Follow by Email

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

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

Monday, 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