Friday, March 29, 2013

Blog, and a book review on "Invisible" by Ginny L. Yttrup

Life still is super-busy, but so good. I see God at work in me, growing me, and developing gifts for His glory. I'm looking forward to seeing how He brings all these things into fruition; what the outcomes will be in the areas I'm praying, where He will send people and how I might encourage them.

This coming month is incredibly busy. I've got a class to take on Missionary Care (and help facilitate), my Song of Solomon study that is finishing up with the women's group at church (love those young ladies!), a Women's Retreat to attend, facilitate a "Bridges" study (building friendships with Muslims), and the (in)RL Conference I'm facilitating. On top of these "special" things, I'm still working PT/Temp with DaySpring (social media) and getting things going with Missionary Care through Global Outfitters!

Oh, and did I mention that our son is getting married in June? It's about time for us to get the details going on "our part" of the plans...the rehearsal dinner, tux/suit fitting, details for the wedding cake (I'm making it!). All good stuff! Very exciting too!

So, when my house emptied of family/company last week, and Mark hit the road, I took advantage to hit the book pile! I had received a copy of "Invisible" by Ginny L. Yttrup, through Handlebar Publishing, to read and review (something I enjoy doing from time to time). I had not read any of her books before, and frankly, I generally don't spend much time reading fiction, but I thought I needed a little break from "normal" and wanted to be entertained during my short break.





I was not disappointed! Ms. Yttrup did a great job of captivating my attention on page one! Her quick character development and story lines held my attention and made it an easy read. Each character lifeline was distinct, and I never got them confused, and the way their lives intertwined was realistic and refreshing. They were people I would have enjoyed meeting, would have had fun interacting with in this lovely setting.

I found the information dispersed throughout the story line wonderful, learning about cooking, nutrition, diets, eating disorders, and mental health. There was just enough romance to make this all come together in an encouraging way, and not once was I embarrassed by the words used to describe feeling or actions in the circumstances displayed.

I really enjoyed the diversity of the characters too, which made it seem like this could all happen in real life. The issues and problems they all faced, and the open, authentic way they shared each others burdens gave a real sense of community.

Overall, the book was a delight, and I'd recommend it to anyone wanting a little break from day to day life. "Invisible" was a delightfully easy read!



* although I received the complementary copy of the book, I was in no other way compensated for my review. This book is due to be released on April 1, 2013, and I will link my review on Amazon.com


Friday, March 22, 2013

Life Lately...

It's been a little crazy...with 5 grands and their mom here. I'm SO grateful that Mark's here to see them too (although he's working each day). SO grateful that Melissa's here too (although we are ALL missing her husband). It's a treasure to sit and do life with her each day - with her and these kids. She's amazing - so patient - with each child. It baffles me - she definitely got that from her dad!! :)



It's fun to see the house FULL to overflowing - full of laughter, toys, kids, crowded around the table, laundry on the couch...the beds...the floors.... Full too of tears, and tantrums, and snuggles and cooos.



I'm trying hard to make memories for these kids - if they are hearing God's voice clearly they will be launching into language school within the year. I'm praying for these kids, and their parents, and anyone that hears their ministry plan.



I can be BRAVE today, while they are all napping in their beds, and mom's out for coffee to share the plan with a new friend...but I need to learn how to recall out of memory to be BRAVE as they buy their tickets. As they get on that plane. When they are calling to let me know that one of the kids has their first bug. Those are the moments I know that BRAVE will be harder to muster up, and tears will overflow - as I try so hard to not be choked up on the phone.



For now my BRAVE moments are taking care of all of them alone (yesterday, and they were all awake too!), and managing them through cleaning up toys before bedtime, and saying good-bye at the start of the week, knowing it will be summer before we see each other again. Sigh. A very, VERY BRAVE sigh.

The baby will be creeping. The toddler will be talking. The talker will (maybe) not be so full of attitude. The sneaky one will still be sneaky, and the bossy one still bossy...but I know that God's going to be working in each of them - because I pray for them to be the BEST He wants them to be.

I know He is working on me too.

Remember - A FMF blog

Tagging along with Lisa-Jo Baker and her Five Minute Friday gang...we write for 5 minutes flat. No trackbacks. No corrections. No gimmicks.

This week's topic is REMEMBER.



START

It's Easter and I don't see the Easter Lilies around. The small chapel we meet in isn't overcome with the smell (nearly gagging me). We don't meet there at all. There's no plans to get signed up to serve in the HUGE civic auditorium. We don't go to that church now either. We're a days' drive from there actually. But although it's home in so many ways, it's not where i'll be.

Actually. I don't know where home is anymore. I remember the faces, kind words, areas of ministry i can help in. I remember the work that needs to be done. Caring for those in prayer here. There. Around the world. My inbox is filled with their newsletters of how God is using them. I'm in awe.

I remember the elements. Passed each church a different way, served differently according to convenience, to tradition, to what made sense. I remember the different ways it was presented - after the hymns, with a devotion to turn our hearts, or at the end of the service - sort of to seal the deal of the pastor's words. I remember pre-fab cups with wafer above. I remember breaking of the loaf and dipping in the cup. I remember passing of the plates, or now getting up from my seat and going to the side of the room to pray and partake together with others.

Each way, yet the elements is the reminder - or should it be?? Shouldn't I remember these things daily?, this consumable love, this amazing grace, this never ending forgiveness?? I can. I do. But not often enough do I remember that these things are also offered my husband, my family member, my neighbor. He's done for me nothing more than he's done for them. He does for every person, whether they admit it or not - what He's done for me. My friend. My enemy. And I need to remember that HIS forgiveness of me is good cause for ME to forgive them...whoever them...STOP


OOO....I could go on...But I won't. Maybe another day.
if i remember...

Monday, March 18, 2013

Busy. Busy. Busy.

Boy! Did I mention how busy it's been??

My dd and 5 grandkids (the oldest is 5 1/2, the youngest just 3 months, and no twins!!) have been visiting. It's odd in a sense, as they had lived with us for about 5 months last year, so when they are here it's more like "doing life" and less like "having visitors". I am going to try (hard) to be BRAVE and do something fun with all of them tomorrow. I hope the weather cooperates.

My DH is home for the next few weeks - such a nice surprise - and I'm hoping we can catch up on a date night between now and then. We're also praying about what to do over Easter Weekend...still a few weeks away, but I think we need to do something - either here at home, or away...maybe visit my other dd and her family...or??? I'm not sure. Guess I need to check to see if our ds and fiance are planning on coming here. That would be good to know. :)

I'm working my part-time/temp job, and loving it! It's easier for me to get more done when I go into the office, and it's good for me to learn to do everything on each computer (desk top pc and laptop that I have at home). Social media's the main game, and on certain days I am putting the components together and  posting a blog (Roy Lessin's at Meet Me In The Meadow) and also posting on FB, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest....you name it...for DaySpring and Roy's ministry. It's fun! I'm learning so much, and really bringing my skills up to speed. Well. Maybe NOT up to speed, but I'm learning!! Not bad for this over 50 year old. So do me a favor and go to the sites and sign up and then go to all the social media sites you belong to and "like" them there. :)  I'd love to see that me being there has a good influence on their numbers...(I get to help keep track of those too!).

I'm still surprised at how many folks my age don't do anything on the computer. Nothing. I'm not sure I could survive that way...but then again, I would get a lot of reading and quilting done. Those 2 things I'm SO behind on. Yipes. I'll catch up when the grandkids are all gone back to their home.

For now I'll fill my days with holding babies, playing with toddlers, chasing after kids. I'll love every moment of it.

I'll fill my nights with catching up on work, visiting with my DH and getting laundry done. A. Bit. At. A. Time.

And this blog...well, it's just going to have to take a back seat for a bit...and I'll sneak in here every now and again.

God's been teaching me a lot about being BRAVE, with the kids and with other things too. One night the neighbor's cat jumped up on our fence by my bedroom window - thankfully DH was home and he investigated the noise. If I were home alone, I'm afraid I'd freak. :(

I was BRAVE and worked all day Saturday in the garden up front, working on breaking up ground with a hand tiller (one of those one's that look like a pitch-fork bent out of whack, and you shove it in the ground and wiggle it all around to break up the dirt). It worked well! It worked ME over!! I was sore for a few days, and probably got too much sun and heat, but it got done! Then a few of the grands helped plant some seeds, and some Lilly of the Valley rhizomes.

Funny thing about those Lilly of the Valleys....in the package, GD1 took the pick of them and said she was going to plant them. GD2 took a seed pack of sweet alyssum, much smaller - but she was able to sprinkle her seeds all around. :)  GD1 thought that those Lilly of the Valleys looked too much like worms to handle. :) She didn't want to touch them. :(  Oh no. It was a hard lesson for her to learn, and I still couldn't convince her that they were not worms. (And earlier we were just talking about how good worms were for the garden! Go figure!!). I was BRAVE and put the little wormy Lily of the Valleys in the ground...just along the front of the walkway, near the front door. I have another pack to put in, but I thought I'd wait to see if the weather stays above freezing....still a few weeks until it's officially spring...and I'm not THAT brave!! OK - maybe I'm THAT BRAVE, but I'm NOT that rich! LOL

SO, it got cold again, the warm spell over - Spring can be such a teaser!! Now it was barely 50 today, after we had nearly 80 just two days ago. The day of rain between helped ease the pain, but I sure hope we don't hit freezing. I didn't plant too much, so am not really worried about that (and it's up close to the house, so I doubt it would be affected), but it's just the back and forth of it all. I don't have room for winter and summer clothes all at one time!!

Well, I'd better get to bed. Get some sleep. Sigh. Thanks for following me on this journey called life. :) Have a GREAT day...

OH- I'm not writing from my kitchen table!! I'm using the dining room table this week, while the little hands take over the kitchen table and the countertop!! ; )


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Giving credit, where credit is due...

Today I read two phenomenal articles. I had nothing to do with either of them, but feel compelled to pass these two resources on...especially since my brain is semi fried, having my daughter and 5 grandkids arrive today! All 5 kids are 5 and under! :)

So, I'll start with the last one first, simply because I have the URL saved right now and I'll have to search for the other one.

This one was written for ex-pats...people living in other parts of the world. Her information was lived out first hand, and I think it would be good to print it off and hand out in any training manual for workers going overseas. Anywhere. You can read her blog post here:

http://www.djiboutijones.com/2013/02/20-things-expats-need-to-stop-doing/

This second post is a little deeper, but OH SO NECESSARY to have out there circulating. It's an article from Relevant magazine, focusing on 5 simple steps (in theory) to help end human trafficking. I hope you' ll take the time to read it, then do something to make a difference!

You can find that article here:

http://www.djiboutijones.com/2013/02/20-things-expats-need-to-stop-doing/

I promise, the article is not morbid, not gross, but truthfully disturbing. We (yes you and I) CAN make an impact!

Well, my grandkids are in town with my daughter for a few weeks, so I plan on loving them as much as I can, and making lots of memories.

I pray you'll take time to read these other authors words, and be inspired and encouraged to change the world!

Grace and peace!
Marina



Tuesday, March 5, 2013

When What You See, Isn't REALLY What You Think It Is



"Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?" Romans 2:4 (NLT) 


On our most recent trip to FL (our "Middle-Aged Vacation, that I blogged about HERE) we spent hours wandering the shores of Pensacola Beach, being wind-whipped by the cool winter air and enjoying the off season crowds (clue: there weren't ANY!). 

One of the unique things stumbled upon on the sand was a "blue jellyfish" that Mark sighted. Now, both Mark and I have spent a lot of time in the water and upon the beaches of Southern California, and neither of us had EVER seen a "blue jellyfish"! It was crazy!! We poked and prodded it, and noticed a few odd features, including the fact that the top of it wasn't jellyfish like at all...but air filled. We supposed it had something to do with the fact it was out of water, sitting on the beach. We noticed that it didn't have the same type of tentacles, and that despite the fact it was washed up on shore - it was moving! Jellyfish didn't move like this when out of water! It was more like a squid, moving it's top and tentacles around. Weird!


Our first "blue jellyfish"! (LOL)


So, since we've been home, we have talked about that odd, blue jellyfish more than once, but it wasn't until I was cleaning out my camera memory that I ran across the photos of that oddity. I had a few minutes, so I went ahead and Googled it..went to that all-knowing site of Wikipedia...and found that it wasn't a "blue jellyfish" at all, but a Portuguese Man o' War! VERY different than the jellyfish we thought it was! Crazy!!

I think sometimes we see something, usually a sinful situation (or "thing") and we react the same way. We THINK we know what it is, and how to deal with it; not understanding AT ALL the power we are playing with, how badly it will hurt us, could damage others we care about or hurt others we don't even know!

Maybe it's something we've seen before, so we think we can "handle it again" and THEN walk away, never realizing the mark it's made on our mind, or our heart, and how it will damage us over time...sometimes decaying us from within, or de-sensitizing us to a dangerous habit. Just like any jellyfish, or Man o' War, they can damage  us on the shore as badly as they can in the water. We can stumble upon a part of them in the sand, and it can be as hurtful as swimming in the water and being stung by them. (Yes, I remember being stung by jellyfish on sandy walks AND in the water! BOTH hurt!!) 

Just because we "stumble upon" sin, and we think it's out of context, or out of it's own power (because WE are bigger than it), it's still damaging. Don't poke at it with a stick. Don't flop it around on the shore. Don't put it back in the water, and DON'T bury it in the sand - because someone else might stumble on it and be burned worse than you were. Uncover it. Expose it! Call it what it is, and pray against it. If it can be done safely, remove it from the area, so it won't surprise someone else more vulnerable than you. And don't bring it home with you! Don't hold on to it and savor it and think that it's a special thing. It will eventually sting you...maybe to (spiritual) death.

We can never control sin, it always controls us. Whether it's an actual, physical sin - like pornography - or a lack of faith sin - like fear - we need the strength of God to have the courage to call it what it is, confess it, and pray it to demise. It helps to be honest, find an spiritual mentor to help hold you accountable, and ask them to pray against it with you, to be free from it.

I pray that you find the God-strength to remove the sins from your life, instead of admiring them as a unique "blue jellyfish", or hiding them, thinking no one else will find them. God knows our hearts, weak and frail as they are, and desires to help us clear the "blue jellyfish" from our  minds and call them what they really are. He loves us THAT much, and doesn't want us to be hurt by these powerful, destructive, things. 

A few more pics, for you to contemplate and pray through: 









Sunday, March 3, 2013

Middle-Aged Vacations

A few weeks back, Mark took a week off work, and we took a little vacation - just he and I. We've only done this once before since our kids started college - where we go away for a week, and not see anyone we know - just spend time together. I'm ashamed that we haven't done it more, but I admit, when our kids were little we felt just a little guilty for moving away from family - so we always (yes, ALWAYS) went to see family (and friends) on vacation. We did fun things, but let's just say, it didn't enrich our marriage relationship. Even as grandparents we haven't chosen to spend our time alone, we have made it a priority to see the grands and build relationships with them, which is great, but not usually relaxing, and not usually marriage nurturing....and we want to still be married when our grands get married...so I hope they'll understand (and their parents!!)

I get so excited to finally see the water; just 3 bridges and we're there! 

Being empty-nesters, we want to see our kids, and our grand-kids, but it's the first time in our marriage that we aren't going to every time we get to take a few days off....we may SOMEtimes, but not every time. We need this time together. To walk on the beach hand in hand, to sit across the table from each other, to be together with no schedule or plans. ALONE.

This was a new addition to the area we stayed at.
You might think that this is being selfish. Go ahead. You are entitled to your opinion. We are working, the best we can, at making a marriage work. We've got 29 years under our belt, and we aim at making it at least another 29... we believe in that "till death do us part" bit. It's a commitment we've made to each other, and to God, and we'll use all the tools we can to make it work.

Hey! You don't have to worry how you look on vacations!
You can be sure that the wind will blow at the beach!


Our lovely view...


So relaxing, walking hand in hand, enjoying God's creation...

I really wish we had started doing it earlier in life, in the midst of kids and laundry and feeling exhausted. It would have been good to get time away from everything and just go be US. Married. No work, no meals to cook. No nothing.
Mark enjoyed walking the beach early in the mornings, but we ventured out together  after breakfast.
There were lots of shells and treasures on shore...
Actually, I got to thinking as I was sharing our wedding story last week, our honeymoon was at a church couples retreat. Really. And we've only been on one other couple's retreat since then. I know a lot of it has to do with schedules, and finances, and well, most of those 29 years we had KIDS that were busier than we were (so they were dependent on us to get them there, root them on, and clean up afterwards). It would be nice to go to a few more retreats TOGETHER in the future (and to women's and men's retreats too) to gain tools, encouragement and build friendships while we're drawing closer to God. Yes. Definitely something to look forward to doing.

Although it was rainy and cool most of our trip, it was relaxing!
For now, I'll sigh heavily each time I look at our trip pictures, regret (a little) that we didn't go see our kids and grand-kids, and try to capture the moments walking hand in hand on the beach at sunset, the memory of Mark coming in each early morning with his bounty of sea shells, and just being together - no work calls - no interruptions - no schedule. Quiet. Peacefulness.

I'm sure we'll take time off in the future to see the rest of the family...but we'll always treasure the moments we can capture now, alone, my sweet love and I...

Saturday, March 2, 2013

a blog. an oddity. a poem

Earlier I bounced between taking a nap, or taking a bath. My right heel is bothering me, and the thought of just getting it warmer is enticing. If I head to the bath, I can bring a few books along, although I know I'll sleep at some point. Always afraid I'll drop something in the water.

I pull the sheets down on the bed, but then turn to the bath. I pull back the brown curtains that hide the garden tub, glorious sunshine streaming in the frosted window, warming the wall. I place my hand in the warm light and feel the water rushing in...a bit cooler I think...and it fills, gushing from the faucet.

I mosey around the house and grab my stash of books. A few from the library weigh me down, but it's Ann Voskamp's 1000 Gifts that I'm looking for. Poetic grace at it's finest. I find it in the kitchen, stashed between prayer journals and my own Joy Dare. I head back to the tub, nearly full, and stack the books on the chair on the side. I can barely keep my eyes open, and I give the bed another glance...an afternoon nap would be refreshing...but again I think of soaking my heel...and go to the tub.

Once in, I let the water cover me. Perfect. Warm enough to bring relief, but not so warm that it makes my pulse raise and I have to shower afterwards, for all the sweating I've done. I dry my hands on a towel and reach for the book...starting where I'd last finished off at....something about a moon...

I find my spot and sink in deep, elbows in side ridges supporting my hands out of the water. I'll need to be careful to not fall asleep. I could imagine the tweets that would inspire, but would hate the water logged book, knowing how water twists pages and ripples hard bound covers. I'd seen them enough in the library to know who read in the bath.

Not MY books.

Ann's words soak into me like the warm water and sunny spot on the wall soak into my very being. I multi-task my thoughts, sitting in this peace, and remembering how sweet it was last night at the "Encounter" time at the Fayetteville Prayer Room, voices, hands lifted high in worship for our King, then groups led through prayer, lifting voices louder, each time in passionate pleading to God - first in repenting hearts - then asking for His intervention against human trafficking; for revival and unity in His body, the church, and finally for revival for the city, the region, the world.

The first few times, one of our pastor's daughters sat with me on the carpeted floor of the dimly lit large room. She casually asked why there were so many old people there tonight. I chuckled. Being over 50 myself, I wasn't nearly college aged, and although the time is open to anyone who wants to pray and praise, I was definitely the minority. There was a small group of mostly women sitting to one side in the back. I knew they were leading a workshop on praying & meditating through the scriptures this next day. Their presence wasn't uncomfortable, but I wondered how it impacted the "regulars" as they poured in.

At first, it seemed mostly girls...young women... were coming to participate, but once the room was full there were about 80 people all together. I'd say that the college age male had a slight crowd advantage. I think God would be pleased to see men taking up the task of praying intentionally. I have hope, should the Lord tarry, for the next generation.

Worship was sweet, and familiar modern worship songs were played, 2 guitars, one box drum, 2 men leading songs. The room was small enough that we all made harmonies together. Although they were amplified, the voices of the multitudes created a sweet aroma of offering; pure worship, communion with God.

Eucharisteo.

Which is why my thoughts had turned from the book to last night's experience in the first place. And Ann's words, written all spoken, thought in her head, makes me desire to write words as if in high school again.

all lower case.
all ee cummings-like.
and maybe
no punctuation
at
all

(I LOVE the poetry he wrote, as odd as it may have been; I think my old soul got it. I don't claim to ever be capable of stirring the soul with words, such as he wrote.)

And I'd never thought to write a book, or did I? Was that a dream buried in my own lack of self-confidence; trusting a dream to my father's demise? I vaguely remember a cousin giving me a blank journal with the inscription in the cover "now you can write that book..."

Was it a dream of mine, or just a lie to pin a goal to? Something to make it seem that I was serious about something when I was lost in everything?

So, soaking in the tub, washing away in warm water, warm light fading, and Ann's farmer-wife words, I set the book aside to contemplate, to meditate my favorite way...

MORE of YOU Jesus...(inhale)...
LESS of me...(exhale)...

and within a few breaths of soaking in Jesus
my minds sailing off on a wheat field ocean
under the light of the august moon
and i'm wishing i was sitting at my kitchen table
keyboard in place
hands in motion
writing the words God inspired
to bring my heart to rest
on being alone
with Him

and i'm torn as to why He comes to me
with words to write
all lanky sentences and poetic phrases
when i'm no where near the computer
and half-asleep in meditation
at His feet

knowing
that by the time i got out of the tub
out of the towel
into my clothes
sitting in my kitchen
those words will have vanished
far from my reach

and i'll be
left

all

alone

to try to capture the Essence
of His Spirit
of words
that filled my mind
earlier
not believing He actually gave them
to me

and when i write
keyboard in front
proper posture
to accomplish word filled pages
my mind sits empty
to write worth reading
of preparing the heart
to go
to send
to sustain
miles from here

yet now
my mind
still meditating
my posture relaxed
sitting on couch
not kitchen table tending
by light of fading sun
and cool of evening
and tummy grumbling

i don't want words to send a soul around the globe
but to call one back home
to sit by me
and dry tears of lonely

to fill the gap of grands all missing
from toys not scattered
and widows clean
the pain of them being so close
and so far away
withholding messy floors
shrieks of glad
laughter spilling in
till my heart overflows

is it mine to hold
or to ask of holding
when He beckons me come
and sit at My Feet
when my mind is so sorrow
my pride so fractured
to walk this again

yet i know it's my road
to stumble down
till i walk it uprightly
without hesitation
or fracture
or fear
or tear shed in sorrow
of pity
or pride

i'll walk down this road
and gaze in His Eyes
and sit at His Feet
with no pity or pride
i'll not soon forget His Peace
or His Presence
and gift them that withhold
with mercy
and grace

my joy dare
it seems
is a lesson in hurting
to know the shoes worn
of other's
alone

with no Spirit to guide
not having His Peace
His Presence
His Caring
His Love
His Grace
His Mercy it seems
beyond their communion
while He waits
for Eucharisteo
alone