Sunday, March 31, 2013

Jesus is Risen!

The beautiful thing that sets apart Jesus followers from other religions is that we serve a living God.  Jesus is alive!  Today was a beautiful day of worship and rejoicing, both at church and at lunch afterwards with my parents and grandparents (I didn't get a pic of them...oops!).  So grateful for all God's blessings!

Friday, March 29, 2013

It Is Finished

Good Friday is one of few days words escape me.  Matt recently reminded us that while most of us will never be great poets, as musicians we are able to proclaim some of the greatest poems ever written in praise of our God.  The cross leaves me speechless, and tears ran freely today during worship at church.  I choked out the words to Dan Forrest's arragement of Charles Wesley's beautiful words:

Arise, my soul, arise; shake off thy guilty fears;
The bleeding sacrifice in my behalf appears:
Before the throne my surety stands,
Before the throne my surety stands,
My name is written on His hands.
Five bleeding wounds He bears; received on Calvary;
They pour effectual prayers; they strongly plead for me:
"Forgive him, O forgive," they cry,
"Forgive him, O forgive," they cry,
"Nor let that ransomed sinner die!"
My God is reconciled; His pardoning voice I hear;
He owns me for His child; I can no longer fear:
With confidence I now draw nigh,
With confidence I now draw nigh,
And "Father, Abba, Father," cry.
How greatful I am for that disgusting cross, Jesus' agony and obedience as He declared, "It is finished", and soon, that empty tomb so that I can approach Him in full confidence, redeemed as His child.  I am ransomed and free...praise You, oh my King!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Happy Birthday, Dede!

My family celebrated my granddad's birthday on Saturday, but today is his actual birthday.  Since he reads my blog, I won't give away his age, but let's just say he really is still a spring chicken and does a fine job taking care of all of us.  'Old' just isn't in my family's vocabulary!

Add caption
Bailey and his favorite person on the planet.

Aggie Belle loves to help open gifts!

Aggie and Layla, sweet girls and crazy cousins!   

 Happy birthday, Dede!  The Ozinga Zoo loves you dearly!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

What I'm Loving Wednesday-Holy Week Edition

As a church, as a couple, and as an individual, much time each day this week has been/will be spent contemplating the events in the week before Christ's crucifixion.  Here's what I love from this week:

I love God's timing.  Thousands of Jewish pilgrims were in Jerusalem for Passover when Jesus entered the city gates on Palm Sunday.  The fact that Jesus would soon be called the ultimate Passover Lamb wouldn't be lost of many of them.

I love how so many recognized the kingship of Jesus as they extolled Him and called Him the Son of David during His entry.

I love how God uses the simplest, wildest things (a unbroken donkey) to carry His most glorious Possession.  God calls us, sinners redeemed, to carry His great message.

I love how Jesus demanded purity and repentance by casting out those who tried to turn His Father's home (the temple) into a place of snide business practices.  Again, this is a perfect example to us.  Just because we can sin because His blood is an atoning sacrifice for us doesn't make it permissible to sin.    

I love how Jesus passionately taught in the days leading to His death.  He shared parables that made known His Lordship without being commandeering, He declared how we all must love.  Jesus warned about foretelling His return.

I love the tenderness Jesus used with the poor woman who came to anoint Him with oil.  What a beautiful picture of accepting gifts and love from all.

I love the  example Jesus sets by serving His best friends by washing their dirty feet.  Friends of mine hate feet because they see them as dirty, but I can only imagine how dirty feet were two thousand years ago.  Feet walked everywhere and were probably rarely if ever in closed toed shoes.  Talk about dirt!  Jesus loved His friends enough to take on the role of a servant by cleaning their feet so they could share a meal together.

I love the meal that Jesus shared with His friends.  He was so honest with them.  How many of us are that honest with our friends?  How often do we let in our friends on that level of transparency?

I love the Heart that was poured out before God in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Jesus begged for another way to save humanity from her depravity, but was willing to summit to God's will no matter the cost.  Jesus poured out His heart in prayer for His disciples and then for all who would learn to call Him Lord.  His testament is stunning.

I love how Simon Peter desperately wanted to defend his friend.  His actions weren't right, but his heart was in the right place.

I love how Peter was broken over his denials of Jesus.  How many of us have been in those same shoes-shamed at the words that just came out of our mouths?  And oh, how graciously Jesus opens His arms to accept us right back.  Beauty.

I love Jesus's humility during His trials in front of Annas, the High Priest, and Pilate.  He could have cast off all of them and declared His Kingdom, but He knew that wasn't God's will.

I love Simon of Cyrene's willingness to carry the burden of the cross for his beaten and bruised Lord.  When the going was tough, Simon was not willing to turn his face from the One he knew was Truth.

I love those coarse nails that pieced my Jesus.  I don't love what they did, but I love what they represent.  I love Jesus's willingness to sacrifice Himself for every person.  I love His humility and determination to do the right thing even when the pain was unimaginable.  I love the broken body and blood that 2000 years later would bring me to redemption...oh, precious, precious Jesus!

I love the words Jesus mustered energy to speak from the cross.  Forgiveness.  Pure forgiveness.

I love that the curtain separating God from His people in the temple was torn in two at Christ's death.  No longer would anything separate God from those who claimed Him because of Christ's willingness to be the sacrificial lamb for all time.

I love the brokenness of Jesus's family and friends after His death.  It is raw and ugly and so real.  They wept and mourned and doubted all that they had held true for 3 years-some for 33 years.  They showed us it's ok to doubt, to question and ponder.

And, oh, how I love that empty tom!.  Hope was restored, sin erased, joy reborn on Easter morning.  My God is HUGE.  He conquerors death and bridges the gap to Him with His perfect plan.

Jesus, may I never lose sight of living each moment to Your glory.  Amen.

*From Matthew 21-28, Mark 11-16, Luke 19:28-24:12,  and John 12-20

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Weekend of Worship with Jaime Jorge

Musical genius.

It's a gift from God.  Many people can learn to sing or play an instrument.  Many people can even learn to do it well and earn an living from it.  But for some, God grants such a gift that while rehearsal is necessary, the result still cannot be imitated by those without the gift.

Jaime Jorge is one of those with the musical gift.  The man can play violin like few I've ever seen.  Born in a different era, he'd have been Mozart's star and inspiration.  But Jaime was born in communist run Cuba to Christian parents.  Hearing Jaime tell of his times spent refusing to deny his Jesus to the communists is inspiring.  This fact makes what I experienced this weekend all the more a gift from the Lord.

Jaime came to UBC two years ago, and Isaac spoke with him a bit as they played violin together that Sunday morning, but this visit was longer.  We heard more stories, and Isaac was able to spend even more time rehearsing and playing with Jaime.  On Saturday, we had a two hour rehearsal with UBC's choir and orchestra.
This sneaky wife snapped phone pics from the choir loft.  Jaime is on the left and Isaac is next to him.
Usually Matt is all over us on Saturday rehearsals, but this time it was so different.  The Holy Spirit was present, people had great 'work hard' attitudes, and all 130ish of us were there to glorify the King in honor of Palm Sunday.  'Beauty' barely brushes the surface of the amazing experience that rehearsal was.  After Saturday's rehearsal, Isaac said that Jaime is one of the most humble instrumentalists he's ever met.  Jaime knows that what he has is a gift and that his role is to use his gift for God's glory alone.  After watching him twice two years apart, I completely agree with Isaac.  Jaime also took time to play the violin part for a song my bell choir is preparing, and he accompanied a piece Chamber Singers is working on for Good Friday.  He didn't have to come rehearse with us, but he did.  Just the three rehearsals were pure worship services.  Sunday's worship service and then his solo concerts were even better.  It's not the talent that brings on the worship but the heart of those using their talents.  That really hit home for me this weekend.  I'm always on stage, in a sea of others, and sometimes I lose sight of what it takes to tell God how great He is.  It's nothing more than the attitude of my heart.

Jaime also talked about Rachelle, his fiancee.  Jaime even called her in the middle of his concert to have her talk to congregation.  Jaime and Rachelle have a fierce desire to see all marriages grow strong, and it obvious talking to Jaime just how much this weighs on his heart.  During the concert, Jaime said that God calls us to do everything for God's honor and with all our hearts, souls, and minds, and that includes our marriages.  Of course it's true, but how many of us are guilty of  putting ministries, work, and family before the actual marriage?  And how often do we stop to remember that marriage is for God's glory too.  Isaac and I spoke about this at length last night,  and I know I was really convicted by Jaime and Rachelle's words last night. 

Isaac and I spent some time visiting with Jaime last night, and we feel like a dear old friend was leaving town instead of a mere acquaintance.  But, isn't that just a taste of Heaven?  Those that are brothers and sisters in Christ won't feel like strangers, but old friends reunited through their service of the King.  Hallelujah!
Real men play violins.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Meal Planning and Inspirational Monday

Sunday: Church

Monday: Honey Baked Ham and Red Potatoes

Tuesday: Leftover Skillet Chicken and Veggies

Wednesday: Hamburgers and Salad

Thursday: Small Group Maundy Thursday

Friday: Breakfast for Dinner

Saturday: Pearland

Linking up with Rachel.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

My Next Vehicle

Recently, my friend Jeff posted a picture of a monster truck on Facebook and asked if that would be my next vehicle.  Ha.  Jeff knows me well.  He was around when I bought my truck and had to deal with weeks on end of hearing about how excited I was to finally own a Tundra.
This was about 2 years after I bought Ol Sarge.

This Texas Girl doesn't do little well.  When you are little yourself, everything else has to be HUGE.  Well, at least vehicles do.  I'm proud of the fact that I had that truck before having a fiance.  I also get a chuckle when I get out of the truck at the gas station and guys look twice.  Yes, the ittle bitty girl can handle the giant truck.  Deal with it.  I'm always anxious to figure out how to fit kids, groceries, and strollers in my truck (I get lots of practice, and that's good), so that I don't have to down size to a van or SUV someday.  So far, success, but we'll see.

In all honesty (not reality...there is a difference, and hey, honesty is the best policy, right?!), THIS is what I want to be my next vehicle:
 Yep, a Hummer.  And not some sissy H2 or H3 that's nothing more than a glorified SUV that can't handle jack squat.  My Hummer must be able to do this:
 and this:
 Now that's a vehicle.

I even have a collection of pictures next to Hummers I find.  I'm a nerd, I know.
Durango, CO

A locally owned Hummer
Wing Over Houston Airshow

Some day...keep on dreamin'!

Friday, March 22, 2013


This is Luna. 

She's about 6 weeks old and was found by some students at school today.  The kids took her to the nurse (smart kids), and she called Animal Control to see what she should do.  Animal Control's guess is that a coyote or alligator got her mom.  They also said it was ok for Megan to try to raise her.  Luna is currently going to be traveling back and forth from school to Megan's home each day.  I've claimed cuddle time from 1:45-2:35 during my conference period for the rest of the year.  I'm just smitten with this tiny thing.  She's literally nestled in my palm in this photo.  Oh, my! 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Time I Was A Cowgirl...

Rodeo has just ended in Houston.  Visiting the livestock show, seeing families' hard work pay off as kids and adults win competitions of all kinds, and smelling 'ranch' stirs up so many good memories for me.  It's bittersweet as I'm indefinitely stuck in the suburbs for the foreseeable future (thanks, NASA).

I love ranches.  I (gasp!) adore hard work.  I enjoy being far enough from town that staying on the ranch for a few days in a row is just normal.  I love animals (just don't mention to me that the animals I touch today might be on my plate next week, and we'll stay friends).  I really don't mind sweating til I see salt on my clothes, having achy limbs, and funky tan lines.  All of this fell into place that one time I dated a guy whose mom owns a small ranch.  The guy was good, the mom was great, but the ranch was better.  For months on end, I got to play cowgirl, learn more than my brain could process about cattle, and totally live out all this poor city girl had dreamed of doing, but had yet to have the chance to experience.

Working cattle was my favorite part.  The three of us would get them penned and then start the process of vaccinating, tagging new calves, and deworming.  I loved being so close to these giant brangus cattle.  There's a thrill in taking care of something and having to work fast, but be careful all at once.  I built my fair share of fencing too.  Let's just say I learned that's a much more pleasant job in winter than summer.

The bonus of ranch life is the horses.  There was only one horse left on the ranch when I entered the picture, but for the rest of her life (she was old, and I mean OLD), I was allowed to claim her as my own.  Dixie was the most precocious Appaloosa I've ever met, but she stole my heart.

Her picture still sits in many places around me.  Dixie wasn't much good for riding anymore, though she did treat me to a few gallops across the 77 acre ranch on occasion.

Mostly, Dixie followed me around.  She adored me, probably because I fed her strawberries, blueberries, and carrots like they were going out of business.  Still, it's fun to see a horse bounding from over yonder when you pull into the drive.

Dixie wasn't in the best health in her last months on earth, and fighting to keep ticks off her during a South Texas drought was a daily chore.  It made for fun bath times.  Best way to bathe a horse?  In a swim suit and rubber boots.  Don't judge.  That girl and I would bake out in the sun with the hose and talk it up for hours while picking off ticks.  Dixie's favorite 'game' was to rile up the cattle when they were penned.  She would stare down the older cows until their nerves got the better of them.  We all know the phrase, "better move quick...the natives are getting restless".  This was a perfect description of those poor penned cows if we didn't move Dixie first.  I swear Dixie did it just to keep us on our toes.  Don't ever underestimate a sage old horse.

 Victoria, TX is a hot place for a ranch.  Until the Christmas it snowed 14".  No lie.  I didn't get to stay to see all 14" fall, but the pictures that were being sent to me while I traveled on to Kentucky took away my breath. 

Rodeo always makes me miss ranch life.  Someday, when the need to not be near work is less, I hope to have enough land at least for a few horses again.  Ranches will teach you a lot:

~Fence climbing in swim wear is totally kosher.  Really.
~Fence climbing four weeks after abdominal surgery to try to calm a distressed longhorn is never worth it.  The longhorn won't suffer nearly as long during the brief time her calf is penned as you will later .  Trust me on this one.
~Cows are dumb.  They just are.  No amount of horn honking, prodding, hollering, or dog barking will get one to move if it doesn't want to.
~Nothing is softer than newborn calf coats in the winter months.  Oh, velvet!
~The bond animals have with each other is pretty special.  Don't mess with it.
~In a horse's mind, there's no such thing as too many treats, especially when her teeth are worn down and pulling up grass is a chore.  Bless it.
~If you really want to see me mad, put a tick on a month old calf.  I dare ya.  See what happens.  I will win any tick war any dumb tick wants to start with me.  I think by the end of the drought summer, it was Laura 37, ticks 0.  So there.
~Bulls don't like to be penned when they know a brand new shipment of heifers are on the property.  That was a fun fence to fix, let me tell ya.

I'm glad I married a city boy, because he's a great guy, but someday, I'll turn him into a rancher, not with any thanks to NASA, but this girl doesn't shy away from a challenge.  Gig 'em!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

What I'm Loving Wednesday

I'm loving the rain that's falling this morning.  It's dark, gloomy, and the lightening is gorgeous.  We haven't had much rain lately, so this is a treat.

I love that Jacob has yet again come to visit.  He and Isaac are ridiculous together.  I guess this is what it's like having siblings of the same sex.  Mom was smart.  Ha.  Jacob has been the best uncle to Bailey and Aggie Belle.  The trio visited THREE parks yesterday for play time.  How fun is that?!

Speaking of Aggie Belle and Bailey, I just love them.  If you aren't a pet person, I understand you think I'm nuts.  But I'm an all around mammal person, and the fact that these two desire to be in my lap, want to sleep in my bed, want me to be near them, makes me oh so happy.  Yes, it's fun when the kids in my life act the same way, but humans use words.  We can bribe, sweet talk, and use words to show affection.  Animals can't.  For them, it's a choice.  They either decide to trust you or they don't.  Nothing you can say changes that.  So many other animals are the same way, not just dogs.  What a treat.  I can't wait for Eden!

I also love that Aggie Belle treats her gerbil like a puppy.  Bailey likes the gerbil(s) we have to play with, but Aggie actually babies them.  Unfortunately, Berry the gerbil died yesterday.  Aggie was the most pathetic thing ever when Isaac went to bury the gerbil.  We'll get a new pair of sister for her soon, but for now, she just stares at the empty cage. 

I love that today one of my dear friends Michelle is celebrating 4 years of marriage!  Michelle and Will love Jesus and work hard to raise a family that seeks His face.  Anniversaries are such a mile marker, and I'm grateful for the Tanner family in our lives. 

I love this blog post from Jen and this one from Kristen.  Amen and amen!

I love these TOMS I bought.  They ended up not being the right size, but I'm going to get the right size.  I haven't had a pair before, and I'm pleased.
I love that in three months, my feet will be in a constant state of being covered in red dirt in Zambia.  Bring it!  Bring the kids, bring the love, bring the teaching, bring the tears, bring the adventure, and bring the hope that comes from Christ alone.  

I love my Jesus!

What are you loving this week?

Linking up with Jamie.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Inspirational Monday

Every mom and every teacher should have this hanging HUGE for all children to see!

Linking up with Rachel today!

Meal Planning Monday

Sunday: Church

Monday: Pecan Crusted Chicken, Red Potatoes with Bacon, and Salad

Tuesday: Spaghetti (Didn't get to it last week) and Salad

Wednesday: Skillet Chicken and Vegetables Parmesan

Thursday: Leftovers

Friday: Dinner Group at Cabo's

Saturday: Dede's Birthday Dinner

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Worship at Emeritus

I think I've mentioned before that the 6th-8th grade Sunday School class Isaac and I teach has asked us to really push them to be mission minded.  We try to give them at least one opportunity a month to serve their community in the name of Christ.  This month the kids chose to lead the weekly worship service at one of the local nursing homes.  Eight teens came, and considering a bunch of kids were still traveling back home from Spring Break, I think that's awesome.  Michelle brought her harp and bravely played harp and also piano to lead in singing.  Katy led a phenomenal Bible study relating the way Christ served others to the ways she sees people serving around her.  Um, the girl's 13 and can clearly relate Scripture to real life.  She rocked it!  I so wish I had video taped it.  These kids shook off fear to love on some very gracious older adults today through worship, prayer, and fellowship.  I have known so many of them since they were babies and toddlers, and I am incredibly proud of their hearts.  These teenagers don't realize how much they humble me and push me to move out of my comfort zone to declare the name of Jesus on a daily basis.  I am blessed.

I only got one good photo this afternoon.  The rest turned out blurry or had at least one kid with a funky face.  They're teenagers and would hate my guts if I posted them on the internet.  :)  Here's Katy teaching though. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Spring Break 2013

Spring Break has absolutely flown by!  I'm going to try to let the pictures tell most of the stories from this week.

Isaac and I headed to Dallas straight from work last Friday to meet up with our friends the Shepherds.  My 'brother' Fred brought over his two kids Sarah and Eden for dinner and to visit. Unfortunately his wife Aggie had to work.  We really don't get to see these amazing people nearly enough.

Saturday, we got to see Bridget for just a moment while we picked up Tina and Joelle.  Then we hit the road for Spring Break 2013.  These girls and 7 1/2 and 3 1/2 and are fabulous in the car.  We were tired by the time we got home, so after lots of Aggie Belle play time, we read lots of my old stories and went to bed.

Sunday was a full morning of church and then lots and lots of baking.  Isaac had two cakes to get made for Sunday, Tina wanted to use her Easy Bake Oven, and then we made homemade mini pizzas for dinner.  I love that I can tell Joelle to go play with Aggie Belle, and an hour later, they're still playing and talking.  What a duo!   I also love how Tina can recite full Bible stories with very little prompting.  Love!!

Monday found me taking the girls to Bayou Wildlife Park for some up close and personal time with some of God's creation.  It was easy to spot God-sightings this day! We also went shopping for Easter dresses.  Isaac helped the girls do one of their favorite things: walking the dogs!  Then we went to Kemah for a hibachi dinner, stingray feeding, and sunset watching.  What a fun day.

Tuesday took us to the Natural Science Museum to explore the dinosaur bones and 'learn science' for my super science girl Tina.  We enjoyed a super cool chemistry demonstration where we learned about oxygen and carbon dioxide, what it is that makes a diaper work, and how to make polymers (Gak).  The dinosaur bones in the new paleontology hall are amazing.  Butterflies flittering overhead were the best part of the day, hands down!

Wednesday was our last day of adventures, and Isaac and I took them to the rodeo.  It was a crowded mess, but we did have fun seeing twin lambs being born, watching chicks hatch, and seeing real bull riders.  Whoa!  We also took pictures with a longhorn, but don't worry.  The girls quickly 'hiss' and shake their hands when they see a longhorn.  Joelle's Gig 'em is about the cutest thing ever.  We saw a bit of Jake Owen's concert before needing to head home.  Boy sings great, but boy needs a hair cut.  Good grief!

On Thursday, it was time to head home.  It was a sad goodbye to Bailey and Aggie Belle, but hopefully we'll have another visit this summer.  Such good travelers!!

So very grateful to be able to love on these two and serve their momma this week. 

Today was the last day of Spring Break.  This week has flown by!  I was able to spend today with my mom, grandparents, brother, and sister-in-law in yummy food and having a great time visiting.  For living so close, we don't do that nearly often enough.  :)
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