Friday, September 30, 2011

Count down...

If you've followed me in life, you know that I'm preparing to take a trip out of the U.S. Today a friend asked me "how many more days till you leave...?" and I was speechless...I've not been counting. 

Life has been busier than normal - busier than even my "normal" September - which is pretty busy, as months go. I keep thinking that October will be a place to slow down, but it doesn't seem that way either. Oh well.

So I have a messy house. My husband and I have eaten out more than we have eaten at home (I've only cooked one time this week) and there is a variety of luggage, unpacked shopping bags, and generally STUFF scattered all over my table, my floor, my couches....  ugh. If I have a spare moment, I'm more interested in going outside in the sunshine than staying indoors and "house-blessing" things here. (I desire a clean house though...and I know that there are dust bunnies....or rather dust doggies...under those pieces of luggage all over the floor!!). It will get done. 

I've also got HOMEWORK to do; things to write as assignments, thank-you's to write to family and friends that are praying for me, and packing to do. SIGH. A LOT to do!

But I'm not counting days, and I think I'll keep my calendar set to September to keep me from doing it. 

Earlier today, I met with some newer best-buddies that help keep me accountable and see God in all things. We pray for our husbands, their jobs (they all work together) and the nuances of the industry. It's a place I can be REALLY real, warts and all. Love those ladies!!

Yesterday, I got to talk with a long-time friend, who happens to be a counselor, and we talked about how God is moving and growing us in new ways. How He grows dreams in us, and how we can choose to be used - or not - in those dreams. SO good to get wise counsel from her. 

I also got to SKYPE with a great friend who I've only spent face time with a few times in my life, but we are avid online friends - YAY God for technology!! We have shared a lot of similarities in life, and God's given us similar, complimentary, passions to serve Him with. When no one else "gets it", she does! :) 

oh, goodness....where was I going with this...???   : P   (i'm being real with you now too!!)

OH YEAH - the point was this: Sometimes we can get SO caught up in the countdown, that we miss the chance to live that day to the fullest in His will. We were talking about "saying good-bye well" - whether our kids were moving across town, enlisting in the military, or moving around the world - we can get so enslaved to the process of what I call "the last times" (this will be the last time we sit at church together, this will be our last time at Taco Bell, this was the last time we'll get to watch this movie together...etc) that we MISS THE OPPORTUNITY TO ENJOY THE MOMENT WITH OUR LOVED ONES. 

So, maybe this is why I won't count days. I want to live in the moment (even if it's a scatterbrained, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, moment) and not in the "last times". I want to see Him at work, in me and around me, and be able to share the enthusiasm of the work that God's doing "there". I don't want any tears. (for some reason I'm hearing a chorus of "Don't cry for me, Argentina..." LOL). 

SO, prayers appreciated: for rest when I need rest, sleep when it's time to sleep, and periods of productivity in between!! For health of my family, "here, near, and far away" and for no surprises while I'm gone. For me to continue to walk in faith, and trust Him to fill me with a message of LIFE, and LIGHT, and HOPE to this place I'm going. For me to see with His eyes, hear with His ears, and be His hands and feet to the world. 

thanks friends...
i'll probably take a little time off for the month of October...but promise to come back with LOTS of photos, and more than a few blog posts...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Harvest time...

This past week my heart has been focused on Hosea 10:12 as God has brought me through the busiest month in my calendar year.

     "I said, ‘Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love.
     Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the Lord that he 
     may come and shower righteousness upon you.’"

This has been my time of harvest! It has been busy, crazy busy, insanely busy. But in all of this, the long hours, the unexpected extra jobs that have come out of nowhere, the need to cover things where I thought I had help (but it didn't pull through) - it all worked out - and it all came together because of His desire to see it come together (not my own ability - at all!). 

In these things I will seek the Lord! Not because of the expectations of the showers of blessings, but because I want to see the harvest of love brought in!! 

Sometimes it is painful to allow our hearts to be plowed up. There can be twigs, clumps of grass, remnants of the last crop that serve as reminders of the harvest, or failed crops burned in the fields. However, He takes all that and turns it into a lovely soil...turning it over and over into our hearts...until it is fertile and ready for planting. 

This coming season, one of restoration and planning, will serve good purpose too. How lovely to plan towards the upcoming spring planting season, especially in the dead of winter cold and grey. 

It's only fall now - the labor of cutting crops, bringing them in, working as a team to prepare them for market. It requires coordination, observation, flexibility, cooperation and time to bring it all together. One person can not do it all alone, and it can't be done without God's intervention and provision.

Join in with me and celebrate the harvest! He is doing great things!! HE has overcome the enemy, the drought, the flood, the bad seed, the poor soil...and continues to enrich us to be fertile for the next planting...

Let's partner with Him, allow Him to work IN us and THROUGH us, to accomplish His will in the harvest...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Wanting Dad's approval...

Thanks Holley Gerth at {in}courage for writing about "In God's Heart, I am.... CHOSEN" this week. You can read it HERE.

I too really wanted my dad's approval growing up - isn't that normal for us to be "Daddy's girls"?? I too had to fight for attention, first from older sisters, then a younger sister, and always work. Fast forward years, my mom's death to cancer, and he's dating - so how do you compete with that??

What I found (after a long road to hoe through all the wrong ways to live) was that my heart yearned for unconditional heavenly Father's love...the ONLY love that could satisfy. Since then, I've learned that the reason I couldn't capture my daddy's heart wasn't MY problem, but his. I don't mean this to sound trite, but until I learned about sacrificial love for my Father, I had not realized how selfish human love was; even love within the family.

Fast forward to almost 30 years of marriage, and a lot of growth in my relationship with God (painful lessons, of course, but He is so faithful to bring fruit!!) and we have just read "Radical" - WOW. It is not for the faint hearted, but it really sheds light on our selfishness, how wrong teaching - even in church - makes us believe we are expecting rewards for our obedience to God's word...I'm not even doing it is so much more than that.

Now I feel as if I'm just beginning to grasp the way that I can truly love God back - in the way that honors Him and keeps me from feeding my selfish self.

SO, thanks Holley, for bringing up this topic...I can't wait to see what you fill the blank in next week!!


Friday, September 9, 2011

The latest lesson in life...

Today I had a meeting with a group of amazing (younger) women that I'll get to travel with in a few months. Each couple of weeks we get together and prepare for our journey, learn what the latest is on our arrangements, read, pray, write or discuss what's going on, and basically stay in touch. We want to make this trip it takes a little work to keep it intentional. :)

So today, in our meeting, we are asked to share what it is that God's been showing us since the last time we met 2 weeks ago. A few of the other women shared really moving-to-tears examples of how He has been revealing Himself to them, or how He was sustaining them during difficult seasons. I was in awe.

I was also dumbfounded. I mean, God shows me things daily that are really amazing - but it's fleeting - like His masterpiece in nature, or the sound of a child's laughter. So lovely.

Then I remembered a few nights ago, something really upset me. (I will interject here that I learned last night in our small group, that to be "upset" is really just saying you are ANGRY! I never knew! I am ONE ANGRY WOMAN!! LOL).  Anyways, stuff in life has just been stressful, and I'd decided to just set it all aside - that God has a plan and I'll just trust him with it. But I was so upset the other night, I just had to get out of the house and get some fresh air. (for the record, it was not anything between my husband and I). So I put Abbey the Wonderdog's leash on, grabbed a blue bag, and went for a walk. A power walk. In the cool night air!

During this time, Satan was shouting lies to me all around. I wasn't fit to go on this trip. If I was going to be THIS way now, how could I ever make this journey. These other women are WAY more spiritual and mature than I am. I knew I wanted resolution to the problem, but I had no idea what that looked like, nor what I expected as an answer. All I could do was pray the name "Jesus", over and over again. The more I spoke His name, the more He made Himself known, and the more Satan was defeated. It reminded me of the line in the song "Your Great Name" by Natalie Grant; "The enemy, he has to leave, at the sound of Your Great Name."


So it's my new armor.

I know our minds lie to us. Satan likes to lie to us in many ways...and it's always been hard for me to discern when his lies appear wrapped in self-pity or "low self esteem".  Now I have a simple tool to banish any confusion...just saying the name of Jesus. :)

Oh, how I love His HIM...

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Why take time with God...

I loved Faith Barista Bonnie Gray's blog today on "Five White Space Killers, What Hold You Back From Spending Time With God" . It got me thinking about being a young wife and mom, and my attitudes and opinions that formed my "quiet time" with Him.

If I have to boil it down, I think that these thoughts would be my highlights:

1. Admit you NEED time with Him! We were created to have fellowship with Him, and when we put all other things in front of our time with God, we suffer. When we admit we need that time with Him to get grounded in His Word, an attitude adjustment, or just to maintain a good relationship, then it can become a priority. If we don't have that passion to spend time with Jesus, then pray for it! I have had to pray this several times in my life, and it's a prayer that works! When we can humbly say, "Lord, I don't have the desire for You like I used to, and I invite You to change my heart, my priorities, and for You to give me a new hunger for the Bible, for prayer, for You" then He is faithful to change us. (This also is a good prayer when we find ourselves "loving our husbands, but not "IN love" with them" - He can relight that spark!!)

2. Make time with God a priority! I'm not a morning's just not in my genes! So when you take a night person and give her morning kids, there doesn't seem to be a "perfect time" to spend "quiet time" with God. Think outside the box, and be a little creative! I found out early on that my day went as good as my sleep was - so I started to take my quiet time in the evenings, when the kids were in bed, the dishes done, and I couldn't sleep anyways (because I wasn't tired, and because my morning person husband was already snoring!).  I also found out that the years that my husband was on the road, the kids would sleep better, and I would sleep better, with my heart and head full of His Word and a solid time of prayer.

3. Make time spontaneous!  Now that might sound like a contradiction, but it's not meant to be. I guess I want to encourage you to take time with God as He allows it. I wanted to be a pray-er, and wanted my kids to be too - so I often would pray (out loud with the kids, or either silent or loudly alone) as He brought things to me. For instance, if we were driving and saw an accident, we would pray out loud for the people involved. If God brought someone to mind, I would pray there and then for them. If someone asked me to pray for them, I would pray RIGHT THEN for them, with them, even on the phone (or online!). I think that it helps us to develop a prayerful posture when it's the FIRST thing we think of. Stop wondering (or worrying) about things, people, circumstances, and PRAY for them!

Also keep your heart and mind open to take time with God. When I was a baby Christian, I had a tiny NT and Psalms Bible that I carried with me all the time. As I learned worship songs, I would highlight the scriptures that inspired them in that Bible. Often times I would read my Bible as I was waiting for the bus (God removed my car from my life to draw me closer to Him, and not allow me to be distracted by my sinful past). This often led to a spontaneous time of worship, as I focused on the scripture in song that was inspired by Him. NOW we have Bible apps on our phones/notebooks and can read, sing, or listen to  inspiring messages all the time! When we have that spare moment, how will you use it?

4. Everything is Spiritual, so give God praise! Develop a way to be in constant communication with Him! Take time to praise Him for the little things...the breeze on a hot morning, a friend's phone call, a favorite song on the radio (and don't forget to pray for that artists' walk with God to be with integrity and passion!!). We have opportunities to pray CONSTANTLY. Whatever we put IN us is what will go out of us...if it's worry, discontent, anger, gossip and junk tv...well...we're not going to be as fruitful as He can make us.

5. Ask God to equip us, and equip our spouse. Divorce happens all around us. I love my husband, Mark, a LOT. I'm in love with him too, and praise God for Mark being in my life. But Mark can NOT meet my needs. It's true. But God can use Mark to meet my needs. I don't ask for specifics - but DO ask God to equip Mark to meet my needs...and ask God to equip me to meet Mark's needs. I don't know what that will entail from day to day, but I know God knows, and I trust Him to give me what that will take!

6. FORGIVE. Unforgiveness (or bitterness) can build a wall between us and God. We also have a saying that we live by in our marriage, "A happy marriage the union of two good forgivers!". It's true. We're going to disappoint each other, hurt feelings, do things wrong and make wrong choices...we are both human, and made with a sinful, selfish, nature! If we can allow ourselves to forgive (before even hearing an apology) we can keep it in perspective. God's forgiven me for so much, and I because of that, I know that I can forgive Mark. Grace is a beautiful gift! Mercy undeserved is a lovely fragrance to spread around our home!!

I am aware that sometimes forgiving is not between us and a spouse, but another family member or friend, or even a challenging circumstance. If we can forgive, we should. If we can't, I'm a firm believer in seeking Christian Counseling to help resolve the issue. Sometimes forgiving is not forgetting (forgive and forget is not something WE can do!) but forgiving and setting healthy boundaries to protect us, especially in abusive situations. Abuse is not just physical, sexual, or emotional; sometimes it's being manipulated in other ways. Forgiveness is always fruitful.

7. If you fall off the bicycle, get back on it! If you miss a day, or a week, month, or year - I promise, God misses you!! He will be happy to hear from you, no matter how much time has passed. I think we all have friendships like that matter how much time has passed, we pick it up like we saw each other yesterday... and that's how it is with God. He LOVES to spend time with us...take time to be with Him.

OK, I think I've gone on long enough...well, ok - just one more thing that deserves mentioning but I won't expand on - if you have problems in your life, take time to help someone who has it worse than you. It might mean helping at a shelter, or your next door neighbor - but it always helps to take our eyes off of us and put them back on Him. Pray for them, and don't be a "me monster" ("woe is me, I have it so bad, i need...." - I think you get the picture.).

Now get off this computer and go spend some time with Jesus!!

Grace and peace,

Romans 12, Parts 2 and 3: Balanced and Beautiful in Christ

The new posts that I wrote for Balanced and Beautiful in Christ are now live on their Facebook page, and here on my new blog site (subscrib...