Monday, April 30, 2012

Z for In the Zone

Hannah Montgomery is the writer for the blog today.

Have you ever had a time when you were “in the zone?”  I remember saying to Thomas many times “Babe, I’m in the zone right now with this cake… the shape is almost perfect… don’t talk to me.” I felt empowered and accomplished because I was on the right track and that cake was looking awesome. I didn’t need distractions.

Yeah, I was in the zone and I got that cake looking perfect; But did I neglect my husband because my focus was on this cake? Did I ignore my daughter’s needs because I was too focused on making this cake amazing (that would soon be cut and eaten)? Were my reasons for wanting to make this cake perfect right?

Another experience I had lately was with a meeting. It was a Food Pantry Meeting at church during Connect Hour. I had a lot going on that morning and I was in “get it done” mode. The meeting ended up going great and a lot of things were shared and worked through. Immediately after the meeting I had this odd feeling though and I couldn’t put my finger on what it was. Eventually I figured it out. Something was missing from the meeting. GOD! I was in the zone alright… but I had completely pushed God out of it! I was too busy and too focused on other things to even think about Him. And in reality, the whole pantry should be focused on Him!

Are there times when you are “in the zone” and are missing out on opportunities that God is giving you? I mean, there are so many things in life that we miss out on because we are just too busy taking Jonny to practice, picking up Mary from a piano recital, getting a new dog bowl for Rufus, making this project turn out perfectly so we don’t look bad and never missing a single Bible Study.  We have our own agendas and don’t leave time to see God work. We may miss that sweet hug to remind us of love or that quiet moment to remind us of rest. We zero in on the “must do’s” and getting things perfect and we forget about God and everything else!

Don’t get me wrong, being “in the zone” is not always negative. It really just means that you are focused. The thing is, making sure that you aren’t so focused on one thing that you miss out on everything else… especially those things God is trying so desperately to show you. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to share about God, an opportunity to convey your passions, an opportunity to be there for loved ones, an opportunity to encourage a person in need…. Just because you want to feel like the perfect mom… the great planner… the amazing cake maker… the master cook, etc.

Step “out of the zone” for a minute. Let God show you the bigger picture. Think about what you may be missing out on. Now, follow His lead and experience all that He has planned for you!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Z is for Zest, Zealous, and Zephaniah??

Sally Hagenhoff is the writer today.  Read and learn!!

 Z Z Z Z Z Z……………

Zealous- eager- there sure has been an absence of eager for anything in my life lately.  How about you?

Zest-gusto once again a wonderful word I would love to claim it but not always in my day.

Zero- absence of quality.

Okay what is going on…..?

So I Zero in on my life - looks like I have lost my aim in life.  The zest the gusto is gone that I once had…the passion….the eagerness to be involved in a passion…gone, gone, gone.

Have you ever had a time in life when you felt like that? Zapped of all that life has to offer?

 The word zigzag means to go back and forth.  So do I spend my time zigzagging through life? Maybe that is what my life looks like today.  But does it have to?  No!  I can choose. My life should always be about remembering how much God loves me.  That I have been chosen to be His child.  And He not the world wants to fill me with crazy zany, zesty, zeal for this life here as I look forward to my future home with Him.

Oh yes, I have plenty to keep me busy but I am finding that busy is not the problem it is all of those Z words.  Zany, zesty, zealous, that I am not claiming to be mine.  Yes, it all has to do with attitude and claim.
If this is where you are today you can claim this scripture the same as I can.  Remember it is a choice.

 Zephaniah 3:17
The Lord your God is with you,
He is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
He will quiet you with his love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.

What a beautiful picture scripture paints for me. How very much I am loved by God that he would rejoice over me with singing,

Take a look around you for some of the Zero people that you might run into.  I know that they are out there.

Help zap them and turn them into zippy and zany people filled with zeal.  Give them back some zest so they can appreciate and claim and take to heart the words of Zephaniah.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Y is for Yield(ing)

Today's post is by Nicole Ro, who has some very timely word for busy moms.
Why is yielding so difficult? In my house the first thing that comes to mind is GO and STOP only if made to. But yield is almost never an option. Lately we have been practicing this concept of yield to our kids. It is a very slow process but at times they sometimes, very shortly remember. And when I thought about that I also thought about my walk as a child of God. Do I tend to just GO and do the things I want, or do I STOP just because I was forced to, while I’m pushing my way in? When all the while YIELD (in other words WAIT) should have been the action taken. When you “wait on the LORD He will renew your strength…run and not grow weary, you will walk and not faint.” When I realized that, things became much simpler.

God causes me to yield thru nature. When I’m in a hurry to do the things on The List. Yes, every one of us has a list. Going to the bank, taking the car for inspection, pick up 3 gallons of milk, eggs, cereal etc, and aspirin for the soccer and baseball practices that just happen to be across town from each other and you have 15 min to get him there, homework, dinner, etc. And in your chaos time you hear: “Mom, is there dessert tonight?” “No, get in the car we have to GO!” You’re running out to the car and you “JUST SO HAPPEN” to see this humming bird fluttering in your peonies, daylilies, and rose bushes. And you STOP! (don’t you just love those nuggets?) With all the STUFF that goes on around you God can use the simplest of things to cause us to YIELD and bring our focus back to where it should be. I’m still a work in progress and I need a little bit of buffing up still. I’m blessed with a HoneyBunny to drive that yield concept home. As we’re driving down Linton Hall or anywhere I hear, “wait Ms. Andretti, or not so close Mad Maxine.” Lol.   And in my yielding, my prayer life is growing.

 Just a little clip of my world. Maybe someone can relate, but if not I hope you will remember when you wait, ”Y”ield.   He promises to “renew our strength”, “run and not be weary”. 
How is God calling you to Yield?

Blessings to you all,

Friday, April 27, 2012

X is for "Xpectations"

I am a complete planner.  I try to plan out everything!  I do not like the unexpected.  By the time I was 20, I had planned out when I would get married (although the husband was not yet in sight), how old I would be when I got married, and how many children I would have.  I thought I was in control of it all - from the major stuff all the way down to the smallest details.

Last week my husband and I celebrated our "lucky 13" - our 13th wedding anniversary.  My amazing husband thought it would be wonderful to take me on a surprise destination vacation - he knew where we were going, but I would not find out until we got to the airport.  I thought it might kill me!  When he first threw this idea at me gave me this wonderful surprise, I immediately went into panic mode.... How would I know what to pack?  What would we do to occupy our 5 days away?  We needed an itinerary!!  Did I mention that I had no idea what to pack????  I had absolutely no idea what to expect!  After a few days of listening to my husband boast about his great anniversary surprise, and hearing many friends gush about how lucky I was, I decided that I needed to change my perspective.  I trusted my husband and I knew I was in capable, loving hands.  I had to let go of my own expectations and enjoy not being the one in control.  Let me just tell you that it was WAY more freeing than I could have imagined!  

Romans 8:28 says " And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."  I have loved this verse for so long.  It is so comforting for me to know that when things don't go according to my own plan, it is because God has something bigger and better for me in His plan!  It took me a while to develop this perspective, because when things don't go as I planned I don't necessarily enjoy it.  However, I do remind myself that His plan is always better!

So, are you wondering how my surprise vacation worked out????  We got to the airport last Monday morning, bright and early.  We checked in and my husband handed me my boarding pass.... to San Juan, Puerto Rico!  He took me to a beautiful beach resort even though he isn't too fond of the beach.  We had a lovely week away to enjoy each other and celebrate 13 years of love and to not worry about anything else except our time together.  My wonderful hubby knew just what I needed, just when I needed it.  

Thursday, April 26, 2012

W is for Weddings, Work, Working Out, Wallets.....and all sorts of other things!

Shannon Perdue is the writer of this post, chock full of Ws.

I have to admit I’m not the poster child for weddings. I didn’t spend my childhood dreaming of one and I certainly don’t have a scrapbook with plans, ideas, and pictures. In fact when my mom and wedding coordinator show me different centerpieces, wedding toppers and dozens of wedding invitations I have been known to shrug and tell them to let Adam choose. There’s so much to do it makes my head spin. I decided since the letter of the day is W I’d share the W’s of what and who has helped me get through all this wedding insanity.

Here goes….

W is for Wedding coordinator. Mine is an old, high school teacher of mine, named Julie Edgar. She’s been my lifesaver. She orders everything, puts everything together, researches everything and then shoots me daily and weekly emails showing me what she’s worked on, makes sure I like it and then powers on. I forward the emails to Adam and we make any revisions or suggestions if any are needed. Julie has made it possible for me to do what I love most, which is teach, without being distracted the never ending checklist.

Which brings us to the 2nd W which is;

W is for work. I love my work as a teacher. When I walk into that classroom the world falls away and it’s just me and my favorite kids. The stress over flower choices and reception lists fades and in it’s place the reality of raising and training up the next generation becomes my priority and passion for the next eight hours.

After the workday it’s onto my next two W’s which are working out weight vest. Everyone wants to look good at their wedding right? Not me. I want to look great! It turns out that looking great which is more about healthiness than thinness for me is also a huge wedding stress release for me. From the time I hit my bike after work until the moment I walk into the gym and put on the 12-pound vest that I wear while running and cycling I think about nothing. I just bob my head in time with the music and revel in the sweat and adrenaline.

When I finish working out and finally return home sometimes I am brave enough to walk upstairs and push open the door of Alexis’ nursery (yes she has a nursery at our house.) For a short time Alexis has willingly agreed to lend me her room as a “wedding room.” Never heard of a wedding room. Let me explain it’s a room full of everything lacy, girly and flowery.  Boxes line the walls filled with baskets, feathers, jewelry, shoes, invitations, sand, vases, pictures, candles, etc . Do you get my drift? I only venture into this room after doing a certain amount of Yoga sessions after I have reached my inner calm because a wedding room can be very overwhelming if entered without mental preparation. The wedding room was made possible by another W though so I felt like I had mention it do this next W adequate justice.

You see W is also for wallet. Whose wallet you ask? Well that’d be my dad’s. J All joking aside weddings are ridiculously expensive. I am so thankful for both of my parents and all the financial sacrifices they are making to help this wedding be great. I’m also thankful for having a job that allows me to make money to help out with the cost. Another group of people that have opened their wallets to make this day special is one of my favorite W’s.

W is for wedding party. We have a huge wedding party, 28 people to be exact. How blessed are we to have our closest family and friends right by our side for one of our biggest days, These guys and girls have all bought tuxes, dresses, shoes, put together showers and parties that have stretched them financially. They have listened to us vent, me cry once or twice, and have in many ways been at our beck and call for all kinds of wedding activities and duties.

The wedding party have just been a few of the people who have given us wise, wedding counsel. Well not so much wedding counsel, more so marriage counsel but marriage doesn’t start with W, now does it? I am indebted to Pastor Steve and Pam Benedict for the countless hours they have spent investing in Adam and I’s life as we get ready to become husband and wife. They have a marriage I pray I can emulate. The wisdom and advice they have given has been invaluable!

Lastly and most important my favorite W that has gotten me through and even made me enjoy this wedding madness listed above is…

My Wonderful fiancĂ©, Adam is my final W. I couldn’t and wouldn’t be doing all of this wedding stuff if it weren’t for him. He is absolutely the most amazing, Godly man! He has been so involved in every part even more so than me at times which has been a huge relief for me. I love him with everything in me. He’s the only reason I can talk about meat choices at our wedding (I’m a vegetarian.) He is the only reason I get excited about everything blue and green (our colors.) He’s made me laugh when I’ve been overwhelmed. He’s been willing to compromise preference to make me more comfortable. Yep, this one is definitely my favorite W.

Thanks to our wonderful Savior for constantly loving and forgiving us. It is because of your grace and redemptive work in our lives that we can have this wedding and embark on this journey of love and life. We are nothing without you.

W is for wedding. Ours is July 1, 2012 at 4pm at GLCC. Hope to see you all there!

Come Watch me become a Wife. J

-Shannon Perdue

P.S. W is also for wine. Just a glass a day keeps the wedding jitters away,
just saying. J

W is for Walls

We have two Ws today.  The first is by Julie Corley.  The other will be posted this evening.

I think I missed my calling doing Masonry work because I have become very good at building walls.  I have been building them now for a few years.  I’ve become quite good at it.  I think it occurred to me after several instances of feeling betrayed and hurt that it would be much better to just not be around people.  They cause too much drama, too many hurts, too much pain and anger.  So, slowly I began to build up walls.  Brick by brick.  Hurt by hurt.  I felt like I was safe behind my walls.  It was better back there where no one could get to me.  Pretty soon it didn’t take much at all to cause me to want to add another brick.  My walls got taller and taller.  I threw in a nice comfy chair and sat behind my walls.  No one was going to get to me.  No one was going to hurt me again because no one was getting through and I wasn’t coming out. 

After a while I began to get a little lonely back there.  There’s only so much you can do by yourself.  I peeked out of the small openings  l left and watched other people (especially my fellow Christians) gather and do things and have fun and fellowship.  I thought to myself that I didn’t need them.  I was perfectly fine.   

I found myself more and more peeking out of the little openings.  I began to wish I was a part of what was going on out there but I knew it wasn’t possible.  I’d just get hurt.  I better stay right where I was.  Safe in my walls.  I was like a fairytale princess locked in a tower except that it wasn’t an evil witch that put me there. I put myself there.

After a while the need for Christian, and people fellowship in general, weighed on me heavily.  I fought it hard.  I asked myself “did I really need them?”.  “They are hypocrites and phonies.  They don’t like me anyway so why should I want to be among them?”  Some of them were not always nice but some  were and I began to really miss them. 

The conviction and need for fellowship got so bad that one day that I decided to venture out.  However, I found  that coming out is harder than going in.  I was like a little animal who had been wounded and retreated into a hole.  It comes to the opening to peek it’s head out and if it looks safe, no danger in sight, it will stick it’s head out all the way.  The next day it might come completely out but only by a foot or two.  This is how I was coming out of my walls.  I would venture out just a little but stayed close enough to my walls that I could jump back in quickly if I had to.  Little by little I would venture further out.  I’ve been out of my walls for a few weeks now.  I still stay close enough that I can look back and see them and know they are there if I need them.  My goal though is to be able to walk away completely and leave them in the past like old ruins.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V for Victorious...One Step at a Time

Our dear friend, Vicki Corder, wrote this poem.

Victoriously I should be walking but
I don’t think I can
Cautiously I take a step
Towards what….I don’t know
Oh, the emptiness
Reeling from the pain
I know you are there
Opening your arms to me
Under the shadow of your wings
Sad, but safe and secure in Your Love

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

U is for University

            A good friend of mine once said that God seems to bring up a reoccurring topic in her life in order to get a point across. It’s His way of flashing a neon sign and getting her attention. Well, in college, some topics aren’t simply reoccurring. They are routine.
            Sex, drugs, and alcohol have become staple sources of entertainment among most people I know. Instead of old high school hangouts, people lose touch with reality and crave physical pleasures. This lifestyle is embedded in the very fibers that make up my university’s culture, but God has shown me that it isn’t something to be avoided or ignored. Without experiencing some of the messier sides of life, we won’t understand how He works or how he wants us to live. I’ve been to the parties where people drunkenly share too much, cry with strangers, and sloppily care for their friends. I’ve seen people bare their souls and know that they wouldn’t remember it the morning. And God wants us to be there. He wants us to understand that pain, joy, and anger manifest themselves in unique ways. That above all, people wish for a freedom from responsibility, from consequence. Despite our actions we are truly all the same. We need love, friendship, and self worth, but everyone’s search for these desires is different. Some choose self-destructive paths, and others try to prove themselves. Regardless of their walk of life, God has really shown me that a person’s decisions do not ultimately determine who they are. We need to look at people for their hearts, and with God, we’ll see them as He sees them: beautiful.

Monday, April 23, 2012

“T” is for Talkin’ Truth!

Lisa Fowler is the writer for the blog today.  

I have been thinking a lot lately about how truth has changed my life.  You might ask, “What truth is that?” and I am more than happy to tell you!  The truth is Jesus!  Christ in me.  He is the source of abundant life.  He alone meets all my needs.  In Him, I am loved, secure, accepted, worthy and adequate.
When I am resting in the truth, there is such peace.   When I’m not resting in Him as my life…there is just no peace, no comfort and no rest.  I begin striving to try and make things work (to get my needs met) instead of trusting in the truth that Christ is my source, my everything.  My feelings can get all messy but it doesn’t change the fact that this is true.  God loves me and adores me…even on my worst day!
Recently, I was sharing with a friend that I had a rough day.  The kind when you hear the words coming out of your mouth and you are thinking, “Am I really saying that out-loud?”  Remembering the unlovely things I had said, I was reminded of what my Mom use to say when we were growing up when the words flowing out of our mouths weren’t always so lovely.  She use to say, “Don’t talk trash!”   Well, I guess I talked some trash that day.  In sharing with my friend honestly and openly, there was no condemnation from her.  There was love and truth shared.  Trusting Christ in me (the Truth!) and having someone else trust Christ in me was not only encouraging, it was uplifting.  Isn’t it awesome that we can walk together in this life and not just trust Christ in us but in each other as well?!?  Shame would have had me crawling like a caterpillar but instead I can rest in the truth of Jesus.  It’s so refreshing!  Truth instead of trash…sounds good to me! 
We just finished up a LifeTrack course reading and discussing the book “The Cure”.  I loved this quote about what is true when we trust Jesus, “Nothing you believe and depend upon is more magnificently freeing than this single truth:  You are no longer who you were, even on your worst day.  Trusting and leaning upon “Christ in you” is the source of every shred of strength, joy, healing, and peace.” 
The truth is Jesus and we can trust Him and all He says about us and what He has done for us to be true.  He meets our every need and we can rest in Him.  Christ in us…how beautiful!!!

"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”  Galatians 2:20

Saturday, April 21, 2012

S is for Sebastian, Stephanie, and Sophia

Maria Waller wrote this lovely post for us today.  Thank you Maria for your willingness to write and share your thoughts!
S is for Sebastian, Stephanie and Sophia who are my beloved Children. Both myself and my husband feel very Blessed to have received our children, as my husband was an only child growing up and I was the older sister growing up in Sweden to my brother who is 8 years younger than myself. As I share my children with all of you, you may discover that they are just like yours or have similar character traits. I must admit that I have been the most worried about Sebastian (my first born). He is our introverted child and is not comfortable in big groups. But with God’s guidance, issues that we have been struggling with are better as Sebastian is getting older. Stephanie is the opposite of her brother. She is very outgoing and social. She is very generous and giving towards her brother and sister and others. Learning in school comes natural to both of my older children. Sophia is our athlete and is not happy unless she is outdoors and playing a sport or is together with her many friends. She does not have it quite as easy to learn in school but is getting help from a wonderful “extra” teacher every day. I know of many people who are not able to have children. I will never forget the time when I unintentionally hurt my friends feelings right after that she and her husband had a miscarriage. It is difficult to find words in a situation like that but I wanted to show them our condolences. So I was honest when telling my friend “that many times it can be easier to get a dog” while waiting for the blessing to receive a child. I think about her often but she has not said much to me after that statement. Perhaps she does not like dogs? But in my opinion, dogs are man’s best friend.

“Teach me Your way. O Lord, And lead me in a smooth path…Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart, Wait, I say, on the Lord” Psalm 27:11, 14-15

 There are many people in our community that are feeling alone, full of grief and abandonment. I miss my family in Sweden. If I had to give good parenting advice other than praising God as a family, it would be to spend lots of time with your children.
We have gotten to know some very nice folks in our Connect group at Church. One of the Families invited all of us to their home in Nokesville for Easter put luck. It just happened to be our sweet baby sitter’s family that we used a lot before she went on to College. So Stephanie and Sophia especially had a fantastic time in their lawn playing games and being together with their much missed friend along with the other kids. Sebastian preferred to watch from a distance, but I could see a smile on his face too. We had a great time!

Being a program coordinator for the Exchange student program every Summer is like being a piece in a puzzle. The JOY on the students faces as they experience love and acceptance from their host families is priceless. This opportunity to share in a student’s life is fantastic. It makes us all very busy as well as Sebastian, Stephanie and Sophia during these four weeks they are here and myself less home sick. I always felt it was my part to be sure that no student missed this exciting adventure because I did not do my job recruiting the best host family available.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  "Honor your father and mother"--which is the first commandment with a promise--  "that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth."  Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

Friday, April 20, 2012

R is for Refuse

When Paula assigned me with the letter R, so many words came to mind.  I thought of resurrection since it was Easter, resolute, relationship, reshape, remember, righteous, and the list goes on.

During the last month I have been trying to find a song to sign for the Deaf Concert on June 2.  So many songs caught my attention it was hard to choose.  I asked God to show me which song He needed me to sign and did my best to be open to His will.  Last weekend during the King George Deaf Concert rehearsal, I listened and watched as each song was rehearsed.  When I heard the song, I knew it was what I needed to sign in June.  I think the song lyrics best state why R is for Refuse.

I Refuse lyrics
Songwriters: Benjamin Glover;Joshua David Wilson

Sometimes I
I just want to close my eyes
And act like everyone's alright
When I know they're not

This world needs God
But it's easier to stand and watch
I could say a prayer and just move on
Like nothing's wrong

But I refuse
'Cause I don't want to live like I don't care
I don't want to say another empty prayer
Oh, I refuse

To sit around and wait for someone else
To do what God has called me to do myself
Oh, I could choose
Not to move but I refuse

I can hear the least of these
Crying out so desperately
And I know we are the hands and feet
Of You, oh God

So, if You say move
It's time for me to follow through
And do what I was made to do
Show them who You are

'Cause I don't want to live like I don't care
I don't want to say another empty prayer
Oh, I refuse

To sit around and wait for someone else
To do what God has called me to do myself
Oh, I could choose
Not to move but I refuse

To stand and watch the weary and lost
Cry out for help
I refuse to turn my back
And try and act like all is well

I refuse to stay unchanged
To wait another day, to die to myself
I refuse to make one more excuse

'Cause I don't want to live like I don't care
I don't want to say another empty prayer
Oh, I refuse

To sit around and wait for someone else
To do what God has called me to do myself
Oh, I could choose
Not to move but I refuse

I refuse
I refuse

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Q is for Quiet

Q is for Quiet

“Can you please be quiet, I can’t even hear myself think!?” Not so much a question but a demand if anyone can relate. As a working mom of 3, quiet time is a rare commodity. It seems even tending to a basic necessity that requires me, myself, and I is not without its interruption in our house. I mean, really, what could possibly not wait a few minutes until I’m out of the bathroom!?

Even in those rare moments of quiet, I find it hard to quiet my mind as I think about all the “stuff” I need to get done. I try to organize it in my head, I try to prioritize it, I try to make a plan to make plans to get things done, and I even try to negotiate with myself what I should think is important – ok, so maybe the dog can wait another week for a bath! It’s not long before I realize, I need to get myself out of the way and allow God to enter into my disorganized mess. I need to be quiet.

We have a familiar verse on the wall of our bedroom: Psalm 46:10 “BE STILL, and KNOW that I AM GOD”

Until recently, I was not fully aware of what the verse truly meant. Maybe like many, I thought it meant to chill, relax, no worries because God’s got my back. I keep on keeping on, depending on my own resources, and if and only when things get too rough, I could rest in the fact that God will have it covered. While this is true, I found there is more to it than I thought. What does this mean when God tells me to be still?

The word “still” is translated from the Hebrew word raphah. But as with so many of the words found in English translation, the meaning of raphah is much more than the literal interpretation of being still. Raphah, means to “be feeble; be idle; be weak; let go; release”. One interpretation to better understand this is “let yourselves become weak”. Now, I don’t know about you but growing up in the age of the Feminist Movement, I was taught anything but to be a weak and feeble woman - take command of my future and move towards dependence on no one but me. To be idle meant to give up…surrender…not part of my vocabulary as a young adult.

Independence, strength, and doing became my go to response well into my adult life. This seemed to work for some of the time but not too long ago, I learned it was actually crippling me. Instead of the independence and freedom I thought I would experience, I had become bound and enslaved to the lies I believed about myself and about God. And the worst part is that because it sometimes seemed to work for me, my self-reliance often crippled the relationships I had with the people closest to me and with God.

From a relational standpoint, God will not make me be still or make me feeble, weak, or surrender my will in order to "know" Him. God does not impose His sovereignty on me to be in relation with Him. Being still is an active choice on my part, not passive. Part of this process of knowing God, His character, to have an intimate and deeper relationship with my heavenly Father, means I must actively choose to let myself be weak. So that I may truly KNOW Him, I must choose to seek complete dependence on Him. Choosing to be submissive is not for the sake of acknowledging God has power over me (He certainly doesn’t need me to tell Him that!) but it allows for space and creates opportunity for me to hear, feel, and breathe in God so that I may truly KNOW Him. There is nothing sweeter than to experience God in this way.

I received word this week that my father is dying. I mean, I knew his health was in serious decline because he has been in a nursing home since fall; but, this week, to actually be told and hear he is probably in his last days is totally different. My mind has been spinning in multiple directions all week trying to take control of the details of what was going on and when and how to travel to see him and the need to know exactly how much time we have (which I know no one but God knows). I thought about all the things I needed to get done. I tried to organize, prioritize; I tried to figure out plans. I even tried to negotiate with myself the feelings I was having associated to this process. My relationship with my father was not so great so what should this say about how I should be feeling? And on and on and on…. I think I just need to be quiet so I can hear from my God. My heavenly Father beckons me to be still, lean into Him, choose dependence on Him and know that He is God and He is good. I know - He has all the details figured out already, He meets me where I am in my mess, and loves me through it all.

P is for Purpose

Purpose, written by Emily Gaitonde.

A few months ago, my friend and I had a girls' weekend getaway in New York City.  While there, we took time to visit the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.  After walking around looking at walls and walls of art, we entered into an exhibit called the Music Room. Rows and rows of all kinds of musical instruments filled display cases on the walls, instruments from all over the world, some hundreds of years old.  What I noticed right away was the eerie sound of silence. Just as I thought to myself, how ironic that none of these instruments are being played, my friend turned to me and said the same thing! All these instruments were created for the purpose of being use to make music and now here they were, sitting in a locked case in a museum.  Immediately I thought of it in the spiritual sense of how we were made to praise the Lord with our lives, gifts and talents.  We were created for the purpose of knowing God and being in a relationship with Him.  We can use what He has given us to further His kingdom and then we can worship God and praise God for all He has done.  We were created for more than being on display in a case! We were made for a purpose!
 All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, O Lord; they will bring glory to your name. Psalm 86:9

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

O is for One Another

Written by our friend, Debbie Rector.

As I was praying one morning, our Dad reminded me of his great gift of  “one another."  I put the phrase into my Bible search engine and began reading….. Wow!  Encouraging one another; greeting one another; offering hospitality to one another; devoted to one another; honor one another; submit to one another out of reverence to Christ; keep loving one another…..

Yes! This is us, Grace Girls!  And our bond of “one another” is not by chance, or of our own doing, but by The Hand of Mercy.  He knew laughter was more healing when shared with “one another."  He knew we would experience times when it was just to hard to comprehend His love; finding it impossible to even consider who He says we are as our true identity.  So, we remind "one another" of His words written on our hearts. As fountains of Jesus, consider spending some time today, watering your thoughts, emotions and innermost being with the Truth of who God says you are.  Enjoy Him, as we sprinkle “one another”  as His hands of mercy

Thank each of you, for sharing yourself with me, as we continue our journey with “one another” in Jesus.

Living Loved,

O is for Old Rag

This post is by our dear friend Pam Layton who tells us about her recent adventure on Old Rag.

Old Rag…..what an experience.   It took three hours uphill to get to the top, definitely a test of strength.  In a way, making our way to the top, is like our journey of life!  Getting closer and closer to the top, the terrain was more difficult to climb. As we came across many rocks and boulders, slippery spots and such, thank goodness the trail was marked really well.  There were a few forks in the trail, but knowing which way to go was not too difficult.  Being at the top, it was so beautiful and most of all peaceful.  I would have loved to stay for hours and relax on the rocks and not have any worries. It would be a perfect place to talk to the Father and spend time. 

Getting down the mountain was a lot tougher than I thought it would be.   It was quite the hike.  I was fortunate enough to spend time with my mother –in –law for the trip down.  She had a great idea.  When we got to the creek we stopped and took our socks & shoes off to cool our feet off in the ice cold water.  The creek felt awesome on our worn out feet.  It was a numbing kind of cold, though.  Once we started walking again, my feet felt better for a short time.  Finally getting to the bottom was an accomplishment.