Sunday Inspirations~ Blessings

So, as it usually happens with me when I commit to doing something on an ongoing basis I start to struggle.  And I know this is only the second of these posts, but in general I have made a committment to update my blog more often than once every couple of months. My blog started out as a place that I could go and type out and vent my frustrations.  Most of them I didn’t actually post, they were private and if posted could have hurt me and others.  But believe me some of them I really wanted to post so that they would hurt others. Because I was hurting.

So today I really struggled with what to write about for my Sunday inspirations post.  I want these to not only be an encouragement and blessing to you but I want them to be that to me as well.  I like to use my blog as a journal of my growth in my relationships~ with my husband, my kids, my friends, my church and most importantly with Christ.  I can look at my blog and see where things didn’t always look good or go the way I wanted them to and I can see how I responded and how I grew.  And it’s not always good. But even in the bad times and the times of backward growth, I can see that God was there. Always. No exceptions.

So while I struggled to write this post I knew what I wanted to write about.  My main struggle was how much do I share, how deep do I go.  You see, I am relatively a private person; I don’t like to share my struggles, downfalls, or sin with people.  Some of it is because I have been hurt. I have had my struggles, downfalls, and my sin used against me; spread around like dandelions in the wind for everyone to see.  And it is hard to get past that.  But I know I need to. I need to share and I need to be real and honest with those around me.  Its how relationships are built and maintained; its how you know I really care for you and the same for me.

So here is my inspiration for today~ Blessings

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. ” James 1:2-3

How do you count it all joy when you are facing the trials that life throws at you?  I don’t have all the answers and I am sure there are times that I fail at showing joy through my trials.  But I think the main way to do so is to stay focused on the fact that Christ is in control at all times!  There is nothing that ever takes Him by surprise! And I am so glad for that.  Ok, so here is the song that has really made me start thinking about this and wanting to share with you.

I have fallen in love with this song that I was first introduced to by my sister, Ashlee.  I have sat and listened to it at least a hundred times and I have probably cried through at least 90% of them.  The lyrics just reach in and touch something in me, something that knows the truth behind them in my own life.  The chorus is probably the part that really gets me every time.

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?
What if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise?

I know that I am not the only one that has experienced trials or testing in my life.  And I know there are those out there that have suffered far more and far worse than I have.  But I know that raindrops do conceal blessings, healing does come through tears and all those sleepless nights have helped me draw closer and rely on Christ more.  And those trials, the things I really don’t want to go through or like, they have been God’s great mercy in disguise.  I can not tell you of the things I have prayed for and wanted so bad that He has kept from me only later for me to realized that they would have been disastrous if He had allowed me to have them!  I am so glad that God knows the outcome of every situation in my life and allows me to experience certain things to keep from other things.  I heard it said once, just because it is a good thing doesn’t mean it is a God thing!  How true that is!

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst
This world can’t satisfy?

Continue reading

The Hardest Thing

There are a lot of things that are hard about moving.

Physically, you have all the packing, loading, unloading and unpacking you have to do.  I am not sure how many boxes it took to pack our entire family but it was a lot.  It took 10 rolls of packing tape to seal all the boxes, that I do know.

Spiritually it is hard because you are going to a new church where you don’t really know “how” they do things.  That might sound silly (and really it kind of is) but at the same time you don’t want to make a major goof the first time you worship in your new church!  Plus it is a new environment and I know for me that makes it hard because I tend to take a bit to feel comfortable.  I know that has nothing to do with my new church family and is all on me and I am working on it.

I think however that moving is the hardest emotionally!  At least for me anyways.  And I will freely admit that at one time in my life this wouldn’t have been true.  I am not trying to brag on myself but in the past 4 years or so, I have really grown and come a long way in the personal relationship department!  For several years I was a loner and not a people person.  And really i still prefer to be alone and am not really a people person.  But God has really shown me how the walls I built around myself to protect my heart from being hurt were not only keeping people locked out but were keeping me locked in!  Wow!  I never really thought about it that way before.  And while it may still be easier to retreat within, I know that that is not what the Lord would have me to do.

So the hardest part of this entire move has been saying good-bye or see you later to those I have grown close to.  Not just for the fact that I am leaving but also in the fact that while I am very emotional person it was hard to show that emotion.  And that doesn’t happen to me very often.  So this past weekend, I had to hug and say good-bye to people I have only known for barely over 18 months but feel they have been in my life forever!  Some of them were no-nonsense ladies who told you like it was.  Some of them were ladies that always said hi and genuinely asked how you were doing.  Some of them were ladies that were quiet and kind of reserved and others were outgoing and loud!  And some of them always had a word of encouragement or were willing to do you a favor anytime.  And although they were all so different in their personalities, backgrounds, and experiences there were two things they all had in common~ they all loved Jesus with their whole beings and they loved others (and it showed)!  I am so thankful that I had the privilege to be loved by them and to love them all!

So the hardest thing about this move was not telling our kids, our family or our church family.  It wasn’t packing my entire house, loading the u-haul, unloading the u-haul or unpacking the contents of my old home into my new house (still working on that one!).  Nope, none of that was as hard as leaving behind the relationships that I (and my family) have built in the last 18 months.  It was leaving behind all the people who helped us to settle in and really consider Marion, Il our home in the short time we had been there.

And while we are looking forward to the new relationships and friendships that God has in store for us at our new church in Washington, Il, I will miss those we left behind!

We’ve Moved….

Yes you read that correctly!  With me being 37 weeks pregnant, almost 38 weeks, we packed up all our belongings and moved about 6 hours south of where we had been living!  Crazy I know but not too bad actually.

Josh accepted a position in southern Illinois as a Youth Pastor and we are settling into our new home and lives.  And it has been amazing!  I think I can honestly say I don’t think I have ever been a more loving church or surrounded by more loving people than I have experienced at our new church home!  They have been amazing and I am so thankful everytime I think of all they have done already in a short time for me and my family!  That is not to say it hasn’t been an adjustment but it has been made a lot easier by their love and generosity!

So here is our new home–

I have some more pictures but they are still in my camera so I will have to get them uploaded and then post them.

I do have to brag and say that although we arrived here exactly one week ago tonight, my kitchen, bathrooms (2), the majority of the den/office room, Micah and Zephaniah’s bedroom, and Sarai’s bedroom are already completely unpacked, put away and organized!  Now that has nothing to do with me and everything to do with the amazing ladies from church that have given up so many hours this past week helping doing the majority of the work for me!  They have been such a blessing.  Now the main focus is on the living room and our bedroom and it will be done except for the basement which is a lot of scrapbook stuff and office stuff that has to be gone through and sorted.  And will probably have to be done mostly by me since it is mostly my stuff and I have decide what is being kept and what is not.

I will post more pictures soon.  In the meantime if you would like to write to us or give us a call here is the info-

Joshua and Tzigane Monda
Sarai, Micah and Zephaniah
1008 North Garfield Street
Marion, IL 62959

Sunday Inspirations~ Seeking God

Ok, so I know that missed last weeks but I truly did not mean to! Honestly, I had planned to sit down and write after church because something that we had studied during Sunday School really spoke to me.  But I think at that moment I was still trying to digest it all and make sense of the thoughts in my head!  Needless to say, that did not happen  But I think I am finally ready to share them with you.  So please bear with me since this might get a little rambley! Sorry if it does.

And they went and stayed at Geruth Chimham near Bethlehem, intending to go to Egypt because of the Chaldeans. For they were afraid of them, because Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had struck down Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, whom the king of Babylon had made governor over the land.  Jeremiah 41:17-18

So I little background here.  Johanan and his group freed some captives from Ishmael who then killed Gedaliah.  Johanan and his group then became afraid of retaliation because Gedaliah had been appointed by the king of Babylon.  So they quickly made plans to travel into Egypt to try to escape from the Chaldeans.  But in the middle of the plans they had already made, they decided they better go and ask Jeremiah what the Lord wanted them to do.

Then all the commanders of the forces, and Johanan the son of Kareah and Jezaniah the son of Hoshaiah, and all the people from the least to the greatest, came near  and said to Jeremiah the prophet, “Let our plea for mercy come before you, and pray to the LORD your God for us, for all this remnant—because we are left with but a few, as your eyes see us— that the LORD your God may show us the way we should go, and the thing that we should do.”  Jeremiah 42:1-3

So the first thing that really struck me about this passage that we were studying is how after they had made plans and started to follow through on those plans, they decided that they needed to see if this is what God wanted them to do.  How many times in my life have I made plans, started to carry out those plans and then said “please bless this father and show me if it is your will?”  I don’t go to God seeking his will for my life, instead I go to Him with what I want to be His will for my life and ask him to make it so.  I am not trusting Him enough to wait, instead I have to plan.  And this is where I get into a lot of trouble, because I am a planner. I don’t really like the unplanned or spontaneous things.  Just ask my husband.  I must have a plan and then a contingency plan if that doesn’t work right.  And then sometimes I even have to have ANOTHER backup plan, just in case!  When I do this to God, how much am I limiting Him?  How many extra blessings and gifts do I miss out on because I have to plan for any and every little thing that can happen.  And how much glory am I taking away from him?  These were all questions running through my head as we were going over this lesson.  But there is more!

Then they said to Jeremiah, “May the LORD be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act according to all the word with which the LORD your God sends you to us. Whether it is good or bad, we will obey the voice of the LORD our God to whom we are sending you, that it may be well with us when we obey the voice of the LORD our God.” Jeremiah 42:5-6

So not only did they go to Jeremiah and ask him to seek out what God wanted them to do on their behalf.  They said that no matter if it is good or bad we will obey the Lord!  Wow, that is a powerful statement.  Whether it is good or bad, we will obey the Lord our God.  How many times have I told God that no matter what He asks of me I will do it, good or bad.  No matter what He gives to me I will accept it, good or bad.  There have been times in my life when I have prayed and prayed and prayed for something, prayed for the outcome I wanted and then when it hasn’t happened been disappointed and even mad about it.  That isn’t what I have told God when I prayed.  I prayed that His will be done and that glory be brought to him.  Could glory be brought to Him if it looked like I did it all on my own? Like my planning had made all the difference?  I guess it could, but how much more glory comes to Him when the outcome is something that I couldn’t have planned for or controlled or done on my own?  So much more!

So I don’t paste almost the entire rest of the chapter here, I am going to sum it up for.  Jeremiah seeks the Lord on their behalf and after 10 days (yes 10 days!) he gets an answer from God.  He tells them that God does not want them going to Egypt and that if they remain where they are, He will build them up and not tear them down.  However if they go to Egypt, they will be overtaken by the sword they fear, they will face famine, and none of them will survive.  I think another important thing to notice in this passage is that it takes Jeremiah 10 days to hear from the Lord.  10 days!  Wow, how long do I wait for the Lord to answer my prayers?  Sometimes, I don’t even wait a day before proceeding on with what I want.  I really need to take time to seek God’s face and wait for him to answer.

Their answer in response to God’s word that really gets me.

Johanan the son of Kareah and all the insolent men said to Jeremiah, “You are telling a lie. The LORD our God did not send you to say, ‘Do not go to Egypt to live there,’ but Baruch the son of Neriah has set you against us, to deliver us into the hand of the Chaldeans, that they may kill us or take us into exile in Babylon.” So Johanan the son of Kareah and all the commanders of the forces and all the people did not obey the voice of the LORD, to remain in the land of Judah. But Johanan the son of Kareah and all the commanders of the forces took all the remnant of Judah who had returned to live in the land of Judah from all the nations to which they had been driven—  the men, the women, the children, the princesses, and every person whom Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard had left with Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan; also Jeremiah the prophet and Baruch the son of Neriah. And they came into the land of Egypt, for they did not obey the voice of the LORD. Jeremiah 43:2-7

They called the prophet of God a LIAR!  Wow!  And they did want they wanted to do and planned to do from the very start!  How many times do I do the same exact thing?  Maybe not calling the wise counsel of the Godly liars but disregarding them none the less!  At the moment we were reading this passage, the cry of my heart was “oh God please forgive me!”  I realized that there are many times that I plan and then half-heartedly pray or seek wise counsel, disregard what I hear God telling me through prayer or counsel and go right on ahead with my plans!  How many half-hearted prayers of “your will be done” have I prayed lately?  Not really wanting or caring if what I wanted was in God’s will for my life?  I can honestly say too many to count!  And that is sad.  Not only is it sad but it is sin on my part, the sin of pride– thinking that I know better or more than the God of this universe!  Sin that shames me and sin that I had to confess to my Savior.

My prayer after this week of seeking out God and really meditating on this and other passages is that I will always, whole-heartedly seek God’s will for my life before I make any plans.  And I need to wait on the Lord, knowing that He will answer and that His answer is the best.  And I pray that you will do likewise if you aren’t already.

The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.  It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. Lamentations 3:25-26

Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.  Psalm 127:1

January 31- February 6, 2010

Welcome to another week! Can you believe that we have already completed the first 6 weeks of 2010? Today starts Week 7!  And guess what, I am behind about a half of a week on my Project 365/52! I have part of Week 6’s layout done and need to finish it up!  But I wanted to post what our week was like for you. So enjoy!

January 31

Today we went to the Mexican restaurant after church.  And even though his birthday wasn’t until Thursday we had them sing to Nathan! It was funny! And I think he secretly enjoyed it!  To be honest with you I love Mexican but I so did not want to go today mainly because I was tired and Micah was tired and cried the minute we left to church all the way to the restuarant. He just wanted to go to sleep.  But he ended up being fine once he got some chips and salsa and I had a good time to.

Februaury 1

Our dog, Waffles! She is a crazy dog.  If you haven’t read about her before, we adopted her (ok, I adopted her) from the animal shelter in Pennsylvania in September 2007. In October of 2007 I found out I was pregnant with Micah!  Waffles is deaf!!  But other than that she is a pretty good dog, and I imagine that she would be a great dog if she could just hear us! I thought this picture of her was so cute; she is snuggling with the pillow!

February 2

Micah had to go to WIC today to pick up his vouchers.  And for the first time we actually played with the toys and didn’t keep coming back to “check” on me every two seconds! He is growing up!  At 20 months old he weighs 21.8 pounds and is almost 32 inches long! My little man is growing up!  He weighs about 5 times more than he did at birth and is almost twice as long!

February 3

Micah and his friend Alexis at church in the nursery on Wednesday night.  They love playing on the teeter-totter! And it was a nice night since there were only 4 little ones and 3 workers! A lot better than last week when there were 8 little ones (3 babies) and only 2 workers; now that was a crazy night!

February 4

Ok, I know you are thinking this is a weird picture to have; why in the world would I take a picture of a greeting card display? Well, it is because every Thursday morning, I drive to my local Wal-Mart and I spend about 30-45 minutes straightening and stocking this card display.  It is not very labor intensive and the pay is not outstanding (but not bad either) but I love doing it! It gives me a little break to get out by myself.  I have also done product demonstrations, mystery shopping, samples, and surveys.  Want to do it too? Just ask me and I will tell you where to go to get started.

Today was also Nathan’s birthday but I didn’t get a chance to take any pictures of that. I thought I did but couldn’t find them after I uploaded from my cameras. –Ok, just had a duh moment and realized that I can’t find the picture because it is still on my camera! Now I feel really silly!– I might add it later.

February 5

Ok, no pictures for today but I do have a video that I hope you think is as funny as I did.  A couple weeks ago Sarai asked if she could order some things from her book order forms from school and Josh said sure.  So one of the tings she picked out was this voice recorder/distorter.  Well, she brought it home today.  As I was sitting in the bedroom listening to them I was cracking up!  And Josh and her were laughing hysterically too.  I was going to record them without their knowledge but as I was going out to do so, they were coming to the bedroom to let me listen to their antics.  Hope you enjoy a good laugh!

February 6

–All of todays pictures are in RAW format and I have to edit and convert them before I can post any. To do that I have to open PSE. Be back soon!–

Today Sarai cheered at her first Lighthouse League Basketball game.  She did great and they were so cute.  But let me tell you, watching some of those little ones play basketball was so funny and cute!  Talk about dramatic; you should have seen them when they would barely get bumped or pushed!

So there was our week; hope you enjoyed it!

January 24-30, 2010

Ok, so in my digital scrapbooking endeavors I am doing what is called Project 365.  Basically it is a way to document everyday life.  The goal is take at least one picture everyday and then at the end of that week you scrap the weeks worth of pictures.  I am doing pretty good and keeping up with it.  But to help even more, I am going to post about my week here on my blog.  So every Saturday night (hopefully) I am going to type up a post for you that chronicles my families week and post some pictures from the week.  Enjoy!

January 24

Micah loves to brush his teeth.  He usually asks to do it any time we are in the bathroom.  He does a pretty good job of brushing them by himself but I still help him so that we are for sure getting them clean!

January 25

Micah loves to listen to music! So anytime someone is listening to their ipod, Micah usually asks to have one earphone so he can listen too.  Here I caught Sarai and Micah on my bed listening to her ipod.  Probably a Taylor Swift song!

January 26

Tonight Sarai started practice for Lighthouse League Cheerleading.  If you have ever heard of Upward Basketball/Cheerleading than you know what ours is about as they are similar.  She has practice every Tuesday night for an hour and then they cheer at basketball games on Saturday from the beginning of February to the beginning of March.  She seemed to enjoy herself.

January 27

If it is Wednesday you will find us at church!  We usually get there about 5 pm and eat dinner. Then around 5:45 Micah and I head up to the nursery while Sarai heads to Awana and Josh heads off to make the rounds.  Micah enjoys being in the nursery and playing with his friends; but his favorite activity is the slide!

January 28

This is Micah with our dog, Waffles.  Most of the time she will get up and move when she sees him coming towards her.  So this is a rare moment that she actually laid there and let him sit on her like this.  Even when she did finally have enough, she got up slowly and let him slide gently down her back.  She is such a great dog, even though she is deaf!

January 29

Josh and I went out of town overnight today for a Deacon’s and Wives retreat which also included the Pastors and their wives.  It was in Quincy Il and we had a pretty good time!  My husband really spoils me– I got Starbucks twice and a milkshake from Steak N Shake!  I love him.  We also had a great time and lots of un hanging out with everyone, but especially Wade and Emily!

January 30

We came home from the retreat today after we went out to lunch at TGI Fridays and to a movie, Extraordinary Measure, with Wade and Emily. Lunch was great although Josh and I really should have shared the 3 course meal! And the movie was great too! I am glad that we went to see it although I wasn’t too interested at first.  It wasn’t that I didn’t think it was going to be a good movie but given the choice I would have chosen something different.  So I am glad that Wade and Josh made the decision! I cried, a lot according to my husband.  Although I think he exaggerates a little bit, I did cry several times during the movie.  It was made worse by the fact that I didn’t have any tissues so I couldn’t wipe my nose and kept having to sniff the entire movie!  That probably made it seem like I was crying more often than I actually was.

So there was our week in a nutshell!  Hope you enjoyed reading about it and see the pictures!

It Happens Subtly

I am sure that you can think of a lot of things that happened subtly. But this post is about the healing that takes place after a deep loss or hurt.  The healing process following a deep hurt or devastating loss happens in a lot of stages.  And although forgiveness of the parties involved and forgiveness of our own part is the main goal, there are so many emotions and other factors that play into healing.

Because I am such an emotional person and I tend to ramble when I get emotional, I am going to copy and paste a blog post that my husband wrote today.  While not all of it is relevant to me, a large part of it is.  Thinking back to where I was almost 2 years ago emotionally and spiritually to where I am at today is like night and day.  So as you read my amazing husband’s words, realize that they also come from my heart. And yes I cried, both as I read his post and as I typed mine. But that is just part of who I am!

It was about 2 years ago when I first came to FBC Macon looking for a place to heal.  My wife and I had been through a terrible battle within the church and to be honest I did not know what was going to happen next in our lives.  The only thing I knew is that I wanted to find a place where we would be loved and where I could sit under sound teaching.  These two fundamentals were vital for me.  After serving as a pastor for 15 years I wanted to just blend in for once.  For once I did not want to be known as a pastor and I did not want the junk that I had thought went along with it.  To say we were beat up I think would really be an understatement.  However this post is not to focus on what has happened elsewhere but I write to focus on what God has done since that time in our lives.

You see when we first came to Macon I did not want anyone to know that I used to be a youth pastor.  In fact I sat in my Sunday school class for months without telling them my background or what I had done for a living for the previous years.  Yet week after week we felt loved and wanted and accepted.  Not because I was a pastor but for who we were.  Week in and week out I had a tremendous opportunity to sit under solid Bible teaching that challenged me often.  After a few months I decided it was  time to be involved in the church.  However, I firmly believe you become a member and then you get involved.  So we became member.

I can’t even begin to tell you the tremendous amount of love we have felt from our church family.  I can’t even tell you about all the times people have come and encouraged me or told me they were praying for me.  I have been moved in ways that has just been overwhelming.  The other night as I stood in the pulpit to preach my sermon it almost did not feel real.  As I took time to thank the church for all they have done it also hit me like a ton of bricks that one day I would move on.

I have made so many friends in this church.  I have great relationships with the pastors of this church and even as I write this I am sad.  I love it here.  I love the people and to be honest I never want to leave.  However God has placed a call on my life and to be disobedient is not an option.

Thank you so much Macon FBC for all you have done.  I do not know how much longer I have hear sometimes I wish it was a lot longer.  But this church will never know how much it has touched me.  It will never know the healing it has brought to my family.  The people of this church have displayed the Love of Christ to me in ways I have never seen before.  In addition to that I have had the awesome privilege to be on staff here.  First as the intern youth pastor and currently as the interim children’s pastor.  Thank you for loving my family, and giving me an opportunity to serve.  Whatever happens in the future I love this church and they will always have a special place in my heart.