Thursday, December 31, 2009
1. Don't Waver On Your Faith - When David and I got married, I was VERY resistent to going to church. But David was patient and steadfast - he quietly followed my initial "one week on - one week off" rule regarding our church attendance, but continued his own growth with men's classes on the side. He encouraged me to pick up more responsibility at our church - even joining me in helping in the nursery and such. When I came time to find a new church closer to our home, he valued my opinions and insight on the various places we visited. We've had some spirited discussion on many "hot" topics: homosexuality, abortion, etc. - and his point of view has always been backed by Biblical teachings. He has never let society and their "rules" interfere with what he knows to be True from the Bible. One's faith is critical - you have to know WHAT you belief... and more importantly, you have to know WHY you believe it so you can explain it to others. David knows his stuff ... and he can share it with others so that they can understand too. God loves the pure-hearted and well-spoken; good leaders also delight in their friendship. - Proverbs 22:11 (Msg)
2. Know when to bend. You know how we had to put our beloved dog, Clifton, down last month? "THE PLAN" was to wait a year (or at least across a summer) before getting a new one. I was on board with THE PLAN... when we had an infirm dog already and taking a break seemed like a good idea.... but about 12 hours after having "no dog," I realized that I hated not having a dog in our house...!! And 36 hours later, I had found a new dog on the Columbus Cocker Rescue site! Needless to say, David was flabbergasted - he was not on this "NEW PLAN" of mine - but he came to realize how important getting a new dog was to me. He put his own wants and needs aside for me - gave up his plan and accepted the new plan... for me... because he loves me, and in this instance, he could be the bigger person and B E N D.
3. Leave the baggage behind. Everyone has baggage in their life... sometime small bags that are easily discarded and forgotten... but sometimes BIG baggage that sits in the foyer of your lives forever - unable to be emptied, recycled, trashed, or wiped from memory. But one's circumstances or past does NOT have to dictate your whole life - The past may have shaped who you are TODAY... but it does NOT have to dictate who you will be tomorrow. David refuses to let old family stuff impact our kids or our family. He steps up and protects our core family from the baggage that could infect another generation. It's not easy - and I so admire him for that!
4. Have fun with your family. ... And on the 7th day, God rested... David takes time to play with the family... We see movies, he wrestles with the kids, he coaches their sports teams, he co-leads the Scouts. He shows our kids all the time that they are important to him and that they matter. Sure, he's got work... and lots of it! But he's not ALL about work - and the kids know that THEY are more valuable to him than work.
5. Love your spouse. Proverbs 6:17-20 (Msg) reminds us to "never take love for granted." David brings me flowers... not just on a birthday or anniversary... but "just because." He once went out a 9:45PM (10 minutes before Best Buy would close) to buy me a security cable for my laptop before we left on vacation because he knew I really wanted (needed?!) one for our trip. He takes care of our cars (you have to change the oil??) - our home (what's a furnace filter?) - and our money (with help from Dave Ramsey). He's endured more than one craft show, the nightmarish rubber stamp convention, the garrish Rennassance Festival, and the American Girl Doll Store (and we don't even have a daughter!). This man SHOWS me over and over... daily... that he loves me and our family.
Thanks, Sweetie... for your everyday life lessons... ♥
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Now that our "interactive stuffed animal" (He looked like a giant Webkinz), is gone, there are so many lessons I can take from his life (the equivelent of a 91-year-old!). Here are five that stand out:
- Stop whining about the crummy stuff! - Buck up and deal with it...! About 5 years ago, Clifton went blind due to cataracts. That didn't stop him - he used his hearing and sniffer to get around. Then he lost his hearing. He was only able to smell and feel these last few years, but he still went outside... He still followed us around the house... He still explored new areas (moved furniture, a kennel). There was no whining - a dog can't complain all day long; he just deals with it. I wish humans were so adaptable. Jesus endured unspeakable pain before His death - nothing we go through will be as bad as that - so stop whining and buck up.
- Don't Hold Grudges...! Because Clifton was blind and deaf AND insisted on being "where the action was" (i.e. wherever we were in the house), he was under-foot most of the time. Quite often, we would trip over him when he unexpectedly darted under our feet, and I'm sad to say that he was inadvertantly kicked in the head a lot. *sigh* But we never heard a growl... a snarl... nothing. Clifton was as loving as always - every day. I've got two kids who whack each other the moment the first one makes a transgression against the other. I would love it if they were as forgiving as my ol', blind & deaf dog!
- It's the Simple Things In Life That Matter Most...! Clifton didn't need a fancy bed, or a fancy toy, or a bedazzled collar to be happy. He just wanted to be with us - snuggled on the couch watching TV... or gnawing on a piece of rawhide... or sandwiched in the bed between me and David. Above all, he wanted TIME with us... And TIME with your loved ones, is usually the best gift you can give them.
- It's Not Always About You...! When Clifton got "old," not only did he lose his sight and hearing, but he suffered periodic seizures, and he had warts all over his skin, and he had a few cancerous tumors removed. His stomach got tricky - and about twice a week, we'd come downstairs to find he'd tossed his cookies (usually on the carpet!), or had an accident (also on the carpet). It's easy to get angry when older beings fall apart - what was once strong and independent (and in a dog's case, trained!), is now weak, fragile, and messy. But real love is a choice - and we choose to give of ourselves to care for this dog (or this grandparent or this friend) no matter how messy it gets. Caring for Clifton may have gotten frustrating at times, but it's not always about ME... it's about making life better and easier for my friend.
- Love Unconditionally...! "A dog is the only thing on earth that will love you more than you love yourself." We are flawed, we screw up, but our dog loved us anyway. God is the same way - We make rediculous decisions every day, and God still gives us His unconditional love. Having a pet helps you love unconditionally and experience this back. We are blessed with 13 years of memories of our precious dog; he helped us become more loving people.
When God made the earth and sky, the flowers and the trees.
He then made all the snimals, the fish, the birds, and bees.
And when at last He'd finished, no one was quite the same.
He said, I'll walk this world of mine, and give each one a name."
And so He traveled far and wide and everywhere He went,
a little creature followed Him until it's strength was spent.
When all were named upon the earth and in the sky and sea,
the little creature said, "Dear Lord, there's not one left for me."
Kindly the Father said to him, "I've left you to the end.
I've turned my own name back to front called you "DOG," my friend.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
A lifetime of "STUFF" - divided, sold, donated, trashed. Most of the "STUFF" was meaningless. We kept a toy train that my kids asked for: one that always circled GG's Christmas tree. We took an old Machinist's Handbook - that belonged to David's grandpa - his version of a graphing calculator or laptop. A piece of furniture here - a keepsake there... but the majority of items now rest in someone else's home... to one day be a part of their garage sales.
Matthew 6:19-21 (NIV)
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
You can't help but smile when you see unbridled joy in a small child... and believe me, our smiles got MUCH WIDER, when Luke prayed Jesus into his heart last night. :) Take a look at the lyrics - they are just perfect for this occasion.
And the end of Lincoln Brewster's version (my personal favorite) a child says this:The Lord is the everlasting God,
The creator of all the Earth,
He never grows weak or weary,
No one can measure the depths of His understanding,
He gives power to the weak, and strength to the powerless,
Even youth will become weak and tired,
And young men will fall in exhaustion,
But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength,
They will soar high on wings like eagles,
They will run and not grow weary,
They will walk and not faint,
Why is it that sometimes, it's the children who just GET IT?
Why would you pledge your love, your fealty, your devotion, to anyone other than He who is everlasting... He who is strong... He who gives power to the weak, and strength to the powerless, He who never tires... never faints... never fails...???
Revelation 22:13 says, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. (NIV)" God is everlasting - and ever eager to fill our hearts with His Word. Have you opened your heart and invited Him to come into your life yet?
And if not... What are you waiting for???
My favorite version is by Lincoln Brewster, but others sing it too.
Hear it here on Last.FM.
Friday, September 18, 2009
There is a type of "glue" in every human body that serves as the body's "cell-adhesion molecules;" it literally holds all of the cells in your body together. Without it, you would fall apart... for real. This glue is called Laminin - and it is miraculous.
It is miraculous because it is a physical marker WITHIN your body that speakes to Colossians 1:17 which says, "He is before all things, and in him all things hold together."
And the SHAPE of this miracle glue looks like this....
The shape of the GLUE that holds each person together is in the shape of the cross of Jesus Christ. Literally, in our bodies, Christ is holding us together.
So when you feel lost or lonely, bereft or broken, take comfort that God is literally with you within every molecule of your being. You are not alone.
I hope you have a few minutes to be inspired by his message!!
Thursday, September 17, 2009
I'm ashamed because I know there are hundreds of people who would LOVE to hear some little child call them "Mom." And because I know that God has blessed with the two perfect boys for us - and I love them dearly.
But the fact remains that having small children means that I hear
M O M . . . .
about 100 times a day. Kids that yell M O M?!?!? from the basement (when I'm on the 2nd floor)...
or wail MOMMMMMMMMM when they are ready to tattle on the sibling...
or repeat "MAAAH-M!" just in case I didn't hear them the first 3 times.
It can get very tiring... quickly!! And it's tempting to say, "STOP CALLING MY NAME!" or some equivelent, for sure.... Because the whining/tattling/nagging, and such gets OLD swiftly. Sometimes, when I least expect it... when I'm on my last nerve... my little one will say, "MOM!" for what seems like the millionth time, and I'll probably either say?/sigh?/shout?/growl?/snarl? "W H A T!!" and in return, the little voice will smile, "I LOVE YOU....." :) And I'll be warmed by these words (and properly chagrinned by my snarky response), and I'll remember what a blessing my children are - even in their most trying of moments.
And, I am humbled when I think of how "childlike" I AM when I call God's name. I'm sure He would be ever so pleased to hear me call out, "God...! I love you!" on a regular basis. But, I'm equally as sure that he more often hears me sigh / shout / growl / snarl / scream,
Fortunately, there is this verse from the Bible:
People were also bringing babies to Jesus to have him touch them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." Luke 18:15-17 (NIV)
I know...! I know...! That's NOT what He meant!! :) He was talking about the honest and pure "childlike faith" - the children who come seeking Him with no hidden agenda. But often, that's what my kids are doing to me. They are looking to ME to be their caretaker, referree, savior, doctor, comforter... When they are hollering "Mom," it's because no one else can take MY place in their lives either. They need me - and I need to make sure that I can be counted on.
Because if one of our goals in life is to emmulate Jesus, to ask ourselves, "What WOULD Jesus Do?," then we need to answer the call. God is ALWAYS there when I call Him... Always. And I am so thankful that when I call unto Him, an angry, weary, snarky, tired voice DOES NOT shout back from the Heavens, "WHAT?!!!!"
My questions, laments, cries, or comments are welcomed.
How have YOU been calling out to God lately? Have you inserted a smiley, "I love you," lately? Because I'm sure He's love to hear it.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
I can't stand SLOW.
So I was struck today by something one of our pastors said today during his sermon. Craig was speaking to us on the topic of "WHAT DOES GOD EXPECT FROM US?" He said that
I must admit, I often run way, way ahead of God... I race off in the direction I think my life should go - and then get frustrated when I realize that I'm heading off all by myself... that God is patiently standing back at the fork in the road waiting for me to turn around and join Him. Fortunately, God doesn't just stand there tapping His foot and rolling His eyes at me... but I do think that sometimes he cups His hands around his mouth and shouts, "YOU'RE GOING THE WRONG WAY, MAGGIE!!!" :)
Micah 6:8 says that God expects us to act justly, to love mercy and kindness, and to walk humbly with your God. Walking with Him does not mean running off half-cocked, ahead of Him... nor does it mean sulking along behind Him grumbling about trapsing through various thorns, briars, or other hardships. It also doesn't mean splitting up your attention to 20 other "things" plus Him.
It means walking WITH Him... in tandem... together. It means listening to His Word... letting him grab your hand to pull you up when you fall... being respectful... being grateful... being faithful. Walking WITH the Lord requires us to S L O W D O W N, stop multi-tasking, and cherish each amazing moment: the moments we celebrate, laugh, cry, mourn, worship, pray, study, praise, heal, sleep. While you may try to juggle many moments at once, you can't multi-task when you're talking with the Lord - He wants, and, frankly deserves, your undivided attention.
And when I actually --S L O W D O W N-- and pay attention to what God expects from me, I see that He expects me act justly: to do the right thing, to behave in a manner that makes Him proud, to use the talents and gifts He has entrusted me with to parent our 2 two children effectively and to be the kind of wife He wants me to be.
He expects me to be kind - to help others without regard to my pride or my own gain, to give generously of my time, talents, money, brain, or labor. The "Golden Rule" isn't supposed to be just a pretty saying cross-stitched on a pillow - but a keystone to living right, and He expects me to live it.
Finally, He expects me to walk humbly with Him. Not ahead, not behind - but side-by-side.
Are you living up to the expectations God has of you?
Friday, August 28, 2009
In honor of all of the parents watch their kids head back to school - especially this year, where I saw my youngest off onto his first school bus to kindergarten, I'm re-posting one of my favorite posts: Finding God at the Bus Stop. I wish I had been as contemplative THIS year - but in truth, we almost missed our first bus - it came early! :) Anyway - I hope you enjoy this Everyday Places rerun:
You know - it goes against a parent's very nature...
Let's walk our 5-year old to the bus stop. Sling an oversized backpack stuffed with school supplies on their little backs - throwing them completely off-balance. Put them on a giant vehicle with no seatbelts (let alone the Federal-approved, safety-tested carseat that has been a constant since the child was born!), driven by a complete stranger to a school with only 1 adult per 25 kids!
Yet every September, parents of kindergarteners gather at the bus stop with their cameras in one hand and the small fingers of their child in the other... waiting tearfully... and sometimes fearfully for the big, yellow bus to come around the corner. And every September, those cameras capture the brave 5-year olds who climb that first enormous step onto the school bus and turn around to flash a smile at the proud parents waiting at the curb.
The parents brains are swimming with
How in the world did my baby grow up so fast?!
What if they can't find their classroom?
What if they are scared?
What if the teacher won't let them go to the bathroom?
What if they cry all day long?
What if a kid picks on them?
What if they pick on someone else?
We're proud to see our smallest kids start that long journey of "SCHOOL" - yet fearful because this is a journey that we, ourselves, have traveled. We know what lays ahead on this road... the fun times, the hard times, the studying, the games, the tests (both academic and social), the angst, and the joy. We've seen and done it all. Some of us wouldn't go back and repeat school life even if we were paid a million dollars... yet we still have to send what is most precious to us - our children - through this journey because we know how important it is and that it is a necessary step in their life.
Did you ever wonder if this is the way God feels when a new baby is born?
Everyone one of us is a precious child of God - loved by Him before we were ever born:
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Despite everyone knowing she is "better off," there is a hole in our hearts. She was a mother, a grandma, a great-grandma, a guardian, a daughter, a sister, a friend. She is reunited with many of her loved ones, yes, but still many live here on Earth and feel the loss.
My favorite "death" poem was one that my Aunt, Great Annie, loved as well - because as long as we keep the memories of our loved ones close to our hearts, their death is nothing at all...
Death Is Nothing At All
"Death is nothing at all...
I have only slipped away into the next room.
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.
Call me by my old familiar name, speak to me the easy way
which you always used. Laugh as we always laughed together.
Play, smile, think of me. Pray for me.
Let my name be the household word it always was.
Let it be spoken without effort.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was;
There is absolutely unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of your mind because I am out of your sight?
I am but waiting for you, for an interval,
somewhere very near just around the corner.
All is well. Nothing is past; nothing is lost.
One brief moment and all will be as it was before -
Only better, infinitely happier, and forever..."
--words attributed to Carmelite Monastery, County Waterford, Ireland
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Second to coffee, I love ice tea. But, I'm very specific on how I like it - regular, UNsweetened iced tea, NO lemon, NO flavorings of any kind. :)
My Mom likes lemon in her unsweetened iced tea. I find this taints the basic flavor of tea - and I love just the flavor of regular tea. I really don't even want a slice of lemon on my glass lest it drips even a few drops of lemony-sourness into my drink.
My mother-in-law likes a bit of sweetener in her tea. Not a lot, just a few pink packets to flavor it up. Ugh - that changes the flavor too-too much for me. Perhaps a few drops of lemon I could stomach, but you add sweetener, and it's just not the same!
Then you have my good friend Stephanie - she's southern - hence she only drinks "Sweet Tea" - to me, a dreadful concoction of sugar and tea brewed together. One mouthful of this and my face puckers up into a foul expression. I can barely swallow it, and it's hard to believe that this, also, is considered "iced tea."
Four different people - four different ways to enjoy our iced tea. And even though it's still "TEA," it's presentation and flavor are completely unique to each of us.
This reminds me of church services. I happen to LOVE our grungy, garage-band kind-of service called "The Well." I love sitting my the speakers with my head and heart just filled up with the guitar and drum and low voice of our main singer. No robes on our pastor. No reciprical prayer. No "Creeds." No hymns. Just a great, honest message from our pastor, and song-after-song in that modern, grunge style.
Our church also offers a more "pop-contemporary" service. That Worship leader is great too - it just reminds me more of the pagentry of American Idol than the backyard, garage band. We have a lot of friends in that service, and I'm happy to pop in there once in a while, but I still prefer The Well.
My friend, Jackie, shies away from The Well and attends the Blended Service. A mixture of some pop-contemporary and some traditional hymns, this is way too "watered down" for me. But even though Jackie and I enjoy different services, we still meet up for the same Sunday School class and have become great friends over the last few years. It hasn't mattered that we don't sit side-by-side or see eye-to-eye on the style of worship we prefer.
Then there's Debbie, my best friend since 9th grade and Michelle, my roller-coaster friend. My garage band service is SO out of league with what they want in a church service! Both much prefer the traditional services - robes on the pastors, hymns from the hymnals, reciting the Lord's Prayer, bring on the organist, and keep those guitars and drums to yourself, thank you very much!! :) After 5 years of rockin' out at our current church, I can't even fathom going back to the traditional United Methodist service that my friends attend. And while Debbie has visited our rock-n-roll church service (and was so gracious about it!), she knows that she prefers quite a different style of worship than I.
Just like it does not matter whether we each prefer our tea "straight up" or "sickenly sweet," God does not care HOW we worship... just that we DO worship. You can use the organ OR the guitar. You can sing with the choir OR with the band. You can pray from a book OR speak the honest words in your heart. Whatever way, God is listening. And regardless of the methods, the purpose is the same: To Worship God. To sing praises to His name. To confess our sins. To thank Him for our blessings. To spread His Word. To share His love.
God designed each of us as unique human beings - complete with our own sets of likes and dislikes, talents, and quirks. So of course, we are going to experience styles of worship that "speak" to us more than others. I went to a traditional United Methodist church for 10 years and didn't feel one kernal of God there... ever. It was a hard and lonely time, faith-wise. And, though I made some wonderful friends there, I did not find God - and I was ever-searching... Yet, it only took TWO visits to our current church before I felt, mind, heart, and soul, that God was speaking to me. And every week for the last 5 years, I have looked forward to church and have left with a direct message in my heart from God.
Just like a person with dyslexia must find another way to read. I needed to find another way to God. And for me, my path includes drums and guitars.
JOHN 4:23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.
So what's your style? How do you take your "tea?" And if your current "tea" isn't satisfying you, isn't it time you start shopping for a place where you find your perfect blend? God just wants you to find Him - so what's the best way for you to get there?
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
(View lyrics here)
I am a work-in-progress... ever-evolving. I am a daughter, a wife, a mother, a volunteer, a graphic artist, a techie, a blogger. I am a chauffeur, an event organizer, a party planner. I am a referee, a C.O.O. (of our household), and a chef. I am a student; I am a teacher. I am a Christian; I am a child of God. I have held many roles - sometimes concurrently. I have succeeded... and, at times, I have failed. But continally, I am a work-in-progress.
Author, Marianne Williamson said this:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us, it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
I love Brandon Heath's music - and this particular song reminds me that even though I serve in specific roles, that God is not completely finished with me yet. My job(s) will continue to adjust, to grow, to change. He is constantly molding me, like a blob of clay, into a new creation that will further serve the purposes He has set out for me.
And while I travel these paths - while I serve in these different capacities, I should be confident that the Lord of all Creation, who also created ME, would want me to tackle the tasks He has set before me with the best of my abilities and the sure confidence that He does not make mistakes. I need to shine - and bring Him the glory.
What are you good at? What talents and gifts have you been blessed with? How can you use these talents to shine for the glory of the Lord? Because as Marianne Williamson also said,
So get on out there, and SHINE ON...!
Listen to this song HERE on Last.FM.
Friday, June 26, 2009
The Maker of all human beings (GOD) is recalling all units manufactured, regardless of make or year, due to a serious defect in the primary and central component of the heart.
This is due to a malfunction in the original prototype units code named Adam and Eve, resulting in the reproduction of the same defect in all subsequent units. This defect has been technically termed "Sub-sequential Internal Non-Morality," or more commonly known as S.I.N., as it is primarily expressed.
Some of the symptoms include:
1. Loss of direction
2. Foul vocal emissions
3. Amnesia of origin
4. Lack of peace and joy
5. Selfish or violent behavior
6. Depression or confusion in the mental component
The Manufacturer, who is neither liable nor at fault for this defect, is providing factory-authorized repair and service free of charge to correct this defect.
The Repair Technician, JESUS, has most generously offered to bear the entire burden of the staggering cost of these repairs. There is no additional fee required.
The number to call for repair in all areas is: 8-0-0-P-R-A-Y-E-R.
Once connected, please upload your burden of SIN through the REPENTANCE procedure. Next, download ATONEMENT from the Repair Technician, Jesus, into the heart component.
No matter how big or small the SIN defect is, Jesus will replace it with:
4. P atience
9. Self control
Please see the operating manual, the B.I.B.L.E. (Believers' Instructions Before Leaving Earth) for further details on the use of these fixes.
WARNING: Continuing to operate the human being unit without correction voids any manufacturer warranties, exposing the unit to dangers and problems too numerous to list and will result in the human unit being permanently impounded. For free emergency service, call on Jesus.
DANGER: The human being units not responding to this recall action will have to be scrapped in the furnace. The SIN defect will not be permitted to enter Heaven so as to prevent contamination of that facility. Thank you for your attention!
P.S. Please assist where possible by notifying others of this important recall notice, and you may contact the Father any time by 'Knee mail'.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Right now, the Happy Meals contain toys from Night in the Museum 2, and when we went through the drive-thru last week, my 5-year-old was crazy-hopeful that his lunch would contain the cowboy on the squirrel and that his older brother would get General Custer on the motorcycle. The odds of getting exactly what you want are slim... sometimes we can finagle a trade to a more desireable toy, but often we're just stuck with a bunch of duplicates that end up in the next garage sale. But it's still fun to hope and see what we get, anyway.
On this particular day, with my son reciting over and over again "motorcycle - squirrel" in the back seat, we had a bit of good fortune. When we peeked inside the Happy Meals, Luke got the squirrel AND Jack got the motorcycle - EXACTLY what they had wanted (with absolutely no prodding or requesting from Mom!). Luke was stupified - "How did they KNOW, Mom?!!" he squealed on the way home. "Did they read our MINDS?!!"
At home, we said grace, but before Luke ate, he told me that he also needed to say a "thank you" prayer to God. He folded his hands and prayed, "Thank you God for picking out just the right toys today at McDonalds!"
Is that cute, or what?! :)
What I love best is that Luke gave thanks to God for his good fortune. Usually, it is only in our weakest times that we reach out to God. But, Luke served as a reminder that you can honor God with the good things too. He's not just there as Savior to help us fix our messes - but also as a Friend who wants to celebrate our little victories as well.
This Monday, I had one of the best mornings in a long time. Both kids were in VBS at our friend's church which meant I did not have to volunteer. I went shopping at Kohls: BY MYSELF for two whole hours. While shopping, I found a replacement pair of "perfect" sandals - exactly like the pair I have completely worn out - and there was exactly ONE pair left in my size. I found the lone "Go Michigan" T-shirt among a sea of Buckeye shirts... AND the shirt was exactly my husband's size. Plus, I actually fit into clothes TWO SIZES SMALLER!!! than I did last summer!
I can't remember the last shopping trip where I was actually smiling to myself the whole time, and as I walked to my car, I offered a grateful THANKS! to God for this wonderful morning.
When was your last little victory? Sometimes, they are few and far between.... so it's important to give thanks for them!!
Here's wishing you a perfect morning really soon!
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
I love this song - the fact that God is with through the good times and the hard times is a comfort. He is steadfast; His grip does not slip. He is the one who can pull us out of the quagmires in which we put ourselves. And no matter the situation, He does not fail us.
Monday, June 8, 2009
A few years ago, the epic drama, Gone with the Wind, was re-released in theaters all across America. This digitally enhanced, chromatically improved icon took us back to a time in history when American was experiencing a paradigm shift. My husband and I thought it would be important for our teenage son to have the Gone with the Wind experience on the big screen so we purchased three tickets and then settled in for what we knew would be a long evening.
After about two hours, we got to the scene where a sullied Miss Scarlet, deserted by Rhett, stood on a hilltop with Atlanta burning the background, collapsed to the ground, and slowly pulled herself into an upright position. With fist held high, she declared that she would make it through this trial and "As God is my witness," she proclaimed, "I will never be hungry again!" Then the curtain fell, and Steven turned to me and said, "That was a strange way to end."
"Oh, but look," I replied. Then he saw the words "intermission" imposed over the curtain.
"You've got to be kidding," Steven said.
"Nope," we're only halfway done."
You know, I've identified with Miss Scarlett on several occasions. Sometimes life just gets so complicated and it seems as if dreams have been snatched away by some foreign rebel force. My previous way of life is up in flames in the background, my man doesn't understand, and my friends have all run for cover. What will I do? Where will I go? Is this the end!
Then as the curtain falls on this scene in my life, I think to myself, this is a strange way to end. But I look again and see God pointing to the screen as if to say, This, my child, is not the end. It is but the intermission. Get up. Take a break. Stretch if you must. But the movie of your life is not over yet.
Looking back in the Bible, many men and women came to a point in their lives where they thought it was the end, only later to discover it was merely an intermission. Elijah hid in a cave thinking his ministry was over. Moses herded sheep in the desert believing his dream to rescue the Hebrews was dashed. Jonah made his bed under the shade of a plant and lay down to die. The prophet Samuel groveled in depression after his charge, King Saul, disobeyed God and lost his reign. Each of these men thought it was the end, but in reality, it was only an intermission. God wasn't finished with the drama of their lives quite yet.
I don't know what you're facing today. Perhaps your life has taken you to an unexpected place. Perhaps, like Moses, you've made a poor decision that resulted in you running from God and from man. Perhaps like Elijah, you've allowed someone's threats to put fear in your heart and you're in hiding. Perhaps like Jonah, you've obeyed God, but feel duped because your obedience didn't bring the results you'd hoped for. Perhaps like Samuel, you're depressed because someone you oversee (a child, for example) didn't turn out like you had hoped. With your dreams burning in the background, perhaps you've stood on the hillside with fist raised in the air making declarations to God.
If you see yourself on the screen, can I encourage you sit down, take a deep breath, stretch, and regroup. The story's not over yet. Perhaps you're just at an intermission. As someone once said, we shouldn't put a period where God put a comma.....
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
I LOVE to read - always have. When I was a little girl, my mom starting paying me $1.00 per novel to read to get me interested. I believe this started around 2nd grade... and by 4th grade, she had to stop because I was depleting her of all her money...!! :) I love how I can get "IN" the book - oblivious to the outside world - lost in a tale of suspense, thrills, mystery, romance, science-fiction, magic, or whatever other genre might be housed between the cover and end-page of a particular book.
I've read some clunkers too. Books with poor plots or characters - Books that have bored me. Books that have disturbed me. But no matter the type of book - the grammar, spelling, and punctuation have got to be on point...!
Consider the period. The END, that's IT, Period. Or the exclamation point: HOORAY! BRAVO! SURPRISE!! The question mark: Wh-at? Who? HOW? And the comma... giving us pause... with the promise of more to come...
The little dot or squiggle in or at the end of a sentence conveys volumes.
Someone once said, "We shouldn't put a period where God has placed a comma..... "
High School graduation is a good example of this. A lot of Valedictorian speeches includes references to the END of an era or the BEGINNING of our lives... a form of period. But graduation is more like a comma... a pause... a transition. Not a grand finale.
Same with hardship. Sometimes we have catastrophic, awful, heartbreaking things happen to us. Things that make us sure that our life is over... Period. But God may have just placed a comma in the story of your life... not that period. God may gearing up to use that hardship for something wonderful... just you wait and see. The story of your life is not over... so don't put a period where God has placed a comma. :)
Monday, June 1, 2009
God & The Invisible Fence (by Sharon Jaynes)
The fence company dug a narrow four foot deep trench around the perimeter of our yard and buried a small wire. This wire was attached to a control box mounted on our garage wall. Ginger, our golden retriever, was then fitted with a collar sporting a special little box with two small prongs that rested against her skin. The dog trainer then placed white flags all around the yard, marking where the underground fence was buried. As Ginger neared the flags, she heard a quiet warning sound clicking from the box. If she kept going and crossed over the boundary marked by the flag, she got a shock and came back.
Now before you get upset about Ginger getting a little shock, I have to tell you, I let the trainer shock me first. It wasn't painful, but I did not want him to do it again. For twelve years, Ginger crossed over the invisible boundary only twice. Once when the fence wasn't working properly and once during her sixth week of motherhood to escape her seven nursing puppies.
After the first month of training, you didn't see any white flags decorating the perimeter of our yard. So, you might wonder, how does Ginger know where the boundary is? It is simple. For the first week, white flags lined the boundary of our yard. On the second week, I removed every other flag. On the third week, I again removed every other remaining flag. And I continued removing flags, until eventually, they were gone. The flags were gone, but Ginger remembered where the boundaries were. She also learned that the warning clicking sound was her friend and kept her from getting into a "shocking" situation.
Those flags are a great picture of the boundaries we set for our children. When they're young, we mark out clear boundaries, and as the child matures into adolescence, we begin pulling up those flags just a little at a time. As they graduate from high school and move into college, most of the flags are gone, and we pray with all our might that they will remember where those boundaries are.
Just like when Ginger heard the warning sound, I believe the Holy Spirit taps on our children's hearts, and warns them not to cross the boundaries set by their parents. Sometimes they will proceed to cross the boundaries anyway. That's when the shock comes in. It might be in the form of discipline and it might be in the form of living with some very unpleasant consequences.
In the Old Testament, God wrote the Law (the Ten Commandments) on tablets of stone, but in the New Testament, He wrote the Law of Love on our hearts. Isn't that our prayer? Yes, we have to spell out the boundaries for our children and point them in the right direction when they are young. But as they move into adulthood, we pray the boundaries will be written on their hearts.
Consider the boundaries listed below:
Be careful what you see. "The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness"(Matthew 6:22, 23 NIV).
Be careful what you love. "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money."(Mathew 6:24 NIV). "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." (Proverbs 5:23 NIV).
Be careful who you listen to. "My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man's whole body." (Proverbs 5:20-22 NIV).
Be careful what you say. "Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips." (Proverbs 5:24 NIV).
Be careful where you go. "Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil." (Proverbs 5:26, 27 NIV).
Be careful whom you choose for close friends. Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character" (1 Corinthians 15:33 NIV).
Sunday, May 31, 2009
This is one of my favorite quotes in the Harry Potter movies. It is spoken by Professor Dumbledore to Harry; He knows that Harry is the key to destroying Voldemort and his evil that has been unleashed upon the world. They are harsh words. It is far easier to ignore what is "right" and choose the path of least resistance. But consider the story our church heard just today of Abigail from 1 Samuel 25:1-44.
In this story, Abigail's brutish husband insults the neighboring King David - causing a near war. Abigail leaps into action - taking the blame for his poor behavior and ends up saving her husband from being murdered - and King David from becoming a murderer. Abigail takes the tougher path - standing up for what she believes in no matter the danger to herself - and following the instructions she knows are of God.
Through Abigail's actions, our Pastor outlined 4 things for us to remember:
- Do what is right - even when things are bad or tough or complicated.
- Take action - do not delay in making the right choices.
- Keep the best interest of your whole family.
- Let God do His work in His time.
This parallels the struggles Harry must go through. At the end of Book 4, Harry and Dumbledore KNOW that Voldemort is "back" and at full strength, yet the Minister of Magic takes hold of the media to refute this claim. All of Book 5 (The Order of the Phoenix) focuses on Harry's determination to do what is right even in as his actions do not have popular support. He steadfastly refuses to be swayed from his task of defeating Voldemort - knowing that this is in the best interest of the entire Wizarding (and Muggle!) world. It will take patience - as the Harry Potter series is one of 7 books - but this road less traveled will bring about victory against evil... even in the face of heartbreak and hardship.
The second thing Dumbledore says to Harry is "Remember, Harry, you are not alone."
And neither are we.
With every breath... with every step... God is with us: guiding us, comforting us, cheering us on.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you and watch over you. Psalm 32:8 (Msg)
Each of us will have times in our lives where we are forced to make a tough choices: choices where we can take the easy path OR where we can battle the obstacles that come our way with dignity and the knowledge that we are following what is RIGHT. These are the times where we can rise above mediocrity and complacency and serve as a positive example for others. And through our tough journeys, we are aided by God - the Creator of the entire universe. With Him on our side, how can we be defeated? I love this quote by Calvin Coolidge:
“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "press on" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”
For those of you who believe that Harry Potter has no place in a Christian library, consider reading this book by John Granger: Looking for God In Harry Potter. It addresses all of the concerns about God's Word, magic, Christian themes, etc. Written by a pastor and published by a Christian publishing company, it will definitely help you understand the other Christian themes weaved seamlessly throughout the entire saga.
I am a HUGE Harry Potter fan, and one of the things I try to show on this blog is how God can take ANYTHING and use it for His glory. The stories in Harry Potter demonstrate Christian principals again and again and again... You can find God anywhere... even at Hogwarts! :)
Friday, May 29, 2009
Aside from being just funny, I put these here to remind us that PERCEPTION is important. God says this in Matthew 4:1-6...
Monday, May 25, 2009
Check the Label (by Mary Sutherland)
I love a good sale, don't you? In fact, a 75% off tag may very well be a sign from God. (I'm still trying to convince my husband.) I have also learned that you can save money in the long run if you check the label. Let me explain. We needed a new sofa -- desperately. It had to be a certain color and style and cost a certain amount. I headed for the nearest furniture outlet, where I narrowed my selection down to two sofas. Both were on sale and both would work in our home. I saw the salesman coming. Before he could say a word, I asked, "Which one of these sofas would you tell your wife to buy?" The man immediately pointed to one of the sofas and said, "Definitely that one." When I asked why he had chosen that particular sofa, he replied, "Check the label. The one I chose was made by a company known for its quality work. The other sofa is a cheap imitation.
We can judge a product's potential and value by looking at the one who created it and God does not make cheap imitations of anything. You are valuable simply because you were created by the hand of God. I am here to tell you that God is not mad at you! His design of you and plan for your life is second to none. He paid the highest price that could be paid -- for you. To cower or crawl in inferiority is to say to God, "You made a mistake when you made me." God doesn't make mistakes, friend. He never has to say, "Oops!" We were created in His likeness and are valuable to God. God knows my name and loves me. I am His masterpiece and have been validated by God Himself. Wow! That is quite a label, girlfriend!
Friday, May 22, 2009
Personally, I KNOW God has a sense of humor. I have a basement full of carefully-packed dolls from my childhood: Madame Alexander, Barbie, Glamour Gals, and the entire "Melanie's Mall" still never-removed-from-box. I was sure that I'd have a daughter one day. But God chose to bless me two amazing sons. So those dolls remain boxed up... granddaughters one day?? :)
But I digress...
Mike Williams shared some signs he's found out and about -warnings or instruction signs that were probably put up with the best of intentions, but fall seriously short of their intended message. You can watch a portion of his skit here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bdE70-Os38o. Wait for the part about the sign at the McDonald's Drive-Thru...!!
All you need to discover God's Humor are eyes and ears. It's everywhere. Here are just a few funny signs that I've accumulated...! Enjoy the giggle...!
And my personal favorite - a vintage ad:
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
We have cell Phones to always be "connected" to the real world at any given time. We have the Internet, Email, Facebook, and Blogs to keep us "connected" to the cyberworld at moment. We have DVR's to tape the shows we miss, and DVD Players for the movies.
We have work and work meetings... church and church meetings... school and school meetings...
Our lives are hectic and frazzled and over-booked ... and I'm getting tired just reading about this! :)
Consider the story of Mary and Martha from the Bible (Luke 10:38-40):
The Master said, "Martha, dear Martha, you're fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it's the main course, and won't be taken from her."
It's so easy to BE busy. It's easy to get caught up in all "life" has to offer. Much harder is to take a moment for peace and fellowship with God... a quiet moment to reflect with Him. That's our Karaoke Tuesday song today - a gentle reminder to just BE STILL and know He is God.
Hide me now
Under your wings
Cover me within your mighty hand
When the oceans rise and thunders roar
I will soar with you above the storm
Father you are king over the flood
I will be still and know you are God
Find rest my soul
In Christ alone
Know his power
In quietness and trust
You can here it here (with video).
Sunday, May 17, 2009
And often, these lonely, lost items are never reunited with their owners. Coats are outgrown, gloves and hats are long-forgotten (until next year's snowy day). The contents of the tub are donated to Good Will where they will find new homes.. and ironically, might end up in some other school's Lost-n-Found the following year.
Can you imagine if that Lost-n-Found bin was full of people? Lost people... not the directional-peanuts (like myself!!) who cannot even be easily guided by Google Maps... but the spiritually lost people who are ever searching for the one thing that will give their life meaning. The ones who, maybe, just go through the motions by saying all the "right" things or meeting all the "right" people. Perhaps these lost souls even go to church - but, again - like me for many, many years - never FEEL God or faith or comfort or His presence. For the lost, church is just a building filled with posers or pot-luck dinners.
But consider the story of Zacchaeus the Tax Collector (Luke 19:1-9)
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
All the people saw this and began to mutter, "He has gone to be the guest of a 'sinner.' "
But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount."
Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.
Friday, May 15, 2009
We had a Women's Event at our church a few month's ago with a dessert-y theme. The keynote speaker lended some wonderful thoughts to ponder on this verse...
God is good. All the time. While people experience illness, loss, grief, or other hardship that can make it nearly impossible to face each day, God can take that hardship and use it for good.
When trauma or hardship enters your life, there are two choices: You can run TO God... or you can run FROM God. Running TO God can give you comfort... support... peace... and no matter what hardship you endure, God can use your story for good.
I've mentioned before that my neice, Julia, died after only 6 days of life. My in-laws are currently working on this year's Charity Golf Outing. This is their main source of funds for the yearly scholarship, and the 2nd scholarship will be awarded any day now! In the wake of their unspeakable grief, Tim and Stephany never turned away from God... In fact, they ran to Him with their sadness and sorrow. God was able to help them find a way to turn their loss into a blessing for college-bound students. And, that's just the scholarship fund...! They have also lended their support and experience to numerous other families dealing with the loss of an infant or unborn child. Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of taking refuge in Him.
I've dealt with a brain tumor. There really isn't anywhere ELSE you can go with a brain tumor except to God. Nothing was in my power to fix. I couldn't even comfort my husband or family because I had no idea if this would kill me or not. But God was with me and my family. He comforted David when he was at his lowest point worrying about me. He guided the doctors' hands during the surgery. He gave me strength through my physical therapy. Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of taking refuge in Him.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Facebook is also a way to re-invent yourself from the way you were viewed in high school or college (or elementary school). Some people haven't changed, for sure. Some people have gone in a life direction that I surely would not have chosen for myself (i.e. My status will never say, "WOW... I'm still drunk this morning...") *sigh* But I've found that many people HAVE changed - me included - I really enjoy catching up with them.
This morning, I found GOD... literally... on Facebook. He has a page. You can become a fan. And at my joining today, God had 1,455,171 fans. Undoubtedly, some people joined because they were being obnoxious. And some people joined because they were being reverent. I suspect that it was more of an "Average Joe" who set up the page just to see what would happen rather than the Lord, Almighty. Regrettably, just a few hours after I joined, I had to UN-sub due to the massive amount of nasty trash photos that appeared on the page. But I did like the info that appeared on my profile page:
Would it be so outrageous to expect to find God on Facebook? If He was, he would certainly attact both the faithful AND the mockers - just as with his life as Jesus. Jesus spent most of His time with basic people. Not buddies with kings and queens - but befriended the lost, the hurting, the searching, the weak... the average. He dealt with His share of ridicule, mockery, abuse, and torment. I suspect that if God actually set up a page on Facebook, most people would be too skeptical to believe it was really Him, anyway... And, as with this particular fan page, the non-believers would, indeed, line-up to mock, ridicule the other believers, and post lewd and obnoxious content just because tearing down someone for their beliefs makes them feel better about their own lack thereof.
This "God" page aside, I love that Facebook is filled with thousands of "average Joe's" - sharing their lives, their triumphs, their hurts, their celebrations. Within Facebook, I've been able to "celebrate" the friends' birthdays, pregnancies, or anniversaries. I've grieved with friends who have lost loved ones-- some who have lost children. I even learned of a couple's impending divorce on Facebook. Each time I post to this blog, it syncs up with Facebook and posts the same content there. All of these people who knew me when I was 19, or 16, or 12, or 6 see my faith out in the open - and just maybe, they are impacted by something I write.
God is everywhere - why NOT on Facebook... ??
1-6 God, investigate my life; get all the facts firsthand.
I'm an open book to you;
even from a distance, you know what I'm thinking.
You know when I leave and when I get back;
I'm never out of your sight.
You know everything I'm going to say
before I start the first sentence.
I look behind me and you're there,
then up ahead and you're there, too—
your reassuring presence, coming and going.
This is too much, too wonderful—
I can't take it all in!
7-12 Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit?
to be out of your sight?
If I climb to the sky, you're there!
If I go underground, you're there!
If I flew on morning's wings
to the far western horizon,
You'd find me in a minute—
you're already there waiting!
Then I said to myself, "Oh, he even sees me in the dark!
At night I'm immersed in the light!"
It's a fact: darkness isn't dark to you;
night and day, darkness and light, they're all the same to you.
13-16 Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother's womb.
I thank you, High God—you're breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I'd even lived one day.
17-22 Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful!
God, I'll never comprehend them!
I couldn't even begin to count them—
any more than I could count the sand of the sea.
Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with you!
And please, God, do away with wickedness for good!
And you murderers—out of here!—
all the men and women who belittle you, God,
infatuated with cheap god-imitations.
See how I hate those who hate you, God,
see how I loathe all this godless arrogance;
I hate it with pure, unadulterated hatred.
Your enemies are my enemies!
23-24 Investigate my life, O God,
find out everything about me;
Cross-examine and test me,
get a clear picture of what I'm about;
See for yourself whether I've done anything wrong—
then guide me on the road to eternal life.
A Google search of "God and Facebook" did yield some comical results. One funny one was here: http://www.huc.edu/libraries/LA/sheryl/FBGenesis/ Another one I edited to remove some obnoxious content but overall, thought the "Wall" posts really mimicked Facebook's overal look:
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
This is not an easy choice, by any means. Some of us have unimaginable hardships to deal with. Sometimes, not only can we not find a light at the end of the long, dark tunnel but we find we are at a gigantic wall... a crisis of our faith. It is at that time, where we can make the choice.
My sister-in-law, Stephany and brother-in-law, Tim have reached that point. Actually, I'm sure they've made the choice earlier than now, but now is when they are telling their story. I've mentioned my neice, Julia, in previous posts. 3 years ago, this precious baby girl was born. Dark hair, wide eyes, tiny fingers and toes. Only hours after her birth, did our family receive the devestating news: that Julia had been born with a chromosomal abnormality called Trisomy 18 that was incompatible with life. Most babies with this condition do not even make it through the birth process. The fact that Julia was here at all was a miracle.
Tim and Stephany were blessed with 6 days with their daughter. Six heartfelt, heart-wrenching, heart-stopping days to hold and kiss... to care for and cuddle... to sing to and pray over. And after 6 days, Julia gave up her earthly fight, and went to play in Heaven's grand playground.
What in the world can you say to a person who has lost their child? What small words of comfort can you come up with? There are none. There are no words that will lift the cloud of grief off of their shoulders. And even as they learn to laugh and love again, that grief hole is always there in their hearts.
But Tim and Stephany made the conscious choice to use Julia in a way to positively impact others. They set up a scholarship fund, and this year, will award the 2nd Julia Scholarship. They have an annual Charity Golf Outing to raise money for the fund... with amazing raffle prizes and even the opportunity to win a CAR (IF you can get a hole-in-one on a certain hole...). As the lyrics to the song proclaim, they are trading their sorrows for the joy of the Lord.
Trading My Sorrows - LYRICS HERE
2 Corinthians 4:7-12 talks about Treasures in Jars of Clay