Friday, February 25, 2011

Buckle up....

It was our regular morning routine. Everyone piled into the car and headed to school. I looked back at my son and noticed he wasn't buckled. I wondered silently, "Why do I have to tell him every time? He's 13 - by now he should know this!" I remained calm and said, "Buddy, you need to be buckled." He nodded his head to show recognition. He'd heard me.

We got to the first stop sign and I looked back again. He still wasn't buckled. I was more direct this time. "Son, you need to buckle - now." He stopped munching on his breakfast and buckled his seat belt. With the click, my own thoughts started to roll.

How many times have I done this same thing? How many times have I silently acknowledged that I understood what God had said, and yet still didn't do it? My mind drifted to this verse from James (he always seems to speak directly to me...and I'm not always happy about it!) James 4:17 ~ "Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins." (NIV) Wait, maybe another version will be kinder to me...."So then, anyone who knows the right thing to do and fails to do it is committing a sin." (CJB) Okay, let me look at a different version. "As it is, you are full of your grandiose selves. All such vaunting self-importance is evil. In fact, if you know the right thing to do and don't do it, that, for you, is evil." (Message - vs. 16-17) This seems to be getting worse! In fact, the only translations that DIDN'T step on my toes were the ones written in other languages! (German) Wer nun weiß, Gutes zu tun, und tut es nicht, dem ist es Sünde. (Italian) Vi è adunque peccato a colui che sa fare il bene, e non lo fa. (Spanish?) A aquel, pues, que sabe hacer lo bueno y no lo hace, le es pecado.

Somehow, even in the languages I don't understand, I get the message. I am guilty of sin. No, I don't go out killing people, or committing adultery, and I don't make it a habit to lie or steal, or any of the sins we might think of as truly awful....but if I am honest with myself, I sin just the same. Just as my son sat in silent rebellion because he didn't want to make the effort that morning, I sit in rebellion when I do nothing. In school, we call it "defiance" when a student isn't doing anything particularly wrong, they just refuse to do what is right.

I really don't like the direction this blog is taking. I've gone from not obeying to sin to defiance. Actually, it's all the same, I guess I'm just finally recognizing it for what it is.....and to be honest, I don't like it.

How about you? What is it that God has shown you that He wants you to do and you sit there in the back seat silently nodding your affirmation all the while doing nothing? I heard it once said that if you didn't feel like God was speaking to you, perhaps it was because He is still waiting for you to do the last thing He told you to do. Is it possible that the deafening silence I hear is simply God waiting on my to obey what He's already shown me to do? Micah 6:8 " (NIV) "He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."  (Message) "But he's already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It's quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, And don't take yourself too seriously— take God seriously."

The entire first part of Romans 12 gives further instructions. Then, of course, there is the kicker: 2 Chronicles 7:14 ~ "if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land." I've often recited this verse with emphasis on the humble and pray part - especially with the state our nation and economy seem to be in right now....but did you notice the second part, the "turn from their wicked ways" part? I've gone from disobeying, to defiance, to sin, to evil, to wicked - and it all started with a simple click.

I don't know what it is that God has shown you that you've nodded your head in affirmation to and then simply sat there, but I've got a few things on my own list. It's time to stop just sitting and nodding and "buckle up"....I have a feeling that when I do, it's going to be one exciting ride.

Have a great day - and buckle up my friend.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Even if no one notices....

This morning in my devotion I saw the following verse from Matthew 6: "If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don't fuss about what's on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.

27-29"Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.

30-33"If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

34"Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.

It reminded me of a blog I wrote about 3 years I decided to share it again.

Yesterday, I had the privilege of helping with the Labor Your Legs Race with the Pine Belt Pacers. As I was setting up to be a course monitor, I noticed a small patch of white flowers growing alongside the road underneath my feet. Since I had a few minutes waiting on the first runners, I stooped down to take a closer look.

There were quite a few of these delicate little flowers, all in full bloom. No one probably ever notices them...they are so small and close to the ground. That didn't matter. They bloomed anyway. After all, they weren't necessarily blooming for someone else anyway. They were blooming because God had created them to.

Now I know I am using personification, but it made me think of the verse in the Bible that talks about "consider the lilies". Well, I am considering the wildflowers. They may be small, not nearly as spectacular as a rose or some other more noticeable flower, but they bloom just the same. They brighten the small area where they are. I was fortunate enough to be there to see them, but they weren't blooming for me. They bloomed simply "as unto the Lord."

Would that I could live my Christian life this way. Caring not for recognition, but "blooming" where I am as unto the Lord. Maybe I will be noticed, maybe not. I, like many others, wish I could be great at SOMETHING. I run, but I'm not really that fast. I write, but only a blog that very few will ever read or care about. I fail on a regular basis as a wife and mother. I teach, but I'm not holding my breath waiting for "Teacher of the Year" award. Let's be honest, I'm never going to be the greatest at anything....except being me. But really, that's all I've ever needed to be.

It would be so amazing to be considered the best at something, but maybe that's not my destiny. Maybe my life will consist simply of "blooming", even if no one notices. I live for the day when I can hear my Savior say, "Well done." Come to think of it, maybe that one little flower was also blooming for me. Perhaps, that's a part of the plan. We are to "bloom" as unto the Lord, then when the time is right, someone will see...and a life will be changed. Lord, help me to live my life as unto You...simply because that's what You created me to do.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The missing ingredient

By now, my expertise at cooking is approaching legendary status....or perhaps I should say my LACK of expertise. I sincerely wish I had inherited the cooking gene from at least one side of my family - but somehow I have made it well into my adult years without ever attaining that elusive "I love to cook" trait that is so endearing in others.

Take, for example, my wonderful breakfast muffins. I had finally discovered a recipe for breakfast muffins that were both nutritious and delicious! I made these muffins quite a few times, and I did well as long as I followed the recipe to a "t". Then one day, I decided I could remember how to make these muffins without referring to the paper recipe - after all, it was extremely simple and I had made them before.

I set to work combining all my ingredients and popped them into the oven. They smelled wonderful - but, I did notice, a little different this time. After waiting the required 30 minutes (at least I think that's how long it was) I took my creation from the oven and eagerly poured myself a glass of milk so that I could sample the results. I took a huge bite and it was - plain. Something was missing. My wonderful muffins may have looked normal, but they were definitely FLAT in the taste department.

I racked my brain trying to retrace my cooking steps and figure out what had gone wrong...then it hit me. I forgot to put in the sugar. I had done everything else right, but I had forgotten the one ingredient that made my muffins sweet. Being resourceful and unwilling to toss them, I improvised by adding jam or topping each muffin with a non-calorie sweetener (as seen on tv). We managed to eat the entire batch, but the whole incident stuck with me. I had forgotten a key ingredient.

I have to wonder how many times in my day I do the same thing. I may do the right things, say the right things, even act the right way, but without that key ingredient - it all seems a little flat and tasteless. Without the sweetness of love, it's just not the same.

I have had times in my life when I knew I was speaking God's truth, but because I lacked that special ingredient, it's more than a little "flat". I spoke from my own cavalier attitude, and not from a heart of love. While it may have contained the same "nutritional value", it was still a little tough to swallow. I honestly wonder how many times in a day I do this and then wonder why the world does not receive the truth I have to share. (Did I mention I'm not a very good cook? Guess that goes for spiritual cooking as well.)

This Valentine's Day, I know I've got a lot to learn about cooking. You can say a prayer for my poor husband and family since I will probably be trying to cook a special Valentine's meal for them this evening. At least I know that it will be flavored with love....and hopefully that will make it taste just fine.

For more information of that "missing ingredient" go to 1 Corinthians 13 in your Bible. I think you'll like the recipe you find there.

1 Cor. 13 - The Way of Love

"If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don't love, I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God's Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, "Jump," and it jumps, but I don't love, I'm nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love doesn't strut,
Doesn't have a swelled head,
Doesn't force itself on others,
Isn't always "me first,"
Doesn't fly off the handle,
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn't revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end."

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I think the groundhog lied...

I'm as much a fan of silly traditions as the next girl, but I'm beginning to think that groundhog was off his rocker when he predicted an early spring! All I have seen in the weather is cold, cold, and more cold! I am a Southern girl! We don't do this much ice unless it's in our sweet tea! Maybe the problem is that we are relying on a NORTHERN groundhog to tell us what the weather will be down here. Perhaps we should switch to something more akin to our area - like an armadillo or a oppossum! If they are able to cross the road without getting squashed, spring will come early....and hurricanes will stay away!

Okay, so I'm having a bit of fun here at some poor rodent's expense. Still, it has me pondering how many things we cling to out of tradition instead of truth. We get into a rut in our way of working, living, even worshipping and before we know it we reach the end of our days never really living. What would happen if we started to ask God each day to open our eyes to what He has planned? What would our lives look like if instead of our to do list, we came to God with a blank sheet of paper and asked Him what was on His "to do" list for our day?

Today in a devotion from Proverbs 31 ministries( link), I came across this prayer: "Dear Lord, give me eyes to see the unseen today. Help me discern what is temporary and what is eternal, and handle both well. In Jesus' Name."

There are so many things in my day that are nothing more than a groundhog seeing his shadow - no real substance of truth to them - and yet I miss the things that are real, simply because I forget to open my eyes to what God has for me that day. I know, there are at least a hundred different things that we "have" to get done in each day...but what would happen if we first allowed God to direct us?

After hearing Lysa Terkeurst speak at a women's event recently, I've been trying to start each day asking God to open my eyes to see what He open my heart to what He wants. Here's where I'm supposed to say it has been one miracle after another - but to tell you the truth it has been tough! I've been stretched and molded and moved in directions I never intended! It's almost as if the potter has said, okay - let's get to work making you into the vessel I had intended. Oh, and I can't forget to mention the fire! God has allowed me to meet some pretty "hot" challenges lately that have really revealed my areas of weakness. Yep, there's nothing like saying yes to God...and I wouldn't change a thing.

I'm not really upset at that poor little groundhog. I'd probably make a much worse prediction if someone pulled me out of my nice warm den on a morning when it was below freezing! But I don't want to live my life being afraid of coming out of that den either....not when it is God who is calling.

Happy Belated Groundhog's Day everyone....may the spring of your soul come early this year.

1 Peter 2:9

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light

Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Ephesians 1:4-5
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—

Ephesians 2:10
For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

God made....

This is a re-post of one of my first blogs. This past week, my beautiful daughter turned 16. My, how time flies.

We have always known what a blessed family we were. Since our daughter entered our lives through adoption over 13 years ago, we have been a family living with the constant reminder of God’s grace toward us. When we were blessed three years later with her baby brother, we knew life would never be the same......

Most families begin the same way, man and woman fall in love, get married and have children. For us however, things didn’t follow the pattern they were supposed to. I met my husband in Jr. College. He was sitting on the air conditioner - right above the sign that said “Do not sit on the air-conditioner” and it was love at first sight. Of course, it took us 5 more years to get to the married part. Soon after we married, we decided to start our family…only things didn’t go according to plan. Things rarely go according to my plan.

Our story isn’t unique, many couples go through the heart-ache of discovering that having a baby isn’t an option for them. Since we realized that the love in our heart didn’t require that the child be “flesh of our flesh”, we decided to adopt. Unfortunately, the adoption fell through and we found ourselves heartbroken and questioning God. I didn’t understand why God wasn’t hearing our prayers….why it seemed that the world was crashing down around our shoulders and there was nothing we could do except ache. Life lost its color and joy. Laughter left my heart for a very long time. God did slowly heal the hurt, but there was still that empty space in me that longed for a child. Since I wasn’t willing to be hurt like that again, I often said that God would have to send a telegram telling me Himself that we were to adopt again. Eight years later that telegram came in the form of an invitation to a Bethany Christian Services banquet.

At that banquet, we heard adoptive parents speak, a birth mom speak, and we saw countless pictures of happy children who had found their forever families. Before the night was over, we knew that we were on the road to adoption once again. Nine months later, our daughter came into our home. With her came laughter like refreshing water to a thirsty soul. I never knew how much I could love someone until I held her in my arms. I also realized what a sacrifice her birth mother had made in choosing adoption and I prayed for her….I still do.

As our daughter grew, we were blessed with joy that words could not express. She was and is the apple of our eye. We talked wherever we went and she was becoming quite expressive with her language. As we would drive, I’d point out the beautiful colors in the sky and ask her, “Who made the sky?” She would respond, “God made the sky.” I just knew that we had a child prodigy on our hands.

At the park, I’d point out the flowers and ask, “Who made the pretty flowers?” Her response would be, “God made the flowers.” What a joy! My child was so smart!

When we’d see butterflies, I’d point out their beautiful colors and ask, “Who made the butterflies?” She’d answer, “God made the butterflies.” Obviously, my child was destined to become a spiritual giant!

Then one day, I walked into the living room to find the floor covered with crayons! I put my hands on my hips and said, “Who made this mess?” She looked up at me with those big brown eyes and said very matter-of-factly, “God made the mess.”

I still laugh when I think of that day, but her words make me realize afresh and anew just what a miracle working God we serve. Through all the turmoil, He brought laughter. He gave us hope where there had been only heartache. Where there was emptiness, He brought fullness of joy. Where there were wounds, He brought healing. He truly did give me the oil of joy for the ashes of mourning. Though I did not deserve it, He gave us the most precious gift and He did what no one else could do.

No, God didn’t make the mess….but God certainly can take the mess and make a miracle.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Is it wrong to be so excited? Hope not!

Okay, maybe it's wrong to be so excited, but one of my blogs is being featured at one of my favorite websites, The Higher Calling in their "Around the Network" article. The higher calling website is one that features different bloggers who write on faith, family, work, culture, attitude, and leadership. This is a great place to read articles to challenge your faith and nudge you out of your comfort zone. So, yes, I guess you could say I'm excited. Just had to share!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Like a caged rat

I am the owner of a rat. Actually, the rat started out as a pet for my son. I bought it for him thinking it would be a great pet for a growing the rat is mine. Why? Because my son quickly tired of the rat once it nipped his finger and I am the type of person who when I take on a responsibility of a pet, I do not take it lightly. So I have a rat.

I'm guessing that few of those who read this blog have actually ever owned a rat; I may have a few hamster lovers out there, but I doubt any really aspire to have a rat in their home. I could go on and on about how they are actually quite smart and can make excellent pets, but that's not the focus of this blog. Nope, right now I am thinking about the rat's annoying habit of running around in circles going nowhere. I can't blame him really - he is in a cage after all. It's sort of like the hamster on the wheel. He's just getting his exercise - going around and around in circles....sort of like my mind.

Yep, it's been a sleepless night. I read somewhere that sleeplessness is a result of stress, but for whatever the reason, I tried to go to sleep only to have my mind begin to whirl. I tried praying, but even then the words just wouldn't come. I lay in the bed wishing my body would relax and just drift off to sleep, but my entire being was so tense it felt like I could spring into motion without a moment of hesitation. Milk didn't help and neither did counting sheep.

I guess I finally fell asleep at some point, but at 4 a.m. my mind sprang into motion again and now I am sitting here at the computer wishing I were asleep. This could be a very long day.

I hate it when my mind starts going round and round in circles. I want to rest, but it's as if I am not in control. I want to turn whatever it is over to the Lord, but it's as if instead of my controlling my thoughts, my thoughts are controlling me! My mind feels like that poor little caged rat needing to get out and be free.

Since I know there is really nothing new under the sun and that God's Word has an answer to anything I am dealing with, I did a little searching. Seems that folks in the Bible had some sleepless nights themselves!

Psalm 94:19 & 22 - "In the multitude of my [anxious] thoughts within me, Your comforts cheer and delight my soul!", "the Lord has become my High Tower and Defense, and my God the Rock of my refuge." That multitude of anxious thoughts that can be like a whirlwind spinning round and round in my brain - God is my refuge.

One of my favorite psalms - Psalm 139:23-24 - "Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Anxiety has a way of making you open to allowing God to search your heart and get rid of whatever is causing the turmoil.

Phil. 4:6 - " Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." Okay, I have to admit - I forgot to do the thanksgiving part....that could be why the sleep never came.

I know that no matter what comes my way, my God is more than able to handle it. I am a dearly loved child - not some rat in a cage. So I will allow Jesus to speak to my anxious thoughts the same way He spoke to the storm - "Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm." Mark 4:39

They are predicting a major storm in my area today, but I know that though the winds around me may rage, inside I can have peace. Whatever storms life may decide to try and throw my way - I can have peace.
Now it's time to go and spend some time in thanksgiving and praise - because I know the joy of the Lord is my strength and after less than 4 hours sleep, I have a feeling today I'm going to need it!