Saturday, March 30, 2013

I am redeemed..What Easter means to me

Bryan came home yesterday and put things into perspective for me.  He talked about how during this time we are running around as usual and up to our daily routines.  We are having a "normal" day but what is God wondering at this moment?  Is he wondering why so many of us forget to acknowledge the significance of this time?  This is a time that the Savior bore all of our sins and made the slate clean through his death on the cross.  But He rose again to bring us life and life more abundantly.  What a precious love story of a father who loves His children enough to send his only son to die for us.  That is so humbling and so amazing that I can't even put it into words.  It makes me remember what all God has brought me through, and that life is valuable and truly worth living.  I don't always listen to Him and I find myself taking turns I should not have but He always brings me back and walks with me.  I know He has a plan for my life.

I was born to teenage parents who probably were nervous about what their life would be like with a baby that they weren't mentally and emotionally ready for.  Nevertheless, they raised me the best they could and never left me. I can honestly say that I wouldn't want any other parents. Though things didn't work out between them they always came together for my sake and always put me first.  Even when I was in the womb, God already knew my name and knew right where to place me.  There is a divine plan. 

I had a grandmother who made me feel like I was the most special person on earth.  I don't remember her ever really getting on to me except the time I stole some charms out of a Wiener's store and she made me go to the manager and turn them back in.  She took me to church and planted seeds in my life.  Fortunately, she got to see the harvest from those seeds she planted before she died knowing I am serving the Lord today.  I have two grandmothers in heaven.  Their passing was an amazing experience of reassurance in knowing that there is a place prepared for us and that one sweet day we will get to see it.

Working at Sears, I was able to meet the most special man in my life.  I wanted to go off to school and become a news anchor.  I like to say that when I married a Rhodes that it ruined my really cool last name made for TV.  I no longer have that roll-off-the tongue last name like Elma Barrera anymore.  I decided to stay local for school.  Even though I didn't finish my great big plan, God gave me something amazing.  I was at the right place at the right time and He gave me Bryan.  We were both young and wanted the same things in life.  But there was so much we did not know about God.  But we had a hunger for more and a desire to seek His kingdom.  The great thing is that we got to do it together and have been on the path ever since.  I have gotten to see God take an extraordinary man and make him the most loving father and dedicated husband ever.  God is good.

I have had my share of sickness with lupus flares and hospital visits over the years.  It was during those times that I got to know God as healer.  He got me out of bed when I wanted to lay there and cry.  He gave my body strength to keep walking when every joint ached.  I remember waking up one morning with my fingers all crooked and not even able to hold my coffee cup.  He held me during those times and fought the battle for me when I was too weak to do it on my own.  He touched my heart when I had bells palsy.  He healed me on the inside when the outside looked like a mess.  "He is my refuge and strength, ever present help in times of trouble." Psalm 46:1

Though I had some scares in my health I was able to deliver two crazy, wonderful boys.  They have made me see so many God moments in watching them grow and raising them.  I am able to see the parent/child relationship more clearly now that I have my own.  Plus I had to learn to let go of them and give them to God confidently knowing that He loves them even more than I do.  I have never prayed as hard as I do now that I am a mother.  Those boys make me fight hell for them with prayers of power and authority.  They are mine and I won't let the evils of this world have them.  More importantly, I know they belong to God.  That alone gives me comfort.  I also get to watch Bryan with them and see just how a father loves his children.  I am thankful for our Heavenly Father.

I give all these examples to remind myself of just what God has done for me in my life.  As we celebrate this weekend, I am truly taken back.  I am humbled that the God I know as creator, father and healer would also be my redeemer.  Jesus' sacrifice was ordered and fulfilled and because of it we receive new life.  We receive mercy and grace.  Heaven knows I need all of those things.  Each day my faith and character is challenged.  Sometimes I screw it all up and I fall down.  But I am always looking to the light which leads me back to where I belong.  I look to the cross where my life was made new and I look to Jesus for my hope and salvation.

I pray that each one of you enjoys your families this weekend.  I know you will all look great in your new Easter outfits and that the Easter bunny will bring your kids lots of goodies.  By the way, since I have two boys I had to trade in baskets this year for academy bags.  But take a moment to remember the significance of this time.  If you are down right now, I pray that you know that there is a Healer and a Redeemer who lives and wants a relationship with you.  It is not about religion, it is about love.  This is the greatest love story of all.  (Whitney Houston just came to mind)  If you know me well, then you know I have a lot of imperfections and yet He still loves me.  He didn't sacrifice himself just for me.  He sacrificed for everyone!  He loves you endlessly.  Jesus lives and loves.  Put your hope in Him and your future in His hands. 

Happy Easter Everyone!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Be Intentional

March is always a special but oh so crazy month at the Rhodes house.  Spring is definitely in the air and our allergies are all flared up.  Basketball is still going on for the all star season.  Both boys have birthdays this month.  Bo is on the 22nd and Christian is on the 23rd.  Yes, they are one day apart with 4 years in between.  I am always reminded close to their birthdays of how blessed I am to have those two special boys in my life.  Even though it is a hectic month, I still love feeling the warmth of the March sun and seeing the plants starting to bloom.  I love the smell of freshly cut grass and I like seeing people starting to come outside in the neighborhood and out of their winter slumbers.  What can I say?  I am a sunshine girl!
Though Spring makes me happy and I sound all fuzzy and warm, I can say that I have been a little overwhelmed.  Do you ever feel like you are being pulled in all different directions, like there is not enough time in the day?  Do you ever feel like you just can't get enough rest?  Even when you go to sleep, you feel like your mind is racing.  Do you ever feel like you just can't keep up?  Yes I know the scripture that says to not be anxious about anything but in to be in prayer and petition.  But I don't always follow it.  I feel all of these crazy emotions at times and then I go through the different stages of being mad, being sad, feeling sorry for myself, being resentful of everything that demands my time.  The good thing is that after I have my day of pouting as a toddler would and singing poor pitiful me, the Lord puts me in check.  Man, He is good!  Something will hit me like a baseball to the shin and I will pick myself up, wipe my eyes, put on my praise music and make a change.  The change is not always instant but it is intentional.
One of my top prayers all of my life has been that I want to encourage people.  I want to speak words that build up people and bring life to them.  I fail so often to do this.  I was thinking today about how many times I say I will pray for someone and I will but then I forget to check up on them.  Or I tell myself that I need to do the little things that make people smile, like send a note or buy a small gift.  I will write it down on a sticky note and then it ends up at the bottom of my purse.  I also love to write cards and notes to people.  Sadly, with all of the new technology I think hand writing a note has become a thing of the past.  I keep notes at my desk at work so that I will remember to write someone a note as the Lord lays them on my heart.  I noticed that those cards have sat there for a few weeks and I couldn't bring myself to write one.  I told myself I was going to intentionally write one today for someone who had done something that touched my heart recently.  I wrote that card and felt so much better afterwards.  Let's be honest, has any one of us ever felt miserable after doing something nice for someone?
As Christians, we all know that we reap what we sow.  If you want friendship you sow seeds of friendship.  If you need encouragement, you sow seeds of encouragement.  These things should come from the heart and should seem effortless.  But sometimes when life gets in the way and the things of the world hold us back, we must be intentional.  It is just like working out.  Some days you just want to lay on the couch and eat a bag of chips or cookies or a gallon of ice cream.  But you make yourself get your cool looking tennis shoes on and go to the track anyway.  After a while, that workout becomes part of your weekly routine. If you stay committed and dedicated you will eventually see good results.  Doing the right thing is not always easy especially when it involves people and relationships.  Sometimes you just want to chunk the deuce at the world and then go wallow up in some corner by yourself.  But you have to intentionally get up, walk in faith and see the world with Jesus' eyes and feel its heartbeat with hands of compassion and love.
I know there are days that I am not easy to get along with.  Most days I am smiling but there are those days where that smile has to be painted on in order for it to stick.  I see the glass as half full but some days I wish that glass was full of Jose Cuervo.  Not really, because tequila and I have never been friends.  There are days when I am self-centered and I am not showing the love of Christ.  But I know that I am intentionally working on those areas and I will continue to give myself to the only One who can change me from the inside out.  Today, I encourage you to be a blessing to someone even when you feel like you have nothing left to give them.  Be a light in world full of darkness.  You never know who you will unintentionally touch when you intentionally seek to be like the One who created you.

Blessings to you all!

Graduation 2019

Today I packed the last sack lunch for my oldest son.  Yes, I have made his lunch every day since he was in school, give or take a few sick ...