Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Praise God from whom ALL Blessings Flow.......

Hey there!!!!  Can I just say that "God is Good - All the Time"!!!! (I know some of you are echoing me right now, hahahah I LOVE IT!!!!!)

It's true, you know, that God is good, not some of the time, not just in the sunny, bright times, but even in the dark, dank and dirty times.  He is there, full of goodness - He can't be anything else.  Good. That seems to fall short though doesn't it?  God is good. I'm thinkin' He's pretty AMAZING, GREAT, WONDERFUL, SPECTACULAR, WONDERFUL, MIGHTY, and I could go on, maybe you could too?  Or, maybe you couldn't.  Maybe you find yourself doubting, scoffing even.  Let's face it, it's one thing to say it, it's another to believe it, and it's truly another to find yourself living in that truth. 

We usually are not fortunate enough to hit the dirt yelling that out loud.  We typically find ourselves in the mud quite a few times before that even begins to glimmer as a reality.  And for some, it may never become that.  Sadly that is a reality.  The good news may never reach some ears and it may never be allowed to fall into some hearts.  If we are so priviledged to hear the truth, we must make a decision and choose the truth. 

Oh how I pray that you, my friend, are either sitting in that full, beautiful knowledge, or that you are, at least, on your way.  Maybe you're in the midst of a struggle and you so desperately want to cling to that statement, to make it your truth.  It's hard, I know.  I believe it's hard because in contrast to that one, still, small voice, there are a thousand, a million even, other very loud, obnoxious voices screaming the opposite. "If God were good then He ______________"  You fill in the blank. "If there even were a God, He wouldn't allow ______________ to happen."  I know, I've said it myself,  I've questioned, and doubted and wondered. 

But the light has always shined down on me.  I've always known the truth and that's a priviledge, I know.  That doesn't mean that I don't share in the struggles and storms of this life.  I've had my share and frankly I didn't enjoy them.  Well, not until a year ago, when we found ourselves unemployed.  God was there shining His Goodness down all over us.  We had finally gotten to the point where we fully believed it and fully trusted in His goodness.  There are still small areas that we don't freely trust, we are always a work in progress.

One year later, we find ourselves full circle.  My hubby will find himself back in the land of the EMPLOYED!!!!!!  YIPPEE, HALLELUJAH!!! PRAISE GOD FROM WHOM ALL BLESSINGS FLOW!!!  On Wednesday, March 7th, he will rise early and prepare his day with that once familiar feeling of greater purpose.  He will work at his trade, his expertise and get paid for it.  We are so very, very thankful for our dear friend, who with God's help and direction, positioned himself to bring Bill in alongside him for help. 

There have been countless others through out this past year that have been the hands and feet of Jesus.  Groceries, dinner, gift cards, cash, prayers, prayers, more prayers, searching, pushing resumes, checking in week after week "have you heard anything yet?", love, committment, service.  Weekly coffee dates, relationships poured into.  The list goes on and on and we have thanked Jesus for each and every love gift. 

God has used His body of believers to keepus afloat.  To noursish, not only our bodies, but our souls.  How do you adequately thank each person, adequately thank God.  To say that this year has been good, or that God has been good, is not nearly adequate enough.  And yet we stand here, humble, in awe and our hearts are overflowing with gratitude.

God is good for the gifts that He gives, but the best gift was giving His son, to die on the cross for me and you.  If he gave nothing else, that would be enough <3

I'll leave you with this: John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only son, that whosoever believes in Him, will not perish but have everlasting life."

The first step, is knowing that.

With Love and Thanks <3 Lorraine

Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday's Favorite Five #3

Friday's Favorite Five
Hey gatherers, My mother (Lorraine) and I have decided that every Friday we are going to post a favorite five recap of our week. This will allow us to consistently have something up on our blog for you guys to check out. The categories are as follows:

1. Craft

While this is not an actual 'craft' I've decided to put it under the Craft heading. This website has some super cute printables for planning and other things of the sort! Check them out HERE and get your life organized!

2. Music

I found this song a while back and loved it instantly! 'You and I Both' by Jason Mraz has an extremely catchy tune and the video is...well...interesting to say the least!

3. Blog/Other

Alright, we slacked this week and don't have a favorite blog... oops! But, this is a recipe we found recently for homemade eye makeup remover. While we haven't tried it yet, we're excited to see how it works. We might even post about what we think! :) Oh, I almost forgot, the link for this recipe is HERE!

4. Scripture
A promise from God! :D

5. Quote
<3 Honduras <3

Thanks for joining us and looking at our favorites for the week!
~Lorraine and Jessica

Thursday, February 23, 2012

In the trenches.....

I have found myself back in the midst of the swirling tornado of activities.  At times it's completely exhilerating, knowing that we are right where God wants us to be.  Open, willing, and ready to be used. Other times, it's overwhelming, scarey and panic attack inducing.  I have to remember to breathe and relax and remember who's in charge. 

Right now He's choosing to use us in the midst of our youth ministry at church.  Taking a step in this direction, for me, has been a series of healing opportunities.  I come with fears and failures, insecurities and inadequacies.

We can spend much time running away from a God that we think may force us into these situations, much like Moses, we plead with God, "Please send someone else, not me". Then we go into the long list of reasons why we can NOT be used (as if He doesn't already know this list, inside and out).  I'm ill-equipped, I can't, I'm broken, I'm scared, I don't know how, I've never done this before, surely there is someone else out there that is more perfectly suited for this task.  On and on it goes.

My husband and I were asked to share a testimony for an upcoming sermon series on how the cross has transformed our lives in the midst of difficulty.  We were honored to share how God continues to transform us.  It has all pivoted really on this unemployment.  I'm tempted to apologize for this being the only thing that I seem to share about, but friends, it's that big!!  HE'S that big!! So I'm not going to (tee hee)!

Before the BIG "UN", we lived a fairly safe and, what we thought, secure life.  No real storms, small rain falls here and there and then they started to grow into a bit more. Three years ago my family faced a rather large storm that swirled within our safe and secure family unit.  God was certainly in it, but I can't say that I fully embraced what He was doing there.  I knew He was doing something but I didn't have the resolve and focus that I have found this time around.  God, of course, worked it out and we all pulled through and I believe, are stronger for it. 

Then last year, the next wave hit and we somehow were deeply rooted and unmoveable.  It's only by the grace of God, we take no credit for this at all.  My track record, in particular, would prove that, left to my own devices, I am thrown easily to and fro.  But this time was different.  God breathed into us a new sense of Who He was and is.  We knew from the beginning that He was in this and we had nothing to fear, nothing to fret and nothing to do except rest in His truth.

We now understand the meaning behind counting suffering as pure joy, it's clearer now.  This past year has offered us so many opportunites to just focus on Him.  Opportunity to get outside ourselves, to look outward, and upward, all the while the inside was being strengthened, reshaped and moulded.  We have found that when we take that bold step toward God, He responds so kindly and gently. 

Last June I decided to go and be a part of our youth group's girls retreat.  I don't know how the thought came to be, it wasn't a lightbulb moment, it was just suddenly there.  I cleared it with my daughter, Jessica, since the last thing I wanted was to encroach into her territory.  She graciously accepted me into her circle and I went.  Scared. Not knowing. Ill-equipped.  I went.  God so sweetly found little things that were uniquely me to gently nudge me into and I felt safe and secure in what I was asked to do.  I really enjoyed that weekend and was so relieved that I took that step.  I somehow thought that the girls retreat would be the only thing that I would tag along on.

I was so.wrong.  This year we find ourselves in the midst of Senior High Youth Group, the winter retreat (which gave me even more creative outlets to play around in), Junior High Youth Group, a CORE group of girls that is studying Purity, I'm willing (and still scared) to take on teaching times and other responsibilities, plus we are going to Kentucky for Leadership Training!!!  Leadership?  Really?? I honestly thought I'd just hang out at the beach with the girls once a year.  Each step was gradual, He didn't throw me in all at once (like the kids at winter retreat that threw themselves into the chilly ocean for the polar plunge)  That's not my style or God's style.  I'm thankful.

We have a full plate once again, after taking a long hiatus to reevalutate ourselves, our lives and where God wanted us.  He gives us what He knows we can't handle on our own and He gives it when He knows we are ready to run to Him for help.  I am so thankful for this unemployment opportunity, it has transformed us.  It has transformed who we are, how we think, what we do and how we trust.  It has transformed the Word into a living, breathing, vital part of who we are.  It has brought us together as a family, as husband and wife.

We are a part of an incredible body of believers, who are also open and willing to be used by God to bless us, care for us and even carry us.  The way that He uses people continues to amaze us.  He is so good!!!!  He gives before we even feel a need.  He's that intimate and personal.

Friends, if you don't know Him like that.  Please, let me know, I would love to fill up the comment section with prayers and petitions.  If you'd rather not make it publicly known, all you have to do is ask.  Ask Him to come and save you from yourselves.  Admit that you can no longer do this on your own.  Tell Him that you long to know Him in a close and personal way.  Then go...Go and find a believer that you can turn to for support, get yourself a bible (even Wal Mart sells them), find yourself a church, Christian Radio, Christian Broadcasts On-Demand.  Submerge yourself in His word, whether through friends or blogs or whatever meduim you find.  When you look, you will find Him.

God bless you friends, God bless you in the trenches.  There's a light at the end of the tunnel and He's calling your name,


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Super Quick

So... I've been sitting in front of the computer for about 20 minutes thinking of what to post and reading other blogs for "inspiration". heheehehe :) I decided that I'm going to update you on life.

My Honduras dream is becoming more of a reality as I'm faced with an opportunity to travel to Honduras to meet my sponsor child. This is a big step for me but I'm reasonably certain this is where Jesus wants me. Which brings me to my next topic. I, along with a few other girls, meet weekly at a cute little cafe in town for tea, cupcakes, and bible study. Backstory a little bit, my mom received a book in the mail, sent to us by the homeschool company we use, the book is a new book from an aspiring author. I instantly grabbed it up and loved it. It's called "The Ten Second Rule" (seen below).

Now, this book won't have deep theological wording or a special formula to help you become obedient. This book simply tells you to do the next thing you're reasonably certain Jesus wants you to do. I would greatly recommend this book and would also recommend checking out the website; http://www.claredegraaf.com/10-second-rule/. They have a video of Clare, the author, describing the book, and many other great resources!

Moving on, a week or two after I started reading this book I had the impression of going to Honduras, and who am I to deny the requests of Jesus? So anyway, I start working toward this idea of Honduras, planning on taking a few short mission trips during college and ultimately moving down there. Well, a few weeks after that I get a flyer from Compassion International about this sponsor tour. The first date on the flyer, you ask? Honduras.

            ~ Jessica

Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday's Favorite Five #2

Friday's Favorite Five
Hey gatherers, My mother (Lorraine) and I have decided that every Friday we are going to post a favorite five recap of our week. This will allow us to consistently have something up on our blog for you guys to check out. The categories are as follows:

1. Craft
This "craft" (A.K.A. smashbook) is a favorite of both my mother and I's. While we don't own a smashbook the idea is really cool and easy to do without purchasing all of the actual products. Find the company HERE.

2. Music
This is a farely popular song and one that took me a little bit of time to warm up to. But I really like the tune and 'soulfulness' that Adele sings with.

3. Blog
Profile Photo

This is a blog that I (Jessica) have been following for a little while and love to check up on. My friend, Kristen, first introduced me to A Beautiful Mess. Elsie, the blogger, updates on anything from crafts to clothes, sewing to photography, and much more. Although she wears some things I wouldn't even consider, I love to get inspiration and ideas from her. Check her out!

4. Scripture
Pinned Image
For Valentine's Day. :) The simplest of truths is sometimes all we need to motivate and inspire us.

5. Quote
Pinned Image
Just something we can reflect on when God calls us to leave our comfort zone and follow him.

Thanks for joining us and looking at our favorites for the week! 
~Lorraine and Jessica

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Birthday Joe!!

Twelve years ago, today we welcome our son, Joseph Michael into our family.  He is a pensive boy; quiet, thoughtful and caring.  Joe has never been one for traditional toys, matchbox, action figures, etc.  He likes to be in the kitchen, in the garden, behind a camera, with a drawing pad and pencil in hand, typically wherever and whatever his father and I are doing, you'll find him there.  Joe has three nicknames; JoeBean, Hands and Stuff Boy!!  Hands because his hands are always into whatever we are doing....whether it's cooking, gardening or crafting, he's all in!!  Stuff boy because he's always carried alot of "stuff" with him.  When he was little, it was his blankie, a few stuffed animals and a pillow.  Now it has turned into a camera, his DS, pokemon cards, a drawing pad and bunch of colored pencils. 

He has many interests and many talents and has brought such joy to our family over the past twelve years.  We know that God has great plans for this young man and we are anxious to see what He has in store for Joes' future.  We thank God for blessing our family with him.

Happy Birthday Joe!!!!
We Love you!!!
Mom, Dad, Jon, Jessica, Jaysen and Julia

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Ultimate Valentine

I thought I'd offer a break from the traditional Valentine's Day hoopla and give you a sweet reminder of where the original "love gift" came from.

This goes wayyyyy beyond the traditional box of chocolates and card, my friends.  God sent his Son as the ultimate valentine, the sacrificial love offering for you and me. "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 8:5

 Put that in a greeting card and pay five bucks for it!!!  If you ask forgiveness for your sins, admit that you need a savior and give your heart to Him, He will never fail to deliver.  You won't sit around waiting for Him to show you his love, no missed birthdays, anniversaries, etc.  His love is there 24/7, friends!!

 If you need a singable reminder of His unfailing love for you check out Kim Walker with Jesus Culture.  This is by far my most favorite version of this song!!! 

And if you'd like to pass this message on to someone that you love or just need a visual reminder, go see Megan Richards Modderman and her awesome blog Contented Sparrow for a precious little printable that she created!!

~ Lorraine

Friday, February 10, 2012

Fridays Favorite Five

Friday's Favorite Five
Hey gatherers, My mother (Lorraine) and I have decided that every Friday we are going to post a favorite five recap of our week. This will allow us to consistently have something up on our blog for you guys to check out. The categories are as follows:

1. Craft
This one came from my mom (as she is far more crafty than I). It's a really nice and simple heart garland in honor of Valentine's day. Check out the link HERE!

 2. Music
I don't know how many people know this, but iTunes puts out somewhere around 4 free songs per week (you can find them on the main itunes screen). This song, I believe, was the indie download from a week or two ago. I really love the melodies and chill vibe that you get from their voices.

3. Blog
Again, another one from my mother. I know that this is one of the blogs that she reads consistently and loves. But, she especially loved the last part of this particular post. Flower Patch Farm Girl along with a couple of other bloggers put together this ezine which consists of letters to people that might otherwise go unloved. Check it out HERE!

4. Scripture
There isn't much more to say about this scripture, other than it is a fantastic guideline to life and how to live like Jesus. This picture is courtesy of http://familybees.blogspot.com/ .

5. Quote
Again, this is a great way to live and it is very simply stated!

Thanks for joining with us for the first of many Friday's Favorite Five!
~Lorraine and Jessica

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Movin' on......

I want to start by saying that I'm getting a new computer (YIPPEE)!!!  You don't know how badly I need this!!!  My dinosaur, I mean computer hasn't worked properly for I don't know how long.  I can't open most of the programs, it's super duper slow and very frustrating.  In fact I've wasted about 20 minutes just now in waiting for the proper screens to open.  Jumping between screens?  FOR.GET.IT!!!  It's like asking your child in preparing for bed to 1. brush their teeth 2. put on pj's 3. get into bed!!  It's command overload and they either end up staring at you blankly or they make their way to the bath or bedroom and then get sidetracked on something that you did NOT ask them to do!  Anyway, my parents are very generously helping a girl out in this area and I am forever grateful <3  Much love to you Mom and Dad!!!

Last weekend was spent with about 35 junior and senior highers at our Youth Group Winter Retreat.  It used to be called "Snow Camp" but for a few reasons we moved it out of the Poconos and down to the beach.....no snow.  Just sand.  It was incredible none-the-less!!  This was my first full out youth retreat experience.  Last summer I joined the girls from youth group on their retreat (at the beach) and it was nice.....calm, sweet, easy.  I liked it.  Let me tell you, adding the boys is a totally different story altogether!!  It was hyped up, crazy, active, and amazing!!!  From our praise and worship (here's a shout out to The World Outside for doing an amazing job, also check out this article) to our lesson on Joseph, every part of the weekend was God ordained.  Okay maybe the midnight bowling wasn't, but it was still fun!!

I'm still not quite recovered but the week is moving along regardless!!!  God is moving in some big ways over here and I am in awe!!  You know Jessica's post from last week, Beautiful?  She hit it right on the head with that one.  God has truly taken this past year and is ever so gently turning it into something beautiful and useful for His glory and our good.  The hubs had a difficult decision to make this week, but standing on the facts and God's grace was all that he needed to move forward.  There has been some interest swirling around him again and even if it doesn't turn into anything at this point, it's good for the soul.  To know that you have potential, something that catches someones attention, is sometimes all we need to renew our confidence.  God is faithful to provide those little love notes when He sees fit (which is always when we are in need of receiving)!

One of the things that we pulled from our lesson on Joseph was learning to use your current situation for Kingdom work.  God has equipped each of us with certain tools to be used no matter where we find ourselves.  Like Joseph, we often find ourselves in less than glamorous situations and unlike Joseph we end up sitting in a corner sulking, asking God "Why are you doing this to me?".  We can't even see the answer, because we are so inward focused.  God has truly used this year to turn our attention outward and upward.  It was so neat to notice how many times the bible tells us that "God was with him (Joseph), in the cistern; God was there, in prison; God was there, in false accusations; God was with him.  He has been with us all along, He promises to never leave us or forsake us.....so why do we think He's out to get us when things aren't going "our" way.  Quite honestly, I don't think I want things going "my way" anymore.  It's time to move over and let things go His way <3

Well I pray that you continue to focus on the One who loves you in such grand ways that we can't even begin to fathom!!  Be blessed friends!!