Friday, November 27, 2015

Gratitude Perspective

Do you ever struggle with gratitude?

Have your feelings ever challenged your perspective to be thankful?

I have challenged myself with this quote today.

On the day after Thanksgiving, my husband is at work and the kids and I are alone here.

Feeling lonely and like the world doesn't care.

I've struggled with these feelings multiple times in my life.

I've spent time drowning them out by staring into my kids faces, occupying myself with work, finding an activity to do or calling/texting a friend, or drinking coffee.

But on the days when the children have tested my patience, (I've gotten on my own nerves today) I don't feel like working, (all the pies are made)  the activities that need doing are cleaning and laundry (again) and there's no friend to call because they are occupied with their own lives, and the coffee is drank...

This is when gratitude becomes a challenge.

I'm missing Karagen.

It's been three years and I found myself daydreaming about how wonderful it would be to have her alive, in our family and filling our hearts and lives as a 12 year old.

Today's challenge, for every negative thought;
Find 5 positive thoughts to replace it.

As I have learned and continue to learn,
Gratitude is a choice.

To focus on what I do have,
not what I wish to have.

Thank you Lord for the blessings I see, and those I do not.

For the challenges that test my faith and force me to look to you.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Quick Update

      Akkk!  God is always trying to teach me patience.  Here I am just wanting to get things done, have them fixed...all figured out and I am forced to wait.  Apparently I still need lessons in patience. *Smile
    Things are working out though, and I do get to use my gift of perseverance to help my family.  Last week I was perusing jobs for Jonathan while he worked during the day.  He had an accident on October 15, and his trailer hauling job was brought to a standstill.  I saw an article for Fry Communications and told him about it so he went and applied in person the next day.  (We had a grand plan of him applying quickly and then finding a used car later so Gracey and I went with him)  His application process and subsequent physical and drug test took the entire day so Gracey and I hung out in the van all day, sigh.  But, he got the job!!

Gracey and I entertaining ourselves while we waited in the van.
    This week, after spending all day on Saturday looking for a vehicle, we finally bought another car yesterday and I've dubbed it Big Red- haha. It's standard and I took it for a spin last night, Vaughn said I needed more practice as I was a little jerky shifting.  LOL  Jonathan also found out yesterday that instead of working night shift, he will be able to work day shift, 6 am to 6 pm, 7 days on and 7 days off.  Things are working out, slowly but surely.  After 120 days of work we will have benefits as well. Woohoo!

     Last night I finished up my Personal Stewardship class and finished with all A's.  How exhilarating!  I have a weeks break and will start Oral Communication next week.  Not sure how that will work in an online class.  You can't know how happy I am that I am FINALLY working towards a degree!

    Today I have a few errands to run, then a Leadership Committee meeting tonight at 6:30 pm.  I really love being on our church's board and really enjoy seeing what God is doing in our church.  Seriously, it's awesome to be an integral part of the inner workings of our church.  Jonathan and I are also participating in an intense discipleship course which involves daily devotions, accountability and scripture memorization.  I am putting all my verses to music.  I sing them every morning as I'm getting the kids up and ready for school.  I am working on creating new habits.  Here is my first ones; Get up, drink water, make my bed, do about 10 minutes of exercises before I leave my room and daily quiet time.  So far, 3 days of success!

   Last but not least, Last Saturday, November 7, we got to meet our newest nephew, Jesse Alexander Lund!

     Here are the two verses I put to song.  These links will take you to my YouTube channel.

2 Peter 3:18

Matthew 6:6


Friday, November 6, 2015

When is enough, enough?

            When is enough, enough?  My mind immediately jumps to thoughts of things in life which I will always need again.  I will always need to eat, drink, bathe, sleep and pray and read my Bible.  Enough, will never be enough of these things.  I pray that I will never lose the hunger and thirst I have for more of God and to know and love Him better.  Really though, we need to look towards contentment and that is the point of the devotional. 1 Timothy 6:6 states; "Godliness with contentment is great gain."  Pointing to the fact that these two ideas are combined, godliness and contentment.  We could think of them as twins.  They go together. Do you want to be content?  First seek godliness.  Seeking and finding more of God will instill in us a Christ-likeness and our soul cravings will be satisfied when we love God supremely.  Loving God supremely is not a destination, a place we arrive at; "we've made it, we're done."  No, it is something we come to, again and again.  My prayer is that I never say, enough, is enough in the light of spiritual matters.

          In light of being content in earthly things, it is a matter of the heart.  We should not seek to build wealth for selfish purposes but for the purpose of being a good steward of what God has blessed us with.  Contentment is a disciple that will need to be both sought after, implemented and practiced.  Esau picked himself up after being treated wrongly by his brother.  He built wealth and when confronted with the confession and penance of his brother, he essentially told him, "it's OK, let it go, I have."  Who knew we could learn a lesson from the firstborn underdog?

     But Esau said, "I already have plenty, my brother.  Keep what you have for yourself."
Genesis 33:9

Friday, October 30, 2015

Job Loss, Now What?

       I just love when I open a devotional and find it is exactly what I need to think about and it is applicable for my current situation.  Here we are, this very week, facing incredible repercussions from my husband wrecking his truck and his subsequent loss of work.  Why is it so hard to ask for help?  It feels like a major wounding of pride and dignity.  Perhaps something that God doesn't even want in my heart in the first place.  Or is it just the fact that I wish to have my life in order (like a good Christian should) and when hardships come, I question my integrity and christian walk, as if painful and difficult situations are a reflection of my inner character.  
     I have asked for help this week.  God has provided for our rent.  We are currently seeking (my husband and myself) other employment.  Several people have given money for groceries.  I have a roof over my head and shoes on my feet, hey, I even had my beloved coffee this morning.  It is a beautiful thing when you see the body of Christ acting like the body of Christ.  When we pull together and help one another.  When out of nowhere, provision for that unmentioned need is met.  When there is abundant proof that God is watching over my family and that He loves us, ever so much.  

Saturday, August 1, 2015

My Thoughts on Stress...

       Some of you know that I am going to college and pursuing a Bachelors degree in Leadership and Ministry.  This weeks lessons and discussion have been on stress and so timely for me.  I am sharing what I posted in my class discussion area.  I have included the comments from my fellow students about my post.
 Stress is the shovel that digs an early grave.  Stress increases risk for disease and if one were to go to the doctor with strange, unexplainable symptoms the question would surface, "have you experienced any recent stress?"  "Stress is the process of appraising and responding to a threatening or challenging event."  Women tend to have higher rates of stress then men do.  Men are compartment thinkers, women are connected thinkers, this may contribute to their varying reports of stress.   When one is stressed the immune system is repressed making it easier to get sick.  When my daughter was diagnosed with brain cancer, we asked the doctors desperately, "what caused this?"  We were told that even the common cold could have stressed out her body just enough to mark the beginning of cancer growth.  There are studies that prove a link between cancer and stress.  Stress doesn't necessarily give someone AIDS but it will definitely be a contributing factor in how well the body fights off infections.  Basically, stress increases the vulnerability to most diseases, including heart disease.
      We are to "cast our cares on Him," we are "not to fear," we are to "trust."  God promises to provide peace and comfort when we surrender our stress and worries to Him.  He doesn't wish us to carry our burdens alone, "His yoke is easy and His burden is light."  He wishes to enable us to have peace and to sense His love and reassurance that He will take care of us.
     I have faced the tremendous challenge of stress many times in my life.  One way I cope with stress is to envision myself beyond the difficulty.  The next way is to look back over my life and recall the many, many times God has gotten me through tough times.  The third and hardest thing is when I surrender the stress and/or stressors to Him.  I give Him my needs and take my hands off while acknowledging that sometimes, I have no control over the outcomes. Fourth, I try to plan ahead to eliminate unnecessary stress. Fifth, talk to a trusted friend or loved one.  Learning to cope with stress is not something I'm perfect at. Quickly surrendering it to God would help me feel peace sooner.  I hope to memorize scripture that will encourage my faith in this area.
Crystal, upon reading your post, I was engulfed with the Holy Spirit. It put things in a different perspective for my life. In my many years, I have encountered stressful situations and I am ashamed that I have not handled them as graciously as it is clear that you have. The things that have been put on your plate have brought you through with a strong grasp of how reliance upon our God as forged your path. Stress can either consume you or make you stronger, and it is quite evident that it has enhanced your relationship with our heavenly Father. It proves that God will not give you more than you can handle. Our God is an awesome God!! Your post truly touched my heart. Blessing, Kati

"Stress is the shovel that digs an early grave." This is a great and accurate statement. I am dealing with more stress right now in my life than ever before. Sometimes I honestly think it is going to kill me, until I pick up my Bible. One thing I am learning to do is look for God's fingerprints on all situations. Sometimes it takes a little detective work, but it is helping me tremendously. I look at every stressful situation and try to figure out how it could glorify God. I do this because I know that if God is allowing it, He has a purpose for it. Knowing that is what motivates me to fight through it. I know it is going to end the way that God wants it to. The Bible says, "Be still, and know that I am God!" (Psalm 46:10, NLT).
"Cast you cares on Jesus", my mom used to tell me that all the times. Actually that was how she ended each call we shared while I was in prison. At first I didn't want to hear what she had to say, but over times I began to realize the true meaning of that and my stress and anxiety began to subside over the years I was away. I began sleeping better and my depression began to be lifted from my shoulders.
When all seems dark and there seems to be no where to go "cast your cares on Jesus"

And from my Facebook this week-
Stresses in family, stresses in finances, stresses in several other situations. I'm glad to have a wonderful husband and a loving Heavenly Father. "When my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock, that is higher than I." Psalm 61:2

"Be still, and know that I am God!" (Psalm 46:10, NLT). When you don't know what to do, "Be still."  When you don't know what to think; "know that I am God."


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Grandma's Tribute

Grandma's Tribute

              Grandma, Lois Fern McDonald, lived a full life and each of her grandchildren were happy to have experienced a part of it.  She had nine grandchildren; Melissa Schau, Curtis Morehead, Michelle DeCaire, Carrie Longnecker, Crystal Roberts, Susan Hancock. Mahlon Lund, Michael Lund and Lisa Cabezas-Anno.  I feel so honored and blessed to have known her.  I liked to think I resembled her some; we were both petite, had dark hair, blue eyes and lots of freckles.  The truth is, each of us (her grandchildren) are a part of her and are a small piece of her that will live into the future and cherish her memory.


       We all have unique memories of Grandma, it's impossible to sum up 87 years into a few paragraphs.  Often the word "Grandma" was synonymous with the word "Grandpa."  "Let's go to Grandma and Grandpa's house."  These two words went together like peanut butter and jelly, or spaghetti and sauce.  In fact, we were able to see the love and commitment they shared through 60, almost 61 years of marriage.  Those of us who are married know how much love and commitment marriage takes, Grandma and Grandpa modeled that to us.  Curtis said that what stood out to him was the love that Grandma and Grandpa shared, even after all those years.  They were like two kids in love and it was incredibly sweet.

        Memories of her are something we all will cherish as we move through life without her.  Memories of little things she would say, or advice she would give.  Michelle shared a memory of a time when she was working on her tan.  After Michelle finished sunbathing, she walked past Grandma who said; "You'd better be careful Shelly, you'll end up looking like the neighbors!"  She was feisty that's for sure.  Grandma had the cute way of continuing childhood nicknames into our adulthood.  Curtis was always CJ, Michelle was Shelly, Mahlon was always Joe or Joey.
       Other memories we have of her include Diet Dr. Pepper, oh how she loved that soda.  We remember her hair which had to be perfectly curled then was stiff with hairspray.  I remember being fascinated with her hair and touching it in wonder.  She loved doing her hair and Michael remembers her doing her hair with a Bonnet hair dryer she used to have in the living room.  Years ago she was into artificial nails and I remember admiring her dainty hands and her long slender fingers.

            Some of us remember shopping trips where we were enlisted to carry her purse, even though it was super heavy.  One time I looked inside and I was amazed by all the items within it.  A favorite memory of mine involved Ramen noodles.  Grandma fixed me a cup for lunch, I decided I did not like them.  I asked for a tissue and Grandma said yes. (She was watching TV)  I asked for another and another and she kept saying yes.  I was surprised my plan was working so well!  I kept getting tissues, spitting the noodles into them, then I threw them into the kitchen trash.  Then, someone tattled on me, Michael says it was him but he was too young to talk yet.  I believe Grandma figured it out after my continued pleas for tissues. *smile*  I was placed firmly in the corner.  I can still remember the smell of the corner as I spent a fair amount of time there.  We remember hugs, lipstick kisses that smelled like butterscotch candy, going out to eat when she was well, long talks, new coloring books with crayons, lots of pool time with her watching us (that made her so happy to see us having fun in the pool) and being sent outside when she wanted to watch her Soap Operas, thank goodness!
      As we grew older, married and had children of our own, the memories shift to us bringing our children to Grandma and Grandpa's house.  Her face would light up with so much joy when she saw the faces of her great-grandchildren.  Picture after picture shows her love of babies and of her love for her great grandchildren.  Susie remembers her saying "I love you" and when she said that, we all knew she meant it.  It could be said that her family meant everything to her.

     As we contemplate the ending of the making of memories, the ending of a precious life, we think of all she has given us, and of the love we all have of her.  Although her presence will no longer be with us, we all will hold on to the sweet memories we have of her.  We will cherish and honor her memory and tell our children of her.  We will be thankful and grateful to have had Grandma as "our Grandma!"  We love you Grandma.  We will always love you and we will always miss you!

I was honored to be able represent the grandchildren at my grandmothers funeral on Sunday, July 19, 2015.  This was my tribute to her.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

I'm Mad, He's Mad...Wait, Who's Mad?

         Sometimes you just have a great day, that almost turns into a BAD day.  Today was our trip to Knoebels.  It's a perfect, family friendly amusement park about an hour and a half from our home.  The morning saw me rising at 6:00am to squeeze in some homework that I've not had a chance to get submitted.  (I'm going to school online with a major in Leadership and Ministry)  The morning was going along famously, I made coffee (first thing-of course!) and sat by the back door and enjoyed the quiet and the chirping of the birds for a few minutes, then it was back to work for me.  Jonathan made a smoothy and the children got ready for the big day.  We all worked together to pack our backpack with water, sunblock, wipes and medicine.  Ahhh, things were shaping up to be perfect.

    We had received free tickets to the park and we were to meet up with other friends from church who had decided to go.  You can't beat free right?  Well, the two other parties were late-no big deal in our book, we just relaxed in the van with our AC and Dunkin Donuts.  But here's what made them late, Route 22/322 was shut down due to a tractor trailer crashing, spilling chickens everywhere and then it burst into flames.  Those poor chickens, they were headed to market and met an untimely death.  Crispy chicken anyone?  The truck driver was ok, but those routes were closed until 1:30pm.  We passed so many cars who were stranded in the heat, miles and miles of people stuck in an unmoving line.  Yup, bad day for chickens and for people.

       We arrived safely at Knoebels and had a blast.  Towards the end of our wonderful day, Jonathan and I had a heated misunderstanding.  Don't you know all married people fight once in awhile?!  Any way, here we were, finishing up our day and come to find out he had spent 30 minutes looking for me while I blissfully took the kids on a couple of rides.  When he finally found me, with the two youngest in tow, I was happliy seated in a bumper car with Jacob (my nephew), eagerly anticipating bumping all the cars I could.  (After the attendant got me unstuck of course.)

        I happily emerged from all my bumping glory only to find a very unhappy husband, who proceeded to tell me how unhappy he was.  He looked for me for 30 minutes and I didn't answer when he asked to use someones phone (I was too busy taking pictures and my phone didn't ring).  I was embarressed and wanted him to quit but we were soon arguing in front of everyone.  Yup, our pastor, yup, my brother, yup, our kids.  I didn't cry though! Ha!  Our Pastor and my brother said an awkward goodbye, I couldn't even look at them as they left.  Jonathan and I continued for a few more minutes, trying to come to terms with each other.

          We soon decided to return home as I had several class assignments due by midnight tonight and we were all tired.  The car ride home was quiet.  Hey, I was sleeping-err studying.  We got home and Jonathan crashed for a nap and I continued to work on my school work.  When he woke up, we were both in our right mind and were able to thoroughly discuss our disagreement.  I will spare you the details.  I will just say this, he made me feel like I did so many times as a child, like I was standing before a cruel judge without being allowed to speak for myself.  I had made him feel left out and like he was missing all the fun, something he also felt as a child.  (Anyone who knows Jonathan will agree that Fun is his middle name)

   Yeah, we have childhood issues, yes we have adult issues but there is no one I'd rather fight with, grow with and love with.  The fighting always draws us closer and so often brings growth and renewed understanding,  We are so thankful for how God has come in and healed our marriage and we are amazed everyday at the love we share.

*This happened after an incredibley stressful and busy week last week, with schooling, piano lessons for the kids, family visits, job stress, a misunderstanding within our church (which still needs prayer), traveling to Henderson to pick up our ship (Uncle Frank made for the kids) which took an entire day Friday and into the wee hours of Saturday morning, my grandmother passing away, and then her funeral on Sunday which was a 3 hour drive from Marysville.  Let's just say we were only home to sleep.  

The Family that Fights together, Stays together-Right?



Friday, May 29, 2015

Flash Friday (Our Day in Photos)

My bed buddy while Daddy is away.
Sorted clothes.

My helpers-

"It's too heavy Mom!!"  This is his exaggerating face.

All done, it wasn't too heavy after all...

The church across the street.
Our home.
Quick scooter run before breakfast.
Spoiled, William ate his oatmeal on the counter.  It's the seat of honor, really.

Shoe check, yup, wrong feet.
My lunch/breakfast.
Homemade bread.

Another mess to clean up.

Cheaters (SMART) way of getting the tops smooth.
Onions for our soup.
Speaking of messes...
Get it done!