Friday, December 19, 2014

Taking Out the Trash

I like Tuesdays for a couple of reasons. 

1: It has been the day when I have lunch at school with my "breadstickers" group. (I bring Little Caesars breadsticks and some other treats to the now highschoolers and am grateful for those that choose to come spend a bit of time hanging out.) 

2. Tuesday is trash day for our neighborhood. We put out the big, rolling trash can for early Wednesday pick up. Maybe it's just me, but I find a certain satisfaction in making the rounds and combining the trash cans in preparation of taking it out for "trash day". We (and by "we" I usually mean ME) take it out as necessary during the week, but for those cans that are not quite full (but by Monday usually starting to smell), TUESDAY is THE day.

I (or the kids) make the rounds picking up the various trash cans. I check the fridge for stuff that is no longer in an edible state. Tuesday is the day when I'm sure at least once during the week, we have done a general tidy up of the house. 

Trash cans are pretty easy to see when they are getting full (or overflowing sometimes) by the time we take care of it. We take out the old bag of yucky, smelly stuff of leftovers of the day(s). We might do some freshening up of the can by spraying some air freshener or disinfectant and wipe down the outside where things have spilled over. We put in a fresh least for a small bit of time....until we start loading it back up with yucky stuff....and do it all over again!

Recently, I got to thinking of the times when I have not felt so great mentally or emotionally. It is not quite as easy to see when life has been piling up some of the yucky, smelly stuff that I've allowed myself to think about. On a good day, I catch myself before those thoughts take hold. On a bad day, I can let that stuff start to take over and overflow into my thoughts and out my mouth. 

Just like life: what I put in is what I get out. Usually when things have begun to pile up, I have been neglecting my clean up time. My quiet time sometime during the day. Opening the Bible and letting God speak to me and freshen me up. Replacing the negative thoughts with life affirming thoughts. Music that isn't as uplifting as it could be. Fun to listen to, but not always positive. Finding time to keep myself busy, but not really taking out the trash I have allowed to creep in and start smelling up my thoughts and life.

What trash have you allowed to stay to long in your thoughts? Did someone say something to you that you have let stay in your mind for WAY too long? We can be really good at letting negative thoughts and somebody else's opinions stay in our minds way beyond when we should have emptied that bin.

It's not Tuesday. The bonus is we can clean out our minds of ANY trash ANYTIME we want. We just need to remember to do it! TODAY is trash day. What do you need to dump?

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

Philippians 4:8 (NIV) Finally, brothers and sisters, 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.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

I GOT the power! (but is it plugged in?)

I was playing with my "smart" phone recently. Something I do more often than I should probably....not always the most efficient use of my time....but I digress. The phone had already warned me that it was dwindling on power and needed to be plugged in. The little battery light that I love to see fully green had already been edging downward...and even been red for quite awhile. I ignored it and kept playing around....and then it shut down. The power cord dangled a short distance away. I had just not taken the time to plug it in.

I plugged in the phone and turned it back on. I could even use it right away. Once it was plugged in. Later it was ready to be taken off the charger again and ready to use....until the next time. ;)

Again I was reminded how often I treat myself like I treated my phone's power. I am well aware when my power starts to dwindle. Obviously, I don't have a handy little light showing the draining of the power. I tend to not feel as well. Take less time for me. I get grouchy. I take it out on people I claim to love the most. Eventually, I shut down by going to bed and wanting to stay there WAY longer than I need to. I don't have a power cord to plug in, but I am well aware of what helps keep that little light inside my spirit shining.

It usually sits by my bed....well within my reach. I don't always take time to use it though. I have a Bible that I have the freedom to read ANYTIME I want, but I don't read it enough. I have the freedom to pray ANYTIME I take the time to do so, but I don't do it enough. The Bible and praying are too often my last resort instead of my first line of defense against feeling drained and running on little to no power.

God offers to be my power source. Yours too. Consider this a reminder to not let your spiritual power dwindle so much that you shut down. Power up. Connect yourself to people that keep you charged up. Plug in. We got the power. Use it.

Psalm 20:6 (NIV)
Now this I know:
    The Lord gives victory to his anointed.
He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary
    with the victorious power of his right hand.

Psalm 71:17-19 (NIV)
17 Since my youth, God, you have taught me,

and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds.
18 Even when I am old and gray,
do not forsake me, my God,
till I declare your power to the next generation,
your mighty acts to all who are to come. 

19 Your righteousness, God, reaches to the heavens,
you who have done great things.
Who is like you, God?

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Battle(s)

Quite honestly, the battle gear seems a bit dinged lately.  When the battle is in your own head and spirit, it is easy to become battle worn and weary. Sometimes the battle just seems to follow us around...nipping at our heels...waiting for us to feel frustrated enough to let that armor slip and uncensored words fly out of our mouths. Of course, that is IF we even remembered to put on armor. Here lies a piece of the dilemma. It is not difficult to see that the battles in this world are coming closer together. Often it feels like there is no relief. Just one battle. After another. After another.

No wonder we are weary! Where is your battle gear? Is it in your closet or at your church with the thought process of better to have it and not need it? Have you fallen into the trap of keeping that armor looking spiffy and shiny? If we do that, we can continue to pretend that WE fight all the battles we face. Alone.

Time and
Lots of

Time to remember that we do not need to fight alone or armor-less. God promises to provide HIS armor so that we CAN stand when things get wearisome. Part of the battle is recognizing the enemy and identifying the battles worth fighting.

Personally, lately I've neglected a few of the key items in the arsenal. I looked up the verses to remind myself...and you...  Read it through. What pieces are you missing?

Ephesians 6:10-18 (NIV) The Armor of God
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Just a Cat

As we get ready to bring home a new pet
OR another pet has found us.
We quickly attach.
People say, it's just a cat.

We've watched them play
and grow up with our kids.
The kids move away.
The cat stays.
People say, it's just a cat.

Years have passed.
She starts to move slower
and sleep even more.
Barely eats.
Accidents on the floor.
Decision to make.
It's just a cat, people say.

Today our "just a cat"
took her last breath.
Giving in to the shot
that quickly brought death.

We drive home with tears in our eyes.
A hole in our hearts.
Knowing our "just a cat"
is finally at peace.

KL 2/6/14

Psalm 36:5-7 (NIV) 
5 Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the skies.
6 Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
your justice like the great deep.
You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.
7 How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Go To Hugs AKA the POWER of a HUG

Not sure why this is so heavy on my heart today, but I keep thinking about it so maybe it's for someone.....

When I was at my stressful job, I had a hard time keeping life in perspective. Some days were worse than others. I'm not even sure how the hugs came up or started. I do know they helped tremendously. Knowing I had a person to get a hug when needed even in passing, helped. I was proud of myself that I asked. Sometimes I didn't even have to. It must have been the look on my face.

The hugger I refer to no longer graces our planet. She has moved on to a better place. I pray that she knew the difference she made in my life. "Just" from being a go-to person for a hug when needed.

Do you have a person like that for you? Can you find one? Can you be that for someone else?

We don't get through this life on our own. It is very lonely if we try. Reach out. ESPECIALLY when you least feel like it. It helps. It really does.

Ephesians 3:14-21 (NIV)

A Prayer for the Ephesians

 For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Marry Me? !?!?!?!

This weekend I was given the incredible opportunity to travel to Tennessee to witness the wedding of my nephew to his high school sweetheart.

Travel. From Michigan to Tennessee with my mom, dad and brother. Honestly, when we started planning, it did not seem like an opportunity. It seemed like a chore. The planning (or lack of), the travel time, time away from work = lost income, planning for family while I was gone...even if kids are older now. I hesitated even up until the day before waffling back and forth between going. NOT because I did not WANT to be there just little stuff I was letting get in the way of making a decision.

An added bonus is that one of our other brothers made the trip a vacation with his family (his wife and 4 1/2 year old triplets). They arrived the night before we did. We were able to have breakfast with them each day, go swimming, visit a museum/preparation for a civil war reenactment, go for a beautiful drive, read books, do puzzles and just hang out. It was cool to realize that there are 2 brothers and a sister for the triplets and we were there with 2 brothers and a sister (me). We did miss our other brother and sister!

On Saturday, we attended the wedding. It's warm in Tennessee! Beautiful day. It rained later during the reception, but still beautiful. I teared up before the wedding. Partly, because I had not seen my nephew in a long time. Partly, because I've been married 25 years now....not always easy years so weddings make me think ahead and look back a bit too.

As the newly married couple, made their way back down the aisle, my niece was holding my hands. She looked me full in the face and said, "When I grow up, I want to marry you!"

We had a little talk about how we would not be able to be married, but I would love her always and that someday when she was grown up she would find somebody she wanted to marry and her daddy will walk her down the aisle. She asked if I would be there. I told her I would definitely be there that day!

Marriage is more than just the two people getting married. It is the circle of family and friends that join together to celebrate the love those two people have found. We celebrate on that particular day, but also in the years to come,

I am grateful for the time and support of family and friends. Now and forevermore. Marry me? I do. Amen.

Ephesians 3:16-18 (NIV) I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,

1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV) And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Same God

I am writing this to remind myself as much as anyone else. It is always "easier" to have faith when things are going well. It is in the ups and downs and struggles of life that fear and doubt can try to invade our thoughts.

Recently, I was reminded of Daniel from the Bible. ( Focus on the Family ) 

We have a right to believe whatever we want, but not everything we believe is right. - Dr. Ravi Zacharias
Even though the time of Daniel was many, many years ago, the times seem eerily similar. The God of Daniel was slowly being removed from society. Eventually, the law became that the people could ONLY pray/worship the current king under threat of being thrown into a den of lions. Daniel had a choice to make: follow the law OR continue to follow the God that he knew and loved and had proven Himself true time and time again. I'm sure Daniel struggled with the decision. Certainly, a den of lions would be a frightening deterrent to continuing his current practice of depending and trusting his God. Daniel continued to follow his heart and prayed to his God.

Daniel was discovered. Thrown into the lions den. BUT lived to be released the next day. In fact, the very king that tried to destroy Daniel ended up turning his life over to the God of Daniel as well.

Today, there are places in our world where this same faith is threatened. It may be a different deterrent than a den of lions. Denounce your faith or lose your head or watch your children be murdered. We are blessed to still live in a country where we are free to have the religion of our choice. To follow the God of our choice. To have a relationship with that God. However, those freedoms are slowly eroding. Do we even pay attention? Do we care until it happens to us? Do we have the faith and conviction to continue to follow our God even if threatened?

I am reminded that the same God of Daniel and many others in the Bible: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, the Israelites, Joshua, Ruth, Samuel, Esther, Job, David, Solomon, Jeremiah, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, the Disciples, is the SAME GOD that enables US and (put your name here) today to continue to follow Him.

The same power and promises that were true then to the people we have heard Bible stories about is still available to us. We do not walk alone, ever. Our brothers and sisters that are being persecuted for their faith are not alone. May our prayers continue to lift them up and remind them that the same God that was available back then is still available and working in all situations today and in our future.

Daniel 6:19-23 (NIV) At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?”

Daniel answered, “May the king live forever! My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.”

The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.
Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV) Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Romans 8:37-39 (NIV)  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Tug of War - HOPE

Recently while I was having one of my thinking moments, I pictured tug of war. First, it was in regards to our son, I think. Sometimes it feels as if he has crossed a great divide. There is still a rope that connects us, but there is a large divide and there are days we seem to be standing on opposite sides.

The other word that keeps popping up in my head and in things I've read is: HOPE. Maybe we see what we need to see when God thinks we need to see it. Maybe we just become more aware.

On a grander scale than just our home, I am picturing God and me on one side of the rope. Facing the chasm and a world that seems to be slipping further into the dark. I am praying that God continues to use me, to use us, to pull people over to the side of light toward HOPE. Where we realize we don't have to do everything on our own. We don't have to be perfect or "normal". We just pull.

The more I think about it. Sometimes God tugs at our hearts. Not loudly. Just a little nudge to remind us to spend more time in prayer and reflection. With family and friends.  On a good day it is just a little tug, a reminder. On the other days, I think God will do what He needs to do until He gets our attention!

Romans 5:4 (MSG)
There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit! 
Lamentations 3:25-27 (MSG)
25-27 God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits,
    to the woman who diligently seeks.
It’s a good thing to quietly hope,
    quietly hope for help from God.
It’s a good thing when you’re young
    to stick it out through the hard times.
1 Peter 3:15 (NIV) Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,

Friday, July 25, 2014

Not knowing what to say

My latest revelation is that life is easier to handle when "issues" come one at a time. One is finished before the next one starts. It is when the next issue comes before the one we're dealing with is done and they start to stack up one on another that it can get to be too much! There have been times recently when we seem to have entire subscriptions, not just issues!

And that's just our little family. I have to be careful. I purposely often don't watch the news. The recent plane crashes? One news station was doing a story on the kids on the plane. As much as I care, I CAN'T watch or I will get sucked down to a place I don't want to be. It has taken a long time for me to figure out what/how things will effect me and if it is worth the price I will pay. Often times, it's not.

How much is too much? Personally, it can depend on the day. How much sleep I get or don't. If everyone has been medicated lately.  The same thing that doesn't bother me one day can become my biggest concern the next.

Recently, we have had some stuff happen in our lives that hit me harder than anything I've dealt with. During? Crisis mode. Now that we are on the other side (pretty much), I can reflect.

Here are some of the things I learned:

It is incredibly hard for me to ask for help. I know this. I still struggle every time. I requested prayers. I couldn't post ALL the details because some of it wasn't mine to share. Even without details, there were people that stood in the gap for us. That helped tremendously because for a few days there I didn't even know how or what to pray for. Sometimes, I curse "social media". For support, I give it 2 thumbs up.

"How are YOU?" This is sometimes the first thing out of our mouths. We get SO used to asking, we don't always listen to the answer. Ask anyway. I have kicked myself mentally so many times for asking this at funerals. Duh. I have given myself some grace by realizing it was important I showed up to show I cared. I've tried to move on to give hugs and say I'm thinking about you. I do cards/writing better. In the case of caregivers? It is wonderful to be acknowledged. The person with the issue gets most of the attention. Not saying that it shouldn't be that way. However, it is nice to know someone recognizes stuff is hard on everybody involved.

Being brutally honest? Sometimes the thing we want to say is I don't know HOW you do it! (I'm glad it's you and not me.) I can't imagine the pain you are going through. (I'm glad it's you and not me.) Sensing a theme here? It is so politically incorrect to actually acknowledge the fact that it's OK to be grateful we are not dealing with someone else's issues. However during those times? Sometimes, you get the blessing of being the lean-on instead of the leaner. (*)

Sometimes there are NO words that can make it better, but "just" letting someone know you are thinking of them really does help. I really appreciated one friend who apologized for not responding sooner because she was waiting for the right words to say and then realized there were no words, but just let me know she was thinking of me. I appreciated the family and friends that offered to drop everything even before they knew what was going on to come sit with me. The offers meant more than you know.

SO don't wait until you have the right words to say. (preaching to myself here) Be honest. Just tell them you're there and hurt with them. Hold their hand if possible. Give a hug. Bring a balloon. Bring flowers. Find a card that says what you want to say (that's what those card writers get paid for!)

I have found a lot to say about not knowing what to say. Sometimes "saying" is overrated. Being there...even if a phone call or FB post away means more than you know. Hugs and prayers, my friends. May your subscriptions be few and your issues be fleeting.

* Lean on Me (Bill Withers)(NOTE: Give it a listen if it's been awhile. Preferably with lyrics. They are some GOOD ones!) 
Lean on me when you're not strong
And I'll be your friend, I'll help you carry on
For it won't be long
'Til I'm gonna need somebody to lean on

Psalm 27:8 (NIV) My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, Lord, I will seek.

Psalm 122:8 (NIV) For the sake of my family and friends, I will say, “Peace be within you.”

Psalm 91:9-16 (NIV)
If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

"Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Getting what we deserve?!?!?!?!

I think we're falling down the rabbit hole, my dear Alices, and I'm not sure that we'll like what we find when we hit bottom!

The world (or the infamous "they") tell us that WE deserve: Better...more...just....just....ugh! They don't necessarily tell us why or how much it will cost OR even HOW to get it. Just that we do. Deserve "it". It, like normal, has become an ever moving impossible to bullseye target. Mostly because what works one day won't necessarily work the next. The big "it" of today becomes the left behind who cares? of tomorrows. We are living in a world that can spread truth, lies, happiness or sadness all in the brief moment of hitting "send" or "post".

However, when we see someone get what the world says we deserve (money, fame, respect, _______, etc etc), people tend to get their panties in a bunch because then jealousy has a tendency to creep in. It is a hamster wheel we can't get off of....or can we?

Truth be written, we get what we think we deserve. Oh, the limits we put on what we think...unless negative thoughts. Those little devils seem to be quite willing to be as loud as we let them get. Yes, I wrote "let them". BECAUSE we have a lot more control over our thoughts than we give ourselves credit for.

I am beginning (again!) to realize how much I place my limitations on God. He believes we deserve better. Why don't we?

God is willing to give us the complete opposite of what we deserve. The question then becomes: are we willing to accept it?

Ephesians 3:14-19 (MSG) My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.

20-21 God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will direct your paths.

Matthew 7:11 NLT
If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Journaling the journey

It is something I really wish I would have started earlier. Thankfully, I have a mom that saved things for me. Every once in awhile, I get a bag of goodies. I had a bag of paperwork from 3rd grade....when one of our kids was in 3rd grade so it was fun to compare. I have found some things that I wrote down, but it wasn't "officially" a diary or journal. Some of my "Young Author" books. Definitely not award winners by any means (for writing OR illustrating) BUT it gives me a good look at what life was like at least at that point in time.

Recently, my husband asked me how old one (hahahaha, if you know our family, you know why I laugh) of our cats is. I trekked back through some of my journal books and could give him a pretty good guess. I also discovered how many kittens did NOT stay at our house. Hard to tell though if you visit.

I started to look at one of the books I did with the kids. Our son was 5 the first time we wrote in it. He had told me a story from the bus about Chuck E Cheese. I wrote it down. There is a ticket stub from the White Caps....from 1998. There is a picture and corresponding story of the day our daughter snuck out at my sister's house, went through the sprinkler and came back around and knocked on the garage door. She looked slightly drippy and guilty when we opened the door. Our son is now 21. Our daughter is 17. Time flies!

Oh, the smiles, tears and memories that are held in those journals. I never really intended them to become what they have. A record of our family. Of our journey. Of the joys and pains as we have moved through life together.

The little things that our kids did that I swore I would never forget. I am reminded of them as I read back through the pages. Sometimes there are gaps of time not covered or covered in 2 different journals because I would grab whatever one I could find. Some of the things are truly little things that would not or will not mean anything to anyone else other than me. Some of them are prayers. Some written in desperation as I did not know any other way to get out the pain that was in my heart. Sometimes it is difficult to go back and read through as I realize things I wish would have changed years ago....are still the same.

Lately, things seem to go more on Facebook or blogs. However, there is something beautiful in seeing something in writing in pen or pencil.

I write this to encourage you to find a book to write in, even if it is "just" a notebook. Find a place to keep it handy. Even if you don't like to write. Maybe doodle! Let your kids doodle or tell you a story and you write it down. Jot down those things that you think you will never forget because you will forget.....even if it is something you or your kid did often! Write the date on the page somewhere.

Our journey will end someday. New journeys are beginning everyday. It is in looking back that we realize the destination is not the goal. Focus on the journey. Just don't get so busy journaling about it that you forget to live it! Journal and journey on, my friends!

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Exodus 33:14 (MSG) God said, “My presence will go with you. I’ll see the journey to the end.”

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Start the day with S.I.P.

Let me clarify. By S.I.P., I do not mean hauling out some booze to help start the day. However, there are days when it does seem like that would be a valid way to work out some issues.

I was thinking of this recently. The days that I do not just jump right out of bed to start dealing with the day? My day goes better. If I take just 5 - 10 minutes to ease my way into the day? I'm guessing it doesn't change the things that will happen during the day, but it does help me in dealing with it.

I was kind of doing each thing individually. Not really naming it or anything, but those little phrases that remind you of other things make it easier to remember. (Lesson for the day, who knew? I thought it started with a "p":
mnemonic - something intended to assist the memory, as a verse or formula.)

SO: *S - Stretch *I - Inspiration *P - Pray

Stretch - Technically, you don't even have to get out of bed. Just stay there for a few minutes. Reaching up and out. Pulling your legs toward your chest. Whatever feels good. Think about it. Once we get up and on the move those muscles remain cramped especially if you do not have a physical job. We jump into our cars, hunch over the steering wheel to rush into an office where we sit in a chair probably on a computer for way too long. Trying to remember good posture.

Inspiration  - Can be combined with stretch if you pick music or listening to a devotional, etc. My phone has some music selections that I find inspirational. This has been one of my nicest things to do with my "smart" phone. I can download a short devotional or song and play it back whenever. Some of them have become my ring tone and bring me some peace during the day.

Pray -  Something else that can be done while doing something else. However, finding SOME focused time during the day when you can do more than just sentence prayers can really help put things in perspective. If you drive to work, try leaving the radio off. At first, it seems kind of awkward. When you get really into it, you might start talking out loud to God just like you would to a good friend. It may look odd to passersby, but face it there are worse things you could get caught doing in your car! ;)

I think my biggest insight into all of this though is it takes being intentional. I know all these things in my head. Exercise even a bit is better than not doing any. Finding some inspiration can be beneficial for me and for others to encourage them on their walk. Prayer can take care of a lot of the worries that don't ever happen. The "if" factor.

Life - Prepare by taking a S.I.P. than diving in!

Psalm 3:4-6 (MSG)
3-4 But you, God, shield me on all sides;
You ground my feet, you lift my head high;
With all my might I shout up to God,
His answers thunder from the holy mountain.
5-6 I stretch myself out. I sleep.
Then I’m up again—rested, tall and steady,
Fearless before the enemy mobs
Coming at me from all sides.
2 Timothy 3:16 (MSG)
There's nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.
2 Timothy 2:22 (MSG)
22-26 Run away from infantile indulgence. Run after mature righteousness—faith, love, peace—joining those who are in honest and serious prayer before God. Refuse to get involved in inane discussions; they always end up in fights. God’s servant must not be argumentative, but a gentle listener and a teacher who keeps cool, working firmly but patiently with those who refuse to obey. You never know how or when God might sober them up with a change of heart and a turning to the truth, enabling them to escape the Devil’s trap, where they are caught and held captive, forced to run his errands.

Friday, July 04, 2014

YOU are a gift. Share It!

This week, I was reminded of gifts. Spiritual and otherwise. The gift of friendship. The gift of just being there and being able to know that others were sharing the stress and pain of life even if they were not physically present with me. A gift of knowing that when I was feeling battle worn that there people standing in the gap with me....for me, praying when I did not feel the strength to even issue an amen.

Often, we think of gifts as being physical. We think of gifts as something that have to be purchased. Something that we give a person to open. Maybe we used fancy, expensive wrapping paper....or in my case when in a pinch....comics have done the job. :)

There can be times in life when we don't feel gifted or even beneficial to the universe. It is at those precise moments though that God works His best.

I was also blessed this week to attend a healing room. We often think of physical issues that need healing. We often neglect or fail to take the time to recognize the full value of mental and emotional healing as well. Many times healing takes just that....time. We want an instant fix. Sometimes it is instant. Sometimes healing takes a bit longer or looks different than we expect.

In this moment though, I want to acknowledge the fact that we have each been given gifts that are unique to us. Gifts that we need to acknowledge to be able to help others and often though helping others, we are blessed as well.

1 Corinthians 12 7:11 (NIV) Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues,  and to still another the interpretation of tongues.11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

1 Corinthians 12:25-26 (MSG) The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance.

Galatians 5:22 (NIV) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance (patience), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Cloudy days - Cloudy mind

Recently, we had storms in Michigan. The picture below does not show how dark the lingering clouds actually were. What I like is that there is an obvious distinction of where the clouds stop. You can see a light ahead. It is an excellent visual of what depression feels like. Like clouds, depression can dissipate. Unlike clouds, sometimes it takes more than just waiting for it to pass.

It is incredibly difficult to watch someone head under the clouds. When all they see are clouds. Dark ones.

For the days that may be more than just days. When you don't see the road going anywhere. When you don't see the light ahead. When your mind feels cloudy and rainy and just generally yucky. For the days when you realize that you may need more help. When you need to reach out, but don't feel like you can. May you know that there are friends and family waiting along the sidelines to bring you into the light. May you know that there is a God that loves you through anything.....especially the darkest days.

Isaiah 40:30-31 (NIV) Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Don't "DIS"miss....discuss.....

I like to play with words. Sometimes because English is SO confusing. Sometimes because I'm kind of nerdy like that, but Hey! worked for Dr. Seuss! :)

I remember hearing the phrase, "Don't diss me". Usually this was used as a way of saying don't be disrespectful.  Recently, I was thinking of the way that using the prefix dis really changes the whole meaning of a word. In fact, in most of the ways I can think of, using the word dis makes the word become more negative.

I had a list kind of going in my head, but I admit I "googled" to find some examples. There were more than I had thought of. A few examples:
Read right side first:

If you focus on the list on the right, the words seem pretty positive. Go back and read them again though putting dis in front of the word. Discouraging!

One of my favorite things to harp on lately seems to be communication. This does not mean I am good at it. I can knock out a piece of to me and I feel like I trip on my tongue. Call me on the phone. I may not answer. Some people are excellent talkers and not so great at writing. Sometimes communication just seems to come to a halt. To keep with the dis theme here, DISCUSS. Whatever way you have to do it. Blogpost, whiteboard, text, letter, over coffee. Find a way that works and use it! (Just try not to do it when frustrated when it is WAY to easy to say things we don't mean and turn things into a disaster)

In our lives and in our communication, we can be encouraging or discouraging. I know which one I want to others and myself. However, too often I find words of discouragement creeping in. Do your best to find a way to keep it positive and to be empathetic realizing that the person you are dealing with might be having a really disgusting day and creating a disgusting mood. Do your best to see past that and find the real reason for the attitude. (ESPECIALLY with teens.....and don't take it personally) At my house, usually I disregard (!) the first few things out of my loved ones mouths....especially if it involves mornings!

Be blessed. Be a blessing. Find a way to take care of yourself so you can take care of the others that come across your path. A little kindness goes the distance. :)

Class dismissed....for now. ;)

Job 4 (NIV)
4 Your words have supported those who stumbled;
you have strengthened faltering knees.
5 But now trouble comes to you, and you are discouraged;
it strikes you, and you are dismayed.

Proverbs 17:27-28 (NIV)
27 The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered. 28 Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

But HOW do you KNOW?!?!?!?! Who moved?

My early AM pondering is leading me, as usual, to thoughts of belief....and unbelief. I was raised going to church (2x most Sundays). My dad (God bless him!) read a devotion for us at dinner.....where we all sat down and ate together. In later years, grandma V.V. was there too. The T.V. was off. We talked to each other. Do I remember about what? Not necessarily. Do I know I miss those days? YES!

I have felt guilty that I let myself get too busy, too distressed and too depressed to carry on our family tradition. I did much better when our kids were little. It was "easier" then. It seems that with all the time-saving devices and technologies we would have MORE time. Sure doesn't feel that way though. More time wasters maybe.

I don't remember ever really questioning my faith. I guess I always just accepted it as true. I remember that I didn't think/know/realize about the personal relationship part of faith until much later. I know that even though I now understand the relationship better I still don't spend time doing things I think I SHOULD do, but find plenty of things I WANT to do! One of our pastors used to say his wife got frustrated that they did not sit as close to each other in the front seat as they used to when they dated, etc. He was driving. So he said, "Who moved?"

I see this in my relationship with God also. He's driving. He's in the same seat. IF I'm not as close as I want to be? I'm the one who moved....and needs to slide back across that seat.

I used to be surrounded by friends and family that did not question their faith either. This makes it MUCH easier to know what I believed. Lately, I have been around many more people that would consider themselves atheists or agnostic. I've been to classes and heard talks about "evangelizing". When you are around people of your own faith and beliefs, you can get out of the realization that everyone may not believe as you do. I think this is what is happening to me.

Someone very close to me is one of those people. A couple of the things he asks me is what if you had not been raised "that" way? What if no one had told you about God? I try not to think about it, but my mind keeps getting drawn back to those questions.

I would LOVE to think that if that were true, I would look around at the nature around my own body...that has held and produced a little bundle of his body and how he was grown from my baby to full grown son. The fact that my heart beats, my lungs breathe and my eyelids open and shut without me ever thinking of how those things happen. I would like to think of the people that I have been blessed to know. I would like to think that I would KNOW that a piece was missing in this puzzle of life. I would like to think that someone would give me reading material, a Bible so I could form my own opinion.

Thankfully, since I had a foundation to build on, I have found that easier. Many have not been given that opportunity. I have great respect for adults that come to faith. By the time we are adults, we have formed opinions on information. We have logical minds that try to override a loving, not so logical heart and soul. We have to ponder if we even have a soul and where does it go?

I have to admit I don't have ALL the answers and I'm grateful that I do not have to. In the meantime, I will continue to pass on the insights I've been given, plant the seed if you will. I will leave it up to others along the paths of life to help take care of take care of you. I will pray that you will find a way to KNOW that works for you. I will pray that if you are feeling the need to move back or find that missing piece that you actively search for answers that will bring you peace....and understanding....that you can know.

Colossians 4 (NIV) Further Instructions
2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4 Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. 5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Power of the Cross: Fashion edition

It's Good Friday! Well, every Friday seems good as we get to head into a weekend and a chance (possibly) to relax. However, in a religious sense, we celebrate this day mostly, and especially, because we know what's coming. As Tony Campolo says, "It's Friday, but Sunday's coming!"

This AM I put on one of my favorite necklaces then I found earrings that mostly matched. They are crosses. Today I guess more than usual I was thinking about why I like them. I've heard people mention why would someone wear such a symbol? If you really think about it, in ancient days a cross was a torture device. I would never wear an electric chair symbol so why a cross?

A cross symbolizes the physical torture that Christ (and others) went through to bring death to a body. In the situation of Jesus though, there was additional mental and emotional struggle realizing that He was separated from His Father during that time. I have a hard time wrapping my head around the Trinity. God is God AND Jesus AND the Holy Spirit? How do you turn your back on yourself?

I don't know if I honestly love anyone enough to be willing to physically die for them. I would love to think that if in a situation where I had to make a decision I could selflessly do that. But honestly? I'm not sure.

In most cases, a person condemned to the electric chair or death by injection has been found guilty. They may have murdered someone. We are worried about if they feel pain as they leave this earth. That their death is more humane than the death(s) they may have caused. Jesus did not get that same consideration.

I may not be able to grasp all of it, but the part I do understand is that Jesus was willing to put His life on a cross for sins we had not even committed yet. He was betrayed by one of His 12 closest friends. He was judged unfairly. He was whipped. He was NAILED to a cross through his wrists and ankles. He was made fun of. He was spit upon. The humiliation alone makes me feel horrible.

It does not matter if I/we can figure it all out in our logical minds. He was willing to do that FOR ME. For you. Whether you "believe" it or not. He knew that not everyone would. He did it anyway.

So I put on my cross jewelry. I'm glad I live in a country where I am free to express my faith with outward symbols. I will picture the cross as God at the top. Jesus on one side and the Holy Spirit on the other. I will not downplay the inhumanity He suffered. I will recognize the fact that there is spiritual significance to this day.....more than just my fashion choices.

May you have a most blessed weekend. Here in Michigan, the sun is shining FINALLY! The grass is getting greener. I have noticed green stirrings from the ground and even some daffodils. SPRING is on the way. Resurrection Sunday is on the way. Hallelujah!

If you have questions about believing in God and salvation, I may not have all the answers you seek. I am willing to help you search! If you're not at the point of "feeling" or "seeing" God, start a conversation like you would with a friend. ASK Him to reveal himself to you. Then keep your eyes, heart and spirit open and not try to explain away what might seem like coincidence. God SHOUTS through Creation. He whispers to your soul.

I was just going to find a verse from this passage, but the whole thing is worth a read. A prophecy foretold, fulfilled in Jesus:

Isaiah 53 (NIV)

Who has believed our message
    and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
    and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
    nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
    a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
Surely he took up our pain
    and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
    stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
    each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and afflicted,
    yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
    and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
    so he did not open his mouth.
By oppression (arrest) and judgment he was taken away.
    Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
    for the transgression of my people he was punished.
He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
    and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
    nor was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
    and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
    and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
11 After he has suffered,
    he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
    and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
    and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
    and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
    and made intercession for the transgressors.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Desires of our Hearts?!!?!?

DESIRE: 1:  to long or hope for :  exhibit or feel desire for <desire success>
2a :  to express a wish for :  request <they desire an immediate answer>
If you are looking for the "desires" expressed in late night commercials....(especially lately....jeez!), I apologize in advance. You will be disappointed. If you want some recent thoughts? Read on.
I admit that I have thought that the desires talked about in the Bible had to be BIG things. Things that we knew there was no other way to explain them than God bestowed them upon us. I have experienced situations like that....where all the people and places aligned and I have no other explanation. (She lives in our house!)
However, especially lately, I have come to realize that sometimes? Our desires can be small and seemingly insignificant to anyone other than us. I still have no other way to explain it. I'm not looking for an explanation just thinking about the need to acknowledge when desires are met....ESPECIALLY when they would matter to no one else but me....or you. 
We all have desires - call them what you want: dreams, wishes (sprinkle of fairy dust?) :), wants, needs, etc. Some are long-term, some are immediate, some are really just "well, it would be nice if ______". I have had a couple of the last ones that keep bubbling to the top of my mind so I figured it's time to let them fly out my fingers. I will warn you that these will sound like small things (even in my own opinion), but I bring them up to hopefully get you to thinking of recent (or long ago) things that have just worked out. 
#1: Towels. I will mention I like LOVE pink and purple. If my house could be painted those colors and not stand out terribly, I would paint tomorrow. If you have been married for any length of time (or just bought towels a long time ago), you eventually start to notice that your towels start to thin and wear. It really should be time to get some new ones, but money is tight and the old ones still function. They still dry you after the shower, but maybe just a bit more drafty! Hand towels would be nice, but the old ones work even if they no longer match the colors in your bathrooms (from when you moved 13 years ago). Decor has really never been one of my main concerns anyway......

I also LOVE thrift stores. Maybe a bit too much! Even just to look around. You never know what cool item(s), clothes or other oddities may be lurking on the shelves. (My version of hunting!) AND the prices are usually a great deal...and in most cases, I'm supporting a good cause. ;)

On one of my excursions, I find pink AND purple hand towels right next to each other. They look practically new, would look nice in my bathroom AND (did I mention) they're pink and purple! AND cheap! I was not even really looking for (or even thinking of) towels....yet, there they were. A nice little smile for my day.

#2: Perfume. I like Sand and Sable. It has been getting harder and harder to find. I usually look around Christmas time. Then I wait for the after Christmas clearance and IF it's still there, I buy it. This past Christmas, I did not see any "holiday collections" of my favorite scent....and I looked. A lot of places, as in every time I was in a store that would possibly have it, I checked. Nothing. 

My current supply had been dwindling. I'm sure I could and do have other (almost as) favorite brands. Fast forward to early January. We were in a part of town we would not normally be in. We stopped at a store we would not normally have stopped at. I find the Christmas clearance aisle. I look through a few things and spot a few perfumes. I see a tannish looking box. Dare I hope? 1 box. Holiday collection (big and little bottles) Sand and Sable. Half off. :) girl!
I will mention that I often don't look for stuff for myself. I enjoy finding things that others might not get for themselves (or realize they might want....or not really need....and have probably been re-gifted.... hee hee) and if I get it at a bargain....I am one satisfied customer.

The above 2 examples are something that would not have mattered to anyone else.....but me. I had not mentioned to anyone that I wanted them. They are small items in a big world....but it mattered on those me. 

What would I really want/desire? World peace (of course, beauty pageant answer!)
So, after ALL that, the questions I pose to you (and me) are: What do you desire? Have you told anyone? Written it down? Know it if/when you get it? Prayed for it? Would you be OK if it looks different than what you expect? Are you ready to be amazed?

I have not taken the time to ponder lately. I think this is worthy of pondering. If we don't know what we want, how will we know when it shows up? Start dreaming. Start desiring. Watch God show up in BIG ways and those seemingly little ones....that will matter only to you. If we don't look, we won't see.

Psalm 37:3-4 (NIV) Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Faith in Science?!?!?!

I will begin by stating that I may come across as sounding like a complete idiot in this post. I am stating my opinion and thoughts that have invaded my head over the last few days. I may or may not change YOUR mind....and that's OK too. 

I readily admit that I do not remember much about Biology and Science classes other than some small bits about anatomy and raising money for food for the Oscar fish in jr. high. Our son is visiting and we have been watching the Science Channel. Some very interesting and, often, curious observations. We watch and observe from opposite ends of the spectrum....or so it seems. I watch from a standpoint of there being Someone bigger than us and giving us purpose and that life seems TOO amazing to just be random. Faith first, science second. He watches from a standpoint of explanations and scientific terminology: words like evolution, building blocks of life, etc.

One episode we watched discussed theoretical physics and particle accelerators. I do not even pretend to understand what or how or why these things exist. It was over my head within the first 5-10 minutes. After that, I was shaking my head and saying "hmmmm" a lot. Mainly because the particle accelerator being discussed is 17 miles long and there were numerous people working toward breaking what seemed to be the smallest particle into even smaller particles. If you're interested in further info:  (Images of particle accelerator)

An example of nesting dolls was presented. Each doll opened to a smaller doll, which opened a smaller doll, etc. until it was almost microscopic. I understand the fascination. I find it interesting though that we need these big machines and numerous interested parties to work on something that is already there and functioning (overall) rather well.

Sometimes these shows seem to bring up questions....without the answers. Maybe we don't know the answer yet. Maybe we will never find an answer. Maybe it is all just to start a discussion.

People/scientists try to convince us about "intelligent life" on other planets. I don't understand how people can want aliens, but will not explore more about God....or a creator. Maybe it is TOO logical? Maybe there will always be just one more question in science that will be unable to be answered without a touch of faith.

Psalm 8:3-4 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?