Friday, February 20, 2015

International Pen Pal/Box Swap*Bringing the Beauty of Our Worlds Cultures To Avacake

Hello friends!  I am so excited to write this post and I really hope that it brings with it some success!  Today Avagrace and I had very limited schooling but the schooling that we did do inspired something that I think is going to be amazing.  You see she had a very difficult day with seizures and some other health concerns that I will talk about at another time.  It is still a bit much to take in but after consulting with her "team" of doctors both here and in Texas who were all speaking and emailing one another which is why I call them a team, they truly are phenomenal and the biggest blessing that we have being in Oklahoma, we finally were able to hammer out a plan and a back up plan that everyone was comfortable with.  These plans were being discussed from 10am until literally 8:30pm, well after office hours.  Our doctors are true gems!  But enough of that, this is a fun, light, airy blog today :-) and I hope that my excitement spreads!

So in between seizures and sleep I decided that I would make the most of the awake time that I had with Avagrace today by accomplishing some school but making it fun.  This is always my goal but some subjects are much easier for me to make fun than others. (cough math cough....).  Sociology and Cultural Studies, now that is GOLD for mama to dive in to and spend great lengths of time teaching.  My kids have always loved to learn about children in other countries.  We had a series of DVDs before the fire that featured a country and then several different children from across the county would tell us what a typical day was like in their life and location.  My kids loved them and so did I.  I cannot remember for the life of me who made those DVD's or where I got them, but they were treasured!  Can you guess what the first country was that I purchased?  If you can leave a comment.  I will tell you at the end of the post so no cheating/peeking :-)

Today we talked a lot about Japan.  At one point we had orders to move to Japan and we were so ecstatic!  But at the last minute the plug was pulled and we were told that we could not move because of the seizures.  It was obviously a total God thing that they cancelled our orders because just a few short months after we would have moved is when Avagrace's conditions went from being something that we could live with, with very little intervention-to her being in the hospital for months not knowing if she was going to come back home.

Anyway, I have been learning more and more about some of the Asian countries on my own (all sparked from my interest in their amazing beauty products!) and so I thought it would be fun to share with her some of the things that I have been learning. Then we could look up on my computer what kids are in to and how their school system works etc.  After watching a few videos on YouTube we were hooked.  Avagrace was so excited.  She fell in love with their current squishy fad.  If you follow her Facebook page then you may remember her bag that she carried with her to every appointment.  In it there was a heart shaped stress ball "squishy" that she used when getting blood work or going through tests that she wasn't fond of.  She also used it for therapy purposes after certain types of seizures.  When she saw that there are a plethora of squishy's including but not limited to cupcakes and characters she was so excited.  On top of that some of her very favorite movies are made by Studio Ghibli and Disney (like her very favorite Ponyo).

Then she saw some kids sharing their favorite candies and foods and if you know Avagrace you know that she not only loves to eat food, watch cooking shows, but she also loves to cook.  Before the fire we had so many different types of "Baby Cakes" type machines that were safer for her to use to cook than a stove top that she could fall on if she started to seize.  Even my super mom reflexes are not enough to make me comfortable enough to allow her to cook on a gas stove.  When we move back home and have the electric stove we will start cooking together again, but with an open flame I didn't want to risk anything.

So Avagrace said to me that she wanted to try candy's, treats, and good for you snacks from "all of the countries."  She then added, wouldn't it be so much fun to get a box with those things and some small toys and sometimes "fashion" from "all of the countries?"  Her whole face just lit up when she was telling me her idea.  She immediately thought of Breya and how much she loves Paris and all things fashion.  "Maybe Breya could get a shirt or dress from Paris...or something with Paris words on it."  :-)   We looked up a few sites that offer international subscription boxes.  And we found some sites that sell things like the "squishies."  But the more I looked the more I thought about her idea.  She really wanted to have an experience and a connection.  And all of the options that I was finding were just...what is the word...generic?  UnAuthentic?  Disingenuous?  They seemed to be lacking the heart and soul of the childhood experience just as much as the authenticity of choices made by locals.

SO, here is my hope.  (If you don't have kids I have an option for you too if you want to participate) My hope is that we can meet some friends from across the globe that want to participate in a box swap.  We will set up the specifics together but basically we will be sending a box of our favorite "All-American" treats, from edibles to play things, stickers and bobbles and if you have anything you want we can arrange that too (within reason of course).  Even if you have a "taste" that is unusual/acquired or a "dare you to eat this" thing like America's current obsession with bacon everything.  The point is to make it fun, educational, and personal.  So the MOST IMPORTANT PART is to include a single post card or a picture or two of the places in your area or even famous landmarks (they do not have to be famous it can simply be a picture of a park, the front of your school, a little shop, your favorite restaurant, the sky is the limit...well maybe not the sky (unless it is the Northern Lights or something unique like that lol).  Then write a little note about the post cards or your day or what your have included.  Just to make it personal.

Edited to say this..."I just went back to check on Avagrace and on her bed table she has a "life list" that we started when she was placed on Hospice care last year.  It has only a handful of items on it as she is not a child to ask for things.  Even when it is time for her birthday we have to pry out of her what she would like, several of my children are like this but she is definitely the child who is the least me-focused.  Anyway, on her little list of dreams that I fervently want to help her accomplish as soon as possible, she added "boxes shareing with new friends in all of the countrees" except there wasn't an "o" in countries but it looked to vulgar to write and I didn't want to get flagged lol.  and now back to your regularly written blog post....

We will then FILM our unboxing and if you want we can do a second filming of the tasting of certain treats.  We will share them on our YouTube channel and we will only say your name if you tell us too.  It would be great to see you or your kids unboxing your United States/Oklahoma edition boxes from us too but you do not need to feel obligated to do that.  This is meant to be fun and pressure free.

I have several military friends that are stationed overseas and I can only imagine the things that you miss.  Hint Hint Hint :-)

So what if you are reading this and do not have kids but are just as excited as I am?  You are MORE THAN WELCOME to participate too!!  Everyone has had a childhood and everyone still has a different degree of being a kid at heart.  You can either participate by box swapping or by preparing a box and we will pay for it (of course the goal is to be as thrifty as possible as we are on a tight budget, but all of this will be sorted out before hand).

So what do you say?  Who wants to participate in a International Box Swap?  Please send me a message on our Facebook page and we can get this party started!!  :-)

Also, the first country was my beloved Finland!  Have I mentioned that I had the fantastic blessing of being an exchange student when I was in High School, thanks to my amazing single mother?  I was able to live with one of the sweetest families ever and meet some of the greatest people that I have ever known.  I learned about a country that I think the world would gain much by adopting some of their practices and I dream of the day that I will be able to take my family there for an extended amount of time.  I still keep in touch with my friends in Finland thanks to Facebook and if I could be a dual citizen I would in a heart beat!    *One interesting fact, you may know that Nokia is from Finland but did you know that Finland is the country that the EmFit monitor was invented?  That is the monitor that is on Avagrace's bed that alerts us of seizures!  See, Finland is Awesome in countless ways!

"I Can't Find A Home Church, Do I Really Need One?" Part 3 & 4 Why Church is Vital & Do Not Be Discouraged!

So I promised you yesterday that I would tell you the story of "How I became a Christian aka my first time at church as an adult."  I was 19 years old and pregnant with my first Child.  I was a single mother and I was pagan.  I was raised in a home where we went to a Lutheran church religiously when we were younger.  My mom worked there during the week as they had a day care center in the building.  My grandparents went every Sunday religiously and my grandmother would go early enough that she would get the same pew every single week.  We lived quite a ways away from the church so we didn't go every Sunday but until I was in 6th grade we went regularly and participated in choir.  However, we never felt welcomed there.  We would sign up to volunteer in certain areas and even though we were never called to help, we would continually hear from the pulpit that volunteers were needed.  It was also the place where the bullies from my school went and instead of being nicer at church, they were so much worse during choir and Sunday School.  But I always wanted to be closer to God.  I would attempt to read the Bible in early elementary school when I had no idea what it was saying or what it meant.  I would pray that my mom would send me to private school so that I could wear the "religious uniform" and "be around genuine Christians."  I always wanted to be good. When my parents got a divorce and my sister and I became teens we were more distant from the church and would only go on Holidays or occasions where our grandparents would ask us to attend.  Admittedly, the youth group, although filled with kid who made it a point to make me feel unwelcome or ridiculous, was run by the pastor whom always showed love.  He would make big pancake and egg breakfasts for the youth group sometimes before school.  When he ran the breakfast I would walk to youth group then but after a few times of attending only the breakfast, I stopped attending all together.  It just didn't feel right to be part of something halfway.

From the time I was very small I was also interested in witches and magic, nature, animals, and a deep desire to protect them and our planet.  So in High school when I met some students from two different schools that were pagan I was intrigued.  Around this time I also had developed a genuine love for philosophy.  The more I read, the more I felt like I had finally belonged somewhere.  This religion was proclaiming itself as an anti-religion (practice based on tradition or obligation) and it was all about "if it harm none, do as you will"  furthermore, it was gentle and kind to animals and our planet.

When I became pregnant I was in the army and was the only chaplains assistant to ever proclaim my religion as "wiccan."  Yet the chaplain that I worked under was Baptist.  One day we sat down and talked about why I was wiccan and what I loved about it, if there was anything that I didn't like, and if I knew anything about Baptists.  He never tried to convert me and he welcomed my input during prayer meetings and other chaplain led events.  He even let me lead a non-denominational worship group.  It was very encouraging.  Too soon my time in the service was over as September 11 had just occurred and by being a single mom I was looking at either leaving my newborn to fight overseas or accept an honorable discharge so that I did not have to leave him.  I had always wanted to be a mom and was told that I would never conceive, so I choose to stay with my miracle baby.  I moved out of my moms house and into my own apartment and started teaching special needs students in a all-inclusive preschool.  A church in my area was offering a sign language class for free and so I jumped at the chance so that I could better teach my students.

Ironically, the church that hosted this event was a church that my dad took me to for a short time after my parents divorce.  This church actually had a daddy daughter dance when I was in sixth grade.  My dad had purchased this knee length prom-type dress for me to wear.  It was forest green, my favorite color at the time, and it was the most thoughtful present he ever purchased for me.  But I was so embarrassed because I was way over dressed for this small-church occasion.  Yet every single one of the girls at the party were gracious and kind and complemented me even though we both knew that it was more than a bit much.  I was blown away with how sweet everyone was.  We went to the church for a few weeks and then, my dad fell away again.  He was a smoker and someone felt comfortable enough to encourage him to quit smoking, that was the last time we attended.

Being back at the church felt so nostalgic and sweet.  I remembered all of the programs that they had for kids and how all of the kids seemed to not only love being there but genuinely wanted to love the Lord and the world the way that the Lord would want them to do.  Remembering this made me realize that I didn't want to force my child into one religion, that I wanted him to experience other churches so that he could choose what to believe.  (In my years of searching I had been to a Jewish ceremony, Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, Orthodox, American Baptist, AME/African Methodist Episcopalian, Episcopalian, and Wiccan "churches" with friends).  So after a few Sundays I worked up enough courage to visit this church that had such great children's programs so that I could give my child the chance to form his own opinion on religion.

I sat in the very last pew, without a Bible, mouthed the words to the songs that were catchy but that I had never heard, and then listened as a new pastor was giving his first sermon to the church.  He was going to be voted on to see if he was the new pastor of the church or not.  But all I knew at the time was that he was a guest preacher and he was speaking of truths that I had never heard a Christian own before.  He spoke of three chairs and how Christan's fit one of three chairs.  I am probably going to butcher this (it was twelve years ago) so I am only going to give you the gist and hopefully get the "chairs" right.  Basically the first chair is for the Christians that show up on holidays and special occasions, that have a Bible or maybe don't, but if they do it just sits in its spot and looks nice.  The second chair is for the people who go to church on Sundays, follow along with their Bibles, go to Sunday school and learn the stories.  They listen and participate in service but after that they are done with their obligation.  The third chair is for those who actively want to know God.  They come to church eager to learn, they volunteer for things, they read their Bibles throughout the week and meditate on the lessons from the weekend prior.  They try to show Christ's love to others in the work place and in their daily actions.  They are on fire for the Lord.  The second chair is luke-warm Christians, and the first chair are people who do not have a relationship with Christ.

I was blown away.  He was admitting to all of the hypocrisy that I grew up hating about Christians.  He was talking about everything that pushed me away from God.  And he pointed it back to me.  Was I willing to let what others did/do dictate what I was going to choose for my life.  After hearing him speak I was never the same.  But it wasn't just his words that moved me.  During the "greeting" when you are supposed to shake hands with those around you, it wasn't a race to see how many hands you could shake.  And it wasn't a "shake hands with my family/friends that I am sitting beside and talk about something so nobody in front of or behind me turns in my direction and expects me to extend a hand."  People were actually walking around, shaking hands with familiar faces and stopping to talk briefly before moving on to another.  I had several people shake my hand and welcome me to the church.  You could tell that they genuinely wanted to welcome me.  Then something even more special occurred.  At the end of service as everyone was leaving I had to go up and introduce myself to the pastor.  You see, even though I went on my own desire.  I was a part of the crisis pregnancy center in our town and if you choose to go to church and have the pastor sign your church program you could earn extra points for things that you needed for your baby.  So I figured that I was there for my child anyway, why not be brave enough to say "I need your autograph because I go to the crisis pregnancy center."  It was almost as hard as talking about it on this blog since I have never shared my first pregnancy details publicly.  So when people were leaving the church there was this one girl, I will call her "A" because if she reads this I want her to know how important she is to my story, and her name starts with A.  (I am so original aren't I?)  "A" bolts down the aisle just short of jogging with her hand extending in front of her three pews in front of me and says "HI, I am "A" I am so glad that you could come today, is this your first time here?"  She then tells me all about the Sunday School class for people are age, she asks me to come back next week, and offers her phone number so that I can call her if I need anything.  I was floored.  I had a bigger reception here than my family ever did in the YEARS I had attended the church I went to as a child.  After speaking with her I was very fortunate that there was also a volunteer from the Crisis pregnancy center attending so she walked up with me to talk to the pastor.

After attending for a few months I was put on bed rest due to pre-term labor.  I had ladies bring over books form the church library and other things to keep me occupied while I was resting.  I had people bring meals and keep me company.  And the day that my son was born I had so many visitors that from the moment he was born (there were people in the waiting room) until visiting hours were per that day, I never once had an empty room.  They were there to celebrate his life but to show me that they were going to love on me and my son, we were not alone.  That pastor became and is still the head pastor of that church.  He baptized me when I was 9months pregnant, he dedicated my son, my mom started coming to church and he baptized her too!, he married Brendan and I, dedicated Avagrace, and baptized my sister and brother in law.  Together we witnessed miracles happen in the first years of me becoming a Christian.  I looked forward to being at church every Sunday, Wednesday Night, and many other times throughout the week.  I volunteered in everything from teaching Sunday School to cleaning the Church.  I went to Sunday School and I was part of a women's Bible Study that took place at "A's" house on a different night of the week.  I truly had a "home" at that church.

So that is my story and my ode to what it is to belong to a church.  Without the surrounding of loving, genuine, real people who mess up but seek to continue on Loving God and serving others, than I would not be who I am today.


At some point in your search for a home church you may become discouraged, perhaps even very discouraged.  You may even want to quit and just do worship at home with just your family.  And that may be ok for a while, but without the presence of other believers in your life it is much easier to fall away, be discouraged and lonely, and stagnate in your process of growing in your faith.  It is much like when you plant a garden of vegetables.  If you plant just one vegetable by its lonesome it is more susceptible to being a critters dinner, or to be trampled.  But if you plant a garden with many vegetables, critters still may come but they are much less likely to be trampled.  You will still be hit with temptations, sin, and the feelings of loneliness and discouragement.  But when you are plugged in to a body of believers who become your church family, you are less likely to fall away and more able to handle the challenges that you will face because you have others to surround you and help you through those challenges.  Here are a few scriptures that I read when I am feeling especially discouraged in my search for a church FAMILY.  (Also, if you read 1 Corinthians 11:17-22, you will see that it speaks of believers coming together and while it is a rebuke against the negative attributes that can be given to a church, it is showing us that being a church family who is unified and comes together to care for each other IS THE GOAL!

Hebrews 10:25 English Standard Version 

Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another...

So yes, a church is really needed.  That can come in many forms.  It can be a bricks and mortar type building with a sanctuary and pews.  It can be a rented hotel conference room with a group of like minded individuals that want to worship together and also invite others to attend, it can be a home church with families meeting in each others homes.  But the purpose of church is to worship, study, follow God's will, and uphold each other in the ways of the Lord.  

Obviously, church will look different to everyone but it is important.  So don't give up.  Continue in prayer and deed with the purpose of finding a body of believers that you can come together with for the purposes listed above.  

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Choosing a Church... Part 1 & 2 Where to start and What to look for!

It always amazes me how in tune my sister and I can be even when we haven't talked forever for about a week.  Yet, when are able to talk it as if we are one mind, despite being so very different.  Yesterday she asked me how we go about finding a church in new towns and new places that are not full of the people that we know and trust.  Ironically, for the past few weeks I have been doing a lot of research on churches in our area.  This might seem strange since we have been stationed at Tinker for so many years.  You would think that I would have long ago found a church home.  While it is true that we have found many great churches, we just have not found the place that we are 100% sure or even 75% sure that we are supposed to join.

I look at joining a church this way.  When you join a church and go through the membership classes that churches usually have.  Then you stand in front of the church (not every church does this but some do) and say that you are joining this church family, it is kind of like a marriage.  It is your commitment to be a part of that church.  To love on and in the church.  To pray for its members and get to know them.  To be honest and hold each other accountable.  It is essentially choosing your family.

"Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another." Proverbs 27:17 New American Standard

"Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend." Proverbs 27:17 King James Bible

The first thing I do is pray.  There is nothing more powerful than prayer.  Make a list of things that you desire in a church home, be specific.  Add to that list what you want to be able to bring to that church.  Pray over this list often.  Ask God to show you a church, to bring the church that He would have you to go-to your attention.  Ask for "a burning bush."  But know that even if you ask for Him to guide you with some sort of obvious sign, that may not be the way that He wants you to find your place of worship.  Most of the time, the journey is just as important as the end result, even when you take a long time to find a church.  

The next thing that I do to scope out churches is to do a basic internet search of churches in the area.  At this point, I do not put in denomination, I am simply searching for protestant churches in the area.  I will look over the different websites and see what ministry opportunities they have at their church.  I will read their beliefs.  To me, what a church believes and what they share that they believe (in their mission statement or purpose or simply their beliefs tabs) is more important sometimes than a particular denomination.  It is one of the things that frustrates me actually, that a denominational affiliation does not mean that every church in that denomination will believe or interpret the Bible in the same way.  So just looking at denomination has hurt us in the past.  Also keep in mind that there are plenty of great churches that do not have websites.  So, if I see churches listed in the area search that do not have websites, that does not stop me from calling the church and asking them if they can send me their statement of faith or tell me about the programs that they have.  The only thing I will caution about this method is sometimes, if you already live in the area and you give a church your address you may have strangers show up at your door asking you to come and visit, and sometimes they will do this multiple times even if you say that you have found a different church home.  Of course not everyone does this, but this has happened to us....more than once.  

Another method of finding churches for us is to find what churches teach certain programs.  For instance, we love AWANA and have sadly and ashamedly not been attending for a few years (which is a lot of time when thinking of my young children).  If you go to the AWANA website you can find churches in your area that have the AWANA program.  

Finally, there is also word of mouth.  If you have done everything you can, are already living in the area that you need to find a church, and you just do not know where God is leading you then look to those whom you esteem and ask them for their recommendations.  

The next step that we have tried can also draw a lot of criticism.  I have heard sermons against what I am going to recommend.  The sermons that I have heard have merit.  However, I feel that there is a happy medium.  It is something referred to as "church shopping."  But, if you do not visit a church and pray about your decision to raise your children in that church... if you do not visit a church and get a feel for the warmth or distance of the people in the church...if you do not visit a church and listen to what the preacher is teaching and what the worship and teaching focus is....than you are not making an informed decision on the most important place for socialization, education, and character development in your life. So instead of "shopping" for the church that has the best concert, or the best entertainment, or the best most happy carefree sermons that are easy and don't make you are simply allowing yourself to be led to the church that challenges you, welcomes you, shares your values, stretches you, but also makes you feel at home.  Because that is the goal here, to find a church HOME.  

So what is a church HOME?  That is going to look different for everyone, and no church is perfect.  Churches are simply a body of believers who come together to learn and act on the Living Word!  Church is not about what you get from it as much as it is what you give to God in Worship, in Learning and Applying HIS WORD, and in Being His "Hands" for others.  Being His Hands can be anything from handing out lunches to the homeless, vacuuming the sanctuary, or rocking an infant so that new parents can hear the sermon.  

2 Peter 1:5-11
5Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in yourmoral excellence, knowledge, 6and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, 7and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. 8For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. 10Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; 11for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.

As a parent (especially of young children and those with special needs) the search for a home church is so much more challenging, rewarding, and INTENSE.  Not only are you choosing where you will be influenced, but you are searching for a place where you are going to allow your children to learn about our Savior both in and out of your presence.  There are churches that do not have children's education because they feel it is important for you to have your children with you throughout worship and the sermon.  There are churches who divide age groups for Worship and Sermons from birth through youth group being separate from the main service.  There are churches who have nursery, children's church, and when you reach youth group that is when you attend church.  I could go on.  On of the churches that we love, but isn't home, has a child-watch room for under school age, and a lesson for school age until the age of 7 or 8.  While I do like the model of teaching children and youth according to their "age" it doesn't address the needs of special needs children who are a certain chronological age but are not functioning at that age and instead have a developmental age.  Some churches are fine with having special needs children join wherever they feel comfortable and will learn the most.  Other churches rigidly follow the age rules.  Some churches do not welcome special needs at all because the volunteers are not specially trained.  There is also a church that we love that has a specific room just for special needs children and it is amazing.  It attracts families of special needs children from all over the metro area, some driving an hour, to attend church that will accept and help their family hear the Gods Word without dually focusing on their children and hoping that their children are not distracting others.  

So as you can see, I brought up several factors that are vital in choosing a church.  Something that I just thought of but didn't include earlier is that as a parent that is entrusting the care of their child in the hands of strangers, it is also important to see if the church does background checks on its volunteers.  In this day and age you can never be too careful.  One of the churches that I have worked at had a rule that there always had to be two volunteers (that had background checks) in ever room.  This made bathroom breaks safe, but also protected the teachers as there was always two pairs of eyes and two witnesses if something would go wrong.  In my years as both a parent and in ministry I have seen problems arise that could have been prevented with the proper planning and the willingness of the congregation to serve families, children, and other specific populations within the church.  There is nothing worse than having a church that is full of people who come to church to sit, listen, and leave without making an impact on others.  The other huge turn off for me is a church that preaches fellowship but then is so caught up in acting friendly on Sunday's but not extending the actual heart for friendship with anyone other than those whom they have known for years.  

Without visiting a church and genuinely giving it a true "go at it" over a few Sunday's at least, you will not know what that church is really like.  On the other hand, you may have the experience that I had on the very first day that I went to church as an adult, which is actually how I became a Christian too!  However, if you want to hear that pretty amazing, literally God led story, you will have to check in tomorrow because this blog post is already long even for my wordy standards.  

So as this is a series I want to wrap this up with my point in today's discussion.  What is it that you look for in a church, and how do you go about searching for a church to attend?  Please comment below, I would love to "hear" your thoughts!  

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Book That I Miss the Most

Being an avid reader, life long learner, mom of five children who kept baby books, a homeschooling mom with a library that I was way too proud of, a scrapbooker who had one for each pregnancy-each first year-each year that we have been a family-a wedding book-a pre wedding book-an anniversary book-a goals from our first year of marriage scrapbook (and the list goes on)...  I am also a writer, and someone who has kept a journal since my early years of life; it may be hard to guess which book that I miss the most, or even why I felt the need to share this on my blog.  I mean seriously get over it-the fire was months ago, right!!  

Some of the books I had are not in print anymore.  Some were new and some were from the early 1900's.  I had pictures from WW2 and even earlier than that!  I miss a lot of my historical treasures.  But what I miss most is a living book-a book that is not only the blueprint to life, but a document of my growth and change as a human being.  It was dog eared, highlighted, underlined, stared.  It had paragraphs written in its margins and emoji's drawn throughout.  It had special dates recorded and even dates scribbled under my ah-ha moments.  

If you haven't guessed yet it was my Bible.  And it just so happens that they do not make the version/size/cover that fit so perfectly into my hands and purse and had been worn out to the point of needing one of those covers (that I don't particularly care for) just to hold it together.  This Bible had rear stains on some of the pages, and it had been there for me from shortly after I became a Christian until the day that it was no more.  

For the past several months I have easily replaced our Child Training Bible, and have been using an app on my phone and kindle.  Until I actually broke the app because I wrote too many notes in the "margins" aka note taking portion of the app.  So the app froze and I had to delete it.  I was so upset about loosing all of my notes yet again that I ddecided to renew my search for a replacement Bible that I could hold in my hands and mark to my hearts content.  

I found one that was beautiful and perfect for someone who wanted to take notes.  But all the space for notes cost me the size of the print and apparently I can not read small print anymore haha!  (In reality I can read it, I just do not prefer it, it is just very difficult and not at all what I am comfortable with.  

I remember going through the struggle to find the perfect fit for me when I first became a Christian.  The first Bible that I wanted was a youth/pre teen even, Bible.  Being 20 and pregnant with my first child I was a little embarrassed but I was convinced that I had to start with the "beginners Bible" because that is what I was, a "beginner Christian."  This lasted a few months but then I was so annoyed with the explanation highlights that I knew I just wanted Gods Word and for Him to highlight what I needed to learn/hear/read.  That is when I found my "Perfect" Bible (for lack of a better name because it was in fact-perfect for me.  It was the perfect shape, size, texture, and it had the perfect font and character size.  It had just enough room in the margins and between the lines.  And it had just enough extra info such as maps and other reference material.  As I said before, it fit perfectly in my hands and my purse.  

A few years later my mom sent me a study Bible and I used it in conjunction with my "perfect Bible" and the. I added a multi-translation Bible to the mix.  I love studying and learning.  I had so many Bible Study's that I kept to re read and also to see how God teaches you something new each time you read His word, even if you have ready read that portion or that study before.

But even when I would learn things in studies or through the various other Bibles and translations, my notes would always he cross referenced in my main "perfect" Bible.  So this Bible was in essence my spiritual growth chart and ultimate mirror!  

So last week I decided to pick up the search again.  I went to Mardel (it is the only Christian book store near to me that I know of).  And began the dauntless task of searching through their dozen or so floor to about 6ft tall shelves for the new "perfect Bible.  I debated over which translation to choose, if I wanted a Dynamic Equivelant translation or a Literal translation.  If I wanted giant print  or jumbo print.  I looked at Study Bibles and Traditional Bibles.  Red Letter Bibles and Key Word Bibles.  Then there are Reference Bibles and Hebrew-Greek Key Word Bibles.  It was mind boggling and was literally giving me a headache!  How did I find that little gem of a "perfect Bible" last time and what was it that glued me to that one even after having several different versions for study purposes?  And why couldn't I remember which translation it was?  

In the end, and literally right before I gave up and decided that I wasn't going to get one that day-and that I would just keep filing through what I already had even though it just didn't feel right...I spotted one that was all by its lonesome.  If was  purple color with just a hint of pink, not quite fuscia but almost.  It had a leather cover, was taller than I had hoped but I decided to pick it up.  It had roses on the spine and cover and as I opened up I saw that it was a study Bible.  

Was this going to be one of those that was full of "helps" and "highlights" that seemed to add and detract from The Word?  

I looked through it some more and couldn't really put it down.  The author of the "study" part was someone that I was well aware of and I have listened to his sermons several times.  And it was a Bible geared for women.  And it was on sale (Bibles can be VERY expensive!)

In the end, I decided that I would give it a try!  I am so far very pleased but I am not ready to say that this is my "perfect" Bible yet.   It certainly doesn't fit in my purse and I obviously have not read it completely yet, so I can't speak on the additional Authors lessons.  But for now, I am content and really happy to be in the Word in a non digital way!  

Do you have a favorite Bible?  Do you feel like your Bible is your mirror beyond scripture but because of your transformation and written dialogue on how scripture transforms you?  

I would love to hear your "Bible story" in the comments!