Friday, November 30, 2007

In Awe

When we talk about how we view God...that can be a tricky one to describe. But as I was reading a few verses today, I thought, these just remind me of awe. Awe is a great word to describe how I feel about God, and all that he does. When I am in awe, I can see or sense the power, I also fear the potential there is. It makes me want to fall to my knees in submission, but also to jump for joy and celebrate. Awe can bring both reactions.

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and discipline." Proverbs 1:7

"Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name.

17 "They will be mine," says the LORD Almighty, "in the day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him." Malachi 3:16,17

"Praise the LORD.
Blessed is the man who fears the LORD,
who finds great delight in his commands." Psalm 112:1

"Who, then, is the man that fears the LORD ?
He will instruct him in the way chosen for him.

13 He will spend his days in prosperity,
and his descendants will inherit the land.

14 The LORD confides in those who fear him;
he makes his covenant known to them." Psalm 25:12-14

When I think about what's in store for us...or rather, the fact that we don't know what's in store for us, yet there is something, that puts me in awe. And I think about all the things that we've gone through over the years, which are really just things in preparation for...well, something. To use one of my son's favorite lines, "something amazing, I guess." That's just awe-inspiring to me to think that there is an ultimate being, a God out there who knows where we are headed, and what's in store for us. And to prepare us for that, He puts challenges and obstacles to overcome in the meantime. So that when the days come, we are prepared and ready to accept that challenge. That's literally awesome!

So this morning I find myself in awe of My God. He is a Great God, and I find it amazing that we can wake each morning with a fresh opportunity to get to know him better.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Nothing is Impossible with God- Just ask Elizabeth

"In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. 6Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord's commandments and regulations blamelessly. 7But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren; and they were both well along in years." Luke 1:5-7

"Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13But the angel said to him: "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John." Luke 1:11-13

"Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. 37For nothing is impossible with God." Luke 1:36,37

"When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42In a loud voice she exclaimed: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!" Luke 1:41-45

"On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, 60but his mother spoke up and said, "No! He is to be called John."

61They said to her, "There is no one among your relatives who has that name."

62Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. 63He asked for a writing tablet, and to every one's astonishment he wrote, "His name is John." 64Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue was loosed, and he began to speak, praising God." Luke 1:59-64

I know that's a lot of scripture for one morning, but it's so worth it to read it. This isn't all that different from the story of Abraham and Sarah, for Elizabeth was barren, unable to have children. In those days, this brought her great shame as a person, because she was unable to provide her husband with a descendant. And then God found favor with Elizabeth and caused her to become pregnant. Imagine the joy that must have surged in her heart, finding she was pregnant after all those years of wishing it so. Just imagine!

This is proof, concrete proof, that with God, anything is possible. If we are faithful to him, who knows what could happen! Look at Zechariah and Elizabeth, not only were they both accepting of God's gift to them, but the took it a step further and followed his instructions regarding their son. In an age where the firstborn son was always named after the father, they chose to name their son what God told them to name him. I cannot even begin to fathom the gratitude that Elizabeth and Zechariah felt as they held their new son for the first time. He was a miracle to them.

Nothing, nothing, nothing is impossible with God. I keep telling myself that, yet sometimes it is truly hard to believe. Andy is in the worst job he's ever had. It's also not paying the bills, and I have to keep telling myself to believe that God has him there for a reason and that when the time is right, the better job will be there. But it's really, really hard to believe that. Just ask Zechariah, who questioned the angel Gabriel, and then had his voice taken away for several months until he named his son John. It's difficult to not question and ask why, and are you sure. But it is an encouragement and somewhat of a comfort to know that all things are possible.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Centering...and bit of Encouragement

I've had a song in my head for the last 24 hours. It's a song popular on the radio right now, although I listen to the radio about once every...two weeks or so? I don't even know who sings it, but the chorus and lyrics say "let my lifesong sing to you..." and that's what I keep singing over and over. It's really a powerful song. What does my lifesong sing? Does it sing to God? Or does it sing to the world, and I how do I help to make sure it does sing God's song? Here are a few verses to help me stay centered on God and what he has for me.

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God." Colossians 3:16

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death." Romans 8:1-2

"I will sing to the LORD all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.

34 May my meditation be pleasing to him,
as I rejoice in the LORD." Psalm 104:33-34

"In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait in expectation." Psalm 5:3

Those verses just filled me up this morning! I read them and it was like, wow! Fill me up and get me ready for the day! Who needs coffee. (Well, okay, I still need the coffee.) But for me, the way to at least attempt to stay focused and centered on God is to start each and every day diving into the Bible. By starting my day in God's Word, I'm putting him first and foremost, and that helps me to get the focus I need to try and keep my lifesong on track. Verses like this today give me great encouragement and a much needed shot in the arm. I love that. I love how God's Word can take that morning melancholy and completely get rid of it. Seeing what he has for me in the morning just takes away the negativity and gets me going.

Our God is a great God! And all I can do is hope and pray that my lifesong will be something that I can be proud of.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Growing in The Word

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you." Psalm 32:8 "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." James 1:22 I've always been impressed by people who can quote scripture. Not just a verse here or there, but the people who can recite most of a verse, and come mostly close to where it is in the Bible for just about every situation. I do know some of those people. I grew up admiring those people. Recently I decided that I wanted to be one of those people. I wanted to learn my scripture better so that I could just pull verses out of nowhere when the need arose in a conversation somewhere. So I've been doing a little studying and trying to memorize verses. Except you know what? I've been trying to do something for the wrong reasons, and I feel I should fess up.

I wanted to learn these verse to show off. There it is. Can you believe it? Thirty years old and I thought it would be impressive to other people if I were to do a better job at learning my scripture. Then as I was reading the Bible this morning, I read the verse posted above in James, and I could feel the heat rising in my cheeks. I could feel the redness as I realized my error. It does me no good to try to learn scripture for the wrong reasons. I need to learn scripture so that I can follow the scripture. I need to learn these verses so that I may reach into them when I am sad or lonely or need some encouragement, and know that my God is with me always. I need to treasure these scripture verses that tell me how to be the woman God wants me to be. And like Mary, I need to gather them in my heart and ponder them.

I guess a part of me has also been concerned. There is the tiniest measurement of my self that is afraid of what is ahead for us. I am afraid of what is in store and what God's plans for us are. And I worry that I won't have the courage to leap when He says leap. But I was also led to this verse today, which encourages me, and tells me not to be afraid, but to have faith and courage, and continue to grow in God's Word, for it will serve me in due time.

"You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name." John 15:16

See that? It says that God chose me. I didn't choose him, he chose me, and I will bear whatever fruit he sees fit to have me bear. But to be his chosen one, to bear his fruit, I need the proper soil and foundation, and that foundation is in my Bible. By learning God's Word I am taking a most important step towards being his fruit-bearer. I need to remember that, and I stand corrected. I am ashamed of my behavior and my attitude, and I know that I can do better. For I can do all things through Christ who Strengthens me.

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

Monday, November 26, 2007

Learning To Have Joy

"This is the day the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118:24

"I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you." John 15:11,12

There are some days I definitely don't feel very joyful. Some days, like the recent Thanksgiving festivities, are easy to be joyful in. But then there are days like yesterday and today where I'm not feeling the best, and all I really want to do is crawl back into bed and put my head under the covers. It's hard to find joy on these days. The alarm was not a welcome thing this morning, and apparently I'm not the only one as my daughter is a bit on the droopy side as well. As we're both going about our morning, regretting the fact that it's morning, Zander wakes up.

And then we're reminded to have joy in this new day. Regardless of how much sleep he's had, or what time he wakes, Zander always wakes up with a smile on his face. He walks down the stairs happy, smiling, and ready to give everyone he finds a big hug to start off his day. The joy of a little boy is infectious and contagious. I can see his thoughts as he wakes and thinks about all the fun he'll have today, and then he scrambles out of bed because he thinks about Mommy and Abigail and wants to see those he loves. He can be such a wonder to me, he finds joy in the smallest thing. He will find a toy under the couch that he lost last week and shout for joy and play with that toy like it's brand new. It begins to snow outside, very briefly, and he lights up and does a happy snow dance. Or he'll lay under the newly up Christmas tree and examine the look from below.

Joy through the eyes of a child. Every day is joyful. Why? Because it's new. Because it's a new opportunity to love- an opportunity to love those around us and to share God's love with them. It's a wonderful thing that God gave us the morning, that we get the opportunity each and every day to simply begin again. He could have easily made us 24 hour creatures, to go non-stop with no break. But he gave us the need for sleep so that we can close our eyes on one day and begin a new one a few hours later. A fresh, clean start that begins with joy.

"Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.

They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

More Thanks Today- and a break ahead!

" Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving;
Sing praises on the harp to our God" Psalm 147:7

It may be cliche to continue to post verses about being thankful this time of year, but I really can't help it. I love Thanksgiving. Aside from being a great food holiday, it's also wonderful to focus on being thankful for what we have. And I am so thankful! The last few days I've been very busy cleaning our home and getting it ready for company, and while I can't say I am particularly enjoying the cleaning process, I realize that I really am thankful for our home. I am so thankful that it's big enough that family can come visit us and spend time with us. Yet I'm also thankful that it's small enough that I can get it clean by myself if needs be. I love the way each room looks when it's been scrubbed, and everything is in it's place. How could I not? God has blessed us with such a wonderful home.

And sometimes I get wistful and wish we had a bigger place, someplace where I could put more color on the walls, but then I take a look around and remember to be thankful for what we do have and I find that I am completely content. We could live in this home for the next 10 years and I would be content. The carpet would have to be removed, but I would be content. :-) And I am thankful for that feeling. It wasn't that long ago that I felt we needed more, that we had to keep up with the Jones's and keep moving up in the world. But the truth is that we don't. God has blessed us so much with this feeling of contentment, of being happy with what we do have,that we no longer lament the things that we don't' have. And that is reason enough to be filled with Thanksgiving.

So with that, I will leave today. With a song in my heart, and hopefully a bit of encouragement for you that it is possible to be content with what you have, and the thankfulness will come naturally. I will also be taking a few days break here I think. We have house guests staying with us this week, and while I'd like to say that I will still keep up with my posting while they are here, I don't actually know if I will. I don't want to be rude and sit at the computer typing away. So if I get a chance, I will post over the next few days. If not, I will be back either late Saturday, or Monday morning. Either way though, I pray that you have a blessed Thanksgiving, and know that you will be in my thoughts and prayers over the next few days. Thank you for hanging out with me here. It means so much to me, and I am so thankful that God has led you here to hear my story day in and day out. I am truly blessed to have you in my life. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Week of Celebrations!

"Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song." Psalm 95:1-2

I can tell it's a holiday week. A mood has fallen over the house. We are all joyful. So joyful. We're eagerly anticipating spending time with family, and thinking of that family that can't be with us. And just overall celebrating all that we have been blessed with over the past year. And we are just so thankful that God continues to see our needs met, despite the fact that we don't deserve it. He is a great God, and this verse today completely sums up the song I woke with in my heart. I hope that song will stay with me constantly over the next couple of days. I do have a lot to do before we can be ready to receive company, but it is with joy that I prepare our home for company. So that together with family we can come before Him with Thanksgiving and Joy.
How blessed are we! I thank God for each and every one of our blessings, and I pray that those who join us this week will sense God's presence in our home and will be blessed themselves.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Be Not of The World

I just heard on the radio yesterday that Lowe's hardware stores will no longer be calling their Christmas trees Christmas trees. Instead, they will be calling them Family Trees. How sad is that. Now normally I'm not one to share news like that, and I'm certainly not about to tell anyone where to shop or not shop, but this one just blew me away. I get several food magazines, and belong to several food communities, and it seems we're always talking about holidays. Magazines no longer just promote the big Christian holidays, but they also promote the holidays of other cultures. The holiday business is huge now! Yet I've always seen them called what they are. Chanukah is still Chanukah, Kwanzaa is still Kwanzaa, Eid El Fitr is still Eid El Fitr, and El Dia de los Muertos is still El Dia de los Muertos. We don't see the traditional symbol of Chanukah- the Menorrah being called a "Family Candle Holder" or the traditional Kwanzaa festival as a "Family Gathering". Part of living in the country we live in is being able to celebrate what is important to us in the way we choose. So why on earth would I want to call my Christmas tree a Family tree? Christmas is not about celebrating my family. It IS about enjoying the time with my family, but it's as we celebrate the birth of CHRIST so many years ago. It hasn't been enough that we so often hear "Happy Holidays" instead of Merry Christmas. Which I suppose is an okay compromise, because it does include all the holidays of the season. But Happy Family Day?

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.' Romans 12:2

"Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever." 1 John 2:15-17

"It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ," Titus 2:12-13

Friday, November 16, 2007

All You Need Is Love!

"Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith" 1 Timothy 1:5

"Great peace have those who love Your law,
And nothing causes them to stumble." Psalm 119:165

"If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?" 1 John 4:20

I get asked quite often why I do some of the things I do. I will spend an entire day making strawberry jam- picking the berries, washing and cutting the berries, processing the finished jars, etc. It takes a full day to make jam, and I love doing it. Often I get asked if these things that I do are things that my mom did when I was growing up. I do remember her making jam a few times, but that's not why I do it. And I do save plenty of money throughout the year by making our family's jam instead of buying it. But that's not why I do it. I also am able to control the healthfulness of the jam we eat by serving them jam without preservatives. That's not why I do it either. I also enjoy sharing the jam I make with others, because I know to them it will be a great treat, but of course, that's not why I do it either.

I do all these crazy things at home, like make jam because of love. Plain and simple. I make strawberry jam because of love. I make homemade bread several times a week because I am filled with love, and that is a great way to share that love with my family. God has blessed us with so much, and I love that. He has filled my heart to capacity with an overwhelming love for my family and those around us, and they best way I can show my love is to do all these crazy things. When I spend an afternoon sewing up new curtains for Zander's bedroom, I'm sure many people think that is crazy, when I can buy a perfectly serviceable pair for very little money. But I love the smile on his face when I show him the new curtains. And when he sees that mommy loves him so much to spend an afternoon working on a project for him, it just makes him light up so. I love to see my children happy.

I show my husband daily how much I love him by using his very hard-earned income to the best of my ability. I make those meager dollars stretch as much as possible by doing as much as I can myself with what I have. He loves nothing better than to come home from working outside on a cold blustery day to a loaf of hot homemade bread and a pot of homemade soup or stew. It warms him up to his core- both physically and spiritually.

I do this crazy devotional every morning out of love! I love exploring God's Word and seeing what he has to say to me each and every morning. I love that he has blesses me with the opportunity to share what I learn with others around the world! It warms my heart to open up His Book and find a message written just for me, pointed out to me just when I need it most. And I know above all that God loves me, Jesus loved me so much that he died for me, and it seems to me that the least I could do is do what I can to share that love with others.

So it may be a cliche' song, but I think today's post is spot-on. All you need is love, and love will guide you. Another person's tasks of love may be different than mine, but as long as you search within you will always come out better on the other side.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Divine Distraction

"Trouble and distress have come upon me, but your commands are my delight." Psalm 119:143

This verse gave me a great laugh this morning. God sure knows my heart and knows when I need to see certain verses. This would be just one of those days. Ever have one of those days where family is just so exasperating? Extended family I should say, it's difficult for a 3 year old to be this exasperating. Yet this verse this morning completely gives the answer to the difficult problems. The verse begins with "trouble and distress have come upon me." Think about trouble and distress. That can be different things to different people. Trouble and distress could be a physical problem, or a financial problem, or maybe a relational problem. And you know how when you have a problem you're consumed by it? You dwell on it, you don't stop thinking about it, and it becomes an even bigger problem because it is a distraction for you.

The solution is the next part of the verse. "Your commands are my delight." Thinking on God instead of the problems is a great distraction don't you think? And what are God's commands? Well, this is what comes to mind this morning:

"Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself." Matthew 22:37-39

And this one:

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." John 13:34

Notice they all center on love. Love God, love your neighbors, and love each other. All things are possible with love, and all problems can be fixed with love in one way or another. So it is true, when Psalm 119:134 says that "your commands are my delight" because not only are they the answer to the problem, but they also provide a wonderful distraction. Spending time dwelling on God's love and love for each other is sure to provide you with just the distraction you need to get some relief from the exasperating problem. Thank God for his divine distractions.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Another One of Those Dreams...

"For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit," 1 Peter 3:8

Every once in a while I just have some of the most vivid dreams. I've posted on them once or twice before. It's amazing how sometimes they really stick with you. Last night's dream wasn't a good one, that much is certain. I was dreaming that we were in the process of moving to a new house when some crooks decided to take the opportunity to rob us. Andy was gone, and it was just me at home with the kids, and the kids were in bed. These three people just walked into the house where I was packing boxes and started going through stuff and looking for what they wanted. The "leader" made me sit down in a chair, pointing a gun at me, and threatening the sleeping babes down the hall if I didn't cooperate. And then I started talking about Jesus, and how if it was time for me to go, I prayed that my children would be safe, and I started talking to this guy about how wonderful like with God was. Then he stuck his gun into my side and told me to zip it. Then I woke up with a horrible stitch in my side.

It took me a minute to orient myself that I was in bed, and that I'd been dreaming. I had to get up and use the bathroom, but when I got back to bed, I found myself struggling to fall back asleep-that dream was just so vivid! I found myself wondering if I'd really do that. Would I really be able to compose myself and start witnessing and praising God in a time of crisis like that. I think that's what kept me up more than anything. The verse above in 1 Peter is very appropriate for my mind frame this morning. Would I be able to do that? Christ died so that I may spend eternity in Heaven. He also died, so that a crook could also spend eternity in Heaven, if they just give up their evil ways and surrender to him. And faced with that kind of situation, it would be my body being put to death, but not my spirit.

Really, just something to think on today. So many times, we as Christians hold in our faith at the risk of offending someone, but in a situation where it truly mattered, would we be able to rise to the occasion? And ultimately what would come of it? Think about how wonderful it would be to see the aggressor choose a life with God. I think that would be worth the risk involved in the first place. If Christ died for me, is it not the least I could do to face that situation with Him at the forefront of my thoughts?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Giving with Grace

"She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy." Proverbs 31:20

" Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless;
maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.

4 Rescue the weak and needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked." Psalm 82:3-4

"And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward." Matthew 10:42

There are dozens of scriptures dealing with giving or helping those in need. It is obviously important, that there are so many verses dealing with it, and even more so, that Jesus himself actually spoke of it as well. Giving and kindness are two of the key character traits of Jesus, and in order to be more like him, we need to use his example. He helped everyone he could during the short time he was here on earth. But there is more to giving than just the act of giving. It's about the heart.

How do you feel about helping others or lending a hand or writing that check? Sometimes it's hard. Sometimes it's maybe done grudgingly- oh here they go, asking for money again. If you prepare a great banquet for those in need, but you do it with a sour note in your heart, you may as well not have done it in the first place. For God loves a cheerful giver. And that giving begins in the heart. It's your heart that opens up to the need in the first place, and looks around and sees how much you have, and how much others do not. And sometimes, the need of the other person isn't tangible at all either. Sometimes, they simply could use an encouraging smile. Maybe they could use a hug, or an encouragement from a simple prayer for their struggles and well-being.

By opening up your heart to the need around you, and opening your eyes and seeing what is truly there, you are being more and more like Jesus everyday. Sometimes we fail to see the need that may be directly in front of us. It is grace that enables those blinders to be removed and fill our hearts with compassion and caring.

"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. 17If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?" 1 John 3:16,17

"Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Luke 6:38

Monday, November 12, 2007

Continuing to Have Hope

"So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised." Hebrews 10:35-36

"Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.

23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

24 I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him."

25 The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;" Lamentations 3:22-25

Today's verses remind me that I can be confident in my faith in God. I can be assured that my faith is not ill-placed and that just as I remain faithful to my God, he will continue in His Faithfulness to me and my family. Look at that very first verse I posted! "Do not throw away your confidence, it will be richly rewarded." Sometimes I think I get worried that my confidence is a false confidence. Or that it's actually pride sneaking out in the form of confidence in God. When we're chatting with others and we're discussing our current trials and I mention that the current trial is temporary. That I know that God has more for us, we just need to get to the other side of this mountain. Is that always confidence on God? Or is that just me being optimistic and putting on a show for others? I say it, all the time, I even repeat it to myself sometimes, because there are those days where I need encouragement.

And then there's the verse in Lamentations that just warms my heart. "For his compassions never fail. They are new every morning." I love that. Every day, every morning is a fresh new start for us. And every day is yet another opportunity for God's Love to shine on us and through us. Because of God's Love for us, I know that the trials we face from day to day are just that- trials, and not something to be contended with forever. I know that it's only a matter of time until all things are right again, and each day is another wonderful opportunity for that moment to come along. So verse 24 is very appropo for me " I will wait for him." Because that's what I am doing. Waiting for God to see everything right and where it should be. Because I know that's what he has planned, I just don't know his timing. I don't know at what moment he will choose to make his plan known and provide the means. But I do know that he will.

"This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil." Hebrews 6:19

"I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
And in His word I do hope.
6 My soul waits for the Lord
More than those who watch for the morning—
Yes, more than those who watch for the morning. " Psalm 130:5-6

"The LORD is righteous in her midst,
He will do no unrighteousness.
Every morning He brings His justice to light;
He never fails, " Zephaniah 3:5

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Stocking Up in God's Time

"Ants are creatures of little strength, yet they store up their food in the summer." Proverbs 30:25

"When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet." Proverbs 31:21

I know I probably talk about this a lot. But you know how when you know something, and then you see it confirmed, you just can't stop talking about it? Every day as I go to make dinner, I think about how it's a miracle that this food is even in my house. And as I pull something out of the freezer to defrost, I look at everything else that's still in there, and I wonder how it's even possible that the freezer is still full! And then I'll have a day or two like this week, where I make applesauce and process brussels sprouts and put far more in than what I've taken out.

I swear to you, it wasn't that long ago, it was mid-summer, and I was looking at the empty pantry and empty freezer and thinking that I really needed to do some serious grocery shopping to stock up. And every week, I'd go shopping, thinking that I wish I had just a little extra money so I could pickup extra for the freezer. And I didn't. Then we had a few gifts given to us. A gift card to the grocery store bought a lot of meat for the freezer. An extra $20 bought some canned goods and some dry goods. And of course, there was the gardening. We put by so many pear products as a result of picking pears from my parents trees. And there is all the zucchini that's in the freezer, and the few other vegetables we managed to save. It's a true bounty.

More recently, I started finding a few things in the fridge that needed to be used up. So I discovered the process of once-a-month cooking. Not something I want to do for everyday, but when you find a dish that uses something that's about to expire, you can make it up, put it in the freezer, and then you have a ready-made dinner for a busy night. I now also have a few weeks worth of ready-made meals in the freezer as well.

All this to say, that God has been preparing us, and I didn't even notice it while it was going on. We have been experiencing quite a bit of a drought financially, and I have not been grocery shopping in over a month now. I'm not kidding. I go once a week to pick up eggs and milk and a few vegetables we may need- but that's it. We've been eating out of the pantry and the freezer, and eating very well. We've also not been depleting the stock either. As strange as it may sound, we still have a full freezer and a full pantry.

The Lord has truly blessed us, and I know he will continue to do so. And even better, I've also been going through a learning process that I hope I'll be able to share with others. A process of cooking with what's on hand, and a process of not wasting even one morsel of food. I thought I could stretch a grocery dollar before, but now I know how to make it go even farther. And this isn't something I would have learned had Andy been bringing home a lot of bacon, so to speak. I have no doubt, that God will be using this learning process to benefit others. Oddly enough, that makes me grateful for the process. Yet, I am ready for this process to be over. I know it will be over in God's time. In the meantime, I can continue to pray for perseverance and strength. And I can also remember to give prayers of thanks, for all things are from God.

" But as for me, how good it is to be near God!
I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter,
and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do." Psalm 73:28

Edited at 9:45 am to add:

Tee-hee! Further proof today of God's provision! What arrived in the mail today? A gift check for our Thanksgiving turkey. I can take this check to the grocery store and recieve our turkey for absolutely nothing! God even sees fit to provide us with our Thanksgiving turkey. How great is our God!!

Friday, November 09, 2007

He Is Our Protection

Sometimes it can be such a comfort to think about all the roles that God can play in our lives. I talk a lot about how he is our provider, and sometimes that may get a little redundant, but I've seen it! I know for a fact that he does provide, even when it seems impossible. But this morning I woke to some lovely verses that remind me that God is also our protector too. And this can be such a comfort in so many times...because there are so many times where we may need protection. We may not even know we need the protection at the time, yet he is there always.

"but whoever listens to me will live in safety
and be at ease, without fear of harm." Proverbs 1:33

Perhaps our need for protection is a physical one. We maybe live in an unsafe neighborhood, community, or country for that matter. We see here in Proverbs that we need fear no harm. I use this every day as I send Abigail to school. I pray for protection over her- while she is at school, and while she is in transit. She's decided she wants to walk herself to and from school, and while I could put my foot down and tell her I think that's a bad idea, instead, I've given her to God, placed her in his protection, and I know he has angels walking with her every single day.

"The LORD watches over you—
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;

6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

7 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 121:5-8

How's that for an encouraging verse! He will watch over our lives, and keep us from all harm! He will watch over us forevermore! Forevermore is a long time. As a child of God, we have been given the wonderful gift of a protector. He's like a big brother, watching out for us on the schoolyard. Because not only does he protect us from the physical harm from man, beast, and weather, but he also protects us emotionally.

"No weapon formed against you shall prosper,
And every tongue which rises against you in judgment
You shall condemn.
This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD,
And their righteousness is from Me,”
Says the LORD." Isaiah 54:17

See that? Every tongue which rises against us will be condemned. How's that for protection? We also get protection from the things that could be said that could hurt us emotionally.

And I have to look just for a second at the line that says "this is the heritage of the servants of the Lord." That means that we truly do belong to God, and as his servants, we receive that protection as sort of an inheritance. And even better, is that no one can take it away from us. What a comfort this morning to know that God is watching out for us all the time. And an encouragement as well, to know that worry is pointless. There is no need to worry about what tomorrow holds. As long as we are under the protection of our Heavenly Father, we have no need to worry. Instead, we should concentrate our effort on giving thanks for that protection. I know I'll be doing that today.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

A Choice To Make

14 "Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. 15 But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." Joshua 24:14-15

This passage today is kind of the climax of a bigger one. I was reading Joshua 24 today, and these two verses in particular stuck out to me. Yet the whole chapter tells a story. You can read the whole chapter here at Bible Gateway if you feel so inclined. I can see it very visually in my head. I can see a very large crowd of people, with Joshua at it's center, telling this large assembly it's history. Trying to prove to them all the Lord has done for them as a people, and then he climaxes in his speech here. He tells them to choose The Lord now, or never, but to choose now. Choose to serve the Lord who has brought them out of Egypt and out of slavery. And if you read on farther, you see that the people choose wisely, and a declaration is made that lasts for several generations.

We all have the same choice to make, don't we? Whom are we going to serve? Are we going to serve ourselves? Are we going to serve our own man-made Gods, like money or work? Or are we going to choose wisely and choose to serve a Great and Mighty God? It's so easy to be caught up in serving ourselves, or the almighty quest for more money and the fake happiness it provides. Sometimes our Gods can be even simpler- it could be the computer, or the TV, or in extreme cases, I've seen parents raise their children up as god's for a time. But with God, by choosing to serve God first and foremost, everything else will fall into place as needed. By choosing to serve God, those needs for money and shelter and food and clothing will be met, God will see to that. But before he can provide our needs, and often times, even our wants, we first must make that choice.

We've made that choice as a household, just as Joshua did so many years ago. God comes first. He gets our first fruits of money, and our first fruits of time and labor as well. We not only tithe from our income, but we tithe our time as well. God gets at least 24 minutes of attention each and every day- preferably first before anything else. God also gets some labor time. The typical work week is 40 hours, God gets a tithe of that as well, and gets a 4 hour portion at his house from us as a family. 4 hours a week isn't much in the grand scheme of things, and the 24 minutes in a day is like a drop in the bucket. But what we find is that when we give God our time first, we find more of it. There is more than enough time in a day to get everything done that we want to get done, plus have plenty of time for leisure activities and enjoyment. By choosing God first, our family is being blessed with more time with each other, and that's what we cherish most of all.

"But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." Joshua 24:15

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Praying for Authority

"I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness." 1 Timothy 2:1-2

This is one of those things that I wonder if it gets thought of very often. Praying for authority, I mean. That kind of life has got to be difficult. To be the leader of a group of people, with all that responsibility has got to be taxing at best. Whether we're discussing a mayor, a Pastor, or the President of the United States, it's got to be a difficult job being in a position of responsibility. You hear the complaints often, complaints of how leadership is working or how things are being run. But how often do we just shelve our complaints and pray for that leader? We can talk with God on their behalf, asking for guidance for our leaders, and for wisdom in tough situations. We can pray for peace, for a little time off away from the spotlight- to recharge the batteries, so to speak.

We can pray for protection for our leaders.

" Protect me from wicked people who attack me,
from murderous enemies who surround me." Psalm 17:9

And we can pray for salvation most importantly. For a man after God's own heart is a man to fear and to follow.

" Restore us, O Lord, and bring us back to you again!
Give us back the joys we once had!" Lamentations 5:21

"Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?” 1 Kings 3:9

God loves all his children. He loves you and I, and he also loves those he has placed in a position of leadership. And while we may have a say in who becomes a leader through the democratic process, it is our duty, as Children of God, to pray for those in office, regardless of whether or not we like them. So pray for your leaders, it will make a difference to them, I guarantee it.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Though We May Stumble...

"for though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again,
but the wicked are brought down by calamity." Proverbs 24:16

This verse right here is proof that we are not perfect. It talks, in plain black and white, about the righteous man falling. And not just once or twice- but seven times. I can't say, to be honest, that this is particularly encouraging. Think about a "righteous" person. Do you think of a Pastor or an elder? maybe just a mentor, someone who has encouraged you in your faith. Now think that that person fails seven times- that's seven times that they fall away from God for a bit. That's kind of scary to me. But then you read on in this verse and look what it says next- "he rises again". That righteous man doesn't fall for forever, he gets back up time and time again. Each time, a little stronger than the last time. Because we have faith in God and have the love of Christ in our hearts, though we may fall time and time again, we will always be able to get back up. Those who do not know our God are not so lucky. They can be completely brought down by trouble and hard times, and without the love of Christ to pick them back up, they stay down.

It seems like every day I am reminded of the Grace of God. My children are the perfect example. They can be having the worst day, where they're tired or cranky, or they're just angry all day and want nothing to do with what Mom or Dad tells them. But then bedtime comes along, and while they may fight the process, eventually they end up in bed. And then grace enters the room. And no matter how miserable the day has been, there is always a smile for Mommy. And a hug, and an "I love you." Always. It could be the worst day on the planet, and it always ends with that smile. That is the perfect example of Grace to me. Grace loves us no matter what. Grace will always be there to lend us a hand and help us back on the right path, and grace will always be waiting for us on the other side of the stumble. We will never be turned away or shoved back. We will always be welcomed with open arms, a hug, and an "I love you."

Monday, November 05, 2007

Our Helper

"He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you." John 14:17

I found this verse particularly intriguing to me today. It was the second line of the verse that really struck me. "The world cannot receive him because it isn't looking for him and doesn't recognize him." That's just plain interesting. As Christians, the Holy Spirit is our guide, our compass, the one who helps direct us towards God, and helps keeps us from trouble. That niggling conscience sometimes...that's the Holy Spirit. But for those who aren't saved, those who don't recognize Christ as their savior, they don't even have the access we have to the Holy Spirit. They have to rely solely on their own moral compasses to distinguish right from wrong. It's the Holy Spirit who raises those alarm bells in the back of their heads, and I can't even begin to imagine what it would be like to not have that helper...

I had a little niggling the other day. It was last week. Normally, I am a person who doesn't turn on the furnace until I absolutely have to. It's expensive to heat our home! So I kept finding other ways to warm up the home a little, delaying the annual "furnace turn on." And for some reason, one day that we could have done without, I really felt strongly that I should turn it on. So I did. And it didn't work. So thankfully, we didn't need it! But even better, we were able to have it repaired before we needed it. And oh boy, did it need repairs. Thank you Holy Spirit! Not only is our house warm when we need it warm, but it is not being filled with the toxic fumes that the furnace was producing. Scary. And I am oh so thankful to have a helper in the Holy Spirit. I need him, we need him, to help guide us each and every day.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Oh no! Discipline!

"As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? 8 If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all. 9 Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever?

10 For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. 11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.

12 So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. 13 Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong." Hebrews 12:7-13

Something I have constantly struggled with is the issue of housework. Even though I stay at home everyday, there are days where I do little more than the dishes. I don't want to do housework. It's a lot of work, and while it needs to be done, it's one of those little appreciated things, and it's also not long term. I may clean the bathroom today, but it still will need to be cleaned again next week. It's a vicious cycle. It also used to be a way to hide. I could avoid my daily devotional and time with God because I have so much to do, I have a house to clean, children to care for, I just don't have an extra 30 minutes to squeeze in the Bible. Sorry. Well, I've been doing this devotional time and this blog for over a year now. I think it's sticking, and I know now how wonderful it is to spend time with God before I do anything else for the day.

But I had to be disciplined to do it.

One thing that people confuse is discipline and punishment. Oh how that gets up my craw when I hear parents discussing how they "discipline" when what they're really talking about is punishment. Punishment is the loss of a privilege, punishment is a spanking, punishment is sitting in the corner. That is not discipline, and the two should not be confused. Discipline is "training that corrects, molds or perfects the mental faculties or moral characters." Discipline is forcing myself to back away from the computer and do my quiet time first. Discipline is hard! But we can read right here in Hebrews that discipline is from God. It is God guiding us to where he wants us to be, and you can see in verse 11 that it says right there that no discipline is enjoyable. And let me tell you, there have been many a day where I sat down to do my devotion with anger. I was listless or without joy, annoyed with myself for starting this blog in the first place, and who would really notice if I quit. But as I proceeded into God's Word, every single time those thoughts flew away. And thanks to discipline, I now have a daily habit that is probably the most beneficial daily habit I could ever form.

And now to that housework. I really do struggle with this sometimes. I'll have a good couple of weeks where I keep the housework up, and then something will happen. Someone will get sick, or I'll have a busy week running around, or...something. And then I fall behind, and then I feel like I am constantly playing catch up. I'll let the housework slide for a few days to play with the kids or do some creative cooking, and then I have to spend two days in hard cleaning to be ready for weekly company. It's annoying I tell you- and it's where I struggle the most right now. I've gotten better about not sitting at the computer for most of the day, but it's really hard to convince myself that I want to clean the bathroom, when really, there's a cookie recipe calling my name. Or a book, or a cross-stitch project.

Just this week, I've realized that I needed help. Divine help. I need some help developing a housework discipline, so that I can maintain. What I want, more than anything, is to have my house in such a state that in about 30 minutes I can have the entire house ready for unexpected company. I have a long ways to go, but I'm working on it. And one way I'm working on it is through prayer. I pray that God will help me be productive, and give me a reason to be busy. Perhaps I need a mindset change on that housework? That's one of the tactics I'm trying out this week. One thing I don't have time to do is a regular exercise routine. And while I wish I could, I'm not that willing to carve out that time. But maybe, just maybe, if I do my housework hard enough, it can be like a workout. So I asked God to help me find the motivation to do my "housework workout." And so far, it's kind of working. I've been able to keep the kitchen and dining area clean all week by doing a very fast clean up and decluttering, and I've even gone so far as to scrub walls this week. Hey- it's never been done. And since I like to hold to the thought that God Himself placed the thought to clean my walls into my head, I'm scrubbing the walls. Now that's a workout.

But it's going to take discipline to keep this up. And I'm not looking forward to that part. Today is Friday, and for one part, it would be very easy to just take today off because I've worked hard all week. And that's the difficult part-talking myself out of the well-deserved break. That's where the enemy tries to sneak in and rob me of my motivation, by talking sweetly to me. By telling me that I'm a hard-working mom and that I deserve to take an afternoon off to read a book. Oh, that's a hard one. But then on a day like yesterday, I did allow myself that book time, but not until AFTER I'd done my work for the day- including having dinner made. And you know what, I really enjoyed that small bit of time with my book. I need to remember that. So as hard as it is, I am praying for the discipline to be disciplined. Hopefully in another month or so I'll have good news to report on that one.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

A Goal

"I will sing of your love and justice;
to you, O LORD, I will sing praise.

2 I will be careful to lead a blameless life—
when will you come to me?
I will walk in my house
with blameless heart.

3 I will set before my eyes
no vile thing.
The deeds of faithless men I hate;
they will not cling to me.

4 Men of perverse heart shall be far from me;
I will have nothing to do with evil.

5 Whoever slanders his neighbor in secret,
him will I put to silence;
whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart,
him will I not endure.

6 My eyes will be on the faithful in the land,
that they may dwell with me;
he whose walk is blameless
will minister to me.

7 No one who practices deceit
will dwell in my house;
no one who speaks falsely
will stand in my presence.

8 Every morning I will put to silence
all the wicked in the land;
I will cut off every evildoer
from the city of the LORD." Psalm 101

This Psalm was written by David. And as I read it this morning, I thought, Wow! This is a man who loves his God with all his heart, I mean, just look at some of what he's saying here! "No one who speaks falsely will stand in my presence" and "I will set before my eyes no vile thing", and this was before the age of television and movies and media.

These may be pretty high standards, but maybe they are something to think on and think about reaching towards? Look at verse two, "I will walk in my house with a blameless heart". That's really quite the statement. You know, I have this realization that I am human, and I am constantly failing to please God. Every day perhaps there is something I could have done better. I could have been nicer to that person in line at the store, I could have helped that lady with the door. I could have spoken up when someone talks about having a rough day and let them know that I'll pray for them. And I know that every day I fall short, but the idea of not falling short...of walking through my house with a blameless heart is a goal worth reaching for.

I am reminded of the Planned Acts of Christian Kindness. Have you ever received one of those or seen one in action? It's like a random act of kindness, only first of all, it's not random, and it's also accompanied by telling the recipient that you're sharing the love of Christ with them. And that's what makes me think. What could I have done better yesterday to share the love of Christ? What can I do better today to share the love of Christ? What can I do tomorrow to share the love of Christ? Perhaps if I spend some time walking around with that mindset, then I will be able to get just a hair closer to "walking in my house with a blameless heart."