Saturday, October 23, 2010

Cindy ♥ Doug, A Marraige Made in Heaven



I've been promising a post about marriage for sometime.  Since I've been thinking A LOT about Doug this week with him working out of town, I thought now would be a good time to go ahead with it.  First, let me say up front, I'm not an expert on marriage, but I am experienced. :)  Doug and I have been married for 22 years.  We have experienced the wonderful seasons where we were on top of the world taking in the views from the highest mountain peaks.  We have also experienced the lowest valleys we could have experienced in a marraige and still came out with the rings on our fingers and the promise in our hearts.  So while I'm not an expert and will never claim to be, I have lived a gamut of experiences in my married life.

♥ Our story ♥
I never tire of telling our love story for it truly is a story of a marriage made in heaven by our One True God.  Doug and I met at church when we were in early elementary school.  I was in first grade.  He was in second grade.  By fourth and fifth grade, we were 'going together' and holding hands under the hymnal or church Bible.  (I don't advocate that for children. :)  However, it truly was innocent.)  We were best of friends.  We talked all the time.  We liked spending time together.  Our sisters were friends.  Our parents were friends.  We went to the same church.  We went to the same school.  We lived down the road from each other.  We rode the same bus.  In other words, we were able to spend a lot of time together.  We knew each other.  If anyone asked me at the early age of 10 or 11 who I was going to marry, I could have instantly told them, "Dougie!"

In middle school, we would 'like' each other off and on.  However, being middle schoolers, we also liked other people, too.  We remained close friends, but we were becoming two very different people.  Then, one awful day in high school I learned that Dougie would be moving to Texas.  I was a freshman, and he was a sophomore at the time.  There was no warning.  They were moving, and there was nothing I could do.  That was a very sad day in my life.

I went on living, of course.  I liked other boys.  I know he liked and dated other girls.  Then, in December on my sixteenth birthday, I was at a BC basketball game with some friends.  One of my best friends came running down the bleachers toward me yelling, "Cindy...Dougie is here.  Doug is looking for you!"  I thought she was just messing with me.  After all, he had moved more than a year before.  Why would he be there? 

I looked up and THERE HE WAS...as handsome as ever...walking toward me.  I'm sure my heart stopped beating for just a moment.  I'm also sure there was a smile as big as Texas on my face.  What a wonderful birthday present!  Well, we dated for about a month and then, he just disappeared.  I tell him often that he was quite the jerk!  I was so hurt!  My heart was completely broken.  I questioned why God had brought him back into my life (which I truly believed then that he had and I still believe NOW that he had) just to rip him out of it.

Again, life went on.  I dated again.  This time with the determination that D.F. would never hurt me again.  I would give my love to someone else.  I enjoyed the rest of my junior year of high school and began my senior year.  I was working at what was then Otto Drugstore. 

One particular day in September I was working the cash register up front and got a phone call from my sister.  She was at Doug's sister's house.  She said that he wanted me to come there when I got off work.  I said, "NO!"  Later, he called.  He was persistent.  I told him that he had hurt me enough and that I would not come there to see him.  If he wanted to see me, he'd have to come to Shepherdsville.  I told him what time I was leaving work.  He was there waiting when I went to my car. :)  That was September 6, 1987.

We went on our first official date that day.  He wonders why I love Mr. Gatti's so much.  That is part of the reason, I would guess.  We sat at Mr. Gatti's for hours that day.  We talked.  He apologized profusely.  We talked some more.  It was that day, sitting in the party room of Mr. Gatti's all by ourselves, with Doug writing sweet stuff on a helium balloon, that I fell head over heals completely in love with him.  Oh, I already loved him, but that day sealed the deal. 

On March 15 of the next year, Doug proposed.  We had plans to wait 5 years to get married.  I would finish college.  He would finish trade school.  However, we knew we could not wait 5 years.  So, we set the date.  August 5, 1989.  I still laugh when I think about it.  We were just being silly thinking we would wait that long.  We had literally been waiting our whole lives for this.  In May, we went to my parents and told them we couldn't wait a year to be married.  After much discussion, it was decided the date would be changed to August 6 of the same year.  There was ONE stipulation.  I couldn't say the word wedding until high school graduation was over.  (I was graduating valedictorian.  My parents were not going to allow anything to get in the way of me finishing what I had started.  I am very thankful for that.)   I graduated in May, and we planned the wedding in less than 2 months.


As I think back over the story of our life up to that point, I smile...I laugh...I even get a bit teary eyed at times.  When I think of how God orchestrated two separate families...two separate lives...so that Doug and I would be placed together for His glory and our good, it amazes me.  You see, none of that story is my doing or Doug's doing.  We couldn't have come up with such an outlandish on again/off again thing if we tried.  I mean, honestly...Doug's family up and moved to TEXAS and then, what I failed to mention above was that while he was visiting friends in Kentucky, his family decided to move back to Kentucky without telling him.  God had to have acted upon my heart to soften it to let Doug back into my life after being hurt.  As humans, we tend to build up scar tissue that isn't easily broken through when we're hurt by someone.  God had to place me on Doug's mind for him to decide he wanted to see me after more than a year of being away.  And to think it all started when we were small children. 

Our lives changed on August 6, 1988.  We were no longer just Cindy and Doug.  We became Mr. and Mrs.!  What a wonderful change!


My insights and thoughts on Christian Marraige:

1.  God has to be first in both of your lives.  This will be evident in so many ways.  Do you go to church together?  Do you pray together?  Do you study or discuss the Word together?  Are you committed to following God's will for your lives?  Are you raising your kids His way?
2.  My husband is second in my life.  I am second in his life.  This is a lesson we want our children to understand completely.  We want them to know that we love them...completely and unconditionally.  However, we want them to know that they cannot come between us a husband and wife.  Kids can be and will be manipulative if you let them be.  Don't allow them to move into the spot where your husband should be.

3.  When you get married, the focus should change from "I" to "WE".  When a couple consistently socializes separately instead of together, trouble is soon to follow.  To get to the point of marriage, what did you do?  You went out together.  Marriage shouldn't change that.  If anything, it should make it better.  The lowest time in our marriage is when we were both going out with friends instead of together.  We invited trouble into our lives by opening a door for Satan to step right into.  Why go to dinner with a friend on a Friday night and leave your spouse at home...especially on a regular basis?  Think about how often you are spending time with other people away from your spouse. 
4.  Friends of the opposite sex is a dangerous and slippery slope to walk.  I'm not talking mutual friends where you and your husband are friends with another couple.  I mean where the wife is friends with another man that her husband is not friends with or vice-versa.  We tend to think that we are super-human and can just be friends and that those friendships will never go where they shouldn't.  I'm here to tell you, friends, that you are lying to yourselves.  Once again, that opens a door for Satan to step right in.
5.  Work to make your marriage the best it can be.  What have you done for your husband today?  What have you done today that says "I love YOU" without using the words?

6.  Learn early to say, "I'm sorry for _____________.  Will you please forgive me?"
7.  Learn how to forgive even when it hurts.
8.  Play together.  Again, what did you do before you got married?  You had fun together.  Why stop?
9.  Hold hands.  :)
10.  View your marriage as a FOREVER promise.  Divorce is not an option.  God is an amazing God that can heal hurts, give peace, calm fears, and in the process SAVE marriages. 


I've often wondered why our story had so many twists and turns before we finally figured out we belonged together.  After 22 years of many highs and some very low lows, I think it's because God knew what we would experience and was preparing us for the times ahead.  He was preparing me for future heartache and for future healing.  He was preparing Dougie for how to be the wonderful godly husband he is today.  God was teaching us about forgiveness and persistence.  You see, God knew that without this we would have given up on our marriage ten years ago.  God knew what we needed, when we needed it.  I'm so thankful for God's provision and protection over our marriage.    How exciting it is to know that my marriage to Dougie is truly God-given, God-ordained, God-orchestrated...absolutely

♥ a marriage made in Heaven! ♥
Blessings,
Cindy


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Had it not been...

Don't you love when God speaks to you?  Isn't it so exciting to be reading in God's word and feel like...no, KNOW that He is speaking directly to YOU?!  Don't you just get giddy when what you are reading hits home so hard that you know that God put you in that passage on this day so he could whisper sweet things to you?  Our God is so amazing!  He never ceases to amaze me.

This morning, I was continuing my study in Psalms.  (I love Psalms!  Who doesn't?)  Anyway, I'm up to the Psalms of Ascents that were said/sang as the people traveled to Jerusalem and to the temple.  Most of these Psalms are quite short.  Usually, I study 2 to 3 a day because of their length.  However, this morning, Psalm 124, which is only 8 verses, struck me so that I had to stop after reading it several times and share it with you.

It is a "Song of Ascents, of David" that is 8 verses.  It talks about Israel's past.  But...my oh my, when we take this and apply it to our lives...when I take it and apply it to MY life...WOW!  Here it is...

Psalm 124

"Had it not been the Lord who was on our side,"
Let Israel now say,
"Had it not been the Lord who was on our side
When men rose up against us,
Then they would have swallowed us alive,
When their anger was kindled against us;
Then the waters would have engulfed us,
The stream would have swept over our soul;
Then the raging waters would have swept over our soul."

Blessed be the Lord,
Who has not given us to be torn by their teeth.
Our soul has escaped as a bird out of the snare of the trapper;
The snare is broken and we have escaped.
Our help is in the name of the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.

Read it again!  Truly I understand this is an account of how the Lord saved the Israelites from destruction.  However, has he not done the same for us as believers?  Does he not do the same for us day after day? 

What if the Lord was not on our side?

I can not imagine living my life without God on my side...in my life.  I can't fathom going through the daily grind without Him.  I certainly can't begin to imagine facing life's biggest challenges...a sister who fought cancer, health issues of parents, raising children and all the issues that go with that, financial problems, tragedies in life that we don't have the answers for.

As David says, "Blessed be the Lord!"  Or thanks be to God for not turning us over to our enemy or giving us over to ourselves.  Our help truly is in the name of the Lord!  Amazing...the Lord of Lords, the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and End, the ONE who created EVERYTHING...

HE IS ON MY SIDE!

DO YOU HAVE HIM ON YOUR SIDE?

Blessings,
Cindy

Monday, October 4, 2010

There are many times in our lives where there seems to be many more questions than answers. It seems to come in cycles in my life. Things are going well...or at least not bad...and then situations or circumstances seem to mount up all at once until there is a mountain...or even a mountain range...of problems or unanswered questions right in the middle of my path.



When I get to this point, I find myself asking the same questions over and over.  Why is this (fill in the blank with any given circumstance) happening?  Why is my family having to endure yet another hardship?  What have we done to deserve this?  Why?  Why?  Why?  My emotions start to simmer.  Then, they start to bubble a little bit more.  There are times that they get to a boiling point...this doesn't necessarily mean angry...just not controlled.  When I get to this point, I may cry if you look at me or say, "How are you doing?"  Have you ever been there?  Sometimes I think I'm the only one, and then I reason that surely I'm not.


Thankfully, I have someone who loves me unconditionally.
Thankfully, I have someone who knows me better than I know myself.
Thankfully, I have someone who knows my circumstances and
knows what I need before I even utter a word.
Thankfully, I have someone who will listen when I cry out to Him.
Thankfully, I have someone who doesn't turn His back on me...
even when I have these bouts of emotional turmoil.
Thankfully, He gave me a guide to help me through not just the hard days, but everyday.
Thankfully, I have someone who has ALL THE ANSWERS!
 
During the times when I have more questions than answers and my emotions threaten to control my life, I have my Lord to comfort me and He gave us the Bible as our guide to live by everyday...on the rough days and the great days! 
 
The Bible is full of words of hope and comfort.  It's full of words of wisdom and reproach.  All of which we need during the times in our life when things aren't going the way we think they should be.  I've been reminded over the last week or so of the importance of reading and meditating on and yes, memorizing scripture as I've studied Psalm 119. 
 
Psalm119 is 176 verses that tell us over and over that the Word of God is vital for our lives.  (If you have never or haven't lately truely studied it, I'd suggest it.)  There are several familiar verses that many of us memorized as children. 
 
Psalm 119:11  Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against you.

Psalm 119:105  Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

While other verses are not as familiar, their strength is mighty.

Psalm 119:73  Your hands made me and fashioned me; give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments.

Psalm 119: 97-98  O how I love Your law!  It is my meditation all the day.  Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever mine.

Psalm 119:136  My eyes shed streams of water, because they do not keep Your law.
(This one jumped out and slapped me in the face this morning.)

I could go on and on.  Just this ONE Psalm...one 'chapter' in the Bible...FULL of ANSWERS...because it tells me I should be searching for my answers in God...in the Word.  That is where all the answers are found.  I am so grateful I have Him.  I can't imagine living one day without Him.  My heart aches when I see people searching for answers in the horoscopes or through a psychic reading.  They will not find the answers there.  Our only hope is in Jesus Christ.

So although I'm going to face problems today and every other day just like anybody else, I'm going to cling to the promise of this worship song...



In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand

In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
'Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt of life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
'til He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand
(Townend/Getty)
Blessings!
Cindy




Monday, August 16, 2010

And she's off...


(I know I promised a blog on Christian marraige.  I will get to that.  It just happens that I didn't get to it before this MAJOR event in our family's life.  For now, this is what is on my mind; so this is what I need/want to write about.)

Last Friday, we moved Brooke to Campbellsville University.  All of us went to help her get settled.  I'm sure we were quite a sight as all six of us paraded into her apartment/dorm.  It was a day full of a wide spectrum of emotions for everyone in our family.  Most of all though, it was a day ordained by God in Brooke's life for her to transition into this new phase of her life.  I want to share the day with you through pictures.



Brooke and I spent the morning taking care of last minute business around Shepherdsville.  Then, she came home and finished cleaning her room.  This may just be the cleanest her room has been since she moved into this particular room.  (I didn't, however, take pictures of the dust she left behind.)



Getting a big hug from Daddy! 
















There were a couple of times throughout the day that were more difficult than the rest of the day.  Leaving the house Friday morning was one of those times...for all of us.  While we were...and are...so excited for Brooke and what is to come for her, just the thought of how different our home will be without her here everyday was hard to take in.

I had the time of the trip there to gather my thoughts and get a hold of my emotions.  I spent the hour plus a few minutes mending Brooke's 'quiltie' that she has had since she was born.  It is literally worn out!  It was a great distraction for me.  I must admit that I am not a seamstress, though, and I did not get it completely mended by the time we arrived at Campbellsville University.



We spent the first hour at CU buying Brooke's books.  OUCH!  We were able to get all used books except for 2 or 3.  Still...OUCH!  Praise God for used books, though!  I can't imagine how much it would have been if we had to buy all new...and I did not even bother looking at the new prices.

Brooke was able to check in with her RA around 1.  Brooke and Gayla took care of all the business of moving into the dorm, while Blake, Cody, and Dale carried all of Brooke's stuff up to her room.  We worked for hours...about 6...arranging and rearranging and rearranging again.  Doug made a couple of trips to the store for things we forgot or didn't realize she would need.  [Just so you know...when you buy lamps, you really should consider buying light bulbs, too! :) ]  Brooke organized and decorated.  It was fun to watch her and help her.  It was such a blessing to have the whole family there working together to get everything accomplished for Brooke.  (There were stressful moments, too...but a blessing still!)





(Dale)






Once all was finished, Brooke's room looks great!  It's very Brooke!  She still wants to add some posters and such, but she can do that as she finds posters that suit her.









We had a few minutes to just relax before heading out to dinner and a little bit of shopping.  I am so thankful for how close our kids are.  Although they have their moments when they fight and fume, they truly enjoy each others' company.  I loved watching them cut up and have fun with each other!





Hard work leads to hungry boys!  We all headed to Pizza Hut for supper.  Again, it is just a wonderful blessing watching our kids love each other.





Then it was time...time to take Brooke back to her apartment/dorm/room (I'm still not sure what to call it) and head home.  UGH!  I was not ready for this.  I had done so well all day.  I could feel the prayers of all of my wonderful friends and family lifting us up.  But then, I could feel it. I was on the verge of not being able to hold it all together.  The boys all said their good-byes/see you laters and headed to the truck.  Doug and I stayed in the living room with Brooke.  Doug led us in a prayer.  It was a beautiful moment of the three of us snuggled together praying for God's peace and protection. 

God is so good and He is faithful!  While I have had times of tears over the last several days, I have also had wonderful peace about Brooke being at CU.  We firmly believe God has led Brooke to CU and has a plan and a purpose for her being there. Knowing that means that we will praise Him even when we're missing her.

I'm clinging to Philippians 4:6-7...
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.


Blessings,
Cindy

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

"When your children ask later..."

This morning's sermon and our life group's discussion on moving from depression to dependence rekindled my desire to pass on the stories of God's faithfulness in the life of our family.  Below is a repost of the original post about our Remembrance Stones.  The kids are even more grown up now!  As I watch each of them grow physically and more importantly spiritually, I'm reminded often of God's faithfulness! 

These stones now will be added to in order to remind each of us in our family that we CAN and SHOULD depend on our faithful Father.  "All I have need of His hand will provide.  He's always been faithful to me."

Original Post:




As you can see in the picture, our children are growing up...FAST.  (This picture is nearly a year old...the boys have changed a lot even in the last year.)  Brooke will be going away to college in less than a month now.  Blake and Cody are driving now.  Dale will be starting high school just a couple of days before Brooke leaves for school.  It seems like yesterday they were all babies...oh how well Doug and I remember the days of a booster seat, 2 bulky car seats, and a baby carrier.  We have so many stories of their growing up days that I'm sure many of you have heard...probably more than once. Have you heard the story of the 'car fly' or the story of the diaper incident when we thought Blake and Cody were napping or what about Brooke's rendition of the song "I Shall Not Be Moved" when she was two or maybe the story of how Dale sang the "I Know a Song that Gets on Everybody's Nerves" ALL the way to FLORIDA?  We never tire of remembering and sharing stories of our children.  If you are a parent or a grandparent, I'm sure you are the same.

Many months ago, I started following the blog of a wonderful Christian woman who has a weekly feature called Memorial Box Monday.  (The blog is http://aplacecalledsimplicity.blogspot.com/ .  You can check out her blog and see her reasoning and thinking behind how she does her Memorial Box.) 

Anyway, it got me to thinking.  I'm so quick to tell stories about my children and family.  I tell my children stories of themselves and our family so that they have those stories to tell their children, but do I purposefully tell them stories of God and His goodness and His love and His faithfulness so that they can experience it and then pass it on to their children in the future?  I had to answer...not nearly enough.  As a matter of fact, many times I would tell stories or recount the events in our lives and tell the details of the event and completely leave God out of it.  Did I do that on purpose?  No, but was it still wrong?  Yes. 

Throughout the Bible, we are instructed to teach our children of the faithfulness of God so that they can and will teach their children.  In Joshua 4, the Lord instructed Joshua to use stones as a memorial for what the Lord had done for the Israelites when they had crossed the Jordan.  We should in some way be doing something so that we not only remember but pass on stories of God's faithfulness to our kids.



For example, when Cody was in the first grade he fell about 16-18 feet out of a tree when the branch he was standing on broke.  He fell into a dry creek bed.  Cody had a major compression fracture in his back, and he broke a small bone in his foot near the growth plate.  I've told that story many times over the course of his life.  I remember using words like..."It's AMAZING that he wasn't hurt worse than that."  "It could have been so much worse."  Both of those statements are true, but the TRUE TRUTH is that God protected Cody during that fall.  God kept Cody from landing on his neck.  God gave me the strength and determination to demand that the doctors x-ray Cody's back when they were refusing.  God saw us through those days of Cody having to be flat on his back and very still until they could custom make a brace for him.  God sent family and friends to minister and care for our family.  God saw us through the months of Cody being in a hard-shell brace and wheelchair.  Some people may say that God wasn't there or He would have kept Cody from falling.  I not only say, but know that God was there and did protect Cody.  Now, it is a story of God's faithfulness that we will share with our children and they will share with their children.

With that being said, we all know there are so many stories of times when God has been faithful in our lives AND our human minds tend to forget.  So how do we make sure that we have those stories to pass on?   There are many ways that different families choose to do this.  Our family has discussed this for a long time and have had many ideas. 

For now, we are doing a Remembrance Stone Box.  We've just started this project.  I thought I'd share some pictures with you.  We started with a planter box.  We collected flat, smooth rocks from a creek.  It was fun to try to find rocks with odd shapes and colors. 

Brooke painted a scripture on each side of the box.




Then, we took the stones and wrote brief descriptions of times in our family's life when God was faithful.  When we can remember the date, we write the date.  The stones are reminders.  Obviously there is not room for the whole story.  These are reminders so that when we see them we remember the story.  We only have a few of the rocks with messages on them right now.  We're adding to them a little at a time.  As we need to, we'll add rocks. 



The box sits on our coffee table in our living room.  (My friend, Dawn, from church knew someone who used their remembrance stones in this way.  Thanks for the idea, Dawn!)  So now it serves a dual purpose.  If someone is visiting our home, we hope it becomes a conversation piece.  After all, we have a box of rocks on our table.  This will open up the door for conversations about how good our God is!


So now, when our children (or grandchildren or anyone who comes into our home) ask later what are those rocks for, we'll answer with hearts full of love and thanksgiving as we tell of God's faithfulness!

Do you have a way that your family shares stories of God's faithfulness in your lives?  I'd love to hear your ideas!

Blessings,
Cindy

Friday, July 16, 2010

But God...

As I was reading this morning in Psalms after my study in 1 John, I came across some of my favorite words in scripture...

BUT THE LORD...

Over the years, as I've studied, read, and listened to the Bible being taught, some of the words that always send chills through my body or grab my attention the most are...

BUT GOD...

Now, I'm not talking about the way we use the phrase in our sinful whiny ways.  "But GO-O-O-D-D-D!  That didn't go the way I wanted it to go.  Can you fix it please?"  or "But GO-O-O-D-D-D!  I always try to do the right thing and it seems that bad things are always happening to me."  or  "But GO-O-O-D-D-D!  I only went here or did that one time.  Why should I face the consequences?" or "But GO-O-O-D-D-D! You didn't answer that prayer just the way I had planned or wanted you to."  I'm sure if you close your eyes and listen, you can hear the voice of a child screaming, "But Dad!"  Well, sometimes we're the same way with God.  However, I digress...that is not the wonderful BUT GOD I'm talking about today.  You'll  have to excuse me, because just thinking about those little GIANT words, gets me so excited!

There is no way I could give you an exhaustive list, but I want to share a few BUT GOD instances from the Bible.  These are so encouraging!  When we're tempted to whine and complain and dig deeper into our own pitiful pity pit, we should stop and think...BUT GOD!

 Genesis 45:6-8 (New International Version)
6 For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping. 7 BUT GOD sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.

 

BUT GOD...





Are you in a time of financial famine, perhaps?  Is there a drought in another area of your life?  Been there, done that...would have bought the t-shirt, but didn't have the money.  Dear friends, BUT GODIf He can save a land and people from famine that had lasted 2 years and was going to last 5 more years, He is more than capable of delivering us from our hardships, too! 


Psalm 73:26 (New International Version)
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
BUT GOD is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.


God doesn't promise us sunshine and rainbows every day of our life.  We aren't promised a life without sickness or pain.  Our flesh may fail us in many ways...we may get sick or we may be tempted by fleshly desires that lead us toward or to sin.  We may find ourselves in that pitiful pity pit where we allow our emotions to control our lives.  BUT GOD!  When our strength comes from Him, we are more than able to get through anything.



 Romans 5:7-9 (New International Version)
7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8BUT GOD demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

How exciting is verse 8?!  Do you understand the full meaning and depth of what it is saying?  To help us get the picture of this love we need to go to another BUT GOD...this time it uses BUT THE LORD.

Isaiah 53:9-11 (New American Standard Bible)

9b Because he had done no violence,
nor was there any deceit in His mouth.
10a BUT THE LORD was pleased
to crush Him, putting Him to grief;
 








Wow!  God loves me and you so much that He was willing to have His son, Jesus Christ, put to horrible, cruel death as a substitute for my sins and your sins.  Not only was God willing, but Isaiah tells us that it pleased Him to do this for us.  Because Christ died in our place, we only have to believe in Him as our Lord and Savior...believing...not just with our heads but in our hearts...that He died a cruel death on the cross in our place, was buried in a tomb, and was raised from the dead three days later to accept that substitionary atonement for our sins.  That is so amazing to me!

I'm a sinner!  You're a sinner!  BUT GOD!  BUT CHRIST!  Now, I'm a forgiven sinner who God calls His child!  WOW!  Just WOW!


1 John 3:1 (New American Standard Bible)

1a See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God


So, the next time things aren't going our way or our path gets foggy or rutted, let's stop and think...

BUT GOD...
>is my salvation
>is my refuge
>is my hope
>is my strength
>is my help
>is my deliverer
>is my _______!
(You fill in the blank.)

Blessings,
Cindy




Friday, July 9, 2010

Rain



Rain, rain, go away...
Come again another day...
As children, we were conditioned to think of rainy days as something to wish away.  Rain was something that got in the way of our plans.  It messed things up for us.  We carried this belief with us into adulthood, too.  While, on the surface, I suppose it is true...rain can mess up plans for a picnic and can slow down travel and can even bring with it devastating floods...rain brings so much more than the down side of things that pop up in our minds. 



Rain brings new life.  It revives wilted life.  It washes away dirt and grime.  It refreshes when things get hot. 




This morning, as I sat on the couch in the quiet of kids sleeping late preparing for my Bible study time, I heard it.  Heard what, you may ask.  The wonderful sound of a summer rain.  It was like an invitation from God calling me to come sit on the porch.  So I took all my materials and out I went.

After my Bible study, I stayed outside to just enjoy the rain.  It didn't take long for me to need to grab my camera.  As I snapped pictures, I began to really ponder rain...literally and figuratively.  A new friend, Teresa (someone I know God sent into my life that will be a close friend) mentioned a song the other day that I happen to love, too.  It's "Jesus, Bring the Rain" by Mercy Me.  While I was snapping away, that song came to my mind as did "Praise you in the Storm" by Casting Crowns. 


Over the last few weeks, months, and even year(s), our family has had its share of rain and even storms in our life.  Praise God for the rain!  God has used that rain to wash us, revive us, refresh us!  It's not easy to praise God when it's raining in our lives, but it is always RIGHT to praise God.

The last verse of Mercy Me's "Jesus, Bring the Rain" says:
I am Yours regardless of
The dark clouds that may loom above
Because You are much greater than my pain
You who made a way for me
By suffering Your destiny
So tell me what's a little rain


When we consider what Christ did for us and continues to do for us, the only correct response to every single thing in our life is PRAISE.  Instead, I know for me the first thing that I do when a little rain sprinkles down in my life is WORRY.  However, Jesus tells us in Matthew 6: 25-34 to not worry.  To sum it up, it basically says that if God takes care of the birds and the flowers, won't He take care of us so much more than them?  Worrying accomplishes no good.  While praising God is always correct!


Psalm 34:1 "I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips."

So, let's pray for, help and encourage each other through the rains and storms of life.  Instead of joining in on the 'woe is me' parties, let's look for the rays of sunshine peaking through and if they can't be found just yet, let's praise God for what the rain will bring. 






Proverbs 10:25 tells us "When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm forever."



Blessings,
Cindy

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Vanilla Blackberry Cake...It was a hit!

We've had an abundance of fresh blackberries this year!  They are wild blackberries.  We're hoping in the next year or so our seedless blackberries will take off and be plentiful, as well!  Doug doesn't care if they are the wild variety or not.  To him, all blackberries are delicious!  Blackberry cobbler is one of his favorite desserts.  I've made several of those already this year.  In hopes of finding something new and different to do with the blackberries, I started searching today.  I didn't find a recipe that sounded like THE recipe so I took ideas from several different places and made my own.  It turned out to be a hit at our house!  The batter turns out quite thick, but the cake is light and tasty!  Enjoy.

Vanilla Blackberry Cake


Preheat Oven to 350

Filling Ingredients:

2 c. fresh blackberries

1 c. sugar

Mix sugar in with blackberries and set aside while you prepare the cake batter.



Batter Ingredients:

1 c. real butter

1 ½ c. white sugar

8 egg yolks

¾ c. milk

¼ c. heavy cream

2 -3 tsp. vanilla

2 c. self-rising flour

3 Tbs. cornstarch



Grease bundt pan. Sift together flour and cornstarch and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time. Then, beat in the vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk and cream, mixing until incorporated.

Pour half of the batter into the bundt pan. Spoon blackberries onto that batter. Then, cover the blackberries with the remaining batter. Bake at 350 approximately 1 hour. (Adjust time based on your pan and oven. I used stoneware and it took right at an hour to cook.) Cool about 10 minutes and then turn onto a cake server. The blackberries will then be on the top of the cake. 



To add to the look of the presentation, I garnished the serving plate with a few blackberries and filled the hole of the cake with more blackberries.

 
I'm sure the cake would be great with other fruits, too.  Let me know if you try it with something besides blackberries.
 
Blessings,
Cindy