Grateful. Thankful. Blessed.

I am blessed! Blessed beyond measure in my life. But I didn’t always feel this way. There are many years were I felt alone, helpless, and hopeless. Many times when “be thankful in all circumstances” made me angry at God. Why would I be thankful for the death of a spouse or a child? But I am…today. I’ve learned that why I may not always understand the why behind God’s action or inaction, I have learned that I have hope in Christ and that allows me to be joyous and thankful. (To hear my full testimony, click here).

I reflected on life as I prepared to give my testimony, and realized that God placed many, many blessings in my life. Those blessings are people - people He sent to my life for brief moments, a season, and a lifetime. People that I may not have appreciated when first meeting yet have grown to see them through God’s eyes and even better added them to my family. People that I didn’t even realize were helping to lead me to a closer relationship with Jesus.

As we come into fall, we turn to November and Thanksgiving and you’ll see many FB posts and Instagrams with “I’m thankful for…” titles. And yes, I’m going there also. BUT I’m starting mine in October because this is an emotionally tough month for me. Not only do I get to celebrate my birthday, I also get to remember my son Kyle’s life (and death). I get to give thanks to God for placing the right people and opportunities in my life at the right times. So I’m starting my list early because I’m continuing to work on turning October into a month of celebration of victories and transformation! And I’m starting my list with what I am most grateful to God for (well, right after the sacrifice of His Son Jesus for me so I can have eternal life, hope, and joy)—PEOPLE!

DISCLAIMER: This is not going to be a one time, one day post. This will be a continual posting for however many days, weeks, or months it might take me. Also, these people are in no particular order, except for the name who God laid on my heart that particular day. Love you all.

Today I am thankful for Michelle V. Michelle has a passion for loving others. She and her husband, Jim, are foster parents and have had many children come to their home for short and long stays. Through her, I have witnessed and learned how to love others like Jesus did and does. Totally unconditionally, with no concern of that persons circumstances, abilities, or anything that society might think matters. I’ve learned to open my heart more to people and accept them not only for who they are but where they are in life. Her capacity for loving others doesn’t just stop with the kids that come into her home but with the parents or grandparents who are struggling. She loves on the broken-hearted, down-trodden, unwanted, and seemingly hopeless; praying for them to overcome addictions, abuse, and ask for the help needed. I see people differently because Michelle has shown me how to see them through Jesus eyes.

I’ve also seen the full faith and confidence of someone who KNOWS they have the power given to us through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Her faith isn’t fluff or just for show. When she asks God to remove a pain, a negative feeling, disbelief, or anything, I hear, fell, and see with full faith and confidence her words “I REBUKE THAT IN THE NAME OF JESUS!” I have felt the tremors of the faith and power in invoking Jesus’ name when that is said. I have more confidence, more encouragement, better understanding, and love with having a personal, faith-filled, family-oriented relationship with Michelle.

So Michelle, thank you. Thank you for being in my life. Thank you for being my family.


God is my healer...

I don't talk a lot about the tragedies and challenges in my life.  Why?  That's a good question...some would be because its painful to discuss losing a spouse and a child; another reason would be I don't want to be looked upon "as that person"; I don't like asking for help; and because I try not to dwell on it... Discussion tonight at Missional Community was on forgiving and forgetting and somewhere in there moving forward and looking at our past was brought up...various people stated they analyze, think on it, and move forward; others look back and see all the mistakes they have made and pray they don't get stuck there; God brought me to a slightly different view...

As I have grown in my relationship with Jesus and developed family relationships with my church or spiritual family, I realized that I can look back at the past and not see the mistakes, but see just how far God has brought me in my life and just how much He was at work during those challenges and tragedies.

We are human, and with that we feel pain and that pain, especially from losing a spouse and a child, stays with us forever.  However, as I look back and see all the special people and family God brought me during those times and still today, I realize that although I will always have the pain of has lessened because blessings have been given and have helped heal the hole in my heart.  What was once an open bleeding horrible gash is now being healed with love and blessings through my family by God giving me who and what I need.

So a special thanks to those who are walking on this mission together with me as family.  I may not always speak the words but know that everyone of you, and you know who you are, are a tremendous blessing in my life.



You are what you...

I'm sure you've heard the phrase "You are what you eat" and realized there is truth to that statement.  Have you continued that thought and realized that you are also...what you think, what  you say, what you do, AND what you pray.  Yes, what you pray is what you are.  When we are trying to change (any change like mine of eating) you start on the inside because the spirit and physical body are inseparably linked and the role of prayer plays an intimate part.  I never thought about how I pray, with doubt or with confidence, would play a part in how my journey of change goes.  If I pray, Lord help me eat better but inside I fully doubt that this will happen - it truly won't.   God calls me to a life of faith and to commitment to pray with certainty..  No matter what I see (the scale not moving, that giant ice cream cone that jumps in front of me in the grocery) happening, I KNOW that GOD IS WORKING! And we remember that its all worked in HIS time, not mine! "So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord.  Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God's will.  Then you will receive all that he has promised." Hebrews 10:35-36

Now if we think about how our lives change when we pray with confidence and consistently about everything in our much more could we help to change the lives of others by praying for them.  Friends or family may ask pray for me for this or that and we say sure no problem.  Do we? Do we stop, right then and either pray with them (yes I'm working on that) or stop in our busy days and say a pray that we promised.  What does it take - a minute, two, three, or maybe five minutes? Think about the power of Jesus' name and how we could affect change in that person if we stopped and prayed.  We are what we pray and what we pray for others.

Now I challenge you to think about the goals/changes you are working on in your personal life - write down a confident pray and commit to praying that with faith and consistency.  Then list five people in your life - family, friends, or maybe that single mom struggling at the grocery store with her kids you saw today, or even your boss! - and commit to praying consistently for them for the next month.  Every day.  And it doesn't matter if you don't know any specifics to pray for because God knows and He'll lay it on your heart.

Those are just my thoughts for today.

Dear God: today I come to You in faith, asking for what I fear I may lack - great faith! Help me Lord to understand how I can stand firmly on shaky ground, believe in what I can't see trust in what I can only hope for.  Bathe me in Your faithful love that I might in turn love You more faithfully.  I surrender myself and my body (my finances, my self-worth, my family, my job, me everything) to You right now, along with all my expectations.  In exchange, may I receive from You a confidence that can't be shaken. Make me a person of faith, Lord.  I am not strong enough to create all my own success, but I believe that You will accomplish all the good plans You have for me.  Amen.  (from "the Dieter's pryaer book")


Oikos' leaders and members are encouraged to read the Moravian Daily Text and gather together (physically or by phone) to discuss.  This is text we discussed today:

Matthew 16:5-20New Living Translation (NLT)

Yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees

Later, after they crossed to the other side of the lake, the disciples discovered they had forgotten to bring any bread. “Watch out!” Jesus warned them. “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

At this they began to argue with each other because they hadn’t brought any bread. Jesus knew what they were saying, so he said,“You have so little faith! Why are you arguing with each other about having no bread? Don’t you understand even yet? Don’t you remember the 5,000 I fed with five loaves, and the baskets of leftovers you picked up? 10 Or the 4,000 I fed with seven loaves, and the large baskets of leftovers you picked up? 11 Why can’t you understand that I’m not talking about bread? So again I say, ‘Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’”

12 Then at last they understood that he wasn’t speaking about the yeast in bread, but about the deceptive teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Peter’s Declaration about Jesus

13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”[a]

14 “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”

15 Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?”

16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah,[b] the Son of the living God.”

17 Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John,[c] because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. 18 Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’),[d] and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell[e] will not conquer it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid[f] on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit[g] on earth will be permitted in heaven.”

20 Then he sternly warned the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

I thoroughly enjoy attending devotions because I love to hear my spiritual families individual perceptions or take away's from the reading.  I asked my son, who attended with me today, what stood out for him from the discussion.  "I do not need to get or seek approval from ANYONE but GOD!" The world's approval doesn't matter only God's.   Well, I have to seek your approval, Mom." "No son, you only seek mine when needing permission to do or not do something because of your age."  Loved it!

We also discussed God giving us a new identity when we believe in Him - just like he gave Simon a new name, Peter.  Or branding, labeling from others to us and how we relate with that.  But the one perspective that really made me stop and think and want to ponder more deeply was (paraphrased from Jason) "what were the evil teachings that the Pharisees & Sadducees were doing? I think its about the voices we listen to.  What are the five dominant voices in our lives and if they are from non-Christians how do we allow that to influence our thinking, our decisions, our journey?  Do we let that little bit of negative yeast define us? Or do we use our spiritual family as our dominant voices - praying with us, discussing with us, holding us accountable to our faith, our trust, our belief in Jesus Christ our Lord?"  Have you ever thought about the dominant voices in your life? Who do you allow to influence you? And do you allow yourself a voice? And is it encouraging or demeaning? Are you a positive or a negative influence on yourself? Does it change according to what is happening? (Thanks for that point Sylvia).  I admit, that I have to really think about this and determine who am I listening to? I know that my voice is usually negative or limiting - I'm trying to change that with positive affirmations.

I also like the discussion of jobs.  That my first, and foremost job, is working for God.  Doing His business on a daily basis when He calls me to it.  This made me think and redefine that I know work three jobs! (Thanks Jason).  Seriously, am I ever really unemployed if my first occupation is God's work - there is never a shortage of employment.  Am I ready to take a risk? To realize that I can stand in any job, any where, and BE MY SELF, LIVE MY LIFE FOR CHRIST, and know that God has my back.  That even if I lose that corporate job or whatever, I still have work to do for HIM.  Isn't that neat!

For a fun note and mindboggling teenage perspective, we (my son and I) started talking about death on the way home.  Saw the stats on the signs by the freeways - the ones that give you the lost child or elderly information.  It also gives the current death rate on Texas roads for the year.  As of today, it was 240.  That's like four a day and we aren't even at the end of February.  We talked about death, wearing seatbelts, not driving drunk, etc.  Then it veered to "are their video games in heaven, mom? I mean, seriously, how would that work? Do servers in heaven work like they do here on earth? How does a server work in heaven?"...ahh the mindboggling issues of my video game obssessed son.

I can fly

I've missed two weeks - sorry - I let my negative self take over a little with the "what do I have to say" or "no one wants to hear that"...well if you don't then don't read it!  LOL! The newest adventure in our lives is my son, 14, and I have ventured into the challenging, adventurous world of homeschooling.  Yes, I am beginning this adventure in the high school years.  And you know what, that is perfectly okay.

My son has been asking for a couple of years now to do online or full computer based schooling at home.  I've avoided it because, frankly, it scared me.  How in the world can I teach? I work full time? I'm a single mom? etc. etc.  Well, our journey has changed.  God directed our paths to a different lifestyle this last 18 months and now is a good time to start this adventure.  Do I still work? Yes I do, but I have flexibility in my hours and in the days that I work at home or in the office.  I can flex my work related schedule to mix with our family schedule and now with our homeschool schedule!  Isn't it divine to have those options?

The next item that scared me was what was required, what do I have to do exactly, where are my resources, are they free, are they textbooks, do I have to physically act like a teacher and give a lecture?????  Oh my the questions that fill your head.  Do I have all these answers yet, no.  Do I know if the path we've chosen together is going to be the best one? No.  Yet we have to have faith and trust and take that first step knowing that if I went the wrong direction God will nudge us back to where he wants us.

What did I pick? Alpha Omega Monarch - computer-based, automatic graded except for written assignments (and he's already found out that I won't let anything just slide), work at your own pace, on your own hours, yet has daily assignments (I can move and alter).  It does the basic courses: language arts, math, science, history, and bible studies.  You can add electives.  We added Computer Programming - his interest.

Today was day one of actual work (I only withdrew him middle of last week and we did a few days of Life Skills - helping mom around the house with laundry, cooking, cleaning!).  He's excitedly worked on Algebra I, World Geography, Biology, English I, and New Testament plus the programming.  Yes I understand its only the first day, but I've rarely seen my child so enthused to do school work.  And have I rarely seen him disappointed that he didn't make an A.

I have the feeling, the faith, the trust, that this is going to be a new, rich, full, fantastic, and growing journey for my son and I.  I can't wait to see where God stretches us.

And I want to thank my family and friends who I've talked with over the last week for their support in this new adventure.  I was simply awed that the reaction was totally positive and how can we help.  It warms my heart. tomas-arad-heart

And hey, my son just said "school was fun"!  And that says it all!