February 28, 2008

Soul Cleaning

Shortly after we got our puppy, wouldn’t you know, the vacuum broke. Now, I can live without my oven, the toaster, and even a DVD player for a while, but a vacuum? No way. Ranked high with the coffee pot, microwave, curling iron, and cell phone, my upright is one modern convenience I have no desire to live without.

Our old machine was a good one, until the day it died. Then, suddenly, in the middle of the living room it began to smell like burning rubber and blew the housebreaker. I called Jimmy to the scene where he promptly pronounced it dead. Within three hours we had completed our research on the best vacuums to buy, picked out a model, gotten dressed, and was heading to Sears.

We decided to go bag-less, so we chose a vacuum that uses cyclone power. After a little assembly Jimmy was soon testing it on the same turf that had taken the old one’s life. To our utter amazement, this high-powered machine not only worked, it worked extremely well. On its maiden voyage it collected an entire canister full of dirt and fur!

My reaction to the efficiency of this contraption has been a surprise. On one hand I’m thrilled to know our home is cleaner than ever, but on the other I’m embarrassed at how much this thing collects. Instead of our “private dirt” being sucked into a bag, sight unseen, I must face the reality of what inhabits my home. I’m happy with how good it works, but the truth hurts. I really am a neat and tidy person, but to look at my vacuum you'd never know.

My mindset has changed since we bought this humbling appliance too. As I watch the debris collect in the clear container, I am reminded of my sin and the importance of daily confession. Without daily cleansing, we too become like a filthy carpet, dingy and soiled from lack of care. With this in mind, I pray a lot while vacuuming. “Lord cleanse me of my sin. More importantly, help me see my sin so I can confess it and weed it out of my life. Make me fresh and new in the power of your Spirit and use me to do a good work.”

Perhaps you don’t like to vacuum the carpet. It’s one of those things few of us find invigorating. If this describes you, I encourage you to use the time to pray. As you clean your carpet, cleanse and refresh your soul as well. Then empty the canister and start anew with God. You’ll be amazed at what a good soul cleaning will do!

Visit Nancy's Website: Olive Leaf Ministries

February 24, 2008

Sunday Morning Snow!

Another storm blew through...then the glory of God shone bright! Like a Holy kiss good morning, the beauty of God's creation awaited us at the dawn of this new day. As if going to church to worship Him wasn't privilege enough, He was gracious to blessed us with an extra measure of His majesty.

Psalms 145:7 "They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness."

Time to play before mom and dad go off to church.

Full Speed Ahead.


Visit Nancy's Website: Olive Leaf Ministries

February 23, 2008

Happy Birthday Ecclesiastes!

My little golden sugar cookie with two chocolate chip eyes and a big prune nose is six months old today!

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February 21, 2008

Cabin Fever in Kansas City

I distinctly remember the weatherman predicting a mild winter. But nothing could have been further from the truth. We’ve had more snow, sleet, and freezing rain this winter than I can recall in years. Today is no exception. It may not look bad, but it's extremely slick outside and with area schools and events closed again, I too, have had to cancel my day’s events.

To keep myself busy I vacuumed the carpet, washed three loads of laundry, and worked on my ministries’ outreach. Now, it’s noon and I’m bored. As I hopped into the shower to warm up, I had a thought. “The blog! Yes! There must be others just like me homebound by this vast storm. I’ll send my ladies a note. After all, misery loves company. Right?”

If you’re stuck somewhere, for whatever reason, I hope you find cause to celebrate. I can’t tell you how quickly my boredom vanished when I thought of you. And no sooner from smiling at the thought of you did other blessings come to mind. “Oh, how thankful I am that Ecclesiastes (our pup) is calmer today than he was yesterday. Today he's mellow yellow! Thank you, Lord. And Dani is in such a good mood. What a pleasure to be stuck at home with her on this cold winter day. And the appointment I had to cancel for today was easily rescheduled for Monday. Thanks to God for taking care of that.”

If you’ve come down with a little bit of cabin fever yourself, let me encourage you to think of something good. You don’t have to come up with a long list, just think of one. Then, like bait at the end of a fishing line, more pleasant and fond thoughts will come naturally. Thank God for your job, health, family, and friends. Simple as each may seem, added together, they greatly enrich our lives. Determine to praise God for all that is good in your life. I promise you it will lift your spirit!

Visit Nancy's Website: Olive Leaf Ministries

February 12, 2008

Guardianship Complete

I was close to tears before I took the stand. All I could think to myself was, “Don’t cry! Whatever you do don’t cry or they’ll think you don’t want to do this.”

There was something about the formality of requesting guardianship of our daughter that made it so serious and somber. In reality nothing was going to change. My husband and I would continue to do the things we’ve done for Dani since the day she was born, but in order to continue, we had to appear before a judge and ask for permission.

I took the stand first and was nervous as a cat. Raising my right hand I promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth…so help me God, then sat down behind the microphone and explained our case. With relative ease the judge confirmed Dani’s need for a guardian and soon we were on our way home, continuing as before.

Today felt like the halfway mark in our lives. While other parents our age are visiting colleges, planning marriages for their children, and even awaiting grandchildren, we acquire guardianship and prepare a will. Instead of pricing dorms, we contemplate caregivers, adult care facilities, and co-guardians. I never dreamt in my late forties these would be my main concerns, but they are and they weigh heavy on my mind.

I’d be worried sick if it weren’t for the knowledge that God has a plan. Psalms 72:4 assures me that God defends the weak and needy, and I trust this truth with all my heart. Our God has a great love toward all who love Him and His faith endures forever. (Psalms 117) He will not forget or neglect our little girl a single day of her life, and this gives me tremendous peace and comfort as I enter into the latter half of my life.

I don’t know what decisions you face today with your child. They may be as joyful as waiting for that special grandchild, or as painful as a terminal disease. Whatever they are, trust in God’s plan for your child. Never worry or fret, instead turn to Him and pray!

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Visit Nancy's Website: Olive Leaf Ministries

February 11, 2008

Our Day in Court

We hired a lawyer to represent ourselves and the court assigned an attorney to represent her. The date was set and today is the day, so off to court we go.

We haven’t done anything wrong. I wasn’t caught speeding and I don’t have any outstanding parking tickets. The only thing that happened was the birth of our daughter, nineteen years ago. Born deaf, Autistic, and Failure to Thrive, she is completely unable to care for herself. She cannot defend herself or express some of her simplest desires and needs a guardian to care for her every need, which is why we are going to court.

When Dani was born we thought what all parents think when they have children. We assumed she’d grow up to eat pizza, watch movies with her friends, head off to college, and then settle down with the man of her dreams. But for Dani this will never happen and today serves to confirm this sobering fact.

I won’t deny that I yearn for our little girl to be normal, but I’ve long since learned that I can’t have all the things I want in life, even some which I deem noble and good. The will of God spans far deeper and wider than my finite mind can comprehend and my job is not to try to change His will, but rather to do what Christ has called me to do, reflect the image of His Father. I do this by caring for our daughter as best I can. As I commit myself to her, I reflect what He does for me. Not my will, but His will be done. This is the lesson that’s taken me nineteen years to learn.

Visit Nancy's Website: Olive Leaf Ministries

February 5, 2008

The Tour

Our tour of the workshop yesterday went wonderfully. My husband, Jimmy, said he knew from the moment he walked in the door that it was the right place for our daughter. The program director showed us all areas Dani could potentially work and the current projects they were working on at the time. I marveled at how well the employees worked, but above all was amazed at how productive each disabled individual was. Calm, happy, and hard working, they enjoyed what they were doing and appeared very satisfied.

Our daughter, Dani, was quite interested in the workshop too. After the tour, while walking to the car, Jimmy asked her if she would like to work there. She nodded “yes” and proceeded to have a peaceful look on her face the rest of the day. Clearly she craves to be productive like everyone else.

The workshop has agreed to hire Dani, but we still have hurdles to overcome. She must learn to be more independent in areas such as toileting and completing tasks for the job, but we trust God will help her reach these new heights set before her. Truth be told, Jimmy and I have limited her ability to do many things. As one who is a bit of a perfectionist, I often do things for her to get them done right the first time. I don’t let her learn from trial and error and now see how wrong it’s been to hamper her in this way. From here on out, however, we are turning over a new leaf and handing the reigns over to her. She seems excited about the whole prospect of working on her own and to be honest, Jimmy and I are quite exited too. Surely the Lord will guide, strengthen, and protect our little “Mephibosheth!”

Visit Nancy's Website: Olive Leaf Ministries

February 4, 2008

A Tour of the Workshop

Today is February 4, 2008. Back in December of 2006, a dear friend gave me Max Lucado’s book “Facing Your Giants” for Christmas. I never read a book I don’t feel God is leading me to read, and though I felt God wanted me to read this, I didn’t feel the time was right. As a result, it’s sat by my “prayer chair” for over a year, until last week when I felt compelled to pick it up and begin reading.

I shared in my book “Freedom” that I pray particular Bible characters over each of my family members. I pray for God to help Jimmy be a Joseph, the young man thrown into the well by his brothers who succeeded against such terrific odds. I pray for the Lord to bless our son Drew with great strength and faith as he did Daniel in Babylon, and I pray for God to protect and provide for our little disabled Danielle the way He cared for Jonathan’s crippled son, Mephibosheth.

I cried uncontrollably today as I read chapter 14 “Tough Promises” as Max shares heartwarming examples of God’s unfailing love throughout history, one of which was the story of Mephibosheth. It touched me so deeply, because today my husband and I are going to visit a workshop for the disabled, which we think the Lord is leading Dani to work. With fears and anxieties running through our heads, concern for her safety and happiness is paramount. I can’t tell you how awful it is to have a child who cannot tell you how she feels, how her day went, or what she likes or does not like. Sending her out from under our protective wings is by far one of the hardest things we’ve ever had to do.

But, as I read chapter 14 in this book that’s been waiting for me for over a year, God breathed new hope in my heart as I read Deuteronomy 7:9 “Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.” This promise is for me and do you know how I know this? Because, I love the Lord with all my heart and this promises that He is faithful to those who love Him! He has a grand and mighty plan for our family and will no doubt protect, provide, and watch over His little disabled lamb all of her days. I find utmost comfort in this knowledge.

Well dear ones. It’s time to dry my eyes, make some coffee, and get ready for the day. We have to be at the workshop in three hours. Please pray for us as we navigate these unchartered waters. With God as our captain, it will no doubt be a little scary, but a whole lot rewarding!. That’s just the way He works! I’ll keep you posted on what happens on the tour.

Visit Nancy's Website: Olive Leaf Ministries

February 2, 2008

Loving Well Conference

Oh ladies! I just completed a Beth Moore conference today held at my church called “Loving Well” and we had a marvelous time. Presented on DVD, women from all over the Kansas City, Missouri area attended the conference and was blessed. We explored an issue everyone faces at one time or another, loving those who are difficult to love. We learned about the four different kinds of people we are called to love: those who are a joy to love, those who are a bit testy, those who far from us such as strangers, and those who are our foe. She explained each in hilarious fashion and left everyone with much to think about.

The most awe-inspiring truth I walked away with from the conference is the fact God is love. For Him it is not an emotion that comes and goes or depends on how we act. It is who He is. Steady, strong, enduring, and abundant. God is love. With that said, as He seeks to abide in us, His essence of love should live in and through us more and more each day. It should be seen by and shown to those we encounter, even those most difficult to love.

Sisters. This is one touching and insightful conference; one I recommend to you all. If you are women’s group leader or know someone who is, let them know about this conference. It will be a terrific eye opener!

Visit Nancy's Website: Olive Leaf Ministries

February 1, 2008

Onion Goggles

While driving down the road to pick up my friend Debbie (who I wrote about in the prior blog) I burst out laughing as the DJ on the radio listed off the current kitchen utensils everyone must have. The top three were: collapsible funnels, collapsible strainers, and last but not least…onion goggles! Yes…onion goggles. When I heard those two words together I lost it as I envisioned the look on my neighbor’s face as he pulls his truck into his garage and catches a glimpse of me in my kitchen window wearing goggles. Would he hit the wall, brake hard, or give it gas? I don’t know but his expression would be priceless.

As handy and needed as onion goggles may be, I could never dawn such kitchen apparel. They’d surely mess up my hair and knock my contacts off center. With that in mind I still wonder what they cost and how many have been sold. After all, even though I’ve never heard of such a thing, they made their way onto national radio.

The creativity of man is a marvelous thing. The human mind is so ingenious it never ceases to amaze me, which prompts me to ask, have you ever wondered how people dream up the things they do? How can man be so creative? Well Genesis 1:27a tells us exactly how, “...God created man in his own image...” There we have it. The answer is simple. Inventions, gadgets, and discoveries come from the fact we were created in the image of God, which means our God is extremely creative, fun, inventive, and purposeful. He knows all things, made all things, and is forever full of wonderful surprises. That’s what makes Him a breathtaking God! Never boring, dull, or monotonous, our God is the Father of all inventions; we are simply tools that reflect that image.

Dear sister let's give Him the glory for onion goggles and all the other things man has invented over the years. And, may we give special thanks to Him for giving His Son Jesus who died on the cross so that we may be saved for eternity. No more tears, no more suffering, no more onions, and no more goggles. Praise His Holy Name!

Visit Nancy's Website: Olive Leaf Ministries