To Read on the Journey

Friday, February 14, 2014 soul to keep

It had been longer than I wanted it to be when I walked the mile loop in our neighborhood last winter. Every step was painful, but I'd been cooped up inside with an aching body for too long.  The sunshine and change of scenery was now a necessity.

I was only a quarter mile 'round when a physically fit friend jogged up.  She was out for her usual 7 mile run.  She paused to say a hello, then proceeded to inform me how important regular exercise is, and that I should be at it everyday.  I didn't bother explaining that there was a mutiny in my body.  A dose of compassion and encouragement would have been a kinder way to cheer me on, but she didn't know.  She returned to her run, and I returned to my hobble -discouraged.  

For 16 years I've endured one medical issue after another.  It's been rough- to say the least.  And last winter was on the "pain level scale of 1-10"  a 30.  No joke.   

As I walked at the pace of a snail, the quote "You don't have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body." came to mind.  

'You are a soul, and not this body,' I thought. Phew.   

And then I remembered this scripture 
"Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far exceeds them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 
II Corinthians 4:16-18
These thoughts were from the Lord. How sweet of Him to interrupt what could have been another pity party with sweet Truth.

He continued to chat with me, and caused me to glimpse a bit of the beauty from the pain of the past 16yrs: 
He's used the medical issues to cause this control-freak to relinquish control, and depend on others (especially my husband); ultimately leading me to depend on Him.
He used each illness to grow my children in compassion, thoughtfulness, in prayer, and as servants. 
He's expanded my faith by providing financially for surgery and other expenses.  Many times the financial provision didn't come, but hindsight showed how He'd provided deeper needs with Himself.  
He's shown me glimpses of how He wants to be glorified (made known) through me- often in a waiting room or a prescription line.
He's taught me in the last year that nothing has permission to take away my God-given security-and that includes any medical issue.
And most recently in the wrestling (because really, the pain that is the hardest to bear is the emotional pain) He brought to light the bitter root of entitlement, and asked am "I your God even when..." Because "when" is going to happen. Suffering is going to happen. And I have resolved THE LORD IS MY GOD even when. And not just that, but I HAVE EVERY THING I NEED BECAUSE HE IS MY GOD.


After the glimpse a thought "would you prefer your body or soul to be fit?"

My flesh had been struggling with this for some time, but I knew my honest answer; the deeper desire- "my soul."

The Spirit lifted my head, "your soul is gorgeous." 

My response "Really?  I want that."  

I desire a gorgeous soul more than I want an attractive body... more than I long for a healthy body.

Because this body- it's temporary.  

But my soul,
my soul
I keep.

Here's what I have come to realize- when we finally make it home to heaven, we'll see in each other what we should have been nudging to health all along- 
we'll see each others true selves- our souls. 

I want mine to resemble Jesus'.

I've got to fix my eyes on that.

On the unseen.

The eternal.

So I praise the LORD my God for the sufferings, because though outwardly I am wasting away, inwardly I am being renewed day by day.  

 Nudging you, 

Side note: I am not implying that when we die we are only souls.  Revelations 21 speaks of "no more pain" and  that God is "making all things new!" I look forward to kicking pain to the curb and being made new. However, in the meantime I NEED TO  put less emphasis on being whole physically, and more emphasis on being whole spiritually. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Josefiney Tortellini

12 things I adore about you on your 12th birthday!
Pix from Josie's Slumber Party
  1. Beautiful
From the inside out, you are beauty.  

2. Sunshine
Josie, you illuminate our lives with grace and joy.
 3. Song
You fill our home with music every single day.  When you sing you jump-start worship!
Oh, it is good having you around. 

4. Wonder
Your curiosity about the LORD, and the way you know Him inspires me. 
5. Surprise
Everyday we're entertained by your silly clothing ensembles, comical words, 
and your affectionate love.   

6. Thoughtful
You are a thinker.  You seek Truth, ask questions, and speak with wisdom.
And when you pray, Josie, Jesus' heart pours out of you.

 7. Friend
You are kind, and express favor for each one of your friends.   
With Noah and Emilie at school, and you the lone home schooler, it has been sweet 
seeing our unique friendship grow. I like our talks and the comfortable quiet we share too. 
I'm glad I get to have you all to myself.   

8. Servant
You consider others before yourself and always look for ways to be helpful 
(clearly, you get this from your daddy.  Btw-It's the first thing I loved about him).
9. Foodie.  
 The kitchen is your territory.  You're confident and patient and talented when it comes to cooking and baking.  I like our system-you cook, I clean! 

10. Smart. 
 Jo, you are bright!  You make home schooling a breeze the third time 'round. Thank you! 
You're also a smarty pants when it comes to playing games... are you sure you don't cheat?! ;) 
11. Witty.  
Girlfriend, you crack us up!  Where do you come up with the funny things you say!! You often have us roaring with laughter!  
My favorite convo from the year: 
Me: If I had a ton of $ I'd surprise you with a fancy Kitchen Aid mixer
How 'bout when you get married I'll get you any mixer you want?!
Josie: Any mixer?!! 
Me: Yes, any.
Josie: Than I want a Hobart!
12. Gift. 
I remember holding you in the hospital room the evening you were born.  Cradling precious you in my arms, introducing you to every little thing, and then with a full heart singing over you  "Morning by morning, I wake up to find, the power and comfort of God's hand in mine. Season by season I watch Him amazed, In awe of the mystery of His perfect ways. All I have need of His hand will provide, He's always been faithful to me."  This 4th time mama was amazed by the depth of my love for you. You were a gift, Sweet Josefine, and have been a gift every day for the past 12years.
 I adore you! 

Photos from top to bottom: 1. Slumber party at the Bass Lake house- because playing Sardines at the BL house is a blast! 2. Josie's terrific gal pals. 3. the result of not double tapping- impromptu dance party. 4. Telephone Pictionary (just one of the dozen games they played). 5. Spin the {nail polish} bottle. 6. Ice Cream Sundays 7. The whipped topping and Maraschino cherry's we forgot to put on the Sundays were perfect toppings for b-fast. 8. My silly girl in her lens-less glasses. 9. Sweet gifts.  

I praise God for His generosity in "adding" you to our lives 12 years ago. 
Happy Birthday! 


( Shout out to "Mel Mel" for giving Josie her adorable 
and oh-so-fitting "Josefiney Tortellini" nickname).

Monday, February 3, 2014

"Let's Do This!'

Photos from a MLK Day flume hike with my three favorite peeps.

I've given quiet a bit of thought this past year to how Jesus exited the earth for heaven; about how He gave us Himself in the Holy Spirit, and then gave us one more gift- Peace.

 "But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, nor let it be fearful.
John 14:27

Here's how The Message says it-  

"The Friend, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you.  I'm leaving you well and whole.  That's my parting gift to you.  Peace.  I don't leave you the way you're used to being left- feeling abandoned, bereft.  So don't be upset. Don't be distraught."
John 14:27

A year ago I was, in many areas, the opposite of peace. It was a struggle that was deep; my soul was easily rattled~
Rattled by insecurity.
Rattled by a few relationships.
Rattled by health issues.
Rattled by financial difficulty.
Rattled by comparison.

"I'm leaving you well and whole"...SIGN ME UP! 

The moment I signed up for Peace I sensed the Spirit saying' "Let's do this!" 

"Let's do this" -Thank God He doesn't leave us to figure things out on our own.

His Spirit lead(s) me through Peace; when the time was right revealing areas where "well and whole" needed to be formed in me.  
He didn't waste a moment, and to start 2013 had me reading "So Long Insecurity" (You've been a bad friend to me) by Beth Moore.  Through the book I came face to face with ache from relationships. Lies I'd bought about myself were brought to light.  More importantly, lies I'd ruminated on about others were brought to my attention.

I could share with you the nasty details of the crap about me and other people that's sloshed around in my head, but I won't. It's a daily choice to keep the lid on that can-of-worms, so I should not open it. 

Beth pointed out the following scripture, which has helped me keep that lid on-
"When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?  You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor." 
Psalm 8:3-5 

She points out that the Hebrew meaning for honor is dignity, and adds that we have dignity because God Himself gave it to us. 

Moore also points out this important tidbit-
"Notice that God didn't put this honor/dignity in our hands. He put it on our heads. He wrapped it as a crown right around our minds, just where we need it most. Our possession of dignity is not always something we feel. IT'S GOT TO BE SOMETHING WE KNOW. SOMETHING WE EMPHATICALLY CLAIM."
Are you getting that?  No one and no thing can take your God-given dignity- your security from you. 




I've done it~ 
I've been with people whose very presence usually undoes me -not necessarily because of any fault of their own, but most often because of those lies I mentioned above that I ruminate on.  Instead of ruminating, I take a deep breath, into my soul, and choose "no one can take away my God given dignity/security." 

I've looked at the numbers in the bank account getting nearer and nearer to the red, and
"nothing can take away my God given dignity/security. Nothing can take away my God given dignity/security. Nothing can take away my God given dignity/security."

I've been in tears, aching from physical pain, and instead of shaking my fist "why," the Spirit reminded "I have been crowned with glory and dignity," and no circumstance has permission to take away my security.

The Spirit knew that claiming this Truth would provide me with what I'd need to continue the journey to Peace for 2013

God also provided me with one more sweet gift for the journey when Kat from Simply Silly Life surprised me with her word of the year Peace necklace!  Kat also prayed for and encouraged me throughout the year. 

Her necklace became a tangible way for me to grab hold of Peace.
On days I wanted to throw in the towel I'd reach for the necklace; reach for it like it was armor, and strap it on, repeating "Let the Peace of Christ rule in your heart." 

Other days when peace came easily, I'd gently clasp it on. I loved that it hung on my chest, near my heart. I'd breath in the Peace that is mine. Breath it deep into my soul; my very being, and consider "You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts you." Isaiah 26:3


I want  peace for you.  I want YOU to know that you are crowned in glory and dignity; crowned in security. I pray as you read you will see the Living God actively involved in the life of His children. I pray that you see Him provide Himself, and that you see Him leading, equipping, and healing. I pray that you will be nudged (or full on shoved- if that is what is needed ;) ) to grab hold of the PEACE THAT IS YOURS in Jesus. 

May God, who puts all things together, makes all things whole, Who made a lasting mark through the sacrifice of Jesus,the sacrifice of blood that sealed the eternal covenant, Who led Jesus, our Great Shepherd, up and alive from the dead, Now put you together, provide you with everything you need to please him, Make us into what gives him most pleasure, by means of the sacrifice of Jesus, the Messiah. All glory to Jesus forever and always! Oh, yes, yes, yes.  Hebrews 13:21 
The Message

In the next post I'll share about the most difficult leg of the journey to Peace. The one that wrecked me

Live in Peace! 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Happy Groundhog Day!

a few years ago I threw in the towel on sending out Christmas cards, and started sending this instead- 

Highlights from  2013

Michael and I began a small group for young married couples which meets weekly in our home.  Coming alongside these sweet couples together has been a gift to our marriage.

In April we took the Kiss the Sky shop to Big Hat Days in Clovis, Ca (arts & crafts fair with 140,000 attending). We broke even financially, but what we gained relationally filled our souls with riches that are too many to count!

In the spring Noah and Emilie participated in “I {Heart} Fresno” - For 5 days they joined other teens to love Fresno by serving school-aged children with a daily recreation program, cleaning parks, painting over graffiti, and investing in the elderly.

Our dear friends the Cannedy’s and Gages joined us for Presidents weekend and Maycation at the Jones’ Bass Lake house. 18 of us FILL the house with laughter, music, games, stories, and enough food to feed a small island.

"The home of the world's greatest campers"- YSSC, POURED Jesus, fun, and friendships into our kids (and 3 cousins) for 2 fantastic weeks again this summer!  We love YSSC.  Also, there are only 132 days until camp... Josie’s counting.

While the kids were at YSSC, Michael and I traveled to “The South” to visit friends, Spinner & Ginger Allen. In North Carolina we ate BBQ "that'll make your tongue smack your brain."  We caught lightening bugs in South Carolina, and visited the Blue Ridge Mountains and historic Charleston. We finished our trip just the two of us traipsing around Atlanta, Georgia.  Michael would tell you that his highlight from the trip was stopping to smooch EVERY TIME we crossed a state-line. 

We had the privilege of being a host family to two teenage boys from China for a week this summer.  Jun Wen and Tanwey were terrific! Noah taught Jun Wen guitar, and they performed a little ditty for an audience at the end of the week. The boys, who marveled at the stars (which they don't see in China due to the thick pollution) had their first camp-out in our backyard.  

We stole the kids for one last hurrah before the school year started and headed to our favorite camping location, Sunset Beach. Unplugged from the world we plugged into each other with bike riding, beach play, campfire lounging and storytelling, and serious s’more indulging.

We became the parents of TWO HIGH SCHOOLERS! Noah (10th) and Emilie (9th) attend Minarets High School, where they're challenged by the digital learning environment and are involved in FFA, Key Club,Track Team (Noah) and X-Country (Emilie).

Sayonara Rick Springfield and Bryan Adams, Noah is my new teenage heartthrob! When he plays his guitar or ukelele I swoon!  Noah is a young man who walks in truth while seeing others with grace. He's not too cool to play with his sisters, to tackle his dad, or to show his mama love.  

We call Emilie “the house bestie." She's hands-down best friend to each one of us. She's intentional to play with Josie, to chat with Noah, to work alongside or joke with Daddy, and to melt with me in sweet conversation. She is tender and encouraging and fun. Emilie gives 110% to everything she does, Oh! and she is BEAUTIFUL in every. single. way. 

“Here comes the sun, du du du du” ... Josefiney Tortellini is a spunky, home schooling, 6th grader, who continues to delight us with tutus n’ mismatched socks, witty words, Spirit-filled prayers, songs, and with her scrumptious baking and cooking. She is joyful and thoughtful and looks for ways to serve others.
In November I turned thirty-ten (thirty-ten is the new forty).  2014 isn't just a new year, it's a new decade for me (and Michael, who'll be joining me soon).  And here's what I want for this new year and decade- to BE EXPECTANT.  These words are my prayer- "God can do anything, you know-far more than you could ever imagine or guess in your wildest dreams!  He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently with is."  Ephesians 3:20 (The Message)

Denise, Michael, Noah (15), Emilie (14), Josie (almost 12)