Thursday, June 30, 2011
"She Makes It Look Easy" is a book all women will be able to relate to. Ariel Baxter is new to the neighborhood. She is moving into her dream home. The home she has been pestering her husband about for a while now. Ariel, is a wife and a mother of three boys. She feels like we all feel at one time or another. There has to be more. She looks across the back yard and sees the home of her new friend, Justine Miller, who smiles everywhere she goes. You know these women. They look as if they have it all together. They seem to know how to do everything. Her home is not only spotless, but she can cook too! Justine seems to have a clutter-free life, but as Ariel befriends her, she soon finds out there might be a few weeds in that perfectly manicured lawn.
MaryBeth Whalen brings us her second novel. This one is much different than, "The Mailbox". Both are beautifully written, but "She Makes It Look Easy", is written on a deeper level. Whalen, dives into the subjects of betrayal and adultery, which come in many different forms. I loved this book. Ariel, is a great character. There is a little, Ariel, in all of us. She is knee deep in chores and is desperately looking to move forward. She is deeply looking for friendship and belonging. She finds friendship with, Justine, but is it really what she is looking for? These two characters seem so different on the outside, but on the inside, they both are searching for the same things. Love and acceptance.
Justine, who appears to have it all together, befriends everyone new to the area. Justine is trying to show others how to be organized, how to be the perfect wife and mother, but she is helpless in finding peace in her own life. She is striving for perfection, but everything seems to be falling apart. Instead of being honest, she puts on the face. I am guilty of this too! Which brings us to ask ourselves, "Can we be content?"
Throughout these pages we see how women can be caddy. We see how we can be blinded by envy.We too see what happens as we fall into gossip and judge the newbies in our area without first knowing them. We see friendship at it's finest and it's worst. This is a book about real life. Real struggles. What we face day to day and just how easy it is to fall into the traps that Satan sets for us. This is one of those great reads that will make you take a look into your own life and help you to realize what is really important.
This book was a gift from David C. Cook Publishing for it's review.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
If we live each day searching for all God has for us, it kind of changes our perspective on every facet of life. Doesn't it? We can choose to see the glass half full instead of half empty. But either way, it's only half, so that means there is room for more, right? Isn't there always more room for God?
We fill our lives with such stuff. Stuff that really has no lasting impact on our life. Stuff that we think we need today will soon end up on a table at a yard sale. What if we changed our perspective on what we needed? What if we focused more on the need instead of the want? Even more so, what if we focused on God and trusted Him with the need? You think He then would bless us with some of those wants?
Life will always have tribulations. As one passes and we jump over that hurdle, soon there will be another to face. We have a choice to look at life as being hard and complicated, or we can look at life as being filled with opportunities and challenges.
What are facing today? Each of us are facing many different trials. We are all on different paths. Different journeys in our walk with Christ. Some days we are closer to Him than ever and others we move a little southward away from Him. The thing we must remember is, He never moves. He is constant. As He stands firm, we tend to be the ones in constant motion. We lose our way by simply taking our eyes off Him. The moment we take our focus off of Him we give room for Satan to take a stronghold in our life. He knows those weak areas. He knows where we struggle. He too knows just what it takes to bring us down to that low point where we feel like giving up.
I have been there in that dark room. Total silence around me. The only sound is my crying. Maybe too, my heart beating in overtime as I worry. As I wonder. As I try to grasp hold of understanding. We face such tribulations and we think we are all alone. We feel all alone at times, don't we? No one understands. Everyone is judging. No one is calling. I think that is the crux of it all. We search for what we need in people and many times they just cannot give us what we need. We expect others to understand. Maybe reach out to us. But they don't. We call and no one answers.
There is One who has faced trial, test, and tribulation. Jesus Christ knows our pain all too well. He knows what that cup looks like when your holding it in your hand. He knows that feeling of the judgement of others. He knows the feeling of being alone when you have called on friends to pray for you. Have your friends left your side? He too knows that pain. Do you carry scars of pain that others have caused? Our Savior carries them too.
We must look to Christ for our needs. If we turn to Him for all things, He will make us complete in Him. He can love us like no other. He has the power to forgive and wash us with grace. He brings mercy with His love. He wraps His comforting arms around us. Only He can give us a peace that covers all confusion. There is no misunderstandings in Christ. He is Truth. When in that dark room filled with cries. He will bring light.
"God, who foresaw your tribulation, has specially armed you to go through it, not without pain but without stain." C.S. Lewis
"Tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope." That is the order. You cannot put patience and experience into a parenthesis, and, omitting them, bring hope out of tribulation." Alexander MacLaren
His Word is our gift for this journey. He has equipped us with everything we need for the ride. In the quietness of our pain may we listen for His soft whisper of hope. One of the most powerful verses for me while going through tribulation is 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." Our trials are of value to us. Each one teaches us and prepares us for the next. That is why it is so important to change our focus into seeing them for what they are. Opportunities and challenges that bring us closer to Christ and closer to who He has called us to be.
"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double minded man, unstable in all his ways." James 1:2-8
"Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him." James 1:12
If you are like me, it is hard to let go of everything. We so want to fix things, don't we? It's easy to become angry and bitter when trial after trial comes to our door knocking. We would rather act as if no one is home. Maybe then it would pass by. But then, even so, it moves on to our neighbor. No one is out of reach of tribulation. If we haven't faced it yet, we will. In those times that peace is flowing our way, tribulation is touching another. As much as we want prayer, we too must lift others up in prayer. Prayer is our way of staying in touch with God. It's our source of communication.
Even though I don't like it, I am learning to embrace tribulation. It seems I am a slow learner, but the Lord is teaching me when I surrender to Him and trust Him with all, His promises never fail me. When faced with trial it's okay to ask why. In fact, we should. In asking why we must open our heart for God's answer. We must be ready to take action or to be still. We must be willing to say, "Yes, Lord." It's His will that we must be searching for. It is in His will that we will find what this world cannot offer. The Holy Spirit will prepare us for all those challenges ahead and open doors of opportunity for us to then bring glory, honor and praise to our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Sunday, June 26, 2011
We all face it, but yet we never speak of it. Why? Why don't we share these feelings? If I share my real feelings with friends, most of the time I hear, "Your nuts!" Not really what a girl wants to hear, ya know? Some how getting older has snuck up on me. I have never been afraid of getting older. Gosh, I am 44, and you know what? I love being 44. I really do. I just don't want to look like I am 44! Now see my problem? Do you have it also?
We say we are happy at our age, but yet there is something different. Something we cannot explain. We can be out and see a younger group of women and think, "Wow, they look so great", all the while looking at ourselves and wondering, "Um, what happened and when did it happen?" Was I not paying attention along the way?
I remember being young and being able to eat a whole pizza without a thought. Now, that thought will just add a pound or two. Somewhere along the way, we can no longer eat the way we once did. As we watch the morsels of those tiny chocolates go down we too can see where they are ending up. You got it, right on our end!
I must be honest and tell you, my husband makes me feel beautiful. He tells me how beautiful I am and I am so blessed by him. My problem is, somewhere along the way, I have stopped believing it. We begin looking at ourselves differently. We see younger versions of ourselves and yes, lets be honest. We compare ourselves to others all the time. We see a woman with a beautiful color of red hair and we get a niche to try it. We do and then, yes, those tears begin to fall. We see that adorable short haircut in a magazine and just know it is a must have. Sure, I must have been crazy to think it would look great on me!
Why do we torture ourselves? Really, ladies, we do this to ourselves. I know I am a child of God. I am created in His image. I am created in awe and wonder. I know all that, but yet, I don't see it. Are you with me? I find it so hard to look into the mirror and see beauty. I see age spots and wrinkles that were not there last year. So, why can't we just be happy with who we are? Why do we have to try to fit the idea of what society creates as beauty?
We see the glamor of Hollywood stars walking the red carpet in their glorious gowns and tiny bags. We see how they appear to all be a size two. Something unimaginable to us. Maybe that is my whole problem. I was that size two. Maybe I do have a problem with getting older and I have just been fooling myself. How about you? Do you easily see your beauty or is it a struggle? This world tells us how we should all be one way and somehow it really does get into our head. We begin believing this. We begin believing we are not good enough. When we feel not good enough we then begin to hide out. We stop going out. We stop doing the things that at one time brought such joy.
Well, most of us do not have our own personal trainer. Most of us do not have make up artists to air brush us for four hours before we begin our day. Did you know that many if not most women in Hollywood all wear extensions in their hair? Ever wonder how you see an actress one week with a short cut and a month later her hair has magically grown to her waist? Goodness, can we not see that this is not real? Why do we fall into this trap?
One of the worst places to go to is the mall. Well, lets exclude the purse section from that. LOL We see manikins wearing the latest styles and we think, "Wow, this is adorable", only to go try it on and it looks ridiculous! Why not have manikins that reflect real women? The women who have had five children and are moving crazily through the house daily, trying to create a science project, feed the baby and cook dinner all at the same time. The women who work so hard to make ends meet each week to put food on the table for their children. The women who want to be the best they can be, but put everyone ahead of themselves.
Take a look at the next commercial you see. Want to hide those fine lines? Want to take care of that extra skin along your chin? We all see the latest creams, but who do they show in these commercials? Women who are 18-20! They have no wrinkles and they do not have extra skin. Please! Why do we fall into these traps? Because we all want to be beautiful, but our image of beauty has been tainted.
Beauty isn't that brush stroked girl on the glamor magazine. She is that woman serving in the soup kitchen. She is the women sitting next to her dying mother. She is that woman praying over her husband. She is that woman that gave a kidney to her grandchild. She is that woman who struggles daily in the mess around her. She is the woman facing tests and trails before her reaching for God. She is the woman who sings her child to sleep and wraps her arms around her husband. We are looking in the wrong places for beauty. Beauty is beneath the skin. Beauty begins in the heart. We could be all painted up for the ball and have ugly in our heart. What is more important?
I recently watched the Miss USA pageant. I really wanted to vomit. If you love and enjoy these programs, I am sorry, but I think they send the wrong message to young girls. I remember watching these shows when I was a little girl. I remember gliding back to my room in my long summer night gown with my robe wrapped around me, pretending it was a long flowing gown. I looked at these women in awe. Somehow these shows rob us of what real beauty is as they parade down the run way in a slinky bikini, all wanting world peace. I just think we portray beauty in the wrong way and it distorts our image of what real is. Who are these people to sit in the front row and judge who is the winner, runner up and third place? Is the woman in third place really less of a woman that the woman wearing the crown?
We allow our daughters to hear us say, "Gosh, I am so fat", "I feel so ugly today", "This dress makes my hips look too big". What we are doing is causing our very daughters, those daughters we know to be filled with beauty, to begin judging themselves in the same manner that we are.
Instead of dieting, why not eat healthy? Instead of trying to lose ten pounds, why not begin an exercise journey into healthy living? We complain and complain about how we look or feel, but yet we fall into the same old traps over and over again. We don't have to be a size two. We should be striving to be the best we can be. Our body is the temple for the Holy Spirit. We are to care for ourselves. We are to treat our body with care and love. After all, it's the only one we will ever have.
We need to be motivated to cheer one another on. As women we all have the same fears. We just might experience them at different times. We are all on a different journey and path in life. I want to get to that point where I can see the beauty God created in me. I want to strive to be healthy. Not to be a size two, but so that I feel the best I can and am filled with energy because I have been eating healthy.
Each wrinkle brings with it a little more wisdom. Each laugh line means you have learned to smile a little brighter. Each gray hair means you have passed another trial with grace. Every little sun spot shows you enjoyed the outdoors. Each and every scar your body carries tells a story worth hearing. May we learn to love each and every change that comes.
It's so easy to look at other women and see beauty. Why not begin to see it within ourselves? Each moment we spend devaluing ourselves is a moment we have wasted in vain. We are women who carry value. Our presence on this earth has purpose and meaning. Spending too much time worrying if we look good enough is only keeping us from receiving the real treasure of living life to the fullest.
"The beauty of a woman
isn't in the clothes she wears,
The figure that she carries,
or the way she combs her hair.
The beauty of a woman
must be seen from in her eyes;
Because that's the doorway to her heart,
the place where love resides.
The beauty of a woman
isn't in a facial mole;
But true beauty in a woman,
is reflected by her soul.
It's the caring that she cares to give,
the passion that she shows;
And the beauty of a woman
with passing years only grows." Audrey Hepburn
"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched--they must be felt with the heart" Helen Keller
Ladies, may we learn to pass by the mirror in awe of God's creation in us. May we choose to see His glory and not our own false image of what we have been tricked to believe beauty to be. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and ladies, what a Beholder we have, who created us to shine before all creation for Him. May we stand a little taller and walk in grace, holding not to the past, but embracing today. If we embrace who we are our daughters will grow to know the real beauty of a woman and not a fake image this world has created. If we learn to truly love ourselves we will stop looking for acceptance in others. Lets stop comparing our self image to others. Lets cheer one another on as we all journey to growing older in grace.
Instead of looking at the younger crowd and missing those days, might we be the women cheering them on and being examples of how to grow in beauty and grace. We can look back to our twenties and think, "Yes, that was me then", and look to ourselves in our forties and say, "This is me now." Might each year we become a little closer to that woman God created us to be. If we can grow in Christ as each year passes our real beauty will only shine even more brilliant than before!
I simply love the story of, Martha and Mary. Diana, brings their story to life through these pages. She takes us back to their heritage, their loves and losses. With her attention to detail, she makes us feel as though we are walking with Martha through her daily life. In reading, "Martha", it only brings me to uncover more of her story through reading God's Word.
This story is an easy read. The words throughout this book are some how soothing. Maybe because, Martha, is so well related to and too, because of Diana's writing style. This is one you will enjoy if you love history and want a better glimpse at the life of Martha.
This book was a gift of Revell for it's review.
Diana Wallis Taylor is a speaker for Stonecroft Ministries and is currently working toward her MA in biblical studies at Bethel Seminary. She is the author of Journey to the Well, has published many articles, and has contributed stories to several books. Taylor lives in California. Find out more at http://www.dianawallistaylor.com./
Saturday, June 25, 2011
Perri comes from a wealthy family. She has everything, where as, Dobbs, has very little in material wealth, but a vast supply of wisdom and heart. Their lives totally turn upside down. We see these precious girls go through loss, trial, separation, and most of all growth.
We see just how powerful God is through their lives. I just loved, Dobbs. This humble girl, has a passion for the Lord and wants to see everyone come to know Him. This is that girl that is wild about Jesus and ready to stand and shout the truth. The problem is, not everyone is ready for Dobbs.
Perri, is a sweet heart. She has had the life of privilege, but even wealth cannot keep tragedy from touching her life. Perri, finds what is really important. Friendship, love, romance, suspense, hope and faith. Through reading this story you will find out what the sweetest thing really is.
Brilliant, poignant, and sweet. This book makes you look deep into your own heart at where your treasure is. These girls have what it takes to change the world around them. This is a journey I promise you will love and treasure. This would be one of those of books to share with your daughter. I feel so blessed to have held these pages within my hands. Every character has a story to tell and Musser brings them to life. Musser, has that gift. That special gift to bring you to the heart of each character. Through them you are able to see deeper into your own heart.
This book was a gift from Bethany House for it's review.
Friday, June 24, 2011
I claim to be eclectic because I have dabbled in many creative adventures. I love decorating, graphic design, painting, creating art…anything that stirs my creativity and gives me the opportunity to express what I love.
(Robin) I would love for you to share your testimony
(Peggy) I can truly say that I have been blessed. From the time I was born I was shown the love of Jesus and was encouraged to develop a love for Him. Although, it wasn’t until I turned 14 that I saw the truth of my sin and realized I needed a personal relationship with Him. My Dad had just retired from the Air Force. He took a position as music director/associate pastor at Providence Baptist church in Opelika, AL,—a huge change for me and my 4 brothers but a good one.
The church had a dynamic youth group and it was because of the love and grace of the young people that I realized I was missing something. Every Monday night we had Bible study and the young people would lay out on the floor before God in prayer. The Holy Spirit was so powerful as they honestly poured out their hearts to Him. It was during one of these prayer times that I realized I wanted what they had. My dad was there, he asked me what was wrong and I shared with him what I was feeling. During that time he lead me to Christ. It was soon after that God began to open the doors for me to minister in song and I began my journey in ministry. My testimony is not finished God has and continues to work in and through me. I have had my share of ups and downs and even times of darkness but God has always been actively working in my life. He has never failed me!!! His grace continues to redeem me and His love continues to embrace me.
(Robin) In your journey as a woman what has been the most challenging?
(Peggy) The biggest challenge for me has been overcoming the inner struggle with self—accepting who I am weaknesses and strengths, and battling the negative thoughts about self. This challenge affected who I was as a wife, a mother, and a woman of God. It is a struggle that many women deal with and it can be very crippling. It put me in a pit of depression. I thank God for His healing both emotionally and spiritually. Through God I have learned how to overcome this through taking action and replacing satan’s lies with the powerful promises of God’s Word. “and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:32 It has been a major challenge but I am thankful that because of my struggle I am able to encourage others and help them find freedom is this area.
(Robin) What has been the most challenging aspect of being a mother and the most rewarding?
(Peggy) WOW! I love being a mother. I can’t really say that I’ve ever thought of it as being a challenge just a part of the journey. I guess the biggest lesson was in letting go…to not hold to tight…realizing I can’t always fix things, I can’t always control the circumstances, and I can’t always control the outcome. But, I can trust, pray, and believe that God is working in their lives and HE HAS THEM! He loves them more then I do and knows what’s best for them.
The greatest reward in parenting besides getting to love and cuddle them when they were young is watching them discover who they are in Christ. It is getting to see them develop in to strong young Christian adults and begin to lay a foundation for their own marriages and families.
(Robin) I believe a mistake is only a mistake is we cannot walk away with a greater wisdom. Has there been a time in your life where struggle occurred from a poor decision and if so, how did you overcome?
(Peggy) LOL! I might be the Queen of mistakes. Honestly, I have made my share of mistake and still do. They are the day-to-day battles of reacting instead of being proactive in doing the right thing. I am also hard on myself so probably one of the biggest lessons is to NOT to punish myself but instead to pull my big girl panties up, learn from the mistake and move on. This is not an automatic response for me so I have to work at it.
Sadly to say, one of the most haunting mistakes I’ve ever made was about 20 years ago. I was making a trip south to visit my mom who was recovering from surgery. I was resisted the trip….just did not want to go. I felt like my life was being interrupted…selfish at best. Anyway, as I was in the car making my way south, God kept prompting me to stop by and visit my youngest brother and I didn’t. Later that week He died of an aneurysm. I missed out on seeing my brother for the last time because I resisted what God was trying to do. Only God knew the significance of that trip and that being with my Mom at that time would be the perfect place for what was to happen.
That was a huge turning point in my life—to stop resisting his leading and to start trusting His voice. To trust that inner voice—the voice of the Holy Spirit. To trust that God knows the bigger picture…He knows what tomorrow holds. I still don’t always get it right but it is the foundation for my ministry of Embracing Life. Embrace the now…trust that God is working for our good. Trust that His ways are higher. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9
(Robin) How do you define success?
(Peggy) There are so many great definitions for success and at the same time there can be a negative stigma attached to the word. I define success as embracing the journey of becoming and fulfilling all God has created for you to be and to do. “Success is discovered in the journey not at the point of destination.” I think we confuse success as arriving at a certain place in life. Yet, when I have a successful day it is because I have embraced where I am at this point in life. I have embraced the good things and the bad. I have made the best of what God has given me. One of the greatest examples of this is the Apostle Paul and when He was in prison. He didn’t let his circumstances define him instead He made the best of it and used His time to write most of the New Testament. To me that is success. When you can make the most of where you are with what God has given you.
(Robin) Looking back, what advice would you give to yourself at the age of eighteen to prepare you for life ahead?
(Robin) With a new year beginning, what do you hope to accomplish this year?
(Robin) What encouraging words would you give to someone encountering loss?
(Robin) My pastor says, "If the Lord has done something for you the least you can do is say so." Dear friend, what is the Lord doing in your life?
(Peggy) To truly BELIEVE! It is our lack of belief that often keeps us from enjoying the promises of God. Rick Warren says, “The greatest tragedy this year would be for you to stand at the edge of your destiny, but to be afraid to enter into all that God has planned for you.” He said this in reference to the passage of scripture, “We see, then, that they were not able to enter the land, because they did not believe.” Hebrews 3:19 (TEV) Miracle after miracle God took care of the Israelites needs and prepared the way for them to enter the Promised Land and yet at the most crucial time…the time of receiving they still did not believe. They missed out on the blessing of enjoying the Promise Land.
I don’t want to miss out on God’s blessings—His promises because I don’t believe—because I don’t believe I can do it…that God can do it. I don’t want fear or anything else to get in the way. I want to BELIEVE!
(Robin) What empowering advice would you give to someone facing adversity?
Be clear about what you are called to do.
Be confident that through the power of the Holy Spirit you can do it.
Be consistent and stick with it.
(Robin) In your legacy what do you hope to leave behind?
Peggy, thank you for stopping by the Nest. You have blessed me and set before me new challenges to live without doubt. To trust and just embrace all God has for me. I don't want to miss out any longer. I want to stand before Him one day knowing I have received all He prepared for me. Blessings to you sweet friend.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
"And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19
I have written about our struggles over the last two years. There have been many, as many of you can fully understand, being there yourselves. I think that is the whole thing, you can't really understand unless you have been there.
"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." James 1:2-3
My husband worked a few little jobs here and there working with friends. Then he became a meat cutter at our local grocery store. When a fifty year old man works for minimum wage, a wage that he has never worked for in his life, you know you have a keeper. He too was let go of this job. Turns out, you can give a job to a family friend and just ignore the job of another. Working in this little grocery store was amazing for my husband and me. First of all, we were humbled beyond words. Secondly, you learn you are not the only one struggling. You see others come in and line up with their food stamp card in hand. You see families purchasing only the necessary items to get by with. You see family after family struggle to just survive on a wage that doesn't pay the bills.
"Set your minds on things above, not on things on the earth." Colossians 3:2
As my husband worked at this little store, he began having deep conversations with those he worked with. They would share their own struggles. He met quite a few Christians, who like him, were trusting in the God of hope. He worked with women who were trying to put food on the table with working less than twenty hours a week. My husband began to have more compassion and grace for others.
"Be diligent to present yourselves approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." 2 Timothy 2:15
When you are struggling you often feel like no one cares and no one understands. It's not easy for a man of fifty to go out and find another job. You get those who say, "Your over qualified". Which really means, "Your too old." After a while I saw the light beginning to go out in my husband's eyes. He didn't have a support group surrounding him. He did have me and our son, cheering him on all the way. Men, just don't seem to reach out to other men. I can tell you, this has been a very lonely time for my husband. He began to feel less of a man. Men define themselves much different than women. When a man is out of work, his soul is deeply wounded.
"Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2
During these two years or so, almost three, I sat and helped my husband fill out application after application. One day while I was searching on the Internet, I came across a company hiring. A company, neither of us had ever heard of before. Later, after my husband was busy, I filled out an application for this company. It is this very company that my husband will begin working for this Saturday. Can you believe it? God is always at work! I had no idea, but God sure did. I believe He directed me to that company and He too, directed that company to my husband. The owner of the company, my husband's boss, asked him to lunch today. I can tell you, that has never happened to my husband before. This man said, "I would like to take you out to lunch and meet you. Everyone just keeps talking about what kind of man you are." This blew my husband away.
"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
As my husband told them, he knew he couldn't find a job because of his age, they replied, "We want older, more mature people working for us. We can depend on them." Finally, after all this time, my husband will be working in an environment where people respect him and make him feel as though he is valued.
"Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him." 1 John 3:1
Don't we all want to feel valued? So many times we just feel like giving up. We feel like throwing in the towel. Friends, the story isn't over yet. There is more to our story than yesterday. We have a God who sees up ahead and sees exactly what we need. I think during these two years my husband has become a better man. The man God is creating him to be. He has learned to let go of that pride that often holds us back. My husband is a quiet man. He doesn't like to open himself up to others very easily. I think there is a fountain there that will erupt.
"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." Ephesians 2:8-9
I respect my husband in such great ways. I am proud to stand beside him. As women we find it easier to share and bond with other women. It's a bit easier to open up and let it all pour out with those we trust. My husband is from that generation where you don't show emotion and you sure don't share your hurts and frustrations. You just deal with them. Can you too relate? Men have to get over that pride thing and let go of trying to be the tough one. That is a no win situation. I have seen anger come from holding it all in and a river of doubt flow from the depths of a man not allowed to show pain.
"Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others." Philippians 2:3-4
As women, as wives, we need to be there for our husbands in the same way we want them there for us. We are to cheer them on. Lift them up and encourage them in every way. In other words, our husbands need us as much as we need them. We must learn each others love language and learn to communicate with one another in ways we can understand.
"And now abide in faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13:13
In praying for my husband, I didn't just pray for God to give him a job. I prayed that he would grow and become the man God is calling him to be. I prayed for God to fill him with strength and allow him to understand his worth is not in what he does, but in who he is in Christ. I prayed God would fill him with joy and open his heart, creating in him a new creature, who would see all God has for him. I prayed our marriage would strengthen and I would have a better understanding of who my husband is.
"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." Philippians 4:6-7
I have learned so much through this time of struggle. Our struggle isn't over by a long shot. More struggles will come, but as they do, we have learned to rely upon God. Trust in Him and believe all things are possible. He met each and every need that came. We never went hungry and we never lost a thing. God not only provided for us, but He protected us. He covered us in His grace.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6
Those struggles that do come, we now know, no matter what is ahead, we can not only make it, but overcome each one with Christ. As long as we keep our eyes upon Him, there is nothing that can hold us back. When doubt creeps in, I remind myself that Christ is no longer on the cross. He overcame death for me.
"Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth!" Psalm 46:10
Life is not in how much money we make, what kind of car we drive, where we shop or how big our home is. Life is not about material gain. Life is so much more. It's about love and hope. It's being content in all things and finding God in all things. I have found Him in places I never imagined. On those days we wanted to give up, God gave us strength and courage. You learn to accept those things, those situations you cannot change, and you turn to God for motivation to keep smiling and choose to see goodness. Every moment is a choice. Our attitude, that outward flow of emotion comes from deep within. We gotta do some soul searching and let go of all those things holding us back before we can truly find joy.
"Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say, rejoice!" Philippians 4:4
There is a truth in joy. Joy is abundant when we let go and let God. Going through all our family has seen has only made us stronger. We have got to see God in motion. If we place our self worth on things we can acquire in this world we will never find real joy. We seem to place our self worth on what others think and say about us. Friends, we gotta let that go. It doesn't matter what another says about you. At the end of our life, it will not be those we go to church with, those friends we grew up with, nor will it be our co-workers standing before us. We will see Christ Jesus face to face. In the end, it is what He thinks of us that matters. Many times others only see what they want to see.
"You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. These things I command you, that you love one another." John 15:16-17
No matter your struggle, you have a God who has known of your past, sees who you are today and knows what He has for you tomorrow. Get this, He still loves you! Don't define who you are by the struggle before you. Each day we face situations. Some created by us, some created by others. Some we can work out and some we can't fix. Believe and trust in the God who through each situation creates opportunities for greatness. We must be bold in our faith! Step out of that comfort zone. Move out of that box. Get way out of your circle and then, you will see just how big God really is! Don't miss out on today, because your in fear of tomorrow. He will open doors for you that would have never been possible if not for the struggle that led you there.
"But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint." Isaiah 40:31
We are a work in progress. That progress in our walk takes time. Don't look at it like a sprint, but as a journey. Friends, our journey isn't over until He calls us home. In the meantime, there is much to do and do much we must. God can't do His thing through us unless we are willing vessels. That means letting go of self and surrendering to Him.
"And not only that, but we also glory in our 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." Romans 5:3-5
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Remember as a kid, you would come home from school and want that sweet snack, only to hear your mom say, "You will spoil your appetite. We will have cake after dinner. Just wait a bit." Oh, that cake looks so so good and as it sits in front of you all you can think about is digging into a piece of that delicious chocolate cake, trimmed in rich icing.
For instance, after my husband was laid off from his job we prayed and prayed. We waited to hear something. Anything. He heard a lot of no's. Heard a lot of, your over-qualified's, but not a lot of the yes's we were hoping for. In that time my husband began praying deeper. Asking questions of God. Questions only He could answer. He began to feel less of a man. He was falling into a depression. He didn't have the support around him that he needed. Men, it is so important to reach to one another. Enough of the tough stuff. Hugs, talks and praying is not just for women. Can I hear a witness? He did get a few little jobs here and there. Jobs that provided for us. There was no room for wants, but all of our needs were covered. Don't you love how God does that? It was during that time that we were humbled beyond words. He did a work in my family that couldn't have occurred otherwise.
Yesterday he finally was hired at a job that I know he will be thrilled at. After all that waiting, God opened the door He wanted my husband to go through. My husband heard a lot of no's, but God opened the doors to the yes's He wanted my husband to accept.
"Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!" Psalm 27:14
We are called to wait. Sometimes in that waiting period we have the time to check ourselves. God opens other doors while we are waiting for that one we have been praying for to open. Sometimes He has other plans for us altogether, but if we hadn't had a waiting period, we wouldn't have been prepared to see what God has before us. Sometimes what doesn't seem to make sense right now, will later make perfect sense down the road once we see the full view.
"Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!" Psalm 46:10
It is so hard to be still. It's like a child sitting in church waiting to go home and play with their new toy. They wiggle and swing there legs all through church in thought of going home. We do that same thing. It's easy to tell another to be still, but if something is itching, you just gotta scratch it! We can get so focused on what we want that we lose all sight of what God wants for us.
In being still, in waiting, God teaches us. He molds us. He creates something of beauty in us that needed time to develop and bloom. What are you waiting on today? Is it a prayer you have prayed for years? Don't give up. Keep praying. There is no prayer that goes unanswered. Every prayer is heard and God is working on each one. Sometimes that work only takes a bit. Sometimes it takes longer. Hearts have to be changed. Eyes have to be opened and minds must be accepting. When God is at work, nothing goes untouched by His handy work. He leaves nothing to chance. Everything has purpose.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6
Monday, June 20, 2011
Have you ever picked up a study that asked many questions, but didn't really give the answers? Krista Dunk has put together this study that not only asks questions, but dives into each and every answer. I walked away from reading this book inspired and encouraged to step out in faith. So much fear has been holding me back. It's as though, Krista, is in your corner cheering you on throughout this entire book.
There is also a workbook that goes with this study. I can only imagine how awesome it is. I have never had a book that I have underlined so much in. Really, it's that good. Why is it good? This book deals with our gifts, our intimate relationship with Christ and reaching for ALL He has for us. We all have gifts. We just have to uncover them, which takes time. So, we gotta throw out all that stuff we are wasting time with and dig in, dive in to God's Word. Without Him we will never be all He has created us to be. With Him? The possibilities are unlimited!! Think about that. We have an unlimited pass for greatness to bring glory and honor to God. The God of creation. The God who created us. The God who gave us a creative mind! Yes, I learned all that by reading, "Step Out And Take Your Place".
Krista, shares a message, brings scripture to the forefront of this study, adds a prayer, has questions and my favorite part of all, affirmations. The affirmations section brings together everything in the chapter, giving you encouragement through God's promises to us. We are qualified in Christ Jesus!
Krista, also shares, "The Gift Discovery Cycle". Who knew? Through reading this chapter I have realized just where I am and know what I can work on to move forward in God's plan for my life. We begin with Frustration, Desire, Seeking, Awareness, Development, Renew, Share, Give Back, Maintenance and back to Frustration. We are forever going through this process. We are a work in progress.
I love how, Krista, shares stories of those she knows and helps us to realize, we are not alone. Her illustrations are brilliant. One powerful section for me was entitled, "Pressure to Conform or Expectations of Others".
1. Am I conforming to the expectations of others, rather than to God's will?
2. Does the image that others have of me match who God sees me as?
3. Will I bow to the pressures with what God has for me>
4. Am I strong enough to throw off unhealthy expectations that others try to put on me?
5. Can I say "No" to things I should not be doing?
These were powerful questions for me. I struggle in this area. Krista gives us key points to ponder over and lays every issue down for us to grow in or find the strength to let go of. This book is super-awesome! If your looking for that study that helps you identify who you are, your gifts and how to use them, this study is for you my friends. Krista is clearly teaching us to follow God's will, nothing more and nothing less.
This book was a gift from Krista Dunk for it's review.
Find more about Krista and her work check out this link:
I too have had the amazing pleasure of interviewing Krista. Check out our chat together by clicking on this link provided: http://robinsnest66.blogspot.com/2011/05/lets-chat-friday-with-krista-dunk.html
Wow, powerful isn't it? What do we build our foundations on? This world would like to make us think it's all about how successful we are in the world. We can build our foundations on selfishness. We can pretty much build upon anything, but the question is, "Is it lasting?" Anything not built upon the Word of God will soon fall. There is no foundation that is lasting, but the foundation of God.
It's like building a house of cards. We can place card after card, but one shake, one wrong move and wham! They all fall upon one another. Your left picking up the cards only to begin again. We take two and stack them. We hold our breath so we are not shaky. If we are not shaky, someone else is going to come along that is. It doesn't take much for that house of cards to fall.
Unless we are right with the Lord, nothing else can be. If we are not living in the Word and acting out our faith, how can we build meaningful relationships with others? If we are not where we are to be in Him, everything else around us will become shaky, too. Our co-workers can look to us to see if we are really who we say we are. Too many times they see a side of us that is not in line with God's Word. Our friends too can see us trying to be someone we are not. Our family? Wow, the most important relationships we have and what happens? We get off track with God and soon enough our family begins to feel the stress of that foundation slipping.
Like an earthquake, you can hear it coming before the ground gives way. You hear the rolling. Glass begins to shatter. Trinkets begin to fall, all before the ground cracks wide open. Why can't we see this? In our lives we see that things are not right. In fact, we always want to be right. Ever think about that? We hate to admit when we are wrong. That pride is an ugly thing.
Think of that crack in your window of your car. Oh, it begins with a little, "Ting" from a rock. It starts out small. You think, "It won't be anything of concern." Until you come out to get in your car a few days later and you see a crack beginning to form. Unless you get that windshield to the glass doctor, that crack is only going to grow. It will get bigger and stretch until it has covered your glass and you can no longer see clearly. You must look around it, under it or over it, but however you look, it is still in your view.
"If our minds and hearts area not filled with God's truth, something else will take His place; cynicism, occultism, false religions, philosophies, drugs--the list is endless." Billy Graham
Simply put, if our hearts and minds are not right with God something else will fill that space. When we are right with God we feel His compassion. We live in His truth. We act out our faith. We reach out in love. We forgive easily. We don't keep an account of others actions. We feel His conviction and see our own stumbles before we see another's. We are accountable for our actions and are humble before others.
We can get so caught up in self that we forget the will of God has nothing to do with self, but our willingness in allowing God to shine forth in all we do.
"No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." Matthew 7:24-25
Sometimes we must stand alone. Everyone isn't going to want to stand in the Word of God with us. We can lose family and friends when we walk in our faith. We must remember, it isn't us they are rejecting, but the very God we serve. Think about it, if we are really living out our faith, those around us will feel comfort, but they will also feel conviction. We are not here to fit in, but to make a difference. We are to stand out and stand apart from the way the world thinks. Can our neighbors see that we are different when outdoors in our very yards? Do our co-workers see there is something very real and different about us as we work next to them daily? Does our family notice our hearts and minds are in tune with Christ and not how this world thinks? In the world it's, "Me,Me, Me!" It's about how, "I feel".
Our feelings change moment by moment. Basically according to how things are working for us. If things are going great, well, it's time to smile. If things are not so good, it's time to throw ourselves a pity party. The thing is, usually we are the only people who want to attend this party. We must not live by our emotions. We must be grounded in our faith. Knowing that whatever kind of day we are having God is at the center. If He is at the center, well then, we trust Him and we find joy in everything that touches our life.
"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." Matthew 6:33
The world around you might be mighty shaky. Struggles and trials might be around every turn, but friends, if you are finding God first, and seeking all that He is, you are going to find yourself covered in His grace and strength. You will remain focused on Him and not your circumstances. Don't limit God by our vision.
"These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." John 16:33
If I am honest with you I can share that the relationship with my children is on shaky ground. After two years of my husband being laid off from work our home life has been shaky too. My health has it's ups and downs. Life sometimes stinks. We just sit back and shake our heads. We just simply can't understand why stuff keeps happening. Friends, that is for us to take a deeper look into our walk with Christ. He may very well be teaching us something valuable about the next step in our walk. Sometimes things happen because of our choices and sometimes it is very well because of others. The key is finding the solution to peace. The only way to peace is through our Savior. It's surrendering all to Him.
Although it breaks my heart to not be right with my daughters right now, I have faith in God. I know He will make it right. As I write this post today, my husband, has found an awesome job. Never give up hope my friends. Never. God will bring you through. He will give you all you need not only to overcome, but to soar above. My health? Well, that is still in question, but I can tell you today I feel wonderful. We can't live in yesterday. We can't struggle in today and we sure can't assume what tomorrow will bring. We must learn to live moment to moment as if it is our last moment to live. Allow God to give us a different view. I promise, if you give Him a chance, He will remove all doubt and show you to live a life of hope.
"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." Galatians 2:20
Lisa Harper engages us with Jesus in her newest study, Untamed. She uses stories to bring our interests alive and detail to bring us a sharper image of Christ. The real image found in His Word. Lisa uses scripture to help us begin a new journey. One filled with hope and freedom, only found in Christ Jesus.
I really enjoyed this study. It is a great study to do alone or for a small group. I would love to do this study in Sunday School. Lisa, will make you laugh, tears will come and you will ponder your relationship with Christ. Sure, we believe, but are we living out our faith untamed? It's time we get Christ out of that box we place Him in and open our eyes to all He has done, is doing, and will do. He just needs us to open our hearts and see Him for who He really is. The One who came and gave His life for us. That's pretty untamed to me. Living wildly for Christ is what it's all about.
I learned to surrender my anxiety and all my brokenness to find a real joy, a lasting joy, only found if I am willing to live an untamed life for Christ!
This book was a gift from Zondervan for it's review.
Saturday, June 18, 2011
I didn't know if my Fibromyalgia was attacking or if it was my Thyroid once again. Since I don't have a Thyroid I have to take meds. Somehow my body still gets out of whack. It can go high or low. When it goes low, watch out, because the pain throughout my body is severe.
I kept thinking, "Well, it's the Fibro, and it will get better." It didn't. Instead it was getting worse. When you are in so much pain, you begin to think, "Gosh, is this really it?" So in bed I stayed. You know if this girl misses a softball game I must be in pain. VBS was coming up and I knew I just had to get better. So, I rested and rested. When nothing was changing I got myself into the doctor. Isn't it fun waiting for all those test results? Goodness. My doctor looks at me and says, "You are just a mess!" Not only was my Fibro acting up, but my Asthma was just terrible. He asked me, "Don't you know how bad you are wheezing?" I simply told him, |"Nope, maybe I am just use to it." Came home that day with two new inhalers.
I am feeling much better. At least I was until after a day out with my hubs yesterday put me right back in bed. I heard from the doctor last night and sure enough, my Thyroid is extremely low and everything is out of whack because of it. It's it just amazing how your body is affected by one little, butterfly shaped organ? Or lack of one? I am astonished at our human body and just how intricately designed we are.
So, after being on my new meds for a while I should be back to normal. If there really is a normal. You learn to just take one day at a time and enjoy each minute you have. Maybe all this chronic stuff is a blessing. It has caused me to slow down, to eat better, and to care for myself on a deeper level. I am more in tune with my body, which causing me to praise the Lord each day I wake pain free. When that pain is there I find myself calling to Him even more. I can honestly say, "This chronic pain I live with has brought me closer to my Lord and Savior."
Oh sure, at first I was angry. I didn't understand why I had to suffer through such pain. Why me? But then I learned, "Why not me?" Would it be easier if it were someone else suffering? You too can find yourself feeling lonely, because most do not understand. You look fine, therefore you are fine. Most think your just a wimp and many do not even care at all. I am blessed with an amazing husband and son who see my pain and know just how real it is. When I cannot care for myself it is my family that is at my side. I had to learn to embrace this illness and all that affects me. I embrace it just like any other pain in my life, whether it is physical or emotional. It seems when I embrace it, I then can open my hands and give it to the Lord, entrusting Him with all. I have learned my weakness and know just when my body has had enough. There are those days you push through and those that you must rest and allow healing to come.
This for sure keeps you humble. I see the Lord as my strength more and more. I have learned to be honest with myself. It's okay to cry. For the longest time I tried to keep all my pain in. That was just breaking me. It was an added weight. When we can really let go we feel free. We feel lighter. In holding it all in just makes that elephant on your chest seem heavier.
Don't get me wrong. Chronic illness is not fun. There is nothing fun about it. I don't embrace it in that way. I embrace it in the way of it being a part of me. I am not defined by my pain, but it has brought me to a better understanding of who God has called me to be. It has been through my own pain that I have become even more compassionate to others. You want to encourage others, because you know that lonely feeling. You know what it feels like to just want someone to understand. Sometimes it is just that one person reaching out. Sending a text or giving you a call. It's receiving a card in the mail at just the right time.
I am reminded of Paul and the thorn he carried. He cried out to God three times. God never ignored, Paul. He loved Paul. As Paul cried out to God, He answered Him every time. Did He remove that thorn? No, but He gave Paul all he needed to overcome and rise above. He encouraged Paul and through Paul brought glory and honor. Paul didn't rely upon himself. He relied on the strength of God. As Paul cries out, Jesus tells him that His grace is sufficient. That same grace is given to me freely as a gift. It is that same strength that motivates me to embrace each day and live without regret.
"And He said unto me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
"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. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy-meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you." Philippians 4:6-9
I can tell you, I made it to VBS. I missed one night because I just couldn't attempt to come. But those nights I did come were blessings upon blessings. To see the eyes of small ones light up can do nothing but make you smile. Their encouraging laughter is contagious and their inquisitive stories only make you giggle in joy. Friends, whatever you are facing today, make the choice to see the joy. Don't allow the pain or heartache to steal away what is right in your reaching. Reach for it. Accept those blessings with the hope that as morning breaks there are more to be found.
This book is filled with hundreds of quotes from, Billy Graham. For a girl who loves quotes, I knew this would be a book for me. There are quotes on every subject imaginable. Beautiful, poignant and moving. These pages are filled with not only wisdom, but deep faith, with an astounding vision for what this world needs. The gospel of Jesus Christ. You can clearly see, Christ Jesus, shine through these pages.
"Before one can know what is right and wrong, he must first align himself with God. Only then is one in a position to do right."
"Our relationship must be right with God before it can be right with man." Billy Graham
I absolutely love this book. It is one of those classics to pass down and I one I will be sure to keep close by. These words are not only soothing but, have the power to bring conviction. What an awesome gift for, Father's Day. A great gift for anyone.
This book was a gift from Thomas Nelson for it's review.