Monday, December 31, 2012

Build Your Section of the Wall!

We just had the best Christmas ever. We had a Jesus celebration before we left where we sang, memorized Isaiah 9:6, did a gospel presentation using legos, and ate cupcakes. 

Anyone is welcome to come on Sunday nights. We are getting ready to start a brand new series on "AWESOME STORIES OF THE BIBLE" in January.
We sing silly songs, do sword drills, play games, and STUDY THE WORD!!
It is a blast.

We decided to celebrate Christmas here as a family and we let the kids come downstairs to open their gifts. It was really fun. The boys wanted ONLY legos this year. Hope got a bike and a doll that she did NOT like. Tim told me she wouldn't like it but I really thought she might like this one. I had gone out in the middle of the night to Target to get the last Lallaloopsie doll to go in her bike baby seat. She isn't a doll lover. She is a doG lover. So, she gave the doll back to me but everything else was acceptable to her. :)

Tim bought me a new camera!!! And the perfume I have been wanting. I bought him a cool new shirt and a silly new shirt. I tell him I have to keep him "hip... current... relevant". :) He jokes that he is my Mr. Potato Head that I like to dress and accessorize. It's true...

I don't want us to look like "home school parents"- whatever that means. (Tired, out-of-date, and legalistic maybe?) So, I tell Tim we have to fight the stereotypes. There is a gravitational pull that we have to be aware of. I am very thankful for my friend, Alyssa, who changed my stereotype of a home school family.
I don't like being categorized. The only category I like to be put in is "a girl who loves Jesus Christ".

We spent a week at mom's house. Poor mom. She is being OVER-RUN with grandchildren but she handles it with grace. We pile in like Sardines. Kids sleeping everywhere. They love it. My sister's kids come too. She has 4. So it is a full house. Mom had 2 daughters. We had a small family. This is new for all of us.
I like it though. I always dreamed of what having a big family would be like when I was growing up. NEVER dreamed I would have a large family of my own one day!

 Lake said, "Mimi is such a servant. She is SO generous. She gets so many Christmas presents we could swim in them". It's true. Mom is such a giver. Dad's health is doing much better which may have been the best present of all. We played Balderdash and Rook and laughed the nights away. Dad played with the babies. He loves babies and they love him. Hope rules the roost. She is very attached to her Mimi. She cried her eyes out when we left. It is really sad to live far from family.

For my birthday, we went to a Bed and Breakfast in North Carolina called "The Mast Farm Inn". Two of my   close friends and their husbands met us there! I booked it without really knowing what it would be like. I was nervous but so excited to go on a love getaway with Tim, I didn't really care. We have gone through a hard season. We needed to take a "time-out" and re-fuel. Raising 5 kids is hard. Raising 5 kids and doing ministry is especially hard. Health trials are hard.
Living your life publicly can create interesting scenarios. I have struggled with being so public. I LOVE to share the gospel. I LOVE to share the WORD of God. I love to share life! I love to journal. But, it is risky. It has opened many amazing doors and opportunities to serve the Lord and I am super thankful for that. Sometimes I envy my sweet, quiet, private friends who seem so safe in a world where people don't attack their family. Public ministry comes with its challenges, that is for sure. As long as Tim keeps supporting me, I will live a "somewhat" open-book life and pray that the shield of faith will protect us from the flaming arrows sent our way.

So, my dad fills up his SUV with gas and mom and dad watch the kids while Tim and I run away to the cold snowy mountains. I was excited to be with him. We have to invest in our marriage. I want to invest in our friendship! We pulled into a DARLING Bed and Breakfast that turned into one of the dreamiest weekends of my life. Jennie and Brian, Julie and Luke met us there. The twins and I met 17 years ago when we were lifeguards at Blizzard Beach. None of us were walking with the Lord. The Lord called us all 3 by name to FOLLOW HIM! It has been awesome to have your best friends walk this journey with Jesus with you. They dressed in choir robes at my wedding reception and we all 3 sang and did a choreographed dance to "Son of A Preacher Man" to Tim as a surprise. (His dad was a preacher). I wish I could figure out how to upload it. It was so great!

We have always had fun together. We are all 3 in the THICK of child-rearing now. We have TWELVE kids combined. God has brought us so far from where He found us. We are all three living proof that people DO change... (if they are transformed by the Word of God).
We set everything aside for a "love-cation" as Jennie calls it to focus on our marriages and our friendship.
The Bed and Breakfast was totally DREAMY.

The Christmas tree had orange slices on it. :)

Our names were on everything. Even the MENUS!

Every morning there was a little basket that reminded me of Little Red Riding Hood at our door full of hot freshly brewed coffee.
At night, you could smell dinner cooking in your room and we just went downstairs for a gourmet meal!

And, then again, in the morning... the smell of fresh sausage and french toast would creep under the crack of our door and into are sleeping nostrils. :) We would meet back at the table for MORE FOOD and great conversation. Pretty much always talking really loud about Jesus. The workers there just scratched their heads as Bibles were on the table during dinner.
Birthday breakfast...

 It was so much more than any of us had anticipated. God really blessed us. I know He did. He just poured His love out on us thick this weekend. Just when we thought it couldn't be any more perfect, it started snowing while we were all bundled up around the fireplace in Jennie and Brian's room praying together. It was so wonderful it was hard to take in. 

I fell in love with the book of Nehemiah while we were there. It is AWESOME. I would highly encourage you to sit down and read the whole thing. It isn't long and it is very exciting. It is about a guy who wants to rebuild the wall in Jerusalem. It has been torn down. The book opens with Nehemiah's prayer of repentance. 
"O LORD, God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands,  let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s house, have committed against you.  We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses."
Neh 1

I think this is how every person who has ever been used by God starts... on their face asking for forgiveness.
Nehemiah was a cupbearer. He nervously tells the King he wants to rebuild the wall.
The King gives him the go ahead and so Nehemiah and his Jewish friends start working on the wall with "all their heart". They worked as FAMILIES. Each having their own section of the wall they were assigned to.
"So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart."
Nehemiah 4:6
But some people heard about this reconstruction project and did NOT appreciate it. These guys names were Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem... we will just call them "the bad guys". They began to make fun of Nehemiah and all the families while they were building.
"Sanballat was very angry when he learned that we were rebuilding the wall. He flew into a rage and mocked the Jews,  saying in front of his friends and the Samarian army officers, “What does this bunch of poor, feeble Jews think they’re doing? Do they think they can build the wall in a single day by just offering a few sacrifices?  Do they actually think they can make something of stones from a rubbish heap—and charred ones at that?”

The Jews kept working with all their hearts...AS FAMILIES!! The bad guys kept threatening, scheming, and plotting against them. But, Nehemiah stands up and says...
 "Don't be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes."
So the people continued working to BUILD the wall...

"When our enemies heard that we knew of their plans and that God had frustrated them, we all returned to our work on the wall.  But from then on, only half my men worked while the other half stood guard with spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail. The laborers carried on their work with one hand supporting their load and one hand holding a weapon.  All the builders had a sword belted to their side. The trumpeter stayed with me to sound the alarm.
 Then I explained to the nobles and officials and all the people, “The work is very spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall.  When you hear the blast of the trumpet, rush to wherever it is sounding. Then our God will fight for us!”

Ok, as I am reading this in our DREAMY room at The Mast Farm Inn, my jaw is on the ground. Because they are working as FAMILIES, they are being threatened and harassed by people who are trying to stop the work, they are building with a SWORD belted to their sides and never once laying down his weapons even when he goes to get water.
Wow, is God's Word alive and active!
 Tim and I believe God is asking us to serve Him as a family to build the kingdom and strengthen other families to do the same...always using the sword of the Spirit (the Word). We want to encourage families to build the part of the wall that they have been given. We are all building the kingdom! We are responsible for our section. To complete the work God has given each of us.
 "See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord." 
Col 4:17
And we have lived through the opposition. 
The attacks/intimdation in order to stop us from building what God has asked us to build. 
There will be people who come into your life whose GOAL/JOB is to stop you from completing the work you have received from the Lord. In Nehemiah, a bad guy was HIRED to intimidate him, give him a bad name, and discredit him. 
"He had been hired to intimidate me so that I would commit a sin by doing this, and then they would give me a bad name to discredit me."
Neh 6:13
The "bad guys" continue to heckle Nehemiah. Demanding they meet with him. Accusing him of things that are not true. It was all a big distraction. They kept sending him messages and telling him to meet them in the Valley of ONO. (I think that is funny. My pastor pronounces it like "OH NO" because that is what the enemy does... threatens to take us to the Valley of "oh no" :).
Nehemiah's response to them was...
"But they were scheming to harm me;  so I sent messengers to them with this reply: “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?” 
Neh 6:3
Nehemiah is STEADFAST. 1 John says make sure that you do not let ANYONE lead you astray. I remember Chuck Smith saying if he could give young people any advice about serving the Lord it would be "Stay the Course!". The enemy will try to distract, threaten, attack in order to distract, weaken us and stop the work.
The bad guys KEEP sending them messages. Hiring people to intimidate him in order to cause him to sin and stop the work.
Nehemiah's response?
"I sent him this reply: “Nothing like what you are saying is happening; you are just making it up out of your head.”
They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.”
But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.”
Neh 6:8,9
Tim was half asleep beside me when I yelled! "YES, LORD!!! AMEN!! STRENGTHEN MY HANDS!!! They are weak!". That has been my prayer ever since. 
"NOW STRENGTHEN MY HANDS so they will not be too weak for the work!". Strengthen my hands in mothering. Strengthen my hands in teaching your Word! Strengthen my hands to complete the work you have given me to do!!".
Next in the story, Ezra shows up on the scene. He teaches THE WORD and the people listen attentively. The teachers make it clear, give the meaning, and bring understanding to the people. 
Oh how I pray I can do that by the power of the Holy Spirit!
This made the people strong for their work! They only studied the Word. 
Something that is ironic to me is how obsessed our culture is with their DIET. People will go to the craziest lengths to remove things from their diet or pay tons of money to only eat organic food. But when it comes to their spiritual diet, they will eat ANYTHING.
What we feed our INNER MAN is way more important than what we feed our OUTER MAN. Who cares if our outward bodies are flourishing while inwardly we are wasting away?
Feed your inner man the good stuff!
What if our New Year's resolution was to remove the junk from our spiritual diet? Go vegan and only read the Word? I GUARANTEE you if you toss the books, you will grow. The funny thing about books, and DVD studies of "books", and on-line sermons, and reading blog post after blog post is that you ARE NOT GROWING. You think you are but you aren't. You are reading information but there is no TRANSFORMATION. The only Book that can transform you is The Word of God. Change your diet in 2013. Take the challenge and see if you get healthier. I PROMISE you will!!

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,  so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."
2 Tim 3:16,17

God's Word will THOROUGHLY EQUIP you to do what He is calling you to do!

Join us in Good Soil Girls where we are studying the book of John every Sunday night together. 
Just the Word! 
Ahhhh- SO refreshing!

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."
Romans 12:2

God has given you work to do and The Word is what will strengthen your hands for the job!!

The bad guys keep harassing Nehemiah with letters. BUT, guess what? They FINISHED BUILDING THE WALL IN 52 days!!
Their enemies were silenced.

"So on October 2 the wall was finished—just fifty-two days after we had begun. When our enemies and the surrounding nations heard about it, they were frightened and humiliated. They realized this work had been done with the help of our God."
Neh 6:15,16

Keep building your section of the wall! Work as families or work as a single girl. You have a job assignment. You will face opposition and the enemy's threats to throw you into the Valley of "Oh No". Don't stop the work! Stay in the Word and ask the Lord to strengthen your hands! We are all building the kingdom together. We all have different assignments. Your job is different than mine. BUT we are all one big team working with all our hearts to build the Kingdom!
"the people worked with all their heart."
One day, we are going to have a HUGE party together...
"And on that day they offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because God had given them great joy. The women and children also rejoiced. The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away."

 Tim and I have a great marriage. It isn't a lot of work. I think it is because we are truly "ONE" spiritually. Everything stems from that. If you are in the Word together and in prayer together, fruit just pops up in your marriage. I am convinced that if couples would spend time in prayer and the Word instead of reading books on how to have a better marriage/ sex life... then the fruit they are desiring would come. Again, books have no power. They have good information but the transformation we all need in our marriages comes from THE WORD OF GOD. The Word of God and prayer will GLUE you together. Pray for your husbands to lead. If you are leading your husband, stop! If he leads and loves and you respect and follow, God will bless your marriage. Physical intimacy is a fruit that comes from spiritual intimacy. You can't fabricate the fruit of love. It has to be from the Lord. He is the vine. We are the branches. We simply are to REMAIN/ ABIDE in Him and the fruit will grow. Soak your marriages in Jesus... and the Water of the Word. 
Our marriages are gardens that have to be cared for. 
Pull the weeds. Water the plants. Shade from too much sun. Prune things back that aren't fruitful so they will produce even more fruit. PROTECT it from things that threaten to destroy.

I remember dreaming of what it would be like to see the man I prayed for all those lonely single years. What would he look like? That I would be able to see and touch his face some day. I still can't believe it. I am so grateful for marriage. It is like heaven on earth... not all the time but 95% of the time. We fight. We disagree but Jesus and His Word pull us back together. If we walk in the Spirit, it is the fairytale. If we walk in the flesh or get selfish, the whole thing implodes. Our marriages thrive in the Spirit. The flesh kills. The Spirit gives life.

"The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing."
John 6:63

Invest in your marriage. It doesn't have to be a love-cation. Put the kids in bed and TALK to your husband. Get to know him. Work on your friendship.
 Put down the marriage book and pick up THE MARRIAGE BOOK.

                            Read NEHEMIAH together. :)

Or better yet, go to The Mast Farm Inn and read Nehemiah together.

 We are already counting down the seconds until our next love-cation!!! But, we have work to do building our section of the wall! God is strengthening our hands and we are waiting for the sound of the trumpet so we can meet together again!
 How fun is that??
"“The work is very spread out, 
and we are widely separated from each other along the wall.
Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. 
Our God will fight for us!"
Neh 4:20

"As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend."

Prov 27:17 


Rhonda Schrock said...

I enjoyed this! Thank you for sharing it, even though "going public" is risky business.

Happy New Year. :D

Play Angry-Bird Game said...

wonderful pictures
thanks for sharing