Wednesday, September 29, 2010

a friend of Jesus

These are not my words - but thoughts from a message I heard recently at our church. Incredible truth and insight that I couldn't help but share...

We all have faith. Everyone does. Faith is simply believing something to be true. Whether its that the world is round, what you eat is what they say it is, your family loves you. Anything you have a firm conviction to be true or right.
Biblical faith is believing that what God has said is true and right.
Without this biblical faith, it is impossible to please God. Many throughout this world, serve their "god" with great conviction and passion. But a biblical faith, serves the God of the Bible. Apart from this conviction, all the good works we can muster up do not please the Lord. They are wrong... a righteousness of self works - "self-righteous." Hebrews 11:6 says "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him."

A friend of God:
Abraham was called a "friend" of God. What made Him God's friend? His faith - Hebrews 11:8-19. What did his faith look like?

1). Availability - the only ability God wants from us is our availability. Abraham was called to leave his family, house, life, everything he knew to go to Canaan - a place where he knew nothing... no one. He left for Canaan simply because God said. Simply available to God. (God then told him, look to the east, to the west, north and south - i don't just want you to live here... I'm giving it all to you and your family).
Available to God for a journey with God. Every christian is called by God. God calls us to a life full of adventure, danger, moments to trust Him for everything. Availability: the disposition to agree to go with God and do for God what He asks you to do before you ever know what it is. If you are waiting to hear what God wants you to do before deciding whether you're going to do it, He's never going to ask you. But for the heart who has determined ahead of time, Lord whatever it is, wherever it is, I'm yours. I'm available... for that person, like Abraham, God has a tremendous adventure. You're either His or you're keeping what you have for yourself.

2). Expectation - Abraham began to develop expectations from God to accomplish the impossible (providing an heir. he said to count the stars and that is how great his inheritance would be. he and Sarah were much too old to have a child.) When God calls us, He also provides the power to work through us - He does the impossible. Abraham believed that.
There are some concepts of faith that get us into trouble: Some of us think that faith is a form of positive thinking that insights God into acting on our behalf. These false or wishful notions about Gods benevolence has us thinking that God will act according to our ideas of kindness. We get this positive idea, we think it comes from God and we claim it by faith only to discover it never happens and we become disillusioned. We take ideas/notions about God and somehow transfer them into positive thinking and with that firm conviction that our own thoughts are correct, misunderstand - thinking that God HAD to work on our behalf & do what we wished Him to do. The divine attributes of God such as love goodness truth and justice do not obligate God to do EVERY loving, just and truthful thing that He could possibly do on our behalf - it merely insures us that what He does to, is done in love, justice, kindness and truth.
So what can I expect from God? God asks from us the impossible. Ever consider the Christian life? unconditional forgiveness, forbearance, thankfulness, prayerfulness, loving your enemies - if your enemy is hungry feed him, if they curse you bless them, if the persecute you pray for them. The christian life is like having Isaac, its impossible. but he has called us to that kind of life, to have that kind of holiness, to be that kind of light, and have that kind of fellowship with him because that is the very way he is, his nature to treat people. hes called us to be that way - the impossible. so what can i expect? with God's call comes Gods provision. God has called us to live for Him in the power of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ - that's a miracle, something i cant manufacture on my own. i can try... I can serve with religious fervor in my own strength. simply, i wear out. God must supply somethings that is miraculous. the resurrected Jesus Christ living in me is the only miracle that can continue the evidences of the Christian life through me. God has called us to a miraculous life. How do we appropriate that life? believing that what He has said about christian living is true - its impossible for us to imitate but always possible for God to generate.
Not only being available to go on the journey, but while I'm on the journey, to know that His strength and His power is energizing me from the inside to perform those tasks & be that kind of person that Hes wanted me to be where Hes sent me.
Lord, it is you. I cant do it, but I trust you. Amazing journey & expectation.

3). Confidence - (sacrificing Isaac, the only heir, knowing God what God has promised. Abraham said "I knew, even if He had to raise Him from the dead, that what He promised, He would do.") Lord, there is nothing that is going to stop what you want to get done. Confidence that He will keep His promise. Some people think that faith is the ability to believe God for great things. Faith properly defined is a life that believes what God has said about great things. I'm not to invent great things & have God put His stamp of approval on them. Rather, I'm to read about what great things God wants to do, and trust that He will carry them out.

If You open doors that are unfathomable to me - can I go? am I available?
Have I lost my expectation of You? everything is so routine & explainable.
maybe I don't have the same confidence in You?

A person of this faith, a faith like Abraham, is a friend of Jesus. Hebrews 11:16 "Therefore God was not ashamed to be called their God."

my silly little princesses

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

true victory

This world has nothing to offer me. There is nothing I need or nothing can be taken from me. In & through Christ, I have won all there is to win. I have total victory in Christ. So why do I strive for minuscule advances, credits and approvals? I've won. My life is better spent having the mind of Christ, and so... loving and serving others, putting them first and helping them "win" too. What a relief from this cut-throat world of pushing your way to the top, getting ahead, getting what you want, getting noticed, feeling approved & adored... how tiring?
I've won all that and so much more.

-1 Corinthians 15:56 "Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."

-Galatians 2:20 "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."

-Philippians 2:3-8 "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross!"

-Philippians 1:21 "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain."

Monday, September 20, 2010

up up up, its apple pickin' time!

so Saturday morning we went on what is now considered a family tradition outing... Apple Picking! I have to say, it was the most perfect day. Glorious cool Fall morning, Buckeye football game-day, the smells, the four of us being together with no agenda - Perfect! This is by far my absolute favorite time of year & since ive been stuck at home potty training lately, it was even better than usual to get out and enjoy this weather. so we brought the mini-potty in the trunk just in case & packed up for Lynd's. After apple picking we enjoyed a buckeye win and the 1st (&2nd) pie of the season! Looking foward to more fun Fall days with our family. Here are some moments we captured...

since i mentioned this has become a family tradition... heres a look back at past apple pickin (previous 2 years):


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Potty training Ellia, Patience training mommy

So today completed day 12 of our potty training adventure. What a ride... that we are still on I might add. Now I gave this a shot back about 8 months ago and saw pretty quickly that Ellia just wasnt ready. So we hung it up for a while to revisit when she was a little older. Deciding I'd like to have the task mastered by her third birthday, and not knowing the extend of the undertaking, I settled on starting now... well sept 8th to be exact. This time... I went all out. I was prepared to the max. Stocked with panties & had the bathroom practically looking like a princess playroom. Rather than the thought of having to train twice, I opted for the actual seat on the big potty vs. the personal mini potty we tried before. Of course, it is pink and has every disney princess character sitting along with her. On the wall is a princess potty chart where she can personally check if she has pulled her own pants, sat for a while, flushed, washed hands, and actually put something in. She got to mark with a little marker each of the flower checks and actually put a sticker when she went. How exciting. The bathroom was also furnished with a stack of favorite books and a special potty prize box. Here's where the bribing gets fun... we had cookies, brownie bites, stickers, dumdums, peanut butter m&ms, smarties, silly bands, etc. etc. all of her favorite things. Since I'm not going to bore you with a play-by-play of all the days happenings... I'll add that after a few days in, I realized we were going to need a little more incentive (especially in the #2 category). So we changed things up... the box now became the PeePee Prize Box and enter... the PoopyPrize Bag. Here we had things like new dora panties, a dora shirt, princess pens, big Reese's cup, gold chocolate coins, etc. a little bigger on the these prizes, hoping for some extra performance in this area. Lets fast forward...

This has truly been one of the most challenging things I've had to do. Next to labor, I've never been more physically and mentally drained at the end of the day (only to have to get up the next morning to do it again). I've spent most of the past 12 days sitting on the bathroom floor, reading, singing, pleading... Peter and I agree it has been like coaching our daughter through labor - every. single. day. not to mention the countless accidents in less-than-ideal places. i mean, im a full-out, trained & experienced janitor... put it on the resume! And if that wasnt enough, lets not forget I've got another little one to tend to - who I don't particularly like neglecting. Plus, (as if i needed one), I'm not particularly a home-body. I love taking the girls out, even just to the grocery, walks, wherever - just to get out of the house for a little while. Most days, we leave at some point. Well... like a huge chain tied to my ankle, while the walls close in around us, we've been stuck at home unable to leave.
Though I've wanted to scream, cry, tear my hair out, sit in the corner rocking, be admitted, and maybe check out a cliff or two, I must say that its all been for the best. We've just started a study on Philippians. In the first chapter, as Paul writes from home-bound imprisonment, he has an attitude totally unexpected. Because of his new life in Christ, his circumstances have taken on new meaning. It's no longer about him... its about Christ. ("Hey! Im not chained to them... they're chained to me! They've gotta listen to me gab about the gospel all day so all this is really only good... its been to the betterment of furthering the kingdom). God has allowed these circumstances for His glory... and because of them, I have become more mighty in the Spirit than ever before.
I can totally relate to Paul here... home-bound, chained to my circumstances that are pushing me to my limit. Having to realize, its not about me... its about Christ. These circumstances have been used to make me mightier in the Spirit, more patient and more apt to rely on the Spirit as my strength rather than myself. Hallelujah. What amazing freedom. What's even better... that truth applies no matter what circumstances I face. Its about Him, not about me.

So... no, we are not done potty training... we haven't arrived. But yes, we are making wonderful progress - Ellia on the potty and me in the Spirit.

come on - shes a really cute panty princess...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

ahh the one-liners

so we were able to refinance our house for a better rate. last night was the closing and we needed to take the girls with us. thankfully it was very quick & easy. ellia was sitting in her own chair munchin on a snack & sippin some chocolate milk. being very good and quiet until...

"mommy, here... im done with my drink. oh, and im done sitting here too."

too funny - we all enjoyed her little outburst of

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

a little addition to yesterday's post

i can't believe i forgot to mention this yesterday in my 5-year anniversary post. in an effort to save a little, but still have an enjoyable celebration - we opted for a master bedroom makeover over a trip. So we are now enjoying new color & new bedding. i quite like this idea because we get to continually enjoy our investment. our room has transformed from a stately (quite manly looking) room into a relaxing and comfortable place to spend a few hours away. Happy Anniversary to us :)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

5 years in the making

so this weekend peter & I celebrated our 5th wedding anniverary... 5th! I (along with many others I told) could hardly believe it has been that long already. In October 2003 the Lord turned my world around when I started dating Pete. We were engaged December 15 2004 and married September 3, 2005. Since then, God has taken us on a whirlwind ride through 4 jobs, 4 homes, 2 children and everything inbetween. It has certainly been adventurous. But I wouldnt trade a minute of it. We love each other now more than we ever have before and enjoy the thoughts of being together for many more years to come. Did not deserve and couldnt have dreamed up a better man for me. Thank you Lord for 5 amazing years... looking forward to all you have for us in the next 55 :)

So we kinda made the festivities last the weekend... especially since we decided not to go out of town. Friday we took the girls to a Clippers game with some box seats&parking we got from a friend. It was a wonderful evening! The girls couldnt have been cuter and as always, it was more fun watching them enjoying something than actually enjoying it ourselves. Here are a couple shots from the evening...

ellia kept saying she would keep her glove "just in case a ball comes mommy, just in case"

great seats!

ok... so i have to admit something simply disgraceful. i have never had a funnel cake. i know i know... my name is tiffany and i... have never had a funnel cake. so we saw people walking around with these things and it looks like sweet potato fries (which pete loves). so like a thoughtful wife, during a break I went up and got some. Much to my suprise, it was "funnel fries." i ALMOST didnt get them. i ALMOST would have been really sorry. These were AMAZING. Now, I didnt really get very many cuz I had these little swiper fingers... but I thoroughly enjoyed the few i had.

ellia, singing the praises of the funnel fries:

best i could do at a family pic... (sorry el):

Saturday we had some project time around the house and then headed to one of our fav spots Pasquales. We were meeting family to enjoy some time with my cousin Dave who we havent seen since new years. SOO good to see him! Got to spend the evening just enjoying him... didnt get the girls to bed till about 1030 but hey it was worth it!

its so hard... to say goodbye...

Sunday after naps, we dropped the girls at my parents for the night. It was so different being with each other without the little ones - its been a while! I gotta say, even though I really missed them... it was wonderful! Had an amazing dinner at Carrabbas (bruschette, lobster ravioli... need i say more?). Bought a new movie to watch at home & actually got to sleep in! Picked the girlies up on Monday, went out for a fun breakfast to catch up with them - then enjoyed a lazy day at home tinkerin around and watchin tennis.

still got the heat :)

It was a truly wonderful and relaxing weekend celebrating our little family, each other, and all God has done the past 5 years. I love you Peter & always will.