Archive for the ‘faith’ Category

  • The Marriage Prayer

    Date: 2010.09.27 | Category: faith, marriage | Response: 0

    I came across this marriage prayer on a blog today and loved it so much I personalized it by inserting our names into it.  I would love to begin praying this with my husband and see how God answers our prayers.  The prayer came from http://lysaterkeurst.com/ which I found through today’s (in)courage post http://www.incourage.me/2010/09/things-that-seem-so-small.html#comment-37709 which I loved!  (If you haven’t been reading the (in)courage posts I recommend you skim through the site.  I am really enjoying the encouragement and challenges here.)

    The Marriage Prayer

    Father in Heaven, thank you for our commitment to Christian marriage. As we look ahead, we pray that our future will never lack the convictions that make a marriage strong.

    Bless my husband, Chris. Bless him as provider and protector. Sustain him in all the pressures that come with the task of stewarding a family. May his strength be my boast and pride, and may he so live that I may find in him the haven for which my heart truly longs.

    Bless my wife, Melody. Give her a tenderness that makes her great, a deep sense of understanding, and a strong faith in You. Give her that inner beauty of soul that never fades, that eternal youth that is found in holding fast to the things that never age. May she so live that I may be pleased to reverence her in the shrine of my heart.

    Teach us that marriage is not living for each other. It is two people uniting and joining hands to serve You. Give us a great spiritual purpose in life. May we seek first Your kingdom and Your righteousness, knowing that You will sustain us through all of life’s challenges.

    May we minimize each other’s weaknesses and be swift to praise and magnify each other’s strengths so that we might view each other through a lover’s kind and patient eyes. Help us every day to be kind and gentle, more like Thee. Give us a little something to forgive each day, that their love might learn to be long-suffering.

    Bless us and develop our characters as they walk together with You. Give us enough hurts to keep us humane, enough failures to keep our hands clenched tightly in Yours, and enough of success to make us sure we walk with You throughout all of our life.

    May we never take each other’s love for granted but always experience that breathless wonder that exclaims. “Out of all this world, you have chosen me.” Then, when life is done and the sun is setting, may we be found then as now, still hand in hand, still very proud, still thanking You for each other.

    May we travel together as friends and lovers, brother and sister, husband and wife, father and mother, and as servants of Christ until He shall return or until that day when one shall lay the other into the arms of God. This we ask through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, the great lover of our souls. Amen.

    Pray with me and see what God has in store for your marriage!

    melody

  • A living testimony

    Date: 2010.09.23 | Category: faith, friends | Response: 0

    Last night was the launch of a new women’s ministry at my church.  I am super excited about this for several reasons-

    1. My girlfriend Tricia is the main speaker and organizer
    2. I LOVE my girlies and can’t get enough time with them
    3. I would love to develop relationships with more women at my church
    4. I need to get out for the evening and laugh and talk and eat dessert once in a while
    5. What a great way to invite pre-believers to a low key event where they can hear about Jesus and meet other women in a non-threatening way

    For this first meeting we needed a woman to give her testimony.  I volunteered.  I was chosen.  Now I knew this was coming up for at least 3 weeks.  I literally did not start thinking about it until the night before.  That’s how I deal with public speaking- I pretend that it’s not going to happen until the last moment possible!  Lucky for me I have given my testimony a few times in the past year, so I had it all in a Word doc and just needed to review it and tweak it a little bit for my audience.

    Last night as I was laying in bed it occurred to me that those of you out there in the world wide web might like to hear how God redeemed my life almost 20 years ago and some of the things He’s done with me since then.  So here it is- out there- for the whole world to see.  Me.  (and more importantly, God)

    Hi, my name is Melody Benschoter.  I’m married to Chris and have the two most adorable children in the world, JT who is 2 years old and Kate who is 7 months old.  I’ve been attending South Fellowship since we moved to Colorado 3 years ago.  Tonight I want to share my testimony of how God has redeemed my life and how He’s spoken to me over the years.

    My mom would tell you that even as a very young child I never seemed to get enough attention or affection, and I was the type of kid who always had to learn each lesson the hard way.  Although I grew up in a Christian home and I knew better, I began to look to boyfriends to find my approval and to get my fill of acceptance.  I became very rebellious- especially through middle and high school.  I became sexually active at 14, experimented with alcohol and drugs, cut school frequently, lied to my parents constantly, and generally did whatever I wanted whenever I wanted to do it.  During my sophomore year in college my boyfriend of 2 1/2 years (and the guy I thought I would marry) broke up with me and moved in with my best friend.  At that point I was about as miserable and empty as possible.  As I was praying one night in desperation I heard God clearly say to me “You have chosen to fill your life with the wrong people and activities for all these years, and now you have nothing left.  You can either choose the same type of people to fill your life with again or you can choose ME.”  Starting that night I chose to cling to God and try things His way.  My sister had been urging me to attend a college bible study at our church and it just so happened that I was suddenly free on Wednesday nights.  On a whim I decided to go and found myself crying in a room full of casual acquaintances!  These girls welcomed me and were willing to walk with me on my new path and encourage me as I began my Christian faith.  Over those first few years I developed deep friendships and mentoring relationships that helped me find value in who I am in Christ and showed me that true joy can be found in Him.

    One of the things I started doing was praying and journaling my prayers.  I used these journals as a way to keep my prayer time focused- to prevent my mind from wandering- and to give me a way to look back and see how God was answering my prayers.  I was coming from a place of real bitterness and heartache, and I also recognized how foolish I had been for the first 19 years of my life.  One of the things I prayed for daily was that God would bless me with inner peace and wisdom.  I knew that God had honored Solomon’s prayers for wisdom and hoped that He would honor mine as well.  I also claimed Philippians 2:14-16 as my life verse.

    14Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe 16as you hold out the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.

    I really liked the reminder to become someone who does things pleasantly… without complaining or arguing and that it would lead to me being a child of God who is blameless and pure!  I also loved the picture of shining like a star in the universe while holding out the word of life.  I felt that this was the person I should aspire to be in my new faith and prayed these verses for myself often.

    During this period I also spent some time thinking about who I wanted to be someday as a woman and as a wife.  I recognized that my old character was unhealthy and that I was not who I wanted to be.  I began to study what the bible had to say about Godly character and to pray over the characteristics that I wanted to embrace.  I also used scripture to develop a list of attributes I was looking for in my future husband.  I really thought and prayed a lot about this and came up with a list of about 20 character traits and values that were important for my husband to possess.  Now I need to say… because of the types of sin I was struggling with and the changes that I was trying to make in myself I didn’t date for quite some time after dedicating my life to Christ.  In fact when I met my husband I had been single for 10 years to the month.  Although I went on a handful of dates during those years, I was careful to avoid getting involved with any man who did not meet the criteria on my list or who I did not clearly feel God was bringing me to.  In fact after my first date with my future husband I told him that we should just be friends.  It was during this period of friendship that my eyes were opened to see that God was drawing me to him as my husband.  I pulled out that old piece of paper and was amazed to see that he met EVERY SINGLE CRITERIA that I had written over 9 years before.

    Speaking of my husband actually brings me to the second time that God clearly spoke to me.  I had been involved in a women’s bible study for 5 years when my mentor encouraged me to transfer to the young adult class.  I had reached a point in my life where most of my girl friends had gotten married and were having children and I was lonely for good female friends.  At the same time I was happy with the bible study I was attending and didn’t want to transfer to the other class for fear of looking like I was going just to meet guys.  My mentor really challenged me on my stubbornness and unwillingness to change, and after some prayer and consideration I agreed to try the other class.  When I transferred my membership, the leader of the new class asked me to join the leadership team.  I had been asked to join the leadership at my previous class 4 years in a row, and each year I declined because leadership meetings were held at 6:55am on Saturday mornings.  If you know me, you know I love to sleep.  So when the new class leader asked, I told her that I didn’t think I could do it, but that I would pray about it.  Now when I said I would pray about it, I have to admit, I didn’t really think it would change anything.  I had no intention of getting up so early every Saturday morning for the next year.  But when I prayed, God said yes.  I said no and God said yes again.  And again.  He and I really had it out for several days before I finally gave in to Him and agreed to do it.  I can remember telling my coworker that this was going to ruin my life.  And I meant it!  2 days later I showed up to my first meeting and met the rest of the leadership team.  There happened to be a young man there who I had heard quite a bit about from my sister who had wanted to set me up on a date with him the year before.  I had never met him, but I recognized his name and knew a lot about him through her and through a girlfriend of mine who was good friends with him.  Being on leadership threw us together quite a bit, and within a month we went out on a date.  Then I told him we should just be friends, and then I realized that he was the man I was going to marry!  I quickly told Chris that he could ask me out again and 3 months after that we were engaged.  I really believe that by obeying God’s call to that leadership team- which also built my leadership skills and taught me discipline and many other good things, God brought me to my husband.

    And that brings me to the third and final time God has clearly spoken to me.  I was raised in California and Chris and I lived about 20 minutes from the town where I grew up.  For our first anniversary Chris and I came out here to Highlands Ranch to visit my brother and sister in law.  One day in the car Chris said to me “Wouldn’t this be a great place to live?”  to which I replied “Absolutely not!”  A few days later we were flying home when I heard God say to me “If I asked you to move you wouldn’t go.”  I knew in my heart that that was true.  I loved my hometown- I had lived in the same zip code for my entire life until I married and Chris dragged me 20 minutes away.  My parents still live in the same house where they brought me home from the hospital.  I had never wanted to leave the Bay Area or my family and friends and never planned to.  God and I really wrestled with this over the course of several months before I finally told my husband what was going on.  At that point I still didn’t want to ever move, but I was finally able to tell God that if He ever called me someplace else, I would go.  Sure enough, about a year later my husband completed his Master’s degree and was looking for a new job.  We were also ready to start our family and knew that financially we were going to have to make some major changes to afford children.  After months of discussion we decided that he would send out resumes both in California and in Colorado.  And don’t you know the only job offer he got was here in Highlands Ranch!  I held out hope for a CA job and resisted committing to the move until 2 weeks before we put the house on the market (which left me scurrying to get things packed, let me tell you!).  But once the decision was made, I knew that I had to embrace it wholeheartedly.  I never looked back, but instead decided to make the best of the situation and love my new home.  And I do!  I can’t imagine how we would have made ends meet if we had stayed where we were.  But God provided my husband with a job he absolutely loves, and I am able to work one day a week and stay home with JT and Kate the rest of the time.  God has put us in a home that is far nicer and less expensive than what we had in California, has placed us in a wonderful church, and has given us the opportunity to grow closer to my brother and his family.  I wouldn’t trade where we are for anything.  But I do hope I never move again!

    I want to close by making sure that you know- I am by no means perfect in my prayer life.  God hasn’t spoken to me because I’m extra holy or prayerful. I want you to know that God can and will speak to us- it may be with a clear voice, or He may use someone else’s voice to speak into our lives.  Clarity has come to me through scripture and through my own conscience.  Being open to hearing Him is the key- even if you have to wrestle with Him before you find acceptance!

    Oh- and in case you’re wondering we had a great TIME (pun intended- our new name is It’s about Time… True, Meaningful, Inviting Encounters) last night!  We had about 35 women, a wonderful talk by Tricia, lots of yummy dessert, and plenty of TIME (pun intended again!) to talk and laugh and get to know each other.  What a blessing it is to live in community.  Come and join us in October!

    melody

  • Jesus loves the little children… all the children of the world.

    Date: 2010.09.12 | Category: faith, parenting | Response: 0

    I love my children so very much.  I want to provide the very best for them.  An opportunity for them to know and love Jesus and to walk with Him.  An education.  Good health.  A proper diet.  Love, laughter and the making of happy memories.  I hope to provide them with a childhood that will enable them to grow into intelligent, content, thriving adults.  With few exceptions, isn’t this really what all parents want for their children?

    I’ve been thinking the past few days about how fortunate I am that I can provide these things for my children.  That we have enough money to buy them shoes and books and food.  That we have a happy and stable home environment.  That we are safe when we leave our home.

    So many parents cannot say the same thing.  I cannot imagine living in a neighborhood in which we had to skirt drug deals and prostitutes.  Or not being able to afford shoes so that my children could attend school.  Or watching my children’s stomachs grow, not from a healthy meal but from severe malnutrition.

    Don’t all mothers have the same hopes and dreams for their children?  Doesn’t every mother want to provide their children with everything they need to grow into a healthy and successful adult?  What makes my family any more deserving of good things than those families?  Is it a blessing or a curse that we have so much abundance that we are not wholly dependent on God’s provision to make it through each day?  Maybe a little bit of both?  Does Jesus love those children less than He loves mine? How do I reconcile the reality of their poverty with my abundance?  Not just abundance of wealth, but of opportunity and safety and health care.

    I recently read a blog about Compassion sponsored children in Guatemala.  http://www.incourage.me/2010/09/if-you-like-your-dreams-and-miracles-explained.html It made me think about how slim the difference between hope and despair.  Life and death.  It put faces to three boys who have hope for the future… who have the very possibility of a future because someone was willing to share out of their abundance.  Their sponsors wrote a check for $38 and these boys received life.

    This morning my pastor told of the laws in place to keep the people of the Dalit caste in India downtrodden.  The very term “Dalit” means “those who have been broken and ground down deliberately by those above them in the social hierarchy.” (www.dalitnetwork.org)  Parents were required by law to give their children only one name- and it must have a derogatory meaning.  Can you imagine being forced to name your child Ugly?  or Stupid?  or Unwanted?  Can you imagine knowing that your child will never rise above extreme poverty- that he or she cannot legally do so?  Can you imagine knowing your child will never be educated, never get out of the slums, never have access to medical care?  Can you imagine the shame and the crushed dreams of these mothers?  Mothers who are just like me and you?

    One of my favorite blogs is written by Katie who was so moved with compassion during a mission trip to Africa as a high school student that she cancelled her college plans, left her family and her boyfriend, and moved to Africa to serve the people there.  She has given up everything she hoped for herself to be Jesus to people who desperately need Him.  She has opened up her heart to the children of Africa.  She has adopted 14 girls.  Yes!  A single woman, living in a foreign country with 14 adopted daughters.  She started Amazima Ministries to provide the tuition and materials needed to send hundreds (yes hundreds) of children to school.  On top of all of this she opens her yard, her home and her shower to every single one of the children she sends to school.  She provides them with a meal and a place to shower and use a real bathroom with plumbing.  Every day.  She regularly takes in, cares for, feeds, and provides medical treatment for people in her community- in addition to her own children and the hundreds of children she supports through Amazima.  You can read more about this amazing woman and her life and her ministry at http://kissesfromkatie.blogspot.com/.

    I just interrupted the writing of this post to get my son up from his nap.  I took advantage of the fact we’re the only two awake right now to hold him and play with him and share snack time with him.  How many mothers never have that luxury?  Ever?  How many mothers are never able to provide a snack for their hungry child?  How many never have an extra hour of time to spend playing and being silly with their children?  Ever?

    I have been challenged by this question: “What is the opposite of poverty?”  Is it wealth?  Plenty?  Abundance?  No, the answer is enough.  The opposite of poverty is enough.  This makes me realize- I have wealth.  I have plenty.  I have abundance.  And there are so many who do not have enough.

    In so many ways I wish I were 19 and had the freedom to sever my ties with my comfortable life.  Jump on a plane and spend my life for Jesus in Africa or India or Guatemala.  Of course this is wishful thinking.  Even if I were in that life stage I would find it extremely difficult.  And just because I am married with children and a mortgage doesn’t mean that I couldn’t do it tomorrow.  But it seems so hard.  It’s so painful to say no to all of the things I want.  The things I want for my children.  The comfort that is so darned comfortable.

    I feel God stretching me and nudging me and challenging me, but I don’t know where to go or how to start.  I keep praying that He will open the doors for me.  That He will show me the way He has for me.

    Matthew 25:31-46

    31“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

    34“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

    37“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

    40“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

    41“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

    44“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

    45“He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

    46“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

    melody

  • Simplicity

    Date: 2010.06.23 | Category: faith, saving money | Response: 2

    Simplicity is a word that’s being thrown around alot lately.  I seem to see it everywhere I look- on the covers of magazines and books, in the headlines, on the blogs.  I’ve traditionally been a “stuff” person.  I figure if some is good then more must be better, right?  But lately I’ve been thinking that maybe LESS really can be MORE.

    Three years ago Chris and I were richly blessed with the proceeds from the sale of our California house.  We used that money to buy a home that is much larger than anything we’d ever even dreamed of owning.  Our logic was that we have the money, we plan to have a house full of kids, we want to have rooms available for guests, and we want to be able to open up our home to our friends and family for gatherings and the like.  And we’ve done all of that with it.  We’ve housed family (including 4 people and a dog for 2 months!), missionaries, and friends.  We’re filling up those bedrooms one kid at a time.  We’ve hosted Christmas and Thanksgiving for 15+.  In the past 6 months we have had houseguests for a total of 4.5 months!

    On the other hand it’s just so much.  I can’t keep up with the housekeeping.  Chris can’t keep up with the yard.  We seem to be accumulating possessions by the truckload because “we have the space to store it”.  Sometimes I find myself reminiscing about the old days when we only had 1150 square feet to maintain.  It was so much more manageable.  And yet we crammed 20 in for bible study regularly.  We hosted big holiday meals.  We had overnight guests.  Neither of us grew up in a home with an extra bedroom or extra space.  We were cozy and we liked it that way.

    And it’s not just housing, it’s technology and possessions and activities and life.  It all seems so much more complicated than it has to be.

    I recently read Living with Less so your Family has More by one of my favorite authors, Jill Savage.  Her premise is that when we choose to live with less- less commitment, less possessions, less debt, less rat race we free up more time and energy and joy.  We have time to sit and connect with our spouse.  We have time to play with the kids.  We have time to do the things we love.  We have energy to do what is important to us because we’re not wasting it on other things.  This book really resonated deep within me.  I’m tired.  I feel pulled by a million good things and don’t know how to accomplish everything I want to do.  I want to invest in relationships rather than things.  To invest in the best rather than the good.

    I’m currently reading Radical by David Platt.  This book takes a hard look at Christianity in America today and challenges us to put aside the American dream for the sake of the gospel.  I was pretty skeptical when I opened this book.  I wasn’t sure that there is anything wrong with the American dream.  I wasn’t sure that there is anything wrong with today’s church model.  But I’ve changed my mind.  The problem with the American dream is that it values reliance on self when we are actually dependent on God.  The problem with today’s church is that it is focused inwardly when it should be focused outwardly.  Why is one preacher preaching to a room full of people who already know the gospel when there are so many in our world who have never heard it?  Why is it that missionaries are the exception rather than the norm when we have all received the Great Commission- “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and Son and Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19)?  How many people have I personally reached with the gospel?  How many disciples have I made?  How is it that I can justify living in a 2800 square foot house with a closet full of clothes and a pantry full of food when there are so many living in extreme poverty?  How can I rest knowing that I sponsor one child through Compassion when there are thousands upon thousands more children in such great need?  How can I ignore the urgent physical needs of those in war torn countries?  In remote villages?  In populations devastated by disease and death?

    It’s one thing to simplify my life, my spending, and my calendar so that I’m more rested and feel more in control of my life.  It’s another thing entirely to simplify my life for the sake of spreading the gospel.  To spend less on me so that I can give more to those who truly need it.  To do without, not so that I can invest in retirement or my children’s college education but so that a child can eat today.  Or a village can have clean drinking water.  Or medicine.  Or shelter.  Or the hope of the gospel.  Yikes.

    This all is going to require some serious prayer.  Serious serious prayer.  I value your feedback.  Have you read Radical?  Has your heart been tugged for those who need Christ so desperately?  Has the church lost it’s way?  Are we really being obedient to Christ?

    melody

  • They’re not mine, but His.

    Date: 2010.05.30 | Category: faith, parenting | Response: 0

    Today I spent an hour at the hospice holding a beautiful 3 week old boy who probably only has a few more days on this earth.  Needless to say on the drive home I praised God through my tears for my two healthy children.  It really got me thinking about what it means to be a parent.  About what an honor it is to be entrusted with the care of these children for however long God places them in our care.  It’s so easy to think that they are ours- to forget that they are really on loan to us from God.  To take for granted their health and the fact that they’ll live long, successful lives.  But in this life there are no guarantees.  We don’t know how long they’ll be with us, whether they’ll have good health or bad, if they’ll marry or have children, if they will be successful, if they’ll be happy.  The worst to ponder is that they may not choose to follow Christ.  I can only do my part- teach them about Jesus, pray over them, surround them with His love.  In the end I must leave them in His hands and trust that He loves them even more than I do.  Trust that He will call each of them to Him in His own perfect way.  And so today I am reminded to pray and to love and to laugh with my children.  I was reminded to be a little more patient and a lot more intentional.  And to hold them a little more loosely in my hands.

    I was also reminded that God knows better than I.  I have no answers.  I am ignorant of His ways.  Like Job’s friends, my explanations are empty and false.  Like Job I must say “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”  Only God knows why He allowed a baby to come into this world who will not survive.  Why He allows sickness and heartache to plague His people.  But the Truth I do know is this…

    Psalm 139:13-16

    For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

    I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

    My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.

    When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.
    All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

    melody

  • I’m back! And I’m so thankful for my friends-

    Date: 2010.05.25 | Category: faith, friends | Response: 2

    Whew- when my laptop died I couldn’t figure out how to log in to my own blog from our other computer.  Sorry it took me a week to sit down and work through it!  Anyway, now I’ve got myself set up on the other computer and the only thing holding me back is that I dread slogging myself downstairs to the basement.  I sure hope we win the lottery soon so we can get me a fancy new computer for my desk upstairs!  While I was messing with my settings I also made it easier for my readers to leave comments.  So comment away folks!

    Now to my actual post…

    This past weekend Kate and I flew out to California for a wedding.  We had some much needed girl time (shout out to Heidi!) and I actually caught up on my sleep!   (I just reread what I’ve written so far and counted 6 exclamation points.  I really need to work on that.  Ugh- I had to resist putting one more in right there- and now I want to put one here too!)  The thing I can’t get over though is that I’m old.  I know I’m only 35, but shouldn’t I be 20?  All weekend I kept reflecting on how much life we’ve lived in the past 15 years.  It seems like only yesterday I was a guest at the first weddings for my group of friends.  In 15 years we’ve shared it all- birthdays, break ups, weddings, struggles, new babies, deaths, celebrations, etc.  Friends have moved away and some have even come back again.  Even I got married and moved to Colorado and had 2 babies.  I just keep wondering how it can be that so much life has happened to us.

    I am fortunate to have such good friends.  When I decided to live my life for Christ I fell in with the college group at my church.  The Sunday Night Live (SNL for you insiders!) gang embraced me and challenged me when I was new to my faith.  This group of people befriended me and showed me what it means to live abundantly and joyfully.  At a time in my life when I needed positive role models and fellowship with believers these friends took me in.  For 12 years these are the friends who I walked side by side with through life.

    After nearly 3 years here in Colorado I’m finally seeing glimmers of deep friendship.  These things take time.  My new friends are great and fun and I love hanging out with them- but it’s a process to really get to know someone and build up history with them.  Our Young Families group at church is where I feel most at home- we’ve been meeting for almost 2 years and we’re just getting to that place where we know and trust each other intimately.  And it’s a good thing, because the past few weeks have been really really hard.  Dear friends gave birth to a much cherished (and much unexpected) baby boy 2 weeks ago.  At first everything seemed fine- he looks perfect.  And then the doctors started noticing problems- he isn’t sucking, he has shaking in his limbs, he failed his hearing test, his pulse is weak in his legs.  An ultrasound revealed a heart defect that required immediate surgery and transfer to another hospital.  An MRI of his brain revealed abnormal development.  This precious little boy and his parents have some serious challenges ahead.  Other dear friends are facing accusations of an ugly nature.  The husband’s career, their prospects to adopt more children, fellowship with their church home, life as they know it are all at risk.  It seems that Satan has noticed out little group and doesn’t want us to succeed.  That he wants to snatch these friends out of our hands.

    I love these friends.  To me, this feels like a challenge.  It’s time to step up.  To show them that I love them and am willing to BE THERE.  To tell Satan that he can’t have them.  It’s time to take these relationships to the next level.  To get past the stage where we are comfortable laughing together and to start crying together too.  To walk this path with them so they don’t have to walk it alone.

    Where will we all be in 15 years?  Only God knows what our future holds.  What I do know is that He is telling me that it’s time to be a real friend.  The kind who is willing to walk through the valley hand in hand with a friend in need.

    “A despairing man should have the devotion of his friends” Job 6:14a

    melody

  • Deep thoughts…

    Date: 2010.05.12 | Category: faith, parenting | Response: 0

    I’ve been feeling a deep discontent over the past few months.  Something is off in my spiritual life and I’m not sure what to do about it.  I’m active in my church and in a weekly bible study.  I love Jesus.  I’m trying to share that love of Jesus with my children.  And yet I can’t shake the feeling that I’m missing the big picture.  That God wants more from me – that I’m not living up to the potential that God has for me.  How do I balance being a wife, raising two small children, keeping a household running, and maintaining relationships with friends and family with the call Christ gives to all of His followers 24Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. 26What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?”  Matthew 16″24-26

    I have more questions than answers.  How can I live up to all I’m called to be… a bride of Christ, a fisher of men, a wife of noble character, one who looks after widows and orphans, a good Samaritan, etc, etc.  How can I stop going TO church and instead BE the church?  What does that look like?  How can I trade the urgent for the important?  What should I let go of so that I can cling to what truly matters? 

    Look at what Philippians 2:1-18 says…

     1If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

     5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
     6Who, being in very nature God,
          did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
     7but made himself nothing,
          taking the very nature of a servant,
          being made in human likeness.
     8And being found in appearance as a man,
          he humbled himself
          and became obedient to death—
             even death on a cross!
     9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
          and gave him the name that is above every name,
     10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
          in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
     11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
          to the glory of God the Father.

     12Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

     14Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe 16as you hold out the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. 17But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.

    Raising children has shown me that if nothing else I am selfish and have all the wrong priorities.  I don’t want to be a servant!  I don’t want to be humble!  I want someone else to do the hard work.  The dirty jobs.  The boring stuff.  I want someone to notice that I emptied the dishwasher and paid the bills and spent 6 hours breastfeeding today.  I want my accolades and pat on the back!  But look what Philippians says- Jesus took the very nature of a servant.  He humbled Himself.  He became obedient.  And so should I.

    Years ago I claimed Philippians 2:14-16 as my life verse.  At the time I was battling my very nature.  As a new Christ follower I had some serious changes to make in my attitude and actions.  And yet 15 years later here I am again.  As I reread these words I see I still have so far to go.  I think that this discontent is God’s way of stirring up new change in me.  He’s showing me that I’ve become too comfortable in my skin.  In my faith.  I’m no longer stretching and growing, but like the Pharisees I’ve grown proud of leading a Sunday School class and reading my bible every night.  I don’t think God cares very much about that… I think he’s more concerned with my poor prayer life.  With the minimal effort I make to reach out to my neighbors who don’t know Him.  With the harsh words I speak to my husband.   

    So I’m working on it.  I’m trying to pray more and listen more.  I’ve been talking with friends about how they balance the demands of their lives with their faith.  I’ve been reading books and listening to sermons. 

    If you have any insight I’d love to hear it.  God is leading me… I just don’t know where we’re going.

    melody

  • I’ve officially entered the blogosphere!

    Date: 2010.05.06 | Category: faith, parenting | Response: 0

    Hello friends!  My hubby has talked me into joining the masses of bloggers out there.  I’ve been mulling this over for several weeks- What will I talk about?  Who will want to read it?  What purpose will it serve?  Here are the answers I’ve come up with…

    1. I’ll talk about whatever happens to be on my mind at the moment
    2. I’m hoping that this blog will appeal to moms and women who are in the trenches of marriage and parenting
    3. I’d like to start a dialogue that will draw others closer to God, exchange parenting tips and ideas, find a sympathetic ear when it’s just been one of those days, and hopefully find that in writing I’m also growing.  As a wife, mom, and women of God.

    I’ve titled my blog “gaining MOMentum” because that’s where I am today- five years into marriage and less than two years into mothering- I’m just now finding my stride and I’m still picking up speed.  I’m only at the beginning of the rest of my life- I have a long journey ahead (or so I hope!) and I want to do it well.  I want to hear God say “Well done good and faithful servant” on the day I meet him face to face.  I want to parent my children intentionally- with grace and wit and humor and patience.  I want to love my husband wholeheartedly and build a marriage that reflects Christ’s relationship with the church.  I want those around me to be better people for knowing me.  I want to be a good friend and neighbor.  A diligent worker.  A faithful daughter and sister.  I want this blog to turn into a community of support and encouragement and joy and growth.  Not just for me, but for you.

    So this is where I’m starting.  I’m putting myself out there and only time will tell what it will look like.  If you’ve ever read anything I’ve ever written you know that I tend to use too many exclamation points and …s when I write.  I have an irritating habit of typing hte instead of the.  (Hopefully I’ll catch all of those.)  I also tend to brag about my kids- I’ll do my best to restrain myself, but I really like them.  I’m still trying to figure out how to set up the look I want and get my links to link and all that fun stuff, but in the meantime… thanks for joining me on the journey!

    melody

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