Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Enemy Can Be Anywhere...

"Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings." 1 Peter 5:8-9

This verse is very appropriate this week for Andy and I, I think. It's been very interesting around here...this new job activity of his. Being in construction, he's been up and down work wise for about 5 years, and one of the standard conversations with friends is always about his work prospect, if they have work, if he'll be working through winter, when he'll be laid off, when he'll be out of town, that kind of thing. So many people have been encouraging to Andy the whole time he's been up and down, expressing their concern for our family and our well-being. And always, for the last five years, there has always been talk about Andy finding a more steady job.

Last week when Andy went in for his interview, we were both praying for guidance for Andy. That he would know, that as he sat in the interview, the Holy Spirit would prompt him as to whether or not he should take the job offered. We knew it was going to be a pay cut, but he wanted to be where God wanted him. We both felt he should take the job, there really was no question of not taking it, we both had such a peace and calmness about him taking this job. There is an opportunity for a leadership position for him shortly, but first he needs to prove his worth and earn it. We both know he can do it, with God's strength and the Holy Spirit backing him up, he can be very successful in this job, and be a fantastic business. There's plenty of opportunity, and we will leave it up to God to present that opportunity when the time is right. My mind so likes to race ahead, but for now I am very content and happy with where Andy is.

But what was interesting this past weekend was all these people...all these friends who for so long have all been inquiring into a steady job for Andy and really supporting him all seemed so...disappointed, I guess with Andy's new job. It was almost surreal how not a single person seemed to be happy for him. And it led me to thinking about this verse, how we could have really taken it personally and called this new employer up and changed our minds. And I just know with all my heart that that is exactly what the enemy wanted. He even used out closest friends to encourage defeat and to try and shift us from God's path. That's so scary! Yet we've remained diligent so far, and to be honest, now I'm getting a little bit excited for Andy. Because if Satan doesn't want him working there, there must be awesome things in store for him. I cannot wait for my husband to have the position that God is preparing for him, because I know he'll be happy there.

I pray that we continue to be vigilant and that God will keep us on the path that we need to be. May the Holy Spirit continue to be there to offer encouragement when needed most.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Caring For The Body

"Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" 1 Corinthians 3:16

"Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?" 1 Corinthians 6:19

"And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
“ I will dwell in them
And walk among them.
I will be their God,
And they shall be My people.” 2 Corinthians 6:16

This might sound weird today, but I've found the best diet plan ever. I can still eat whatever I want, and still maintain healthiness. This is the diet plan that everyone should follow, because you get results. And you never would guess where I found the Bible.

In the few days of our meaningless lives, who knows how our days can best be spent? Our lives are like a shadow. Who can tell what will happen on this earth after we are gone?" Ecclesiastes 6:12

" And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching." Titus 2:7

I've written before about how I've really felt led to take better care of what is around me when I can by recycling and using earth-friendly products, and that kind of thing. I think it makes sense to take care of what God has given us- he tells us to take care of what he has given us. But I don't think I've written before about taking care of the body. It sounds like a trivial thing perhaps, but just as we only get one planet, we only get one body. Stands to reason that we should take care of this precious body as much as we can. And being a child of God, I should take care of this body in a manner befitting a child of a King.

I guess maybe I mis-spoke earlier when I said a "diet plan" per se, but it really has changed the way I eat thinking about this temple I am in possession of. I have become mindful of what goes in my mouth. Now that doesn't mean I'm avoiding desserts, or avoiding a type of food like carbs, or avoiding fat, it just means I think about it ahead of time. And if I am going to indulge in something that is a little less healthy, I eat a few bites to enjoy it, but then that's enough. There is no reason to be gluttonous. I eat three meals a day, maybe a few munchies in between, and I even have the occasional glass of wine. But never to excess. I don't drink to excess, and I don't eat to excess- even if I truly love that taco salad.

I'm sure this all sounds trivial, and I may even be getting a few rolling eyes here, but I dare you to try it. Just for a few days. Take these verses that I have written above and put them somewhere prominent- on a kitchen cupboard or on the fridge. And before you put something in your mouth, thank God for the morsel of food in your hands. Then enjoy the first bite. Enjoy every nuance of what you've just eaten. Take your time and take pleasure in the wonderful things that God has put on this earth for us to nourish our bodies with. When you sit down to a full meal, again, take your time. Thank God for the rancher who raised the cattle which you are eating, and thank God for the produce worker at your grocery store (while, you're at it, pray for an opportunity to chat with him sometime). Then, slowly, enjoy that which God has given you. Not only will you better appreciate what you're eating, but you will also find yourself eating less. You will eat the amount of food your body needs, instead of having a second or third helping, just because it's so good. Because when you've finished the meal on your plate, you will feel completely satisfied.

There are obviously other aspects to caring for the body... there's exercise, which we all know is important, but don't necessarily do, and there's personal hygiene, which I hope we all know is important. But I really think that once you get into the mind-frame that this body is all that you get...this body belongs to God, and he wants to see how you take care of it, that it all falls into place. Exercise (at least for me) may not necessarily be formal exercise. Some days, scrubbing the bathroom can be a better workout than anything I could do at a gym. We only get one shot with this body, and thanking God for what we have, and being mindful of this is at least, enough for me to keep from going overboard. This body truly is a temple, and every day I have with it I am thankful.

Monday, October 29, 2007

All Stocked Up

"In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil,
but a foolish man devours all he has." Proverbs 21:20

We have been so blessed. I have been so blessed. I'm sure to some people, this is going to seem a little strange, and maybe even a little archaic. But I have been blessed with a pantry. No, really. I have been blessed with a desire to have a well-stocked pantry. I have written about this before, about being a busy ant and taking care of my family, but I don't know that I have really seen my pantry in action before. And now I have absolutely no doubt, that my pantry is a blessing.

"The house of the righteous contains great treasure," Proverbs 15:6

"She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar." Proverbs 31:14

The past few weeks, Andy hasn't been working much, and there hasn't been much as far is income. This is going to continue for a few more weeks. What money is coming in has to pay the bills, so there isn't anything left for groceries at the end of the week. Yet over the last few months, I have been slowly adding to the pantry. An extra can here, and extra cut of meat there, and over the course of time, I actually managed to stock the pantry somewhat. It definitely isn't burgeoning, by any means, but it's nicely stocked to get us through a few tough weeks. By taking just a few dollars and adding fresh milk, eggs, and cheese to the fridge, we have all we could possibly need to eat. It's been kind of fun to "shop the pantry" each week. As I peek in the freezer to see what is there, and look on the pantry shelves, I make a menu plan for the week and I am constantly amazed to discover that I have most everything I need right here.

And this includes what I need to have company over!

"Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality." Romans 12:13

"Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling." 1 Peter 4:9

Of course, last night we were blessed even further when someone else provided dinner for us and our company. It can be such a joy to let someone else take over the tasks as well. God provides in many ways, and a lot of the times it can be through other people. And sometimes he provides what we need right here in our own homes. I don't have a clue what I was thinking when I purchased that 50 pound sack of potatoes, but I do know that a hearty baked potato soup sounds completely decadent today.

I just feel completely blessed today. :-) In fact, I made this week's menu plan on Saturday, and I'm almost disappointed with that, because I feel tickled every time I make a menu plan for the week,and then realize that we're not eating up everything in the house, and there's still plenty more for the following week. I do wonder what next week is going to bring to mind to make. Our God is Great, an Greatly to be Praised. I am so thankful this morning, and I just wanted to share that.

Friday, October 26, 2007

An Early Thanksgiving!

"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe," Hebrews 12:28

"I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart;
before the "gods" I will sing your praise.

2 I will bow down toward your holy temple
and will praise your name
for your love and your faithfulness,
for you have exalted above all things
your name and your word.

3 When I called, you answered me;
you made me bold and stouthearted.

4 May all the kings of the earth praise you, O LORD,
when they hear the words of your mouth.

5 May they sing of the ways of the LORD,
for the glory of the LORD is great.

6 Though the LORD is on high, he looks upon the lowly,
but the proud he knows from afar.

7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
you preserve my life;
you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes,
with your right hand you save me.

8 The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me;
your love, O LORD, endures forever—
do not abandon the works of your hands." Psalm 138

I don't think I need to expand too much today. :-) Anyone who's been reading this, or even knows us, knows the thankfulness we have in our hearts this morning. Andy got a new job. :-) A job which is consistent, year round, and will take him wherever he wants to go. We are just completely amazed this morning at God's provision. We've gotten so used to cyclical jobs where there is always down time and lean time...and there won't be that anymore! What a blessing! And what a great God to provide this job at the exact time we need it. We knew he would, but it's truly amazing to see His Work in action. Just amazing.

I'm looking forward to my husband enjoying his work, and being able to advance if he wants. And I'm looking forward to him not having to worry about where the next paycheck will be coming from, because it will be there. I'm looking forward to the next few weeks as he adjusts to the new job, and we all adjust to a smaller pay for a while. We can do it, God's prepared us for it. And most of all, I'm looking forward to seeing what God has planned for Andy at this new company, because I know there's something very cool ahead for him.

So woo-hoo! Thanks God!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Gift Of Joy

"Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work—this is a gift of God. 20 He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart." Ecclesiastes 5:19-20

There are some days where I really get into a rhythm here at home. Take yesterday for example. I was straightening up the dining room, putting a few things away, and as I tucked something away into my burgeoning coat closet, it occurred to me to clean the closet. That took a bit of work, pulling everything out, sorting, straightening, and vacuuming up all those cobwebs. But I did it. And the best part? I enjoyed it. Truly. Zander was busy occupying himself and I was just busy finding joy in the mundane. I thought about how much more welcoming the coat closet would be to guests who reach in for their coat, and not have to worry about something tumbling out at them. And I thought about how much easier it will be to find a pair of gloves for Abigail before school. I just found great pleasure yesterday in ordinary household tasks.

I've been finding this more often. I think as Zander grows and gets closer and closer to school days, a part of me finds myself looking towards the future, trying to determine what I will do once he is in school. How will I keep myself busy? And will I be able to use my time in a fruitful and productive manner, or will I give in to the seduction of the sofa, and lazy days of movie and TV viewing. I've also thought about working outside the home. There are certainly times where we could use the extra income I could provide, and sometimes I think I could get a job. Then God gives me a day like yesterday and I am reminded that I already have a job. My job at the time is to care for my family and take care of our home. There is no job out there that could be more important to me. One of the things I've thought about is worry about getting bored and complacent with simple homemaking. And then I clean a closet and find myself humming in my head and finding hidden treasure that I'd forgotten about, and now that treasure is hiding in a safer place, ready to be wrapped with Christmas paper.

I am where God wants me to be. I am doing what he wants me to do, and that is a true gift. Gladness in my heart is a gift from God and I am so grateful for it. I am so grateful to have this servant's heart, to want to take care of my family in the best way possible. And I am grateful for the joy and the happiness I find in my everyday work. Many people would not be content to fold laundry and do dishes and scrub floors every day. But I love it. I thank God for this, for this contentment and for the joy I find in every day.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

It's Encouraging Today

"For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

5May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, 6so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." Romans 15:4-6

It's really been a lesson for us lately in trusting, I tell you. As each day goes by and Andy isn't working, and no one is calling on all those resumes sent out, it's a little discouraging. I have been a little concerned, to be honest. I do trust that our needs will be met, but I have still been concerned about keeping payments current and that kind of thing. Since Andy's kind of a handy guy, he has been offering to do a few odd jobs here and there to help pay the bills, but it's really not enough, and it's been a little...down lately.

But then late yesterday afternoon he got one message on his cell that gave us such encouragement. He got a call on one of his resumes. And while he has to call back today, and it could even end up being nothing, it was something. It was as if we got a message from God, "see, I'm looking out for you, and that job will be ready for you when you need it." It was such a burst of encouragement for us yesterday and that's carried over to this morning. And we completely give God the credit for that phone call yesterday. Something else we have decided is that we give thanks to God for this opportunity, no matter what comes of it. If Andy gets this job, God gets the glory from us. If Andy doesn't get this job, then God still gets the glory from us.

We have great hope this morning. And I pray that God will direct my husband's footsteps to where they need to go.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Checking On My Priorities

Of all the studying of the Bible I have done over the last year since I studied this blog, the one that sticks with me most is my study of Proverbs 31. I love going back to it and reading it over and reminding myself some of the things that I have learned. As I read through, I see the things that I have been working on, and they give me such a smile, to know how far I've come. And I see the things that I desperately need to work on yet and it's a reminder that I am never finished.

The last few days, I have been a little busy beaver. My husband is not working now, so it's been my personal challenge to make sure that nothing gets wasted right now. Every meal that I make is planned with another meal in mind, to help that grocery dollar stretch.

"She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.

15 She gets up while it is still dark;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her servant girls" Proverbs 31:14,15

We were blessed enough to have a few extra dollars last week, so we stopped at an apple orchard and picked up some second run apples. I've been busy turning those apples into applesauce and apple pie filling, for treats in the months to come. Andy picked up pie pumpkins, which I've been baking and freezing for pumpkin pies, and raviolis and quick breads. I've been cooking extra meals to have in the freezer, so that I have peace of mind that we will have something to eat in the weeks to come. It's been wonderful! I've found the energy to get these things done, and I feel like I'm not just sitting around wasting my time.

"She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness." Proverbs 31:27

I feel so blessed to be able to prepare this way for the time ahead of us. While I am constantly praying that all my work will be for naught, I have the knowledge that what I have done will get the job done, should the need arise. And I just have this "feeling" right now, that I can't do enough. I'm looking at scraps of fabric, wondering what I can do with them to make something useful or warm or...whatever. I look at yarn, and while I've hated knitting in the past, it could be a way to make warm clothing, maybe a second go at it would be good. I think that God has smiled on me and seen my heart, and he's giving me what I want. I don't want to sit around all day and do nothing, I want my days to glorify him. There is nothing better than lovingly making something for my family to eat, interspersed with a few puzzles or game time with my kids. Nothing better.

"She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands." Proverbs 31:13

I have eager hands right now, and such a willing spirit. I have a peace in my heart that God will see to the things that need to be seen. It's honestly completely illogical that I should be at peace with the time ahead, but I know he has my back. I know he loves me and my family- and especially my children, and that they will have what they need when they need it. Who knew when I did this study on Proverbs 31 that it was preparing me for a time ahead. I thought I was just trying to improve upon my character, and yet I've found many applications that prove otherwise. And I will continue to read God's beautiful words in Proverbs 31, because each day that I do so, I feel like I get a glimpse at the potential, at the woman I can be someday, and I know I'm on my way. And I just feel great about that today.

Monday, October 22, 2007

A Lesson in Conversation

"A man finds joy in giving an apt reply— and how good is a timely word!" Proverbs 15:23

Today we have a lesson in how to strike up a conversation with someone you maybe don't know so well. It's really very simple, and this verse in Proverbs tells us everything we need to know. You ask for advice. Not superficially or for no reason at all, but when you genuinely need it. Let's say you're thinking about putting in a tile back splash around your kitchen sink, but you've never done it before. You have no idea what's involved. But there is a man at your church you does put in tile, or perhaps owns a renovation service, but you don't know them very well. This is a perfect opportunity! It gives you an opportunity to have a conversation with someone you don't know very well, and it gives the other person a chance to talk about something they're passionate about.

You know how that goes. You can carry on polite conversation with someone for so long, but then when you hit on the topic that they are truly passionate about, it sparks something. Their eyes light up and you can just tell that they enjoy sharing what they know. So not only do you get to learn what that person knows and file it away for future reference, you may very well be drawing someone out of a shell. Perhaps that one person is considering not coming to church anymore because no one ever talks to them, or they just haven't connected. This is an opportunity to change that. And I have to believe that often times, God places those thoughts in our heads specifically to help us start that important conversation.

My husband is gifted in this. Truly. He can draw anyone out through conversation. He's excellent at honing in on what they like to talk about and then asking them dozens of questions. He probably doesn't even know that he has this gift, (well, he does now after reading this), but I have literally seen dozens of examples of my husband talking to someone, and the other person lights up just because he asked the right question.

This is one of those things to remember and keep in mind when talking with other people. Sometimes I find myself in the awkward situation of not knowing what to say to someone. Asking someone else for advice or words of wisdom is one of the best ways to get someone talking. You can't get to know someone without talking to them.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Sustenance and A Help

"Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me." Psalm 51:12

"Surely God is my help;
the Lord is the one who sustains me." Psalm 54:4

Sustenance is defined in the dictionary as" something that gives support, endurance, or strength". I think that's a pretty good definition of The Holy Spirit sometimes. He's our helper, our conscience to help guide us to the right decisions, and that extra boost of spirit to get through a challenge. It's interesting to see God referred to as sustaining twice here today. I guess when I think of sustenance I immediately think of food. It is food that gives us what our bodies need to function. But really, it's not the food, it's God. God is the one who provided the food, and the one who created the need for food in the first place. God sustains us. "Man does not live by bread alone" was not talking about just eating bread for food, but talking about the need for God's Word, for that Holy Sustenance from above. That is even more important than eating our 5 fruits and vegetables every day. We can skip eating for a day with little consequence, but a day without God would be like a nightmare.

And I am also reminded of this passage from Psalms today:

"God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.

2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,

3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging. " Psalm 46:1-3

God is ever-present. That is a wonderful thought. Even when we are at the bottom of the bottom, God is there with us, to help us climb back out. He is always there for us, no matter how badly the world is falling apart around us, and we have no need to worry about what is happening, we just need to focus on Him and his ever-present help.

And then we put these two thoughts together today, and we have something quite interesting. God sustains us and he is also ever-present. So it would stand to reason, that he sustains us always. ALWAYS. He will always give us what we need when we need it, we have no need to worry, because God will be there, and he will take care of us, our needs, and will calm our fears.

I'll finish today with this verse from Jeremiah, because it really sums it all up:

"Don’t worry! The Lord says you will have peace!" Jeremiah 23:17

Friday, October 19, 2007

To Delight

"Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 27:4

The last several weeks, it's been no coincidence to my husband and I that just about every time we hear a verse from a Bible it speaks to us in a "wait and see" standpoint. Some of them also talk about patience, and every single one also talks in spades about God's provision, both the practical provision, and then like today's, where he does provide our wants as well. When I saw today's verse, I have to admit, I felt like throwing up my hands and screaming in frustration. Something like "Okay God, you win... but get on with it already would you!"

We were just talking about this yesterday, because we're in a state of limbo, and all we literally can do is wait on God and see what he has in store for us. Andy has next week left of work, and that could very well be it. And part of that is extremely frustrating, because he has been looking earnestly for a new job. He's put out resume after resume, but no one's calling. Yesterday he sent out 3 or 4 more. He sends them out, and we pray about it. But one thing we have both decided- he is being proactive. He's doing what he can and waiting on God for the results. And because he is not sitting around doing nothing about it, and because he does know that God has something AMAZING for him, we are both going to just pray and wait. The right resume has gone out, and when he needs it, God will provide the phone call that will change everything for the better.

So back to today's verse (I know, I'm kind of rambling today,but I have a lot on my mind.) First of all, it's a cause-and-effect verse. (Doesn't that take you back to grade school!) The first part tells us what to do, "delight in the Lord" and then there will be a result from that. And here's my question to myself- and to God I guess- today. Am I delighting in the Lord? IS there more that I could be doing to delight in God? I don't know, to be honest. I think that this is going to take some introspection today... And then there's the second part of this verse- after you delight in Him, HE will give you the desires of your heart. Wow. Just wow. So what are the desires of my heart? Well, I sure hope that God knows, because some days I don't. Some days I want different things than I do on other days. There are a few constants right now. More than anything right now, I want my husband to be happy with his work. I want him to have the job that truly makes him happy, AND enables him to support his family completely, so that he doesn't have to worry about needing gas in his tank, and not having the money for it. Things like that. I want my children to have everything they need, and a few of the things they truly want. And right now, I want to be able to go Christmas shopping the way I want to go Christmas shopping. I don't want to have to shop with an eye on the price...I want to be able to shop with each person in mind, to get them the one thing that would delight them and bring them joy.

God knows this. I know this. And I pray with all my heart that he will grant me the desires of my heart and that he will show me how to delight in him more. Because he is our provider- he gives us everything, time, money, food, love, it's all from him, and without him, we are nothing.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

When Trouble Comes

Those days when life gets crazy, I am oh so thankful that I have somewhere to turn. I have become so reliant on my morning study time, it's amazing to me that just one year ago I didn't have it. It such a spirit lifter to begin my morning reading God's Word and seeing what God has to say to me each morning, and also, to see what he wants me to share here. It is from God that I find daily words of encouragement.

" It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life." John 6:63

It is also from God's Word that I find sustenance, the energy to face another battle, and the strength to make it to the end of another day. For it is not just the food I put in my mouth that gives me energy. My day does not begin properly until I've spent some time with Him. He gives me the jump start I need to spend my time wisely.

"So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD." Deuteronomy 8:3

I've been talking a lot lately about about having faith and hope and patience, and I could have none of that if it weren't for turning to the Bible daily for the words of encouragement.

"For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope." Romans 15:4

For He is always there, always there to turn to in times of trouble, and in times of great joy as well. I love beginning my days in The Word, because I know that what I read will help me get through another day, and that I am prepared, should a challenge face me at some point. And I have great hope that they day will come soon where I need not wait for Him any longer, that all our troubles will be but a distant memory, and we can devote our every waking second to doing what he asks of us. For it is coming.

" Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Joyful Day

As I write this post this morning, my dear sister in law is in labor with her second child. It truly is a joyful day here! I will be waiting all day impatiently for that phone call that announces the arrival of my new niece or nephew. I'm looking forward to meeting this new little being! So today is a day of great joy for us, which I am joyful for in itself. It's always wonderful to have a day where you spend the day with a song in your heart and a head full of gladness. It's days like this where a few of the Psalms specifically fit the mood in the house.

"I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart;
I will tell of all your wonders.

2 I will be glad and rejoice in you;
I will sing praise to your name, O Most High." Psalm 9:1-2

"But give great joy to those who came to my defense.
Let them continually say, “Great is the Lord,
who delights in blessing his servant with peace!”
28 Then I will proclaim your justice,
and I will praise you all day long." Psalm 35:27-28

"Praise the Lord
Sing to the Lord a new song.
Sing his praises in the assembly of the faithful." Psalm 149:1

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Encouragement from The Word

5 "Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely,
who conducts his affairs with justice.

6 Surely he will never be shaken;
a righteous man will be remembered forever.

7 He will have no fear of bad news;
his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD." Psalm 112:5-7

“"Have I lied to anyone
or deceived anyone?
6 Let God weigh me on the scales of justice,
for he knows my integrity" Job 31:5-6

Sometimes we just need a word of encouragement. I admit that I tend to respond better to a convicting message- one that says get of your lazy butt and do something or shame on you. But every once in a while I just get a little down in the dumps about something, and that's when I turn to my Bible for a little pick-me-up. I love the Psalm above, especially the last line. "His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord." I get such a visual picture from that line. I see a woman standing on a prairie, watching the sunset after a long, hard day. Her hair is whipping around her, and her dress is blowing in the breeze. Life is hard on the prairie, but as she is watching the sun dip down, she is praying a prayer of thanksgiving to God for all she was able to accomplish that day and praying for the strength to get through the next. Her heart is steadfast, and she trusts that God will help her get through another day. It's just such a moving, visual image to me, and it makes me realize that I have it pretty good living where I live and how I live, and it encourages me to do better with my day.

The second verse I like to lean on when I am discouraged about people in general. Something may be running amok with a friend, or with acquaintances, and this verse is a reminder to me that it is not other people who are responsible for me. I do not do what I do for the glory of other people, I do it for the glory of God. And he, and he alone is the only one who may judge my actions. I need to remember that, when I hear that people are murmuring about me behind my back. That ultimately, it doesn't matter. The only opinion that truly matters to me is the one above. Conversely, this verse is also a reminder to me that it is not my place to judge others as well. I do not know what is in someone else's heart, and someday they will answer to God for their actions.

"let the LORD judge the peoples.
Judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness,
according to my integrity, O Most High." Psalm 7:8

It truly is encouraging to know that what other people think doesn't matter. Sure, sometimes it may hurt to learn the truth about what people truly think, but these verses are a reminder that the only opinion that truly matters is God's opinion. And in those times of hurt, we also have him to turn to to ease the pain that others have caused.

"Cast your cares on the LORD
and he will sustain you;
he will never let the righteous fall." Psalm 55:22

"Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed...However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name." 1 Peter 4:12-13, 16

Monday, October 15, 2007

God's Time

"How great you are, O Sovereign LORD! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears." 2 Samuel 7:22

Our Sunday night group has been studying the issue of time management. What started out as a thought on doing a study on something simply practical has turned into something so much more. It's obviously a study that was placed on our hearts for a reason, because we're getting hit with it every day. Even the Sunday morning sermons we've been hearing have fit right in with our study time.

The one thing (if there is one thing) so far that has really struck me is that in order to better manage our time, we need to realize where our time comes from and treat it accordingly. This may be a simple thing to think on at first, but think about it. If time comes from God, how should we treat it? Oh much better than we do, that's for sure. Every moment we have is a gift from God, and what does it say when we waste those moments? What does is say when we spend our days lazing around doing nothing. It's nothing short of shameful, in my opinion. But that doesn't make it any easier to utilize the time more wisely. Those distractions are still there. The sofa is always calling...the computer is always there, blinking in the corner, begging for a quick peek. The TV is always waiting to be turned on, with 170 channels of nothing to tempt.

There is no God like our God. None. He is Great and deserves as much time as we can give him. Now, that doesn't mean that every second of every day needs to be spent in prayer and Bible reading and service. That can be good, and some people are called to that, but it's the other things. As I clean my house I should do it with a song in my heart because I'm doing what God wants me to do. As I care for my children, instead of being angry about being interrupted, I should be oh-so grateful for another moment where my children need my attention. This morning as I clean up the kitchen after a great evening fellowshipping with friends- old and new alike, I can be grateful for all the dishes to wash up, as it means that we were with Jesus last night. "Where two or more are gathered..."

Time is precious, as we have no idea how much of it we have. God gives us the time we have, and it is so important to use it wisely, and be mindful of where it comes from in the first place. Perhaps that is the key to better time management.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

A Little Late Today...

But better than never- right?

"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." Jeremiah 29:11

This verse could not have been better for me to read today. I've really been concerned as of late about, well, everything and where things are headed. Especially with Andy's job. He's put out resume after resume, and the only call he's gotten has been to go mix glue for $12 an hour. Not exactly the job he's looking for. He has maybe 2 or 3 weeks of work left, and that's it so far. It is so hard for me to trust that God has a plan and that it will be revealed in due time. It's equally hard to look at the completely empty checkbook and look at the calendar and not be discouraged. I've already caught myself being wistful about the holidays coming up. I know that gifts aren't the reason for the season, but I love gift-giving. I love giving my children what they want and I love giving to others as well.

But then there's this verse! It's a reality check for me, and the timing just couldn't have been better. Just now I was washing the dishes, (where I spend a fair amount of time praying) and thinking about how things just aren't looking good. And where one of my thought is that maybe we are destined to struggle a bit before the good stuff comes, but then this verse says right there in black and white that has plans to prosper us and not harm us. Yes!! I have no need to worry or stress. It will happen and it will come in his timing. He also has plans for us to give us hope and a future!! What a fantastic encouragement for me today. I'm clinging to that hope and anxiously awaiting the future.

As hard as it is, it is God's timing that I am completely relying on. The future could have gotten here yesterday as far as I'm concerned, but I know that He placed this verse in front of me just now to ease my concern and my fears. Thank you Lord for being so generous and for the hope you give me.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Thinking About Marriage

"So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate." Matthew 19:6

"But did He not make them one,
Having a remnant of the Spirit?
And why one?
He seeks godly offspring.
Therefore take heed to your spirit,
And let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth." Malachi 2:15

"And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” Genesis 2:18

This morning I have marriage on my mind. I don't know that these verses accurately portray what I am thinking this morning, but it's still on my mind. A few months ago we learned of the divorce of a young couple who had gotten married just a few months before us. We celebrated our marriages together and spent a lot of time together until kids came along and we both got busy. And while our friendship is a thing of the past, I just can't imagine what brought this couple to dissolve their marriage. How bad could things have gotten for them to call it quits?

Then yesterday we got another phone call from another friend. One of the last couples we'd ever expected to separate has begun a separation. These people were a model for us when we got married! Yet somehow over the last several years they've drifted apart and allowed other things to come between them and their love for each other.

What gives? I can't even begin to fathom a day without my husband, let alone be contemplating a life without him. Right now I guess I'm being given a reminder about how wonderful marriage is, and how my husband and our relationship together is a gift from God. And maybe we're an example of how a marriage can be if God is involved. God keeps us centered and keeps us focused on each other and our family. I wonder if God had been more a part of our friends' marriages would they all still be together?

So today I am completely thankful to God for my husband. He truly is a gift, and as long as I remember that, and remember to appreciate him, I think we'll be okay. God is great. He gives us examples like this to remind us to appreciate that which we have. And this morning I certainly do.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Confidence In God

You know how sometimes when you mess up you just feel awful and that you've failed? It can be really discouraging to mis-step and be off track. Sometimes I can be faced with a decision, do I continue on the destructive path or do I suck it up, ask for forgiveness and try again. The great, great thing about our God is that no matter how many times we stray off the path, we can always get back on again. Always. And that brings me to the title of today's post- Confidence In God. I have complete confidence that no matter how many times I screw up, and now matter how badly, he will always welcome me back with open arms and comfort.

"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." John 14:18

"In you, O LORD, I have taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame.

2 Rescue me and deliver me in your righteousness;
turn your ear to me and save me.

3 Be my rock of refuge,
to which I can always go;
give the command to save me,
for you are my rock and my fortress.

4 Deliver me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked,
from the grasp of evil and cruel men.

5 For you have been my hope, O Sovereign LORD,
my confidence since my youth." Psalm 71:1-5

"It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in man." Psalm 118:8

"The LORD will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;

8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore." Psalm 121:7-8

"Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26

nd if you're reading this today, please say a little prayer for Zander this morning. He woke up with a cough that is very like a croup cough. Thank goodness it didn't strike in the middle of the night,but that cough scares him. I would also like it to go away because I have a new niece or nephew to meet any day now, and if baby comes while Zander is croupy, I don't get to meet them. :-(

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

How To Be Wise

"Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise. Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails." Proverbs 19:20-21

Sometimes it takes a little humility to accept advice and instruction from someone else. We can walk through life being sure of ourselves and where we are going, but sometimes we get a little lost, and it can take quite an effort to pull over and ask for directions. In the end though, when we really need that advice, there it is. And we can choose whether or not to listen to it- and it's the wise person who embraces that advice and uses it to their advantage. Even unsolicited advice can be welcome sometimes when it shows us a path we may not have seen before. It's up to us to open our eyes and our minds and accept that instruction- whether or not we thought we needed it in the first place.

Then there's the second part of this verse. Many plans are in a man's heart. Isn't that the truth. How many plans do we make in a lifetime? I can't even begin to number the plans I've made for the future, only to have those plans changed for one reason or another. Most often that deviation results in something even better that I hadn't thought of before. Credit for that always goes to God. I figure he knows the plans that I make- not only does he know my thoughts, but often I'll be praying about those plans- telling God how I want them to go. And then he'll smile and say "I know something better..." and my plans will be set aside for a new set of plans. God always knows my heart, and he knows what will make me smile more than my original plans.

And that's why I like making plans. Because when they go through like I expect, I'm thrilled. And when they don't go through like I expect I'm even more excited because that means that God's got something great up ahead just around the bend, and I just need to be willing to receive the instruction to get me to that something great. I can't wait to see what the next bend will bring.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

A Stern Reminder

"It is the LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him." Deuteronomy 13:4

This verse just struck me today. It is a reminder as to who we should be following. We don't follow other men, we don't follow our church or our church leaders, we follow God. It is Our Lord's directions we should follow and obey, and his guidance that we seek. When we do an act of service to a fellow human being, it is not that person we are serving, but Our God in Heaven. This can be an excellent reminder in times of distress, or moments where you are unsure of your purpose. We can look to men to help guide us in the right direction, but ultimately, that direction comes from one place- One God.

And as a follow up to yesterday's post about finding something I can do to serve, I had a very vibrant dream last night with a suggestion for me. It may have been just that- a dream, but it did give me an idea of something that I can learn to do and do it for others. I'm looking forward to giving it a try.

Monday, October 08, 2007

A Servant First

"...and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Matthew 20:27-28

Twice yesterday I got the same message. Both in church in the morning, and in our lesson later on at our small group study. And the message is that my time is God's time, and while I am here on earth, I am preparing for an eternity of service in heaven. Which, I have to admit, ultimately confuses me a bit. We've been studying time management for our small group study and the one point that we keep getting is that our time is God's time and we need to use it wisely. And what I learned yesterday is that I need to use more of my time for service to God, and there is the puzzle.

I realize that I am a Mom first and foremost, and a wife second. So when I serve my household with my daily chores I am doing service to God, but it's that "other time" that excess time that I don't know what to do with. Zander is getting so independent. He loves it when I play with him and spend time with him, but more and more he can spend an entire day playing by himself having the time of his life. And while he does this I have plenty of time to myself. Which in theory is great, but when the house is clean and the laundry done, what the heck do I do that is service to God? There has to be something I can do from my home, and that is the puzzle to me.

Recently some ladies from our church started a knitting ministry to knit for needy kids around the world. I think it's an awesome idea! But I don't knit. And I don't care to knit either, I tried it once and really disliked it. But maybe there's something like that I could do? I guess with some time I will figure it out. In the meantime, I will keep open to the possibilities available to me. It would be awesome to figure out a way to use my passion for cooking and baking, but the solution eludes me right now. My my eyes and heart be open to the possibilities before me as I try and discover how I can serve.

"Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else's property, who will give you property of your own?

13"No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." Luke 16:10-13

Friday, October 05, 2007


Yup. That's me, impatient at best. Even after yesterday's thoughts on living in the moment and enjoying each day as it comes along, I still tend to be impatient. I'm impatient for things to be settled with Andy's job- I just get so tired of waiting and being uncertain. It's annoying I tell you! Fortunately, there are verses for just such a feeling. Scripture that encourages me to try and be a little more patient, and to wait on God's timing- for he knows best.

" My soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.' Psalm 130:6

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4

"Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. 8You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near." James 5:7-8

" Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD." Psalm 27:14

"And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised." Hebrews 6:15

Wait, wait, wait and be patient. That's definitely easier said than done. Being a Mom has certainly made me more patient, but still... It would be nice to know. But I can see where I am learning something- God is teaching us to rely on him. While I sit here craving knowledge and job security for Andy, I should know better. I should know that Andy is secure because God made it that way. God will provide the new job at just the right moment in time, and not a moment sooner. I need to trust in God's provision, and in the meantime, I need to learn patience. Lots of patience.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Isn't it true

"Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth." Proverbs 27:1

This was the Verse of The Day today, and all I could do was agree this morning and think to myself, isn't it the truth. Do not boast about tomorrow, because you have no idea what the next 24 hours are going to bring you before you get to tomorrow. How many of us have had a planned day ruined because of something unplanned happening. I think being a parent we have a lot of these. Nights where we end up awake half the night with the kids the night before an event. Or not being able to do something we'd really hoped to do because someone got sick. It happens.

This verse is a reminder to live today for today, and not for tomorrow. When I think about it, I think of the days that we just "go through" to get to the next one. Maybe wasting a boring day because we have something grand planned for the following day. Instead, maybe we should be making the most of the day we have before we get to tomorrow. It's an interesting notion to think about. Today is already going to be a great day for us. We have the honor of picking up my parents from the airport today after their pilgrimage to Israel. I just can't imagine the stories they have to tell from their trip, and while I could be looking ahead to the day we will be able to get together and hear all about it, I should enjoy today, and the mere moments of providing transportation. Maybe in our earnestness to get to the next moment in time, we miss so many other great moments.

This is a reminder to stop and smell the roses before moving on to the tulips down the lane. May I be mindful of opportunities that I would otherwise miss.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Verses of Encouragement Today

Today I thought I'd simply share a bunch of verses that are an encouragement to me from time to time. Verses that help me to keep my faith in times of distress- verses that I can turn to for a smile when it's the last thing I really want to do.

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful." Hebrews 10:23

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9

"For nothing is impossible with God." Luke 1:37

"We live by faith, not by sight." 2 Corinthians 5:7

"Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." 1 Corinthians 15:58

Today in particular I am moved by nothing is impossible with God. Nothing. He can take our dreams and turn them into a reality with a blink of an eye. And he can take our reality and make it way more than we could have ever dreamed.

And then there's the last verse, always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord. I will be the first to admit that there are plenty of times where I'm cleaning at church that I don't want to be cleaning at church. Often I may have something to do afterwards, or I'm just out of sorts that week. I guess this verse is a shame on me. A reminder that each week as I clean, I am cleaning God's House, and every week I should attack my cleaning with love. Some weeks I forget that love- and to be honest, those are the weeks that seem to take the longest. I have the most to do on those weeks, or something is especially daunting. Yet the weeks that I go in with a great attitude and a heart full of the right stuff, my work goes quickly and I feel great about my work. I am grateful for this reminder today. I pray that this verse will simply plant itself in my heart and make every week a joy for me.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Be Glad

"Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." Matthew 5:11,12

I really needed to read this. Really. I've been in a bit of a tizzy, and actually, quite angry until I read this verse. I learned recently that I was the subject of a conversation...a rather insulting conversation in my opinion, and it made me angry. It made me angry for a couple of reasons. One being that it was gossip-taking place in a setting where gossip shouldn't have been. Our small group took ourselves to task a few years ago for being gossipy, and it's amazing the change we've made. We've all eschewed the gossip- focusing on each other and people's needs instead. And I guess when you eliminate something like gossip from yourself, you find it more disturbing when other people do it. I know when I am involved in a conversation that turns to gossip, I either stop the conversation, or I walk away, simple as that.

But this was a conversation about me, and I wasn't even around... that just really bothered me. And what was being said was untrue... it's been a long, long time since high school, that's for sure, so I'm not even sure why I let it bother me so much, but I did. And this verse this morning is like a soothing balm to me. Truly. What was being said about me was something that was a direct result of me obeying God's direction, and, well, I just need to stop letting it bother me. Blessed am I for what others falsely say about me because of God. So really, I should be thanking the people doing the talking, because I am blessed despite their evil intentions.

This was a verse I clung to as a Christian high schooler in an unsaved world. Who knew that going through being a "Jesus Freak" in high school would serve me well in the real adult world. I'm thirty years old, and I needed to be reminded to hold my head high and continue in my service to the Lord. And I have to say, I feel much, much better about all this. In short time, I will have forgotten it, choosing to take the high road and forgive the people who did the talking they shouldn't have done. That is far preferable to dwelling on it and letting it fester even further.

It's also a good reminder to me why I choose not to gossip, you never know who you might hurt.

"Their tongue is an arrow shot out;
It speaks deceit;
One speaks peaceably to his neighbor with his mouth,
But in his heart he lies in wait." Jeremiah 9:8

"Whoever hides hatred has lying lips,
And whoever spreads slander is a fool." Proverbs 10:18

"The hypocrite with his mouth destroys his neighbor,
But through knowledge the righteous will be delivered." Proverbs 11:9

Monday, October 01, 2007

Do Not Be Afraid

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27

This verse can be such a comfort. How many things do we let trouble our hearts. There are so many... We trouble our hearts with what we're going to do next week, and we trouble our hearts with the safety of our families. For me right now, my heart gets troubled when I think about the fact that Andy only has a few more weeks of work left... the one job option he wanted fell through, so he's back to the drawing board, actively searching, but also waiting for that prompting from God as to the direction he should take. My heart gets troubled when I think about not having that paycheck.

But then I read this verse. These are words from Jesus- and he freely gives me peace. And what I love best, is that it's not false peace or temporary peace. He goes on to say he gives nor as the world gives. The world gives us false peace. We have a sense of security...until next week. Or we are content until the next great thing comes along. But not with Jesus. With Jesus, we have eternal peace, peace for as long as we need it. I can give him my troubled heart and ask for his peace, and he will give it, and I will have it for as long as I need it. I do try really hard to keep myself believing that we will be taken care of. But then somehow the enemy creeps in and plants that doubt, and I need to be reminded that I am a child of God, and my family is under his protection. All will be well. Not only will the Lord provide, but I just know that when he does, he's going to bless us abundantly. We will have provisions to share with those around us.

Sometimes it's just hard waiting, though. And being patient.

Today though, I am incredibly thankful for my health. I was out for almost a whole week, and I spent a lot of time thinking and praying, and I am beyond grateful that the illness, for the most part, seems to be moving on. Not only does God provide the material needs, he provides the health needs.