Friday, February 11, 2011

How easily our human nature shows through in times of trial!

This opening line of my devotional this morning was all I needed to convict me! Ugh!
We are reading through the book of Exodus and are to the part in Exodus 32 that I have burned into my memory because of the hollywood version of it in the classic movie Moses with Charlton Heston.

"When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods[a] who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”

2 Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” 3 So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. 4 He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods,[b] Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”

5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the LORD.” 6 So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.

7 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. 8 They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’ "


I feel a lot like the children of Israel this morning. They had seen miracle after miracle as God used Moses to lead them out of Egypt and out of captivity. They had just witnessed the parting of the red sea, water pour out of a rock in the middle of a desert and had manna falling daily from the sky for them, for goodness sake!
All of their needs had been completely fulfilled! All they had to do was WAIT! The next blessing was coming, but they grew impatient and turned back to their old ways.

This time in my life is about waiting! God has shown his provisional love for my family OVER and OVER again. He has delivered us out of the captivity of sin and is asking us to wait for the next step...what is so hard about that? Why is it that we(I) allow Satan to creep in during these times of rest when I am waiting on the Lord and stir my fears into a frenzy? I have nothing to worry about and may miss out on the biggest blessing of my life because I can't fight the urge to take control of my situation.

Lord, help me to be content in the waiting. Protect me from the devil's attempts to distract me from Your will. Help me keep my eyes firmly focused on You so that I may receive the blessings that you have prepared for me! Amen

Monday, February 7, 2011

Hang on...this is gonna be a bumpy ride!

Um...WOW!! That is all I can say! I have been sitting here this morning looking at my calendar and regretting how full my calendar is getting. :( Some people crave busy-ness, but I am DEFINITELY not one of those people. From the outside, my life may look busy with three kids in sports, a part time job and a house to run. My little secret is...it's not all that busy anymore.

I spent many years trying to keep up with a frantic pace of busy because that is what I thought was expected of me. I came to realize that it was the busy that prevented me from stopping and taking time to focus on what God really had planned for me. I almost missed one of those times of focus yesterday, in the frantic pace of a busy Sunday.

After church yesterday, before we even got out of the parking lot, my oldest asks a profound question. Now, granted, I think he saw an angle in it for him to get out of something that most kids think is a colossal waste of time anyway, BUT it was a great teachable moment for all of us in the car.

Alex asked if school was in the Bible. :) After a stunned few seconds of silence, he continued by pointing out how many distractions there were for a young christian and how hard it was to stay focused on God's plan for his life in that environment.

As my mind started racing with ways to answer him without giving him permission to drop out of school, I think God took over my mouth and proceeded to give him an answer that even preached to me. Yes, school is a place with MANY distractions and is probably the hardest time that many of us face in life because of all the temptations that we have to face and overcome in the short time that we are there.
Unfortunately, that part of life really never gets any easier. Even as adults, we are faced with distractions that we allow to get in the way of our relationship with God. We have to set our priorities right and truly commit to putting God at the beginning of EVERYTHING. It's not an easy thing to do, but the results are SO powerful!

Now the task of tackling whether or not school was in the Bible. YES, school was in the Bible!! Even Jesus studied! Jesus laid out that model for us. The kind of learning that Jesus did wasn't exactly like the learning of today, but it had to be similar. Jesus was HUMAN when he came to earth. As a child, he couldn't have been a carpenter without Math, he couldn't have studied in the synagogue without learning his language and how to communicate with others. All of the learning that Jesus did in his youth in the synagogues prepared Him for the calling that God had for His life. So, YES, school is important! It is necessary in today's society to prepare you for the calling that God has on your life. The world need's Christian doctors and lawyers and teachers and builders, etc. Satan knows that and puts EVERY OBSTACLE IN HIS ARSENAL in your path when you are a young Christian to keep you from fulfilling your calling.

It was a truly incredible conversation that I am so grateful we were able to have. I need those moments of reminder every once in a while that I'm not the only one that feels like I'm under attack sometimes and feels like I'm not really doing what I'm supposed to be doing. Even kids feel that way. :)
Thank you God for those teachable moments that allow me to stop and readjust my focus on what is truly important!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Rough day

So, today is already started out as a rough day. I have a MONSTER headache that is only being made worse through a situation that I am dealing with in one area of my life.

BUT, God is SO good! He sent me a nugget to help through the day!
This is what I JUST read and it is seeping into my soul and bringing me peace that I'm sure will carry me through the struggles of today.

Proverbs 5:22-23 (New International Version, ©2011)
22 The evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them;
the cords of their sins hold them fast.
23 For lack of discipline they will die,
led astray by their own great folly.

I know I am not supposed to wish that others should "get what's coming to them" because, as a Christian, I am supposed to have the heart of Christ and know that "He (God) does not want anyone to perish, but wants everyone to repent." 2 Peter 3:9

SO...I cannot allow myself to fall into the snares of wickedness that are spoken about in Proverbs! I HAVE to show discipline today with my emotions and not allow them to take over that part of me that "doesn't want anyone to perish", no matter how evil their actions are.

Yes, some people just have to learn the hard way. I can't always stop them from making wrong choices and decisions...I can just love them through the consequences.

Monday, January 24, 2011

May...

A funny story from my when my kids were younger, and I'm sure most of you can relate to this. I have ALWAYS used the word "Maybe" when my kids asked me if they could do something or have something. It's just a great word to use, because when they are very little and hold you to EVERYTHING you say, the word allows you an out. Well, one day my daughter, Abby, called my bluff. She was about 6, I guess and had asked me if we could go somewhere later that day and I used the usual response, "Maybe, I'm not sure, we'll just have to see." From the back seat of the car, I hear her sweet soft little voice mutter to herself, "maybe means no." Hmmmm...was she really on to me at the age of SIX? WOW!

I was reminded of this story this morning after reading the days One Year Devotion.

"Israel's blessings started with the word may. As Jacob laid his hands upon the heads of Ephraim and Manasseh, he uttered the word and invoked a blessing with it three times.
The psalmist blessed Israel with equal force: "May the Lord respond to your cry. May the God of Israel keep you safe. . . . May he send you help. . . . May he remember all your gifts. . . . May he grant your heart's desire and fulfill all your plans. May we shout for joy when we hear of your victory. . . . May the Lord answer all your prayers" (Psalm 20:1-5).
The word may could be translated "allow." In other words, allow God to do what He wants to do for you. You must settle in your mind forever that God wants to bless you. Any doubt will always result in questioning His desire to answer your prayers or to increase, deliver, and help you.
God's Word has the same power to bless you, as did Jacob's words for his grandsons. "Pay attention, my child, to what I say. Listen carefully. Don't lose sight of my words. Let them penetrate deep within your heart, for they bring life and radiant health to anyone who discovers their meaning" (Proverbs 4:20-22).
May the Lord bless you today!"


Nope, these verses don't say "Maybe the Lord will..." but in a way they do. I have never read the blessings of the Bible quite the way that the devotional encouraged me to today...by replacing the word "May" with "allow".

If we don't allow God to work in our lives, then the promises of the Bible are just a maybe...we have to get out of the way and let Him work! Believe that He is going to do mighty things in your life! Receive the blessings that He has for you!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Do unto others, cause what goes around...comes around!

The following three paragraphs are from the One Year Bible Daily Devotional that I read through my church website at http://www.churchofthehighlands.com/bible/

"Poor Jacob thought his trickery of his father had gone unnoticed. He forgot that God was watching everything and everybody-including him! Someone said, "You may get by, but you won't get away!" Little did Jacob know that God would discipline him by preparing someone even trickier than he to enter his life. "My child, don't ignore it when the Lord disciplines you, and don't be discouraged when he corrects you. For the Lord corrects those he loves. . . ."(Proverbs 3:11-12).

For seven long years Jacob served Laban for his daughter Rachel. Then, on the wedding night, Laban tricked him into marrying Leah. It is interesting that Jacob deceived his father in a tent, and later he himself was deceived in a tent! God will discipline you with the exact process you used on someone else. God loved Jacob and knew that until he met a superior deceiver, he would be tricking, deceiving, and supplanting for the rest of his life.

Do not despise the Lord's work in your life. He loves you, and His discipline will yield "a quiet harvest of right living" (Hebrews 12:11)."


WOW! I forget the wonderful lessons that the Bible lays out for us sometimes. I always catch myself telling my kids..."I'm not sure where, but it does say in the Bible that..." I wish that I were more of a bible scholar that knew exactly where everything was and could quote it exactly, but I'm not. I'm just an average girl that knows the difference between right and wrong and knows it's right and wrong cause it's in the bible...somewhere. :)

ANYWAY, I love the story of Jacob and all of the struggles that he goes through in life. MOST if not all of those struggles are caused because of his own stupid self...I can relate to that. :) I may not do some of the horrible things that Jacob did like stealing his brothers birthright, but I do cause myself lots of torment by making poor decisions. Especially with my finances. YES, I am the coupon queen and I do know how to be VERY thrifty...but we've already covered the fact that I lack DISCIPLINE in my life (UGH! this is becoming a theme for me, Lord what are you trying to teach me?) So, I get off to a good start and then get sidetracked and lose focus.

TOTAL SIDENOTE- my husband and I have fallen in love with the tv show "THE MIDDLE". If you haven't watched it, it is hysterical! We can relate to the family in the show because they remind us so much of ourselves. SO, on last night's episode, the mom purchased a 3 ounce jar of miracle eye cream for $200! She thought it said $20 when she signed the credit card slip. She was HORRIFIED when she realized her mistake and had to confess it to her husband. He was calm about it and said he would just have to pick up another shift at work to pay for the mistake...then he gave her the silent treatment. When she finally got him to talk to her, he confessed that his silence wasn't anger at her, but anger at their place in life. He was frustrated that a $200 mistake sent them into financial ruin at their stage in life (early 40's). Ummm....hello, that is my life. :) An unexpected bill or expense can send our finances into a TAILSPIN! That is NOT where I thought I would be when I was forty! BUT, the mom pointed out to her husband the fact that the amount that used to send them into financial panic mode was $20 and that they had come a long way since that time.

MORAL of this LONG story....I think sometimes we get so fixated on our future plans that we get bogged down in the frustrations of "why am I still stuck here?" Imagine if Jacob had done that! Imagine if he had given up after Laban tricked him into marrying Leah instead of Rachel - his dream. He TOTALLY got what he deserved when he was tricked into marrying Leah instead of Rachel. Even so, he could have gotten discouraged and just thrown his hands up in the air and said "forget it!". But he didn't. He kept pursuing his promise of blessings and he worked hard and eventually he was rewarded...and so were we. God blessed Jacob, the father of many nations.

So how does this apply to me? How does this all tie together? What am I supposed to learn from this?

Be wise in the decisions you make in life because what goes around comes around, BUT don't get discouraged in the midst of the consequences of your previous actions because God has a bigger and better plan for you than you can EVER imagine. :)

Friday, January 7, 2011

What exactly did I do in 2010?

So, I mentioned that last year wasn't really one of those stellar years and as I think back over it, I am remembering why I've blocked out most of it.

It started out with the mourning of a sweet friend's move. My friend, Evelyn, moved back to Texas right before Christmas and the reality that she was gone finally started to set in about New Years. She and her husband, Mark, bought a house that my husband built and from the first time my husband met Evelyn, he told me that I would love her...he was correct. She was and still is a very precious person with a heart of gold. She was the only person outside of my family that truly knew all the gory details of our families financial woes and she prayed and worried right along with us. The thought of not being able to talk to her and see her on a daily basis really set the year off on a sour note.

Then 2010 took a turn for the worse with the loss of another dear friend. My artist friend, Penny McAllister, passed away in late March after a very short battle with leukemia. Her death was VERY sudden and very unexpected. She and I have worked together at Christmas Village for the past several years and over those years we have had some wonderful talks. We had one of those friendships where you could go months without talking and instantly pick up like you'd seen each other every day. I think I kind of switched off my feelings when she passed away because of the fear of what the upcoming holidays would be like without her. I don't think any of us like change, but when that change is the absence of a precious friend...it's especially painful...and I lost two in a very short amount of time.


About 10 years ago, I read a book called The Friendships of Women by Dee Brestin and it was fascinating to realize how much women need other women in their lives. I have never really been able to build and maintain close friendships with other women and I've always wondered why...I'm a nice girl, aren't I? I always attributed this inability to get along with other women somehow to the fact that I lost my mother at a very young age, but the fact is that MOST women have a hard time getting along with other women. We are critical and competitive and that gets in the way of loving each other. Nevertheless, we all long for that bond. Admit it girls,we all want a BFF that we can sit on the phone with for hours and share our deepest darkest secrets with. Unfortunately, many of us have been hurt so much in the past when that friendship took a detour that we don't trust enough to open the door to that kind of love any more. UGH! Well, I can say that I shared my heart and soul with Penny and Evelyn...and yet they are still gone. What seems to be the problem here?

Jeremiah 17:5 "This is what the LORD says: "Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD."

Okay, so CURSED is a really strong word and that is the word that God uses when we put our trust in man! It certainly can feel like a curse when those friends and loved ones do something that betrays that trust or like in my case, when they move or die. That's what most of 2010 turned into for me...a curse...or at least that's what Satan convinced me was happening. Most everything that I did in 2010 was an effort to numb the pain of loneliness and sorrow. When the year added more financial stress to the mix, I had all the ingredients for a TOTALLY unproductive year. :( I became so focused on my hurt and loss and lack of money that I couldn't possibly see God working for my good through it all. But He was. He is. He always will be.

Let me go back just a little bit....I'm not saying that friends are a curse, after all, the Ecclesiastes 4:-12 states:

"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken."

BUT, alone was what my heart decided was best for me last year. My defenses went up and I isolated myself because of the hurts I was trying to deal with. Just like Ecclesiastes warns, isolation was the true curse. The more isolated I felt, the farther away from God I drew and the uglier/colder I got. But God loves me too much to leave me here! PRAISE THE LORD!

Hello blog...i've been a bad friend!

So, one thing this blog has shown me is that I have NO self-discipline and NOW it's in print for the whole world to read! I laughed when I read over my posts from last year about posting often and sharing my thoughts with the world...I made it to January 19th! HAHAHAHAHA!

To be honest though, 2010 was a year that most of the world would not really want to know my thoughts. I think it was one of the roughest years I have faced in my lifetime. Nothing truly traumatic happened, but something with my spirit man shifted and my foundation of faith just wasn't as strong. I think I've been going through the motions for the past several months, too afraid to feel anything, or do anything.

SO, at the beginning of this new year, when the world and all of it's media outlets cause us to reminisce I am being forced to look back at last year and ask myself, "what exactly did you do with that whole year again?". This self questioning has caused me to realize something...Ummmm....that's not a question I EVER want God to ask me!!!!

Having said all of that, I am quietly making some changes in my heart to do more this year with the time that God has given me. I'm not one to make New Years resolutions, because (as seen through this blog) I have no self-discipline and can't keep the resolution! So this is not a new year resolution...this is a life resolution. I already know that I will have many temptations and set-backs, because Satan HATES life resolutions. I have been thinking over this post since yesterday morning and JUST YESTERDAY I had a trial thrown into my path with some people that I have had a HARD time loving over the past year...so this road will not be easy.

I had a thought in the car yesterday about Heaven...do you think Heaven has a new years eve celebration with fireworks? I'm CERTAIN that they do not since the passing of time is something that we only feel on this broken planet we live on. The Bible does tell us that the Heavens celebrate each time one of God's children comes to know Him! So, instead of living from year to year and reflecting on what I've done in each year, I'm going to start living from person to person and stop and ask myself each time I meet someone "what exactly will you do in the life of this person?". I think THAT will be the way God measures us when we finally do meet Him face to face. It won't be by the year and how much good or bad we did in the time we were given...it will be by the person. How many people that I have contact with will cause a celebration in Heaven?

SO, please pray with me and for me about the people that God entrusts me with...and to be quite honest...pray for those people too cause I can be kind of hard to handle some times. :) LOL!

Coming up in my next post...I will reflect on what happened in 2010 just so that I can get it down on "paper". God was still working in my life...even though I was too afraid to acknowledge Him.