Saturday, January 31, 2009

Plowing Day

Pinch this real????? I told you about the land that was donated for the community garden. Well, today was the first plow of the land. Probably one of the most satisfying days of my life so watch God take a dream and He alone orchestrate exactly how it was all going to happen...AMAZING!

People are coming from out of the woodwork to offer help, supplies, manure (I know ....gross...but it's a fact...we need it in our soil!) Men are overjoyed to be riding this point I have more volunteers than work...although that will be very short lived I assure you.

I've posted a picture of part of the land. God is good!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Good "Friends"

A couple of years ago, we moved to the town we live in. It was a hard move for me...emotionally speaking. I was so worried how Savannah would do with the move that it never crossed my mind that I might have trouble with it. I pretty much was suspicious of anyone who tried to be my best friend and held people at arms length to keep myself "safe". About a year and a half ago I bluntly expressed this at a small group meeting with church folks saying "I am a good friend to others, but I really don't need friends" can imagine their faces as they heard this from their pastor's wife!

Well....I confess, God has done a work on my heart and has truly become the friend of the wounded heart. During my "no friends" time, I actually was able to receive some emotional healing time with the Great Physician. I don't know what I would do without my friends now! One of them just called from Dollar General (the only store in town) and asked if I needed anything! That's a friend. Another has been begging to bring dinner (I've been sick)...That's a friend. Another wants to have a girl's night out...That's a friend...and another is moving here from SE Texas to be near me (she keeps telling me it's for work and for my kids..who she adores...but I know it's really me!) That's a friend. I'm blessed....and now I have my new bloggy who will read all my random thoughts...has to be a friend.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Making Plans

I'm in the process of beginning to make plans to be out of town at the Quad City Writers Conference in Iowa at the end of March. This will be the first time in three years that I have been out of town alone. Dare I say it....I can hardly wait!!!! Not only is this going to be a fantastic opportunity to gain some very needed writing tips, it's also going to be some time away for the regular events in my life...AKA diapers, dishes, laundry, housework. But the thing is, I know myself...within hours of leaving Texas, I'll be feeling that tinge of missing the most cherished things in my life.....Bruce and the kids.

It's funny...the things we think we want the most aren't really the things that satisfy us. It's a Biblical concept too. Paul struggled with it when he said.... "the things I do I don't want to and the things I don't do...I wish I did." We struggle with the balance of our want to, should do, could do and will do.

I'm going to Iowa...eyes wide open...with my new observations tucked in my suitcase. I will enjoy my time away...getting training to be a better writer..employee, getting a full nights sleep, eating meals without wearing them, and perhaps even taking a nap of my own one day. And many of my moments will be spent thinking of my family...loving them from miles away.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Surprise...It's Octuplets

Can you imagine hearing those words?'s octuplets! Those words were heard by the proud California parents of 8 little tiny lives this morning. WOW! The news reports on the 20,000 plus diapers that they will go through in just one year! Think about all that potty training (see yesterday's post) SHOOT ME NOW~!

Anyway they were saying the weights of these tiny babies this morning on TV and it brought back such a flood of emotions. If you know our Savannah'll probably want to stop reading now, but for those of you new to me...we have our own little miracle story.

On August 26, 2002 after a weekend of bed rest, swelling and overall just not feeling quite right, I was put into the hospital. I was 27 weeks pregnant with Savannah and not doing good. My kidneys were failing, my blood pressure had skyrocketed and a host of other serious complications. After being catheterized, fasting, eating tons of ice, getting shots to boost Savannah's lung development in the womb and more. The Dr. said, "In the morning, we will either decide to keep you in the hospital for the remainder of the pregnancy (3 months) or we will deliver the baby. Secretly, he had a hallway conversation with Bruce regarding my danger signs, and complications and had told him to prepare for the worst...and I do mean the worst. Losing me...losing the baby....brain damage, blindness and more could be complications for Savannah.

It was a horrible night, but despite the tossing and turning, I felt better the next day and felt sure the Dr's would just keep me in the hospital. No such luck. God had different things scheduled on my calendar that day.

The Dr. wasn't nearly as impressed as I though he would be and promptly told me they'd be prepping me for surgery (C-section). I was horrified....I had never been prepped for anything before! They wheeled me into the OR and began strapping my hands down and told me to count backwards from 100 while they placed this mask over my face. I remember 99 and that's it! I had NO idea they were completely putting me under to give birth! At 10:27, August 27,2002, Savannah was born, weighing in at 2 lbs, 6 oz. 13 inches long. There was a brief yell...(according to Bruce) and then our babystinson was taken away to the Neonatal ICU.

I woke up in the recovery room. In shock...wondering pretty much what had happened. They had me drugged up with magnesium sulfate and more to counteract all the things going wrong with my body. I wasn't coherent for at least 24 hours. I remember people from our church coming and going...but everything was very clouded.

The next afternoon came and I got to see Savannah. They wheeled me down in a wheelchair. Everything in my body was've just had a baby by C Section! We scrubbed in from fingertip to elbow, put on sterilized gowns and walked to where our little baby was lying.

Her small crib was covered in saran wrap, to keep her body temp up. We couldn't touch her. She was on a ventilator, struggling to keep her oxygen levels up. She was red, dry skinned and things were visibly underdeveloped. I remember wanting to touch her, hold her, love on her. But there was none of that. Not for a long time.

The good news is...after 90 days in the NICU we were able to come home... Weighing 4 pounds 10 ounces. We survived numerous infections, ventilators, PIC lines, spinal taps, feeding tubes. babystinson (my email address) became Savannah Stinson. She slowly gained weight. After six weeks we finally got to hold her. We put between 80-100 miles on our car everyday for the entire duration of her do the math.
We are all good now...She's 6...and healthy as a horse on most days!

As I watched the coverage this morning of these pint sized miracles that God has given this family in CA, I can only identify with two things...the weight of the children...and the heavy weight of responsibility all of us who are raising and loving children feel.

If you've endured this long post....let me hear about your little miracles!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Potty Training ...or Not my little Tucker-man turned 3 in December. We've been putting off the inevitable. Potty Training. I mean important is it? Well for a multitude of reasons we haven't really pushed the whole ordeal....and it is one. You see I work...from home...30 hours a week. I am a publicist assistant to a great friend and fellow pastor's wife who thinks I have a thread of creativity and can write a smidge. I also homeschool the little t-man's sister who is in the first grade.

So we aren't just sitting around twiddling our thumbs, looking for something to do (who is?). So, on Friday (Bruce's day off) you'll understand why I nearly choked Bruce when he told Tucker that we would start serious potty training on Monday (a day Bruce would be at work all day, mind you). So all weekend Tucker has been warned, with each changing diaper, this is coming to an end.

Flip the calendar to today...and here's the scenerio. I have to beg...convince...bribe Tucker to put on his "CARS" big boy underwear. The whole time he is yelling..."I DON'T WANT TO BE A BIG BOY"...Then I tell him...Tucker you already are a big boy and big boy's don't wear diapers....and he tells me "Yes they do" ...and then promptly goes and brings me the last package of size 5 diapers that we bought. And what is on the front....a "big boy" wearing a diaper. Thanks LUV's.

So, after he peed on the upholstered chair in the living room...then threw the underwear in the toilet and then fished them out and brought them to me dripping wet on the floor. The MOM in this house has declared that FRIDAY (Bruce's day off) is going to be the official start date for potty training. End of story!

Any tips....suggestions...comments....I'm listening!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Where's God?

When life explodes like a firecracker in the sky, but with far less beauty and much more fire, where's God?

When facts don't add up and your stomach feels nauseated by decisions that were made by someone else but affect you, where's God?

When problems seem bigger, wider, uglier, costlier, where's God?

When health is fading, barely lurking on this side of heaven, when death seems inevitable, starring down the barely lit eyes of life, where's God?

He's here. He's in the shadows, valleys, unseen moments.
He's here. Deep in the valley trenches, high on the mountaintops
He's here. Carrying the weak, leading the blind, speaking for the mute

He's the healer, of life's greatest disease
He's the hope, of heaven and this tumultuous earth
He's the love, that reaches the greatest and least of these
He's the peace, to war and hate savaged homes and nations
He's the provider, to the shaken, poor and depleted.

He is...He is...He is...HERE.

Friday, January 23, 2009

It's Been One of Those Weeks....'s been one of those..the week was filled with extreme highs and lows and I am just glad to put it to bed! I'm leaving to go get my hair cut and colored...that'll make me feel better for sure. I've waited way too long to get do this...roots are 2 inches showing making a very attractive multicolor display showing on my head...I do believe each, blonde, dark brown, dare I say...grey...are all looking back at me in the mirror! So I am going to take care of them! Red and yellow, black and white...they are not all precious in my sight!

Seems like haircuts all around for the fam today. Tuck and Bruce and scheduled for later this afternoon. Savannah will just she is try to grow her hair out like Miranda Crosgrove.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Wacky Hair Night at TeamKID

Tonight is Wacky Hair Night at TeamKID. The kids are fact Savannah's been pretty much talking about it non-stop since last week. The worker's all have something crazy in fact I've heard color and more are all to be expected. I love it!

I think it's great that we are teaching this generation that being a Christian isn't boring. That we can have fun, live life with a good attitude and be excited about what God has in store for us. This isn't the church of the next generation....this is the church now. Many of these kids are beginning their walk with Christ and are learning the foundations that many of the adults I know don't even have yet. They are moldable, teachable and soaking things up at this age. What a gift God has given us (parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers, preachers) to fill these kids up with love for God and His Word. I love that over and over in God's Word He used kids and teens. I think we all need a wake up call if we don't think these kids are God's instruments as much as we are...if not more...because they are a sponge to soak up the goodness of God and share it with others.

Didn't mean to be preachy today! Enjoy the pic of Savannah ready for TeamKID!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day 2009

Today is the day. American will swear in our first African American President. Barak Obama. Whether I voted for him or not really doesn't matter. He is our president. He needs our prayers. It's funny...not really I guess...that I've heard so many Christians say "More than ever, Christians need to be praying" "God help us". I disagree. I think if Christians had been praying all along, our country would look different. Christians should have been praying like every, every moment in our history was as important as this one. The condition of our country didn't just happen yesterday. It's been on a slow decline for decades. Depressing yes...yet still we live in the greatest nation on earth.

Hope...that's been a theme of Obama's campaign. Unfortunately it's not really something he can offer to America. Our only hope is Christ. His presence in our country is the only thing that can really make a difference in America. His righteousness shining in every decision made. His compassion showing as people all across this country unite together to take care of the poor and needy. His justice making decisions in our courts.

So, I will pray. I will pray that Godly leaders are placed around our president. I will pray that the foundations of our country will echo loudly through the walls of our Senate, Congress and White House. I will pray for Michelle Obama that she will concentrate on making her home a safe haven for her husband and children.

I'm hopeful today....not because we have a new president, but because I know who my God is. I know who leads my house. I know that however the next 4 years go, God is still in control. Doing what He does best.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Prayer Answered!

Two big news events happened this weekend (ok...honestly....maybe not BIG news for you...but certainly for me!)

1. My brother and sister in law are pregnant! YAY! this is a long time coming and we are so happy about this bundle of joy that will be entering the world near the end of September.

2. Mission Gunter was given a free lease of 9 city lots to plant a community garden on. of us!!!! Can I tell you I am so excited about this?

God always answers our prayers. There have been many prayers that I prayed that He has said "wait", some that He has said "no" and a others that He has said "yes" to. These are two examples of God orchestrating a YES!

Excitement is in the air. My family will welcome new life into the world. There's little that can compare with that.

My mission family will have their needs met by receiving nutritious, fresh veggies from our community garden this summer.

I'm overwhelmed by the goodness of God. His perfect timing is always on time.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Sabbath Rest

Life is busy...yours, mine...everyone's. Recently I had a few days off in a row and realized how energized and clear headed I was after taking those days off. Then it came...that strangely quiet conviction that comes over you when you gently realize that maybe you haven't been doing something right. Yes, I've been living a life with no Sabbath for quite a while. Shame on me...and I am serious!

What on earth convinced me that working 7 days straight for many months could produce anything but fatigue, discouragement and pride? When did I begin to know better than God? When did I discover that my body didn't need some downtime? What a joke!

After those few days off, I began to realize that my goals could all be accomplished in a much shorter time if I took time to stop, rest, worship and rejuvenate. WOW! What a difference the past two weeks have made. Since Sunday's are a little crazy in our house, I've chosen to enjoy a little time on Saturday's to rest. That coupled with Sunday worship and the fellowship of having others in our home really has made an amazing difference to my overall life.

God never intended us to fill our lives so full that we wouldn't have the time to take care of ourselves, worship, fellowship, relax, enjoy downtime...He set the example by taking the 7th day to rest....did He need it? NO! But the reflection of His love for us is evident by Him acknowledging that WE need it. He wants us to take care of this temple. He wants us to slow down and enjoy the things He has created. He wants us to embrace worship with all our hearts.

I'd love to hear how you spend your day of rest. Comment below and share your thoughts.

Friday, January 16, 2009

New Years Resolutions Update

It's been two weeks. New Years has come and gone. My family has celebrated 2 birthdays (hubby and sister)and life is back to what we call "normal" around here.

I'm making some headway on my new year goals. One biggie is getting my home more organized. Here's what's gotten organized so far:

1. Kitchen Drawers....cleaned out...threw away kitchen utensils that were old and gave away ones that I never use.

2. Kitchen Cabinets...switched around where I keep some things to make things easier to get to and more effiecient. Got a spice rack installed.

3. Reorganzied one side of my fairly large pantry.

4. Rearranged playroom so that toys are out of sight yet, still available for the kiddos to play with them.

5. Cleaned out Savannah's dresser and dressing table. Got rid of clothes that were stained, not the right size or socks, for instance, that had no matches. Gave a load of stuff to someone on freecycle.

6. Bruce cleaned out his closet (had Christmas all over again ...his words ...not mine!)

So, it's been a pretty productive 2 weeks. I'm hoping to get more done before the end of the month...and then there's that thing about keeping it organize once it's actually organized. Small steps in the right direction are good though!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Mission News

Tonight is our quarterly board meeting for The Mission Gunter. is our website if you want to check it out. Anyway, we are getting ready for a big appreciation dessert gathering next week, where we will share our plans for the new year. It's an exciting time for the Mission Gunter. We will also be welcoming a new board member to our team and for that, I am so greatful. Slowly the weight of this ministry is becoming evenly distributed amongst our board. It's a beautiful thing when you realize you don't have to go alone...other people catch the vision....something good is happening!

In our study of Nehemiah at church, I think that is how he must have felt. Willing to go alone, yes, but happy that God provided an outstanding team of people to work alongside him, even better! Naysayers, yes, but confident that the God who called him would be faithful to complete the good work, yes. When we started this ministry 1.5 years ago, I thought everyone I knew would be ready to jump on the band wagon. How sadly mistaken I was. There have been naysayers, there have been points of discouragement and their have been mountain top experiences. Thankfully God's been there for it all.

So, tonight we meet. Most people dread board meetings. Not me. I love them, they excite me, motivate me and fill me with hope. Hope that one small dose of love and care in our community will open doors for us to share Christ's love with those who live next door, across the street or down the road.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


At Bible study last night we were examining the first chapter of Esther. The story goes something like this:

King Xerxes throws this 180 day party with tons of wine to show off his wealth. After this time, he throws another 7 day party for the locals. At the same time his wife is having a party for the women. While Xerxes is intoxicated he asks for his wife, Vashti, to come before all the men. In this day when most women would have felt obligated to say "Yes, dear", she said, "No, thanks". Xerxes got really angry, called a meeting with his "counsel" who were also intoxicated, and decided this wasn't a good example to the women of his kingdom, so he had Vashti dismissed of her queenly position.

Anyway, the question was posed "How do you deal with rejection?" (In reference to how Xerxes handled Vashti's rejection) And for some reason, diarrhea of the mouth hit at that moment and I decided to comment. If you know me, that usually means I find a funny way to express something that really hurts me.

Here's my take on rejection:

I come in contact with someone who rejects me on a regular basis. It's been happening for a while now. Depending on when it happens sometimes I get mad....I mean really mad, sometimes I get defensive, sometimes I cry and sometimes I ignore it. The gamut of emotions is as varied as the 31 flavors at Baskin Robbins. I ask my self all sorts of questions: Why does she hate me? Why does she reject me? What have I done? Why is this so important to me? What can I do differently? But the bottom line is that I haven't done anything to her. She probably doesn't hate me. She might have her own insecurities, and I bet, I've made someone feel this way before too.

I'm not terrible sensitive so it took me a while to realize I was being rejected. Like about 6 months. I've wondered...what if I had a better house? what if I were skinnier? what if I wore better clothes? And then it hit me last night...if I had all these things, and she and I were friends, would this really be what I would want our friendship based on anyway? WOW!

I don't know about you, but either way, rejection isn't pretty. It hurts, it degrades, it embarrasses, it humiliates, it's a poor reflection of who Christ is and what He has done. He was the ultimate ACCEPTOR! I want to walk and share in that acceptance, not wallow around in the rejection I feel here on earth.

Sometimes I think about this situation and I think "how junior high" and it makes me mad! Why can't we grow up. But after last night, I realize that there is a great possibility that although this behavior is extremely childish that others might somehow benefit from hearing that they are not alone. That others feel like they do. Maybe it will make us all a little more sensitive to those around us who need acceptance.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Our Homeschool Day

If you are a homeschooling family, I would really like to hear what you are doing and how you're doing it! Some days I feel we do a really great job in the learning department. Other days I worry that I'm not giving her enough. Today was a great day. This is what we did: 9please remember that I am also juggling the 3 year old who thinks he can do anything "DEET" can do)

Read Proverbs 12 from The Message
She picked out a verse to copy for handwriting practice
Math...subtraction intro and addition review
3 Worksheets and 1 Test
Run through of flashcards 2 times
Chapter book reading
Cutting, Pasting, Tracing activities
Folding Towels (fractions)
Counting by 10's
Playtime outside
Computer game (educational)

This takes us about 3-4 hours to do. I struggle with keeping her busy for much longer than that most days. I am noticing that if I provide her with things to do in her down (not school) time she is grasping for more educational type things...books, computer, crafts and games. This makes me know that she is enjoying learning. Isn't that one of the most important things....that she is a lifetime lover of learning? I hope so!

So, no matter how much I second guess myself on this whole homeschooling issue, I know that it's what God has called me to do right now...for such a time as this.

Let me know what you're doing if you are a homeschooling family. I'd love to hear your ideas and strategies.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sunday Summary

Today was an extraordinary here is the play by play:

We invited three families over to our house for lunch today. So, in order to have lunch ready when we can home from church, I had to get up at 6am. I finished making the salad and chicken pot pie that I had put together yesterday and then got myself ready for church. Thing is...Tucker was wide awake with me! How does he do it...he requires so little sleep.

We live less than 2 miles from our church, but left the house at 7:15 to be there at 7:30. Seemed a little too early! Bruce decided to take the long way to church...(if you live in my town you know how rediculous that sounds) but on the way the song Your Love is Amazing was on the radio. It is one of the first songs Tucker ever sang...and he and Savannah were singing today at the top of their lungs. Anyway, we were still in the car and from the back seat Savannah said "Hey mom, we're not even at church and we are worshipping". I thought about it for a minute! Isn't that a cool concept for a kid to grasp. YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE AT CHURCH TO WORSHIP! Thank you God for speaking to me before my feet hit the church parking lot!

We are in the middle of the God of the City series and you can tell God is up to something. It's exciting, humbling and refreshing. My 4-5 year old class was great. We had a new little girl. One of my regulars was in rare form today...

I could tell she was uncomfortable. She was wiggly, squirmming, and had ants in her pants....or should I say tights. She is 5 and a sweetie! But 5 year olds don't always know what is appropriate to do in a class of boys and girls. I was teaching and we were all sitting around a round table. She was next to me. I turned to the opposite side of the table and was talking to the kids and when I turned back she was turned around (back to the table) with her dress up over her waiste trying to fix her tights that were bunched up in her underwear! I quickly fixed her dress and pretended like nothing happened...and remarkable the other kids didn't say a word. Kids are funny.

Our lunch with our friends went well. In fact I was able to share a dream I have for a community vegetable garden to service our town. It is great to see people catching the vision of The Mission and even wondering what they can do to help. Exciting times.

Our day closed by a rare Sunday Night service at church. We met to pray for ourselves and our city and ended with communion. It was a beautiful service.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Brain Age

OK...a little confession here. I have a slightly addictive personality. Let me give you an example. Savannah received a Nintedo DS for Christmas. It came bundled with an accessory pack and the game BRAIN AGE. Have you heard of it? Well I had not so tonight I was checking it out. Not really knowing what I was doing I played the first round and found out my brain age was 72!!!!! YIKES!!!! I really don't feel that old! So, I sat here and played about 5 more rounds...and now my brain age is 52! I am very concerned. Are things going downhill that fast. I mean, I am only 36. I felt like I was tackling each problem quicker and writing each answer faster and faster. The stupid- I mean well meaning teacher on the game said I could possibly need sleep and to eat breakfast in the morning. I don't know if I disliked the fact that it was a man telling me what to do or that he was right...but nevertheless...I shut him down fast!

Seriously speaking though, I'm busy. I don't have much time to apply make-up much less work on my brain age. The games says, just a little time each day will rapidly improve your brain age. Well, it's gonna take a while. Maybe a long while, but I'd like to get my brain age more in line with my real age...before I hit 52 or 72!

Music to my ears!

Last night I was catching up at my friend's blog... and after the page loaded I was taken back to the early 90's with her background music. Immediately I could remember where I was, what I was doing and even a small recollection of how I was feeling. Strange isn't it? It's not the first time that has happened and I am sure others have felt the same way. I remember being an awkward 17 year old, working at Stone Mountain Park, feeling like I needed to know exactly what I was suppose to do with my life after graduation. I remember the boy I had a crush on, the clothes that were in style and what the office I worked in looked like. Incredible since most of the time now, I can't remember if I unplugged the iron!

Music has a way of impacting our live like nothing else. We listen to sappy love songs when we break up, we listen to romantic ballads when we make up, we listen to hip-hop boogie music when we clean up, we listen to country music when we want to live it up, music from our childhood cheers us up and praise and worship music to offer up.

I've been involved in music since I was 5. I remember being in school and it being my favorite class, at age 11 I started piano lessons, in high school I became the church pianist, in college I paid my way through by playing piano for groups, I was in college choir, church choir, helped in children's choir, and since we have been in the ministry have done just about anything in music ministry...lead, sing, play, help. I'd say it has a huge place in my life.

No wonder so much of the psalms includes verses about music. It's strangely awesome that God would know so many years ago that music would be a way that everyone could express themselves. Whether words, instruments, dancing, leading or listening- may we all find a way to participate in the music around us. Now, I think I will listen to my playlist!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

For Such a Time as This

I was doing some studying today on the book of Esther and came across this devotional. Thought it was something worth sharing. Copied from-

The situations in our lives are not always to our liking: the places we must live, the people we must associate with, or the problems we encounter. And these things may not always be our fault. We may have been the victims of circumstances, or we may have made decisions which we thought were right but which have not worked out as we expected. Some people feel that way about their marriages—the woman, for example, who thought the man she married was a believer. She later found out that he had deceived her. His actions continually reflected his disinterest in the things of the Lord and caused her endless grief. There is a story in God’s Word that will encourage folks in adverse circumstances such as these.

The man of the house was none other than the king of the greatest empire in the world of his day. The Jews called him Ahasuerus, the Hebrew form of his Persian name. Secular history knows him better by his Greek name, King Xerxes I who ruled Persia from 486 to 465 B.C. His powerful empire spread from India to Ethiopia (Esth. 1:1). But that wasn’t enough for him. The real passion of his life was to do what his father, Darius I, had never been able to do—conquer Greece.

The Word of God tells us that “in the third year of his reign, he gave a banquet for all his princes and attendants, the army officers of Persia and Media, the nobles, and the princes of his provinces being in his presence, when he displayed the riches of his royal glory and the splendor of his great majesty for many days, 180 days” (Esth. 1:3, 4). Such a high-level conference, lasting six months, had to be more than just a big party. It was probably a strategy session for Xerxes’ forthcoming invasion of Greece. Secular history tells us that he began that invasion not long after this magnificent convocation, in 481 B.C.

To conclude the conference, however, he planned seven special days of celebration and feasting (Esth. 1:5). When he was a little tipsy from his wine, he called for his beautiful queen, Vashti, so that he could show her off before his friends (Esth. 1:11). She refused to be made a public spectacle, and Ahasuerus was enraged. At the advice of his trusted counselors he decided to depose her by royal decree—the law of the Medes and the Persians which could never be reversed, not even by the king himself (Esth. 1:19). It was a rash decision which he would live to regret, but Ahasuerus was known to be an impulsive and headstrong man.

Besides that, he had more important things to do than worry about his harem. He was ready to conquer Greece. His armies were superior to theirs and the momentum of history was on his side. But in a succession of famous battles familiar to students of ancient history (Thermopylae, Salamis, Plataea), his military might was finally broken, and he returned to his capital at Susa a beaten man. How he must have longed for the comfort and companionship of his deposed queen to soothe him in his shame and put his fractured ego back together. “After these things when the anger of King Ahasuerus had subsided, he remembered Vashti and what she had done and what had been decreed against her” (Esth. 2:1). But it was too late. His decree was irreversible.

That is when his aides suggested an all-Persia beauty contest to find a queen for King Ahasuerus. “Let beautiful young virgins be sought for the king. And let the king appoint overseers in all the provinces of his kingdom that they may gather every beautiful young virgin to Susa the capital, to the harem, into the custody of Hegai, the king’s eunuch, who was in charge of the women; and let their cosmetics be given them. Then let the young lady who pleases the king be queen in place of Vashti” (Esth. 2:2-4). The whole thing sounded like fun to the king, so he gave his permission, and the search was on. A beauty contest is not a bad way to find a wife, if good looks are all you are looking for. But our sovereign God was going to give Ahasuerus a great deal more than good looks, whether he wanted it or not. God already had a wife picked out for this heathen king. Although God’s name is nowhere mentioned in this book, His providential hand is clearly visible, ruling and overruling in the affairs of men.

Unknown to Ahasuerus, the next queen of Persia was to be a young Jewess. She would probably have rather been in Jerusalem with her countrymen, but for some reason her parents had declined to go back when King Cyrus gave his permission fifty years earlier. The Jews in captivity had been allowed to settle down, open businesses, and live normal lives, and only 50,000 of them chose to return to Israel when they had the opportunity.

This woman’s parents were dead and her older cousin, Mordecai, was raising her. Scripture says, “And he was bringing up Hadassah, that is Esther, his uncle’s daughter, for she had neither father nor mother. Now the young lady was beautiful of form and face, and when her father and her mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter” ( Esth. 2:7). She was a lovely woman, and there was no way she could escape the clutches of the king’s servants who were scouring the land for beautiful women. “So it came about when the command and decree of the king were heard and many young ladies were gathered to Susa the capital into the custody of Hegai, that Esther was taken to the king’s palace into the custody of Hegai, who was in charge of the women” (Esth. 2:8).

Mordecai checked on Esther’s welfare daily, since he was a gatekeeper at the palace. He instructed her not to make her nationality known to anyone, probably to guard her against the unkind treatment directed against Jews in almost every country they have ever lived in, throughout their history, and she dutifully obeyed. Then when it was her turn to be ushered in to the king’s presence, she asked for nothing special with which to impress him, as the other girls had done. Her natural God-given beauty and evident loveliness of spirit alone captured the heart of the king. “And the king loved Esther more than all the women, and she found favor and kindness with him more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti” (Esth. 2:17).

Scripture never says that Esther wanted to marry Ahasuerus. It was a flattering offer, but she must have known that he would be less than an ideal husband, especially after what had happened to Vashti. But how do you say “no” to a tyrannical monarch without losing your head? So it was that this simple Jewish girl became the queen of the Persian empire. It was a rags to riches story unexcelled in human history.

The chronology of the book indicates that it was about five years later when the bubble burst and we find a crisis for God’s people. The culprit who caused the trouble must have been Hitler’s Old Testament hero. He was a vicious, anti-Semitic Amalakite named Haman, evidently a descendant of Agag, king of the Amalakites, whom King Saul had kept alive in disobedience to the command of the Lord (1 Sam. 15:8, 9). When Ahasuerus made him prime minister, everybody in the palace bowed down to him except Mordecai. He would bow his knee to none but God, and that infuriated Haman. He vowed not only to punish Mordecai, but to exterminate every living Jew in the Persian empire, and incidentally, that would include those in the land of Israel as well, for they were part of the empire. Haman got the king to agree to his plan and it was sealed with the king’s ring, the irreversible law of the Medes and the Persians. It was another hasty decision that Ahasuerus would live to regret.

“When Mordecai learned all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the midst of the city and wailed loudly and bitterly. And he went as far as the king’s gate, for no one was to enter the king’s gate clothed in sackcloth. And in each and every province where the command and decree of the king came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping, and wailing; and many lay on sackcloth and ashes” (Esth. 4:1-3).

Strange as it may seem, prayer is never specifically mentioned in this book, just as the name of God is never mentioned, but you can be sure that these Jews were praying. Fasting is referred to, and that is usually associated with prayer in Scripture. And the wailing probably indicates a desperate cry to God. These Jews were away from their land by their own choice, out of the place of blessing, separated from their place of worship, and that may be why neither God nor prayer are directly mentioned. But they were praying, and God was watching over them, superintending their circumstances to glorify His own name. He is doing the same for us even when we are not aware of it.

We are about to discover that there is a purpose for God’s appointments. This revelation is made through an exchange of communications between Esther and Mordecai. Esther sent one of the king’s chamberlains to find out why Mordecai was in mourning. Mordecai sent a message back explaining the whole diabolical plot, of which she was unaware, and encouraging her to intercede with the king. She answered quickly, reminding him that no one entered the king’s presence without being invited unless he was tired of living, and that the king had not invited her into his presence for a full month. There was one slim possibility—if the king saw her and extended his golden scepter, she could enter.

Mordecai may have missed God’s best by not returning to Israel, but his spiritual insight had increased since then. He was beginning to understand something of God’s sovereign grace and divine providence, beginning to see that God can use even the adversities of life to accomplish His purposes. He sent word back to Esther, “Do not imagine that you in the king’s palace can escape any more than all the Jews. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” (Esth. 4:13, 14). Esther is really no safer than any other Jew. When it becomes known that she is Jewish, her life will be endangered too. Mordecai is convinced that God is going to care for His people Israel, however. They may be far from Him, but He cannot let them perish, for that would be contrary to His promises. If He does not use Esther to deliver them, He will use some other means. He is a sovereign God.

You see, Mordecai had grasped the fact that God allowed them to remain in Persia, and may now be ready to turn their decision to stay into glory for Himself and deliverance for the Jewish people. “And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this.” What an outstanding illustration of the greatness of our God. He can take not only the circumstances of our lives that are beyond our control, but He can take the wrong decisions we have made, and even the sins we have committed, and work them out for good. The psalmist says: “For the wrath of man shall praise Thee” (Psa. 76:10). If God can make man’s wrath praise Him, He can certainly make our sins and shortcomings praise him.

That obviously does not mean we should live our lives in total disregard for the will of God, and then expect Him to work out the mess we make. There is an enormous load of unhappiness and sorrow on that road, as many Christians will testify. The consequences of willful sin can be unbearable. It does mean that when we put our lives in Christ’s hands and yield ourselves unreservedly to Him, we can be certain that He has a great plan for us from that moment on. He can use everything that has happened to us in the past and every circumstance in our present experience to help carry out that plan.

God has a purpose for you, right now, right where you are, no matter who you are, where you live, to whom you are married, what you have experienced in the past, or what you are facing in the future. In fact He has allowed you to come to this place in your life for a definite purpose, “for such a time as this.” He has something specific for you to accomplish in your present situation, and He wants you to look for the opportunities in that present sphere of influence.

You see, believers are a part of God’s great program on earth; they should be living with confidence as people of destiny. God does not want us moaning over our plight and looking for a way out. He will be honored when we claim His grace to be what He wants us to be and do what He wants us to do in our present circumstances. We must take advantage of the opportunities He has made available to us in the here and now. He may later open wider spheres of opportunity if that suits His purposes, but that is in His hands. Our responsibility is to let Him use us where we are.

Esther responded positively to Mordecai’s godly advice. She sent word saying, “Go, assemble all the Jews who are found in Susa, and fast for me; do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maidens also will fast in the same way. And thus I will go in to the king, which is not according to the law; and if I perish, I perish” (Esth. 4:16). Her reference to fasting would reveal her great confidence in the power of prayer, particularly in the fellowship of other believers in prayer. If we are facing trying circumstances, it might be wise to solicit the prayer support of other Christians. We do not need to air all our dirty linen, run down our spouses or gossip about anybody else involved in the problem. All we need to do is admit that we have a need and ask our friends to stand with us in prayer.

With that shroud of prayer surrounding and protecting us, the next step is to determine in our hearts that we shall do the will of God in that situation, whatever the cost or consequence. “I will go in to the king,” Esther affirmed, “and if I perish, I perish.” God may want us to carry out some unpleasant task. It may involve confronting someone whom we would rather avoid or admitting something we have tried to hide, as it did with Esther. But if we know it to be the will of God, we must do it. And God will honor it. He did for Esther.

God worked in a marvelous way. In fact, he performed a miracle for our encouragement. First of all, He laid it on the king’s heart to extend the golden scepter, and Esther approached the throne. She spoke with quiet dignity rather than selfish demands or angry accusations. And instead of blurting out the problem, she invited Ahasuerus and Haman to dinner that evening. At dinner, she ignored the problem again, but rather invited them both to a second dinner the following evening. It was not that she was softening him up or trying to manipulate him. She was using good wisdom, and most husbands and wives could learn a lesson from Esther about how to speak and when to speak. Grace and tact are the key words in her approach.

God works in unusual ways. On the night between the banquets, Ahasuerus could not sleep. He asked for the record of his reign to be read to him. That would probably put him to sleep when nothing else could. In the record was the story of an assassination plot against him that Mordecai had discovered and exposed, for which act he had never been rewarded (Esth. 6:1-3). That incredible little episode set the scene for the events of the next day.

First, Haman was forced to honor Mordecai for his patriotism. And then it was time for Esther’s second dinner party. As they feasted together, the king said to Esther, “What is your petition, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to half of the kingdom it shall be done,” Esther’s reply was brilliant: “If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be given me as my petition, and my people as my request; for we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed and to be annihilated. Now if we had only been sold as slaves, men and women, I would have remained silent, for the trouble would not be commensurate with the annoyance to the king.” The king was shocked. “Who is he, and where is he, who would presume to do thus?” And Esther put the finger on Haman, much to his horror (Esth. 7:1-6).

The results of that dinner party were awesome. Haman was hanged on the gallows he had built for Mordecai, and Mordecai was promoted to prime minister of Persia. And while the order to kill the Jews could not be rescinded, they were given permission to defend themselves against their enemies. Over 75,000 of their avowed adversaries were slain and God’s people were delivered. It was nothing less than a miracle! But God loves to perform miracles for people who see themselves as part of His program, who view their circumstances as part of His appointment, and who live to do His will right where they are.

But there is one more thing we should notice in this narrative, and that is a memorial for all time. Both Mordecai and Esther were so grateful to God for His faithfulness that they sent letters to the Jews in all the provinces in Persia instructing them to celebrate the two days of their deliverance every year. They called it the Feast of Purim, from the word Pur, meaning “lot” or “dice.” Haman had cast lots to determine the day the Jews should die (cf. Esth. 3:7; 9:24, 26). God turned it to a day of victory, and they were grateful to Him for deliverance. The Jewish people celebrate the Feast of Purim to this day. It is a lasting memorial to God’s faithfulness.

God is at work in our lives just as definitely and decisively as in Esther’s. Our circumstances may not be all we would like them to be. But we can thank God for them anyway. They provide Him with the opportunity to demonstrate His sovereign love and care, and they provide us with an opportunity to glorify Him. Let us believe that He will work those circumstances together for good, then look for ways to serve Him in them

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Catching Up

It's been a busy few days. My mom came back to my house after spending a few days with her sister in Arlington. They had a great time together. We met up at the Cheesecake Factory on Sunday night for dinner and enjoyed a quick visit and a yummy meal.

Monday Mom and I spent the entire day out shopping. I've lived in my current house alomost 2 1/2 years and have spent next to nothing making it our own. I think it's looked ok but, Monday we went and I spent some time, money and a great deal of thought and consideration finding items that I think will help make our home more comfortable and decorative. I bought lamps, pictures, pottery, floral arrangements and a rug. All for $300. I am super-thrilled! This has been a long time coming! Today we have worked in my foyer, living and dining areas and they look so beautiful! Very inviting and comfortable for our guests and my family to enjoy.

I'm thankful for this special time we have had with mom. She is such a godly, loving lady. I have been blessed in my life to be her daughter. I have wonderful memories of my childhood with her and it motivates me to be a better mother because she was mine. She's a great grandmother too!

Tonight I went to Ladies Bible Study at our church. There were 17 ladies present. We are studying the book of Esther. It was awesome. God's Word comes alive when you study an entire book of the Bible at one time. Tinna did a great job leading the discussion and the interactive questions. It's a wonderful mystery to me the way God chose to speak to Isreal. I wonder if He is trying to get our attendtion in the world, and if we, like Isreal need a little wake-up call spiritually speaking. I loved the fact we had visitors and first time participants. It's going to be a great study.

Bruce's birthday is on Wednesday. I think we will probably do something. He's wanting some new clothes so I guess we will all contribute to the cause!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

4-5 year olds

There is a wonderful book I read many years ago called Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten and the longer I live the more I think I believe that to be true!

On Sundays during our Bible Study hour at church I teach the 4-5 year olds. If you know me, you know this is not really my forte' but it's where I feel I am best used and where God has placed me for now. I have about 6 kids that come on a very regular basis. Today I only had 3 though, which lent itself to a little more conversational type lesson and discussion. During the course of the hour, the subjects of birthdays came up and I made mention that Pastor Bruce's birthday was Wednesday. I asked them what they thought I should get him. Here are their responses:

1. A fuzzy reindeer blanket

2. A Water bottle (and then added..."if he works out"
and little girl said:
3. Beer (and suggested he put it in the water bottle while he worked out)

I about hyperventilated there in my class. Kids are funny!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

God of This City

Tomorrow is a big day at the church. Bruce has been working for months on a sermon series that will hopefully impact not just our church, but our community. He's taken special time away in retreat for 3 days to prepare his heart, hear God's voice, and try to understand what exactly God wants from GBF and us (the church) in general. Sometimes it's tough knowing what God wants and yet when we get still, quiet and humbled before our God, he speaks.

I'm in serious prayer for our church. I know what's coming. The enemy ain't gonna like it!

Praying for your church to have a great day tomorrow.

Friday, January 2, 2009


2 large black trash bags are sitting on my front porch. That's the truest sign that I cleaned out closets today at my house! I started in the laundry room...although it's not a closet it sure resembles one sometimes! Stacks of clothing on the dryer...hangup clothes on the get the picture. Well....your attention's spotless!!!!....but hold your applause because although I manage to clean out my kid's closets....and Bruce managed to clean out his...I didn't make it to my own. And boy, does it need it. But progress was made...and I am thankful and happy!

Cleaning closets is a lot like my spiritual life sometimes. I can go 90 to nothing most days and fill each minute with "important" things. Yet, the closet of my heart gets cluttered. There are dust bunnies under the shelves, cobwebs in the corners and an occasional dead bug (is that TMI?) Yet, it doesn't have to be this way. I know if I will daily take the time to tidy up my heart that my spiritual life is more managable. If I make time to dust the cobwebs away (sin) and sweep up the pride, jealousy, and other disgusting human worldly tendencies (repentance) and kick Satan to the curb (dead bugs) God is glorified. Just like my heart will never be perfect...but it's a goal that I want to work harder towards. That high live above the level of live for something bigger than myself. That can only happen if I am keeping my closet (heart) clean.

So, tomorrow when I get up...I'll be cleaning my closet...both of them.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Smell of New Books

I love books. I am an addicted reader. Guess that's good since my job does involved quite a bit of reading and writing! For ten years or so, I have made it a New Year's Day tradition to hit a local bookstore and browse slowly up and down the aisles and aisles of books. It's a quiet way to spend a few hours and for some reason, it motivates me to get my game face on for the new year. I usually pick up books that have something to do with the resolutions or goals I have set for myself for the coming year. Today I shared my tradition with a friend and we spent close to 3.5 hours in Barnes and Noble. We browsed the Christianity section, the non-profit area, gardening and the clearance section. Then we found a table and had quiet conversation (solving most of the world's problems) and took careful inventory of the $300-$400 worth of books that were stacked before us. Which ones did I choose????
I'll list them below. I'm curious- what are you reading this year. You'll notice I have some books posted here on my blog--that's some great Christian non-fiction that I have the honor to help promote through my job.'s what I am reading:

1. Grow Vegetables- Allan Buckingham
2. Dallas Planting Guide
3. Churched- Matthew Paul Turner
4. Velvet Elvis- Rob Bell
5 Asian Food Cookbook