For the first time this week I made it to the Y. The Ick has been in our house between AJ, Ryan and I so I have felt like a slug for a few days. It was good to be back, but I am feeling it. Can the same thing be said about our spiritual life? There are days I am sure we all can say we just don't have the time, don't feel like doing our quiet time. Some of you are thinking, "What? I can't imagine missing a moment!", others of you are saying, "Okay, I slip from time to time", and still others of you might actually admit, "I don't have the time, find it a struggle to get into the Word daily". We all have our reasons, but none of them are good. Whether we feel like it or not, we must make time for God daily. It should be like taking our vitamins, eating a meal, brushing your teeth, etc.; in other words, a habit. But in addition, it should be as fresh as a cool breeze on a hot summer day. We need to do it, but it should be invigorating, encouraging, revitalizing, inspiring, and enlightening. It should fill our hearts, minds and souls every single day. I have many days that I am physically and mentally exhausted, would love to curl up in a ball and just sleep the day away. Those days I have to force myself, choose to put one foot in front of the other and bathe myself in time with God. For me, the result is always renewal. I know Satan would love for me to give up and choose to be a slug, but my relationship with Christ inspires me to make the effort.
I guess it is my turn to get sick. I woke up today with scratchy throat, runny nose and just not feeling all that great. Mom's turn to get the stuff! I suppose if we could pick when we got sick it would never happen, cause who wants to be sick? Well, life goes on and somehow we muddle through even when we are a bit under the weather. I was reading in my quiet time today in Matthew. Jesus is telling the disciples the story of the man who hired workers and paid the same wage regardless of how many hours they labored. He wanted them to get that when kindness is shown, we are doing what Christ did for us. He didn't come to be served, He came to serve and to save. How different would our lives be if we chose to be a servant to others rather than expect our needs to be met first? In every area of our lives this should be the model we live by: with our husbands, our children, friends, coworkers, acquaintances, everyone who crosses our path. Serving is not easy, especially for those of us who tend to be control freaks. It is a work in progress, something to strive towards daily. How can you and I serve someone today?
I read Psalm 24 this morning in my quiet time and it is such a powerful, wonderful picture of our God. Who is this King of Glory? The Lord, strong and mighty! Chris Tomlin's song is going through my mind, what an awesome vision of our Lord in His rightful place. I wonder how many people in the world truly embrace and celebrate that? I wonder how many people in the world have turned from Him, found somehow their circumstances in life are His fault, written Him off as a cruel God. How many of them really know Him for who He is? I want them to know, I want them all to know His truth, His promises, His love and the true reason for why He allows this world to keep on spinning, existing, spiraling out of control. If we read the Scriptures we know why. He waits so that more may come to know Him, choose His promise of salvation. He waits because truly man is corrupt, the world is an imperfect place and it will naturally continue to get worse. There cannot be peace on earth, not really because the earth is not a peaceful place. As long as man exists, there will be sin and there will be cruelty but....we have a responsiblity as Christians to be the shining light, the difference that makes people go, "Wow, there is something worth living for, something of greater worth, something beyond this life!" What kind of difference are we making in this world? Do they see it in us? Are we getting their attention, leaving a lasting impression upon their lives when our paths cross? You may have just a brief moment in time to make a difference in someone's life who truly needs it. I have already had some of those moments and instead of acting upon the Spirit's prompting, I missed it. Those moments I have chosen to be vulnerable and open to someone I barely knew or someone I knew well, God gave me something to say. Those moments, however brief or lasting, can make a lasting impression we may never know about. That isn't what matters. What matters is we chose it, and God used it. We have to trust Him to complete it, it is not our job to see it through. We are vessels for His use, He is the one who saves and changes lives. The world, however cruel and unjust, can be a better place but it will never be a perfect place until He returns. He is the King of Glory, the Lord, strong and mighty---Are we telling it to the world or keeping it to ourselves? That is a great challenge for each of us as we walk with Him each day.
I am having a rather groggy Monday. One child and a husband sick with a cold, so it kind of makes everyone move a little slower. I was moving about the house this morning wondering what I could let go, just didn't feel like doing it all today. Somehow I got enough umph in my gut to get moving, get the ball rolling on my list of to-do's. I was reading in my quiet time today about the goodness and mercy God provides for us. Psalm 23:6 says, "Surely goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever." I love the use of the word pursue in the New Living Translation. Do you know this truth in your own life? I think if mentally I prepared myself better each day by telling myself, "God's goodness and unfailing love is pursuing me today!" I would have a better outlook. Can the same thing be said for you? What is in the forefront of our minds when our eyes open and our minds first become alert to a new day? I know for me it is usually, "Uggh, just ten more minutes of sleep..." and I hit the snooze button one more time. That doesn't happen very often though, cause having three children requires I get moving or my day is all out of whack. Today and everyday, I can get up with a little bit better frame of mind knowing God is pursuing me with his goodness and unfailing love. Returning to the promise frequently in my mind and heart will help shape my attitude for the day ahead. That should be a sweet challenge for all of us.
I am fasting today in preparation for our life insurance exam in the morning. I am hungry, I would love to eat something but I won't cause it will help them get a clearer result on our tests. So I will fill my mind and heart with things to distract from my physical hunger today. I read in my quiet time today about Jesus' provision to the crowds when the disciples thought there would not be enough. He took what they had, blessed it and by the time everyone was fed there was still so much left over. Isn't that what he promises to do for us in all things? Abundance is ours if we will trust in Him, lean upon His understanding, know His provision is true. The scripture says some trust in men and horses, but we trust in the name of our God! How true is that of our world today? Our society says to trust in so many things that man has created for his own comfort, prosperity, success in this life; but what about what God can do? None of that matters unless we have a loving, saving faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. He has promised to bless us abundantly, so we must first trust all we have to Him because after all, none of what we have is truly ours. God has given us this life and we must do with it what is truly good and holy. Our time on this earth is so brief but He has allowed it so that so many more can come to know Him. I am thankful for that, and I hope to treasure each moment more than I did before. Isn't it time we slowed down, savored a moment or two and really thanked the Lord for giving us life?
The headline this morning on the news was about the death of a young actor, Heath Ledger. He was found dead yesterday morning in his New York apartment, the cause yet to be determined. Speculation is flying of course, but the autopsy will reveal the true nature of his death. I immediately felt a great sadness for this young man. We have enjoyed several films he has starred in, such a great actor. I was sad more than anything for his young daughter, how she will never really know or remember her father. She will most likely only have images in her mind of who he was in her life. 28 years old....what kind of impression did his life make upon those he knew best, those he loved, worked with, those who surrounded him throughout his life. I was reading in my quiet time this morning about Jacob and when he and his family moved to Egypt to be reunited with Joseph. It is a story we have known and loved about how Joseph, despite how his brothers treated him, sold him into slavery in Egypt....he through a series of events chose to embrace them, forgive them and see the greater purpose God had for his life. He knew immediately why God allowed those events to take place, why he was in Egypt and how it was meant to be for the sake of his family. Jacob was able to see his son again, the son he loved so dearly and thought he'd lost. Even in his old age, he could have some time to reunite and reacquaint himself with Joseph....what an incredible moment that must have been! I wonder how it must feel for that young actor's family to lose him so suddenly, to know there will not be another moment to embrace him, talk with him, surround him? I hope he had a full life, I hope he lived well and that people in his life knew him for who he really was. I think we all hope to live a life of meaning and purpose, not wasting it on superficial things, things that will fade away. What do we treasure most? Jacob loved the Lord, loved his family, and as a result of his obedience and faith God blessed him abundantly. I hope everything I do and say is a reflection of how good God is. Psalm 19:14 says it best:
May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
This morning I woke up to see a snowy white blanket covering everything outside my window. I wished I could have crawled back under the covers and stayed snuggled up in bed for a little longer. Reality check--life goes on, too much to do today! The winter weather, lack of sunshine and the daily routine makes it all too easy to become depressed and generally unhappy about facing another day. I have always been the type to push forward, not become bogged down and give up, throw in the towel. I may have a lot of moments where I trudge through my day in a grumpy mood, but at some point something I read or hear, something someone says to me snaps me out of it. I am sure I am not the first to admit I don't start my day at the exact same time in the exact same way everyday. My day starts and stops within a time fluctuation of about 15 minutes to half an hour. I know it is a terrible excuse, but I am sorry--having children should come with the expectation that we are not going to be on time all of the time. In fact, I can pretty much guarantee I will be late more often than on time, and it is usually because something happened to throw off the daily schedule. This may irritate those of you who pride yourselves on being prompt, ahead of schedule, planners down to every detail of your day. Good for you, glad you've got that kind of order in your life. Although at times I get a little bent out of shape cause my day didn't go quite the way I'd planned, I am learning to embrace flexibility and putting it aside til later. I am thankful God doesn't expect me to be perfect, that He understands I will fail, make mistakes, goof up. I am a work in progress, and as I work at it I will embrace the truth of His teachings, the promises of Scripture.
Proverbs 4:11-13 I will teach you wisdom's ways and lead you in straight paths. If you live a life guided by wisdom, you won't limp or stumble as you run. Carry out my instructions; don't forsake them. Guard them, for they will lead you to a fulfilled life.
Another Monday is upon me, and I find I am dragging a bit today. It was a fun weekend celebrating my birthday. I am 36, 40 is not that far away--uggh! We went to Indianapolis Saturday and did some shopping, ate some good food, caught just a glimpse of downtown before heading home to Brazil. There is so much there to see and do so we can't wait to go back. I enjoy seeking out the big bargain sales and I found several this weekend. I was amazed at the people who were coming out of the specialty stores with bags over the arms, no doubt they had spent a whole lot more money than I did. One particular store is a favorite among women who desire a great handbag. Rylee and I walked in to browse for fun, and I made the mistake of asking the sales associate if they had a sale going on that day. She smiled politely and told me that they didn't really have sales in this store. I smiled politely back and thanked her as we walked on and looked at a few things that I knew we couldn't afford nor would we buy for the prices I was seeing on the tags. The day left me wondering, "How badly do we as consumers have to have the latest thing?" That could be anything from a specialty handbag, to the latest cell phone, a new game system, techno gadgets, jewelry, sports paraphanalia, etc. I could go on and on, but you get the picture. Once we have something, there is always something new that we have to have so the cycle continues. What if we took that desire, and focused it on something of greater significance? I read today in my quiet time from Matthew 13 about the purpose of Christ's stories. He was asked why he told so many stories when people gathered to hear him. His reply was incredible and thought provoking. Starting in verse 11 Jesus says, "You have been permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others have not. To those who are open to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But to those who are not listening, even what they have will be taken away from them. This is why I tell these stories, because people see what I do, but they don't really see. They hear what I say, but they don't really hear and they don't understand."
I want that abundance! Don't you? It is once again a question of priorities. Yes, it is great to have the things we love, but what does it say about us? For Ryan and I it has never been about having the biggest house, fancy cars, all the latest gadgets and gizmos, giving our children every single thing they could ever want. The struggles we have been through have taught us that we are to remain so thankful, so humbled, so aware of our blessings because anything else is secondary. God blesses us and we should be very thankful for the simplest of things like the air we breathe, our very lives, the time He has given us on this earth. What have we allowed to cloud our focus on that? I don't want to miss what God has to teach me each day, and I know it is a daily battle. As long as the battle rages on, I will embrace first and foremost my time with God.
Matthew 12:33 A tree is identified by its fruit. Make a tree good, and its fruit will be good. Make a tree bad, and its fruit will be bad.

What kind of fruit are you producing? I would like to think that I have produced something positive from each day I am blessed to live on this earth. Jesus had a lesson to teach each person He encountered whether it was a Pharisee, a person who needed healing, one of His disciples or an ordinary person passing him by on the street. Live a life that reflects God: be kind, humble, loving and compassionate. How are you living the life God has blessed you with? Do you see it as a blessing or a curse? Is your answer based on your circumstances or can you change your view to see the bigger picture of what God may have for your life? Life will always have its ups and downs, worries and fears will come and go, our faith will most certainly waiver, but God never changes. I want to stand before the Lord one day and although I don't deserve it hear Him say, "Well done, good and faithful servant!" I know He will see all I have done and said, how I have lived my life, who I have influenced for the Kingdom, how I chose to represent Him. What a moment that will be! I am looking forward to that.
Matthew 11:28-30 Then Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light."
How willing are we to give up everything and trust God with our lives? I will be one of the first to admit I struggle with it daily. I am a bit of a control freak, Ryan will confirm that if you ask him I am sure. I run a pretty tight ship at home, like things done a certain way and if they aren't, my world begins to spiral out of control. I get testy, stressed, a bit angry and very impatient. When I was pregnant and had nesting periods I would go on cleaning frenzies late at night. With three children you can imagine how full my day is. I am up at 6:30 and if I am lucky I will have an hour of my day to myself. I usually collapse in bed by 11:30 or midnight because my mind does not shut down even on a good day. I have some good habits in my day that have helped balance me out, so if I do them I am in a better mood and my world keeps spinning at a manageable pace. I start my day as often as I am able to with my quiet time, although some days it is in the afternoon. Whenever I get it in, I relish it cause it feeds my heart and soul, meeting the needs I have. I have a cup of hot tea once a day, wish I could do it twice a day but I am not lucky enough to have that kind of free time. Some day I am sure that will change. I have started off the new year with jumping back into an exercise routine and healthier eating habits. I am committed to working out 4-5 days a week and have made changes in what I eat to put better things in my diet like fiber, soy, yogurt, and daily supplements. A lot of these things I have done before, but as we all know the holidays tempt us to get a bit lazy. I still have some work to do, but I am on the road to a healthier me. I have committed to a 5k in July thanks to the encouragement of my instructor of my exercise class at the Y. It will be my second
5k, and I hope to work toward additional goals in the future. The greatest moments of my day are with Ryan and the kids, kisses and hugs as often as I can get them and give them, and saying I love you as often as we can. The burdens of this life can cause us to have many tense moments in our marriage and our family, but we talk through it--sometimes loudly--but it always ends with an agreement that we are sticking with each other, we love each other and we know without a doubt God has got a plan. At the end of each day I am thankful I can turn it all over to God, knowing He will take care of me and my needs. Some days it is harder to let it go than others, but I do. Life is not easy, but my faith in God strengthens me to handle it better.
In Matthew 10 Jesus was teaching His disciples about priorities. He emphasized in several examples throughout this chapter how important it is to deny all and follow Him. Nothing in this life is lasting nor perfect, not our marriages, not our families, not our jobs, not our churches, not our lifestyles, not our social circles or clubs.....so, what's your priority? It should be Christ, and Christ alone. Drop it all, follow Me. That's all He wants. It is hard to swallow in my heart and mind, and I know I am not the only one, that life as I know it could change in a split second. Something horrific could occur, and what would I have then? How would I go on? Jesus has the answer. He is always there, and God is always on His throne. In our human minds we cannot fully comprehend the depths of His love, but when I stand before the Father I want Him to say He saw Himself in me. Jesus told his disciples, deny your family, let go of your grip on relationships, places, things of this life and turn to follow Me. This doesn't mean we live life alone or without our loved ones or creature comforts, but it means we have a healthier perspective on what truly matters most. Live each moment fully, acknowledge the power of Christ in your life, and the Father will see that in you as you stand before Him one day. That puts my mind and heart at ease.
Proverbs 3 tells us that gaining wisdom and understanding is far greater than any treasure on this earth, any accumulation of wealth whether it be in jewels or precious metals--nothing compares. God is funny. I go through these stages as I endure difficult circumstances---anger, frustration, fear, despair, doubt, joy, peace. At some point between fear and joy I find it very therapeutic to laugh! God provides that, I am sure of it. I would like to think at some point dealing with the Pharisees and all those who doubted and ridiculed him in his time on this earth, he must have laughed. God's timing is perfect, I have seen the evidence of it in several moments of my life. Whether we like it or not, ready or not, he has a plan and a reason for every single thing we go through. I got to thinking about the car again today. We still don't know what we are going to do, waiting to hear if the dealership will work out a payment arrangement with us. I was talking to God today, and I just said to Him, "You are God, the God who makes the impossible possible! You can work this out for our good....so when exactly is that?" There was no answer, just silence as I drove home from work. In that silence though, I started to find peace, my faith has not died and I do know my God will provide. He is there, speaking through my heart in the form of peace and reassurance. The struggles we go through may be great, but God is always greater!
I love reading about the miracles Jesus did. In Matthew 8 I read today about how he calmed the sea amidst a great storm. The disciples were so afraid, and yet he just slept. After the calming of the storm, he asked why they were so afraid? Why didn't they have faith in him? Then later I read about the deliverance of two men from demon possession. The images both situations bring to my mind: watching the waves and winds immediately cease at his word, seeing the men delivered and watching as Jesus cast the demons into a herd of pigs that then plunged themselves over a hillside to their death in the water below. The sounds, the feeling in the air must have been breathtaking. How incredible to be a disciple of Christ in that day, standing at his side, knowing him in his time here on this earth, not just following him in the spirit but in person. I can only imagine. I find it interesting that the disciples struggled to recognize Him and His power as the Son of God, and yet the demons in those two men knew who He was immediately and asked to be delivered from His very presence. Do we truly recognize Christ and His power in our lives today? Or do we allow the things of this life to distract us and convince us to question who He truly is? I think our actions speak louder than our words. Look at the way we speak to one another, our priorities throughout the day, our habits, our preferences, our needs, our desires. Who are we serving? What do our lives say about what is most important? My grandfather passed away this week, so I find myself reflecting upon the life I am living. Will I be able to say I lived a good life? He did, and he was ready to let go. My family has experienced the loss of my grandfather as more of a relief than a great loss. He was thankful for the life he lived, said he had lived well. He was not a man of many words, not easy to know and love but, we have many fond memories of him and loved him dearly. I know it will be a difficult transition for my grandmother, but I am thankful she has my parents to support her through this. I hope my life is the truest reflection of Christ that it can be and should be. I want to be able to say I know Jesus, really know him and that there is no greater power in my life. What a good God we serve, and isn't it amazing what He has to teach us if we are willing to be His people?
Since we have moved and for that matter any move we have undertaken, I have the same feeling of dread about one thing....meeting new people. It sounds odd, I know, but I honestly find it difficult to meet and get to know, build new relationships with other people. The older I get, the more difficult it seems to be. I cannot claim to have any childhood best friends, and I have only kept in touch with a handful of friends from college. Life happens, we move away, families begin and grow, the responsibilities and activities of our lives make it challenging to keep those relationships going. I have over the years been so thankful for those I have managed to stay in touch with. Though there are many miles between us, sometimes the brightest part of my day is receiving an email from one of my dear friends. I have already made some very sweet friends in the few weeks we have been in Brazil, Indiana. Although my humanity cries out for seclusion at times and just doesn't feel like making the effort, God reminds me of the sweet fellowship I have found in those I am blessed to call my friends. I am quite certain if I didn't have a relationship with Christ, my life would not be as full and abundant as it is.
I read in my quiet time this morning in Psalm 9:9 that God is my refuge. Refuge is defined as shelter or protection from danger. No matter what I go through each day, I know without a doubt my God is there for me. That is awesome. I will never tire of that fact, I am so thankful for it. I didn't want to go to work today. Despite what my body and my mind were saying, I got up when my alarm went off, I got ready, I had my coffee and ate some breakfast and I enjoyed time with God. There is no better way to start the day. It made my day! I had joy in my heart and mind as I went throughout my day because I chose it. God was there for me in my time of need, my bad mood this morning. Because I chose to seek Him in the first moments of my day, He lovingly provided just what I needed.

Keep on keepin' on!

Life doesn't slow down for anything or anyone, so how do we keep up? Put one foot in front of the other and go, go, go! I have always been the temperament of one who needs to be somewhat busy, engaged in something worthwhile, not standing still for very long. I don't like to wait, I don't like to be stuck in one place with nothing to do. I will often seek out what I can do by asking, seeking, searching, digging, just doing. In my quiet time today I read in Matthew 6:7-10 a reminder to keep asking, seeking and knocking because it is there for us to find, to do, to be blessed. God wants us to have the desires and dreams within our hearts so what is holding us back? For years I have found myself doing a job that is okay, but nothing to rejoice about. Retail work may be easy and busy, but it is quite honestly boring. I have been exploring spiritually and professionally something more for my life for about three years now. It probably started after I had AJ. I knew I did not want to return to retail, working nights and weekends to get the extra income we wanted and needed. I would like to go into massage therapy, and I am exploring my options in obtaining a physical therapy degree. The questions keep turning over in my head: How can we afford it? How will it impact my family and our home environment? How will I find the time to study and keep up with our home, my children, our many activities? How do I do this and remain sane? I know I am not the first thirty something to consider going back to school. I haven't found my niche in life yet, that is in addition to my great passion for my family. I always knew I'd be a wife and mother, and I honestly thought that would fill every void. But, I am finding there is still something in me that cries out to be fulfilled. I want my children to see in me that they can do whatever their heart desires, what God wills for their lives. I can't help but think these past few years God has been speaking to me, urging me to pursue this. I will continue to ask, seek and knock because I know He has it for me to find on the other side of the door when the timing is right.
Another Monday, ready or not here we go! It has been a good Monday, I have gotten a good bit of my to do list done. I started a membership at the Y today, felt good to commit to something for my health. I know what I need to do with this body God has given me to take care of so I am doing it. I was thinking over the weekend about what matters most. Reflecting on what I have endured so far in this life I am immediately thankful to still be here. We have seen so many people we know go through extraordinary circumstances, it is enough to make your head spin. I am amazed what the human mind and body can take. I have watched friends and family go through life with such heavy burdens, and I have watched with such great joy when they have made it through triumphantly. I don't know how anyone could without Jesus. How do we survive great tragedy, extraordinary circumstances without having a God we can turn to for comfort, healing, peace that passes all understanding? We couldn't. I have gotten to the point in my life that I cannot watch much media coverage, whether it be the local news program, national news updates on current events or any number of talk shows. I keep up on worthy causes, what I can do to contribute to our society's improvement and enough about the political world to know how I am being represented, but in general the state of our world's downfall is sickening to me. I remember when 9/11 occurred, how devastated our country and the world was by such a terrorist act. We were at a family reunion in Missouri and I can recall sitting in my mother's kitchen with her and my grandmother. All I could do was cry, as the coverage continued and the media replayed the image of the planes crashing into the towers. I turned to my mom and grandma and said, "Is this what it felt like when World War 2 took place?" I remember feeling so fearful, so terrified and so vulnerable. The stories they have shared with me about those times, what my great grandparents and grandparents went through, how our country endured and prevailed. At some point in that time, I found myself becoming more in tune with what truly matters most. How thankful I am for what I have, who I have surrounding me....God has blessed me in placing so many wonderful people in my life. Ryan and I have been finding great joy in the little things. The things that society says we must be frantic about: the big house, the new cars, the latest gadgets, the latest styles, the big vacations....none of that matters in heaven so why should it matter here? In this new season of our lives, we are finding great joy in knowing we have exactly what we need and nothing more is necessary. How often are we focused more on what we want rather than what we need? Is it genuinely something we need or is it something we just want? Scripture tells us not to worry about the things of this earth, storing up "stuff" should not be our priority.
Matthew 6:21 states: "Wherever you treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be."
What kind of stuff are you storing up? What could you be doing with that time and energy you've put into storing up stuff to instead further the Kingdom? How will you allow God to use you this year for something greater, something better, something eternally lasting? That's a challenge for us all to ponder.
I am still not used to the time change here. We are now Eastern time instead of Central time, so it gets dark earlier and it is dark much later in the morning. Winter is more harsh in Indiana than anywhere we have lived. It isn't much different from Missouri or Tennessee, but it is much colder, and being in a small town the pace is that much slower. Saturdays are meant for being lazy, sleeping late and enjoying time with the family. My job makes that challenging since I have to work on the weekends. I would much rather be home enjoying time with my family. I wonder how many other people share my "pain"? Don't get me wrong, it is a good job and I like it but it is by no means a "dream" job. Perhaps once again God is prompting me to consider what else I could be doing with my life professionally to find a greater sense of fulfillment. I have considered going back to school, but the timing would not be right for that now. I know God hears my heart, and I know I need to pray and research what more I could be doing with my life. I have never been the type that would be content to do the same thing for twenty or thirty years of my life. I guess I haven't found that yet. But I don't ever want to be content. It is the same way with God. He doesn't want us to be content in our walk with him, in how we approach this life and live in this world. We shouldn't blend in, we should stick out. We need to be discontent, uncomfortable, seeking without ceasing what more we could be doing to grow and thrive as Christ followers. In my quiet time today I was reminded once again that God hears me, and He will answer me. Psalm 6 is a promise that He will protect, restore, provide and care for me. I am thankful for that and I know it is enough to know He has a plan. In His time and when the timing is right, He will reveal it to me. I will continue to seek, study, pray and commune with the Lord to know where my path will lead.

Friday, blessed Friday

Another early day, errands to run and a day at work in the retail world for me. It was good, most Fridays are and I can't recall many bad Fridays in my life so far. I was reading in my quiet time this evening about Abram, who God later named Abraham. God called him to leave everyone and everything he knew and go to the land He would show him. Hmmm...not such an easy thing for many of us. Leave what you know, go where I lead you. God didn't give Abraham an itinerary, an agenda or a planner of any kind--He just said, "Go and I will show it to you." I love this story, reading about how God will bless him and his family, for many, many generations. Abraham left us an incredible legacy, a hard act to follow. How would any one of us feel about giving up all we know, particularly our comforts and our comfort zone in which we live to simply follow where God leads? I can think of several times in my life when Ryan and I faced criticism and skepticism about a decision we had made to follow God's call in a new direction. I have no doubt that will continue, and I am actually thankful for it. It is essentially a form of accountability for us. None of us is perfect, and more often than not we will anger, frustrate, disappoint, and hurt one another more often than we'd like to admit. The icing on the cake is we have learned something from each and every one of those experiences. Even when Abraham followed God, he had moments along the way where he made a decision that had a rather upsetting result. I am thankful that no matter what happens along this journey, my mistakes contain lessons which will strengthen me for the next season. I loved reading in Matthew 5:1-26 about the blessings that will come to those who are God's, who truly follow Him. It is good to be a child of God.
Matthew 5:3 "God blesses those who realize their need for Him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is given to them."

Sacrifice

Okay, I am sore. They warned me in the class this morning and they were right. My body is wondering what the heck I did to it. I am glad I went, but I have got to stick with it so I don't hurt so much! Once again, I am feeling how much harder it is to get back into a routine the older I get. I say it every year but hopefully I will really stick with it this time! I have my goals, and they are realistic not something crazy like trying to fit into a size 2 by swimsuit season. I was reading today in my quiet time about sacrifice. In Genesis I read about how Noah watched God's promises unfold and how he must have felt such peace knowing the sacrifice was worth it. I read in Matthew when Jesus approached his disciples and called them to follow him; what a sacrifice that must have been to leave everything they knew, and leave their families wondering what on earth they were doing. Finally I read in Psalm 4 about God's provision for His children, the peace, the blessing, the rest He promises to provide. Verses 4-5 read:
Don't sin by letting anger gain control over you. Think about it overnight and remain silent. Offer proper sacrifices, and trust in the Lord.
Throughout my quiet time I found this to be clear--we must turn, we must trust, and we must be willing to sacrifice. The sacrifice? I don't know what that looks like for everyone else, but for me it is daily denying what I think I need, and seeking what God desires for me. I am reading a financial self help book a friend offered us after we moved and in it he points out the key to reaching financial freedom is 80% behavior, 20% head knowledge. Don't quote me on that but that is the basic idea. I know in my head what to do, I have read it, studied it, spoken it, and made some attempts at living it but it hasn't clicked completely til now. My spiritual walk needs to be executed in the same way I think. Nobody but God can read my mind, he knows my thoughts, my heart, my soul so how will the world know I desire to be more like Christ and I am making the sacrifice? I must live it, act upon it and show that not matter how this life boxes me around I will stand with great joy upon the promise God has made: I am His, His chosen, His set apart to be blessed and to experience greater joy than I can possibly imagine. That's good stuff.

Where do we go now?

I think it was a Guns and Roses song, Sweet Child of Mine, with the lyric, "Where do we go now?" I don't know why that came to mind today other than it is a new year, time to take Christmas stuff down and pack it away so I am wondering amidst all there is to do...where do I go now? I wish I could take off for a week to just vacation, unwind, relax, catch a great concert, eat some incredible food and spend some romantic time with my man--that's where I'd like to go! Anyway, back to reality. Today is the beginning of some new resolutions for me I hope to make lifelong habits. In my quiet time this morning I was reading in Genesis about Noah, chapter 6 verse 22: He did everything exactly as God commanded him. He was the only man, found blameless and righteous, consistently sharing a close relationship with God. If only my life could be such an example. That is great motivation, what an example Noah is to us all. I would hope today as I seek to find my direction to go in getting my to do list done, that I will keep God first. Everything and anything I do should pale in comparison to my need for my God. How consistent, obedient, committed will I be in 2008? What will others say about me? Hopefully it is all good, and hopefully I will not allow my pride to get in the way of admitting when I screw up and need a Savior.

Happy New Year

Is it really 2008? Every year that goes by I am amazed how much faster it goes and to look back at what I have been through. Some are worth remembering more than others-can I get an amen?! Yeah, well, 2007 would at first glance be one to forget for us. But looking again I'd say, heck yeah, let's do it again cause something good is going to come of it! It ended so well with God bringing us to Brazil, Indiana. What a ride this will be! I haven't had my quiet time today yet, but I made a new year's resolution and began it already yesterday. I am going to read through the Bible utilizing a Bible I got several years ago after attending a conference. My health resolution starts tomorrow with eating more healthy, getting the exercise I need to both lose weight and maintain it as well as just taking the steps to live a healthier life. With the history on my side of the family and seeing what my parents are facing with their health it is a great motivator for me to do better starting now. I will be aging another year this month-36! My first thought about this coming birthday is I am that much closer to 40. It is rather depressing at first, but I honestly have never been one to be down about aging, rather, I embrace it. I think we all need to look at aging as an improvement of ourselves, which hopefully we are doing something beneficial in our lives each year we age. I know there are many people who don't, and have many regrets about their lives and aren't doing much of anything to live life well. At the risk of sounding like a movie or repeating some cheesy quote, I choose to embrace my life from this point forward and hopefully I will live each day with an attitude of gratitude, a sense of adventure, a willingness to take risks for the sake of being authentic, genuine and real. I don't care how much money I make, how big a house I have, or the places I can say I have been; life is in the here and now, whether or not I choose to embrace joy every day I am allowed the privelege of living on this earth. God is good, all the time--a phrase we say often, but hopefully we really mean it when we say it. I know I do.

my Ebenezer...

“…Thus far the Lord has helped us.”-1 Samuel 7:12 There are moments in my life when I look back and can see how God in His perfect yet my...