Friday, December 25, 2009
What kind of expectations affected Mary and Joseph's relationship? Mary didn't expect to be visited by an angel. Joseph expected a virgin. Mary expected to be married awhile before having a baby. Mary didn't expect to have to have people judge her for being pregnant before she was married. Mary didn't expect to have a baby in a barn (with all THAT entails!). She had been promised a King. What kind of King is born in a barn?
Luke 2:4-7 (NIV) 4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
If she had time, it would have been easy for Mary to be frustrated during this whole process. Her life as she knew it was turned upside down.
I was reminded about how many times my frustration level is extremely low. Somebody going to slow in front of me? I have to wait? I was here first, why is that person going before me? You want me to do what?
How many times are we frustrated due to our expectations of what we want to happen? Mary changed and/or rearranged her expectations. This is a good reminder for us as well.
Romans 8:18-21 (NIV) 18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.
Merry Christmas! Maybe lowering our expectations of ourselves and others will help us lower our frustration and be a gift in itself!
Thursday, December 24, 2009
I attempted to look up info of the vote, etc. and what the ending wording is. HOW CONFUSING! I was looking at info here: http://www.senate.gov/pagelayout/legislative/b_three_sections_with_teasers/active_leg_page.htm I also went to MI's senator sites briefly to write them the following:
I believe that forcing a vote on health care before the holidays so you can all go home is not acting in our best interest.
I have attempted to look at the bill (and all the amendments, etc) and it is impossible to follow. How do you even know what you're voting on?
Will the congress and federal employees be expected to participate in any plan included in this bill?
I hope you take the concerns of voters in general, especially those in your state, before voting on this bill. I would also expect that no finalized bill includes taxpayer funding for abortion in any way, including a public fund.
Thank you for your efforts in representing our state.
I also looked a little bit at Ms. Stabenow's site. http://stabenow.senate.gov/ I found the wording interesting, especially the tag line: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Saves Lives, Saves Money, Saves Medicare Isn't Medicare government run?
My main point is whatever your feeling/take on the issue? Make your voice heard so congress knows we're out here and watching.
1 Timothy 2:1-3 (Message) Simple Faith and Plain Truth1-3The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Tonight, I was programming a cell phone (which is about as difficult...and as much fun....as programming VCRs, etc). I was sitting at the table and putting in phone numbers. I made a mistake and could not figure out how to delete the number. The first few times I hit delete the contact and started over. Finally, I was getting frustrated.
Then, I glanced up and there sat the instruction book. I am usually the first one to try and read instructions if I can't figure it out within a reasonable time. Tonight it didn't even cross my mind until I saw it right in front of me.
It really was something very simple to correct. Just needed to hit the correct button to backspace. I wasted time, however, trying to figure the phone out without reviewing the instructions first.
I got to thinking how much this is like the Bible. God's instructions to us....in written form....usually not to far away from any seat in the house. How many times have I floundered in a situation when part of the answer is right at my fingertips? I already know the answer. More than necessary and more then I would like.
I once heard the Bible referred to as Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. How much easier life would be if I remember THAT first instead of much later when I've made more mistakes and wasted more time than I can count.
So, where's your instruction manual? Find your Bible, ask God for guidance for what and where He wants you to read. Those instructions are timeless.
John 1:1-3 (NLT)1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
Thursday, December 03, 2009
I looked up the definition of procrastination at www.webster.com to put off intentionally and habitually; to put off intentionally the doing of something that should be done.
Both of these fit, however, I am noticing 2 things....intentionally (doing it on purpose) and habitually (a habit can be broken!).
I do know this: I can easily go help someone else with the very thing that I avoid in my own life. I also know that procrastination has cost me over the years in both $$ and wasted time. Some days are better than others. On the bad days, I'm letting procrastination keep me from where I need to be.
John 6:20-21 (NLT) 20 but he called out to them, “Don’t be afraid. I am here!” 21 Then they were eager to let him in the boat, and immediately they arrived at their destination!
I find it interesting that this takes place while Jesus is walking on water. The disciples invited him into the boat and then they got to where they were going....their destination.
The way to get to any destination is to start with one step and keep going. Inviting God into our mess that He already knows about anyway....is one step.
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
I've been dealing with some other "it's only" too. I've found myself watching TV shows or movies with swear words. I hear my family members, their friends and myself, slip up and let the words fly. At first, I'm rather disappointed. The more I hear it though? The more I tune it out. It doesn't seem as big a deal...."it's only" a couple of words.
I find myself doing pointless stuff to avoid doing the necessary stuff. Procrastination? YES! But, "it's only" a few minutes. However, the few minutes slip into 1/2 hours and hours of time that I won't get back and I pretty much wasted.....and sleep, still a battle for me to make myself go to bed.
I want to change my focus from "it's only" to THE One and Only as referred to in the verse below:
John 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (NIV)
I want to dedicate my money, voice, time, efforts, and life to Someone greater than the things of this world. Don't ever think "it's only" or I'm only (fill-in-the-blank) about yourself. God has made you in His image to be the "one and only" you.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
As Thanksgiving approaches this week, take a few moments to reflect on life. Many times I am getting so bogged down in details that I forget to be thankful for the experience and paying attention to what God wants me to learn. I am trying to do better at learning the first time so I do not need to keep being reminded that I'm doing "it" again....or still.
It seems that there is so much negativity (maybe it's because on the news that....like sex....is what sells....or gets watchers) on TV, etc. I've watched people who are becoming "famous"....just because of who they have been with while people that are doing really worthwhile things are overlooked. I try to limit my exposure to the news, and TV in general, because it is really easy for me to get dragged down. I am surprised at the new levels that some TV shows have sunk to.
SO, how to combat that? There is much talk about developing an "attitude of gratitude" which basically means finding things to be thankful for. I'm going to refer to it as ThanksLIVING. More than just giving thanks, I want to live a life of thanks. I want to rejoice!
There is a story in Luke 17 about 10 lepers. Jesus heals them. Only 1 comes back to give him thanks. Sometimes it is inconvenient to show thanks. I say the word "thanks" a lot. I want to get to a point of realizing there is more to it than just stating it. It is living like it makes a difference to me and others. Many times especially lately, I have come to realize that it is OK to be thankful for things that are NOT happening to us also. I can focus on the problem(s) or the Problem Solver.
In the verses above, I am reminded again to be anxious less and pray more.
I looked back at last year's post and I was thankful that my mom was coming home after a month in the hospital, etc. after her heart attack. Other than a few bumps, she is doing well!
Thank you to my family and friends who make life worth living!
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
I have noticed this on headstones as well. This is true especially if the headstone is for a married couple. When one spouse dies, their life information is completed - the year is filled in after the dash. The other spouse may have the beginning date, but not the end date while they complete their life.
Sadly, sometimes the year before and after is the same. I have seen a baby's life touch many other lives even if he or she was here for a few days, months, or died the same day of birth. The time here does not make that life any less valuable.
Genesis 2:7 (NIV) the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
In Genesis, I have noticed that during creation, many times it states "God said....". However, for man, God formed and breathed into him. Humans are made in God's image.
Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
At funerals, we look back at a person's life and state their accomplishments. Living life is in and of itself an accomplishment! Making it from one day to the next is an accomplishment!
We touch many lives during that time of the dash. Too many times I look forward to the next thing, forgetting to live in the moment. Life before the dash is made up of millions of moments. Knowing that we are made in God's image should help us make it through each moment, good or bad.
Let's make our lives before the dash the best we can so that when the end does come, we have no regrets.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
I have been thinking about how much time I spend worrying....usually about things that don't/won't happen OR not the way I imagine anyway. SO why am I wasting my time? I usually try everything I can think of....and when that doesn't work, I pray. The verses above remind me to not worry about anything, but pray about everything.
Switching it around a little.... Pray about everything and don't worry about anything.
Now to put it into practice. The next time the worry monster shows up, I'm scaring it away by praying. How many days does it take to start a new habit? Worrying is a bad habit that can be broken.
I will pray instead of worry today. Say it with me.....
Thursday, November 05, 2009
Back in 1998 (I know because I got it as a gift for me), I bought a Bible called The Journey Bible. It said it was for spiritual seekers. I did not know it at the time, but I was and remain a seeker. I do not believe it matters if you have read through the whole Bible, bits and pieces, or not at all, God designed us to seek after Him and His Word.
I have had a few Bibles before and after, but The Journey is my favorite. I am amazed that I can open it and find answers to questions I had not even gotten around to asking yet. There is an introduction prior to each book with a time line that relates it to history. My copy is paperback and getting a little worn and lots of notes in the sidebars. I'll still keep it even when it falls apart.
I don't read the Bible as often as I'd like. I very often have found time to read novels, magazine articles, etc. I'm trying to do better with the Bible.
I never thought about it until tonight that I could pass along the info and that copies are available (relatively cheaply) through Amazon, etc. http://www.amazon.com/Journey-Spiritual-Seekers-International-Version/dp/031092023X is the address if you'd like to check it out. I do not know if it is available in bookstores anymore. www.half.com would be a good place to look too if you decide it's worth a closer look!
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Earlier this month, some friends and I went on an Art Walk in the woods up north MI. We came to a fork in the trail with a sign stating "difficult" and "more difficult".
I smiled as I realized how much this signifies most of life. It does not matter which way you go, it's a challenge. According to the verse above, as Christians, we are probably on the "more difficult" path.
There was the option of turning back (which we did at the time), but I wonder what we missed. We did make the effort to climb the steps of a stockade maze. More difficult? Yes, but we were rewarded with the beautiful colors of the autumn trees filling the landscape. It was worth the effort. On the ground, we were unable to see that distance. Even though there was some rain that day, the umbrella of trees protected us from getting too wet.
I have to thank my husband for the time away with my friends. Sometimes we need a break to refresh ourselves along the way.
God promises that He will share in our burdens along the more difficult path. He also offers us rest for the times we get beat down by the circumstances we find along the path, whichever one we choose or find ourselves on. A yoke divides the work and doubles the effort.
Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV) 28 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Under the heading Rest for the Weary)
Not trying to rewrite the Bible, but thinking how the above translates for me:
Make an effort to find me. You know you're tired. Allow me to join you and make this easier. I will help you relax. You will find rest. You will not work alone.
Take a few moments to consider what path you're on. Are you walking it alone? Struggling? God's yoke is beside the path. Will you pick it up? It does not mean the path will get easier. It does mean that you can share the load. Are you up to the challenge of the more difficult?
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
The recent news of the Nobel Peace prize awarded to the president was interesting. I do not really know a lot about his career before becoming president to know if it is deserved or not. Do I think he's riding the fame of the now generation? More than likely. For interest sake, a list of previous winners is available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Nobel_Peace_Prize_laureates I did not know the award had been around since 1901. There were also some years the award was not given out. My information learned for the day.
Then I saw today's verse on BibleGateway:
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”- Romans 12:2 (NIV)
I started playing around with the idea of the spelling. Rearranged Nobel Peace becomes Noble which made me think of God. I tend to get bogged down by details and where the world seems to be heading. So I'm thinking a renewing of my mind is in order. Then I looked up the verse about peace that passes understanding. The verses before and after are good too.
Philippians 4:6-8 (NIV)
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
The verses above are an excellent reminder to guard our hearts and our minds. Find our way to NOBLE PEACE and it won't matter what the world does.
I'll move past doubt in the events of this world and think on true, noble (didn't even know that was in the verse at 1st! - guess that ties it all together!), right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy things.
How about you? Ready to be a transform-er?
Thursday, October 01, 2009
Recently, I had written in my journal that I was trying to handle things on my own again and not including God in our decisions.
Usually, when I eat breakfast I read through the local paper, a magazine or a novel. This AM I got the feeling I should read THE Book. So I got out my favorite Bible. I know that it is not a good idea to just flip open the Bible and read where you land. There's wisdom in Proverbs and comfort in the Psalms. I've been reading in Genesis. So I could have started in any of those places. BUT, I stuck my finger in and looked where it landed.
Daniel 6.....Daniel and the Lions' Den. A pretty well known story, but a quick recap. Some of the people serving with Daniel get jealous because he seems to be getting special treatment. The king likes him. Daniel follows God. The jealous folks get the king to pass a law that can not be repealed. For 30 days people can only pray to the king....or be thrown into the lions' den. Daniel is found, as usual, during one of his daily 3 times of prayer thanking God and asking for his help. The king tries everything, but the law stands. Daniel is thrown to the lions. The king does not sleep and goes to the lions' den early the next day. He calls out to Daniel....who replies! The people who framed Daniel (and their families) are thrown into the pit and the lions did what lions do. The king then orders everyone to follow Daniel's God.
Good story, but the VERY cool part is what else I found. I had read through this passage before and highlighted the following verses:
Daniel 6:26&27 (NIV)
26 "I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel.
"For he is the living God
and he endures forever;
his kingdom will not be destroyed,
his dominion will never end.
27 He rescues and he saves;
he performs signs and wonders
in the heavens and on the earth.
He has rescued Daniel
from the power of the lions."
Part of the reason I love The Journey Bible I have is the boxes of info along the side. The one for this section? The God Who Is There. Summarized, it stated: This story is one of the most popular and well known and provides another example of God's provision and protection. It shows that God can rescue those who seek him in prayer, no matter how hopeless life appears. And then: "Did you turn to the pages of this book because of some painful or desperate personal situation? If so, realize that the same God who rescued Daniel is ready to work in you as well. He can enter your experience despite the adverse circumstances in your life-you are not beyond his reach. All you need to do is turn to God, trusting that he will never abandon you once you've placed your life in his hands."
The God that was with Daniel in the lions' den is available to us. How frustrating it must be for God (the ultimate father) to know that he can assist us, but we won't ask him for his help. I'm going to do better, how about you?
Hearing, but no longer fearing, the roars.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
I've been thinking about the sunflowers and impending fall and winter for the last few days. The www.biblegateway.com verses of the day were 20-21 above so I knew today was time. When I read them, I didn't even think about that John 3:16 was part of this passage.
I missed taking a picture of the field of sunflowers I viewed on the way to one of our boating outings. There seemed to be 100s all opened wide and enjoying the sunshine. Each one looked like its own little version of the sun. I am not really an outdoorsy type person. I sunburn easily so it just seems like a chore to get all ready to be outside for any length of time. However, I try to remember to enjoy those few months of sunshine....trying to build up stamina for when I know we'll be indoors trying to avoid the cold and darkness of winter.
A few weeks later, we drive by the same field. Apparently, sunflower season is over. The same sunflowers that were so perky last drive by, are hanging their heads and starting to wither/dry up. Our family historically has not handled the lack of sunshine well. As leaves change and fall and darkness seems to come earlier and earlier, sadness seems to descend and tempers can flare. We're not as perky. We've found ways to adapt, but I still am not real fond of the upcoming time of the lack of sunshine.
I have come to realize that recognizing the problem for what it is, is half the battle. Remembering that emotions are stronger than I like and some overwhelmingly float to the top. Fighting the good fight is still worth it. We don't fight alone. Jesus was sent into the world to help us overcome darkness, physically and mentally. Remembering to let him help....is the other half of the battle.
After the darkness and the winter, the sunflowers will be back, reaching again toward the sun. We will too and we'll reach toward the Son through it all.
Friday, September 18, 2009
Ah ha! Good point. He's the driver. His seat is not going to change. It was her choice to stay in her own seat or slide over to the middle, sit a little closer and get the closeness she desired.
Lately, I have let myself be TOO busy with a lot of stuff that really (in the overall scheme of life) does not matter. My times of devotions become maybe reading an online devotional during the day, but definitely not the Bible reading that really helps. My times of prayer become when I am at my limit of patience and uttered quickly in desperation for a specific situation. Then I am surprised when God does not seem as close.
If God is in the proper perspective in my life, he's the driver. HE didn't move. So, time to move closer to the middle for the closeness I desire. I become amazed how I am welcomed back like I never left. Sometimes my eyes are open, but I don't see. I see more of God in everyday life, when I take the time to look.
If, like me, there are days when God seems far away, ask yourself, "who moved?"
1 Corinthians 15: 57-58 (NIV) 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
I have mentioned many times that I struggle with procrastination and time management. I consider schedules a necessary evil. I started thinking about this because I was going through my e-mail. I laughed because in the "junk" mail box, I had NUMEROUS (esp. over the last few days) notices that I had won $$$ or somebody in another country just needed "my" help clearing some funds in exchange for a portion of the funds. AND right underneath those was an e-mail stating I could learn to drive a truck. Hmmmm. Easy money or work for it?
I have a very scattered train of thought. I went from thinking about being buried with e-mail and communication from TV, newspapers, discussions, etc. and what a waste of time that can be. SO, I wanted to write about that. I usually try to link it somehow to a Bible verse. I searched words like clutter, junk and ruins (don't even remember how I got to that). Most of those were not mentioned unless in the Message version and still not what I was looking for.
Then I thought of a good quote "build me a stone wall" from Facing the Giants movie. I went to look on YouTube for a clip and couldn't find what I was looking for. It was about Nehemiah and the stone wall (just build the portion in front of you and let your neighbor build his part) because many times I'm trying to build the whole wall...on my own. I did read through Nehemiah though on www.biblegateway.com and found some interesting information and links. Along the way I also saw some disturbing videos on how some people view Christians and God followers. (topic for another day!)
I finally found the part of the movie and it didn't fit the way I thought it would. While on biblegateway I found the following: http://www.reviveourhearts.com/radio/roh/today.php?pid=246 "A State of Bondage" I glanced through briefly. Talked about time management and obligations. Then she talked about Jesus' short time on Earth and all He accomplished. She mentioned some verses in Mark so I looked a few up...and came up with the ones listed at the top here.
I started thinking about my "obligations" and my to-do lists that I try to prepare (and follow, ha!) daily. I usually try to rack my brain of all the possible things I know that I need to do and fit them into a day over the week. Ideally, I do this Sunday night to mentally prepare myself for the week. Notice how many times I stated "I" and "my" above? Oops, forgot something!
How much better could my day/week go IF I prayed first and asked God what He needed me to do with my time? Whose to-do list am I following? The one I think I need OR the one God lays out for me as someone who denies herself and follows Him? (vs 34)
Prayer: God, sometimes we get SO busy with details that we lose sight of the big picture. Help us to make prayer and time with you the FIRST thing on the to-do list so that we do not labor in vain. Provide wisdom to make our to-do list filled with your desires first.
Maybe I was looking TOO hard. This was the verse of the day for today. “[Two Kinds of Wisdom] Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom." James 3:13 (NIV)
Psalm 127:1-3 1 Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. (NIV)
Friday, September 11, 2009
Hebrews 6:17 - 19 17 God also bound himself with an oath, so that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that he would never change his mind. 18 So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. 19 This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. (NLT)
I have struggled for a few days now knowing I had something to write, but not knowing where to start. I am very good at avoiding. I know time is going by fast, but the last few weeks it has really hit me. The end of summer, back to school for the kids, the leaves are changing colors and don't seem like they've even been ON the trees that long. One day of the week is here, blink, and the same day, next week. Ugh. If you've seen the movie, Click with Adam Sandler, that's what it feels like. Only I'm not wanting to skip through life faster. I've found lots of time to read other books, but have not been opening my Bible.
Found some of my answer today online in the above verses (JQ's positive words to live by was verse 18...then I checked out the other verses). I just went back and read all of Hebrews 6 ( http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Hebrews+6&version=NLT) Wow! Part of what I've been struggling with is the way the world seems to be heading in the wrong direction.
I know better....but sometimes I forget.
I especially picked up on the words refuge and hope. I'm thinking refuge in the Bible from what I remember was found in a cave. Not the best place in my mind to go and get in a better mood. I look up the word refuge on Webster. It is based on the words to escape, to flee. As a noun, it is shelter or protection from danger or distress. In the above verses, "we who have fled to him for refuge." Where have I been fleeing to? My cave of emotions where things can seem darker than they really are. Time to remember to seek a new source of refuge and hope. Refuge can be fleeing to something, not necessarily somewhere we stay.
Another verse (115) that mentions refuge and hope.
Psalm 119:113-115 113 I hate those with divided loyalties, but I love your instructions. 114 You are my refuge and my shield; your word is my source of hope. 115 Get out of my life, you evil-minded people, for I intend to obey the commands of my God. (NLT)
May we receive strength to take on another day and enjoy! May it not take a huge crisis (Sept. 11) to get us to remember our need for God. Churches were filled those few days after that day. 8 years later are we back to where we were before? Refuge in this world is not even close to the refuge we can have.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Our daughter and I went to the beach today with some friends. It was a beautiful day. I stayed near the shore picking up rocks. There were so many shapes and colors. I wrote in the sand and watched the water come up and wash it away. I moved further up onto the beach, the water came in further and still wiped it away. I stood in the sand near the waters edge and felt the sand slip away beneath my feet. The waves were coming in approx. every 3 seconds. It was impossible to stand without the sand sucking my feet in as the tide went back out. Even if I dug my feet in a ways, I was almost falling over.
I began to think of the verses above (and the song that goes with it....flashback to Sunday School). The more I thought about it, the more the verses made sense. Sand is constantly shifting...with the wind and the waves. Rocks are sturdy and firm. Then I started to think about how this applied to life. What are we building our houses on? When the inevitable storms of life come, will the house stand or fall flat? How to build on the right foundation?
I still have a lot of building to do, but some general ideas in the right direction.
Starting the day with a quick thank you for this day and the blessings it holds. Taking some time for devotions and letting the Word help wash away the worries. Being available for unexpected interruptions that are God appointments. Building on the rock.
Praying that you avoid faulty foundations. Every moment is a chance to put another brick on the strong foundation that will help weather the storms of life.
“I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” Psalm 16:8 (NIV)
Friday, July 31, 2009
Let's face it, sometimes OK maybe a lot of times, emotions suck (for lack of a better term). Especially the down ones. It is SO easy to get overwhelmed and let emotions and feelings run over logic that things will more than likely be better tomorrow. Sometimes a nap is necessary. I knew that things were starting to crowd in on me again. I've ignored it. Worked around it. Found other things to do....but the feelings nagged on. A lot of the sadness I've been feeling isn't really even MY sadness. I've been surrounded by things affecting other people that I feel sad about.....and in a round about way guilty because deep down I think I feel relieved it's not me going through it.
This evening I finally found a nice seat on some tree roots while hubby was out with kids in the boat. It was a nice area with trees all around and no houses. Not a lot of noise other than the occasional boat buzzing by. I enjoyed looking at rocks/pebbles and the varying shapes and colors and how firm they are. I finally let myself breathe and feel. And I found a good way to describe it......
At Michigan Adventure in the kids area or at most water parks, there is the big bucket of water that eventually tips and everybody standing under it gets wet. It takes a little while to fill (those constant feelings filling the bucket), the bell sounds (overwhelming feeling), and the bucket tips (the tears fall).
I also came to the conclusion that maybe we experience pain so we appreciate joy. Through the pain, we can remind ourselves that God IS STILL God, even in the middle of the darkest times. I once heard that when we go through fire, God doesn't leave us there and go wait on the other side. He walks through the fire with us.
Many times our pain does have purpose. Pain and sadness can bring people together to support each other. We can't always see the purpose at the time. A lot of times the purpose becomes clearer in hindsight.
May we not try to avoid or ignore pain, but be aware of how we can lean on God through it. Get past the emotion and on to the fact that we are loved beyond our imagination.
Psalm 46:10 "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."
Sunday, July 12, 2009
I've been thinking about this for a little while...and putting it off. It's not a nice subject....death/dying. Well I guess dying would come first. Funny thing is I kind of started thinking about it because of Michael Jackson's death and all the media attention. Not because I'm all that much of a fan. Sure, I'm a kid of the 80's and the sequin glove, etc. WAS a big part of growing up. I guess it was more because of ALL the attention. Sure, he did some good things with his life and money...didn't always seem that happy, but still some good things. "The King of Pop"
BUT there are LOTS of good people with good intentions that do things everyday that are noteworthy but not noticed. AND there are lots of people that when they pass on will not get all the attention they deserve. Chalk it up to some of the unfairness of life I suppose.
Tonight though I think I found out why I had waited. Before this would have just sounded like a rant about Michael Jackson. I found the complete opposite (thanks to a mom on carepages site). Her son died of cancer. He was 12. She recently posted this website: http://deathisnotdying.com/ I downloaded and listened to the audio. The lady gives an awesome testimony. She did not win her battle. She died July 2 of this year. She was a mom to 2 young kids and a wife and a friend, etc. She gives much info to think about and one of the best explanations I think I've heard of why we need a saving relationship through Jesus.
She will not hit the papers or even TV probably outside of her town in Canada. She will not be known as the queen of anything. She reminded me though of a way to live life because truly we're all dying everyday some people just have a better indication of when that might be.
I've been thinking about it anyway, but tonight I finally shared with my husband and said it out loud: I'm not afraid of death because I know where I'll go, but I am afraid of the dying part. Mostly because of fear of the unknown.
I pray this is not too much of a downer for you. However, I'm believing that in a dark world we need to shine light as much as possible. This lady's video/audio presentation does that. You can't keep news like that to yourself.
Monday, June 29, 2009
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
(NIV) Matthew 11:25-26 Rest for the Weary 25 At that time Jesus said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26 Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.This week, the kids and I are helping with vacation bible school. Tuesday during snack time, one of the little girls came up to me and set down a cup of water. I asked her who it was for and she smiled and said, "it's for you!" Then she gave me a hug and ran off to play Duck, Duck, Goose. She's only known me 2 days. What a nice little pick me up and reward for me.
Young children are so much more free with their emotions! When they're mad, you know! When they're sad, they cry. When they're happy, they laugh. I think we can learn a lot by hanging around younger kids. I do believe God has gifted them with a special knowledge well beyond their years.
If you are blessed to have younger kids in your life right now, take time to enjoy their outlook on life. It is often said (and I didn't really believe it), but they do grow up faster than you realize. If you have older kids....they still need somebody to talk to and bounce ideas off of. They're learning to make their own way in the world. Help them learn about God as a friend. Even though I went to church (twice on Sundays) growing up, I didn't realize the friendship/relationship that God desires with all of us until much later.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Last night, I finished a book I was reading and started looking at some of the writing I've done when I actually sit down, read the Bible, listen for the still small voice and write down whatever comes to mind. Since the last entry I wrote was about being centered and staying in the eye of the hurricane, I thought this might be appropriate. There have been days I feel this much more than others, but still always a good reminder.
Luke 8:24-25 (NIV)
24 The disciples went and woke him, saying, "Master, Master, we're going to drown!" He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. 25 "Where is your faith?" he asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, "Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him."
Sometimes a storm rages across the land
or the ocean or the sea.
Sometimes the storm happens within me.
A physical storm with thunder, lightning, rain,
an internal storm with sickness, weakness, pain
Afraid? No faith?
Believe in the ultimate storm chaser
We may think Jesus is sleeping and we will surely drown.
He calmly says peace, be still
and the storm will calm right down.
Often times the storm lasts longer than I’d like,
but I’ll sit down and ride it out
God is in control.
Whatever storm(s) you may be going through right now, please know that you are not alone in the boat. God does not sleep. There is NO storm to big that with God's help we cannot ride through. When we give up control, we make it easier for God to calm the storm....or at least calm us to deal with it.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
The sermon this past Sunday was on focusing on the center and making Jesus our center, not ourselves. The pastor used Rocky 2 and a song by Aerosmith to make the point. It was done in a humorous way which helped the teenage son to pay more attention. :) We do live in a very "me" oriented society. However, when the focus is on us and we are our center....it's off of Jesus and other people's issues/needs. As the saying goes, "the world does not revolve around you"....and it shouldn't. I don't think we intentionally put ourselves there. Circumstances, advertising and society all play a part in pushing us closer to the center of our lives and making it about us.
While he was talking, I was getting an image of a hurricane with the eye of the storm at the very center. Later, I read up a little on hurricanes/cyclones. The eye of the storm is almost always warmer and calm. The storm swirls around the center, but the center is peaceful. That doesn't mean the rest of the storm won't come as the eye passes over.
Life can seem like that cyclone sometimes. Stuff happens that we can't explain or doesn't make sense. Sometimes it's hard to see the good that come out of a bad situation or life storm. BUT if we can keep God the center eye of our storm and we can keep our focus centered on the eye and not the storm, we will be able to survive the storm and rest secure centered in His love.
Revelation 5:5-6 (NIV) Then one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals." Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, ...
Revelation 7:16-17 (NIV) Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."
Praying that the eye of the storm is big enough for us to center our attention on and the swirling storms of life will not move our focus off God as our center.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
I have to delve deeper into my avoidance of writing lately...even in my journal which I usually enjoy. My first thought is God's got something He wants to deal with me on....and I'm not sure I'm ready to deal with it yet. So I looked up "avoid" and "lazy" on biblegateway...and didn't really find what I was looking for....at first. Now, I'm reminded of the story of the talents in the Bible and lazy is mentioned.
Back then, a talent was money. The story is in Matthew 25:14-30 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%2025:14-30;&version=31 and I just noticed at the end of that passage there is a note that a talent was worth more than a thousand dollars! There were 3 servants and each were given a varying amount of talents based on their ability. The 2 who got the most, used them wisely, invested and DOUBLED the amount given. The last 1 was fearful and buried the talent. When the master returned, each servant gave an account of what happened with the talents they had been given. The 2 servants got to keep the additional talents they had received. The last servant gave the master back the talent he'd been given. He was referred to as lazy, he ended up having to give it to the servant with the most talents...and was shown the door.
I don't know if it is just coincidence that the parable refers to "talents". I think this story works as a story on not wasting what we are given, whether it is money....or actual talents (physical and/or spiritual gifts). I have some work to do. How about you? Are we investing wisely...our money and our time? Are we available when God wants to meet us?
For me, this means getting back more into the (in my mind, dreaded -wrongfully so) routine and schedule that I know helps me use my time more effectively. Daily "to-do" lists so I don't forget things that I will otherwise spend twice as long trying to remember. Carrying this information with me and USING it. Making myself available when God wants to use me to bless someone else....regardless of what's in it for me.
When taken in context, Matthew 25 is 3 parables....all about when Jesus returns and us being ready. I'm working on it. Want to join me?
Monday, April 20, 2009
[ Steep Yourself in God-Reality ] He continued this subject with his disciples. "Don't fuss about what's on the table at mealtimes or if the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your inner life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the ravens, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, carefree in the care of God. And you count far more.
Recently, I had the pleasure of spending time with a 10 month old girl. We started playing a game. I was holding her on my lap and she would fling herself backward into my other arm. Then we would laugh, sit her up and do it again...and again. She didn't know me well, but she was not afraid. She did not look back to see if I would catch her. She trusted, with carefree abandon, that I was there and would catch her and we could play some more.
I started thinking. I want to live that way. I want to remember that God is a God of love and laughter. I want to know that I do not need to be afraid or look back to know I'm safe. I want to have carefree abandon that I know God is there. I want to be able to trust that God is there to catch me when I fall backward. God is ready to keep playing.
What's keeping me from living that way? What's keeping you from living that way? Let's figure it out....and climb in Jesus' arms for a game of Catch Me.
1 Peter5:6-7 So be content with who you are, and don't put on airs. God's strong hand is on you; he'll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Wounded, but Healed
Psalm 147:3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. (NIV)
Last year, I had surgery on my neck due to a disc pressing on my spinal cord. I was not looking forward to it for numerous reasons. I was scared of surgery. Not because I thought something would happen, just the fact of the unknown. How would I feel afterward? How long would it take to recover? I had things to do. This would be a crimp in MY plan(s).
I do not consider myself vain and did not really think about the wound or subsequent scar. I was told it would be on one of the lines of my neck and would not be that noticeable. Considering the work that needed to be done, it is a small scar that is healing and becoming less noticeable.
When I first took off my bandages, I was disappointed at how red it looked. It was more raised up then I thought it would be. For a long time, I would wear a small bandage over it. I was uncomfortable with the fact that people would notice and then I’d have to explain what had happened. As if the bandage wasn’t noticeable.
The Bible doesn’t mention a lot about scars. It mentions wounds quite a bit. I think of the wounds that Jesus suffered at the hands of his accusers. The whipping and beating that He took on our behalf. The long, painful walk He took bearing our cross. Hanging on the cross where he was wounded even more deeply. The scarlet blood that flowed from His wounds is blood that washed away our sins. The feeling of being forsaken. He was not concerned about His earthly body. He died once to bring healing and the chance of relationship to all.
Isaiah 53:4-5 4 Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! 5 But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. (NLT)
God, You know us better than we know ourselves. You know the wounds we have and have tried to hide. You know the wounds we may have inflicted on others. Thank you for your devotion to us through Jesus. Thank you for the freedom we can have through you. Thank you for the scars that can help us lead others to you. Amen
Monday, March 16, 2009
“Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”- Colossians 3:12 (NIV)
As Spring approaches...and in reality, I need to do it anyway, I've been cleaning out our closets. The kids have grown so some of their items are being handed down or handed over to Goodwill or Love Inc. I'm trying to follow the rule if you haven't worn it in x months, get rid of it. I finally had to admit that even if some styles come back in fashion...I didn't really like them that much the first time! ;)
This verse since it mentions "clothe" yourselves caught my eye. Then I read what I can clothe myself with. Wow! Compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. How much different my day would be if I pull my clothes from THAT closet.
Right before that verse was listed all the things I could be rid of.
You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Colossians 3:7-10 (NIV)
Those are not even worth recycling or handing down. Time for a NEW SELF and a better closet. Look out best dressed list! We've got a new wardrobe.
I did finally read this book. It is one of few I actually argued with myself and put more thought into before reading (The Left Behind series was one of the others). I borrowed it from the library and there was still a lengthy waiting period, so I assume people are still reading or waiting to read this book.
Thank you to the person who posted the review. (http://www.boundless.org/2005/articles/a0001788.cfm) I read it prior and just read through it again. It does bring up some good points.
The reviews and who they are by, partially influenced me. A quote from Michael W. Smith is on the back. Eugene Peterson (translated/wrote The Message version of the Bible) compared it to Pilgrim's Progress. (sidenote: having just read a modern short version of Pilgrim's Progress, I would not compare the 2).
After I read the book, I also checked out the website. http://www.theshackbook.com/ It is stated clearly on the website and on the back of the book it is FICTION and it is stated to be a novel. I haven't even got to the forums (no time), but I'm sure they would be interesting.
There were some things (OK, a lot) that made me go Hmmmm and I would like to follow up on by checking in the Bible. I hope that is what others will do as well. The book dwelled on relationship more than "religion". It came across to me as VERY spiritual, almost new age, if I was more versed in what that was.
My one word of warning would be that somewhere I read it mentions it is great for new believers as well. I do not think I would go that far. My personal opinion would be read through the New Testament (at least) before attempting this book even as fiction.
Sometimes, I think we read to much into books. However, authors/writers have a responsibility to know that their words carry power, for good or evil. We, as readers, have a responsibility to seek out truth and apply it to our lives as we see fit.
One thing I have personally struggled with? How can I take time for ALL the fiction/self-help/fun reads and can't find more time to read the Bible? Hmmmm.
Friday, March 13, 2009
2 Peter 1 : 2 -9 (NCV) Grace and peace be given to you more and more, because you truly know God and Jesus our Lord.
God Has Given Us Blessings
3 Jesus has the power of God, by which he has given us everything we need to live and to serve God. We have these things because we know him. Jesus called us by his glory and goodness. 4 Through these he gave us the very great and precious promises. With these gifts you can share in God's nature, and the world will not ruin you with its evil desires.
5 Because you have these blessings, do your best to add these things to your lives: to your faith, add goodness; and to your goodness, add knowledge;6 and to your knowledge, add self-control; and to your self-control, add patience; and to your patience, add service for God;7 and to your service for God, add kindness for your brothers and sisters in Christ; and to this kindness, add love.8 If all these things are in you and are growing, they will help you to be useful and productive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.9 But anyone who does not have these things cannot see clearly. He is blind and has forgotten that he was made clean from his past sins.
I am really thankful for vs 4. The world and its evil desires are rather scary at the moment BUT we have great and precious promises. Then, like icing on a cake, we can add goodness, knowledge, self-control, patience, service for God, kindness for our brothers and sisters in Christ, and LOVE.
When we start to focus on what's outside of the mixing bowl of our life (our circumstances), we can change our perspective and outlook and work on adding the extras for an even sweeter life. Then we can share with those who might need a reminder that God loves them and wants a sweet life for them too.