Two Tiaras and a Sword

Friday, July 29, 2011

Enjoy Your Ride!

Sit back. Make sure your seat belts are securely fastened. Keep your hands and feet inside the car (and hang on tightly for dear life) until the ride comes to a complete stop. Thank you coming to visit. Enjoy your ride! Next stop? Ummm, it looks like October.

Ahhhhhh, yes. August brings school, and school brings crazy schedules to the Hodges Household. With me going back to work, two in junior high, and athletics, and one starting, gasp and wait for it here...Big Girl Kindergarten, plus all of the church responsibilities, a husband who is a football chaplain for our local public school, dentist and orthodontist appointments, let's just say it's about to go from a wonderful, laid back 0 mph to life in the fast lane in split seconds.

I am the only one, okay, my little prince joins me from time to time, but usually only when he is totally exhausted, that does not throw my hands in the air and scream with joy around every bend and dip and dive. Give me a float on a lazy river kind of life any day over a grit your teeth, turn your head to the side, hang on until it's over roller coaster kind of life.

I like to enjoy life, and those in it with me, not remember it all as a blur of colors and actives flying by at Mach speeds. But, as I said, I am out numbered, so here we gooooooo!

Seriously, I know that this is just a season of life, and that it will pass, and the children will grow, and things will slow down again. I will enjoy this time. But I want to find the time to help everyone slow down and relax when the frenzy of the next few months has us all frazzled to our breaking points. I will look for opportunities to stop in the midst of the craziness, and "ground" us.

I don't want us to get so busy, that we are like ants, whose ant hill has been stirred by a boy with a stick. I don't like the "everyone running everywhere but going nowhere bumping into each other sometimes even climbing over each other madness." And believe me, it sometimes resembles exactly that around here.

So, first and foremost, we (my husband and I) renew our commitment to stay in God's Word each and every day. Because we know that we had better be led by the Holy Spirit through the next couple of months, or a few words said in haste, and frustration could turn into something that could drive a wedge between us, and allow Satan to have a foothold into our home, and family.

We also want to make sure that out children keep up with their own personal quiet times with the Lord. They feel pressure, and get stressed out just like we do, and they too, need the leading of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

We need to try as hard as possible to eat as healthy as we can (a tough one for us) so that we can all keep our health and strength up. This, my friends, is a work in progress in our home.

We need to make the most of our family time, by unplugging, and plugging in. I'm talking about when we are in the car, or eating a rare dinner together, or just enjoying a evening at home, and the television is on, and cell phones are going off, and computers are open, and earphones are in. We may be talking at one another, but we aren't talking to one another. I want to reclaim those times, and talk, really talk to each other, and invest in one another's lives. Play a board game, or put a puzzle together, or take a walk together. The lazy river side of me needs these times, as much as the roller coaster side of the others needs the sports and activities.

I recently read a book in which a family stopped all athletics for a whole year, and just focused on slowing down, and spending time with God, and each other. That sounds like a dream come true to me, but realistically, I know that is not something we would ever do. Yet I do not want the business of our lives to control us, and to define who we are. I refuse to wear my business as a badge. I claim the precious moments we spend with God, and the times we spend deepening and strengthening our family bonds as WAY more important than ANY event we attend or in which we participate. If my children do well in sports, I am thrilled, but if they learn a spiritual truth, or how to solve conflicts and get along better with one another, THAT trumps everything.

So, we all are buckled in and ready to go...but believe me, we know where the kill switch is, and are ready to throw it at any time that we see one of our three passengers in danger. And don't think for a moment that we won't!

What about you? Are you happier on the lazy river of life? Or are you a roller coaster kind of person? What are some ways you keep your family "grounded" during the busy times of life?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Thankful Thursday

So very many things to be thankful for! Here are just a few...

*A 5 year old who did a great job as a flower girl (I was a little worried about this one)

*People who believe in raising their children as we do, so our children can have great friends that have the same morals and values

*Young couples that desire to put God first in their marriages

*A book I've been wanting to read going on sale for $2.99 (Kindle copy of Made to Crave)

*Torie's help in getting my classroom ready for a new year

*Coaches who invest their time in the lives of my children

*My mother-in-love IS CANCER FREE!!!!!!

*Protection in an "almost wreck"

*Blogging for books program = free books

*People with understanding spirits

*Teenagers in our youth group who don't just go through the motions, but actually get it, and live it

Did I mention...My Mother-in-love IS CANCER FREE!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Angry Elevator Lady

We were talking and enjoying just being together again, when the doors opened. With her eyes on the ground she immediately stepped forward pulling her rolling suitcase behind her. She stopped abruptly, looked up, and gave us all a look that could have withered even the hardiest of all the hardy garden weeds. She mumbled something under her breath and backed up, allowing those of us who had offended her so greatly to step around her and off of the elevator. In the span of a few seconds, we had gone from playfully bantering to needing oxygen tanks and masks just to breathe in air so thick a Karate expert would have had trouble cutting it.

As we stepped out of the building, and out of hearing range, we made remarks about her apparent anger at us being in her way. It was obvious to all of us, that our mere existence, and horrible sense of timing, had really ticked her off.

We went on about the important things we had to tend to (getting our littlest princess to the wedding rehearsal so she would know exactly what to do). And in the business of the moment, the angry elevator lady was forgotten.

We had a busy weekend, and to top it off, for the first half of it, I was sick. The longer the evening went, the worse I felt. So much so, that I had to skip the rehearsal dinner in order to go back to our room to lie down. Alone in the room, the angry elevator lady came back to my mind. I wondered what could have been so bad that she would have been so greatly angered by a group of innocent people on an elevator.

The next day, we went about our business preparing for the wedding that night (it was beautiful by the way!). The next morning we got up, got ready, and packed our bags. Then we headed to the after wedding brunch. We loaded the car with all of our suitcases, and extra stuff that kids have to have on trips, and then loaded ourselves. As we pulled out of our parking spot, I noticed a lady walking across the lot to her own car. It was the angry elevator lady. Only this time, she didn't look angry, she just looked tired. Very tired. Being bitter and angry can wear a person down.

We had two "chance" encounters. I will most likely never see her again. But for a few brief seconds, I witnessed her wrath. Who knows what caused it. But it was there. I keep wondering if maybe I should have stayed on the elevator and spoken to her. Would it have made any difference in her life? But I didn't. I missed an opportunity to share the love of Christ with her. An opportunity I'll never have again. So, I learn from this, that I should never be so taken aback by another's actions, or reactions, that I can't take a second to share the love of God with someone who so obviously needs it.

And then I many times have I been the angry elevator lady myself? How many times have I been busy, stressed to the breaking point, and one little inconvenience was all it took. Then anger explodes everywhere, spattering on any and all who dare to be near? And most often, it's not total strangers left gasping for breath in the aftermath, but those we love the most.

Some of my favorite Bible verses come to mind:
Ephesians 4:29 - 5:2
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.

Chapter 5

1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.

Did you see that? "Grieve not the Holy Spirit". "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice." That about covers it all, doesn't it?

And then, here's the good kind, and tenderhearted, forgive one another. Because after all, God through Christ's death on the cross has forgiven us! Then, walk in love...self sacrificing love.

I blew my chance with the angry elevator lady. I pray that the next person who meets her won't blow theirs. I also pray that I will be ready for the next person I meet that needs a touch of God's love. And, I pray that I wil take my burdens and cares to the Lord on a regular basis, so that I won't explode wounding strangers and loved ones alike.

To the angry elevator lady, if she should ever read this...after all, all things are possible with God! I am sorry that I failed to share God's love with you, when you so obviously needed it. I will pray for you, every time I think of you. That you will discover the vast love that God has for you. That you can lay down that hurt, and anger, and bitterness, and replace it with love, kindness, and forgiveness. And while I'm praying for you, I'll be praying the same thing for myself.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

But words will never hurt me?

If I asked you to tell me something that someone said to you that really hurt you, could you do it? Of course you could! We all have been hurt by the words of someone else at one (or probably multiple) time or another during our lifetime.

There are people who will say things, and mean to hurt you. You know it. There is no doubt about it it. They are hurt or angry themselves, and they want to hurt you.

Then there are people who say things that aren't necessarily mean, but you know by the tone or the context, that they are making a dig at you. I recently heard it described in terms of chickens. They run in the same circles as you do, they are not overtly mean to you (at least not to your face) and yet they take every chance they get to "peck" at you with snide comments. Peck...peck...peck. Just like one chicken mad at another.

Then there are those who try to camouflage their comments by following them up with, "just kidding!" When everyone privy to the conversation knows that they are not "just kidding" at all.

And then there are those who hurt you without meaning to. Maybe they didn't know what they were talking about was a sensitive subject to you. Maybe they weren't thinking. Maybe they were meaning something totally different, and their heart was totally in the right place, but the words just came out wrong.

Regardless of which way it happened, we all know that the old adage, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me." is not true. Because we have all been hurt by the words of others.

I used to be really good at keeping my mouth closed. But I find that the older I get, the harder it is to keep my tongue under wraps. It takes much prayer, and help from the Holy Spirit. And yet still, I sometimes stumble. I do not like being hurt by someone else's words, so, I do not want to hurt others with MY words. I want to be aware that EVERYTHING I say either pleases the Lord, or pleases Satan.

My prayer each day is Psalms 19:14 "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer." I want my words to build others up. I want my words to encourage others. I want my words to celebrate the victories in the lives of others.

Let me encourage you to examine your words today. Do you use your words in ways that please the Lord? If not, there's never a better time than the present. Pray and meditate on Psalm 19:14. Ask God to bring it to your attention when your words are not pleasing to Him. And, when He does bring it to your attention, ask His forgiveness, and then do what you can to sincerely apologize and make things right with the person you have hurt. Wether they accept your apology or not is not the issue, that is between them and the Lord. The real issue is that you have done what you needed to do. God will bless you for it.

Dear Lord, please help us all to be more mindful of our words, and how strongly they can affect those around us. Help us to use our words to build up, and encourage our fellow Christians. Help us to use words full of kindness and love to lead others to a saving knowledge of you. And when we slip, and say things that do not honor you, please convict our hearts, so we can sincerely make things right. In Jesus name, Amen.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Some of the things I am thankful for this week:

*Having my family all together again.

*My own bed

*One on one time with my children

*Blessings in disguise

*Cameras - to catch memories

*sweet testimonies from camp teens

*That God allows us to choose to follow Him

*Snuggle times with my children

*An online devotion, or post, that comes at just the right time

*Encouragement from unexpected places

*A friend who is so kind and willing to help

So...what are you thankful for? Don't forget to share it with someone. And especially don't forget to tell the Lord thank you each and every day for His MANY blessings. Happy Thankful Thursday!!!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Okay...Thankful Thursday, on Friday :-)...Due to a wonderful week at camp, and a great group of teens that I am VERY THANKFUL without further ado:

*a fun unplanned drive and ice cream with the family

*a husband dedicated to the service of the Lord

*Sunflower seeds

*Free basketball clinics



*Summer breezes

*Paper towels

*Dresser drawers...and

*Air conditioned cabins

Friday, July 8, 2011

Wading or Deep Sea Diving?

I absolutely LOVE the beach! I could spend my life listening to the waves crash against the shore, smelling the salty air, with my toes in the sand, and the sun shining above. It's the most relaxing place on earth!

But, while I love the beach, I'm not so thrilled with the ocean. It scares me. It is emmense, and powerful, and full of various dangerous creatures. So, when we go to the beach, I am definitely a wader. You will rarely catch me in ocean water that is deeper than knee level. It's. Just. Not. Happening.

My husband was watching a show on television the other night, and they were doing some deep sea diving. They were talking about all of the treasures that are burried deep in the ocean. And I thought to myself, "Good thing they make television shows like this, or I would never see these treasures burried in the ocean's depths."

Then a day or so later, my man and I were talking ministry (as we often do), and God brought back to mind that show. I love how the Lord works! And I was convicted about my daily time with the Lord.

I LOVE Him, no doubt about it. We have dedicated our lives to His service, and to furthering His gospel. I love to hear the quiet whisper of the Holy Spirit. I love singing praises to Him in worship, I love reading about Him, and memorizing and teaching His Word...but, I am just wading. As good as it is, I am just wading.

And I am tired of wading.

I want to deep sea dive! I want to experience the treasures hidden deep in the depths of His Word. I want the FULL experience. I want to be emerssed in His goodness, holiness, and love! I want to learn new truths about Him every day, around every corner!!

I long for DEPTH, not shallowness.

How about you? Are you a wading Christian? If so, I encourage you to take the plunge with me. Begin by asking the Lord to reveal more of Himself to you today than He ever has before. Then, don't keep it to yourself!! Share it with someone else, and encourage them to go deeper as well.

If you are already a deep sea diving Christian, then good for you! Now, share what you've learned with someone today. And encourage those around you to go deeper as well.

Let's don't be shallow, wading Christians that miss out on the lessons, and blessings that come from the depths of God's Word! Let's go deep sea diving today!

1 Corinthians 2:9-10
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Thankful Thursday

SO MANY things to be thankful for! Here are a FEW from this past week...

*A son that is old enough to cut the grass (and has a blast while doing it)

*Rare one on one time with the oldest princess

*Sweet snuggle time with the youngest princess

*Family members who go above and beyond to help us out (without our asking)



*River fun

*Finishing a good book (Laura Bush's Spoken From the Heart) and having another good one waiting to be read (Blaze of Glory by Major Jeff Struecker and Alton Gansky)

*Good news for a friend, and getting to be the one that delivers it

*The giggles of the youngest princess over the phone line letting me know she is doing okay without me so far

*Teaching, learning, growing moments with the young prince

*Kids that can good-naturedly pick on one another and take it

*Ignite teens and my church family

*God's Word, and all it teaches us about life



Sunday, July 3, 2011

Do You Have True Freedom?

I am a patriot. I love my country. I love the people who have fought for it, and shaped it into what it is today (well most of what it is today). I thank God for the freedoms that we as Americans are blessed to experience. The more I read and learn of other countries, the more thankful I am to be an American. Some of us will never have any idea just how blessed we are.

Yet in my reflections of being an American, and our country's freedom, I can't help but think of another form of freedom that I am blessed to call mine. That is my spiritual freedom. The freedom to choose to follow God, and to be free from the bondage of sin. The Bible says in John 8:32, "ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

So, what is this truth that I know? What is this truth that gives me spiritual freedom? It is also found in the Bible. This time in John 14:6, "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."

Yes,as Americans we have more freedoms than most people in the world. Yet even as Americans, we do not have true freedom, unless we have accepted Christ as our personal savior. He is the way to true freedom. Freedom from the pull, and hold of sin. Freedom from death and everlasting torment in hell. Freedom to live life as He planned it to be lived, abundantly, and joyously. Freedom to live forever in Heaven.

Do you have true freedom? If not, I invite you to accept Christ as your personal savior. Experience true freedom today!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

And the youngest princess says...

One morning a few weeks ago, I was in bed. The girls were snuggling on each side of me. I made the comment, "There is NOTHING better than this!" The youngest princess looked at me and said, "Mommy! Jesus is better than this!"

Yes, I stand corrected.

One more...

Last night we were all gathered in our room talking as a family. The little princess was using her vocal skills to vie for our attention. I'm sure that to those of you who know her, this comes as a great surprise. Her daddy began to sing to her, "Go to sleep. Go to sleep...". She pointed her little finger at him and said, "Daddy, you KNOW that doesn't work with me!"

But she had such a busy, fun day that it was just a matter of minutes before sleep (and peace) won out anyway.

And while I'm sharing, here's one, compliments of the young prince...

We have decided to try kittens again. We are the proud owners of two. They are actually the kittens of one of the kittens we gave away last summer (cue the Circle of Life song from Lion King here). So, due to most of the family being allergic to them, they are outside cats. We were discussing what to name them, and playfully threw out names like: Claratin, Zyrtec, and Allegra. After much debate, and changing of minds, the princesses decided on Anastasia, and Sadie. Although the littlest princess had trouble remembering, and would say, "Ana...Ana...whatisitagain?" To which her brother promptly said, "It SHOULD be Ana...sneeze...ia!"

Amen. And bless you. Now, go wash your hands and take a Zyrtec.

Fun times at the Hodges household. Have your kids said anything cute lately? Take time and share it, and a smile with someone today.