Monday, August 15, 2016

VBS 2016--Submerged

What are your life verses? You know, your go to Bible verses?  The ones you know, love, and quote?  I've always loved

Isaiah 40:8, The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.

Isaiah 43:7, Everyone who is called by My name, And whom I have created for My glory, Whom I have formed, even whom I have made.

I have a new life verse thanks to our VBS theme--Submerged. 

Psalm 139:23-24, God, you know everything about me; help me do what's right. 

I find myself praying this Scripture daily, really hourly. Remember the old hymn, I need Thee every true.
I need Thee every hour, most Holy One; O make me Thine indeed, Thou blessed Son.

Here's usually how the prayer goes...
  • Roger III wanted to cook and spilled salt and cinnamon all over the floor... immediately I pray. God you know everything about my son, Roger; help me do what is right.

  • Abby is night she asks for nurses (really demands) in the middle of the night and instead I give her snuggles, and I pray. God you know everything about Abby Jane; you know everything about me; help us do what is right.

  • As Roger and I argue, (yes my husband and I do not see eye to eye at all times), I pray. God you know everything about our relationship, about me, about us; help me do what is right.

  • As those ugly thoughts creep into my head, I pray. God you know everything about me; help me think what is right and focus on your Truth.

  • As I play with the kids, I pray. God you know everything about Roger and Abby; help me do what is right.

  • As the kids and I do clean toilets and do laundry, I pray. God you know everything about me; help me do what's right.

  • When Student A comes in the door, I pray.  God you know everything about me, about Student A; help me do what's right.  Help me handle this situation correctly.  

  • What's so great about this Scripture is that you can pray it so easily, in good times and bad. 

  • My kids are swimming at the pool and we are having a great time, I pray; God you know everything about today; help me do what's right.  

  • The Holy Spirit is nudging me to encourage someone, I pray; God you know everything about Person A, help me say what's right.  

Submerging ourselves in Scripture and prayer does not have to be difficult. In closing I would like to leave you with:

Ephesians 4:32,  Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Big Church and Toddlers--The WHY?

Isaiah 40:8, "God created us to glorify Him."  The most valuable thing we can do is worship Christ.  

Romans 8:28, "We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love him.  They are the people God called, because that was His plan."  I get asked somewhat frequently why I take my children into service. The answer is plain and simple, teachable moments, which God has perfectly orchestrated within our family.  Our family loves to worship God, and bringing our children into service is one way we teach our children to worship Him.  Proverbs 22:6, "Train a child how to live the right way. Then even when he is old, he will still live that way."  

At the time of writing this, my son is 3.5 and my daughter is 1.5 years old.  My son has always sat in service with our family, since the day he was born.  As he grew older, I sat outside the sanctuary and we watched the service on TV, training him to sit still and quietly.  Our church does not have a mothers room, a training area, a children's sermon bag, etc. My daughter usually sits through the singing (first 15 minutes) and then I bring her to the nursery area.  I hope to start training her as well, right now I still feel the need to focus on our son.  (For the past two Sundays, both children have sat through the entire service with us. My son is now 3.75 and my daughter 23 months.)

Mark 10:14, "He said to them, 'Let the little children come to me.  Don't stop them.  The kingdom of God belongs to people who are like these little children.'"  

  • I pray the congregation sees our children's cries, giggles, claps, Amen's, prayers, singing, whining, etc. as a joyful noise.  
  • I pray they see that when we attend as a family the Body of Christ is more fully present.  Worship isn't private, it may be personal, but it's not private; it is a community where ALL are welcome, including our children.  
  • I pray the congregation understands how important these teachable moments are, so that in 10 years from now our children are still sitting in the pews, knowing that worship is important and that they are a vital part of the body of Christ. 
  • I pray our children know they are vital to the body of Christ EVERY Sunday, not just on Children's Sunday.  
  • I pray the congregation sees our children are learning through each of these teachable moments.  
  • I pray the congregation sees that our family cares about faith.  
  • I pray the congregation welcomes our family, and realizes that our children's worship matters, and that they are members of the church community too.  
  • I pray that my children know that they are welcome even though they don't yet believe, pray, or worship in all the "right" ways.  
  • I pray the church sees our children as INTEGRAL parts of the service--their cries, their giggles, their claps, their Amen's, their prayers, their singing, their whining, etc. 

Hebrews 4:12, "God's word is ALIVE and WORKING."  We enjoy being together and doing things as a family.  We value worship--there are infinitely many teachable moments, as the Bible is ALIVE.

Deuteronomy 11:18, "Remember My words in your hearts and souls.  Write them down and tie them to your hands as a sign.  Tie them on your foreheads to remind you."  As parents, our greatest responsibility is to teach our children, by our example, to glorify Him.  One way we do this is through worship.  We want to teach our children about the importance of the body of Christ.  We want them to see us worshiping Christ, singing, praying, listening to His Word, learning about the living God! 

Psalm 81:10, "Open your mouth, and I WILL feed you."  We want our children to see that we are hungry for His word and to learn more about Him and His ways.  I pray our children value the presence of our Almighty God.  

1 Timothy 3:4, "his children obey him with full respect." Our children should be obedient and respectful. Asking our children to sit for any length of time requires discipline, manners, sitting quietly, respect, and obedience. Each of these are also acts that Christ also asks of us, at different times, in order to be faithful to Him. As Billy Graham says, "A child who is allowed to be disrespectful to his parents will not have true respect for anyone."  

Deuteronomy 11:19, "Teach My Words well to your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home and walk along the road.  Talk about them when you lie down and when you get up."  Our children may be "bored," although they are still hearing the words being sung, spoken, and prayed; the format will feel familiar, some of the words are understood, and we can discuss, as a family what the sermon was about and how we can relate and apply what was taught.  As we are singing great hymns of the faith and praise and worship songs, I share with my my kids what we are saying, and why.  We desire for our children to know the One true God.  I know they hear and remember bits and pieces.  

I pray the time we spend with our children in worship is used as a catalyst for their personal faith.  I pray my husband and I can effectively teach our children the most valuable thing we can do is glorify Him, and one way we can do that is through worship.  Isaiah 40:8, "God created us to glorify Him." 

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

The dreaded 11 letter M word

I would venture every woman who has ever had a positive pregnancy test is also well aware of the dreaded 11 letter M word--Miscarriage. It is a "club" no woman wishes to join. 1 in 3 pregnancies end in miscarriage. I have been told by countless women, the third pregnancy is the most difficult. They were right! 

My husband and I were pregnant with our third child. I was due in May, perfect for a school teacher. The pregnancy caught us by surprise and we had not told many people that we were pregnant, but of course, we were happy! I took six pregnancy tests (5 are shown); I could not believe we were pregnant!

I also tested my breast milk, it showed a positive pregnancy test too.

I wanted to tell my parents in a fun way. With my first two, I "had" to tell them very early on, as I was running full marathons. Reality is, my fun pregnancy announcement, became a miscarriage announcement. 
This was physically my toughest pregnancy. I was nauseated all day long, especially at night. I hardly ate, rarely ate dinner, and I lost 6 lbs, due to nausea, even though, I was never "sick." I was exhausted, and I went to sleep, as soon as RC3 and AJ went down.

At 8 weeks 3 days, I started spotting. I knew something wasn't right, but I also knew I couldn't change it. God is in control. At 9 weeks 3 days, I went to my first OBGYN appt to get my ultrasound and blood work confirming the pregnancy. Instead, I had an ultrasound that showed no heartbeat. I wish they would have given me that ultrasound picture. (They were able to give it to me at my following appointment, they had saved a picture!)

I felt as though the pregnancy was not real, there was no validation, just sticks I had peed on,weight that had been lost, lots of exhaustion, and a whole bunch of nausea.

That first appointment was long, difficult, and scary. I felt so alone and confused. Would the doctor recommended a D&C, would he say there was something wrong with me; that day was miserably lonely. I could cling to one person, and one person only, Jesus Christ. He gave me the strength and endurance that I needed that day, that moment, and he continues to each and everyday.

Thankfully, my doctor recommended that I pass our baby naturally. He said it could happen in one hour or in 3 weeks. My doctor was kind, and he gave me the raw realities of miscarraige, as well as time to process the impending miscarriage--time to process that week, that day, that hour, that moment... I wanted to miscarry then and there. It was one tough appointment. 

Here I was, I had just left the doctor, I needed to go pick up my kids, I needed to tell my husband... I didn't know when or where my body would miscarry and life must go on. I was terrified to tell my husband; I didn't want him blaming me for the miscarriage. I was scared, my hormones and emotions running wild, and spiritually, I hurt. Why, God? What are you up to?

Monday night, after seeing the kids, and Roger meeting me, I went to Kroger by myself to buy pads, and I just cried. What should I buy? Pads, Depends, what brand, it was so overwhelming...I walked out and walked down to the local CVS. I talked to the pharmacist; they were not very helpful. So I bought my son a package of pull ups since they were on sale, and I walked back down to Kroger. I then called my Uncle Forest, since he cares for my Auntie Barb, and I asked him those girl questions... What to buy? He gave me recommendations and I walked out with some Always brand underwear. I knew that our baby could pass at any day or time, now when? I knew there would be large painful clots of blood. I knew I would go into labor at some unknown time and date. 

Tuesday morning, I got up and went to work. I wore my special panties I had bought at Kroger, and I mustered the strength I needed to be there--thankfully my students were testing. I told the VP, and my department head, in case I needed to leave quickly, as the time of the miscarriage would be unknown. I was hugged and cared for. And went on about my day. Tuesday, I picked up the kids as normal, after work. I had a moment to tell my MIL, separate from my FIL, and I told her at that time. That evening I put on my "old lady panties" as well. I waited in agony for when that moment of miscarriage would happen.

RC3 had a scheduled doctors appointment on Wednesday, at the downtown medical center.

I took AJ to Nana and Papa Bobo's, and then RC3 and I went downtown and met Roger at the appointment.

No signs of impending labor at that time. After the appointment, we walked to the car, in the parking garage. I drove from the garage to the pay station and gate, and then to the area, where it was light. I told Roger he needed to drive, I was cramping very badly. We switched places, Roger drove to the Black Walnut in Rice Village. I realized I was contracting, and needed to be alone. The boys went inside and ate, while I sat in a parking garage alone.

I called my Mom, as the contractions got strong; I started to sweat, shake, and breath very methodically, through each contraction. I felt like I was dilated to an 8 or 9. With RC3s birth and Abby Jane's, I went from no signs of labor, to holding my children in 2 hours 40 minutes, and 3 hours even, respectively. This third birth was no different. I passed major blood clots while the boys were eating. When they came back, we went to Roger's office, and then drove back to The Woodlands.

We went to the bus barn, Roger picked up his car, and Roger and RC3 went on to RC3s speech intake appointment. I went home to shower and change clothes. I kept praying that God would allow me to hold our baby. I was now 9 weeks 5 days. (Almost 10 weeks pregnant, 1/4 of a pregnancy.) In the shower, I felt the urge to squat, and I did. At 2:45 pm, our baby was born, while I squatted in the shower. I gave him (I think our child was a boy, we will find out someday...) his first bath, and held him. I took some pictures , and then saved his body in case Roger wanted to see our son (or daughter). After showering, I placed our son in the fridge, in a Pyrex container. I didn't know what to do with the body. This was my child. Our child. God's child.

I left and met Roger and RC3 at his speech intake appointment. The appointment was fine.  I tried to act like it was a normal day, while inside I was hurting. That night I went to bed, scared, lonely, confused...Clinging to Christ, that's all I could do.

Thursday morning, I had a work training. I got up and put on my "old lady panties" and off I went. I was now going through post partum bleeding, and didn't want to ruin my pretty panties. The training was fine, and upon returning to my campus, and speaking with my VP, she sent me to a counselor as soon as I told her I had given birth to our baby. God protected me, and gave me Christian people in place to love and care for me.

I spoke with the counselor most of the afternoon, then came back to my classroom to prepare Fridays lesson. Once finished, I went and picked up our children. I cared for our children as normal and tried to sit and talk with Roger that evening; he was not ready.

On Friday morning I had a name for our son. Asher John Craig. He was born two days prior on the 28 October 2015, at 2:45pm. Asher means God gives us happiness and John meaning God is gracious and merciful, two things that ring true to Asher John's pregnancy and birth. Roger seemed okay with the name. I needed to name our child, he did not share the same needs during this time of grieving.

At work on Friday, I was thankful for hugs from my students, kids who said they missed me, and understanding people, men and women alike. Women who hugged me, and men who felt my pain. I shared with those I felt led to share with and was thankful for the people who prayed with and for me. I felt led to share the picture of Asher John with one of my students. He looked at me and said, "Mrs. Craig, he's smiling. He's so happy."

My parents came Friday night. They hugged me and cried with me. Saturday morning, Roger took RC3 to his physical therapy intake, and Mom, Dad, Abby Jane and I held and buried Asher John Craig. My father prayed, we read Exodus 34:4-9, buried our baby, and then we prayed again.

Exodus 34:4-9New American Standard Bible (NASB)
So he cut out two stone tablets like the former ones, and Moses rose up early in the morning and went up to Mount Sinai, as the Lord had commanded him, and he took two stone tablets in his hand. The Lord descended in the cloud and stood there with him as [a]he called upon the name of the Lord. Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and [b]truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.” Moses made haste [c]to bow low toward the earth and worship. He said, “If now I have found favor in Your sight, O Lord, I pray, let the Lord go along in our midst, even though [d]the people are so obstinate, and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us as Your own[e]possession.”

That afternoon, Mom and I bought a hydrangea, one of my favorite flowers. I will plant the hydrangea in honor of Asher John Craig. (Picture to come later.) 

Sunday morning we sang Holy, Holy, Holy, one of the last hymns I sang with my Grandfather, before he passed. This was both difficult and healing for me.

Miscarriage is brutally painful. I know the first person Asher John saw was Jesus Christ, and that gives me hope. It does not take away the pain of the forfeited relationship, opportunities, and dreams. Miscarriage cannot be fixed, it can only be carried. I am so thankful for the many people who have done two simple things...they have acknowledged my pain and they have stood here with me. Whether they understood or not, they hugged me, gave me time and room to process, and most importantly, acknowledged my pain. I am extremely blessed by the many prayers, scriptures, and songs given, as I carry this grief.

God has protected my body. It continues to heal. God has been gracious and merciful. Asher John Craig is with Him, forever.

When I showed RC3 a picture of Asher John, he  said, "look a bird." I didn't mean to show him the picture, but that's alright. Roger was right on, he pointed me to Christ in that simple moment. I am so thankful for Roger, Roger III (RC3), and Abby Jane.

If you want to see pictures of Asher John please scroll down and look.


Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Monday, 17 September 2012, 3:45AM:  Um...did I just pee my undies?  That's a lot of liquid.  Um...I don't think my water just broke, I'm not supposed to have a baby until October, and most first time mom's go past 40 weeks.  Plus average is 41 1/7 weeks.

I then walked over to the bathroom, and this liquid kept coming out of me.  Um...COAT...yah what did that stand for?  Color, Odor, ?, ? oh and what was the odor supposed to be like if your water is breaking?  I guess I can just go pee now, I actually have to go potty!  So...I sat on the toilet and emptied my bladder, still half asleep and a little confused.  Walked back to the sink to wash my hands and more water coming out!

I was excited, scared, and confused.  This isn't how it's supposed to happen.  I then stuck a washcloth in my panties to act as a pad, in case I wasn't done leaking, and went to wake up my husband.  Some women leak/trickle, not me, call me Niagra!  I had a lovely gushing fall.  Waking up Roger is not a strength of mine, somehow I manage to scare him, so he freaked out, and all I wanted to do was wake him up and make sure he didn't roll over into the mess of amniotic fluid on the bed.

Both of us were tired, and not totally, 100% sure it was my water that had broke, so he put a towel over the bed, then a garbage bag, another towel, and "went back to bed."  Yah, we didn't sleep, but tried to rest at least!  I texted in sick, even though I knew, I wasn't coming back for a while.

At 9AM, Roger and I went to my OB/GYN.  He took me back, did an exam, and said, "You need to go to the hospital.  I'll call them and let them know you are coming."  Which he did.  We on the other hand, went to Black Walnut and Roger got a few hours of work done, while I researched the situation.  We had wanted a natural childbirth, to go into labor when my body was ready.  My water had broke and I had zero dilation or contractions.

While Roger worked away, I spoke with four or five women, and each of them said the same thing, go to the hospital.  You trust and pay your OB for a reason.  We looked into some methods to induce labor, but since my water had broken, it wasn't so easy.  I am also GBS+, therefore I needed antibiotics, technically when my water broke.

Around noon I called my Mom to let her know that we would be going to the hospital in the next little while, and the baby would be coming later today or tomorrow.  My Mom got things ready and started making her way to The Woodlands.  She also called my Dad to let him know.  Molly and Levi were texted, although, since this was a Monday, they could not come up.  

I never finished this...a few years ago, but I thought I would post what I started...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Faithful in All

Wow, so I haven't posted in 8 months, almost 9 months!  And guess what, there have been lots of changes!  And wonderful ones!  Roger and I have been happily (well most of the time) enjoying wedded bliss!  I conceived in mid-January, and we now have a baby due in early October!  For years I have dreamed of being a wife, and then a Mom, and it is now a reality.  Below are pictures from our first U/S.



 Full Body

Gender Proof

I have been scared that we would not have the things needed for our new baby boy, yes, baby boy, A Roger Craig III (RC3).  Chelsea, one of the leaders of our Sunday School class, graciously took me to go register for baby items--it's been done at Amazon, Target, and Babies R Us.  I did not even know where to begin!  Thanks, Chelsea!

And then...our Sunday School class threw us a baby shower.  Thanks ladies, and thanks Rachel for hosting!  Pictures below.

"R" Sugar cookies, Rachel made as a party favour for A Roger Craig III


 Part of the table set up

 Rachel also painted wooden letters for us spelling ROGER! 

Marley, Ashley, and myself...Kristin is hiding (not really) she was picking up all the wrapping paper! 

 Kendra and Laine

Picture of the fun loot!  RC3 is one blessed boy!  

Fun shower game!  Guessing the size of my belly!  Rachel measuring and Chelsea looking on!   I think it was 37" at the time.  I don't remember! 

I was feeling very down one day, and wondering, how in the world we would be able to provide for our son.  I know God provides, although sometimes it is hard to remember.  I was pleasantly surprised by a package, from one of Rogers good friends, Fred, who sent us receiving blankets, just as I was hitting my point of worry.  It was a perfect reminder that GOD IS FAITHFUL IN ALL!

For our wedding Roger and I were given multiple Amazon gift cards.  We used those gift cards to purchase a jogging stroller, a crib, a kitchen clock radio, and lots of salsa.  Thankfully we were given Amazon and Target gift cards, as that has enabled us to purchase baby items.

Rogers parents ABF class has graciously offered to shower our baby boy later this month.  I am quite excited about this, as some of the ladies have made quilts!  We already received a fun baby quilt from a lady at the church.

And then, Molly, my sister (in law), is hosting a shower in San Antonio, with our good friends, Kit, Sara, and Laura!  We sure are blessed and loved!

Do I believe GOD IS FAITHFUL IN ALL?  You betcha!  Is it hard to remember?  You betcha!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011

Dear Family and Friends,

Advent prepares us for the coming of Christ—we learn about the love, peace, joy, and the hope that we have in God. As Roger and I prepare for Christmas, we are excited about the hope that we receive through Jesus. When our hopes and desires are fulfilled, we see and experience God’s faithfulness. Upon receiving Roger and I’s wedding invitation, a friend recently asked me, “How does it feel to know that you have been found by what God has promised? How does it feel to know that you are living in God’s promises?” My answer was simple and immediate, “Amazing!”


  • Marriage
  • Gained parents, brothers, and sisters
  • Roger’s job is now based in Houston
  • Faith ran two marathons with her father, and one with her Uncle Bert

As you read our fulfilled hopes, I challenge you to reflect upon and experience God’s goodness and grace. Christ the Lord is here among us, our Saviour was born on Christmas day! “Light and life to all He brings; Ris’n with healing in His wings…Born that man no more may die, Born to raise the sons of earth, Born to give them second birth…”

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Roger and Faith Craig

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas from a Childs POV

I thoroughly enjoyed this and thought you might too! :)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Coveting = hard to love

Covet 2.0

Posted: 30 Nov 2011 05:33 AM PST

Long before there were American Girl Dolls, shout out to Kirsten (rest in peace), there were Cabbage Patch Dolls.

They were the Tickle-me-Elmo of the Christmas craze one year. (I just used an old reference to explain an older reference. Let me try that again.)

They were the Wii of the Christmas craze one year. (Still not relevant? Last time.)

They were the Quitter of the Christmas craze one year. Everyone wanted one, much like the book Quitter this Christmas, and people got in shoving matches over these simple dolls.

The story behind them was that the dolls were born in a cabbage patch, delivered by nurses and then brought to your house via a stork. At the Cabbage Patch headquarters in North Georgia, you could actually go see the dolls born and delivered by people dressed as nurses. That sounds a little weird, but kids loved the experience and flocked there in droves.

One day, my friend and her husband brought their kids to the Cabbage Patch hospital. When their young daughters weren’t looking, they bought a doll. Their plan was to hide it in the trunk of their car without their youngest daughter seeing it, then give it to her a few months later on Christmas. Bad idea.

The “nurse” who “delivered” the cabbage patch “baby” walked out to “the” (sorry got on a roll there) car to see the family off. When the nurse saw my friend’s husband put the Cabbage Patch doll in the car, she freaked out.

She ran over and said, “You can’t put that baby in the trunk. She won’t be able to breathe!” Stupified, the dad responded, “Uh, it’s just a doll.” But the nurse wouldn’t budge. “She won’t be able to breathe,” she repeated.

Finally, the dad tore an air hole in the plastic bag the doll was in, appeased the nurse and slowly shut the trunk. Then he walked to the driver’s side of the car and never looked back.

Can we all agree that lady was a little crazy? I mean the kids were already buckled in the car. The “doll can’t breathe” performance wasn’t for them. That’s at least a smidge crazy, and I should know because sometimes I think I might be crazy too.

I bumped into that possible reality recently while looking at Twitter.

I created a list of friends, so that in the melee of thousands of tweets a day, I can specifically see what 10-20 people I know are up to via their tweets.

But in the midst of doing that, I’ve realized something rather pathetic, insecure and crazy of me.

I’m getting really jealous of my friends. As I scroll through their tweets, here are a couple of things that pop into my head:

“Oh wow. That friend hung out with that other friend and they did something amazing together. Huh. Why didn’t they invite me?”

“Whoa. That friend just announced, ‘I had a great time seeing people I love in Nashville, time to fly back home.’ Weird, he didn’t even tell me he was going to be in town.”

Then I sit in this ridiculous pity party, which eventually mutates into me coveting a life other than my own.

I want those adventures.

I want to be invited to those events.

I want to be as cool or as interesting or as funny or as anything as my friends.

I covet 2.0. And in discussing this with my wife, a few things came to light.

1. When I covet my friends, it’s really hard to love my friends.
My friends aren’t doing anything wrong. It’s me and my insecurities. But by dwelling there, I build up all this residual frustration with my friends, and that gets in the way of my ability to love them. I want to be someone who celebrates his friends, not someone who covets them.

2. This makes me like a seventh grade girl.
My wife doesn’t struggle with covet 2.0, but says she understands it because she “used to be a seventh grade girl.” In the cafeteria on Monday mornings in middle school, she said it was hard to hear about sleepovers and events you hadn’t been invited to. Why was it hard? Because she was a slightly insecure seventh grade girl. Which is apparently much like me.

3. This isn’t how it always was.
Ten years ago, you didn’t know about all the amazing things your friends were doing. No one called you and 300 other people on the phone and said, “Hey, I just saw an amazing sunset, went on a hot air balloon, got invited to a secret concert and had a brilliant lunch with somebody who won’t return your calls. Just wanted to make sure you knew.” The phenomenon of tracking the movements of all our friends is new. And the weird thing is that, ten years ago, I swear I never said, “I wish I knew what everyone I know was doing constantly. I could see that being really healthy for me.”

4. The Internet is a “Best Life” snapshot.
When you read somebody’s tweets or scroll through their photos on Facebook, you’re seeing a snapshot of somebody’s best life. Sure, some people share raw/honest moments moreso than others, but no one shares everything. (If you share everything and don’t hold back something personal for you or your spouse, you eventually become a “performer,” not a person.) People share vacations and sunsets and parties. And then you sit in your own very normal, messy life with boringness and ups and downs and think, “My life is no good.”

This isn’t a Twitter or Facebook issue. I am a huge fan of social media and have personally seen the tremendous good that can come from both. But right now, in my own life, I’ve turned my Twitter friends list into a place for me to hide and get jealous and covet 2.0.

If you’re my friend, sorry about being so silly. Covet 2.0 snuck up on me, and I’ve spent the last few months acting like I’m in the seventh grade. And since Chess King is closed, Color Me Badd is not on the top of the charts, and I’m not wearing Z-Cavaricci’s right now, I know that’s not where I’m supposed to be.

Have you ever experienced covet 2.0?

I LOVE the way Jon Acuff puts things, and yes, I thought this too was a great reminder!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Grandma's Plates

My Grandmother passed away a couple weeks ago. Yeesterday I was reminded about the one thing I loved most about Grandma! I remember Grandma Lanning as a woman who loved God and shared Christ to those around her.

This past weekend I went up to NY to help Roger move back down to Texas. While helping Roger clean and pack I saw a Corelle Corning Ware plate with my Grandmothers pattern. As I was helping Roger out I broke down in tears--I was reminded of Grandmas dinner table, a place where there were always three things present:

1) People, lots of them, from anywhere. Family, friends, people off of the street, it didn't matter what you looked like or where you came from, there was always room for one more. :)
2) Food, nobody goes hungry on a dairy farm, especially when with the Lanning's.
3) God, we always prayed the Lanning family prayer--For our food and all our gifts of love, we give our thanks and praise, oh Father who look down from above, and bless us all our days. Amen.

Below you can read the obituary that was found in the newspaper.

April 15, 1917 – October 3, 2011Ollie Dean Lanning went to be with the Lord on October 3, 2011 at the age of 94. Ollie Dean was loved and respected by many. Her caregivers, Juan and Alma Araiza have been a blessing to her and the family for the last nine years.

Ollie Dean was born in Stockton, Missouri on April 15, 1917 to Harley and Nellie Beall. She moved to various locations while her husband, Forest R “Bud” Lanning was in the Navy, but returned to her Missouri roots where the family farmed the home place where she was born on the Sac River. The family moved to southern Oregon and settled in the Rogue Valley to be near her in-laws when the Stockton Dam was built because most of the property was going to be underwater. In Eagle Point, Oregon Ollie Dean and Bud owned and operated the “Lanning’s Mo-Oak” dairy farm. She has been a resident of Oregon for the past 47 years, the last few years living in Canby, Oregon.

On Mother’s Day in 1958, the Prairie Valley Methodist Church presented a Bible to Ollie Dean for being selected “Mother of the Year.” She loved children and raised not only her own seven children but many others. Numerous nieces and nephews came for extended stays on the farm. Her love of children prompted her to lead the 4-H garden and flower clubs and assist leading the 4-H dairy club. She was an amazing FFA Mother encouraging her children to compete in dairy judging, tractor driving and other contests. Local county fairs, in both Stockton and Medford, have benefitted by her volunteer hours.

Ollie Dean loved to read and garden. When offered the opportunity, Ollie Dean ordered a Lifetime Subscription to Reader’s Digest magazine. Gardening books were very practical in nature as Ollie Dean gardened for the beauty and for practical reasons. Cookbooks assisted her as she fed her family with the food she canned, froze and dried. She enjoyed travel books and she enjoyed going to many destinations. She loved to learn and education was a high priority all of her life.

Ollie Dean was married for 51 years. She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband, Forest R “Bud” Lanning, sons Brian and Frank Lanning and granddaughter, Shasta Thomson. Ollie Dean is survived by her children and their spouses, Forest & Barbara of Canby, OR, (Brian) Betsy Lanning of Medford, OR, George & Leslie Lanning of Salem, OR, Alice & Larry Wells of Anderson, IN, (Frank) Mariah Hegarty of Denver, CO, Neil & Alice Lanning of Centralia, WA, Ruth & Tom Thomson of San Antonio, TX, 17 grandchildren and their spouses, 18 great grandchildren and spouses and a great-great grandson, numerous nieces and nephews. She is also survived by her sister and her husband, Mary Ellen & John Nelson of Los Gatos, CA.

Ollie Dean Lanning will be laid to rest with her husband in a private family interment at the Veteran’s National Cemetery in Eagle Point, Oregon. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations may be made in her honor to the Eagle Point Grange, PO Box 252, Eagle Point, OR 97524 or the Eagle Point VFW Auxiliary, PO Box 626, Eagle Point, OR 97524. Condolence cards can be sent to Forest D Lanning at 253 SE 9th Ave., Canby, OR 97013.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

What is your Ultimate Purpose?

Exodus 20:1-11

Then God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before Me. “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandment. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.

“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.

I LOVE this John Piper quote:

"The ultimate purpose of all things are to hallow (honour as holy, consider sacred) God's name...Jesus came to set it right; He came to vindicate (justify) the holiness of God."

The first video here is a short, but sadly all to true and funny example of what goes on every Sunday during worship.

The second video is the entire sermon that the first video was a clip from. I highly recommend you watch the second 45 minute video. I believe both videos require us to look inward with our actions, and what we really feel our ultimate purpose is as Christians (people who try to be Christ like, followers of Christ). Am I hallowing Christ? Am I glorifying God in all I do? Am I worshiping well? Is my ulitmate purpose to sanctify Christ?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

How does it feel...?

Recently, the following question was asked to me, "How does it feel to know that you have been found by what God has promised? How does it feel to know that you are living in God's promises?"

My answer was simple and immediate, "Amazing!"

Now for a little background information. I was speaking with a friend about my upcoming wedding, and telling him that I was excited that he was going to join Roger and I for our special day. To this he replied with, "How does it feel to know that you are living in God's promises?" Darnell was correct, God has blessed me, and I am living in His promises. I had not thought of it that way. Multiple scripture verses were brought to mind, verses about His faithfulness, verses about His steadfast love, and verses about giving us our greatest desires, and wanting us to be happy.

There are so many little things that God has blessed me with, through Roger! He is passionate, unshakeable, bold, and intelligent. Roger loves children and has compassion on those around him. For years I have dreamed of a man that could sing, play guitar, and play the piano, all of which Roger does. Roger is athletic and challenges me on many levels. I am so thankful to have him in my life. Our wedding is in 34 more days! I am constantly blown away by the generosity of so many family and friends, ready and willing to help us out in any way possible.

My greatest prayer for our wedding ceremony is that Christ is glorified and The Gospel is reenacted. I pray that people come to our wedding knowing that it is only because of God's goodness and grace that Roger and I stand before you. I want people to know that our wedding is a worship service; a picture of The Gospel. The husband is to love his wife as Christ loves the church,willing to die for her. The wife is to submit to her husband as the church submits to Christ. Marriage is a covenant between God and man. Marriage is for happiness, and more importantly for holiness.

The longer we are married, the more we will understand the glorious covenant God has made with us. We praise Him for His faithfulness and steadfast love! I have one living grandparent, each set was married to their spouse until death did them part. Both Roger and I have parents that are still married. I see Christ in each set of parents; I hope to be like our great-grandparents, grandparents, and parents.

I am fortunate to no longer have just one Mom and Dad, but two now! For the last month I have been living at my Mom and Dad's house (my soon to be in-laws), and I LOVE it! I relish this opportunity to get to know my Mom and Dad. I am treated so well. My Mom gives me hugs, cooks, listens to me, and loves on me. My Dad chats with me, prays for me, and loves on me as well. God has blessed me through Roger, and I hope that you too can see what great things God is doing.

I was struggling quite a bit last week, just with life in general and my mum shared with me the following story. May it also bless you, and serve as a reminder that we are Christs, and he wants us to be happy!

The Terribly, Tragically Sad Man
(Loren Seibold)

Once there was a boy who lived in a big house on a hill. He loved dogs and horses, sports cars and music. He climbed trees and went swimming, played football and admired pretty girls. Except for having to tidy up after himself, he had a nice life.
One day the boy said to God, "I've been thinking, and I know what I want to become when I become a man."
"What?" said God.
"I want to live in a big house with a veranda across the front and two St. Bernard dogs and a garden out back. I want to marry a woman who is tall and very beautiful and kind, who has long, black, hair and blue eyes, who plays the guitar and sings in a clear, high voice. I want three strong sons to play ball with. When they grow up, one will be a great scientist, one will be a politician and the youngest will be a professional athlete.
"I want to be an adventurer who sails vast oceans and climbs tall mountains and rescues people. And I want to drive a red Ferrari and never have to tidy up after myself."
"That sounds like a nice dream," said God. "I want you to be happy."
One day, playing ball, the boy hurt his knee. After that he couldn't climb tall mountains or even tall trees, much less sail vast oceans. So he studied marketing and started a medical-supplies business.
He married a girl who was very beautiful and very kind and who had long, black hair. But she was short, not tall, and had brown eyes, not blue. She couldn't play the guitar, or even sing. But she prepared wonderful meals seasoned with rare Chinese spices and painted magnificent pictures of birds.
Because of his business, he lives in a city near the top of a tall apartment building that overlooked the blue ocean and the city's twinkling lights. He didn't have room for two saint Bernard's, but he had a fluffy cat.
He had three daughters, all very beautiful. The youngest, who was in a wheelchair was the loveliest. The three daughters loved their father very much. They didn't play ball with him, but sometimes they went to the park and tossed a Frisbee - except for the youngest, who sat under a tree strumming her guitar and singing lovely, haunting songs.
He made enough money to live comfortably but he didn't drive a red Ferrari. Sometimes he had to pick up things and put them away - even things that didn't belong to him. After all, he had three daughters.
Then one morning, the man awoke and remembered his dream. "I am very sad," he said to his best friend.
"Why?" asked his friend.
"Because I once dreamed of marrying a tall woman with black hair and blue eyes who would play the guitar and sing. My wife can't play the guitar or sing. She has brown eyes, and she's not tall."
"Your wife is very beautiful and very kind," said his friend. "She creates splendid pictures and delectable food.” But the man wasn't listening.
"I am very sad," the man confessed to his wife one day.
"Why?" asked his wife.
"Because I once dreamed of living in a big house with a veranda, and of having two saint Bernard's and a garden out back. Instead I live in an apartment in a high rise building."
"Our apartment is comfortable and we can see the ocean from our couch," said his wife. "We have love, laughter and paintings of birds and a fluffy cat - not to mention three beautiful children.” But the man wasn't listening.
"I am very sad," the man said to his therapist.
"Why?" asked the therapist.
"Because I once dreamed that I would grow up to be a great adventurer. Instead, I am a bald businessman with a bad knee."
"The medical supplies you sell save many lives," said the therapist. But the man wasn't listening. So his therapist charged him $110 and sent him home.
"I am very sad," the man said to his accountant.
"Why?" asked the accountant.
"Because I once dreamed of driving a red Ferrari and never having to tidy up myself. Instead, I take public transportation and sometimes I still have to clean up."
"You wear good suits. You eat at fine restaurants, and you've toured Europe," said his accountant. But the man wasn't listening. His accountant charged him $100 anyway. He was dreaming of a red Ferrari himself.
"I am very sad," the man said to his clergyman.
"Why?" asked the clergyman.
"Because I once dreamed of having three sons: a great scientist, a politician and a professional athlete. Instead, I have three daughters and the youngest can't even walk."
"But, your daughters are beautiful and intelligent," said the clergyman. "They love you very much and they've all done well. One is a nurse, another is an artist and the youngest teaches music to children."
But the man wasn't listening. He was so sad that he became very sick. He lay in a white hospital room surrounded by nurses in white uniforms. Tubes and wires connected his body to blinking machines that he had once sold to the hospital.
He was terribly, tragically sad. His family, friends and clergyman gathered around his bed. They were all deeply sad too. Only his therapist and his accountant remained happy.
Then one night, when everyone except the nurses had gone home, the man said to GOD, "Remember when I was a boy and I told you all the things I wanted?"
"It was a lovely dream," said GOD.
"Why didn't you give me those things?" asked the man.
"I could have," said GOD. "But I wanted to surprise you with things you didn't dream of. I suppose you have noticed what I have given you: a kind beautiful wife; a good business; a nice place to live; three beautiful daughters - one of the best packages that I've put together..."
"Yes," interrupted the man. "But I thought you were going to give me what I really wanted."
"And I thought you were going to give me what I really wanted," said GOD.
"What did you want?" asked the man. It had never occurred to him that GOD was in want of anything.
"I wanted to make you happy with what I had given you," said GOD.
The man lay in the dark all night, thinking. Finally he decided to dream a new dream, one he wished he had dreamed years before. He decided to dream that what he wanted most were the very things he already had.
And the man got well and lived happily in the high rise, enjoying his children's beautiful voices, his wife's deep brown eyes and her glorious paintings of birds. And at night he gazed at the ocean and contentedly watched the lights of the city twinkling on, one by one.

Copyright © Loren Seibold
All Rights Reserved

Isn't that exactly what God wants for each of His children? "'I wanted to make you happy with what I had given you,' said GOD." Since the beginning of time God wanted to make us happy. He planned the Garden of Eden to absolute perfection. He created man in His own image to walk with Him and visit with Him in the evening. He decided it was not right that man should be alone and created Eve to bring companionship to the man. He did everything possible to give mankind the opportunity for happiness but out of love gave mankind the freedom to choose happiness or sorrow.
He gave us the freedom to choose to smile or frown at the world. He gave us the freedom to recognize the beauty of God's creation or be overwhelmed by the patches of gloom we might encounter. He gave us the freedom to accept God's love or to ignore it; to believe in the Savior, Christ Jesus, who laid His life down on the cross to atone for our sins or to overlook His sacrificial love and grace. God has blessed us with every good and perfect thing and calls us to embrace the promise of a glorious tomorrow.
Some will follow the Master in His journey of service to all mankind. Some will believe the message that our Lord taught during His ministry here on earth and will accept His commission to go out and teach all the world the Good News of the Lord. Some will embrace their Father in heaven and will give Him what He wants for each of His beloved children. ("I want you to be happy.") Sadly, some will choose to turn from God, to reject His love, to reject Christ's gift of salvation, and will realize the truth only after their life's journey is over. That's the greatest tragedy of all.
Today, take a minute to look carefully in the mirror. Examine the image with particular care. Do you see the image and likeness of God there in the mirror? Look a little harder because God created you with that unique and special characteristic. Next, look for a smile. It may be hidden deep down inside. There may be many layers of sorrow and sadness that are obscuring it from your view right now, but God put it there inside you to warm your heart and bring joy to your eyes and to your world. Brush aside a few of those memories that cloud your spirit and watch the smile come alive. It may be glowing and bright. It may be lighting up the world. Let's strive to give back to God what He asks of each of His people. Reexamine your dreams and your goals. Look at them through God's eyes. Now turn it all over to the Master. "Father, not my will but Yours..."

With A Smile,
Jan and Richard Evans