Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Baking & Birthdays

Well, I survived a crazy week - the youth group did our re-scheduled baking fundraiser over three days with limited help, and it was hard, but God is good, and we got it all done!  Praise the LORD! 
75 dozen cinnamon rolls: that's 150 pans of 6, or 27 batches.
123 dozen Buttermilk Sugar Cookies (19 batches)
70 dozen Christmas cut-out cookies, decorated.  
That equals out to about 38 hours of work in 2 1/2 days time.  Yes, my feet and legs were KILLING me!
Projected sales: $1500.00

Muchas Gracias to:
my trusty sidekick Jane, and Ang: the cookie dough mixing queens
Linz, who took off work early every day and did whatever she was told.  Or mostly. haha
Tarah & Esther who came right after school
Lesli who didn't have to come help but did anyways.  :-)
Vern & Beth - encouragers, invaluable helpers, and picker-uppers at the store of things forgotten.
Galen & Sharon and Matt & Marcus, our top sellers/deliverers
Steven, the highly skilled frosting-maker
Jared, who is QUITE marriageable, and a decent cookie froster (don't tell his mom).  He also eats trash can cookies, but don't tell anybody about that either.  :-)
Caleb who stopped in between house-showings and did odd jobs, including cookie dough taste-testing
Hannah, Melissa, Christina & Kayla - who put WAY too many sprinkles on the cookies, but hey. :-) 
Wilma & Ashlyn
who came on Wednesday
Alyssa, Rochelle, Rosanna, and EVERYBODY else who stopped in whenever they could.  I know it was odd hours and you had lots of other stuff going on, but you all helped out tremendously!

The rest of the week was a little nuts... cleaned the church about five times, took care of some business, helped out at the church's Christmas Dinner Theater, and tried to get some sleep in between. This week promises to be a little less insane, but still crazy.   Oh December, I wish you'd slow down! 

Quote of the week: My niece Kayla who is "free" was following me around during the baking, asking for jobs to do.  I let her "help" as much as possible, which thrilled her to no end. She especially loves washing dishes and wearing my apron.  She looked up at me with those big eyes and said "I am your Helper, and you are my Best Friend."  Awwwwwwwwwww!  I love my little nieces!  :-)

In other news, I am now 27 years old.  I kind of like the sound of that.  Although being closer to 30 than 20 is a little intimidating, I don't wish myself back, that's for sure!  Not in a million years.  Ain't no way I wanna go through all that again!  ;-)
I was talking to my 7 year old niece the other day, and she said her favorite ages are 8 and being a baby.  She liked being a baby because she got lots of attention, and she can't wait to be 8 because it sounds like the best age ever.    I told her that my favorite ages were 3, 5, 9, 10, 11, 17 and 23.  So here's hoping 27 is right up there! lol

I wonder what the coming year will bring.  I find myself excited, yet afraid.  Change is certain: good and bad, and I wonder what will change, and how I'll deal with it. 

I've been thinking a lot about the cycle of life, and how God has created us to live such short lives - people are born, people get old and die.  Our lives overlap for a short time, but everyone and everything is constantly growing, changing, deteriorating.
My view of life is so self-focused: I'm all about me and my problems, and my own little life-span.  Hanging out with my 81 year old Grandma helps change my perspective.  She says often "I never thought I'd get this old.  I always figured I'd die before now..."  Most of us don't think we'll get old.  We joke about it, but we doubt it'll actually happen, you know?  I've never seriously considered life past 30.  Just never figured I'd make it that far!  
These thoughts have motivated me to be purposeful in my living.  I don't want to be just living.  I never want to reach the point where I live without a purpose, not doing myself or anyone else any good; just being "normal," contented with what the world has to offer.

So what is my purpose?  What does Jesus want me to be doing in this 27th year of my life? 
You know, Jesus' life was almost over when He was my age.  Did you ever think about that? Jesus was MY age, once upon a time!  He hadn't yet begun his "real" ministry, but I know without a doubt that He was still in ministry of a different sort.  Jesus wasn't just wasting his time, waiting for his "real" purpose and ministry to start.  He was always doing the will of the Father, even from a young age.  When Jesus was 27, he was very likely still living at home, working for his dad, much like me.  I wonder what He did in His free time?  I wonder how He spent His workdays...what He thought about as He did His job. How did He fulfill the will of the Father while doing all that ordinary, every-day stuff?

Sometimes I struggle to find joy in the purposes I know God has for me right now.  I want to be doing other, bigger, better things, but I find myself exactly where I've been for the past two years.  ...Not because I don't have bigger dreams or desires, but because God has not yet released me to those things. 

I know there are people who look down on me because of where I am at this point in my life.  I'm definitely not successful in the eyes of the world - living at home, no college education, no high-paying job.... shoot, I don't even have a boyfriend! lol   But since when do I care what the world thinks of me?  ;-)

I'm learning that timing is everything.  A good thing at the wrong time quickly becomes a BAD thing.  Waiting on the Lord is a discipline not easily learned.  Quieting my desires until God chooses to bring those things about is difficult for sure!  ...but even Jesus had to wait on God's timing for every event in His earthly life.  He still waits on God's timing for His return to earth.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I am in complete awe of what God is doing in my life.  I don't understand it, I don't know how He's doing it, but He is growing and changing me in ways I never thought possible.  I'm not who I once was, and that's a good thing.  :-)  God is taking my heart places I never thought it would go, and while it scares the living daylights out of me, I have peace in the knowledge that I have opened myself up to the will of God, whatever it is, and that decision is never a mistake!

Okay, that's it for my long, sermon-like post.  It's okay if you didn't actually read it all. LOL

Monday, November 15, 2010

Florida, Memories, and Recent Happiness

I took a trip to Florida with my sweet Grandma and Aunt Marylou so Grandma could visit her brother who lives in Venice.  They're both in their eighties, and Grandma's memory is deteriorating so fast that it seemed like now was the time to go.
I was really proud of how well Grandma did traveling, considering her mental state and the fact that she hasn't flown since like, '84.  We made it through security without too much confusion, thank the Lord.
It was nice to get away for a while, even though it wasn't exactly *vacation.*  I really enjoyed spending time with Grandma & my Aunt, making memories that at least two of us will remember. :-)  
Hanging out at Uncle Mosie's and listening to his stories was a trip...  and my Aunt Viola is my new heroine.

Grandma didn't always recognize her brother or remember who he was for more than five minutes at a time, and that was hard.  But there were moments when Uncle Mosie would tell a story she remembered and her face would light up in recognition and she'd add her two cents to the story.  She'd say "NOW you look like my brother!  I didn't think you did before, but now I know who you are!"

It's hard to see Grandma so confused, but I decided long ago when Grandpa Yoder was failing that you've just got to laugh at the funny things they say or you'll spend all your time crying.  So Aunt Marylou and I answered her 500,000 questions a day about where we were,how we got there, who everyone was, when we were going home, and where she put her purse, over and over and over, and we just laughed at the funny moments.  ...there is a blessing in showing love and patience to someone who for so many years poured out all her love on us as her family.  I love my Grandma so much, and while I miss who she used to be, and the days when she knew my name, I love her for who she is now as well.  She still has her sense of humor though, and we laughed till we cried more than once that week. :-)   

This week is the second anniversary of Art Dagg's death, and he is still greatly missed and loved by those of us who knew him.  I can't believe it's been two years.

I wasn't prepared for was how hard it would be for me to go back to SW Florida again especially at this time of year.  So many familiar places, so many memories.  I had myself a good cry.  Another chance for me to offer up a part of me that hurts into God's healing hands.  Art Dagg remains one of the biggest influences on my life in the past 7 years and I am so grateful for the opportunity God gave me to be a part of his family. 
I am in awe of how God brings people in and out of my life according to His purposes. ...and while I don't always like what He's doing, I have no choice but to raise my hands in praise and say "God, I agree with what You are doing because I know it's the Best Thing, even though it doesn't feel like it."  God is sovereign!

I'm settled back in at home now and trying to catch up on all my work.  Got the combine washed up and put away last week, and ready to attack the bookwork this week in between my cleaning and baking jobs.  I WILL CONQUER my giant stack of paperwork!  I WILL!

Recent Happiness::

* Norah Jones
* My nieces
* The end of a safe harvest
* Warm, gorgeous days in November!
* Bucks win!
* SHOTGUN SEASON is coming!!  ...and I saw a nice buck the other night. Oh yeah. :-)
* God's provision
* God's continued forgiveness of my sins and His grace upon my life.  Thank you, Lord!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Beautiful Things

Life = Pain.
It's true. 
If you don't believe it, then you haven't lived long enough to experience real heartache.  You've never experienced the death of a loved one, watched someone dear suffer through a painful disease, felt a broken heart, lived with a handicap, struggled through serious financial trouble, or stood among your shattered dreams and cried with no one to comfort you.

 If you think life is and always will be AWESOME, then just wait.  Live a few more years, sweetie. 
Sorry if that's depressing, but life isn't easy.  Did you expect it to be? 
Who ever told you that life wasn't supposed to be hard?  Jesus said, "In this world you WILL have trouble."  You thought you were exempt from that?

God has been teaching me some crazy lessons about life... to be honest, I've been walking through some dark days and deep waters in recent years, and I can't say I've particularly been enjoying any of it.  Life has been hard. Dang hard.  Aside from my own personal pains and problems, I've seen dear friends go through even heavier things, and that's sometimes harder for me than my own difficulties. 
Death. Disease. Heartbreak. Loss. Abandonment.
PAIN, in short. 

This summer, God has been working on my heart, drawing me deeper with Him, and calling me to allow Him to bring healing in my life.  I didn't want to do it.  It seems to me that the healing hurts just as bad or worse than the original wound, and I wasn't really excited about having to endure any MORE pain at this point.  ...but I told Him I want to be obedient to Him, and just asked Him to prepare me for healing, and to please be gentle with me and take it slow.  He has been so faithful! 

I have been slowly learning to see the hand of God through every dark day I've walked through, every situation where I thought He (and others) had let me down. 
Did I really think He didn't know?  Did I really think He didn't care?  Did I really think any of this hit me without passing through the hands of my Father? 
Oh, me of little faith! 

True joy is not the absence of pain or trouble.  The depth of joy is only known from the depths of true despair.
I'm reminded of the song "Held" by Natalie Grant. 
How can you know the strength and security of God's arms if you've never had to lean on Him? 
How do you know He can catch you if you've never taken a fall? 
How can you know His comfort if you've never cried a tear? 

One of the things I love about God is that He is so very gentle.  He has patiently loved me, even when I have been unwilling to allow Him to dry my tears.  He has faithfully reached for me when I have hidden from His embrace, preferring to cry in the dark loneliness than to run into His arms. 

This summer, He finally got through to me the fact that He is in control, and He always has been.  Even in situations where I thought I made mistakes, even through the times where the repercussions from the mistakes of others affected me so terribly, He was in control. 
He orchestrated every circumstance that led me to the place I am.  He guides my decisions, and He stands by me when others tell me I'm crazy for the choices I've made, and when I doubt myself that I made the right choices.  I finally know deep in my heart, that not one thing has happened to me that He did not allow and control, and that He will not use for my ultimate good and His ultimate glory. 

I'm learning to stop second-guessing God. 
I'm learning to stop beating myself up over my past and the pain I've caused other people.
I'm learning to keep my heart soft even though putting up walls and cutting myself off from people would hurt so much less. 
I'm learning that love keeps on loving, even when I'm hated, when I'm misunderstood, and when I'm at the end of my rope with some people. 
I'm learning that I have no capacity to love and forgive on my own.  I really don't.  There is no good thing in me but Jesus, and His love inside me is the only love I've got.  If I love anybody besides myself, then that's Jesus.  If I can forgive and refuse to be bitter, that's Jesus.  If I can take my bad experiences and be an encourager to someone else, that's Jesus.

He's making something beautiful out of my life, and will continue to do so as long as I will continue to fight to be surrendered.  Every part of my life under His control, every situation in my life brought before His throne, every hurt in my life brought to His healing hands.  I'll readily admit that I'm not good at this.  I want to hide away and hold all my pain close to my heart and not let anyone see or know.  Not even Him.  I want to be mad at Him sometimes, but I can't stay that way.  His love is too BIG, too powerful, too all-encompassing to hide from.  That's my God.   ...and if I love my God, I cannot withhold love from anyone else.  No matter who, no matter what, no matter how much it hurts.
  This song describes my feelings right now and is becoming a favorite.
My God is the Restorer of things lost, the Healer of things hurting, the Rebuilder of things broken, and the Lover of all who feel unloved. I'm done holding back from Him!  I choose to allow myself to be restored, healed, rebuilt and loved by the One who does it best.
I'm ready to allow Him to take every shattered piece of me and turn it into a beautiful mosaic that reflects His glory.