Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Epiphany!

Occasionally I have one of those epiphanies that just make me sit back and think, "Wow!"  Usually they occur while I'm in the midst of cleaning something and don't have access to pen and paper…which is what happened today…but this was just too good to let pass.

Picture this, (sounds like Sophia from Golden Girls) I'm scrubbing the laundry room sink, since we no longer are giving the calf a bottle (he isn't happy about that, either) I decided it was time to get rid of the dried milk replacer and stinky calf bottle that has lived there for the last several months.

As I reached for my mondo-sized can of Comet (you need the giant Sam's Club economy size around here) I noticed on the side 48% Mas.  Being the exceptional Spanish student I was, I rotated the can to see if there was a translation on the other side.  Yep, there is was 48% More.  Mas=More.  (I should know that from the "No mas pantalones" commercials).

It was then the epiphany happened.  Mas means More.  We are now in the Christmas season, and I thought of the word Christmas…ChristMAS.  More Christ.  The real meaning of Christmas.



I don't know about you, but I was ChristMAS every single day.  More Christ on a daily basis.

Every time I see the word Mas, I want to think of having more Christ in my life.  What about you?


Merry ChristMAS!.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Praying for the harvest….

He told them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest field."  Luke 10:2

Never has this passage been more true than in today's society.  our country, the one founded upon a firm foundation rooted in Christ and christened "One nation under God", is swiftly moving away from God and godly teachings and our government is driving the truck!   As Christians, it is our responsibility to make changes; to give God strength and power; to change the course of our nation.  No, I don't mean by coup, or sit-in, or loud demonstration on the steps of the US Capitol building, actually, it's much more simple than that.  Pray. 

As we enter December I plan to focus much of my time on the true meaning of Christmas and not just the commercial gifts and goodies angle.  As the scripture states in Luke 10:2, the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.  The lost are plentiful, they need to hear the Word, but the workers are few…. sadly, it is true. 

This pamphlet was handed to me during Sunday school this morning. 


It's a challenge to pause what you are doing at 10:02 am, pm (or both) and say a prayer for the North American missionaries and church planters.  Can you imagine the power of prayer if thousands were praying at precisely the same time?  Prayer changes things.  I've set a reminder at 10:02 pm (because I have a high school speech class in the am) to pray.  Lift the missionaries, pray for God to go before them and prepare the way.

I would also ask that you say a prayer for our quartet, 4His Praise.  We are excited, we are ready, we are willing, but we want to certain that God goes before us and we do His will.  His timing is perfect and we will trust him.  Please pray that all we do be done for His service.

One more little thing, practice random acts of kindness in December, you never know what joy it will bring to someone…and to you.  This afternoon the girls & I (4His Praise) went to the home of one of our deacons who has battled cancer for several years.  This was done very spontaneously, and it lifted his spirits and ours.  He is now bedridden and he will most likely be celebrating Christmas in heaven this year.  He was only strong enough to listen to 3 songs, but he summoned enough strength to tell us it meant so much to him.  We prayed with him before we left, and he told us not to worry about him because he was going to be okay.  His faith remains steadfast, though his body is weak.  Pray for brother Neal and his family.

…and pause at 10:02 to pray for revival in our country.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I will enter His courts with praise….

Recently I have been questioning (prayerfully) where the Lord is leading me.  Sunday night, the answer became more clear.  Music.  I have always loved music, even though I only play one instrument and that one not very well.  I do not have the gift of writing beautiful lyrics that touch hearts.  I don't even have that great a voice, but when the girls & I (4 HIS Praise) sing together, I truly feel as if I'm where I'm supposed to be.  I feel like I am walking in His will, and it brings me great joy.

Sunday night we had the opportunity to sing at First Baptist in Flippin.  When I invited us (yes, you read that right) to sing for them we had 2 or 3 songs planned, but had a few more ready just in case.  It was a good decision because we were given the entire service.  We sang for almost an hour, and it was a wonderful blessing to me.  

Kelly, Kathy, Sharmin, & Pam: 4 HIS Praise
photo courtesy of Judy Martin…thanks, Judy, we don't have many photos!
I've heard so many people talk about groups that have problems because egos get in the way, even in Christian and gospel groups.  Sadly, the problem is usually because someone forgot the true reason for the music.  That is the joy of singing with these ladies (Kelly, Kathy, & Pam), we do it for one reason, not to bring glory to ourselves (though encouragement does keep us going at times), our hope is that the Lord be glorified in all that we do.  I am human, I will make mistakes, but I am doing my best to lose the bad habits that might diminish my testimony.   We are ready to step out on faith.  We want to share His message through music.  We are ready to do more.  Lead us Lord, we will follow…. I'm so excited to see what 2014 brings! 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Lead me Lord...

      "Lead me Lord; I will follow.  Lead me Lord; I will go.  
You have called me; I will answer.  Lead me Lord; I will go."


photo by 1MS.net free wallpapers


Our church was blessed with the opportunity to have Wayne and Elizabeth Goodine come conduct a choir clinic (alliteration?) a couple of weeks ago.  They shared many songs they had written, but this one in particular really struck a chord within me.  "Lead me Lord; I will follow..Lead me Lord, I will go…You have called me, I will answer…Lead me Lord, I will go."  

You have called me….I have heard so many people talk about how instinctively they know what God had in mind for them.  I'm listening, but I don't have a clear image of what God wants me to do with my life.  I do not feel the persistent tugging of foreign missions, especially when I feel we have so many who desperately need salvation right here in the US.

I know the things that bring me great joy…could one of these things be my calling?  I love music and I love to sing, but I don't have the gift of writing music, and I really don't think I have the voice to make people really want to listen, even though I enjoy singing with our quartet 4His Praise.  I suppose I have a gift of speaking, at least I don't have a great fear of speaking in public, but many times the words just sound dull and stupid in my own ears.  Then there's Art.  I can draw, I can paint, I'm pretty good with Graphic Design, but how can I use that for His glory?  

Maybe I'm just having the same problem as Moses and Jonah as they desperately tried to change God's mind about their calling in life (though, Lord, I'd much prefer you get my attention with a burning bush rather than the innards of a great fish should it come to that point.)

Whatever it may be, I'm listening, and I am ready to follow where He leads….wherever that may be.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Learning to trust...

October 12th is our church's annual Women's Conference.  As in years past we will have great music, food, fellowship, and inspiring speaker, but this year I will also issue a challenge to women present to record their journey to the LORD by leaving a Faith Legacy.  This is something that has been on my heart for a very long time and I hope that it will continue to grow.  I am at a point where I feel like I need to do more.  I don't feel like I'm being called into a foreign mission field, but I do have such a burden for women and women's ministry.  I pray for the Lord's guidance and that all I do will be in His will and will bring Him honor and glory.  

I will do my best to post the info I'm working on for the conference on here, but it won't be until after October 12th, but here's a peek at the "logo" I'm planning on using.  To combine my love of writing, design, and photography has always been a dream.  I hope God can use me and the gifts He has given me, and that His message will spread like wildfire through a world that desperately needs the LORD!


Monday, June 24, 2013

9 Years . . .

My baby had his 9th birthday yesterday (6-23).  Time has flown by so quickly.  I got a little teary-eyed looking through some old pictures and seeing those big blue eyes, chubby cheeks, and chunky little legs.  Now he's a blue-eyed, lanky, baseball playing boy!

3 days new.  8 lbs, 5 oz, 20 inches.  
 Not only is it Logan who has grown up so much, but look at this picture with Austin!  He was 8 (okay probably just a week or 2 away from being 9).  His birthday is July 30, that should give me plenty of time to find some good pictures of him!

Austin-age 9, Logan -around 2-3 weeks.  L rolled over at 4 weeks.
 He was a happy baby, and had (has) a smile that would light up the room.

You can tell by all the drool some little teeth were just coming in.
 Always the "outdoor-type" kid.  He loves to be outside, especially now since we got the pool set up!

Age 2
 He loves baseball, and is one of the biggest St. Louis Cardinals fans I know.  This was his 2nd year of playing catcher, and he loves it.  On the way home one afternoon he looked at me and said, "I think you should just call me Yadi (Yadier Molina, Cardinals' catcher).  He cracks me up!  Just to set the record straight, though, Matt Holliday is his favorite player.  He has a t-shirt and a jersey with Holliday on them.  We are hoping to take the boys to a game in St. Louis before school starts. (I'm as excited as they are, I love the Cards!)

So serious

So not serious.  Check out the cake, found that in Pinterest.  the kids were running around saying, "We ate a base!"

Officially a 9 year old!


Saturday we had his birthday party.  He had a few friends over and Chris's family joined us.  We had a good time, and the kid had fun.  Our intent was to have a "kid" party then another "family" party, but after the last game of the tournament L was invited to play a practice game for the Tri-County Allstars baseball team on Sunday (which was his actual birthday) so we combined the parties.  After the games were over on Sunday the coach told us he wanted Logan to play on the team and would need a copy of L's birth certificate and health insurance card.  Quite a birthday present!  The next 3 weekends will be filled with Babe Ruth League baseball tournaments.  It will be busy, but lots of fun.  I did learn a lesson from the games Sunday (doubleheader), PACK SUNSCREEN!  My legs were a little pink, but they're tan today, I'm afraid I won't be so lucky the next time.



Monday, June 17, 2013

Sometimes He stops us in our tracks...

I was driving down the road listening to The Message radio station on XM Radio and a new song by Chris August came on.  By the time he got to the chorus I was in tears.   Music is one of the most effective (to me) ministries, and this song just left me speechless.....kind of like the first time I heard "Praise You In This Storm" by Casting Crowns.  I am amazed by the power of God.  Please take the time to listen to the song by clicking the link below.

Restore by Chris August




Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Thankful

I'm guilty of it.  I allow life to distract me and forget to see the beauty around me everyday.  I forget to be thankful.  Sometimes the little things we overlook can bring so much happiness.  Sometimes we need to see the world through fresh eyes.

The view from a friend's cabin.  We live in a beautiful place. 



Father and son working together.  The little red heifer in the squeeze chute is a show cow, the little donkey on the left is her trainer.  Just like most trainers, Red does NOT like him.  She will eventually learn to lead...with his help, but the process is not fun...for her.



Sometimes you just need to roll around in dirt to scratch that pesky itch.



The joys of a bicycle on a summer afternoon.





Riding down a country road (from the barn to the house).




Round bales make a fun jungle gym.



Shooter (the puppy) wanted to get in on the hay bale action, too.  It took him a few tries, but he finally made it to the top.



Victory!  He made it to his boy.


Hi, mamma, are you proud of me?


Hide & seek in the hay.


..and one more trip to the top.

Just look around you.  No matter if you're in the country, like us, or the big city, there are blessings all around.  Make the choice to be happy and see the beauty in details of everyday life.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

...and we are told we cannot pray in school.


(All photos used in this post were taken from Goole images and various news media.)


Massive devastation.  Scenes flash across the screen that bring tears to our eyes.  Oklahoma is dealing with so much heartache and pain, my own trials seem so small in comparison.  How do you comfort parents whose lives have been marred by grief?   How quickly so many lives changed in Moore, Oklahoma.  In a few short minutes, everything was lost.


 The very place so many children feel safe is now gone. How will they ever feel safe in school again?  Will they panic at the sight of a dark cloud?


How do you pick up the pieces when the pieces are barely recognizable?  

So many people are asking the question, where was God when all this happened?  

He was there.  He was with 6th grade teacher Rhonda Crosswhite in that school bathroom when she prayed, "God, take care of my kids."  He was there in a daycare center with a teacher who told her 3 year-olds, "We're going to hide in here, and we're going to hear a train, but when the train is gone we will get out and find your parents."  He was with the elderly lady hiding in her bathroom with her dog who disappeared from her arms when the storm hit, but was miraculously found alive under the rubble as she was interviewed by a television reporter.  Even though her house was a pile of rubble, she said, "I thought God had answered only 1 prayer, to let me live, but He answered them both.  I have my baby back."  

The news channels are flooded with stories of heroic teachers who shielded their students from debris with their own bodies.  Teachers who placed themselves in more danger to save the lives of children.  Why?  Because when they walk through those school doors they're our kids.  We (teachers) may not have given birth to each and every one, but they're ours, and we will do what we have to do to protect them.  We pray for them.  We love them.  We care what happens to them outside the hours from 7:53 to 3:08.  They're our kids, too.   Protecting those children was second nature to those teachers.  We would risk our own lives to save our kids.  I hope all parents realize this.  I hope they will understand and choose to work with the teachers rather than against us.  I hope they understand we love those kids, too.

Words aren't sufficient to express my sorrow for the families and victims of the Moore, OK tornado.  I cry for those lost, I cry for those who survive, and I pray for them all.    

Monday, April 8, 2013

Tonight I'm angry!

Don't worry, my family is off the hook tonight, but I am angry with some people I really don't know very well. I want to scream and yell at them.  I want them to open their eyes and see what I see.  Why can't they see past their own selfish noses?  Why am I so angry?  Because they are watching a precious girl die slowly before their eyes of a terrible disease and refuse to do anything about it!  She is fading away and they choose to ignore it hoping it will fix itself.  She is fighting a disease!  The disease is Anorexia.  Yes, it IS a disease!  What really infuriates me is they are saying, "Just ignore her, she's just doing it for attention!"  Wake up, people!  If she wanted to direct attention to the fact that she is nothing but skin and bones then why would she be wearing 2 pairs of pants?!?  Yes, I patted her leg, and under the baggy windsuit pants she was wearing another pair, all to make her look heavier than she is.... around 100 lbs on a  5'8" frame!

This girl needs our prayers, and so does her family who are living so comfortably in denial that they should change their names to Cleopatra!  I don't know how they can look at her and think she's okay.  She desperately needs help.  Their solution, just pray harder, you just don't have enough faith.  I'm sorry, but when your brain is starving, and your body is starving, faith is difficult to muster.  I believe in faith.  I believe God can heal any problem, but I also believe He places people in our paths to help us along the way.  Mentors.  Cheerleaders.  Help.  What if the disease were cancer?  Would you tell a cancer patient, "you just need to pray harder for a cure" or would you encourage them to seek treatment?  Yeah, that's what I thought.  Yes, it is a disease.  However, so many people are denied treatment or talked out of treatment because loved ones pass it off as "just wanting attention".  SERIOUSLY?

God saved a dear friend from anorexia, but she had help, therapy.  At the time she didn't know why.  I told her there was a reason God allowed her to go through all she did, now we know.  She is working so hard to save this girl.  She can answer questions those of us who have never had the disease can't.  She's giving of herself to help.  This sweet girl has a small group of people around her who support her and want her to seek the treatment, professional treatment, to get well.  I am praying.  All I can do is desperately cry out to God, "Please, LORD, save this girl!"  Please pray for her.  God knows her name.  He sees her struggles.  He knows her pain.  He knows where she needs to be to get the help she needs. She is one of His.  Her life is important.

There are so many around you who may be struggling but have no voice.  Give them a voice.  Be an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on, or a sounding board for their frustrations.  If you choose not to talk about a situation, regardless of what it is, you are telling the person who is in so much emotional pain that you don't care. Their life isn't worth your time.  Is that who you really are?  Is that how you want to be perceived?  I don't.  I care.  Please pray for her....and for others who need prayers.

Lord, help me not be angry with these people, and Lord, please help them understand.  We all need Your wisdom.




Sunday, April 7, 2013

Silence. . .

. . . while it may appear I've neglected my blog (okay, so I have neglected my blog) that doesn't mean I haven't been writing.  In fact, I've been writing furiously over the last three + weeks, however, most of it will never be published on my little slice of the information superhighway because it has been tough.  I've had three physically and emotionally challenging weeks.

I have searched my Bible for answers for why we have to go through hardships.  I know why, He is preparing us to be used for His glory.  More on that later, though.  I'm still writing that one and will post it as soon as I finish it.

I've also been trying to revamp the look of this blog.  I will be making a few changes over the next week or so (if I have time) to help improve the looks, and hopefully, add a subscribe button so you can be updated as soon as I add a new post.  I don't want my readers (all 4 of your) to miss anything! :)

I'm also doing Ann Voskamp's  Joy Dare Challenge and searching for 3 things to be thankful for.  You can find out more about that here.  I highly recommend it.  I am making a conscious effort to be happy. There are days when I struggle and days when I just want to give up and wallow in self-pity, but I don't like to do that.  I would much rather be happy.

.... and speaking of happy, there's a 16 year-old boy who lives in this house (he calls me mom and can't clean up his room for anything!) who is on happy cloud nine right now.  Why?  I can give you one reason, a 1996 red short-wheelbased Chevy 4x4.

Seeing his joy has put a smile on my face all weekend...not to mention I get chauffeured around (he won't let me drive it!)  

That's all for tonight, but check back in a few days, maybe I'll have this blog spiffed up and have something worth reading. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Learning to forgive...

I wish I could take the credit for this photo, but I can't, I found it through Google images.


The last few days there has been something really in the forefront of my mind, forgiveness.  I did some searching through a scripture reference book I have and found many scriptures that talk about forgiveness, but one really, really stood out …maybe “stepped on my toes” would be a more appropriate term.

“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.  But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”  Mark 11: 25-26

And this one….

“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”  Matthew 6:14-15

I don’t know about you, but I want forgiveness from God.  I mess up on a daily basis and do not want to be separated from His love.  The thing about God’s forgiveness, it’s instant.  As soon as we ask it’s done.  He forgets our past sins and forgives us even though we don’t deserve it.  We deserve the worst possible punishment.

It makes me very remorseful and guilty, when I think of all the times I’ve stood in church an prayed, but had things in my heart that were separating me from God.  I  don’t think God wants us to feel guilt., I think He wants us to give up the bitterness and anger and be free from all the junk that fills our lives and drags us down and away from Him. 

It’s something I struggle with, but after some very sincere and tearful moments in prayer last night, I was finally able to forgive.  Today I feel like a burden has been lifted from my shoulders.  I’ve forgiven people who don’t even know I was angry and hurt with them, but now that relationship doesn’t have to be damaged because of my negativity.   The relationships may not be the same, but I know that I will do whatever God wants me to do to restore them.   I can honestly say that I have released some of the anger toward someone I have been holding on to for a while (aka a couple of years).  My anger wasn’t hurting that person, but it sure was hurting me.  It was keeping me from having an honest relationship with God.  When I pray, I can pray without anger, and hurt, and bitterness, and all the worldly junk that clogs up our lives.

Anger, hatred, and bitterness remind me of an oil spill.  It’s dark, stinky sludge that suffocates us, choking off life a little at a time, but Jesus IS the Living Water that cuts through the mess, removes the sticky, stinky sludge, and washes us clean so we can breathe and laugh again.  When we let the anger, bitterness, and hate fill our lives it robs us of our joy, and joy and true happiness can only be permanent through Christ and through the grace, mercy and peace that He freely gives to those who want a clean heart.

I want a clean heart, what about you?  Is there someone you need to forgive in order to have a relationship with God?  I do, and I’m working on making it right.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Living by Paul's example....



The last couple of days I have run the full gamut of emotions.  I've been happy, sad, hurt, angry, and in pain.  I reached the point of exhausted insomnia and decided to pick up my little box of Resolutions cards again.

I have let them sit on the nightstand, untouched for several days.  I would like to think it was because I was just too busy with the surgery and pre-op doctors appointments, etc, but that wasn't it.  The truth was, they just got too hard.  It hurt to read them.  It hurt to admit my shortcomings and my own failures at living a life focused on God.  I want to live an authentic life, and I had to face my own faults....and there are many.

Last night, however, after writing in no less than 3 written journals (I may have a novel completed before I get off the housebound, post-surgery thing), and working a little in my art/art therapy journal I was still not sleepy.  I picked up the little box of Resolutions for Women cards and steeled myself for what God had ready for me tonight.  God knows exactly where we are at any given moment, and tonight's card said this: "I will courageously work with the strength God provides to fulfill this resolution for the rest of my life and for His glory."  The scripture reference:  "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."  Philippians 4:13.  Wow!  Exactly what I needed to hear exactly when I needed to hear it.

Today I am really struggling with discouragement and doubt.  I've been letting things of the world, that don't really matter in the grand scheme of things, change my focus.  I have allowed myself to be hurt by the actions of others (or lack thereof) when I know I should not worry about things like that.  I have allowed those things to steal my joy.

As I continued to read through the book of Philippians (I highly recommend it), I realized it is one of the most encouraging books of the entire Bible.  To read it you would think the author was experiencing a season of peace and great joy with no worries or problems, but the truth doesn't even come close.  The apostle Paul wrote the book of Philippians which was a letter of encouragement to the church at Philippi.  He was not in a season of great joy, he was in the confines of a Roman PRISON.  He was facing death.  During a time that most would view as dark and hopeless, Paul was still filled with JOY.  He encouraged the church (which includes today's believers) to focus on the good things, the things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, and praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8).  Focus on the good things and don't let the junk drag you down.

We call it optimism.  It's a good thing.  It keeps us going through the valleys.  It's the hope and peace that only come from the One True God.  We aren't to shirk our earthly obligations, but we shouldn't let them consume us to the point where we have no joy, or hope...or peace.

Paul kept his joy and hope in a hopeless situation because his life was focused on the right goal, to do all things to the glory of God.  Paul knew God was in control and no matter what happened, he would be okay.  We are not promised another day, we aren't even promised another hour or second, but I am secure in the knowledge that God is on His throne and, as a believer, I will be okay, and that I will have a place with Him in glory.

So today, I choose joy.  It has been a tough journey to get to the point when I can cast my cares on Him and try really hard not to pick them back up.  I'm not saying I won't, but I am really trying.  I am blessed.  My life is easy compared to the "affliction" that caused Paul constant pain.  While I am healing from surgery (I can almost relate to the woman who had an issue of blood and her healing came from touching them hem of Jesus's tunic), I will be healed and whole again.  I want to display the outward peace and joy that only comes from a personal relationship with Christ.  I'm excited.

Please join me and pray for all those who have given up hope.  Pray that they will turn back to the God who heals all wounds.  Pray for them to find rekindled hope, and joy, and especially peace that comes only from God.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Seek justice, love mercy, walk humbly....

Casting Crown has a song "Courageous" with a line from Micah "Seek justice, love mercy, walk humbly with your God".  I wish it were that easy.


Scripture reference:  "He has showed you, O man, what is good.  And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."

Act justly:  What does is mean to act justly?  Maybe it means to listen...no to hear what God is trying to tell us and not jump to conclusions?  The Merriam-Webster dictionary lists the definition of justly (just) as: having a basis in or conforming to fact or reason: reasonable.

Reasonable?  Using reason to communicate your ideas rather than allowing emotion to rule.  I will admit that lately I have allowed emotion to rule rather than reason and it's brought me nothing but heartache.  Why?  Because I don't have the right answers.  My emotions stem from the sin nature of humankind.  I'm hurt; I want to lash out; I want someone to feel as wounded and vulnerable as me.  That's not God's idea.  I believe God wants us to allow Him to take control of any situation and allow Him to work.  He knows best.  He placed the stars and formed mountains.  He created oceans and every living thing, so why is it so hard to give all our problems over to Him?  Someone, please tell me! I really want to know why I give Him a portion of the problem then take it back because I think I can handle the situation so much better.  I'm an idiot, that's why!

Love Mercy:  Mercy....compassion....forbearance.   Showing compassion when others don't deserve it was one of the greatest gifts of Jesus.  I want to be compassionate.  I want to understand and give comfort....then the sin nature steps in and while I still want to be compassionate I also want them to know how much they are hurting me.  Wrong answer.  That just blows compassion out of the water.  I pray that the LORD will help me conquer the side of me that always wants to be right and replace it with compassion for others.

Walk humbly:  This is a really tough one for me.  It's so hard for me to allow myself to be vulnerable.  It's so hard to accept humbleness and humility because so many see it as a sign of weakness, but it is actually the greatest outward showing of strength.  Jesus walked humbly on the earth.  He could have made himself a vast kingdom.  He could have done any number of things yet He chose to live a humble, gentle life.  When satan tempted Him He demonstrated strength and became an example of faith because he refused to cave to temptation.  I don't know if I could have done that.  My prideful self would have wanted to say, "Okay, satan old boy, watch this!"  then perform some astounding feat (like flying off the top of the temple and dive bombing satan) just to shut him up!   That's why I'm not Jesus....not even remotely close, but it is my desire to become more Christlike.  It's what I struggle with daily and often fail miserably.

I have failed miserably in the last week.  I do not take criticism well, especially when it is seasoned with anger.  I have a temper; I'm not proud of that, but that's me.  I'm working on controlling it, but like so many other things, I often fail miserably there, too.  To make peace with God and to allow Him to work in my life, I have to listen....to hear....what He is telling me.  I have to learn to keep my mouth shut, and anyone who knows me knows that's something that is very hard for me to do.

I need to remember the old proverb "Lord, fill my mind with righteous stuff and shut my mouth when I've said enough."

Casting Crowns - Courageous [Official Music Video - HD]

Monday, February 18, 2013

What influences you?

Think honestly about the last few jokes you heard or TV shows you watched; were they something you would let your small children listen to or watch?  It is up to us to set examples for our children and to model godly behavior.


Card:  "I will not tolerate evil influences in myself or my home but will embrace a life of purity."
Scripture reference:  "I will be careful to live a blameless life...I will lead a life of integrity in my own home."  Psalm 101:2 (NLT)

Tonight I again wanted to know more about the background verses, so I turned to my Bible and, once again, found highlighted with notes in the margin.  My notes pointed to this verse and read "the outward expression of a faithful person."  It's true.  What we model in our lives says so much more about our character than what we say.  Actions do speak louder than words, and lately I'm not so proud of my actions.  I could have handled so many situations so differently, yet I didn't.  I did not model faithful behavior.  I let the world influence my behavior.  Wrong move on my part!

I will admit, I do watch some shows that are sort of like watching a train wreck, it's so bad you just can't look away (Dance Moms, Big Rich Atlanta...Ax Men - though that is not by choice, it's by who has control of the remote).  These people get into fights, yell, scream, cuss, and call each other horrible names and mainstream media calls it entertainment!  Dance Moms does have some redeeming qualities when the girls are actually shown dancing.  These kids have so much talent!  It's too bad the attention is focused more on how the moms can't get along with the psycho dance teacher on a power trip.

Watch just about any television show and you see so many things that go against Biblical principles.  This, folks, is what is influencing the future generations!  They think it's okay to slap someone and yank out her extensions just because she called you fat.  It's NOT okay!   Let's bring back The Walton's or Andy Griffith, or Little House on the Prairie!  Shows that put family first.  Shows where problems are solved reasonably rather than violently.

It's hard.  I know.  It's a daily struggle not to laugh at an off color remark or joke.  It's a daily struggle to pattern our lives based on godly principles.  Even the psalmist didn't have it all together.  Kind David was messed up!  He went through times when he was not a godly example, but God never gave up on him, just like He will never give up on us.  We can be redeemed, but we have to want it.  We have to try.  Yes, we may stumble and fall, but with help from God, we can persevere.

On a final note, this has been a really tough day for me and tomorrow doesn't look too promising, either.  I covet your prayers.


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Working on ourselves....

Playing catchup again....



 Card #1 (top)  I will be quick to listen, slow to speak, and esteem others more highly than myself.
Scripture reference:  "Don't be selfish; don't try to impress others.  Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.  Don't look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too."  Philippians 2: 3-4

There's an old song thats says, "Oh, Lord it's hard to be humble..."  I know it's just a silly song, but it does have some truth to it.  It is tough to humble ourselves, not before God, but before other people.  It's our human nature to want to "impress others", but at what cost?  When you start trying to impress others you get into a game of "one-upmanship".  Sadly, this is all too common.  I overheard some teenagers talking one day about when they become engaged, and one you lady said, "If I don't get at least a carat solitaire I'm not going to marry him."  When has the size of an engagement ring become more important than the sentiment behind it?   Our society is quickly become selfish, thinking only of what I can get that is better than so-and-so's and make them jealous.  We have become a society that looks at possessions instead of people.  I don't know about you, but I want to be more interested in the people.  

I'm in a habit of highlighting scriptures and making notes in my Bible when something really speaks to me.   This particular passage in Philippians held some importance....I had notes in the margin.  There were words "Imitating Christ's Humility" and "Jesus came to seek and serve".  Jesus, who could have used all his infinite power to rule the world as a king instead chose to humble himself.  A man who would save the world was not too proud to wash the dirty feet of a fisherman....a very humbling gesture.  Why, then, are we so prideful of ourselves? I fall into that trap.  I'm prideful, especially toward certain ones.  I shouldn't be.  I am working on myself in this area, too.  I want to be able to be happy for  others and whatever blessings they are given.  I don't want to be jealous and boastful.

Card #2  I will forgive those who have wronged me and reconcile with those I have wronged.
Scripture reference: "Make allowance for each other's faults, and forgive anyone who offends you.  Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others."  Colossians 3:13

I have one word for this one....OUCH!  Talk about stepping on my toes!  Forgiveness is completely letting go of all the wrong things, big or petty, that others have done to you.  I have forgiven people for really, really hurtful things they did to me.  Even though the hurt and the pain of the incident is still there, the anger I felt toward them is gone.  It heals the soul to forgive.  Though I have forgiven some, there are others for whom I still harbor much anger and bitterness, and while I may say I want to forgive them a little part of me just isn't ready to let go.  I know this isn't the best thing.  I know I'm only causing myself more pain and grief by hanging on to the crap; why can't I just let it go?   Another question, why do some people forgive so much easier than others?  I've been told I forgive people too easily, but so did Jesus, and shouldn't our main goal be to be more like Him?  More work for me to do on myself.  I can't change others, but I can change myself.

Oh, and if that scripture stepped on your toes as much as it did mine, then maybe our feet are in the wrong place....

Friday, February 15, 2013

This is a tough one...

I had good intentions and determinations when I started this little series Sunday night, but I've been blindsided by a few things this week.  I feel as though satan doesn't want these one here, so I'm going to be that much more determined to get this out!  Prayers would be appreciated...lots of prayers.

I don't know if you can read these, since I'm 3 days behind I decided not to flood the blog with pictures, but combine 3 days into one photo...but, I also took a photo of the backs which have the scriptures on them.  I have one that will be going on my bathroom mirror very soon.  I need some encouragement right now.




Top to bottom:  "I will champion God's model for womanhood and teach it to my children"  the scripture reference:  "Your beauty should come from within you- the beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit that will never be destroyed and is very precious to God."  1 Peter 3:4

Card #2:  "I will live as a woman answerable to God and faithfully committed to His Word"
scripture reference:  "I have rejoiced in Your laws as much as in riches.  I will study Your commandments and reflect on Your ways.  I will delight in Your decrees and not forget Your word."  Psalm 119:14

Card #3:  "I will seek to devote the best of myself to the primary roles God has entrusted to me."
scripture reference:  "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him."  Colossians 3:17

When I started working on this post several hours ago I thought I knew what I wanted to write...now I'm at a loss for words.  My heart is hurting.  In the last few days I have spent more time on my knees than I have in the last few months.  I'm ashamed of that.  Maybe if I would have spent more time in prayer things wouldn't be so....I can't even find an adjective that accurately describes how I'm feeling at this moment.  

I am to blame.  I strayed from God's instructions to becoming a godly woman, wife, and mother.  I thought I had it all together.  I don't.  I have realized that no matter what may come I can always rely of the faithfulness of God.  He has promised never to leave or forsake us.  As I posted on Facebook a day or so ago, there is a song that has been in my head constantly.  At times when I'm ready to break down completely I hear the song "Not for a Moment (After All) by Meredith Andrews.  God speaks to me through music.  Even though it seems like I'm being slammed from every direction, I know He will never leave me.  He will be my strength and if I continue to lean on the LORD, and have faith that He will use whatever may come to His glory, we will be okay.  My Mama Hopper used to tell us that God wouldn't put on us more than we can handle.  It may seem cliche to some, but I know she was right.  He is refining me like silver and won't let me out of the fire until He can see His reflection in me.  I'm just a slow learner.  I'm working on that.



Monday, February 11, 2013

Uniquely You - Resolutions, day 2


The scripture to go along with today's card is from Jeremiah and is one of my favorites:  "I knew you before I formed you in your mother's womb.  Before you were born I set you apart."  Jeremiah 1:5 (NLT)

Wow!  I don't claim to be a Bible scholar, far from it, but I believe when you allow God to speak to you He will share His infinite wisdom and reveal treasure after treasure.   It's comforting to know that God had a plan for us from the beginning of time.  No one is on this earth by accident!  Though there are some who may try to convince us of that, they are wrong.  (don't argue)  God DOES NOT make mistakes.  He has never made a mistake, and He has placed each and every person here for a reason.   You have a purpose, what are you going to do about it?  Are you going to use your talents or lose your talents?

So many times we allow ourselves to be held back by fear.  I know I have.  I'm often afraid to put myself out there because I don't want to fail.  Many times I feel like there are people just waiting and watching for me to mess up....and I often don't disappoint them, but I can't let the opinions of others hold be back from a blessing.  (I'm preaching to myself here)

Now, let's talk about talents.  Aren't you glad we don't all have the same talent?  This world would be a boring place if we all did the same thing.  There would be no uniqueness.  I'm still trying to figure out exactly what my talents are (at 46 I'm a slow learner), and to put those talents to good use.  I don't know if you could call it a talent, but I love to sing.  The Bible does, after all, tell us to "make a joyful noise unto the Lord" it does not say "...and in the right key at all times"  (whew, I'm so glad!)  Music isn't the only talent, though.  There are those who teach, and preach, and encourage (like the card lady at our church).  There are people who are wonderful organizers (like my mother, but that gene never developed in me, darn it!), and writers, and bus drivers, and people who are fantastic with children!  We have people in our church who can cook (and that's a handy skill to have in a Baptist church.....the Baptists will know what I mean) who feed Awana kids every Wednesday night.  There are great builders, carpenters, and wood workers, and electricians, and masons...  The list goes on and on.  Just because your talent (skill or ability) isn't one of those seen by everyone in the congregation doesn't mean that you aren't an important asset to the Kingdom of heaven.  Every single person contributes in his or her own way to make the church grow.  Without you something would be missing.  YOU ARE IMPORTANT TO GOD! (yes, you!)  Embrace your gifts!

Now it's time to get real.  Look at the last part of the devotion card "and celebrate the distinctions He has placed in others."  Honestly, there are times when that's a little hard to do.  There are times when I'm envious of another person's gifts.  I find myself wishing I could sing like her, or speak like him, (or organize like my mamma) and I start trying to find ways to tear that person down. (yeah, she can sing, but those shoes are tacky!)  Don't say you haven't done it, too.  We all have, it's our sin nature.  If I catch myself doing this I have to quickly ask God to change my heart, because the problem isn't with someone else, it's me.  I am learning to use my gifts (or will when I find them) and delight in the gifts of others.  We can be a blessing to one another just as God intended us to be. (just my 2 cents)

One last thought...  Over the last year or two I have had the opportunity to sing with 3 amazing ladies.  Pam, Kathy, and Kelly have become good friends and we have formed a little quartet  "4 His Praise" (Kathy's mom came up with that....I just decorated it).  It is when I sing with those girls that I feel such a renewing of my spirit because I know they have such hearts for the Lord and we all have a common goal, to give Him the glory and the praise, and maybe touch a heart that really needs Him.  You never know how God will reach a person, so use your talents.

There is a quote I have hanging in my classroom: "Use what talents you possess; the woods would be quiet if the only birds who sang were those who sang best." Eleanor Roosevelt.  

I would be thrilled if you have made it all the way to the end of this post and would share your talents, ideas, or encouragement.   We are all working toward a common goal, spreading the gospel, so let's share some joy for the journey.

Oh yeah, if you want us to sing for you just let me know. :)  (shameless plug for our quartet, just in case you didn't get that.)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Resolutions


A few months ago I picked up a little box of cards at the Lifeway Store.  The cards go along with the movie Courageous and are resolution cards for women.  This has been a really crappy week (or six) and after John's sermon series this morning on new beginnings, I was happy to find these little devotional cards.  It's part of my new beginning and I am going to do my best to blog each of the 40 days of devotions along with my personal feelings for that particular card/devotion.  

If I needed further proof that God knows exactly where I am, this little card was it.  Honestly, it made me nervous.  I wanted to stick this card in the middle of the deck and deal with it another day, but this is the one I need right this moment.




Memory Verse:  "True godliness with contentment is itself great wealth."  1 Timothy 6:6
I read the card and said, "Really?"  Why do I want to celebrate this season of life when it's one of the crappy ones?  Right now there is NOTHING I feel like celebrating.  I feel like a pressure cooker ready to blow, seriously!  I don't dare ask God what else because I'm afraid there will be something else!  This is going to be really hard for me to celebrate, but I am trying to see the positives.  Although, if someone tells me, "That which does not kill us makes us stronger!" may find out exactly how strong a right hook I have.    I'm looking for something profound and spiritual to say right now, but I've got nothing.  I know I should embrace the trials; I know the Puritans thought the worse the trials the more honor, but I'm not a Puritan...I'm a Baptist and I don't like struggles and trials.  I want things to go smoothly.  I want the house to be filled with joy, and love, and laughter....but that isn't the season we're in right now.  Right now it's stress, and silence, and fear....and I don't know what to do to fix it.  

All I know to do at this season of life is pray.  I pray that I will hear God's voice, and I will listen to His wisdom, and He will make it better and carry us into a season of joy.

Monday, January 21, 2013

My Valentine - week 1



Need a challenge that is really worthwhile?  Here's one, the "Be My Valentine Marriage Challenge".  You'll find all the details on the Women Living Well blog (go here  http://womenlivingwell.org  )  This challenge doesn't seem hard, but speaking from experience, it just might be.....

Allow me to explain...  Often we allow our busy lives to get in the way.  Those jobs, kids, housework, cattle (we live on a small farm), and numerous other things just make us....TIRED!  We put everything else ahead of couple time when we should really invest time in us.  That is why I am determined to take this challenge.  I want that hard-workin' man of mine to know just how much I appreciate him and everything he does for me and for our family.  There are days when he comes home cold, tired, and hurting (the knee surgery year before last is not helping, anymore) and I know all he wants to do is crash, but he doesn't.  He is the chief laundry elf around the house (I love him even more for that!)

I am so thankful God brought him into my life, though times may get a little tense, and I often don't seem grateful, I really am.  I love you, Chris Jennings, March 22 will be our 10th anniversary and I'm even more blessed now than I was 10 years ago.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Ties that bind....

It's important to remember our heritage.  It's important to know our roots.  It's important to remember from where we came, at least it is to me.

Chris received one of the neatest gifts for Christmas.  No, it wasn't incredibly expensive, but it is priceless.  His mom and sister-in-law found some very important pieces of American history and put them in shadow boxes....WWI ration stamps and books.  
World War I ration stamps & book.  In the lower right corner is a photo of Chris's great-grandad, Homer Jennings.

I had never seen a ration book.  I've heard about them and read about them, but to actually see them made history even more tangible.  So...real.

A few weeks ago I mentioned on Facebook that my grandmother said she looked like her grandmother when she saw a photo of herself.  Thanks to a cousin, I now have a picture of my great, great grandmother Holliday.  It's a treasure.

Logan & Mammaw, December 2012.


My great-great-grandmother, Polly Holliday
Because family history is important to me, over the next few weeks I will be digging through some old family photos and posting a little about my family history...and hopefully some of Chris's family history, as well.