Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Humble Thy Self

Another lovely little gardening lesson. :)
Humility.

Maybe not in the truest sense, but in the fact that you must humble yourself, or make yourself low, to truly observe and care for the plants. So many little weeds to pull are easy to see from right down there practically touching the ground with my face, but from a standing position are not even remotely visible.
How much is our sin so invisible standing afar until we humble our selves into the dust to really see! It spoke to me as I reached around the flower bed, uprooting minute little weeds before they are well established and able to cause my flowers harm... that unless I am willing to really get down on my face and look at my sin, they may become large and cause more harm!

In the parable of the enemy sowing weeds in the field, the farmer said of his crop, "Let them grow together and we will weed them out at the harvest." The reason being, the good plants would be hurt in the uprooting of the weeds! The weeds there in my heart can hurt the good fruit I so desperately want to grow (and wonder if there is any to really speak of) if they are left to become large... I can't afford to let them get big! But that means I must weed often and humble myself to really see.

Take every thought captive is just that... a call to true, and very difficult, diligence. And it requires humility to see each thought for what it is, and deal with it accordingly.

You know, I am really enjoying gardening and the little lessons I am learning along the way. :)
I hope that it bears good fruit for my family, and for my heart! ;)
How is your garden growing?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

ACK! What a Monday!

So today had a serious case of the Mondays...

We accomplished some good things, but for quite a bit I had an attitude which was fueled with the bickering of children. Around evening time, Uncle Tim stopped by to get the vacuum we are sharing since both of ours are half broken (long story, but we own the same model so we are sharing parts) and I decided to turn on the bubblers to the orchard. We did some other work outside for a few minutes then went back in to work on dinner.
I had pressure cooked a ham bone earlier; so I added the veggies, chopped the ham getting rid of the bone, and put in split peas. I set it back to gain pressure and helped some girls with school. After a bit I moved the pressure cooker to a back burner, off, so it could cool. When I came back later I thought it was done and started to open the lid. I have an antique (belonged to my great grandma) cooker that is tough to open when the pressure is all gone! So when it opened easily and shot pressurized pea soup up everywhere I was a bit shocked!
So the floor that was mopped yesterday, was coated in pea soup and paw prints (at least the dogs got all the stuff up before I re-mopped) today! Mo and I were both thanking God we were spared the scalding since we were both close enough to be burned!
We finished the clean up and making the soup... then I had to wash bowls I used for lunch so we could eat dinner...ate... then we started a huge cleaning project in the girls room, and laundry....

So after hours we sit down to pray. Most of the kids have prayed, and I am reflecting on the day. All of a sudden it dawns on me....
I turned the bubblers ON, but never turned them OFF!
Gasping, I jump up, put the baby down to play and run out of the house! I did grab a sweater and flashlight on my way, but the words to explain myself just weren't forth coming...
After I turn off the water and get back in, I apologize to the kids (especially the one praying) for running out so quickly, and explain.
Ysa said: "I wondered what was going on. I thought maybe Karissa had spit up all over you and you were soaking wet!"
Mo said (as only a Mo can) : "I thought you'd peed."
I laughed and LAUGHED!

Add to that a cutest little baby sitting up all by herself and saying "Da-da-da-da" (both firsts) today! What a DAY!

Since a picture is worth a thousand words...
Here is a picture that is one of my Thousand Gifts.
39. One of Brianna's Curls!
{ My favorite one ;) }

Monday, May 23, 2011

a few thoughts


Ever notice that the truly beautiful sunsets are those with clouds?
The contrast in the sky, the place for the changing light to reflect is not in the clear sky...
the clouds are needed.
There are a few real beauties in the desert,
the sunrise and sunset being two of them.
~~~
The other day as I watered the plants in the evening, with the sun at my back,
I noticed the rainbow in the water spray :)
It was the under side of the rainbow!
Being actually circular, the bottom side of the rainbow has the violet at the top
(or rather inner circle) and the red arching below it... it was really cool!
It made me laugh about the "pot of gold" at the "end of the rainbow"
people chasing a circle for the end ;) lol
~~~
Karissa is *officially getting around.
(*which only means I can not deny ;) it any longer!)
She has discovered the kitchen and dining room,
much to Mommy's dismay!
and wants to be in there as much as she can now!
eeek!
Guess that means I need to sweep more often!
~~~
And now, off to schooling I go!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

More Thousand Gifts

18. The moon rising, when it is yellowy orange.

19. Using leftovers in a way that is entirely different than the original dish (like fried balls of "dressing")

20. Singing the "sunflower song" to our flowers

21. Dancing with my girls to Hallelu Et Adonai

22. Watering the gardens and orchard.

23. The wind across my face.

24. Story-nap time.

25. Snuggles.

26. Looking through old family pictures.

27. Hugs.

28. A hot cup of Earl Grey with cream and sugar.

29. Fresh fruit.

30. Learning about new friends.

31. Visiting with old friends.

32. Lighting candles.

33. The "new baby" smell (sigh) :)

34. When the kids "do Mommy's hair"

35. Hearts (everywhere!)

36. Watching the clouds change shapes as they move across the sky.

37. Seeing the owls swoop by us anytime we drive home in the night.

38. The sound of waves crashing or waterfalls.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Pictures from the week


These are some of the fruits of our garden labor. Strawberries! :)
Living in California and having access to Oxnard strawberries regularly, it seems odd to try to grow some too, but it seemed fun and rewarding so we are giving it a shot!

This variety is called "Sequoia Strawberry."
Now, also being able to enjoy the Sequoias on our camping trips, and having hugged the base of a giant with the kids a couple of years ago (See pic below,) the name brings to mind HUGE strawberries, does it not!?!


This is one of the strawberries we have from our Costco box, next to our home grown "Sequoias" ;) hmmmmmmmmmAnd this is them individually next to some familiar sizes ;) for reference.

And this is us, with a Sequoia, also for reference ;)

I found this funny...
maybe they are describing the giant flavor of the berries??? ;)
They are very tart for such small berries!

We also have some yucca growing in front.
I recently cut all of the dead flowers from last year
(shoulda done a long while ago, but couldn't while {fat} pregnant... they are poky!)

and they have soooooo many flowers now!

Aside from their poky exterior, they really can be beautiful! ;)


Monday, May 16, 2011

Weeding: Lesson of the Mustard Weeds

My kids and I have really enjoyed "Hind's Feet on High Places" for years. Often on a bad day we would write out (or draw) our actions or feelings, talk about it, pray about it, then make an altar and burn it up.
The idea of seeds being planted in your heart was another word picture we adopted from there.

Today we did some reinforcing that idea with some real (big!) mustard weeds.
When there are relationship issues in our home, we will sit and work through it until we get "to the root" of the problem. We talk about whatever the issue was being like a seed that gets planted. When we "let the sun go down" on our anger (or other issue) we give that seed a chance to germinate and take root. If we handle it soon after it happens it is easier to get rid of, but the longer it is there, even if it goes unnoticed, the harder it is to uproot!
Outside we found little weeds and much bigger weeds. I made each child with me pull a small mustard weed. They had to get the root out too, so they wound up pulling a few.
We took note that the weeds in softer ground came out easier than those in the hard packed dirt.
Then we went to the mustard giants we have growing in another area. They are roughly 3 feet tall, and about 3/4 inch in diameter. These are very hard to uproot! Most will leave quite a bit of root behind when they do finally come out, but our purpose is to get all of the root out.

Then we went in, as it was cold, and talked about it.
Which were the harder to pull?
The bigger ones were harder over all, but the small ones in tough ground also didn't move easily. I told them, "When we have issues between us and someone else, the weed that is planted will grow bigger the longer it is there. The bigger weeds are harder to pull out, right? So we need to get to those weeds while they are small. Just like the hard ground was harder to weed, and the soft ground easier; hard hearts will be harder to remove the root from. We need to try to have soft, teachable hearts toward each other."

But there is more we plant. You reap what you sow.
Galatians 6 "A man reaps what he sows. 8 The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit,
from the Spirit will reap eternal life."

Hosea 10 "12 Sow for yourselves righteousness,
reap the fruit of unfailing love,
and break up your unplowed ground;
for it is time to seek the LORD,
until he comes
and showers righteousness on you.
13 But you have planted wickedness,
you have reaped evil,
you have eaten the fruit of deception."
We talked of desiring to grow in certain behaviors. Since we have been gardening the kids get the idea of nurturing a plant. Knowing that it is easier to grow weeds, we talked about what we have been doing to grow plants we want to enjoy. So too if we desire the fruits of good actions and thoughts, we must be sowing them, nurturing them and keeping the weeds out!
I told them that we can actually nurture the weeds, the bad attitudes or behaviors. We can choose them, or ignore them and they will grow in us until they are difficult to rid ourselves of them. Pull them while they are small and it is easy, before they choke out the good we want to grow!
And now, I'm off to help 2 little people who have some weeding to do...

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Join the Blog & Share

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Join the Blog and Share! :)

I added this post from last June. It was hard to choose between that post and this one. ;)

Join the fun and blog hop! :) There are quite a few really great posts and I'm not through the list yet! :)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

~Strength~

Today I was thinking about strength. Some of us seem to naturally have more than others, but aside from being a strong character due to gifting, it is something that must be cultivated.

If we exercise our bodies the muscles gain strength. If we cease from activity for a length of time, muscles weaken or even atrophy. So too strength of character takes exercise and commitment to stick with it.

True strength can only come from One Source.

The Bible is full of references to God being our strength:
Isaiah 41:10 (very popular!)
"So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

Psalm 46:1
"God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble."

Psalm 18:1
"I love you, O LORD, my strength.
The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.
He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. "

Psalm 28:7
"The LORD is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.
My heart leaps for joy
and I will give thanks to him in song. "

Psalm 118:4; Exodus 15:2; Isaiah 12:2
"The LORD is my strength and my song;
he has become my salvation. "

Habakkuk 3:19
" The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to go on the heights. "

It is also full of references to God *giving* us strength.
Isaiah 40:29-31
"He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint."

Psalm 18: 32, 33
"It is God who arms me with strength
and makes my way perfect.
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
he enables me to stand on the heights."

Philippians 4:13
" I can do everything through him who gives me strength. "

2 Thessalonians 3:3
"But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one."

God has often used trials in life to strengthen me, and I hear other believers have the same experience. God will give you the strength for whatever you are called to go through, but not whatever your friend is call to or your neighbor... or even your imagined troubles. Don't say "I could never _____." because you won't be given the strength until you need it and seek it!

When you face trials of many kinds, you have a choice how to walk through it. This will also dictate what grows within you. Will you choose to seek strength from the Only Source that can help? or let that part atrophy? Maybe you are naturally strong so you try to do everything in your own strength? I fall into this trap quite a bit, but I always find that my strength fails! Only walking in His strength am I able to do any good thing!

So, what should we do when we face trials and need strength?
Seek His Face, Remember His deeds and tell others about them, Thank Him, Glory in Him and Rejoice! Let the Joy of the Lord be your strength. (Nehemiah 8:10b)
1 Chronicles 16:8-12 says
"Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name;
make known among the nations what he has done.
Sing to him, sing praise to him;
tell of all his wonderful acts.
Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.
Look to the LORD and his strength;
seek his face always.
Remember the wonders he has done,
his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced"

In the words of Paul,
"For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." (Ephesians 3:14-21)

What scriptures encourage your heart?
Are you a naturally strong person who tries to do it all in your own strength?
What do you do to remain strong?

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Varied thoughts on Mother's Day

As I looked forward to today to celebrate with my family, I was reminded of my dear friends for whom this day will be difficult.

Kristy once again shows hope through her loss at her post Sorrowful yet Always Rejoicing.

Alice has been whole and rejoicing in heaven with our Savior for 3 months as of yesterday, with today being the first Mother's Day the girls have without their mother here.

Others come to mind too, and I am praying for them.

I could never say this all as well as Lynnette did in her post of Mother's Day Meditations.

Also I had the time to read this sermon (since it was so long my internet would never download it) on Mothers from Proverbs (and everywhere else in the Bible) and really enjoyed it! I laughed, was moved to think, and was convicted. I pray if you have the chance to listen or read it, you will be blessed by it as well!

I pray you have a wonderful Mother's Day! We have much to give Jesus praise in everyday, but today especially we thank Him for the high calling of Motherhood!

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Spiritual Goosebumps

Lynnette at Dancing Again has such a heart to see triumph over our afflictions and victory in Christ Jesus! Hop on over to her blog and read of this passion! She is such a welcoming and encouraging blog sister! I hope her joy spills all over you as it has me :)

My story:
I was raised in a Christian home that faithfully attended church. The abuse I experienced as a child was not from within the home, but like so many others, from people close. It started young enough that I don't remember ever even realizing it was wrong or abusive. This was just part of life.
Being a victim of an abuse, if not worked through, makes you more vulnerable for other abuse. Such was the case with me.
Aside from the abuse issues, I was on a downward spiritual slope. I wanted what was evil, I sought it. I was into drugs, alcohol, spiritism, promiscuity; my thoughts were vile and I hated me! I had great grades, was considered to be a good kid by friend's parents (which means we got away with more) and other than my very obviously immodest attire, most would never have guessed that my backpack had whiskey my friend stole from her parents for me and very few books! I lead others into temptation and sin, some of them away from God and toward what is evil. I struggle sometimes looking at what has come in their life that I had a part in. What a train wreak! I was desperate. I hated me and wanted the easy out. I considered suicide and the person who "saved me" from myself, built trust in me he later decided to take advantage of. I found myself wondering if it is abuse when you are compelled to do something and it leads to a place you don't want to go? yet do anyway.

I continued to spiral out of control, but got my head together enough to get off of drugs and alcohol. By this time I was 13. After an inappropriate relationship with a 32 year old man (yes when I was 13) things began to really change. I attended a Back to Genesis conference with my mom. I'm not even sure what all happened there, but it was moving and exciting! Change was really getting a hold of me and I felt different.
I decided to look into this religion thing. I researched and studied. I had a group of friends that would discuss this at lunch with me. One became Jewish at the end of it!

Then one night I felt broken in my spirit. I wept and repented, but felt I was being moved to go to my mom and confess. I felt the Spirit really moving me, and believe me I was fighting going to confess, but I had no peace! I went and spilled all of the contents of my heart to her. I sought forgiveness, and though I don't remember saying some official prayer or anything I look back to this night as the day I received Salvation.
I was saved from much! Much more than many even realize if they only know who I am now. I am so unlike that person that at times it is hard to believe it was me!

I did not mature quickly in the faith, and found myself in habits of sin, especially double mindedness and promiscuity. I was perfectly capable of going Monday through Saturday living my way, and carving out Sunday for God... or at least enough time for church and Sunday School. I taught children's Sunday school and VBS, went on missions to Mexico... but really I was so compartmentalized that I never considered my hypocrisy. Until I couldn't hide it!
God chose to bless me in my sin, and I have Ysabella to show for it!
This is where more big changes jump in!
As a 17 year old high school student I was quite frightened over the idea of telling my mom, let alone everyone else that I was pregnant, but I chose to face it head on. Our church helped me to confess my sin in front of a Sunday school group they had chosen for me, and Dave (who was not a Christian yet) to attend. I started to look at what life as a Christian was really to be and to strive to seek His help to be that way!

The next really big Spirit moving experience I had came when we were pregnant for the second time in 2005. The first pregnancy had ended in miscarriage and had been hard on me, as well as our three littles who were so overjoyed to be having a new sibling. (Of the kids, it was probably hardest on Ysa, who was 5, and confusing for the other two at almost 3 and 1.)
Our first ultrasound showed a cute little bean of a baby ;) who was wiggling and had an excellent heart beat! The kids got to watch the newest Rivas on the screen and we were so excited! I got really sick! The next month was a struggle to keep things down and I had a trip to the ER for dehydration. At our second visit, as we tried to hear a heart beat, there was nothing. The nurse acted like it happened sometimes, old me to get dressed again, we'd move to the next room over for an ultrasound. She left to prepare the room, and give me privacy, and I cried out to God.
"Lord, I want to want what you have planned. Please prepare my heart for what is coming." And the Spirit moved, and I was deeply sad. I know God was answering my prayer, and allowing me to be ready. I felt overwhelmed with the sadness, yet comforted to feel the Comforter there with me. The nurse asked if my family in the waiting area should come, I said no. As we saw our baby on the screen, still as small as last time, with no heart beat I cried. We brought in my family, and as my now 6 year old saw our baby she said, "Mommy. Did our baby go to be with Jesus?" I said, "Yes Sweetie. This baby is with Jesus now." The next weeks were full with grief, the D&C I dreaded, and the sweet comfort of my Savior! I can look back there and remember that closeness; that resting peace.
The gold came out of the furnace further refined, and the dross swept away. I had a new understanding, a new outlook, and a new tender place for others.

God has used my sin, my circumstances, my pain, my joys to make me who I am now. God will continue to work until He has brought it to completion! Thank you Jesus! May you be glorified in me!

Do you have a story to share that could encourage someone walking a path you have? Do you have a testimony to the beauty that God will bring out of the ashes of your trials?

Monday, May 02, 2011

Joy

I was feeling in a funk, and I couldn't talk myself out of it. Generally I can rationalize the moodiness and get past it, but for some reason, my attempts were vain that day. We prayed, I told my kids I was struggling and we prayed together. We started going about our business of the day: shopping. (I'm not a shopper...)
On the way into town we sing, so we started to sing and my mood started to lift!
The Joy of the Lord is my strength!
~The Joy of the Lord is my strength!~
The Joy of the Lord is my strength!
~The Joy of the Lord is my strength!~

It was very nice! Then anytime that feeling tried to creep back in, I'd just start singing!
Thank God for the gift of praise! :)

What do you do to lift your mood? Do you think praising while you are down will help next time you're struggling?

Gardening Lessons

Jesus' use of some farming analogies and the Curse in Genesis 3 on the ground have come to a new light on our gardening journey!
I look out on all the weeds in the yard, and see that they grow so well compared to the actual food we are trying to grow... and it reminds me that the ground was to "bring forth for you, both thorns and thistles."
We had several plants that tried to pop up, only to die. Hubby brought up the parable of the seeds sown on different ground.
As disappointing as it has been to find that plants are gone, or withered; it has been sweet to see those same scriptures from a new vantage point.

Anyone else attempting to garden? Do you have any tips?
How's that beautiful purple vine thing Tracey?