Thursday, May 27, 2010

Chloe's Karate Essay

Today is a very special day in our family. Chloe, our 11 year old tests for her Black Belt tonight. I'm so proud of her. It hasn't always been easy, but she has pressed through the tough stuff and tonight...

Tonight she has the test of a lifetime.

Part of the process was to write an essay about her journey and what having her Black Belt meant to her. I asked Chloe if I could share it with you and she said, sure.

Reflections of My Karate Journey
Chloe E. Parson
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!
Philippians 4:13

The Black Belt Test. For so long it seemed like a distant dream and now I am a few days away from the test of a lifetime. While I am excited, I am also nervous. I wasn’t expecting to feel so emotional about this. What an honor it is to be invited to test. For three years I have spent hours in class and at home practicing karate. It has truly become part of who I am. What a journey it has been.

My karate journey began in July of 2007. Before I began I thought it was the sweatiest and most disgusting sport on the face of the earth. I wasn’t sure if this was something that I would want to continue. It didn’t take long for me to become fascinated with it! When I was an orange belt, I realized that yes it is a sweaty sport, but there are benefits to studying karate.

As a white belt, I was very intimidated by what I saw the upper belts doing. They were able to do high flying kicks and what seemed like insane forms. Because of my size I felt like I would never be able to do those things. As a small girl sometimes people don’t think that I can do karate well. My instructors taught me that it doesn’t matter what size you are, anyone can do karate. Karate has definitely pushed me to do and be my best. Physically, I am stronger than I was before I started. I am glad my instructors push me to work hard. Today, I am physically doing what I thought as a white belt I would NEVER be able to do. That is proof that Philippians 4:13 is true!

It is easy to understand that karate is physical. What I did not expect was how emotional it would be. I have found that I love this sport. It is one of the first things I think about each day. Sometimes I daydream about the next test when I should be concentrating on my schoolwork. Sometimes I wonder if God gave me a crazy love for karate!

At each belt test I felt relieved to accomplish what was required, but at the same time I felt a little anxious about what was coming next. Especially after my red strip test. I was excited, anxious and a little overwhelmed at what I would be learning next. To be honest, I was afraid. God’s word says in 2 Timothy 1:7 that God does NOT give us a spirit of fear! BUT He gives us a spirit of power, love and a SOUND MIND. Because of that verse and believing that I can do all things because Jesus Christ gives me strength, I knew I could accomplish what was required of me next. It wasn’t easy and I may have cried a few tears, but Jesus helped me do it. This taught me that God really does keep His word.

Over the last three years, God has used karate to grow me in my faith. Like I already said, I have learned that God really does keep his word, and that I can go to him with anything and everything. He wants to help me, and I want Him to!

There were two kicks that I struggled with. They were the 360 roundhouse and the jump spinning back kick. My mind knew what to do, but my body would not do it. It was frustrating, embarrassing and there were times I thought I would never get those kicks down. Then, I started praying before we would work on them. I begged God to help me. And you know what? He did. I saw Matthew 19:26 in action. It says “What is impossible for man is possible with God.”

I believe that God has given me a passion and the ability to study karate. I am learning that I have to be careful that my passion and enthusiasm does not come across as pride. I want to be confident, but I never want that confidence to come across as bragging.

My mom showed me Isaiah 32:17 “The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.” She says when we are spending time with Jesus and applying what He shows us in His word to our life, there will be a holy confidence in us. She says we should pray and ask God to give us holy confidence in everything we do. Karate included.

Becoming a Black Belt is a work in progress. It has been a passion, a goal and is now, very close to a reality. One of the reasons it is so important to me to accomplish this level of karate is to show younger girls that it can be done.
I want them to look at me and say, “If Chloe can work hard and become a Black Belt, then I know that I can work hard and do it too!” Another reason this test is so important to me is that I have proven to myself that with God’s help, I can accomplish what seems impossible. This is a lesson that will help me the rest of my life.

While this test is so very special to me, it isn’t the end. Really, it’s the beginning. I know that God is and will continue to use karate as a way for me to share Jesus with others. Let’s be honest, who would think that an almost twelve year old girl who is four feet four inches tall would be so passionate about karate! Some people see my size as a disadvantage, but I see it as an advantage. My size and my love for karate gives me an avenue to tell others that Jesus loves them and that with Him all things are possible.

I will wear my Black Belt with honor. I know that with it comes responsibility to myself, my instructors and school, and most importantly to my God. Thank you, instructors for not giving up on me. Thank you for pushing me to be my best. Thank you for showing me Jesus.

Thank you for teaching me.

(Jesus Saves!)

I'll be posting pictures on Friday. :) (As long as there are no broken bones!)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

one more thing....

I'm keeping an on-line journal about my two week experience with one of the AdvoCare products in the trim line. You can go here to read. Today is day 3 and I'll update later in the afternoon.

Kitchen Makeover Part 1

Last week I got the bug to do a little decorating in our kitchen and breakfast room. Saturday, we hit the home improvement store and I came home with four color cards of green, a few accent colors and a plan that was much larger than I imagined.

Once we were home I started putting all my favorite kitchen things on my dining room table. Here they are with the paint swatch.

See that hand towel with the bumble bee? I'm thinking about doing a tea stain on it so it isn't stark white. Not sure...though.

I picked out the color called Leafy Rise. It is a perfect match to the frame that was my inspiration piece. (Do I sound like a HGTV Host or what!) This color is in several dishes and things I already have. (I will have Emma's interpretation of "Starry Starry Night" framed soon, but the colors in it are PERFECT so it will continue to stay in the kitchen.)

It's going to take all summer to do this. The first thing is the paint under the bar and the small area around our laundry room and pantry. This will not be the green color, but a textured paint in the color Sandstone. Honestly, it kind of looks like sandpaper. :) We just felt like under the bar gets beat up SO, something with some texture and a speckled color might mask that a little.

Other than paint, the one BIG change is going to be window treatments. These are what I have my heart set on.

Yes, in the black check because our living room windows are on the same wall. At some point I will replace my mistreatments in there with the full panel version of this black and white check.

(These are from Ballard Design, my FAVORITE home decorating on-line shop!)

I've decided to journal each step of the process. We will be doing things as we have the extra $$. AND just so you know, I have a VERY small budget so it will be interesting to see what kind of deals we can find! I love a good challenge.

Monday, May 17, 2010

That Pressing Thing

Friday, in my very random and scattered brained post, I mentioned that God had been pressing something on my heart. Over the weekend, I had confirmation that it was time to share it. So that's what I'm going to do today.

To me, one of the greatest blessings of being a Christian is KNOWING that God is always with me. His Holy Spirit is living in me and I do not have to ask Him to show up because He is already here.

Hebrews 13:5b says: God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."

What a comfort that is. God also tells us in Isaiah 43:2 that

"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."

That is SO precious to me because we live in a world where there seems to be a LOT of trouble. That really shouldn't come as a surprise because God's word says in John 16:33b that

"In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

With that little bit of background, I feel like I can move on to the pressing thing.

One of the greatest things we can do for people is pray. I'm ALWAYS honored when someone asks me to pray about something. Especially when it's one of you. Each time you e-mail a prayer requests I feel so honored that you trust me with it. Thank you.

One day last week I received a pretty lengthy prayer request (from a non-blog reader) that broke my heart. Because of the nature of it, I will not share details. The writer is obviously hurting and working through some unresolved grief, anger, hurt, unforgiveness....we have all been there. My heart just broke for this writer and I sat staring at my computer screen saying "Wow, God. Am I even supposed to respond? And if so, you have to give me some words!"

There are a lot of layers to this situation, but that e-mail was a HUGE part of the pressing thing. It was like the final point in the lesson. :) I began to pray about the circumstances and situation and asking God to move in it.

What God showed me was this:

He is peace. He is love. He is healing. He is restoration. Sometimes as we grieve, as we hurt and as we work through the trouble that God himself told us we would experience, we need to stop asking Him to BE those things. He already IS those things. He is I AM.

Instead we need to simply look up and receive the peace we are begging for. Look at John 16:33b again

"In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

But now, read it with the first part of the verse.

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

Last week when I was speechless I posted on Facebook that I didn't even know what to say. It wasn't long until a friend posted this as her status. It was for me and the situation I was praying for. I hope it encourages you today.

"I believe Christ still grieves when He sees hearts in unnecessary turmoil. You can have the peace of Christ, believer, no matter what your circumstances; but you must believe, bend the knee, and learn to receive." Beth Moore

For quite sometime, God used different situations to remind me that there are times when I choose to stay in a state of unrest because I do not choose to bend the knee and receive the peace He is ready to pour into me.

I don't know about you, but today...I'm making the choice to receive peace.

Friday, May 14, 2010

It's Friday!

Did this week seem long to you? Boy it seemed to be the never ending week!
Today Chad and I are celebrating our 16th anniversary. :)It sure doesn't seem like it has been 16 years. More like 2! We are blessed. I was thinking last night that I'm glad that we still like each other. Sure I bug him, he bugs me, but we still like each other.

I'm looking forward to dinner out and then a quiet weekend with our girls. Not sure how quiet it will be, I'm secretly hoping to go buy some paint and paint our kitchen this weekend. I NEED SOME COLOR!!! I'll let you know if the man goes for it.

God has been dealing with me about something for a while. SEVERAL times this week He has placed things in front of me that have just pressed that something into my heart a little deeper. I'm feeling a blog post coming, but this thing hasn't been pressed in enough to share just yet. It's kind of why my post have been a little sparse and random. :) Like this very random bunch of facts I'm just throwing up here!

Before 10 this morning, I had spent two hours on the phone. (My mom and mother-in-law) Great conversations. My only regret is that those conversations weren't in person over a cup of coffee or tea. My in-laws are headed on a GREAT vacation and I'm so excited for them. Can NOT wait to get the postcards and see the pictures. Pray that they have safe travel and that they will R.E.S.T.

I have somewhat taken over or started putting a little more hands on attention to our AdvoCare business. I am seeing such improvement in our health that I want to share it. Because of that, I have moved my laptop to the kitchen desk. (Thus the reason I want to paint, I'm in here a LOT more than I have been in the past.) Today, this will be arriving. On Monday, I will be documenting my 14 day experience with this AdvoCare product over here.

I will go ahead and tell you that I'm not trying to loose a bunch of weight, just the 10 pounds or so from having babies. (BABIES THAT ARE 11 and 9!!!) I've already cut out soda and cut way back on my coffee intake. That means I'm down to about 6 cups before noon...NO I'm not kidding. I normally make a FULL 12 cup pot in the morning and drink on it all day. Just being real girls, being real.

So come Monday, I will be making a conscience effort to pay attention to everything that I eat, drink and snack on. :) PLUS I will start spending 27 minutes with the Shred DVD again. I think I'm going to do it every other day and do yoga and take a walk on the off days. LOVE the Shred but the bouncing kills me! :) are a good friend if you've read all this. :) It's time to start getting ready for our dinner so I'm off to assemble the perfect outfit to go with one of the necklaces Chad gave me this morning. He snuck out to his car and brought it in while I was in the shower this morning. It's really sad that he has to hide gifts in his car and sneak out at 6:00 in the morning just to surprise me. I need to quit snooping around!

Happy weekend!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Brrrr....Is it Summer Break?

WARNING: Because it is day 2 of Summer break, I'm in a rambling mood. This probably won't be a thought provoking post. :)

Is it really May? Yesterday was day 1 of Summer Break 2010 but, it feels more like fall break! The girls and I had to put on hoodies for our walk yesterday and I actually thought about turning the fireplace on we came back in. (I didn't actually flip the switch, but I came pretty close!) Instead I made banana bread. It was a "healthy" recipe Chad clipped out of his Tri-Athlon magazine. And just so you know, healthy does not mean dry, or lacking in taste. Nope. This recipe called for 1/2 cup of chocolate chips and it is absolutely the best banana bread I've ever tasted.

I have to say how proud I am of Chad and his healthy choices lately. He's been working hard for almost 2 1/2 years to become heart healthy. I shared a little about that journey over here today. I don't say a lot here about AdvoCare Products, but I'm very serious when I say these products, along with healthy choices, are making a huge difference in our life.

OH GUESS what! Chloe is just two weeks away from testing for her black belt. Momma is just a little nervous. Not sure I'm ready for this particular test. In addition to "THE TEST", she has to write a 1,000 word essay on what this journey has meant to her.

Needless to say, we started working on that today. She has been making "brainstorm" notes in her journal for a couple of weeks. I was impressed with her notes. Deep stuff in there.

We spent a good part of the morning working on an outline. She took the first two points and began the writing process. Who knew an 11 year old could talk about the physical, emotional and spiritual parts of her journey to her black belt test. I was floored. Amazed at some of the things she said. Whose child is she? :) Obviously, her Father's. (earthly and heavenly)

Emma and I are working hard this summer on our math flashcards. She wants to get fast. I didn't do a good job last summer of running those with her and she says she "lost her speed". So we are going to work extra hard this summer to keep those facts fresh. :) This child absolutely keeps us in stitches. During our game time Monday night, she was in rare form. I looked at Chad and we just shook our heads. She is absolutely the funniest thing ever.

The girls and I are on the search for the perfect swimsuits. I have been very surprised at their choices this year. I think they have flip flopped their tastes this year. We still haven't found the perfect suite yet, but we will. :) I guess it's good that last years still fit! (Our pool opens next weekend and if it warms up, we will be there!!!)

I guess that is enough random for today. I have beef stew in the crock pot and I need to make some biscuits or cornbread to go with it.

I haven't told you lately, but I'm glad you stopped by. Praying God blesses you and that you know that you are dearly loved.


Monday, May 10, 2010

Just thinking about Mother's Day

So how was your Mother's Day? My daughters and husband went out of their way all weekend to make me feel special. Chad and the girls surprised me with a dozen roses on Saturday evening. Then, Chad grilled steaks. That was a quite a treat and we had a nice evening. The girls picked out Sunday clothes (we pretty much did that w/out a breakdown. THAT is a Mother's Day Miracle!) and everyone went to bed early. My kind of evening.

Sunday morning my sweet people surprised me with a few fun cards, a new coffee cup AND a new canister to hold my coffee beans. I LOVE it. Chad and I had nursery duty during the Worship hour, so we left our Connections class and headed over to play, rock and love on a classroom full of 12 month - 15 month olds. They were precious and adorable and SO sweet. However,

I had a first. I have NEVER been bitten by a baby. EVER. Until yesterday. :) One little sister tried to take my thumb home. And yes, I have the bruise/bite mark to prove it! I forgave her, how could I not forgive that pretty little thing in a pink smocked dress.

We enjoyed our favorite Mexican restaurant for lunch. But listening to the couple behind us I was reminded that Mother's Day/Father's Day isn't always a happy day.

I'm blessed to have a godly mother and lots of good memories of my childhood. My parents are not perfect, but they love Jesus. They have always been consistent in their love and service to Him. I am blessed and my children are blessed to have godly grandparents. But I know some of you can't say that and I am so sorry. I've been with friends in the card aisle as they pour over cards that are so far from what they feel. I've stood and watched them nervously laugh at how sappy and sentimental some of those cards are. I've been speechless as they have said "How do you find a card that says thanks for having me because that's about all you did for me". Speechless. It's hard. I'm so sorry. The only thing I can say is that you do have a Heavenly Father who loves you dearly. You are precious to Him.

Psalm 27:10 says that "Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me."

It's hard when your deepest longing is to have a child and for whatever reason it just isn't happening. I've been there and know this one first hand. It's hard to watch what seems like everyone around you having babies and wonder why you can't stay pregnant. The two years before Chloe was born were the hardest Mother's Day Sunday's of my life. I know what it's like to sit in church and hear nothing that is said because you are trying to hold it together. It was during those moments Psalm 56:8-9 were comforting. Here it is in the King James Version. (I like the way verse 8 reads is why I used this particular translation.)

Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book? When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know; for God is for me.

My prayer is that days like Mother's Day and Father's Day are celebrations in your life. If they aren't, I'm asking God to remind you today that He has not forgot you. He Knows. And He is for you.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Lessons from Little Girls

As a mom, one of the most humbling times in my life was when one of my daughters reminded me of a scripture passage we had discussed. It had something to do with Phil. 4:8 that says

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.

This particular daughter has no idea the impact she had on me. She was singing the above scripture as she played quietly in her room. I was headed to watch my favorite daytime program when the Holy Spirit began to tug on my heart. What I was fixing to watch didn't quite match up with Phil. 4:8. Conviction. I am SO strict on what our children see and don't see, but yet I wasn't being careful to guard my own heart.

God used my daughter's sweet little voice to speak to me. Humbling.

I heard a well known daytime talk show host share a similar story today. I watched this young woman share how her 5 year old daughter reminded her that sometimes, you just need to say "I'm sorry." I was completely unaware of the comments she had made earlier in the week about another celebrity's costume choices on a reality dance show. Honestly, those comments were not what caught my attention.

What caught my attention was that she quoted this verse from Proverbs 12:18a

Reckless words pierce like a sword

While she didn't say "the Bible says...." it was very clear that the Holy Spirit used her little girl to prompt her apology to the person she had hurt. It took some serious strength to make that phone call, but then she turned around and apologized on national television. (Since that was where the offense took place.)

I have to say that I am SO proud of her for owning it, and for handling it the way God said to. Regardless of what happens to her career, she made the choice to do what God said and I believe He is pleased with her.

The last part of Proverbs 12:18 says

but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

God used E. to remind me that as Proverbs 13:10 says

Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.

She wasn't to proud to take some advice from a five year old. She wasn't too proud to apologize. That is a wise young woman.

Sometimes a little child will lead us. I guess the question is are we too proud to listen when they speak truth to us?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Because you asked for it, how about an acrostic?

I'm quickly posting the acrostic from Thursday night's study. Remember this is based on our study of Ruth.

To leave a godly legacy we must:

Live in response to grace. (this was point 4 from my pastor's sermon the week before, but it fit.) Psalm 103:8-10

Entrust our treasures to God. Isaiah 55:8-11 If you can trust God with your eternity, you can trust Him with those things you treasure the most.

Guard our hearts. Prov 4:23 (Your heart is the wellspring of life.)
Ruth's actions came from a pure and loving heart. Her reputation preceeded her. (Ruth 2:11 and 3:11)

Allow the simplicity of the gospel to invade our past.
We looked at the genealogy of Jesus and examined the scandal that was in it. Ruth, Rahab, Tamar... God took a foreigner with an open and bent heart and changed the world. Imagine what He could do if we opened our entire heart to Him.

Constantly pursue Christ.
Not just during Bible study. Live each day aware of His presence. Acknowledge that the consequences of our obedience AND our disobedience have generational effects.

Yield to the hesed of Christ.
hesed is a Hebrew word and concept that Kelly Minter has referred to during this study. You can read the above statement like this to understand it a little better.
Yield to the consistent, ever-faithful, relentless, constnatly pursuing, lavish, extravagant, unrestrained, covenant, furious love of Jesus Christ.

Have a great Monday!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Looking for Quilts

I intended to post my acrostic from Thursday night, but we have made a quick trip "home" to help my parents with my grandparents. As only children, all the care giving falls to my parents and they are willing, happy and honored to take care of my grandparents. BUT, they are tired. My 92 year old grandmother has been in the hospital for over a week and my dad has been living at the hospital with her. (On top of preparing for his Sunday sermon and running the family business.)

I was thrilled to have a "sleepover" with my grandmother last night. We snacked on ice chips and she had me looking all over that room for her quilts. Apparently, someone (who she may have referred to as a "tramp") came in and TOOK HER QUILTS. Goodness, I felt bad for playing along, but it seemed to help calm her down. After about 15 minutes I convinced her that I would talk to those in charge and find the someone who took them. Then I told her it was very late and we needed to say prayers.

Ya'll, I could tell she was working herself up because my dad wasn't there. I may have prayed a little longer than I normally would have, but I knew if I was praying she would be still and quiet. So we prayed. And she fell asleep. AND SLEPT for two hours!

I say all that to say, thank you for your prayers and for concern. I will post my notes on Monday once we are home and the girls are busy with their schoolwork. Unless, I'm still looking for the someone who TOOK HER QUILTS!!!

Have a great Sunday!