Tuesday, December 30, 2008

More Holiday Photos

Sara-Christmas morning
Heather-The first one up on Christmas morning
Twas the Night Before Christmas
Timmy and Daddy-Christmas Eve
Bradley enjoying the view from the mountain
Joshua and Daniel making their Specialty Pizza
Timmy, Kerry and Dad working on Pizza
Bradley and Timothy

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Merry Christmas from Phoenix

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Cogburn Family. This photo was taken in the middle of the desert. We sat on rocks and sand with the camera propped on a cactus. Enjoy more photos of our first Christmas in the Valley of the Sun!

Friday, December 19, 2008


Yesterday, I wrote about the shepherds and how they were simply minding their own business as they tended to their flocks. I wonder what some of them were thinking about as they stood in the fields? Maybe some of them were burdened and worried about various struggles in their lives. There could have been some who were concerned about providing for their families. I am sure sheepherders probably did not make a large income.

Some of the guys were probably thinking about the Lord, about problems, and other's minds were wandering toward things not of the Lord. Needless to say,it was just a normal, routine evening of the mundane. Then without warning, Hands of Heaven split the sky and Glory came down. It was a moment of the suddenly.

"Suddenly, God's angel stood among them and God's glory blazed around them." Luke 2:9

I think God loves to surprise us with the "suddenly moments". I know that is the case with us lately. And you know when those suddenly seasons come you are caught off guard and you are terrified. Either you are scared silly or you are swept off your feet and overwhelmed with the unexpected arrival of an answer to prayer.

Our move to Arizona 3 months ago was a sudden movement. It was terrifying. One day it was life as normal.John was unemployed for the eighth month and we had no money.Then the day came when the sky split and the Lord came down said something. He said, "Phoenix!" After that, a call came for an interview offered to John in the Phoenix area. We were in shock, a daze of sorts, "Like, what God? No. Surely not. Phoenix? Arizona? No. Now? Surely You are not calling us to move to the other side of the USA!"

Then wham. The job offer came on the spot.The day of the interview. Three weeks later, the Lord picks us up and moves us to the other side of the country. We drive over 1800 miles in an old 15 passenger van filled with kids of all ages and we made it in 2 and a half days.

With such a large family, God has continually tested us in our confidence and trust in Him to provide financially for our family. It is so amazing how jealous He is. That He designs the perfect ways to keep us dependent on Him alone. There have been times when we felt the Lord took His hand off of us.At times it has been difficult to believe that the Lord would make up for losses or deliver provision when there was seemingly no hope.

For example, a few weeks ago we found out that John's company was going to cut his paycheck to pay for the taxes owed on our move out here. It was totally unexpected. We were not done shopping for the holidays. We had bills due, car work needing to be done, and a list of other needs. It was difficult not to worry. It seemed like the same old song.

However, all we could do was keep living life. Continue to move forward and do the daily things we always do. Caring for our family, our little flock. Being sheepherders for the sake of the sheep.

Then suddenly, in the very place of loss and concern, God's glory shines down. Breakthrough arrives. Today, John sent me a text sharing that he received a bonus. It was a huge bonus and he has only been with the company for 3 months. And here I go again! "God surely...what? That much? John's only been with the company 3 months! Is that you God?"

Needless to say, this morning has held another suddenly for our family at a time when we really needed it. This post is not to boast in anything other than a Father who really is trustworthy. Even when we are tempted to become suspicious of God and thoughts of mistrust invade our minds, He still invades the norm and blows our minds in that He is always faithful.

So here is my boast, just as the angels proclaimed, "Glory to God in the Highest!"
No matter where your struggle lies, be comforted and filled with peace in knowing that He has come. He is trustworthy. He is alive and active in your life. Check back soon because I have a lot more to share about these ordinary sheepherders and how we are so much like them. Enjoy your sheep and field today. Merry Christmas.

Morning Bagel- God was not attracted to you and did not choose you because you were big and important-the fact is, there is almost nothing to you. He did it out of sheer love, keeping the promise HE made to your ancestors.God stepped in and mightily brought you back out of the world of slavery, freed you from the iron grip of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know this. God your God, is God indeed, a God you can depend upon. He keeps His covenant of loyal love with those who love Him and observe His commandments for a thousand generations. Deuteronomy 7:7-9 The Message Bible

Daily Hug: Father, I thank you that you are always trustworthy. Even on the days when it feels like my prayers are not heard, You can be depended upon. Help me to stay focused on the reality that You sent Jesus and You gave me eternal life. Since you gave those wonderful gifts, how much more can I depend on You and trust You for everything else in my life. Forgive me Lord for being suspicious and questioning Your goodness at times. Thank you for being so patient and understanding of my fragile heart. Most all, thank you for the gift of your presence. For invading my life and showing up just at the right time. The HERO OF HEROES! You are glorious. May my life be an offering of worship unto You today. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sweet Announcement

One of my most vivid childhood memories was Christmas Eve. My Daddy, Momma, brother and I would go to my Grandparents house for a traditional gathering. My grandmother always served her wonderful tuna dip and chips. She also had an assortment of other goodies awaiting as we arrived. Christmas tunes would be playing on their top of the line turn-top stereo.

We would just stand around, eat, talk and laugh. Then later, my granddaddy would sit everyone down in the living room and read the Christmas story from Luke chapter 2 of the Kings James version of the Bible. After the reading, we would exchange gifts. It was always the same,but it was always special.

Maybe the fact that it was always the same every year was what made it so special. There was something comforting, warm and a bit magical about walking into a familiar place at the same time every year with the same people eating the same traditional foods. It was a time and place of gathering together as a reminder of the most important things in life-faith and family.

Today, John and I read the Christmas story to our children on Christmas Eve. We have no fancy traditions. And instead of my grandmomma's famous tuna dip, we make homemade pizza's in our bread machine and drink sparkling cider. The kids love getting their hands all doughy and drinking the cider out of wine glasses.

This year, however, I did decide to do something a bit different that I would like to share with you. Instead of reading the Christmas Story from the King James Version, I am reading it from the Message Bible.

If you read Luke 2, verses 8 through 20 you will notice there is a lot written about the shepherds. In the Message Bible they are called "sheepherders." For some reason my attention is drawn to these practical, humble, simple individuals who were doing nothing more than minding their own business and carrying our their mundane responsibilities.

These down to earth guys were simply camping in their neighborhood. They were working the night shift. Suddenly, there was suddenly some "sweet sound coming down from the night shift" (old Commodores song). However, the sound probably would not be defined by the shepherds as "sweet". For God's angel suddenly stood among them and God's glory blazed all around the shepherds. They were terrified. Luke 2:8-9

The angel first told them not to be afraid. So maybe his voice and appearance were thunderous. However, the news the angel shared was really "sweet" ! He proclaimed,


Then there were some more "sweet sounds coming down" from an entire angelic choir. They were singing God's praises.


After the angel choir delivered the most extraordinary declaration, they withdrew into heaven. Then something very profound happened . I will share that part with you in the next blog so you can savor the wonderful announcement that Emanuel is here today with you and with me. He is not a God who is disconnected...sitting on a throne far away and looking down upon you in a disregarding way. He is with you..fully partaking in your life. He wants to be a part of every detail of your life no matter how simple of mundane they seem. This is what you should look for because this is what He wants you to know and see! Now savor that sweet announcement!

Morning Bagel: I am here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody-worldwide! A Savior has just been born in David's town, A Savior who is Messiah and Master. Luke 2:10-11 (The Message Bible)

Daily Hug: We are always on the look out it seems. That is because God created us to be looking ...to be seeking. That place in you that is looking for something is looking for the One who is with you anyway. He is Emanuel-God with us. It does not mean He is just floating around you. He is with you all the way. You know what I mean? When you cry , He feels your hurt and He weeps with you. When you are excited and joyful, He laughs and jumps up and down with you in your happiness! When you do not even understand your own feelings, He does. And He tends to your heart and cares for it when you are dismayed. He covers you and takes care of you when you do not even realize it. That is why He is called the Good Shepherd. He does not merely tend to your physical being, but He gathers you. All of you. And He feels everything you are experiencing. Now that is what I call some "Sweet Announcement"! That is what I call some "dog gone" good news. Pardon my grammar but I must exclaim my joy in the Truth!

Father, I simply love you. It is only because you loved me first that I can even love you a little. Thank you for being the greatest gift mankind could ever receive. Not only did You travel here to this earth in Your own divine way to be my Hero, but Your presence, being Emanuel-God with us,is the most wonderful incredible fact the Universe could ever fathom. Emanuel, You are grand! The Grandest of All! I will cradle that truth in my heart all day. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


This morning I thought of a Christmas poem I wrote exactly 3 years ago. As I read it, I could not help but think of all that has changed over the past few years. It is amazing how God brings transition into our lives to teach us many things. I must admit that letting go has been an ongoing theme for me. Since this last blog entry was written back in 2006, we lost our house, my husband lost his job, we lost two babies, and moved all the way across the country to Arizona. The changes have been painful, but the Lord wants us to know that He is the One who is consistent.He is the One who does not change. There is no job, career, gift, house, or relationship that will sustain us apart from the One who loves us with an everlasting love.

How much joy and sorrow must have been mixed together when the Lord of light knew that He would send his only son to this earth to live and to die. I wonder if God still thinks on the pain of that reality at times? He has to. He is the God who does not forget anything other that our sin. The angels declared that Emanuel would soon be here. Emanuel is the God who is with you. Totally engaged with you and me. This means His attention is on your heart, mind and entire being.

The heart of God was expressed within the inner chambers of Mary's heart. May you feel His heart beating as you read this blog from 2006.

"I feel a tear rolling down my cheek as I think about the Father and the first Christmas when He sent his beloved Son, Jesus, to enter this earth. How He must have wept tears of joy for the time had finally arrived when He would release the Savior for all mankind into the world. But how He must have cried with sorrow at the same time for He was letting go of His own precious child, dropping Him into a cold and fallen world. How bittersweet as the heart of God ached, yet rejoiced, in this inexplicable exit from glory and awesome arrival into the beginning of life's true redemption story.

As I think about the joys and pains of my own parenting and the process of having to let my children go little by little, I also contemplate this connection to the Father's heart and what He must have suffered but yet gained. As a mother carries a baby in her womb, the child is a part of her; not separate, but wholly connected within her being. Then, after a seemingly long nine months, the child is born and his body is separated from the warmth of his mother's womb.

Subsequently, there is the ongoing process of sitting up, crawling, standing, and walking. Then shortly after, there is kindergarten, grade school, graduation, college, etc....On and on it goes. The progression of separation. How can something so joyous be so painful at the same time?

Even though my oldest child is only fifteen, and I have not fully experienced this process, I feel a small ache within, knowing that it will not be long before he is gone out into the world to walk out the destiny God has laid before him. Then, we will repeat the same process many more times after, with our other children.

Next, my thoughts travel to Mary and how she probably had to battle her own human desire to hold on to this perfect, precious Son, and to never let let Him go. Yet, within her heart, she carried the joyful, but painful truth that this child was born to go forth and to redeem the nations of this world.

How protective she must have been over this dear One knowing she was nurturing the Son of God, yet how piercing to her very soul as she had to release her hold upon this holy child God had entrusted to her care. The gracious, accepting, and loving God, chose to include us in this process of parenting whether we have natural children, spiritual children, or both. For in parenting the ones He has entrusted into our care, we join Him in the bittersweet joys of a parent's pure love for a child.

Great is our God who would let go of His very heart, His Son, that He would manifest His unfailing love for all of His children as He gave up that which He loved the most. For God so loved this world, He so loved His children, that He sent the apple of His eye, the joy of His heart, His precious holy child, that we might someday return to HIm.

As we enjoy this Christmas season, may we simply revel in the simplicity of this first Gift, the Love of a Parent, pure and unblemished. The Father of Glory stooped as a natural father may stoop to have eye contact with his child and relate to that child. The Father knelt down as a father kneels to gather his hurting, crying child, and as a father bends to sit and lay on the floor to roll and play with his son.

Our holy, majestic Father, came down to wrap and swaddle us in His eternal love; to look into our eyes, and to talk with us and to embrace us. He did it through Jesus, and He shares His love moment by moment if we would unite our hearts with His to receive it in its entirety.

May we, likewise, stoop in the same way to love our own children, spiritual or natural, and bow down to enjoy them all through the seasons in which we get to hold them; knowing deep down we are releasing them little by little.

As we look into their eyes, may we see the ocean of the Father's love reflected there. For this is where He is. He waits in the eyes of children that we may grab hold of Him, the ONE we will never have to let go of ! Merry Christmas!


Contently she smiled as she bundled Him up,

Cradling while kissing his face,

Tenderly she whispered the name of her Lord,

As she soothed this bundle of grace.

"Jesus, Jesus." she murmured.

Her heart oozing intense adoration,

Tears of emotion dripped from her face,

As she soaked intricacies of divine creation.

Like any newborn baby,

No hint of Shikinah glory to see,

Ten fingers and toes; soft downy hair,

"Lord , how could all of this be?"

She held in her arms,

the Hope of the Nations,

Anointed Savior of All,

Wonder of Wonders

Humbly born,

In a filthy , cold cattle stall.

She pressed the baby tightly,

against flowing affections,

Breathing in the scent of pure Love.

"Help me Lord, to be his mother,

To keep watch over Heaven's Dove."

Holding on as she swaddled Him,

Knowing what words cannot express.

The time of letting go,

Would come soon enough,

"Will I pass this painful test?'

But for now she would simply treasure,

The Father's first gift of His heart.

Peace and stillness flooded her soul,

Realizing they'd never really be apart.

Holding on, yet letting go,

For now she would simply treasure,

The fullness of the ALL in ALL,

Which separation could never measure.

Gazing into the eyes like a dove's,

An ocean of Heaven within,

Savoring the moment in her heart,

As she pressed God against her again."

Morning Bagel: I am the Lord, I do not change. Malachi 3:6

Daily Hug: Father, this is such a special time of the year. The time when we can ponder the things of Your heart. You do not change. How comforting that simple truth is. The changes of this life can be so unsettling at times. However, I can always run into Your arms. You are always with me. You are Emanuel. What a wonderful thought to know that you are a Father who is engaged with Your children. You are present and You are in tune to the concerns of my heart. You are the gift Lord. You are my Christmas present. I am rich and blessed simply because You are in my life and You have given me life. I love you and I thank you for Christmas...the Season of Hope and Joy! In Jesus Name. Amen

Monday, December 8, 2008

Holiday Panoramas

The other day I was reading an excerpt from the "Streams in the Desert" devotional. I would like to share a story that watered my soul.

"There was once a mother who brought a crippled boy with a hunched back into her home as a companion to her own son.She warned her son to be very careful not to refer to the other boy's deformity, since this was a sensitive matter to him. And she encouraged him to play with his new friend as if he were a normal child. But after listening to her son play with him for a few minutes, she heard him ask his companion, "Do you know what that is on your back?" The crippled boy was embarrassed, hesitated a moment, but before he could respond,his friend answered the question for him by saying, "It is the box that holds your wings, and someday God is going to break it open, and you will fly away to be an angel."

This story is an excellent and inspiring example of how our perspectives can either enrich our lives or harden out hearts. We all have some type of disfigurement in our lives. What is your deformity? It may not be a visible hump on your back. However, it could be something more hidden from the view of others. It could be a disappointment you have just encountered or a worry you are carrying around concerning your future. Maybe you are struggling this holiday season with depression and you feel no hope. Whatever it may be, consider a panorama.

A panorama is an unbroken view.When you stand on top of a mountain, there is nothing to block the scene before you. Here in Arizona, I can walk out of my back door and see a clear panorama of endless sky. Be encouraged that whatever your defect, do not let it blind you to the vista before you. Your very weakness is probably the hunch of your heart getting ready to break open into a field of blessing. Keep watching the panorama, the view beyond your present trouble.

Jesus is the bread of life, yet He was broken. He arose from death so that we too can arise from the dust of our broken and bruised hearts. In the devotion from "Streams in the Desert, there is a very profound statement. "Suffering is a wonderful fertilizer for the roots of character, for character is the only thing we carry with us into eternity.And gaining as much of the highest character possible is the purpose of our trials." Austin Phelps

Morning Bagel: It makes good sense that the God who got everything started and keeps everything going now completes the work by making the Salvation Pioneer perfect through suffering as he leads all these people to glory. Hebrews 2:10 (The Message Bible)

Daily Hug:It is amazing at times we can get so caught up in worldly wisdom. We tend to think we are blessed because things are going well. And then we sometimes look at a sister or brother in Christ who is struggling and wonder, "What are they doing wrong?" When we look at the true Pioneer of Salvation, Jesus Christ, we can see the opposite. We gain a totally different view or perspective. Jesus suffered many things such as rejection, misunderstanding, betrayal, shame, loneliness, grief, disappointment, ridicule, shame, mocking, and much more. His suffering was a blessing in which we as God's children reap the benefits. No matter what you are going through, take time to gaze upon the panorama of God's truth and the beauty of Christ's birth. Take hold of the view and know that the benefits are the by product of hardship suffered for you.

"The mountain of vision is won by no other road than the one covered by thorns." Streams in the Desert

Father, thank you for sending your Son Jesus to walk the road covered with thorns. Even His birth was in a filthy uncomfortable setting. Yet Glory was birthed in that most unpleasant place. Help me to not despise the places of struggle in my life and may Christmas be even more special to me this year as you clear my vision of what You are all about. I thank you for the hunches, knots and deformities of my life. I can be confident in knowing that beauty will come from the toughest of places. I trust you Father . In Jesus Name. Amen.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Ribbons of Riches

This rainbow photo was taken by our 14 year old son Kerry the day before Thanksgiving. Just that morning I had been relishing the rain as it was the first one I had seen since we moved out to Arizona back in September. I was overwhelmed by the breathtaking sight. Kerry could not capture the entire rainbow as the expanse of it was enormous. I remember the children excitedly pulled me out onto the back patio so we could delight in this "free present" together. I had such a great time jumping up and down with the little ones as we applauded God's art work! The rainbow was complete and stretched across the entire sky within our view. The colors were of the most vivid I had ever seen.

AS I have been thinking about the precious gift of the rainbow, I have been thinking about God's promises. The rainbow was simply God's sign of His promise to never flood the whole earth again. His word is packed with promises for His children. Why is it that we have such a difficult time believing and claiming the promises of God? Just as little children receiving the gift of the rainbow with squeals of excitement, we should heed their example and simply believe that what God says HE will do.

This is a very difficult time to believe God's promises if we focus on the world around us. Just a few days ago, I read that just in the Phoenix area alone 18,000 people recently lost their jobs. I also read somewhere yesterday about a young lady who has been looking for work for over 5 months. This time last year, my husband John lost his job. It took over 8 months for him to find a new one. We are very thankful that he has work now.

Furthermore, there is a part of God's heart that I am really seeing that makes the trials and setbacks worth it. God's desire to give us good things is great and deep. Many times we think that the Lord has betrayed us or wants to withhold good things from us. However, that is a lie. Many times He allows these trials so that we can truly understand His heart for us. If I desire so much to give to my own children, how much stronger is His passion to give good things to us.

This year I feel the Lord wants us all to focus more on the eternal gifts He has given to us. Those are things that rust and moths cannot destroy. Genuine joy comes in finding pleasure in people and precious moments we can share with them. Our children will not remember too much about IPODS and Xboxes. But they will remember the time you take with them in the simplest matters.

Last night I told my four year old that she is about too big to be held at night while she drinks her cup of milk. I scolded myself for that comment. As long as she wants to snuggle with me I should capture those moments as priceless and valuable. And had I chosen to put an end to our little routine, I would have missed a special moment last night when she asked me what God looks like. And all the sweet inquiries about how to talk to God. I would have lost out on the comment she made about how thankful she is for Mommy, Daddy and her whole family.

This is what Christmas is all about. It is about resting and finding joy in the little things-the ordinary and mundane. Let's put a bow on the things that really matter. Just as God put the beautiful rainbow over us the day before Thanksgiving, let us see the ribbons of riches in the things that really matter-moments with the ones we love.

Ribbons of Riches

There are moments waiting in human packages
Presents not tucked in boxes covered with shiny wrap.
But within the frames of living souls
And hearts beating by Divine timing.
Let us not waste in worry
The treasures without price
But find joy in gifts eternal.

The world will offer you things that won't last.
And joy will be stolen with pain from your past.
Lay the hurt and the world aside
When opportunities arise.
Ribbons of riches adorn,
Gifts of small moments
A hug.
A smile.
Or a walk in the rain.
A giggle.
A snuggle
Or a kiss on the cheek.
Ribbons of Riches
Cannot be replaced
By replicas in the world.
But are discovered in the simplest
Of moments waiting
To be unfurled.

Morning Bagel:If a child asks his father for a loaf of bread, will he be given a stone instead?If he asks for a fish will he be given a poisonous snake? Of course not! And if you hard hearted sinful men know how to give good gifts to your children, won't your Father in heaven even more certainly give good gifts to those who ask Him for them? Matthew 7:9-11 ( The Living Bible)

Daily Hug: Lord, I am so thankful that You want to share your heart with your children. You desire for me to understand your heartbeat for others. I appreciate all the life lessons you teach through hardship. True blessing comes in packages we often do not see or appreciate when things are always good. How would we even see the good things if we never experience the bad? You Lord are always redeeming the negative moments in my life to make my heart softer toward you and others.

Help me to capture moments this day that are priceless. Open my eyes and ears that I may experience the things that are on Your heart and the things that are most important to You. You have chosen to merge Your heart with mine that I may experience what true love is. Give me grace in this season to focus on the eternal blessings and to unwrap every moment as a gift from you. I choose to take my eyes off of the world and the worries in my own life and to place them upon You. In Jesus Name. Amen.