Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Good Neighbor Day

May 22nd is Good Neighbor Day. I'm not even kidding. I came across it in an old scrapbook magazine last year.

When I saw it on the calendar I thought it would be fun to have the people next door over for a cookout. And maybe the people behind me, too. They're nice enough. While I was mulling this over, Sunday rolled around and Pastor Guy's sermon was on "Love Your Neighbor". He talked about our neighbors being anyone we come in contact with. Are we sharing the love of Christ simply through our day to day interactions?

I realized that after 5 years I still only knew the names of a few neighbors and Good Neighbor Day took on new life. I ended up inviting 14 families, only a few of which I already knew, to a dessert party in my backyard. Even though I knew all along that this was God's idea, when it started to sprinkle an hour before the party I was in a panic. Then, 15 minutes before showtime, the clouds broke and the sun came out. And I heard God scold me and remind me that if it was His idea in the first place it would work out. It worked out better than I could have imagined.

Older neighbors reconnected with friends they haven't seen since their kids grew up and moved away. The new generation of neighbors got to put names with faces and wonder what it is like to live in the same house for 50 years. We had 40 people in the backyard making small talk, kids swinging and playing kickball, and laughter til it was truly dark out.

 Last week one of my neighbors hollered over the fence, "When are we doing that neighbor night again?" The invitations are out now. So, what are you waiting for? You have three weeks to make a cake and invite some people that you don't know to hang out. And when they compliment you on a great idea, tell them it was truly a God-thing. You never know where a conversation might lead.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Me First

God spoke to me in a big way this week, and it wasn't about how cool I am or how much He loves me this time. It was about my selfish nature and what I could change to strengthen my marriage. For years, I have let Connor go lay down with Daddy at bedtime so I could get some quiet time. Then I put Connor is his own bed, 3 or 4 times during the night, giving up around 3am so I can get some sleep. This week, God showed me that I am not serving anyone but myself with this laziness. Bite the bullet, get the boy in his own bed right away, get my stuff done during nap time, and give my husband that time of companionship and attention. Satan is listening too when God speaks. Now that I have resolved to get more organized so I can do my crafts or cleaning during nap time, Justin is wanting to give up his nap. In the time it took me to write this much, I have had to put him back in his crib three times. Part of me says, Fine, I'll do my cards after bedtime. I can't be expected to not have my own time and if it comes after bedtime at the expense of being obedient, oh well. (Read: me, me, me.)The other part says be obedient to what I know God told me. Everyday we are given opportunities to die to our own selfish nature and put someone else first. "Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves." Philippians 2:3

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Organized Chaos

I am a notorious corner stacker. My ex-husband told me once that he was going to buy me a round house so I would have no corners to stack stuff in. To me, as long as papers, books, magazines, bills, whatever, are stacked neatly, or sort of neatly, in the corner, it's clean. Organized, even. But when those precariously leaning towers start to slide out from under themselves, it's time to do something. Luckily that only rolls around every six months or so. Today was the day. I noticed that the one neat pile in the corner of my dresser had turned into three piles all the way across the front. I could no longer lay in bed and watch TV in the mirror. Couldn't see it any more. And that the one corner of stuff on the kitchen counter had somehow spread to three other corners. So, I did it. I got out the garbage can and started sorting. Did you know that if you ignore something with a date on it long enough eventually you can just get rid of it? I seem to need permission like that to throw something away. Two hours later my corners are empty. My dresser is dusted. My kitchen is shining. Victory is mine! For today. Until a new round of junk mail with flyers I might want to look at shows up tomorrow.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Oil the Horns, Sisters

I attended the SHAPE class this morning and learned so much about myself and others. Those of you who know me are probably thinking, "Blah, blah, blah, here she goes again." But seriously, it was very cool. Did you know there are over 18,000 personality traits, 12 spiritual gifts, and 4 primary ways of approaching life, not to mention everybody's various life experiences that make up a body of believers? That is a lot to bring to the table. It is a buffet of conflict, misunderstanding, and hurt feelings waiting to happen. Sometimes it does. I see things my way. You see things your way. Interflock friction, to use Renee Swope's term, will occur. At the retreat, she presented a devotional on Psalm 23, The Lord as Our Shepherd. "You anoint my head with oil" refers to putting oil on the ram's horns so when they fight and butt heads, their horns slide apart. I love that! So, when we are all bringing our different God-given talents, gifts, and experiences to the table, remember that when it is all said and done we need to be glorifying Him, not ourselves. "Let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God's righteousness." James 1:19.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

He Listens

I don't know about you, but sometimes the world's view of love is all I see. You gotta earn it. It is a growing thing to realize that I have a Savior who won't love me more, better, or differently depending on what I do. Lately the focus of prayer for me has been to feel more of God's love, and less of what I need to do to earn it. Probably because I still see myself with all the "soul scars" as Pastor Guy refers to sins we still carry even though they have been forgiven, I need to be reassured that God does indeed love me. I was praying intently to that end after a long day, and God answered my prayer through a dream. I dreamt that I was wandering around the hotel that I used to work at and people were looking at me like I didn't belong there. Someone handed me a card that said "You are not the same anymore. Hebrews 2:6". I remembered the dream vividly when I woke up and looked up Hebrews 2:6. It says "But someone has testified somewhere, What are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals, that you care for them?" Wow. How awesome of God to have concern for a sinner like me in need of a little hand holding. "I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my supplications. Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live." Psalm 116:1-2

Monday, April 14, 2008

Be Here, Now

I have a magnet on my fridge that says "Begin each day as if it were on purpose." Today was not one of those days. I didn't wake up before my kids and get my Bible readin' quiet time in. I didn't get breakfast made before Justin started scaling the pantry shelves in search of food. I didn't make it to the shower before the phone started ringing and friends started dropping by. So, at about 11:00 am, I decided it was time to put on clean sweat pants, fluff yesterday's hair, put on some make-up, and get the day started. When I find that my wheels are spinning and life seems to be happening before I'm ready for it, I tell myself to "Be here now." I know it sounds silly, but it helps me to focus and stop looking backward at what I didn't get done and stop looking ahead at what I hope I can still accomplish. Sometimes I just need to look around and be here, now, before I can go anywhere else. "Today is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118:24

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Circle of Friend

No, that's not a typo. That's how my daughter used to refer to my social circle. It included my sister. Period. I had work acquaintences and that was about it. Now, for almost the first time in my life, I have friends. Not that I'm not funny or friendly, because I am. I just wasn't intentional about having friends. I never took the time to develop that casual, "Hey, aren't you so-and-so's mom" into an actual friendship. I don't think it is a coincidence that this most "friendshippy" time in my life came after I made peace with the past and let the light and love of Christ into my heart. I just didn't really like myself enough to believe that anyone else could like me. Don't be sad though. I had to let the Lord do some serious work in my heart before anyone could get in. Slowly, He sent friends alongside me to encourage the changes we (me and God!) were making. I am at a time in my life that is probably the most fun I've ever had. I have friends to laugh with, rummage and craft with, and share God's Word with. And now God is using me to come alongside others who are ready to grow. It just doesn't get any better than that! "Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but woe to the one who falls without another to lift him up." Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 p.s. If you are in a bit of a dry spell as far as friends go right now, don't despair. Maybe God is working out something in your life that is best done alone, for a time. Pray about it. He knows what you need. Or maybe you just haven't gotten out in a while and don't know where to start. Reaching out and connecting is what works best for me. Sign up for Bible study or start volunteering somewhere. Have a Good Neighbor Day party. Seriously, it's May 22nd.Talk to everyone who walks their dog or baby past your house. 99 of them will think you are friendly but nuts, but when that one walks by and knows the rest of the joke to "Now you're gonna have pinkeye" it's great.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Oil Changes

Bible study this week promises to be lively. We are talking about sex and intimacy. Did you know that as married people we are actually commanded to have sex? Not just the go forth and multiply part, but to enjoy it. God created us with quite, shall I say, strategically placed nerves to make sure that urge to multiply was motivated by more than survival of mankind. Sometimes, though, life just gets in the way. Too tired, sick kids, wait til I lose ten pounds please, the list of excuses goes on and on. When God gives us a command, though, He doesn't tell us to wait until we are in the mood to do it. He doesn't say pray when you feel like it. He doesn't say tithe when it's convenient. But every act of obedience that He asks of us is repaid with blessings beyond measure. So, here goes, here's my thought: maybe we should schedule sex instead waiting until the spirit moves us. I know the blessings of feeling closer overall, having more patience for one another, and feeling more united as a team will follow. We have that saying that we can't outgive God. Maybe it's time to put that one to the test. It may not sound romantic at first, scheduling sex like a maintenance program for your car (and hopefully more often than every three months or 3,000 miles!), but it might get the ball rolling. "This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh. Both the man and his wife were naked, yet felt no shame." Genesis 2:24-25

Saturday, April 5, 2008


Connor is going to be five years old in a few weeks. If you saw my video, he is the crying baby I referred to. He still is the crying baby, but in a high-strung, anxiety attack waiting to happen sort of way. When I came home from the Women's Retreat he said he was glad I was home because he's a momma's boy. Now I wonder which of his older siblings told him that. He whistles all the time, which is impressive for a four year old. But the reason he does it makes me sad. He whistles so nothing scary can get to him. He also shouts when he is in a room by himself for the same reason. He is scaring stuff away. His quirks have made me think about my own defense mechanisms, what they are and what they should be.
When I am nervous or unsure, I try to micro-manage the situation. (Read: control freak) If I am nervous about the path one of my older children is on, I try to get them to spend every minute with me. That way I know they are not getting into trouble. I know the better way would be to pray for them and turn it over to God. If I am upset with the way something in my own life is going, I stew over it. Which, apparently, is not the same as meditating. For some reason, Connor's tricks brought to mind the scriptures that tell us to write God's word upon our hearts so we can draw upon them all the time. "Make me to know your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation." Psalm 25:4-5

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Stir It Up! (Rekindling the Fire for God!)

Yesterday I shared the signs that your fire for God was cooling off that I learned on In Touch with Dr. Charles Stanley. But not to leave you in your wilderness, here is the list of how to get that fire started again:
1. Recognize what is happening in your heart.
2. Recall your life when you were on fire for God. What was it like when you only wanted to sing His praise and tell of the wonders you saw in your own life?
3. Repent: This can be a tough pill to swallow, but sin is anything that separates us from God. Repent of not praying as you ought to, misspending His money, following temptations; only you know what has come between the two of you.
4. Refocus your attention on God, not on the difficulties you are facing or temptations in life.
5. Read the Word of God daily: Ask God to speak to your heart as you read. Remember: what wood is to the fireplace the Bible is to Christian life.
6. Seek the face of God in prayer: Skip the "gimme" prayers and sincerely ask to hear from God, ask for relationship with Him.
7. Get involved in the lives of others. Pour yourself into someone else's life; selfishness is not of God.
8. Persevere: Be absorbed in your quest for relationship with God. Life throws a lot at us to distract us from looking for God. Don't fall prey.
9. Rely upon the Holy Spirit to enable you. Don't try to get right with God under your own power, because you will be denying the help of the One who wants you back.

Dr. Stanley based his sermon on the letters of Paul to Timothy to encourage him to burn brightly for God. Can you imagine what the world would be like if we all let our light shine so that when people look at us, they can't deny the power and love of God? "Rely on the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace." 2 Timothy 1:8-9

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Cooling Off (When the Fire for God is Going Out)

After a mountain top experience like Easter, I found myself curiously "cool" last week. Once I was done talking about myself in the "Easter blogs", I was feeling kind of empty.( That should have been a clue right there: me, me, me). I know I'm am trying to fill a hole when I start organizing and redecorating everything. The key word there is "start" because I move onto something else before getting the first job done to completion. After a few false starts, I am getting intuitive enough to look inside and see what needs fixing. Since becoming a Christian, I take this empty place to the Lord and ask Him to fill it. This week on In Touch with Dr. Charles Stanley he preached on recognizing when the fire is going out and how to relight it. Here is his list of things that could be a signal that your flame and passion for God is flickering:
1. Neglecting the Word of God: If you are too busy to read the Word and hear what God wants to say to you, then you are too busy.
2. Prayer Life Changes: The words are going out but not getting anywhere.
3. Church Attendance Changes
4. Only Give Occasionally: Remember: that blessing of money did not come from HR but from God.
5. Begin to Compromise Standards and Belief System: Rationalizing things the world does as ok.
6. Defensive About Lifestyle
7. Begin to Lose Joy: replaced by worry, doubt, and fear, which do not come from God
8. Cease to Pay Attention to the Prompting of the Holy Spirit
After hearing his list, I knew I was having trouble with #1, #2, and #7, which came directly as a result of 1 & 2. I let the busyness of a vacation week get in the way of my normal routine and it left me empty. Tomorrow I will share his list of how to rekindle the flame. In the meantime, does anything on the list strike a chord within you? Ask God to show you how to get back to your first love, Him. "May the God of Hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him." Romans 15:13