Thursday, January 27, 2011

January Updates!

Sorry, I know, I told everyone I would give updates each month on how the Kaisand's are doing!  The last month I took step by step was October.  However, I did write a thankful November message.  December had the "Blessings" letter, the recap of 2010.  Before January ends I will update you all on how Jon and I are doing here in Ames.

We celebrated the new year with Jon's cousins and Kate came up to celebrate with us!  It was a wonderful time!  (Otherwise it would've been weird to be apart from Kate, rarely are we ever apart on new year's.)  New Year's Day was Jon's extended family Christmas.  It was nice to see everyone again.  The next week was a nice week filled with Jon working a lot to catch up on things before he started school again.  On the 10th he had to return to his classes.

The next weekend was my Dad's birthday.  It was a wonderful time with family and friends and bowling after going out to eat.  Watching the kiddos bowl was pretty cute too. :)

              Jack (4), Sam (5), and Max (2) help Grandpa blow out his candles.

The following weekend was a wonderful family getaway to Kansas City.  We left right after Jon's class on Friday to get a head start on the weekend.  It was a wonderful time with family.  We stayed at the Great Wolf Lodge which had a indoor water park.  Which worked well for this time of year!  It also kept us all together and we didn't have to leave the hotel at all for entertainment.  It worked around the baby schedules, which is the right thing for our family right now. :)  Jon and I were able to see into our future of what a vacation looks like "with children."  Our time together became a wonderful ride down the tube slides! :)  We really enjoyed the trip, and had a lot of time to bond with our nephews and nieces!

           On the way there, playing a car-version of Phase10 with Grandma Doris.

                                     The bucket of water I didn't want to be standing underneath.

                                                   Max (2) goes down the kiddie slide.

                                              My sisters and their babies (both born in August).

                                            Jon and I at dinner on Saturday night (holding Frank).

                                              One of my FAVORITE pics from the trip.
                                                Max (2) helps Evelyn (2) out of the pool.

                           They were going down the kiddie slide together.  Cute cousins. :)

After the fun-filled weekend Jon and I returned to Ames and had to get kicked back into reality.  Jon had to get back to his schoolwork.  Me?  Well, that's another story.

If you know of anyone who needs someone like me to work for them let me know! :)
I'm also finding ways to maybe volunteer here in Ames.  Get my feet wet a bit and get more connected here in Ames.  Make it feel more like home.  Jon's thinking we'll be staying here a couple years after he's done with school.  He loves his previous job SO MUCH.... he wants to stay! :)

Hope everyone is having a wonderful beginning of 2011......
Stay warm!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Passion Dream

Had a dream this morning about something that brought up a subject that seven years ago affected me more than I could handle alone.  I took a big leap of faith and got my answer and cried out to God constantly, "WHY?"  This time of year it always reminds me.

Waking up after having a dream, can sometimes change the rest of your day.  Yesterday my dream made me fearful and I had to remind myself it wasn't real and God would protect me.

But today's dream.....

It doesn't help that I'm searching for an active thing I can do while living in Ames.  Lately the thought has been: dance.  Of course!  I want to find a place near here that I can express myself through dance again.  I want to get better at it, and I haven't taken dance lessons for years.  I love given the chance to express myself through dance.  It's a wonderful way for me to worship my God.

Another part of dance that I love is what I had a dream about.  What happens this time of year that sparked my dream?

Show choir.

I don't miss everything about it.  I just miss the part where I was able to do something that I absolutely loved to do!  It was a wonderful experience, but God had something else in store for me.  When I became homeschooled God really tugged on my heart and wanted me to end show choir.  I wasn't ready to hear that, so I told him, "If I don't make the varsity group as a junior in high school then I'll be all done."

After hours of practice, too many seniors trying out with little spots available...I didn't make the cut.

I will never forget the moment looking on the list of names and searching for minutes looking for my name.  Surely I'm on a list SOMEWHERE.  However, unfortunately since I only tried out for the varsity group they didn't put me in any other group.

I felt like I failed my family, my grandmother who was counting on me, and myself.

I felt hopelessly alone.

Little did I know that God was drawing me closer to Himself.

I remember when school started back up again and I knew they were starting to work on show choir things.  I was depressed for sure.  I was moping around like I had no purpose.  Why did God allow that to happen?  Why was He doing this to me?  Doesn't He know me at all?

He did.  He does.  He knew what I needed.

After months of things leading up to crying, times where I would let it out in the shower (where I thought no one could hear me), and moments where I just didn't want to go anywhere....somehow I found the time to work on my homeschool assignments.  (Even now thinking back to those times will bring up that depressing thought and sometimes my eyes water up.)

As time went on I found it easier to go day by day and my alone time with God was improving.  I was learning so much more about Him, because while being homeschooled I was able to make it part of my routine.  I would spend almost two hours with God every day.  I looked forward to it!

My senior year came and it was nearing springtime.  Time to go see show choir right?  Yes.  I wanted to see people and support them.  I couldn't find anyone to go with, so I went alone.  Bad idea.  I watched it and felt fine the whole time.  I had memories come in to mind that were not good ones (the hardest parts for me personally about show choir), and it helped me get through the performance.  Afterwards I went up and visited with a few people.  On the way home I bawled my eyes out and had to slow down because I couldn't see the road anymore.  I was a mess.  Asking God the same questions over and over again.

Why were my sisters a part of it and not me?  What did I not have that they did?

Soon I got my answer.  Somehow the topic got brought up and they told me what they thought.
"Mary, when you were going to try out that last time we both wanted to tell you not to do it.  This was your chance to just end it.  Show choir is such a secular thing and it can really take over a lot of things in your mind, but we knew you liked it so much and we wanted it to be your decision."

Wait a minute.  I thought they loved it SO MUCH!  It was a great eye opener for me for someone who seems to always find herself in her sister's footsteps just a few years behind.  But they were wanting to encourage me so badly not to be a part of what they were a part of.  Right then I started to see changes happening.  It was such a blessing to know that now I could start finding ways to use what I am passionate about and to use it.  I was nearing the end of teenager years and ready to explore all the possibilities.

God had some amazing things in store for me......

Monday, January 24, 2011

Motives: Pleasing Man vs Pleasing God

After reading a friend's blog post, it got me pondering this thought.  When you serve or do an everyday thing...are you pleasing man or pleasing God?  When is it okay to please man (or please man only)?
Doing in act of service pleasing man because they benefit.  What was the motive of the server?  Did the server just do it because they knew it would benefit the man (maybe a man in need)?  What about pleasing the man was the outcome?  Did the act of service please God?  How do you know?
I think it comes down to motives and the heart.

But let's look at the Truth and see what it says.

After reading Psalm 69:30-33 also got me to ponder the idea of being humble.
Consider meditating on that for a moment....

but also be careful not to take it out of context.

30 I will praise the name of God with song And magnify Him with thanksgiving31 And it will please the LORD better than an ox Or a young bull with horns and hoofs32 The humble have seen it and are glad ; You who seek Godlet your heart revive33 For the LORD hears the needy Anddoes not despise His who are prisoners.

Proverbs 21:17
17 Whoever loves pleasure will become poor;
   whoever loves wine and olive oil will never be rich.

When things are enjoyed apart from thanksgiving to God or enjoyed more than following in God's paths, they will destroy a person's life.

In John chapter eight Jesus is talking about Him and the Father.

26 “I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is trustworthy, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.”
 27 They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father. 28 So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up[a] the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. 29 The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.”

So, "pleasing God" is doing things like-Christ.  How do you know what Christ did or how He would react to every day life?  Read Scripture.  That's one of the reasons why we have alone time with God.  Our desire becomes to know Him and obey Him because our love.  We are broken and His grace and forgiveness allows us to come to Him.  Pleasing God is obeying Him.

Now it is time to read Romans chapter eight.

Life Through the Spirit
 1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a] free from the law of sin and death3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh,[b] God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.[c] And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
 5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
 9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life[d] because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of[e] his Spirit who lives in you.

AMEN!!! :)  What a wonderful blessing it is to know that through the Holy Spirit I can have a relationship with my Father in heaven.  If you are living in the flesh, please keep reading that passage from Romans.  If you feel a tug right now, just send me a personal message, better yet....send God a personal message!  He wants to hear from you!  

That passage is saying that if you are doing things through the flesh then it is not pleasing God.  Doing things through Christ is what is pleasing to God.  Can Christians do things that are not pleasing to God?  Yes, unfortunately we do.  We can't do it alone.  We fail alone, because our minds are focused on what the flesh desires.  However, through the Spirit we can have our hearts and minds set on what is pleasing to God.

1 Corinthians 10:23-11:1 Paul talks about how important it is to be like-Christ.  He also mentions what it looks like to please God.

23 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. 24 No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.
 25 Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, 26 for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”[a]
 27 If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. 28But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the one who told you and for the sake of conscience. 29 I am referring to the other person’s conscience, not yours. For why is my freedom being judged by another’s conscience? 30 If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?
 31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32 Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33 even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.
 1 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.

Paul continues to talk about pleasing God in 2 Corinthians chapter 5:6-10.  This time we hear more encouragement about the reason why we should obey and please God.  He also talks about how confident we can be in our faith, because it's about living by faith and not by sight.

6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 For we live by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

Through this confident faith, know that you are not alone.  God is with you every step of the way.

2 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
 14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”[a] Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.   (Philippians 2:12-18)

A blessing recorded for you from Paul from Colossians chapter one...
Thanksgiving and Prayer
 3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— 5 the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel 6 that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. 7 You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant,[c] who is a faithful minister of Christ on our[d] behalf, 8 and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.
 9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,[e] 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you[f] to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
The Supremacy of the Son of God
 15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
 21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of[g] your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

Paul is an incredible writer isn't he?  But it is so humbling to know that God filled him with those wonderful words to help bring the Gospel to you and to me.  God rescued us, so that we could worship with Him eternally.  
You may have whatever comments you would like towards this post.  You can disagree with every words I say.  But the purpose of this post was to get the GOSPEL of CHRIST out.  I want my motives to be pleasing to God.  I don't want any praise to come towards me.  That's not what this is about.
The next time to clean your toilet, or wash that dish you use every day, or do laundry think this:
I want to please God in everything I do, not because of me but because of GOD!
I know it gets tiring, I haven't been doing it as long as you.....but I think we can help each other, encourage one another, and pray.  
My thoughts on pleasing God are not over, but I should end this post.  
If you have anything on your mind, let God know.
If you need to reconcile with someone, let them know as soon as possible.
Which reminds me, I need to do that right now!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Calming the Storm

I just want to thank the car in front of me tonight.

Have you ever got annoyed when you get behind a car that is going under the speed just can't wait until you get to pass it?


tonight I had the opposite experience.

Driving home to Ames, from Ankeny, the snow was coming down and the wind was picking up.  It was the kind of weather that you drive 50mph (or less) in a 70mph area.  Every time a car or truck would pass on the left you couldn't see for what seemed like minutes.  A couple times I couldn't see the road at all.  I prayed to my Lord, "Please God, get me home safely...if it is Your will for me."  Then I turned up my Christian radio station that had wonderful worship music blasting!

"You are mighty to save...mighty to save!  Forever author of rose and conquered the grave.  Yes you conquered the grave...."

It was a wonderful way to get my mind focused on God, and allow my fears to drift off in the night.

I think God sent a wonderful car in front of me.  He drove anywhere from 40mph to 50 mph all the way from Ankeny to Ames.  He even got off the same exit as me coming into Ames!  When I couldn't see the road in front of me, I could see his lights.  The closer we were to Ames, the worse the roads were.  I was so thankful I had no cars on my tail.  I hate it in bad weather when you have cars on your tail.  I'm always afraid I'll find them in my back seat!
Instead of thinking, "I can't wait until I can pass this slow moving vehicle"...I was so thankful I got to stay behind him!

Thank you Lord for tonight.  It had many wonderful blessings.  Great girl's night with Kate and a safe trip home!

And sorry bloggers for having to wait so long for another post.  I need to get better at keeping everyone updated. :)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Blessings of 2010

As I look back on 2010, I am filled with many wonderful memories, experiences, and God-giving blessings.

God answered prayer by giving me a wonderful husband.  Married June 12th.  Jon and I talk about how wonderful it is to have someone along side of us living life together.  It's an ongoing learning experience to fully live out God's command of being Jon's help-meet.  I'm so honored to have such a wonderful, understanding husband who encourages me and helps me along the way.  He knows my failures and still smiles in my direction, thanks me for the quick dinner I fixed, or serves me when I stumble.  I know God has given Him such an encouraging spirit, patient heart, the skills to be a great role model for our future children, and a great Spiritual leader.  People told me about the expectations you make about marriage--before marriage, but Jon and I talk about how we had none.  We didn't expect anything--and the blessings are overflowing!!

Marriage is not all daisies and chocolates.  I am just as sinful as I was before I got married.  Marriage is God's way of helping us better see our weaknesses, sinful nature, and where we need to become stronger.  I've learned so much about myself these past six months (due to marriage).   I thank God for my husband, because he leads me to Christ.  I fall on my knees asking for forgiveness constantly.  I've been asking Jon questions as days go on, "Which do you like better?  Do you like to come home to this or that?  How do you want that cooked?  Which is more important to you?"  I've learned so much about my wonderful husband, I can only imagine how much more I will be learning in the years to come!

Another big blessing this year was the joy of having two sisters and one sister in law give birth to such beautiful babies! :)  (Note: Not very many newlyweds get the joy of having this...usually they constantly get questions, "so when are you going to start a family?"  We luck out.  Our sisters had babies at a great time.  So, thanks sistas!)
The blessings from being around babies and young children in general are so GREAT!   God has given me (and Jon) such a wonderful blessing.  We get the opportunity to be around babies and kids before we become parents.  It leads us to having conversations BEFORE we make the big decision.  It also helps us by just having the experience of being around it a lot.  Believe me.  I know a LOT about babies and toddlers.  I'm not a mom yet, but I feel like a mom to many already.  For you mom's out there that allow me to spend time with your little ones....
Just as much as you may be thankful to have the short break and allowing me to spend time with your little one, I thank you.  It helps that little part of me that says, 'you are married, where's your baby?' ;)
In the meantime I continue to pray and ask God to help Jon and myself to be wise and bless us with children in His perfect timing.  Someone once told me they could see me with 16 kids. I'm sorry, I don't see that coming (I've seen labor about 6 times now).  However, I know God will bless us. :)
Thank you to those who have allowed me to spend time with your little one in 2010...I hope I can continue to do so in 2011. :)

In 2010 God has also blessed us in the area of Jon's job.  In the time where we really needed it, Jon was blessed in his job.  I am still looking for something here in Ames, but God has always provided us enough.  His boss has really been helpful in giving Jon flexibility while balancing school, marriage, and everything else.  We want to send an extra thank you your way Chris! Thanks!

God's blessing of family is indescribable.  2010 was filled with wonderful time with family (and friends).  Whether it was planning the wedding, the actual Day, or holidays....we are both very thankful for each one of them.  We know their support has really helped us get to where we are now.

Speaking of family and holidays brings me to another blessing.  A blessing that brings tears along the way.  The week before Christmas, God gave us a blessing of peace.  My dear Grandma Evelyn went Home to see the Lord.  We all got time to be with her before she took her last breath on earth.  I will never forget those moments.  The visitation and memorial service was a wonderful time also.  It was a great service of praise to God and worship of her life.  Grandma was a special lady to many, and I know I have many dear friends who thought of her as "Grandma" also. :)  I will be writing another note soon of a Tribute to her.  I can just picture my sweet servant-heart Grandma wanting to wash dishes after the "birthday party" for Jesus.

                                                    Grandma Evelyn and me Nov 2010

To end the note of our blessings of 2010, I must include the many messages we've heard.  Whether it was at Cornerstone Church (Ames), Timberline Church (Urbandale), Johnston E. Free Church, or Community Heights Alliance Church (Newton)...we thank the Pastors for their ministry.  Thank you all for serving the Lord in this way.  While Jon and I travel from town to town (usually on weekends) we discuss our "sermon notes" and other topic questions.
We also want to thank Don Morris for giving us such wonderful counsel before our marriage.  (Jon still talks about it.) :)  Nothing like seeing your future husband skip to counseling. :)

Thank you all again for your love, support, and guidance in 2010!  It's been a wonderful journey to learn how to love God, love each other and others, and serve together!  That statement has a whole new meaning once married.  Especially when you are learning/working on the "I'm third" statement.  First is God, second is my spouse, and third is myself.
Hope everyone had a wonderful, God-honoring Christmas!  Praying everyone has a wonderful year ahead of them.

Love and blessings from the Kaisand's! :)
Mary & Jonathan