Monday, August 19, 2013

Jeremiah 31...

Our small group on Monday nights is reading through and discussing the book of Jeremiah and some weeks it has been a little tough to hang with that book. There is a lot of discouragement with how rebellious Israel was but through that it has also been a good reminder of our rebellion against the Lord and His incredible grace lavished on us through the Cross of Jesus.

Today I was reading through the passage for tonight and I was so encouraged. It also went along with Pursuit of God chapter 1 which I had asked some of the highschool girls to read this week. Here are a few encouraging words from Jeremiah 31...

"Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you. Again I will rebuild you, and you shall be rebuilt..." (31:3)

"Their souls shall be like a well-watered garden, And they shall sorrow no more at all." (31:12)

"I will satiate the soul of the priests with My abundance, And My people shall be satisfied with My goodness." (31:14)

"... therefore My heart yearns for him; I will surely have mercy on him..." (31:20)

"For I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul." (31:25)

"... I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people." (31:33)

What an encouragement this chapter has been. Though some of these restoration truths are for the people of Israel, we know that God's heart for His children is always to bring them back to Him. He made us His children through the blood of Jesus and He longs to satiate the weary soul with His presence. Praying we can pursue Him today and cultivate our relationship with Him. As Tozer states in Pursuit of God..

"We have almost forgotten that God is a person and, as such, can be cultivates as any person can. It is inherent in personality to be able to know other personalities, but full knowledge of one personality by another cannot be achieved in one encounter. It is only after long and loving mental intercourse that the full possibilities of both can be explored." (chapter 1)

Thank you Jesus for wanting a relationship with us and for dying to make that possible. May we walk in thankfulness today and spend time enjoying You.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Thankful for fleas?

Life can easily get overwhelming no matter what season of life one is in. Lately I have been reading The Hiding Place and have continually been convicted by the faith and love that Betsie and Corrie ten Boom had for Jesus and for others (even those that were persecuting and torturing them). One thing that has been on my mind lately comes from chapter 13.

To give a little background- Corrie and Betsie ten Boom were two middle-aged sisters from Holland who were imprisoned for helping hide and aid Jews that were being persecuted under Hitler in the early 1940's. They were eventually sent to a prison camp in Ravenbruck, Germany. The description of the room that was their sleeping quarters would make anyone sick. The room was meant to house a maximum of 400 people and yet the persecutors had packed over 1000 women in the room with 8 women to a bed. There were only 3 restrooms for all of these ladies. The stench of the room along with the abundance of fleas and lice made it nearly impossible for the women to sleep.

Shortly after their arrival, the ten Boom sisters resumed leading bible studies for the ladies in their dormitory after the long days of work. Though the living situations were beyond awful, Betsie recalled what they had read in 1 Thessalonians...

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
~1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

After recalling these verses, Betsie encourages Corrie that they must give thanks. I was so humbled. How could they possibly find anything to be thankful for in that dismal situation? First, they thank the Lord that they are still together. Then they thank Jesus that they have been able to successfully bring the Bible with them. This was nothing short of a miracle seeing that they were continually strip-searched and everything else had been taken from them. Then Betsie does the unthinkable. She thanks Jesus for the fleas that are overtaking their sleeping quarters. Corrie gets a little frustrated here and understandably so. Though she does not understand the great faith of her sister, she joins her in being thankful for EVERYTHING, even the fleas.

Later on the sisters come to find out something incredible... though the guards would normally be inside every dorm to monitor the prisoners, they avoided the cesspool that Corrie and Betsie had to call "home" for those few months. Because the guards avoided their dorm, the ten Boom sisters were able to hold prayer and Bible services every evening without the worry of being found out by the guards. One day Corrie comes to find out that it was not the stench or other horrific parts of the dorm that kept the guards out... it was the abundance of FLEAS!! Betsie had obeyed the Lord and been thankful for something as small as a flea and later the Lord had revealed how He had used those nasty little things to allow the sisters to bring His Word to others without fear.

Needless to say, I have been so convicted by this book. How incredible to have such amazing faith in such horrific situations. I have been so blessed by the story of Corrie and Betsie and their family and friends. I have been so encouraged to see the faithfulness of the Lord to these ladies as they continued to pursue Him and love others when daily their lives were at risk. 

I pray that today we can follow in the footsteps of these sisters of ours through Jesus and walk in thankfulness- even for the smallest thing. I know that it can be so difficult to live lives of thankfulness but when we remember the sweet mercy of Jesus and His life given for us on the Cross- we will have all we need to live thankful lives of rejoicing in our salvation and His great faithfulness.

Life might not always go exactly as we plan (in fact it almost always has unexpected twists and turns that cause us to be tempted with having a complaining attitude) but if the ten Boom sisters can be thankful for fleas, I am almost positive that we can find something small to be thankful for today. Today I am thankful for my precious family, for the new mercies of Jesus today, and for my sisters in the faith, Corrie and Betsie ten Boom who set such a great example for me and so many others.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

First Family Movie!!

Asher and Zoee love the movie Cars. The watch it and listen to the soundtrack VERY often. When we heard that a similar movie, Planes, was coming out- we thought it would be a great chance to take the kids to their first movie theatre experience! Everything started out great... popcorn, candy, 3D glasses... After about an hour, Zoee got a little wiggly and I decided that I would take her to Shogun next door for a "date" with Mommy consisting of hot tea and rice. It was a great family night. Asher ended up really enjoying the movie with Daddy and Zoee and I enjoyed our impromptu date. We love family night!!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Austin Fun!!

As I posted earlier, my parents got an amazing lake house in Austin this summer and we are sure trying to make sure it gets lots of use. We have been up there as often as possible- enjoying the pool at the Reserve in Spicewood, playing lots of Rummicube, feeding the deer, and enjoying the awesome city of Austin. Here are a few of the pictures that were taken on our last trip up there. I keep forgetting to bring my camera but our friends brought theirs so we were able to capture some special moments. The kids love the slide and all of us enjoy the lazy river and hot tub. We simply can't get enough and would go every weekend if we could!

Mimi & Papa with the Howard kiddos!

Ash, me, Kinley, Kaitlyn, and Zoee

Ya-ya and Zoee on the slide at the Reserve!

Kristen and Kinley...

Mommy/Daughter Love!

Ya-ya and Zoee...

Austin relaxation!

Infinity Pool...

Austin Lovin'

Nana and her precious grandbaby!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Summer Happenings!

Well, summer is almost over and it has just flown by! We are about to start school here in the Howard house but have had such an amazing summer. My parents bought a lake house in Austin and we love getting to spend time there with them. It's so relaxing and refreshing- they have a membership to an amazing pool, we get to take golf cart rides and see tons of deer, and just enjoy time with family and friends. What a blessing!! Here are a few pictures of our Austin adventures...

This fall is already starting to fill up! Asher started soccer this past Monday and to say that he was excited was an understatement- he really did so well and loved it! I was a little worried about how he would do but he has great coaches and gets along well with the other players. It was a little hard to realize that he is growing up and really isn't my little baby anymore but it was also amazing to see how much he thrived in being on a team. The only small problem we had was him shouting "I AM THE WINNER!!" When they all raced from one side of the field to the other- we had to remind him to encourage his teammates and not just declare to everyone how fast he was =) We are so excited for this soccer season! Here are some pictures... and of course it happened to be 102 degrees on his first day of practice!