Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Great in '08

It's hard to believe today is the final day in 2008! It seems like just yesterday when Y2K was the latest talk. Time does tick by rather quickly, but this morning I'd like to pause and look back at the last 366 days.

The year started out well on the Beran farm as we celebrated our little Peanut's first birthday and then our oldest turned 5 shortly after. Fun times and celebrations continued as the days went by. We've hosted birthday parties on the "home farm," laughed a lot and smiled too as we've enjoyed many exciting times. We've also been blessed with great memories of time with friends, family and neighbors.

We've also been blessed away from home with a great church family - one who supports, encourages and loves. Our Pastor truly cares for his flock and feeds us weekly with wonderful messages from the Word. MOPS has been a great opportunity for me to connect with other Moms and a chance to share my faith as well. It's been rewarding to watch our kids grow in their faith as well as the oldest two love Sunday school, enjoyed this summer's VBS and Awana's is now a highlight of J.D.'s week.

There have been plenty of wonderful memories, but 2008 was not always great. We have watched and supported dear friends struggle with their teenage daughter. Loved ones have been informed of major illnesses and the economy has everyone thinking about finances. In August we had a miscarriage, which still leaves a bit of emptiness today and in November we said good-bye to my grandma.

The year has included some hard times, but the biggest challenges were when I was misunderstood because of my faith. At times it was loved ones I grew up with and that hurt the most. These people have said I've changed, but as God draws me more and more out of my comfort zone for the first time I've really tried to explain the reason for the change. It can be discouraging because most of the time it seems they don't want to understand. It hurts to know they could have what I do.

Really that is what is great about '08! The memories are nice, but God and my faith are what has been great!! The miscarriage was one of the hardest things I've ever experienced, but He carried me thru and actually has made me stronger and drawn me closer to Him. He is a God who keeps His promises and because of that I look forward to 2009.

Though I know it will bring hard times and things I don't expect He has proven faithful and I'm confident He will be fine in '09!!

Happy New Year to you! May God bless you and draw you closer in the days ahead!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Family Christmas Letter

"Reasons We Love Christmas"
10. Presents and Stockings
9. Decorating the Tree
8. Playing in the Snow
7. Rudolph, Snoopy and the Grinch
6. Baking (& Frosting)
5. Cards and Music
4. The Church Program
3. Warm Homes, Conversations and Reflections
2. Time with Family and Friends
1. Jesus's Birthday!!

Every year at Christmas it seems a song jumps out at me and this year it has been "Sometimes Christmas Makes Me Cry." The words talk about tears of every kind and as I reflect on the year, we've shed them all. There have been many joys - J.D. starting school and learning to read, Joy living up to her name and filling our home with smiles, Jaylyn taking on the role of comedian and constantly making us laugh, great memories with family and friends and a safe, successful year on the farm.

There have been tears of pain as well - both J.D. and Joy took some falls when the training wheels came off and Jaylyn has done the same with her constant desire to keep up, we've said, "Good-bye" to Grandma Biwer and Dorothy, our fish too, we've watched family and friends go thru sickness and struggles and had some down times ourselves as well.

But ultimately, the tears at Christmas come when we really thin about the reason for the season. Like the song says, "we cry tears of hope" because regardless if life is good or times are tough, the greatest gift has already been given and it offers peace. Years ago, on the first Christmas morning, the giving began when Jesus was laid in the manager and 33 years later the gift was complete when He went to the cross. God's present isn't wrapped with a bow, but eternal life is ours when we accept what He has to offer. So like the song says, "I think of Mary and the virgin birth, and I'm amazed at how much God thinks we're worth, that He would send His only son to die and sometimes Christmas makes me cry."

We pray you have a blessed holiday season and though sometimes Christmas makes us cry, it always reminds us of His love. May God bless you in 2009!

Job, Jill, J.D., Joy and Jaylyn

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Why we need to speak up...

“How can we be silent?”
The world is hurting and
He can heal the pain.
The problems are endless and
He is the answer.
Relationships are broken and
He can make them better.
People are suffering and
He provides comfort.
Countries are at war and
He offers peace.
Everyone makes mistakes and
He grants forgiveness.
Our lives are a mess and
He can wash them clean.
The world has a need and
Only Jesus can fill it.
How can we be silent
When He can do so much?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

My Little Theologian

Over the past 10 days it seems nothing, and really I do mean nothing has gone according to my plans. For one reason or another things haven't turned out the way I expected. Last week one day it was because J.D., my 5 year old son, decided to hide and after a 40 minute search, I was thankful he was safe, but at the same time disappointed because his actions altered my plan for the afternoon.

Then another day, the kids and I had plans to go watch my basketball girls and the vehicle wouldn't start. The next day plans for time with a friend were scratched. And then a snow storm hits that cancels a MOPS meeting I had organized and looked forward to. You get the picture...

But as all of this was taking place, I knew God was giving me an opportunity to practice a topic we'd been discussing in Sunday School - contentment. The speaker had said this was a state of mind and something we had to learn - how true. She also mentioned the seriousness of the sin of comparison and as I reflected on my bad attitude, I knew that was part of the struggle.

In my mind I was telling myself, "My husband gets to go hunting, my sister is going to Vegas, so and so gets to go the NCAA volleyball game, she gets to go to knitting..." I don't even knit and have absolutely no desire to learn, but my point is everyone was getting to do something but me!

But then God reminded me I have a wonderful opportunity right here in my home. The night before the MOPS meeting, the weather had convinced me it would not be taking place. So as my daughter suggested doing something to prepare for it, I told her, "No, we'll wait for morning because I don't think we'll have MOPS."

In her sad little 3 year old voice, she asked, "Why?" I jokingly responded, "Because Mom's not supposed to have any fun." She gave me a confused look and went back to cutting snowflakes.

My son on the other hand, heard my words and shocked me with what came from his mouth. J.D. said, "Sometimes I want to do things, but God makes it so I can't do them. But that's OK because His things are better."

I turned from the sink and said, "What did you say?" He went on to repeat what you read above. Like I said I was shocked and honestly wondered where did that come from?

As I reflect, I know the answer - God was speaking to me through my 5 year old son!! So though it feels like I haven't left the house for days, really that's not the case, I am thankful for the wonderful opportunity I have here with my 3 little ones.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Whose eyes?

“Whose Eyes?”
In my eyes,
you’re someone I look up to
and an example for me to follow.
In your eyes,
you know the mistakes you have made
and the places you fall short.
In His eyes,
He sees the good
and forgives the bad.
In my eyes,
you’re a woman of wisdom –
a place to turn for advice.
In your eyes,
you know the life you’ve lived
and the difficult lessons you have learned.
In His eyes,
He knows every scene is part of the story,
one He wrote years ago.
In my eyes,
you honor me
by being my friend.
In your eyes,
you don’t always understand
the significance of your role.
In His eyes,
He’s delighted with the life you live
and glorified when your faith is shared.
In my eyes,
you’re a friend
worthy of respect.
In your eyes,
you wonder if you’re deserving
and thus downplay the praise.
In His eyes,
He sees a daughter He created,
a child whom He loves.

Through whose eyes do you see when you look at others and even when you look at yourself?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

In need of a reminder...

"Lord, Remind Me"
When the days are long
And patience is short,
Remind me, you are a parent
And I’m not always an obedient child.

When I’m rejected for following you
And misunderstood for the things I do,
Remind me, you weren’t always accepted
And you still held on to your beliefs.

When I’m let down by others
And feel distant from my family
Remind me, I am your child
And your love is unconditional.

When I’m feeling down
And tempted to give up,
Remind me of the trials you faced
And the perseverance you possessed.

When I face struggles
And storms begin to rage,
Remind me of the pain you felt
And suffering you endured.

When I’m feeling weak
And wonder how I can go on,
Remind me you are in control
And your joy will be my strength.

When times are good
And especially when things are bad,
Remind me there is a reason for it all
And Your plan is perfect.