Monday, April 1, 2013

The Parable of the Seeds and The Importance of the Right Gospel

I Corinthians 15:3-4  "For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,"

In today's Daily Bible Reading, I read the parable of the sower in Luke 8.  Jesus tells a great crowd of people about how the gospel will only be received correctly by some. Many receive it with JOY, but they fall away.  The Bible teaches that we cannot lose our salvation, so these people were never truly in Christ.  (John 10:28  "I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.")  In other words, many who think they are saved, are not. 

There are 4 scenarios.  There are some who don't accept the gospel and trample it.  These are those who are hostile to the gospel and Christian message due to the devil's lies and influence.  (Luke 8:12)Two, there are some who do not have any root.  They take on Christianity to make their life better and then lose heart when there are tests and trials in this life.  (Luke 8:13)  Third, there are some who receive the gospel with joy, but it eventually gets choked out by the pleasures and cares of this life (worldly idols).  God was never truly Lord of their life.  (Luke 8:14)  Finally, there are those who hear the Word and it is planted in good soil.  They are shown to have endurance and to bear much fruit in their lives.  (Luke 8:15)

This should be a scary passage to us all.  It should cause us to examine if we are indeed saved. 
"Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!"  (2 Corinthians 13:5)  Luke 8 is a warning that most people don't receive the gospel correctly.  Three fourths of these people mentioned in the parable are going to appear before God one day and hear, "Depart from me.  I never knew you."  (Matthew 7)  In the illustration in Matthew 7 those who are being cast into Hell have done many good things throughout their life, even claiming the name of God in their lives.  Whether they had a works based social gospel (doing good to others is somehow going to save them) or a gospel missing repentance and sin (just claiming Jesus because of love and His life's "purpose" for them), they have missed the mark.

What gospel "saved" you?  Was it the correct one?  I grew up on one that emphasized God's love, His grace, and the easy task of just inviting Him into my heart.  This is a very popular "gospel."  Unfortunately, it didn't save me.  I didn't understand I was a sinner before a holy God.  My sin had separated me from God and needed a payment.  The gospel I heard led me to continue to live for myself and not really submit, for God was loving and filled with grace, right?  I could keep living my life pseudo obeying and God would forgive me.  I enjoyed doing Christian good works and routines because I got a lot of pats on the back.  The emphasis was on me, rather than God.  I had never repented of living against God and turning from my selfish propensities to submit to God's will and rules. 

The gospel has to tell people that Christ is their Savior from SIN.  I had heard that Jesus died for my sin on the cross, but that was the extent of it, and I didn't personalize that I was a bad person and Christ faced the WRATH that I would have faced as an unsaved individual.  As with me, people have to recognize their need for a Savior before they can gladly submit to Him and trust in His work on the cross to reconcile them to God.  To just tell someone God loves you, is your Savior, and wants to have a relationship with you is only HALF the story and will lead to confusion when life's trials come.  They will wonder eventually, "Why do I need a Savior?" The wrong or incomplete gospel doesn't explain why.  A God who saved you by paying for YOUR sin is a God you can trust wholly when He sovereignly brings trials and pruning into your life.  A God who points to our problem for eternity (sin and Hell) and solves it through Christ is a God you trust and love when this world is full of temporary pain and disappointment.  It isn't about this life or this world that is passing away.  (1 John 2:17, 1 Corinthians 7:31)

For future reference and study, here are some New Testament examples of the Gospel's call to repentance:
Matthew 4:17, Mark 1:14-15, Luke 13:3b, Luke 16:28-30, Luke 24:46-47, Acts 3:19, Acts 11:18b, Acts 17:30-31, 2 Corinthians 7:10, Hebrews 6:1, and 2 Peter 3:9.

Before I was 21, the fruit in my life bore witness against me.  Though I was a "good" kid--I loved those horizontal comparisons to others around me because they made me look pretty stellar comparatively--I had selfish motives for doing good (church, missions, community service, singing in church, youth group, Bible studies) and still bristled when God's will for me didn't follow my desires or plan.  I saw an extended pattern of sin and hardness of heart in college and realized I was hostile to God.  When I was 21, I repented of my sin, submitted to Christ as my Lord and Savior and trusted that HIS work on the cross would save me, not any of my "goodness" and the praise I received from others.  Though I wasn't sinless after that, I did sin LESS, and my motivations turned from myself and my own glory to pleasing my God through thankful obedience. 

Because I was finally in Christ (saved), I bore fruit.  I saw the fruits of the Spirit being matured over time.  I became more gentle, patient, loving, humble and all the other fruits as the Holy Spirit convicted me of sin and gave me the desire and ability to grow in the likeness of Christ.  (Galatians 5)  I still fall short, but I desire to and continue to make progress.  I started reading God's Word regularly to find out what exactly His will was in my life.  I loved others more readily and truly did desire to consider others more significant than me.  (Philippians 2:3)  I wanted to share the gospel and shine God's light rather than figure out how little I could do and still be considered "okay."  (The way I lived often before I was 21)  Seventeen years later, I still obey God's rules and Word more fervently and mourn my sin when I fail.

I urge you today to search if you heard the correct gospel message.  We were created by God.  (Genesis 1:1)  We sinned against our Creator who is Holy and perfect.  (1 Peter 1:15-16) We are separated from Him (Isaiah 59:2) and He is just and MUST give punishment (Hell) for our disobedience to His perfection and righteousness.  (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9, Ephesians 2:3))  He is as loving as He is just (1 John 4:8), though, and He sent Christ to live the perfect, obedient life for us and then to die on the cross to pay the penalty we would have had to pay to a just God.  (2 Corinthians 5:21)  This is an undeserved gift--grace.  We do nothing in ourselves to be saved, we can only repent of our sin and trust Christ solved our problem fully and completely.  Then we can be covered by Christ and reconciled to God for all eternity.  This is the only way!  (John 14:6)

Acts 20:21b  "They must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus"

This gospel is clearly and simply stated in a presentable, few minute long clip here.

Praise God for the power of the true gospel and the work He does in saving souls!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday: God's Plan

I was listening to the radio this morning and the announcer said that Good Friday is good because all evil combined against Christ, brought Jesus to the cross and then it was overcome.  I disagree with the connotation in part of that statement. 

Yes, evil was overcome at the cross (defeated already at the cross but it will be fully expelled when Christ returns), and, indeed, our payment for the evil and sin we do was paid in full, but evil didn't place Jesus there.  Jesus submitted to the cross and was led there by God the Father.  Yes, God put Jesus on the cross. There is a big difference between understanding Jesus chose the cross in obedience and thinking Jesus was just a victim of the evil in the world, a victim who later overcame it. 

If we think Jesus was a victim, a martyr of bad humanity, then we don't fully grasp His love and sacrifice for us.  In Luke 22:42 He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane,“'Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.'”  Jesus submitted to the Father's will to pour God's wrath upon Him so we would be covered, forgiven, clean, debtless and reconciled in Christ Jesus.  He stepped up to the cross with full knowledge of what He was doing and facing.  It was the plan all along.

He willingly humbled himself for us.  God USED our evil, the taunts and pride of Christ's accusers, for His good plan.  God is sovereign and all powerful.  Evil NEVER had the upperhand or decided the plot in Christ's time on earth.  God has control.  He is the I Am.

God could have long ago wiped us out like in the days of Noah.  God could have erased us and our evil in a single word.  Someday He will indeed judge and cast away sinners--those who do not repent and turn to Christ in faith--to Hell.  In addition, though, because He is just and loving, He had a plan of reconciliation from the beginning.  He was PLEASED to pour His punishment upon His own son for us.  He is kind and good enough to offer LIFE to those who repent and trust in Christ.

Isaiah 53:10-11 says, "Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.

So remember today that Christ was not a helpless victim, a martyr or a powerless man nailed to the cross by sin and evil.  He is God--purposefully come in the form of man--so He could willingly submit to God's wrath and free us.  He chose the cross because He knows He, God, is just.  He knows there is payment for sin and we humans are wicked--all of us.  We are dead in our transgressions.  He chose the cross because His justice is side by side with His love.  He desires that we all may come to repentance and be saved.  We may be raised to life with Christ.  Glory to God!  Praise Him!  Jesus is Lord!

Philippians 2:5-11
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
(emphasis mine)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Romantic Spots at Disneyland Park

As you, my readers, know, I love Disneyland.  My parents and older sister all worked there when they were teenagers, and I grew up in Southern California, attending Disneyland often. 

Last night my hubby and I enjoyed a nice dinner at the new Carthay Circle Restaurant and then strolled around both parks for a date night.  It was very enjoyable and romantic.

It got me thinking about all the quiet, romantic spots in Disneyland that I enjoy.  I've read other lists, but, though some are spot on, I don't always agree with all the spots listed.  Haunted Mansion?  Not so much.

Let's make this interactive.  After you read through my list, tell me your favorite spots! 

So, here are 10 spots that I think are romantic and special if you happen to go on a date at Disneyland.  (or just some quiet spots for a breather during a long day enjoying the park . . .)

10.  The walk by the Rapids in CA Adventure--Now, rapids don't sounds relaxing or romantic, but the pathway that meanders by the rapids can be both.  Unfortunately, at peak times, it gets heavy with foot traffic, but you can find benches or little niches here and there to enjoy the area.  The path is surrounded on both sides by pine trees and the Grand Californian Hotel.  It has the feel of the Sierras and Redwood Forest.  You will either find piped, soft banjo or guitar music playing relaxing folk songs, or you might luck out and get there when there is a live musician playing acoustic guitar to songs like "Riders on the Storm."  Either way, the sound of rushing water from the rapids, the soft music, wind rustled pine trees, and shade spotted path all lend themselves to an enjoyable pause and look around.  My favorite time of the day for this spot is in the late afternoon when the breeze picks up and the rapids crowd starts to dwindle.

9.  Pirates Cove Island--My husband did not agree with this one, so maybe it is just me, but I think the little picnic areas all along the edges of Pirate Cove Island (or Tom Sawyer Island to anyone over 30 like me) are so nice.  Bring your lunch or picnic food over to the Island, hunt out a secluded bench or picnic table and put your feet up.  Watch the Mark Twain, the canoes or the ducks swim by on the Rivers of America and watch the crowds streaming around across the way in New Orleans Square or Frontierland.  This is a great spot for a relaxing lunch.  I like the picnic benches across the Island that face Frontierland, as they offer a little shade and are away from the loading and unloading dock.  They close the island before the sun sets, so this is not a night spot.

8.  Snow White Grotto--My friend got engaged here.  I mean what is not romantic about a stone well with the song "I'm Wishing" playing every so often?  Fountains surround, the castle backdrops your spot nearby, and swans swim around.  It is usually not very crowded, though occasional character appearances or tour groups may cause a temporary swarm.  You can find this spot on the right of the castle as you face the front drawbridge.  Take a penny and make a wish in the well. 

7.  The Big Wheel in CA Adventure--The line can be long for this ride, so go early or just buy a snack to enjoy in the line if you go when it is crowded.  I personally LOVE the swinging gondola on the wheel, but I know many of my friends hate it and get queasy even thinking about it.  There is a stationary gondola also offered on the wheel.  Great views are offered at either and you get to sit for awhile next to the one you love.  This is a great view at any time, though you get more snuggling and pretty lights in the chill of evening.

6.  The Fireplace in the Lobby of the Grand Californian Hotel--If you haven't wandered around the grounds of the beautiful Grand Californian Hotel, you need to do that.  Whenever we buy annual passes, we try to stay here once a year and do a mini vacation with the kids.  We eat breakfast at the Storyteller Cafe and enjoy the great ameneties at the hotel.  One of our favorite things to do is find a cushy rocking chair in front of the fireplace in the lobby and just talk.  Especially after a long day in the park, it is easy to just melt into the seats and chat with your spouse.  There will often be a live piano player in the lobby to make the experience even more special.  If you do happen to have your kids with you, just nearby and in eye view if you sit a little further back from the fire, is a little kid seating area and a TV playing classic Mickey cartoons.  Have them sit and enjoy Mickey while you get a moment or two with your sweetie.

5.  The side of Flo Jo Cafe walkway where you can view Racers in CA Adventure.  This has to be done at night to be romantic.  During the day, you will just see swarms of people and, though a cool backdrop on the ride, it isn't "pretty."  At night, though, they light up all of Cars Land just like Radiator Springs, but the "canyon" and red rock environment of the Racers Ride is lit up beautifully.  Since the viewing area is a bit removed and off the main road, you can find some quiet, enjoy the lighting and sit to chat with your date.  There is either seating on the side of Flo's Cafe where you can snack and still see the view from your table, or you can just go stand by the Racers viewing area and take in all the Disney magic and beautiful lighting for a few moments.

4.  Fireworks Viewing from the back of Fantasy Land/by Casey Jr.--Some of you might think I'm crazy for not recommending the fireworks from Main Street, but I am not a crowd person.  Though you get the full music and lighting effect of the fireworks show on Mainstreet, you also get a lot of people and, inevitably, someone standing in front of you affecting your view.  I like to go stand by Casey Jr. and watch the fireworks there.  You have to turn to the castle to catch the pyrotechnics from time to time, but most of the fireworks, and all the larger fireworks, are launched from behind Small World and the Toon Town area.  If you look in that direction, you get most of the action.  There are tables where you can sit, and the crowds are a fraction of a fraction (is there such a thing?) of what you would get on Main Street.  Unfortunately, you might have a harder time getting out of the park right away when the fireworks end (they close off the castle drawbridge during and for awhile after fireworks), but if you plan to just go on a few rides and leave about 45 minutes later, you'll be great.  Plus, you'll avoid the crazy tram ride lines that way.  I highly recommend viewing fireworks from a ride if you can time it correctly.  I've viewed them from Thunder Mountain (which is currently closed at the time I wrote this post), the Tea Cups--which is a great ride to be on during the parade, by the way, and Casey Jr. Train, and they are all fun places to view the fireworks. If you want the music, the narration, the lighting and the full effect, you have to join the many people on Main Street, and it is worth doing at least once.  If you just want to sit with your honey, escape the commotion and see some pretty lights in the sky, go to my spot, relax and enjoy the moment!

3.  Carthay Circle Restaurant and the surrounding terrace--As I said, my hubby and I enjoyed the new Carthay Circle Restaurant in CA Adventure for the first time yesterday.  I had salmon and he had a ribeye.  They were both delicious.  What we loved most was the departure this restaurant had from being very "Disneyland Parkish."  Though we have eaten at Club 33 and Blue Bayou, both very nice restaurants for the Disney visitor, the tables are usually all close together and the food is very standard. Carthay felt much more luxurious and special, and the food was definitely different from other park food.  The pace was slow, the waiters were pleasant and helpful, and the nod to classic Hollywood in the 30's was fun.  If the terrace isn't open when you go, ask the waiter or hostess if you can go stand on the terrace and they will open it.  We did and then enjoyed several minutes snuggling and watching the visitors and views from our perch above.  It was magical and fun.  I recommend this experience for dinner time when you can get the lights view.

2.  The Dining Patio in the Back of CA Adventure--Okay, the resort map I found online doesn't even LIST the name of this eating area.  They added this location when they remodeled the park last year.  It is in the back of the park by Goofy's Sky School.  There is a huge terrace with pretty decent food choices.  The best part of this area though is the shade and live music offered.  We have stopped here several times to listen to various bands play live-- Big Band style music, Irish band music, and folk music.  They were all FANTASTIC and it is never very crowded.  If you have kids, they can dance around and play while you keep an eye on them, relax and listen to the live bands play fun and soothing music.  If you go at normal times for lunch or dinner, you should catch a performance.

1.  Rancho del Zocalo at Night--Seriously I love this place.  The food is ho hum, though I do LOVE the Mexican Chicken Caesar Salad I order every single time.  I grew up and still live in Southern California, so I'm a Mexican food snob.  The tacos and refried beans they serve cafeteria style never had a chance.  However, the ambiance is AMAZING at night.  They have colored glass lanterns and metal cut lanterns all hanging fabulously overhead.  It is so romantic and dreamy. One area has an indoor/outdoor fireplace (shared on one wall) if you can snag one of those two lucky tables.  We always sit by the wall that hugs Thunder Mountain so my boys can wave at the trains that go by while my husband and I enjoy the dim, colored lights and outdoor patio.  There is no waiter, so you aren't hurried as you relax and listen to the acoustic guitar strums of Spanish music being piped onto the patio.  This used to be a little bit off the beaten path, but now that the new Fantasy Fair opened nearby (as of this week, actually), there might be a bit more foot traffic.  So sad!  I love my little hidden patio with romantic lights.

So those are my favorite romantic, quiet spots.  I know everyone has their own ideas.  What about you?  Is there a spot I didn't mention that you love?  Share with us in the comments!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Blue and Orange Baby Shower

My sweet sister in law is having her first baby--a boy!  I'm so excited to be an aunt again.  We just celebrated this baby and momma at a baby shower I co-hosted last Saturday. 

She is doing a darling nursery in tan, white, navy and splashes of orange.  We decided to do a similar color theme for the baby shower.

I was in charge of the game, the favors and a banner for the mantle.  I didn't get a good picture of my game board, but I have a tutorial on the game and a similar board from an owl themed baby shower I co-hosted.  You can read it here.

Enjoy the pictures!  It was a beautiful day!

We had the guests write in Sharpie on their mason jars.  I never knew sharpie comes right off of glass!

I used Mentos mints in the favors and wrote "It mint a lot that you came to celebrate today!"

I made the much loved sea salt, browned butter, Nutella cookies.  You can make them too--the Ambitious Kitchen shares the recipe here.

My sweet mother in law reading a loving note to the momma to be, her daughter.

Congratulations, Katie!  We can't wait to meet this new blessing!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Painting a Picture of Your Son's Future Spouse

I often pray for both my boys to not only come to salvation in Christ, but that they would be wise in their choice of spouse if God leads them to marriage someday.  Like King Lemuel's mom in Proverbs 31, I so greatly desire to point my sons to picking a godly and wise wife.

I realize, as an adult, how much a spouse affects your marriage, ministry and life.  The choice of a good spouse is extremely vital.

I waited 28 years to meet the right spouse and marry him, but, though that was longer than I planned, it was such a blessed wait and fruition.  My spouse is a godly, encouraging, sacrificial and loving leader.  Because of him, I can be busy in ministry with joy, rearing boys in a Biblical manner and grow in my own spiritual maturity.  He protects me from worldly influences that will harm me and slow down my sanctification, and he cheers me on when I am obeying God--all with a huge dose of love and humility.

Of course God has a perfect plan for both my boys--including their choice of spouse, but, even in His sovereignty, He wants me to pray about my requests, instruct my boys in Biblical wisdom and do my best, with the strength and direction of the Holy Spirit, to model righteous behavior of a wife in marriage.

You might ask, "What can I do as a mom?"  Mine are almost 4 and 7.  Isn't it a little early to be thinking about their marriages and spouses?

Not at all!  They are watching and taking mental notes!  How am I modeling how a Christian wife should act and speak?  My boys are at home a lot, and they constantly see how I interact with my husband.  Do I want them to find a wife who acts like I act?  That is a powerful question, and a very important indicator of what they will consider "normal". 

If I am submitting to my husband, helping him in life and ministry, and encouraging him as a helpmate, my sons will see this as the "norm" for what a wife does.  Later in life, if they find themselves spending time with girls who argue constantly, girls who assert prideful authority over them, and girls who concern themselves with her own interests over God's or my boys', they should bristle with the sense that this is not right.  They will realize they need to end that kind of relationship.  That kind of girl should feel "off" and "uncomfortable" to them.

Most importantly, I pray they find it very normal and familiar to find a girl who loves God more than anything--putting her love into action and obedience to Him.  May they seek a Christian not just in title and church attendance, but a Christian in reality--having a changed heart, loving God with her all, bearing fruit in her life, including in how she is interacting with anyone courting or dating her.

I want them to be blessed by finding a girl who behaves like their mom.  Am I living up to the description I list above?  How do I know?

Well, first I need to inspect my time.  Most importantly, is God the center of my life?  Is this apparent in the time I spend in Bible study, prayer, devotions, serving at church, fellowshipping and training my children in the Word?  I KNOW I want my sons to find a wife who puts importance and priority on God and the pursuits of His kingdom.  Am I training them that this is how she should behave and spend her time?

Also, regarding time, am I spending a majority of my time on selfish pursuits--participating in pasttimes often for my own glory or selfish pleasure, spending time with friends to the detriment of my duties and family's needs, shopping excessively to please my vanity, being obsessed with my appearance, or making an idol of my beauty routines--or, rather, am I spending a majority of my time serving God and my family?  Am I counting others more significant as myself as Philippians 2:3-4 commands?

Is my time spent helping my husband with a happy heart?  Do I clean without complaining?  Do I make meals with love, often considering what meal will bless my husband with health and enjoyment?  Do I ask him how I can help him that day with a sincere hope that there is a way I can, even if it means an extra errand?  Do I demonstrate joy in my role as a homemaker and wife? 

Second, I need to inspect my speech.  Am I building up my husband?  Do I portray him as the leader and decision maker to my son?  Do I say things such as, "Daddy works so hard for us.  What a blessing to us!  Let's pray for his day."  "This is a big purchase.  Mommy needs to ask daddy if this is something he wants our family to buy."  Do I apologize when I make a mistake?  "Mommy did not speak the way God wants her to speak.  I should not have complained, or have gossiped, or have lost my temper.  Please forgive me for sinning in my words and actions." 

We all fall short.  Of course, when we do, we repent and confess our sin before God.  Then we trust He has given us all we need for life and godliness and we pick up tools we need in scripture to make progress, all with the help of the Holy Spirit.  Then our aim is to grow in these areas. 

We have to have a plan--we battle against sin with the help of the Holy Spirit and effort.  Put off any sin and PUT ON righteousness--this is work!  The work doesn't bring us salvation, but it is a natural behavior when one is a new creation in Christ.  Stop watching the questionable TV show and spend the time doing devotions with your boys.  Stop spending the money your husband would rather you didn't spend, and instead of the time you used shopping/spending, serve others with a specific, planned service.  Come up with a specific plan and PRAY about it. 

Realize that you are daily contributing to painting the picture of what your son will consider normal and good in a wife.  If you have girls, you are helping to paint the picture of how they will behave in their own role as a wife.

May the brush strokes I add to the picture today be glorifying to God and a powerful influence in bringing a good and godly wife into my son's life someday.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

For Everything There is a Season

Psalm 62:5-7
 For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
  for my hope is from him.
 He only is my rock and my salvation,
  my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
 On God rests my salvation and my glory;
  my mighty rock, my refuge is God.
The past 2 weeks have been a season of trial.  Water leaks in our house, cancer surgery in our family, and a round of influenza hitting all 4 of us here have been keeping me busy and quiet on the blog.  It has kept me close to God, though, and I am thankful for that.  Though my physical body is quite tired and weak right now, my spirit is feeling extremely strengthened and firm in the Lord.  Praise Him!

As Ecclesiastes 3 tells us, there is a time for everything.  We will have seasons of blessing and comfort, and we will have times when life seems quite hard.  Knowing that circumstances change and come and go is important.  When a trial period hits, we aren't knocked down in shock, surprise or disbelief.  We are content and trusting.  We nod, knowing it is just part of the seasons of life, and we grasp firmer to our immutable, faithful God who is a firm foundation when the storms of life rage around us. 

We know that God uses hard circumstances to discipline Christians (sometimes), prune us (always), and teach us (always).  Knowing this, we trust God's sovereign hand if He allows difficult circumstances.  When we are healthy again, the cancer is gone, and the rain has passed, we will praise God all the more for growing us ever more in the likeness of our precious Savior.

Whether you are in a blessed, easy phase of life or in a hard, draining time, know it is being allowed by God for good and you are not alone.  I pray this encourages you and roots you in Biblical truth in your circumstances today.

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8
 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
 a time to be born, and a time to die;
 a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
 a time to kill, and a time to heal;
 a time to break down, and a time to build up;
 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
 a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
 a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
 a time to seek, and a time to lose;
 a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
 a time to tear, and a time to sew;
 a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
 a time to love, and a time to hate;
 a time for war, and a time for peace.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Hawaii One-o

                                        Our fabulous helicopter ride over Kauai.  Awesome!

For our ten year anniversary, hubby and I went WITHOUT kids to Hawaii.  I know--blessed!
We are very blessed to have both sets of parents nearby, so the kids were well loved and well watched. 

Ryan and I decided to return to Kauai since we went there on our honeymoon ten years ago, but we decided to try a new island too--the Big Island.

If you haven't been to Hawaii, I highly recommend it.  Maui is still my favorite island, but Kauai is a VERY close second.  I enjoyed the Big Island too, but we have many memories and sentimental reasons to prefer Maui and Kauai. 

Here are some of the pictures to wrap up our trip.  Enjoy!

The beautiful Hyatt grounds in Poipu, Kauai

The LOBBY of the Hyatt

The Na Pali Coast in Kauai (from helicopter)

Waterfalls on Kauai

Kauai is COVERED with wild chickens.  No joke.  The Big Island had wild cats everywhere.

Hiking on the north side of the Big Island

A room view from the Hilton where we stayed on the Big Island

Shave Ice (In Hawaii they say "shave ice" not "shaved ice," and the ice IS differently shaved than our mainland "snowcones").  I love it stuffed with ice cream and covered in sweetened, condensed milk. 

Sunset dinners are awesome in Hawaii.  This was the last one of our visit.  We saw whale after whale in the ocean.

It rained on us--quite a lot.  It was their winter.  Here we are on the Big Island visiting another gorgeous waterfall.

Being silly in Kona.  Did I mention the yuminess of a shave ice?
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