Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Boxing Match with a Hot Water Heater

If you follow me on Facebook then you’ve probably heard about Dan and my recent adventure with the water heater. Really it was more Dan’s adventure. It amazes me when you own your own home how much your thrust at learning some skills you wouldn’t have learned before like plumbing and carpentry. Our house is 24 years old and the hot water heater had never been replaced. Dan was cleaning out the garage a few weeks ago and suddenly saw that our old one was leaking. He was right we needed to replace it, but really I find that such an adult purchase neither of us wanted to purchase. I would have much rather opted for some sparkly shoes and a new dress, but we had to so we did.

When we went to Lowe’s to investigate we learned that it would cost us $400 just to have it installed. Really? $400? The water heater didn’t cost $400. Dan took one look at it, and figured he could probably do it. So we had to rent a truck to get the new one here, only to find out someone had seemingly dropped the new one because it was smashed. Then we had to exchange the new smashed one for a new non smashed one. I had hoped that was the end of the hot water heater drama, but then we needed to get it installed.

I have to give my husband credit. He was doing everything he knew to do, and I appreciate the people that were praying for us last week as Dan started to box/wrestle with the new hot water heater. It’s amazing how God sends help when you need it. The house next door has been empty for two years and the woman who just bought it had her friends up from Miami helping her with the move. The friends are in ministry and just so happen to have looked at Dan struggle and the one offered his help. While it still took both of them two days really to get it working. That man’s help was a God Sent thing. Dan needed the help.

I am very happy to say I have a new installed water heater now. That I really did want Dan to paint it pink and sparkly but I don’t seem doing that any time soon. It’s amazing to me that when you know you need to do something bigger than what you can do; God always provides the extra umph to get you over that. Dan wasn’t sure how he was going to do this, but after about a dozen trips to Lowe’s and getting the extra help, it got done.

Deuteronomy 31:6
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

In ALL situations He will never leave you. That scripture is truth. Whether it’s putting in a hot water heater, or taking a test, or trying to pay off a bill. He is faithful to you no matter where you are today. Trust in Him! He’s sending you more reinforcements than you may realize. He’s got awesome plans for your life. Get Excited.

Monday, October 29, 2012

I'm Sorry to tell you that Your Diamond is Fake

Several years ago I worked in a jewelry sales job, and learned quite a bit about diamonds. I will never forget the day when this customer came in wanting to know the value of a men’s ring. Now I wasn’t allowed to give people values but I was allowed to give them a guesstimate, and I happily went about my work to do so. I love looking at older estate jewelry and the woman seemed like a nice woman.

As her story unfolded it seemed the ring she wanted me to look at had been in the family for over 50 years and it had belonged to her father. Sadly her father had just passed away, and she’d wanted to see what this family heirloom was worth. As I began talking to her I developed a pretty good exchange with her, and I wanted desperately to be able to give her a good amount for her heirloom. She seemed like a nice woman and I felt bad that she’d just lost her father.

The ring initially appeared to be a diamond that I could easily guess at a 1 to a 1.3 carat round set in a yellow gold setting. The first thing I did was to diamond test the piece. You see diamonds are made out of carbon. Carbon puts off heat and you can buy a diamond tester to see if it’s the right temperature for a diamond. Most jewelry stores have them. Moissanite which is a fake diamond will and can also test like one but it’s the first test to start weeding out fakes. It’s not rocket science. My first issue with her diamond is it didn’t test like a diamond.

I looked at her apologetic. “I’m sorry ma’am sometimes this diamond tester has issues. Let me try something else.” She nodded at me. I could tell by her body language our good exchange was heading in the wrong direction. She was beginning to get a little edgy with me. Her body language began to grow tense and she started drumming her fingertips on my counter. Trying to ignore her aggravation, I took the ring and put it under a microscope. Then I noticed there were huge problems with this stone. There was a gash on the top of it, and when I rotated it the cutlet on the bottom was broken. This wasn’t a real stone. It is possible to break diamonds, but it has to be a really hard hit along the planes within the stone. There wouldn’t be a gash in the top, and it would be virtually impossible in a mounted ring that the cutlet would be chipped like it was on this stone.

Not wanting to make eye contact with her, I placed the ring back in her hand, “I’m sorry to tell you that I don’t think this stone is real.” I went on to explain to her why, but she didn’t want to believe me. I can understand if it was an heirloom suddenly being told it wasn’t real would not be the answer you wanted to hear. “Please go ask someone else, and don’t just take my word for it.” I kept trying to add as she began to get very upset with me. I knew it wasn’t real, and I knew any other jewelry person would tell her the same thing, but I didn’t want a scene in the middle of the store.

Many people are like that with their beliefs and their worldviews. They cling onto what they believe to be true. They believe what their generations have told them and when faced with the facts that it isn’t truth or maybe they have been deceived they start to get a little uncomfortable and agitated. They don’t want you to preach the truth because they might find out they were wrong. People want to shy away from absolutes, but they are real. A person will absolutely either go to Heaven or Hell after they die. These are real places and there is no purgatory in between.

This happened in Jesus’ day too. He preached and a lot of people got ticked off. The Pharisees were so convinced they were right, and hearing Him preach truth made them so mad they had him killed. So it really isn’t a surprise if you find yourself in situations where people start attacking you personally because they don’t like you speaking truth.

John 15:18-20 (esv) 18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours”

Some people don’t want to put themselves out there and tell the truth because they don’t want the persecution. I get that argument. I also get there is a way to say something in love instead of acting like a crazy screaming picketing weirdo. Most people don’t know that in my private life I don’t like making waves and I’m not as bold and opinionated as people think…most of the time. But let me ask this to that argument. In the story with the woman believing her diamond was real, don’t you think it was time someone told her the truth. She needed to know. I couldn’t just keep lying to her like every else obviously had. The truth needed to be told.

I don’t enjoy persecution. It stinks! But I also know that I have to give an account for my life one day in front of the thrown of Jesus. We will all have to do that. If I keep lying to people though I know the truth I am going to have to give an answer to God one day about that. If I have to choose between getting persecuted on the earth or having to try to give God some tired measly excuse that won’t hold any weight in heaven, I’d rather opt for the persecution on the earth. Life is too short to live a lie. This isn’t about earning a spot in heaven, Jesus did that for us on the cross, but this is about living a life realizing there is a lost and dying world out there and just because you might be saved doesn’t mean the rest are saved. People need to speak up and start speaking the truth in love! At the end of the day I have to answer to God for the life I lived. His opinion means more to me than the people on the earth.

Remember He has awesome plans for your life. Get excited.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Wrestling in the Garage with a Purple Plastic Toy Bin

Dan and I discovered on Sunday that our hot water heater was about to breath its last breath and we needed to replace it. As a result we’d moved all the things out from the old one so that we could see if any amount of TLC or CPR could get the old one to work, but realistically the thing is 24 years old and it is getting replaced. We have this big plastic purple plastic toy bin that got moved into my path in all the poking and prodding of the old water heater.

So late Sunday night not thinking that the purple plastic toy bin had been moved in my way to get to the washer and dryer, I made my way out to the washing machine with a pile of dirty laundry. I wasn’t paying any attention. I was caught up in my own little world, and I had an impromptu wrestling match with the toy bin. Dirty laundry went flying, my feet went airborne, and I’d like to think that it was me that one that match. However if we count scratches I may have to concede that it was the toy bin. I had scratches and scuff marks up and down both my legs when all was said and done. I felt like a dork for not watching where I was going, and I found I had a husband who was trying his best to be supportive and not laugh.

It’s all too often that we go through life like this. We aren’t paying attention to what is going on around us. We assume that our pathways are clear, and we’re walking with a giant pile of dirty laundry in front of us. We get lost in our own world and the next thing we know we’re wrestling things that if we would have just paid attention to we could have avoided.

1 Peter 5:8 (NIV)8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Now I’m not saying it was some demonic plan for me to crash in the garage. That was my own doing. But what I’m saying is things in life happen that way. The devil will try to throw things in your path to trip you up. We have to be in prayer. We have to be alert so that if anything is in our path we can’t see we can hear God tell us to take two steps to the right.

Isaiah 45:2 (KJV)

I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron

We must be alert to move when God says to move. God does have awesome plans for your life. Get excited.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Getting Back to Your Roots

My oldest daughter is working on a history fair project and she had to pick a turning place in history and do a project on it. I jumped at the chance to get her to do a project on Vietnam. As many of you know my dad was a grunt soldier in the war and essentially it’s my dad’s story that God used to get me writing.

Watching her interview my dad and me has opened up some great dialogue in my house. It’s reminded me yet again why I am so passionate about talking about my father’s story and one day getting my book about him published. I want the next generation to know what happened. It’s something deeply rooted within me. It’s also making me want to dust off my first book again and see if I can generate any interest in it in the world of publishing.It can be easy when you go through life to get so caught up in the current project that you lose sight of the foundational things that are within you. But you need to take moments to reevaluate in life where you are and where you are going. You need to remember the points in life when you knew that you knew God had spoken to you and stay on course to those things.

In the Old Testament there are many times when they are making monuments to something happening so that they can remember God’s faithfulness. (Genesis 31:46-47, Joshua 4, 2 Sam 8) We all have monuments in our own life. I want to encourage you today to remember God’s faithfulness in your life, and remember your destiny. Don’t veer off course, but go forward in what you know He has said. Trust in Him. He has awesome plans for your life. Get excited!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

When Lightning Struck My House

When Lightning Struck My House

I’ve probably told this story before, but I was reminded of it again this morning and some stories are just worth repeating. When my husband and I bought our home we spent more than we wanted. The very first time I walked into my master bathroom I had the biggest desire to start remodeling it. Of course when you buy a new home you think of all the projects you want to do and can’t. We knew it may be awhile until we got to the bathroom remodel.

About six months after we purchased the home, we found ourselves at church one night listening to our pastor preach about “praising the Lord in the midst of all circumstances.” Sure that sermon sounded nice and happy, but we didn’t know what was waiting for us at home. Central Florida is one of the top lightning strike capitals of the world, and our home that night was a target. The strike went through my water pipes, and busted them out so that when we got home water was filling my master bathroom. It blew out the phone, our TV, our washer, our stove, and sent burn marks up a mirror. The strike was so bad one of our neighbors was at home and found the tires on his car melted to his driveway.

Sure when we got home I panicked. I’m a bit on the dramatic side. I wanted to scream and think about all we lost and how were we going to pay for all of this. In a moment of desperation I remember the words my pastor had preached. My family choose to praise God, knowing that somehow God would make all of it work out.

In the end the house insurance paid for my bathroom remodel, the ripping of all the water pipes in my home, and when all was said in done God was able to use what seemed like a tragedy and turn it into a blessing.

Romans 8:28 (ESV)

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

So often we like to quote this scripture but my question is deep down when we’re seeing water shoot outs of our walls, our kids acting wacky, or our bills piling up do we really believe that scripture. I’ve seen God take the worst situations and turn them into testimonies. That doesn’t mean he makes bad things happen. Nope. But he can take the bad stuff and turn them to good. Trust Him today, no matter what you’re dealing with or what you’re facing. God can turn it all around. Here is a song that I’ve been listening to lately. I’m a huge Misty Edwards fan, and I think it sums it all best

Remember He has awesome plans for your life. Get excited!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Laundry Chute

My grandparent’s house growing up had a laundry chute. I can remember thinking that this was one of the coolest inventions ever. You could put the clothes in the chute and they went down to the basement where the washer and dryer was kept. I realize this seems like such a small thing, but it amazed me as a child. The chute was a straight shot to where the clothing had to go. My grandmother used to joke and call it the “magic chute” because the clothes when down dirty but came back clean.

Grandma’s laundry chute was a way to have a straight shot to where the clothes needed to go. Likewise prayer is the same way with God. It’s all too often we whine and complain because we want and need the guidance from God and we just don’t seem to be getting it the way we think we need. But to address that question, how’s your “laundry chute” to God these days? Are you seeking his face in the matter or merely complaining about it? Is your chute a two way street or are you merely throwing all the dirty laundry in it and slamming the door?

Jesus taught us how to pray in the Bible.

Matthew 6:9-13 (ESV)

9 Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name.[a]

10 Your kingdom come,

your will be done,[b]

on earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread,[c]

12 and forgive us our debts,

as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil.[d]

Prayer is fellowship with God. It’s communion with God. It’s talking to Him like you would a friend and expecting a response. It’s not a bunch of thee’s and thou’s.

So check your laundry chute today. Is it full of dirty laundry, and might need cleaned out, or is it an open line of communication? Remember God has awesome plans for your life. You need Him to help you get there! You need Him in your life! Get excited!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Silver Haired Socialite

Once while I was in New York City I happened to walk by this woman who I could easily assume she was some kind of heiress or socialite. Her hair was perfectly styled and cut. It was the prettiest shade of grayish silver. Somehow she’d managed to find a fur coat that was the exact shade of her hair. She wore it with a grace as she walked down Broadway. But she didn’t stop there. Her high heeled designer shoes were the exact same color as the coat and her hair, and if that wasn’t enough the dog she was walking was the exact same shade of silver. I couldn’t help but take a moment to look at her. I had to wonder did she go to get that dog on purpose to be the exact shade or was his hair dyed to match. It was an impressive sight walking down New York City for this country girl. On the outside she seemed every bit of a classy woman. This incident was probably 14 years ago, and it’s weird to me that I still remember it.

We are a society that looks towards the outside. We assume just because someone looks well put together then they must be on the inside. We worship beauty, fashion, and style and make our assumptions all the time in our minds. While yes, it is important to look nice, and put your best foot forward you have to remember while society may do that God looks on the inside.

MATTHEW 33: 25-27 (KJV)

25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. 27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”

I don’t know where that silver haired socialite was with God. But the thing is, it doesn’t matter how well put together she looked, God knows what is behind all of that, and He sees her heart. We have to try to remember that in our lives. We have to try to remember that just because a man wears a suit and tie doesn’t mean that underneath all of that pompous business attitude there may be a man that desperately needs a touch from God. We have to remember the cashier who always seems frazzled at the supermarket may just need a word from the Lord. We are to be God’s hands and feet upon the earth. We have to remember that it’s not just about what’s on the outside. We have to discern what God is saying and not just what we see on the outside. God has a way of pushing back the smokescreens, and allowing His truth to be revealed.

God does have awesome plans for your life. Get excited.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Hurry it UP!!

It was a rough morning in the Aquino household today. Last night I had preached in Lake Mary and probably left a little too late, and my kids got to sleep and hour and a half past their bedtime. Though I do think they napped in the car ride home. I felt sympathy for them, so I let them sleep in 30 minutes later than usual thinking they could hurry up and get ready for school. Maybe for one of my kiddo’s that would have worked, but the other one was having issues. It got down to the wire, and I was yelling. We had 12 minutes to go, and I the youngest still hadn’t gotten ready. So I started to help her, and exactly at the last minute we pulled out the drive.

I am not of fan of last minute, rushing, freaking out, and getting ready chaos. I like all of my ducks in a row, and I like to have everything ready to go so that when it’s time for something to happen the transition is smooth. While God is NOT a God of chaos and disorder, He does sometimes wait until what you feel is the last minute. He’s quite notorious on waiting until the “midnight hour”. It’s not that God is messing with you or playing mind games on you, but consider it a lesson in faith. God is always on His timing. He is never late. He wants you to know that you can trust Him, and all will be well.

You have to always trust God that He will come through.

Isaiah 55 8:11 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.

9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts.

10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven

and do not return there but water the earth,

making it bring forth and sprout,

giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,

11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;

it shall not return to me empty,

but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,

and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

I did finally get my kids to school today, and we ended up laughing in the car. I suppose the memories of me threatening to send them to school without their shoes on if they don’t hurry up and get them on may cause for some good comedy relief when they get older. I know I shouldn’t threaten….and no I wouldn’t send them to school shoeless.

Trust the Lord, it will all work out. He will come through, even if it feels like it’s at the last minute. It will be well. Remember He has awesome plans for your life. Get excited.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Skype Interview

Thought I'd send this out to all of you. This interview worked out well, I think.

Have a super awesome rest of your week, and remember God has awesome plans for your life. Get excited.

Monday, October 1, 2012

So Much Junk

Yesterday it became apparent that it was past time for us to go through my youngest daughter’s toy bins. Like many children you can easily find an enormous collection of junk. It isn’t usable toys. It’s pieces of broken toys, random art projects, lost crayons, and Barbie Doll shoes. From two toy bins we took out three garbage bags of trash. On a very positive note we were able to combine the two bins into one and did go through a collection of junk where my youngest found long lost items she’d forgotten about and we put a few good items on craigslist.

As I plowed through piles of junk I began to think about how these toy bins are so much like our own lives. We can get caught up on doing things in life and forget about all the broken places. We can just start avoiding those random things and push them aside. We can forget to continue to “clean” out our emotional and spiritual closets until there is so much junk that we have no choice because the junk is running over.

I remember singing this Psalm over and over again as a little Lutheran girl in Waldo OH.

Psalm 51:10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

We need to continue to cry out that God would clean out our heart. We need to continue to check in our lives places that we may have allowed the junk to overflow. We need to be aware that procrastinating on getting the junk out just makes the task appears to be all the more overwhelming.

As we cry out for God to create in us a clean heart, He will show us the areas that need to get worked on. We just have to listen. Remember He has awesome plans for your life. Get excited.