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3 Ways to Spend Time with God

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The Creation of Adam – Michelangelo

How does your family spend time with God?

Our family believes it’s important to spend time with God and I’d like to share three practical ways we do.

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1. Read the Bible – If we want to learn about someone,  we read a biography or an autobiography about him/her.  The same is true about God. The way we learn about His nature and will is by reading the Bible. It doesn’t matter how many chapters you read per day. It’s about spending quality time soaking in the word. There are many translations from challenging King James to simple like The Message. I enjoy New American Standard NASB and the rest of my family likes New International Version NIV.

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2. Listen to Worship Music – We enjoy praising God through music. Today, it’s easy to look up your favorite songs on the internet, listen or sing along. Lately. There is a Cloud by Elevation Worship speaks to me.

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3. Journal– A few years back a pastor friend of our Ken Cornell from Hilltop Ministries taught us about journaling with the Lord.  You simply sit quietly and listen to what the Lord has to say to you. Sometimes, we do this in the privacy of our home. Sometimes, we find a quiet place such as Prayer Mountain or a nook at the beach. It’s a great way to spend intimate time with God as we are in relationship with Him. It’s not just religion.

These are just a few ways we spend time with God as a family and as individuals. I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Feel free to share with us.

Blessings,  Rebecca

A New Year

Staircase at Manresa Beach, California

Staircase at Manresa Beach, California

It’s a New Year! May it be a happy one! It’s a time of reflection of 2015 and to plan for 2016.

I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions; never have. Is that weird? Altough, this year, I’ve decided to give it a try. I am resolved to explore and play more with my family.

During our holiday break, we took the kids to visit some local attractions for which I’ve shared some photos today. For instance, the staircase at Manresa Beach (above) is only 30 minutes from our home, but I haven’t walked them since I was a little girl. It was fun to visit with my now thirteen-year-old son and eleven-year-old daughter, and share some of my childhood experiences with them.

Just a few miles down the road, the topography changes rocky cliffs to sandy dunes at Sunset Beach (below) where we walked one mile + to gather sand dollars and seashells. Simple pleasures!

Walkway at Sunset Beach, California

Walkway at Sunset Beach, California

The stairs are a visual reminder that life is like a path; sometimes steep, sometimes leading upwards and sometimes down. Although, we don’t always see where it may lead, our walk is filled with adventures along the way.

Through it all, the journey is worth every step when you get a glimpse of God’s gifts in your life such as the approaching sunset (below).

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I love the Bible verse in Isaiah 43:19 – See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

My hope is that our family’s exploration and yours this year will create lasting memories…

Blessings, Rebecca

Do you have any New Year’s resolutions you’d like to share with us? If so, I’d love to hear them! Feel free to comment below.

Guest Blog by Fr. Blaine Hammond

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Fr. Blaine Hammond is a Priest in the Episcopal Church, currently working at St. Andrew’s in Ben Lomond, California.  He is married to Dr. Elizabeth Forbes, and they have three children; all in their 40s now.

Before his ordination, he worked several years for the Boeing Company in Everett and Renton, Washington, for the Post Office, drove buses for Seattle and King County, rebound and repaired books at a seminary library in Denver, ran the computer division at a small event management company near Denver, and supervised the Word Processing Department at the JFK Child Development Center, part of the University of Colorado Medical Center, in Denver.

He obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in English from the University of Washington, a Master of Divinity Degree from the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, and a Certificate in Anglican Studies from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, California.

Since being ordained, he has worked for congregations in Lyons, Colorado, Castle Rock, Colorado; Seaview, Washington, and his current position. Also, he has volunteered with congregations in Clayton, California, Alameda, California, Battleground, Washington, and Seattle, Washington.

Fr. Blaine Hammond leads the congregation where I teach pre-school. It’s a treat to watch him tell our little ones about God in chapel each month. Also, he contributes a column in The Piper church newsletter. So, I asked him to share his insight with us this week, and am thrilled to have a male perspective! Please welcome Fr. Blaine Hammond!

Blessings, Rebecca

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A professor of psychiatry and medical humanities at Harvard, Robert Coles, wrote a book titled The Spiritual Life of Children (1990, Houghton Mifflin, Boston).  What interested me about it was the way that he set aside the preconceptions of his profession and listened to the things the children had to say; and having done that, how he worked to understand the ways that children tried to fit their understandings about God and religion into the world they were in the process of encountering and trying to learn about, and vice versa.

My observations of children, having raised three to adulthood along with my wife, have convinced me that children are not simply small, unlearned and incomplete adults.  They are, in many ways, something quite different from adult humans, in terms of the ways their brains and bodies work, and the ways their spiritual lives work.  It is that, I think, that Jesus was talking about when he said that we not only need to be willing to receive children as worthy of our adult attention, we need to learn from them and even try to become more like them if we are to be able to understand and enter the kingdom  of God.

Those can be hard things to think about when a tired, manipulative, demanding, whiny child is interrupting us for the fifth time during a telephone conversation or making our shopping experience a monstrosity.  But when we are not trying to correct, mold or escape from our children, watching them and listening to them can really teach us lessons about looking at, experiencing and thinking about the world in ways we have forgotten.  It can also teach us lessons about what faith, love, understanding and hope mean.

One of the things Dr. Coles reports was a conversation that ensued when a group of children heard an ambulance siren go by outside.  “I noted, yet once more, how often children (like adults) think of God as a judge, a critic, or a benefactor: one who rewards and punishes.  The children also managed to give God a psychology, one not unlike their own.”  They had been talking about a sickbed picture, and the discussion turned to whether God was, or could be, like the doctor in the picture.  Many of us adults have formed enough of picture of God to satisfy ourselves.  I wonder how often we can sit with a child, not to teach the child what God is like, but to listen as they speculate about what God could be like?  Or even to speculate with other adults, or by ourselves, after so many years of having our opinions settled?

We often think we need to protect children against thinking about the difficult things of life.  But they think about them anyway.  Children are right there at ground level, where things  happen that we don’t even notice.  Hidden from our eyes in the grass are dead birds and small animals, which the children discover and wonder about as they play, along with the discarded items of adult life.  What do they think about these things?  How does it affect what they think about God and the world, life and death?  We’ll never find out if we don’t open the subject up with them.

Miscarriage: The Loss of our Baby

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The Ultrasound Technicians slowly moved her wand through the warm gel along my lower abdomen. I watched her face desperately searching for a ray of hope. She turned off the equipment, “I’m sorry Mrs. Krusee, but your baby’s heart is no longer beating.” Water filled my eyes, What! This can’t be happening…I’m only five weeks along!

On my ride home, my mind rehearsed the devastating report. I reflected on the fact we married later in life at age 35, had our son Austin at 36, and tried for over a year to conceive this baby at age 39. My heart sunk!

I shared the crushing news with my husband Randy. We cried, knelt at our bedside and prayed for God to heal our broken hearts, and to bless us with another child.

My doctor suggested I rest my body for 30 days before trying again. I did, and to our surprise the following month, we discovered we were pregnant!

Nine months later, we welcomed our precious daughter Alicia.

Recently, a friend taught me the baby following a miscarriage is called a “Rainbow Child.” I like that analogy of something beautiful following a storm, because she definitely fills our lives with color. Also, I have hope and look forward to meeting our baby in Heaven some day.

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For those of you who have also suffered the loss of a child or struggle with fertility, I want to extend my sympathy to you. I empathize with your inexplicable pain, and pray you find comfort in the loving arms of God during your difficult time.

Blessings, Rebecca

PS

Now available in paperback!

cover-imageI Like to Eat Fruitcover-imageI Like Angels

Children’s Books for Rancho de Sus Ninos

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Our son, Austin, just returned from Tecate, Mexico where he and his entire 7th grade class served at Rancho de Sus Ninos orphanage. What an awesome experience! During their stay, they mixed and poured several yards of concrete, helped clean up the surrounding town, played with the children, and did skits for the community.

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My husband, Randy, also brought clothes down from Dress A Girl Around the World and Dress A Dude as well as some Spanish children’s books. They were well received. In fact, before he left, the Director requested more clothes which we were able to secure this past Sunday.

Today, we received a request for 100 copies each of the Spanish children’s books for their teachers and students. Wow, this is a huge request! One of my favorite speakers, Joyce Meyer, says we should help others when we can. If we simply cannot fulfill the need on your own, she suggests we ask others to help. So, we are asking for your help financially with this request as it is simply too big for our family budget.

Here’s the breakdown:

cover-image Me Gusta Comer Vegetales $10×100=$1,000

cover-image Me Gusta Comer Fruta $10×100=$1,000

cover-image Yo Soy Bonita $10×100=$1,000

cover-image Me Gusta La Playa $10×100=$1,000

Total: $4,000 + shipping (?)

If you’d like to contribute to this cause, you can help by sending your donation to our Paypal account (Randy Krusee) by 5/30/15. Thank you in advance for your generosity!

Blessings, Rebecca

Update 6/2/15

We were able to secure a discount on the purchase price from the printers from $10 to $4 per book. Also, we received a donation from the members of Hilltop Ministries. Thank you! We continue to trust God for the balance to meet their need.

Encouraging Children

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Grab your Bible and a fresh cup of coffee, nestle in your favorite chair and soak up the words from today’s devotion dedicated to mothers.

Today’s Passage

Children are a blessing from the Lord. (Psalm 127:3 NASB).

A Story

On a crisp winter evening, I sat down with my family at our dinner table and posed the question to my then six-year-old daughter and eight-year-old son, “Kids, where would you like to go this year for our mission trip?”

Our youngest thought about it, “I’d like to go to Camp Attitude in Oregon.”

“Great idea Alicia! Let’s go!”

I couldn’t wait to see what was in store this summer. I’d heard some amazing stories from other families who helped at camp in the past.

Two weeks prior, we met at our pastor’s house along with the other volunteers to discuss expectations. “Randy and Rebecca, your family will help the OI children next week. Camp will have a full time nurse and physician on site.” What’s OI?

I learned that  OI is the acronym for Osteogenesis Imperfecta a.k.a. Brittle Bones Disease. These children have extremely fragile bones.  In fact, the previous year, a young boy was rushed to the emergency room for a broken arm from falling off a picnic bench. Fortunately, the doctors placed a cast on his shattered bones and he returned to camp the same day ready to play.

At Camp Attitude campers attended for free and often their medical foundations pay for their travel expenses. For many parents and siblings, it’s the only time all year they participate in extracurricular activities such as boating, hiking, swimming, etc., because their special needs child requires care 24 hours a day. This freedom is given via their “Buddy” who is assigned full-time to shadow their child.

We headed north to Foster, Oregon. We didn’t know what to expect at camp, because we’d never spent time with disabled children before. How would our kids react? We did arrive with open minds and willing hearts/hands.

After we set up our tent, we headed to the barn. We heard a loud Beep! It was the charter bus arrived from the airport carrying families from the United States, Canada and Europe.

We joined the camp Director, and she assigned our team’s daily chores which included cleaning the mess hall tables before and after meals, scraping plates, washing dishes and scrubbing bathrooms. Austin jumped up, “I’ll scrape the plates, Mom.”

“I’ll help you wash the dishes, Mommy,” chimed Alicia.

The Director then asked if anyone would be willing to haul the trash using their four wheel drive quad runner.

I sheepishly raised my hand, “I have a motorcycle license.”

“The job is yours,” she smiled.

I grabbed the keys, stepped outside and found a heap of waste and recycle next to a new quad runner.

We pitched the trash in the modified trailer. I fired it up the engine. “Jump in family. We’re going for a ride.”

With Austin on my right fender and Alicia on my left, we made our rounds. Who knew collecting garbage could be so much fun?

The next day, while clearing tables, I saw Alicia pushing a little girl in a wheel chair on a special swing. She ran up to me, “Mom, I helped Rachel. She needed a push.”

“That’s awesome! Good job Alicia!”

The week whizzed by. On our last night, we watched the camper’s talent show. It warmed my heart to watch my kids cheer on their new found friends

The next morning, the campers were bused back to the airport. Our team of eight volunteers was assigned one final task; to clean all the cabins and restrooms which accommodated 120 campers.

Five hours later, my sore body emerged from the last cabin. All done!

I’m grateful my family and I served together at Camp Attitude. We met a lot nice people, learned about special needs families and worked together as a team.

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Since our visit to Camp Attitude, I’m more aware of other’s needs. I don’t get it right every time, but it’s my heart’s desire is to be a conduit of God’s love.

Moving from praying to action requires planning. Here is some ways we can help others.

  1. Pray Pray God would show you who needs encouragement today. I often find these are my own children, friends’ children, my children’s friends, co-workers’ children, neighbors, my students or even Facebook friends’ children.
  2. Take Action I look for ways to encourage people God has placed in my life. Truth be told, this requires thought and energy. For instance, if I send an encouraging note, it requires that I have stationary and stamps on hand. You too can prepare things in advance you may need to encourage someone such as casseroles, gift cards, clothing, household items, etc.

God has placed children in your life. Who needs your encouragement today?

Let’s Pray

Dear Lord, I want to reflect your love to my child(ren) as well as other children. Give me eyes to see, ears to listen and hands to take action.

In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Your Turn

What is the one way you can love or encourage your child(ren) in your life today?

More

Looking for a good read about being the Mom God designed you to be? Read The Confident Mom – Guiding your Family with God’s Strength and Wisdom

My Miracle

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It’s been a few years since I talked about this very personal story, because my eyes still fill with water when I think about it. However, I wanted to share my trial and blessing with you this week to possibly encourage someone who may be struggling with a similar issue.

In 2007, my husband and I desperately wanted to have a second child so our son would have a sibling to play with. We were nearly forty-years-old and the physicians test you for everything under the sun once you’re over the age of 35. It’s scary how they tell you the risk of Spina Bifida, Down Syndrome, Gestational Diabetes, etc.  But, we were trusting the Lord in all aspects of this pregnancy, “Children are a gift from God.” -Psalm 127:3

In the Fall, we conceived only to lose our fetus just five weeks into our pregnacy to a miscarriage. We were devastated, and prayed we’d get pregnant again very soon. And, we did!

During my first trimester, my OBGYN found a spot during a routine exam. Three long days later, he called to say it was cancer and would require immediate chemotherapy and radiation treatments. After hanging up the phone, I slid to the floor and wailed. This can’t be happening to me…I’m pregnant!

After careful research, I discovered the dosage necessary to kill the cancer cells would cause my body to reject our child. Distraught is an understatement on how I felt.

Later that night, Randy and I read in our Bible “If anyone among you is sick, let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.”- James 5:14

The next day, we took our then eighteen-month-old son, Austin, and met with our pastors at church. One anointed my head with Holy Oil from Jerusalem while five others knelt at my feet. They prayed I would be cured and that we could keep our baby.

We waited two tortuous weeks for an update from my Specialist. Unbeknownst to me, each night Randy would grab his pillow and hit the couch unable to sleep. He prayed for God to allow him to keep his wife and child.

The call finally came. My Oncologist announced he collaborated with seven other colleagues, and they decided to surgically remove my tumor. I could then begin treatment after our baby was born. Yeah, we get to keep our baby!

I underwent two surgeries; one in March to remove the cancer spot and one in May to verify “clear area.” When they went in the second time, to their amazement, it was all gone. My doctor told me it was a “miracle,” and I was cancer free. In fact, he was so pleased with the lab results, he canceled my post-delivery chemo and radiation treatment. Glory to God!

In September 2004, we welcomed a healthy baby girl named Alicia Lee Krusee to our family!

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Fast forward ten years, I am happy to report that I’m still cancer-free, and our daughter Alicia is thriving 5th grader. She is a firecracker! Praise God for answered prayer!

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A Time For Everything

A TIME FOR EVERYTHING

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. – Ecclesiastes 1:1

One of the things I love about Spring is everything comes alive. The sun peaks out of its winter blanket, the flowers bloom, newborns arrive and the outdoors brim with activities.

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I muse watching my pre-school class frolic with insects. It’s especially fun teaching them about the miracle of metamorphosis where a caterpillar transforms into a beautiful butterfly. When we read Eric Carle’s book, “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” they burst out with laughter after the hungry caterpillar eats too much and is bulging.

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Spring also hosts Easter which makes me believe God can take dead things and make them alive again.

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I don’t know about you, but for me it’s often hard to look for the rainbow when you’re in a storm.

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As the season progresses, I’ve made a conscious effort to look for God’s hand at work in nature, my life and other’s lives.

I saw His work in nature during my husband and I’s recent visit to Rio Del Mar Beach to study the Bible. As I watched the waves crash, I remembered in His Word, God tells the ocean how far to go.  Amazing!

As we soaked up the sun, God blessed us with a pack of humpback whales that spy hopped and cleared their spouts as they passed by.

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Then, there is His work in my life. Lately, I believe the Lord is teaching me to be thankful in all situations. My son, Austin, read II Timothy to me a few days ago where Paul reminds us that if we have food and clothes, we ought to be content. Ouch! True confession – I have a restless heart that longs for more, and often must remind myself to be happy with what I have.

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Finally, there is His work in the lives of others as evidenced in the life of Bethany Hamilton whose story was portrayed in the movie, Soul Surfer. She was viciously attacked by a shark and lost her left arm as a result.

Fast forward ten years, she’s married, has a baby boy, continues to surf, and is filming a new movie. It’s awesome to see how God is working in her life!

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Today, as I think about the various seasons, I’m reminded that God has taken my highs and lows, and weaved them into a colorful tapestry called life. I pray He’ll continue to give me insight into His plan and purpose for me and my family. I eagerly await His beckon, “Come and taste that the Lord is good.”

Reflection: Ask God to remind you of a season in your life He’s brought you through. What did you learn as a result?

Prayer: God, please help me to embrace the seasons of life as they are a part of your plan.