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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

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Books...So Little Time to Read What I Want to Read :)

As I conclude 2009 I have been thinking about books. I have been an avid reader since I was a little girl. Each year I keep a list of the things that I have read throughout the months. I guess I have been thinking about this lately for several reasons. I have a few days to myself where I plan to do a lot of relaxing and catching up on my reading. I also have become a book review blogger for Thomas Nelson Publisher. Just a few days ago I received my first book in the mail to review. I eagerly look forward to reading it. (Be watching as I soon will share my thoughts on it as well.)

There are probably thousands of books that I have read through the years. Today I just completed reading The Holy Bible. It is one of many times that I have read through the Bible. Each time I read God's Word I am impacted by the truths that lie within it.

I also have been thinking about other books as well. I have read many Christian fiction and nonfiction books through the years. But there has been one that has stood out among the rest. Perhaps because it was one that God used as a catalyst to radically change my relationship with my husband about eight years ago. What is the title you ask? It first came out as a paperback book entitled Motivating Your Man God's Way by Dr. Emerson & Sarah Eggerichs. Since then it has been republished under the title Love & Respect.

I have always had the desire to write and be published. I started writing when I was probably about seven years old. I wrote my first full length novel when I was in my early teen years. I have had some pieces published through the years - some poetry, and I am a regular feature columnist for a homeschool periodical. But there still is that thirst and hunger for more... to have a book published.

As I read I often find myself analyzing as well. What makes this a good or bad story? How would I change it or say it differently? Perhaps someday I will achieve my dream and have a published title. But until that time I continue to strive to do what God desires of me each day. Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

End of Year Reflections

I would like to say that this past month has been a blur, but actually this past year has been a blur as well. This year has been one with major health concerns for our family. I still am facing some myself that we don't know what will be the outcome. I continue to think of the prayer I prayed a few months ago in correlation to a verse in scripture. "until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ." Ephesians 4:13-15

Since I have prayed that prayer about being more solid in my faith, I have faced many different health issues. I guess I am still in process of learning this lesson though since the health issues haven't ceased. :) Isn't that typical of us...we desire to learn and be changed but don't always enjoy the process it takes to get to that new level of faith.

So with not knowing what I face in the weeks and months ahead, I still choose to place my trust and faith in the Lord. I am thankful that He knows everything about me and that He is always there for me. May I be a beacon that points others to Him as I learn to grow to be more like Him!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snowy Weekend in Virginia

It's been a crazy week since I last posted. It was full with doctor appointments, and preparing to spend the weekend in Virgina. Our oldest son came home on Friday evening from Florida after being gone for over three months. Friday was a stressful day with activities and preparing to leave for the weekend. In the midst of all of the flurry my oldest son called to say that his second flight from Atlanta to Dulles was cancelled because of the coming snow storm.

He was to be traveling with his friend and roommate from college. After being on standby throughout the day, our son was able to arrive at Dulles Airport, even earlier than his original flight. Unfortunately his roommate has been stuck in Atlanta since Friday morning. We ask that you pray that he soon can make it home to be with his family as well.


I think I have mentioned before that I love snow. So it was a pleasure yesterday to watch at least 24 inches of snow descend on us here in VA. At the moment my husband and sons are shoveling out from the snow storm. We pray that we'll be able to safely make it back to PA tomorrow.

Even in the midst of some difficult days and situations I need to continue to remind myself that God is not surprised by the events that 'happen' in our our lives. With all of the stressful things that has happened this year with my husband's ski accident, I still rely on the fact that I serve a God that I can trust--even when I don't understand. I know that He has my best interest in mind--He can see the future. So today I rest in that.

I do ask you to pray for my son's roommate (and friend) and his family as they are in a 'waiting' time in their lives. May they sense God's peace in the midst of difficulties.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Are You Truly Living?

"And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night." Luke 2:8

Yesterday was an icy day here in PA. We slid our way to church in the morning. Not too many other people attempted the roads, so services were pretty slim.

But as our Pastor gave the morning message, he pointed out something that I have overlooked in scripture up until now. The passage above doesn't just say that the shepherds were out in the field for the night, but that they were living in the fields. That caused me to pause and think.

How many of us just go through life just going through the motions? We get up, go through our daily routine, only to get up and do it again over and over and over... When was the last time that you paused and truly made a point of living? Not just stuck in the same routine, but truly seeking out what God has for you to do in this life. I encourage you as we draw closer to Christmas, to examine your life closely. Pray and ask God where He would like you to make changes. How can you truly live, verses just surviving each day?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Snow

Last night it snowed for the second time in less than a week. I love the beauty of the snowfall, and eagerly await it each year. Today it is very gray/white outside. I know some don't like when it is overcast outside and thrive in the sunshine. I happen to like those dreary days. I guess because they stir in me a desire to be inside, curled up with a hot drink, and reading a good book. Not that I often get to do that, especially at this time of year.

But this past Monday, found me doing that (even though the sun was shining). I had an early out-patient surgery for skin cancer. On the way home, the wound had started to seep a little bit, so my husband and I decided that it would be best if I just laid low for the day, allowing my body time to heal. So I spent most of the day resting, and curled up under blankets with a good book. My dear husband and son did all of the weekly laundry so that I wouldn't have to bend and carry things this week while I have stitches in my face. Yesterday when the bandages came off, I discovered that I have at least ten stitches. I have very little swelling and bruising, so I think it will heal nicely.

As I think about snow and am enjoying the beauty of it, I can't help but be reminded of my sins being washed away by Christ's blood that was shed for me. I now have a pure, white heart, like the snow that I see. I encourage you to remember that this winter, whenever you see the snow falling. Say a prayer of thanksgiving to our Heavenly Father who gave His all, for you.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Run....

I was reading through sections of Luke 2 this morning as part of my devotional readings. I came across the part where the angels had just left the shepherds on the hillside. They decided to go see this child that was spoken about by the angels. The Bible says that they ran to Bethlehem. Once they made a commitment, they immediately followed through with their commitment.

This reminds me of another time in scripture when a man ran. "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him." Luke 15:20 This is the parable of the Prodigal Son. His father ran to him when he saw him returning in the distance.

How quick are we to respond when we feel the Lord's prompting? Do we hesitate and question, or do we run?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Joy! Joy! Joy!

"But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people." Luke 2:10

I have been thinking the past couple days about how many Christmas songs mention the word 'joy' in them. Even in scripture we read about our Savior's birth being a great joy for all people. As I was practicing for our church's Christmas cantata yesterday, I was overwhelmed by the depth of that joy. Jesus gave up everything, to come to this world for YOU. He came to provide a way for YOU to go to heaven, because He loves you so very much. Ephesians 3:17-19 says, "so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."

My prayer for you is that you will have a deep understanding of the joy that God has for you. May we also experience His joy as we prepare for Christmas.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Open and Listening

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."Luke 2:13-14

I thought of this verse this morning as I was driving my son to swim practice. In the hills, outside the sleepy village of Bethlehem, were shepherds watching their sheep. Things were quiet and calm when suddenly an angel appeared, telling them about the birth of the Savior. I could perhaps see how one angel could go unnoticed by the sleeping community. But don't you wonder how all of the people slept through a great company of heavenly host, praising God?

It made me pause and think about the importance of being open to hear God's voice in my life. But in order to hear, I need to be intentionally listening for that voice as well. So as I go about this Advent season, I pray that I will be open and listening to hear what God has to say to me.

Monday, November 30, 2009

In the Shadow of the Cross

A number of years ago, when the new Star Wars movies were coming out, my boys received a gift of a puzzle with Anakin Skywalker in the foreground. If you look closely at the shadow that Anakin casts, you will see the outline of Darth Vader. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the movies, Anakin has the power to do great things. But he gives in to the 'dark' side and succumbs to his anger and hatred. He becomes known as Darth Vader, a villain intent on destroying the 'good' side.

As I sat in church yesterday, it seems hard to believe that it was the first day of the Advent season. I enjoyed seeing our church decorated for Christmas. As I noticed the beauty around me, my eyes were drawn to the nativity scene at the front side of the church. Typically it is placed on a table in front of the pulpit. But this year, the table is off to the side, directly at the base of a 15-foot cross. It seemed almost ironic.

And yet.... when Jesus was born, perhaps there was the shadow of the cross on the wall of the stable, foreshadowing why He came to earth. "Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all." Isaiah 53:4-6

As I live my life, I need to ask myself, "Am I living in the shadow of the cross?" In other words, am I mindful of the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus paid for me? As we start this Advent season, I feel this is an appropriate time to reflect on the baby in the manger, but also the man who gave His life for me on the cross.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Just wanted to wish a

HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO YOU ALL!

BLESSINGS THIS DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Day Fourteen - Thankful for God's Peace

My husband has called twice today in regards to stressful situations and meetings at work. As I write this he is having yet another meeting. He was feeling apprehensive about it, so I made a point of praying for him on the phone shortly before it. Now I continue to pray as well.

Even though we often don't know the outcome of situations and events, we can still rest in God's peace. I am thankful today that He provides peace when we need it the most. It is a gift He freely bestows. So for today, I am praying and asking and thanking God for His peace for me and my husband.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Day Thirteen - Thankful for Freedom

Today I am thankful for the freedom that we have in the United States. Although there may be some things that we don't like, we still are a nation that has fought to maintain it's freedom. On a personal level, I am thankful that I had the freedom to take the next two days off of school work, so we could just spend some time together. What a blessing.

On a deeper level though, I am thankful for the men and women who daily put their lives on the line to maintain our freedom. I remember the years that my husband served in the Army. When we were stationed in Germany for three years, it was difficult being away from family and friends.

I remember traveling on Thanksgiving day on two occasions while we were in Germany. The first time, I was joining my husband who had already been sent overseas. It was a joyous reunion for us. The next year I also traveled on Thanksgiving day. It was a bittersweet day. I had been home to the US to visit my parents. As I boarded the airplane that day to head back to my dear husband in Germany, I was excited to see him again. But I also was sad. I had said what would be my last farewell to my Dad, who was dying of lung cancer. A month later when he passed away, I was unable to return to US for the funeral since I was six months pregnant with our first son, and our nation was just on the brink of fighting in Dessert Storm.

So as we approach Thanksgiving day, I am thankful for those serving in the military. If you know someone today that is serving or has served, be sure to let them know how grateful you are for their service to our nation.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Day Twelve - Thankful for Communication

On Saturday our youngest son had his first swim meet of the season. We were at the pool for many hours, and I passed the time by doing some knitting as I was watching. It was a bittersweet time for me. I was missing our oldest son. It was our first time to be at a swim meet, without him. I know I also was missing him since we won't see him until a week before Christmas. In the midst of all these thoughts, I was interrupted by a small voice.

One of the very young swimmers was very interested in my knitting, and what I was doing. She asked quite a few questions. She wanted to feel the yarn and know what I was making. When I asked her how old she was, I was surprised to discover that she was the same age that I was when my mother first taught me to knit. In the midst of a sad time for me, I was surprised by this little sprite. I found that her questions and interests brought me joy.

Isn't that just how communication can be at times? We can be in the midst of a hard day, when someone stops and speaks an encouraging word to us. Suddenly we are surrounded by joy and a weight is lifted off our shoulders.

We also experienced joy last evening when our son from college called. My husband, youngest son and I all got on the phone. It was a joy to hear our two boys converse with each other. They talked about the things they will do together when our oldest is home over Christmas break. It also was a joy to hear the encouragement in our oldest son's voice. Even though he is facing his first Thanksgiving without us, we also could hear his joy despite the circumstances as well. What a blessing! So today I am thankful for the blessings of communication.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Day Eleven - Thankful for....

TODAY I AM THANKFUL FOR

JESUS!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Day Ten - Thankful for Family

A big chunk of today you would have found our family at the local high school swimming pool. Our son had his first swim meet of the season, and my husband and I were there to support him. It was a bittersweet time for me, as last year, both of my sons were swimming. Now my oldest is off at college and won't be home for Thanksgiving this year. He won't make it home until a week before Christmas.

But as we spent the day together at the pool and then running a few errands before coming home, I couldn't help but be thankful for our time with each other. Then we were apart for a short time while I ran for groceries, and my husband and son went out to deliver the popcorn that he had sold for Boy Scouts. Now we are back home again, just enjoying a relaxing evening.

I am thankful for family today, and being able to be together. I eagerly look forward to the time when our oldest son is home and we have that family time as well. I look forward to being able to give him a big hug after he steps off the airplane. But in the mean time, I am content with the family that is here in PA.

When was the last time you gave a family member a hug and told them you appreciate them? Why not do so today?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Day Nine - Thankful for Friends

Today was my first day to be out and about this week, other than driving my son to swim practice, or things like that. My son and I attend a homeschool co-op that meets (usually) every other Friday. Afterwards we also had a field trip to a local police station, and then went back to a friend's house for about a half hour. Even though our time of fellowship was short, I still was blessed by the opportunity to get together with friends.

I find that my life is blessed by many friendships. My best friend is my husband. But there also are ladies in my life that are my dear friends as well. A couple of them I was with today. Yesterday I spoke with one of my best friends, who now lives in Georgia. Even though she lives far away from Pennsylvania, we make a point each week to stay in contact with each other. Usually on Mondays we chat about what is going on in our lives, and catch each other up to date. On Thursdays we call again, and spend some time chatting, but mostly make a point of praying for each other. I have found that we have grown closer in our relationship because we pray together. My husband and I make a point of praying together each day, and I know that it draws our hearts.

So today I am thankful for my various friendships. They each are a blessing in my life in some way. I also encourage you to develop a friendship where you pray together. Ask God to draw your hearts as only He can.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Day Eight - Thankful in the Silence

I'm alone in a quiet house as I write this. Even the guinea pigs are quiet at the moment. I smiled as I checked my blog this morning and there were no comments....again! :) Silence there as well! My first thought was, perhaps I shouldn't do this thankfulness series. But then as I prayed about i,t I realized it is something that I feel God is calling me to do - to focus on being thankful each day as we get closer to celebrating Thanksgiving.

So today I am thankful for the silence, and for time alone. It allows me time to pray and reflect on my life and the direction that God wants me to go. I actually enjoy having days where I am just home alone. It allows me time to get things accomplished, but also time to be refreshed and renewed.

So in my silence today, I plan to finish my Christmas decorating before my husband returns home from his trip. I plan to perhaps work some on stamping my Christmas cards. But also in the midst of things 'to do', I also plan to take some time to just rest and perhaps read some more on Lysa TerKeurst's new book Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl. May you find a few moments alone today to rest and reflect in the silence.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Day Seven - Thankful for Christmas

I know, you probably are wondering why I am talking about Christmas when it's not even Thanksgiving yet. I guess I'm different than most people - all right my whole family is! :) We begin celebrating Christmas earlier than most people do. This year is a little earlier than normal - well only in the sense of decorating. We already have been playing Christmas music on and off the past couple months.

This week my husband is away on a business trip, so my son and I decided to start Christmas decorating while he was gone. So yesterday we pulled the boxes out of the attic. We decided to take the day off of doing school work, swim practice, etc. and just spend the day together. We had Christmas music playing as we started decorating the house. We often took breaks since I still was worn out from a bad headache from the day before. My son mentioned that it would have been just perfect if it had also been snowing outside! :) Unfortunately it was 55 degrees instead. Oh well!

There is something about pulling out the Christmas decorations and preparing the house to celebrate Christ's birth. I guess it also makes me do some soul searching as I also prepare my heart to celebrate this season. I am a firm believer in that Christmas shouldn't come just once a year. It shouldn't be just a few weeks that people choose to think about someone other than themselves. We should choose each day to reach out to the needs of those around us. We should be cheerful to those we meet at all times of the year, and not just when we are feeling in the Christmas spirit. So for today (and the 37 days up until - and probably afterward too! :) I am thankful for Christmas!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Day Six - Thankful for My Mom

Yesterday was a rough day for me. The eye appointment went fairly well. Since they were dilating my eyes, my mom came to take me so I wouldn't have to drive afterward. I already have been experiencing light sensitivity, so it was quite intense yesterday when my eyes were fully dilated. I ended up with a horrendous headache. The kind where I couldn't handle extra light or noise.

I was to be leading my ladies Bible study last evening. I already had canceled the session before because I had had a bad headache then as well. I did not want to have to cancel again. I had gotten the lesson written up before we left for my eye appointment and asked my mom to go over it while she waited on me for my eye exam, just as a backup if for some reason I couldn't lead that night. Well I guess with having my eyes fully dilated, and already being light sensitive, made me end up with a monster of a headache. My mom graciously stepped in and led the group last evening while I laid in my bed.

She also has helped assist me with eye drops that I need to put in my eyes four times a day. This morning she taught my son how to do it, so he can help as well. I'll have to figure out a way of doing it by myself at night time. Even though she had to leave this morning, she is willing to come back again if I need her. So today, I am thankful for my mom, who was there in my time of need.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Day Five - Thankful for the Gift of Prayer

In just a short while I will be heading to my ophthalmologist appointment to hopefully find out what has been causing my eye pain and headaches. I must admit that I have found myself a little nervous about it. I guess it is that fear of the unknown. It doesn't help that my husband left on a business trip this morning and won't return home until later in the week. My mind keeps thinking of all those 'what ifs...' scenarios.

But in the midst of the unknown, I received two emails this morning from friends telling me that they are praying for my appointment this afternoon. Even though my husband can't be here, I know that his prayers are with me as well.

So this morning as I soon will be heading off to face the unknown, I am thankful for the gift of prayer. Thankful for those that have chosen to assure me of their prayers, but also that in any and all situations we can be praying for someone. What an honor, a gift and a blessing!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Day Four - Thankful for A Day of Rest

Sundays are one of my favorite days of the week. First because it is the day of the week that we set aside as specific time that we focus on the Lord. Since our boys have been little we have always treated the day as a little different than any other day of the week. It's a day when we choose very carefully of the activities that we are involved in doing.

We choose to have a day of rest like was mentioned in the Ten Commandments. Sundays are not days that we choose to mow the lawn, go for groceries, or do our normal everyday chores. It's a day that is set apart. It's the day of the week that we choose to deliberately slow down our pace of life quite a number of notches.

For me, it often involves taking a Sunday afternoon nap. Usually after we have attended church services and eaten lunch, I find myself crawling in bed for some extra rest, more than I typically get throughout the week. This afternoon I was very tired. So after almost three hours of rest, I am feeling refreshed and renewed again. So today I am thankful for that opportunity to have a day of rest.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Day Three - Thankful for Challenges

You might think I'm crazy saying I'm thankful for challenges. Believe me, I don't enjoy it when I go through rough times in my life... but yet, it is often those difficult times that cause me to grow, change and expand into being more that God wants me to be.

The past eight months have been a series of challenges for me and my family. Each time I think that things are finally looking up, we get hit with something else. Lately it has been physical ailments that I have been experiencing. But through it, I pray that God will use me in a way that I couldn't experience if things were going smoothly.

So for today, I am choosing to be thankful for the challenges that I face in my life and I pray that God will use them in a mighty way, to show others His love. I'm choosing to SHINE where He has placed me, even when the road may be difficult.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Day Two - Thankful for Fellowship

Tonight and tomorrow I will be attending a woman's retreat with our church. A dear friend of mine will also be attending. We first got to know each other when we were freshmen in college. I'm looking forward to connecting with her in a special way this weekend.

The other evening I heard a message/sermon on the Christian radio station I listen to. The speaker was talking about fellowship and when we go through difficult times in our lives. He said that often the people that we fellowship with in our church body, are the ones that are there for us when we face hard times - often there before family members. My family has particularly found that to be true this past year as we experienced a difficult road with my husband's ski accident and slow (continual) recovery.

In the past couple weeks or so, I have been experiencing quite a few struggles - both physical and emotional. Throughout that time my friend from college has been calling, emailing and praying for me. She has been a real blessing in my life. She has told me that she doesn't have the gift of encouragement, but she certainly has demonstrated it to me.

So as I look at what I am thankful for today, it would definitely be the gift of fellowship, which also includes friendship.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Call to Thankfulness - Day One

As I listened to my local Christian radio this morning, they brought to mind an idea of something that they are doing as well. Thanksgiving is two weeks from today! Isn't that hard to believe? That means it's only about six weeks until Christmas.... I digress. Back to the issue at hand.

Over the next two weeks I encourage....challenge you each day to come up with something that you are thankful for in your life. Each day share it with at least one person. If you do Facebook, you could post it on there, or post it on a comment here on my blog. I believe if we truly look each day for something that we are thankful for, by the time Thanksgiving is here, we will be overwhelmed with God's goodness in our lives!

So for me, for today, I am thankful for a loving husband. He encourages me when I'm down, gives me hugs when he knows I need them, brings home a meal when he knows I've had a rough day and am too tired to cook, prays with me, loves me, and is my best friend!

What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Baking Day

Today is my day to be home alone. My son is off working a day earlier than normal, since his grandparents are coming for a short visit tomorrow and will leave Friday morning. I plan to spend the day doing some baking. I plan on making homemade bread, granola and chicken pot pie. I think I also might have enough older bananas that I could make some banana bread as well.

It's overcast and drizzly outside, so figured it was a good day to be inside in my kitchen. I will soon have Christmas music playing, a candle burning, and good smells coming out of the oven. How do you plan to spend today?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

"Hey, It's Me."

I was clearing off the answering machine yesterday. I laughed as I listened to three messages that were back to back. All three of them started out with the words, "Hey, it's me." The first message was from me as I called home to let my husband know I was on the way home. The next two messages were from our college bound son. He called twice on Saturday while we were out. Each time he said the same thing as I had said on my message, as a greeting.

It first struck me as I heard the similar tone as we said the words. I chuckled as I heard my son's voice echoing mine. It made me think though. We both announced who we were. Of course it was obvious from our voices, who was who. I also thought further about when all of us pray to our Heavenly Father. We don't have to start by saying, "Dear Lord, it's me Sarah... or it's me, Ben." He knows our voice even before we speak. He knows our needs before we even ask.

I don't know about you, but I am thankful that I have a God that knows all about me before I even ask.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Preparation - Part Two

A few days ago I wrote about preparing for the upcoming holidays. Over the weekend, my husband and I did some further work and planning in this regard. We looked through and figured out who we need gifts for, looked at what we already had, and started making a list of what we need to purchase or make. It was a tedious project, but I now have a clear plan on what needs to get accomplished in the next few weeks. We both know what projects we need to work on making and have a list of what to look for whenever we get the opportunity to be out shopping.

Having a clear list is a blessing to me. It allows me to go into a store and know exactly what I am looking for. I can resist temptation of buying things I don't need, that aren't on my list. But those times when I head to the store without a list, it is so much easier to overspend or indulge in things that I really don't need.

Perhaps we should approach our lives and our walk with the Lord in a similar way. Ask God to show us areas or things that we need to work on, to become a better Christian. Maybe it would help to make a list, whether mental, or one where we actually write things down.
  • Be kind.
  • Choose to eat healthy remembering that my body is God's temple.
  • Show gratitude.
  • Be more loving.
I think the Lord wants us to be more intentional about our spiritual growth. As we prepare our hearts for the holidays, perhaps we also need to do some soul searching and allow the Holy Spirit to show us areas that we need to work on to become more Christlike. What better way to celebrate the holidays, than to have a heart that is more in-tuned with the Lord.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Preparation

The other day I pulled out a book that my husband gave me almost a year ago. It's about preparing for Christmas. I was so pleased with myself when I actually thought about getting it off the shelf. I was looking for ideas/pointers about how to plan for the holiday - hopefully starting early so I'm not stressed at the last minute. Boy was I surprised when I saw the 8-week preparation plan. I quickly counted up the weeks and realized that I don't have 8 weeks until Christmas, it's already less than that! Fortunately there is a 4 week plan as well! :)

We plan for all sorts of things. At the moment, I am planning for a Bible study that I am teaching this evening. When it comes to the holidays, we figure out who we are going to spend it with, how much food we need, decorations, etc. The list can be endless of all we hope to accomplish before a holiday or special occasion.

This Christmas I want to be able to just relax and enjoy the meaning of why we even celebrate Christmas - the birth of Christ. I will make my lists ahead of time, of things that need to be accomplished, just because putting it down on paper helps me to be less stressed. I also get a feeling of satisfaction when I can cross things off the list! :) But most importantly in the weeks to come I pray that God prepares my heart for this holiday season. That my eyes and heart can be focused on the needs around me and what I can do to reach out. I guess it is never too late to start in asking God to prepare our hearts!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Worry

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:33-34

I don't know if it's a 'woman' thing or not, but worry seems to easily creep into our lives. Perhaps it's because women are more relational, that they tend to struggle more with worrying. We are careful of how we say our words, which is a good thing, but it can be a problem when we begin to worry. "What if they misunderstand? What if they won't like me anymore?...." Before we know it we are spinning out of control, thinking and worrying about all of the what ifs?!

I think we need to relax more and trust God in our relationships. I guess that probably means that we are holding onto things to tightly in our own hands and need to instead release them into our Heavenly Father's hands. Release can be very freeing, liberating and empowering. When we let go we allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives and in the situations that we face. We hand the reins over to God, knowing that only He knows best how to handle whatever situation we are facing.

Are you ready to hand over the reins?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Come Into the Light

I have been suffering from a severe headache that has lasted for several days now. As I thought about it, headaches aren't something new for me. I realize that for the past almost year I have had one almost every day of some form or another. Usually they aren't too bad, I can still function without much difficulty. Every now and then they are a little more severe. Some days I am headache free. However, the past few days have been some of the worst. Not only did I have severe head and eye pain, but also light sensitivity as well. Most of our lights have been set to a very dim setting the past few days. I took a nap yesterday in my son's room because it is very dark there.

Now I don't know why I have been going through so many headaches. In a few weeks I will be going to an ophthalmologist to see if they have any clues to help me. But as I thought about headaches, I also couldn't help thinking about sin as well. Just like my headaches have become a constant thing in my life. It started gradually. I was shocked when I realized that it has been a year since they first started. How has it gotten to be that long?

So too sin can subtly creep into our lives. A small compromise here, a white lie there... You get the picture. But God desires for us to live holy and pleasing lives. He calls us out of the darkness and into the light. Where are you standing today? In the glory of Christ's light or are you hovering on the fringes of light?

"I will lead the blind by ways they have not known,
along unfamiliar paths I will guide them;
I will turn the darkness into light before them
and make the rough places smooth.
These are the things I will do;
I will not forsake them." Isaiah 42:16

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Time

This is the first school year that I have one day a week where I have no responsibilities. With my oldest son off to college, and my youngest son working one school day a week as an assistant maintenance worker at a local Christian camp, I now have some time each week to myself. I find that I really am enjoying it. It allows me time to work on projects that normally would be put on hold indefinitely. Last week I did some sewing that I have been wanting to accomplish. Today I hope to start working on making my Christmas cards. I also have things around the house that need my attention as well - a bathroom that needs cleaning, laundry that needs put away, and figuring out what to make for supper, etc.

This day off allows me a time to get a fresh perspective for whatever tasks and decisions that are before me for the coming week or weeks. I find it has been a real blessing. Each week I look ahead and plan for what I will get accomplished on my 'day off'. That's such an unfamiliar term in my vocabulary after being active with mothering the past 18 years. :) Although it reminds me of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.
A Time for Everything
1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:

2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,

3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,

4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,

5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,

7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,

8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

What do you need to take time for today?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Inspiring Book That Inspires and Teaches

Thought we would do something a little differently today. Here is a book review of Lysa TerKeurst's new book entitled Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl. I highly recommend it! :)

"Becoming more than a good Bible study girl means I separate my shortcomings from my identity and let Jesus be the only measure of my worth. Separating the circumstances from my identity allows me to see the circumstances for what it is..."
(quote from Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl).

As a woman it is often easy to get caught up with the struggle of self-worth. We allow our shortcomings to define who or what we are. We think "if only" and cause ourselves to spin in a downward spiral, sinking deeper into the pit of despair. But God desires for us to break those chains that so easily entangle us when we get our eyes off Him.

"One day it dawned on me to ask God for more. I literally started begging Him for insights and revelations and proof that more was possible. And slowly the shift occurred. God honors the honest prayers of people desiring a richer connection with Him."

"God, I want to see You.
God, I want to hear You.
God, I want to know You.
So that I can follow hard after You every day."
(quotes from Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl).

This has become my prayer as well and I am looking for great things to be happening in my life as I continue to draw closer to the Lord.

This book is like all of Lysa's previous books - inspiring. She comes alongside you as a trusted friend to guide and encourage. A must read!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Walking in the Spirit

I have been leading a Ladies Bible study on the book of Acts. Last night we had our second session where we discussed the importance of walking in the Spirit. All of the women are at different stages in their Christian walk and come from varying backgrounds and denominations. Despite our differences, we also have a common thread - belief in the Lord Jesus.

Last evening we were all in agreement when it came to the topic of walking in the Spirit. We realized that this needs to be a daily commitment - sometimes moment by moment - asking for the Lord's guidance in our life. Asking the Holy Spirit to prompt us to things that He desires for us to do. The more you start to obey those little nudges, the more you will start to hear what God is calling you to do and to follow His will for your life. Obedience in small things, leads to bigger things.

So listen today for that inner voice guiding you in what you should do. Perhaps it is to write a note of encouragement to someone, call and tell someone that you are praying for them, ..... What is God asking you to do today? Will you be faithful and heed that call?

Monday, October 26, 2009

When Life Throws Lemons

I have to admit, it's been a difficult weekend. On Friday I learned that I have skin cancer. Now I know that this is usually very treatable, but honestly I find I am afraid. I am not looking forward to the procedure when the spot will removed while I'm fully awake. I'd much rather be put to sleep throughout it all. But apparently that is not an option. I face questions like, "How will I know if they got it all? What if it has spread to other parts of my body?".... I know I am not to live in fear. I am still in process of dealing with the news I suppose. Cancer is something that I have always feared. I know that God is bigger than anything I face. I need strength for this moment and then the next and the next....

On top of learning about cancer, we also were hit with other difficult things as well. My first reaction normally would be to go run for the chocolate. They say when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Well I would much rather eat a lot of chocolate brownies. I didn't do either of these things. No brownies or lemonade were present in my home this weekend! :) I have been clinging to the fact that Jesus loves me and knows what is best for me. I know I can trust Him, even when I am scared, hurt, frustrated, etc.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:11-13

This is what I cling to this day. I choose to eat healthy things and not get overwhelmed by what God has allowed in my life. May He be my portion this day (and every day)!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

As the Deer

"As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God." Psalm 42:1

It is a beautiful fall morning here in PA. I was up early to take my son to work. We left before sunrise. We have about a 35 minute drive each way. Right after I dropped him off and I was leaving the camp where he works one day a week as a maintenance assistant, I came around a curve in the road. The rays of sun and light misty fog illuminated two young deer standing serenely in the middle of the road. They looked my way and then meandered off the road to the meadow.

My thoughts immediately went to the verse printed above. That is my prayer for today. That my soul will long to be in communion with the Lord. As a man in the desert longs for a drink of refreshing water, so I pray that I will desire to be in the Lord's presence. Just as He is waiting for me to draw near, so too He waits for you. Will you 'pant' for the Lord today?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Don't Bite the Hand that Feeds (Loves) You!

I was trying to hold my pet guinea pig this morning - Cocoa. She kept squirming and wouldn't hold still. She has a habit of nibbling on my clothes when I hold her, so I was trying to get her in a position where she couldn't do that. Well, I guess she got tired of what was going on and chose to bite me (hard) instead.

Cocoa doesn't particularly like to be held. She does love to be loved on and petted, but it has to be on her conditions. You think she would be nicer to me since I usually am the one that feeds her and her sister - Checkers. I make sure that she has water, timothy hay, carrots, regular food and other goodies from time to time. But that doesn't make a difference to her. She reminds me of a woman that is constantly having PMS!

But as I thought about my ungrateful guinea pig, I wondered if I am any different from time to time. How often do I snap at my husband, for no reason. It's easy to blame it on PMS or some other reason, but it doesn't say anywhere in the Bible "be nice to your husband, except when you are experiencing PMS." What about those times when I choose to go first in the grocery store, because I'm in a hurry, or choose intimacy with my husband on my terms?

On the spiritual level, how about the times when I just plug along on my own strength and don't seek the Lord's help? Or I say perhaps unconsciously, "I can handle this one Lord. I don't need your help. You can sit this one out." I guess I'm biting my Master's hand in that situation as well. Ouch!

There is no situation in my life that I don't need the Lord!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Unknown Water Ahead

Yesterday I had a doctor appointment to check out a spot that I have had on my face for quite a while. The sad thing is, I have no clear idea of how long it has been there. I don't know if it was before my husband's ski accident in March, or right after it? I really don't know for sure. I do know that I have had it for at least three months, but likely longer than that.

Yesterday a biopsy was taken and I should find out in a few days of whether or not it tests positive for skin cancer. I did some searching on the web this morning about skin cancer. My lesion fits all of the symptoms of the disease. My doctor reassured me that it is usually 94% curable. Further research shows that spots that are near nose, eyes or ears can be more of a problem. Mine is right by my ear.

I further did a search to see if there is any links to skin cancer and developing other types of cancer. Studies have shown that if you have skin cancer, you are more likely of developing other types of cancer. The risk goes even higher if you develop skin cancer from the age of 25-44. Well, I just happen to be 44. Not very encouraging news.

So what do I do?

"We wait in hope for the LORD;
he is our help and our shield.

In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name." Psalm 33:20-21


"Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;

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. " Isaiah 40:30-31

My hope continues to be in the Lord. He knows my future and I know I can trust Him. It's funny how all through this year, God continues to lead me on the path of trusting in Him. I've experienced it through my husband's ski accident and long recovery, through stepping out and letting my fifteen year old son travel to China, through letting go of my oldest son to head to college in Florida, and now to the possibility of skin cancer. Through it all, my hope continues to be in the Lord. Where is your hope today?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Dealing With the Unknown

How do you deal with things that are beyond your control? Perhaps it is a doctor visit where you will be getting results from a test that may be bad news. Or maybe it's that unexpected phone call in the middle of the night. Each of us from time to time have to deal with things that we have no control over. But how do we do it? Where do we go for answers, encouragement and strength?

Many choose to go to a friend, a spouse, and some just keep it bottled inside. Above all, our first person to go to should be the Lord. "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." Psalm 46:1 He is the one that thoroughly knows all about every intimate detail in our life. He loves us more than any other person in this world.

Don't get me wrong, I feel that God has placed people in our lives to help us through situations as well - our spouse, a close friend, etc. But most importantly and firstly we need to turn to the Lord. Perhaps today you need to go to Him. Ask Him to be that refuge and to give you strength for whatever you are facing!

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Blessings of Home

It is 41 degree outside and I am snug and warm in my home. It's been a cool, rainy day. It was a busy morning with a homeschool co-op that my son and I attend every other Friday. I usually help out with the candy making class, but this time I had to lead it since the regular teacher was sick. I usually am quite content to be the helper, and am not fond of having to teach, but today that wasn't an option. I think it went all right. I taught them how to make chocolate peanut butter fudge and cream mints.

After co-op completed, my son and I ran a few errands on the way home. I needed to pick up a few more skeins of yarn at Wal-Mart. They were clearancing some of their yarn for only $1.00. I have decided to make an afghan and needed a little more yarn. I also was looking for size 17 circular needles for a possible afghan pattern. They didn't have them at Wal-Mart, but fortunately Jo-Ann Fabrics was close by, so I was able to pick up a pair there. As we were leaving the store to head home, I was surprised to see that a new Hobby Lobby had just opened across the street. I guess it only opened a few days ago. So we headed over there to browse as well. My son found some projects that he can use to make Christmas gifts. We had fun just looking around together.

Now we are back home again. I have on my warm fleece pajamas, a cup of mulled cider, and am ready to be in for the night. I love those times of being at home. We probably will have a pizza and movie night. When the movie is completed I will curl up with a good book, and also work on a knitting project or two as well.

I guess I am a homebody by nature. I do enjoy being out some, but my first choice is to be at home. I especially love to curl up with a good book, a hot cup of tea, and snuggle under the covers. We keep our house pretty cool in the winter, so we usually pile on the blankets when we are sitting around. I also love working on crafts. I haven't done that in quite a long while, and I am just now beginning to realize how much I missed it.

I hope today's blog finds you with the opportunity to enjoy being at home. Relish in that time to just kick back and relax with your loved ones. Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Denying Self

About two and a half weeks ago I started on the journey to lose weight, eat more healthily, and regularly exercise. This time I decided to be serious about it. I have somehow felt that how I approach my diet and exercise is linked to who I let be in control in my life - self vs. God's spirit. Ouch!

Last night we had my son's closing picnic for the golf team. Hamburgers, hot dogs and soda were provided, and then the parents brought all the side dishes and desserts. I must admit that I made brownies to take along, because they were easy and didn't take much time. I did try half of one to make sure they were all right, since I added some specialty chips that I had never used before.

There were lots of goodies to choose from as I went through the line. I had a cheeseburger, an apple slice, a little bit of a potato dish and small spoonful of macaroni and cheese, and a small handful of BBQ chips. Unfortunately there were no veggies available, or I would have filled up on those. As I finished my plate of food I found that I was quite comfortable. Oh, I forgot, I also had a cupcake.

My mind kept arguing to go back through the line of food to pick up another dessert, or perhaps munch some more on those delicious chips, or get a refill on my soda. But I resisted all of these urges and felt good when we left. I had succeeded in denying self and choose to refrain.

I don't always do well in this area - obviously since I am trying to lose thirty pounds. But I am slowly learning. I am trying to pray each time I eat and ask God to help me to resist things that I don't need or that aren't good for me. Sometime I do well, sometimes I don't. I was excited to see this morning though that I have lost six pounds in the past 2 1/2 weeks.

I realize that I picked a hard time of year to start focusing on this issue - especially with Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner. Times when I love the foods of the season. Perhaps by starting early I will learn how to say no, deny self, and also when I do eat some of the goodies, that I will know how to use restraint.

"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:12-14

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Treasure

"How can a young man keep his
way pure?
By keeping Your word.
I have sought You with all my
heart;
don't let me wander from Your
commands.
I have treasured Your word in my
heart
so that I may not sin against You."
Psalm 119:9-11

This is my prayer for today. That I will keep God's word. That I will seek Him with my entire heart and that I would not wander away from His teachings. Help me Lord to treasure your word in my heart like Mary treasured. (When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." Luke 2:15-19 Help me not to sin Lord. Help me to share your love with those I meet Lord.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Challenged

When was the last time that you felt challenged by a message that you heard? I just have heard two challenging messages in a twenty-four hour time period. First one was yesterday when we were visiting McLean Bible Church in VA where Lon Solomon is the senior pastor. We were visiting my in-laws for the weekend. Lon talked about the importance of witnessing and how we need to ask God for opportunities to share Him with others. He used the story of Lazarus and the beggar. He tries to make the most of every opportunity so that when he is in heaven he will not have somebody see him from hell, and say, "Why didn't you tell me?" Very thought provoking and convicting as well.

This morning I listened to a message from Lysa TerKeurst, president of Proverbs 31 Ministry. Her message is entitled "The Most Important Two Word Prayer". If you are interested in seeing it, check out her blog today: http://www.lysaterkeurst.blogspot.com/
Essentially the two word prayer that we should pray is "Thank God". When was the last time that you stopped and thanked God for what was happening in your life - the good and the bad? I also have been reading Nancy Leigh DeMoss's new book entitled Choosing Gratitude. There are recurring themes in both of these.

When were you last challenged by God's word, to change and be different? Perhaps today is a good day to dig in the Bible and see what God has for you. Also, read a copy of Lysa's new book called Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl. Ask God to help you grow in new ways today.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Way of Wisdom

"Mom's Apple Pie" candle is burning. Amy Grant's 'Home for Christmas' is quietly playing in the background. The guinea pigs are squeaking. I just sat down after a morning of getting the house back to order again. Those piles just seem to multiply when I'm not looking. The counters and tables that were cleaned over the weekend, somehow had piles by the end of the week. But for now, they are 'pile' clean! :)

In my devotions this morning, I came across this verse in Job: "The price of wisdom is far above pearls." (Job 28:18b) But the wisdom I seek is not something that this world readily recognizes. I seek the example of Ephesians 1:17-18 "I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints."

Also from James 1:5-6 "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind."

Even in the church, the people that speak the most are often thought as wise. This is contrary to what it says in Proverbs 10:19 "When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise." I desire to be a wise woman of God. I know I need to guard the words that I say out loud, as well as what I also think in my heart. My prayer today is for wisdom to become a part of who I am. It is something I seek and desire.

What is your heart's desire this day?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

When Is the Last Time You Praised Your Husband?

As women we enjoy when someone appreciates the things that we do. I know it is important to be a servant and often go unrecognized for the things we do, but part of us still has a desire to be valued and understood. I guess I have been thinking more on this topic this week.

I have been a stay-at-home wife/mother for almost twenty two years now. Wow! That seems hard to believe! This week I made a point of thanking my husband for allowing me to have that opportunity. Because if it wasn't for his commitment to the importance to having me at home, I wouldn't be in this position. It had been a while since I had told my husband "thank you." He seemed surprised and pleased when I mentioned it to him.

Yesterday wasn't the greatest day on my hormonal calendar. For some reason as I get older it tends to be more and more of an issue. My dear husband knew I wasn't feeling well and wanted to know what he could do to help. We already had to drive for about 35 minutes to pick our son up from work. It was to be a rushed evening with church activities, as well as packing for a trip as well. He suggested that we grab something to eat while we were out. I jokingly commented about making it a common occurrence that one time a month when I am feeling at my lowest. He readily agreed that it was something that he could do for me. So next month may find my dear husband bringing home a pizza, fried chicken, or some other ready made meal.

Now I'm not saying you should praise your husband so you get things in return. But I think when we take the time to make them feel and know they are special, they are open and receptive to ways that they can meet our needs as well. Now, if you haven't been praising your husband it may take him a while to notice. He may never choose to do something in return for you. But the least we can do is to choose to be a servant. Choose to serve as if our husband was Jesus Christ.

How can you serve today? What praises can you tell your husband?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Desire to Connect

In our modern era there still is the desire to connect with other human beings. We seek it in a variety of ways - through email, cell phones, texting, instant messages, blogs, Facebook, etc. Through these different technology wonders we learn snippets about different people.

God built in us the desire for fellowship. In the Garden of Eden God said that it wasn't good for man to be alone, so He created Eve. Even though our lives have become incredibly busy we still have that desire for face to face communication.

I can't help but wonder if God has built that desire for fellowship in birds as well. As I write this a young juvenile cardinal is eating seed on my deck. While he is eating, he is also conversing with a partner somewhere in our maple tree.

When was the last time that you sat down with other believers and fellowshiped together, other than a church service? What can you do today to change that?

"Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." Hebrews 10:25

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Small Steps.....

Last week I began the journey towards doing better with how much food and what kind of food I put into my mouth, as well as being more intentional with exercise. My husband and I have chosen to work together on this. Often that is a good thing, but it can become easy for both of us to fail as well. When one gives into temptation, it's easy to go along.

I was pleased that since last Monday I have lost over three pounds. One of the blogs I regularly read mentioned about the struggle that we face when we have been doing well with eating and then see a poster - in her case it was chips and salsa. I realize that this is not just a physical battle, but also a spiritual battle. Who am I allowing to be in control in my life - me or the Holy Spirit. If my body is truly God's temple, then shouldn't I be more careful of how I take care of it?

Some days I do really well. Last night I didn't do so well. After dropping off my husband at a meeting I stopped by McDonald's and got a sweet tea and cheeseburger. I also picked one up for my son who also was hungry. Now we had already eaten an early supper, so I really didn't need the food. But I gave in to temptation. I guess I have done that now as well, since I have a pan of brownies baking in the oven at this moment.

Now I'm not saying that we should never eat sweets, but the problem is that once they are around, it is so easy to have one, and one more, and one more. Then before you know it, the whole pan of brownies, or bag of chips have disappeared. Obviously this is not an area that I have overcome in. I would like to say that I am in the process. Some days I do really well, and some days not so well.

I pray that God will help me to resist temptation, and to become more like Him in the process. I am finding it is a step by step process, sometimes moment by moment......

Monday, October 5, 2009

Waiting Line

Today is a cool day in PA. I filled the bird feeder this morning, and also put out a board that we place on the deck for overflow of birdseed. Some of the bigger birds will choose to eat from the deck since it is a larger area to perch. In fact as I write this, I can hear a cardinal outside cheeping as it eats.

In between laundry loads I would look out to observe the birds. There were at least three cardinals on the board at one time, as well as several sparrows. My rose of Sharon bush is lined with little birds awaiting their turn at the feeder. It gives me such pleasure to see these beautiful creatures that God has created.

As I have watched the birds in the bush, they seem to be patiently awaiting their turn to eat. It makes me wonder how well do I do when I'm in a 'waiting' period of my life. Do I chomp at the bit, raring to go, or do I just snuggle in my Heavenly Father's arms, awaiting His go ahead? How do you do in this area?

"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" Matthew 6:26

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Laughter

It was to be a busy day. My youngest son had an eye exam and then we needed to go shopping for groceries for a scouting outing where he needed to plan, purchase and cook for his patrol for the entire weekend. We only had that one day that we could take care of everything.

The eye appointment ran late. My son had brought his school work along to work on in the car as we went from store to store - ah the beauty of homeschooling! :)

As we left the parking lot I noticed that the windshield was dirty and could use some cleaning. It was a warmer day so our windows were rolled down part way. My son was dutifully working on his assignments for the day. I pushed the window cleaner button on the steering wheel when suddenly my son cried out in dismay. His window was further down than mine was and he suddenly was being drenched with moisture from the cleaner.

I couldn't help it. I started to laugh and laugh and laugh. He didn't (at first) find it amusing at all, but soon joined me in laughing as well. It made me stop and realize how long it had been since I had a good laugh.

I had been stressed by the time constraints of our day until laughter seeped into my soul and brought me joy. It caused me to stop and just enjoy the moment. When was the last time you had a good belly laugh?

"He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy." Job 8:21

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A Good Day

I have been making some headway with my cleaning today. I spent the morning working on deep cleaning our master bathroom. It has been in sad shape. It's one of those things that I think I will always get to, but never seem to make the time to do it. Well, today was the day to make it happen! I still have the smell of Clorox and cleansers in my nose. The throw rugs have been washed and are in the dryer. I have Clorox water in the sink, soaking that will soon be ready to be drained, and do a final clean up of the sink area.

Also this morning I worked on getting my entrance hall presentable again. I don't know why, but for some reason that is where things seem to accumulate. All the things that were there that didn't belong are back in their home now. I still would like to vacuum, but needed a break.

There is a lot I would like to accomplish today while my guys are gone for the weekend with a scouting activity. I also am enjoying time to just rest and relax too. It's a beautiful day and I plan to go for a walk at some point as well. There also is school planning that I should address as well. I will try and do some of that too.

Uppermost on my thoughts lately, is seeking God's direction for what He wants me to do. I have always enjoyed writing - both fiction and nonfiction. I am starting to feel the pull to get back into doing it again. I still don't have a clear direction of which way I will go. I thoroughly enjoy writing Bible studies, because it causes me to really dig in God's Word and grow. But lately I'm also feeling pulled to write a story as well. Don't know which direction I will go at this point. For now I'm in the ruminating process right now, awaiting God's guidance.

The Christmas music continues to play at our home, and often in the car as well. I welcome the cooler weather. It's been a joy to see some of the winter birds returning to our bird feeders. I get such pleasure at watching them each day.

Last month was a time of adjustment for all of our family - dealing with having our oldest son off to college, and other things as well. My initial response typically is to close in, which can be good and bad. For this time, it was good in that it allowed me time to process different things that we are experiencing. I feel that I'm on the threshold of new things. I chose to go to a ladies game night with our church last night and found that I was glad that I went and had a good time.

I am more enthused with getting things taken care of around the home. In some ways it seems like I have been in a fog the past six months since my husband's ski accident, and finally feel that I am breaking through, and beginning to see clear sky ahead. For me, Christmas music is soothing and encouraging. I love Christmas time. I love to decorate the house, and the special foods that we have at that time of year. It usually is a time for our family to be home together and have some relaxing and fun times. I look forward to that especially this year, with having my oldest home for a little over a month. My youngest son also shares my enthusiasm and would like to decorate for Christmas already. I will hold off a little while longer! :)

Well I'm off to working on my vacuuming, check and see if the rugs are dry, as well as a list of other things as well. I hope this day finds you rejoicing in God our Savior!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Contentment

It's been a good day. I had the day to myself since my husband and son were working today. It was a cool fall day. After taking my son to work early this morning, I came back and started tackling some projects around the house. I had piles on the kitchen counter, kitchen table and dining room table, but no more! I was able to successfully get through them all.

While I worked I had Christmas music playing in the background and had an apple candle burning. It spurred me to keep on working. I also had the cupboard to go through that had all my plastic ware. Somehow whenever I pull out a container and fill it, it just happens to be the one that doesn't have a lid, for whatever reason. So it was time to go through them all and make sure they each had a lid. I even had time to talk with my friend in Georgia and do meal preparations before again having to leave to go pick my son up from work.

I found time to walk after supper tonight while my guys were again gone. As I walked I couldn't help but think about the contentment I have felt today. I also have felt a sense of accomplishment, that I was actually making some headway with the house! I also have been working hard at trying to eat less and exercise more. Most days I have been pretty successful. I'm in the process of doing better in a lot of areas of my life. Just knowing I'm on the right road helps to give me contentment.

Now it's time to curl up with a book and relax for a while. What a sweet blessing rest and relaxation can be as well! :)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Cool Day in PA

It's an overcast day and the wind is blowing. The thermometer says 62 degrees, but it feels much cooler than that. The geese have been flying overhead the past several weeks. I guess they feel it is time to make that trek south where there are warmer temperatures.

I welcome the cooler temperatures and the leaves turning to soft hues of brilliant color. I long await the first snowfall. Lately I have been in the mood for things like hot apple cider, apple crisp, lighting a nice smelling candle and curling up with a good book. I have been starting to think about something to write as well. I still have not decided if I want to work on something fiction or nonfiction. I enjoy reading and writing both of those genres.

This time of year also makes me think of working on crafts. It's been quite a while since I have done a knitting project. I also enjoy cross-stitch as well, but it is something that my eyes struggle with seeing. I soon will take the time to look for a pattern and yarn and get started.

Then there is the house that is desperately awaiting cleaning. I don't know how my 'piles' have reproduced so quickly. You think they were related to rabbits or something. That's another thing on the "To Do" list that needs to be accomplished.

In a few weeks I will be starting to lead a Bible study on the book of Acts. That too is needing my attention. I look forward to sharing in fellowship with other ladies. I pray that God uses the time together in a mighty way. I also desire to do some studying on my own as well. I have several different areas I would like to research.

Even though the house is a wreck at the moment, I look forward to being able to focus on it this weekend, as well as some fun activities too. It's been a good day. I have gotten a lot of paperwork accomplished, and feel that I am on the road to getting better organized. In a little while I plan to go for a brisk walk for my health. That's another area I am trying to do a better job of managing.

So many things that vie for our attention. Today is a day where I'm not feeling overwhelmed, but anxious to get started on the journey. I guess that is part of what it says in scripture about being a Proverbs 31 woman. Each day may I strive to be more like one! :)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Time to Rest

This past weekend our youngest son attended a training which allowed my husband and I to have some alone time, which does not happen real often. We opted to be intentional about spending time together and focusing on our relationship. We actually went away for the weekend. The place we stayed did not have a radio or television. It was a quiet refuge. We were able to rest and also talk about the direction we want to be heading in the next few months.

I have been talking to my oldest son lately about the importance of balance - time to do work, rest, exercise and just have some fun too. We need a proper balance of all of those. It's easy to advise and not always as easy to do. I'm realizing that I need to take my own advice as well. Right now my body is weary so the time to rest sounds refreshing.

Each day we need to have a proper balance. If we become too focused in one area and neglect others, that isn't good either. I guess each day we need to pray and seek God's wisdom for our day and ask Him to help us to properly balance things.

How are you doing with balancing?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Signs of Fall

Hay bales in the field,
Leaves changing their colors,
Geese flying overhead,
Cool nights.

Pumpkins, mums and gourds,
Cut corn fields,
Raking leaves,
Cool days.

Hope you are having a great beginning of Fall!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Getting Back on the Exercise Horse

I have known for a while that I need to get back into regularly exercising. I had a year where I was very faithful with exercising at least five times a week for 30-45 minutes. Then last year hit with a lot of stress - my son was in a car accident, had a sports injury, my husband had a severe ski accident, I was in an accident, etc. All right you get the picture. How easy it is to come up with excuses of why we can't exercise. I have learned the hard way that when I face stress like I have this past year I tend to eat, not exercise, which has caused me to gain weight.

I finally have decided to do something about it. Today was my first day to actually exercise. I took a vigorous 30 minute walk. I was tired by the time I finished, but I felt good. A girl friend called while I was walking so she got to hear me be tired and out of breath while walking and trying to talk to her on my cell phone. I also had time to commune with God on a more intimate level as I was walking and enjoying my surroundings. I have missed that special time with the Lord while I walked. In some ways I felt like I was getting reacquainted with my best friend.

I also am trying to do a better job of watching what I eat and how much I eat. Ouch! That's a hard one. But I prayed that God would be in charge of all areas of my life, even my eating habits. So today so far I have been doing pretty well with cutting back the calories. I find myself feeling hungry, but also that my body does fine when I don't always give in to its demands. I'll keep you updated on my progress.

"Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize." 2 Corinthians 9:26-27

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sweet Fellowship

Today our church had our annual picnic. It was a beautiful day for it. Bright sunny skies with temperatures in the 60's/70's. A typical Fall day even though Fall doesn't officially start until Tuesday. I almost debated not going to the picnic since I still haven't been feeling the greatest. My husband convinced me to at least go for the lunch part of the picnic, so I did.

I am glad that I went. It was nice to be able to fellowship with other believers by breaking bread together. Even though I didn't feel the greatest, I was blessed by the opportunity to be around others who love the Lord. In our society we have to make a point of taking time to fellowship with others. In New Testament times it seems that it was a priority for the Church. When was the last time that you made a point of getting together with other Christians?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Blessings of Friendship

I recently read on a blog that was encouraging its readers to random acts of kindness. That was the day I planned to do something special with my youngest son to cheer him up since he was missing his brother. My plans were changed when we were in a car accident instead.

I happened to think of this since I have been blessed this week. Even though I have been sick since Monday afternoon I haven't really had to cook this week. On Sunday evening my husband made omelets for us. Monday night he again took over meal preparation for me. Tuesday I put pizza in the oven, so no work there. On Wednesday he brought home a meal for us. Yesterday a friend made a meal and brought it for us. It's enough to feed us for two more times. Tonight another friend offered to bring us a pizza.

So I have had many acts of kindness given to me this week. My dear husband brought me a palm plant because he was thinking of me. He knows how much I love to see the palm trees when we go south. It also is a reminder of my son that is going to college in Florida.

I praise God for people that care about me. I look forward to when I am feeling completely better and can bless others as well. Is there anybody that you can bless today?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Call For Ideas

The week will soon be coming to an end and I still am not feeling up to par yet. Today is a quiet day since my husband and youngest son are working. There are so many things that need to be done around the home, but I find I have no energy to do anything.

In less than two weeks I will need to have another article submitted for my column in the Home School Enrichment magazine. I don't know if it's because I'm sick or what, but I have no clue of what to write about this time. My column gives unit study ideas. So I am enlisting help from fellow home schoolers. Do you have any particular topic that you would like to see a unit study written about? This article will appear in their January/February issue.

So could you help me out and give me some ideas for an article? When I have it finished, I will gladly send it to you. If you don't have a blog you can do an anonymous comment. I look forward to hearing some ideas!

Thank you!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Rough Week

It's been a rough week since we have gotten home from Florida to take our oldest son for his first year of college. Since then, I have been in a car accident, working with an issue with the local school district and am now sick. I'm at the point of saying, "All right Lord, I have had more than I can handle!" But praise God that when I turn my life over to Him, the things that I face are His to handle.

I am thankful today that my strength comes from the Lord, especially since I have very little strength of my own today. I am thankful that He always is here. What are you facing today that seems like an overwhelming obstacle? Take it to Jesus and trust that He will help and guide you!

Monday, September 14, 2009

A New Normal

It's been a week now since our oldest son has left for college. I find that we are learning new routines with being a family of three instead of four. The 'firsts' have been hard at times. The first time we go somewhere that all of us normally go to, and our oldest is missing, etc. But I find that we are all learning to adjust as well. We miss him, but also know he is where God desires for him to be.

I can't help but think about the years ahead in the very near future when my youngest will also be leaving the nest. My husband and I will again have to adjust. With three years remaining until that time, I pray that we will faithfully continue the course that is set before us. May we not waver, but remain steadfast.

Doing laundry today was a little easier. Last week my oldest son still had some items in the laundry that needed to be clean. It was difficult going into his room to put the laundry away and realize that it would be over three months before I see him again and have him home.

One thing my youngest son and I have been doing has been to start playing Christmas music. I usually start listening to it in the fall, but this year as we listen, it is a reminder that my son will be home then.

On a different note, I have been enjoying reading Cindy Woodsmall's new book entitled The Hope of Refuge. It has been interesting because it mentions the town where I live. If you get the opportunity, pick up a copy to enjoy.

Well with things semi back to normal, I hope to be more faithful with blog entries. Happy day to you all! :)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Never a Dull Moment

We arrived home from Florida Tuesday evening after taking my oldest for his first year of college. I must admit that it was different walking into the house the first time without him. It has been an adjustment for all of us. My youngest son particularly is having a hard time with his big brother being gone. It is new for all of us.

Yesterday I was on my way taking my youngest son to a dentist appointment here in town when we got rear-ended by a huge dump truck. I was looking in the rear view mirror of the little Ford escort that I was driving and could see the grill of the truck quickly coming towards me, and there was nothing I could do to stop it. Interesting feeling!

Praise God my son and I were uninjured. I have short legs and have to sit pretty close to the steering wheel, so I praise God that the air bag didn't go off or I probably would have been severely hurt. I just am having pain in my neck, and pray that will soon go away.

If anything I have learned over the past six months with my husband's ski accident and now my car accident is that we don't always know the 'why' when things happen to us. But we rely on the truth that we serve a God that we can trust, even when things seem difficult. So I continue to cling to that truth.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

We'll Soon Be On Our Way

Well here we are - our last day at home before heading to Florida to take my oldest son to college. We will leave this afternoon when my husband gets home from work. It is hard to believe that we are entering a new era in our lives.

The van is mostly packed and ready to go. There still are some last minute things to pack, food to prepare, etc. I have been wracking my brain, trying to make sure we have remembered to pack everything that he will need this next school year. We won't see him again until Christmas break when he is home for five weeks. Then it will be back to Florida until mid May.

I feel ready to let him go, but sad as well. Of my two sons, this is the one that is very similar to me. I feel like I will be saying farewell to a friend as well.

Please pray for us as we head to Florida and then back home again. We will be gone for about a week.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

End of Summer

Time just continues to fly by here in Pennsylvania. The month of August has been a blur. My youngest son had an incredible trip to China. He saw neat sights, felt God's leading, and saw God move in many ways. I know that he will never be the same because of this experience.

Adjusting back to being home has been a difficult experience for him. I know that part of his heart is still back in China where he feels a calling to be sometime again in the future. We also are all adjusting to the fact that our oldest son will be leaving in less than a week to head to FL for college. My youngest son especially is having a hard time with this. I ask that you keep him in your prayers.

As I write this, I am already sweating. I know women perspire, not sweat! :) I can hear the sounds of summer from my windows. Those bugs that you only hear in the heat of the summer. I know that it won't be much longer and those sounds will be replaced by the crunch of leaves underfoot.

I know in a week we will have a major change in our lives as our first one steps out of the nest to soar on his own. I feel that I am ready to let go. I know he is going where he (and we) feel God is calling him. I know that there will be times that we miss him dearly. But I also know that it is time to let go. A year ago I was really struggling with this, but God has taught me a lot through the year. Learning to let go... when my husband is in a ski accident in a different state and I can't get there right away.... being unable to do anything to help my husband with his pain and suffering other than pray..... letting go of my youngest when he has a call from God to go to China.... and now letting go of my oldest as he heads off to college.

Perhaps there is something that you are struggling with to let go of. I encourage you to let go, trust God, so you will be allowed to soar.

Isaiah 40:30-31 " Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 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."

Saturday, August 8, 2009

He'll Soon Be Back...

In less than an hour my youngest son will be boarding an airplane in China and starting his journey back home after eighteen days of being gone. We are all excited and anxious to see him again. As a mother, I can't wait to give him a big hug as a welcome home.

While he has been gone we have had some communication. We have been able to view some photos as well as read some blog entries about what they have been doing. We even were surprised by an email earlier this week from him.

I think about how excited and anxious we are to meet his flight tomorrow evening at 11:58 PM and I can't help but think about my Heavenly Father as well. I know that He eagerly desires for each of us to choose to follow Him. He is looking toward the time when we come home as well - both by becoming a part of His family and also as Christians when He calls us to our Heavenly home.

As I write this with the anticipation of soon seeing my son, I want to ask you if you know where you are headed. Are you assured of having a personal relationship with God and knowing that you are His? If not, you can change that by praying and asking God to forgive you of your sins. Tell Him you desire to be a part of His family and desire to follow Him. If you pray this, please contact me and let me know. I would love to pray for you as well.

I praise God for the time that my son has been in China because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was God's will for him to be there. I look forward to hearing how God spoke to him while he was there and what things he has learned. I can't wait to give him a hug tomorrow evening. Your Heavenly Father is waiting to hug you as well.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Smells of Fall

I had a list of things that I had hoped to accomplish today. One of those was making applesauce. For some reason our apples are ripening faster than normal this year. I had two big bags of apples that needed attention before they spoiled. So I began the task of peeling apples to make applesauce. I already have one big pan finished and the last one is still simmering. I can smell it cooking as I write this.

Although it didn't seem like it would be a big job, I have spent at least two and a half hours this morning peeling apples. My fingers and back are feeling the results of my labor. I had hoped that our apples would be better this year, since a friend of ours has been faithfully spraying them since Spring, to keep the bugs away. Well, apparently the bugs still managed to find a home in my apples. Many times I would look at the outside of the apple and it looked perfect. But as I cut into it I was often surprised by a little worm friend.

As I was peeling and peeling and peeling I couldn't help but think about a lot of Christians today. We look pretty nice and appealing from the outside, but perhaps not on the inside. Perhaps people know that you are a Christian, but at times things come out of your mouth that sound no different than those in the world around you. We say we are Christian but do we live lives that are fully set apart and different from the world around us?

Which are you today? An apple that looks lovely but has bugs on the inside or are you an apple that has some spots and bruises on the outside, but inside is a healthy, crisp core?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Looking Ahead

Last week I was out shopping to pick up some last minute items for my sons trip to China this week. While I was out I noticed the back to school items in the store already - you know - pencils, papers, notebooks, scissors, crayons, etc. All of those things that conjure up thoughts of fall. I know I mentioned some of this in my last post. But my mind keeps going back to it. This will be a different fall for me with only having one son at home. Usually during this time I start thinking about what ladies Bible study I will be teaching and what God wants me to focus on. My thoughts continue to stray in that direction and I still don't have a clear idea of what God is calling me to do. I need insight of what things to be involved with. I don't want to have too many things scheduled. I know that my son will have sports practices to be carted to, as well as his job once a week.

Perhaps things are a little more 'cloudy' right now because of the past few months that we have had, dealing with my husband's skiing accident. He hopes to return back to work full time sometime soon, but still will be undergoing therapy - perhaps for a while yet. These months have been difficult ones. The people that we thought would be with us, supporting us, often were the ones that were not. God often used people that we didn't know very well, to reach out to us. We did have ones that were extremely faithful. I still am seeking the Lord's direction in where He wants us to be in relation to all that we have been through. Sometimes He uses something like this in our lives, to point us in a new direction. My husband and I are trying to remain open to God's leading in this area. No definite answers have been shown us as of yet.

My prayer is that above all else, I will remain close to the Lord, and seek His direction for our lives. I want to be in the center of His will.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Catching Up!

It seems hard to believe that it has been almost a month since I was last able to post a blog entry. Things have been pretty busy in our household. My oldest son graduated from our homeschool, my Mom celebrated her 70th birthday, my husband has returned to work part time and we are in the midst of preparations for my youngest son to leave for China next week. I feel like my life has been a whirlwind lately.

I have been trying to squeeze in time as well to do some lesson planning for the fall. I still have a long way to go. Before long I will be sending my oldest over 1000 miles away to attend Pensacola Christian College. I already have started accumulating some items for him. I still have a ways to go. I only can buy a little at a time since we are on a reduced salary right now.

Here in PA we have had an unusually cool and comfortable summer so far. I have been loving it since I don't do well with heat and humidity. Right now it is raining, which means I won't need to water the garden today. As I picked up a few grocery items this morning at a retail store, I noticed the school supplies already lined up for fall. I ended up buying some supplies for my college bound son.

Fall is a favorite time of year for me - looking ahead to a new school year. Enjoying the beauty of the changing leaves. Walking in the crisp air and hearing leaves crunch underfoot. I always have enjoyed getting new school supplies - for my sons as well as for me too! :) It seems hard to believe that I only have three more years of teaching homeschool with my youngest son...

I know the next week will be busy with getting my son off to China, so I'm not sure how much I'll be able to write, but soon hope to be a little more regular with my entries. Will you please pray for my son as he will be gone for 18 days. I pray that God will use this trip in a mighty way in his life, to draw him closer.

Blessings to you all!