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"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house." Matthew 5:14-15

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it." Matthew 13:45-46

Monday, December 31, 2007

End of Year Praises

As we come to the end of 2007, I can't help but praise God for His goodness and how He constantly provides for me and my family. Here are just a few of my praises for this year.

  • I praise God for Jesus.
  • I praise God for my beloved husband and dear sons.
  • I praise God for being able to attend the She Speaks conference and for the impact that it has made in my life.
  • I praise God for opening up the world of blogging to me, and the fun I have had getting to know other Christian women.
  • I praise God for the Proverbs 31 Ministry.
  • I praise God for how I have deepened and grown in my relationship with Him.
  • I praise God for sweet times of fellowship with other Christian women.
  • I praise God for all that He provides for me.

Thank you Lord for you presence in 2007. May I continue to look to you in all the years to come.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Twenty Years

On December 26th my husband and I celebrated our 2oth wedding anniversary. It seems hard to believe how quickly the years have flown. A dear friend stayed with our boys for a couple days so we could get away to a bed and breakfast. It didn't cost us anything for babysitting (I guess you don't really think of it as babysitting when you have two teen-aged sons!), the bed and breakfast is a getaway that friends from church provide as a ministry, and we even were given an anonymous gift certificate to a local restaurant. We were/are truly blessed.

Our trip was a time of reflecting all that has happened in our lives in the past twenty year. A time to praise God for how He continually provides for us, and how our heart's desire is to grow to be more like Him with each new day. We enjoyed going to the matinee and seeing National Treasure 2, eating out, doing a little shopping, going to visit the doctor to learn my husband has bronchitis, soaking in the tub, as well as just relaxing and enjoying each other's presence. We also looked toward the future, and both felt the need to be more intentional with our time as a family and not allow time to slip through our fingers. Our oldest son only has another year and a half to be with us before heading to college.

It amazes me how I am more in love with my husband now then the day we were first married. Our love has continued to mature, deepen and grow. We have had our share of rocky times, but we made that decision that we will stay together, and work hard at our marriage. It took me a while to grow up and realize that it wasn't all about me. In our early years of marriage, I was the one in control. God has taught me a lot about having a servant heart, especially in the area of my husband and children. I praise Him for the changes He has made in my heart and life. I pray that over the next twenty years we grow even closer in our love for each other as well as the Lord.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Triple Blessings

When I grew up, we always had an orange on Christmas morning in the toe of our stocking. That is a tradition that we have carried on with our two boys. This year, I debated about still doing it because of the price of oranges right now. I had been praying about it, because I knew my boys enjoy them as well. I figured I would just have to bite the bullet and just buy four of them, so we each could have one. Funds have been tight, so I really felt that we couldn't afford more than that.

Last week as I went out to do our holiday grocery shopping, I scanned the store fliers one more time to see if oranges were on sale. I had been watching the ads for several weeks. I was so excited when I saw that the store in town was advertising that you could buy a five pound bag of navel oranges for five dollars and get another five pound bag free. I was so blessed. Not only could we each have an orange this year, but an over abundance than what I had expected.

A day later I dropped a gift off at a dear friend of mine. She surprised me with yet another five pound bag of oranges! I was almost moved to tears. All I had prayed for was just four oranges and God supplied a triple blessing of three bags of them. What an awesome God we serve!

Friday, December 21, 2007

It's Not About Me

It has been an interesting month. We have had several 'unplanned' situations. I usually am a planner. I like knowing what is coming up with our schedule so I can stay on top of things. I don't always handle things the best when things go differently. Sometimes I do well, other times not so well.

Yesterday I had two situations when the unexpected happened in my already packed day. The first interruption I took in stride and handled fairly well. The next one I didn't do so well. I could tell you that I was tired from a long day, had a headache, etc. All these things were true, but I realize that still in the midst of all that, I still could have chosen to do the right thing. I eventually did, but not without some whining first.

I awoke this morning with unease with the situation, and again placed it in God's hands. I questioned God about why the sudden disrupt in plans. I felt Him saying to me, "It's not about you." I was humbled and pray that God uses me to be His witness no matter what I face. Above all else I want to bring glory to Him. I keep saying, "Less of me Lord, and more of you!"

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Fine Tuned Ministry

As this year quickly comes to a close, I already have turned my thoughts toward 2008. I have begun praying about how I can be a better steward of my time, and better witness for the Lord. I realize that there are many activities that I can involve myself in doing. But I have been feeling that God is calling me to do some fine tuning with my ministry next year.

I first had to seek out what area of ministry that God desires for me to participate. I read somewhere this week I think, that our time is often not spent working on the things that are our ministry. Our time can easily be wasted. I feel the need to be more specific with the time that I do have. As I prayed about where God wants me to serve, three main areas stood out in my mind.
1. My family.
2. Encouraging women to have a deeper relationship with Jesus.
3. My writing.

I pray that I will be more intentional when it comes to these three areas. I find that I will need to say no to some activities that are good, so I can focus on what is best. I pray that in all I do, I will exemplify God.

What about you? What areas do you feel God is calling you to do in 2008?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Quest for the Perfect Tree

This afternoon found our family traveling to a local tree farm, riding a tractor, and tromping through the fields in the search for a 'perfect tree.' We each had our own ideas about which would look the best in our living room. After a good twenty minutes of searching we came up with one that we all agreed was the 'one'.

As we rode back home I enjoyed just breathing in the pine scent. I couldn't help thinking about a song by Ray Boltz called "The Perfect Tree." The words of the chorus kept running through my mind.

The perfect tree
Grew very long ago
And it was not decked with silver
Or with ornaments of gold
But hanging from its branches
Was a gift for you and me
Jesus laid His life down
On the perfect tree

So this evening as we decorate the tree with lights, ornaments and tinsel, I will be reminded of Jesus and how He gave His life for me on the perfect tree.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Daily Bread

I have been thinking today about the importance of going to God each morning for our daily bread or manna. There are some days, when it is easy to remember that, and perhaps others when we forget. With the Christmas holidays quickly approaching, it is easy to get tied up in all the things that need to get accomplished in the next couple weeks - cookies to bake, presents to buy and wrap, decorating to do, etc.

As we approach the celebration of the birth of our Savior, it is even more important to take time each day and ask Him for our daily portion. My prayer is that I won't get wrapped up in the busyness of the season, but instead carve time with Jesus each day. How are you doing with your daily bread? Has it been a while since you have feasted on God's Word? He is just waiting for you to meet with Him!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Snowmen, A Bank, and Jesus

Three fat snowmen stood guard in front of a bank
My son spied it on our way home that day.
"Why do you think they are there?" he asked.
Our minds created several stories right away.

Perhaps they were robbing the bank he surmised.
Or maybe they were the lookouts for the robbers inside.
They were not allowing people in or out.
We guessed the bank personnel were quite surprised.

We laughed at the stories we had developed.
My son said, "This is something to blog about."
I explained that I try to write about Jesus,
And try to be an encouragement to those who read.

I could not figure how this topic could pertain.
But then I remembered how the snowmen stood about.
They were on watch with a special purpose.
No one was allowed in or out.

Then I thought about my beloved Jesus
Who stands guard at the door of my heart.
I pray He helps me to keep evil out,
And that my life is radiant for Him.

Who would have thought that a bank
And snowmen would remind me of Jesus' love.
I guess it is a lesson that we all can learn.
Jesus can use anything to teach us of Him.

This poem is lovingly dedicated to my son.

Friday, December 7, 2007

There's a Song in the Air

I don't know how it happened exactly, but I know that it did. I had been feeling blue, and had no idea why. I usually am anxious to decorate for Christmas, but this year it just seemed like a lot of effort. Perhaps it was because I was weary after having a few rough weeks. I don't really know for sure. I just knew my heart wasn't into decorating. Then came Wednesday.

It was time for my weekly walk with a dear friend of mine. Once a week we get together to walk for about an hour. As we walk, we share what is going on in our lives, share concerns and prayer requests and then pray as we walk. This time we were slightly delayed by about a half hour. As we left my home it was starting to flurry outside. I love snow! As we walked that hour, the snow became heavier and heavier. We often had to brush the snow off of our coats as it accumulated. It was incredible walking in a winter wonderland.

My friend suggested to me that I take the day off from homeschooling and just decorate and enjoy the day. Now typically I like sticking with my lesson plans, and don't like to alter them much. But that day I felt God calling me to take a snow day. That morning as the boys and I ate our breakfast we enjoyed watching the antics of the birds outside our kitchen window. We spent time decorating the house together. We managed to get everything decorated and the majority of the boxes put back in the attic. The only boxes left are the ones for decorating our Christmas tree, that we will hopefully get tomorrow, and also lights and greenery to decorate outside - after it isn't so hard tromping through the snow.

I realized this morning that my 'snow day' was one of God's blessings for me this week. Not only did it allow me to get things ready for Christmas, but it also allowed me time with my sons, and also breathed a fresh air of hope and encouragement into my heart. I praise God that He used this time to draw me into His sweet presence. I smile each time I look outside and see the snow. Today you will find me often singing or humming a Christmas carol under my breath. I praise God for the gift He gave me when I chose to change my plans. What is He speaking to your heart this Christmas?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Snowy Day

This morning I went for a walk
And much to my delight snow was beginning to fall.
The more that I exercised with my friend
The heavier the precipitation came.

I couldn't help but glory in God's creation,
And thank Him for the beauty of the day.
I smiled as a dusting of snow started covering the ground.
And laughed at the antics of my friend's dog.

I returned home with a spring in my step.
I declared a day off school for me and my two boys.
We will spend the day decorating and baking,
And just rejoicing in the day we are having.

We laughed as we sat down for breakfast.
The birds were digging through the snow.
Birds with snow beards are a funny sight.
We praise God for this gift and pray it snows until night.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Lift Me Up Lord

Lift me up Lord
When I feel I can't go on.
I feel bruised and battered
By the storms that come along.

I need your touch Lord
Lift me up so I can see your face.
Though the storms continue to blow
Help me feel your peace in their midst.

I want to be your witness Lord
In all I say and do.
Let there be less of me
And more of You.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

How Often Do We 'Really' Praise the Lord

I have had several days of reflection this week. I have been thinking about my pastor's sermon a few days ago about watching our words, and have been praying for God to help me each day as I speak. Some of you know that I had a biopsy on Monday for the possibility of breast cancer. Throughout the past several weeks of tests and doctor appointments I have felt an overwhelming sense of God's peace that no matter what the answer would be, I knew that I could trust Him with my future. I truly was convinced that the report would come back positive for cancer, and that even in the midst of seemingly "bad" news, I knew He was in charge of my life.

Well, the report came back and it was negative for cancer. I truly was shocked. Of course I praise God for the good news, but I also was struck by this thought. "How often do I praise God when things go right, or when I receive good news, but tend to grumble when the news isn't so good?" We are told to praise God no matter what. I think this situation has given me just a small glimmer of what that truly means. I praise Him that I don't have cancer, but I also would have praised Him if I did.

I praised Him this week even when I was feeling pain and soreness from my surgery and my husband developed a severe infection that required treatment today. As we sat in the doctor's office we praised God that the doctor was able to take care of the problem in his office, instead of the operating room like we anticipated. But even if my hubby had to undergo surgery, we still would have praised God.

How are you doing with praising God? Do you praise Him in the good and bad times? I had a comment made to me about my incredible faith and I really don't think that is true. My faith often doesn't seem to be what it should. I think the difference is that I have been continually praying for God to change my heart and to make me more like Him. I have been praying that others will see Jesus in me. It's only when I take my eyes off myself and look in His sweet face, that I can truly praise Him no matter what.

Monday, November 26, 2007

30 Day Challenge

Yesterday my pastor issued a 30 day challenge to our congregation and I would like to extend it to you as well. The sermon was titled, "Filter out words of ingratitude and pour in words of grace." He had four main points to work on:
  • Filter out grumbling and pour in gratitude.
  • Filter out criticism and pour in encouragement.
  • Filter out blaming and pour in honesty.
  • Filter out entitlement and pour in contentment.

He challenged us to work on the words we say throughout this month. He even suggested wearing a rubber band on your arm and snapping it whenever you say something you shouldn't. So this morning I had my rubber band in place as I headed off for my biopsy. I pray that through this month I will be more careful with the words I speak. What a wonderful time of year to work at this. I pray you will join me. I know God will reap incredible results in our lives!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Thankful Heart

As Thanksgiving is quickly approaching, perhaps you have been busy like me. Writing lists of things that need to be accomplished, food that needs to be bought, cleaning that needs to take place before everybody arrives, and the list goes on and on. But as I finally take a break from my hectic schedule to sit down for a few minutes at the computer I realize the importance of slowing down.

I need to take time to quiet my heart before God and think about why we celebrate this season. It is a time to remember our godly American heritage. It also is a time to thank God for the many blessings that He bestows upon us each and every day. We need to let our thanksgiving overflow out of our hearts and share it with others. "Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done." 1 Chronicles 16:8.

Don't let the holiday go by without sharing with someone at least one thing that you are thankful for. How about starting a new habit of thanking God for something each day, as well as someone else in your life. You will start cultivating a thankful heart.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Thanksgiving Memories

Thanksgiving always brings back memories of going to my grandmother's house for the day. She always had out her best dishes. She usually had made her first batch of Christmas cookies with Hershey kisses on the top and had pumpkin pie, and of course all of the other trimmings. So here is her pumpkin pie recipe if you need one for Thanksgiving this year.

1 1/2 cups of cooked, mashed pumpkin
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 T. flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cup canned milk
2 T. margarine
Cinnamon

Brown margarine in pan. Beat eggs slightly. Mix pumpkin, salt, flour, sugar and eggs and mix well. Add browned margarine, milk and mix. Put into 10" pie shell. Sprinkle cinnamon on top. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes, than 350 degrees for 20 minutes, or until done.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I'm So Glad....

I'm so glad that God loves me unconditionally even when....
  • I'm feeling stressed out.
  • I have dirty dishes in the sink, counter, etc.
  • My house is in desperate need of cleaning.
  • I speak too harshly to my boys.
  • I react poorly to my spouse.
  • I neglect time with my Heavenly Father.
  • I focus on my own wants and desires instead of God's, or the other people in my life.
  • I feel overwhelmed by my "to do" list.

Okay, you guessed it - I've been a bit stressed out lately. As I did my devotions this morning I asked God, "What can I give up today, so I feel less stressed?" He pointed me to two activities that are "good" things, but ones that could be cancelled at least for today. I'm enjoying being able to get caught up with some things around the house, (including this blog), as well as preparing for a whole household of family that will be coming for Thanksgiving and staying for several days. I feel like I have been able to take a step back and BREATHE! Ah! I definitely needed that!

How about you? Do you have anything that is stressing you at the moment? Don't forget to take time and just breathe. Ask God to fill and refresh you. 'Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9 Don't give up, instead look up to your Heavenly Father who is longing to give you rest!

Medical Update

  • Just wanted to thank you for praying for my dear friend who was anticipating surgery and possible cancer. Her surgeon gave her a clean bill of health! Praise God! She will get to direct our Christmas cantata after all!
  • I have shared about my situation and just wanted to let you know that I go for a biopsy on November 26th. I still feel God's peace and know that He will be with me no matter what I face. Thank you for praying for me and my friend! What a mighty God we serve!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Faithful

I just finished reading a post by Micca Campbell entitled "...He Is Strong". I encourage you to stop by her blog for a great article. Her site is http://www.miccacampbell.com/

I've been thinking the past few days about being faithful. I ask myself, am I being faithful in the little things that I face each day? As I am faithful with these, God will entrust me with greater things.

How am I doing with responding to my husband and children? Am I being faithful with time spent with my Heavenly Father? How am I doing with budgeting my time and resources? I can see some times where I am doing well, and others where I could use some improvement. Above all else I desire to be faithful to what God has called me to do. I pray that I will be His witness no matter what different things I face. I desire to hear God say to me, "... 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!' (Matthew 25:21).

What is God calling you today to be faithful in doing? Step out in faith and trust He will be there. He won't disappoint you!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Running a Marathon

Okay I haven't been literally running a marathon, but it sure has felt like it this week. It has been a crazy week with school schedule, extra-curricular events to chauffeur my sons to, church activities, Proverbs 31 Gather & Grow Group, driving my son to and from work - a 45 minute drive each way..... I'm sure you get the picture. I just have not had many free moments to sit down at the computer.

On Tuesday I discovered that my second mammogram was suspicious. I have a cluster of calcification and when that starts to happen it isn't a good sign. So this week has been busy with trying to set up doctor appointments as well as tracking down where my mammogram films are, so they can be pulled so I can hand carry them next week to my appointment with the breast surgeon. She will do further testing and perhaps set up a time for a biopsy as well. I feel like I have been running a marathon and I am not a runner. I much prefer walking. :)

Still through all the craziness of this week I have felt God's peace and presence. I know He will be with me no matter what I face next week. I know He will beside me holding my hand each step of the way. What a reassurance that is.

Yesterday I was stressed out...trying to do schoolwork, get the house cleaned up for the P31 study last night, bake for two different events, etc. My youngest son was giving me a hard time with school. A lot of his problem dealt with not knowing what the future holds for me, and the fear that he was experiencing because of that. I finally decided to call a halt to schoolwork for the day. My sons worked together to get the house clean and ready for the evening as well as baking. We also hung some bright Christmas garland around our door frames, had Christmas music playing and brought down the miniature Christmas tree down from the attic. I love the Christmas season. This helped me to step back for a while and not experience stress, but instead joy as we prepared in just a small way for the upcoming holiday.

I praise God that He understands and knows all that we go through. I praise God that His love for me never wavers. I pray that in all I do and say that I will be a beacon that points others to Him.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Thy Will Be Done

It still amazes me how God uses everyday things in my life to speak to me. Saturday night I was awake several times through the night thinking about the "what ifs" concerning my mammogram. I still knew that whatever happened I could trust the Lord, but I was beginning to have a seed of apprehension as I contemplated the unknown future. Sunday morning still found me a little ill at ease. My husband was gone for the weekend and I didn't have him here to reassure or comfort me.

I went to choir practice before church service. The song we were singing was entitled "Lean Into the Potter's Hands". It talked about how we need to choose to lean into God's hands. Only He can bring us peace and comfort. As I sang the words, I praised God that He holds my future and that I can trust Him. He again gave me His peace and comfort.

Later that evening I discovered that the choir director, and my dear friend will be facing surgery as well as other potential treatments. I took the news hard and grieved for my friend and what she will be facing. This morning she was still very heavy on my heart as I prayed for her. She is such a vital part of our choir. I always enjoy her enthusiasm, encouragement and joy as she directs.

I am not a great singer and have always said that I am one of those in the choir that "makes a joyful noise". I am there not because I am good at singing, but because I desire to praise the Lord through singing. My friend makes it even more of a joy to sing.

Because of her health issues it is very likely that she will be unable to direct the Christmas cantata this year. As I prayed early this morning I was crying out to God on her behalf. I knew she felt peace no matter what she faced, but I was not feeling any. Then God brought to mind a song in our cantata this year that talks about Jesus taking off His crown, laying it down and saying "Thy will be done," before He chose to come to earth as a baby.

God used those four little words to show me that no matter what I face, or my friend faces I can trust Him. I can say with confidence "Thy will be done" in my life and in my friend as well. Thank you Lord for this reassurance.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Joy in the Journey

A few days ago I celebrated an anniversary. On November 1, 2006 I started to faithfully keep a "Joy Journal". I had just had a crazy month before that. I was in charge of Pastor Appreciation Month (October) and when it finally was over I was stressed out. My husband had commented to me that I had been lacking joy. A friend of mine had given me a gratitude journal but I didn't plan to start it until January because it had dated pages to write on each day.

Well after hearing the assessment from my husband, I knew that God was calling me to start the journal right away instead of waiting to the new year. So each evening before bed, as I checked my blood pressure, I would write a few sentences about what had brought me joy that day. As I was faithful with filling it out each day, I realized that I was starting to have a more joyful heart and attitude.

As I wrote my last entry on October 31st I observed that a year had passed by already. I only had missed seven days throughout the year when I did not get a chance to write. I realize that God has changed my heart a lot this past year.

I find myself humming and singing praise songs much more frequently. I hadn't even thought much about it until this past Monday after I had gone for my first mammogram and I stopped off at a retail store before heading home. As I locked the car door I saw somebody give me an odd look. I then realized that I had been singing a hymn. It reminds me of Luke 6:45 which says, "The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks."

I encourage you if you have never done this before, to give it a try. You can use an ordinary notebook and just write a few sentences at the end of each day. You will be surprised at how much God will start working in your heart. You also will find that you have a lot of things to be thankful for and that bring you joy!

Friday, November 2, 2007

The Power of Words

I have had various thoughts and ideas about what to write about today. Multiple topics came to mind, but uppermost on my heart has been the power of words. Last night at our Ladies Bible study we were studying the topic of conversation and the words that we use. I also have just started reading The Power of a Woman's Words by Sharon Jaynes. As we discussed the chapter of Susanne Scheppmann's study called Perplexing Proverbs, I was struck by the fact that we can make or break some one's day by the words we speak to them. Proverbs 25:11 states, "A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver."

I think of the different words I have heard this week. The phone call that said that they needed me to come in for additional mammogram x-rays, two dear friends that offered to go along with me today; sweet comments made by other bloggers; love, encouragement and prayers from my beloved husband. I also think of the times that I was short when I responded to my sons, or was harsh because of being under stress. The Lord reminded me that even in the midst of difficult situations I still can choose the "right" words to say, and attitude. Being under stress is not an excuse for saying unkind things.

I pray that God will continue to chip away all the old sin nature in my life. Each time I learn something new in my spiritual walk, I think of the image of an artist designing a marble statue and how he chips away all of the unwanted parts. I pray God will chip away all those things in my life that don't bring glory to Him. I desire to be more like Him in all areas of my life.

What words of encouragement and love can you share with someone today? Proverbs 15:4 says that our tongues can bring healing and be a tree of life. Ask God who He has for you to speak pleasant words to, that are sweet and healing.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Go and Make Disciples

I have been thinking lately about the command that Jesus gave, which was to go and make disciples. I guess it has been on my mind, since I was recently awarded the Mathetes Award for excellence in discipleship. I was truly humbled by this award.

A disciple is defined as a follower. Our goal as Christians is to lead others to God and that they would follow Him.

I have been leading a ladies Bible study in my home for about two years now. We have studied various topics: Proverbs 31 woman, Titus 2:3-5; Fruit of the Spirit and Perplexing Proverbs. For the majority of the studies, we just have a few woman that attend. We have come to know each other pretty well and have developed a close relationship. My heart's desire for them is that they will grow and learn more about being a woman that is sold out to Jesus. I guess you could say that I disciple them. But I have no desire for them to turn into "Jodie". I do not want them to be a follower of me, but instead to be a follower of Jesus. My job is to point them to the only person that is worthy of following, and that is Jesus.

There are many areas in our lives where we have the opportunity to influence others, or disciple them. I have been a Christian for 37 years now. The older I get, I realize how vital it is to point others to Jesus. We do this through the things we say and don't say. I am becoming more aware of the importance of continually guarding my speech. I pray that the things that come out of my mouth will glorify and bring praise to God. He is my heart's desire.

Cooking Update

Well we just completed the month of October. I'm sure my son is breathing a sigh of relief. He had the sole responsibility of preparing all of our meals for that month. He did a wonderful job. He tried some new recipes that I am interested in trying too! It has been a great experience for him and he really has enjoyed it.

I realized this morning how I have gotten used to his preparing the meals. Now Mom is back into having to do the planning, preparing and cooking. Don't get me wrong. I actually have missed cooking. (Didn't think I would! :) I think my hardest adjustment will be remembering again to prepare the various meals. I'm sure my family won't let me forget!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Walk By Faith

"For we walk by faith, not by sight." 2 Corinthians 5:7

The Lord reminded me of this verse this morning when I received an unexpected phone call. On Monday I had gone for my annual mammogram. I was told that if there were any issues with reading the films I would hear back in a couple days. This morning as I walked with my walking partner I shared that I guess everything went okay because I hadn't heard anything from the clinic. Within minutes after returning home from exercising I had a call from the health center stating that I needed to come back in for additional x-rays.

I must admit that a small part is apprehensive since both my mother and maternal grandmother were diagnosed with breast cancer within months of each other. They both made it through treatments and are cancer free today. So on Friday I face yet another mammogram.

I am choosing to walk in faith and not by sight. I know that there is no guarantee that I will get the all clear, but I know that I serve a Heavenly Father that I can trust. If for some reason I face cancer in my future, I know that it is part of God's plan for my life and He will help me each step of the way. What a reassurance I have that what comes into my life is filtered through His hands when I am choosing to follow and serve Him.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Take Time for Rest

Last night I was telling my husband how tired I have been lately. Our schedule has been pretty intense the past couple weeks. I have felt overwhelmed with all that needs to get accomplished. When I have too many things I'm trying to do and am not getting enough rest, my body responds with headaches and chest pains. Each day for the past couple weeks I have been experiencing at least one of those symptoms.

As I was conversing with my hubby I realized that I have been trying to do too many things lately. They have all been good things, but I just can't do it all. You think I would realize that by now! :) It seems that whenever I have too many days of having to be away from the home because of various activities, my body responds accordingly.

Today God has been whispering to me the need to slow down and that there are times when I need to say no, even when it is a good activity. God made a point of resting on the seventh day after He created the world. Jesus often made a point of getting away from the crowds for some time of rest.

This afternoon my time of rest will include our annual Fall hike to the mountains. Ever since our boys were tiny, we have tried each year to go to the mountains once the leaves start changing colors. Many years we have collected a variety of leaves and then came home and made festive place mats. We take a picnic supper to enjoy before we do some hiking together. It is an event that we all look forward to doing.

It will be a shorter trip this year because my husband still has been experiencing back problems and won't be able to walk very far. It also is starting to get dark quicker, so our time will be limited. But I look forward to glorying in God's presence and the beauty of His nature. When we return home the guys will be having a special "guys" movie night. I hope to just have some down time and get caught up with things that have been weighing on me.

I plan to look at my schedule and see where I can carve times of rest into each week - perhaps even each day. How are you doing with having a time of rest? Are there some areas that you need to change in your life?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Good Samaritan

On Saturday my husband and I were able to attend Homecoming festivities at the college where we graduated. It was easy to do that since we live in the same town as the college. Our boys were busy serving at a local camp for the day so we had the day to ourselves.

After enjoying the free breakfast, watching the homecoming parade, taking part in some tailgating activities, we decided to stop for lunch at the Chick-fil-A which had recently opened on campus. We entered the food line and reminisced about the "good old days". We picked out two sandwiches and a large waffle fries and placed it on the tray and then went to the register to check out.

My husband pulled out his wallet and discovered that he had not brought along the type of credit card that we needed to pay for our food. We had no cash, and I had left my wallet at home. We did not even have a MAC card. Of course we were a little flustered, but said that we would just have to put the food back since we were unable to pay for it. To our surprise the cashier piped up and said that she could cover it for us. My husband had mentioned that he works on campus. She told him that he should just come over on Monday and pay her what we owed.

We were shocked by her generosity. She had no guarantee that my husband would actually pay her back, she just did it for us with good faith that we would pay her back. (We did go back home immediately and got the money and paid her right away). God used this cashier - Molly - to speak to my heart. God reminded me of the story of the Good Samaritan. Molly did not know us, but she still chose to help us out. She performed an act of kindness for us and we were truly blessed by it.

When was the last time you performed a random act of kindness for someone you know, or for a complete stranger? There are many ideas of things that you can do: pay for the person's meal behind you as you go through the drive-thru; rake leaves for a neighbor, write a note of encouragement, take a meal to a shut-in, take a basket of goodies to a local business and let them know how much you appreciate them... The list goes on and on of ideas of how we can be a Good Samaritan in someone's life. Ask God this week to show you someone that He would like you to minister to. He will point out someone and will also give you an idea of what you can do to be a blessing to that person.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Holding Hands

Hebrews 8:9-10 "It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord. This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people."

This scripture was part of my devotion reading this morning. I was struck by the phrase, "when I took them by the hand." I thought this was an awesome picture of how God leads us if we allow Him to do so. The more I thought about this image, the Lord reminded me of when I was a senior in college. I was involved in a Christian fellowship group on campus and was growing tremendously in my spiritual walk, was recently engaged, and felt very close to the Lord. One day as I walked to campus and attended my classes I could definitely feel God's presence with me in a physical way. I even could feel His touch as He held my hand. It was something I had never experienced before.

There have been other times in my life when I have been very much aware of God's presence in my life. I remember the unexplainable peace God filled me with as my husband and I watched our then five-year-old son being lifted into a helicopter to be rushed to Hershey Medical Center after he fell from his bunk bed and completely fractured his spleen. As he left we did not know if he would be alive, in surgery, or what would happen to him. But as the helicopter prepared to take off I had an overwhelming sense that no matter what happened (whether he lived or died), that God was in control and I could trust Him.

Holding hands reminds me of a small child that grasps the larger hand of their parent. They have complete trust in their caregiver. I also think about holding hands with my sweetheart. Even after almost twenty years of marriage I enjoy holding my husband's hand and know how much he loves and cares for me. As much as I love holding hands with my husband and occasionally with my sons, I want to be a woman that is holding hands with God. Holding my "Daddy's" hand requires that I place my trust in Him and allow Him to lead me. After all, He knows what is best for me and knows the direction I need to be going.

When was the last time you held hands with your Heavenly Father and allowed Him to lead you?

Chicken Soup for the Homeschooler's Soul

Is this a book that you'd be interested in???
Please stop by Apples of Gold and see what great idea she has!

Free Candle

Saw this while browsing. It is a free candle giveaway. Check it out.
http://isthatafreecandle.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Rainy Day

Some people are depressed when there is a rainy day. I always enjoy whether we have a rainy or sunny day. Today we are having a rainy day. Originally I planned to walk early this morning with a dear friend, but we changed plans because it was pouring at the time. This allowed me an opportunity to get a little more rest this morning, which was an unexpected blessing.

As I thought about the beauty of a rainy day, God also reminded me about the importance of letting Him reign in my life. It must be a daily choice and decision to allow Him to be in control of my life. I desire for Him to always be in the center of my life.

I was struck by a couple sentences in Priscilla Shirer's book, He Speaks to Me this afternoon. She said, "When God wants to do something out of the ordinary, can He look to you or me? Or will He have to bypass us because we've become too set in our ways?" I don't know about you my friend, but I desire to be a woman that says "Yes!" to God. I don't want to become so set in my ways that I don't allow the Holy Spirit to move in my heart. I desire for each day to be a "Reigny Day" where Christ reigns in my heart and life.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Treasured Moments

This past weekend we had the pleasure of having my in-laws come for a visit. For a number of years they lived in the Midwest so we would only get to see them once a year when we took our family vacation. Those days held lots of joy and happiness as we had hours of family time together driving in the car, but also visiting my husband's parents. These vacations were some of the most memorable for all of us.

Several years ago they were able to move to our side of the United States, just a couple hours drive away. But because of various circumstances we have not been able to see them often and rarely just the two of them. In my heart, I often prayed that God would somehow make it that we could have some of that alone time with them again, hopefully before my two sons were grown and left home.

We were pleasantly surprised to recently receive a phone call that just the two of them would be able to visit this past weekend. This has been rare since they have moved into the area for various reasons. One of the main reasons is that my mother-in-law has been battling cancer for a couple years and her health has been poor. She currently is in remission and is regaining her strength. Praise God!

Saturday found my husband, two sons and father-in-law participating in an all day scouting event at a local military post. With the guys gone, my mother-in-law suggested a day of shopping together. This is something that we have been unable to do together for quite a number of years. We spent over five hours shopping, trying on clothes and just re-connecting. I was pleasantly surprised with the purchases that she made for me. As much as I am enjoying the new clothes that fit me nicely(Thanks Mom! :), and make me feel better about myself, I would have to say the moments we spent together is what I treasure the most.

As I wrote in my journal that evening, God reminded me of the prayer that I had been praying now for over four years - to be able to spend time alone again with my in-laws. I realized that I finally was seeing a glimpse of that answer to prayer. I praise God for this weekend that we shared. It is a treasured moment to me.

As I pondered writing about this, it made me think about the time that I spend with the Lord each day. How much of that time is a 'Treasured Moment'? Do I take the time to really enjoy being at the feet of my Heavenly Father or am I just going through the motions so I can cross it off my "To Do" list? Do I glory in His presence as I watch the sun rise? Do I praise Him as I go about my day, teaching the kids, doing laundry, meals, chores, etc. Am I treasuring each moment I have with Him?

How about you? When was the last time you treasured the time you spent with Jesus?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Writing Club

I don't have anything deep and philosophical to write today :), but thought I would share with you a home school idea. My boys are in 8th and 11th grade this year. At times they like writing, when they can choose what they want to write about, but not so excited when it is an assignment.

Because of my love of writing I decided to teach a writing club for home school students in our area this year. Nothing big or extensive. We meet once a month. Today was our first time to meet and only one adolescent came. We geared it for 6th - 12th graders. This first month each of the boys (all we currently have) brought along stories/poems that they had written and shared them with the group. They all enjoyed reading their own writing aloud, and hearing appropriate feedback.

Next we talked about the assignment which will be due next month. For their first assignment I chose something fun for them to do. They are creating a comic book that has to feature four different people. Two heroes, a helpless victim and an antagonist. Since we had a small group and were finished with readings early, I allowed them time to start brainstorming about their comic books. I pulled out paper and colored pencils so they could start sketching ideas.

They were excited and so was I as I saw them get interested about the project. Most home school moms I have talked with do not feel confident with teaching writing. I don't know that I do either, but I figured what was important was that they had some guided projects to accomplish, as well as a safe environment where they could share their ideas and be accepted. I have learned that it does not need to be elaborate.

What new endeavor is God calling you to do? Don't be afraid to step out and say "Yes" to His calling.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Hint of Evil

A couple times on Christian radio recently I have heard various speakers talking about the importance of staying away from even the hint of evil. I think as Christians we don't often realize how much we flirt with the world and flirt with just a hint of evil.

We perhaps watch a TV program that may be completely fine except for that short scene that displays an illicit affair. Or we joke with co-workers and don't say anything when an off-color comment is made. Even as Christians we aren't immune to this. How easy it is to listen to the latest piece of gossip, or perhaps even spread some. What secret sins do you hide in your heart?

The Lord reminded me of this as I was walking this morning from 6:30 - 7 AM in my neighborhood. It was a cool, dark misty morning. The sun wasn't even up yet. As I walked I viewed a number of houses with Halloween decorations.

Now I know this is a controversial topic when it comes to Christians. When I grew up we celebrated this holiday and even went around as kids to get candy like everyone else. I never thought a whole lot about it until my husband and I were stationed in Germany. Where we lived there was a large population of practicing witches in the area. It was halloween and we did not have any children yet. We didn't want to participate in handing out candy, but choose instead to go to a movie on the military post. As we walked to the movies you could see kids going around in all kinds of costumes, and your first inclination was that it was cute. But yet, we also could feel an almost physical oppression that night from the spiritual warfare that was going on as well. We somehow knew that on the surface things looked like just a fun time for kids, but also knew for the demonic world, it was a totally different realm. Because of that, we never have chosen to celebrate halloween with our children.

This morning as I walked the Lord reminded me of this occurrence again. As I was getting exercise and praying, I saw multiple houses decorated with witches, ghosts, and bats. The Lord spoke to me about the importance of staying away from even the hint of evil. 1 John 2:15 talks about not loving things of this world. When we choose to love the things of the world, we don't have God's love inside us. So are there any things that you are holding onto that are of this world? Let's join together and choose to be separate from this world so that others see Christ in us.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Pick Up a Good Book

I am so blessed by our local library system. They often get new Christian books that are out in the stores and I am able to get them via inner-library loan. I usually have at least one book going at a time. Right now I am currently reading The Parting by Beverly Lewis. I also am making my way through Leading Women to the Heart of God by Lysa TerKeurst. Last night at the library, my husband picked up He Speaks to Me - Preparing to Hear from God by Priscilla Shirer.
What good Christian books can you recommend?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

A Challenge for You

You hear complaints every day - about the weather, the driver in front of you, the cost of gas, how long it takes at the drive-thru..... The list goes on and on.

I recently was reminded of this. Where I live in Pennsylvania has been having several weeks of fluctuating temperatures. You hear people complain because it is too hot, too cold, too sunny, too rainy. God drew my attention to this as I looked back over my joy journal over the past month or so, and each entry I mentioned praise to God for a beautiful day. It didn't matter to me if if was hot, cold, rainy, sunny, or whatever. Each day I found something about the weather to be thankful for.

Don't get me wrong, I have never considered myself a positive person. I often look at the negative side of things, or so I thought. But as I look back over the past year or so, I realize that God has been doing a gradual change in my heart. I have been praying for I don't know how long, that God would change me and make me into what He desires for me to be. I mentioned in an earlier blog that each day I pray to "see, hear, and feel" God in a new way. God has been using this not only to draw me closer to Him, but also to change how I view things as well.

I don't know that I can say that I have gone an entire day without complaining about something. But God was showing me this morning that it is a new area I need to attempt. How about you. Have you ever gone an entire day without murmuring (or thinking) a complaint? How about two days, a week, a month, a lifetime? Our goal is to not complain at all, like it says in scripture. "Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe." Philippians 2:14-15

People sure would take notice if they never hear you uttering a complaint. Are you willing to take the challenge of the verses and walk a life without complaint? How about we start today?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Lessons From Elisha

On Wednesday evening, my Pastor taught on Elisha and brought up some interesting truths about this prophet of God that I never had thought of before.

1 Kings 19:19-21, "So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. "Let me kiss my father and mother good-by," he said, "and then I will come with you."
"Go back," Elijah replied. "What have I done to you?"
So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his attendant."

It is likely that Elisha came from a very wealthy family based on the fact that he had twelve pair of oxen. Having livestock during this time period marked the amount of wealth they had. I found it interesting that when Elisha decided to follow Elijah, he sacrificed (gave up) the oxen. He used his plow to cook the meat and then shared it with the town.

In a sense Elisha burned his bridge behind him, when he made his decision to follow this man of God. He choose to leave all of his worldly ties and securities and step into an unknown world. He walked in faith, trusting God with his future. What are you willing to give up to follow Jesus?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

God's Creation

Today is a beautiful day in Pennsylvania. The temperatures are back to cooler again and the leaves are starting to change. A beautiful breeze is blowing and I can't help but glory in the beauty of God's creation. As my weekly walking partner and I traversed the neighborhood this morning, I was awed by God's handiwork. I smile as I hear the birds chirping and singing outside of my windows, right now as I write.

I stepped outside for a few minutes earlier in the day, and saw a chipmunk scurrying. Later he was under one of the bird feeders filling his cheeks with dropped seeds and then hurried off to hide them in the neighbor's yard. The next visitor to the feeder was a squirrel. I don't mind when he stays on the ground and forages, but he tends to climb the pole so he can get to the feeder, and scares off the birds.

I can't help but think of Psalm 72:19, "Praise be to his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and Amen." When was the last time you breathed a prayer of thanksgiving for the beauty of the world God has created for us?

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Rotten Apples

Part of being a home schooling family is that we spend a lot of time together, which has its positives and negatives. A negative sometimes is that we get on each other's nerves. Well this morning the boys were in that situation. Neither of them were thinking of the other, so their bad attitudes were wearing on each other. After a short walk around the neighborhood, and having to share positive qualities about their brother, they returned home in a better frame of mind.

This afternoon I finally got around to working with three baskets of apples that had fallen off our tree. They had been waiting for a while, so a number of them were starting to rot. As they rotted, they also tended to infect the apples around them. As I dealt with the spoiling apples I was reminded of my boy's attitude this morning.

Both boys had an attitude and were infecting each other. Isn't that true of most of us? We tend at times to have a lousy attitude about something or someone, and we "share" it with whomever we contact. But God calls us to go beyond being a rotten apple. We have to ask Him to peel away the spots and turn us into apples of gold. "A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver." (Proverbs 25:11) Are you in need of having God carve away some rotten things in your heart? Why don't you ask Him to do that today?

Monday, October 8, 2007

A Heart Tuned to God

Could your heart use a tune-up? When was the last time that you felt God prompting you when you knew that you did something wrong, and He wanted you to make amends? Perhaps you argue with that nudging that what you did really wasn't a big deal. It should be enough to just pray and ask forgiveness.

Yesterday I said some things to a friend that I shouldn't have said. They were unkind words that dealt with another woman. After I left her I knew that God was telling me to make amends. I first argued with myself that I asked God to forgive me, that should be enough, right? No. God was telling me that I needed to call my friend and apologize for speaking ill of someone else. I needed to say those words "I was wrong, could you please forgive me?" When I called and left a message on her answering machine I felt immediate relief.

I know that the key to hearing those 'prompts' from God is by being close to my Heavenly Father, and dealing with my sin right away. If I tend to put it aside and not follow God's leading, my hearing comes a little muffled. I don't know about you, but I don't want to have anything that stands in the way of clearly hearing my Heavenly Father talking to me. I want to have my heart constantly tuned to Him.

"Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful." Hebrews 10:22-23

Special Thanks

It has just been over a month since I have started the world of blogging. I am not overly computer savvy, but with my husband's help I figured out how to start up an account with blogger and came up with a basic page set up.

Well the Lord knew that my heart's desire was to have a nicer looking page with an inviting banner to welcome readers. I was so blessed by an offer to help me in this area. So a special thank you to Lisa at Apples of Gold(http://ourapplesofgold.blogspot.com/) Just as Lisa has blessed me, perhaps you too can reach out to someone and bless them in a special way today.

Friday, October 5, 2007

God's Word for the Day

This summer I had the wonderful opportunity to attend Proverbs 31 Ministry's She Speaks Conference. (http://www.shespeaksconference.com/) During one of the main session, Lysa TerKeurst, president of Proverbs 31 shared that each day she prays "Lord I want to see you, to hear your voice and to know you." (http://lysaterkeurst.blogspot.com/)

Since the conference, I have made a point of praying that same prayer early in the morning, when I am having my devotions. While teaching a Proverbs 31 Bible study several months ago, I encouraged the ladies to seek God each day and find out what word/instructions He has for you. I have found that it often takes quieting my heart to be able to hear God's soft whisper to me. The wonderful thing is that He doesn't disappoint me. When I remain in close fellowship with Him it becomes much easier to hear what He desires to tell me.

I believe Renee Swope (http://reneeswope.blogspot.com/) said in her blog that she has a specific chair that she uses each day for her time with the Lord. Whenever she passes by the chair throughout the day she is reminded of their time together. How about you, do you have a special place where you meet with God?

One of the things God has talked to me about this past week was the need to get up earlier. I am not a morning person. Perhaps partly because my husband enjoys staying up late, so I try to stay up with him. He can handle five to six hours of sleep and do fine, I can't. I do best with seven to eight hours. So one day last week I had the opportunity to walk in the afternoon for about a half hour and I asked the Lord how I can better schedule my day and get things accomplished. He simply said, "You could get up earlier." So now you find me up much earlier than I used to. This allows me time to regularly exercise, (which had been sporadic) and still have time to catch up with email, blogs, etc. before time to start school for the day. I find myself more encouraged just from that small change I made. I'm able to get more things accomplished throughout the day.

When was the last time you sought out God and asked what word He had for you for the day? What new things is He showing and teaching you?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Feasting on God's Word

As my 16 year old son fed our pet guinea pig this morning he expressed an interest in my writing a blog about our guinea pig - Squeakers. I thought about her eagerness when it comes to food. In the morning when we give her timothy hay, she is almost frantic for it. At lunch time she knows she will get a carrot and can tell when I'm peeling apples or carrots, and will squeal with hopes that she will be fed something as well.

I thought of the parallel to feasting on God's Word. Perhaps you are a nibbler, and just open your Bible and read a verse or two. Or are you like our guinea pig that tends to gorge? Do you have long periods of time throughout the day that you are able to really delve into the Bible? Or perhaps you are a person that ruminates. This actually refers to how a cow chews its cud. It regurgitates what was in his stomach and chews it again.

I think there are times when we only are able to nibble at God's Word and other times when we have time to gorge. No matter how much time you are able to spend isn't as important as that you spend time ruminating on what God shows you through His scriptures. How are you doing with feasting on God's Word today?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Spread Your Wings and Soar

Several months ago I saw one of the ugliest baby birds I have ever seen. He spent the day hanging out on our deck. I seriously wondered if something was wrong with him. He acted like he wasn't quite right. He often leaned to one side and constantly had his beak wide open and would try and snap at passing bugs, but always missed. He looked like he was having a bad hair (feather) day because he had a tuft on top of his head that stood up at a funny angle. I felt sorry for the little guy.

At first I couldn't tell from his coloring, what type of bird he was. He was nondescript in a lot of ways, but did have a little bit of red on his tail. My son and I got bird books out from the library to see if we could determine what he was. Much to our surprise, he was a cardinal. He looked more like an ugly duckling.

Weeks passed and we would see him each day as he would come to our bird feeders. He still exhibited odd behavior, but somehow I became attached to the little guy. (At least I thought, he was a guy, but it is hard to tell for sure when the bird is young.) He lost some of his quirks and began to display the coloring of an adult male cardinal.

Each time I would catch a glimpse of him throughout the summer, I would note how much he was growing and changing. He gradually developed more red feathers, but still has kept the brown beak.

Just last evening I saw our Juve (he is no longer a baby, but more of a juvenile/adolescent). This time he was sitting in our apple tree, pecking at one of the apples. His beak slowly is getting more of an orange tint. This time I noticed that there was a female bird in the tree as well. Again tonight he was back at the same apple, and was accompanied by a female cardinal. Whenever he flew to the ground, she followed him. She also followed as he flew off to visit somewhere else.

I smile when I hear his call (and his friends) throughout the day. When I see him with the young lady I feel like the proud parent that has successfully raised their child, and now he is soaring on his own. It reminded me of Isaiah 40:31, "but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

I also thought how God has called me to "soar" lately. Ever since I was a little girl I have loved writing. All through my school years and newly married, I wrote extensively. When the boys entered my life, I put it to the side, figuring there wasn't time to do it. The past year or two God has renewed my passion for writing. He has called me back to working at honing my craft, and taking it to a new level. For me it has been a walk of faith - stepping out off the cliff and not knowing where God will lead me. My prayer is that I don't fall, but that I soar like the eagle, and like my little cardinal buddy.

Is there anything today that God is calling you to trust Him with so that you can soar? Why don't you talk to Him about it right now?

Love One Another

"We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing." 2Thessalonians 1:3

I overheard a comment made at church the other day that really saddened me. The main gist was that two women were not talking to each other. It made me think how much it grieves our Heavenly Father when we as Christian do not get along with each other and choose not to speak to each other. The verse above points out that just as our faith grows, so also should our love for one another.

Where are you at today, my friend? Is their a grievance between you and someone else that needs to be resolved? Don't let another day go by with ill feelings toward another. Pray and ask for forgiveness before you approach the person.

Praise God that we can choose to forgive someone, with His help. My prayer for you today is that you will walk in Christ's freedom.

Monday, October 1, 2007

The Cook has the Month Off

My 16 year old son has been interested this school year in learning how to cook. So for the past month or so we have had a pretty intensive course of study on cooking. Now comes the test - he is in charge of all meals for this entire month. So far he has only prepared breakfast and lunch today, but I was surprised at how freeing it has been not having to be in charge of meal preparation. He also prepared supper in the crock pot this morning, so he wouldn't have to worry about cooking since he has his college class this afternoon. I think I will enjoy having the month off from cooking. Perhaps I'll be able to do some baking, that I just never seem to find the time to do. I look forward to what new things will show me this month, as I have some extra time that I can spend with him. What a joy to home school and have the flexibility to do something like this. I'll keep you updated on how he does.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Still Small Voice

I just took an exhilarating walk. I had spent most of the day at the computer trying to do some writing and catch up on some blogging. In between time, I home schooled my 13 year old. Fortunately we do a light day on Fridays with school. I finally decided to take a break and enjoy the beautiful day. We have had several days of heat and humidity. The showers we had overnight ushered in a cool, breezy day with lower humidity. I had the doors and windows open all day, and the outside was calling me.

I set out for a vigorous walk and some time with the Lord. While exercising, observing the beauty of the day, I also talked with my Heavenly Father. I have been struggling some with balance lately and trying find to get everything done - or at least the things that have highest priority. I felt God prompting me to some changes in my schedule that are very doable that would allow me time to still devote time with home school each day as well as allow some time for my writing and blogging, as well as time left over for the daily chores.

I pray Lord that I will always have my heart open and attuned to your leading. Help me to make the steps necessary to have a more balanced day. Make me more like you Lord.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A Letter to Millions

"After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea." Colossians 4:16

Perusing through Colossians today in my Bible reading, I noticed this verse that the apostle Paul wrote at the end of his letter to the church at Colosse. Paul's letter was written with the intention that others would read it and share it with another church as well. That got me thinking. I have written many letters through the years, often ones of encouragement. My letters have touched individuals, but they have been limited in that the only person likely to read them is the recipient.

Paul's intentions was that the believers in two churches would hear his "news". It is very likely that he had no idea of the ramifications of his obedience in writing that letter (and others throughout the New Testament). Because Paul was faithful, he has touched millions of lives down through the ages from the simple act of putting his thoughts down on paper.

I love to write, but know the likelihood of me touching millions through the words I write is pretty unlikely. But I thought too that each of us have an opportunity to touch millions through our obedience and witness for Christ. If we faithfully shine our light for people to see, others too are encouraged to shine and share the gospel, and through time it becomes far reaching. Scripture says, "Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye. Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart." Proverbs 7:2-3 You may not ever be an author that reaches the multitudes, but you can choose each day to write God's truths on the tablet of your heart so that others see Him through you.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Sweep Away the Dirt

Psalm 51:10 "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me."

Today I finally got around to doing a job that I have been putting off for months - cleaning off the front porch. Somehow it had become an extra storeroom - trashcans, flower pots, dead flowers in pots, bows and arrows, bubble pipe, seeds that were drying out, some chairs that need fixing, etc. Those were just the big items. Then there was the accumulation of dirt, twigs, stones, grass, and leaves.

I had my sons help move the various objects to their "home". After removing all the objects I was able to see all the dirt and debris that had collected on the porch - more than I realized. I picked up the obvious trash and threw it away and then started sweeping the porch clean. When the task was completed I felt a sense of satisfaction and renewal in some way.

I was reminded of the "dirt" that can daily store up in our lives. Unkind words spoken, an attitude, responding in anger or frustration, not taking the time to listen to a child, spouse or friend... I realized how important it is to daily go to God and ask him to clean out the dirt and cobwebs that are in my heart. I pray each day Lord, that you show me the need to start fresh and pure.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Prayer Update

Just wanted to thank you for praying. The boys are on the mend. My husband still is suffering with back problems. He has problems with it about once a year, but it seems slower to heal this time than normal. Sure would appreciate your continued prayers.

Last week was a rough one with the boys sick, my husband out of commission, the toilet sprung a leak and had soaked through to the basement below, soaking the ceiling tile, dealt with a dead bird, tight finances, driving a car that in order to get out of it, you have to roll the window down to open the door from the outside.... But in the midst of a hard week, I also have tried to take time each day to praise the Lord and thank Him for His many blessings.

I have hopes that this week will be better. But even if it is not, I know that God is in control and He is never surprised by what happens in my life. I can take comfort in Him.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Dead Bird

2 Corinthians 2:16To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?

I had an unpleasant task to perform this morning. For the past couple months we have been regularly feeding the birds. It has been a joy to see all the varieties that God has created. But today I discovered that somehow a bird had fallen into one of our feeders and died. I had the unpleasant task of removing it. It happened to be the feeder that only has a small opening to pour feed into. I looked but was unable to find a way to take off the top of the feeder.

My husband has a type of grabber tool - don't know the official name of it. So I stood on tiptoe, trying to see how I was going to fish the bird out of there. It took several failed attempts. I prayed, "Please help me Lord." As I was able to draw the bird closer to the top, the stench of death filled my nostrils. I almost lost my resolve and was tempted to let someone else in the family "deal with it." But I persevered.

As I carried the bird to the compost pile I was reminded of the stench of my own sins -- when I choose to respond poorly to my husband or teenagers, when I choose to eat "just one more cookie", or I choose to spend time with God later. Numerous choices throughout the day can either be the smell of death or the fragrance of life.

Lord, help me to choose the fragrance of life in my daily walk with you. May others smell me before I come - a sweet fragrance and not the odor of death. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Prayer Request

Just wanted to ask for prayer for my husband. He threw his back out a week ago and then re- injured it on Sunday and still hasn't been doing the greatest. One son has a cold and the other seems to be starting with one too. My mind is focused on the need for sleep..... How comforting to know that we are part of God's family and that others can be praying. Thanks for your prayers in advance.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Keeping Your Head Above the Water

Ever feel so swamped with your "To Do" list that you are treading water and just barely keeping your head above the water? That has been my life lately. My husband has been out from work for almost a week now with back problems, and my youngest son started with a cold and fever yesterday. Being nursemaid is not a strong point for me, so I am struggling to be pleasant while serving. With two out of commission my "To Do" list has been put on hold and I feel like I am getting further behind. But I am reassured that God is not surprised with where I am and that I am not able to get much completed. I pray that I will respond sweetly to my son and husband and learn from God what it is that I need to focus on each day and just trust Him with the rest.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Applesauce Days

Last evening I made my first homemade applesauce of the season. It seems hard to believe that we are at that time of year already. Here in Pennsylvania we have been having pretty warm temperatures. Next week Fall starts. My eldest son gathered apples that had fallen on the ground before he and his brother mowed the lawn. It was enough to make applesauce, so last night you would have found me standing in my kitchen peeling apples. Then taking a quick break to walk with my youngest son while he did some popcorn selling for Boy Scouts. After my oldest son finished up work on a college paper, he joined us so he could also sell popcorn. I returned home to catch up with a few emails and peel some more apples. By the time the boys were in bed I finally got the apples to the stoves. Shortly afterward, the aroma of homemade applesauce filled our home.

I love the sight, smells and sounds of this season. The cool crisp air smells different. It is a time of homemade applesauce and apple pie. Soon we will have leaves crunching under our feet as we walk. It also usually is a time that I start burning candles again. I also start listening to Christmas music. In fact there is some playing right now. I happen to love the Christmas season so I always start enjoying the music early. We still have a strand of Christmas lights hanging in our dining room. From time to time when I'm feeling blue, my kids will plug those in and surprise me.

What a blessing to have the seasons change and to have new things to anticipate. God truly has blessed us. Why don't you whisper a prayer of thanks to your Heavenly Father after reading this.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Chocolate Indulgences

This week I was scheduled for my yearly physical (woman) exam at the doctor. Not my favorite thing to do - okay probably one of my least favorite things to do. After it was over I decided to stop by the local K-Mart just for a few minutes before returning home. While there I found a few items - a pair of shoes for myself that were on sale and a shirt for each of my boys that was 50% off the clearance price. Then as I was in line I happened to peruse the candy while waiting for the customer in front of me to finish up with the cashier. I noticed a new candy bar from Hershey and it was on sale for only 49 cents - so I indulged. I figured it was my reward for being faithful with going to my exam. Now it was not something I needed, just wanted. A reward for being faithful. God promises to reward us if we are faithful to Him.
Let's see... next month I have my mammogram to do...... :)

Friday, August 31, 2007

Trip Preparations

As you prepare for a trip, perhaps you have a checklist of things that need to be accomplished before leaving. Items that need to be packed, things to do before leaving, perhaps last minute shopping, etc. In the midst of these preparations as our family plans to take a quick trip to Virgina, I was reminded of the need each day to make sure my heart is prepared for the day, before it even begins. Do I have the right attitude? Have I spent time with the Lord? Each day is a "new trip" how much preparation do you put into it? I pray that each day I will begin talking with my heavenly Father and receivinh His instructions for the day. Help me to make the best "trip" preparations each day.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Fall Beginnings

There is something special about the change of seasons, particularly when fall rolls around again. School is back in session and it is much easier to have a consistent schedule (is there such a thing?). We are back to doing school full time and I find myself enjoying the thought of a new school year - being able to start fresh. How like God in that He gives us a new beginning each day.
As I was taking my laundry off the line a couple days ago, I inhaled that fresh outdoor smell that laundry has that has been dried outside. It seemed to have a different smell that day - more of a fall smell seemed to be lingering on it. I praise God for new beginnings each school year, but also each day as well.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Why Digging For Pearls?

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it." Matthew 13:45-46

How much do you value wisdom? How important is it to you to be digging in God's Word for the wisdom that He has for you? Wisdom is something that is very precious. Proverbs says that "Wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her." You have to open up a lot of clams in order to find a pearl. So too you must open up your Bible and dig to find the pearls of wisdom that God has for you each day. Start digging.