Archibald Family

Archibald Family

Friday, December 26, 2014

Jesus ... He came.

"and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.  She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid.  I bring you good news of great joy and will be for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.  This will be a sign to you:  You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
Luke 2: 7-12

I was prompted to do something a little odd this Christmas:  to pull out my old baby doll and wrap it in an old blanket ... and pretend it was Jesus. 

It was amazing of the feelings that came out.

"Oh Jesus.  I hold onto you and see you came.  So precious and tiny.  You came to a young woman, a young man who questioned and as we discover a whole world to embrace.  You came and we find there is an abundance of you to go around.  You came needing me, and me finding that I need you all the more.  You came as an ordinary baby - no different from the rest, yet we soon find that you are way different from all the rest.  You came and we ponder the greatness of you ... yet not knowing how truly great you are.  You came and we gaze into the perfection of a baby ... the rosy cheeks, the delicate lips and the quietness as you sleep - and soon we find exactly how perfect you are.  You came into the world like anyone else did, yet you hold the entitlement of a king - and even that entitlement doesn't make you like anyone else.  You came into this world with people hating you and you having to flee.  You came into this world with a plan to die so I can truly live. 

Jesus.  The story never changes.  Yet the depth of the knowledge of you does.  I look into the depth of you as a baby with the desperation of how life is today and I realize a new Christmas story.  You came in the form of a baby to be held, but soon it is you that would be holding me.  You came into this world as a baby, and this baby would grow to become my best-friend.  You came with more wisdom that I could ever imagine ... and it would be this grown woman that would come to seek this baby for its wisdom and insight.  You came with answers I continue to seek.  You came to bring love and companionship to wipe away the isolation and lack of love I once held.  You came whole and complete to one that was broken and incomplete. 

You came knowing that today I'm not ready to celebrate you as I scurry through the traditional Christmas preparations, and continue to muddle through the normal day to day trials, and doing all I can to hold the pieces of my heart together.  Yet no matter how hard I try to capture the beauty of the season, I still feel I fail  ... you still came.

You came as my children grow older and seem to not need me so much.  You came even in spite of the tension between one another in our home.

You came into our messy house ... and our messy lives.

You came as we continue to wait for a job ... and still come even as when we wonder if you are there seeing the desperation we are in.

You came as there is a scramble to collect whatever income we can ... even putting our marriage as the least priority, and time with one another is not as it once was.

You came, even though I have stated that this is the "worst Christmas" because the moments of Advent seem to be the least of importance, and I wonder if we each have lost the reason for the season. 

You came knowing time with one another, let alone with you are far and in between.  You still came knowing we have hurt one another.

You came even though we have been rejected by other family members.

You came in the middle of our health scares.

You came even though I've been at my worst with a sharp tongue, gossip off my lips, coldness in my heart and the bitterness of anger and jealousies have rooted in my heart.

In spite of it all ... you still came.

And I am so thankful.  You remain my hope and my light.  You remain the one I hold onto, and plead for you to hold onto me just the same.  You remain my faith. 

Jesus, all you did was simply come ... not only into a world that was dark - but my life that seems to be just the same.  And because you came ... I will never be the same.  Circumstances may still try and remain as they are, but because you are forever Faithful, because you are Victorious, and because you are Great, I too will rise above it all and circumstances will surrender to your coming.

Ready or not you always come.  Please come again today ... and again tomorrow." 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Be Still and KNOW

On a rare occasion we could have an overcast day ... ALL day.  If I was back in California, the would be a normal winter day.  However, we live in Colorado ... we have only a few of those days, and in the summer, not winter.  This summer we seemed to have more than normal.

Our family is just like yours.  We have our good days.  We have our bad.  We have our challenges, and our mountains to climb, just like anyone else.  And we also face our storms.  This summer my husband has been home ... everyday.  He was laid off on April 30th from the job that brought us to Colorado in the first place.  We planned on this being a temporary month off at the max.  But we are getting ready to face five months off.  He has had some interviews, only to hear a polite "sorry, we are going with another candidate".  We wonder if age is a role in all this.  We point fingers at the job he once had and start blaming the problems they have caused.  Regret comes in as he didn't finish his college degree.  Fear comes in.  Fear goes as we continue to trust in God.  Wondering what God's will is remains the daily question, for the past five months.  Bitterness comes.  Bitterness goes.  Doubt comes.  Doubt goes.  This is our storm, our mountain even.  We don't know where we are in the climb either ... are we still at the beginning and have more days like this?  Or are we somewhere in between?  Have we reached the top yet?  Are blue skies even in the forecast?

We went for a drive to get away from this mountain and storm we face each day and it was one of our overcast days.  God showed me something.

Being that we were heading in the middle of "no where", I could literally see miles and miles of clouds.  Not one break.  But yet no matter how dark the skies were, I knew it was daytime, and I even knew that somewhere behind those clouds the sun was there.  The knowing is certain.  The sun remains.  It is there. 

"Be still and know that I am God;"  continues to rattle in my brain these days.  It is the answers I hear to so many prayers.  I have questioned how to even be still.  Do I quit my job, and sit?  Or do I just simply silence my speech?  Do I just trust?  I don't know what I'm suppose to do but just "be still".  But my battle remains:  what does this look like?

Yet I see this cloudy sky. 

I know there is a sun behind the clouds.  And being that I even know the direction I'm heading and the time of day it is ... I can have a good guess as to where exactly it is.  However, being that I'm moving 75 miles per hour on an interstate, in a different time zone and even in an area I'm not completely familiar with ... I would be surprised to find out that my guess of where the sun is, is off.  But if I were to sit still, if I were to watch and see and study the days prior to this storm I would know exactly where the sun is when the storm rolled in.

And there you have it. 

"Be still and know that I am God."

Watch.  See.  Study.

And when the storms of life roll in, and the mountain climb seems too strenuous you too will know where the son is in all this.  You may not see him, but you know full well He is there and exactly where He said He'll be.

Be still and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.
Psalm 46:10
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you;
he will never eave you nor forsake you.
Do not be afraid;
do not be discouraged
Deuteronomy 31:8
Do not be afraid.
Stand firm and you will see the deliverance
the Lord will bring you today.
The Lord will fight for you;
you need only to be still.
Exodus 14:13-14

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

I Choose To Be Thankful ...

My heart has been heavy these past weeks.  Truth hasn't seemed to win out, and it anguishes me. 

The Ebola outbreak.

A few weeks ago, missionaries that were just a few miles from our children came to the US, to seek medical treatment and have been healed.  Don't get me wrong...I prayed for them, and am so thankful God showed his mercy and healed them. 

And now our country thinks everything is over.  Ebola hasn't won.  And it's over.

But it's not.

It is worse than ever, a matter-of-fact.  People are dying constantly everyday.  It seems I can hear the wailing as I sleep, and in my waking hours.  The wailing of hopelessness.  It seems I can feel the depth of despair and even the questioning if God is listening.

Our country has sent over experimental drugs to help those in this fight for their lives.  But our country has sent over drugs to a corruptive country.  Liberia's government will see who gets help and who doesn't.  They will make sure one tribe will survive over the other, and the government will see to it that they themselves are safe.  But those in the bush, those in the orphanages and those who don't matter (in the country's eyes) ... they will never see the "help" that was sent.

This disease needs to be isolated, true.  But in Liberia it is the extreme.  I know one particular story that a son tested negative to the disease, but his whole family died.  He was still shunned and isolated ... left to starve and die, because he was related to the deceased, even though evidence proved he was safe.  Villages and slums are quarantined.  Food doesn't come in.  And because of the state of the country, food isn't necessarily grown.  Starvation is now a factor.  And those who have food, are selling their goods at an outrageous price ... and we are talking about the second poorest country in the world.  I can imagine the food going bad before the price could be met. 

Things seem hopeless.  My heart remains heavy and in anguish.

Yet I'm reminded through Paul's words in Philippians of the hope we have.  That we are to look outside of the situations.  Look outside of the prison walls he knew so well, look outside of the cross our Savior endured but look to the One that is our prize.  (Philippians 3:14)  I'm to rejoice in the Lord always, not to be anxious about anything, but in everything , by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present my requests to God.  Today I search for the peace of God which will transcends all understanding, will guard my heart and minds in Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 4:4-7)

Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me - put it into practice.  And the God of peace will be with you.  (Philippians 4:8-9)

I admit, it is hard to find good, noble, right, pure and lovely, admirable and excellent things in this situation that strikes close to our home.  Our children could be starving.  They were hungry before, and the depth of hunger pains are more likely increased.  They could be isolated.  The country is so poor, communication isn't an option.  Fear is evident from what we do know.  Fear rises in me as well.  How can I be thankful?

But I choose to stand on faith.  I choose to believe the God that says he hears, hears.  I choose to believe the God that says he fights, will fight.  I choose to believe the God that says he comforts, will comfort.  I choose to believe the God that says he protects, will protect.   And I choose to believe the God that says he is hope will remain hope. 

I choose to shift my eyes more upward.  And I consider it my thanksgivings - the boy I shared many laughs with, the girl I held and let become a peanut butter mess.  I am thankful of the songs of joy as they danced and sang before the Lord.  And with the thankfulness, somehow I know God will rise above this all ... and even in this hopeless mess, everything will be ok.  

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sometimes We Just Don't Know the Whys

I was at the top of our stairs, and all the family pictures that are in a collage, on the wall caught my eye.  I reminisced each picture one by one.  At the bottom of the collage were the pictures of Elijah and Ruth.

I can't help but wonder how life would be so different if they were here and not there.  And I wondered what would life even be like with them here.

We here the news all over the world of the Ebola outbreak.  It is sad to hear.  It is even scary to some.  And I have even seen cold heartened comments from others.  I have read articles of a child who was diagnosed NOT carrying the disease, but all the rest of his family had died from it ... and he is still shunned, and even left to starve and die. 

And I think of Elijah and Ruth.  What is in their future?  Will they contract this or not?  And ...

Why couldn't God just have allowed them to come home?

With the transition of Duane's job, the anguish of other things that are going on in our lives, I can't help but be transparent with you, I have battled the thought:  "God, have you forgotten us?". 

I know God is there.  I know His timing is perfect.  I know we will get through this.  I truly know all these things, but I just can't help but ask ... why.

One of these days I'll see the answers and know.  But today, my heart is heavy.  I have a precious son and beautiful girl on the other side of the world that I have trusted God with to raise, provide and care for and now trust to fight for their lives, more than ever before. 

And I turn and see all of God's provisions in our past and know He is capable and He is more than able. I may not know the whys of today, but just simply choose to believe - God is more than enough for all!

Life on the Other Side of the Fence

April 30, 2014 was Duane's last day at work, as he was laid off from a large, respectful company.  He needed a break, and we prayed God had that in His plans.  And we have always had a knowing seeded deep within that God had this all in control ... the next job would come.  We had hoped that after a couple of weeks Duane would be back at it, and we could pocket the sizable severance pay ... and pay off some bills while we were at it.  We had hopes and dreams.  And if we could have a nice vacation towards the end of the year, that would be the added bonus.

Today ... three and a half months later, Duane is still in that time off mode.  We have gone through the struggles of finding each others roles, as well as the confusion it has brought to the girls as I am now the one at work, and Daddy is the go to person.  Duane has the agenda of what is going on, but not as detailed as I would like ... and I am clueless as the coming and going of the activities in the household (if it isn't on the calendar).  Duane is the fix-it minded, goal oriented, head to the grind-stone type of guy having a summer with the emotions of four women, drama of high-school girls and watching his wife come and go with joys, struggles and exhaustion of work.  The other side of the fence looks doesn't look as "easy" as he once thought it to be (whether he admits to it or not). 

I continue to go to work.  I experience good days and bad.  My energy is taken there, and there isn't much left for home.  The joy I once had in the kitchen seems so far, so long ago.  I don't have much time with my girls, and feel at a loss because of it.  Being the caregiver and encourager I once was as I sent everyone on their ways and had things ready for their return seems to be at a loss as well.  This other side of the fence is foreign for me and I would so rather be back on my own side.

Duane and I have always had the traditional, "old-fashion" roles.  He went to work, he was the provider and I was the nurturer and home maker.  This summer we have learned to respect one another roles in a whole new way.  I think we have learned our lesson and we are ready for our roles to revert back once again. 

Yet ... the wait continues.

Duane gets leads.  He submits his resume.  We wait.  And for the most part ... the society for what it is ... we never hear a thing.  There is only one company that has given us the courtesy of a polite rejection letter.  Duane has submitted over one hundred resumes now.  And we continue to wait. 

I have been torn.  I have learned to wait on the Lord in all this, as my eyes have been waiting for a phone call or email to come through ... and I would find God in all that.  But instead my eyes have learned to focus on Him and all the rest would align itself. 

But now today, there is a new level of anxiousness and a new level of want.  I won't lie, there are days that you can't help but wonder "has God forgotten us?" ... and I just have to turn and extend my hand out to Him and know He is there holding it.  He tells us to trust, and we try ... some days are easier than others.  Today is hard.  I remember the list of answered prayers, and how God has seen us through each trial time and time again ... and then I'm reminded this will be like the rest.  God will answer.  God will answer

I have daydreamed and thought of moving across state, as that seems the only way we can see the country we live in.  I have surrendered and have even become excited at the possibilities.  I have surrendered to the thought of us having to move back to the state that was once called home, and have tried hardest to embrace it.  I have pleaded with staying in our beautiful home, that is decorated to our liking and have discovered a new side of me as I hike the great outdoors.  I have accepted it all ... to move or not, coming and going ... willing to do whatever God wants. 

Yet that is the question.  What is God doing?  What does He want?

So we wait.  We continue life on the other side of the fence for now.  Tension comes and goes.  We wait on the Lord.  And battle the thought of God forgetting about us.  And we wait. And we pray the waiting will come to an end ... quickly.  And I hold onto that deep seeded knowing, God this too all in His control. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day!

Every year it is the same.  The challenge to put what is in my heart on paper or wrapped behind a bow, and be miles apart. 

A phone call, that is nice.  But it doesn't feel enough or even as if that is a "gift".

I could mention that my dad is the BEST DAD in the whole world.  But everyone says that, and even though there is much truth in those words, what would make mine anymore different?

I have mentioned all of the cherish memories of my time with my dad I treasure.  I know it never gets old for him, and how I love remembering them ... but I want this year to be something different.

I could dig out the pictures and make a memory video for him ... but I did that for Mom, how can I make my dad stand out?

What about a present to send?  Truthfully I wouldn't know what to get.  Whatever he may need, my mom gets him.  I just get lost in the shopping isles, and nothing speaks to the depth of my love for my dad.

I go through this challenge every year.  My heart is in the right place, but the action just doesn't back it up.

What surprises me about my dad is how great of a dad he is.  Hear me out, making such a statement.  I have heard the challenges and even pain that my dad went through as he grew up in his home, and enduring the dad he had.  I see my dad as an overcomer.  He not only chose not to be like his father, but take the role of father seriously and be the very dad he wanted.  He didn't hear how proud his father was of him ... but Dad, I am very proud of you!  He didn't have a father rooting him on in all his accomplishments ... but Dad, I am your biggest fan! 

As I struggle this year of what to give you, praying about it.  God gave me the very gift to give him.  I receive devotions everyday.  And this one took the feelings in my heart and put it on paper ... all I had to do was give it to you.  So with everything in me, I give you these words and a huge hug over the many miles that separate us.  Because of your love for me that you have shared with me, I am able to understand more of God's love.  You are a big part of my testimony and why I have the faith I have today.  Thank you Dad!

JUNE 13, 2014
Thank You, Dad
"A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling." Psalm 68:5 (NIV)
Moments after I stopped by my parents' house, my dad clutched his chest.
Knowing the hospital was close, my mom and I helped him to the car. I pressed hard on the gas pedal, keeping an eye on the man who reclined in the passenger seat as I raced toward the nearby emergency room.
The news was not good. Doctors said his heart was badly damaged, and open-heart surgery was the only option.
Doctors scheduled the procedure for the next day. Since I lived in another city, I drove home to gather my things before returning the next morning for a long stay.
The sun crept over the horizon as I drove westward to be with my parents during my dad's surgery. Visits were strictly limited, and my time with my dad was to be an hour before he would go in to the operating room.
When I arrived, a nurse informed me that my dad wasn't in his room.
I rushed up the stairs to the surgical floor waiting room. "They took him back a half hour ago, Suzie," my brother said. "It happened so quickly we just barely got to see him." I buried my head in my brother's chest and wept.
My dad was in surgery with his chest split open ... and I didn't get to say thank you.
Thank you for taking the place of our biological father who should have loved those tiny girls but for whatever reason didn't.
Thank you for taking two little girls who didn't have a father and making them your own.
Thank you for never seeing us in a different light than my brothers and sister who were born later.
Thank you for rejoicing that you won the prize another failed to claim.
When I was younger I didn't always appreciate this gift. I loved the man I called Dad, but often wondered about the other one. Did I look like him? Where was he? Did he think of me? What might it be like if I had my biological father in my life?
As an adult, and as a parent, I saw it differently. Being a dad isn't always tied to DNA.
One man was there at my conception, but another took the more difficult path. He went to work every day. He showed up at events. He disciplined and loved me, watched me graduate and marry. He took the name "Papaw" as he embraced my children.
I know not every woman who grew up without a biological father's love has this type of experience. But all of us can know the love of God as our heavenly Father.
Psalm 68:5 describes God as "a father to the fatherless." It's a theme woven throughout Scripture from beginning to end. Our God loves orphans and rescues the abandoned. This is a work close to His heart.
Later that evening, after Dad's surgery, I sat in the shadows with the rhythmic swish of the respirator the only sound in the room. I silently offered up gratitude.
First, because my dad had made it through the surgery.
Second, because this man partnered with God's heartbeat when he stepped in to love two little girls without a daddy.
I leaned over the bed and whispered the words I could no longer hold back: "Thank you, Dad."
And thank You, God, for loving me with a perfect Father's love.
Dear Lord, thank You for loving me as a Heavenly Father. Thank You for bringing people into my life who partnered with You in that love. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Happy Father's Day, DAD!
I truly love you so very much!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Resurrection Sunday

"Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. 
He who believes in me will live, even through he dies;
and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. 
Do you believe this?"
John 11:25-26

In my spirit each year I want to learn more of Jesus and what Easter means.  I don't want to miss anything.  But this year I wondered if it was just too late.  Even though things are good, there are things on the back burner, simmering.  It is only a matter of time when they will come to a full boil.   

With a recent sickness, travels and trying to hold onto the demands of work and school, the Easter decorations just never came out.  This was the first Palm Sunday we missed, and I felt we missed the triumphant entry of our Savior.  I know that I could rise from the couch and shout my own "Hosanna!",  but it just wasn't the same.  This was the first year we didn't do our Resurrection Eggs, as everyone's schedule couldn't bring us together.  It was Thursday, when we usually recognize the last supper that I just gave up, threw in the towel and just accepted defeat as this was the first year in twenty that I missed whatever tidbit Jesus had for me to learn more of him and what this season is all about.  Sadness grew in my heart.

It also didn't help that Easter egg hunts seem to take front stage, homework demands are great (as we are used to celebrating Easter break, not Spring break weeks ahead), and not the recognized day I remember as a child.

I asked Duane, if we could celebrate Good Friday a little different by seeing a movie; God's Not Dead.  The name alone brought a recognition to what we were about to celebrate on Sunday.  It was that night we talked about what impacted us in the movie or about this particular Sunday.  And I made my claim.  God's not dead ... not in our circumstances, not in the pot that seems to be simmering on the back burner. 

I continue to wait and watch when Jesus will turn our circumstances in a different direction.

Easter Sunday came.  We didn't hear about the stone being rolled away, or how they found the tomb empty, or even the time Jesus spent here on earth before going to be with our Father.  It wasn't the usual Easter message.  But instead in the passage of the death of Lazarus (John 11:1-44).  I am still chewing on the words I heard, and ponder them more and more. 

It was pointed out in verse 6 how Jesus stayed two more days, after hearing about the one he loved (verse 3) was sick.  He didn't rush in.  He didn't even speak words of healing.  He waited. 

Jesus soon arrived, but after Lazarus had already been dead for four days (verse 17).  Martha, the one that was caught being too busy to sit at the feet of Jesus because of kitchen duties ran out to Jesus.  Pastor Todd encouraged me by stating "when things happen in our lives and it feels Jesus hasn't shown up, don't run from God but to him".  He also mentioned that it is easy to trust Jesus when things are going well, but God is an "even now" (verse 22) God, and we aren't to limit Him.

"The Resurrection isn't an event, it is a person!"  It is Pastor Todd's thought that Jesus isn't weeping because of the sorrow of Lazarus' death, after all, Jesus knows what is about to happen, that he isn't going to be dead much longer, but he weeps because his people don't fully know who He is.  Jesus says to Martha "I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.  Do you believe this?"  (verse 26-26)

And for the first time I read these words differently than ever before.  For the first time ever, I experience hope and even joy. 

Do you see it?  I don't know your circumstances, but let me a little candid with you.  Perhaps because there has been a stirring in my spirit for the past week, a knowing that God is getting ready to put something new before us.  Every time I experience the excitement, and choose to trust the belief that the Holy Spirit is trying to share with me, a major tragedy comes forth.  There is almost a battle going on for my faith. 

But I choose to still believe. 

I believe in the One who is the Victor as well as the Victory.  I believe that the One who has never left me or forsaken me in the trials before, is the same in the trials now.  I believe in the One who loves me more than anyone has.  I believe everyone and everything has to surrender to His authority.  I believe that there are no surprises to God, and His plan will come forth.  I believe in the One that has my back.  I believe that I am His creation, and because He has taken the time to create me, there is a purpose and a plan.  I believe in the One that is ALL GOOD.  I believe that all the mistakes and things I get wrong will be made right by the One who is all knowing.

And with a full belief and claim in the God I know, I read these verses again.  Jesus is the resurrection and is the life.  And because I choose to believe in him, I will live - even though I may die.  And because I live in Him, believe in Him, I will never die.  I will live as we face a lay off, even without our finances being in order.  I will live through the challenges in rearing three teenage daughters.  I will live as I watch our daughters make poor mistakes.  And because I believe in Jesus, I will never die.  All these challenges in our lives have no power to overtake me, they have no power to drown me...even though it feels like it some days, but Jesus has ALL the power to overcome.   And because He will overcome - we will live! 

We watch the death of a job come to an end.  We watch a child grow more distant from us and make choices we taught otherwise.  Jesus didn't rush in to save Lazarus before he died, but after he was well dead, so then it was clear that only Jesus could take credit for such a miracle.  Jesus could have walked away, and just simply comforted the mourners.  But instead, He showed who He is and the authority He has. 

So as I watch the challenges that come to unfold in our lives, my eyes are fixed on Jesus.  He will come.  He will bring life in the midst of our death.  And He will resurrect all of our circumstances and lives for all to see ... where He can get all the credit! 


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Saved From The Clearance Rack

Like the typical man Duane can be, when he thinks of going shopping he thinks Lowes or Home Depot.  So when he is looking at all the tools and things, you can find me checking out the plants at the clearance rack. 

There are so many plants there that are pulled from the rest of their friends and put in the "reject" pile because they have a brown blemish or just didn't look right.  Usually all it takes is a little pinch here and there, a little TLC and some water and perhaps some sunlight, and they are back to normal again. 

Recently I made that trip to our local Lowes store.  I had a spot in our home that needed a couple of
plants, and I had a small budget.  So I found my way to that clearance rack, finding exactly what I needed.  I came home proud of my finds and re potted the new treasures. 

And then I was reminded of the beauty I was part of.

I have been picked and labeled through life.  I have not "looked" like the others.  And I definitely haven't thought as the world thinks - which has pushed me aside from the rest of the group.  I have stood on my own, which has left me alone on "clearance".  I have seen myself as one that just has never fit in, which has left me feeling alone. 

But then I saw Jesus coming and picking me off that rack, and seeing the beauty and value in me.  He picks the flaws away and makes beauty grow.  He pours His tender loving care into me and pours His Living Water in me, and shines His love over me.  He re pots me, and causes me to grow.  He looks at me and smiles and is pleased with what He sees ... and calls it good.

Sometimes I still see myself in the clearance rack with the labels of rejection.  But when I potted these new plants I found myself reminded to see myself with the same value and acceptance God has for me.

Today I see my new finds and cherish them differently.  I am reminded of how God sees me each day.  Valued.  Accepted.  Loved.  Cherished.  Beautiful.  And not alone. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

God Can Still Calm the Storms!

"Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him.  Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat.  But Jesus was sleeping.  The disciples went and woke him, saying, "Lord, save us!  We're going to drown!"
He replied, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?"  Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
The men were amazed and asked, "What kind of man is this?  Even the winds and the waves obey him!"
Matthew 8:23-27

Yesterday God showed me a vision.  I was in a boat.   The skies were dark, circling above me.  The waters were rough and waves high.  I was wet.  I threw an anchor in the water out of desperation, fear and even an attempt as the last resort.  It was then I knew there had a to be a rock and something solid for that anchor to hook into - and that was God, himself.  He was never changing, always present and constant.  That anchor was Jesus.  Jesus and God are so close, so close that the anchor knew exactly where the rock was, and knew that rock was able.  The rope I held in my hands as I let the anchor go into the storm waters was the Holy Spirit.  And that rope leads me to the anchor, that leads me to God.  As I looked into the water, with the rope in my hand the storm was behind me and it was quiet as I stayed looking towards the Rock (God).  I couldn't see what was so far underneath, but I knew it was there. 

This picture reminded me that through all the storms of life, and through the crisis' we are currently going through, I need to fix my eyes on God.  Look towards him, even though I can't see him, I can trust and know He is there in the midst of all this.  I'm not to look at the outcome of the storm, nor even how you are going to stop the storm ... but just stay fixed on God and let everything calm down around me.  I can find that peace as long as my eyes are fixed on him.  God is unchanging, solid and my rock.  Jesus is my anchor, keeps me stable and secure in the storm, and the Holy Spirit will keep me connected with the two - even in the times I let go.  I can trust that all three are there for me.  I can stand in the storm.  I can believe and trust in the three.  I have a faithful three to hold onto. 

I was reminded of the above verse as Jesus calms the storm.  Jesus had to be woken up.  How many times, even in the midst of our current trials I have wondered, if Jesus was sleeping on me - if he was even seeing what I was going through.  Jesus is saying to me, as he did his disciples, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?". 

Today, I choose to grow my faith.  I'm going to look past our circumstances, and look toward God.  As I do so, I know the same Jesus then is the same today, who will speak to these storms and all of "this" will submit to the One who speaks.  I choose to keep hold of the Spirit and allow him to guide me through the waters and remain connected tightly and closely to the One that saves. 

Learning Styles

As a parent, you have heard how there are different types of learners:  those who read, those who are hands on, or those who do by hearing.  I've always known I was a hands on learner, and that got me laughing.  As sometimes I have walk some rocky paths in order to learn exactly what I was told.  I didn't get it.  I didn't fully comprehend it.  But I have a Father in heaven, who understands me more than I understand myself and is patient and kind as he walks me through the rocks. 

So why do I expect anything different from my children?  Perhaps sometimes they need to walk the rocky path in order to learn what I have tried desperately to tell them.  Perhaps today I should pray more, talk less and trust the One who knows them better than me and even themselves.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

A Humbling Lesson taught from the Least of His.

We found out earlier this past week that a famous man has passed away.  A man that we are not only fond of, but has brought us much joy.  And it got me thinking.

You see, when I say famous ... he wasn't one of glamour or wealth.  He wasn't one that many people knew.  A matter-of-fact, many of you have never heard of him.  But if you have ever visited San Francisco, and toured the area you more likely had a run in with him - and even a scare.

The Bush Man.

I have come to an age where I know that many of us have the same struggles ... finances, parenting, job influences and the list goes on.  However, I admit it wasn't even too long ago that I could look at a person and size them up by saying: "They don't understand.  They don't have the same situation as I do".  You know there is some truth in that, as we all have our different upbringings and circumstances.  But we do all battle the same kind of struggles, we just handle them sometimes differently.

And with that thought, I thought of the Bush Man. 

If anyone has been in San Francisco, you would find him amongst the many street entertainers that greet you along Fisherman Wharf.  In the midst of the entertainment, you would find what appears to be a bush growing on the sidewalk.  And as you approached it, the Bush Man would jump out and scare you, and then fall quickly right back into position.  I have fallen for this many of times.  Now, on the other side of the street where he was you would find a huge crowd gathered watching and laughing as each victim would approach.  The Bush Man was a huge success. 

I can't help but wonder when he would finish his day, and in the quietness of the hour how he might have doubted his talent.  He could have had that thought; "oh, I'm not talented like those other men on the street", "if only I could be like them".  And then I even wondered if he too battled the thought that he hasn't done anything great with his life, hasn't impacted anyone or had a purpose.

I pray that he died in peace, without these thoughts.  But his death did get me thinking.

I battle those thoughts.  I compare myself to you and others that I meet, and size myself up as not being like you or them, and wishing I could be that much better.  I too have questioned my greatness and purpose, and have wondered if I have impacted anyone.  But this week I have remembered the Bush Man.

He may not have saw himself as value or greatness.  But I did.  He may have saw his homeless state and thought he should have done something better with his life.  However, I see him living selflessly, bringing joy to strangers that he didn't even know, enjoying life as it was and being content with how life was.  And isn't that one of our purposes in life, finding the joy of the life God has given us and bringing it to those we do life with?  Aren't we to be thankful in all circumstances and considering it all joy? 

Oh, Bush Man ... you have taught me a great lesson.  And for that I'm thankful.  I will miss you when I visit.   But I will promise you this, I will find the joy in life God has given me and choose to be thankful.  And as I find my joy and thankfulness in God, and focus on these things ... I too will impact those around me. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

This Big Light of Mine

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you:  God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.  If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
1 John 1:5-7
I was in my devotions this morning, doing my daily prayer and journaling.  In my quiet time, and in my desperation of wanting a change in so many areas of my life I read these verses. 
Repentance.  Something I need to do every minute of every day.  I came to the conclusion, as I still struggle with taking each thought of mine captive, that I need to take them captive and not allow them to create the beliefs that can overtake over my mind and spirit, separating me from not only my Savior but my family and friends.  I wonder how much my life would be different if I would just captivate my thoughts.  I repented.  And this morning I am thankful once again for his forgiveness ... not only his forgiveness but his purification.  And as I look out the window and see the snow that covers the ground, I am reminded my sin is covered as well, and it runs deep.  And in a few months the dead that is under that snow will show new signs of life and will spring up new colors ... I don't have to wait a few months, but can hold onto the new signs of life he will be doing in me today.
But I noticed something else in this passage.  "God is light, in him there is no darkness at all."  I have been looking at the turmoil in our lives and see that I have seen nothing but darkness.  Thus, I haven't seen God - because He isn't the dark, He is light.  I have chosen to see nothing but darkness and have been captivated at seeing nothing but. 
And so I repent again.  I have denied Christ in my own life, in my daily life.  I have been a hypocrite and I have been deceitful to those around me.  I haven't been living a life full of light, I haven't been mesmerized by his light.  I've looked at the darkness and allowed it to control me. 
Yes, bad things happen to people.  But it is our choice to see God in them.  His light can outshine the darkness, and remove it completely.  I choose today to look at His light and allow Him to outshine any circumstance I am in, any emotional heartache that seems to outweigh any truth, and I believe that the troubles of this world can and will bow to His lightness.
I sing this childhood song, much differently today ...
This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine,
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.
Hide it under a bushel, no!  I'm going to let it shine,
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.
Don't let Satan blow it out!  I'm going to let it shine,
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.
Shine it through the neighborhood!  I'm going to let it shine,
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.
Shine it until Jesus comes!  I'm going to let it shine,
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Last Grains of Sand in the Hour Glass

We had to write our goals for the coming year at work; both business and personal.  (I think I should add blogging, I love to write and get my thoughts cleared on "paper"!)  I wrote my list, then I'd add to it, so I'd reprint it one more time. 

I'm anticipating so much this year.  It is funny once those goals are written down, it becomes more of a reality, something to work toward.  I'm sure that it was the company's ploy as they will see much improvement in their employees, as well as improvement in their store.  But it has changed how I manage my time.

I confess I can be a workaholic.  There is something always that needs to be done, and I have this mind set there, as well as home, that "I'm the only person who'll do it".  And with that mindset I spend a lot of time at the store, even more than the time sheet says.  Don't get me wrong.  The other thing I battle is frankly I love my job and its atmosphere.  I love the guests and building relationships.  They encourage me as much as I try to encourage them.  That love will pull me back in as well.

But when I look at my goal list, I see at the very top of the list is:  Not to miss an opportunity to embrace a moment with my girls. 

Katie has 1 1/2 years left in high school, and how she turns 18 this year, and Courtney has 2 1/2 years and turns 16 years old.  I see the hour glass with just a few grains of sand in it.  My time is running out with them. 

I have learned through Lindsay how being an "adult" looks like.  Real responsibilities come.  Time is of the essence.  We compete with boys, school, friends and work.  Home is viewed as something that will always be there, but not something to be part of as much.  We rejoice in her accomplishments from afar and remain on our knees for the challenges that are ahead for her.  She walks this path without her parents holding her hands, and we hope we said all the right words to her in the earlier years to help her through.  She does her thing, as we do ours.    

Pretty soon, Katie will be there.

Then Courtney.

Then life is completely different from the one I have dreamt of, and that is so much apart of who I am.  It is scary to think of life being different.  It brings me so much sorrow as I think of life being so drastically different.  I have been looking at pictures of when our family was young a lot, and wishing I could turn back and hold them more.  I look back wishing I put the chore I was so focused on getting done, and hold or play with my girls one more time.   

We get several emails a day from colleges wanting Katie.  There seems to be a power that rises in me when I hit that delete button, and something inside of me says "No!  You can't have her yet!". 

When I was younger, all I wanted was to be a wife and mother.  I dreamt of the babies to hold, and little ones to care for.  I didn't think of the difficulties of the teenage years, but planned for the years ahead just the same. 

I think of how many times I fell down on bended knee praying for God to give me wisdom and give me the right words to say to help teach them.  Or the strength to get through temper tantrums.  I wondered if they would ever be out of diapers.  I prayed for my girls as they journeyed through school and discovered challenges along the way.  I pleaded to draw them back to me when they journeyed onto independence.  And I will continue to repeat those same prayers as they each go onto their next adventure - even though the giggles won't be heard on the other side of these walls.  Space will separate us.  But my love will be all over them - even though I won't be near to hold them.

And in all this dread of the years ahead, and the sting of sorrow, I choose to be thankful. 

I'm thankful to you God, for the years in the past.  I'm thankful for giving me the dream to be a mom, and fulfilling that dream.  I'm thankful for the list of goals we had to do, so I can turn away from my job more and turn toward these girls before they are off to their next adventure.  I'm thankful that you have given me strength when needed, and thankful you'll continue to give me strength in the years to come.  And I'm thankful that you hold me more and more each day, as I let go of these girls one by one.  I welcome your embrace.

So yes, I have turned away from my job little by little, and embrace those moments of hearing about their days as they come home from school, playing games in spite of the hour or day it is and I will crawl in their rooms at night, as they sleep and hold them a little while longer.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A Recovering Perfectionist!

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,
who have been called according to his purpose.
For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed
to the likeness of his Son,
that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
And those he predestined, he also called;
those he called, he also justified;
those he justified, he also glorified.
What, then, shall we say in response to this?
If God is for us, who can be against us?
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life,
neither angels nor demons,
neither the present nor the future,
nor any powers, neither height or depth,
nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God
 that is in the Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:28-31, 35, 37-39
Life.  I guess I can use that old expression:  "God never promised me a rose garden".  Or "God never said life would be easy".  As we entered into 2014, I shared how I believe God was getting us ready for an abundance.  So when this past week hit, it took me off guard ... as it was far from an abundance.
The stress in our household remains high.  I can't share all the details of all we are under, but it is more than the normal.  And we all deal with this stress differently.  We have been walking in it together.  When one of us was struggling, the others walked with them through it.  It wasn't as rosy as it sounds, for many times it wasn't the image of walking hand in hand, but grabbing someone by the hair and pulling them through.
I remained in prayer.  I trusted.  I hoped.  And I waited.
One of our struggles just isn't getting easier, but affecting and disrupting the whole household.  We have become grumpy, bitter and resentful for this particular struggle.  I know ungodly attributes.
The one attribute that the whole Archibald family deals with is perfectionism.  Personally, I have allowed myself to make mistakes here and there, but I have a tendency to allow God's forgiveness reign over me, but I won't do the same and allow myself to experience the condemnation that I feel I deserve.  When I see that I'm doing it, I have to remind myself of who I am, and He is so much greater.  If He can forgive, so should I.  And I have found that in order to forgive, one has to also love.  Forgiveness and love seem to go hand in hand.  Why are they so hard?  They should be the easiest thing to do.  But they aren't.  It's just easier to judge and condemn.  I'm ashamed to say, but I fall into that trap easily, and more often than I like to admit.
Part of my perfectionism I see in levels.  It is easy to forgive that I messed up in a recipe and the bread didn't come out as it should.  Or it is a bit harder but still have the ability to forgive myself for not getting to work on time.  However, when it comes to the "big" stuff; like parenting - it is much harder.  To me, that is almost near impossible to forgive.  Do you find these levels too?
I tried to walk in the grace God gives daily, but something stumbled me big time.  
As I  ramble on and talk about so much, I'm just admitting that I have failed.  I have also taken on another persons wrong choices as my failure.  (But that is another post.)
This past weekend I admit that I believed the devil's lie ... "God hates me".  "He sees where I have failed, and is very much ashamed of me".  And with those lies, I literally felt life leave me.  Literally.  It was a very scary place to be.  I was in a dark and lonely place ... different from anything in the past.  It wasn't me.  Duane saw my lifeless face.  He had to ask me what I did, or what I took.  Nothing.  That was the truth.  I believed lies. And I chose my condemnation over the love and forgiveness of God.  Duane had to get Katie from work.  Courtney was assigned to watch over me.  I didn't understand why.  But I knew that without any life in me, there wasn't life to choose either.  Life had left, and so did any feelings and concerned.  With life comes truth, that wasn't there either.  Perhaps that is what scared Duane the most.  I continued to sit, as I literally couldn't move.  Courtney remained confused.  But then the most incredible thing happened.  In her fear, in her confusion, in her desperation she rested her hand upon my back as I sat.  And something happened.  The darkness fled and life started to restore.  And I felt love starting to win out.  It wasn't until yesterday that I asked her about this ... if she was praying or if she just rested her hand.  She was praying.
And with that God heard the prayers of the youngest, and answered.  He came and restored.  Today, I choose to believe that was just the beginning.  I experienced a vision.  Today I choose to lay my hand on those things that remain in our home that need to flee and ask God to bring life in them again, and allow love to pour itself in.
Yesterday, I asked God to reveal himself more to me.  I was still wanting evidence of His feelings toward me.  And song after song, soaked to the very core of me.  Peace washed over me as love revealed itself.  I saw condemnation and judgment of myself must go so I can receive my God's love fully.  I once again hold out to hope.  I heard a verse yesterday too, one of those familiar verses (written above), but it made me open my Bible and look at the verses that surround it.  And there was His promise and the answer for His love:
What can separate us from God's love?  Shall all this stress?  My parenting?  The reality of the death of Duane's job that provides for our needs?  The growing pains our household is under?  The tension between husband and wife as we handle our hardships differently?  The wonder of where we will be in the next few months?  The wonder if I have to leave a job I love so much?  The wonder if we can have the opportunity to be closer to a church we love so much?  The wonder if we can have a brand new start in or out of our home?  The wonder of when complete healing will take place for one of our family member?  The wonder of how unanswered prayers will be answered?  The wonder if God can fix all my mess-ups and make them even better?  And the wonder if we can be one again?  Can the desperation we are in separate us from his love?  Nope.  In spite of all these things, in spite of everything else that may come our way too, God has made us conquerors.  He has made me a conqueror.  Not one thing mentioned, not Satan or the demons that try to stumble me, and even the lifeless curses that come upon me ... not the fear of the future, and all our wonders of things to come, not even in our desperation ... None of this will separate me from the love of God!
I'm so loved!  And I'm so thankful I have that to hold onto.  That is enough for me.  Through his love, I can forgive myself.  Through his love, I can walk these struggles.  It is His love that will get me through our desperation ... and actually is the very cry of our desperation.