Busy, Busy, Busy

Sunday, September 21, 2008

This upcoming week is one that I face with mixed emotions. It is the start of a month-long journey that I am not sure I'm ready to undertake. Mind you, it's nothing bad....it's just BUSY!!

My family and I will leave on Tuesday for a week-long beach holiday in Malaysia. (it's China's National Day holiday, their celebration on becoming the communist People's Republic of China. With 1.3 billion people all celebrating together, wouldn't you get out of town too?) When we come back to China, my dad will visit us for 2 1/2 weeks. While he's here I'm going to take him to several different cities within China that he did not see on his last visit in 2007. In addition to my travels I have 3 writing assignments due and a party to celebrate my daughter's 11th birthday. Wow - just writing it out makes me exhausted!!

Don't get me wrong, I am looking forward to it all, but at the same time I feel a huge amount of pressure to get it all accomplished. I feel like I am going to be going 100 mph and juggling different plates while doing so. I will be leaving my family for the first time for an extended period of time, spending an unusual amount of one-on-one time with my father, and trying to stay disciplined with my writing. I know God can give me the strength to handle whatever comes my way, so I'm praying for help with all of it. However, I feel like I am on an emotional roller coaster from excitement to dread to uncertainty, and the ride is taking off. From my point of view I'm strapped in and there's no turning back...

With everything going on I'll probably be out of the loop for awhile. But you never know what God may show me during this next month, and you know me, I can't keep from sharing all that God teaches me! So check back in because I may just surprise you!!

For now, I take a long breath and prepare for the journey ahead.

"I can do all things through Him who gives me strength" - Philippians 4:13

Respond, not React

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I'm reading a great book by Dr. Kevin Leman called Adolescence Isn't Terminal, It Just Feels Like It. Entering these awkward teenage years I'm starving for information on what to expect and how to handle all those hormones! It's been very insightful so far and I'm praying that when I finish the book I'll be better able to handle the Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde teen that's living under my roof.

One of the things that Dr. Leman said was very important to remember was to respond to your teenagers, not react to them when they come at you with strange requests or rebellious acts. Reacting only blows things out of proportion, whereas responding allows you to deal with the situation in a more positive manner. As I read, I thought to myself, "OK, got it" and kept on reading. Obviously God wasn't not happy with that train of thinking and decided that an application would really help me out.

So on Monday afternoon, Abbey (my pre-teen) came home from a friend's house completely flustered. When I asked her what was wrong, she said that she really wanted a purse like the one her friend, Apolline, had to take on their upcoming school trip (actually she wanted her friend's purse not one just like it). I told her there was no time for me to go look for one before she left and that she would have to be content with what she had. Now, if you know Abbey, you know that she has a tendency to react negatively when things don't go her way, so I was expecting that in this situation. To my surprise Abbey listened to my reply and then went to her room. From my office I could hear some noises coming out of her room so I went over to check out what she was doing. As I opened the door I was shocked to see that she had rearranged her entire room! When I asked her what caused her to start moving things around she said, "This is how I'm dealing with not getting Apolline's purse!!" Rather than reacting negatively to her circumstances with an emotional tantrum and meltdown, Abbey decided to respond in a more constructive manner.

I think I needed that real life example to remind me that no matter what the circumstance or situation I'm facing, I need to respond not react. With my flawed nature that is not always easy for me, but I think God used Abbey to remind me to have that child-like faith and attitude He talks about in Scripture. I think He also used this to illustrate how much it grieves Him when I react rather than respond. Proverbs 17: 21 says, "To have a fool for a son (or daughter) brings grief; there is no joy for the father of a fool." As a child of God, I'm sure it saddens my Heavenly Father when I react foolishly to the situations and circumstances of life. But I know that He doesn't long for me to stay that way and in order for me to get the message, I needed to see how it looked in real life and not just read it on the pages of a book.

The next day, Abbey decided to see if Apolline would be willing to make a trade with her for the purse she wanted. Apolline accepted the offer and Abbey was happily gallivanting around the house with her "new purse" all night. Maybe that was God's way of rewarding her for responding and not reacting to her situation. I don't know. I can only imagine that there are blessings in store for us when we choose to respond rather than react. It's a child-like lesson I won't soon forget.


Monday, September 15, 2008

BOOO! You scared mom? Haha..guess who it is?? Your one and only daughter, Kayley :D....I decided to hack into your blog and write a little bit about myself to let everyone know who i am: Well first off, I am 13 as you probably already know. I like Guitar Hero, gymnastics and of course the computer. For all of you awesome people reading out there, you are probably like.."how did she know the password??". Well--my mom makes all her passwords the same, so it was pretty easy to get in. Don't be scared though, I am not usually a person to hack into accounts. It's just I wanted to give my mom a little laugh. Hope you are laughing. Well I g2g to bed now. Cya everyone. Hope you enjoyed my little prank blog. Keep reading my mama's! Haha! Bye!!


(P.S-That's a picture of me :O)

Dig for the truth!!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

I made an amazing discovery today that I can't wait to share with you, but before I do I need to lay some groundwork for you first.

Last May I felt God laying it on my heart about sharing His Word with my girls. I had always tried to share Scripture with them and apply it to their lives, but I felt like this nudging was more than that. So Clint and I decided to start reading the Bible with them every night, starting at Genesis. Of course, right after we started we left on holiday back to the States and everything got thrown off course. So while I was home I purchased a Bible study for my girls to do each day when we got back to China. It's a Precept study for kids entitled "Discover 4 Yourself". There are several topics in this series, but I decided to start at the beginning with Genesis. So every night for the past 3 weeks we have sat down and started digging out the truth of God's Word found in Genesis 1 & 2. At first my girls weren't thrilled about the work, but as we have continued to make amazing discoveries in Scripture they are beginning to see the value of studying the Word.

Okay, so now to the point of this blog post....tonight as Kayley and I were studying we were asked to think about how old the Earth really is. We were told to use Scripture to find the answer, since God's Word is all we need for knowing about the world in which we live. As Kayley and I started searching out the numbers and adding them up, I realized that the numbers were too small compared to what science has always told me about the age of the Earth. Yet based on the timeline we were given and the information provided to us in Scripture, we were faced with the amazing discovery that the Earth is not billions or millions years old, but according to Scripture it is only thousands of years old!! I was completely blown away! My mind is still trying to figure it all out, but I know that Scripture doesn't lie so somehow God is going to have to help my feeble mind make sense of it all -- or then again maybe He doesn't!!

All of this got me thinking about a few other discrepancies I had always been told or taught in the past. For example, I was always told that Noah stayed in the Ark 40 days and 40 nights; but that is only how long it rained. When you add up the numbers listed in Genesis 7 and 8, he actually stayed on the ark 377 days! The more I studied Genesis 7 I also learned that God did not instruct Noah to take two of every kind of animal into the ark but rather he told Noah, "take seven of every kind of clean animal..and two of every kind of unclean animal....and seven of every kind of bird" (Genesis 7: 2-3). Isn't that amazing???

Now I know some of you may have already known those things but I was really surprised when I unearthed them in Scripture. It made me realize that we cannot just read our Bibles or depend on others to tell us what Scripture says....we must dig for the truth ourselves! Not only have I fed on the words of others but I've also passed on my lack of true understanding on to others as well (namely my children and possibly yours if I had them in Children's Church at some point).

Awhile back I wrote a similar post to this one, entitled "Robbed". Basically it's the same type of post as this one but about the book of Esther instead of the book of Genesis. I guess God is still trying to get it through my thick head that I cannot be content just reading, skimming, or listening to great teachers talk about the Bible. I need to dig for the truth myself. I know that exciting discoveries, revelations, and understanding await me when I do.

"Though it cost you all you have, get understanding....buy the truth and do not sell it; get wisdom, discipline, and understanding." - Proverbs 4:7; 23:23

I'm blown away by You Lord and by Your Word. I know that You satisfy the hungry. May I hunger and crave Your Word knowing I will always leave Your table full.

The Daffodil Principle

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Sometimes you come across stories that are just too good not to pass along. The story below is one of those. I think it is a beautiful example and great reminder for us to take one step at a time to pursue those dreams that God has placed in our hearts. Who knows how it may change the world....

The Daffodil Principle
by Jaroldeen Asplund Edwards

...We turned onto a small gravel road and I saw a small church. On the far side of the church, I saw a hand lettered sign with an arrow that read, "Daffodil Garden ." We got out of the car, my daughter and I each took a child's hand, and I followed Carolyn down the path. Then, as we turned a corner, I looked up and gasped. Before me lay the most glorious sight.

It looked as though someone had taken a great vat of gold and poured it over the mountain peak and its surrounding slopes. The flowers were planted in majestic, swirling patterns, great ribbons and swaths of deep orange, creamy white, lemon yellow, salmon pink, and saffron and butter yellow. Each different-colored variety was planted in large groups so that it swirled and flowed like its own river with its own unique hue. There were five acres of flowers.

"Who did this?" I asked Carolyn.

"Just one woman," Carolyn answered. "She lives on the property. That's her home." Carolyn pointed to a well-kept A-frame house, small and modestly sitting in the midst of all that glory. We walked up to the house.

On the patio, we saw a poster. "Answers to the Questions I Know You Are Asking", was the headline. The first answer was a simple one.... "50,000 bulbs," it read. The second answer was, "One at a time, by one woman. Two hands, two feet, and one brain." The third answer was, "Begun in 1958."

For me, that moment was a life-changing experience. I thought of this woman whom I had never met, who, more than forty years before, had begun, one bulb at a time, to bring her vision of beauty and joy to an obscure mountaintop. Planting one bulb at a time, year after year, this unknown woman had forever changed the world in which she lived. One day at a time, she had created something of extraordinary magnificence, beauty, and inspiration. The principle her daffodil garden taught is one of the greatest principles of celebration.

That is, learning to move toward our goals and desires one step at a time--often just one baby-step at time--and learning to love the doing, learning to use the accumulation of time. When we multiply tiny pieces of time with small increments of daily effort, we too will find we can accomplish magnificent things. We can change the world ...

"It makes me sad in a way," I admitted to Carolyn. "What might I have accomplished if I had thought of a wonderful goal thirty-five or forty years ago and had worked away at it 'one bulb at a time' through all those years? Just think what I might have been able to achieve!"

My daughter summed up the message of the day in her usual direct way. "Start tomorrow," she said.

She was right. It's so pointless to think of the lost hours of yesterdays. The way to make learning a lesson of celebration instead of a cause for regret is to only ask, "How can I put this to use today?"

Use the Daffodil Principle. Stop waiting....

The Kingdom of Me

Monday, September 01, 2008

I had been planning it all week: On Saturday we were going to visit the new IKEA that just opened, eat lunch out, and then check out the new grocery store in town (exciting I know, but that's my life). Then Clint came home from work on Thursday not feeling well. I hoped it was just seasonal allergies and that it would pass quickly, but when he went to bed early on Friday and didn't wake up until 9 am on Saturday, I knew it wasn't just allergies - my husband was sick. And the plans I had looked forward to all week just went out the window.

Let me just say that I wasn't too happy about the entire situation. Because I am "disciplining" myself to stay home and write, luxuries like going out are rewards for me. Plus, as Clint will be leaving in a few days for trips to the U.S. and Europe, I was looking forward to us spending time together. So basically, my plans were shot and I was left home disappointed and angry. I tried to keep my emotions in check, really I did. I went to my office and journaled, hoping that would help. It didn't. After stewing for most of the morning, I LOST it right before lunch. My children, who are used to my tantrums, told me I was being grumpy and that I needed to go back to bed (aren't kids great?). My husband was completely caught off guard by my explosion, and as he hacked up a lung, offered to go ahead and take me out. Compassion-less Liana had won.

We braved the masses at IKEA, had a nice meal together, and then after 4 hours headed home. Needless to say, my husband was a zombie when we got back and went straight to bed. Sunday morning when I was ready to go to church, he could hardly move and I knew we would be staying home. At first I wanted to be mad, but something in my spirit wouldn't let me. It was saying, "You got what you wanted yesterday so there's no point in getting angry today." I knew there was no arguing with that. But I was disappointed...I was looking forward to the worship, the teaching, and visiting with other Christians and being refreshed. Because I lived for my flesh on Saturday, I missed out on the Spirit of Sunday.

The Bible says we are to live by the Spirit and keep in step with it (Gal. 5:16,25). This past weekend I was not living in the Spirit, but rather abiding in the Kingdom of Me. Looking back, it seems like I've been residing there quite often. Not that I'm proud of it; I'm not and God is dealing with me about it. I wish I could say that it's just my sinful nature, but I can't. I live with the decision daily to live for myself or live for God. It's my choice and only one will truly make me happy.

During all this, I came across a list of attitudes that can help you assess whether you're living in the Kingdom of Me or the Kingdom of God. This is not the full list, but I thought I'd share a few of them with you.

1. I tend to argue about minor matters.
2. I have a strong need to be "right" most of the time.
3. Thinking about the needs of others is not my first response.
4. I have a hard time admitting and saying "I'm sorry, I was wrong"
5. I expect those closest to me to know and meet my needs.
6. I expect those closest to me to appreciate my efforts.
7. I tend to hold others to standards that I have a difficult time maintaining myself.
8. I am easily offended and hurt when those closest to me don't seem interested in my stories.
9. I expect those closest to me to cut me some slack when I've had a rough day and excuse my bad behavior.
10. I keep a mental tally of how I give to others in relation to how much they give to me.

1. I am willing to choose carefully the hills I want to "die on."
2. I value the relationship with another person more than I do being "right."
3. Sensing what another person needs in the moment comes easily to me.
4. I readily own up to my mistakes, weaknesses and sins and am willing to ask forgiveness.
5. I acknowledge that the only way someone else will know my needs is for me to communicate them clearly.
6. I am willing to be uncomfortable for the sake of others.
7. I try to have the same standards for myself as I do for others.
8. I don't use my bad day as an excuse for wounding those closest to me by my words, attitudes, or actions.
9. I find satisfaction within myself when I know I've done my best or made progress in an area of weakness.
10. I can give to someone else without secretly keeping score.
*from Kay Warren's book Dangerous Surrender

The only good thing about this weekend is that it is over. I have talked about it with God and He's already forgotten about, so after this post I'm not bringing it up again. I am, however, going to try to pack up my attitude bags and move out of the Kingdom of Me and into the Kingdom of God. I'm handing over the keys of the Kingdom of Me and praying that it's one place I won't return to anytime soon.