Thursday, December 1, 2016

Advent: 24 Days of Looking to the Light of the World

Christmas is a very special time for me personally. My history of personal trials and having a baby boy at Christmastime nearly 12 years ago has changed Christmas for me forever. Every year since then, Christmas has been not a day, but days of worship and meditation leading up to the 25th of December and a new year.  I've spent many years doing a Jesse Tree devotional with my boys.  The last couple years, the Jesse Tree devotional was replaced by other short readings and discussions (read resistance and challenge) with my preteen and teenage sons. This year, I've decided to write out my own meditations and thoughts and share them with my young men.  I am planning to post a daily meditation/devotional between now and Christmas.


 December 1: What Life Is All About

"Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, 'I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'" -John 8:12

I've been thinking a lot about how following Jesus explains everything.

I'm currently going through a situation where I'm being asked questions, almost daily, about God, what the purpose of humanity is, what marriage is for, how to find happiness and more.  The questions come from someone who doesn't believe in Christ and even admits to being repelled by the idea of worshipping God or needing a Savior.  As I've listened and humbly put forward the answers I felt led to speak I've come to realize what a freedom and wonder it is to see life in light of Jesus.  

Christmas is ablaze with lights.  Lighted trees, lights on the house... everything is lit up.  I love the lights.  The shine and glimmer at night is just beautiful.  But lights aren't just pretty.  They allow us to see.  In fact seeing is really just our brain's interpretation of the light the photosensitive cells in our eyeballs receive.  When you're blind, your eyes don't take in the light.  The light is there, but you don't see.

Light allows you to avoid danger.  With the tiniest of lights on at night I can distinguish a Rubik's cube in the hallway on the way to the bathroom so I don't twist my ankle.  Light invades darkness, but darkness never puts light out.  When the lights are on, night creatures and creepy crawlies scramble.

In the Bible Jesus calls himself the light of the world.  Jesus is the light every human being needs to see what life is all about.

The famous Christmas reading of the prophecy about the coming Child says:

"The people who walk in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone." - Isaiah 9:2
 Living life in this world without following Jesus is like living in deep darkness without any light.   Sounds scary.  But even scarier is living life in this world without following Jesus thinking you see just fine.  Jesus said, "The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!" (Matthew 6:23)  

The Christ we celebrate at Christmas is the way we see what life is all about!  Christmas is about the Light of the World coming into our great darkness, making those who believe in him able to navigate this dark, crazy world with understanding, peace and purpose.


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. - John 1:1-13


Light of the World life doesn't make any sense to me without you!  Even though I don't fully understand you, when I look to you, and follow you, I can see where I'm going in life and everything has purpose.  You really are the Light of the World!  Thank you for breaking into my darkness and shining your light on my heart!





Sunday, November 6, 2016

Time-warp wrap up






I feel like it's going to be Thanksgiving and Christmas and 2017 in rapid succession. It really feels to me like since I drove the kids home from California this summer, we've been in a fast-forward time warp.

Friday and Saturday were the culmination and fruition of 2+ months of soap-making and 2+ weeks of marketing, packaging, printing and prepping. The Front Porch Pickins Vintage and Handmade Market at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale hosting hundreds of vendors, including my little Goats Make Soap Co. booth, was from 9-7 on Friday and 9-4 on Saturday. Thursday was about 8 hours of unloading and setup and Saturday after 4pm was about 4 hours of packing up and loading. 

In total, weeks of hours was put into this event and it paid off.  I learned some things, had great interactions with new customers, was blessed with visits from friends and made triple in sales what I was hoping for.  I think I'll do it again in February and won't be nearly as stressed about it before hand now that I know what to expect.

My dear neighbor, Laura, volunteered to help me through the whole process in exchange for keeping her in soap. Deal! And I'm sure I got the better end of that bargain, because I would not have been standing upright on the floor of the Cardinals stadium setting up a booth on Thursday if it wasn't for her! I see a good friendship developing there. Thank you Lord!

In the weeks leading up to this event I sold my last two milking does and went to part time (24 hours a week) at work. I was also offered an opportunity to apply for a wound nurse position at my hospital (which I will be applying for tomorrow), which is a half-time position (20 hrs a week). I also applied to ASU's RN to BSN online program which I will be following up on tomorrow to find out the next step.

The Friday before last my mother in law found out she has stage 3 duodenal cancer, which is so rare the doctors are treating it as small bowel cancer because they really don't know how to treat it. This came as a big surprise. She starts chemotherapy next week and I will be flying out to stay with her for a couple days the week of Thanksgiving.

I'm tired and ready to call it a day after a nail-biting baseball tournament day with Connor and coffee with dear friends this evening.

I am finding that there are no A+B=C explanations for why God does what he does. At least those kinds of linear, clear, neat explanations don't satisfy me. But a look at the cross of Christ does. A look up at an all-powerful, sovereign, good and holy God gets my eyes off why and on what. What do you want me to do? What do you want me to learn? And even more that that, it takes the questions off the table, at least for awhile, and causes me just forget myself and be in awe of one greater than me and my circumstances. To get lost for a moment in the wonder of God and his plan for the universe and little speck of dust me... to think about the fact that I am his creature, he made me, in his image, and for his glory... The whys and the whats fall off the radar and I can look back down at where I'm at in life and have a sense of peace that says, "All will be well because I am His and He is mine."




Quieted,
Sheila

Thursday, October 20, 2016

This is just to decompress






Today was a very full day. And seeing that it's 9:49pm and I work tomorrow this is going to be a very succinct post. Mostly just a way to get out of my head all that's bouncing around. Read at your own risk.

I had the past four days off.  Yesterday I attended a vendor meeting for the upcoming Front Porch Pickins Vintage & Handmade Market.  The market will be November 4th and 5th at the University of Phoenix stadium where the Arizona Cardinals play.  An understatement would be the place is huge.  Another understatement would be:  I'm feeling a bit nervous.  Beginning Wednesday, this market is being advertised on HGTV, DIY Network, The History Channel, Fox AZ, Channel 12 AZ...   I just get the feeling I'm going to get a lot more customers than I usually have at a booth I've run.  I'm the third booth people will see when entering the market.  Gulp.

Lots to do because of the above, but thanks to a friend and neighbor, I'll have help!  She's done many trade shows before and knows what to expect.  She's officially Goats Make Soap Co.'s administrative assistant/ event planner/ keep the soap maker from passing out lady.

Despite this big venue coming in 2 weeks (breathe Sheila, breathe) I am trying to not let the million things I need to do keep me from my family.  This week is fall break and both the boys have been home all week.  Today was a day scheduled to deliver to purchased does to their new owner in the Williams, AZ area.  I figured we'd make a day out of it so after dropping off the goats at their new residence, we drove to Bearizona!  It was soon worth it!  We saw bears, mountain goats, burrows, Mexican wolves and even a huge Bison giving birth!

We got home 30 minutes before swim practice, so it was basically a potty break/change into your swim clothes stop.  Not really arriving home.

At 7:30 this evening when we got home officially, after swim practice, I made four batches of soap.

I have 560 + bars of soap for this venue.  I hope it's enough.

Time to hit the hay.  Tomorrow I'm a R.N.


 Quieted,
Sheila

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Sore throats, Puppy love and County Inspectors

(This pic has nothing to do with the post, but it just makes me laugh.  Pic of me as an infant looking in horror at an armless doll sitting in front of me.)

This is only my second week of working two shifts a week. I like it.  I've had the last three days off and thought I was going to be busy.

Monday I had planned to drop off the two barn cats at the spay and neuter clinic at 6:45 am and then take a day trip north with my neighbor so she could pick up a rooster and check on some goats we had sold to a lady there. Tuesday I was planning to go to Bible Study Fellowship, make soap and work on narrowing down a decision for where to pursue my BSN. Today was supposed to be the household chores and errands day, plus a buyer for my last two does was supposed to come pick them up today.

Instead, I cancelled my day trip with my neighbor on Monday, anticipating too much packed into one day. I took the cats to the vet as planned and started making soap. By half way through the day a sore throat was coming on.  I shrugged it off as allergies or maybe too much fragrance oil in the air from soap making.  I went to the gym and while I was there I broke into a cold sweat.  Sure I was running a fever, I wiped down the equipment I was using 1/2 way through my workout and went home.  No fever, but by the evening I was miserable.

Tuesday morning I woke up looking like I had an allergic reaction, my face was so swollen, my throat was sore but not as bad as Monday night and I felt like I had been on a roller coaster for three days. Ugh.  I slept off and on all day.  James had taken Tuesday off so he got the kids off to school and spent the whole day getting ready for the county inspector who was scheduled to come sometime between 8 am and 4pm to check on his progress on the front porch job.  By late Tuesday afternoon I was feeling much better, thought I had slept off this virus and decided to go attempt some kind of exercise.  That was a bad idea.  As soon as the blood started flowing the virus woke up and said, "We're not done!"  I went home, showered and went to bed early.

Today I'm feeling better, but decided against doing much moving around so as not to arouse the nasty sleeping virus in my body.  I was expecting the lady from somewhere between Flagstaff and Williams to come pick up my last two does today, but around 12 she texted me that she and her hubby had overheated their older pickup and were now waiting for a tow truck.  Sale not cancelled, but postponed until an agreement and meeting place and time could be arranged since it doesn't look like her vehicle will be up and running any time soon.  (I might just ask her to pay for gas and make a trip up to the Grand Canyon on one of my days off and take the two does with me.)

I did get some housekeeping done, some laundry and some correspondence with family.  One of the best parts of today was when I decided to just go outside and attempt to plant some scallion-like bulbs, peas and leeks.  I don't know what it is with me and gardening.  I think it's just lack of faith.  From inside my cozy house, the view out my window to the dry desert dirt that is my front yard, littered with thorny weeds, seems to steal away the idea that anything might grow if I plant it.  I look out there and it looks so barren and dry.  But when I get off my duff, walk out the door, grab a pair of gloves, water hose, garden tool thingy, seeds and get down on my knees and start pulling weeds, tilling dirt, adding water and poking seeds into the ground I feel a mysterious sense of health.  There's just something about putting your hands in dirt with the intent of killing weeds and growing flowers and vegetables that clears the mind and makes you feel better!  I need to do it more often.

James is not a happy camper right now.  He spent the last three days off digging gigantic squares in the ground where the footers (?) for the posts where the new front porch will go.  He even built forms to put in the squares in the ground to pour the concrete in.  But when the inspector guy (who was very loud and brash) came and told him he was overkilling the post holes and asked where the property line was (which James wasn't prepared to answer and didn't know exactly), he felt like he had wasted time, labor and money getting ready for the guy to come.  After the inspector left he started digging around to find out where the property line is, what he found threw a giant wrench in the whole plan.  Apparently he is going to have to fill and re-dig these footers a foot or two closer to the house than he has.  Not good.

Ryland is currently at his swim team practice.  Connor is probably home trying to explain to his dad why he's 15 minutes late getting home.  That won't go well.  One of my two middle school aged sons has a "girlfriend" (Read he likes a girl his age and she likes him and they blush and text each other smiley faces and talk about how much they hate ceramics class.  I know.  I read his text messages.  That was the agreement when he got a smart phone- parents have free access at all times.)  This is a big turning point in our lives as parents and his life as a boy becoming a young man.

I remember being 13.  I didn't care about boys yet then.  By the time I was 14 I liked Bobby Troop, but he had no idea I existed and I was a foot taller than all the boys that knew me so I had no boyfriends.  It was probably a good thing.  I've been praying for the girl that likes my son- that God would use her influence in my son's life for His good purposes.  From their birth I've dedicated both Connor and Ryland to the Lord.  I pray that God would use their friendships, even the girl kind, to draw them closer to him.

There's lots of scary things in the world when it comes to teenagers and dating.  Everything in our culture is sex-crazed.  There is no innocence in dating or courting or whatever you call it.  I know the world my sons are growing up in has a totally twisted view on the relationship between men and women.  I just pray that God would use all the relationships in my kids' lives to draw them to Him and that he would keep them from destructions that come in all kinds of teenage foolishness.



Prayerful,
Sheila