numbers when we view our blogs as a ministry to others. If you choose to spread God's Word with people, you want to spread it to the masses. When you start to feel that way, perhaps it's time to remember that some of the greatest work performed by Jesus and his disciples was done in front of very few people.



Day 15- Prayer for our Integrity

Today is the 15th day of the 40 Days of Prayer challenge. If you missed yesterday's prayer and would like to add it to today's prayer, you can find it here.


“Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody's going to know whether you did it or not.” - Oprah Winfrey

 

Today, we are praying for our integrity. Over the course of life, we run into many different unplanned, unexpected situations. We need to be able to make the right choices! Do you know anyone who is in a tough place right now? Say a prayer that they will be able to understand what is right and act on that, no matter what the problem is. Let's all be wise in our decision-making, even if no one else ever knows what we decide.

She Speaks Sponsorship



She speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue.”
Proverbs 31:26


The She Speaks Conference is a life-changing conference for women seeking to step out in the passion God has placed on their heart.  Hosted by Proverbs 31 Ministries (501(c)3), She Speaks encourages and equips women to make the most of their messages, communicating God's Word through:

She Writes: (Writers Track) From basic writing guidelines to preparing an article or manuscript for submission, and everything in between. In addition, the opportunity to meet one-on-one with some of the top editors, publishers, and literary agents in the Christian market.
She Speaks: (Speakers Track) Whether speaking in a large arena or leading Bible studies in church, participants will be equipped with the tools needed to effectively share the Word of God, create a bio sheet, market her ministry, and give successful presentations.
She Leads: (Women's Ministry Track) This track is specifically designed for women's ministry directors and facilitators.  Included are creative ways to reach her community with the life-transforming hope of Jesus, organize small groups, select a team of volunteers, plan successful events, and network with other directors.

The Lord has laid it on my heart to attend She Speaks in July 2011.  My first step is to raise funds. Will you prayfully consider partnering with me through a financial contribution towards a scholarship?  

As you feel led to join me in this exciting call, there are two ways to participate.  Call Proverbs 31 Ministries at 877-731-4663 to contribute by credit card; or send a check payable to Proverbs 31 Ministries to:

Proverbs 31 Ministries
She Speaks Scholarship/Heather Brooks
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105

Please be sure to designate the scholarship in my name in order to credit my scholarship fund.  You will be receipted for your tax-deductible donation.  For more information: www.shespeaksconference.com.

Thank you for your prayers and support.

My Faith Friday #2

Today, I don't have a guest blogger for My Faith Friday, so I'm writing something up at 2am. I really hope that since Bubba is just now going back to sleep we'll be able to sleep in a bit.  I can dream!

Yesterday, I took a huge step for me.  I shared part of my story with our Bible Study group at church. You see, I can talk to readers who are on the other side of a computer connection all day but I'm still a bit nervous at times to talk to those I know about where my faith is and where I'm hoping it will go.  Pastor keeps saying to me, "I really hope you can share your testimony with the church someday." and the thought scared me to death! What if they all laugh at me? What if they don't take me seriously? Well, if the general church is anything like it was at study, I will have a much larger support system in place for what I'm trying to do!  

Tonight's study lesson was talking about Jesus at Gethsemane and how he told God that it was His will, not Jesus' will that was to be done.  That led to a couple of fascinating conversations that I hope to share with you before Easter, but that's not this story...

The conversation question asked about a time we felt anxiety about saying, "not my will but Your will be done."  I knew it was time to share and I did.  I explained how I got to where I am today with the blog and a little of what I hope to do.  When I was done, one participant thanked me for sharing and many of them asked for my blog address.  (If any of you are reading this, THANK YOU for supporting me emotionally!)

I learned an important lesson today, that we can't underestimate the good that can be done by sharing our stories. I truly hope that, in time, everyone who reads this blog will feel comfortable to share their story of faith. It may not be on the blog, but somewhere to someone who needs to hear it!

Ultimate Blog Party 2011 Prize

Next month, I'm going to take part in the "Ultimate Blog Party" hosted by 5 Minutes for Mom. Not only am I going to participate, I also want to donate a prize to a lucky party-goer!  Whoever wins will get Busy Mom's BibleA Conversation with God: If You Could Ask God Anything What Would It Be?, and Thirty-One Days of Drawing Near to God: Resting Securely in His Delight.

In addition, I will have random "quick fire" giveaways during the week. I hope you'll join the party with me!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Miss Mack Gets Silly

Some days, we just have to take a moment to enjoy the little blessings God has given us!  Miss Mack is a bit impatient for her second tooth to come out.  At least she has some manners...

Day 14 - Prayer for Abuse Victims

Today is the 14th day of the 40 Days of Prayer challenge. If you missed yesterday's prayer and would like to add it to today's prayer, you can find it here.




Today, we are taking a moment to pray for those who have been victims of any type of abuse. Abuse victims come in all shapes and sizes, from little children to elderly adults. We pray that the Lord will watch over them and keep them safe. We want Him to help them find a way out of the terrible situation they are living in and their accusers to face punishment for their evil actions.


In addition, I would ask for Christ to enter the lives of the abusers and help them overcome their own demons that lead to their actions. Please help them see what they are doing and guide them to a peaceful place where they can ask forgiveness for their sins and receive any treatment necessary to keep them from offending again.


If you have a moment, please also read this post and take a moment to vote for Melinda, a fellow blogger whose ministry is devoted to helping victims of abuse and other unfortunate circumstances.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Favor For Another Blogger

Melinda Todd from "Trailing After God" is trying to win funding to expand her mission and needs votes! If you have a Facebook page, please click on this link to vote for her.  For those who don't know, Melinda works to help women who have struggled with abuse, depression and alcoholism among other afflictions.

Voting is quick and painless and you'll be helping our sister in Christ achieve her goal!

You Can't Take Without Giving

Recently, I joined a forum for writers to discuss the craft and learn about different aspects of the publishing/writing world.  Once you have a certain number of posts, you can share work that you have written to have other writers give you brutally honest feedback. 

As I got close to the required number of posts, I got excited at the prospect of having something I'm working on critiqued so I have a better feel for whether or not it's good quality writing. Then, as if she knew that I was looking forward to this milestone, another board member told me that it would be advantageous for me to critique the work of others before jumping to share mine.

At first, I was slightly offended that she felt the need to tell me this. After all, I had been trying to spend part of my time looking at others' work and offering feedback.  I wasn't expecting to instantly receive critique with nothing in return.  As I scanned through other posts on the board, it became clear to me that this has been an issue in the past on this board and I felt confident that it wasn't a jab at me.

As I laid in bed last night, I realized how this situation can be adjusted to fit many scenarios in life.  We live in a very self-centered world, everyone looking out for themselves. We expect others to do something for us without thinking about whether there is something we could do for the other person.

I have been guilty of this in the past, just as much as anyone. From now on, I am going to work on thinking of what I can do for those who do something for me without them asking a favor.  And when I do something for someone else, I no longer want to keep a mental tally of what I've done for them. Doing so isn't helping us to serve in love, it is still self-service veiled behind helping someone out.

Day 13 - Prayer for the Underemployed

Today is the 13th day of the 40 Days of Prayer challenge. If you missed yesterday's prayer and would like to add it to today's prayer, you can find it here.


40 Days of Prayer Button
 
Today, we are praying for those who are blessed to have a job while experiencing the pain of not having enough to sustain their families. Many families have reached a point where they have to choose between food and a roof over their heads because there simply isn't enough money left to pay for everything. We hear stories of families who have had to move into cramped motel rooms because it's cheaper than all of the expenses of having a home.

Love At the Heart of Service

Today's guest post comes from Carla Maclachlan, the wonderful author of "Applying Truth in Daily Living." I was honored when she answered my call for help asking readers to send me their thoughts and stories. I hope you'll stop by her blog as well!

When I substitute for someone else I want to be mindful to do things like he or she would want them done. For example, Heather’s heartfelt desire for us, her readers, is to learn to serve others in love. Personally, I enjoy serving others, but I’m not certain if I always serve from a motive of love.

In being completely honest with you there are times when I view acts of service as an obligation. There are also times when I’m thinking more of how I want to meet the needs of others rather than how their needs could best be met.

In the same way I chose to be honest about my shortcomings I also want to be honest about those times when I serve out of a genuine motive of love and how I can distinguish the difference.

In 1 Corinthians 13:3 Paul writes: If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

When I serve from a selfish motive I draw attention to myself, focus on the tasks needing to be done rather than the person, consider the ways I might be inconvenienced or I let others know what I am doing.

When I serve from a motive of love I ask God to show me what the person needs rather than providing what I want him to have. When I desire to serve others with love I am patient in my actions and gracious with my words. I am not in a hurry, but want to be thorough in doing all God asks of me. When showing genuine love to others my service is an offering to my Lord Jesus as I desire for Him to receive all the glory.

In John 13:34-35 Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

In honor of our Lord Jesus, may we choose daily to serve one another in love.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tyndale Book Club Hub Newsletter

I just received a wonderful email from Tyndale regarding their new Book Club Hub newsletter. I think this is going to be an amazing opportunity to expand our ministry to include an online book club and discussion where we can share our faith.

For the next 30 days, Tyndale will be doing giveaways of some of their books and gearing up for a wonderful newsletter filled with ideas for book clubs.  I'm looking forward to sharing this opportunity with my blog readers!  If you want a chance to win the books, you can find the details here.

I will be posting more details as they become available!

Day 12 - Prayer for Students to Remain Diligent and Respect Their Teachers

Today is the 12th day of the 40 Days of Prayer challenge. If you missed yesterday's prayer and would like to add it to today's prayer, you can find it here.





40 Days of Prayer Button
 
The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied. - Proverbs 13:4

Today, we are praying for students to be diligent in their schoolwork and to respect their teachers. In our busy world, it is easy for children to get off track and lose the initiative they once had in doing schoolwork. Also, many students see teachers simply as people to make their life miserable, and they don't show much respect or thankfulness for them.


Even though most students don't really like school, they still need to show respect for their teachers and peers. Teachers are there to help students learn and homework is there to help better prepare students for the real world. Students are being provided with wonderful resources through schooling, and we don't want them to miss out. Be praying the students can stay on track, focus on what's important, and realize what a blessing their education really is!

Monday, March 21, 2011

She Speaks - A Journey of Self-Discovery

She Speaks Conference
Ever since stumbling upon the information about She Speaks, I have felt that I was given that information for a reason, that I need to be there.  I also know that with me staying at home right now, that's just about impossible unless I can win a scholarship. But what if I don't win? What if God has other women in mind who need it more than me? I have entered several contests and He keeps choosing someone else. Even though I know that He works through us and He is the one truly choosing the winners, it's nearly impossible to not feel down at some point.

What if I am supposed to go to She Speaks even if I don't win a scholarship. Anything worth getting is worth working for, right? So, I'm going to start working towards raising my own funds. It won't be easy but it will give me a total appreciation for the knowledge I will gain while I'm there. Hopefully, I will come home with the know-how on getting the books in my head onto paper and into print.

I think those around me are starting to think I'm crazy for repeatedly saying that I'm giving control over to God, but I truly feel that I am allowing Him to work in my mlife for the first time ever. And if this conference is truly His desire for me, He will show me the way to make it.

If you would be interested in helping me raise the funds to attend, please email me at  galatians513blog@gmail.com and I will send you the information of donating money to my scholarship fund directly through Proverbs 31 Ministries. This way, you know that your money is going where it should be, something you can never be too careful about on the internet!

Day 11 - Prayer for Those Battling Addictions

Thank you to Sydney for jumping in to help out this week!  


Today is the 11th day of the 40 Days of Prayer challenge. If you missed yesterday's prayer and would like to add it to today's prayer, you can find it here.


40 Days of Prayer Button

Today, we are praying for people to be set free from their addictions. Understand that whatever someone's addiction may be, they are not a bad person. They have just made some wrong choices, that, with prayer, we can help them overcome.

Deep down, those with addictions are no different than any of us. We all make wrong choices sometimes, and we eventually pick ourselves back up again. If you know someone battling an addiction, don't be a stranger! Reach out to them in their time of need. Sometimes all a person needs to get their life back on track is a little encouragement and the comfort of knowing they are not alone in this world.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Rising With God - Book Review and Giveaway

As a result of many comments from readers, I have started trying to find devotional books that will make it easier for us to find time to renew our spirits in the morning. Last week, I received "Rising with God" by Marjorie L. Kimbrough.

I opened the book when I got home, thinking I would read a couple of pages and then put it away until the next morning. Before I knew it, I was more than half through the book. This may have been just the book I was looking for to help me learn to be studious and grow my faith in Jesus.

Each of the devotions were only a couple of pages long, perfect for those of us who claim we're too busy to find time for God in the morning. The messages were applicable to the real world, they don't come across as "preachy" or impersonal. The devotions begin with a Bible verse, something I cling to since I'm not at a point where I have any clue where to find verses on my own. At the end of the devotions, there is a very short and simple prayer.

I have read other devotion books, but very few of them seem to find the perfect length that Ms. Kimbrough has found with hers. Very few of the chapters leave me longing for more and they are short enough that I don't feel like I couldn't sneak them in before the rest of the house wakes up.

This week, one lucky reader of my blog is going to receive "Rising with God" in the mail.  To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post.  If you want more than one opportunity to win, you can:

Like "Serve One Another in Love" via Google Friend Connect or Networked Blogs. (1entry)
Join the "Serve One Another in Love" Blog Frog community. (1entry)
Like the Facebook page by clicking on the box to the right. (1entry)
Post about this giveaway on your blog or FB. (1entry)
Tweet this post by clicking the Twitter button under the post. (1entry daily)

The giveaway will be open until Friday, 3/25 at 8pm CDT.  At that point, I will draw a winner from all of the comments submitted using random.org.

**Don't forget to leave a separate comment for each entry!


I received this book free from Abingdon Press.  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.”

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Pardon My Dust

It looks like today is going to be a perfect day for me to work on tweaking my blog. So if you're wandering around today and things get all weird, you're not losing your mind! And if you really like or really don't like something, feel free to give me some feedback here!

Day Ten - Prayer for the Homeless

Today is the 10th day of the 40 Days of Prayer challenge. If you missed yesterday's prayer and would like to add it to today's prayer, you can find it here.



40 Days of Prayer Button


They will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'
He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' ~Matthew 25:44-45

Today, we pray for those who are homeless. Whether it is by poor choices made in life or a failing economy, they are all deserving of our prayers. We pray for their safety and health and someone to help give them the tools to regain the life they want to live.

I will also be praying for every one of us to find it in ourselves to help the homeless in some way. Just as with my post on paying it forward, there are many different ways you can help the homeless. Perhaps you can find time to take your family to a soup kitchen to volunteer or you can stock up on toiletries when you find them on sale and donate them to a shelter. The homeless shelters in our area also accept donations of old blankets and coats.






If you are joining us on this 40 day journey of prayer, please add your link below so we can support one another in love. If you're so inclined, you can also grab the button to the left to let your readers know you are participating and invite them to join the challenge!

Friday, March 18, 2011

First Giveaway Winner!

Congratulations to the winner of the Busy Mom's Bible!  The winner is comment #24 from Mrs. Schorp.  Please email me your address so I can send this off to you!


My Faith Friday: Jen's Story

Today, I am happy to kick-off what I hope will be a long running feature on Serve One Another in Love. Every Friday, I hope to share a story of faith from someone else. This week, Jen is sharing her story of faith even when faced with becoming the parent of a special-needs child.
JMB is the mother of two beautiful daughters, ages 11 and 7, and wife to "B" for 15 years. Their younger daughter Sophie was diagnosed with Prader-Willi Syndrome, a rare genetic syndrome, at 6 weeks old. JMB has been blogging since 2009. If you enjoy her story of faith, please stop by "Say What You Need to Say" and thank her!

Just over seven years ago, my younger daughter was born. She arrived fully equipped with ten fingers, ten toes, beautiful skin, and her very own, rare, challenging genetic syndrome: Prader-Willi Syndrome. In the few seconds it took for her to arrive in this world, I went from being whoever I was back then, to being a special-needs parent. Although I have no idea how much of the journey lies ahead, or how much further it will impact my faith, I do know that in that moment...everything changed, including my faith life.

When I look back and try to remember the details of the first year of her life, they are a blur of doctor's appointments, therapy appointments, feeding frustrations, fear, shock, a bit of grieving....and then, when she finally, finally seemed to turn a corner/eat better/smile, then came better times. As we very gradually got a grip on things (an ongoing and never-finished process), we also began to slowly adjust to our new title, "special-needs parents".

I do not recall, in the first months of fear and crying and adjustment, ever getting angry at God. I do not recall many moments of the "why us" variety - because, while I am curious about why this is part of God's plan for us, for our family, and for our daughter, it is in more of an intellectual way than anything else.

It is perfectly natural for special-needs parents to ask angry "why?" questions. In my opinion, getting "angry with God" when a child is born with a disease or medical issue or syndrome is just part of the grieving process the child's parents go through. They grieve for the life they thought they would have with the child - all the activities they thought they would do, all the "normal" family stuff - the vacations, the birthday parties, the day-to-day life as a family. All those things look different, when a child with special needs is born. So it would not have been surprising had either I or my husband decided to rail at God, for Sophie having been born with this complex and frustrating syndrome.

But I didn't. I'm just not prone to that. Furthermore, in those first months I was far too busy and exhausted to spend a lot of time being angry. I had my moments, certainly, of crying and being heart-broken, of repeatedly saying to my husband "this wasn't how it was supposed to be". Of course I have wondered why Sophie was chosen to carry the challenges of PWS with her all her life (there is no "cure" for PWS). Of course I have wondered why God chose to send her to us.
Perhaps the answer is this: God chose Sophie to be a blessing. Pure and simple, a blessing. Sophie is in no way a "mistake" - she was created exactly as God wished her to be, faulty 15th chromosome included. I don't need to fix her - she's not broken. She's perfect just as she is. She has brought so many moments of unadulterated joy to our lives: learning how to talk when that is such a difficult skill for children with PWS to master, learning how to walk unassisted, and learning how to read... for children with PWS and their parents, none of these achievements can be taken for granted - they are a huge celebration, every time.

The "fire" that is this syndrome, is most assuredly being used to refine my soul. Many days I know I am found wanting - the days when the behavioral issues of PWS are just too much...when Sophie's hyperphagia (consistent feeling of starving along with a consequent obsession with food) is driving both her and me crazy...when her behavioral quirks are proving unbearable to her older sister. But the lesson I am learning, through all of this, is that God doesn't make mistakes, and that as challenging as living with PWS is for our little family, good things have and will continue to come from this journey.

Being a special-needs parent....you know what it demands of me, every single day? It demands that I look consistently to God, to ask for grace and patience, kindness and compassion. It demands that I lean on Him consistently, and especially when I have nothing left, emotionally and mentally. It requires that I consistently forgive those in Sophie's life, both now and in the future, who may not be very kind to her - children and adults alike. This particular parenting job with my Sophie asks very specifically for love that is unconditional, that is firm in protection, that is consistent in forgiveness. Much as I might wish she could control her constant hunger or her behaviors, she just can't. As frustrating as that might be for her and for us, the bottom line through all of this is that we - and everyone around her - love her for exactly who she is. When she has a meltdown and becomes hostile, as frustrating as that is, we must forgive her - because it is the syndrome talking, and not her. I also have to forgive myself at times, for the very human feelings I often have in response to the demands this syndrome places on me, as Sophie's primary caregiver. I have to draw on a supply of understanding I don't often feel, in order to be patient with both Sophie and her sister. I don't know where else that supply can come from, except from God, who is right there in the room with me. That knowledge helps, because it is so very easy to feel alone in this journey.

Thanks for reading!
Later,
Jen

Day Nine - Pray for Those Living in War Zones

Today is the 9th day of the 40 Days of Prayer challenge. If you missed yesterday's prayer and would like to add it to today's prayer, you can find it here.


40 Days of Prayer Button


They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. ~1 Peter 3:11

It seems like it is impossible to turn on the news without hearing about wars and violence in other parts of the world. Today, we pray for those who live in these areas. We pray that God will keep them safe from the dangers they face every day and we pray for peace and understanding among the fighting factions.

When two groups are so passionate about their cause, it is easy to attempt to resolve the issue without regard for the innocence that is sure to be lost. It is only once everyone begins to seek peace that true progress can be made.

If you are joining us on this 40 day journey of prayer, please add your link below so we can support one another in love. If you're so inclined, you can also grab the button to the left to let your readers know you are participating and invite them to join the challenge!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Beware of the Devil in Disguise

Yesterday, Miss Mack brought me the mail and there was a curious piece in the stack. It was an envelope that had a prayer on the back. I couldn't help but wonder where I had given my address that led to this envelope. When I saw that it was addressed to "A friend at..." it was easy to feel as if it was yet another way God is speaking to me and trying to lead me down His path.

As I looked at the contents of the envelope, something began to feel a bit off. There was a paper "prayer rug" that I was instructed to kneel on as I prayed that He would help me with the problems I'm currently facing. I am very much a "Jesus minimalist" and don't feel like I have to put myself in a certain position or say certain words in order for my prayers to be heard so this annoyed me!

There were testimonials from others who have been helped through this "ministry" and it drew me in. What struggling mother of two who is trying to fund conference attendance wouldn't love money mysteriously appearing? That's when it hit me. This wasn't sent to me by God, this envelope was sent to me by Satan.

After putting the name of the church into a search engine along with the word scam, I came up with pages of results, all from people who sent the prayer card to the "church" and were then asked to donate endless amounts of money and told it was the only way for their prayers to be heard.

As someone who has faith in Him and knowing that salvation does not come by works, I was able to think rationally and not fall prey. But how many of the people who received these letters will see this as an answer to their prayers? It is easy to want to see messages from Him where they don't exist, it takes strength to know when they are coming from Satan as a way to get us to stray.

Please, please, please, if you see an envelope like this in your mailbox, throw it away and say a prayer for those behind the scam. There is something truly heartless and cold about deception in the name of Jesus.

Day Eight - Prayer for those you don't like

Today is the 8th day of the 40 Days of Prayer challenge. If you missed yesterday's prayer and would like to add it to today's prayer, you can find it here.




40 Days of Prayer Button


The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." ~Galatians 5:14

Today, we pray for those we don't like. In the world we live in, it's inevitable that not everyone gets along. In some ways, that's what makes the world an interesting place. At the same time, not liking someone doesn't give us free reign to wish ill will on them. Today, pray for someone you don't get along with that God will keep them safe. If there is a specific situation that caused you to not like them, have you forgiven them? Christ tells us to forgive others just as He forgave us. Perhaps today is the day to let that go!



If you are joining us on this 40 day journey of prayer, please add your link below so we can support one another in love. If you're so inclined, you can also grab the button to the left to let your readers know you are participating and invite them to join the challenge!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I May Just Roll With It

This morning, when I failed yet again to wake up when the alarm went off, I came to a realization. I'm trying to do all of these things God wants me to do without questioning it. Is there a chance that He just wants me to stay up late at night and do my work rather than getting up in the morning to do it?

I would like to think not because I do so love the peace of the early morning, getting to see the sunrise and drinking coffee without hearing, "MOM" a thousand times. But why is it that no matter what I try, no matter how early I go to bed, I just can not get up?

So, tonight I am embracing the thought that I am and always will be a night owl. I will still have to get up in the morning with Bubba so I'm not going too overboard with this whole thing! I do have to say, it's not the same as early morning but it's still peaceful with him sleeping and Miss Mack at her Nana's for the night! I'm getting so much more done than I did all day!

Here I am Lord

As I type this, I'm listening to our church service from the end of February and "Here I am Lord" is the first hymn in the service. This is the service my step-mom led where she kept commenting about everything falling together. There's something about sitting in the quiet of my living room with no distractions to make me truly listen to the lyrics. What a beautiful song that is so fitting for life right now.


I, the Lord of snow and rain,
I have born my peoples pain.
I have wept for love of them, They turn away.
I will break their hearts of stone,
Give them hearts for love alone.
I will speak My word to them,
Whom shall I send?

Here I am Lord, Is it I Lord?
I have heard You calling in the night.
I will go Lord, if You lead me.
I will hold Your people in my heart.


Wouldn't it be wonderful if we all could answer His call in this way?

My Faith Fridays

Would you describe your faith as something you wear (and tell about) proudly or as something you keep in your back pocket where no one can see it?

If there's one thing I'm learning on this journey of mine, it's that sometimes I feel very alone, like I'm the only person who is going through what I am. Of course, I know this isn't true and that there are many amazing stories of faith out there. Some are similar to mine and some people have gone through SO much more that I admire their strength and faith in Jesus.

It is for that reason that I'm going to start featuring "My Faith Friday", a day devoted to sharing stories of faith from others on my blog. I have already placed a call for guest bloggers in a few places and have some amazing stories of faith scheduled to come out in the next few weeks. If you are interested in sharing your story, you can leave me a comment with your email address or you can email me at galatians513blog@gmail.com.

I hope you'll join me on Friday when Jennifer will share her story of faith as a special-needs parent. Remember the faith stories that I admire, yeah, she's one of them!

Day Seven - Prayer for those who go to bed hungry

Today is the seventh day of the 40 Days of Prayer challenge. If you missed yesterday's prayer and would like to add it to today's prayer, you can find it here.



40 Days of Prayer Button



Have you ever gone to bed without eating dinner? The restless sleep that follows going to bed on an empty stomach can leave you feeling even worse the next morning. Now, imagine that you hadn't eaten anything that day. Unfortunately, this is the situation too many people in the world experience on a daily basis. Today, we pray that God will sustain them and provide them the nutrition needed to stay or get healthy!


If you are joining us on this 40 day journey of prayer, please add your link below so we can support one another in love. If you're so inclined, you can also grab the button to the left to let your readers know you are participating and invite them to join the challenge!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Issues Waking Up

Here's the part where I get all selfish. I really want to be able to wake up in the morning but I also really love my sleep. To many of you, it may seem like a simple solution, go to bed earlier.  The problem is I'm a natural night owl so I toss and turn trying to go to sleep.

So, what advice do you have for helping me end my love affair with the snooze button??? Seriously, it's an unhealthy relationship!

Day Six - Prayer for Estranged Friends

Today is the sixth day of the 40 Days of Prayer challenge. If you missed yesterday's prayer and would like to add it to today's prayer, you can find it here.




40 Days of Prayer Button



Everyone has friends they have lost touch with over the years. The more we grow, the more our lives drift from one another until all that is left are memories of the times you shared. Today, we pray for those friends. If there was a rift that caused the estrangement, perhaps this would be a time to pray for the fences to be mended and a friendship once again. If there are reasons why you no longer speak but you feel sadness when you think of the friend, ask for peace.
 
If you are joining us on this 40 day journey of prayer, please add your link below so we can support one another in love. If you're so inclined, you can also grab the button to the left to let your readers know you are participating and invite them to join the challenge!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Parenting Fail

As much as I'm trying to be a kinder, gentler parent, there are days like today when I find myself slipping into my old ways. Little Miss Mack is going on six and has a BAD case of cabin fever. This means that even though I tell her that Bubba can't play in the yard until the maintenance crew takes care of the doggie bombs she really doesn't care. She wants to play and nothing is going to keep her from incessantly whining in hopes that I will cave.

I try to rationalize with her, calmly explaining that I know she wants to go out and play today but that's not going to happen because there is too much mud and dog poo for her brother to be out there. "But mom!" is the only response over and over and over. And then starts the, "Fine, if you don't let me, I won't be your daughter anymore." Did I mention this girl is only five?? And finally, "You don't love me!"

And today, that is when I went from being the calm parent to losing my mind. I allowed this precious little girl to cut straight to my heart. And in that moment of hurt mixed with annoyance mixed with an evil headache coming on, I lashed out. I couldn't even stop myself from screaming at her.

And then, the guilt. I know how much better she reacts when I stay calm and I can see the hurt in her eyes when I lose it. So knowing that we both feel hurt, why can't I stop? I apologized to her and promised to keep trying to do better. Luckily, this is something we're trying to teach her, so she accepted my apology but that doesn't make it right.

Later, it was time for bed and she wanted snuggles. This is where I go in and lay down next to her as she dictates where on her body I'm supposed to "scratch ticklish." And then, Life 102.5 played Chris Tomlin, "I Will Follow" and this little spitfire started singing every single lyric looking right into my eyes.  Maybe it's not a total fail!

A Truly Blessed Giveaway!

**After receiving two comments requesting to not be included in this giveaway, I want to put this right up front. I will not remove any comments or keep anyone out of the drawing. God has a plan for this gift and if you already have Bibles at home and don't think you could possibly have another, I trust that you will find someone who needs it and give it to them. If God wants you to take possession of it, He will tell you whether it's yours to keep!

About a year ago, I walked into Walmart on a mission. I was trying to find God in my life and realized one important tool was missing. I couldn't find my Bible and had no clue when the last time I had seen it was. When I got to the book section of the store, I saw a variety of Bibles staring back at me but one JUMPED at me. It was the Busy Mom's Bible published by Zondervan.

Besides the name that described me perfectly, there was no ignoring the two-tone pink leather cover. When I was younger, you could find Bibles with black or red covers, that was it. This Bible had character! I plucked that box off the shelf and headed to the checkout, still uncertain how often the pages would be viewed.

When I got home and explored the Bible more, I found colored cardstock pages that offered one, five and ten minute Bible studies that were on specific topics such as your relationship with Christ, parenting, marriage, finances and stewardship. This was a great tool for a Bible beginner such as myself.

When I looked at the back of the Book, I found more guidance to verses on specific topics. Over the past year, this has become my greatest reference when I am searching for answers.

Last week, I emailed Zondervan and asked them for a donation that I could give away to a lucky reader. I was certain that my blog was too small and too new to receive such a donation but I had to try. Their site said they tried to answer emails within 2 business days so I went to bed Friday certain that my request would be unanswered.

This morning, there was a knock on the door and I saw the UPS truck outside. I assumed it was a package for my neighbor, after all, I had told the UPS driver that if she didn't answer I would accept anything for her. As I set the package down, I noticed that it was MY name on the package but I hadn't ordered anything. As soon as I saw the return address, I began to shake and nearly cried. Yes, I feel that strongly about this Bible!

So, thanks to the generous folks at Zondervan, I am giving away a brand new copy of the Busy Mom's Bible. I don't like giveaways with tons of hoops, but I do want to give you a couple of ways to win.

Mandatory Entry: Comment on this blog post. If you're busy, you don't have to write me an essay or anything!
For extra entries, you can do however many of the following you would like. Remember to leave a comment for any of them that you do so it counts!
Like my Facebook Page
Follow me on Twitter
Add your Blog to the 40 Days of Prayer linky or leave a comment that you are participating if you don't have a blog.
Follow my blog on Google Friend Connect or Bloglovin'. Both links are on the right.
Blog about this giveaway or share it with your friends. (2 entries for this one!)

This giveaway will be open until 10pm CDT on Friday, March 18th. At that time, I will use random.org to choose a winner from all comments left.

**If you enter, make sure at least one of your comments includes a way to get in touch with you!**

Dreaming Big

For at least the past six months, I have felt a pull on my heart to bring up the idea of an ecumenical family group in our community. The one thing that has kept me from doing this is the fact that I am scared of hearing, "Great, do you want to be in charge of it?" from the church leaders. You see, as much as it would be wonderful to be involved in something larger than myself, I have never done it so there is a fear of the unknown.

The idea was born out of a failed attempt for our church to have a young couples get together. The response was nearly nothing and it was canceled. My first thought was that we could have had a greater response if it had been open to more people. You see, while our church is growing, many of the younger couples have small children and are unable to be as involved in the church as they would like to be.

I want to host a group that is open to all where we could get together for a family pot luck dinner, followed by allowing the children to play (and possibly asking the church youth groups to help entertain the kids) while we conduct a Bible study that will help us become more dedicated to helping our children lead Christian lives.

Another benefit of doing this is that we would be forming a circle of families that could help one another in times of need. There are many times when something is going on and parents may need someone to help out with the children for a short time. Once relationships form, parents would know other parents who can help and they will have confidence that their children are in a home where the family shares values with their own.

Thanks to Proverbs 31 Ministries, there is an opportunity for me to attend She Speaks, a conference dedicated to giving women the tools they need to follow their mission and lead their own ministries. This week, Renee Swope is hosting a scholarship contest for one winner to receive a full scholarship to the conference. I would love to win this scholarship so I can receive some guidance in making this dream a reality.

My Wisconsin Experience

Since early in February, the Capitol in Wisconsin has been filled with chants such as, "Who's House?" "OUR HOUSE" and "Tell me what democracy looks like!" "THIS is what democracy looks like!" My first trip to our house since everything began was during the beginning of the whole situation.

It was Friday afternoon and I was debating whether or not to venture up to the square to see what all was going on. When I drove up to the parking ramp as the "full" sign went off, I figured it was a sign that this is where I was supposed to be. Did I mention that even with 20,000+ protesters, I managed to find parking less than 2 blocks from the capitol?  Yeah, I was pretty stoked!

When I got up to the crowd, I called my brother who was already somewhere in the mass of red and white and signs. You would think it'd be great to hear that he was already inside the capitol rotunda and I did at first.

I made my way through the sea of people and made my way into the building. As I walked down the hallway, I saw a wall of people coming towards me. With the police officers trying to make a clear path, I started to get worried that I had come just as things turned ugly (for the record, it's been over a month and there haven't been any huge disruptions) and started asking myself why I came.

I looked at the first person I saw that wasn't in the pack and asked her what was going on. She told me that Jesse Jackson was coming down the hall. Yes, the same Jesse Jackson that I have called a media whore on several occasions was here, just a few feet away from me.  After seeing how much time he has spent here in Madison without the cameras rolling, I have changed my view of him.  I couldn't help myself, I joined the rest of the pack and held my cell phone as high as I could and got a good picture of him talking to the media. (I really hope I can get that picture off the cellphone memory card that took a bath...)

That was only a minorly cool thing compared to what I experienced for the next hour. I stood in the rotunda, soaking in the history that was being made in front of my eyes. I joined the chants even though I was uncertain at this point where I stood on the bill that was being protested. I cried a little as a boy not much older than my own rode through the capitol on his firefighter dad's shoulder as their union paraded through the building, complete with bagpipes and drums.

And then, it happened... I was a part of the coolest thing that may ever happen inside the Wisconsin Capitol. The National Anthem was sung by every person standing in that building. It's one thing to hear thousands of people singing it at a ball game, it's completely different to hear it sung in a building filled with people fighting for what they believe in.



Even if I do not make it down there again while the rallies are taking place, I can know that I have taken my place in Wisconsin, and possibly national, history.

Day Five - Prayer for Wisconsin State Leaders

asToday is the fifth day of the 40 Days of Prayer challenge. If you missed yesterday's prayer and would like to add it to today's prayer, you can find it here.




40 Days of Prayer Button


If you are not from Wisconsin, feel free to prayer for your state's leadership in place of Wisconsin today. On the other hand, being a proud Wisconsinite, I can tell you we need all of the prayers we can get. For the past month, our state has been in the middle of a huge debate over collective bargaining rights as well as MANY other items that the governor is looking to cut or limit as a way of repairing the budget. I'm not trying to get political and will not inject my personal views here, but we could really use prayers that both sides can eventually work together to come to an agreement that is good for the budget and good for the state.

Every weekend, the size of the crowds at the Capitol continues to grow. The leadership is convinced that if they ignore the people long enough, it will all go away. Even though the bill was passed this past week, there was a record crowd on hand yesterday including a tractorcade of farmers driving through the streets of downtown Madison to show their support. Maybe on another post I will tell you about my first trip up there, it was pretty amazing and I would have thought so no matter which side I was on!  Below is an image of some of the signs inside the Capitol before they were taken down and cataloged for the WI Historical Museum and the Smithsonian.


In addition to the leadership in general, I am praying for the crowds to remain peaceful in this time of incredible stress. I have a second cousin who is a legislator for the state and worry every day that someone may get stupid and take their anger out on him. There is also a woman who I had the pleasure of meeting during my time working outside of the home that has become a bit of a point person in getting information out to the public. I want both of them, and everyone else, to be safe!



If you are joining us on this 40 day journey of prayer, please add your link below so we can support one another in love. If you're so inclined, you can also grab the button to the left to let your readers know you are participating and invite them to join the challenge!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Little Humor for Sunday Night

Have you heard of MercyMe? Matt Maher? Jars of Clay? Thousand Foot Crutch? Lecrae? The Afters? Okay, first of all, if you haven't, you need to Google them! If you have heard of them, you have got to check out this video of all of them doing a cover of "Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da," aka, goofing around backstage.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Paying It Forward

This week, there has been much talk of injecting something into life rather than restricting yourself from something during Lent. Sydney talks about availability being one key to a Godly character on Faithful Always and Lysa TerKeurst is using Lent as a season of "And then some" to help others.

If you're dealing with the budget strains many of us face right now, it can be hard to realize that you can still be a giving person without spending a ton of money.
  • Volunteer to Help. Find a group you are passionate about and donate your time. Whether it's helping out during Sunday School, assisting a food pantry or youth center or finding your local Habitat for Humanity sites, you are giving something even more valuable than money.
  • Donate Goods. You can go through your own home and find things that are no longer loved and pass them on to someone in need. Contact your local homeless shelters as well as Goodwill, St Vincent dePaul and any local care closets to see what they will take for donations. In this way, you are giving them items to sell to continue their missions.
  • Be a Friend. Is there someone in your neighborhood who may not have many friends or family around? Why not stop by to say hi someday? How do you act when you're walking down the street? Do you greet others as you pass them? In the busy time we live in, common courtesies seem to take too much time for many of us.
These are just a few things that you can do without spending a dime! As I think of more, I will be sure to pass them along! In the near future, I'm hoping to have my own site, God willing, at which point there will be a "Helping Hands" page!

Weekend Blog Hop

Love Moments Love Life

If you're looking for some new blogs to read this weekend, why not head over to "Love Moments Love Life" and join Sonal's weekend blog hop!

Day Four - Prayer for Estranged Family Members

Today is the fourth day of the 40 Days of Prayer challenge. If you missed yesterday's prayer and would like to add it to today's prayer, you can find it here.

40 Days of Prayer Button

Today, we send a prayer to Him for family with whom we are estranged. Too many times, personal feelings get in the way of our family bond and we fall away from one another. In some cases, this can last a few weeks but sometimes it can last for decades. Please say a prayer for anyone in your family that you have not spoken to in too long. Pray that He will intervene and help both sides process any hurt and anger they feel and that you may someday reclaim your place in one another's hearts.


If you are joining us on this 40 day journey of prayer, please add your link below so we can support one another in love. If you're so inclined, you can also grab the button to the left to let your readers know you are participating and invite them to join the challenge!




Friday, March 11, 2011

What to Write?

If you blog, how do you decide what to write and how much to share? Today, I came across a post that really struck me because I was in nearly the same situation today with my own daughter. The reason this post jumped out of the screen at me is because this is a woman I admire and look up to for her professional accomplishments and yet she puts it right out there that she has days where she winds up yelling at her children.

As I put in my comments to her, I think it's easy to view other bloggers as being some sort of super human being who does no wrong. Other parents must have it all together and I'm the one who loses my cool with my kids. It's funny, we all think about the fact that we shouldn't judge others in a negative light, but isn't it almost as wrong to judge people into a more positive light, placing them on a pedestal?

After all, when you place someone else on a pedestal, you are in turn putting yourself in a position of inferiority to others. You are telling yourself that this other person is a better parent, wife, daughter, community member, etc. God is the only one in a position to judge and He knows what our place is.  If you truly feel inferior to others, perhaps the thing to do is take a moment and pray for Him to help you become the best person you can be.

So, that leaves me with the internal struggle of what to share and what to write. I don't want to come across as impersonal and insincere but I also don't want to write every personal struggle I have with my husband and children either. It's not that I don't want to share my humanity, it's just that there are some things that I don't feel like broadcasting.

From now on, I think the best thing to do is write from the heart and trust that what He wants me to write will be what comes out.  If He wants me to tell you all about how I failed at letting it go today, you will. If He chooses for me to write about my struggles with a very opinionated 5 year old, you'll hear about that too!

Do you form an image in your mind of how people you know online "just have to be" in real life?

Day Three - Praying for Safe Drivers

I apologize that today's post is so late. My husband had oral surgery yesterday and it was rather draining on both of us. I typically write the post in the evening so I can't forget to post it and last night I fell asleep, savoring a house with no children for a night!

Today is the third day of the 40 Days of Prayer challenge. If you missed yesterday's prayer and would like to add it to today's prayer, you can find it here.



40 Days of Prayer Button

On this day, we are praying for the safety of drivers. In my mind, the biggest thing we can pray for and control is our own actions. It's easy to get frustrated when you are behind the wheel and not consider the safety of others when we swerve from lane to lane. I will be praying for not only the safety of others but for peace and calm within myself when I am behind the wheel.

As a minor off-shoot, I am also praying for parents to seek knowledge regarding the proper harnesses for their children. Too many times, parents are eager to move their children to a larger seat for their own safety. I pray they will consider the safety of their children and place that over their own convenience.

If you are joining us on this 40 day journey of prayer, please add your link below so we can support one another in love. If you're so inclined, you can also grab the button to the left to let your readers know you are participating and invite them to join the challenge!

<script src="http://www.linkytools.com/basic_linky_include.aspx?id=79709" type="text/javascript">
</script>

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...