Friday, August 30, 2013

August gifts: planting trees

Finally catching up on all the summer gifts to add to my 1000 gifts list. 
677. Planting trees
N.L. told me, "people who plant trees mean to stay" - AMEN. I love my home and I hope to stay here until these tiny trees are tall. Till my girls are tall, too, though already they are too tall since they don't look very small in this big hole!

678. Swimming with horses
I posted pictures of this last year, and I probably will again next year, but it was so much fun to see Blaze coaxing her horse Spring into the lake to try to get her to swim. She actually did get her to swim - for a second - before Spring hightailed it back to shore! Also we had some friends join us in the horse swimming adventure this year.

679. Holding history
Visited University of Wyoming's special collections and got to hold an original 1867 hand drawn map of Ft. Laramie, just purchased for $16,000!

680. Kids making blanket forts
It's amazing how inventive they can get with just a few pillows, baskets and blankets

681. morning prayer group & prayer walking
Proof I'm becoming a morning person (never thought I'd say that!) - I actually love going to a 6:30 am prayer group. Also discovered how much I love to prayer walk. Prayed while walking around the twins' school and around the building where my husband is working

682. My story's first 20 pages placing in a contest
I didn't win, but I did place in the top 5, and one of my judges wrote "If this book was available for purchase, I would buy it in a nanosecond."

683. First week of homeschooling
I'm still amazed that God finally brought me the place where I am actually homeschooling two of my girls, instead of talking about wanting to do it, as I've been talking about for years.

684.  Being prepared for a hard transition
I knew transitioning from regular school to homeschool would be hard. I've had several homeschool parents tell me: you will feel like giving up. Don't!  I'm so thankful they prepared me. So far I've had two very hard days, where there was a constant whisper in my head: my one daughter doesn't want to do this. I'll never have the patience and grace for this. This is just too hard. But I also had two days where I got into great discussions with my girls, when one of them said, "I'm so glad you're homeschooling me", and the other one said "I don't like Bible study but this isn't so bad because you let me talk" ...then I knew that though this would be really hard, I could do this with God's strength.

685.  Our God name
At church, Pastor taught that when we get to heaven, we will hear God's own name for us (just as God gave Simon His own name, Peter). "I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it." Revelation 2:7.  Makes me long for heaven even more, to know God's name for me.

686. Haybale bigger than the truck it's in
Can't believe my husband didn't get pulled over for driving around like this!

687.  "Kings and Queens" by Audio Adrenaline
Little hands, shoeless feet, lonely eyes looking back at me
Will we leave behind the innocent too brief
On their own, on the run when their lives have only begun
These could be our daughters and our sons
And just like a drum I can hear their hearts beating
I know my God won’t let them be defeated
Every child has a dream to belong and be loved

Boys become kings, girls will be queens
Wrapped in Your majesty
When we love, when we love the least of these
Then they will be brave and free
Shout your name in victory
When we love when we love the least of these
When we love the least of these

Break our hearts once again
Help us to remember when
We were only children hoping for a friend
Won’t you look around these are the lives that the world has forgotten
Waiting for doors of our hearts and our homes to open

If not us who will be like Jesus
To the least of these
If not us tell me who will be like Jesus
Like Jesus to the least of these

Boys become kings, girls will be queens
Wrapped in your majesty
When we love, when we love the least of these
Then they will be brave and free shout your name in victory
We will love we will love the least of these

How God shared my testimony

I had such a HUGE gift/blessing last week that I can't wait to post it in one of my 1000 gifts posts, but I have to share it right now. 

My parents and I love the 1980's mini-series based on Herman Wouk's book Winds of War. Mom bought the DVD set for Christmas and we watched it and when it was over we all wished there was more. I knew Wouk had a sequel to the book, so I looked it up and sure enough there was another mini-series (with some different actors) on the sequel, War and Remembrance. I finally ordered it from the library and started watching it with my Dad a few weekends ago while my Mom was away in Ohio for her family reunion.

That weekend I had lots of time to spend with my Dad and God really pushed me to share the Word with him as it's been several years since I've tried sharing anything with him, because he's so resistant. But I kept putting it off and the whole weekend passed and I never said anything.

So the next weekend comes around and Mom's back and all three of us watch the next episode of War and Remembrance. One of the main characters is Aaron Jastrow, an American Jew who had lived most of his life in his ivory academic tower and was never serious about his heritage, until he ended up in a concentration camp during WWII. Being persecuted for being a Jew, for the first time he embraced his faith. In one long scene, he shared a message from the book of Job to other Jews in the camp, on why God allows such senseless evil and suffering like what they were going through.

The actor actually quoted Job 38: 1-8, the VERY SAME verses that God answered me with, when I challenged whether He was real or not, back in 1993 when I was still agnostic but searching for the truth.

It's as if God was saying to me: "if you are not brave enough to share your testimony and speak My Word, then I WILL DO IT FOR YOU!"

I knew I could not remain silent anymore. I told B. and the kids what had happened, about how my parents got to hear not only verses from the Bible, but also an amazing sermon about one of the most amazing and powerful speeches God has ever spoken to man, and verses that have more personal meaning to me than any other verses in the Bible.  Blaze and Dreamer got excited about sharing their testimonies, too.

The next day I told asked my parents if I could share something important to me, with them, and I re-read those verses:

Then out of the storm the Lord spoke to Job:
Who are you to question my wisdom with your empty words?
Now stand up straight and answer the questions I ask you.
Where you when I made the world?
If you know  so much, tell me about it.
Who decided how large it would be?
Who stretched the measuring line over it?
Do you know all the answers?
What holds up the pillars that support the earth?
Who laid the cornerstone of the world?
In the dawn of that day the stars sang together
And the heavenly beings shouted for joy.

I was able to talk for at least 20 minutes about my story leading up to this moment when I read these verses and how they rocked my world, and how even now nearly 20 years later they still rock my world. Through all of this they listened - my mom is always polite but this time she seemed genuinely interested, and my Dad usually gets a stony, angry  expression and refuses to look at me, but he didn't this time. He didn't say anything for  a long time, but I kept silently praying that he would say something, that he would be stirred/drawn by God through my testimony.

When he finally did speak, he mentioned some people from his long ago past that turned him off with their brand of Christianity, things that he's still bitter about, so that was unfortunate, but when I left and said goodbye I thanked him for listening to me and told him I loved him, and he said "I love you" back, which is very, very, VERY rare for him to say that... so I was able to leave feeling hopeful. And especially so about my mother. I know it's been a huge trial for her, taking care of my father as Parkinson's disease has made him so dependent on her, and it has brought her to her knees a couple times... she knows she needs prayer, she needs God (though I keep praying that she would get into the Word and realize what comfort and encouragement can be found there on a daily basis - our daily bread).

Writing this over a week later, I am still awed by how God brought those verses from Job to my parents.