Sunday, October 8, 2017

I am for ME!

Isn't it easy in our world to ONLY be focused on ME - my plans, my agenda, my preferences, my reputation, my kids, etc. At this point you can have anything customized to your taste, from the food you eat in a restaurant, the temperature in your home, smartphone screen and even the firmness of your mattress. It's all designed to fit your taste.

How can I NOT be focused on myself when everyone else is?

Magazines, billboards, gyms, and commercials plead with you to take time for yourself. But it really will mean more revenue for them if you spend money on their products that they highly suggest you need in your life.

It is easy for me to look around and associate with only those that look, talk and agree with my way of thinking. But is that helping the greater good of humanity?

How can WE be positive and light in a dark world, if we didn't expand our own borders to include those that are different from us?

There will always be those in the world that don't agree with you. Don't distance yourself from them. Your treatment of them in a loving and kind way, EVEN when they don't agree, shows them an alternative way to be treated.

You can't change them! You can only change your response to them.

Sometimes we have to just agree to disagree.

I realized I was isolating myself from those that were different. I was pro ME, pro my religion, pro my race, pro my political party, etc. I fell into the trap like so many Americans. We are all different and that is the beauty that makes us unique.

Choose not to isolate yourself from those that have a different political party, different race, different religion or different views of life.

Embrace Diversity

My yoga buddies

Diversity adds to our uniqueness

Now more than ever we have to wrap our head, heart and minds around understanding our differences. I've found when you do, guess what, you start to realize you are more alike than you are different.

Find the common ground you have with others. It could be love of scrapbooking, photography, running, yoga, fishing, reading, sports, gaming, etc. Let that lead your conversations NOT what you don't like about each others view on life. (Roslyn)

When I am with those who are oppressed, I share their oppression so that I might bring them to Christ. Yes, I try to find COMMON GROUND with everyone so that I might bring them to Christ. I do all this to spread the Good News, and in doing so I enjoy its blessings. ~I Corinthians 9:22-23

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Stop What You're Doing!

When was the last time you rested? Not just a few hours of sleep in the evening or even an afternoon nap.

I mean, taking an entire day to REST.

Our world is so full of  activities, work, sports, cleaning, cooking, caring for kids and so many other distractions that we often lose sight of the commandment that God gave us in the 20th chapter of Exodus.

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

This is one of the longest commandments given as part of the Ten Commandments shared with Moses on Mount Sinai. We often find it easy to abide by the commandments where we are told  not to murder, lie, or commit adultery, but when we are commanded to take a day of rest, we often shrug it off.

Push it aside or not pay attention to it at all.

The Ten Commandments aren't answers to a multiple choice question where you pick a few to obey and then decide whether or not you will follow the others. ALL of them are important and serve a purpose in our lives. 

There should be at least one day of the week that you set apart for rest and worship with your Heavenly Father. Sabbath rest is vital to refresh your body and soul.

Not only are we supposed to rest, so should our children, employees, and even our visitors. God thought so much of this commandment that He demonstrated an example of Sabbath rest when He formed the world. Now let's be honest, God didn't need the rest. He did however want to lead by example. Let's read the scripture again from another translation:

 Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Work six days and do everything you need to do. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to God, your God. Don’t do any work—not you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your servant, nor your maid, nor your animals, not even the foreign guest visiting in your town. For in six days God made Heaven, Earth, and sea, and everything in them; he rested on the seventh day. Therefore God blessed the Sabbath day; he set it apart as a holy day.

I now understand why my mom didn't cook or clean on Sunday when we were growing up. Our Sunday's started with church and concluded with rest. We watched very little television on Sunday's especially before church. It all makes sense now.  This time of quiet provided a time of reflection before a time of worship. I hope you will find the ability to trust God and give your body the rest it needs. Trust me, whatever you need to get finished, it can wait. He's got you covered! (Posted by Renee)

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Hurricane Irma Wreaks Havoc

What a difference a week makes. 

Radar of Hurricane Irma

Last week I sat in the aftermath of the strongest storm in history, Hurricane Irma. Power loss, boil water ordinance, friends and family in distress, low water pressure, long gas lines, debris cleanup and grocery stores with empty shelves appeared as an apocalyptic movie scene.

Local Grocery Store - Empty Shelves

Grocery Store struggle to fill shelves
I remember walking out of my home for the first time to see what Irma left behind. Thankfully, nothing but minor inconveniences compared to so many in Key West, Naples, Puerto Rico, Cuba and the Caribbean islands.

I think like many Floridians, I've been so humbled by the many comforts of home that I take for granted. The ability to make that hot cup of coffee, take a hot shower or turn on a light and have electricity in the home. Having it all taken away humbled me to realize every community is only one disaster away from total devastation.

Floridians over the next weeks and months will continue to recover from Hurricane Irma. We will also have our eyes and ears keenly aware of any other tropical waves or disturbances in the Gulf of Mexico or Atlantic Ocean.

Renee and I want to thank YOU for your prayers and well wishes as we weathered the storm. We both have sought ways in our community and beyond to give back and help those who are most vulnerable. To every first responder, emergency management official, meterologist and electrical workers that left their family to ensure our families were safe and informed, we thank you.

Our attitude of gratitude will continue. Will you join us? 

Can you start each day thankful for the little comforts of home you easily take for granted? Can you find someone or organization that might need your hands or financial donation? I truly believe we have so much to be a blessing to someone else. Can you continue to pray for Houston where 20,000 are still in shelters and transitional housing.

Our small acts of kindness make a BIG difference. Communities helping communities. The human race and American spirit seem to always rise in the midst of storms, crisis and adversity. God bless America. (Posted by Roslyn)

Prayers for Florida, Houston and so many others!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

We're Being Hit by Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Irma

At the time of this post, Roslyn and I both live in a state being pounded by Hurricane Irma. Millions of people are in the path of the storm causing it to be a historic event. Schools, churches, and even Walmart are closed for the next few days until the storm passes. All week it's been nearly impossible to purchase the basic hurricane necessities like gas, water, bread and batteries.

I knew my area was in the path of the storm to some degree, but with the shift in Irma's track, the eyewall will come within miles of my home. Since it was nearly impossible to find plywood for our windows, we will hunker down in our safe room where there's no windows or exterior doors.

The sobering reality that nearly 100 mph winds will soon change the atmosphere caused me to take years of memories off my walls. 

This entire experience is humbling. Matter of fact, downright frightening. 

Hurricanes are common this time of year. I've weathered many storms but there's something about Irma that leaves even the strongest of believers  a bit nervous. I KNOW that my faith is in God and not plywood or shutters. 

Even in my fears, I'm fully confident in an amazing and sovereign God! 

During the preparation for the storm, God constantly reminded me that He's my resource. When parts of me wanted to panic because I couldn't find water or batteries for our flashlights, God used neighbors and friends to call out of nowhere to offer these supplies to us. 

Even though our house isn't boarded up and we don't have shutters, it's well built and God continues to whisper, "if you needed those items, I would've sent them your way." 

I choose to trust Him!

There's a few things that God is demonstrating with this event.

  • The opportunity for "Sabbath Rest"

On a typical Sunday most people will find themselves worshiping at churches all over this state. Thousands of church employees and even volunteers work hard to prepare beautiful atmospheres of worship.

Not today. 

Most churches in the state are closed and it's a time when we will all enjoy "Sabbath rest". It's one of the ten commandments that we often read about but never follow. In a world full of distractions, the command from Exodus 20 gets easily overlooked.

8-11 Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Work six days and do everything you need to do. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to God,your God. Don’t do any work—not you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your servant, nor your maid, nor your animals, not even the foreign guest visiting in your town. For in six days God made Heaven, Earth, and sea, and everything in them; he rested on the seventh day. Therefore God blessed the Sabbath day; he set it apart as a holy day.
  • God is our source

I'm sure that for some pastors, church being closed today is a scary thought. For churches of all sizes that depend on the tithes and offerings of its members each week for various budget items or to the employee of the numerous restaurants, retail stores and gas stations that can't work today and won't get paid as a result, God is providing yet another opportunity to trust Him in a deeper way. Here's His word: 

Philippians 4:19And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

  • God owns it all
For those concerned about their homes, churches or businesses being damaged, understand that it all belongs to him. He allowed you to acquire it, He will help to sustain it.

Even if you have to rebuild.

I Chronicles 29:16 God, our God, all these materials—these piles of stuff for building a house of worship for you, honoring your Holy Name—it all came from you! It was all yours in the first place! 

  • God is our protector
These scriptures give the greatest encouragement in scary times...

Psalm 32:7You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.

Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

(Posted by Renee)

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Through Her Eyes

Summer is quickly evaporating. We all wait with baited breath to see the solar eclipse that happens on Monday, Aug. 21st. Children and parents are hurriedly returning to a new pace with the school year starting and for some school is already in full swing. Young adults are excited about their new college life. Before we blink, it will be Christmas.

I am one of those parents with a teenager starting his senior year of high school and youngest son entering 7th grade.

Where did the time go?

That is the question that most of us are asking ourselves. I've been blessed to have a refreshing Summer that came with a ton of travel.  Puerto Rico, Dallas, River Ranch Florida, Palm Beach, Melbourne, Naples, Atlanta, Cincinnati, New York, Toronto, Valdosta Georgia it seems that I was away more than I was home. Country living, beaches and metropolis cities I've experience so much in three months with my boys. My suitcase is still packed by the foot of my bed.

Roslyn at River Ranch, Florida watching buffalo

My Summer vacation capped off with traveling with the two of the four living matriarchs of our family to Cincinnati. We have an annual family reunion that usually is hosted in Florida. For 45 years we gather, eat and reminisce about earlier days when many more of our family members were alive. This year, after about two decades, we made the trek to Ohio. The weather was 58 degrees, low humidity and a refreshing break from the hot temperatures in Florida.

The ability to see the friendly skies with my aunt was priceless. I often take air travel for granted since I do it so frequently. My aunt sat by the window in awe of the large aircraft that held her. The clouds, the skyline, the ocean all of it kept her captivated and smiling by her window seat in 10C.

Aunt enjoying the view in seat 10C

As we start a new year, let's see life through the eyes of those that are much wiser than we are. Life for them moves at a slower pace. No agenda, no rushing, no where to be just enjoying the amazing world that surrounds them. Although not perfect, it's the one that God has provided for us. I hope the following verse encourages you in whatever season of life you find yourself. (Posted by Roslyn)

"Don't be troubled. You trust God, now trust in me." ~John 14:1

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Update on Jordan

What a difference a few days make. A few weeks ago I shared a testimony about God's grace in a very difficult situation. No worries if you missed it. Read it here.

I'm overwhelmed by the number of calls, texts, emails, prayers and well wishes we've received. I fully realize why God never intended for us to do life alone. We needed a village around us and we got it.

Almost everyday there's someone asking about Jordan which is wonderful. That means that he's still thought of and prayed for. I wanted to provide an update because I realize that not everyone is connected to our Facebook page.

Walking in with bandages.
We followed up with the burn center on Wednesday. Fortunately he was able to have all of his bandages removed! This is what we prayed for. Now that the bandages are gone, we can focus on his total and complete healing.

Beyond the physical pain of the experience, the hardest part for Jordan is the limitations on his outdoor time. Since his damaged skin is susceptible to sun damage, he has to minimize his time outside. If he's outside, we must slather him in sunscreen along with him wearing a hat and a mask to cover his burns.

He LOVES the outdoors and this is the biggest adjustment moving forward. For a few weeks he had to give up bike riding, baseball and he's still unable to swim even though we are a month past the incident. Fortunately we live in the South and we can spend most of our days outside, after he's cleared by the doctor's, because of the warmer weather. In comparison to what could be, we are blessed beyond measure that he didn't have more damage to his incredibly soft and kissable skin.

No bandages after visit to burn center!

Jordan enjoying a sunset (UV rays are low)

Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.
I Thessalonians 5:17-19

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Tragedy Found Me!

I don't care how much you may try to avoid a tragedy, it might just find you. Few of us go through life without experiencing some type of tragic event or loss.

It comes out of nowhere.

It's never expected.

It has a way of finding you whether you open the door, answer the phone or say hello to it.

Recently I returned home from a 10 day vacation. Our family time away started in West Palm Beach with us cheering on our youngest in his rookie baseball state tournament. We were on such a high because the boys dominated and won their district championship that allowed them to advance to the state competition. Unfortunately our state appearance ended quickly. Oh well. Despite the sweltering heat and game losses, we had a blast!

Accidental country girls!
We then traveled from the Palm Beach area to our yearly vacation with my sister and her family. Just two hours north we would find the wide open fields of ranch living. Beaches, city lights, and a vibrant night life gave way to roaming bison, energetic billy goats, and nightly line dancing in an authentic western saloon.

Everything around the ranch moved at a slower pace. I had time to hear and ponder my thoughts, listen to God's gentle whispers and relax my body. I could finally catch up on my reading. My mornings started with peaceful walks and ended watching the sunset off in the distance. What could be more enjoyable?

Life was beyond great UNTIL.........

Tragedy struck.

This particular night we would sit out by the open fire in front of the saloon and make s'mores with the kids.

In an INSTANT my life was different.

One minute a flaming hot marshmallow is on the end of my stick and in the next second, my son is on the ground kicking around in the mulch screaming that he's on fire. Everything happened so fast that I can't even remember the details of the event. As I sit here on my computer at 1:00 in the morning, the memory of seeing my son still torments me. Not nearly as much as it did the night of the incident.

His screams pierced my ears.
My babies. (Post surgery)

I run with him into the saloon to try and find mustard and ice. (Mustard is great with burns. Don't believe me, google it.) He tries desperately to fight the tears because the saltiness of them cause his facial burns to hurt even more.

His flesh is burned. It's a sight that no mom should have to see. What in the heck happened? Lord, please help me!

I don't remember much else, except, we leave the saloon and rush my son to ER. Since we're in the middle of nowhere, it takes what seems like a lifetime to get him there. My sister is driving while my son is sitting between my 17 year old nephew and 15 year old daughter. Roslyn is driving 90 mph to try and get us there. My sweet baby boy is screaming to the top of his lungs. I've NEVER heard him scream like this. I can't even begin to imagine the intense pain he's feeling. It overwhelms me and I BREAK DOWN! I can't stop the tears. I briefly remember my sister's hand on my knee as she tries to drive and console me at the same time.

And then, out of the chaos, my teenage daughter begins to PRAY!

Wait, what?

Within minutes of her prayer ending, the ear piercing screams from my son are SILENCED! Jordan fell asleep.

Crap, I hadn't even thought to pray. I only cried out. Praying any type of audible prayer was so far from my mind. In that moment, I wasn't an inspirational blogger, Bible study teacher, small group leader or any other role. I was a teary-eyed, privately hysterical mom in desperate need for her son's pain to stop.

I knew God would use this experience as a testimony in some way, I just didn't know how. Read these beautiful words from the Psalms...

Psalms 8:2 (TLB)

You have taught the little children to praise you perfectly. May their example shame and silence your enemies!

Enjoying God's beauty!
All the prayers we'd prayed together, she listened. When she didn't always want to pray, she recognized it's power. In a moment of tragedy, crisis and chaos, she knew what to do!

My deepest and most fervent prayer for my children is that they may know Christ for themselves. On that night, Hannah clearly demonstrated, she does! (Posted by Renee)

Isaiah 43:1-3 (NIV)

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;