Sunday, December 27, 2009

Resolution Alternatives

I'm not into New Year's resolutions. I am trying, however, to live a life that often incorporates many of the resolutions people make. For those who are making resolutions or are just looking for help in their day-to-day life, I can personally attest to the following websites and organizations making a huge difference in mine. Maybe they will help you too.

1. Spiritually. Living Proof Ministries and Beth Moore's blog.
The blog in particular has done more for me spiritually and in my accountability with other women than I can possibly begin to explain. Even though I do not know these women, there is a connection through this blog and through the Bible verse memorization that has gone on over the last year. Can't wait to start again this coming year with the memory verses and with a new on-line study regarding insecurities women face.

2. Financially. Southern Savers and Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University
With the help and free advice of Southern Savers we have cut our grocery bill literally in half! Our cupboards are well-stocked, actually overflowing, with name brand items we need and use. Below is just one example of what I am talking about:
All of this only cost $2.18 total out-of-pocket and that includes tax.

The zero-balance budget from Financial Peace University is absolutely fabulous for helping to see where our money really goes and allows us to give, save and wisely spend our money without stress and confusion.

3. The House. Two simple words: Fly-lady or www.flylady.net
I started implementing the ideas from this website several years ago and was amazed at how clean my house stayed, how organized I was and unstressed my life felt. But two moves in two years put the Fly-lady routines in the closet for a bit. Although I was still using the basic concepts, I hadn't been fully utilizing the plans. Christmas is over, I have dug out my book from the closet and tomorrow I will start again. It is well worth it.

I pray that someone else is blessed and helped by these websites. They have been a blessing in mine and I have found each one of them to be all they claim and so much more.

Here's to a less stressful life!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A First Time for Everything

I did it. Christmas cookies baked, cake baked, chex mix done, gifts bought and wrapped (all of them) and it is only December 23rd. Never in my 24 years of marriage can I say that I wasn't still wrapping gifts on Christmas day. Never. But not this year. I did it and it looks a bit like this:

Two of my favorite recipes for Christmas time.
Mule ear cookies and pistachio cake.


Yes that is extra "frosting" on the bottom - way too good not to just
pile it around the bottom of the cake.


And this is just one of the reasons I am done early. My 8-month pregnant daughter and son-in-law are on the way home to spend Christmas with us for a few days before heading to the Humphrey family Christmas. My son is home, my husband will be soon - lots of reasons to celebrate this season. Our first Christmas with a child expecting and our last Christmas without a little grandchild running around. I like these new traditions.

He is our Hope

Christmas - a time of joy, of celebration, of anticipation. But what about for all those I know, or know of, that have gotten the cancer diagnosis, are losing their home, losing their job, have prodigal children, are facing unwanted divorce, can't see through the strongholds of addiction, have children with serious medical conditions, have lost a child, are facing arrest, struggling with their sexual identity, grieving the loss of loved ones - so what about them?

Jesus is our hope. It can be so easy to look at the hard and difficult and often unseemly insurmountable trials of life and wonder "is there hope?". It can be even more difficult at Christmas, because everyone else is happy or so it seems. Sometimes our trials are public and painful, sometimes they are personal and painful. But we all have trials.

Jesus is our hope. Christmas is the reason we have hope in this life. Without Christ, all of these things would be devastating beyond belief and we would and should give up hope. But Christ came and Christ conquered all of those things. This life and its trials are temporary, but Jesus is eternal. His glory is eternal.


Jesus is hope for the cancer patient and the parent of the prodigal.
He is the hope that springs eternal for the ones facing financial downfall.

Jesus is hope for the addicted, the lost, the hurting, and the lonely.
He is the hope for those that desire what is good and right and battle the inner struggles each night.

Jesus is hope for the struggling marriage and for those who have miscarried.
He is the hope that lives within us and has conquered the death we fear.

Jesus is hope that brings new life to those who know sexual sins.
He is the hope to the one facing an uncertain future for bad decisions made one night.

Jesus is hope to the family that can't find their child.
He is the hope to those that they think they are unforgivable, unlovable and without hope.

Jesus is hope to the teen who wonders "what have I done?".
He is the hope to the parent who wonders if their child will ever return Jesus.

Jesus is hope to whatever it is that you need hope for.
He is the hope that appeared on Christmas morning - the Savior of the world.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Which Direction Should I Go?

Okay so that really wasn't my question, but God seems to keep giving me the answer "A Long Obedience in the Same Direction" (Eugene Peterson). It was kind of like Jeopardy where you are given the answer and then you have to come up with the right question. God keeps telling me "A Long Obedience in the Same Direction". So if He keeps saying it, apparently I needed to get the book off the shelf and actually read it. Last week I kept hearing those words over and over again in my spirit. I didn't bother to look for the book because I was certain I was to find another book that Beth Moore had referenced in her Psalms of Ascent bible study and read it. Dug through the closet, found my workbook, flipped to the back where the end notes and references are so that I could find the name of the book I wanted to read. God has a sense of humor - repeatedly referenced was "A Long Obedience in the Same Direction", by Eugene Peterson. Not one mention of the book I was thinking of. I get the hint. Got the book.

I haven't made it past page 22. But there were some things that immediately stood out.

1. "One aspect of world that I have been able to identify as harmful to Christians is the assumption that anything worthwhile can be acquired at once."

Ouch! - Way too often I expect quick results and quick fixes in my personal life and in my faith walk. I want what is worthwhile and if that means waiting, then so be it.

2. Between the Times. "Paul Tournier, in A Place for You, describes the experience of being in between - between the time we leave home and arrive at our destination; between the time we leave adolescence and arrive at adulthood; between the time we leave doubt and arrive at faith. It is like the time when a trapeze artist lets go the bars and hangs in midair, ready to catch another support; it is a time of danger, of expectation, of uncertainty, of excitement, of extraordinary aliveness."

I think I am 'in between'. I'm just not sure between what?! But I find myself knowing that I am not where I was and I have not yet arrived at where God is taking me. I am somewhere hanging midair and waiting on God to release the trapeze bar for me to grab and swing safely to the next destination.

3. "For those who choose to live no longer as tourists, but as pilgrims . . . "

I want to be a pilgrim on the journey of faith. I do not want to merely be a tourist visiting Christianity and picking up all the Christian bobbles and souveniers to display for others to see. I want to be one with Christ. Walking with Him, following Him, climbing the mountains and descending into the valleys if that is what it takes. I want more than the postcard.

I will never profess to have the answers or to understand all that God is trying to teach me. But this I know, he keeps telling me (and I believe others) to keep going in the same direction. Don't quit. Don't change course. Don't give up. Don't become a tourist. Stick with it. There is more than we can see or know or imagine. Hold out for what is up ahead. If God has placed you on a course, stay on it until He tells you otherwise. Difficulty, boredom, inactivity, opposition are not reasons to switch the direction we were headed.

A long obedience in the same direction. I think that is the way I will choose. Perservering as long as God calls me, in whatever he calls me to do. I have no doubt that I will not be disappointed by God.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Heading Here

I have owned this for two years and I think I have even proclaimed on this blog that I was doing this devotional only to stop after day 1 (which was actually day 5 of the devotional because I can't count!). Anyway, this is just one of the places I am heading in the next few days and weeks. Well, if I am counting correctly this time, for the next 90 days I will be in this study. And I am very excited.

I am one of those people who owns lots and lots of books that I have never read. But God always seems to know just what I need, when I need it and this was no exception. How amazing and timely that today's scripture was on the birth of Christ from the book of Luke. But even more amazing was the little piece of pink paper that fell out of the front of the book. Two scripture references, handwritten but not by anyone's handwriting that I recognize. Both verses were unfamiliar to me just by the citation. Looked them both up and knew instantly that they were for me in this season on this day. It wasn't a mistake. That little piece of paper was like a confirmation from God that I was in the right place, at the right time and that He and I were going to have a good time getting to know one another better. Okay - he knows everything about me, but I have much to learn. And, well, if there is much work to be done, it might not all be fun. So it is with God and I wouldn't trade a single moment of my journey with him or in pursuit of Him.

May it be 90 days to the glory of Jesus!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Resting

Friday night at 9:00 p.m. officially started a new season for me. A season of rest. I can't remember the last time I had one - a real one. Saturday morning and even into today have been almost odd. I feel misplaced, like I am forgetting something. But I'm not. I am right where God wants me for a bit and hopefully I haven't forgotten a thing. My friend and mentor, Mary Hill, will be thankful to know this and I will just leave it at that.

For 7 years, I have been running as hard as I could after God. I have been left breathless by the joy and awe of Him, as well as by the sheer demands of ministry. God has never left my side, although I believe I often ran in circles or out in front of him. It has been a blast. But it is time to rest and recharge and re-evaluate.

As I closed with prayer and helped a bit with clean up at New Hope's (Wooster) women's ministry event on Friday night, I knew when I got in the truck a new season was upon me. There is nothing pressing for me to study outside of my own personal bible study. Nothing to prepare for in the immediate days to come. Just a time alone with God and my family. I have a hunch that both will change me radically.

A burning desire is aflame within me to draw closer to the Lord - to soak in His word, to sit at His feet and to bask in His presence. Christmas is just a few days away and I long to serve my family and cherish them even more this year. Only a few more weeks until our first grandchild arrives - oh glory! Life is changing and I am thankful.

I honestly feel like I am entering into a time that will redefine who I am as a wife, a mother, and a woman of God. I am looking forward to it. Redefined - more intentional in my pursuit of all of those callings. A woman who lives intentionally in her relationship with God. Perhaps with less 'to-do' lists running through my head, there will be more room for storage of the Word.

May I come out of this season not just a little different, but radically changed. Not a radical change as the result of earth shattering events, but radically changed because I have been in the extended presence of the One who extends radical grace, love and forgiveness.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Wintry Mix

Tonight was our last women's Tuesday night bible study for the year 2009. With mixed feelings, it was the last week of 11 weeks of Beth Moore's The Patriarchs. My mixed feelings weren't so much about this last study as they were about what is yet to come. God saw fit to allow a real wintry mix to hit our part of the woods tonight and it seemed to be fitting of all that was in my heart.

For weeks I have known, or at least had a very strong suspicion, that I would be taking the month of January off from organized Tuesday night bible study. There are days I have longed for a season with less to do so that I could focus more on my own relationship with God. I have needed it. God and I have some matters to attend to so that my own spiritual growth will be just that - growth. I long to be more intentional in the area of spiritual disciplines. I long to be more like Jesus and that doesn't happen if we don't carve out specific time for him.

But as I looked at the faces of the women in the study and then drove home in the dark, sleety/rainy/snowy/slushy weather I realized my soul felt kind of like the elements - mixed. I am absolutely crazy about the women in our bible study! Some of us have journeyed through 2 1/2 years and 8 in-depth bible studies together. Some of us just met for the first time 11-weeks ago. But either way - I love each one of them. I lamented all the way home at the thought of not being together for the next 7 weeks. Less than 30 minutes had passed before I longed to start preparing for next week's study.

Then I thought of how much I need and desire to draw closer to the Lord and to sit at his feet. It is necessary for me and for the women in the study. If I don't spend time growing in my relationship with my Savior, how can I ask them to.

I'm not sure what God has in store for the next few weeks. My soul truly felt like the weather. My emotions couldn't decide exactly what they wanted to feel. Somehow all kinds of feelings just seemed to happen all at the same time and there were no other words to describe them than "wintry mix".

I will draw away for a season to be with the LORD and as I do, I will also be waiting expectantly for what He has in store. I know that I will not be disappointed - no matter the mix of emotions that come my way.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Spiritual Heartburn

I have been suffering from spiritual heartburn. Self-diagnosed, but spiritual heartburn nonetheless. I have been up almost every night recently with spiritual indigestion. Tossing and turning. Waking up randomly for short periods. My soul was upset and rightfully so.

I had noticed over the last few days and weeks that I would open my mouth and find myself shocked at what came out. (no - for those who are wondering I wasn't using any foul language) But what was coming out of me I am sure was displeasing to God. Little responses or quick answers that could have been perceived as harmless, but I knew God was not happy. I felt immediate conviction and a sense of "what were you thinkin'!" A "what were you thinkin'" that was different from this post. It was like God was holding up a mirror and wanted to know whose reflection I saw. I think it was kind of a wake-up call to me. I need to be more serious about some of the things that God has laid on my heart. More disciplined. More focused on the things above. Matthew 15:18 says"But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man 'unclean'." For me personally, I need the Word to sanctify me and cleanse me daily. I will fail miserably if left on my own.

The spiritual heartburn also came from eating the lesser things. For whatever reason, I have been around a lot more people lately (perhaps it has something to do with the holiday season) and have found myself not being fed on the Bread of Life, but rather on some cheap drive-thru food at these various gatherings. It isn't even that I chose to eat what they were offering by way of conversation. It was more like a food fight and my soul managed to digest it. I do not mean this as some 'holier-than-though' comment. It too was a wake-up call. God tells us to be in the world and not of the world. He also tells us very clearly in Ephesians 4:29 "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen". Others are listening to what comes out of our mouths. We hear what comes out of others mouths and both can cause spiritual heartburn if we are not careful. I seriously felt like all night long I was burping up someone else's words that had penetrated my soul. It was not leaving a good taste in my mouth.

I want to be the people-pleaser and apologize up front for this blog. But not really, that would be like offering you some spoiled food instead of the real thing in hopes that I would make you happy.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Gift Bag Etiquette

After two hours of women's bible study on Genesis Chap. 45 and the life of Joseph, it seems this was the only place left for our minds to wander to - gift bag etiquette. Not sure how we got there, but as three of us stood around closing the camp down after bible study we found ourselves sharing some sister time. It went a little like this . . .

Somehow we get on the topic of the joy and beauty of the gift bag. It is reusable. It comes in the perfect size for everything. It comes in the perfect color. They aren't expensive. Easy to store. We reminisced and rejoiced over "the gift bag".

A few weeks ago my husband and I were giving a gift to another couple. I grabbed the gift bag - he grabbed a box and wrapping paper. I could not begin to understand why we would go to that trouble. He could not figure out why I would want to use the bag. Apparently, some men, maybe all, do not use gift bags and don't particularly care to receive their gifts in one. If it is going to be in a bag, then just leave it in the Wally-world bag and move on. If you are going to present it as a real gift, then it must be wrapped. All my friends and I could figure out is that men like to dig into things, tear things with their hands and that pulling the fluffed up tissue out of the top of a pretty gift bag was not manly enough. Who knew?

Next we went into tissue paper protocol for the gift bag. Filler tissue paper, if not too mangled, is reusable as more filler for another gift bag. There is a limit on that, however, and at some point it must be thrown out. The filler tissue in the top of the bag that sticks out must be fresh. We all agreed that we have not and will not resort to ironing our tissue paper for cryin' out loud. If it's wrinkled - it's filler.

The tag on the bag - off limits for writing your or anyone else's name on. It is just there to be pretty. Not for actually using as a name tag. Heaven forbid someone does use it without thinking, well at least you can tear the thing off. We all seemed to understand this unspoken rule quite well.

Then I said it. I told of someone who had actually written my name on the inside of the gift bag. Gasp! The other two women simultaneously gasped out loud with the same number of decibels at the thought of it. You DO NOT WRITE NAMES ON THE GIFT BAG! Oh, the sheer thought of a good gift bag being sent to the trash can before it's time was truly up.

We were all in agreement on the gift bags and the proper rules for using them. And then someone asked - how do we know this stuff? Women are not taught the gift bag rules. They just know. We have a gift bag etiquette gene somewhere in our makeup. Thank you Lord.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thankful to have come "thus far"

It's quiet (for now) at our house after three days of God filling my soul in the most blessed ways. Thanksgiving dinner with my parents, my brother and his wife and my nephews, Kenny & I, Jillian & Shane & Justin. We filled our stomachs beyond capacity and loaded up to go to Kenny's side of the family. Spent time with his parents, his siblings and their spouses and then headed home.

With busy and opposite schedules, we don't get a lot of alone, quality time with our son. He might live with us, but that doesn't mean we see each other much! Had the absolute best time with him on the way to both of the Thanksgiving dinners. Laughed hard. And then laughed some more. Had good conversation and great memories made. It made this momma's heart beat with joy.

Working in retail meant that Justin was out the door in the wee hours of the morning of Black Friday. That left Jillian and Shane home with me for awhile until Kenny got home from work. What a joy to sit down and look at baby items with Jillian and talk about what is to come when that tiny baby arrives in January. Oh how I can't wait. Had the privilege of fixing breakfast for my daughter and son-in-law on Friday and Saturday. Oh how I love that.

Kenny was no sooner in the door from work on Friday until there were games to be played, more food to be eaten and laughter that made me about pee myself! Yep, laughed that hard again with my daughter and son-in-law and my husband. We had the best time.

Spending time with your grown children is a pleasure and a joy that cannot be described in words. Maybe this year I appreciate it all even more as I look at my daughter's belly with our grandchild inside or maybe it's because I know where we all have been and how far God has brought each one of us. Makes me want to sit here and cry like a baby with sheer joy. Makes me want to put up some stones outside as a reminder that "God has brought us thus far".

It's now Sunday. We went to church and heard a wonderful message from Pastor Matt Thompson from the Geneva Church of Christ. Matt and his family will always hold a very special place in our hearts. You never realize how much people mean to you until you haven't seen them for awhile. Never met a man with a greater gift of encouragement than Matt Thompson.

Kenny has finally wound down from all the excitement and food and has crashed on the couch while watching football. Jillian and Shane have gone home. Justin is back at work. My books and notes are all over the kitchen table calling my name, because I desperately need to get busy on a project!

Life is full. Life is good. And my soul is full of the good things of life. Thank you Lord for countless blessings, unspeakable joy and for bringing me 'thus far'.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Happy Birthday Kenny

Today is my man's birthday. It's his 43rd one and the 27th one we have celebrated together. Who would have thought that when we celebrated his 16th birthday as teenagers 'in-love' that we would celebrate his 43rd together. I think God knew way back then and I am so grateful.

Kenny hates this kind of stuff, but it's my blog, so . . .

Happy Birthday babe. There isn't a Hallmark card around that could do justice to describing you. I fell in love with you when you were 15, but today I love you. True love. The kind of love that has stood the test of time and trials and 24 years of marriage.

You make me laugh. You make me happy - not just happy for a moment here and there, but genuinely happy. You are a man of God and I know that you live it out at home as much as you do everywhere else. You work hard. Not just working hard at the job that pays you, but at pursuing God and in everything you do. You are a man of integrity. I love knowing that when you say you will or won't do something, your word is good. I admire you. I know you and the personal things about you that aren't always meant for sharing. I would admire you if I didn't know them, but because I do I admire you even more. I know who you are and I am deeply in love with you - all of you.

It is your birthday, but the kids and I got the gift. A gift of a godly husband, godly father and soon-to-be godly grandpa. Some things just get better with age and you are one of them. I thank God for you every day and I will continue to do so as long God gives me breath to praise Him.

I love you Kenny Alan Morgan - Happy Birthday!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dangerous Woman

A few years ago, I had the wonderful privilege of being a part of a women's ministry event called "Dangerous Women". The general idea of the conference was about being dangerous women for Christ. Godly women. Women who feared the Lord and followed Him with passion. It was while I was reading Angel's blog tonight that I was reminded of the conference. Angel was a part of it. We had a blast and God blessed us in it.

I confess that I wasn't really looking to read blogs tonight, it just kind of happened after I climbed up out of my self-induced "you can be an idiot" pit. If you have no idea what I am talking about when I say that - stop here - the rest of the blog will mean absolutely nothing to you. If you have ever jumped into the "you can be an idiot" pit all of your own free will - then please keep reading.

The drop into the pit started when I called a friend with a genuine concern about something that was going on in her life. I wanted her to know I care and that I was thinking about her and praying for her and that I love her. Instead, out of my mouth came words that I meant for good, but wound up hurting. Something careless that I said without really thinking about what I was saying or how it might be taken. One giant step toward the 'idiot pit'.

I should have stopped right there and put duct-tape on my mouth. But no, instead I go see what my husband is doing. The first night we have had at home alone in a week. Been looking forward to it for days. Nothing I love more than being alone with my man. Yep - you guessed it. Open mouth - say something stupid and thoughtless. Free fall straight into the 'idiot pit'.

Final kick of dirt down on me in the 'idiot pit' - I was supposed to be studying tonight about being a godly wife and godly woman and self-discipline and what that means and how to live it out. Instead first hand lesson in the exact opposite direction. And on top of that not studying a bit.

So what does any of that have to do with dangerous women - everything. There is more than one kind of dangerous woman. There is the woman who radically, boldly, humbly and obediently follows after Christ. She is a godly woman. She doesn't just talk the talk - she walks the walk. She brings honor to her husband and her family. The Proverbs 31 woman for starters.

Then there is the dangerous woman who is worse than a dripping faucet. (Proverbs 19:13 and Proverbs 21:9) The woman who doesn't guard her tongue and doesn't think before she speaks. The woman who can tear down in 3 seconds flat with one sentence what took a year to build up with words of affirmation and encouragement and love. She is equally dangerous.

I just kept thinking of Paul's words over and over in my head - I don't do the things I ought to do and instead keep doing the things I don't want to do. (my paraphrase) I didn't want to hurt my friend and I didn't want to hurt my husband. I wanted to encourage my friend and have a wonderful evening alone with my husband. I wanted to spend some time studying God's word and listening for his promptings within me. Instead, my ears and heart were plugged with mud and dirt from the pit.

Lord have mercy on me and I thank you that your mercies are new each morning. I'm gonna need 'em. And now I need to go be with my husband.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Evidence of Grace


This is just a portion of the shoes - men's shoes - that I had to walk over to get in the house tonight after women's bible study. There were two other similar collections inside the door. These are the shoes I had to step over and around after parking half-way out the drive and walking to the house because there was nowhere near the house to park. The shoes and parked cars are absolute evidence of God's grace. Men, men, men - in our basement - seeking God, praying, laughing and doing whatever else it is they do when men gather together to meet with God. I know what we do at the women's bible study, but that's just women, so I don't know what all goes on here on Tuesday nights when the men meet. But this I know, I will gladly walk down the drive in the dark and step over piles of shoes to walk into my house to hear men fellowshipping in our basement. And the other cool part, they aren't just from our church, our country or our age group. Gotta love that!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Big Boxes Little Print

A big (well kind of big) box arrived for me yesterday from VocalPoint. Inside was this:


A free 28-day supply of wrinkle smoothing cream.

I love getting free face cream. However, I am thinking if I am of the age to need something to smooth out wrinkles, the print should be larger than this:






Friday, October 23, 2009

Enough Blood

I walked into chapel this morning with an already overwhelming sense of my sins that had been forgiven. I desperately needed to attend the chapel service this morning even though I knew I didn't have time to be there. Friday chapel service generally has a sparse attendance due to lack of students on campus. Today was no exception.

As the very moving devotion was read, it depicted the cost of the blood of Christ and in our thirst it is enough for each of us. The tears began to flow down my cheeks instantly. As the service went on, a short video depicting various scenes from the life of Christ was played. Everything from raising the dead to healing the sick to casting out demons to forgiveness of a woman caught in adultery played before our eyes. Without fail, the scene went onto Christ being escorted away to ultimately his crucifixion. More tears on the outside of my cheeks and even more flowing on the inside of my heart.

We were then lead into a time of communion. We were instructed to come forward, take the bread and a cup and then form a circle. I was near the end of the line. As we were getting closer, from the pulpit came the words that someone would need to get more juice - there wasn't enough. I could see that I was not going to get a cup and would have to wait. A horrific thought washed over me - what if Christ's blood hadn't been enough for everyone and all their sins? Oh, I know that it is and it was, but what if you stood in line and as you got to the front you were told Christ didn't have enough blood for you. I reached for the bread and was preparing to take my spot in the circle until the other cups arrived. When I looked down there was one cup left. I must have counted wrong. But then, what about my dear friend Reggie standing behind me. If this scene were real in the spiritual sense and my taking the last cup meant that Reggie wouldn't receive forgiveness of his sins - would I, could I, take it? Another wave of emotion washed over me and through me. The thought of ever standing in line before the Almighty God and being told that there wasn't enough blood for me seared the depths of my soul. Praise God that it is not so. The blood of Christ is more than enough for me and my sins.

At last the additional cups were brought to the front of the chapel. The two gentlemen beside me took their cups and then the young man in front of me reached over to take his. I hadn't realized that he had passed up his opportunity so that I might have a cup. Do I truly know the cost of sacrifice? Yes, it was just a cup of juice in a small chapel service. But perhaps it would serve us all to occasionally remember the depth and breadth of the sins in our own life that Christ's blood covered and then to meditate on the immeasurable power and greatness of His Blood - because there is enough.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Crawling Out and Moving Forward

It seems like the last few weeks have meshed into one because of our insane schedule. This week was to be back to 'normal' for us. Until I came home from work yesterday not feeling well and then spent all day in bed today. Just like our life has been - lots of stuff goin' on- so was my body. I didn't know if I should take something for the flu, intestinal flu, migraine, sore throat, sinuses, or a bad cold. No sooner did a symptom seem to settle in and I thought I knew what it was - then it would move. Mercy. Maybe this means I just got all the sickness for the year out in 24 hours!

At any rate, it's time to slow down. I don't have to do everything. I need to do what God has called me to do and sadly I am too busy too often to listen or to be available to Him. It's okay to say 'no' to invites, activities and my own personal agenda. It's not okay to put God on hold. It's time to reprioritize and be diligent in not only my pursuit of God, but also in the time I devote to my marriage and my family.

In three months our first grandchild will be here. It is a new season of life. And I am just fine with that! Actually ecstatic about it!!!! So I am crawling out from under the unnecessary busyness and the expectations of others and moving toward a life that focuses on my marriage, my children and son-in-law, my grandchild and a much deeper, more intimate pursuit of God. He has been whispering some things in my heart for awhile, it's time to listen and follow.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Our Ordinary Life

Two weeks that went a little like this: prep for bible study, women's bible study, men's bible study (my husband - not me), trip to Columbus for service at the Vineyard, trip to Lexington for Emmaus gathering, run husband to get truck window fixed, get wedding/shower gifts, mentor, shop for gifts, wedding, church, bridal shower, prep for bible study, repeat bible studies, small group, out to dinner with the folks, collapse. That was in our 'free time' each evening and weekend after work. As a result the laundry room looked like it just vomited clothes all over the laundry room.

And my kitchen table . . .


Friday night FREE - and so now the laundry room and my kitchen table look like this.


So can you please explain this to me?

No matches to be found. No socks just laying around the house. And no more laundry to do.

Saturday a relaxing trip with my husband to here.

A nice Fall day, beautiful drive in the country and this . . . .

Ahhh a fabulous array of cheeses, lunch meats and bulk foods. Life is good. Time to relax a bit.

Sunday morning head out the door for a quick errand before church. Greeted by our son's dog. The dog that is supposed to either be locked in the garage or tied up outside. Running free. Mmmmm . . . what is that smell? It smells strangely like skunk!!!!! Get my son up, avoid further contact with the dog. Walk down the sidewalk only to discover that as a token of the dog's appreciation for us she has brought us one of our neighbor's Sunday papers. Possibly as a bribe for her bad behavior during the night?

Wouldn't trade a minute of my ordinary life with my family for anything!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Compassion

I am facing one of those inner flesh against soul battles today. Self and pride versus compassion and care. I have recently been placed in a situation that involves having and demonstrating a true compassion for someone I know. Having true compassion is far from easy when it effects you and your time and costs you something. Then it is a whole different game.

And so I confess, I didn't want to have compassion after day 10 or whatever day we are on. In a moment of complete selfishness, I wanted to say "woe is ME - Does anybody notice the sacrifice I AM making?" After all, my health is fine, my family is fine so shouldn't it be about me instead of the person who is going through a horribly difficult time. (If you don't know me - I mean that sarcastically). But sadly, my feelings probably weren't very far from that if someone had tapped into my brain and heart and displayed my feelings on a screen.

The whole situation just brought some of the ugliness inside of me right up to the surface. I had to admit that having compassion and empathy are easy if we only have to pay lip service to it. It isn't so easy if it causes stress in our lives or inconveniences us in any way. It is even harder if you feel like no one notices the sacrifices you are making on behalf of someone else. I know, I know, I know - totally selfish. I'm sorry. God and I are working this one out in me.

Oh LORD, help me to have a right heart and spirit and to love others as you have loved us. No greater sacrifice was made than the one you made on my behalf. Forgive me when I fall short. Transform my heart, mind and soul into a likeness of you. Don't give up on me - I want to finish the race strong.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Do Mentors Matter?

Does having or being a mentor really make a difference? Does it really matter if you are one or have one? My answer would be a resounding "Yes!". My husband and I are both far richer in Christ and in our relationship because of the time and effort that two people invested in us individually. Soon after my husband came to know the Lord, a man from our church began reaching out to Kenny and asked if he could disciple him. Almost immediately after they started meeting I could see a difference in my husband and I could definitely tell the weeks they did not meet. It was that significant!

My mentor also happened to be my pastor's mom. We wound up sharing an office for over a year. During that time and in the years and months to follow, I was mentored by a woman who would push me and test me and pray for me like no one else. I always knew when she was about to "speak truth" to me - in she would walk with her bible already open and her journal underneath it. I cannot possibly begin to place a value on what I gained during that time. It was absolutely priceless.

My mentor moved to China, which made weekly meetings a bit difficult. Soon after her move, God started rearranging a multitude of things in my own life. As a result, I wasn't being mentored and I wasn't mentoring anyone either. I was doing bible studies and retreats and other groups, but not the one-on-one mentoring.

Hallelujah the drought is over! Last Saturday I met with a wonderful woman to begin a season of one-on-one mentoring. The beautiful thing about mentoring is that you both change. I didn't realize how desperately I needed it until after we had met.

So are you mentoring someone or is someone mentoring you? As I watched the Today show this morning, even the newscasters were talking about how important mentoring is and that they would never be where they were without one. After Paul's conversion in Acts, he spent time with the disciples being taught and trained. Elijah and Elisha. Jesus and Peter, James and John. The scriptures set the example that discipling and mentoring is to be a part of our Christian walk.

It is good to learn from others who have gone before you and been through the fire a few times. Accountability matters. Christ never tells us to go it alone. He sent them out two-by-two (and not just on the ark). We also need to take what we have learned and pass it on to others. Iron really does sharpen iron.

Yes, it takes time. It takes commitment. It takes vulnerability and humility. But the rewards far outweigh any sacrifice we might make. Mentoring matters and I thank God for my mentor, Mary Hill, and for the woman I am blessed to mentor in this season of life.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

When's Jesus Coming

Yesterday we attended our nephew's wedding. In front of us sat the most darling little blond haired boy. I am guessing his age around 3 or 4. The cutest little mohawk and the brightest eyes. He was adorable and a chatterbox. Not the rude kind of chatterbox, but the kind that his mom just kept whispering 'shhh - sit down'. He was inquisitive and friendly. There was a world that he needed to know about right there in the middle of that church. As we sat there with the music playing before the wedding ceremony began, the little boy piped up and asked his momma "when's Jesus coming out?" Oh the joy of a child.

When's Jesus coming out? The question wasn't when is Jesus coming back - but when is He coming out. Can you imagine what our church's would be like if we all went with the expectation of having an encounter with Jesus right there in the middle of the sanctuary. I'm not talking about putting pastors on pedestals in the place of Jesus. Oh no. I'm talking about that thrill that comes from being in a service where the Holy Spirit is not only welcome, but expected. A place where people come genuinely wanting to hear from the Lord and room is made for Him in the church and in their lives.

Too often we find that Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit have been programmed right out of the church service. I certainly appreciate and expect pastors to have prepared for the service. They have a biblical duty to do so as they lead God's sheep. But I also believe they have a biblical duty to allow God to stir their hearts to change the message and what takes places on Sunday morning. If churches program their services too tightly, (i.e. 3 min. video, 24.5 min. sermon, 1.5 min. announcements, 10 min. singing, dismiss congregation - no exceptions) there is little room for the moving of the Spirit. The Spirit may decide to move right there in the middle of that second worship song and not really care what was about to come next.

But in order to know if the Spirit is moving right there in the middle of the second worship song or during the prayer time, we have to be attentive to the Spirit. We have to have an attitude of heart that wants to know "When's Jesus Coming Out?" As followers of Christ, we ought to live our lives not only thinking about the ultimate return of Jesus, but on a daily basis desiring an encounter with Him.

That sweet little boy wasn't going to miss it if Jesus came walking through the doors of the church. I reckon he would have stood up right in the middle of the wedding vows and shouted if had seen Jesus. He was excited and looking for him. Are you?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Sometimes Life is Hard . . .

And sometimes it isn't fair and sometimes stuff just plain stinks! Anybody know what I mean? Do you ever find yourself going through life, maybe even thinking you are about to have victory over something and then WHAM! - Didn't even see it coming kind of wham. Or at least hoped it wasn't coming again kind of wham.

I can't tell you the number of parents I know who are going through tough stuff, really tough stuff, with their teenagers and young adult children. The kind of stuff you pray as a parent you will never have to go through and then you find yourself in the middle of a world that feels like it has spun out of control at any given moment.

People who are battling for their marriages with all sorts of junk. Thinking that things are better, then finding themselves in situations they didn't want to be in - again.

Loved ones with cancer and other sicknesses. It's gone - then it's back. Or just unexpected results or trials.

Finances that seem to only get worse no matter how hard people try to get ahead and stay afloat.

Just this week God taught me something in His Word. He knew I would need it today. Nehemiah 8:10 says in part: "Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength". I like this verse, but today I love it with a new found passion. I can't really describe what it used to mean to me and how I applied it. But it was something to the effect that I would be joyful in a situation just because scripture says so. There are some situations that aren't joyful no matter what angle you look at them from. But see, I have the Lord. Let me repeat I HAVE THE LORD and HE is MY strength. These battles of life are His to fight with His strength. I have some joy goin' on because I know the Lord is my Savior and will take out the enemy with His righteous right hand. Glory be to God!

I know you go through tough stuff too. You aren't alone. This battle may not be over, but the day is coming. Oh the day is coming when the One who is called Faithful and True, with a fire blazing in His eyes, riding on a horse will fulfill Revelation 19:21 "The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse".

Until that day comes, stay on your knees, pray, believe and never give up. There are some battles worth stayin' the course for and fightin' through to the end. Praise God.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Words from the Lord

"What has the Lord given you lately from his Word?" That question just screamed at me from the pages of "Breakthrough Prayer" by Jim Cymbala yesterday. What has the Lord given you lately from his Word? Seriously, how different would our lives be if we got up every day and had that thought pressing in our minds. I truly believe that some spiritual conviction and some spiritual growth would be taking place if we peppered our conversations with other believers with that thought.

It begs two things. One that you have read the Word. Two that you thought about what it was saying to you.

So, what has the Lord given YOU lately from his Word?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Kids and Porn

The title isn't for shock value. It is more of a disclaimer. I don't want to write this post. I want apple crisp and coffee on the porch with my husband. I fear not writing this. So here it goes. . .

Every single day I think about the effects that pornography and strip clubs have on young women and young men. Every day I think about what God would have me to do with this burden. Every time I think about it my heart aches - deeply. Then I read Anne Jackson's blog "Addicted to Porn?" Then I went here. Dirty Girl Ministries. I think that what these women have to say and the fact that they are speaking out about it is admirable. It isn't easy to admit these things. Too often people think that porn only effects adult men. And certainly not Christians and certainly not young girls.

Two weeks ago I was here and at the conference they talked about addiction and grace and trauma and healing and forgiveness, etc. One of the things that keeps sticking in my mind is this: what is addictive to you or me might not be to someone else and vice-versa. Just because it isn't addictive to you, doesn't mean that it won't be a devastating addiction to someone else. Porn can be like that. I know people who looked and left. I know others who were shown a magazine at a very young age and found themselves highly addicted to pornography at a very young age. The magazine under the bed isn't harmless, anymore than a fully loaded gun would be. The gun just kills faster. Pornography might not kill you physically, but it kills something inside of you.

The girls in the strip club and the girls in the magazines/internet are someone's daughter. It can be justified and said "well they are adults and they know what they are doing - no one is making them". Well that might be true. But to the person going to the strip club and looking at porn, do you know what you are doing? Do you know how degraded that young girl feels? Do you know the hurt and lack of self-worth she feels? Do you know the guilt she will feel later in life? Do you know she is someone's mommy? She is a person. It might be legal, but it doesn't make it right.

To the guy who just wanted to show his friend the magazine or just a quick peek at some 'girlie' website: Do you know your friend has a highly-addictive personality and after just one 'quick-peek' will find himself in the strongholds of sexual addiction and/or pornography addictions? To the guy who sits on the stool/chair (or whatever it is) and watches for his self-pleasure the girl dancing before him, which one of you will feel worse at the end of the night?

Sadly, I know of teens who are taking nude pictures of themselves and sending them over their cell phones. I know someone whose husband took nude pics of her and sold them to a magazine. I know a young girl who struggles with her sexual identity and often finds herself in strip clubs just looking for someone or something to get her through the night. To each of these women and to others like them, I am sorry. I am sorry you have been hurt and I am sorry that I haven't done more.

I know that pornography is found in "adult magazines" and "adult websites" and "adult clubs" and in "adult videos". So if that's the case, then why are kids exposed to it, addicted to it and often times abused and hurt by it? Adults use the word 'adult' to say it isn't their fault. The kids shouldn't have been looking or the kids shouldn't have been doing something else. Well here's the deal, it isn't just an 'adult' problem. It is a problem for teens, pre-teens and for young adults who got caught in a web that they don't know how to get out of.

I haven't figured out yet what God wants me to do with this burden. I also know that sometimes our greatest ministries come from our greatest hurts. So I guess I will just see where God leads. This isn't my greatest hurt, but I figure I will see what God does with the burden He gave me.


Friday, September 18, 2009

Apple Pie and Jesus

It's bible study/small group night at our house. For the last 5 years we have been doin' life with the same two other couples. Others have come and gone in that time, but we have stayed together. We laugh, we cry, we eat, we pray and then repeat. At the same time we are digging in and dissecting the Word of God and trying to figure out how to apply it to our lives. We hold each other accountable. We hold each other up. We did the Emmaus thing together. We love each other. They have been there through thick and thin. We are family.

How God would so graciously join together such a group of misfits and use us in ways beyond our understanding is beyond me.

They are all on their way to our house now. The apple pies are baked, the ice cream is chillin' and more food is on the way. It's gonna be a good time. Apple pie, friends and Jesus. So much to be thankful for.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Worth it All

I know that blog posts about one's spouse aren't always a favorite topic of anyone reading them - but I cannot help myself tonight. In two weeks we will have been married for 24 years and we have been together, counting dating years, for 27 years. Without question I love him now more than ever and the romance is better than ever.

I had been gone all day and my man was going to be gone all night. But when I got home, there were notes - everywhere. He knows me so well . . . . first the note in the bathroom because he knows it will be the first place I go when I walk in the door. Next was the note on the computer keyboard, the coffee pot and in the fridge. He knew instinctively after all this time the exact places I would go when I got home. And he loves me enough to let me know he knows.

There is an extreme amount of comfort in knowing that he knows me that well and that he cares about me that much. We may not have gotten the marriage thing right for a lot of years - but let me tell ya - we are making up for lost time and it is a blessing beyond description!

Praying blessings all over my man as he does what God has called him to do!!! Preach it baby.


Saturday, September 5, 2009

I LOVE FALL!

I love Fall. Although it technically isn't fall yet - this morning feels like it. The coolness of the morning. The quiet. The leaves just slightly starting to turn color. A hint of dew on the ground. Without question Fall is my favorite season. It is the perfect time for all my favorite clothes - blue jeans, flip-flops, sweaters and sweatshirts. Cool nights are the absolute best snuggle weather. No air conditioner. No furnace. Just open windows and blankets. Baking with ingredients that leave your house smelling fabulous - pumpkin, cinnamon, apple - ooooooh. Mums, pumpkins - vibrant colors. If I could capture this season and just have it year round - I would.

I pray that this season brings you much joy. May you find yourself closer to God and seeking Him more!

Friday, September 4, 2009

My Hospital Stay

I know this will sound weird, but the last few days as I walk out of the office to my car, I feel like I am walking across a rehab or hospital parking lot. Seriously. You know on Patch Adams how they have this hospital that doesn't really look like a hospital - yeah it feels like that.

From what I know, there are times when someone is in need of rehab for addictions or illness and they are either in denial or just have no idea how sick or addicted they really are. Or perhaps, it is like the elderly who are taken to a nursing home for some healing and they don't understand why are they are being taken out of their home. Or possibly, it is similar to someone who looks a little sick and when they open them up they find they are full of cancer and need extensive treatment. I think I was all of those. And so God picked me up and placed me at the seminary. I didn't understand, but I think I am starting to get it. It was to be my place of healing in so many, many ways.

Just like drugs you can be addicted to church or ministry. It gives you a spiritual high. You want and need more. But you suddenly find the church or ministry controlling you and you have lost sight of your first love relationship with God.

Then there is that cancer inside of us. Those things that have been growing for years. In the last two years, God has gotten out his scalpel of humility and carved away at my heart. It was apparently in need of a good circumcision. More importantly, it was in need of some serious chemotherapy treatment. It needed some radiation to heal some dark, ugly spots that had been there for years.

You need some physical therapy to heal and mend and strengthen the broken places in you. Parts that were broken, but never healed properly. Parts that were just misshapen by time and circumstances and using the wrong procedures to correct them. Sometimes they need to be re-broken and re-set so that you can walk and run and move the way you were created to. I was in need of some that.

So God took me to the Seminary. There he would place people in my life who would help remove the scales from my eyes and gently work on a heart transplant. He placed people in front of me who knew how to heal the places in my heart through prayer and some wise counsel. So with a daily dose of medicine, some heart therapy, a large array of people from all over the world - God would remold, remake and heal this wounded soul. I didn't even know I was in need of such major work.

I don't know first hand what it is like when your family or friends come to you and take you away for intervention or rehab or psychotherapy. But I do know was it is like when God does.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

I'm a Mess

Do you ever find yourself wondering if you will ever be on the right path? Wondering if perhaps God is going to keep you heading in the same direction for an extended period and actually reveal His plan for your life? Yep - me too.

Every time I think I know or understand what God is doing with me, He changes the direction. Or at least that is how it feels. I am a list person, so personally I would prefer God show me the list and we could just get to work on it. After all we no longer live in the Old Testament times and my chances of living to 500 are unlikely, so we need to get busy. I'm not getting any younger.

God has put all kinds of passions and desires within my heart and mind that involve serving Him and living out His word. In my finite mind, it would seem that He should be opening doors and making the way for this to happen in a rather timely fashion. Doesn't seem to be the case.

I am a messy work in progress. I thought a lot about this in the last few days as it felt like large chunks of my life were just falling apart or not coming together in a very pretty fashion. I don't know a lot (or anything) about making pottery. But as I thought about my life and all that has been going on recently, I just envisioned Jesus up to his elbows (literally) in clay and water as He put me on the pottery wheel and worked at molding me and shaping me into the vessel he desires. I imagined his hands right there in the messiness of my life trying to make something beautiful out of it. His living water pouring into me and shaping me. His hands pressing, pushing, tenderly creating. While all I can see is this fast spinning-out-of-control view of life, Jesus looks down and sees what He is creating. From my place on the potter's wheel, there is stuff flying all over the place. Pieces of my life splattering on the floor, parts of me just dropping off to the side. Things in my life that appear to have no shape from my view on the wheel - have an intentional design from the view of the potter. Because I cannot see the finished product, I get frustrated and wonder what will I be when God is finished. I'm too focused on the end and not the process. This I do know. The nail-pierced hands of The Potter are carefully and lovingly molding this lump of clay into something useful.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Donuts - an empty way of life.

Donuts. Pretty. Sweet. Tempting. Glazed. Frosted. Powdered. Puffed up. Empty in the middle, unless superficially stuffed with something. Donuts aren't sinful in and of themselves. But sin could certainly be described similarly. They both look good. The donut is missing something. And sin leaves you feeling the same way - empty on the inside and missing something.

I like donuts. When I was under 30-something, I could eat them - lots of them - and they had no effect on me. Not so much now that I am in the over 40-something category. They still look good. They still initially taste good. But somehow after that last bite, I immediately regret giving into the temptation. My mouth feels and tastes funny. I can feel the sugar starting to run its course through my body. Not good. I start asking myself - why did you do that? You know how they make you feel. Was it really worth it? No. Sadly, I still gave in more than once thinking maybe this time the effects will be different. After all, how can something that looks that good make me feel that bad.

Sin can be that way. Tempting. Feels good. Looks good. In your heart and mind, you know better. You know you shouldn't. You know how you will feel after that 2-minute sin binge. But you do it anyway. I have been there and done that in a multitude of ways. And regretted every one, whether it was an immediate regret or on down the line. You don't always feel the effects of sin right away. It can take its toll on your spirit, soul and body long after you enjoyed the momentary pleasure of it.

I'm probably not going to die from the part of the donut I ate yesterday morning. But somehow the 'bad taste' of it is still with me.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Band Camp, Yearbooks, Lists and Jesus

As I was driving home from work in the terribly hot, humid oppressive weather this week, I passed some students walking down the sidewalk carrying their band instruments. Sudden flashbacks of band camp invaded my thoughts. Spending weeks each summer during high school getting up early, going to the school, sitting in a sweltering hot band room, dressing in nice wool band uniforms for the first football game when it was 90 degrees out, etc. You get the picture. And then it hit me. Why? Why did I do it? I am not musically inclined. I usually didn't have my music memorized like I was supposed to. I didn't have some burning desire to go to competitions or advance into some great musical career. Then I remembered. The yearbook.

The more things you were involved in the more times your picture and name would appear in the yearbook each year. And then when you graduated you also got to have a long list of activities listed that you were involved in. I wanted a long list. I counted them. It didn't matter to me that I didn't even like some of the things I did or had the faintest interest in them. It was the list. The list that made decisions for me. More things - more something. As though a long list of achievements would give me some type of self-worth. I would have been better off picking one or two things I really liked and had some natural talent at and pursued those passionately. I know it is and was vain and who really cares. But back then it seemed to matter to me.

Following Christ can be like that. We want a list. A list of all the ministries we have served in, on and for. We want to be on people's lists of important ministry something or others. And then there are the rewards. Isn't that the goal, get to heaven, stand before Jesus and have him unfurl a long scroll listing all of the things you did for him? After all - we do get some sort of a crown or jewel or trophy or something for that, right? You know, make sure your face is in every picture as Christ looks back through the history of this church or that ministry. I am certain he will be so impressed. As He looks through your pictorial history, will he see His face in the picture? Will he mention how much you look just like Him? What will he see? After all the word says that God looks at the heart . . . 1 Samuel 16:7b "The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

Oswald Chambers asks in My Utmost for His Highest: "Are you more devoted to your idea of what Jesus wants than to Himself?" That is good food for thought and something to seriously ponder. Are we (am I) more interested in making a list of things to do for Jesus than I am in who Jesus is? May my 'list' pale in comparison to my devotion and love for my Savior.


Saturday, August 15, 2009

New to Me

Nothing profound here. But since I am sitting at the computer listening to Beth Moore, figured I would share with you the two new things I discovered today that are changing my life.

1. Aveeno shampoo & conditioner. Got a trial size sample and I am now hooked. This stuff is a best friend to "thick, curly, suffering from humidity" hair.

2. Laundry is almost fun if you do it listening to and watching Wednesdays with Beth, especially when it's Saturday. Love watching this, but I am at work when it is on TV and never seem to have time in the evenings with the cooking, cleaning and everyday life stuff. So perhaps it should be renamed "cleaning house and doin' chores with Beth".

Be blessed my friends.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

An Unbelieving Spouse

I used to be married to an unbelieving spouse. I am still married to the same man, but he is very much a committed and passionate follower of Jesus Christ. Not always the case. I know there is a woman out there who needs to read this today - so this is for you.

Before marriage, we talked about church and agreed we would go to church after we got married. Then life happened and church didn't. After we had kids, I started taking them by myself. Nothing like going to church and having your 'flaws' magnified. I was in a Sunday school class with all couples. I didn't even fit into the women's group I sometimes went to. If you are a wife who goes to church without her spouse, you will know what I am talking about in this. You need other women who understand. (Churches - please offer something for women who come to church without their spouses - and don't make it the "so you come alone class?". ) For awhile, I tried to persuade my husband to go. I tried nagging my husband to go. I tried guilting him into going. - No go. So I quit going.

Over the next several years, life was hard in many ways and we often talked about going to church, but still didn't. We did the oh-so-noble thing and sent the kids with grandma. Not horrible to do, but certainly wasn't the best way to go about this.

Fast forward many years. God starts working in ways we know nothing about. I feel God tugging at my heart to go to church. Mention it to my husband, who this time does not shut me down. The first Sunday only my daughter and I go. The next week he goes. Please understand that everything didn't just become easy and beatiful. It took time. Patience. Prayer. Biting my tongue. Prayer. Godly men reaching out to my husband in a non-threatening way. Tears. Disappointments. Prayer. And a lot of hard spiritual work. I was much more eager to jump on board in all ways and wanted to drag, push, pull, coerce my husband into going at the same speed I wanted to go. I wanted him to see church and all it had to offer through my eyes. God wanted my husband to see it through His eyes.

It has been a little over 6 1/2 years since we first walked through the doors of that church. My husband ultimately accepted Christ and was baptized. There have been huge and magnificent mountain top moments over the last 6 1/2 years. If you had told me these things would be so, I would NEVER have believed you. All things that have happened are to the glory of God alone. There also have been some very low, very dark, very difficult times since then. We have been spiritually tested from every possible angle. Again, glory to God alone for seeing us through.

I write this because I believe there are many women out there who feel like there is no hope. They have been praying for years and not seeing any progress in their husband getting any closer to God. They want to be involved and their spouse bulks at them being at "that church one-more-night with 'those people' ". They keep drawing closer to God and wonder if God has forgotten them. They are women who wonder if anyone else out there could possibly understand how they feel. The answer is 'yes'.

There are no guarantees as to if or when your spouse will come to know Christ. But know this, what seems and looks impossible to us is not impossible for God. Don't give up hope. Don't quit praying. If you aren't praying for your spouse, then start.

Are you living out the picture of Jesus in your home? Or are you loving on Sunday and cold-hearted come Monday? Do your actions and words reflect the love of Jesus at home and especially to your spouse? Do you show respect to your husband? Or do you find nagging comes a whole lot easier? Please don't say "when he starts going to church, then I will . . . " You go first. You show respect. If you don't think there is anything to respect about your spouse, find one thing and focus on it until God shows you more. You love on him like there is no tomorrow and don't quit. You want someone to change, start asking God how you need to change first. Please remember - six months of godly living and loving can be severely damaged by one 'heat-of-the-moment-letting-my-tongue-gain-control' word. Ask God to hold onto your tongue. This comes from a woman who has done it all the wrong way for a very long time.

I prayed and prayed and prayed for a godly husband. I prayed that my husband would be the spiritual head of our house and on fire for God. I couldn't figure out why God wouldn't just make it happen overnight after Kenny accepted Christ. Well, I wasn't the wife that Kenny would need as he became that man of God. I needed to change and grow. I needed refined and tested. I needed forgiveness and sanctification. I needed to get the whole forest full of logs out of my eyes so I could see things more clearly. God was about to do a mighty transforming work in my man, but He needed me to be a woman that could walk along side him and not drag him down.

Keep praying. Ask God how you need to change. Ask God to give you a passionate heart for your husband. Show your husband respect - privately and publicly. Take some tylenol at 7 - so you don't have a headache at 9. Hold on tightly to the Lord because He will never disappoint you.

And know this - you are not alone and there is hope. To God be the glory.

Friday, August 7, 2009

There's a New Game in Town

When my kids were little we played a lot of games and did a lot of puzzles. I absolutely love to play board games and card games. Well, the kids are grown and even though we still play games sometimes, it isn't nearly as often as I would like. So when someone said that couponing was a game and that you could cut your grocery bill down to $50 or less a week for a family of three adults (plus a few from time to time) - well I was in. On top of that, it isn't about buying generic or out-dated food. It is almost all brand names and good quality food. It takes a little time to cut the coupons, plan and to get it going, but so far I have managed to cut our food bill by 1/3 and we have more food and toiletries in our cupboards than ever.

I only shop at three stores (none of them start with W) and they are all within about a mile of each other. I am not buying anything we won't use or won't need. Part of my motivation is to take the money I am saving to buy other things we need or want for the house. In addition, I actually get free stuff and so I am able to give other items away that we might not need or use right away. Hopefully by the end of August, I will actually be at the $50/week for food and all toiletries and household cleaning products. And yes that figure includes meat, produce and make-up.

Southern Savers has great tips and information on coupons and deals. Although it features stores in the southern part of the country and all their sales don't line up with our stores here, there are great tips, suggestions and links. She does give info on Krogers, CVS, Walgreens, Riteaid and some others that are in Ohio. It is also cool that I am able to use my Kroger card to earn money for our church's preschool and earn savings for gasoline at the same time.

So let the games begin . . .

Thursday, August 6, 2009

What will you say?

I love Tuesday night women's bible study. (except for the part about being away from my husband). The women I meet with are totally amazing. I just love each and every one of them. I have been praying about what we should study in the next couple of weeks. God laid a couple of different topics on my heart that I am really excited about. As I was looking through some possible books to study in preparation, a title caught my attention, which resulted in this question running through my head:

When we get to heaven and we see God face-to-face and he wants to know what we think about the Book he wrote for us, what will we say?

How could I ever look the King of Kings in the face and say "I didn't really have time to read it." I could follow it up with "But I have one in every color!" So often I think about questions I want to ask when I get to heaven, things I hope to be able to find out or understand. I can just imagine asking those questions and He responding: "It was on page 455 in your NIV Study Bible and then again on page 500. I wrote it several more times for you because I knew you were going to need those instructions." Or saying Lord - how could you have let that happen, don't you care? And He will reply, "did you read the love letters I wrote you? If you had, you would know how deep my love for you really was. You would know how much I cared all along." I could go on and on with possible scenarios, but somehow I don't want to get to heaven and say "well - I blogged about it, doesn't that count?"

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Places for Grace

Do you have places in your life where you need grace? Do you need to give some grace?

Who are "they"?

"They" say you should walk and you will lose weight. "They" say you should drink more water. "They" say weigh yourself once a week. "They" say don't eat after 6 p.m. "They" say weigh yourself every day. "They" say you should pay cash. "They" say it's going to be a hard winter. "They" say you will go blind if you sit too close to the tv. "They" say it's going to be a good year for corn. "They" say . . . WHO ARE THEY?

If you really think about it, how many times do you say or do you hear others say: "They say"? Why don't we ever question who "they" are or what "they" say? Sometimes we just take it as gospel and go with it. If "They" said it, well then it must be true.

Maybe we should take a different approach. Jesus says "Don't worry about tomorrow". Jesus says "love your enemy". Jesus says to give to the poor. Jesus says to take care of the orphans and widows. Jesus says to cast all your anxieties on him. Jesus says to forgive as you have been forgiven. Jesus says to tell others about him. Jesus says to love your God with all your heart. Jesus says . . . . Do you know what Jesus says? How different would our lives be if we thought about what Jesus says as much as we do about what "they" say.

Monday, July 27, 2009

This will be funny later . . .

Two weeks since I last blogged. Finally thought I was having something worthwhile to say tonight and then life happened. My ear is still sweating after having had the phone to it for the last hour listening to various forms of elevator music while I held waiting on customer service.

1. Car needs repaired. Leave early for work, drop off the car. Turns out the parts (not including labor) would cost more than the value of the car and that was assuming they could find the parts. Needless to say we will drive this car until it literally stops running on the side of the road somewhere. The thought of car payments makes me cringe.

2. Making supper last night and microwave just quits. No bang. No dramatic fire. No burnt food. Just quits. Not the fuse. Not the plug. Just done. One year warranty technically expired about a month ago, although the microwave has actually only been used for about 10 months. Will cost more to fix than to buy a new one. Didn't put anything out to thaw for supper because I needed to drop the car off to get it fixed. Making comfort food.

3. Making comfort food while I am on hold waiting for customer service with a different company. Returned items (that I didn't order) two weeks ago. Still hasn't come off my credit card. Open jar for sauce for the comfort food sandwich I really want by now - mold on the inside of the jar. Plan B.

4. After being on hold listening to really loud, really bad music, I hear "our systems are down and we won't be able to help you locate your order until tomorrow."

5. Have now doubled up on the grilled cheese and added extra cheese.

Maybe the 'profound' thoughts will come to me tomorrow. But for now - looking for something chocolate.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Shifting

I love it when you can feel the momentum shift in a situation. Sometimes you feel like the battle is headed for your side to be defeated and then . . . GOD! You bow down, confess your sins, thank God for his faithfulness and when you lift your head back up, you can see the enemy retreating and you regain your passion to fight.

That's what happened tonight. Our team just took the offensive.

Stand firm then and resist the devil and he will flee from you.

Maybe you have your own story of God's
faithfulness when you thought defeat was imminent. I would love to hear it.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Written on Me

What is written on me? What message am I sending as a Christian? What image do I convey to the lost, the cynical, the scared, the hopeless? If I am the church, what does the sign in front of my building say? Is it cheesy, hypocritical, indifferent, uninteresting, judgmental?

Like a whirlwind in my mind, these thoughts are spinning faster and faster and faster. Not out of control, but clearly with a purpose that the momentum in my brain will ultimately cause a reaction in my physical being in how I act and speak and think.

A postcard invitation for our church was laying on our kitchen counter. The upcoming service will be about "If you only had 30 days left to live" and how it would effect your life. Sadly, I really hadn't thought about what my response or answer would be. I still haven't, because my thoughts were radically redirected. Someone I care very deeply for and who is far from Christ, picked up the postcard and read it. They asked lots of questions. Not about Jesus. They asked questions about our church and why certain service times had changed. They asked about other matters concerning the church and the people there. They looked the card over so closely and noticed the finest details that I had honestly not seen. There was small print in the background. I thought it was just a design and never noticed the words. This person read those words and contemplated them. They spent time considering how they would live out their life if they only had 30 days left to live.

Their reaction to the postcard impacted me greatly. What is the message I am sending? Would anyone want to know Jesus after having spent some time with me? Would they think that I am any different than the rest of the world or am I just boring and indifferent? What about me would make them think that Jesus is worth following? I know this person is reading the 'fine print' on my invitation to come follow Jesus.

I have to wonder - what is written on me?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Resentful or Grateful?

Do we resent the responsibilities that come with answered prayer? That was the question posed to me last week. Before you read further, please stop and reread the question slowly: Do we resent the responsibilities that come with answered prayer?

If God has blessed you with a home - do you resent the time it takes to keep it clean and cared for? If God has placed you in a ministry of some sort - do you resent the time it requires or the sacrifices you must make? If God has blessed you with a job (which can be an answer to all sorts of prayers) - do you resent going to work? Are you being responsible in how you handle the money God has blessed you with?

Seriously, do we resent the responsibilities that come with answered prayer? Think about some of things that God has blessed you with in response to the prayers you have prayed. What is your attitude towards those answers? Are you being a good steward with whatever it is He has entrusted you with?

Does your gratitude and stewardship warrant God entrusting you with more? If God has found you worthy to be the caretaker of something He needs done on this earth, how would your performance evaluation read? Do you resent it? Do you even think about it?

Do we resent the responsibilities that come with answered prayer? I don't know - do you?