Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A New Normal....

Hello Everyone, 

I'm sorry it's been so long since I posted anything. We have had many changes in our lives over the last several months. We went from both being happily employed to my husband being laid off in the middle of Jan, to my husband going to an interview that did not exist and being hired for a position that didn't exist. What  a God thing! It couldn't of been any clearer that that was where he was supposed to be unless God wrote it in Neon on our ceiling. Then we received an inheritance that allowed me to cut back to one part time job. Now God has opened the door and allowed us to purchase a new home, with a huge garage for Cliff and Colton to tinker in on a beautiful piece of land. God has blessed up beyond our wildest dreams. 

Years ago I watched an interview where Oprah was interviewing someone that had lost a loved one. They talked about having to find a new normal. Even though it's a wonderful blessing not a tragedy in our case, we are still adjusting to our own new normal. Cliff is in a new non management position that has zero stress compared to his previous job. I'm working 3 short days a week compared to 5 very long days a week. Suddenly things are possible that were simply not possible a few months ago. 

We are trying to make sure we stay on track, that we don't forget who brought us to the dance so to speak. I don't know about you but it is always easier for me to depend on God when things are challenging. Then I know I need to depend on Him not on me. When things are going well, I have a tendency to think hey I can handle it. It doesn't seem to matter than it's been proven time after time that simply is not true. Part of our new normal is learning how to depend on God in this season of plenty. I keep thinking about how much I love to hear about my son's really great day. It's so much nicer to hear about things that are going well for him rather than being needed to help him with something he's struggling with. I bet it's the same with God, we're His children and I think He enjoys hearing about our awesome fantastic days just as much as we we enjoy hearing about our children's. Don't you feel better when your kids give you a hug and tell you they love you "just because" rather than when they give you a hug and ask if they can borrow the car?

We have always believed in giving back to God out of what He's given us. It has been so great to be able to spread some of the blessings He's given us to others doing His work. We have been so blessed with a wonderful small group at Church. It seems like we all just get closer and closer. We can't wait to open our new home up to them, but it's a 1980's house with renters in it for the next few months. It's twice a big as our current tiny house so there is furniture to be bought, many repairs to be made and much to do before we can say "come on over" but we are really really looking forward to when we can. So.. if you don't hear from me as much as usual for the next little while know I'm running around like a chicken without it's head but I will return eventually.

I hope you all have a blessed week,

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Carl's Garden

It's been quite awhile since I posted anything, God's incredible blessings in our lives have led to a very busy time for us. I need to slow down and listen for God's urging on what to write about. I promise to do that but for today this touched me....

I received the story of Carl's Garden in an email today. I felt it was such a powerful message I wanted to pass it on. It reminded me of the the florist that helped me pick out a small $10 arrangement when I was a kid and delivered it my Mother at work. She treated me like I was a purchasing a $500 dollar arrangement. I never forgot her kindness, she ended up doing the flowers for my wedding, my sister's wedding, and my cousin's wedding. When I was in charge of ordering all the flowers for events in the lives of our companies employees  I ordered them from her. She has long retired, and her "Flower Shack" is no more but she's still my first thought when I hear florist. 

Here's the story of Carl's Garden
Carl was a quiet man.. He didn't talk much. 
He would always greet you with a big smile and a firm handshake. 

Even after living in our neighborhood for over 50 years, 
No one could really say they knew him very well. 

Before his retirement, he took the bus to work each morning. 
The lone sight of him walking down the street often worried us. 

He had a slight limp from a bullet wound received in WWII. 

Watching him, we worried that although he had survived WWII, 
He may not make it through our changing uptown neighborhood with its ever-increasing random violence, gangs, and drug activity. 

When he saw the flyer at our local church asking for volunteers for caring for the gardens behind the minister's residence, he responded in his characteristically unassuming manner. Without fanfare, he just signed up. 

He was well into his 87th year when the very thing we had always feared finally happened.. 

He was just finishing his watering for the day when three gang members approached him. 
Ignoring their attempt to intimidate him, he simply asked, 
"Would you like a drink from the hose?" 

The tallest and toughest-looking of the three said, "Yeah, sure," with a malevolent little smile. 

As Carl offered the hose to him, the other two grabbed Carl's arm, throwing him down. 
As the hose snaked crazily over the ground, dousing everything in its way, Carl's assailants stole his retirement watch and his wallet, and then fled. 

Carl tried to get himself up, but he had been thrown down on his bad leg. 
He lay there trying to gather himself as the minister came running to help him. 

Although the minister had witnessed the attack from his window, he couldn't get there fast enough to stop it. 

"Carl, are you okay? Are you hurt?" the minister kept asking as he helped Carl to his feet. 

Carl just passed a hand over his brow and sighed, shaking his head. 
"Just some punk kids. I hope they'll wise-up someday." 

His wet clothes clung to his slight frame as he bent to pick up the hose. 
He adjusted the nozzle again and started to water.. 

Confused and a little concerned, the minister asked, "Carl, what are you doing?" 
"I've got to finish my watering. It's been very dry lately," came the calm reply.    
Satisfying himself that Carl really was all right, the minister could only marvel. 
Carl was a man from a different time and place. 

A few weeks later the three returned.. Just as before their threat was unchallenged.
Carl again offered them a drink from his hose. 

This time they didn't rob him. 
They wrenched the hose from his hand and drenched him head to foot in the icy water. 

When they had finished their humiliation of him, they sauntered off down the street, throwing catcalls and curses, falling over one another laughing at the hilarity of what they had just done. 

Carl just watched them. 
Then he turned toward the warmth giving sun, picked up his hose, and went on with his watering. 

The summer was quickly fading into fall Carl was doing some tilling when he was startled by the sudden approach of someone behind him. 
He stumbled and fell into some evergreen branches. 

As he struggled to regain his footing, he turned to see the tall leader of his summer tormentors reaching down for him. He braced himself for the expected attack. 

"Don't worry old man, I'm not gonna hurt you this time."    
The young man spoke softly, still offering the tattooed and scarred hand to Carl. As he helped Carl get up, the man pulled a crumpled bag from his pocket and handed it to Carl. 

"What's this?" 
Carl asked. "It's your stuff," the man explained. "It's your stuff back. 
Even the money in your wallet" "I don't understand," Carl said. "Why would you help me now?" 

The man shifted his feet, seeming embarrassed and ill at ease. "I learned something from you," he said. "I ran with that gang and hurt people like you we picked you because you were old and we knew we could do it But every time we came and did something to you, instead of yelling and fighting back, you tried to give us a drink. You didn't hate us for hating you. You kept showing love against our hate." 

He stopped for a moment. "I couldn't sleep after we stole your stuff, so here it is back." 

He paused for another awkward moment, not knowing what more there was to say. "That bag's my way of saying thanks for straightening me out, I guess." And with that, he walked off down the street. 

Carl looked down at the sack in his hands and gingerly opened it. He took out his retirement watch and put it back on his wrist. Opening his wallet, he checked for his wedding photo. He gazed for a moment at the young bride that still smiled back at him from all those years ago.. 

He died one cold day after Christmas that winter. Many people attended his funeral in spite of the weather. 

In particular the minister noticed a tall young man that he didn't know sitting quietly in a distant corner of the church. 

The minister spoke of Carl's garden as a lesson in life.    
In a voice made thick with unshed tears, he said, "Do your best and make your garden as beautiful as you can. We will never forget Carl and his garden." 

The following spring another flyer went up. It read: "Person needed to care for Carl's garden." 

The flyer went unnoticed by the busy parishioners until one day when a knock was heard at the minister's office door. 

Opening the door, the minister saw a pair of scarred and tattooed hands holding the flyer. "I believe this is my job, if you'll have me," the young man said.    
The minister recognized him as the same young man who had returned the stolen watch and wallet to Carl. 

He knew that Carl's kindness had turned this man's life around. As the minister handed him the keys to the garden shed, he said, "Yes, go take care of Carl's garden and honor him." 

The man went to work and, over the next several years, he tended the flowers and vegetables just as Carl had done. 

During that time, he went to college, got married, and became a prominent member of the community. But he never forgot his promise to Carl's memory and kept the garden as beautiful as he thought Carl would have kept it. 

One day he approached the new minister and told him that he couldn't care for the garden any longer. He explained with a shy and happy smile, "My wife just had a baby boy last night, and she's bringing him home on Saturday." 

"Well, congratulations!" said the minister, as he was handed the garden shed keys. "That's wonderful! What's the baby's name?" 
"Carl," he replied. 

The writer stated that this was whole gospel message simply stated.

I agree but for me it is also a reminder that Jesus always repaid hate with love and wants us to do the same. We need to remember in all that we do, we never know when God is planting a seed that can grow to a mighty oak tree, with some little something we give no significance to. I'm sure the florist had no clue that her act of kindness to a 10 year old little girl would lead to so much business. We never know when something as simple as a small act of kindness or smile will make a huge difference in someones day. My goal is to spread a little sunshine as I go about my days, and to always listen to God's promptings even maybe even especially when they make no sense to me.

“‘“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”’    Numbers 6:24-26 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


There are so many blessings in my life it would take days to list them all but here are a few that cross my mind and bless my heart this morning. 

Did you know it is National Teacher's Appreciation Day today? I took a moment this morning to email a few of the really special teachers that helped my son successfully graduate from High School. 

My Hope Group (Sunday School Class) is so phenomenal. What a fantastic group of people to have in my life. They know me and love me anyway. They are such a wonderful wonderful support group. I know I can count on them for a hug, a smile, and to pray for me whenever I share a need with them. That is such a huge comfort to know that in all of life's challenges all I have to do is ask and they are right there petitioning the Holy Father along with me on my behalf. 

The weekend before last about 10 of the ladies from our class went camping on Lake Georgetown. What a wonderful wonderful time with my Sister Friends. We laughed, we cried, we got things stuck in trees, we shared our hearts, we played silly games, and we enjoyed the fantastic weather and phenomenal view of the lake God gave us for the weekend. It was a great great time. 

This week I get to play Bunco with a group of ladies near and dear to my heart. Over the last 20+ years they have lifted me up and helped me laugh when I felt like crying, rejuvenated me when I was exhausted and in a nutshell helped me hang on to the remaining shreds of my sanity when it looked like it was headed down the street along with my last marble. 

My husband is one of life's greatest blessings. I am so very glad God gave him to me 26 some odd years ago. As our son is gone more and more living his own life we are rediscovering the joy of going for a drive, and just relaxing together without 50 bazillion things vying for our attention. I'm thinking being 50 something is a pretty wonderful place to be in life. 

A wonderful inheritance from my mother-in-law has made it possible for Cliff and I to take lower paying jobs we really enjoy and still be able to pay the bills. Thank you God for making this possible, what a huge huge blessing. 

My parents are still in good health, they are wonderful examples to us and we love them so very much. My sister is such an inspiration to me. I am so very blessed in my family. Our son like any self respecting 20 year old keeps his Dad and I prayed up. I can't wait to see what God has in store for him down the road of life. 

All and all I have to tell you I am just so very happy to be me. God has been so good to bless me with wonderful friends and family, I wouldn't want to be any other place with any other people but where I'm at and who I'm with right where I am. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

He's My Son

I few weeks ago I heard the song "He's My Son" with an intro by the songwriter and singer Mark Schultz. see

When I heard his intro I thought that's how my blogs are, I happen to be in the room when God does the writing.

I listened to Mark's song "He's My Son" and started thinking about my relationship with my son. There are so many things it's so hard not to have control over. His Girlfriend, his work, when he takes his medications, his respect for women, parental respect, pride in personal appearance, the fine line between being confident in who you are and arrogance. Why is it so easy for me to turn the job situation over to God but I habitually try to hang on to my "control" in the face of these issues with my son. 

What should my prayer be? How often do I personally need to practice giving it to God? Realistically how long do I go without trying to take it all back? What should my first response to disrespectful attitude be? Should I pray for God to help him hear how he sounds, and feel how what he'd doing makes me feel, or should that be second after asking God to help me respond to the stimuli I'm getting in a Godly appropriate way instead of going for his throat? What are the steps to me letting God be God and in control and taking me out of the middle of it so that my interaction with my son goes through a God filter? Cause I gotta tell you at this point unfiltered just isn't working for either of us. 

I'm guessing I'm not the only one struggling with these issues above, I wish I could tell you I had this down and was consistently able to let it go and let God but these are the things I'm really struggling with right now. I'm trying to "consider it joy" like it says in the passage in James I noted in my last post but I'm not even kinda there at the moment. All I can do is keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep on doing what I know God wants me to do, I trust in time giving these issues to God will be my default reaction as it when a job situation goes wonky, I hope it's sooner rather than later. 

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!

What a glorious Easter day. We had a wonderful community wide Easter Service at the Cedar Park Center this morning. How very much Jesus loves us to have sacrificed so much for us so we can spend eternity with Him in Heaven. What an awesome awesome God we serve. 

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”.   Jeremiah 29:11

As any of you that have read this blog long know, Jeremiah 29:11 is one of my favorite verses. It is so comforting to know that no matter how it looks, no matter how illogical it appears to be that God has a plan and He’s got it all under control.

As I've mentioned before the last 4 years have been hard. Cliff and I went from both having middle management jobs and living very comfortably to 4 layoffs in 4 years. Needless to say our bank balances were much prettier 5 years ago than they are now.  

You've heard the saying “it was the best of times; it was the worst of times”?

Without the layoffs we would not have learned how to relax and leave it to the Lord. We have seen His hand on us so many times over the last 5 years. There have been so many occasions when “it was a God thing” is the only possible explanation for things that happened. When times were at their worst for the economy and jobs were very scarce and applicants more than plentiful for every job that came open God arranged an interview for me as I stood in line at a restaurant. I didn't get the job in fact it would take almost a year before God opened the door for a job for me but because of “the interview” our faith did not waiver. If God had spoken to me out loud in an audible voice it would not have been any clearer to me that God was telling me to keep the faith, keep doing what I was supposed to be doing, and when the time was right He’d open the door for just the right job for me. Consequently we kept our focus on God not the problems, God continued to be faithful and we kept “walking on the water”

I was talking to a good friend a while back about some news we had received. An inheritance of mineral rights from many years ago that my mother-in-law received, then passed down to us almost 20 years ago was going to come through to us just at a time when we needed it more than any other time in Cliff and I's 25 years of marriage. Her comment was something along the lines of God has seen how you've handled the challenges of the last few years, and how you have remained faithful and now He is rewarding you. I don't know about that, actually I'm extremely thankfully God doesn't always give us what we deserve, I have made some whoppers of mistakes through the years and skated by without getting the just desserts from them I deserved, but her comments made me start thinking, then I read the following scripture:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.   James 1:2-4

The wheels started turning a little bit faster; there may even have been some smoke. This verse pretty much tells the story of our last 4 years.  No, the trials that came our way weren't fun but the faith and assurance we have, having come through them is pure joy. I wouldn't trade it for anything. The first layoff was really hard, but it pulled us closer to God and we learned and grew so much. By the time the 2nd and 3rd layoff came along we were looking at them as pearl making opportunities and were able to focus on looking forward to what God was going to do with them rather than wringing our hands and wallowing in despair. I believe that “Consider it pure joy” doesn't mean it’s going to feel like joy, just that you should think of it as joy; looking forward to what God is going to do to turn it to your ultimate good. Focus on the end result and how awesome God is not the current circumstance.

testing of your faith produces perseverance” By the time the 4th layoff rolled around this year, we were able to react with confidence and faith we could of never ever imagined having back in 2010, the lessons learned with the first 3 layoffs allowed us to face the 4th one with confidence that God was in control and had a plan. By this time we knew that the drilling on the land we owned mineral rights on had been successful and we would be getting in some much needed extra income. If I was in charge of the world, my “perfect” plan would have been to have the check come in the day Cliff was laid off. As usual God had a better plan. He had Cliff go to an interview that didn't exist and still have an hour and half interview for a job that didn't exist, but that they hired him for anyway. We are in no doubt that Cliff is working right where he’s supposed to be. Seriously the only way God could have made it any clearer would have been to write it in neon on our ceiling.

“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”  Yesterday we got a check from the drilling company that will put us in the best financial shape we've ever been in. I look at where we are now and where we were 4 years ago and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are much better able to handle this now than we would have been 4 years ago. We have a maturity in our walk with God that we didn't have then. Now, we know we need God just as much if not more on the mountains as we do in the valleys. You've probably heard the one about there being no atheists in foxholes during a war. In the valleys of life human nature is to know we need God, when things are going well we tend to think we can handle it ourselves. With maturity, we know we need His guidance every single moment of every single day and that we can depend on Him totally. How incredibly awesome is our God, He gives us what we need just when we need it and He knows what that is better than we ourselves ever could.  

Thank You God for your wonderful provisions for all your children. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Hey, yeah you. Are you listening?

A while back I made a typical Christian comment about God telling me to do something or the other. I got a really strange look from a friend who then asked me "what do you mean by that? Do you mean an actual voice? I've heard that before from people but I've never known what they meant" I have to admit that set me back a minute and really made me think. I mean I know God talks to me regularly but how do I explain the how of that to someone else who apparently has never experienced it.  I told her that there were a variety of ways that God speaks to me. It's when I get a thought that I know isn't my own, or a thought that just keeps nagging at me. It's when the same thing keeps coming up from multiple sources. It's when somebody sings a song that God uses to speak to me and give me peace. Like when Casting Crowns sings "The Voice of Truth" I'm sure they're not thinking it could have anything to do dieting but for me, when I've just eaten and my stomach is growling, that song is God telling me to turn it over to him, not to listen to my stomach, it's lying, it just didn't like what I fed it, it's lobbying for chocolate not carrot sticks but I'm not in any danger of starvation, I need to ignore it and go to God for fulfillment. 

I habitually put in my ear piece and talk to my Mom while I'm driving to work. On the days I work in Georgetown that's a 35-45 min visit while I drive and chat with her. This is precious time to me. The other morning she had to be somewhere so I called a friend, she couldn't talk, I called someone else they couldn't talk either. The thought entered my head, Hey Rene why don't you spend this time time today talking to me? That was God, no doubt in my mind. I had the best time just talking to God, thanking Him for being so awesome, thanking Him for the miracles He's been working in Cliff and I's lives. I mean seriously, Cliff went to an interview that didn't exist, and was hired for a position that didn't exist, it was supposed to start in 10 days or so, it started in 3, he's been there for a couple of weeks and he's loving it. That's a God thing! It couldn't have been any clearer if He wrote it in neon on our bedroom ceiling.

I've never thought God was deaf so I've never seen the point for asking Him for the same thing in the same way over and over again, He heard it the first time. I don't mean I don't come back to Him and say you know bla bla, well it's still a problem for me how do you want me to handle it today or could you please hurry those people up they are taking way too long. We have some friends that have been going through a very rough patch lately and we promised to pray for them. It just seems ridiculous to repeat everyday "God please be with X and Y today and heal their marriage" In God and I's conversation that morning on the way to work He showed me that while praying for healing for their marriage is certainly valid and a good thing to pray, I could pray specifically that today they would be loving and lovable to each other. I could pray that they would each hear what the other was trying to say not just what was coming out of their mouth, that they would take things in the way they were meant not how they came across through their own filters but through God's. That they would have some time for themselves, separate from the kids where they could relax together and just be. Truthfully I really can't think of anyone's marriage that couldn't use a daily dose of any of those things but a couple that's struggling, yeah those would be really helpful.  

While we were talking for that 30 minutes God brought so many of my friends and family to my mind that needed prayer for this or that. He brought things to mind in my own life that need work and need His guidance, I was able to turn them over to Him and quit worrying about them. There is something so incredibly freeing to letting go and letting God deal with whatever it is. He's so much better equipped to deal with things than I am, I need to remember to daily, hourly, moment by moment ask Him what He wants me to do, ask Him for His wisdom in every situation, ask him to guard my heart, my thoughts and my words, and finally rely totally on His strength to deal with whatever challenges are coming my way. 

So... that's what God's been showing me lately, I'd love to hear what He's been sharing with you. Please feel free to comment and let us know.

The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.
Psalm 29:11

Do you know how the dictionary defines blessing? Something promoting or contributing to happiness, well-being, or prosperity; a boon.

I hope you all have a wonderful and blessed week.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

WOW - I could of...

Do you remember the old V-8 Commercials, where at some point the principle actors or actresses, slap their-selves on the forehead and say "WOW - I could of had a V-8. I have never liked V-8 but there have been many times when I've had that kind of "Aha Moment", you know the kind, where the answer is so obvious but it pretty much takes a knock upside the head for you to get it.

I've been struggling through a life issue that had really been dragging me down. I could see where God was working it out but His timing is certainly not my timing and He just wasn't mvoing things forward as fast as I thought He needed to. I wasn't sleeping well, I would wake up with knots in my stomach and several times a day would find myself thinking I just can't keep doing this, I just can't do this anymore, I just can't etc etc etc. Then came the V-8 moment, and although I didn't literally slap myself on the forehead I certainly deserved a slap. After all the miracles God has done in our lives, after all the times He's provided for us when there looked like no way our money would ever stretch far enough, after all the guidance He's given, idiot me, I'm still sitting there saying I can't, I can't, I can't. Well guess what I don't have to, I just have to get out of the way and let God. He didn't have Paul write  I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me in Philippians 4:12-14 just for fun and grins, no He wrote it so we would know we could turn to Him and He would give us the strength and guidance we need to deal with anything going on in our lives. So simple and something I know so well in so many areas and yet in this particular area, there I was trying to handle it all on my own and failing miserably, and incidentally making both myself and my family miserable in the process.  

I'd love to tell you that all the issues have resolved themselves and everything in our lives is just hunky dory at the moment and everything is all tidied up and perfect but it's not. There are still struggles and the same issue that was giving me so much trouble is still there and was in fact an even bigger this problem this week than last but how I handled things was very different. I prayed first before I tried to deal with it and asked for God's guidance and His control and as I got into things and started feeling myself getting overwhelmed I stopped and asked God for help. Amazing the peace in the middle of chaos when we take the time to plug in God's awesome power source. I went to bed and slept every night and did not wake up with my stomach in knots even once. My circumstances had not changed only my perspective, instead of me trying to handle everything on my own, I asked God to handle it and He is more than big enough and more than powerful enough and loves me enough to handle anything that comes my way. What an awesome God He is. 

I hope you have a wonderful and blessed week. Remember to let go and let God before you try to handle things on your own, I promise He is much better equipped to handle whatever is going on much more effectively than we could ever hope to, He's just waiting on an invitation.