Saturday, December 4, 2010

Feeling Overwhelmed? - Part 2

Sometimes life can leave you feeling overwhelmed. In my own life there are currently three areas that I know I need to work on in order not to feel this way. I am being very intentional about simplifying and de-cluttering in my own home and daily schedule. While there are some things I cannot control, there are some areas that I can certainly make drastic improvements in.

Last year when I started doing the extreme couponing, which I prefer to call being frugal and getting great deals, our cupboards quickly began filling up. Lack of food is certainly not a problem at our house and giving it away helps me to be generous to those in need.

While this is certainly a blessing and not a problem, there are two areas in need of my attention: 1) Coming up with healthy, cost-effective, time-efficient recipes that incorporate what I have purchased and 2) shopping on the reduced budget while adding more healthy foods to our diet.

We have cut our food, toiletries, medicines, paper products budget in half which is fantastic. But I learned last week just how important it is to pay attention to your health and what you put in your body.

When I first wrote about being overwhelmed and becoming a frumpy-lumpy toad, I was gaining over one pound per day. It wasn't from Thanksgiving gluttony, because I tried to watch how much I ate. It wasn't from anything hormonal that I knew of. But by Thursday night, I was becoming really concerned.

Earlier that week I had a serious sinus headache that I couldn't seem to get rid of and so I kept taking over-the-counter medication for it. The medicine wasn't doing a thing for me. Then it hit me, my husband had read that one of the possible side-effects of the medicine was unexplainable weight gain! I stopped taking it and within two days all the added pounds were gone and so was my headache.

All of this to say that it made me very aware that I need to be intentional about what I am putting in my body, what kind of exercise I am getting and thinking about how I want to live out my days on this earth. What I do or don't do today to take care of myself will have an impact in the years to come.

God calls us to be good stewards of our resources and our bodies and it is my desire to honor Him with both. How we feel physically and how we take of ourselves can have a huge impact on whether on not we feel overwhelmed in life

Friday, December 3, 2010

What Happened to Christmas

Feeling Overwhelmed - Part 2 is going to have to wait until tomorrow. And since I didn't include Christmas on the list of things that overwhelm me, this will just have to be a stand alone post.

For several weeks I have been mulling over and discussing with my immediate family the desire and need to do things differently for Christmas. Somewhere over time and generations of traditions passed down, Jesus didn't seem to be invited on Christmas day.

I followed along with what I knew and then by the time I realized it really needed to change, I felt too guilty and too intimidated to make the bold announcement that we were no longer going to follow the handed down traditions of way too many gifts and no Jesus.

As I type this, I keep thinking that I am probably the only one going through this. But that's a lie from satan. I can be sure somebody else is right there with me even if might look a bit different.

Tonight was the final moment for me as I talked to someone about Christmas and shopping, etc. and half-way through I started thinking "I cannot believe I am having this conversation". There wasn't a chance that there was any room for Jesus by the time all the details of gifts and errands and money was discussed. I think I may have tuned the person out with my own thoughts, so I hope they didn't say anything I will need to remember later.

The secular world has made Christmas into a 'Happy Holiday' and a consumer extravaganza. The "Happy Holiday" has become all about us.

I want to give something to Jesus for Christmas this year. What would please Him? Something beyond a gift to the poor, something beyond extra food to the food bank. How does Christmas truly get turned back around to be about Jesus when the flying wrapping paper on Christmas morning would be enough to lose a baby in?

As I continue to think about what it might look like to take a stand against all the commercialism in heightened form, I can't help but think about the kings in the Old Testament who knew that to stand up for what was right would cost them something materially, but the eternal gain would be so much greater.

Sometimes we just need to do things differently and recapture the true meaning of Christmas in our homes and in our lives.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Feeling Overwhelmed?

In the last few weeks, I have found myself feeling increasingly overwhelmed. You would think that I would then rattle off a long list of all the responsibilities and activities going on in my life or health or financial concerns. But that's not the case. My feelings of overwhelmedness (my own word) stem from three areas in my life that I can clearly name:

1. Too much stuff in my life and an increasing need and desire to simplify like never before.
2. A sedentary life in my mid-40's which is making me feel like I am going to turn into a frumpy looking toad if I don't do something.
3. A plateau in my spiritual life that needs to be recharged.

In the last three years we have moved twice and hauled off bags of stuff to charities and to the trash. Our kids have moved out taking most of their stuff with them. So you would think we would have less stuff. Not so. I think it multiplies like the dust under the couch.

As I walk into my closet, the clothes are spilling off the shelf and the shoes are falling off the shoe rack. Yet every single morning I find myself wondering "what will I wear to work?" Well, let's see - there are the pairs of jeans that are not going to ever fit again and by the time they do they will be so out of style they could pass for something vintage. There are the shoes on the floor that were probably in style in the 90's or are so worn out they are not worthy of being worn any longer. Not too mention the umpteen other pieces that I'm never going to wear again. Stuff!

I am a pile-prone woman by nature. So if left to myself, I will die in the middle of random piles of stuff in my house. I don't like it. I like a clean, well-kept house. But when you have too much stuff - you get piles. And as the piles continue to steal the space in my house, it also steals my contentment and I feel overwhelmed.

So I am currently a woman on a mission. A mission to get rid of stuff and to do it with intentionality. As I cleaned house tonight, I made sure to take the extra 10 minutes or so and actually go through two piles of stuff in our bedroom and either throw it out or find a new place for it. I opened a drawer to put some cds away only to discover a brand-new 2009 calendar. The calendar and most everything else in the stack went into the trash.

My goal over the next 30 days (yes, right in the middle of the Christmas season) is to go through every drawer and cupboard in my house and get rid of anything that needs to go. If it isn't being used, isn't necessary or will never be used - it needs to go somewhere else.

You know those bottles of lotion under the bathroom sink - the ones that have just enough in them to keep, but not enough to really make you use it? Yep - I have a little collection right there beside the face cream. So I am going to start using it up before I open a new bottle. I may smell like a mixed-fruit basket by Christmas, but at least there will be less clutter.

Tonight I lit all the candles in the house. No - they do not all have different strong scents. Some are just pretty. I like candles. I like the smells. I like the way they make my home feel, especially in the winter. Sadly, I have spent most winters not using them like I want to. Instead, I put them out, pack them up for a season, get them back out and move them around the other candles in the boxes that I never burn either. Life is too short not to burn the candles. If I burn them, there is less stuff to store and more enjoyment in the use.

Life is full of stuff. It can either overwhelm us or give us pleasure. My desire is to truly simplify in every area of my life. By simplifying I will be able to focus more on my family, other people and my own relationship with God and the ministry that he has called me to.

Tomorrow I will write about #2 and the sedentary life of a wife in mid-life and the changes that need to be made to honor God in all that I do.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I Stand Amazed

Tuesday's are my favorite. For three years, every Tuesday night I was involved in a women's bible study at a camp. Every other Tuesday night a group of men were meeting at our house for prayer and bible study. Very seldom was I home when all the men converged on our basement.
Then God took a different turn with the women's bible study and so now I am home every other Tuesday night while the men meet here. I have been blessed over and over and over again in so many ways by what I experience on those Tuesday nights.

Tonight was no different. The front porch light was off and most of the men enter through the garage. As I sat in the office, I heard footsteps on the porch and a knock at the door. Since the 'regulars' know to walk in the garage and find their way around, I figured this might be someone new.

I went out to the living room, opened the front door and I don't know who was more shocked me or them. They were expecting to come to a men's bible study and here was some woman answering the door and not a man to be seen. (They were in the basement - remember?) My shock was that these two young men, with bibles in hand, couldn't have been more than 25 and I am guessing younger.

Honestly, I hate to admit this, but I thought they were lost. They were the youngest men I have seen come to bible study at our house. As a good hostess, I offered them coffee and they just kind of looked at me funny. I'm not used to that reaction to an offer for coffee, but once I got over myself I showed them to the basement.

Then I think I hummed right out loud the song "I Stand Amazed". It might not have sounded like that to an untrained ear, but Jesus knew. He knows what tune I'm humming even if it really sounds like a poor dog yelping. It's the heart that counts and my heart was beltin' out a tune of joy and praise.

Because I truly do stand amazed at how God works. I pray that those two young men bring their friends and that they shed new light into the lives of those men who aren't, well, in their 20's anymore. And I pray that those more mature fellas feed into those young men and encourage them in their walk with the Lord.

There is much to be gained when more than one generation of godly men gather together to seek after the LORD. Much to be gained when they bow before God in prayer.

As an interesting side note. Charles H. Gabriel, 1856 - 1932, wrote the original version of this song. In his biography, it says that "Settlers in that area (Iowa) often gathered in the Gabriel home for singing sessions and fellowship." My husband and I might not ever write songs, but we believe in gathering often in our home for fellowship. And we invite people who can sing. It's good for some things to stay the same.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Consider the Homeless

All day today it seemed that my thoughts and prayers kept returning to those who are homeless. I'm not exactly sure why, but I know that God kept laying it on my heart to pray for them today. And so I did. I have friends who have been homeless. They are without question some of my favorite people in my life. Their lives are rich in many ways that someone who has never been homeless would never know. I am blessed to call them my friend.

On my way to and from work every day I drive past two houses not far from us that sit empty. One I am not really sure why it is vacant and the other one most likely a foreclosure based on the way it was left. These houses have also been sitting empty for quite awhile now with no "for sale" signs in the front yard. I don't know what happened in either case. But then I started wondering, what a difference it might make if all those houses that have been sitting empty for so long could be used to house all the people who have been homeless in the last year. Just wondering.

This Bloomberg report stated the following:

"About 18.9 million homes in the U.S. stood empty during the second quarter as surging foreclosures helped push ownership to the lowest level in a decade."

Fox news reported this:

"Overall, 1.56 million people spent at least one night in emergency shelters or transitional housing, the report said. One-third of those individuals were part of a homeless family.

Volunteers counted 643,000 homeless people, sheltered and on the streets, during one given night in January 2009, the report said."

It seems to me there a lot more vacant homes than there are homeless people. I know there are many more factors to consider, but sometimes I get tired of rationalizing away hope. Sometimes it's just good to consider the homeless and consider how we might make things different.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The $5 Giving Challenge

For the last several weeks I keep hearing "be generous", "be generous", "be generous". God just seems to be telling me the same thing over and over and over. The Scriptures are full of commands and instructions on being generous. Somehow I have felt as though God has a very specific purpose in pushing me to be generous beyond our regular tithes and offerings. As I have continued to seek God's instruction as to what He desires, there is something that has come to mind that I am really excited about.

After many months of couponing, sales, stockpiling and playing the drug-store game, my cupboards are overflowing. There are bags of items waiting to go to the homeless shelter this week. There are items bagged and ready to give to a Christian pregnancy program for new moms. We regularly give out of our cupboards to others as well.

So this week I am going to start something new: "The $5.00 Challenge". The goal is to take $5.00 and with the drug-store sales, Kroger deals and coupons get as much food or other items as I can to donate to food banks, homeless shelters or others. In other words, the challenge is to see how much I can get for my $5.00 by spending wisely and taking advantage of sales and coupons.

So far I have purchased: (2) full size Secret deodorants; (1) Oil of Olay Quench Body Wash 23.6 oz; (1) Oil of Olay Ultra Moisture Lotion 11.8 oz; (4) cans of Campbell's Select Harvest Healthy Request Soup - 18.6 oz each; and (1) can of sliced peaches. Total spent: $3.07

Krogers is having some amazing sales this week so I will most likely grab more groceries that are on sale. I can get another 4 boxes of name brand cereal for $1.96 total which would finish out the $5.00. For the $5.00 invested, I was able to purchase $29.49 worth of name brand products.

"Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each many should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." 2 Corinthians 9:6-7

Just doing what I love so that others might benefit and giving all the glory to God.

Blessings to you

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Less is So Much More

For months now I have been mulling over thoughts of living a simpler life and what that might look like. I tend to get excited about something, want to just 'get going' and then realize that it might not be very realistic in the long run. But a simpler way of life just keeps drawing me back.

When we moved three years ago, I remember feeling such shame over all the stuff we owned. It just didn't seem right. I felt horrible guilt as I watched our dear friends hauling out load after load after load of material objects. I swore that I would never be burdened by that much stuff again. So we got rid of a few things. Well actually we got rid of a lot of things, but it was few in comparison to what was left.

We moved into our current home and I felt reasonably okay with what was left. Not great, but not guilty any longer. Funny though. The rooms are beginning to shrink again with things that we (I) hold onto just in case we might need them someday. I come by this honestly. I remember my dad wanting to keep the spring off of a broken mouse trap once because you just never know when you might need a spring that size. My mom threw it out. So this is not all my fault, it is in my DNA.

A little over a year ago I started seriously couponing and stockpiling and while that has simplified our finances and allowed us to bless others, it has not necessarily simplified our storage. So currently, I am focusing on some new ways to shop, save and share as Ellie Kay says. God calls us to be good stewards of our finances and material possessions. God also calls us to be generous and to share, as well as to save for the future so that we are not a burden on others.

Throw into all of this the fact that in the last two weeks, my i-pod just quit. Worked fine and then didn't work at all. Four days later my cell phone just disappears from cyberspace. The phone worked, but somehow my phone number got lost in space. Seriously. My phone and my number could not find each other. After three days of on again and off again with the phone, our computer crashes and is eaten alive by a nasty virus. I have two words for you "back up". Needless to say we are paying for not having backed up all of our digital pictures and files. They are recovered, but there is a price to pay. Alas, I just got off the phone with our internet provider because our internet was not working properly.

As I climbed back behind the TV to get to the modem for the internet and I once again looked at all the wires and cables and dust, it just reminded me of how complicated life got in trying to be more efficient. Exactly when did this happen?

So into the office I went to find a book I recently got from the library. "Freedom of Simplicity" by Richard Foster. I really want to just write out the entire first two pages here for you to read. But how about just a small taste of what Richard Foster has to say:

Contemporary culture is plagued by the passion to possess. The unreasoned boast abounds that the good life is found in accumulation, that "more is better". Indeed, we often accept this notion without question, with the result that the lust for affluence in contemporary society has become psychotic: it has completely lost touch with reality. Furthermore, the pace of the modern world accentuates our sense of being fractured and fragmented. We feel strained, hurried, breathless. The complexity of rushing to achieve and accumulate more and more threatens frequently to overwhelm us; it seems there is no escape from the rat race.

Interestingly, Richard Foster wrote this book in 1981. Somehow when I look back on my own life, 1981 didn't seem so complicated to me; which tells me that there is something even far more simpler than I can imagine.

I don't believe there are easy answers or a one-size-fits all answer to living a simpler life. Each person or family faces different situations or challenges and must seek God's direction for them personally.

However, I have found a few things to be true. By changing my spending habits, thoughts and routines, spending less has resulted in us having more. Less on my calendar has resulted in more quality family time with my husband and children. Less ministry obligations has resulted in more personal ministry. Perhaps less really is so much more.

The Blessing of Noise

I believe we may have the noisiest dishwasher known to man that was ever manufactured in this decade. Seriously - for something that looks so sleek in its stainless steel decor, it is loud - really LOUD. Please understand I love my dishwasher. Several years ago, we had a quiet dishwasher and I thought I would be more frugal and do our dishes by hand. Certainly didn't want to waste the electric. Then we moved. And our house didn't have a dishwasher. In fact, the water pump was known to just stop at random and we didn't even have water. On top of that the sinks were really small and not very deep and so the dirty dishes would quickly run onto the counter if not done quickly. Oh how I longed for a dishwasher then!

We moved and God blessed me with another dishwasher and one of the stainless steel line. Oh happy was I. I am not all about looks and having the latest gadgets, but this was just nice and already part of the kitchen. We had an open floor plan again, which means for us that the dining area and the living room and kitchen all open into one another. Exactly the way I like it. We had a house once where the kitchen was completely separate from the other living areas and I hated it. I always felt like I wasn't able to participate in all the family fun. So this house, with this floor plan and this dishwasher was a grand gift from God indeed.

However, this dishwasher causes just a few complaints from various family members who either live here or come to visit for any extended period. Quite frankly, I try to arrange the washing of the dishes around our schedules of guests or other quiet time. Personally I think it's loud too, but I am just really, really grateful to have it.

As I loaded up the dishwasher today and knew that I would be running it during the football pre-game shows, it occurred to me that the dishwasher should be a constant reminder of the overflowing blessings in my life. Because you see I can't run it when:

1. Our grandson Simon is here and he is napping.
2. Our children are here and we are having family dinner and good conversation
3. The men's bible study is meeting at our house
4. The women's bible study is meeting at our house
5. We are watching TV (translated to mean: thankful we have a TV and have eyes and ears to watch and hear it)**
6. We have company
7. We are spending time in the Word of God and seeking silence

And I am blessed that I have to run it because:

1. We have had food to eat
2. There is fresh, hot banana-blueberry bread cooling on the counter
3. There are coffee cups to wash after having shared it with my husband
4. There are extra dirty dishes because our children have come to visit and eat with us
5. There are extra dirty cups from the fellowship of bible study groups
6. We have coffee to drink from the cups :)
7. I have a mixer and mixing bowls to use to make desserts
8. I have pans to wash that were used on the blessing of our stove
9. We have electric to make it run
10. We have the hope of another meal to put on the plates

Oh Lord that I might see the blessings in the midst of the noise.

**My husband tells me this is not true - that I won't be watching TV, but will be napping, which may or may not be true, but will definitely be likely.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Stages of Life

My daughter recently asked "when do mom's actually get to sleep through the night"? Simon is only 9 months old and his sleep and eating patterns change, which means that Jillian and Shane don't always see many hours of continuous sleep sometimes. She asked this of me about a month ago when she knew that I had been up during the night praying for my children.

I always figured that whatever age my kids were was the most difficult, especially the pre-teen to teenage years. While there were plenty of good and wonderful things, there were also lots of fearful times and trying times. For example - the first time you let your 16-year old drive in the snow to school or the first time they start dating someone or when they head off to college or . . . or . . . or. The list could go on. You get the point.

And then I had adult children. Yep, that's what happens if you see them through the teenage and college years and you all live to tell about it without having strangled one another. No one tells you about this stage. You just don't hear about it. When our kids lived at home, I knew if they came home safely and were in bed. I knew if they were eating and had enough money (they'd ask for more if they didn't). I knew they were warm and healthy and had what they needed.

But then they grow up and move out. That's when you inherit a whole different set of concerns and prayers for them. I can't quite explain it, but you just want to make sure everything in their life is good. It is usually best if they don't tell me about a mean co-worker, customer or other mean adult in their life, because I have discovered the Mean Mama in me rises to the surface and wants to have a word or two with anyone who would dare insult or hurt my children or their feelings. I know that is very mature of me, but it's the truth. Don't mess with my family.

Then there are grandchildren. I watched my daughter and son-in-law feeding Simon tonight. What fun! As he opened his little mouth with great expectation of the next bite of baby food. He would open and there they were ready, able and prepared to meet Simon's needs. I am so extremely grateful for every part of that.

But something within me wondered what a mother must feel like if her child is hungry and she can't feed him. I thought about Hagar sitting in the desert with Ishmael and how she had nothing for him to eat and was forced to put him under a bush and wait for him to die. God saw them in their desperation and rescued them.

While I want everything to be right in my children's lives, I sometimes forget the abundance of blessings that surround us and the great gifts and comforts with which we live. God sees us. All the way home tonight from our daughter and son-in-law's house, I kept thinking about how God must feel about us. If I take offense when one of my children is offended or hurt, how much more so will God look after his children when the enemy attacks. If I am up at the wee hours of the morning and night praying for my children, how much more so is Jesus Christ who sits at the right hand of God and lives to intercede for us. If I delight in watching my children and grandson and spending time with them, how much more so must God delight in spending time with us.

I am continually amazed at what God teaches me about my relationship with Him through my relationships with my children. Isaiah 49:25b says: "I will contend with those who contend with you, and your children I will save". The LORD "will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom." Isaiah 40:28

While I will fall asleep and am not always able to contend with those who contend with my children, I am so thankful that the Lord won't grow tired or weary and that He will fight for us. To God be the glory forever and ever. Amen!

P.S. Found this quote after I wrote this post. I think I'm going to post it all over my house!


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

When I Grow Up I Want to Be A . . . ?

Remember as a little kid how everyone would ask you what you wanted to be when you grew up? I wanted to be a teacher. In second grade our teacher made us draw pictures of what we wanted to do when we grew up and I drew a math teacher. As a child, I would head to the basement of our house and pretend I had a classroom full of students as I taught them math and worked out the problems on the chalkboard. Once I tried to impress a group of adults in high school by telling them I wanted to get my Ph.D. in computer science. I had no idea what that would involve, but it sounded good. Being a professional figure skater crossed my mind, but I don't ice skate. In sixth grade I thought I wanted to be a back-up singer for someone famous - like K.C. and the Sunshine Band. But I can't sing. Oh and I'm not a teacher either.

A few weeks ago, I turned 45 and I am still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. My math is still pretty good and so I would say I am at mid-life. My grandmothers lived to either be 90 or close to it, so I am at the half-way mark. Plenty of time to decide if God blesses me with many more years.

Except here is the problem, if I want to follow God and his leading and be obedient there is a good chance my ideas for my life probably aren't going to line up the way I think. Goodness knows they haven't in the last 7 years. I think one thing and God points me a different way.

But there are a few things that keep coming to mind. I want to be intentional. I want to be intentional in the time I spend with my husband and my children and grandson. I want to be intentional in my relationship with Jesus Christ. I don't want a mediocre life.

I want to simplify and take time to rest. I want to pursue Jesus passionately, but not burn out. I want to live with a bold faith, but remain humble. I want to be the church and not just go to church. I want to encourage other women in their walk with the Lord and in life - marriage, kids, money, and all the other stuff. I want to be frugal and give generously. I want to pray more and trust God more. I want to have a grateful heart, not a greedy heart. I want to memorize the scriptures and live life like I have.

Occupation? Well that's just a title. What I do for a living when I grow up and who I am when I grow up aren't the same. Jesus was a carpenter - that's what He did. Who Jesus was - well that's different. I want to be like Jesus.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Connect the Dots

As a child, I loved connect-the-dots books or any word game books. There are six years between my brother and I, so it was kind of like being an only child in many ways. Since I grew up during a time when you had to actually get up and turn the knob on the tv to change the channels and it actually shut off after the late-night news, technology was not something that I was entertained by. We lived in the country and so my imagination, books and word games were my best friends. To this day, I love to play games, do word search puzzles, and read. I must confess that while I am pathetic at sports, I will fight fiercely to win any word scramble game at any and every bridal and baby shower I attend; thus I have won some great gifts over time. I will promptly take a picture of my latest win and text it to my daughter because while she knows I am quirky that way, she loves me and understands.

For me there is just something thrilling about putting the letters together in a word game or the pieces together in a puzzle. I like the challenge of it. You may not think there is much challenge there, but I guess it depends on how you look at it. I can look at a puzzle or word game and nonchalantly put the pieces together and just relax as I do it. Or I can look for a pattern in the puzzle and see how it might go together or challenge myself to do it faster or more creatively. Both ways are fine and cause me to use my brain cells, which is also good.

So, you may wonder - what's the big deal about puzzles and connecting the dots and word games? Nothing. Except that today God used the analogy between connecting-the-dots activities and His Word to teach me something in a practical way.

One of my scripture memory verses in the last year or so has been 1 John 3:21-22 (NIV) Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him.

I have prayed this back to God and have held onto it tightly as a promise from my Savior. However, I have never felt like I truly understood it or had fully captured the power intended in it. Something was missing for me. And today, I was able to connect-the-dots.

I am currently reading "Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire" by Jim Cymbala again for the second or third time. In his book, he referenced Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

And there it was - the missing part of the puzzle so to speak. Do what pleases him - what pleases him is having faith. Okay, part of the verse dots are now connected. Now what about obeying his commands. I have a book titled "Devotional Classics" which is a compilation of devotions and writings from people like C.S. Lewis, Dallas Willard, Martin Luther, etc. One of the exercises in it references Matthew 28:16-20 where Jesus tells his followers to "obey everything that I have commanded" and then you are instructed to go through the Gospel of Matthew and list all the things Jesus commanded. Upon doing this, you are told that your list will be "a mosaic of what the basic Christian life should like according to Jesus." That's the other part I needed to know for the scripture in 1 John. Exactly what has God commanded me to do?

The Word of God is a lot like connecting-the-dots sometimes. Each scripture, each word, each passage is a part of a bigger picture. When we are able to, through God's grace, start putting the pieces together and connecting the scriptures to each other, we will find a more intimate and powerful picture of what life in Christ is to look like.

So that is what I am going to do next. Make the list of the commands in Matthew. It will be in an odd sense like a word search game. You know it is there, you just need to study it and search until you find it. I love the way God works!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Scripture Memory

I have my verse for this time memorized. I memorized it the first day (October 1st). Posting it has been a little more difficult because God is holding me accountable to this one like no other.

Psalm 34:1 NIV I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.

Extol means to praise lavishly. This is more than a simple thank you Lord and acknowledgment of who He is and what He has done. Praise lavishly. Just let those words sink in a bit. How often do I lavish praise on the LORD? At all times? Not even close. His praise will ALWAYS be on my lips. Always? But what about when life gets hard or things aren't going well or my feelings got hurt or I'm scared? What about then? Is the praise of the Lord on my lips when life is difficult?

For some reason God has really impressed upon me that I am not just to memorize this scripture, I am to live it. It is to become a way of life for me. I realize that we are to apply all of the scriptures to our life and live our life according to them. But I also believe that God speaks to us individually through the scriptures at different times according to the work that He is doing in us.

I am thankful for this scripture and I am thankful that God is drawing me closer to Him through it. What are you memorizing? What scripture is God using in your life right now?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Needin' to be cleanin'!

My husband and I got home Thursday night after a few days away for our 25th anniversary. I am excited to tell you about that later, but today I NEED to clean house! Okay, I WANT to clean house, but I also need to. Can someone please explain to me where all the dirt and dust comes from when you aren't even home?

We are pretty good about getting home, unpacking, putting stuff away and getting the laundry done. But today I am looking at my house thinking that I will go nuts if I don't clean it before I go to bed tonight. I am pretty serious about observing the Sabbath as much as I am able, so cleaning tomorrow isn't an option.

Our totally adorable grandson, Simon, has been with us since yesterday which only magnifies the dirt that I see lying under the kitchen counter and everywhere else. Not because he did anything, but now that he can crawl all over the house I notice every crumb on the floor that he could put in his mouth. Thankfully he can't climb yet or he might get stuck in a cobweb. Fall in Ohio means a lot more cobwebs in and outside of the house and ours is no exception.

Maybe it is a control issue, but I prefer to think of it as good stewardship of what God has given us and that it needs to be taken care of. All I know is this, I will be a cleanin' fool before I go to bed tonight. Thankfully my husband is great about helping when I get in this mode. And he has his own obsession - clean windows. Oh how I praise God for that because I hate washing windows.

Yep - life is back to normal and it is good.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Growing Up

Do you remember being a child and something bad would happen and you knew that your mommy or daddy would just take care of it? You knew that you could just go to sleep and in the morning it would all be better. Life sometimes seemed complicated as a child, but most of those complications weren't really that complicated. Our perspective was just much different because we were children.

Then we became adults and somehow we had to suddenly learn how to take care of the complications in our own lives. There are far less "just go to bed and it will be better in the morning" scenarios. I'm not talking about being tired or having the flu. I'm talking about the serious stuff. Over the last 20+ years of being an adult, I have faced plenty of trials. Sometimes I really did just want to go to bed and pretend that everything would be better in the morning. Other times I went straight to denial. If I don't acknowledge it, then it isn't really a problem is it? Those are two very adult-like, responsible ways to handle life - not!

Eventually God taught me to take everything to him in prayer and to persevere and see it through. God would do his part, but I needed to not give up or give in. I needed to continue in fasting and prayer and hold on to the promise of His Word. It wasn't always easy and still isn't, but God has been faithful.

But here's the deal - sometimes I still want to go to bed and not deal with something difficult. I want to just pretend this isn't happening and then it will be better. And that is a lie. Nothing is impossible for God and no one or any situation is out of God's reach. God, however, needs me to stand firm and to continue to bring it to Him in prayer. I need to trust God and his Word and hold fast to the promises that He has given me. I need to see it through. Things may not go the way I want or hope and well, that's okay. God's plan is perfect and right and greater than I can fathom or imagine. I have also learned over the years that sometimes the answer we seek will cost us something. It isn't always just an "ask and get it" policy. God desires our obedience and sacrifice as we follow after Him and seek His blessings and provisions. This is part of growing up in our faith.

As I sought God in prayer this week, I found my way into Psalm 107. It was either by Divine appointment that I landed there or a complete accident. I prefer to believe Divine appointment, because it was exactly what I needed to know and hold on to. Praying scripture has never failed me and I am trusting once again that God's Word will hold true and powerful in every possible way.

No matter what our age or situation, we have a Father who hears us and is able to do exceedingly more than all we can ask or imagine; a Father who is able to do the impossible. We have a heavenly Father who hears our prayers and praises and can save us in our time of need. Whether you are praying through something in your own life or interceding for someone else, may you persevere in prayer and be strengthened by His Word in your time of need.

Grace and blessings to you

Monday, September 27, 2010

Countdown to 25

Tomorrow my husband and I will celebrate our 25th anniversary. Later this week I will post more about that. But this weekend, we had the opportunity to be somewhere having breakfast where there were several older people - older couples to be exact. It was such an incredible joy to watch them. I could have easily gone up to all of them and asked them to tell me their story. I wanted to know how long they had been married, what trials had they survived, how the met and on and on. I like being married and keeping my husband happy, so I refrained from going around asking personal questions of complete strangers.

But it didn't keep me from people watching and smiling as I did. Little old ladies and little old men opening doors for one another, waiting on the other to come along as they moved about. Watching them eat breakfast together. How much fun to see them eating the same foods, as they though over time their choices had grown to be similar. Lovely older women with their jewelry just so and their lipstick on just right. After all, they still wanted to look good for their man. The men were opening doors for the women and waiting on them to sit down before they started eating. There is something endearing about the unspoken way that couples who are at that stage of life and after many years of marriage somehow just know what the other wants and needs. No words were necessary.

The last 25 years have been anything but boring. The next 25 are going to be better. I pray that God allows us to grow old together gracefully and that He is gracious to us. One of the joys of growing older will be the blessing of growing together.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

No Regret Thursday

God has given me plenty of things to list this week that I do not regret. The lessons have been plentiful and my head about hurts from the various ways God is speaking to me and teaching me and refining me. I never regret it when the Lord purifies and sanctifies my soul. If you smell something burning right now, that would be the dross the Lord is removing from my soul as He has allowed me to walk through a bit of fire this week. Okay, if you really do smell something burning perhaps you should go check. But here is this week's list of things


1. Being obedient to the Lord
2. Eating way too many shrimp at Red Lobster last week
3. Being obedient to the Lord even when things don't turn out like I thought they would
4. Being obedient to the Lord when the enemy tries to mess it up
5. Choosing Jesus
6. Not shopping at Wal-mart
7. Resting in the Lord
8. Waiting on the Lord
9. Eating Starbucks ice cream
10. Not giving in to gossip

2 Corinthians 7:10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

So what do you Not Regret?

Grace to you,

Sunday, September 19, 2010

What's for Dinner?

I have been in an absolute slump lately as to what to cook for dinner. Tonight was no different. On top of that, I needed to cook something that would yield some leftovers for tomorrow night. When all else fails, cheeseburgers and french fries will work just fine. I had hamburgers already in the freezer that were in patty form from a previous meal I had prepared for. So this was going to be simple. Homemade fries and burgers on the grill.

Thawed the hamburgers. Heated the oil for the fries. Grabbed the matches to light the grill. We have a gas grill, but the starter quit working and so you need to use a match. Turned on the propane tank, turned the first knob on the grill, lit the match and threw it in. Turned the three other knobs to "on". Then checked to make sure that everything was lit properly. Hmmm - what is that in the corner of the grill? A pile of grass? Why would my husband or son put a handful of grass in the corner of the grill? Were they trying to startle me in some way that they would find funny? Were they just being lazy and threw it in the corner of the grill instead of the trash? I leaned in a bit to see what it was or what it smelled like? After all I had already reasoned it was not a bird's nest due to the location in the grill. So what could it be?

Then it happened. Not something I could have ever imagined and nothing that my husband or son could have set up to make me scream. There they were popping out of the top of the grill - baby mice! Now lest you think that I should have rescued them, I am a country girl through and through and mice are not something you rescue. You will have to visit another blog to find that.

I am still trying to overcome the sight of mice popping up out of my grill and running off the deck. If you are wondering did I still cook the burgers on the grill? Are you kidding me! - Frying pans work just fine.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

No Regret Thursday

It's Thursday, which I am now thoroughly convinced rolls around more often than Monday. The list could be long this week of things I don't regret. Some of them are not meant for posting and some will have to wait until next time, unless they get bumped. I am seriously hoping that next week I can tell you I don't regret all the shrimp I ate at Red Lobster with their "All-you-can-eat shrimp" deal. But here is this week's list of things

1. Spending time with my grandson Simon
2. Letting my grandson pull my hair while he 'smooches' my cheek
3. Taking a season of rest from the regular bible study routine
4. Not posting "I Do Not Regret" posts for the last couple of weeks
5. Making sacrifices so that my husband and I can get away together
6. Any of the family vacations we took with our children
7. Staying up really late to play games and spend time with my son, daughter & son-in-law
8. Buying used Bible Commentaries
9. Baking cookies - even if they don't last long!
10. Memorizing scripture
My verse for this time: His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 2 Peter 1:3 NIV

2 Corinthians 7:10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

Grace to you,

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Gift of Hunger

Living in a culture where we can have whatever we want to eat at any hour of the day or night, we tend to take for granted the idea of hunger. After all, we often satisfy our hunger before we are even hungry. I know that hunger can also be associated with all sorts of difficult and negative situations, such as poverty, eating disorders, etc. But for one moment, let's look at hunger as a gift from God.

Without hunger, the scents and smells coming from the local bakery of fresh baked bread would not hold the same meaning for us. Without hunger, where would family dinners and family recipes fit into our life? Hunger actually gives us much pleasure. In our hunger, we appreciate a good meal. We desire to grow vegetables, bake pies, use our hands and minds for creative meals. Hunger makes us depend on God even if we never acknowledge it. Hunger causes our senses of sight, smell and taste to come alive. Hunger awakens our sense of hearing as we hear the steak cooking on the grill. Every part of our being can enjoy a good meal or a favorite food that we haven't had in a long time. In our hunger, we may desire foods that are associated with pleasant memories. Hunger in its proper place is a gift from our Creator.

In our hunger, we appreciate the end of a fast. The Last Supper would have seemed so different if people were not gathering to eat. Manna from heaven, ravens providing food for on-the-run prophets, sacrifices of the last oil and grain and so much more would have little meaning for us if we did not have the gift of hunger. Hunger provoked the blessings and miracles of the loaves and fishes. Hunger required obedience. The gift of hunger allows us to fast. The gift of hunger brings to life the miracles of the Old & New Testaments.

The gifts of God come in so many forms that we tend to overlook or take for granted. My prayer is that God will continue to open my eyes to see the multitude of blessings that fill our daily lives that so often remain unnoticed.

Time to make dinner. My husband is almost home!

Blessings to you,


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Just a Little Breakdown

Time to get back in the blogging ring and up the posts a bit. If you have ever read this blog before, you probably know I love the whole saving money/coupon clipping thing. Some people tell me it isn't worth the time. Here's a little run down from today, thought it might inspire any coupon skeptics:

Started the day with a shower (shampoo, conditioner, body wash and razor - free). Put my contacts in. (Contact solution - free). Washed face with name brand face wash. (Free) Brushed my teeth. (Toothbrush and toothpaste - free). Applied name brand moisturizer to my face and another brand of eye cream under eyes. (Both free after rebates and coupons) Loaded up the hair with name brand styling foam (less than .50 for whole bottle). Almost forgot - name brand deodorant applied before getting dressed. (Free)

Breakfast for me was actually leftovers so that doesn't count. However, it very easily could have been a bowl of name brand cereal (choosing from one of about 10 different varieties in our cupboards). All of them free or under .50/box.

For lunch the three of us had buffalo chicken salads. Lettuce (.60 - manager's special at Kroger's) Shredded cheese (.25 - used about 1/4 cup from a package that cost $1.00 on sale) Fresh sliced mushrooms. (.25 - manager's special was .50 for 8 oz. only used 1/2 package) Tomatoes - free from garden. Chicken breast ($5.37 for 3 lb bag courtesy of my daughter's savvy shopping - used 2 chicken breasts so about $1.75 for lunch) Name brand hot sauce to make the chicken "buffalo style" (free). Name brand ranch dressing. ($1.00 for whole bottle - hardly used any)

Spent the afternoon in a beautiful setting of large oak trees, warm sunshine, the scent of Fall, and a blue sky with large white clouds. (All free courtesy of God). Furniture to sit on the deck - paid cash with savings from grocery money after using coupons and snagging a 70% off outdoor furniture sale at Target last summer. Feeding of the soul - free from the Word of God.

Baked 3 dozen oatmeal craisin cookies. ($1.75 total cost for ingredients after stocking up on name brand craisins for $1.00 per bag on sale this summer) House filled with aroma of fresh baked cookies. (Free)

Supper for three - bowtie pasta with name brand pasta sauce and sausage stuffed banana peppers and cream cheese/sausage filled jalapeños. Bowtie pasta (.25 - used 1/2 of the box and the whole pound of pasta was .50) I stocked up on pasta during previous sale at Krogers. Pasta sauce ($1.00 for 1/2 jar of $2.00 total cost. We are very name brand loyal on the pasta sauce, however, so this could have been cheaper). Banana peppers and jalapeños - all free from our garden. Name brand cream cheese to stuff jalapeños - free from Kroger mega event and catalina deals. I stocked up on the cream cheese after making sure to check the expiration dates. The sausage was $2.50 (could have gotten this cheaper, but I didn't want to wait for the sale). I mixed up the whole pound for the peppers and only used half of the mixture. So when the other peppers are ready, I will pull the remaining sausage mixture out of the freezer and be ready to go.

Ran a dishwasher full of dishes after lunch and filled it again after baking cookies and dinner. (Dishwasher detergent free from a great sale at drugstore earlier this year) Washed remaining items by hand. (Dish soap free with coupons and sale at drugstore)

Heading back to the kitchen to make a pot of Starbucks coffee. ($3.98 for 12 oz package manager's special at Kroger, used $1.00 coupon on purchase for a total of $2.98 for 12 oz of whole bean Sumatra). Cost of coffee for the evening - .50.

All of these deals were from using coupons and pairing them with great sales at a grocery store that doubles coupons, along with using rebates and drugstore chain deals. Yes, drugstore chain deals was what you just read. Drugstores are typically higher priced than your national "W"store. But if you watch the sales, rebates and learn how to effectively use their promotions, you will never pay for basic hygiene items again (or at least you will get them for pennies on the dollar). When was the last time you got anything free from the national "W" store?

Total for 6 meals, 3 dozen homemade cookies, one pot of Starbucks Sumatra coffee and all personal products for 3 people today: $7.60

Feeding of the soul also provided my current verse for my Scripture Memorization:

You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me;
you stoop down to make me great. Psalm 18:35 NIV

Remembering that it is God whom I seek to please and God who sustains me helps to keep my daily perspective in order.

Praise be to God and blessings to you


Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Sometimes it is okay to not answer emails or blog or send timely thank you notes or promptly respond to text messages. Sometimes it is okay to lay our agendas aside and to lay our people-pleasing standards aside and all that we deem important and do what is important. Sometimes we just need to listen and be available and be Jesus as best we know how.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

No Regret Thursday

There are honestly days when the little regrets could just trip me up. You too? As I thought about what I would write today on No Regret Thursday, it seemed that the list of things I truly wanted to write about were all regrets. I have had to ask God to take my negative thoughts captive and replace them with truth and thoughts of blessings. The regrets might be factual, but that does not mean they need to run wild through my mind causing me to miss ALL that God has done in my life and the opportunities he has provided. So for today:


1. Not having blogged since last Thursday's Do Not Regret post
2. Having a difficult conversation with someone I love
3. Taking a nap on Sunday
4. The time I spend with my husband
5. Being over 40
6. Observing the Sabbath
7. Any time I spend with the Lord
8. Being passionate about worship and expressing myself during it
9. Having a good cup of coffee and drinking it before bed
10. Unlimited text messages

2 Corinthians 7:10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

So what do you Not Regret?

Grace to you,

Thursday, August 19, 2010

No Regret Thursday

How ironic that after I posted "No Regret Thursday" I regretted posting it and almost deleted it the next morning. Even before I went to bed that night, I had second thoughts. After all, I was convinced I was the only one with such thoughts of regrets. Thankfully, God saw my doubts and allowed some people to affirm that I am not the only one and that it does somehow matter. So today I shall continue with my list of things I don't regret. Please feel free to post a comment with the things you don't regret.


1. Not having a Facebook account
2. Cutting coupons and the time it takes
3. Choosing to do "Called to Belong: A Worship Event" for a second time
4. Saying 'no' to the things of this world to follow after Jesus
5. Selling our last house while waiting for God's direction
6. Having a women's bible study
7. Packing my husband's lunches
8. Driving cars that are paid for instead of ones with large payments
9. Cooking meals for my family
10. Writing the last blog about not having regrets!

2 Corinthians 7:10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

Grace to you,

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Called To Belong, Dr, Seuss and a Memory Verse

With "Called to Belong" only a week away, life has been even more hectic than usual. Monday night was our next to last practice and we had a time of the choir members sharing testimony of God's faithfulness in their lives. It never ceases to amaze me how God can take such a mixed-matched group of people and all their brokenness and trials and make such a beautiful portrait. If we never had the worship event, Monday night was worth the time we have taken in preparation. Just to hear the heart of God's people and their gratefulness to such an amazing and Almighty God is blessing enough. He truly is more than enough for all that we will ever need or go through.

Tonight I was meeting with the other couple we are leading the event with at the theater where it will be held. We were meeting to go over the technical stuff and other miscellaneous details. I am all about details - however, I am also like a little kid at times and not paying attention when I should be. As we were going from area to area to determine what was needed and how it would go, we were walking onto the stage where they had just torn down the props from the Seussical and were preparing for the Big Daddy Weave and Selah concert this weekend. I saw the large black pipe hanging down that the curtains were being hung on. And then I saw the props from Seussical - I love Dr. Seuss. There were drawings from the different books and props that included what looked like cotton candy and sodas with straws and the elephant from the Dr. Seuss book and . . . SMACK! another black bar. Then there were stars and not the kind you get autographs from. Yep, walked right into the bar that was at the same level as my head. Hit it square on and they heard the smack in the sound booth. (good to know how well the sound carries I guess) I am proud to say I did not cry, but I did call my friend the nurse after I left to find out what symptoms to watch for in case I had a concussion. Not a wimp, but I don't ever remember hitting my head that hard before. I firmly claim there was a goose-egg on the top of my head. My husband said it was more like a robin-egg. No matter the size - my head and neck and pride are quite sore at the moment.

In the midst of Called to Belong practices, bible studies, theater meetings, church, and life - I need to get my memory verse posted that I am currently working on. Sometimes I love to look for a verse that I feel fits right where I am and what I need. Tonight, however, as I opened my bible this one just stood out and it is sticking out to me like I truly need to know it right now.

You are my portion, O LORD; I have promised to obey your words. Psalm 119:57 NIV

Seems to me to sum up a whole lot in those few words.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

No Regret Thursday

I don't know about you, but way too often I find myself running through a mental laundry list of regrets. If the list is long enough, I will feel like I went through the washer and ringer or worse yet like I had a good emotional scrubbing on an old-fashioned washboard. I know I am not alone in this. But here is the deal, what I regret is in the past and can't be changed. It is over and done with. Don't get me wrong, there might be some things I need to make right. I might need to make some apologies or confess some sins. But overall, I cannot change the past. I cannot change what I did or did not do. I can, however, choose to not live in that place and instead move forward in life doing things I won't regret - choosing to do things that I will be thankful for and rejoice in.

How many of you remember the children's song "Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bush"? Well, each day of the week was given to a particular task and Thursday was to "mend our clothes". Today is Thursday. Not holding onto regrets and constantly looking back is a great way to "mend our souls".

Instead of listing all the things I regret, I'm going to list the things I DON'T regret. Feel free to comment with your No Regrets list. Each Thursday I am going to post this list. So start keeping track throughout your week of what you do not regret. It's a great way to keep our focus on God and the blessings and to remind ourselves to live intentionally.


1. Marrying my high school sweetheart
1b. And staying married for nearly 25 years
2. Having our daughter
3. Having our son
4. My daughter's wedding
5. Being a grandma
6. Not being perfect
7. Not eating the donut last night that looked oh-so-good
8. Not cleaning my house last weekend so that I could spend time with my family
9. Taking a different job with less pay so that I could have more time at home and less stress
10. Eating the Starbucks ice cream straight out of the container and never looking at the calories

2 Corinthians 7:10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

Grace to you,

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Dreaming of Coupons

Okay - everyone who knows me, knows I have a thing with coupons and saving money. In addition, if you are near me long enough I will tell you about them. I try really, REALLY hard not to, but I can't seem to help it. It is just beyond my imagination that you can get free groceries and save that much money. I have tried to not blog about it any more than I have already. But last night just beats all.

Around 10:20 p.m. I realize that my husband's men's prayer/bible study group is not going to be over probably any time soon and so I head to bed. Get ready for bed, flip on the TV to Everybody Loves Raymond, tilt my fairly new bifocals down on my nose enough so that I can see the TV and here come the commercials. The truth is that I don't really watch the show. I think I will, but after about 3 minutes in bed, I reach up and take my glasses off and roll over to go to sleep. So the thought of the commercials filling my last few minutes of awake time was a little irritating. But I was going to hold out.

And then I saw it. Up on the left hand corner of the screen of our tiny TV was a blue button just like the one that normally displays when you are to do something between the satellite and the TV. I could make out from where I was that it said "select". So I pushed "select" and lo and behold (drum roll please) coupons to be gotten from the TV screen! Yep, you read that right. You push 'select' it takes you to another channel where you can then navigate your way through to get a coupon for the item that was just being advertised. Sadly, I got all the way through only to not have the channel on our main satellite receiver so I could not receive the coupon. It was for some Kellogg's product and they were going to send me the coupon. No strings attached.

Seriously that is brilliant advertising! Almost makes me want to watch TV.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Out of Egypt

A couple years ago my daughter introduced me to the song "Painting Pictures of Egypt" by Sara Groves. I was going through a difficult and emotional time and she thought that it might describe just how I felt. She was right. Although I knew beyond any shadow of a doubt that I was being obedient to all that God had asked, and wanted nothing less than that, my heart ached for the familiar and the comfortable. I like being content.

It is easy to be out of a setting or situation and look back and only see the good or the bad and never the true mixture of both. I don't know anyone who is still drawing breath that doesn't have both good and bad of some sort in their life. They may not choose to acknowledge the good or the bad, but they are there at different times and in different forms.

After the Israelites were rescued from captivity and bondage and slavery and taken out of Egypt, they frequently looked back during difficult or uncertain times and asked that they be allowed to return to Egypt. Somehow looking back made the slavery seem almost desirable, because they had forgotten how horrible it was and only remembered whatever good there might have been in it. While the season I longed to go back to certainly was not bad, I will never know what might have happened had I chosen to stay in the familiar and not be obedient to God. As my daughter also will say "they were romanticizing the past". As odd as that might seem to us now looking back several thousand years, I don't think we are really that far removed from the possibility of falling back into our slavery and bondages of sin or strongholds if we don't continue to keep our eyes on the Lord and in His Word. Our knees to the earth also help to keep our feet from walking down a dirt path in the wrong direction.

I'm not really sure what the actual moment was or even now how I knew, but in the past few days I have finally realized that I am no longer desiring the things of the past that I gave up three years ago. While they were good and I am oh-so grateful for every opportunity and lesson that God afforded me during that season of my life, I am even more thankful for the opportunities that lie ahead.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Scripture Memory

A better title for this blog might be "called out". At the beginning of the year I started posting the scriptures I was memorizing and asked others to join me. After a relatively short time my posts for updating were often a day or three later than they should have been. So instead of being disciplined and/or just confessing my weaknesses in posting - I quit posting about scripture memory. I might also add that satan was more than happy to put thoughts in my head of "who cares what verse you are memorizing anyway" or similar thoughts. Maybe no one in blog world cared what verse I was memorizing, but God did and so did the enemy. The memory would draw me closer to the Lord and honor Him. The scripture memory would also increase my weapons of warfare and ammunition against the enemy.

Although I continued on, I have to confess it was not with the same commitment as if I had been posting them. So here I am several months late and 5 days late for this month alone. But this is the verse God has laid on my heart for this time around and oh how desperately I have needed it!

So do not throw away your confidence;
it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when
you have done the will of God, you will receive what
he has promised. Hebrews 10:35-36 NIV

A little ironic huh?

Feel free to post a comment with the verse you are currently memorizing. I will update scripture memory again on August 15th. I only say that for my own accountability. (thank you Beth)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Maze

Many years ago our family went to Myrtle Beach for vacation. My sister-in-law had told me about this really cool place to visit that was a maze called the Rat Race. You would actually enter the maze and have to find your way out on your own after encountering dead-ends, mirrors and various turns; all with absolutely no written or verbal directions. The walls of the maze went from the ground up to a height high enough that you could not see over them. You need to understand that it was about 90+ degrees outside and black pavement underneath. I was a mom with two younger children. Being directionally challenged only added to my absolute hatred of this 'game'. I love mazes, I love challenges, but I hate feeling like I am trapped and there is no way out and I can't get my children out or find my husband either. After finally verbally asking for help, someone from on top of a roof of the business will give you verbal directions to help you out. Once out and my near-panic-attack had subsided we grabbed blue snow cones from the concession stand. You can figure out what happened next. I clearly still bear the scars of that day!

Recently I have felt like I am still in that maze. Running into one dead-end after another, making no visible progress, unable to see where I am going or how far I have to go and suppressing panic-attack wannabes all along the way. Worse yet, no one is shouting from the roof with directions that will make the journey shorter or more clear. This post is not a pity party post. It has come as the result of some soul searching.

I have found myself frustrated - a lot - lately in a a lot of different areas. Most of them just really aren't meant to be shared. Some are personal goals and desires and others are spiritual. But whatever the case, here's the deal: I have no one to blame and no 'maze' to complain about that would be stopping me from getting out of the rut or to end of the tunnel. I think in some areas I just simply stopped, sat-down, and have been waiting for God to do something to get me out of this funk. God, on the other hand, did all he needed to do and has been watching to see if I will get up and move in some discernible direction. I might make a wrong move, but at least I will be moving and I am certain that God will let me know when I am heading in the wrong direction whatever it might be.

I just need lots of time in His Word and in prayer. Neither of those have ever failed me. The last few weeks have been unbearably hot and humid here. Praise God that he has at least allowed me to be in the comfort of air-conditioning while I seek out some answers and not in the middle of some black-pavement, high-walled, no-breeze, pathetic human maze.

P.S. And right now my precious grandson is on his way to my house with his parents. That has absolutely nothing to do with this post - but a grandma has ever right to talk about her grandchild whenever she pleases. Amen?!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What are you expecting?

Expectations can cause great anxiety, or fear, or disappointment if misdirected and misused. We set ourselves up from time-to-time to fail with unrealistic expectations of ourselves or others. In particular, we can pull a family member or spouse right into a huge trap of unexpressed expectations that leave them wondering "what did I do?" as we politely tell them through tears what they "should have done". I for one have cried and pouted when my husband didn't come through like I expected on my unvoiced, un-communicated, all-in-my-head unrealistic expectations. Goodness knows the number of times my feelings have been hurt over the years - yep all because of expectations. My expectations of myself or others can trip me up if not kept in check. Of people, I tend to expect an awful lot.

And then there are the expectations we have of God. Do we really, do I really, expect miracles and signs and wonders from Him? Far too often, I believe, our expectations of God look very similar to what we could probably accomplish on our own if God didn't show up at all. We don't expect much of Him and therefore we get what we expect. If we approach God with totally unrealistic expectations, then we have approached him with the right idea. God is very much into making the unrealistic a reality. Case in point - unrealistic to expect a man dead and buried for 3 days to be raised from the dead and walking among the people. What about expecting God to fill empty oil jars with a never ending supply of oil. Or how about if we expected God to heal the sick or bring our prodigal home? Do you expect God to restore your broken marriage? Can you really expect God to meet your needs? Is it expecting too much to ask God to free you from anxiety? Have you fully expected God to deliver you from every single stronghold you have and forgive you completely? Is there an expectation that God can take away the addiction or make a way where this is no way? We talk about it. But deep within our hearts, do we really expect God to do anything about it or is just a nice wish.

If we say we want to live a life filled with the presence of God and walking in His ways, then perhaps we ought to expect more of God. God has far exceeded my expectations and goodness knows I have a whole other list of immeasurable expectations that I have laid at His feet and am just waiting for Him to amaze me with his power and grace. God is able to do exceedingly MORE than all we can ask or imagine. He said so. So expect BIG things from God. Take those insurmountable, unrealistic expectations to God and wait. He can do all things, including surpassing your unrealistic expectations him.