Monday, May 31, 2010

Lessons of the Loggerhead Turtle

God has surrounded us with such splendid portraits of His beauty and creation. The Loggerhead Turtle is one of those creations with tenacity, patience, and a beauty as it gracefully swims the oceans depths.
As this turtle grows to be about thirty years old it takes a trip back to it's birth place, it's home, to have her own young. Did you know this is not just a hop, skip and a jump over a hill. No, indeed this Loggerhead swims for about six months or so, going half way across the world, from one point to its destination, home.

Getting home is not an easy task. There is danger in every kind. There are those who want to attack, those who deceive with nets, and those who try their best to hook them with bait. This is a journey, not for the weak, but for the strong, the determined, and the eager. But they have patience. Can you imagine trying to go home, and it's taking you over six months? And it's not just a drive, but you must go through such currents, such big depths, waves that surround you, and winds that cause a fury.

What is this turtle's defense? She has a strong and sturdy shell. She is covered in a protective case, but there are still parts that are vulnerable to the elements and attacks of others. She must have much wisdom, and she must have a calling deeper than within herself to go the distance and make the journey alone.

Ever feel as though all you want to do is go home? But it's taking you forever? Maybe you have lost your way in the depths. Maybe someone has pulled you out of the water and tagged you with a number on your back and you feel as though your not going to make it alone. Yes, indeed we can learn much from the loggerhead.

There is a beauty in the strength she must have. There is a quietness in her that helps her achieve her goals. As she goes against the current at times, facing danger from all around, she dances in the sea, moving away from the attack, even hiding at times in the protection of a cave for safety. Ever need to hide? Ever feel the need for safety? I have too. I have found it in the arms of Jesus. I have found that I can hide in the depths of His unfailing love, and it will carry me through, bring me through the rough tides and take me safely home. Where is home for you? My home will one day be heaven, but for now, well, home is in the love of Jesus for me. It is there that I find all I need and He seems to provide for this daughter of His who loses her way sometimes.

When we open our eyes to God's glory around us we can see amazing things, lessons to be learned and wisdom to gain. How can we not look at the creation around us and see an amazing God before us? If God above provides a way for the Loggerhead turtle, how much more will He provide for you and I? The Loggerhead is born with a destiny, just as we are. The Loggerhead is destined to travel back home, to find its way into the oceans it once came from and we too are destined to find our way, but our way is into the loving arms of Jesus. We are heaven bound my friends. If you know Jesus as your Savior you have a home, a way, and a life with Him.

My friends if you are trying to find your way home, Jesus is your compass. As long as you follow Him, He will forever and always be your compass home and isn't that where we all want to be?

Psalm 18:1-2 "I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold."
Psalm 46:1-3 "God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging."
Psalm 91:1-2 "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust."
2 Corinthians 4:8-9 "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed."

HATS OFF TO YOU SOLDIER

Ever neared a store door and saw a soldier standing tall? They are there with those poppies red, handing them out with pride. As a soldier makes these poppies, wonder what their thoughts are, really? What are ours as we pass by? For some these poppies mean so much, and others just seem to walk by.
For me when I see these poppies they stand for those who have given all. For their families who have stood tall. Each poppy, made by hand, with love and respect, by those who fought so we could have freedom, so we could have more. These poppies are a rememberance to those who have given, to those who chose to answer the call.

At freedom's call there is a cost, a cost of giving, a cost of life, a cost of sacrifice. These men and women hear the battle's cry and walk out on that field with no fear to die. Knowing that death is so very close, it never seems to stop them from counting the cost. They go above and beyond to protect you and I. They serve with pride, hearts of passion, and life everlasting.

These men and women sacrifice so you and I can walk the streets. So while we walk, while we live in freedom, may we do so with respect to those who have given all that we might walk a little tall. So proud to be an American, so proud of those who have died for you and me. When we see a soldier walking by, may we take our hats off and throw them in the sky, for all they have done, are doing and will do when they hear the battle's cry.

For those who served in Korea, all those battles before and in between, those that we are fighting now may God above watch over you. May you feel Him by your side. May you know Him as your God.

Thank you to all who serve and do so with such pride. When I think of you and all you do, my heart is humbled as I know it is you who has given so I could have freedom in this sweet country we call home. Hats off you to you today and thank you for protecting our home sweet home!

MONDAY QUOTES

"It is not what I do that matters, but what a sovereign God chooses to do through me. God does not want worldly successes, He wants me. He wants my heart in submission to Him. Life is not just a few years to spend on self indulgence and career advancement. It is a privilege, a responsibility, a stewardship to be lived according to a much higher calling, God's calling. This alone gives true meaning to life." Elizabeth Dole

When I read this quote it speaks to what success really is, and what is it? A life filled with Christ, serving Him above all others. God doesn't want me to go off and try to find my own success in this world, its about showing this world we can find success through Him.

I wasted so much time in my younger years thinking it was the time of my life, but wherever you are today is the time of your life. Time is what we make it to be. I don't want to look at my life and see that I had a good old time serving my self, but knowing I had an awesome time serving the God who gave His precious life for me.

Each day is a privilege, and we so forget that don't we? We tend to take each day for granite that there will be one to follow, and when there isn't we find ourselves wishing for what? More time. As I get older I realize its not how much time we have here on this earth, its what we do with that time. I could live ninety years, healthy, wealthy and wise, but if I live that time without the Lord is it really living? No, for me it isn't. Life should be a reflection of the Lord.

Too many times we stand and say, "It's my life, I can do with it what I want!" Our life, our life was bought with a price, the blood of Christ, and to live any other way, but in Him is a wasted gift of life.

How do you define success? Climbing up the ladder? Having that big home in the country? Being able to say, "I have" is not success. Being able to say, "I will", is the beginning of success. When God calls us, when He reaches out to us to serve Him, saying, "I will", is only adding to the beauty of life. It is in that service, no matter what or where it is, that we will find pure joy.

We spend our lives searching for happiness. We spend our lives trying to find ourselves. If we just stop for one moment and think of who gives us all the joy around us, and where all the good comes from, how can we deny God and His presence in our lives? It's when we find Him that we earnestly find ourselves. It is in Him that life is even possible. And in Him all things are possible.

Looking for meaning in your life? I know I sure have, and I have found it in Christ and Him alone. He gives me purpose. He has a plan for my life, and to follow that plan will only bring success. I don't worldly success. This world is not my home, and the things of this world have no lasting meaning. I want success that lasts through heaven. I want the success in my life to point to Christ, for if it doesn't, it's not success at all.

May you find yourself in Him today. May you search Him for your life's purpose, and when you search Him, wow, you will find so much more than you ever knew existed! There is nothing like humbling ourselves before God, reaching out to Him as He reaches out to us, filling us with purpose and direction, giving us a calling. What an honor for us to be called by God to move on His behalf. What an honor to be used of God to bring glory to Him. There is no greater gift than to serve the God who gave all for us, and just think, He gave all so we could not only have today, but tomorrow with Him.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

a new journey

You know, I am beginning this new journey of feeling better, eating better, and living better. Can I just say the last three days have not been easy ones. When you begin this new journey it is seriously a life change, although for the better, it is a hard one to get use to, and I am just starting out.
So as I begin this new journey, my family is right there with me, which makes any journey better. I have my husband supporting me 100% of the way. I am truly a blessed girl. So, what is this journey? Well, after reading FibroWHYalgia it is just what I needed to jump start life again.

I have been in severe pain since Thursday. Thursday night I should say after playing ball. My body still has not yet recovered, and boy do I feel like I have been hit by not just one train, but a few. Woke up at 6:00 am today and literally took me two hours to get out of bed. Ugh! Once I am out of bed, my pain, although very real, seems to subside after a few hours. At least until my pain meds to kick in.

So, like you, I am tired of being tired. And the only one who can really change my life is me. It doesn't matter what effects us, its what we are doing with it that matters the most.

No more sugar, and I must say this is hard for this fountain soda drinking girl. No more processed food. If it comes in a box, a can, or a bag, it doesn't come in our home. Oh my, this store bought pizza girl again is going to have troubles. You gotta love the box, right? Trans fats? Out! There is much more that is out, but I can't concentrate on what's out, but what's in. WATER! Yes, something I never drink. Can I tell you, three days of drinking water has made me feel better! Fresh fruit, fresh veggies, everything fresh for our family. Yes, what a change for us.

What's amazing is my husband has been telling me this for years, and I read it in a book, and well, it's like a light bulb comes on. That is an altogether different post ladies. Do you do the same when your husband tells you something? Let a girlfriend tell you or hear it on Oprah, and you have yourself a life changing moment! (Stay tuned for that post in the future.)

When you live with such pain, you get to know your body pretty well, and my body is telling me to change or else. This is like my wake up call. My body has become addicted and run over by all these foods and it is poisoning my body, making this disease even worse.

As I go through my new journey I will be sharing with you the ups and downs, the blessings and struggles of this girl who does not like the kitchen.

I am now eating breakfast, something I haven't done in years, and wow, does a good breakfast make you feel better, giving more energy. I am learning as I am cleaning out my body, although it is good for it, it's not taking it so well. It is so used to the high fructose syrup and sugars that, well, I think its in shock and going through withdrawals.

You know, this is the body God gave me. His Spirit lives within me, and why wouldn't I want to take care of it? We often just think of not doing drugs and drinking alcohol, but guys, the food and drink we put into our bodies is just as bad if not worse. I have one body, one life, and I want to make the best of what God has given me. Each day is a new beginning, a new morning, and I want there to be many, and in them, well, lets just say I want to feel good and enjoy each one to the fullest.

Maybe you are on a new journey of some sort. Maybe today is the day the Lord is telling you change is needed. Whatever change is needed or coming we are not alone. The Lord is there to give us strength, and lift us up. I want to be all I can for Him, and to do so, I know change has to happen. I think its when we stay the same, we can get stuck in rut and its hard to see what needs to change. And change is scary, right? But with our faith, the Lord right by our side, we have nothing to fear.

1 Corinthians 6:19 "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. Therefore honor God with your body."

Friday, May 28, 2010

FibroWHYalgia by Susan E. Ingebretson

When I received Susan's new book FibroWHYalgia it was an answer to prayer for me. As a sufferer from fibromyalgia I was at a loss in my pain. Even today I wake struggling to make it through the day. When you suffer from fibromyalgia you almost suffer alone, for most do not understand your pain.This book is just what I needed. Susan shares her personal story of living with chronic illness, but she does so much more. Her story doesn't end in her pain, and she doesn't dwell in her pain, nor define herself through her pain. She gives such wisdom, and at times through humor. It was as though she was telling my story, and speaking straight to me with love and concern.How better to write a book, then from your own experiences and this is exactly what Susan has done. This book is well thought out, well written, carrying advice, wisdom, and knowledge not just about fibromyalgia, but eating well, exercising, and keeping your mind focused.I learned to put away the soda, carry water with me, start out at my own pace with exercise and eat natural foods. This book was a new beginning for me. As I sit before you I don't have a fountain soda, I have my water. I can listen to my body, but now I can move forward knowing this is not the end, but just the beginning.Susan provides many websites, books, dvd's, support blogs and groups, healthy living websites, and much more. I encourage you, if you are living with fibromyalgia, a chronic illness, know someone who is, or just want to live better, and healthier, this is a book you want in your hands today. There is so much information, and Susan shares in such a way that is like you and she are just sitting together having lunch. I loved this book, and you will too!

This book was given as a gift from Susan E. Ingebreton for its review.


Here is where you can contact Susan http://www.rebuildingwellness.com/
Sue Ingebretson has been studying health issues, and fibromyalgia in particular, for fourteen years. Committed to helping others afflicted with chronic illness, she serves as the director of program development for the Fibromyalgia Research and Education Center at California State University, Fullerton. She has collaborated in an assortment of community education projects with local support groups and the National Fibromyalgia Association (NFA) to promote education and understanding of chronic illness.She has written articles for the NFA's online and print magazine, Fibromyalgia AWARE, which offers advice, research news, treatment options, and lifestyle tips for fibromyalgia patients. She lives in Anaheim, California, with her husband and her 9 ½ pound Sheltie, Foxy. Sue is available for speaking engagements.

curtain time

Life gives us a big stage to work, grow and shine. But just where is that light shining? My son and I love to attend the Muny here in St. Louis each summer. It is an outdoor theater that puts on productions of amazing talent. As we sit waiting you get so excited to see the curtain being pulled back, the lighting being centered, and the stage is now set for an exciting show.
You see the actors across the stage, working, moving, and bringing things together, but something I have noticed, you never see the stagehands. Never, but they are madly at work behind the scenes, and the most interesting part is without those stage hands the production just wouldn't go on.

In our lives it is just natural for us to want to be on stage, and many times, center stage, with the light shining upon us. In that self centered stage does anyone else really want to attend? As life is the stage, there is only One who is at the center and deserves the light to shine upon Him, and that is Jesus Christ. See, in life we are the stage hands. Ever see the people pulling the curtain back? Ever see all those behind the stage getting things in order? As we pull the curtain back Jesus shines before the world. We are in the shadows as the light is casting from Him. We are in His reflection of the light casting beauty wherever it is shining.

So many times we want recognition for all we do. Ever feel like you are just working, and serving and no one is noticing? In all that work and service for the Lord, all anyone should be seeing is Jesus. We should be working and serving in such a way that it is Jesus Himself in the spot light.

Working behind the scenes is not always easy. It is our human nature to want the spot light, the stage and all the glamor that goes with it. Working behind the stage is a constant battle between our love for the Lord and our flesh. Oh, how the flesh wants the spot light.

In a play or production there is more, much more going on than meets the eye. There are many workers, and not one is more important than the other. Each has their own speciality, and qualities that add to the production. Working behind the scenes is hot, sweaty work, but it is work that must be done, and work that is worth while, bringing many blessings. When we show up to work behind the scenes we must be ready and willing to pull that curtain back so the world can see the reason we are working behind the scenes. We want the world to see the reason there is a production. And the only way to do so, is simply to pull the curtain back, away from us and onto Him.

Who is center stage in your life? Where is that light shining? In our lives we each have a purpose and a plan, and how could this production be put on without a director? A producer? A writer? I am so glad I am not writing my own screen play for my life. I have thankful the Director/Producer/Writer is One who knows me(He created me Psalm 139:14), loves me (He died so that I might have life in Him John 3:16), and accepts me (Even though I may not get my lines right, He forgives me when I stumble Psalm 103) . In Him knowing my past, present and future He knows how to direct each path. And by following His direction the spot light will forever be shining on Him. There is no one I would rather have teaching me my lines, showing me where to stand, and holding my script. He knows the beginning, the middle and the end. He knows just how each scene will play out. I may not have the lead role, but I know my part is special, for my script was handed to me by the Lord. Now, isn't that a production you want to be part of? Pull that curtain back today and let the light shine on the Lord in your life!
Jeremiah 29:11 "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."

LETS CHAT FRIDAY with Lisa Buffaloe

Today I am blessed beyond words to share an interview with Lisa Buffaloe. Since the Lord brought Lisa into my path she has blessed me and has become a woman I admire. She has a passion for the Lord and is such an encouragement. As I shine a light on Lisa today, that light is a reflection upon the Lord and what a beautiful stream of light it is. Here is my interview with Lisa:
(Robin) Hi Lisa, tell me a little about yourself.
(Lisa) Hi Robin, I’m honored to be on your site today. Thank you!I’m a madly in love with God, Christ follower. I was raised in a Christian home, became a Christian as a young girl, and even with some unpleasant times, have had a great life. I’m happily married with a teenage son, have moved thirty-four times, and now live in beautiful Idaho.
(Robin) Since you have walked with the Lord has there been a time you struggled in your faith? If so, would you like to share?
(Lisa) I’ve dealt with molestation, rape, assault, divorce, chronic illness, and a few other not-so-fun experiences, so yes I have struggled. I’ve asked God tough questions about suffering for myself and others, and fortunately God always rewards an honest seeker. Discovering more of God in the midst of difficulties is like the unfolding of a rose, each petal reveals beauty and the fragrance of His touch.
(Robin) Has there been an "aha" moment in your life that has changed your outlook? If so, I would love to hear.
(Lisa) When my best friend/sister-in-law, Kathy contracted leukemia she was a young mother. We all had faith in God and His healing power, and I couldn’t imagine God not answering our prayers for her healing. When I realized the answer could be (and was) “no” it rocked my world. Through that experience and others, God revealed different facets of who I am and who He is. I’ve learned regardless of life’s hardships, God’s goodness is never altered. I love this quote by St. Augustine, "In my deepest wound, I saw Your glory and it dazzled me."
(Robin) Do you have a favorite story, verse, hymn, or song that gives you encouragement when struggles come?
(Lisa) Oh my, I could list so many. I love music. I have a sound track playing in my head pretty much most of the day and night. Through each difficulty there has been a song or songs that have helped me keep my focus on God.Several of Margaret Becker’s songs are keepers. Her song “I won’t be persuaded” first line states, “Sometimes it hurts to be so close to the pain, when I know the one who loves me most could make it all change.” Or Margaret’s song, “All that I am” which starts with, “No one ever gave me a love so fine, that gently heals my heart one piece at a time, takes each jagged edge and every crooked line and smoothes them to life. Well no one ever gave me a love so sweet that tips my heart to drink when I'm fainting from the heat. That wraps my aching wounds in strips of mercy, so tenderly.”Scott Krippayne has some wonderful songs, “Sometimes He calms the storm” or “You are still God.” Lisa Bevill, “When the Healing Comes.” Goodness there are so many awesome songs out there -- hymns, praise songs, and tons of other Christian artists.
(Robin) What is one thing you look for in a close friend and what is one quality you hope others see in you?
(Lisa) Someone who loves God with passion and joy.
(Robin) What are a few of your favorite books you have in your collection you would share with friends?
(Lisa) Oswald Chambers “My Utmost for His Highest.” “Streams in the Desert”, anything by Beth Moore or Max Lucado, and bookshelves full of Christian books and novels.
(Robin) When life seems to go crazy, what is it that brings you calm and peace?
(Lisa) Praising God whether in word or in music. And if you top that off with a place to sit by the river, I’m one happy woman.
(Robin) What is one thing about yourself you admire?
(Lisa) Jesus Christ lives in me!!
(Robin) What are a few of the things you love surrounding you?
(Lisa) God. My family, my Bible, books and music that draw me deeper into God’s presence, the beauty of the mountains, a rock to sit on by the river….
(Robin) What are your deepest passions?
(Lisa) To tell others about God – that He is real, true, loving, merciful, righteous and just. And regardless of our pasts, He heals, restores, and renews.
(Robin) What is the best advice you have been given?
(Lisa) That’s a tough one. God has blessed me with verses, quotes, or some neat people who have said the right things at the right moment. But, I guess I’ll give you a culmination of what I’ve learned so far--God loves you. No matter how you look, how others treat you, where you live, and/or what is in your past or future, God loves you. You are eternally loved.
(Robin) In the legacy you leave, what is one thing you hope shines before all others?
(Lisa) That I whole-heartedly loved God and left the imprint of His precious touch.
(Robin) What are you currently working on now?
(Lisa) Besides blogging, I have two completed fiction manuscripts (one of which finaled in the ACFW Genesis Contest). My agent Tamela Hancock Murray is busy presenting them to publishers. I also have several other fiction and non-fiction projects in the works.
(Robin) How do you define success?
(Lisa) To be a woman after God’s own heart
Lisa, thank you so much for allowing us to know you a little better and sharing your heart with us. I feel as though I have just sat down and had a cup of tea with you as two friends. You are a light in this world and a great inspiration. Blessings to you sweet lady!
Would you like to find Lisa and see all she is doing?I visit Lisa's blog daily and have it here as one of my favorites. It is one of those places you love to visit and always leave refreshed.
Here are the links to Lisa, Lisa's agent,ACFW, and the artists mentioned above.
Margaret Becker http://www.maggieb.com/

Thursday, May 27, 2010

ALMOST FOREVER by DEBORAH RANEY

As we open the pages of the newest book by Deborah Raney we meet Bryn Hennesey. She is volunteering at the local home less shelter. But Bryn's husband Adam is not happy about her working there and finds her safety in danger. Bryn choose's to go without her Adam knowing, and on the night she is at the shelter a fire begins. Adam is a firefighter and is on the scene quickly. As the fire is burning out of control Bryn tries to stay out of sight so Adam doesn't see her, but in the flames of the night, Adam's life is taken along with his fellow firefighters, and Bryn is left with guilt and shame. She is also fighting to understand how the fire began. She can't remember if she blew the candle she had lit earlier out and it is taking her to places she doesn't want to go. The weight of her guilt brings her to being honest, as the local fire department is wanting to charge a home less man that they can't seem to find, Bryn finally realizes it was the candle. We watch Bryn as she grows, letting go of her pride and becoming this humble woman before God, growing in her relationship with Him, and also a friend, Garrett, who lost his wife Molly in the fire that dreadful night. They begin to share, and in this we see a beautiful relationship begin. There are so many different facets to this book. It was one I loved, and just enjoyed watching these characters grow and build. We find ourselves in Bryn's situation many times, not knowing if we left the coffee pot on, or a candle burning. Although disaster may not have come from our mistake, it could have, and through this book we not only gain wisdom, but learn the grace of forgiveness. This was a blessing to read, and one that you would also enjoy. Bryn has a passion for the home less, and we get to watch as God continues to use that passion to bring others to Him.
This book was a gift by Glass Road Publishers for its review.

You can find Deborah Raney at http://www.deborahraney.com/ to learn more about her book and also others she has written.

Here is a little about Deborah Raney

The award-winning, best-selling author of over twenty novels, Deborah Raney always delivers poignant stories of what it means to wrestle with the realities of a world in chaos...and emerge triumphant.
Her books have received the RITA Award, HOLT Medallion, National Readers' Choice Award, Silver Angel, and have twice been Christy Award finalists. Her novel, A Vow To Cherish, inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title.

THURSDAY'S SCRIPTURE

One of my favorite books of the bible is James. I love the honesty, the openness, the in your face, if you will. James seems to understand the magnitude of understanding and wisdom. He understands just how much our lives need direction and where we should go for that direction. The Lord is our compass for life, and James clearly teaches us this in every scripture. There are so many gold nuggets in James. Each scripture just seems to speak to me at a different day and time in my life. I know I can go to James and find understanding and wisdom. Don't you love how God gives you just what you need when you need it?
As I begin reading James, the verses that stood out to me this week are James 1:5-6. I usually study out of my New King James Study Bible, but I would like to take the scripture from the New Century Version today.

James 1:5-6 " But if any of you needs wisdom, you should ask God for it. He is generous to everyone and will give you wisdom without criticizing you. But when you ask God, you must believe and not doubt."

I love how James has just such a knack for using everyday situations and life circumstances to teach us more, to teach us to grow in the Lord and go to Him for our needs.

All those days I sat in a classroom hearing the teacher say, "Does anyone have a question?" and never raising my hand are too many to count. Do you remember those days where you allowed your pride to over rule your humility? Being young is tough, and being in a room filled with young people can at times be hurtful. But again it was a time of growth for me. Having the teacher ask if you had a question and trying to decide if it was worth raising your hand or not was a dilemma I found myself in many days. For me, leaving there without having my question answered far outweighed the laughter of those around me, but was I gaining anything, really? No, I was hurting myself far more than I knew. So, I would hold my hand down, leave and try to figure it out on my own. We can just say, I didn't receive my paper back with an "A". I took the lower grade over my humility.

In my case I would leave confused, wondering what the next step was. Trying to figure it all out on my own just wasn't working. It still doesn't work today.

Here I was in school to learn, a place filled with knowledge, and many times I just sat, left in the dark on a subject, and you know, it wasn't anyone fault but my own. In keeping my hand down and not asking only brought more questions and more confusion. I seemed to take the long road to wisdom. You know, that long, curvy one, instead of the narrow path. As I got older it was then that I realized I was only hurting myself by not asking questions. Was my pride really going to take me further than my humility? All the time I kept my hand down were missed opportunities, missed opportunities for growth. That is a kicker to ponder over isn't it? The more the knowledge and wisdom we have the more complete we are in Christ. The more we are complete in Him, the more we understand about ourselves.

If you know me well today, you know I never let an opportunity to have more knowledge pass me by. I still raise my hand in Sunday School. If I don't understand something I never allow my pride to get in the way, I ask away. Although many times when asked a question, I may give the wrong answer, but I won't leave there without the right one. I seem to ask questions all the time, about everything. I'm the girl who loves to learn. I wish today I could go back and raise my hand all the times I let slip away. Maybe that is where these sixteen years of home schooling comes in. Maybe God was giving me another opportunity to learn.

I have always taught my children, "There is only one dumb question, and that is the question not asked." Here in James he is sharing with us about needing wisdom. If we don't understand, if we are looking for answers, why not just ask God? The Lord wants us to grow. He wants us to spend time with Him and His word gain knowledge. In that knowledge we gain understanding and in that understanding we earn wisdom. Wisdom doesn't come cheap. We have situations, trials, struggles, circumstances that effect our lives daily. With the right wisdom don't you think our lives would be much sweeter, more calm, and certainly contain more peace? I do. I know that everything that comes into my life is not of my own failures, but sometimes it is. Sometimes those trials I am going through are consequences for actions I didn't think through, or just looked to myself for the answer.

Ever have a friend that you value their opinion? There is no greater friend than Jesus and no greater opinion than His. His wisdom brings value to our lives. As we walk with Him, we learn so much and the amazing thing is the less talking we do, the more we learn. I know I can talk and talk and talk, but when I hush, I can then hear His sweet words of wisdom.

He doesn't care how many times we raise our hands. He isn't going to laugh at our questions. But He will be honored we came to Him and He will bless us with the wisdom we need. As we leave fear behind, our pride also, the more humble we are and the more we learn from Him.

Now, when we ask of God for answers, we can't walk away doubting the truth in them. We must believe in Him. There are going to be times we don't like the answers, but as the truth sets us free, wisdom lets us soar!

The best way to learn is to spend time with God yourself. As He is that Friend you want to walk with daily. His word is our guide through the forest. With His compass leading us, we can see past the trees and onto the other side.

Just as children seem to ask "Why" a thousand times a day until you think your going to pull your hair out, I am sure Jesus still has all His in His perfect patience. In Him we find all we need to succeed. And to succeed is to live in Him with a passion and wisdom to always light the way.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

WEDNESDAY'S WOMAN

STAND BY MY MAN
We can open the bible to Genesis chapter 6 and begin to read the story of Noah. We can see that Noah was faithful, a man with a calling. A man who chose to follow God when all others would not. Don't you know Noah had passion? When God chose him to build the ark, Noah didn't back away, he planted his feet firm, stayed strong, and went to work.

But as we can see Noah standing, in verse 18 is where we see mention of Noah's family, his wife, sons, and their wives."But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall go into the ark-you, your sons, your wife, and your son's wives with you." God was not just saving Noah, but his family also. This is a family that allowed Noah to lead. We have a glimpse at the inside of this family. Their friends even turned away from them, making fun, and this family was left alone. Can you imagine? Can you see each day as others passed by mocking, laughing at the family who was building the huge boat?

But what catches my eye is Mrs. Noah. Yes, the woman, the wife, the mother in this family. It seems she stood by her man. If my husband heard from God that he was to build an ark, this huge boat for the flood, I may have turned my head and looked at him strangely saying, "Your kidding me, right?" After all, they had never even had rain! What in the world would they need this big boat for? What were they to get ready for? I would be thinking, "Gosh, Noah, we are going to be laughed at, and this is just not going to be fun!" Oh my, I can hear myself now. Okay, and if all the laughter and finger pointing would not have been enough, now we hear of animals? One animal in my house is enough. Daisy is plenty of work all by her little spoiled self, but to fill up our home with ALL the animals? Those cute, little accidents of hers are not too bad, but come on, cleaning up after all those animals? Now we are going to have animals with huge teeth, slimy, little critters, and big, fuzzy ones all gathered inside this boat, our home? I can just see myself in this situation. I don't think I would have been calm. I think I would have wondered if my husband was on drugs!

Can you see the work on this boat? Oh my, it was probably more than they ever expected, but isn't every call of God more than we expect, and something we could have never imagined? You just know who was cleaning up all that mess don't you?

See, this great and mighty man had a great and mighty woman by his side, walking with him. When God calls a man, He too is calling his family along for the adventure. Do you think she was a praying woman? I do. Do you think she lifted her husband up? I do. As I think of Noah, how can I leave his wife out? She is an important part of his story too. Her name is not mentioned, but many times, don't you feel that all you do goes unmentioned, and unnoticed? I think every woman can relate here, but we can also learn a great deal from this family, from this woman.

She didn't complain and say, "Oh Noah do you really have to work so hard? Must we board this ark? Can I go shopping first and get a cute outfit for the journey? Do we really have to take all these animals along, who is going to clean up after them?" If we are alike at all she probably feel in love with these animals the moment she began to care for them. She didn't seem fearful of hard work. It doesn't say she complained to Noah, but I think it would have said if she did. She could have easily seen Noah as crazy as the rest of the world did, packed her bags, leaving him to join those that would stay behind. But she didn't. She stayed by her man and that is an important picture for us to see love, respect and honor between a husband and wife.

I don't always agree with my husband. There are times I complain and don't want to follow him. My life would be much sweeter if I was a little more like Mrs. Noah, don't you know? When we love, respect, and honor God, we do the same for our husbands. As we shine before our husbands it can only give them encouragement to be the men God has called them to be. As they become those men, God becomes the spotlight, just as He was long ago when the first piece of wood was gathered for building the ark as Mrs. Noah stood by her man and her God.

I think my husband can be all he is to be if I am who I need to be in Christ. If I am living sold out for Christ my husband is going to see that and be blessed. I can lift him up each day, giving encouragement and prayer for the man I love. Too many times I complain about the little things, and ladies, this ark was no little thing. I can see Noah's wife there helping, giving, and praying for her husband to lead the way, to never give up, and to push forward when others were mocking him. His friends left him, and all around him was about to come to an end. She stood next to him, walking side by side, along with their children and their wives. This family who stood together, stayed together. I can close my eyes and grasp a picture of this family, this woman and wife. She was a woman of God. Although she may not have understood all the reasons why, she still followed in her faith and belief in God and His plan. I think Mrs. Noah is a perfect picture of a wife and mother who chose to follow and be a family that changed the world. Not many times do we get a fresh start, a new beginning, and this family was part of that plan. God has a plan for you and your family also. Take a lesson and learn from the Noah's, sometimes the greatest adventure is following along and seeing all what God has in store. All He needs are willing vessels, and boy did He have them aboard this vessel!

Proverbs 31 gives us a picture of the virtuous woman for us to learn from and strive to be. We can be the women God has called us to be when we choose to follow Him. And I think Mrs. Noah was this woman. A woman for all of us to look to, and learn from.

1 Peter 3:1-4 "Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. Do not let your adornment be merely outward-arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel-rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God."

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

loving this newest gadget

Okay, when I come to my blog now I can see that there are people visiting from all across the world and this just humbles me and amazes me all at once! I am loving this little visitor gadget. Who knew? I sure didn't. I had no idea of all of you who are visiting and I just have to say, "Thank you".
I used to look over at those little numbers, and and judge my blog by them. The Lord has given me the peace to know I am serving Him whether there is one or one thousand. Although numbers do not matter, now I can look over and give praise if there is a new follower, and what an awesome honor that is.
I really don't like that name "Follower" they have given. I would rather it be, "Friendly Reader" or something along those lines. I just feel connected to so many, and all over the world!

What a blessing to know others are stopping in and I would have never known. This not only encourages me, but keeps me on my toes. You are my accounting friends, those who see my writing each day, and I feel accountable to those reading. May all you read bring glory and honor to God.

I just had to share today what a real treat this little gadget is. You know, just through writing, reading and sharing we are all connected, and who doesn't need more sisters and brothers crossing their paths? And what other connection could be better than to be connected through Christ!

ENCOURAGEMENT TUESDAY

Need a little perspective?
Genesis 50:20 gives us some insight to Joseph. Its says; " You meant to hurt me, but God turned your evil into good to save the lives of many people, which is being done."

What an awesome attitude for Joseph, right? Joseph was hated by his brothers, captured, sold into slavery, thrown into prison unjustly, and then is chose to guide a nation through hard times. Whew, I'd say Joseph had a lot on his plate, wouldn't you? And here I think I have problems. Trials just seemed to come one right after the other for Joseph. Just when one seems to be ending, here comes another blow that was unexpected. Sound familiar?

Trials and struggles will come, and many times these are out of our control, just as Joseph, but Joseph shows us how to push forward, how to overcome all obstacles and do it all in faith.

Don't you know Joseph went through some devastating times? When we go through hard times, who do we want by us, right at our side? Yes, our family. But with Joseph, it was his very family out to get him. They seemed to leave him high and dry. When our family is not with us we can feel even more alone. Our obstacles can seem even bigger. For Joseph much of his trials began right there with his family. I think we can all understand that at some point.

That old saying, "We can pick our friends, but not our family" fits here perfectly. I think about this time Joseph was wishing for some new brothers. See, these were not friends picking on Joseph where he could run to his brothers for help. These were his own brothers attacking him. Making the situation worse Joseph is left wondering about his father. Where was he? How was he? What was really going on, did his father know?

Although Joseph went through such trials God's hand was upon him. God's protection was with him. As others were out for evil, God used their evil for good. God was using Joseph in mighty ways for the kingdom of God.

Can you imagine as Joseph is once sitting back with his family, the country is at rest, and all is coming together? I imagine Joseph then looking back could see God at work. Looking back, not understanding each situation at the time, but in the end he is able to see how God moved through each one to bring a greater blessing. It is not often until the end when we can look back and see how God brought together all the pieces of the puzzle. Just as we put a puzzle together, those first few pieces are often the hardest. You try to fit them together, but have a hard time thinking the picture is going to turn out like what is on the box. But after you are finished, you take a step back and how how each one, each single piece brought together something of beauty.

While Joseph kept his eye on God, God kept His eye on Joseph. There are so many times trials have come and I have taken my eye off God. So many times I doubted, and just felt like there was no end to the struggle. I felt like I couldn't go on. Like being on a roller coaster as your facing one way, but your turning another. You often can't see where you are headed and that is what brings the fear. Its that realization that you are not in control. But praise God, He is in control and He knows just how the ride is going to end and what it is going to take to get us there to the finish line.

Sometimes life is just hard. The kitchen sink breaks just as the washing machine is being fixed. The car needs new tires just as you lose your job. Illness comes just before your insurance kicks in, and just when you have money for one thing, something else takes it! Sound like your life too? It was Joseph's life, and Joseph didn't lose sight of God through it all, but gained understanding and wisdom. He hung in there when things got tough, and came out shining for God. God showed Joseph when you have faith through the drought He will bring the rains you need. Just as unexpected trials come, there are unexpected blessings within them. We just have to focus on God and not the situation at hand. There are always going to be situations, changes that come, but God is forever strong and will lead us through.

Just when you feel like giving up, remember Joseph inside that well and see how God brought him out and used him greatly for the kingdom of God. Our circumstances are no different. Although we may not be able to see clearly right now, if we stay focused on God and not the situation we too will look back like Joseph and see a great and mighty God creating in us something spectacular!

You can read about Joseph in Genesis 37-50. And what a story it is indeed!

Romans 5:3-5 "And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us."

Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

Philippians 4:6-7 " Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

Psalm 138:7-8 "Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand will save me. The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever; Do not forsake the works of Your hands."

Monday, May 24, 2010

NEW CHANGES

Okay, beginning this week I am doing some changing. I will begin each day with a new post on a different subject, like this:
Monday- Quotes. Where I will share a meaningful quote and write about how that quote speaks to my heart.
Tuesday- Devotions (Encouragement from God's word)
Wednesday- Women with a passion. Either biblical women who served God with a passionate heart or women of today who live with a purpose in Christ.
Thursday- Scripture passages. I will be reading the book of James and as a scripture speaks to me, I too will share with you.
Friday- Interviews! This one I am excited about. I will be interviewing many different women in my life and share about them, placing the spotlight on how God is moving in their life.
I will also be adding in book reviews and give a ways as they come. I will be having more soon. I will still write more than one post on some days, but just wanted to make changes and I think this is a wonderful beginning. I pray these changes will be an added blessing to you also. And as always your feedback is a wonderful addition to my nest.Your comments about issues and how topics bless you make this girl humbled before you my friends. More you would like to see? Share with me, I would love to learn more about you along this journey too. I am excited to move forward. Come along with me for the ride!

MONDAY QUOTES

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."
Just allow this one to soak in for a bit. Sometimes we come across something we can chew on and ponder over. This is one that really stuck with me when I came across it. So many times in life I have felt less than another. I have felt that someone is better than me, a better wife, a better mom, a better friend, a better Christian. You too?
You have those people in your life that just seem to make you feel inferior to them. You have those who walk about with an air of arrogance. Those that carry their ego along with them in their purse. It's just something in the way they look at you, speak to you and treat you all together. Know anyone like this?
I have always wanted to be that person who was just so comfortable with herself that I could walk into a room and feel at ease. I seem to walk in thinking, "What is wrong with me, why are people looking at me?" As women we tend to compare ourselves to others and that is our first mistake. We are all made different and we are to be different. Ever turn on one of those Hollywood glamor shows and see what others are wearing, the hairstyles, and latest trends? Well, I think everyone does, for we all just want to fit in. But why do we all want the same look? Isn't it better to be different? Isn't it better to stand out alone instead of in a crowd where everyone looks the same?I am trying to be the girl God made me to be. I am trying hard and learning not to concern myself with what others are doing, but find myself, my own style, my own way of walking into a room if you may. I don't want to be like everyone else, I just want to be accepted for me. And something I am learning, which seems to take a while sometimes is that I am the only person that can make me feel inferior to another. No one can do that without my permission. I must give something of myself for another to make me feel less than they are.There is room at the cross, and at the foot of the cross we are all equal. There is no one of higher standing. It doesn't matter if you purchase your clothing at Macy's or Walmart, as long as you are clothed, that is pretty much a blessing. Its not what we have on the outside or how many outfits we seem to clutter in our closets.

What matters is what we have on the inside. If we are shining on the inside, we are going to shine outward. When we are content within ourselves we are not going to be looking at what others have on, and what we are lacking.When the Lord looks down upon me He sees His daughter, His beautiful daughter that He made with His hands, giving me a purpose and filling me with all He has for me. That is a pretty special feeling, isn't it?

Everyone here on this earth is not going to make us feel special. They are not going to make us feel beautiful and they sure are not going to think we have a purpose. There will always be those with an arrogance, those who think they are better than others, but friends, there has always been good and bad and that is not going to stop until we reach heaven.

We must make a decision. Are we going to stand proud, with our heads held high, knowing we are daughter's of the King of kings or our we going to keep our heads down, thinking we don't measure up to the rest of the world? The choice is all ours, and that choice will either make us or break us.We need to come to a point where when we look in the mirror we are not looking to see flaws, but looking to see the beauty Christ has given in us. When we look at ourselves we are seeing the Lord in us. We were ALL made in His image. Its time we take off the worldly glasses we are judging ourselves from and see through the eyes of Christ.

Often times it is our very own attitude that makes others see us as inferior. If we are thinking it, then it is showing. Each day is such a precious gift, and we should be so blessed to be able to take part in it. May today be the day we wake with fresh, new attitudes, seeing through new eyes. May we stop looking for recognition in others and find ourselves consumed in the Lord. Where others may find fault in us, or imperfection, the Lord sees purpose and perfection through Him.

Don't define yourself by others standards. Don't define yourself by this world. This world has nothing we need that can make us any more perfect than God already has.I find that for every one of those who I allow to make me feel inferior, there is someone else who makes them feel that way as they enter a room and others turn from them. Surround yourselves with women who make you feel beautiful. Who surround you with love and lift you up.

We can only feel less of a person when we are allowing it. My challenge? Wake this morning, thinking upon the beauty before you. Praise God for all you are and for all He is in you. Seek Him for contentment. Seek Him to make you feel complete, and as you find yourself in Him, you will find that you are shining before others.

Psalm 139:14 "I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are works, and that my soul knows very well.
Proverbs 31:25-31 "Strength and honor are her clothing; She shall rejoice in the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness. She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; Her husband also, and he praises her; Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all. Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates."

Sunday, May 23, 2010

1000TH POST!!!!!

Wow, I cannot believe I have made it to 1000!! Well, here I am at this milestone. As I look back to that first post two January's ago, I couldn't have imagined how far this would go. I have shared my ups and downs, my dreams, my goals, and just about everything you could imagine. Just as I hit 1000 I am waiting to see what is next and I can only imagine the next 1000 will be better than ever!
Tami girl, thank you for sharing the idea of a blog with me, and teaching me just how to do it! If you ask me how to begin a blog I will point you to another, although I have learned much about these little gadgets. Tami was one of the first who followed my blog and for that I must say, "Thank you!" Wow, your encouragement pushed me further. You showed me my dreams were possible and always pointed me right back to my own writing when I needed advice. What a friend you have been to this girl who spends so much time sitting in front of the computer writing all the thoughts running through my head. And to think, there are still yet more in there!!

I have grown since that very first post and I pray as this adventure keeps going I continue to grow in the Lord and serve Him each day with honor and glory. I pray each post I write is worthy of Him. Without Him there would be no passion, no dream and no success. My mother didn't know what she created when she first stuck that pen and paper in my hand. I think I have been writing every since, now I am just sharing all I am.

For all of you that have listened to me go on and on about writing, thank you for your friendship. I am so grateful for all those friends who have read my blog and only encouraged me more. I have been blessed to write for articles, be interviewed, do a blog with the Max Lucado Community and do book reviews. It's like a whole new world has opened up to me, and I am waiting and so eager to explore more.

I have been so blessed to meet so many amazing people through this blog. You have shared with me as I have shared with you, and I am forever grateful for your emails and comments. God is good, isn't He? I am able to connect with so many just through opening up and sharing the worse of times and the best.

For those of you who have been here since the beginning, you have blessed this girl so much, thank you. For those of you just joining, I think there is much more to come. I would love to hear your ideas and thoughts. What would you like to read? What would you like to see? I am thinking of what is new and the ideas are limitless. I think each day will have a new theme, and one day a week I will interview a special person to share with you all.

Summer is here and my book writing is not on the back burner any longer, but ready to go! I am excited to research and move forward in this new journey. It is so true as one door closes another opens, and this one is wide. For my family, I must say, "Thank you". Thank you for allowing me to take time at this computer. To get up in the middle of the night and take notes, and for those days when the house is a mess and I am just writing away. Thank you, for you are my greatest encouragers. You motivate me to do so much more, pushing me to go forward, finding just where this dream is leading. For all the endless ramblings on about new ideas and letting me have time to read ALL those books, thank you. It is a real blessing when you find your dreams coming true, when your passion is alive and your family is right there to stand beside you. For my sweet cousin, Melissa, thank you for reading my blog, for going to that very first post and sharing with me. I have a feeling you will be by my side until the last!

Thank you for being along for the ride. Thank you for stopping in, and reading these thoughts I have. I pray you have been blessed, as I have been blessed by you. So, lets see what's new next post, there might just be something there for you!

sixteen years of home schooling

Wow, this month my son graduated! And he will also have his eighteenth birthday the 31st. It is all quite amazing to me really. So much in one month for this mother to grasp. The last baby in our home. All I seem to see is, "What is next for him?" When I think about what is next for him I can't help but think about what is past, beyond us all so quickly.
We chose to home school our children when my oldest daughter ended the second grade. My youngest daughter was then beginning kindergarten. As a friend suggested home schooling I thought, "Are you kidding me, I could never!!!" But before long we were soon jumping in head first. Can I just say, "It has been a ride." I can look back and remember the fear as I opened up those school books for the first time, but in my fear, my children were full of smiles. What an amazing blessing beyond comprehension to teach your children. My oldest daughter was reading when she was two. Then as my second child followed in her footsteps, there was my son is the waiting. He did not learn to read at such a young age. I quickly learned that all three needed different teaching, and all three learned on different levels. Just because one got something so easily, I couldn't expect the others to follow. As one subject caught the eye of one child, another gleamed at a totally different subject.

It was like I was in school all over again, and boy have I learned a lot. When you home school you learn each subject just like your children. You forget all you learned before, and how you learned and you now teach how each child needs attention. There were days where we did school at seven in the morning and days where we started at night. I can say, home schooled children have very active imaginations and never get bored. I can honestly say I never heard my children in all the years at home say, "Mom, I am bored." There was just always something to do, and they seemed to find them.

When you teach at home, you get to set your schedule, and your children learn so much more. They watched how I took care of the house, and they saw the struggles of their daddy working and coming home to do more. They learned a work ethic, and they learned respect at a young age. Now, did I have perfect children? Ha! But you know, they are the greatest to me and I am so very proud of each one today. That is something every mother wants to say, right?

My daughters did go to high school, and they succeeded very well there. I must say although home schooling was a great blessing, there are things you choose to miss out on. Our kids were always very active in sports, so that was never a problem for us, and our children were active in church and other activities kept them busy. They were friendly and could have a conversation with anyone at any age. But there is give and take. Just as when your children go to public school they go through things my children never did and have experiences home schooling children do not have. Each has their own blessings and struggles. As a parent you must choose what is right for your family, and for us, home schooling was great.

I have had people ask me, "So, does your son have to take the GED test?" Let me share my feelings about that if I may. No, he does not. He didn't quit school, nor did he get an education of lesser value. He received an excellent education and he went to school for twelve years, learning much. He receives a diploma just as if he were in public school. You have those who are totally against home schooling and I understand that. I think I would have been to if not for learning about and seeing the blessings with my own eyes. Until you completely learn all the benefits to home schooling you can't really say it is bad. You have those who teach as they should, and those who do not. But in public school you have that same problem with teachers who are more concerned with their pay check than the child in the back. I know many teachers and have such respect for them. Do you have to have a college education to home school your child? No, you do not. But what could be better than a mother who wants the very best for her children? She will go at any means to learn all she can and make sure her child has succeeded. A mother with a heart, who has passion, and a great spirit can do much when she sets her mind and focuses on what is at hand. I can say just as my children learned I learned, and there were times I was learning from them. I loved watching their eyes light up when they figured something out. I loved it when they really got something they had struggled with. For me, home schooling was just an added blessing to being a mom.

As I will forever be a mom, my teaching has come to an end, but I know as this has ended God has something else in store for me. I cannot wait to see what He has. I know the past sixteen years has been a time where God was teaching me, growing me through my children, and was preparing me for something even greater, which is hard to fathom.

So I want to say thank you to my children. Thank you for being patient. Thank you for being loving. Thank you for allowing your mother to teach you, and to learn with you. The laughs, the tears and all the lessons were blessings to this mother's heart. The breakfasts in bed, the lessons at the park, the marker stains, and all those books read has forever changed me. Because of you I am a better person and a blessed mom. The time we have shared together learning has only captured memories to last a lifetime.

To those who helped me, I say thank you. For Dawn, thank you for helping me overcome algebra and learn that its not math its problem solving! Thank you for the time you gave helping my children succeed. To Tami and Julie, thank you for always being there and keeping me together on those days where I thought I would fall apart. Thank you for the shared books and all the information that only made me a better teacher and mom. To my husband, thank you for your prayers and leadership. Thank you for believing in me when I didn't believe in myself. It really does take a village to raise your children and even more to teach them at home.

What a ride, what a blessing we have had. Now, its on to much more. As the page of this book comes to an end I can't wait to see the first chapter in the next. Now its time for me to design that diploma, plan that party and get the gifts, but I think this mom has had the best gift ever, three children who believed in me as I pushed them to believe in themselves!

open up those opportunities

As my husband had been on lay off for almost two years, life gets hard, really hard. You have those days where you just want to hide your head in a like an ostrich. You want to bury yourself in pity and have yourself a party. The only problem with that is no one wants to attend a party where there is no laughter.
I have learned so much in the last two years. I have learned things that I would not have if not for the trials. When we go through trials we also go through a transformation ourselves. I felt like there were so many days I was walking in the dark, but you know, the Lord was trying to shine the light before me, I just wasn't paying attention. I was too focused on my circumstances. So, in that fact, I learned to stop looking at my circumstances and look at the opportunities around me. When we focus on just the circumstance we miss so much around us.

I haven't liked many of the trials I have gone through in the last eight years of life or so, gosh, we could even say ten. But in those trials, within each one, God brought a purpose and plan. He brought me through each one, and is still today bringing me through, paving the way, and shining the light before me. I have figured out when I keep my eyes on the light, I will never get lost and I will never be in the dark alone.

We can get to where we are Johnny Raincloud! Everywhere we go we carry this cloud of doom over us. We think about the coming storms, the winds brewing, and the rains about to fall. When in fact, we should think about the Son, the calmness we find in the shade, and the rainbow after the rains have fallen. Just as there is beauty before the storm, there is beauty after. And if we really have our eyes open and our head up we can find beauty in the storm.

Don't ever sell yourself short but just thinking your life is about the circumstance you are in. Your life is so much more than one circumstance. If we continue to focus on the circumstance, we miss out on the life around us. When we are stuck in the storm, we can get blinded by the rain and miss opportunities to pull over. Life is not about our circumstances, but the opportunities before us! Every day, every moment there is an opportunity for something. We can focus on us, and miss out on so very much. Focus on others and we miss out on what is for us. But focus on the Lord, and we find what He has for us and others around us, just by being a willing vessel.

I can't begin to tell you how much I have missed out on just by having my own pity party. If I would have taken my eyes off my circumstances God only knows what great and mighty things I could have been part of. There is always an opportunity to reach another. There is always an opportunity to serve. As we reach out beyond our circumstances we grow into the person God is creating in us.

I don't know where you are today. You may be just as I was and going through just horrific things. Life may be hard right now, and you may feel as though you are in a rut. There were times I thought nothing is going to change and things are just going to get worse. Well, you know what? Many times situations were made worse because of my focus. I made things so much bigger than what they were. If I would have only trusted in God, He would have shown me the way and things would have turned out much different, but instead I allowed the fear of the situation to grasp my attention and it held me down. Jesus doesn't want that for us. He wants our total trust and in that trust He shows us hope. He shows us there is a different view than from Johnny's point of looking at just the clouds. Beyond that frown lies a smile. Beyond those tears lies laughter. The rains stop eventually, and the sun shines brightly, but even rain showers can be beautiful and give way to amazing days spent doing other things than wishing it wasn't raining.

Don't waste today on just thinking of your circumstances. Allow yourself to see the opportunities God has waiting for you. You cannot define your life by your circumstances. May today be the day you define your circumstances by your life!
When we allow God to open our wings and give us flight the possibilities are limitless! So what are you waiting for? Open the door and see what is beyond your circumstances. There might just be something there so unexpected, you take flight and soar like never before.
Romans 8:35-39 "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: For your sake we face death all day long; We are considered as sheep to be slaughtered. No, in all these things we are more than conqueors 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."

Saturday, May 22, 2010

writing in the sand

On a morning long ago there was one, one who stood among men before her about to be stoned. She was caught in adultery. Before her stood many men, I wonder if one of them was the man she was with. I wonder just where he was on this day as stood alone, scared, and shamed.
What she had done was wrong, but how many times have we too been there before others, ashamed, alone and scared, waiting for the judgement of others who have seen our falter, our slip in our walk? I can only wonder what she was thinking on this day. Was she regretting laying with this man? Was she wishing she could change her past? Maybe she was just wishing it was all over with. I don't think there is one of us that has not felt the heat of others breathing upon us, standing over us, ready with aim to throw their stone.

The scribes and Pharisees brought this woman before Jesus. I can see them throwing her at His feet, as she lay before Him, wondering, "What next"? These two groups were testing Jesus to see what He would say. Maybe this woman was just being used by all of them before her. But Jesus is not fearful of their testing. He stands and says, "He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first." John 8:7b Now, the table is turned to them before her. What will they do now as they are carrying stones to take care of this woman, this woman who has sinned? As Jesus sees them before her He writes in the sand. As they are all looking, they do not throw their stones, but they very well drop them where they are. No one knows what Jesus wrote in the sand. Some think maybe He wrote the ten commandments. Maybe He wrote the man's name down. Maybe He wrote their sins before them for all to see. Whatever He wrote made them all turn, leaving this woman before Jesus. In verse 10-12 it says; "When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you? She said, No one Lord. And Jesus said to her, Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more. Then Jesus spoke to them again saying, I am the Light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life."

You can read this story in John 8:1-12. This woman was forgiven of her sins by Jesus. Can you see her face as she is walking away? For me, I can see tears of joy and deliverance. I can see a woman walking away with a new life, a new beginning before her. We can be so quick to judge another for their sins, but stand with our heads held high thinking, "I would never do that." As I have taught my children, "Never say never." We are all sinners in need of a Savior. When we stand before Him on judgement day, there will not be any others around us to condemn us as we have today. Jesus will stand before us and it is He and only He that we will face for our lives. We can find forgiveness in Jesus.

Before other men Jesus is writing in the sand for you. He is standing in the gap for you and I. He knows our past, present and future. We can find hope in Him. We can seek forgiveness in Him. And in Him is where we find redemption and a new beginning. As this woman walked away from her past and her sin, we too can walk away with a new pledge before us to honor God with all we are.

Whatever sin we are struggling with, Jesus can give us the strength to overcome. We all struggle one time or another. As we need lifted up in our time of struggle, so do those around us. Instead of pointing a figure at one, may be lift our hands in prayer for them, wrapping loving kindness around them, leaving hope in their hearts as Jesus used His finger to write hope in the sand for one so long ago.

So many characterists of the twelve

As I look at the twelve disciples there are many characterists of them all. None the same, but all so very different. When Jesus went fishing He caught Himself a catch of many different fish. As His net was wide, so were the characteristics of those He caught. Listen to a few discriptions of the disciples:
Peter:Implusive, hot tempered, insightful, couragious and solid

James: Vengeful, selfish, conceited, committed and couragious

John:Vengeful, fiery, judgemental, selfish, bold, loving, compassionate

Andrew: Enthusiastic, inquisitive, resourceful

Philip: Practical, helpful, literal, confused

Bartholomew: Skeptic, honest, faithful

Matthew: Penitent, hospitable

Thomas: Inquisitive, doubtful, couragious, faithful

James son of Alphaeus: ?

Thaddaeus: Inquisitive, confused

Simon the Zealot: Patriotic, loyal, passionate, sacrificial

Judas: Greedy, deceitful, treacherous, remorseful

Wow, twelve men, and so many characteristics. Some of good quality and others that cause us to struggle. But what is amazing to me is the fact that God used all of these characteristics to bring glory and honor to Him. He used these qualities to teach us, to lead us, and to point us in way of growth.

Just as these men, this group of fishermen left all to follow Jesus, they were on a pathway to growth and men who became new creations in Christ. They were not perfect as Jesus, they too had their faults just as you and I, but that didn't stop them from being used of God. Maybe Jesus chose them just for that fact, for the simply fact to show us, He loves us for us, and if we are carrying characteristics that are not of good quality, He can change us to look more like Him.

When He chose these twelve He chose them for a distinct purpose. He saw something special in them. He saw real men, who had passion and I am sure He knew that passion could be put to use for the kingdom of Christ. God not only has a purpose and plan for us, but those who are willing vessels can be used greatly of God. As small as we are, in Him we are mighty!

As they put down their nets to follow Him, as they put down those qualitities they struggled with, Jesus filled their nets with great catch, and gave them strength to overcome their weakness through Him. They too had a free will just as we do. We know they followed and they walked away, coming back to Him. But not all did, did they? We know how Judas turned on His Savior. He allowed greed to overcome him. Peter allowed pride to come between him and Jesus. These twelve men struggled with the same things we do, and I don't think that was a coincidence. Jesus knew exactly what He was doing. This group of men gave up all, but at times they all struggled with their flesh, just as we do.

These were friends of Jesus, and a few were part of His inner circle. These men walked with Him daily, and still doubted, still were confused, but they had great faith. What an honor to take your sandels off at the door with Jesus. What an honor just to walk with Him. We too have that honor. We can walk with Him daily and serve Him as He calls. He knows us by name my friends. We can only be as close to Him as we choose to be. We can know Him more. We can understand Him more, and we can walk in His steps, just as these twelve did, but with new eyes, new freedom, and with a new passion.

Ever feel like Jesus can't use you? Maybe you see yourself as just one, what could just one do? Look at what Jesus did with twelve? Look at the impact they made on the world and those around them. With Jesus all is possible. All He is looking for is one man to walk with Him. That walk between You and He is precious. No other has the same walk or the same steps. Just as we are all unique with different characteristics, so is our walk with Jesus.

As these disciples were walking with Jesus they were instructed by Him and He focused on them, each as though they were the only one. They had conversations together, they prayed together, they ate together, they served together, they cried together, they laughed together, and they carried Christ's message together. That sounds like a special relationship to me. One that we can have today as we walk with Him ourselves.

Take all those unique qualities you have and allow the Lord to shine through them. You were made for a purpose, and what a plan Jesus has for you!

Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the thoughts toward that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope."

Matthew 4:19 "Then Jesus said to them, Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men."

1 Corinthians 7:7 "For I wish that all men were even as I myself. But each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that."

Its time for us to kick off those sandals and jump in! Pick up your net and see just what Jesus can fill it with today!

Friday, May 21, 2010

anyone need a peacemaker?

Have you ever been in a situation where anger flared and peace was needed? We seem to react so quickly to situations without thinking. Maybe if we would just step back before we acted, there would be no more war. Can you really have a war when there is someone acting as a peacemaker? In war you need to sides of anger. What if there could be an end to anger? Just think of the possibilities.
I remember when our kids were young and they would have a little scrabble. You know what I would do? I would make them sit next to each other on the couch, touching mind you, and say good things about the other. Now, lets just say, it took a while for this to work, but after a bit, there were no more words of anger, but indeed laughter. When we take a step back and really think about why we are angry we gain clarity.

In 1 Samuel chapter 25 we read about David, Nabal, and Abigail, the peace maker. I think Abigail is the hero in this story. Isn't it awesome when the hero happens to be a woman? Here you have Nabal, who is mean, angry and on a rampage. He is wealthy, cocky, and unwise. Now, you have young David, serving with his men is Nabal's fields. They are working day and night to protect all that Nabal has. David and his men are wanting to be paid, to be honored for their work, but Nabal refuses. He sees things much different. He seems to think he doesn't owe anyone anything. So David and his men saddle up. (Did they really saddle up back then?) Anyway, they started out. They had their swords ready for battle. They were angry and on the path to go after Nabal. Abigail hears the news. What does she do? This beauty of a woman prepares food and drink and gets herself on a donkey to go out to meet David. She didn't have to bother herself with this. She could have just as easy let David's men kill Nabal, but she steps out. She becomes the hero here in the story as she speaks to David and tells him she is sorry. What? Why is she the one asking forgiveness? She didn't even do anything. But she is filled with humility before God, and goes out to David. In verse 18 it says this; "Then Abigail made haste and took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five sheep already dressed, five seahs of roasted grain, one hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs, and loaded them on donkeys."

Okay, now that is one mighty big kitchen, many hard workers, and one willing vessel to step in and save the day. It doesn't say Abigail took her time. It says she made haste. She knew this was important, and she needed to hurry before terrible things happened.

I love this picture of Abigail on a donkey going before this angry crowd of men. Sound familiar? I believe Jesus rode in on a donkey as well, surrounded by anger of who He was and what He came to do.

Abigail shows us how to bring peace to a situation that could have been very bad. She shows us humility, and beauty on a single donkey riding before men. As she speaks to David, she calms the situation and David says to her in verse 32-35 "Then David said to Abigail: Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me! And blessed is your advice and blessed are you, because you have kept me this day from coming to bloodshed and from avenging myself with my own hand.For indeed, as the Lord God of Israel lives, who has kept me back from hurting you, unless you had hurried and come to meet me, surely by morning light no males would have been left to Nabal!" So David received from her hand what she had brought him, and said to her, God up in peace to your house. See, I have heeded your voice and respected your person."

Nabal ends up dieing about ten days later, and Abigail never had the chance to share with him the truth of the matter. After Nabal's death, David takes Abigail to be his wife. What a story of peace. Just one woman, one heart, made all the difference that day. Although Nabal never knew the difference, David did, and blessings were in store.

Sometimes all it takes is for one hero to step out and make a difference. We don't always have to be right. We don't always have to speak with anger. If we just step back we can see the truth in the matter and walk away without pride, but humbleness. And in that humbleness honor is found.

If there is a situation brewing in your neck of the woods, step back, pray, and seek God's advice. Seek wisdom before you act. Just one act of peace can change the day.

Proverbs 15:1 "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."

Matthew 5:9 " Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God."
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