Sunday, March 21, 2010

Dreaming Big Dreams

Once upon a time there was a little girl. She dreamed big dreams. Dreams of becoming a doctor, as she would practice on her friends and pets; Trying to fix every little boo-boo. She dreamed of being a lawyer, arguing seemed to be only too natural to her as she constantly tested her theories among her siblings; much yelling ensued and the judge always had to step in to keep her in line. She longed to be a great chef, and would whip together her favorite macaroni and cheese whenever the opportunity provided itself! She aspired to become a photographer and hang her many beautiful photos in the best galleries. And sometimes she would picture herself as a designer and architect, dreaming up the most awesome and creative buildings, stretching her creativity farther then she could ever imagine, time and time again. This girl would often sit in her English classes, as she would read the novels of amazing authors such as C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, and imagine herself someday winding a wonderful tale with words to create wonderful lands and far away places only seen through the eyes of her readers. But soon it was time for her to grow up and choose a path to follow. Would she be a doctor, a lawyer, or a chef? Should she become a photographer, an architect, or a writer?
The decision became very clear to this little girl, as she quickly was becoming a young woman, she would be a mother and she would be so much more.
A doctor who would heal her children's wounds with bandages, hugs and kisses. She would be the lawyer who cunningly convinces her children they want to clean their rooms and go to bed on time so that they can be well rested for the adventures tomorrow holds. She would be a chef, constantly experimenting with new ways to tuck nutritious vegetables and grains into food that would end up in her children's bellies and not splattered on the walls or floor. She would become a great photographer, constantly trying to snap that extra special shot that would make it onto the walls of her own gallery, the most precious gallery she could ever hope to make it into, the gallery of a happy home. She would become an architect, constantly using her creativity to build the better fort, or construct the perfect science or craft project with her children. She would even become the author of the best story ever written, as she created her own unique tale with her wonderful children and family as they have their ups and downs on the long winding path God has led them down. She would even be things she hadn't dreamed of as a child, a teacher, a counselor, an entertainer, an artist, a party planner and anything else her children would require of her as they grow and dream their own dreams. But most importantly of all she would be a mother.

What did you dream of when you were a child? Did your dreams come true in some form?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Spankings:'Rod' or Hand?

While I know there are some out there who are adamantly opposed to spanking children, I believe it is one of the best tools in my own list of discipline, at least for the young ages of my children at present. We began giving Natalie spankings at about 18 months, occasionally, about a year after that in her terrible twos phase it became very obvious we weren't using that tool enough as the other methods began failing. Now it is the only discipline Natalie responds too along with taking away toys & privileges in relation to her current offense. She has actually asked for timeout in the past knowing the other choice would be a spanking, in which case we have put timeouts in a timeout until it seems suitable to bring it out again. I guess I just figured when she starts asking for one in place of another, the first has lost its effectiveness.
But with all the spankings she gets, she still sometimes comes out of it trying desperately to bury her smile even though it stings my own hand as hard as I have to spank her to get her to feel it and realize it is a punishment. This brings me to a question I would like to send out to everyone. Parents or not, I am curious what your opinions are on the topic of spankings, the hand or the rod?
I have heard a few things for either way: those in favor of the hand seem to think it is best because we are better able to control the strength behind it, those against it question how it will effect the child if we spank with the same hands that we care for them and love them with. They feel that our hands should be symbols of love to children not punishment. As for those in favor of the rod, I have been told, it leaves more of a sting, resulting in hopefully fewer spankings because the message gets through faster and that it is again not us per say using the same hands we love with to 'hurt' with. And of course those against it feel it is harder to calibrate the strength with which we spank with it.
I don't necessarily agree with the idea that we don't want to spank with our hands because we shouldn't love and inflict pain with the same hands, but I do believe in spanking we are showing love as we teach and discipline them into becoming better people. I am just sharing the reasons I have heard given against and for each side in the past.
So readers, what are your thoughts on this? Do you spank with a 'rod' or with your hand and what are your own reasons for that choice?

Time for a Change!

Well I am guessing most of you have noticed that I not only changed my blog title but the URL as well. When I started writing under "Cherishing Life's Little Blessings" I had hoped to focus more on my 2 little blessings specifically, Natalie & Zachary. But as I wrote, my biggest inspirations did not come from my children, but from the things God has taught me in life. So for me the title did not fit, even though I have occassionally blogged about my children, that was no longer the reason for my blog. This has actually been something I have wanted to change for a while now, I just hadn't figured out what to call it that would be shorter and also a broader title to cover the things I may choose to write about in the future, whether its my children, life as a Navy wife, gems of wisdom God has revealed to me, or the latest book or movie I may want to share!
And now that I have found a title I am happy with, in the future I may chose to have a custom designed layout, we will just see how things turn out. For now though, its just a new title with the same old design, and about the wonderful new things God is constantly sharing with me so I can pass them on to you!
Please feel free to tell me what you think of my new title, and in general anything I write about! It is always so encouraging and exciting to me to get your comments!!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

God's Will in My Life: Big Decision

Jon and I are approaching a big decision: leave Guam on our already scheduled time frame (July 2011) or to extend for one more year (July 2012).
Guam had apparently been in God's ultimate plan for us from the beginning, no matter how much I wanted to fight it. Jon and I met when he was stationed aboard the USS Houston. We got married and about a year later the boat was scheduled to change ports, from Washington state to Guam. At that time the pictures that popped up in my mind about Guam, were sleeping with netting over the bed, constantly finding snakes, and huge spiders and other insects inside my home, near my future (at the time) children. I imagined sweltering, unbearable heat that would keep me inside almost constantly; very limited shopping (oh wait, that one I got right!); and no one that spoke English except of course the other Navy families. I never thought I would be able to find a church I could fit into, I imagined only Catholic churches on this teeny tiny island. I even thought I would develop claustrophobia from being confined to such a small, speck of island in the middle of the ocean. So in my ignorance we decided we would be better off taking orders to a shore duty command in Virginia. While in Virginia we had a good time, made many wonderful friends and then it came time all too soon for us to leave. Jon and I had been really praying that we would be able to get back home to Washington state, but in God's answer to our prayers, He has given us a detour. We were informed the only way, at that time at least, for us to return to the West coast would be to go overseas first. And as luck would have it the only thing Jon was offered at that point was Guam. By then, a few things had changed to ease us into this transition.
First of all, I had grown used to being away from home for a long extended time, and when I really thought about it, there wasn't much difference between Virginia and Guam distance wise. Now yes there are thousands of miles more between Guam and Washington verse Virginia and Washington, but in either situation I would not be in a location that I could just pick up and go visit my family anytime I wanted. And most of all, during our time in Virginia, God had placed in my path a friend who had been there and had eased most of my fears about what island life would be like. I completely believe God placed us in Virginia first for those exact reasons, so that we could go to Guam with a more open heart to the island itself.
Now that we are in Guam, we are having a hard time with the thought of leaving. Jon and I would both like to experience a little more of the island life as it offers many activities we will not be able to do in the Northwest. Snorkeling, scuba diving, as well as many other water sports and activities, but also traveling and seeing some places of the world we otherwise will probably never see. Another reason we have grown so attached to this island are our friends. We have met some of the most wonderful people here on Guam. We still love and miss our friends from Washington as well as Virginia, but at least for me it seems that the longer I am away from my comfortable home in Washington were a lot of old friends that I grew up with are, the more I open up to new people and new friendships. In Virginia it took me a long time to realize I could make great friends anywhere I go and I am not just limited to only friends I have known since school. (Though I still treasure those friendships very dearly!)
Most of all though during our time on Guam, I have had the chance to grow closer to God then I have ever been. While there are some minor things I do not agree with within our church here, I do find myself constantly challenged like never before to reexamine parts of my life, so that I can have a better relationship with my Heavenly Father. And honestly that is hard to give up. On the one hand, I don't want to leave the environment when I feel I am constantly in check and held more accountable, but on the other, does God want me to go somewhere else for new adventures and my biggest challenge in that being to not fall back into the trap of being content to not move forward in my walk with God, or worse to backslide into old habits. This is what has been on my heart for the last few months as we try to decide which course of action to take. To stay or to go, that is my question to God!
So please pray for us as we need to make the decision by this coming July. They need a year in advance for both of the following- requesting a years extension or requesting to go back to the West coast (Washington not a guarantee, but I would be fine with California as well, we have a few friends and family there also). Another big factor in our decision making process will be if Jon makes first class from this last exam he took in March. We should know around May, and if he doesn't make it we feel it would be best to extend so we can ensure he will have made it before he moves to a new command. If he does make it, we will have to look at other factors on how to proceed, we may still extend we just aren't sure yet.
Any prayers or advice are most welcome.

For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. ~Colossians 1:9

I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your Law is within my heart. ~Psalm 40:8

The lot is cast into the lap, But its every decision is from the Lord. ~Proverbs 16:33

Friday, March 12, 2010

All in His Time

I am pretty sure I am not alone when I ponder this: why is it that inspiration seems to always strike when my head has found that comfortable spot on my pillow as my day comes to a close! I truly believe my 'creative juices' are like those babies who seem to have their days and nights all mixed up. Sometimes I get that itch to write about something during the day, but more often then not, whether its writing a blog, or brainstorming for more birthday party ideas for the kids next bash, it always hits me as I crawl into my nice cozy bed, beside my sweet husband who hates going to sleep without me there, which lately seems to be quite often!
I wish, oh how I wish, my mind had an off switch! I would definitely be a more rested mommy if that were the case. But alas, that is one thing God did not install when He created me, just as He intended.
I think we often don't like God's timing, we say no, not now, wait until next week, my calendar is completely week. Then of course something comes up and soon it becomes next month, next year, after the kids graduate and leave the nest, then I will be totally free and clear! Of course who knows if you will be around then? By then God will have found someone else who is eager to serve Him immediately!
Even now, I think, "Oh Lord, I have so much going on right now, Jon has duty the next 2 weekends, I have to reschedule Zachary's party- remember that Lord, because he got sick on his birthday of all days- yeah, and then, then I still need to get ready for my mom's big visit next month, I need to clean and prepare everything, yep LOTS to do Lord, so right after my mom leaves I will start that new ministry idea you whispered in my ear, as soon as she leaves, well at least by the end of that month because then I have a party thing to host the weekend after she goes..." and the list goes on. Don't get me wrong, all those things are important to me, but NOTHING should come before the Lord, and what He has for me to do! Whether it is to get back up out of bed and post a blog about something He has burdened my heart with or a new ministry He has given me to use for Him, I need to do it in His timing not my own. And as Pastor Schettler shared about Thursday night in his message, this includes prayer. If God lays something on your heart to pray about, you need to stop what you are doing and pray! If we don't, then we forget, or get caught up in something else, we procrastinate- one of my biggest weaknesses, and Satan definitely knows it, and will use it if I let him!
We don't know when we will die. We don't know when anyone will die, even the unsaved neighbor we keep meaning to try and witness too. We don't know what seeds a blog we post might plant, or why God wants us to pray for someone out of the blue, but we know if we don't listen to the Holy Spirit's guidance we might not have the chance to play the role God wants us too in someone coming to Christ. He wants to use us, and instead of fiting it into our schedule, we need to fit our lives into His, because His schedule has no flaws, no missed appointments, no cancellations. His schedule, His timing is perfect. Everything happens all in His time.
"Seek the Lord while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near." Isaiah 55:6

"I hastened and did not delay to keep Your commandments." Psalm 119:60

"Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth." Proverbs 27:1

"And He [Jesus] said to another, 'Follow Me.' But he said, 'Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.' But He said to him, 'Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.' Another also said, 'I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say goodbye to those at home.' But Jesus said to him, 'No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." Luke 9:59-62

"Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming." Matthew 24:42

Overflowing with Joy to Share

I don't know about most of you, but after only attending 2 of the 5 evening services during the Missions Conference at Harvest Baptist Church (and also the Sunday morning service of course!), I feel very convicted about certain areas.
For those who aren't sharing this little island with me, our church does a Missions Conference around this time every year. This year a Pastor from Santa Maria, CA came with a group of seniors from their church. While the seniors worked with the children, Pastor Schettler gave some amazing messages! Now, I will be honest, it took me a while to come around to the messages, because while I recognized instantly the truth in them, I was just so overwhelmed, and at first, thrown off on the presentation. I have never had a Pastor, or heard a Pastor, with so much enthusiasm! I mean he was all over the stage, and at points was yelling at us because his excitement for his messages seemed to just boil over inside of him. He had no choice but to let it flow out! Not being used to that, I didn't appreciate it at first, I tend to like what I am used to and not care for change or being out of the ordinary patterns, but I now wish I could have gone to all the services (which wasn't for lack of trying, sickness & Jon coming home late from work is what kept us away).
After a week of stewing over somethings, particularly from Sunday morning's service, I admire his confidence and excitement for the messages he shared with us. And I hope people can look at me, and see the same joy overflowing in my life, because we are not meant to keep it all inside. We need to let Jesus' love and light shine through us! And we need to be excited about it!!
On Sunday morning, he shared with our congregation 3 keys to moving stones out of the way so that we are able to minister to the lost world we live in. The first was that we need to get creative! This reminded me of something else I recently learned. During our ladies night for missions last week, we broke into prayer groups who each had a particular missionary that our church supports to pray for. My group prayed for the Childs family in Australia. Apparently in Australia, at least the part they are ministering in, there is a high concentration of cults, specifically Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses. And part of our prayer for them was that they may be creative in how they reach the people there, because the traditional methods of going door to door wouldn't be an option because they would want to stand apart from the cults, those 2 in particular, which do tend to do a lot of knocking on doors. And my thought was, boy am I glad I am not them and thats not my job! Because I could never come up with a very creative way to minister to anyone. But after Sunday morning, I realized, though I am not in Australia, nor do I feel called to be a missionary abroad, but I still need to be reaching out, and I still need to be creative about how I approach it. And that is what has gotten me on the path for a new ministry opportunity that with the Lord's guidance I am developing through my love of baking, and sharing those treats with others!
The next key part of moving stones away is confidence. Confidence that when we pray, God will act. Not praying out of obligation, half-heartedly hoping, just maybe God will answer this prayer request if He really wants too. NO!! Pray expecting, knowing, and believing God CAN and God WILL act on our prayers. We may not always get the answer we want, but if we actually have confidence that our prayers will be answered, we could see our friends and family come to know the Lord!! Instead of thinking maybe God will hear, KNOW God will hear your prayers because He ALWAYS does. I know this is definitely an area I need to really concentrate on improving. I need to have faith and confidence that God will answer my prayers; instead of 'just hoping' and praying with a question mark at the end of my prayer when it should be an exclamation point!
And the last part of moving stones and other obstacles out of the way to reach lost souls is to have compassion. As for me, I think my compassion is there...sometimes, when its convenient for me. I can really struggle sometimes with finding little things to irritate me, and then later learning I misjudged. Instead I should always seek to be compassionate and caring to everyone, instead of finding a negative in any given situation. For example, standing in line at the post office to get a package the other day, a woman with a small girl came over and got into this gap in the line. Instantly I was irritated and upset, it was a long line, I had been standing in it for a few minutes but was already getting bored and tired. I thought how dare she just cut her way in, but then I heard her thank the man behind her, and as I observed further I realized she had already been in that spot in the line but had been letting her little girl wander a little, and in her wandering she had gone out of sight. So the woman had been only coming back to her original spot in line, that the man behind her was kind enough to hold, while she retrieved her child. I felt awful! Though this all only happened in my own mind and was not shared with the rest of the crowd, I know God saw how ugly my heart had been, instead of showing compassion to everyone no matter what circumstances were going on. And I realize, even if she had been 'cutting' in line, I was still wrong for not having a loving heart, a compassionate heart toward her. If I want Jesus to use me, then I need to remember to always, regardless of circumstance, be kind, caring, loving and compassionate, in my heart, mind and actions.
All that said, I have a LOT to work on and pray about!! And that was all in ONE message!! But all of us can always improve, no matter where we are in our lives and our walk with the Lord. He never wants us to stand still and just be content to go no further, He wants us bubbling over with joy for Him like Pastor Schettler is! He wants it to pour out of us everywhere we go and in everything we do. And I hope I have done Pastor Schettler some justice in passing on his message. I did the best I could from memory because I did not take notes that day (shame on me!).
"Being unable to get to Him [Jesus] because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Him; and when they had dug an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic was lying." Mark 2:4 (Creativity)

"Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have recieved them, and they will be granted you." Mark 11:24 (Confidence)

"So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." Colossians 3:12 (Compassion)