Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Seeking Mercy


What started out as a Saturday morning drive with my boys turned in to a Saturday morning walk this weekend. A few blocks from the house the car died and wouldn’t start. I wasn’t going anywhere important. Just to check out some garage sales. So I pulled the stroller out of the trunk, got the kids out, and abandoned my nutella latte and my car.
So I drove my husband’s work van to get groceries yesterday. It’s big. It’s awkward. I don’t like driving it.
I don’t consider myself to be the best driver. I’m certainly not a dangerous driver. I’m more likely to be overly cautious, because I know my own weakness. So driving anything other than my car makes me especially nervous.
As I was pulling out of the store parking lot, I stopped at a stop sign. I lifted my foot off the break and inched forward when I saw a car coming. I wasn’t even anywhere near entering the road, but I instinctively said “oops, sorry” out loud. Not that the other driver could even hear me. But I said it.
As I drove home I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It’s as if by nature I sought out grace and forgiveness. The humanity inside me was crying out for something that could cover my weakness.
We do find ourselves on a desperate search for grace and forgiveness almost constantly. Why? Because we need it. Because we sin. Because we mess up. Because we make mistakes. Because we are seeking out what only a Savior can give.
When I look back and see all the mercy the Lord has poured out over my life I’m in awe. It’s immense! It’s everlasting. It’s new and fresh every time I need it. It’s incredible. It’s amazing.
How I long for my boys to experience that same grace. I want to be a source of it for them. I want them to see in me an example of how the Lord forgives. How the Lord loves. I want to have that kind of grace for my husband and for my friends. I want to forgive quickly and be slow to anger.
And I want to be forgiven time after time after time.
I'll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I've swallowed. I remember it all-oh, how well I remember-the feeling of hitting the bottom. But there's one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:
God's loyal love couldn't have run out, his merciful love couldn't have dried up. They're created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I'm sticking with God (I say it over and over). He's all I've got left.
Lamentations 3:19-24
If you’re wondering about the picture, I thought that this pic of Matthew was much cuter than one of me driving the big work van. ;o)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Come Home Papi!


Samuel left early this morning for work and won’t be back until late tonight.  These days without him are difficult for me, but it’s even harder for the boys.  They really miss their Papi.  They can feel his absence and are affected by it.
When he’s home my husband brings a sense of safety to our home.  He comes with a type of Godly authority they can trust in.  If during the day they ask for a new toy or to go somewhere special I often tell them to ask Papi when he gets home.  When he arrives they run to him for the answers they’ve been seeking.  He calms them.  Takes away their fears.  Protects them and is good to them.  He rescues them when they get stuck or are “falling” off the sofa.  He is strong, but gentle as he picks them up and carries them around the house.  They trust him.  They rest in his presence.  And when he is absent they miss him desperately.
He gives them so much.
Just as our Heavenly Father does for us?  In Him we find the answers to our questions.  We find safety in his authority.  He calms us.  His perfect love casts out all our fears.  He protects us.  He is good.  He rescues us even from sin and death.  We can trust Him and rest in his presence.
And if He was ever absent we would miss Him desperately.
God met me more than halfway, he freed me from my anxious fears.  Look at him; give him your warmest smile. Never hide your feelings from him.  When I was desperate, I called out, and God got me out of a tight spot.  God's angel sets up a circle of protection around us while we pray.  Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see-how good God is. Blessed are you who run to him.
Psalm 34:4-8

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I Want To Help

I had help cleaning today.  Two tiny tots with rags leaving more fingerprints than what they cleaned.  But as soon as I started cleaning windows I heard their two little voices from behind me saying “I want to help!  I want to help!”  So I handed out rags and put them to work.
I followed.  Cleaning the mess they left behind them.  They were convinced they were helping.  I knew better.  Those windows looked better before they cleaned them!  But I didn’t tell them.
I was ok with the extra fingerprints.  They really weren’t a big deal.  When we see the same story played out on a spiritual level between God and His children it’s much more serious.  
When God gives us a promise He is faithful to complete it without any interference (help) from us.  It’s tempting to think that God may need our help when we don’t see his promises fulfilled in our timing.  But considering His perfection and our tendency to mess things up, I think I’d rather wait on Him.
Need an example of what happens when we get impatient and try to help God?  Just remember Abraham.
Then God's Message came: "Don't worry, he won't be your heir; a son from your body will be your heir."  Then he took him outside and said, "Look at the sky. Count the stars. Can you do it? Count your descendants! You're going to have a big family, Abram!"
Genesis 15:4-5
Sarai said to Abram, "God has not seen fit to let me have a child. Sleep with my maid. Maybe I can get a family from her." Abram agreed to do what Sarai said.
Genesis 16:2
From this pregnancy, you'll get a son: Name him Ishmael; for God heard you, God answered you.  He'll be a bucking bronco of a man, a real fighter, fighting and being fought, Always stirring up trouble, always at odds with his family."
Genesis 16:11-12
Your name will no longer be Abram, but Abraham, meaning that 'I'm making you the father of many nations.'
Genesis 17:5
But God said, "That's not what I mean. Your wife, Sarah, will have a baby, a son. Name him Isaac (Laughter). I'll establish my covenant with him and his descendants, a covenant that lasts forever.
Genesis 17:19

Monday, May 23, 2011

Baths Are FUN!

There’s been a big change recently in the Sanchez house.  Baby Caleb has decided that baths are fun.  Since he was born he has cried and screamed almost from the moment his little toes touched the bath water until he was wrapped snugly in a fluffy towel.  He was not a fan of baths.  But he needed them.  
In the past few weeks he’s discovered the splash.  He hadn’t realized that moving his hands in the water would cause it to move which in turn can get Mama wet and causes her to squeal.  Very entertaining for a 10 month old.  So bath time has been converted to an enjoyable experience instead of just a chore to get through.  
If only he had realized earlier that baths were not to be dreaded, but enjoyed.  
If only we would realize that the Christian life is not to be dreaded, but enjoyed.  
If only we wouldn’t believe the lie that what’s good for us isn’t enjoyable.  We wouldn’t listen to the tempter who wants us to trade the abundant life Christ offers for a temporary pleasure.  We would hold on to the truth that Jesus has come to give us a real and eternal life, better then we could ever dream of.
What God has for us is best!
A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.
John 10:10

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Scripture Sunday

Seek the Lord while he may be found;

call on him while he is near.

Isaiah 55:6

This is a new link-up.  Link up a verse every Sunday for your family to focus on that week.  Let's start the week in His Word!  

The only rule for this link-up is that it be to a post of a scripture you will focus on this week.  I would love to have you follow my blog and leave comments, but it's not required.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The End? - MY Story Part 21

If you're new to the blog or haven't read the first 20 installments of the MY Story Series I recommend reading them first.  The links are below!

Thanks for being a part of MY Story

The Friday before Mothers day I received a package.  It didn’t have the name of who sent it, but I recognized the handwriting right away.  It was from my mother. 
So I open the box.  And this is what I find.

My childhood memories ripped to pieces.  My face cut out of pictures.  And I shook my head.  It was sad.  Not so much because my pictures were ruined, but because of the extent of pain she must be living with to do something like that.  The box was full.  I can’t imagine the time and energy it took to rip up, cut up and pack that box of memorabilia.  I can’t imagine living with that kind of resentment and anger.  And I thought it was about me.
A few days later I sat down to go through the box.  I began to search for something that could be salvaged.  A remnant.  Because my God does great and amazing things through even the smallest of remnants.  
And I found several pictures that weren’t even damaged.  Even more that I could cut the ragged edges off of.  My remnant.

And I began to wonder.  Could they be repaired?  Can her spirit be repaired?
And I start to notice.  It’s not about me.  It’s about her.  These are pictures of her life.  
Her sister’s wedding picture.  And a multitude of pictures of my aunts, cousins, and other extended family.
Pictures from before I was born.  Pictures of people I don’t know, and places I’ve never been.  
Even a snapshot of my brother.
And pictures that seem to tell of a broken faith.

What will God do with all these broken pieces?  Only He knows the plans He has.  But I can be confident that they are to prosper us, to give us a hope and a future.  And I know His heart is always to salvage the remnant.  And for her sake I hope and pray that this is not the end of her story.  
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Jeremiah 29:11
"I will surely gather all of you, O Jacob; I will surely bring together the remnant of Israel. I will bring them together like sheep in a pen, like a flock in its pasture; the place will throng with people.”
Micah 2:12
I'm proud to praise God; fearless now, I trust in God. What can mere mortals do?
Psalm 56:4

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Scripture Sunday

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.

Joshua 24:15

This is a new link-up.  Link up a verse every Sunday for your family to focus on that week.  Let's start the week in His Word!  

The only rule for this link-up is that it be to a post of a scripture you will focus on this week.  I would love to have you follow my blog and leave comments, but it's not required.  

Saturday, May 14, 2011

WE will serve the Lord - Dayspring Review and Giveaway!

Congrats Jadavis!

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.

Joshua 24:15

But what does it mean?!?!?!?!

It means I have a choice.

It means I choose for my family.

It means regardless of what the world chooses, MY family and I choose JESUS!

It means we're taking a stand.

It means we'll never turn back.

It means everything!

I had the great privilege to review a beautiful frame from Dayspring this month.  A frame that not only holds a picture of our family, but reminds me every time I see it of the stand we have made to serve the Lord.

One side of my entryway was in need of a makeover.  Here's my before picture.  I love the snapshots, but the dollar store frames just weren't cutting it anymore and I had yet to add pictures of my Baby Caleb to the mix.  

And here's my after with the beautiful new Dayspring As for Me and My Household - Charcoal 5x7 Frame taking center stage.  

A clean, simple, modern, look.  Just my style!  It's a huge improvement and was super easy.  

Would you like to win a $20 coupon code to use in the Dayspring store?

How To Enter: 
Complete as many entries as you like.  Each is worth 1 entry.  Make sure to include a valid email address in your comment if you do not have one available in your profile.  Please write a separate comment for each entry.  The contest will close on Saturday, May 21, 2011 at 11:59 p.m. Open to US residents only.  Winner will be chosen by an online random number generator.  Winner must respond within one week.

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Disclaimer:  Dayspring provided me with a frame for review.  They have also provided a $20 online gift card for the winner of this giveaway.  All opinions are my own.  Thanks Dayspring!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Never Stop Forgiving - MY Story Part 20

If you're new to the blog or haven't read the first 19 installments of the MY Story Series I recommend reading them first.  The links are below!

Thanks for being a part of MY Story

After my Mother’s short and rather eventful visit I began to receive messages from her on Facebook.  She claims that I murdered my brother.  She says I’m evil.  She says I am responsible for my parent's divorce.  She says I’m mean.  She says she can see the end.  She says I’m dead.  She says just about anything and everything her imagination can conjure up to say against me and my family.  
She speaks of things she knows nothing about.  And she speaks lies.  She speaks with hate.  She does it repeatedly.
So I have a choice.  I can choose my reaction.  I can hate.  I can resent.  I can attack.  I can fight back.  These are the reactions that in our human nature come naturally.  
Or I can choose to love.  I can choose to forgive.  I can choose to rise above.  I can choose to trust that God has already won the battle and rest in His victory.  It’s not as easy.  But it’s right.  It’s a hard road to forgive over, and over, and over.  But it’s the road that leads to freedom.  
For clarification forgiveness does not mean we will open ourselves or our children up to be hurt.  It is not an open door back into our lives.  It is a decision to let go of the pain.  It’s a decision for healing.  It releases the offender from the obligation to “make things right.”  It does not imply that trust has been re-established.  It does not imply that a relationship has been restored. 
Once someone has been forgiven the power they once held to hurt you is gone.  Forgiving brings peace to the life of the forgiver regardless of the actions or reactions of the forgiven.  
How many times will I forgive?  Every time!  By God’s grace and in His strength, remembering how immense is His forgiveness to me, I will forgive every offense and I will remain free.
At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, "Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?"  Jesus replied, "Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven.
Matthew 18:21-22
I'm proud to praise God; fearless now, I trust in God. What can mere mortals do?
Psalm 56:4

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Disowned - MY Story Part 19

So I’m fast forwarding to several months ago in MY Story.  I hadn’t had much communication from my mother since my wedding.  No congrats on my children.  No comments on how cute the pictures I sent were.  The random Facebook comment or phone call telling me about moose and snow in Alaska was the extent of our relationship.
Until I came home to find her and her new husband on my front porch one day.  I was surprised.  To be honest I was apprehensive.  I had made the decision to forgive.  And in that moment I made the decision to believe that God had done the work we had been praying for in her.  I would expect the best.  
I invited them in.  Introduced them to my children.  Made them lunch.  Called my husband and asked him to come home asap.  And I prayed constantly.  I prayed as I spoke.  I prayed as I cleared away the laundry on the sofa.  I prayed as I apologized they had to wait out in the heat for me to get home.  I prayed as I cooked.  I prayed as I served.  I prayed as I observed them with my children.
It wasn’t long before my calm reserve was tested.  They began to correct my children.  They began to put there own rules for how my children should behave in my home into place.  I brushed it off.  Let it slide off my back.  I didn’t reinforce what they said, but encouraged my boys in Spanish that they were behaving well and were not in trouble.  
And I waited for my husband to get home.  They began to inquire about a place to stay, but explained they didn’t have the money for a rental car.  I have a small car that barely fits my family of 5 and it would be impossible for me to take them to the hotel or pick them up from there.  So when Samuel arrived I asked if it was ok to let them stay.  He agreed.  They stayed the night and the next day.  
I began to observe some strange behavior.  My mother seemed almost childlike at times and went for frequent walks or went outside to get fresh air.  She carried a small bag with her when she went and once when she passed close by me with it I smelled it.  Marijuana.  
She went to walk and I placed a somewhat desperate phone call to Samuel.  She brought drugs into my house.  She brought drugs around my children.  She was high while playing with and picking up my babies.  
Samuel came home and we had dinner.  After dinner I asked if we could speak with them.  I asked if she had drugs in my house.  She said yes.  I told her we couldn’t have drugs in our home or around our children.  She would either have to dispose of the drugs and agree not to be high around my children, or she would have to leave.  She agreed, but asked to borrow our car to take the drugs to a storage unit she had about an hour away.  We said no.  We couldn’t allow our car to be used to transport drugs.  We agreed to help them find a rental car.
Everything seemed to have gone well and I was thanking God!  I left to run an errand and as soon as I walked back into the house I knew something had changed.  Samuel gave me a look and whispered to me that my mother had been crying.  
She came into the room with fury in her eyes.  She yelled at me to sit down and listen to her the same way she would yell at me as a child.  I responded calmly.  I did not sit.  I told her I would hear what she had to say, but that I would not allow her to speak to me that way in my house or in front of my children.  My oldest was asleep so he was saved from witnessing the scene.
She began to spew hate and anger.  I praise God that I have been able to forget the great majority I of what she said.  If I had written this soon after it happened I could tell you word for word what she said, but that wouldn’t do either of us any good.  
The general idea was that I had always been the bad child.  That I had never appreciated her.  That I was awful and the root of all of her problems.  And that everything good I had was thanks to her being a good mother.  
She said she was done with me.  That I was no longer her daughter.  My husband told her that she was wrong about me.  That he knows me inside and out and that I had been nothing but gracious to her and her husband.  I told her I would respect her wishes, but that if she ever changed her mind we were leaving the door open.
My husband took them to the airport so they could pick up a rental car.  He told me that she was yelling and hysterical the whole way, telling him about how evil I was and what a horrible person I was.  
And I was hurt.  And I was healed.  And I gave thanks to God for his embrace and that of my family.
And I thought that would be the end of it.
Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.
Psalm 27:10