Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year

     Even though things weren’t picture perfect this Christmas, it was still a wonderful blessing to be with family. Now, I am trying to get myself into the New Year. I’ve never been much of a go-getter when it comes to starting a year. January and February are hard months for me. It’s cold and there is nothing much going on but work and responsibilities, no fun in other words. I’m all about fun, which isn’t always a good thing. So, I decided I needed an attitude adjustment for the New Year. It’s not going away so I might as well try to make the most of it. 

     Of course, first and foremost there are the proverbial New Year’s Resolutions. Okay, I’ll play, here they are (in no certain order)… 

 1) To lose the rest of my weight and keep it off. 
2) To reach my goal of running a 5K five days a week. I’m at 2.30 miles now. 
3) To put into practice what I have learned about God this year and to continue to grow in my relationship with Him. 
4) To spend more quality time with each of my kids individually. 

     I think that’s enough. Publicizing it in writing on the internet should help me with accountability. If not, nothing will. I also want to work on a better chore system around here for the kiddos. I have yet to find one that I don’t abhor. Why can’t they just get up and do what they are supposed to do like I do? I don’t have a chart with stickers but I manage to wash their clothes and cook them dinner. Sometimes I even get a thank you. Sorry, got off on a little tangent there. I will find a system that works this year….somehow. I need to add that to my prayer list. 
      I have also assigned myself a big job for the spring. I am going to head up a Walk for Water for my church. I’m super excited about it, but as exciting as it is, it will be work. It’s good work though, and I can’t wait to get started. I will write more about it when I know more. What I do know is that it is a 4-mile walk to raise money for water wells in third world countries to give these people clean, disease-free drinking water and save lives. All that we have to do is walk four miles, the same distance that many of them walk daily just for the polluted water they drink now. 
      So, now that my focus has been readjusted, I will move on with 2012. Fun doesn’t have to be only carefree and meaningless celebration. It can also be work, made fun. I will just focus on the RESULTS that the hard work will bring. There is definitely fun in being more fit and active, being close with God, having deeper relationships with my children, the children learning better responsibility, and giving to others. Zeroing in on the after instead of the before makes me want to dive in and get started. What is your heart’s desire for this year? Praying God blesses you.

Monday, December 19, 2011

'Tis Always the Season

Deck the halls with boughs of holly, ‘tis the season to be Jolly!

Have you ever known someone who can’t seem to be jolly?  Not just at this season, but ever.  It’s hard when they try to drag you down too.  I will continue to pray for them, and for how it affects me, I will thank Jesus for this for in even THIS, there is glory.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Each day there is something to wake up and be thankful for in my life.  The joy comes from a life with Christ.  No carrying it all alone.  No being led by the wind, blowing this way and that.  Something to trust in and believe in, an eternal hope, a love when I may not feel loved, an ear to listen when I’m not feeling heard.  My good spirits, my merriment doesn’t have to come from my ever changing circumstances.  My joy should come from within, from what I believe in, from the life I share with my savior.  He was born and died for me and he did this for everyone, EVERY DAY.  Joy to the world!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Parenting 101 by God

     Today I was having one of those days where someone (I won’t mention any names) was kind of… do I say this…..getting on my nerves. Ever had one of those days? Since it was only my children and I here, you can probably guess that it was one of them. I’ll leave it at that. So, in desperate guilty mom mode, I tried to think of this from a spiritual standpoint so that I could see it in a helpful way instead of the destructive path I had started for myself. Which parent do you think I used as my example?

          I thought about God and how much we should get on his nerves.  If he thought like us, he wouldn’t have any nerves left.  He doesn’t though, he thinks like God.  He never gets tired of hearing me talk to him.  He never wishes that I would go away and stop spending time with him.  He would hug me anytime I asked if he were here on earth in the flesh.  He would show me over and over again how to do something and never once lose his patience.  When I’m lost he finds me.  When I’m sad he comforts me. When I am wrong he corrects me.  When I disobey, he gives me grace.  He forgives me time and time again.  He allowed his one and only son to DIE in my place.
     Enough said.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Maze of Life

     Sometimes the right way seems so out of reach.  When I'm down here I have limited vision.  I can't always see what's around the corner.  Here is a choice before me and I have to make a decision.  I could get flustered and lose my way.

But He sees all, He knows just what I need and where I'm going.  

For God is not a God of confusion but of peace  AND if I commit everything I do to the LORD and trust him he will help me.  These are two promises that I can count on, so why worry?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Daddy's Little Helper

           Do you remember when you were a kid and it was such a privilege to get to help your mom cook?  Or how about the first time you were left in charge of something or someone?  What an honor!  I can remember the first time I was allowed to cook our family meal.  I was so enthusiastic about it and didn’t want ANY help.  I couldn’t wait for everyone to sit down at the table and eat the meal that I (with a capital I) made.  I remember just five or six short years ago my own daughter begging me to let her do the dishes.  Wow, I think I would actually pass out if I heard that now!

     Last night, my son helped Dad put up some Christmas lights.  When he was invited he was beside himself with joy and couldn’t get out of the door fast enough.  But just a few minutes later he came back in with his tail between his legs.  I asked him why and he was upset that “helping” didn’t mean getting up on the roof.  He got over it and went back outside but not with the same amount of vigor as before.  It got me thinking.
      Do I serve my Father with the exuberance that He deserves?  Do I jump for joy at a chance to serve in whatever way He needs me to be there?  I probably have my tail between my legs sometimes when I don’t get to serve the way “I” had in mind.  What in us as children goes away when we get older?  I wonder if it is the newness of life.  Sometimes things are fun simply because it’s our first experience with them.  If that’s the case, then next time I am called to serve and don’t feel excited, I am going to try to look at whatever it is in a new light.  There IS something new about it, even if it’s just my new attitude while I’m doing it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Bathing My Soul

     Something about the water coming out of the spout draws the pain up and out.  When you’re a mom sometimes the only quiet time you get is when you are in the shower.  The one time your children are afraid to come and find you for fear they may have to gouge out their eyes if they were to see you in your birthday suit.  Knowing this…I use my time as I am cleaning my outer shell to cleanse my inner self as well.  I use this precious alone time to talk with my Father.  

     Telling Him all my sorrows that I have been bottling up for days, partly pretending it doesn’t really hurt, I wash them away.  The tears flow down the drain along with the dirty water and I can have peace again.  I know He knows the whole story.  Even though I can’t explain it to anyone else; I can’t even explain it to Him.  But, he knows.  I asked Him to fix it like only He can.  This is one mess I can’t begin to know how to clean up.  He cleanses my life from start to finish.  I just have to wait and believe it and I do.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Inspiration from a Turkey

    I received a compliment on the title of my blog this week.  After thanking her I looked at the title and really thought about it.  As I said it aloud I had a thought.  “Birds don’t worry.  I’ll bet the turkeys are worried this time of year.”  But, you know what?  They aren’t.  Every morning they get up just like the day before and they go outside and look for their daily sustenance.  The food that God provides for this day; they eat and are full.  They don’t think about tomorrow, or even the next time they’ll be hungry.  They just live.

     We have been instructed to do the same.  Just live, abide in Him.  Those turkeys aren’t worried about the fact that they are being hand-fed and fattened up for something, shhhhhh!  They have no idea that eventually someone will be coming for them and….well, you know what comes next.  We won’t get into that part.  We, in our daily walk also have no idea what will happen next.  Even if we think we do.  All of the “what ifs” we ask ourselves are futile, a complete waste of time.  We need to trust more and worry less.  Spend the time that we would have spent worrying doing something good instead.  We pray, we trust, then we live.  It’s that simple.

My Life as a Turkey
I found this video yesterday shortly after writing this blog.  I felt it fit so well with what I said here that I just had to share.  Watch it with your kids if you have some, if not, it’s still fun to watch.  There is reference to a turkey being 20 million years old and it doesn’t mention God.  Still, it has a spiritual lesson in it if you’re looking for one.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Giving Thanks Where Thanks is Due

     Have a busy week planned and I’m thinking I probably won’t get back here, but I cannot go through this season without expressing my gratitude.  This is the traditional time of year where we are supposed to stop what we are doing long enough to realize that we have blessings and are grateful for them.  We are to acknowledge that aloud and be thankful.  

     I’m thankful for my family and for my wonderful friends.  I’m thankful for healthy children and a loving, giving husband who loves me as Christ loves the church.  I give thanks for a comfortable house and clothes to wear.  I never have to worry about what we will eat or wear.  I’m thankful for the country I live in and for the people who died to make it what it is today.  I love that I have the right to homeschool and be with my children to give them a good foundation.  The nature in this beautiful world is something to behold and treasure every time I step outside.  I’m thankful for life and the gifts of it.  I give thanks regardless of my circumstances because I know it’s all for my good.  But to whom do I give my thanks?
     I sometimes wonder who is being thanked.  When I was young, I was taught the history of Thanksgiving and what we were called to do on that day.  I wrote “Give Thanks” on my turkeys made out of construction paper hands, but I didn’t really know what it meant.  Now that I have grown and have become a child of God, it means so much more.  I know “WHO” to thank.  I know that “For from him and through him and for him are all things.  To him be the glory forever! Amen.”  So for Him I give thanks most of all, for without Him there would be no thanksgiving.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Waiting: A Gift of Time

     Thinking about waiting today…I spend a lot of time waiting.  Don’t we all?  I wait for my kids to finish their schoolwork.  I wait for someone to buy my house.  I wait for enough money to be saved to buy things or to pay off the orthodontist bill.  I wait on the phone when I call a business to ask about my account.  I wait for answers to questions; I wait in line.  I wait for Abbey, oh Lord, do I ever wait for Abbey.

     It has really been trying my patience lately and after reading one of my regular blogs, it really made me aware that it keeps us from having peace in our home.  I feel a burden to fix the problem.  The blog really helped me and gave me some great advice.  I also feel like part of the burden is inside of me though.  I have never been gifted with the virtue of patience.  Let me just put it this way, I really don’t like waiting.
     So today I tried to look at it from a different point of view.  It’s wonderful that I am efficient with my time and that sometimes I am finished before others or I am early.  It’s not very wonderful how I spend the leftover time I have, complaining about waiting.  I just need to have a productive plan for that extra gift of time.  I could use it to pray for my character flaws and focus on the plank in my eye instead of judging someone else.  Admittedly I’ve gone there.  I will think “How dare they always keep people waiting, how rude.  I don’t do that.”  What do I do instead?  I could open up my bible app on my phone and read about judging, a sharp tongue, anger, patience, lack of wisdom….my problems.
    I’m not saying that I don’t want my daughter to be on time and to learn that it’s rude to keep others waiting, but I also need to look within myself and see why it steals my joy.  We need to learn together and as the grownup in the situation it is my job to keep the peace while the lessons are taught.  So today I give thanks for the spare time I receive throughout my busy days.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

One Way to Give Thanks

     Tonight the children and I are looking at the Compassion International Website and trying to pick out a child to sponsor.  How do you pick from so many?  They all have a story and a reason to be chosen.  So rather than me sign up to sponsor the whole page, I let the kids pick. 

My son picked a young boy, age 9 named Kevin.  He has such sad eyes and he looks so tiny.  James liked him because he enjoys playing marbles and soccer, two things that he aspires to do but hasn’t mastered yet. 
There were no twelve year old girls in Ecuador, the country I picked, so Abbey chose a 10 year old girl named Jessica.  She liked active games and music and I’m just crossing my fingers that there is a love of some type of equine in her heart too.

They are both excited at the prospect of becoming pen pals with these children and that they will be able to buy them gifts and know someone in another country.  I don’t think they see the impact that we will have in the lives of these young people and their families.  They just see at as a fun idea.  They can’t fathom being poor, really poor.  They have such lives of luxury.  I can only hope and pray that through this, they will learn how blessed we are and how much we have to give.  That love is an action not just a feeling.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Getting Unstuck

     This morning Peanut got stuck in backward sneezing mode.  If you have ever had a short-snouted dog you understand.  Here is a demo of some other dog in this horrible dilemma:  

Pretty amusing, huh?
     So this, of all things, had me thinking about spiritual battles.  Life will just be happening and all of a sudden WHAM!  I’m struggling.  I pray and I read God’s word and try to seek my answers.  The thing is I’m fighting the same battle as I did last week.  Maybe with a different person or situation, but if I narrow it down and dissect it, it’s the same.  If you’ll notice in the video of the poor honking dog, his person simply bent down and held his nose and he stopped. 
     I have people like that.  Even though they probably had to say the same thing to me last week, they are ready and willing to listen to me struggle this week as well.  They seem to do it effortlessly and they never show that they are tired of helping me with my spiritual spasms.  Thank God for true friends.  You know who you are out there and I love you. 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

To Really Understand...

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.   James 3:1-6

     I never seem to have the time to read books for grownups these days.  Children’s literature isn’t void of meaning for me though.  As of late, the kids and I just finished a wonderful book entitled The Giver by Lois Lowry.  It’s about a world of the future where anything inconvenient or unpleasant has been annihilated from existence.  The people of this world no longer feel happy or sad, they just exist.  They don’t feel love or hatred or have the ability to do anything out of appreciation or spite.  They are given their role in life and on the surface, happily carry it out without purpose or meaning.
     The main character of the book is a twelve year old boy named Jonas.  At the ceremony of the twelves, he is given his life job.  He is to be the receiver, later the Giver.  This is a privileged position in the society and only certain types of people are called to do this.  In his calling he will receive memories from the current person who holds the position of the Giver.  These memories have been passed for generations from one Giver to the next.  They are the feelings and occurrences that no longer exist.  Things like pain, snow, love, sickness, rain, and numerous other things that got in the way in the past.  The Giver is the only one that knows these things and must carry the burden of them alone.  Once the current Giver shows the new one a memory or a feeling then it belongs to them and the former Giver no longer has it.  Understanding between the old Giver to the new one is as easy as that.
     One of these days we will reach a society where we will truly understand one another.  No conflict, no hurt feelings, just harmony and perfect peace.  Until that time we must do our best to love one another in spite of our different opinions and ways of life.  We can’t “give” our ideas to each other as we are limited by a tongue that doesn’t always get it right and a heart that isn’t always ready to receive.  While I wait, perhaps I could take the time to try to understand people who think differently than I do.  I can use this time to learn patience for others that do not.  I can work on loving like I want to be loved, and wrapping my head around a viewpoint other than my own.  Lastly, I could probably learn to sit quietly and listen for a change.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

All of Creation Sings His Praises

For you shall go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
 the mountains and the hills before you
shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.  Isa. 55:12

The best remedy for those who are frightened, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere they can be alone, alone with the sky, nature and God.

For then and only then can you feel that everything is as it should be and that God wants people to be happy amid nature’s beauty and simplicity.

As long as this exists, and that should be forever, I know that there will be solace for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances.  I firmly believe that nature can bring comfort to all who suffer.
Diary of Anne Frank
                                                                                                                                                February 23, 1944

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Heavenly Thoughts

     Pondering heaven last night with some brothers and sisters, there are so many questions.  One that really stuck with me as I walked away from our conversation was not about the place, heaven, at all.  The biggest question I have is what will “we” be like?  The people, the souls that will exist there.  The bible mentions a new body, and is very vague as to what that means, but that’s not really where my focus is.  I wonder about my thinking, my being, me.

     I was thinking about this life here on earth and the trials and tribulations, the good times, the every day.  It’s getting us ready for something, if we are staying the course.  As Paul says, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  We are transforming if we keep pushing toward our goal to be more Christ-like, right?  So we need not worry about heaven having this or that FOR us.  Ultimately I believe all of our selfish whims will be gone.  We won’t want or need anything.
     Sometimes I have felt in the past that I might not enjoy heaven because sitting around singing praises all day didn’t sound very fun.  I know now that I have just barely touched on what true joy is here on earth.  I think I know joy, but not the joy that God has for me.  I can only get a fraction of that here.  A wedding day to the love of my life, the first time I held my babies, a handpicked flower and word of devotion from the ones I love most…these are hints of the joy that will constantly fill my heart in heaven. 
     He didn’t fully explain heaven to us, I believe, because He can’t.  We wouldn’t get it.  We aren’t going to be the same.  A timeless, thingless world with no worries about losing any of our precious commodities is something that we can’t fathom.  It will change our focus completely.  It motivates me to keep my focus and to try harder to become my finished self.  I can’t wait to face the unknown, I trust Him that it will be more than I could ever want. 
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 
Galatians 6:9

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Broken Fence

     Isn’t it sad how we can live so close and be so far away sometimes?  The answer is an open heart, a willingness to give, tear down the fences and most importantly let go of pride and really listen.  I must ask the Lord to reveal to me my part in what is wrong and to be obedient to change the wrong in what I do.  Only then is it love, when I give of myself expecting nothing in return.

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Turning 40!

This morning while having my coffee and thinking about how to make this a fun day, it is a monumental event of course, you only turn 40 once.  We have to do school, having missed for vacation, there is really no more playtime left.  Then I have to clean up some around here because we have bible study here tonight, and it’s a pigsty.  Then I guess I have to cook the family some dinner.  So, since I can't have a total "ME" day.  I decided to count my blessings today literally.  My inspiration comes from the book “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp.  This way I’ll be sure to see the many blessings of an otherwise ordinary day. 
1)    A wake-up kiss and happy birthday wish from my favorite person.
2)       A willing daughter to make me breakfast before the sun came up.
      3)      A son who found the time to give me a flower.
       4)      Vanilla creamer in my coffee.
       5)      Crisp fall morning and frisky dogs.
       6)      Happy Birthdays on FaceBook
       7)      My sisters and their love toward me. (All 30 or so, of them).
       8)      Starting school late, because we can.
       9)      My daughter praising the Lord because her math was easy.
       10)      My son willingly being my shopping buddy this afternoon, even though he wasn’t getting anything.
      11)   A new plaque that says “Greet each day with thanks” to put on my mantle.
      12)   A clean house with cozy lamp light and candles.
      13)   Bible study with loved ones and The Truth Project.
      14)   Cousins giggling.
      15)   Chinese take-out the day before some healthy eating starts.

What better gift than to realize what you already have.

Friday, October 14, 2011

A Mountaintop Experience

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
Isaiah 52:6-8

    Finally I got to put my arms around and touch the hands of my sisters.  For four years we have laughed, cried, prayed, rejoiced and loved one another.  It was an experience not of this world and one I will never forget.  I continue to relive it, I even dreamed we were still together last night.  Everyone was so excited as the ladies arrived.  They would stop whatever they were doing and run out to greet them before they could even get out of the car.  Some even chased the cars as they were leaving on the last day.  I won't mention any names.  It was truly as close as earth can come to heaven.

Back when this began, I was struggling with my weight again and chose to start a program.  I knew that the program alone wasn’t what I really needed.  I didn’t know what I needed, so I prayed.  I asked the Father to give me whatever it was that would help me to lose the weight, then I waited.  Within two days He answered my prayer.  He led me to a discussion group on the program’s website, a Christian Support Group.  Now here we are, around 30 of us, such good friends.  They all mean the world to me.

What better place for us to unite than the mountains!  High in the Smokies, we spent the weekend laughing, talking, lots of eating, worshipping, some crying.  I felt Jesus in this place and when it was time for me to go, a bittersweet feeling overcame me.  God was truly with us and I know that He worked just as hard as the committee to orchestrate our time together.  His presence was so powerful.  I sure didn’t want to come down from that mountaintop!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Quiet Lesson

See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.  But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.  We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.  As has just been said:
“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts
as you did in the rebellion.”
Heb. 3:12-15

     Praying today I asked the Father to help me to hear His Spirit speaking to me better.  Sometimes I feel the things that drag me down and frustrate me are so much louder than what He has to say.  His words and wisdom get drowned out by sin’s deceitfulness and all I hear is myself reacting.  I went so far as to ask Him to yell at ME, so I would hear Him today.  Ludicrous, I know, but I did.  And do you know what happened next?  I think I learned something.
     As soon as I said it, I knew it wasn’t really God’s way.  His Spirit is a quiet voice inside.  The one that calmly sits in the background, all the while knowing what is the right thing to do, waiting patiently for me to listen and obey.  It doesn’t yell.  I thought about my childhood and how I was disciplined, how I learned discipline.  I learned a loud one.  Raising one’s voice was a very common way to get a point across in my house and it is probably pretty common in most homes.  Mine included.  I’ve grown accustomed to learning that way.  I don’t want that for my kids.
     I don’t want them to grow up and not know how to listen to their conscience over their own sinful reactions.  I want them to learn through wise, consistent council.  I want them to learn from their mistakes.  I want the pain to come from a lesson learned, not from some harsh word that I spewed out in a fit of frustration.  I want to discipline like the Lord disciplines me.  He doesn’t yell.  He waits for me to figure things out.  From my favorite book of James:  My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.
     So this is new for me, but I’m going to throw a question out there and hope that I can gain some wisdom and encouragement and hopefully the discussion will help others too.  Have you ever had a problem with yelling?  How have you conquered it?

Monday, September 26, 2011

My Audience, My Savior, My Friend

     I think about some of those reality shows where people have allowed a film crew to come into their home and set up a camera to observe them in their everyday lives.  One I specifically thought of was Jon & Kate Plus 8.  I used to watch it when it first began and I would cringe at the way they would treat one another, especially the disrespect of the wife toward her husband.  I would think, “How can she do that, and look so foolish when she knows the cameras are there?”
     Today I was wondering why it is so difficult to remember that Jesus sent his Spirit and that he is with me, always.  Every move I make, thought I entertain, decision I have to make, conflict I encounter, he is there.  Sometimes I don’t obey what the Spirit is trying to tell me and I choose to go it alone.  Just like the millions watching Jon & Kate destroy their marriage he is watching me mess up too.  My relationship with my husband is great, but I disobey in so many other ways.  I lose my patience with the kids.  I shirk my responsibilities and choose the fun thing instead.  I can be cruel and unloving.  I complain, get stressed out and lose my faith.  All while he watches me, waiting for me to remember my place.

     Where is that place?  It’s in him.  John 15:5 says, I am the vine; you are the branches.  If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit;  apart from me you can do nothing.  I have to remember he is there.  Without him life is fruitless, I am a dead and withered branch.  Not only do I further his kingdom by remaining where I need to be, but he returns that faith with blessings.  Also, when I thought about it from the camera in the room perspective, I don’t want to be a fool.  I may not have millions of people watching me, but the most important, the Lord, is watching and I’d like my ratings to get better.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Turning Over a New Leaf - For There Is Always One to be Turned

     A change is in the air.  A warm autumn feeling rushes through me today.  Just as the tired, dry leaves will soon be descending from the trees to make room for spring's rebirth, so too am I shedding the old to make way for the new. 

Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives.  Gal. 5:25
If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.  2 Tim. 2:21

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Obeying the Voice of God

It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on.
This isn't the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God's kingdom.
22-23But what happens when we live God's way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.  Galatians 5:19-23

     How many times have I tried to encourage someone in my life by telling them that God must be planning something better for them?  I’ve thought about God’s plan for my life and been comforted to know that He has one and that He is working on it.  In my darkest hours I’ve consoled myself with the thoughts that there would be a bright morning after the cloudy nights in my life.  Reading this in my Message translation this week has me thinking about God and His plans in a whole different way.  I wonder how many times I have gotten in the way of those plans.
     Every day and every minute His Spirit is with me, guiding my footsteps.  My prayers are constantly filled with pleadings for His help with what seems like the same problems or I pray for strength for my same weaknesses.  I sometimes doubt that He is hearing me.  I wait on an answer for those same struggles to go away.  Today I thought of the many times I have been deep in the heart of a battle and in the heat of the moment received a clear message from the Spirit of what to do, and blatantly ignored it.  Right there!  He was helping me and I didn’t listen.  How many blessings have I missed?  How many wrong roads have I gone down and delayed the progress of my journey with the Father?  How sad.
      I have never felt more motivated to start paying attention.  His love is so constant and He is always there and always giving me the answers I need for this life.  It’s up to me to be listening for that sometimes gentle nudge in the right direction.  It’s time to put “me” aside and give God a real chance.  I’ve missed out on things but I don’t have to continue to do so.  His mercies are new every morning for the forgiven and He won’t give up on me.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

My Son

     I vividly remember lying on the table staring at the sonogram screen knowing this time I would find out.  I wanted to know you before you got here.  I wanted to call you by name and imagine what time with you would be like.  “It’s a boy,” they said to your dad and I so matter of fact, no doubt in the tech’s voice as he printed out a picture for us to take home.  Your first photograph to show around to whoever we could get to look at it, we did just that and put it in a frame to marvel at for the next few months.  A boy, wow, this was going to be exciting!
     The day you decided to make your entrance into this world was a wonderful sunny September day.  I woke early to a gentle prompting that you were coming, and I was so at peace.  I was home with your three year old sister and went about getting her some breakfast and a short trip to the church office to wrap up some last minute details before my maternity leave.  Then I had a friend go with me to the hospital, fully
expecting to be sent home with advice and a written reminder of when to come back for the real thing.  It all seems like yesterday, I was seen by a nurse.  I was staying and this would be your birthday.

     Now here we are nine years later.  You are so much like your dad, and at times I see some of me in my younger years.  You are a great kid.  What a blessing you have been.  I love your funny jokes and your silly faces.  I love how you just need to give me a hug sometimes.  You have so many ideas to tell me and your imagination is out of this world.  I enjoy how you can “play” with no toys.  I adore you in your baseball uniform each spring and can’t wait for you to get your trophy so I can get another picture of you holding it with your sweet, proud smile.  I like your curiosity about the world around you and your need to know how things work.  You got that from your dad.  You are feisty and you got that from me.  I love you.
     Happy birthday, my son.  I pray that your future is full of joy and that you find much love and fullness in your life.  I pray that you never forget your Creator and that you always seek to do His will in your life.  I pray that the people you surround yourself with treasure you as much as we do.  May you trust the Lord to guide you and never fear the unknown.  Lastly, may you be happy, healthy and may you love with all of your heart, always.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Keeping up with a Blessed Life

     Sometimes I have a hard time saying no.  Anyone else fall into that category?  Certain times of the year are busier for me than others.  This is one of those times.  School has started back, meetings, horse visits in the evenings, church events, etc.  I have to keep a close reign on my schedule or I will absent-mindedly forget to do something.  I completely forgot to go to a meeting Monday night because I wasn’t being careful.  I have to make sure my priorities are straight and that I am organized.  How do I decide what events to do and when I can participate?
     I read a book long ago when my daughter was a baby about time management.  It was called “The Family Manager” by Kathy Peel.  It was a Christian wife/mother self-help book and it was a great tool for taking my job seriously as a stay-at-home mom.  It taught me that my job wasn’t to just be at home, but to make that home a comfort zone for my family.  In order to do that, I was going to have to break a sweat and use my brain.  Something I had not considered when I quit my job, I thought I was going to be bored.  Twelve and a half years later I can see that was a huge misperception.

     That book also had a helpful chart to show me how to prioritize my life.  I have tried to remember it ever since and live my at-home life accordingly.  Basically it was this:  God, husband, children, family, work, friends, me, community.  If I remember the order of these priorities in my life it helps me to say no when needed.  It’s not always easy to tell someone no, but I know that if I adhere to my plan, I am practicing self-control and I am pleasing the Lord.  I was reading Nehemiah this morning and came across some scripture.  Nehemiah was rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem according to God’s plan, when his enemies sent him an invitation. 
“Come and meet with us at Kephirim in the valley of Ono.”
     I knew they were scheming to hurt me so I sent messengers back with this:  “I’m doing a great work; I can’t come down.  Why should the work come to a standstill just so I can come down to see you:”

       Now I know that most of us aren’t going to get phone calls from our enemies, inviting us out to dinner.  I guess if we do, we should set up time in our priority list and pencil “dinner with enemies” into our calendar.  We are supposed to love them, right?  However, more than likely invites will be from people we know and like.  Nehemiah knew where his priorities were though, and wasn’t willing to stop and do something that would get in the way of that.  He probably was curious to see what they were up to and might have wanted to go and find out, but he told them his priority was to the work he was doing for God and they would have to wait.

     I know that God never wants me to neglect the people in my life.  I pray that I will be able to please Him in the way I schedule my days.  I pray that He will bless me when I keep my integrity and guidelines I have set for myself in order to know when to say yes and when I should say no, or let’s reschedule for a later time.  I believe I am home most days ministering to my children and being a helpmate to my husband because they are near the top of my list right after God.  Peace abounds when I am doing what I believe is right.