Monday, December 28, 2009

Perfectly Imperfect

Continuing in finding gratitude and grace:

225. Perfectly imperfect FAMILY
226. Things to learn
227. Things to teach
228. Things to walk through together
229. Bountiful tables
230. Cold
231. Bright clear blue Christmas skies
232. Toasted pecans and marshmallow topping
233. Nephews
234. Hot running water
235. Pants that fit
236. Healthy children
237. Christian fellowship
238. Sentimentality
239. Soft hearts
240. Second chances
241. Willing sisters
242. Warm homes that stand against the wind
234. Unrequited love
235. Devotionals
236. Time with Jesus
237. Welcomed inside warm doors
238. Children
239. Holding hands
240. Rubbing noses
241. Listening eyes
242. Quiet answers
243. Patience
244. Welcome
245. Differences
246. Wistling little boys
247. Twirling little girls
248. Searching voices of little ones
249. Beds enough for more
250. Wind waving pines
251. Bubbles
252. Tutus
253. Vests
254. Hot tea
255. Warm hearts
256. Gold speckled blue eyes
257. Sincerity
258. Deep dark brown
259. One of many
260. Honest implorings

For these few things, and many more, I humbly say,
Thank You, Lord God. I am not worthy.


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Giving Thanks, Receiving Blessing

Today, I receive that the Lord wants to bless me and has good things in store for me. Today I embrace that no one loves me like God. He can be trusted and I will rely on that not only for the big decisions, but for the little ones as well. I endeavor to embark on vacation with expectation for delight, ready to receive, looking for His hand. And all along the way, I will give thanks. Tonight I am packed, for vacation, with anticipation. I expect to see Jesus along the way.

201. Very patient husbands
202. Very giving fathers
203. Very persistent daughters
204. Very active sons
205. More clothes than I can wash, sort, fold or pack
206. Too many choices
207. Men who want to teach me
208. A husband who wants to share his interests with me
209. The freedom to own a firearm in our nation
210. Competent and responsible citizens
211. Last minute baby sitters
212. Warm, silky chicken broth
213. Jakey's constant "Thank you's"
214. Knowing that this Christian walk is collective
215. Where I have been
216. Where I am going
217. Even where I am now
218. Rings around the moon
219. Fathers who point them out
220. Unwavering neck rubs
221. Warm rice pillows
222. Clothes that I didn't buy that always match perfectly
223. The most comfortable bed in the world, because of the man in it
224. The less I have to do with things, the better they are

Good night. Having given thanks for today, I am ready for tomorrow.
My bags are packed with gratitude and expectation.

With great appreciation, for all Your gifts, Lord.

Carmen Sunshine

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Miracles

All things counted today are counted as blessings, Christmas Miracles:

167. 7:30 AM Wake-up call
168. "Look, Mommy, Look!"
169. Panettone French Toast
170. Dad in the kitchen
171. Smells of coffee and bacon
172. Dad truly excited about his gift
173. Our first Christmas in our own home
174. The floor littered with color and wood
175. Communal prayers
176. God dwells in our homes today all the world round
177. What started in a stable is at home in my heart today
178. Christmas naps
179. Christmas afternoon car rides
180. Cloudy lofty sunsets
181. Spontaneity
182. Fallafel
183. Turkish tea glasses filled with red wine
184. Advent candles all aglow
185. "Mommy, I love olives!"
186. Jacobs vivacious voice
187. Surgeon Samantha
188. Hurricane Dylan
189. Baby laughs and giggles
190. Empty trees
191. Thankful hearts
192. Winks
193. Dimmed lights
194. Unexpected gifts
195. The best wooden doll house ever
196. Frequent "Thank you's"
197. Childlike gusto and enjoyment surrounding our table
198. Old friends
199. Long haired, bearded, sentimental old men
200. The miracles of Christmas afresh

All is gift, given from your hand.

Carmen Sunshine

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Still Counting

128. Christmas cookie deocrating
129. Likeminded, same-path traveling friends
130. Nap time
131. Honey's home early
132. Opa!
133. Lobster tails
134. Australian beer
135. "I've got it covered."
136. Mindful children
137. Folded laundry
138. The Light of the World
139. Trundle bunk beds
140. Happy children
141. Bouncy babies
142. Library books
143. Clearance shelves
144. U-turns
145. Button mushrooms
146. Sprinkles
147. Laundry that is folded
148. More than our little house can hold
149. Night time crickets
150. Fresh air
151. Clouded moon
152. Happy Santa Claus boxes
153. Big Green Bows
154. New Rugs
155. Advent Wreaths
156. Flickering candles
157. True Love
158. All I could really ever want for Christmas
159. Christmas songs in the back seat
160. Christmas songs in the Outback
161. Christmas songs in the kitchen
162. Christmas songs in the shower
163. "Thank you, Mama"
164. Men and women who truly love the Lord
165. The Virgin Mary had a Baby Boy
166. There is no limit to the Love of God

For all this, Lord, and more.

Thank You.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Even When It Hurts

This mothering gig is hard. It's constant. It's work. Still, I endeavor to count:

101. Floors swept clean of Playdoh
102. Same day doctor's appointments
103. Really sore throats
104. Frustration that drives you to fall at His feet
105. A seeking heart
106. Choir praise
107. Packages full of potential
108. Christmas deliveries
109. Clean sheets
110. Soup leftovers
111. Husbands home early
112. "Well, first you have to stop crying..."
113. Childlike forgiveness
114. Foutons that can hold 6 loads of clean, unfolded laundry (for days)
115. Trash cans
116. New Playdoh
117. Diaper rash cream
118. Warm showers and clean shaves
119. Peacock blue sweaters
120. Surprises waiting
121. "Christmas will never come!"
122. "You can't wrap a word." (but you can receive it, can't you?)
123. Cleaned off Refridgerator doors
124. Purging of toys, coupons, artwork, reciepts, shoes
125. He hears me when I call
126. He knows my name
127. Time enough to think of things to give thanks for...

'Til tomorrow...

Little One

Endeavor to Receive It All

My 1000+ Gifts:

As I began counting my gifts yesterday...

I was destracted by the doing's of a mother of four and an hour later caught myself not counting blessings, but cursings, difficulties, reasons to complain..... !!!


That has been the habit of my heart, not gratitude. Not thanksgiving or looking for the refinement and blessing. Yikes.

Lord, please forgive me. Please remove this spirit of complaint from my heart. How can I complain against You?

Help me Lord, as I endeavor to count blessings. Help me to take my complaints and concerns to the Throne of Grace. There I can leave them at Your feet in prayer and thanksgiving, trusting that You will work it for the good of me and my family.

This morning I spoke this to my son in a moment of correction and love, as I did, the Lord God Almighty spoke it also to me:

I CAN LOVE YOU (give, correct, admonish) ALL DAY LONG. BUT IT IS NOT GOING TO DO YOU ANY GOOD UNTIL YOU LOVE ME (listen, receive, obey) IN RETURN.

Isn't that the truth? Isn't that so profound on every relational level.

How many people have you loved who never received it?

Why did I speak this to my son? Because I want to be loved?? No. Because I want my son to be BLESSED! Because I love my son, dearly.

The Lord can bless and bless and bless. But until we turn around and give thanks, acknowledge, receive, the gifts are merely thrown at our backs. Aimed directly, specifically at us, but uncaught, untouched, unreceived. Dropped. We, I, have dropped them.

If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
Jhn 14:15 If you love me, you will obey what I command.

Isn't that where the blessings lay? He tells us where to walk, how to follow, how to live life in such a strong and secure way that nothing can shake us or seperate us from His love. And yet, if we are hearers only and not doers, the blessings lie unopened. We remain unadorned. Love is obedience. Jesus loved perfectly. He continues to love perfectly.

If I love you more, will you love me less?
2Cr 12:15 So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well. If I love you more, will you love me less?

Isn't it right to return the love and adoration of such a great and awesome God?

Who is like the Lord of Hosts? There is no God like our God.
1Sa 2:2 There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.

Today, I endeavor to receive ALL that He has for me. Be it obviously good or in trusting that it will work for good, HE CAN ONLY BE GOOD. All the time.

Thank You, Lord. I do love you. I want to open every good and perfect gift you have for me and receive it in faith, trusting that it will work for my eternal benefit and divine blessings. Not only for me, Lord, because when You bless, it is cumulative, for my family and loved ones, and those around me as well. I will count my every blessing. My greatest blessing is YOU. Over and over and over.

Father, I turn around in love and embrace You. There is nothing like knowing there is ONE who is steadfast, trustworthy and good at all times and in all places. You are worthy of praise. May You be the desire of my heart, no matter what. Lovingly, and in humility and honesty, may this truth be walked out in my life today.

I turn to endeavor to give You thanks and to receive all of Your gifts. May I see them as You are.
You alone are good. Amen.

Carmen Sunshine

Monday, December 21, 2009

Counting My Treasures

I have joined the Gratitude Community: 1000 Endless Gifts over at Ann Voskamp's "Holy Experience" website:

My 1000 Endless Gifts:
Psa 126:3
The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.

After reading over on Ann's site that counting your blessings makes one more grateful and joyful, I endeavored to keep track of all that I have been given mentally. But, as my brain is like a sieve these days, I've decided that letting them go unwritten is pretty much like having a hole in my pocket. ;-)

Another friendly 'jog' today on Ann's website has encouraged me afresh. No longer will I allow my blessings, my evidences of the whisperings of a great and gracious God, to go unrecorded and uncounted. These are my treasures, my witness that the Lord has done great things for me, and in acknowledging Him and His gifts, I am filled with joy! Why would I want to let that go to waste?? I start collecting Him, and the evidences of my Treasure, Today. What are you doing with yours??

What do I want for Christmas? To know all that I really have.

I have a feeling this will be a meager beginning and I have not fully thought out how to continue this list, but I will delay no longer. My treasures are to be counted, sorted, adored and multiplied. The Giver is to be glorified with this life.

Lord, I give you THANKS and PRAISE as I sift through these few, 'just on the top of the pile and most evidently seen', and for as many more as I can list. Thank you for each of these precious "I love you's" that You have spoken into my life. May this account be as unending as your giving.
Lord, Thank You for:

1. Jason Ryan Hendrix
2. A husband who daily teaches me what LOVE really is
3. My salvation
4. The love of Christ and the body of believers with whom I now share His love
5. Sisters in Christ who are so much more than friends
6. The inspiration to Homeschool my children
7. The Lord 'closing doors', being saved from bad choices
8. New beginnings
9. Encouragement to press-on, from friends, online, and even from dreams
10. Dylan Ryan Hendrix who daily teaches me what LOVE really is
11. Joshua Duncan singing in his crib
12. Samantha's smiles
13. Jacob's persistence and constant smile
14. Pajamas
15. The world's most comfortable bed
16. A man who wakes up, every day, with a SMILE
17. Friends who teach you how to make your own soup and fresh bread
18. Sisters who love you
19. In-laws who love you
20. Imperfect parents (why else would we ever need God?)
21. Resilient children (how else would we ever survive?)
22. More than ample monetary provision and a heart to give
23. Kickball
24. Flashlight tag
25. Chimineas
26. Seeing Christmas through the eyes of motherhood
27. Flip-flops in December
28. Learning to learn from my mistakes
29. God's Word
30. 'The Shop'
31. Little voices
32. Little hands
33. Smiling eyes
34. My Very Hardworking Husband
35. The lessons of a small house
36. Laptop computers
37. My total and complete inability
38. Christmas/Advent Devotionals with authors spanning generations
39. A Father who wants to share Christmas
40. Candlelight Christmas Eve Services
41. Christmas lights
42. Babies
43. Really warm socks
44. Bible verses hidden in hearts through song
45. Forgiveness
46. Great Grace
47. Every day is a new start
48. Devoted Bible Students/Teachers
49. Free teachings online
50. Hot tea and raw honey
51. Everyday is Christmas when you know Jesus
52. Babies who stop nursing just to smile at you
53. Long desired tea cup won as a gift at a baby shower
54. Very sore throats that make you sit and see the Christmas lights on your tree
55. Motor boats, sail boats, uninhabited islands and coastal waters
56. Hardwood table and six chairs, hand-finished, all from my father
57. Handfinished diningroom chairs that remind me of my husband's love
58. Big Brown Eyes
59. Dogs on the beach
60. Affections shared with my husband
61. Christmas cards from Australia
62. Glitter on my chilren's faces
63. Nap time
64. "Hey, how are you?" phone calls
65. Christmastime dinner with Christian fellowship
66. Mistletoe
67. Copper fans
68. Blackberry Jam
69. Hot and Spicy Noodle Soup
70. Really beautiful dinnerware
71. 10th year engagement gifts and fully loaded fingers
72. Little Lisps
73. Little Lips
74. Eyebrows drawn on Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus
75. 100% fully capable crawling 7 month olds
76. Little girl giggles
77. Nursing tanktops
78. Christmas card collages
79. Animated story telling of 4 year old little girls
80. Direction, Discernment and Provision
81. Direction, Discernment and Provision in Christmas gifts
82. Our first Christmas at home as a family
83. Piles of Laundry
84. Dylan loading and unloading the dishwasher
85. Children
86. Sam covetously cleaning the toilets and taking out the trash
87. One really amazing van and a completely paid for sedan
88. Rainbows over realestate
89. The fellowship of believers
90. The prayers of a righteous woman uttered on my behalf
91. Beachside Hospitality
92. Those who go-before
93. Baby blankets and shoes galore
94. Children who don't yet know to go hunting for their Christmas presents
95. Really healthy and really happy babies
96. A pediatrician I can consider calling for myself
97. Pop-up Christmas cards
98. Home-printed Christmas cards
99. Friends who still keep in touch
100. PJ's at 3:30 PM on Monday

Lovingly and wishing I had more time to go on and on...

Carmen Sunshine

Thursday, December 3, 2009

What Have I to Give? Truly Forgiven

I left something out of my previous blog on Simon Peter going fishing, maybe even the most important and obvious. It is Christ's complete restoration of Peter. What enables us to go forth in the power of Christ, free to follow Him? Forgiveness.

Peter had blasphemously denied even knowing Jesus, three times in a row. Afterward, of course, Peter didn't know what to do with himself. Today and frequently, I have felt very much as Peter must have felt that day. "I have failed Him, how can I be of any use to Him? Now what?" The Lord has let me realize not only Peter's failure to some degrees, but also the marvelous reconciliation that Christ offered to Peter and continues to offer to every one of us.

Forgiveness, complete restoration through Christ Jesus, truly is the crux of the Gospel, the pivot point of Eternal Life, the hope of glory. Peter had to experience it personally before he was equipped to serve the Lord in caring for others. Mercifully, I too, have experienced it anew. You see, you can't give what you haven't got.

It wasn't any one thing, but an accumulation of many little things that led me to be in the boat, fishing, wondering, "Now what?" I don't spend the time I know I should in the Word of God. I put my fleshly desires above the call I know to be the call of the Holy Spirit. When I do spend even just a minute amount of time, He is faithful and gives me great revelation. But I am beginning to see that is because I need a very bright light to guide me. It takes a long time for me to really learn how to apply what the Lord reveals to me in my own life, longer than I'd like anyway. So, the "Now What?" really rang true for me because I often can see the spiritual 'why' long before the physical 'how'.

Being on the road for eleven days brought the culmination of a drifting that had begun over a year ago, perhaps even longer. Having just come back from a long holiday trip to see all of our family, it was hard to get back into the "swing" of things. Hard for me to again embrace this Christian Homeschooling, Stay at Home Mom, life and calling the Lord has for me. Hard for me to not think, "Maybe they are all right, maybe I am crazy. Maybe I am wasting my life and pursuing foolishness." But the Lord's wisdom is foolishness to the world. I am just now, five days after returning home, getting things straight again in my head and heart. What a cruel place the world can be.

While on vacation, like Peter, I flubbed it. Repeatedly. But as I returned to His Word, there was Jesus, on the beach, preparing a meal and a fire for Peter, for me. Often, the Lord does just that. He faithfully and faultlessly seeks me out and lovingly calls for me to come back to shore. To be warmed and refreshed and restored from my foolishness because I have not sought Him directly.

God gives great Grace. He LAVISHES His LOVE upon us. This is such an awesome truth that I often have a hard time receiving all of it. Can He really love me as He says He does? Does He really forgive me when He alone knows what a wretch I am? Can I really confess to Him all that He already knows and receive love and correction for my benefit and His great glory?


The answer is Yes. No one is like God. The Lord Almighty. The Creator of Heaven and Earth. Our Salvation. Our Righteousness. Our Healer. Our Protector. Our very great Reward.

I have learned today, that the more I confess of my doubts and faults and fears, the more love, assurance, faithfulness, and forgiveness I receive from such a loving and all knowing Lord.

All I have to do is swim back to shore.

Jhn 21:10 Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish which you have just caught."

Jhn 21:11 Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not broken.

Jhn 21:12 Jesus said to them, "Come [and] eat breakfast." Yet none of the disciples dared ask Him, "Who are You?"--knowing that it was the Lord.

Jhn 21:13 Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them, and likewise the fish.

Jhn 21:14 This [is] now the third time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples after He was raised from the dead.

Jhn 21:15 So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, [son] of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Feed My lambs."

Jhn 21:16 He said to him again a second time, "Simon, [son] of Jonah, do you love Me?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Tend My sheep."

Jhn 21:17 He said to him the third time, "Simon, [son] of Jonah, do you love Me?" Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, "Do you love Me?" And he said to Him, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You." Jesus said to him, "Feed My sheep.

Jesus gave Peter a three-time affirmation to prepare him to continue in Christ's purpose for him.

Am I the mother I want to be? No.
Am I short tempered, quick tongued, full of impatience? Yes.
Do I represent the Lord at all times and in all places as I wish I would? No.
Do I even obey Him even when I know I should? No.
Am I perfect? No.
I too, am a 'son of Jonah', one who has run in the wrong direction.

But in His Grace, I am being perfected. He, in His love and redemption wants to use you, and me. That we may be presented to Him as a spotless bride for His Son, our Redeemer and Deliverer, who gave His life to be with us.

I'm learning that God already knows it all, like Peter says, "Lord, you know everything." I am learning to 'get over' myself, my inabilities and insecurities, my failings and faults. But there is no getting over Jesus. He is perfect. The spotless Lamb of God. I will dwell on Him. He who paid the ransom for me is worthy of my praise. But more importantly, He is worthy of my whole heart, recklessly abandoned in honesty and desperately in need of Him, the Lover of my Soul. He rights all things, even me.

We are beginning our Christmas celebration in our home. In studying the life of Christ, never before have I received so much of all that God has to offer in His Son. Never before have I just sat at His feet and desired Him more than anything else. When some bauble comes to mind, as it frequently does, I recall that it is His presence, His forgiveness, His approval and touch that I desire more than anything else that "Christmas" has to offer. His love is central to my well-being. Nothing more, nothing less. I simply have to receive Him.

After 34 Christmases, I have come to see that it is easy to give gifts. Not so with receiving. It is much more humbling to receive an extravagantly expensive and perfect gift, or even one you aren't so crazy about, for that matter. Not so with Christ. I am speaking of a gift so great that you could never earn, deserve, repay or even merit having it bestowed upon you. It is humbling beyond measure, especially when it is given with such love, compassion, and more importantly complete acceptance and great affection. This is the gift that God has for you, and for me.

I want to be more like Jesus.

Thankfully, He's already on the shore, calling to me, a fallen-away fisher-woman, and more than that, He is calling me His Child. I too, may just dive out of the boat.

Am I perfect? No. But I am ever so able and grateful to say that, you know what? He is.

I am just going to return to that fact over and over in this lifetime. Jesus Christ is perfect, always good and always true. He is the One True Living God and His grace is sufficient for me. May it be my anthem, my foundation, my bedrock. I just might wear it like an engagement ring, a promise of something more to come and a token of great love and affection. In Christ, I am truly forgiven. Now that is the perfect Christmas present. I've already got it all. And now I have it, to give.

Lord, thank You for such great grace and compassion. For pursuing me as a loving Father and Shepherd. You truly do care for me, more than I can even behold. Jesus, you are full of grace and truth. You provide for me, take care of me, desire to spend time with me and give such lavish gifts. Truly, I should keep an account, and be overwhelmed by your generosity.

Be glorified, Lord. Take my failings and may they speak of your Amazing Grace. I am here, like Peter, to know more of You and what You have for me, desperately desiring reconciliation with You and receiving it. Embracing being truly forgiven, I will follow. Lead me, Lord. May I feed Your lambs with Your provision and forgiveness.

Simply in response to the Love of Christ,

Carmen Sunshine

Col 1:27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Now What? The New You is with Me

It had all changed. He thought he understood, and now it was clear that he didn't.

Peter had been a fisherman until he dropped his nets to follow the Messiah. Now the Messiah had been killed and risen from the dead. Alive. And Peter had denied Him. What was this daily life supposed look like now? He left one life for another and even the second life now was altered. Realistically speaking, "Now what?"

He did only what he knew to do. He went to fish, and some of the others went with him.

They fished all night, in their strength and ability, waiting, catching nothing. Fruitless.

Then, someone on the beach asked if they had any food. Picture the disciples of Christ, in a fishing boat, knowing not what to do with themselves. They had gone back to their old stand-by, what they knew before Christ. But knowing Jesus changes everything.

The man on the beach told them to cast on the other side of their boat and they hauled in such a catch that it was amazing that the nets did not break. With this, Jesus was recognized, and Peter, in his eagerness to be near Christ, jumped out of the boat and swam to shore. He left the boat and the catch behind. Peter knew fishing wasn't it.

Jesus gave Peter reconciliation and a 'new job'. He asked Peter three times, "Do you love me?" Peter was grieved in the repeated questioning, but Jesus wanted him to really hear it. "Feed my sheep. Tend my lambs. Feed my sheep." Why? The 'why' came before the 'what'. "Because you (Peter) love Me (Jesus). And I know that you love Me." Jesus told Peter what to do with his life, and why. Gently. Gracefully. Thrice.

John, also hungry for more of Jesus, followed behind and he too, heard. Peter, with his new purpose, wanted to know what John was to do. Jesus said, "Don't worry about how another is called to follow me or what their specific purpose is or how they are to complete it. You know what I have called you to do. You follow Me."

You see, once we have walked with Christ, believing Him, we have left it all behind. The world, what we used to know and be, is no longer who we are. We have a new purpose, a New Life. Seeing Christ alive and among us, witnessing His miracles in the lives of others and in our own lives, having personal experience with Him, is life changing, mind altering, reality shifting. Jesus is the Son of God, the One True Living God. In Him we are made new. You can't go back. What your life was before Christ can't begin to compare. Jesus has bigger, more important, Kingdom growing work for us to do. He has people for us to love and care for and we can only do it in His love and grace. Without Jesus, what was useful and fruitful in our own strength, is no longer.

Only moving forward in Christ are we alive. Allow Him to redefine your reality, what you know and who you are. Thankfully, there's no turning back. We have new purpose, new life, new meaning, new family, new friends. We are no longer, as Christ is made in us. We must decrease and He must increase. Praise God. And thankfully, none of us are or will be exactly the same.

I don't want to be who I was before. Like Peter, I don't even really want to stay who I am today. I am thankfully plodding along, one foot in front of the other sometimes, but moving forward and growing none the less. How many of us can say that we have the Resurrection Power of Christ to become what we truly desire to be? I can. But only because of the transforming power of the God-Man and His redeeming work.

Jhn 21:4
But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.

Jhn 21:5 Then Jesus said to them, "Children, have you any food?" They answered Him, "No."

Jhn 21:6 And He said to them, "Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find [some]." So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.

Jhn 21:7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on [his] outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea.

Jhn 21:8 But the other disciples came in the little boat (for they were not far from land, but about two hundred cubits), dragging the net with fish.

Jhn 21:9 Then, as soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread.

Are you dripping, on the beach in the morning glow, looking at your risen Savior and hearing your new call? Or were you the one to recognize Him right away and stay to labor and bring in the catch?

Either way, shiver and warm yourself in the warmth of His presence and provision, and hear. He knows you love Him. He will make it happen and provide for you every need. It is for Him to lead and you only to follow. He has more for you and me.

Thank You, Jesus. I do love You. And I know that You know I do. Ask me again, Lord. Remind me 'why' and then tell me 'what'. And please give me grace to love you more.

For Him, In Him, and to Him, to Jesus be all glory and honor and power.

Love You, Lord.

Carmen Sunshine

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Do you see what I see?

The Lord whispers into my life daily. Sometimes I listen. Sometimes, to my detriment, I don't.

But Today, graciously, the Lord whispers again. His compassion never fails. Great is His faithfulness...

Lam 3:22 Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
Lam 3:23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Lam 3:24 I say to myself, "The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him."
Lam 3:25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;
Lam 3:26 it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

Joshua cooed in his crib when he awoke. I heard him. Not wanting to be distracted when I sat down to nurse him and spend time with him, I hurried to finish lunch with my older three. His coos turned to whimpers, then calls, then cries. As I turned off the lights in my older boys' room, I went swiftly to pick up Joshua, finally finished with lunch and naptime's beginning. He had begun to holler. As if to say, "You aren't coming. You aren't." "Here I am baby, shhhhh, here I am." "Don't cry sweet boy. I got you..." Still he cried as I changed his diaper and settled in with my nursing pillow. He had waited long. Once we got into each other's arms, I relaxed and looked down at him clinging and nursing. He looked up at me and grimaced, winced, almost to tears again, as if to say, "Where were you, why didn't you come? And yet here you are. I cling to you." And as I spoke it, I heard my Savior say, "Here I am my sweet child. Thank you for waiting for me. No, I didn't mean to make you wait, but I had much to prepare before I could be with you." "Now I am all yours and you are Mine." And we caressed one another, in mutual need and refreshment. Does the Lord disdain my cries when I ask, "Where are You, Lord? Why haven't you come? Are you going to come? Why did you make me wait?" Oh, no, dear little one. He loves you all the more for waiting and clutches you tighter to His breast in love and perfect provision. Trust Him. Turn not aside. Only He truly satisfies. He is El Shaddai, The All Sufficient One and He adores you. How do I know? Well, amazingly, that's what He told me next...

Jhn 1:12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God-
Jhn 1:13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.

When nursing was done and smiles returned, sweet Joshua and I went walking through the house together, his little head on my shoulder, his tiny hands clutching my shirt. We found ourselves in front of the mirror. "Look at that beautiful boy. Look at that sweet and precious child of mine. You are mine and you are so wonderful. I love you beautiful boy. Yes I do." "Do you see what I see, Josh? Do you see what I see??" As I spoke these words aloud in love to my smallest son, the Holy Spirit whispered, "Do you see what I see, Carmen? My beautiful and incapable, clinging child. Trusting and abiding in dependence, I am so pleased with you. Yes, you are little, yes you are just at your beginning, but you are Mine. I see your greatest potential and I love you." There, before that mirror, with an adoring smile upon my own face, I heard it, I felt it. Jesus was there. As I kissed the sweet-smelling, soft, side of my son's face, I felt the Lord linger near mine in shared intimacy. Oh, to be loved and adored as a child of the Most High God!

I am in awe, seeing what He sees.

Thank You Lord, for these beautiful and amazing children, through whom You never fail to teach me of Your love for me. May I love them as You have loved, and continue to love, me. May they each know the love of The Most High God as Your own beloved child.

In love and adoration of Jesus Christ alone,

Carmen Sunshine, His Little One

Thursday, April 2, 2009

I Paid for that Nut

There it was... amid a deep dusting of pecan crumbles down at the very bottom corner of the bag. I had already eaten about 30 pecan halves, but there was one more. Just one. Well, I'm not going to throw it away, I thought, I paid for that nut....

Ah! Oh Lord...

Jos 1:5 No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.

Hbr 13:5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."

Jhn 10:28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.

Jhn 10:29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand.

Jhn 14:2 In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.

Jhn 14:3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

1Cr 6:19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;

1Cr 6:20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

What a thought to have during this Easter season, the price that was paid, for me and for you, and because of that great price, how valuable we are to The Lord God.

Thank you, Lord, for showing me, even in such a small way, how very precious I am in Your sight.

Rom 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Worth reaching down in the bottom of the bag, amid all the remnants, to bring me out, that one last little nut. Not discarded, but valued, and more importantly, desired. May I not only see myself rightly, I am just a little nut, but may I also see myself as You see me,
paid for.

Worth suffering greatly for, unto death. You gave
Your life, that I might be where You are, forever. Thank you, Jesus.

Lord, amid this season of repentance and rebirth, I so appreciate all that You have given me to think on. May I be rooted and grounded in this Great Love You have for me. May I love You, all the more.

Amen. :-)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Life in a Box

Noah's Ark

Sam had me read it to her again today. Noah, a man of faith, worked for one hundred and twenty years on something that no one around him had any concept of, nor respect for, a box. A big box. A big box with a lot of animals in it, no less. Two of most, even seven of some. As Noah built it, he spoke of God's warning and promise of coming judgment to those who watched. When the ark was finished, Noah and his family went inside the ark. God shut the door. But here's the part that hit me:

They waited for seven days before the first drop of rain fell.

Imagine living, waiting, day after day for seven days, with all those animals. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday. Waiting. On dry land, in a box, for a week. That's a while to wait for something big to happen in my perspective. I'm always too ready for the next big thing to happen. I do not do well during waiting periods.

But then I realized how very much the Ark is a picture of the Christian life.

Here we are abiding in God's will, obeying His commandments and timing, while to the world it looks like craziness, confinement, certainly not freedom. Life in a big box.

When we enter ready to see God's promise fulfilled and the adventure to begin, we first often have to wait. God told Noah and his family that they would wait for seven days before it would rain for forty days and nights. They went inside and God shut the door. They waited while the world outside seemingly went on unaffected.


Those outside watched. They wondered. They scoffed and talked. Noah and his family, they waited. The boundaries, the confines of the box, held them in safety. Only inside God's good and perfect will, within His decrees for how to live this life, were they safe from the impending storm.

Finally, the rain came just as God said it would. Only the eight who had been disciplined by one hundred and twenty years of work, and even more so by the seven days of waiting through living in an ocean carrier with myriads of animals on dry land, were saved.

The seven days were preparation, practice. A dry run, so to speak.

God was preparing them to live out the next year in the Ark with the collection of Creation chosen to be preserved with them. Seven days of learning where and how everything would work now that the Ark was stocked and provisioned, full of animals. There was no life to be found outside of the Ark for them. Everything was contained there-in, with them. It was a new way of life. All else would soon be water. This time of practice must have been beneficial for Noah and his family. Thus, it must be also for me.

Spiritually, I have been building a ship, learning God's Word and His ways. Now God asks me to abide in it.

For me, that's the hardest part. Building, creating, doing... Now that I can do.

But lately, it seems I have been waiting, waiting inside a ship on dry land. Waiting for that ship to launch, to float, to be made evident. I am tempted to escape, to agree with those taunting outside that they are the ones who are free. But, this waiting period is critical for my well being. These boundaries are what strengthen me in my spiritual, mental and even physical development, that I might be able to weather the storm.

Though the world may scoff at the limits that you or I as a Christian may choose to live in, these conditions prepare us for, and even promise, Life. A life lived abundantly. A life well-watered, rooted and grounded in love.

I am just learning to embrace this discipline. Learning to speak out despite the naysayers. What's true is true. Learning to trust God. His promises can not be revoked. They are solid, a foundation worthy of all decision-making. I am a terrible decision-maker. But I have a Great Shepherd, who keeps His Word. I can trust Him. That even though it may seem (even to myself sometimes) that I am shut up in a big wooden box packed with wild animals, in the middle of a dry place, there is a life-saving reason for it. Abiding in His will is the only way I will stay afloat.

Gen 6:8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.

Gen 6:13 And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.

Gen 6:14 Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch.

Gen 7:4 For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth.

Gen 7:5 And Noah did according unto all that the LORD commanded him.

Gen 7:7 And Noah went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him, into the ark, because of the waters of the flood.

Gen 7:10
And it came to pass after seven days, that the waters of the flood were upon the earth.

Gen 7:16 And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the LORD shut him in.

Gen 7:17 And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth.

Gen 7:23 And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained [alive], and they that [were] with him in the ark.

Teach me Lord to abide with You, to willingly wait. For only within Your commandments is there Life. Thank You for Your Word, Lord. Your Word is truth.


P.S. Several hours later...

I've been thinking on just how to abide when one is remaining in that protected place... here's what's been whispered on my heart:

1) Remember the purpose.
- Take stock of what's around me. It's all here for a purpose. For my highest good.

2) Remember why I have the privilege of being in this place.
- I have been saved from certain destruction.

3) Do what I can where I am.
- If I have to abide in this seemingly restricted place, there is still much I can do within these boundaries. In fact, what I can do here and now is more important than what I could be doing elsewhere. Hard to swallow sometimes, but then it's all the more true.

4) Give thanks.
- For my family that is with me. For the experience of this environment. For God telling me ahead of time, wait. I'm communing with The All Mighty!

5) Be willing to adapt.
- If I am really going to successfully wait, I have to be willing to allow God to make changes in my life and in me.

6) Be still and sit at His feet.
- The benefit of being in His presence is peace. Peace can not be found outside of this place.

Thank You, Lord, for being patient with me, teaching me and remaining with me. You are my Peace. You are my Salvation. Help me to embrace Your life saving boundaries.

In Gratitude,

Carmen Sunshine

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Mother Letter

Dear Mother,

I will write this to you, as if to my own,
things that need to be heard, listed, made known.
To you I was given, a small tender babe,
your first to be born, maybe not your first made.
You've chosen others and gone your own way,
but hear these words I have for you, today.

I love you, Mom.

Though you aren't perfect, far from it, yet still,
God in His wisdom, my Mother, His will.
Choices made, mistakes, crimes in our past.
Childish, selfish, bullish and brash.
No, you aren't perfect, but none could more be.
You are my mother, given to me.

I want only to know that you love me, that you loved me first.
That listening and talking and laughing might burst
this fear I have of not being, for you,
all that you would wish for me to.

I am but a child, so little and still,
a mother myself just learning God's will.
Learning and leaning on Jesus, you see.
He died for you, just as He died for me.
So, mother, as you reflect on time wasted, time spent,
think only on things that through it, together we went.

I want to walk with you, talk with you,
to be adored, by you.
Teach me, mold me, make me your own,
claim me and hold me and love me, time sown.
You are my mother, given to me.
Mistakes you will make and together we'll see,
God's grace and good providence for you and for me.
I forgive you, I love you. Please listen to me.
The one thing you have is this time here with me.

Where you may falter and certainly, will fail,
your weaknesses, His strengths, will only reveal.
He made you that I may see Him more clearly still
So need not to be perfect, only follow His will.
He chose you, He made you, this time just for we.
For we to learn from each other, you see.

I need you, adore you, please help me to be
all that my Maker would want me to be.
And though you may flounder and fiddle about,
lay aside each distraction and filter it out.
Look onward, look upward, hold me closer still.
For it is with Jesus' wisdom your heart He will fill.

Though it may seem too late for you or for me,
"Nay" say the Lord, He's still building you see.
Lessons we've learned, more yet to pass.
Please listen my mother, listen, hold fast.

You are my heart that guides me this way,
who teaches and nurtures and holds me today.
None other can quell this need in my heart.
You are my mother, none other, my start.
And though you may not yet know right the way,
please seek Him and search Him and don't go astray.
Little failings refine us, measure each day.
But none other could know me or love me this way.

For you and for me,
we are bound, don't you see.
Embrace me and love me, please don't turn away
or seek pleasure or leisure in others today.
I am here, needing and wanting you to,
and though you may never know just what to do,
keep trying, keep praying, this life just for us,
was wisely chosen long ago, by our good Lord, Jesus.

He made you just for me and me just for you.
He knows the way, He will show you what to do.
So don't fight it or fret it, just come away with me.
Let's frolic and learn and play, can't you see.
That life is for living and that's what we'll do
please share with me your heart, like Jesus does, too.

I love you, Mother. No matter what.

Carmen Sunshine

Monday, February 9, 2009

God Keeps His Promises

A year ago, or so, I had a dream. The Lord told me that I would have one more child and it would be a boy. I remembered this dream, but hoped for a girl.

Once we reached 20 weeks of pregnancy, and searched out the gender as well as health of our new little one, it was determined to be - a girl! How delighted, albeit a bit confused, I was! I wanted a girl. I had asked for a girl. In my wisdom, it was the next right sibling for our family. Yet, I remembered that God had said it would be a boy, but there it was on the ultrasound screen in black and white! A girl... we announced, celebrated, bought girl bedding and clothing, even almost completely determined 'her' name.

After the first ultrasound, my nurse-midwife called to say that my placenta was low and that I was to be put on pelvic rest for 6 weeks until a second ultrasound could determine if my placenta was moving up sufficiently. Six weeks later, ready to know the outcome of the placental placement, I went alone to my follow-up ultrasound.

"He looks good!" the Tech said, reassuringly. Look, there is his head, here is your placenta, we will have to do some translateral views to be sure it's not covering the cervix... "What, a he??" I asked, as even I saw what was decidedly not 'girl parts' flash across the monitor. It was all there in black and white. A boy.

I must have asked her to show me at least six times. Sure enough, there HE was. It was not the sweet little Charlotte I had named and bought bedding for, Easter dresses and blankets for, it was a he. A son. My son.

"You sure are taking this well" the Tech said. I prided myself in that statement, only to find in the grocery store, later, myself almost in tears... my little girl. Lord, you told me it would be a boy... why did you let me think it would be a girl?? I asked, in discouragement.

God Keeps His Promises. This was Dylan's memory verse for Bible Study last week. He's said it over and over this week.

When I knew it was a boy, during the ultrasound, I heard my heart whisper,"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart. and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths." (Pro 3:5-6) What a life lesson.

I trusted what I saw, not what God had whispered to me in my sleep. I believed what was visible, rather than question it because of God's prior promises. I could have saved myself a lot of effort and striving if only I had listened to my heart when it whispered those little boy names, or looked at the boy bedding. But I didn't.

Now, I am facing a larger, more arduous decision making process, an opportunity in faith. My husband feels led to purchase a new home, to move. But where, Lord? Which house? How will we know? When can I find it? I have spent hours online looking at houses, focusing on what I can see and comprehend.

Now, I find myself looking back on another promise the Lord gave me 3 years ago, before we even moved into our current home. That He would give me a specific house, one I had asked for, was what I had whispered to my heart. I had long ago dismissed it, because I could not comprehend it. He would give me a home like that home, but not that house.

Now, I sit back and remember. Lean not on your own understanding. Take hold of it in faith and receive what the Lord has promised you, even if you do not yet posses it, like your eternal body, eternal life in the presence of God the Father. Health and joy, true salvation. Freedom and redemption, complete forgiveness. I have come to see that while I agree that God has made these possible, I have not yet grasped these, received them, in faith. I am completely irrevocably, forgiven. I need not be distracted, and yet I am. Lord, give me eyes to see you and ears to hear you and a heart that follows only after, You. I receive You, in faith.

Lord, thank you for this child in my womb. Thank you that he is all that You have made him to be before the beginning of Creation. May I too develop and grow, mature and be born into this new life, fully, this true life of forgiveness and joy. Thank You, Jesus, for loving a worldly wretch like me. Thank You for displaying your laws as great Grace, guidance for me, along with the ability to follow You, through the power of Your Holy Spirit. Where else could I run??

May all Your promises be found Faithful, as You are faithful. May I grow in faithfulness, too.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Hands of A Child Kit Pack Sale

In the Hands of a Child Kit Pack Sale Announcement

January 12, 2009

Dear Valued Customers,

Due to the new CPSIA law In the Hands of a Child, for the time being, is discounting our Kit Pack inventory in order to lessen our possible loss in the event that an exemption is not granted.
While we are still praying for this situation to work out for all small businesses we feel that it is in our best interest to lessen our possible loss. And what better way than to pass the savings on to you, our wonderful customers, who are praying with us through this difficult situation!!
Please help us clear our shelves and enjoy a 35% savings on all Kit Packs!! Savings will be automatic! Spread the word and help us empty the shelves!!

This sale will continue until our Kit Pack inventory has been exhausted, so purchases will be on a first-come-first-served basis.

Once they are gone, they are gone!

In the event the law is modified, In the Hands of a Child reserves the right to bring back Kit Packs in the future at full price without any discount, implied or expressed, during this sale.
Cannot be combined with any other offer, special, discount, coupon or sale. Super Member discount DOES NOT apply to this sale.Tax and Shipping not included in calculating discount price. Not valid toward prior purchases. No rainchecks.


Help us spread the word by posting the above notice on your blog. Then place an order for at least 1 Kit Pack, email us the link to your blog where the notice is posted along with your order number and your choice of Kit Pack and we’ll add it to your order. How easy is that?

**Please note customer is responsible for shipping costs for free Kit Pack, shipping will be combined with original order if email is received same day as order is placed notifying us of blog posting.