Sunday, May 29, 2011
Saturday, May 28, 2011
Last weekend we celebrated family birthdays for five members. I love birthdays, so there were balloons, ice cream and at least 3 different desserts with candles to be blown out. And then, of course, our traditional rendition of Happy Birthday To You. Each family member sings their own rendition of the song as loud as they can and of course off key.
What do you think about celebrating birthdays? Do you still look forward to that day that is all yours? When you were a child did you count the days to your birthday, or as a teen until you could get your learners permit, or until you would at last be an adult? Can you remember a special gift you received that perhaps you only dreamed about? Do you look forward to birthdays with anticipation or with dread? Do you look upon a birthday as another year to serve others, another chance to do….. (?), another chance to live and love, a reminder of where you have been in life and that mountain still left to be climbed?
Birthdays usually don’t bother me. I look forward to a time of celebration with family. However when I turned 25… that was a hard one. Can’t exactly say why…was it because I was far from home…or that I had just become a mom for the second time…or husband in the field all the time? Twenty five was depressing. Or was it last year’s birthday, when I finally had to admit to myself that yes, I really was a senior citizen. You see my mind kept telling me that there were still childish delights there. So it really didn’t make any difference what my mind told me it was the year that told me. This left me depressed for about an hour!
Birthdays give us each a chance to live in the future and not dwell in the past. A chance to be a child again with all the adventure of what each new day can hold for us.
If I Had My Life To Live Over
If I had my life to live over, I would have talked less and listened more.
I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.
I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.
I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains.
I would have cried and laughed less while watching television-and more while watching life.
I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren’t there for the day.
Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I’d have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.
When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, “Later. Now go get washed up for dinner.”
There would have been more “I love you’s”…More “I’m sorrys”…
But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute…look at it and really see it…live it…and never give it back. (Adapted from writings of Erma Bombeck)
A birthday is a time to be thankful for another year God has given you, so enjoy your day and be a child. Don’t live a life of regrets and wish I had. Live each day God has given you to the fullest and do take time to smell the roses. Just some thoughts on life.
A birthday is a time to be thankful for another year God has given you, so enjoy your day and be a child. Don’t live a life of regrets and wish I had. Live each day God has given you to the fullest and do take time to smell the roses. Just some thoughts on life.
Friday, May 27, 2011
“What is your mission statement?” Pastor Steve asked last Sunday. These words have been sitting uneasily on my heart ever since. Have they affected you the same way?
I remember when mission statements became the rave in the 90s. Heated meetings were held in corporate board rooms across the country in an effort to “hammer out a mission statement”. At the time, I thought the whole thing was a lot of hype, a passing phase, like “paradigm shifts” and “diversity training”. But now, I can see the point. Having a mission statement unifies workers. It defines the group’s purpose and serves as the force behind each action and decision. Fulfilling the mission is top priority.
Here are a few mission statements of well known corporations. See if you can match them up:
A. Mary Kay 1. to make people happy.
B. MacDonald’s 2. to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
C. Walt Disney 3. to give ordinary folk the chance to buy the same thing as rich people.
D. Google 4. to give unlimited opportunity to women
E. Wal Mart 5. to be the world’s best quick service restaurant experience.
The disciple Andrew had a mission: “bring people to Jesus”. He invited friends to get to know his Savior and when they did, they were converted. To know Jesus is to love Him, right? “So what is your mission?” Steve asked. Oooh. His question forced me to stop and examine my motives. What IS my mission? What drives my actions and decisions? What (honestly, now…) is my first priority?? The answer I got was not pretty. In fact, it really stunk. Lately, my focus (and even my prayers) has been about my comfort, convenience, safety, time management, cooperative weather, etc. It seems my mission statement is more: “to keep my agenda”, than to: “bring Jesus to people.” Ouch.
I have to tell you something I noticed about Pastor Steve long ago. (And it is why I found his self-inquiry on Sunday so ironic.) For years, my husband has been a reluctant, infrequent attendee at GLCC. He joins us for service twice a year and in the past, for a few EOY AWANA ceremonies. At church, he feels awkward, alone, and very out-of-place. In fact, he can’t wait to get out our doors! But when he comes, Pastor Steve will often greet him with a warm smile, handshake, and casual talk. In fact, I’ve actually seen him weave through a crowded room, away from the snack table and past familiar friends in order to do this very thing. It brings a golf-ball lump to my throat every time I see it happen! And it says more to my husband about Jesus than anything else ever could! What impact such a simple act has had! No, Steve has not forgotten the mission.
I think Jesus wants us to remember the mission too. We are to keep our eyes trained on His work, and not be sidetracked by the things of this world (like my agenda, for example). As Christians, we have been commissioned like Andrew: bring people to Jesus/bring Jesus to people. It’s not just a pastor’s job, it’s my job too.
God is showing me my misplaced priorities. And yes, the truth hurts. But I’m learning. Join me as I try to live out His mission: bring Jesus to the world - one smile, one handshake, one prayer at a time. It really does make a difference.
Answer: A-4, B-5, C-1, D-2, E-3
Thursday, May 26, 2011
A few weeks ago, I was watching a television special involving several female country singers. As they announced the artists, it was “Carrie Underwood… Miranda Lambert… Martina McBride… and Reba! Just “Reba,” no last name. I got a kick out of that because Reba’s my favorite, and that just meant she was the best and so awesome she didn’t even need a last name for everyone to know who she was. After a few moments of congratulating myself for being so great at picking favorite singers, I began to wonder if they’d have used her last name if her first name was something more common. Mary McEntire! I began to think about it and I discovered a trend – most people who are famous enough to be known by only one name have weird or unique names: Reba, Cher, Wynonna, Oprah, Shaq, Elvis… Janda.
Normally, that’s where my thought process would’ve ended, but ever since I began contributing to this blog, my mind keeps looking for little ways to make connections between the everyday world and the spiritual life. (Some of those connections are better than others – I nixed the idea about God viewing us as the chocolate chips in a cookie.) Anywho, I’m sure you’re a step ahead of me already, but the obvious connection here is that God knows your name. Even better, He knows you by your first name!
Imagine God and Jesus having the following conversation:
“Wait, which one’s Jane? Is she the one with short blonde hair?”
“No, that’s Joan. Jane’s the one with long brown hair. She usually sits in the 3rd row on the right side.”
“Oh yeah, she’s got 2 little boys, right?”
“No. Well, yeah, there is a Jane with 2 boys, but that’s not this Jane.”
Not going to happen! I have that conversation on a weekly basis, but God knows exactly who we are… no checking a handy little notebook or pulling up a computer spreadsheet (Hmm, let’s see… James, Jan, ah Janda, here it is… let’s see… brown hair, freckles, slight problem with patience, kind of sarcastic… yeah now I remember her).
I missed church a couple weeks ago, but I was told Pastor Bob preached about Hagar. I don’t know what his topic was so maybe he said what I’m about to say, but oh well. Hagar’s one of my favorite stories in the Bible because the first time it was taught to me, the main point was that God called her name. She was a lowly servant, kicked out of her home, humble and alone. She must’ve felt like she was an absolute nobody, but then God, the creator of the universe, the giver of life, the most famous and awesome one-named-person in the world called out to her and knew her name. That’s how important and special she was to Him.
And that’s how important and special YOU are to Him. (“Not a sermon, just a thought.”)
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Love this picture of Heidi! What a fun lady she is:)
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
If Arnold Schwarzenegger showed up at GLCC this Sunday, how would we respond? Would we tell him that God still loves him and wants to restore him and have relationship with him? Would we invite him to Soul Restoration where he could begin to learn about choosing life? Would we come alongside him and walk with him through the fire of his journey. Would we tell him that Christ died to take away his guilt and shame so that he might have abundant life?
Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way condoning his choices; I am sickened by them. I do however think that we, myself included, forget sometimes that celebrities are people just like us. People who make very bad choices sometimes. People who need Jesus. People who need prayer. I don’t know about you, but I’m very thankful that all of my uber-bad choices don’t make the six o’clock news and I’m thankful that I’m surrounded by people who show me grace, point me to Christ, and lift me up in prayer.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Carrots, Eggs, or Coffee Beans?
A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose.
Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs and the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word.
In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.
Turning to her daughter, she asked, "Tell me what do you see?"
"Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied.
The mother brought the daughter closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked her to to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, the mother asked her to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled, as she tasted its rich aroma.
The daughter then asked. "What does it mean, mother?"
Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity—boiling water—but each reacted differently.
The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak.
The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.
The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water they had changed the water.
"Which are you?" she asked her daughter. "When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?"
Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?
Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after death, a breakup, a layoff, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?
Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor.
If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest, your worship elevates to another level.
How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Friday, May 20, 2011
Don’t you just love Spring? I get a fresh chance to start again. My Spring cleaning happens each year with the finishing up of obligations. Then I can deep clean MY HOUSE that somehow or other has gotten out of control! I mean the dirt and dust that has accumulated over the busy winter months. All of those deep cleaning jobs that I have put off. All of those piles of junk that get moved from one spot to another. Recipes I have torn out to make some day, magazines never read, expired coupons, ideas on how to organize, books I will read some day, etc. I have baseboards that never seem to stay dirt-free, nasty spots on rugs that just won’t go away, clothes to organize, rooms that need some deep cleaning. All of this makes my head spin. I promised myself that I will accomplish all of this in a timely manner.
As I look around my house, this just seems like a task that I will not be able to accomplish in a short time. As I sit here in my mess a thought begins to form. Aha, it’s a jingle. I begin to sing it:
“Mr. Clean…gets rid of grease and grime in just a minute. Mr. Clean can clean your whole house and everything in it…."
He can clean it in just a minute. He can clean anything in it.
Wow, that’s for me….he can clean anything in just a minute? Really! Where is he? I search…not in my house…I go to the store looking for what that jingle promises. I need Mr. Clean NOW to help with all of this. Of course the commercial is false…a lie…I bought and I tried and it just didn’t work. How about you? Have you tried false products that just do not live up to their hype?
In the process of this house cleaning madness HIS SPIRIT begins to form a thought in my mind. What about my “spiritual house”? What in my spiritual house needs the help?
Is it the dust of laziness or indifference that has covered my soul?
The gooey mess of bitterness?
Yes, my spiritual house also needs a “spring cleaning”. I need to go to the Master cleaner of MY SOUL. My spiritual house can become unkempt if I do not get rid of sin that I have allowed to grow unchecked.
I need the help of the Master cleaner to spring clean my soul. To rid my house of the laziness of omitting my quiet time, of getting rid of the lie I tell myself that I will have time after I do……(fill in the blank or blanks). This cover-up produces guilt and changes my relationship with Christ. My tank has not been nourished. I feel like something is missing so I add more to my to-do list to fill the emptiness.
Or the “gooey mess of bitterness” also needs to be cleaned. Just like baked-on spills in the oven or stove top. When left unattended it becomes a hard, burnt-on ugly mess. You can’t cover it up and, when left unattended and the oven is turned up a bad, smell or even smoke is produced. This smell can permeate your house and spread to others.
What good does it do me to have a bright and shiny house when the inside is dull, messy, sticky mess? Spiritual grime may be painful but if it is not removed it erodes the Word of God in my life.
1 John 1:8 – “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”
I have lots of cleaning chores to do in my spiritual house but I have only tackled two so far. How about you? What needs cleaning in your house? Where do you need the help of the Masters Hand?
Psalm 51:7 – “Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean. Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.”
What a promise!
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Romans 3:22 “Righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.”
I can count on my fingers the number of times God has spoken to me. Now, I realize (as Pastor Bob preached) that we encounter God often - in His word, through others, in the details of every day life, and by the Holy Spirit’s revelation (when we are attentive). But what I refer to here is something different. I am talking about God’s clear, incisive voice spoken directly to the heart. There is nothing lost in translation. It interrupts erroneous thoughts, and hits its mark bulls eye. It meets us exactly where we are, stops us in our tracks, and we are changed forever by it.
This morning, I recalled one of those such times. I was a new Christian, with a 3 year old daughter. Although I was a believer, I knew almost nothing about the Savior I trusted. My church background was rule-based and spotty (at best), so I was starved for biblical nourishment and Christian fellowship. A preschool mom had told me about AWANA at her little “country church”. “Come on down”, she said, “You’ll love it!” I jumped at this, knowing that it was just what my daughter (and I) desperately needed. Maybe I could learn something too? Perhaps I could even answer some of her questions one day!
So faithfully every Sunday evening, we came to AWANA. And we studied the simple verses together. During the meetings, I would wait in the car with my windows rolled down and take in the beautiful praise music that wafted across the parking lot. Oh, how I longed to join this amazing group of godly people! But deep down, I felt inadequate. These people carried well worn Bibles, and practically glowed with goodness! Who did I think I was to count myself among them? After all, my entire knowledge of the Bible consisted of 5-word verses printed up for a 3 year old.
Here I was one evening, sitting in my car. I cried as I listened to the magnificent lyrics of a hymn I’d never heard before, “How Great Thou Art”. Again I felt the tug at my heart to go join the service. If I could become a fly, I’d have buzzed in a side door and landed on the wall! I prayed, “Jesus, I am not fit to be among these righteous people. I have done terrible things. I know nothing about your Book. I am not worthy.” STOP. My thoughts were interrupted! Jesus spoke to me. His words were some I’ll never forget: It is I who makes you worthy. I knew immediately that this was from above. It was perfect truth, and there was no arguing it. I lifted my chin and puffy eyes (remember the hymn?), and walked right in through the front doors.
A lot has changed since then. That little “country church” is now a sprawling building on Linton Hall road! And as a Sunday school teacher, I find myself answering kid’s questions all morning long (imagine that!) Every week I enter its doors, with my head held high, knowing the truth that changed me forever. None of us are worthy to enter into God’s presence. Jesus alone makes us worthy. Not the Bible verses we can quote, or the deeds we’ve done/not done, or the hymns we grew up on or didn’t. Jesus spoke that day and I heard Him. “It is I who makes you worthy.” With truth like that, it’s undeniably God.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
- Why does it always seem to rain when I'm having a really good hair day?
- How is it that my daughter has to walk past the laundry room every time she leaves her bedroom, yet her dirty clothes still never seem to make it to the hamper?
- How did we get the name "woman"? Did Adam let out a hearty "WO!!!" the first time he saw Eve and God just decided to pop that in front of "man"?
- Why do I always get a craving for an Oreo cookie right after one of my kids has eaten the last one?
- Why do happy moments slip our minds so easily, but sad ones can sometimes seem to linger on forever?
- In the grand scheme of things, how the heck do dinosaurs fit into the picture???
- Why do we drive on the right hand side of the road here, but in Eurpoe they drive on the left?
- How did the English language end up with SO many words? And who assigned meaning to them? I mean, what if "up" really meant "down" and vice versa?
OK, I may have gone past silly to just plain wierd on that last one, but I know I'm not alone!!! There are lots of things I have questions about, but one thing I'm certain of - God loves me. Today, tomorrow, every day. In all the chaos of life, it's nice to have that to rest on at the end of the day.
p.s. Silly runs in my family. Check out this picture of my son...
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
When we walk with the Lord
In the light of His Word
What glory He sheds on our way
While we do His good will
He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.
Trust and obey,
For there's no other way
To be happy in Jesus,
But to trust and obey.
Monday, May 16, 2011
Have you visited the cafe in the gym at GLCC? If you have, you might have met Erin Collins and had your coffee and doughnut served by someone with a beautiful smile and a beautiful attitude. Erin volunteers her time in the cafe most Sundays and is always willing to lend an ear and give encouragement. If you haven't met her yet, make a point to visit the cafe and say hello.
Saturday, May 14, 2011
...what God has prepared for those who love him." 1 Cor 2:9
I recently completed a 9 month study of the book of Isaiah. I did this through my membership in an international, non-denominational Bible study called BSF (Bible Study Fellowship). Have you heard of it?
This past Wednesday marked the end of my 7th year at BSF! I can't believe it! Yet, I am so grateful for the way God has used His word through the study each week to teach, mold, lead, enable, comfort, encourage, and convict me! With every lesson, I am changed.
Through Isaiah, God gave me a picture of the splendid future that awaits believers. In fact, He is unfolding a plan right now to that end, set into motion before time, culminating with the glorious return of our Lord Jesus Christ! For those who love Him, it will be a day of unimaginable joy and celebration. And for those who don't, it will be a time of eternal judgment and despair. God is both merciful and just. And each person decides which One he will meet on that day.
Below is a poem I wrote to try to capture the magnificence of that day. It is my wish that we believers would not lose heart in today's Godless world, but focus instead the world of tomorrow. Trust His promise. There WILL come a day!
There’s Coming A Day
Do you not know? Have you not heard?
God’s planned a grand heyday!
And it’s as sure as His own word.
There soon will come a day!
When Christ returns to our sad world,
The trumpets will announce:
“The King’s come home to claim His own!”
And every knee will bow.
On this great day, all will proclaim,
That Jesus Christ is Lord!
While some will praise, with hands upraised,
There will be those who mourn.
They’ll know too late, their dismal fate,
Decided by the One,
They cast aside; and none can hide,
From the eyes of God’s son.
The Savior’s light will wash the blight
Away, to cleanse the land.
On this good day, the saints exclaim,
“Our destiny’s at hand!”
He’ll take this place, its depraved ways,
And put it far behind.
Our former sin, and things akin,
Won’t even come to mind.
Pure Good will reign, while wrongs and pain,
Will be made right again.
On this day see, all things will be,
As God intended them.
He’ll dwell among, all those whose tongue,
In life, professed Him Lord.
His splen’drous light will oust the night.
Our sun need shine no more.
Disease will flee. The blind will see.
The deaf will hear and speak.
The sad delight, as tears are wiped,
Away from every cheek.
Folks will be drawn, to Mount Zion,
From nations far and near.
We’ll walk the Way, made for this day
Bearing gifts and good cheer.
The multitudes, no longer feud,
But raise a single voice,
To form a choir, that never tires,
Expressing heartfelt joy.
We’ll start a life, as bride of Christ.
A new name we’ll receive.
The thirsty chug, from streams that flood,
Of living water free.
A wedding feast, no eye has seen,
The likes of e’er before!
Will be served ’till, we eat our fill,
And want for nothing more.
Oh, how my heart, longs for the start,
Of that sweet day to dawn.
When lies are hushed, and death is crushed,
And sin’s forever gone.
But God ’lone knows, the time to go,
Before His son returns.
He’s set the date. He won’t be late.
We wait, with souls that yearn.
Until that day, the plan won’t change.
In this, we place our trust.
God keeps His word. Our hope’s secured,
In Him who’s true and just.
God says He’ll birth, a brand new earth,
Once Christ, in pow’r and might,
Comes back. So know: here’s NOT your home.
Let’s keep that day in sight!
Friday, May 13, 2011
Has your child ever brought you a broken toy to be fixed? In our house this happened many times as our children were growing up. The children would always tell me that Dad can fix this. The truth is that he usually could fix/mend the item in some way. The children were assured of this for they had seen the transformation of the broken battered toy restored to its former self. They had faith that he could do what they had asked of him. They had faith in their Earthly Father.
GI Joe and Barbie were always prime targets for brokenness in our house. This was back in the days when Barbies only had so many moving parts. Like all little girls they liked to play pretend wedding with their Barbie’s. But they did not have a Ken. So they would borrow/take their brother’s GI Joe. Now he did not take kindly to this, so he would remove heads, arms or legs. You all know that there cannot be a proper wedding with a head missing, so crying they would go. “Dad, can you fix this?” This was an easy fix so of course he did, and the girls left smiling and the wedding continued with a proper groom.
His greatest challenge came when one of the granddaughters asked him to put a broken doll back together. All of the grandchildren had also learned that their Pop could make ALMOST anything new again. Except the Madame Alexander doll. She arrived at our house with a crushed – no, shattered face and broken limbs. Since she was china there were big pieces and little pieces and missing pieces. I would have said no way- sorry-can’t be done- throw it away. Nope, not their POP! He worked forever just like a plastic surgeon to restore that face. Super Glue to the rescue. It was a very slow procedure and took a long time for the reconstruction. As you can see in the picture she never did look the same. But, yet this Pop did his best to put the pieces of that broken doll together.
Broken! What is broken in your life? What do you need to have put back together? Is it your heart that is broken over a relationship….marriage….a prodigal child….or a friendship? I have found that I can carry around many broken things in my life. I try to fix them on my own. Super Glue for a broken relationship is just not available. There are broken things in our life we just can’t fix. There eventually comes a time when we come to realize that only our Heavenly Father holds the key to mending our brokenness. Pride often blocks our dealing with painful problems. We need to admit our wrongdoing and failure in order to find a real resolution. Humble yourself before God and He will provide the comfort you seek.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted (Matthew 5:4).
Nothing works like going directly to your Heavenly Father for your brokenness. He is better than any Super Glue. Just like our Earthly Father tries to repair our broken toys, only our Heavenly Father can fix what is broken in us.
Thursday, May 12, 2011
Does it ever seem like you’re being “poisoned by bitterness”? I’ll be honest – I feel that way a lot. And it’s not always other people’s bitterness; in fact, usually it’s my own. The little things are my downfall. It’s easy to take the big stuff to God, the stuff I know I can’t handle on my own. If a situation requires a miracle, then obviously one should just ask for a miracle. But the small, trivial annoyances of every day life have the strange ability to shut out my poor little sparks of happiness. I’m talking about just missing a red light; spilling my French fries all over the front seat of the car; struggling to get 2 paper clips separated from each other (I ended up just throwing them across the room in frustration); waiting for the computer to load a picture... I could go on, but I’m starting to embarrass myself here. Usually, right after I’ve screamed in frustration, I sit back and wonder why on earth I just got so upset over something so inconsequential.
It sucks out my joy. It makes me into a person I don’t even want to be around (which makes things kind of difficult, by the way). And it makes me the kind of person that poisons other people’s happiness. That’s a crappy feeling, believe me.
So, what to do about it? Honestly, if I knew, I wouldn’t have had the need to write this. It’s easy to tell someone they just need to control their emotions, but it’s a lot harder to actually control them.
This week I was talking with some friends about joy – in fact one of them is the person who reminded me about the Anne quote (thanks, Linda!). The discussion reminded me of another movie I like – Polly, a remake of Pollyanna. In it, Polly is discussing why she’s so happy all the time, and she mentions that she always tries to find the positive in everything (I guess the positive of spilling my fries is that I don’t eat all that salt and fat and grease?). She also said that her father taught her about “Glad-texts.” According to Polly and her dad, there are over 800 “Glad-texts” in the Bible – over 800 times where God tells us to rejoice or be glad. I don’t think anyone would ever accuse God of being “all prickles and stings,” do you?
Of course, one of the most well-known “Glad-texts” is in Nehemiah: “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” I think Twila Paris had a hand in making that one so popular. The one they refer to in Polly is “Be glad in the Lord.” Anyone else starting to see a theme develop here? Isn’t it funny how the “answer” to all my problems keeps coming back to my relationship with God? I can’t be joyful and glad on my own because, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m a little on the pessimistic side of life. So my joy has to come from God. I’ll be honest again – I’m not exactly sure how to get it from Him – I’ve been looking for the Fruit of the Spirit vending machine, but no luck so far (it’s probably right next to the Fountain of Youth). I’m guessing prayer couldn’t hurt... and maybe familiarizing myself with some more of those “Glad-texts.”
But tell me how do y’all keep from being poisoned by bitterness?
Side notes to myself: 1) Learn to write shorter blogs. 2) Learn to use my good traits as examples in blogs instead of my bad ones.
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Genesis 9:16…..Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.
My 26 year old daughter, Kim, was diagnosed in August last year with a severe fungal pneumonia and a rare immune disease that is usually fatal in childhood. After extensive testing and medication at NIH (National Institute of Health), she came home where her husband and I could care for her. God made it plain to me to make the decision to quit my job of 22 years to be her caregiver. She was very weak and suffering extreme side effects from the drugs she was taking to treat her. I gave my first (and hopefully last) injection of steroids one day when she became unresponsive.
Just after Kim became sick, my father in law, Francis, was scheduled for heart surgery with an expected five day recovery in the hospital. Following multiple complications during the surgery, he was in the hospital two months (the first three weeks he was unconscious and on life support), at a rehab for a couple of weeks, and at home two weeks before he peacefully left for heaven with his wife and children by his bedside.
One day in the midst of all these events, I got out of bed feeling very discouraged and walked into the bathroom to get ready for another long day. As I closed the door I saw a perfect rainbow streaming through the window. I wept as I put my hand in the rainbow. I quickly grabbed my camera and captured this moment to remind me that "God Sees Me." I look at the picture whenever I am feeling overwhelmed by my circumstances and to remember I am not in this alone.
Since then, our family celebrated the life of Francis Lueking, Kim has recovered from the pneumonia and is considered as having a mild form of her immune deficiency, and I am fully dedicated to God’s plan...... and like Noah, I will “…walk faithfully with God. “ (Genesis 6:9)
Monday, May 9, 2011
The postings on Facebook this weekend were not only comical and inspiring, they also had a common theme – gifts moms would receive for Mother’s Day. It could have been a promo for the book The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.
One mom was excited to receive jewelry from her family, while another felt that nothing spelled love like Y-A-R-D-W-O-R-K.
Still another mom would not have traded having her husband and nine kids snuggled around her for anything. Others enjoyed a night out at the movies or “yard sale-ing” with their mom. And to top it all off, some believed the best gift was hearing their child say, “Thanks for being the best mom ever.”
We all have different “love languages” – be it Quality Time, Gift Giving, Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch, or Acts of Service. According to the book, we tend to show love to others the way we want to receive love. So, if you feel loved when someone praises you, chances are you tend to be an encourager to others and Words of Affirmation would be your love language. Or, if you feel loved while catching up with a friend over coffee, chances are your love language is Quality Time. And if you are giddy with excitement when your child or husband takes out the trash without being asked, you’re an Acts of Service kind of gal.
It’s easy to show love to our family and friends the way we want to be loved. The challenge is making sure they feel loved in their own language. Many people have more than one love language, but usually there is one that speaks love more than others. If we think we have a tough job, imagine what a monumental task God has to make sure all of his children feel loved in their own language!
What, you ask, is my love language?
While I have absolutely loved the thoughtful gifts, handmade cards, abundant hugs, time spent with family and words of praise I have received this weekend, I must say that hearing the sound of the vacuum whirring and the power washer blasting the deck – and I’m not doing it and it wasn't my idea – is music to my ears! J
What is your love language? How do you show love to those around you? Take some time this week to try and figure out what your loved ones love language is.
Having trouble deciding which one is their “first” language? I bet they would be happy to tell you.
Sunday, May 8, 2011
Friday, May 6, 2011
What do you do with Sunday? Is that day special or is it just another day of the week to check off in your day planner?
Last Sunday my husband and I had the joy of being greeters. I love doing this, for I get to greet people that I know and many who I do not know, I get to shake hands and give hugs or stoop down and greet those pre-schooler's who come in wearing pretty dresses or button down shirts. Then there are the teens who wander in looking for their friends, the couples who have been attending worship for many years, the teachers carrying their supplies, or the mom who just wants to get everyone in the door. If you're a mom of any age you can remember the Sunday ride to church that just didn't seem to go as you had planned. The older kids fought all the way there, or the baby got sick and you had not packed a spare outfit, or there were some unkind words exchanged between your husband and you. We have all been there and done that and, as we got out of the car for THE WALK to the door, we were not always able to pull it all together with our Sunday "all is well" smile. Oh, how I remember those days, and sometimes when we would have a sleep-over with a grandchild we relive those Sundays.
"Remember the Sabbath and keep it Holy"
Let me share with you about a time in my life when I am sure God was wondering why I was not remembering the "keep it Holy" part. You see, I was a busy working mom with a husband, three children in grade school, middle school and high school. Sunday became the day that I pridefully thought was meant for me. So Sunday lunch became my target of "poor me". After all, I prepared meals all week long - someone should think of me! It was my day of rest. That's what scripture says, right? Wrong thinking on my part! Selfish thinking, prideful thinking, stinking thinking! So first I suggested we get fast food. Good idea. Wrong! No two could agree on what it should be. This went on for weeks-the arguments over food. You would never know that we had just returned from Worship.
The Lord finally got my attention and let me know what a selfish, prideful, strong willed wife and mother I had been. An idea began to form in my mind. How about planning a meal that could be put in the oven before we left for church? Use the timer. Okay Lord, I will try that. Well, the first Sunday of the new plan worked like a charm. No arguments, good food and time to talk about what the children had learned in church. Peace, enjoyment, a time to reflect and savor the day.
My time of giving up my selfishness for the welfare of all has become a much anticipated time for me. Soon Sunday became a time when my teen children would ask to invite a friend for Sunday lunch. That was pretty neat! Great way to meet their friends in a non-threatening atmosphere. Now this Sunday lunchtime has become a tradition for me. I now look forward to the time I can be with my adult children and grandchildren. My grandchildren often invite a friend to join us. Now on Sunday our table is full, but there is always room for one more. Some Sundays the food just seems to multiply and no one leaves hungry. Sunday is a time to reconnect with each other after we have been in God's House.
How do you feel about Sunday? Do you look forward with anticipation? Is Sunday the one time you can be quiet and let the worship music carry you away? Do you allow God to speak to you through His Word and perhaps leave you with areas in your life you need to examine? A time to meet friends? A time to check off the square of being an example of a good Christian parent, having taken your child to church? Or is Sunday a time of stress with just one more "have to" in your busy over-scheduled weekend? Is Sunday the day you finally get caught up with work around the house? Or is Sunday you day to rest because God said that is what the Sabbath is for - a celebration of anticipation. "Be still and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10
Okay it's Sunday! Greet the day with anticipation.
Thursday, May 5, 2011
Wow, Jamaica! Really? Are you sure you want to go? I remember having this conversation with my son, Jake a year and half ago when he decided he wanted to go to Jamaica. Lance volunteered himself to go with Jake and I breathed a sigh of relief because I don't think I was ready yet. Jake came back so excited and told his sister, Rebecca and well, that was the end of the story. Rebecca was sold and couldn't wait to go this year!! I honestly didn't want to be left behind if my whole family was going so there I went.
I have to back up a little bit because God was working through this entire year preparing for this trip for us. It started immediately after Lance and Jake came back and the spiritually maturing process that I began to witness in Jake. It began also in Rebecca where I saw a spark in her to want to help others and serve God. It also began in a simple trip to the Pediatrician's office back in August where a nurse I vaguely knew asked if I ever thought of working there. I laughed and told her I did still keep my Nursing license but I was busy Substitute Teaching. Then, the thought occurred to me, Why not? What are you afraid of? Just see if you can do it after all these years off and if it doesn't work out then at least you tried. So I did and that was another answered prayer. You see, the money we received from my paychecks paid for our trip to Jamaica and God knew ahead of time, we would need the money. A broken washing machine and other unforeseen expenses this last year was going to put this trip in jeopardy. Thank you God!
As we went to the Sunday evening meetings in preparation for Jamaica, a nagging feeling kept eating at me. What am I doing here? How can God use me in Jamaica? I think I find myself as my kids are growing up and are now both officially teenagers that they don't need me anymore. (lie from Satan). I looked around the room as we would gather and see very capable people who for the most part had been there before and knew where they would be helping. I finally gave it up to God and realized that if His Word is true, then I am God's workmanship that He can use. I just have to make myself available.
Leading up to Jamaica, we were set to fly standby since Lance works for American Airlines. All flights looked green the weeks leading up to our trip. Until two days before our scheduled flight and there was an unforeseen fire at Miami's Airport which shut down completely. Uh Oh! This was another trust moment and we didn't freak out because I kept on thinking, God if you want us to get there, you will make a way. He did! We ended up having to pay a little bit for a direct flight from Dulles straight to Montego Bay! Thank you God!! The rest of the group made it safely a couple of hours later from Dallas and if they had been scheduled to fly into Miami, they would have been days late!!! Another answer to prayer!
We made it to Jamaica and God ended up using me at the school. I also taught nutrition, dental health and women's health for the moms/church members. That was totally out of my comfort zone. I don't like to speak in public and I really don't feel comfortable in women's ministry settings either. But, I think God likes to take us to our “uncomfort” zones to explore where we will go and to trust in Him again.
My lesson that week among all of the beautiful Jamaican smiles and hugs from the sweet children we met was that we all serve a very Mighty God who is capable in taking our insecurities and fears and using them to help others. May God take you to your “uncomfort” zone and as the Jamaicans like to say "No problem Mon".
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
GLCC ladies are invited to an evening of "spring cleaning" in the church gym on May 20, from 7:00-8:30. Kristy Lamper who is a professional cleaner, and Lydia Gardner, a professional organizer, will be speaking and sharing their hottest tips. If you've been like me and have felt apathetic about any type of housework, this social evening might be just what you've been looking for. There'll be fun and fellowship and opportunities to make new friends.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
I tend to be the opposite, the kind who is more quiet until I get to know you and the kind that does not want to invade your personal space uninvited. I have often marveled at the talent some people have for connecting with others right away. Mark and his family have been very good for me in this area of my life and I have to say I am getting better and more outgoing as I get older.
You just never know who are going to meet and what blessings are waiting out there for you in the form of other people. Next time it's your errand day, see how you might change someone's day. Make eye contact with strangers, smile at them! Ask the checkout lady how she is doing before she asks you. I promise you will have fun doing it and get a positive response from people. When I turn the tables and go out seeking to positively effect someone else instead of seeking out what I can get, I am usually the one who ends up getting blessed. John 13:34-35 "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know you are my disciples, if you love one another."
Monday, May 2, 2011
This week's bloomers are Judy Dickerson and Patty Easley. Together they are the supervisors over GLCC's preschool program and we want to thank them for their hard work and dedication to the little ones under their care.
1 Timothy 2:8 Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.
Sunday, May 1, 2011
My three daughters and I were fortunate to spend last week in NJ at my parents’ house – the same one I lived in till I went to college. I say fortunate, because it was a real blessing to have all of our home school classes AND preschool off at the same time! You might think that as a home schooling family, we can just take off when we want to and run amok all day long. But we really do have weekly commitments like swim team, youth group, co-op classes, writing classes and preschool for my 4 year old. So going to see Grammy and Grandpa for lengthier stays is a treat that we try to take advantage of when we can.
My parents are always finding ways to help us when they come to visit – whether it be taking care of the girls, helping with school work, folding laundry, making dinner, washing dishes, filling birdfeeders or putting gas in the car (really I think part of the reason my dad likes to do that is so that he has an excuse to track down the cheapest gas price in all of Manassas and so my mom can remind me that NJ has cheaper gas prices AND they pump it for you – remind me why I ever left?).
So when I go home I like to try and help my parents if I can. This time I asked if we could sort through some boxes of “memorabilia” that have been in their attic for several years. Sorting through your own papers and piles can be an overwhelming task (come look at my desk), but it was fun for me – #1 it’s always easier to clean out someone else’s stuff and #2 because a lot of it was mine from years gone by.
You see, when two teachers, married 45 years, have lived in the same house for 40 of those years, are very involved with church and Bible study (read lots of lesson plans, meeting minutes, prayer letters, etc.), have three children who have each left behind 20+ years of spelling and algebra papers, scads of book reports and mobiles, hundreds of art projects that were all deemed worthy of saving, pictures galore, every note they ever passed in church that needed to be saved for
blackmail posterity sake, too many postcards and letters to count and well, you get the idea – it’s a recyclers dream come true.
My older daughters helped me bring out several boxes to get started on. If my parents wanted their office back in usable shape, we HAD to go through the boxes because they weren’t going back in the attic!
I had a blast walking down memory lane reading notes that my grandma had typed us on her old fashioned typewriter – you know the kind that if she pushed the keys too hard the period would make a hole in the page. There were journal entries my brother had written in 1985 where almost every single one talked about the weather and how the Cowboys or Yankees did that week depending on the season. Even the envelope with papers and the arm band from when my brother was born in 1974. Newspapers with my parents engagement info that crumbled when removed from the box, pocket Bibles, postcards from camp and trips gone by, a Rubik’s cube keychain, Girl Scout badges, Sunday School papers, calendar pages and menu plans. Oh the memories and laughs we shared! My parents really did appreciate my “loving” encouragement and downright nagging to motivate them to declutter. Now it’s their turn to come nag me to declutter my house.
You may be wondering why I am giving you a laundry list of what was in my parents’ attic. Hang tight – there is a point.
Too often I get wrapped up in the day to day busyness of life and home schooling and don’t stop to think about the memories that we are making along the way. I am blessed with a rich Christian heritage that my parents, through God’s grace, have given my siblings and me that I want to impress on my own daughters and leave them with a similar legacy.
All of those “treasures” that the five of us saved over many years were remembrances of fun times (post cards from my first time at camp), happy times (Christmas lists with the Sears Wish Book product #’s next to each item), sad times (funeral cards of my grandparents) and bad times (let’s go with Algebra I on this one). But it all adds up to the story of our lives.
I realize that not everyone was raised in a Christian home or had a happy childhood, but we all use where we have come from and who we are in Christ to share and relate our faith and God’s grace with others.
It served as a good reminder to me to cherish the time I have with my girls and not just do the next thing in a hurried rush all day long. My mom came across a sign she had in her classroom years ago that serves as a great reminder. “Childhood Should Be…A Journey Not a Race.” Whether you have children or are a child of the King, LIFE really is a journey, not a race.
The Lord has given us more treasures than we can ever imagine and I pray that we not only hide them in our hearts but also pass them onto others for them to savor and enjoy and remember.