Friday, August 26, 2011

Near death, a mother's nightmare

I have had a few close calls as a parent.  Primarily with Caleb who was always a magnet for danger as a baby.  Kael with this Sensory Processing disorder, past numerous bumps and bruises from not being able to adequately feel pain, is usually not one to get hurt.  He is one tough cookie.  Yesterday he was one foot, one second away from being killed right in front of my eyes.  It was the worst moment ever because I could see it happening but I could do little to stop it.
I was outside playing with the little boys.  We live on a street without a fence in our yard (we are moving soon YAY), and cars often drive by too fast.  When I am outside with the boys I am usually standing playing referee keeping them inside a comfortable zone close to the house.  I was sitting on the edge of the driveway which is about 25 feet from the street and Kael started walking toward the road.  He was smiling at me as he walked because he knew he was being naughty.  I told him to come here now! He giggled and kept shuffling his dusty little feet through the gravel.
I knew this was a bad thing because I could hear a car in the distance.  I didn’t want to start running at him because I knew he would run.  So I stood up thinking I would calmly approach him like a wild animal catcher and gently corral him back to safety.  I didn't get that chance.  As soon as I stood up he started running toward the street.  So I started running and screaming and waving my arms.  It all happened so fast, but mathematically speaking I could see the vehicle coming over the hill and I could see where Kael was and the speed at which they were both moving and he was going to get hit if he didn’t stop or if they didn’t stop and I wouldn't get to him in time.
This seriously happened SO FAST.  They didn’t see me screaming and running and madly waving my arms.  They didn’t see Kael 3 feet, 40 lbs barreling toward them squealing and giggling as he ran.  I was right Kael would have been hit and killed.  He reached the street the very moment that they would have plowed into him, but he stopped.  His toes were touching the road, but he stopped.
It was the worst moment ever.  I understand that it could have really been the worst moment ever, but it was still the worst moment ever.
I could picture it over and over and over again in my mind seeing Kael getting hit.  I dragged him and Caleb into the house. Sam and I agreed that for now Kael can’t be outside.  He doesn’t have a concept of danger past he knows not to touch something “HOT”.  It is really a challenge to teach a child with SPD danger.  He also thought it was a fun game, mom chasing him.  He doesn’t obey me 90% of the time because he has very few consequences that actually bother him.
My heart still hurts.
I kept thinking about a two year old little boy in Washington in Tulalip who was hit and killed by a car because as he ran toward the road his family chased after him.  He thought it was a funny game.  So he ran faster and ran right into the street.
Kael was so close.  What do I do now?  How do I teach him?
Sam and I prayed for him last night and we thanked God for keeping him safe.  We prayed that God would send Kael a few angels to keep guard.  We are going to try and keep him out of danger as much as is humanly reasonable.
So if you see Kael duck taped to Sam or my hip, now you will know why.
Whew...Pray with me?
God, thank you so much for keeping Kael safe.  Thank you so much for not letting me watch my little boy die.  Please help me.  Please help me know how to teach Kael.  Please unlock his brain and help him to grow and learn more and more so that he can communicate clearly and be clearly communicated with.  Thank you for entrusting us with Kael.  We want to do a good job, but sometimes I don't understand the best way.  Thank you so much for mercy.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Out with the old...

Touch down! And my fingers hit the keys running.  I have missed you so much and yet for the most part not given you a thought.  And when I say you, I mean this little blog.  I think about you, my friends, all the time!  This blog since its inception May 1st of this year has been a huge blessing to me.  A way for me to connect with my family in Seattle, Washington, from Joplin, Missouri.  A way for me to share my journey as a mother, as a wife, as a child of God.  A way for me to share my passions and my desires, things that I like.  A place where I can give you a peek at my mind, heart, soul, and spirit.  Taking a week off has been a blessing also.  I have not been blogging very long, and if I am honest I will say right now that I don't like the word "blog." I don't like the way it sounds coming out of my mouth or the way my mouth feels when I say it... like "blah", "blog", "blagh", "bloug"... I like the word *glimpse* much better.  This is a glimpse of my life.
I love the Lord.  He truly is a spring of life inside me and a phrase that my heart always sings as if it is the chorus of my soul are the words "where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom," and I say YES and AMEN! to that.  He is freedom in a way that is nearly inexpressible, unexplainable, unimaginable!  When I feel tangled, torn, twisty, tired, defeated...I can call upon the Lord and he will unwind me, mend me, bend me, energize me, and remind me that in him I am a victor.
I have continued to read through Paul's letters and I would strongly recommend it.  In as much time as you can spare from your life to take and just read them right through, do it.  It was such a new experience for me as I have been to countless Bible studies throughout my life, but I am ashamed to say that I used to rarely read my Bible outside of church.  God has given me a new heart these past few years.  It started with a glimpse of who he was.
I began to realize that God is love.  Not just love like empty words that are easy to type and easy to say, but 'oh snap! LOVE!' It is a love that the depths of which we cannot even begin to fathom.  As I am typing these words I am praying for you.  I am praying for you that God will minister to you his love as well.
Something Paul wrote to Timothy in 2nd Timothy jumped of the page at me.  Paul in the very first chapter reminds Timothy to fan into flames his gift from God that he received when Paul laid hands on him. 2nd Timothy chapter 1 verse       
What is my gift?  So I began praying.  "God what is my gift..."
I am praying he will show me my gift and that he will fan it into flames.  I am excited.
Caleb had a snot nose little cold bug this week, but he is recovering nicely.  Thank you to everyone who lifted the little dude up in prayer.  Kael had a bug too, the kind of bug that generates bueno and many baths, let's just put it that way.  He is starting to feel better too.
Sunday was a special day.  Sam's mom came from Tulsa and a few of us gathered at our house and we studied God's word together.  It was a really nice time of fellowship.  After she left we all sat around and Colby asked Sam to baptize him down at Shoal Creek.  He had driven down there earlier in the day and said he had known for some time that he wanted Sam to do the honor.  So we drove down there and it was awesome.
Out with the old...

In with the new.
"Brother's don't shake hands...Brother's gotta hug!"
The next day at work Colby was able to share with many of the other sales men at Fletchers about his baptism and what God is doing in his life.  Their boss Duce had a spark lit inside him.  Pray that God will fan it into flames.
Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  If you are tired and you are weary, there is freedom.  I want to tell you so sincerely that time spent with the Lord in prayer and reading his word is priceless.  Time well spent and will change your life.
I see glimpses of people in my mind right now...people who are just like me, people who are living just like I was living.  I had a form of godliness...I could talk the talk and even walk the walk, but I didn't have a relationship with him.  I didn't have an understanding of him.  I didn't have a reverence for him.  You get those things by taking time for him.  Taking time with him.
Thank you Lord.  I want to type thank you over and over and over.  My heart, my mind, my soul, my spirit, every fiber of my being is singing thank you.  Thank you for your grace and mercy to allow us the opportunity to come before you even though we are filthy rotten scoundrels.  Thank you that you have washed us so that we are as white as snow.  I am so disrespectful to you.  I am so sorry for that.  I can't wait until I get to heaven and I can just say thank you for eternity and praise you.  That probably sounds silly to anyone who doesn't know you.  It would have sounded like the correct Christianese to pump out if I would have said it in my past...but you have come alive to me.  I desire to know you more.  You are so intricate in your plan and it blows my mind.
Thank you for giving us your word.  Thank you that you have given us grace in that this is an open book test.  We can know you and know what is desired of us.  Thank you for sending us your Holy Spirit.  I pray that you will bless each and every person along with their family who read this prayer.  That as their eyes pass over each word you will light a fire in their bones.  Like a fire shut up in my bones, I want the world to know that you are God.  With a passion burning deep within fill me and make me new.  Jesus, Father, I am desperate for you.
And grace upon grace upon grace, bless the Lord, O my soul!  All that is within me bless his HOLY name.  Awake you sleepers!  He is coming soon.  Let's be ready.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Back in a few...

Hi Friends,
I am going to put the ole blog up for a week.  I just am swamped at work and life in general is fairly hectic.  God blessed us with a beautiful house and we close on September 26nd.  That is the most exciting news this week.  Kael has been getting up really early again so pray for me that I will be able to keep on keeping on.  Feeling a bit tired.  Especially this morning.
Couple prayer requests that came to me this week if you could lift up with me:
Julia, had a stem cell transplant in May.  Prayer for continued recovery and a clean bill of health.  Pray that her energy will return and she will be able to get back to work.  Julia loves the Lord.
Amy, that the cancer the doctors found in her brain will be gone by the next round of tests. Amy loves the Lord.
Brittany, had a miscarriage.  They have been trying for a long time to have a baby and the unexpected loss is very hard.  They are going to keep trying so prayer that the Lord will hear their cry and bless them with a child…or two J.
If you have a prayer request I would love to pray for you.  It is such a blessing to me to be able to lift up others in prayer.  I love praise reports too and testimonies of what God is doing in your life.
Father in heaven, you are so tender and loving.  I see your grace and mercy in everyday, and everyday I am so grateful.  Thank you for saving me, thank you for shining your mega beam light into my life and illuminating me.  Thank you for knowing me.  I love that you know me.  I feel so small at times, and yet I can get so caught up in my life, and my life's details that I get destracted.  forgive me for my distraction.  Forgive me for any complacency.  Please let me have opportunity this week to not only lift people up in prayer but to share your sweet message of salvation.  I pray that I will hear your still small voice and know your voice.  I am tired.  Give me strength.  I have so much work, thank you so much, it is all because of you that I have any work.  Please help me to get it all done and not miss a single detail.  I pray for Julia, Amy, and Brittany...I pray that during these times of sickness, loss, and confusion that you will bring healing, peace, strength, and clarity to them.  I pray that you will bless every doctor and every medical person that comes across their path and that they will be ministered too by these women's faith.  I love you Lord...I will talk you in a few, going to take a little nap.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Far and wide: Bold and bright A testimony by Mindy Horr

When wondering what I could possibly write for my testimony that would explain everything that God has taught me, I was at a loss. How do I write about what brought me from when I was a little girl - trying to figure out why it was wrong that I played hide-and-seek when my parents closed their eyes during prayer - to now.

Then I figured, as the Mad Hatter would propose, I should "start at the beginning, and when I get to the end, stop." So, here goes.

As you may have read between those lines, I grew up in a Christian home. I owe much of my faith to my parents today, and I want everyone to know that having Christian parents can be the greatest asset to developing your own strong faith if you allow it. I say "if you allow it" because many of us let the shortcomings of our parents, or conversely, the strength of our parents' faith, determine too much of why or what we believe. If your Christian parents have failed at showing you the Father, remember - they are still human and are working out their salvation with fear and trembling. If your parents have succeeded, and shown you the unconditional love of an Almighty God - remember, their faith will not be enough to save you, you must make a choice to follow that same God.

All this to say, my parents, Cliff and Casey Horr, are the best people I know. Not best as in perfect, but best as in, I have watched them seek and choose the things of God every day since I can remember.

I was in the latter portion of those children above for a long time, living in the glow of their faith as I believe the Bible intends - one needs to know good in order to follow it. I allowed them to lead my own faith along behind them like a little stuffed animal led along by the leash of a child. But I had to grow up sometime, so I went away to school, and for a variety of reasons, some of which included wanting to follow God, chose Biola University. Ahem. It was in Southern California.

Now, those tumultuous 4 years in a heavy and exciting culture were more than enough to pull me away from God, push me towards God, and everything in between. I will say one thing about my time there, something that is exactly what I want to always connect with those years - God introduced me to beautiful, strong, vastly different women, who helped me through, grew up with me, and allowed me the first bud of what I like to refer to now as my "feminist" side.

I'm so sure that I may end up losing some of you at this point, but please, stay with me. As opposed to what many people think when they read the word "feminist", I am neither one who is fighting vigorously for women to be allowed the same rights, wages, and jobs as men. Nor am I one who scoffs at the attempts of men to lead the world, and claims that women could do better. I would actually like to stop this whole comparison and figure out something else.

From the very beginning in Genesis, God told us we were different. "God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them" (1:27). There is something distinct about God's image that He put only in females, and it was put in me - but what is it? And THAT is what I'm all about figuring out. Not, how do I stack up against the image of God that was specifically placed in man.

I believe I've gotten way ahead of myself. Well, maybe not. This thought of femininity was racing through my head and heart about the same time I decided that Southern California was again pulling me away from God - not to mention I couldn't get an interview anywhere, was making balloon animals for tips, and was living on a sailboat near Venice Beach - I was making all the wrong choices. Not exactly where I saw myself post-a 4 year degree and a heart that knew better.

Along with three of my other friends, and with one waiting for us there, I moved to Korea in August of 2009 to teach English for a year. Reasons being: 1. I would have a job that would make use of all that school I had done, 2. I would finally be able to start paying off loans from that school, 3. I could save money once the loans were paid off so that, 4. I could travel.

I think, at this point, God must've been looking down and chuckling, saying "oh, that's cute, Sweetie, you think THAT'S why you're going to Korea."

Within the first month, I realized. Community.

I say this word with so many images racing through my brain, that it will be extremely hard to pinpoint where exactly it changed for me - from being just another word to describe a neighborhood or group of people - to being this vibrant, life-giving, moving thing that would replace the institution that church has become in an instant if people really understood what a church, as a body of people, was meant to be.

I've come to realize that I will never (well maybe not never but it will take quite a long time to) unpack what God was doing those long months in Korea. Months where I couldn't believe what I was a part of. Months where I would've given any thing to be out of it. Months where I felt both at the same time. Months where I knew, with every single atom of my being, that whatever this uncomfortable, awakening, and glorious thing was, it was from God. 

And it was God's.

There wasn't anything that any one of us there had done to orchestrate it, though God did use specific actions and words and emotions of certain people to be very instrumental in its growth. And, though there were a handful of men that God used as brothers in Christ to show me a good many things, it was the women He had placed around me to affirm and encourage me, that I, ME SPECIFICALLY, was someone that God NEEDED, to show an aspect of His image to those around me, for the glory of HIS kingdom.

Two stories to tell in illustration, and then I'll conclude.

I think it was the third or fourth week after I'd arrived in Korea, when I experienced my first outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Not on me, but for me, from someone whom I barely knew. Our group of teachers, recruiters, friends, and family all gathered together to worship, pray, and just fellowship, during which this man was given a vision for each of us in the group. As I listened and watched the reactions of people I'd known for years, and people I'd only known for weeks, I was skeptical yet intrigued, as I'd never grown up in a charismatic environment. Yet, when he came to me, the words that he spoke gave me goose bumps and brought tears to my eyes.

"Mindy, I had this vision of you, with your ponytail being tossed about in the wind, and your heart yearning to be taken more seriously then the little girl that everyone sees you as. You have such wisdom and maturity, but you're afraid to use them because you're young, and look even younger, and feel unqualified to speak up. Don't."

How could he know what I'd never voiced aloud to anyone, ever? How could he see to the very core of my insecurities, see everything that was limiting me from stepping into that person God needed me to be? Truth is, he didn't. But God showed him. I believe this with my whole heart.

Through this word, and the people present who had heard it, over the next several months I was given the space in which to practice at being a fully functioning part of the body God was forming in Korea.

Yet I still battled timidity outside of that core community. February rolled around, and our group of women gathered for a women's retreat, in which we were all asked to petition God for a new name. What? No, not like Samantha or Allison, but what would God call us to, or call us for, that we hadn't ever considered being. I was at a loss.

I wrote down every word I could think of in a journal. What had I not asked God for? Believe me, I'd asked for a lot. Doesn't mean I'd gotten them all, come on - patience? - that's taking forever.

And then it hit me.

There was one thing I'd never thought to ask for, and it makes sense, seeing it was the one thing that I didn’t WANT to ask for. So I wrote it very little at the bottom of my page.


I'm not sure if my writing it smaller made me feel better or not, but it's quite comical when I look back at that journal. And in looking back, I wonder when it started happening. It wasn't immediate, and it wasn't all at once. About two months after returning to the States this last fall, I found myself talking with a friend and I heard myself speaking the name of God quite frequently and with a familiarity that was as comfortable as my best friend. Speaking in awe and adoration of all that He had done. Not hushing down my voice to an almost whisper because we were sitting in a smaller Starbucks with tables closer together. And it wasn't just this one time, one place, one friend. I looked back over the last months in Korea, the 3 months of traveling, and the two months of being home. When had this become normal?

I think my mind did a double take. Was this boldness? Wait a minute. I wasn't standing on a soapbox, shouting to the world to listen to me. But I was living a life that naturally brought about these conversations, whether I started them or someone else did. Me, bold? That was all God.

So where have I come - from that little girl hiding behind the speakers with a grin to now seeking out ministry with women wherever, whenever and in whatever capacity I can.

I am no longer my parents' faith. I am no longer a girl who is content with people knowing I'm a Christian because my dad is a pastor. I am no longer an opinionated woman among a wealth of immature men. I am no longer a spectator of the Spirit moving in others. I am no longer a sitter-byer as someone more qualified steps up.

I am a talmidah of my Rabbi Jesus. I am a girl whose greatest desire is to continue stepping into all that God has equipped me for. I am a strong, intelligent woman, made of the image of God who needs to encourage the men around her to seek out who they are in God's image. I am being moved by the Holy Spirit for His purposes that have Kingdom value. I am entrusted with much and much is being required of me.

This isn't the story of how I became a Christian. This is the story of how I've become who I was always supposed to be - a woman who knows the purpose and plan for her life is something that God is so fiercely passionate to see through, how could she not succeed?

This is the story of how I became me. And am continual becoming.

So, sorry, Mad Hatter, there is no end.

Mindy Horr, a BOLD woman of God
Dearest Mindy,

I praise God this morning for the BOLD woman that he is developing within you.  That in your boldness the gospel will be shared and your testimony will grow and grow.  I love your last line and you are right…there is no end.

As I sit here and think about your words and your journey’s that you have taken in your life I have a moment of pause and awe.  What an amazing adventure.  You are so blessed to have these special times, special adventures, and faraway travels.

So often we get stuck in a rut, in a place, in a time, and we don’t look outside and realize that the world is a big place and that God is wrapped up in hearts all around it.  Grow where you are planted, is a saying that I have been told, and I love it.  You must be planted in a flower pot, and you get to be taken many places.

I loved looking at all your pictures on Facebook.  They scream character!  Excited to see where the Lord will take you.

I just realized that Kael was being very quiet.  Too quiet.  Here is what I found…

Looks like Momma needs to run to Walmart and get new make up.

Oh joy!

"Hey you in the 'tighties' what do you think you're doing?!?"  And my I just say, getting make up off a toddler is not easy.  I triumphed, but it was a trick.

Lord bless you little lady!  Bold and bright.



Sunday, August 14, 2011

Put em' up!

I love my husband so stinkin’ much.  We got in a big fight this weekend.  Sam and I rarely…RARELY fight.  It is rare that we even disagree.  We both love and adore one another.  So what would two people who rarely disagree, who love and adore one another have to fight about?  Kids.
Toddlers are tough.  And not tough like strong or durable (they are that too), but tough like wanna pull your hair out!  They are so tough that Sam informed me the other day that he wasn’t sure we were cut out for more.  Yea, that didn’t go over so well.  We had always agreed that we wanted a big family.  We love having people over and we love our family, so four children is what we have discussed for the longest time.  Granted, having two toddlers 15 months apart and Kael with his Sensory Processing Disorder makes for a lot of work, not that it doesn’t come without its rewards.
Here is how our fight came about.  Sam called me and wanted to know if I cared if he went up to visit a friend in Kansas City for the day on Sunday.  He asked, he didn’t tell.  I hummed and hawed, wanting him to be able to go, but knowing that it meant I would be home all day by myself with the little boys.  I am home Saturday’s while Sam works all day by myself with them.  Two days in a row, by myself…UH!  That is a lot of work!  I explained this to him, that I didn’t love the idea of being home alone with the little boys two days in a row and that he wouldn’t want to be either.  Right then it was like a light bulb went off in his head.  If neither of us would want to be home all day with our boys by ourselves, maybe we shouldn’t have more.
No, no, no, no no!  How I wished I could have just said, “Sure honey, that is a great idea!  Go, be free, have FUN!  Enjoy!”  So instead, I got my future turned upside down…my future babies were being ripped from my future dreams and I became very upset.  I felt like on top of it Sam was telling me we were bad parents.  We have since worked it all out.  It turned out to be a very good discussion where we sat and talked about all that we desire for our children and our family.  What traditions we loved and valued in our upbringing.  And we also took stock of the importance of our time as individuals and as a couple independent of our children.
This argument was awesome.  It wasn’t awesome in the middle of it, but it stirred conversation that went past, “How was your day?” “Good, yours?” “Good.” “Good.”
It brought us back to our hopes and dreams and plans and desires and goals and vision…it encouraged us and spurred us to be better parents, better workers, better people, better for each other.
Sam still wants more kids.  YAY! It was a momentary realization for him that toddlers are very time consuming, energy consuming, mentally, physically, emotionally, financially, consuming.  He realized that we never fought until we had kids.  For him, it isn’t that he wouldn’t want kids, but that he does need some man time, and I know it!  Because I need some mom time.  And we need some us time.  We are going to slate out some Man time, Mom time, Us time, and kid time.  The kid time will be each of us spending a little bit of time with just one kid.  So it will be Daddy and Kael time and Mommy and Caleb time, and then switch.  Our boys are little individuals.  Caleb loves Diego, and Kael loves Thomas…and oh how they cry when they have to watch each other’s show.
I was married before…a lot of you might not know that.  I know that not all husbands are like Sam.  I know that not all husbands adore their wives.  This is just me talking about my specific situation.  It breaks my heart when I think about broken marriages where people are living in ugly situations.  I was in a really ugly marriage.  Today I was reading in Ephesians and I love where it talks about our marital responsibilities.  Wives respect your husbands…Husbands LOVE your wives.  It is talked about in Ephesians chapter 5 if you are curious.
I couldn’t do much right in my first marriage according to my husband.  I was very young.  As I look back I see where I personally went wrong.  I would cry out to God and was desperate to be out of that situation, but I don’t ever remember praying for John (my ex).  I don’t remember praying for him that God would change his heart.  I was a baby spiritually even though I was raised in church.  I may have and it may just be that my memory is really crummy.  It was such a dark time in my life, I see very little light in it.  So if you are in a situation like this I would like to pray for you.  I will be praying for you regardless...God knows.  So I will lift all the marriages up of anyone who actually reads this little blog, which I think may be down to my parents some days.
:-D Love ya Dad!  Love ya Mom!
I hope you had a wonderful weekend.  I am so excited that I have a guest blogger tomorrow. A testimony came trickling in...Mindy Horr (Cliff and Casey Horr's daughter) sent her's into me just the other day.  It is awesome.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Do you pass the test?

Restoration, my salvation.  He redeemed me and he gives me new mercy every day…and every day I need it.
Kael bonked his noggin about a week ago.  Coffee tables, they are dangerous!  I have a scar in my eyebrow from a coffee table.  Kids in elementary school called me "bald eyebrow" a few times (really guys, that was the best you could come up with?)  I was kind of proud of my scar.  Lucky for me, I have photoshop!  So I edited out Kael's scar for many of the rest of these pictures.
Wallah!  Scar-be-gone! and Kid-be-happy! 
I have been on a journey with the Lord this past week as he leads me through Paul’s writings. I have gained such respect for that man and feel like I know him.  It has brought me tremendous joy and I have learned so much. At the end of 2nd Corinthians in Chapter 13 verse 5 it says:
Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith.  Test yourselves.  Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—Unless indeed you fail to meet the test!
I finished 2nd Corinthians and made my way right on into Galations.  Not a very long book, but I see Paul handing out some spankin’s again as he has to correct them for accepting other people’s doctrine and not holding on to what they were taught and knew to be true.  At least that is what I gathered.
I flipped back to Paul’s charge to the church at Corinth to “examine yourselves,” and I read what he has to say to the church at Galatia, in it I see an opportunity to “test yourself.”  So, let’s test ourselves…before we wreck ourselves:
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.  For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.  But if you are led by the Spirit,, you are not under the law.  Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissentions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.  I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.  Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Galations 5: 16-26
As I read through the list of the evidence of the works of the flesh, I was feeling pretty good until I got to jealousy, rivalries, dissentions, divisions, envy…it is so easy to fall into these traps.  I know it first hand. And then as I read the fruit of the Spirit characteristics, I questioned if I exhibited those in my life.  I mentioned a week ago that God was dealing with me in the area of Pride and that I cared what people thought of me.  At the same time, what people think of you...especially if more than one person agrees, can be an indicator of something in you that needs work.
If no one wants to drive with you because you are a huge road raging maniac and you don’t have an ounce of patience or grace for anyone else on the road…maybe everyone that drives on the road isn’t an awful driver, maybe you are just awful.  That maybe a little harsh, but I knew someone like this from my past.  I remember once driving with him and we slowed to 30 on the freeway so that he could cuss out a mom in a minivan.  Let me tell you she was just as pleased to slow down and dish it right back.
I was mortified.
God showed me this last week as I opened myself up to his examination that I can come across as harsh, pressing, and borderline judgmental (I like to say borderline, it makes me feel better).  I was genuinely shocked by this because to me I could brush it off as people are just easily offended.  I could maybe get away with saying this about one person, maybe two tops, but when there are three or four people that feel this way then I have to ask myself if maybe I am…maybe I am the one who needs the work! Ouch. My pride is already so black and blue from asking God to search me and know me.  It has been a ride, let me tell you.  But you had better believe that I am committing myself over to him to help me make the necessary changes...or all this self examination would be pointless without change.  I am lovin' Ephesians…in chapter 1, right off the bat, he is bringing me home.
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. Ephesians 1: 7-10
This is a good spot to pray I think.
Father, I am so sorry that I am guilty of judging people. I have cared more of what people thought of my physical appearance and in the process I have judged people and put them down.  I haven’t put others above myself.  In fact a lot of times I forget to think about others and the world revolves around my head.  My life becomes so important, daily tasks take over my agenda.  What you have been teaching me these past few days, weeks, months, years, is contrary to my nature and I find myself fighting my flesh constantly.  I am so grateful for that!  I am grateful that at least there is a fight taking place.  And in your word you are giving me the weapons to win.  You are showing me your desire.  I am so grateful that you are long suffering…Keep this fire burning bright.  You are my cornerstone.  My rock, my salvation, you are my foundation.  You are a skilled carpenter and I am under construction.
Today has been a delight.  Not much to it other than Kael continues to ROCK at potty training.  Caleb has been doing pretty good, not quite as awesome as Kael.
Here is Kael waiting for his M and M’s, his reward for rocking the potty.
Kael continues to develop leaps and bounds.  Thanks to Lisa, our nanny, Kael likes to shout 1-2-3 TEAMWORK!!  1-2-3 TEAMWORK!!  It is really cute.  I love it.  Here is Kael playing with some Play-doh.  He was a smiley boy which is a really nice change.  Normally it is really hard to get him to smile for pictures.
Keep praying for Kael that God will continue to catch him up in the areas of language and social/emotional.  He is doing SO well!  Love that little critter.
Isn't he adorable!  I know I am bias, but what a little hunk!
Look at those eye lashes!
Here he is like "Wait a minute Mom, don't forget about Caleb."  He actually calls Caleb, Kael.  He goes "OH NO, KAEL!" when Caleb is doing something naughty.  I love that Kael can tattle tale now.  It is actually a HUGE help!
And there is Caleb...absolutely two.  He is two too much these days.
Concentrating on coloring...and all is quite in the house for 2.5 seconds.  Until one of them steals the other one's marker and screams erupt.
This is my favorite part about potty training.  Adorable little graphic briefs covering squishy toddler bums while watching Saturday morning cartoons.

Friday, August 12, 2011

All in a days work

These past few days have been a blur.  A whirlwind of rate locks, paper trails, phone calls, text messages, follow-up, follow-through, under the gun, time is of the essence… pure unadulterated craziness.
And so I pause to take a breath
{Big inhale, Big exhale} a little yawn got caught in the middle of that.
I have mentioned before that I am a Home Loan Lender.  If you want to buy a house, or if you own a house and want to lower your payment by refinancing to a lower rate, or take cash equity out of your home and get a lower rate in the process…I am your gal.
So why the craziness, why the INSANITY?  When a 30 year fixed interest rate dips below 4% craziness and insanity naturally follow, so I have learned.  Phones ringing, texts dinging, papers flying, my printer slapped ink on paper with a vengeance, and I printed incessantly like I hated trees and thought they were stupid.   I arrived at work Wednesday morning at 9am not knowing that I wouldn’t be leaving the bank, and barely my desk, for the next 11 hours.  I see you right now trying to do the math, let me help you out.  I left work at a little after 8pm.
It was a long day, but I wouldn’t have known it because when you are busy like that time flies by.
In my job, and a lot as of late with the tornado, I realize that there is a general cloud of mystery surrounding credit.  So, I thought I might help you out a little bit.  Especially those of you who think your credit might not be that hot, or you want to buy a house soon.
Credit is a reflection of your ability to manage and repay your debts or financial obligations.  There are three credit repositories or bureaus, as they are called, Experian, Trans Union, and Equifax.  The credit score range is from 300-850, but honestly I have never seen below 400 and I have never seen above an 830 score.  If your credit score falls into the range of 850-720 you have been doing a great job of managing your credit, keep up the good work!  If your score is between 720-660, it has taken a few hits, but you aren’t too bad off and you will still be able to obtain credit, but usually at a higher rate because of the perceived increase in risk to the lending institution.  If your credit score is between 600-660, your credit needs work and there are most likely outstanding items on your report that need to be addressed.  If your score is under 600 it needs a lot of work, doable, but you may be unable to obtain credit the lower your score and if you do obtain credit they will really stick you with the rates.  I am not able to do a home loan if your credit score is under 600.  If your credit score is between 600-620 and you have really good letter writing skills and the circumstances which caused your credit to be that low were temporary in nature (medical, layoff, baby, etc…) then on occasion I can get a credit waiver.
In summary, if you have glowing credit, keep it up.  If you have radioactive credit, let me tell you a few ways to fix that.
1.       Be a good communicator.  Best defense is a good offense.  Communicate with your creditors, utilities, cell phone companies…anyone who reports to credit if you are delinquent, communicate if you are not going to be able to make your payment.
You would be surprised how often they are willing to work with you. Sometimes they will split your bill with next month’s bill, or give you a grace period to get it in by.  Sometimes they will renegotiate terms if you are in a layoff situation, so communicate and call them before they call you.
2.       Don’t be late on anything that reports to credit.
You have 30 days from the due date before it hits your credit as late.  Try to never be late to anything that reports to credit as this is a heavily weighted part of the creditworthiness formula.  Think about it, if you can’t pay DishNetwork $95 for a service that they provided you regardless of the fact that it was a shared utility with a bump on the log loser of a roommate…why would I want to lend you $100,000 or $200,000 to buy a house?  Lenders, investors, everyone wants to know that they will get paid back, and that they can make a little money in the process.
3.       Manage your money.
Money management makes up the next biggest chunk of why your credit is good, or bad.  Let me give you an example.  If you have a credit card and that credit card is maxed out, even if you are never late on a payment your credit score will suffer.  You need to try and keep your balances under 50% that carry over from month to month and ideally under 35%.  So if you have $1000 line of credit you charge it up to $1000 one month, pay it down to under $500 at least.

Credit is really easy to wreck, it is really hard to build back up.  If you have a derogatory item on your credit report it will remain there for 7-10 years.   The more time that gets between you and that derogatory item the less it will impact you, but it will still be there.
If there are items on your credit report that shouldn’t be there you should first contact the reporting party and ask them to provide you something in writing.  You then write a letter to the bureaus briefly explaining the error and ask them to remove it.  I have a template letter that I use to clean up credit I can forward to you if you are interested.  Two weeks ago by writing letters I helped a lady increase her credit score 80 points.  That was awesome.  One day I couldn’t give her a loan and three weeks later I could.  She was a tornado victim too, so that made it even cooler.
If there are collections on your credit, pay them, settle for less than the amount due (also called a charge off), or your other option is to ignore them and wait for them to drop off.  As a lender I like to see them gone, paid off, charged off, or enough time and distance between them that they have little effect then they concern me less.
You may be wondering how to know what is on your credit.  You get 1 free credit report a year.  The only legit website is anything else is a scam.  They will ask you a bunch of security questions, some of them are trick questions, but they use the information on your credit report to generate what to ask you.  They might say, at which of these addresses have you lived, and you never lived at any of them.  That sort of thing.  They want to make sure that it is you checking your credit.  This will allow you to get a copy of all three bureaus.  It will not contain your credit score unless you want to pay for it.
Another thing is credit inquiries.  I could go on and on, but why reinvent the is an awesome little blog I found that talks about credit inquiries and what to know about them.
If you are thinking about buying a house I look at credit, collateral (downpayment), job history, income, and debt to income ratios.  There are still a few loans out there that you don't need a down payment.  There are loans out there where you could have had a few gaps in your employment.  There are loans out there for you even if you don't make that much money.  Biggest factors for, and debt to income.  Those will kill a deal.
I hoped this information helps you.  It is not a hole that is too big that you can't get out of it if your credit stinks.  And another is not a reflection of you as a person.  You are so valuable.  Treasured by God so much that he sacrificed everything to cover our bad sinful credit as fleshly stinkers (spiritually speaking now), and robed us with rightous credit, that glows bright.
Lord, thank you so much for my job.  I love it.  Thank you that I am able to help people and that you have allowed me the opportunity to help a lot of people this week.  Thank you for keeping me strong and focused.  I love you so much.
Have a wonderful friday friends!

Ronda Honda

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Big Fat Heart

What a beautiful day; fresh and bright after yesterday which was filled with dark ominous clouds electrified with ripples of lightning that ignited the sky continuously for hours.

{Now that was a mouthful…It was so beautiful though that you almost have to word it just like that}

Colby, (Sam’s best friend who moved to Joplin two weeks before the tornado) said as the storm raged last night, that the magnificence of it was just a small glimpse of the power and majesty of God…and then he added, “it’s just God trimming his toenails.”  Thanks Colby, way to ruin a beautiful sentiment with toenail trimming metaphor.

Sam, Colby, and I turned off every light in the house, opened the patio door and sat tucked inside, out from the rain, playing guitar and singing praise songs to the Lord as we watched the show he was putting on for us in the sky.  It was amazing.

This morning I find myself back in 2nd Corinthians, and as Paul is encouraging the Corinthians he is encouraging me, little Ronda Honda, 2000 years into the future.  Awesome.

There are so many “R” words in the scriptures that I LOVE: Redemption, Renewing, Rebuilding, Reconciliation, Revive, Revelation, Refreshed…I am sure I am missing some, can you name some more good ones?

Ah, I just thought of one more. Thank you Lord (he keeps me on track): Relationship.

And he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. 2nd Corinthians 5:15

You, who are alive, have a call on your life.  Jesus died and was raised (Resurrection).  At the end of 1st Corinthians (Chapter 15) Paul caught wind that some people believed that Jesus wasn’t raised from the dead.  So Paul had to bring out his paddle (figuratively speaking).  He basically tells them that without Christ being raised from the dead Christianity is pointless.  And he adds that they would be guilty of lying about God, and that everyone would still be under the law (death).  BUT…he says in verse 20, But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead…

If I say I follow him, I need to live for him. It was for my sake that he not only died, but that he was made alive again.  Does that blow your mind?  It blows my mind.  I live for myself all the time!  I am a real stinker in this regard.  It is so easy though.  It is so easy to get caught up in my own life that I forget to live for him.  Consider it.

Consider your life and the fruit of your life.  Really, if you are sitting there reading these words I hope you will take 2.5 seconds to pause and think…do I live for me?  Or do I live for Christ?  Do I have idols that I cherish?  Am I too busy?  Am I too angry?  Am I too good?  Am I too entertained with life?

I hope you know that I am asking myself these very questions.

From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh.  Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him this way no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.  All this is from God, who though Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.  Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.  We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.  {get ready for it} For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2nd Corinthians 5:16-20

If you are in an active relationship with the living God…your life will reflect it {another R word}.  If you are in Christ, you are a new creation.

Can I keep going?  I love this so much, I know that you can open your Bible and read these words too, but I love em, so I want to share em.

Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain {WARNING, WARNING, alarms and red flashy lights were going off in my head like on a submarine}.  For he says,

“In a favorable time I listened to you,
And in a day of salvation I have helped you.”

Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

Let me rephrase:

Listen up!  NOW is the favorable time; Come on people, NOW is the day of salvation!

We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise.  We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.

We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections.  In return (I speak as to children) widen your hearts also.

We are supposed to be different, but not proud different like “Hey everybody, come see how righteous I am!”  But different because Christ is changing us from inside out.  There is no room for pride of life.  With humility I need to love everyone.  There are so many people I need to apologize to.  The best apology is a changed attitude.  Showing them the change and not just letting it be words.  Be kind and open.  Be welcoming and hospitable.  Be attractive, not in your outward appearance, but let your heart be attractive so that people will be drawn to you and you can share with them of the HOPE that lies within you.  He will do all the rest…in fact, he will even make the changes to your heart if you are ready and willing to be changed.  Let the Remodeling begin!

Lord, I give you my heart and I give you my soul.  That is a beautiful song and as the words come immediately to my memory I rejoice with a choir of your saints around the world in this day and in past days and future days combine.  A symphony of praise.  I pray that my life will be a beautiful melody found pleasing to your ears.  I pray that my life will be a sweet smelling fragrance…like fresh baked bread, pleasing to you.  I pray that I will bring you honor, and that I will never embarrass you.  I pray that everyday you remind me of the ultimate call on my life, to love.  Thank you for putting people in my life who love and support me.  Thank you for all your blessings, please let me be a good steward, never taking anything for granted.  Thank you for sending us the Holy Spirit to comfort us.  I don’t thank you enough and I am so sorry.  Widen my heart.  Stretch my heart.  Grow my heart.  Build my heart.  Remodel my heart; make it what you want…I love you so much.  You make me smile more and more everyday as I dig into your word.  I see you in everything good.  I praise your holy name.

If the scriptures I wrote here didn’t jump off the page and minister to your heart, try opening up your Bible and reading them.  God’s word is alive…like yogurt.  Eat some word, it’s good for you.