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My Christmas Letter To My Mom

4 Jan

Mom,

Thank you for loving me.  Thank you for making tremendous sacrifices for me.  Thank you for supporting me and always being there – to listen, to give advice, to offer assistance and to be my friend.

I am the woman I am today, the mother I am today, the wife I am today and the friend I am today because of the lessons that you taught me – because of who you are.  Without you in my life, I would not know the blessings that I have today.  Without you I would not appreciate the finer things in my life.

Today my life is rich; rich with laughter, love and friendship.  Today I have it together.  Today I am happy. Today I am very satisfied with my life.  Today I am all of these things because of who you created me to be.

I am confident because you taught me there wasn’t anything that I couldn’t do.  I am secure because you taught me the importance that I needed in loving myself first.  I am a good listener because you taught me the value of being a good friend.  I am friendly and well liked because you taught me the honor of putting other people first.

Trials have come and gone in my life but I am a better person for having gone through them.  I have watched you face trials, challenges, and very difficult situations and I have watched for you to prevail in the midst of them and you did.  You taught me the value of getting back up when I have been knocked down.  You taught me the value of looking at tomorrow instead of my yesterdays.

I am who I am because of who YOU are and I would not have it any other way.  I am proud to be your daughter and I am proud to call you my mom.

Thanks for loving me.  Thanks for being my friend.  Remember, I love you for you!!

Merry Christmas 2011!

Teri

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What Are You Reflecting?

25 Aug

Being Courteous to others is not only respectful to others, but it directly reflects on you as a person. So what does your reflection look like to others?

  • At home – Being discourteous to those we say we love can easily become overlooked. Taking the last piece of cake, not cleaning up after ourselves etc. gets old fast. Being courteous means putting yourself in the other persons shoes instead of thinking of yourself first. It means doing something without being asked and not as a onetime event. We all think we’re courteous to some extent but it takes practice. Bad habits don’t get better unless you’re aware of them. Once you pick up bad habits and behaviors, especially from watching and learning from other people, they become normal.
  • On the Road – Driving manners can be very annoying. It’s not just when we’re in a hurry that we treat others discourteous on the road. Try to be generous and let other drivers out of side roads when their trying to get out. Don’t tail the person in front of you and use your signals in plenty of time for the person behind you. Are you one of those people who take up two spaces in the parking lot? This is really annoying. Most of all, be courteous of other peoples property and don’t bang your door into their car. This is a really bad behavior and damaging to someone’s property as well.
  • At work- Holding the elevator is a nice gesture. Pushing the floor buttons for the other person is even a nicer one. Holding the door is very courteous too. In the business, its always courteous to say “hello” and “goodbye”. If you are on the phone at work, its always wise not to slam the phone down, as this type of discourtesy may leave a bad impression on the other end. Making coffee after you drank the last cup would probably be a good thing as well.

Common Courtesy Do’s and Don’ts:

  • Do use tact and think before you speak. Consider their feelings and an offhand remark such as “your hair looks uncombed today” can be hurtful to them.
  • Do be a loyal friend. Loyalty is very important in any friendship.
  • Do keep track of birthdays and anniversaries and remember to send cards and / or gifts during these special occasions. Be a giver as well as a receiver. Be available for your friends when they need support and likewise, when you need support, ask them for their help too.
  • Don’t make negative statements about a friend’s spouse, children, relatives, pets, decorating, weight or age. Remember the old adage, “if you have nothing nice to say, you shouldn’t say anything at all.”
  • Don’t overburden your friends with constant complaining about your problems, remember, everyone has problems.
  • Don’t take your family or friends for granted, as you would not like it if they took you for granted.

When our Travel Companions are Children

19 Jun

Yesterday I began sharing how I have learned several truths from our “reality break”.  I would like to continue on that journey by looking at how our travel companions bless us.  First, lets look at children.  Now keep in mind I have 5 children, four of which are teenagers.  I can tell you there have been times when I didn’t feel blessed as well as times that my heart felt like it was going to burst wide open because of how blessed I felt.  Let’s break it down:

HOW ARE CHILDREN BLESSINGS?

It seems clear that God declares all children to be blessings from Him to us.

Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; They will not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate. Ps 127:3-5 (NAS)

We can take this by faith, but it may be helpful to contemplate just how children bless us. Following are few of the ways children often are, or should be, blessings to their parents.

1. Enjoyment and entertainment. When they are small, they are so cute, so fun to play with, so gratifying to watch as they grow and learn. They can provide endless hours of enjoyment if we are willing to take the time.  As they grow and mature, we find entertainment in their personalities – in the “child-like” questions/statements that result in their trying to process their knowledge/experience.

2. Teaching us love, self-sacrifice, discipline, self-control, gentleness, and patience. God can use children so effectively to mature us and help us to develop godly character. God wants to share His attributes & character with us.  What better classroom does God have to teach these things than a home with children to be raised? We can and will appreciate Him as our “Father” (Parent) when we accept the challenge of seeing our children as a gift and blessing.  This is another opportunity for us to learn and demonstrate God’s character within us.

3. The blessing of the love and trust of a child. The love and trust of a small child is so precious and can have such an effect in softening and keeping our hearts softened. When after a long day or trying event, your teenage son or daughter gives you a hug and kiss on the cheek – nothing moves your heart like that.  Unconditional love – how cool is that?

4. Assistance with our work. Children properly taught can be a big help around the household as young as 6 or 7 years of age. And as they get older, their abilities multiply, making their help even more valuable. Older children can handle nearly all household tasks, can be a big help in caring for younger siblings and can help with animals, a garden, etc.  Teaching your children to work alongside you aids greatly in their instruction and discipleship. Children should have the opportunity to become contributing members of the household, both for their sakes and yours.

5. Assistance in later life. When we are old and less capable of doing for ourselves, our children (and grandchildren) can and should be a huge help in a great many ways (just as we should also be to our parents and grandparents). Sometimes just having a grown child who sometimes visits or calls or writes makes all the difference in the life of an elderly person. When one becomes old and feeble, ones children, grandchildren and great grand children may become the primary reason for continuing to live.

6. Enlarging our impact on this world. Even as God associated being fruitful with the ability to subdue and rule over the earth (Gen 1:28), so our children, grandchildren, and later descendents extend our reach far beyond what we in ourselves could accomplish. With each child we have the priceless opportunity to teach and train that child for about 20 years. And even afterwards we can continue to influence and instruct and assist our children in some things through the rest of our lives. Even one child well raised can have a mighty impact for God.

Children are a blessing from God period.  God intends children to be blessings but sometimes we parents may not receive the child as such and may raise the child in a way that prevents the child from being much of a blessing to them or anyone else. It is your choice whether to accept the child as the blessing God intended.

How do you choose to view your travel companion?

Reality Break

18 Jun

End of year exams…graduation…buying teachers gifts…picnics….the list went on and on.  The end of the school year “to do” list.  Your feet hit the floor running first thing in the morning and you drop into bed exhausted at the end of the day.  There is so much to do and not enough time to do it.  Can you relate?

With four out of five of my children still in school, this was my reality and I NEEDED A BREAK!  A break from reality.  So the minute the school bell rang, I packed up my children, their “stuff” and we headed for our condo in Big Bear.  We are in the midst of a 6 day sabbatical and it is awesome.  We have laughed, played, relaxed, taken naps, gone on walks but with ABSOLUTELY no schedule.  We have refused to think about “what we are going to do next” and have lived in the moment.  The result?  Well, I’ve learned a few things that I would like to share with you:

1.  It doesn’t matter where you are.  STOP!  Take a moment and listen to your Creator speak to you.  God is always speaking and you can hear Him. You just need to learn to recognize His voice. He speaks in many different ways, including nature and natural events. When you look at the stars or a sunset or experience a storm, if you look, you can see the fingerprints of God.

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” Psalm 19:1-4

Take a moment now.  Look around you and ask God to speak to you right where you are!

2.  It’s NOT where you are going.  It’s NOT how fast you get there.  It’s not what you are going to do once you get there.  The MOST IMPORTANT THING is who you go with!  In life you are going to travel down many paths.  You will begin and start many journey’s.  You will need to make several u-turns and take several detours.  Along the pathways of life, whats important is who is willing to travel with you.  Look around you.  Take inventory.  Who is willing to travel with you.  Who has committed to not bail even when they feel car sick?!?  That is your blessing!

TOMORROW, we will look at who your travelling companions are and how they are blessings to you!  Until then…

Thanks for My Handfill

28 Mar

I was in that in-between stage.  My youngest child was 12.  My oldest was 21.  What am I in-between, you ask?  I did ‘t have anyone “little” to hold and snuggle with.  My arms were empty!

Therefore I started my search.  I hounded (excuse the pun) the animal shelters.  At last, in July of 2010 I found him. He was a 7 pound min-pin.  He had been left abandoned in an apartment.  They didn’t know his name.  They didn’t know how long he had been stranded there – no food, no water.  When I arrived at the shelter – he didn’t even have his papers ready – just the tag number 608!  I went immediately to the front desk and placed a hold on him.  Their rules stated he had 3 days before he could be adopted in case his owners came back for him.  I couldn’t even meet with him – we had to communicate through the bars of his pin but what personality!  Every day I called the shelter to confirm that he was still there – he was. Finally I was able to go to the shelter and meet my boy.  I arrived at 8:30, as soon as they opened, and was escorted to the puppy play area.  I was sitting on a bench waiting for him.  The gate opened, the staff member came walking him on a leash.  She shut the door, bent down and released the leash from his collar.  He immediately took off running.  He ran towards me and jumped on my lap!  He licked my face and jumped down, ran around and came back and did it all over again!  I was in love.  I’d like to think he was too.  An hour later, with the new name of Zeus Meeks, he became my baby.  Zeus loves to cuddle.  He sleeps under the covers close to my legs.  If I move, he moves.  The only one he loves more than me is my husband.  You can hold him for hours – he loves his belly rubbed.  Yes, he has filled the gap in my in-between stage.

This morning I was laying in bed.  Zeus was laying on my right side – he had turned over so I could scratch his belly.  My husband was on my left- I was rubbing his shoulders/back with my left hand.  At that moment, it hit me how blessed I am.  I was sandwiched between two “boys” who loved me.  They sought comfort and love from me.  I stopped and gave thanks.  I was, and am, so thankful for these blessings in my hands.

As I continue to reflect on what was in my hand, I realized that although they were what was in my hand at that moment, there are many, many more things entrusted to my hands, in which I need to be thankful.

I have a beautiful family – 5 kids and 2 soon to be children-in-laws.  An awesome house on 3 acres of scenic land – our sanctuary. My health. Many friends.  A great church family.  You.  See?  So many, many things! Then I had to ask myself, am I truly thanking God for the many things entrusted to my hands?  I realized that I need to express my thankfulness again.  Want to join me?

“Oh,  How blessed I am!  I look around at everything that you have entrusted me with and I am thankful – truly thankful.  Train me and equip me to be better at caring for each of the things that you have given me.  I recongize that when you gave me these things, you found me to be faithful with them.  Please continue to do so.  If I become unthankful or unfaithful with these things, please gently remind me again to be thankful for the things that fill my hands.  Amen.

We were not destroyed!

12 Mar

Over the last few months Pastor Paul has been walking us through Genesis.  The last two weeks were spent on the flood, the results and the new future that Noah and his family faced.  As I have reflected further and searched for information about the rainbow, I found some facts that I wanted to share with you.

A rainbow is caused by the rays of the sun reflecting from falling raindrops forming a beautiful arch formed for the human eye to see. Interestingly, while the rainbow spans a continuous spectrum of colors, humans see the rainbow in seven distinct colors. Seven represents perfection, so the rainbow can portray God’s perfect plan. When all the colors of the rainbow are combined together, the result is white. White is the symbol of purity and the righteousness of Christ.

The seven colors can offer us spiritual significance as well:

Red is the color of blood and represents the shed blood of Jesus. It is the color that stands for the ransom paid. We are told that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins.

Orange is a combination of yellow, symbolic of God’s divine nature, together with red, symbolic of Christ’s sacrifice. The resulting color of orange is symbolic of God’s perfect plan and purpose for mankind. Orange could show us God’s favor to mankind.

Yellow is the color of gold. It reminds us of the things pertaining to the divine and its nature.

Green is a combination of blue and yellow. It is the yellow of God’s power and the blue of Jesus’ faithfulness that will give everlasting life to all people of the earth. Therefore, green could stand for longevity, eternity, or earthly prosperity.

Blue could represent faithfulness. It reminds us of God’s faithfulness. As the blue color of the heavens does not change, so also with God: “I am the LORD, I change not” (Malachi 3:6).

Indigo, the color between blue and violet, is rather a blue with a reddish cast to it. This could represent our Lord Jesus Christ as a propitiation for our sins; Jesus’ blood (red) through faith (blue) (1 John 2:1,2; Romans 3:25).

Violet, the color in the rainbow with the shortest wavelength, is considered a shade of purple.  Purple is the color of kings and symbolic of royalty, therefore Violet could also represent royalty.

All of the facts above refreshed my vision of God but the greatest thing that impacted me was the fact that God shared with Noah that the rainbow was His covenant (His promise) that mankind and the earth would not be destroyed.

In 2008 Don and I sought refuge in the island of Maui.  We had experienced a tragic loss in our family – we felt the possibility of being destroyed.  For 7 days Don and I saw multiple rainbows each day – each one different:  at different times, different locations, and after different events.  Everywhere we went, a rainbow was close by.

Now in 2011, after listening to the sermons on the rainbow and researching the above, I feel God has sharing with me another truth. Everyday that we were there – feeling broken and beaten, He was reassuring me.  He was saying to me, “You too will not be destroyed!”

We are on the other side of that event now – we’re healed and seeking God’s direction for our lives – the cool thing then, as now, is that regardless of where our paths lead us – we will not be destroyed.  We can trust God.  So can you!

 

White as Snow…

7 Mar

Last Saturday it snowed in Ramona.  If you have heard lyrics to the song “It never rains in Southern California” then you know having it snow is a REALLY big deal!  My children were so excited!  The last time it snowed at our house was when we lived in North Carolina in 2001.  It was midnight and they were outside making snowmen and having snowball fights.  Yes, I joined in the fun too!

The next morning I awoke to a peaceful serene snow covered view.  Our yard, cars, and trees – everything was picturesque.  The mountains in the distant were snowcapped – it was breathtaking.  Then I looked over to our trash cans and refuge area.  It was not the ugly stinky area that it normally was.  The area that is and has been an eye sore (because when is trash EVER pretty!?) didn’t look the same.  It was not an embarrassment to me.  It looked just like everything around it and unless you knew what it was before the snow, you would not even know what it was now.  In fact, it was beautiful!  As I stood there, reveling in its beauty, I thought back on my life.  There were times when I chose to put myself in stinky situations.  There were times when I hung out with the trash.  There were events in my life that were indeed an eyesore and reason for embarrassment.

Then I met someone who changed all of that.  I am happy to report that He came into my life and covered all of that nastiness with beauty.  In fact, unless you knew me during that time in my life, you wouldn’t even know who I was then.  I am beautiful.  Not because of any external change.  Not because of anything that I have done.  But because of the One that I found that made me and all that I had done “White as Snow”

Are there things in your life that need to be covered up?  Are there decisions and/or choices that you have made that are in need of being made beautiful?  You do not need to spend another moment feeling like an eyesore and or being embarrassed.  My friend wants to do for you what He did for me.  Even if you don’t think YOU CAN, maybe even too bad to be covered up.  He says to you today, “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”

He wants to discuss your decisions, choices and past with you.

He wants to settle this matter today!

Go ahead; let him make you white as snow!

What Are You Investing In?

22 Feb

The sun began shining brightly in my eyes as I was driving through an area of town that I was unfamiliar with.  In order to maintain proper driving technique, I pulled down my visor to continue on my journey. When I did so, something fell into my lap.  In surprise, I looked down and realized that I had failed to mail some important letters the week before.  With eagerness I began searching to the left and right sides of the street looking for a mailbox.

As I continued through this unfamiliar area, numerous things caught my eye.  Finally, I found a blue Metal Box in the horizon.  I got SO excited!!!  At last I could mail the important documents.  I turned into the parking lot full of promise and excitement. A few moments later my spirit downtrodden, I looked at a blue – metal – trashcan.

As I sat there looking at the trashcan I realized several truths:

Both of the containers (the one I was seeking and the one in front of me) were made a metal

Both were blue

Both had openings for you to place things in

Both had four legs

Both had VERY different endings to the materials deposited in them!!  They may look alike but the end result is very different.

If  I put my letters in the trashcan, they would not go where I intended them to go to.  Instead, they would go to a place of ending – a very nasty, dirty place. A place of finality – of absolute ending – a place with no hope or future.  This is not what I needed. Instead, I needed the true blue metal container that would give me the results that I wanted.  Driving ahead I finally located a US Mail Box and deposited my mail to be picked up later that day.  I could breathe a sigh of relief!

As I thought about these things,  I had to ask myself:  what are you entrusting my other valuables in?  Are you putting the things that are important to you in “containers” that will give me the results I want?  Or am I throwing my treasures away – to places that are not good, possibly nasty and dirty and definitely not a place that will give me the results I want?

I sat and took inventory.  I evaluated the things that were important to me.  What was I investing them in?  Where should I be entrusting them?  I became aware of the many things and times that I didn’t get the result I wanted.  At that moment I realized it was because I entrusted them to the wrong thing.

How about you?  What results are you seeking? Where are you entrusting the things that are important to you?