Wednesday, January 25, 2012

It's Beautiful

It's been awhile, dear gatherers! I know that you guys know that our life, as well as our blog, has been a little bit heavy, lately. Despite this, I feel like I know that, we need to focus on the beauty of God that is constant. Even throughout our hardships and struggles, through the midst of our cries, God is good.

 God turns mistakes to miracles. God can will take this job loss and turn it into something beautiful. This past summer my dad and I had the opportunity to go to NYC with my youth group for a missions trip. While there, my dad shared his testimony at a soup kitchen. I will admit, nobody seemed very receptive (well, one guy did, but he also looked a little crazy ). Afterwards, while helping to cook the meal, a man that had listened came up to my dad and asked to talk to him.  Through this job loss, my dad got to inspire and share his testimony with a homeless man in New York. CRAZY!!

It's so easy to get caught up in the worries of money, but God specifically commands us to do the opposite! "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes." (Luke 12:22-23) Don't worry about material possesions or where the necessities will come from. The birds are fed, the lilies grow, surely God will take care of us.

I've been doing this bible study in school called "Live Abundantly: A Study in the Book of Ephesians" (By Lenya Heitzig & Penny Rose). Here is an excerpt from today's study: " Pearls are the product of pain; an oyster that hasn't been hurt does not grow a pearl. When the shell of an oyster is pierced, a foreign substance-usually sand-gets inside. When this happens, the oyster's cells cover the grain of sand with layer after layer of nacre in order to protect the soft body of the oyster. The result is a beautiful pearl." Jesus is a treasure-maker. He makes us and our lives into treasures. One of the biggest mistakes of a Christian's mind-set is believing that this process can happen either without Jesus or without pain. Both of which, is false.

We will endure hardship. We will suffer and cry out to God in our breaking-point. But, we cannot forget that he has a plan. We can't forget that his love endures forever and he won't abandon us. The coolest part is, this pain is a part of his plan. He'll use it to strengthen us and use it to bring Him glory!


Monday, January 23, 2012

In my weakness, He is strong, and I'm feeling pretty weak right about now

I feel like things have been very doom and gloom around here lately.  It's making me quite weary to be honest.  Life has been off kilter for over a month now and I'm ready for some semblance of balance and normalcy.  There are so many things hanging out on the horizon, things full of uncertainty...sometimes I think they are mocking me.

I want so badly to orchestrate my own life, all the while wanting to give it fully to Christ, knowing that He is the Master Composer.  But it's so.stinking.hard.  It's funny that when we are up we are undoubtedly up, not much can touch us, we are full of truth and light and hope.  But when we find ourselves off balance and unsteadied, we are so easily moved.  I am tired, I am feeling thin skinned and I know that God is peeling back the layers....like an onion.  And onions stink.   A friend once told me that the work that God does in us is much like raking wet leaves....there are layers upon layers in that pile of wet leaves, and they are not easily raked, sometimes the further down you get in the pile, the harder they are to move.

I made this comment to friends last night, "Christianity was pretty easy up until a few years ago".  It has to cost us something, our walls must crumble, we must bleed and sweat, we have to lean heavily on God.  Christianity isn't merely a label, it doesn't just tell someone what group of believers that we belong to.  Christianity, to be authentic must be a verb, something that you do.  It requires ACTIVE PARTICIPATION.  If we are just sitting still, feeling no cost at all, then we must check ourselves.  But sometimes after we begin the checking and start to feel some of the cost, we want to run and hide, to stay hidden under the pile of wet leaves, surely He won't find me under here.  And you know what?  As long as we are unwilling to move, maybe He won't "find" us, but make no mistake, He knows where we are and He knows we are hiding.

Like Adam and Eve, in the garden, He knew where they were, He knew they were hiding....He could have pretended to not find them and leave them to their own devices, which they had already proven wasn't a smart move.  But He actively sought  them out and gently nudged them out from behind their hiding place.  He of course was just and had to give them their consequences but God doesn't stop there.  He loves us through the consequences, He gives us a way out. He continues to work out the plans that He has for us until the day of completion.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm hurting.  I'm weary.  I'm tired.  I want to run and hide.  Most of the time, I have the energy to lean hard into Him.  I'm not feeling that right now.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not giving up, I just need to rest.  I need to be carried a little of the way until I'm feeling ready again.  Would you pray for me, please? I'm going to share a list of the things that I could use prayer for, if you would be so kind as to just lift these things up to Jesus, I would greatly appreciate it.

*Our near future (should we stay or should we go; how any of that is going to work)
*Ministry - we are moving into youth ministry, guidance and leading
*My son; Jon (salvation, relationships, his future)
*My daughter; Jessica -her future plans, GED, College, Mission work
*Health (we've applied for our states health care plan; pray that we can find good doctors to use)
*My husband; Bill - that he would be strengthened, that he would resist the evil lies of the enemy, that God would bless him
*Me - dying to self...this one is really tough, trusting in God's goodness (all the time), loving my husband the way that he needs me to, living fully right where I am, patience...I'm running a little short on that

I realize that some of these are pretty vauge...isn't it cool that Jesus already knows the ins and outs of these situations <3  Thank you for praying, I truly appreciate it <3

God Bless - Lorraine

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Legacy of Love

My apologies for not getting right back.  I know I promised some pictures of our favorite holiday moments. I know that you'll understand <3

Last Friday, January 6th, I received a phone call that my grandmother was preparing to meet Jesus.  She was 93 years old and was dealing with the later stages of Alzheimers, Dimensia and Parkinsons'.  Lately she had been rapidly decreasing in her abilities to eat or drink, get out of bed, etc.  So since that call, my regular life has been put on hold.

On Monday, January 9th, my Grandmother, Connie,  took her last breath here on earth and went to be with her Heavenly Father.  Her four daughters were with her at that time and it was a peaceful transition.  Over the weekend we were blessed to have caught some special moments with her. 

She was telling me that she wanted us to be happy and asked me if she'd be happy.  "Oh yes, you'll be very happy" I replied.  I got to talk to her about the peace that Jesus leaves with us, the streets of gold, her new body and how there will be no more suffering.  I know that there are many more stories like that to be told.  It surely was a gift from God.

My grandmother lived a full life.  She was all about family, in fact, her daughters each lived less than 3 miles away from her.  She was at every family function and spent a lot of regular days with all of us as well.  Our family has always maintained close ties and I believe that is due to the love and examples set from my grandmother. 

She was a very sweet and very loved lady and she never met a stranger.  She had four daughters (which I mentioned above) their wonderful husbands, 10 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren.  We all adored her and will miss her very much. 

This has a been a rough week for us all, but I know that we are so thankful that she is in Heaven and is now finally living.  We look forward to the day that we will be reunited with her and my grandpop.

Tomorrow is her funeral service.  I know that the only way that we will get through the day is by the grace and strength that God will give us.  We have to remember that while we miss her here with us, she is in a much better place <3  And we will see her again, someday.

Florence (Connie) Elizabeth Bischoff
November 23, 1918 - January 9, 2012
She lived the dash fully <3

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Holidaze

Today is our first day back to our regular routine, kinda.  We've had a quite a break from school and normal life and it's been great!!!  Christmas found us fairly prepared.....gifts were bought and wrapped, there wasn't much to do to prepare for our family gathering on the afternoon of Christmas and so we were able to slide into the  holiday with little to no stress.

Christmas morning was very nice.  It's funny how it all changes as the kids get a little older.  There's more sentiment and less chaos, everything seems to have more meaning compared to when they are little and it's a full out frenzy.  There wasn't a whole lot under the tree (which doesn't look true, because let's face it, when you have five children to buy for, unless you go to one gift each, it's always going to look fairly large). 

At 3:00 the rest of the family came and it brought our total of people up to 35!!!!  It was insane, but the good Brady Bunch Reunion kind of insane.  Being an only child, I knew I'd never have those reunion moments with siblings, but I did grow up close to my cousins and having the majority of them home with their families was good enough for me.  There was way too much food, it was all way too tastey and it was way too hard not to completely overload ourselves!!  The party lasted through out the evening and we were all exhausted when the goodbyes came.

The second generation cousins got to spend alot great time together throughout the week, with lots of nerf wars, sleepovers and general chaotic fun.  It was precious to see them together.  Since they live far away from here, it's a treat that doesn't occur too often.  We spent New Years Eve with two of my girl cousins and their families and we had a blast.  We played "Loaded Questions" and after the ball dropped we all gathered in a circle and prayed for each other and our upcoming year, also giving thanks for the trials that God had brought each of our families through in 2011.  It's amazing to be apart of a family of believers, to share in the trials and the triumphs, to take it all to the throne of Jesus and simply give thanks.

Now the families are all gone, the trees and lights are packed up and it's time to get back to business.  Today was rough....we had some leftover school work from two weeks ago, and I found myself forgetting how we got through our days!  I'm thankful that I don't have a rigid time schedule to adhere to and that we can take our time getting back into the swing of things.  We have truly been in a "holidaze" for the past two weeks!!!

I pray that each of you had a blessed holiday season and that you are looking forward to what God has in store for 2012!!!  I know that I am!!

*Love and God's blessings

P.S. I think I'll share some pictures tomorrow highlighting the favorite moments of the past two weeks.  It's gonna be hard to pick just a few so I'll apologize now for overloading you!!