Sunday, March 30, 2008

Second Guessing

I had to buy new make-up because I was down to just a little bit of foundation left in the bottle. I never seem to buy the same shade or brand twice, because I'm always convinced something else might be better. But then, when I have the new stuff, I hang to the old bottle just in case I don't like the new stuff. It dawned on me as I was looking at my make-up graveyard that my spiritual walk is like that, too, sometimes. I trust that the "new stuff" God wants me to have in my life is definitely better than the old stuff I hang onto, but old habits die hard. I know I'm supposed be kind and forgiving, but sometimes that snippy retort comes flying out before I even realize it was in my mind. So, I reach down deep and apologize, knowing I was wrong, and try to be kind-hearted, even though I don't feel like it. But, like I've been trying to explain to my four year old, obedience is doing something whether or not you feel like it because you were told to do it. So I will throw out the graveyard of "just in case" make-up, and trust in God. I will stop reaching into the shallow pool of my own strength and rely on God to set me on the right path. "He replied, 'Things that are impossible by human resources are possible for God." Luke 18:27 Amen to that!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

What I Learned (Easter pt.3)

I'm a big fan of the saying "God's timing is perfect" because it sort of takes the pressure off of me feeling I have to get everything done myself. When I start feeling like if I could just do a little better or try a little harder, things will work the way I want, I remind myself of this saying. It is my job to worship God and let Him work out the details. As I've been reading in my journal and back through my blog, a few things have stood out.
1. I needed to stop waving Romans 8:28 in God's face. In my journal on March 2nd, I told Him that I know He is the God Who Heals and that I know He is the Potter. He can use whatever He wants in my life to glorify Him, even if we have different ideas of what that should be.
2. Re-reading Backseat Drivers (blog post in February), I can see that God was instructing me to wait for Him and stop trying to go places I wasn't ready to go.
3. I can't imagine big enough all the things God wants to use each of us for. How amazing that the God of the Universe wants to use me at all."Now to him by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be the glory." Ephesians 3:20-21
My biggest take-away is this: I think God is giving me something to do for Him because it will help others, when in fact it takes my faith and trust in Him to a whole new level. He knows me. He sees me. He loves me. Wow!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Decisions, decisions...(Easter pt.2)

For anyone who is not aware, I was given a huge opportunity to touch a lot of people's lives. Before I accepted it, I had to make sure that this was in line with what God's plan was and really examine my own motives before agreeing to share my Life Change story for the Easter service. I have to be honest and say my mouth is still hanging open with shock that this all happened in the first place. Each year, Pastor Guy extends an invitation to share our stories of coming to Christ. Last year the Women's Retreat was such a catalyst of change for me that I wrote him my story as soon as I got home. This year I wrote an updated version to let him know how God has impacted my life over this past year. I had a message a few weeks ago from Pastor Guy thanking me for my stories and asking if I would be willing to share last year's story. Before I called him back, I went to the Lord in prayer. I did not want to share my story of sexual abuse because I need a pat on the head or someone to feel sorry for me. I wanted to share because I know the pit of shame that the Lord has rescued me from and I know I'm not the only one who could use some rescuing. I opened my FRCC journal to do the daily reading and it was 2 Corinthians 1. Verse 2 says: Blessed be God, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in affliction as God has consoled us. Wow! I felt like God Himself was telling me to do this for Him. My second confirmation for doing this was because of our Woman at the Well devotional at this year's retreat. We were asked to consider if we believe that God is big enough to meet our every need. My answer was absolutely, and that's the scary part. Letting go of control so He can take me where He needs me to be. If I let Him have control, my life could turn upside-down. When I used those exact words while telling a friend what was going on, I realized that I was taking a huge step in letting God take me to the scary places that only He can see us through. This weekend has had such an impact on me, which I will share more on tomorrow. p.s. If you didn't get to the retreat, Renee Swope is doing the devotional on her blog, the Journey of My Heart, which you can link to off the bottom of my page.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

He Did It!! (Easter, pt.1)

One Pure and Holy Passion
By Mark Altrogge

Give me one pure and holy passion,
give me one magnificent obsession,
give me one glorious ambition for my life,
to know and follow hard after You.

To know and follow hard after You,
to grow as Your disciple in Your truth.
This world is empty, pale and poor
compared to knowing You, my Lord.

Lead me on and I will run after You;
Lead me on and I will run after You

These are the words to a song I learned last year at the Women's Retreat that now hang on my fridge. Sometimes following after God leads you to scary places that you know you can't handle without His help. Like agreeing to video your story for 4,000 of your closest friends to watch during the Easter services. I made the decision to do this based on 2 things: a scripture God gave me when I was praying for His guidance, and a mini-study on the Woman At the Well, both of which I will share tomorrow. Right now I have to go wipe chocolate off my kids' faces and get ready for church. Happy Resurrection Sunday! Our God has conquered the grave and through Him nothing is impossible!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Idol Worship

Today is Good Friday. This is the day of the most supreme sacrifice ever, when God accepted His Only Son as payment for our sins, of which mine are many. I am feeling convicted of an odd one right now. God told us to have no idols before Him, an idol being anything that we worship more than God. But what happens when wanting to worship Him becomes the idol? It has been my prayer that God set me on fire for His Word, that I thirst for it like needing water in a desert, like Psalm 63 says. He has answered that prayer in a big way. All I want to do is soak up His teachings, whether through the Bible, worship music, watching old Billy Graham crusades on TBN, whatever is available at that minute. But somehow I feel like I'm missing the point if I am getting frustrated with God-given circumstances that won't allow me to worship how I would like. I know the promises of the scriptures well enough to quote them, but are they seeping deep into my spirit to affect the way I act? Colossians 3:17 reminds me to do whatever I do in word or in deed in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to the Father through Him. Psalm 139:1-2 tells me that the Lord has searched me and knows me, He discerns my thoughts from far away. He knows that I want to spend my day, physically, at His feet, learning and praising Him but that this life He has given me has other plans for me most of the time. The scripture that is really speaking to me right now is actually our memory verse from Bible study, which today has a totally different meaning than it did last week. Once again, evidence that God's word is living and active. "Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship." Romans 12:1

Monday, March 17, 2008

If You Don't Have Anything Nice To Say...

Our spring Bible study is underway. Our group is doing "For Women Only" which is an insightful study into the minds of our men and how to apply that knowledge biblically. The lesson this week was based on Ephesians 5:22 which says wives, respect your husbands. Husbands, love your wives. Each week also comes with a challenge. This week we were to not say anything disrespectul to or about our husbands. Since I fall under the category of control freak, it is hard not to question someone's judgment or come up with a "better" solution. I knew that if I succeeded this week, it would only happen with God's help. I am sincere in wanting a better relationship with my husband, and since God knows best, I figured I'd give His way a try. With the exception of one slip-up when my husband came at the kitchen sink with a caulk gun, I did pretty good. By the end of the week I was not even biting the insides of my cheeks bloody. According to our study, the cycle goes like this: when the man feels respected, he shows more love. When the woman feels loved, she shows more respect. Or, the cycle can go like this: feeling disrespected leads to not showing love which leads to acting disrespectful which leads to not showing love. I did not tell my husband that I was trying not to say anything disrespectful, but my actions had results. We actually talked a lot. He would come looking for me to tell me stuff. We even made a family trip to the store and out to eat, instead of spending the weekend in different rooms. Actions speak louder than words, but sometimes no words speak loudest of all. Next week's challenge is to find something good, praiseworthy, honorable, or likeable about him each day and tell him. Shouldn't be too hard. I am married to a really good guy.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Singing Rocks

Today is Palm Sunday morning and I have one of my favorite songs stuck in my head but I don't know the name of it or who sings it.

 Sorry about that.

The refrain says,'I praise Your Name above all nations, I praise Your Name above the earth... And the rocks will not cry out before me.' It is a reference to Jesus riding into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. His disciples were cheering and praising God joyfully, shouting "Hosanna, Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord."

 The Pharisees were not impressed and told Jesus "Teacher, order your disciples to stop." Jesus answered that if they fell silent, the stones would shout out.

Amen! Don't give the rocks a chance to shout God's glory before you do. Don't be afraid to open your mouth and share where your hope is from, especially during this Easter season. What an awesome opportunity to share what the Living, Resurrected Christ has meant in your life.

 If you aren't sure where to start, try reading my blog entry about evangelism and Winnie the Pooh. Just a fun read to help you find your voice.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Thanks, Ladies!

I just came home from a NEST meeting, where Bible study shepherds and facillitators go for training and encouragement. I wanted to take 5 minutes before I go work on my own homework and say how blessed I feel to be surrounded by such wonderful women. These ladies are excited about God and it shows. When I came to my first NEST meeting in September, I was wondering how (or if) I would fit in. That first day in a new school type of feeling. Without turning this into a Hallmark card, I just want to let each of you know how much I appreciate you all. Thank you to Kim for reading my blog and telling me, to Lynette for taking time to encourage me, to Kerry who really had the Spirit on her when we talked about our lesson this week, to Jill who jumped in to serve in the nursery tonight, to Shelley for the vision she makes us all so excited about, and everyone who offers advice and insight to help us lead our ladies. It is my prayer that God continue to bless each one of us as we lead our groups through the last study of the year. "For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them." Matthew 18:20

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Signs of the Times

There is a popular song that says that life is a highway. That is how I picture my life, with signs scattered along the way describing the journey. Once in a while I see the signs before I pass them, but usually I have to look in the rearview mirror before I notice them. Sometimes I see "Scenic Overlook" signs, when little snapshots of moments I will never forget seem to freeze in time, both good and bad. The first time I've held each of my children, the Twin Towers falling on 9/11, watching my gram take her last breath, all worthy of never forgetting. At a time in my life when I was on a bumpy road, I could see the "Wrong Way" and "Do Not Enter" signs all over the place, but I kept going for awhile until the "Dead End" and "Stop!" signs were getting to hard to ignore. I can see the "U-Turns Allowed" sign when I accepted Christ as my Savior and got on His path. When my anxieties are getting the best of me, I see the "Watch Out for Deer" signs. Sometimes I get so busy scanning the bushes for hidden dangers that I take my eyes off the road anyway. (Note to self: stop doing that!) Today a "Blind Curve Ahead" sign popped up in my rearview mirror of life. I was listening to the radio and heard Third Day singing, "Show me Your glory, I want to see Your face." I suddenly got that feeling like when you know you have done something really wrong and your parents are calling you. You wonder if they will be able to tell that you have been up to no good; the last thing you want to see is their face. That is the shameful, yucky feeling that washed over me when I thought about seeing the Savior face to face. I didn't see that emotion coming, hence the "Blind Curve Ahead" sign. I think my understanding of grace is moving to a new level. I will never be, could never be, good enough to deserve the gift our God has given us. However, I don't believe that the yucky, I need to hide feeling came from God. If Satan can get me to take my eyes off God and wallow in my own unworthiness, he wins. But I already know that Christ came into the world not to condemn, but to save. I see another sign on the road: "Rest Area Ahead." "Come to Me all who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

Saturday, March 8, 2008

What's for Dinner, Mom?

Being a mom of 5 kids ranging in age from 2 to 21, the answer to that question can either be met with Ugh!, Yum!, or a shrug of indifference. All of my kids don't still live at home, so when we all do get together I try to make it special. I was trying for awhile to have family dinner night every Wednesday, then it moved to Thursday, then one daughter left for college across the state, one son got a part-time job, and one daughter works til 8:30 every night. We'll try again for Mondays, maybe, because I want the little ones to know the big ones. In my first marriage, I was not the cook of the family. When the marriage ended, we ate a lot of French toast and beef stew. If it went in the crockpot, I could do it. Now I am a stay-at-home mom and I've learned to really enjoy cooking. Just not making dinner everyday.(Refer to the List of 39 Things About Me blog!) Here is the best spaghetti sauce recipe ever. You can cook it on the stove if you are home to stir it every once in a while, or I like to throw it in the crockpot on low for the day. (My ex-husband's Italian great-grandpa is probably rolling over in his grave right now!)
Meatballs: 2-3 lbs. ground chuck, 3 eggs, 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup unflavored bread crumbs, salt and pepper, 2 tsp. garlic powder, 2 Tbls. chopped fresh parsley. Mix in bowl, make meatballs, and brown in vegetable oil in Dutch oven, adding crushed red pepper in oil while browning. Add some Italian sausage links to pan too if you like. Remove all meat from pan, pour out oil, but don't wash the pan. Make the sauce right in here. You could also cook meatballs in the oven at 325 for 30 minutes and add them to the sauce.
Sauce:16 oz. can crushed or diced tomatoes, 12 oz. can tomato sauce, 6 oz. can tomato paste, 2 cups water (more as needed), 1 bay leaf, pinch of pickling spice (secret ingredient), crushed red pepper-optional. Combine all ingredients in meatball pan, bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer for 2 hours or so. If thicker sauce is desired, double tomatoes and omit sauce. Serve over a thick hearty pasta, like Kluski noodles. Or make your own, not that I've ever done that :) This recipe doubles or triples well so you can freeze it for later in the week. Enjoy! Let me know if you try it and what you think. Don't be confused by a spaghetti recipe without oregano or basil; it's from a different region of Italy.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Living Word

The Bible is "living and active, sharper than any two edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart." Hebrews 4:12. There are a few promises in scriptures that I hold onto, like Romans 8:28 promising that God will use all things together for good for those who love Him, and Hebrews 11:6, which reminds that we must first believe that God is who He says He is and that He rewards those who seek him. Another one that I've been leaning on is of a different nature, reminding us that God is in control. Exodus 7:3 tells us that God hardened Pharaoh's heart for the reason of multiplying His signs and wonders in the land of Egypt. (History lesson: Israel was still being held in slavery by Pharaoh. He wouldn't let them go, no matter what plague God threw at him.) If Pharaoh had freed the people when Moses first asked, the Israelites would have no examples of God's awesome power at work in their lives. They saw firsthand the wrath and mercy He was capable of.
Fast forward to 2008. People in my life sometimes appear to be hard-hearted. Being a Bible believing person, I pray and wait to see some signs and wonders multiplied as God works out His plan. I have trouble not butting in, though. As I've said before, waiting patiently is not really my strength. The Holy Spirit is going to have real trouble getting a word in edge-wise while I'm lecturing on what love is according to 1st Corinthians. It was only later when I was replaying the conversation (confrontation) over in my mind did I really hear the Savior's voice reminding me that "Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful. It does not rejoice in wrongdoing,but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." So, once again, the living active sword of truth has seen my heart. Ouch.

Spring is Springing

Ok, so as much as I am a fan of spring and longer days and warm nights, I had to chase the first woodpecker of the year off my house. Apparently cedar siding is a delicacy.