Thursday, July 26, 2012

What not to wear...

I will admit it. I would gladly go on national tv and be humiliated about my bad clothing choices in order to get rid of my old stuff and be shown what to wear...and given the money to buy it!

Yes, I love the show "What Not to Wear." I don't always watch the entire program anymore, but I do like to tune in to at least see the "tips" and the final transformation. I am amazed at the difference you can see in the people by the end of every program - a difference that seems to be not only in their appearance, but in their whole being. Can what you wear really make that much difference?

Honestly, I know clothes make a difference. Once, many years ago, I prayed about why it seemed that people did not take me seriously and felt that nudge in my heart to look at how I was dressed. At the time I had on old jeans and a sweatshirt. I remember praying, "but God, the Bible says man looks on the outward appearance but YOU look on the heart!" Then I 'heard' the reply - "What is the first part of that verse?"

Well, man looks on the outward appearance....

"I see your heart but as long as you are on this earth, you will deal with 'man'. How you carry yourself makes a difference."

After that conversation with God, I did change the way I dressed and I did see a difference in the ways others reacted to me; but I'm not sure if it was because I dressed differently or because when I dressed differently, I acted differently as well! Sort of like what you see on that program. I carried myself differently, I walked in more confidence and assurance and people reacted to that difference.

Knowing that people (including me) react to others according to outward appearance, shouldn't it then be very important what we wear? Now, I am NOT the person to give fashion advice, but perhaps I can find a guideline that even I can use on a regular basis on what TO wear. The Bible has some really good advice in that area. "Clothe yourself in righteousness", and "Put on the whole armor of God" are good places to start. Then today I stumbled across this verse: 

Colossians 3:12-14

The Message (MSG)
 12-14So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

Finally - fashion tips that even I can understand. 

You know, one of the biggest things I notice about that show is that they don't really focus on what NOT to wear...oh they show the contestants how bad their choices have been up to this point, but the rest of the show they spend showing the people what TO wear. As a Christian, that's how I want to spend my life - not spending all my time shining a light on what others do WRONG, but shining a light on how good things can be.

You know, one of the biggest words used by people at the beginning of that show is "but it's comfortable" or "that won't be comfortable"...focusing only on physical comfort. By the end, they find something they desire far more than that physical comfort - they find something within that is willing to leave their comfort zone and move into a new comfort - comfort with who they were meant to be. They also usually discover that the new way of dressing isn't really uncomfortable at all!

Don't know about you, but I think I'll have some new things to think about this morning as I get "dressed" to face the day. I have been given a new "wardrobe" and the best part of it all - the price has already been paid. 

Oh, and on a side note, I often tell my daughter, "You are a precious jewel, a gift from God. Don't dress in such a way that it looks like that jewel is displayed on the reduced for quick-sale rack."  You get my point.

For an article with more great "what to wear advice" check this link: "What to wear Bible study".

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Public Service Announcement

Random thought for the day: You do not have "anger issues"; you have MATURITY ISSUES! It's time to grow up and realize that it's not all about you and what you want. Your rights end where another person's begin!

We need to stop making excuses for our bad behavior. It's not just "stating our opinion" or "saying what we think." No one "made you do it." The devil didn't hold a gun to your head and "make you lose your temper" or say unkind, cutting words about others. YOU did that. Own it. Admit it. Grow up.

We need to realize, our words have power - power to hurt or to heal. 

It's time to stop and realize, there are things worth being angry about and "this" probably isn't one of them.

This has been a public service announcement. That is all.

Luke 6:31-34

The Message (MSG)
"Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back? Run-of-the-mill sinners do that. If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that. If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that's charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that.

Hebrews 5:11-14

The Message (MSG)
 11-14I have a lot more to say about this, but it is hard to get it across to you since you've picked up this bad habit of not listening. By this time you ought to be teachers yourselves, yet here I find you need someone to sit down with you and go over the basics on God again, starting from square one—baby's milk, when you should have been on solid food long ago! Milk is for beginners, inexperienced in God's ways; solid food is for the mature, who have some practice in telling right from wrong.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Do not feed the animals....

Ever have one of those random thoughts hit you? Obviously it happens to me all the time, as evidenced by this blog. Well, today the random thought hit me - "Do not feed the animals." Why do we have rules? (Hey, I never said they make sense to begin with!)

Why do we have rules? Well, society would say it is so we can have order...but I'm thinking more along the lines of the kind of rules parents give...that our Heavenly Father gives. 

Rules like "Do not feed the animals." Why do we have that rule - well, obviously to protect us, (and the animals.) If we feed those animals we put ourselves into danger! At first, it seems harmless. You feed them and nothing bad happens. They are cute. We have an adventure. What could be so wrong with that? But we all know it doesn't always end there. We let down our guard. We walk into danger. We think we are okay, but sooner or later someone gets hurt. (Not to mention the damage it does to the animals!)

Life is filled with rules like this....and so is the Bible. 

Many people chafe at the idea of following the rules God gives us thinking it removes their freedom of choice, and they don't see the bigger picture of why that rule is there in the first place. It is there because of His love for us.

Why did I have rules about where my children could go? Why didn't I simply allow them to make their own decisions based on what they "felt"? Because I love them. I didn't just turn a blind eye when they wandered toward the road outside our home. I not only gave rules about how close they could get to that road, but I also took "correction measures" should they decide to ignore that rule. At times it only took a word...other times it took more memorable correction. All because of our love for them.

At times, as my children have gotten older, they have made decisions that "broke the rules." I am thankful that God has protected them from great harm with those decisions...but they suffer the consequences of those decisions all the same. Not from me - from the choice itself! Sometimes they "get it" and finally understand WHY we said no to things. Sometimes they don't....but they are growing and maturing and slowly beginning to understand.

We don't have rules simply to keep order or to keep us from having fun. We have rules because we are loved. May you feel that love today...and please don't "feed the animals."

Hebrews 12: 4-11
 4-11In this all-out match against sin, others have suffered far worse than you, to say nothing of what Jesus went through—all that bloodshed! So don't feel sorry for yourselves. Or have you forgotten how good parents treat children, and that God regards you as his children? 

   My dear child, don't shrug off God's discipline, 
      but don't be crushed by it either. 
   It's the child he loves that he disciplines; 
      the child he embraces, he also corrects.
God is educating you; that's why you must never drop out. He's treating you as dear children. This trouble you're in isn't punishment; it's training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God's training so we can truly live? While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God's holy best. At the time, discipline isn't much fun. It always feels like it's going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it's the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God.

Another version of verse 11:

Hebrews 12:11

New International Version (NIV)
11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

So you had a bad day....

This post is from the beginning of 2011 - but for some reason it came to mind again today. I apologize for the "re-post" but I thought perhaps others might be needing this reminder today just like me. Hang in there, my friends! It seems the battle always intensifies just before the end...and the good news is - we win in the end!

It had been one of those days. If it could go wrong, it seemed like it had. It wasn't just the everyday little things either. I was getting hit with things that had me standing there with my mouth wide open wanting to say, "You've GOT to be kidding!" By the end of the day, I wanted to cry - just sit down and cry! No, I wanted to sit down, cry and QUIT! It just didn't seem like it was worth trying. To be honest I was just plain worn out.

As I headed back to my room, I noticed the door of another teacher who I knew prayed for her fellow teachers each week. I peeked my head in just to ask if she'd remember me in her prayers this week. I got a lot more. Not only did she pray with me then, but she shared something that God had revealed to her - that anger can hinder our prayers. Anger, frustration, hurt - they could all keep me from being able to pray for the situation. I knew what she said was true and I left with it on my mind, but to be honest I was still reeling from the blows of the day. I still wanted to just give up.

When I got home, I told my husband all that had happened and then I sat down to my favorite unwind activity - checking facebook. It seemed that a lot of my friends were having days a lot like mine - one even called it an "epic fail."  Yep, that pretty much described it. I stared at the screen and I knew what my status would be - "No weapon formed against me shall prosper. Sure glad I've got God's promise on that."

I sat and just looked at my status. Something about that word, 'formed', caught my eye. The weapons used against me today to discourage me weren't just picked at random - they were formed. It was as if the enemy knew exactly what shape the weapon should be to inflict the most damage. He knew which buttons to push to cause my discouragement to mount. He took the time to form a weapon against me. Why? Because if he was able to succeed in getting me to get discouraged and quit, I wouldn't be able to accomplish that which God had placed me there for. He wanted me to give up...and to be honest, it almost worked!

I looked up the word "formed" and it means, among other things: to construct or frame; compose; to place in order; arrange; organize; shape; fashion. My enemy took the time to compose, organize, shape and fashion the attack against me in such a way that it would hit my most vulnerable areas. It's a good thing that I know that when and where I am weakest, my Father is strong - otherwise those weapons might have had more power to destroy! The worst part of that would have been that the mission God gave me might have been left incomplete. So that's why the devil is so intent on making me angry, frustrated and discouraged! He wants me to give up on what I know God has told me to do! Knowing that all this was an attempt to not only defeat me but to make me give up on the mission God has put in front of me - well, that just makes me mad!

I don't know what your day has been like. Maybe it's been great, or maybe like me you feel like you've been sucker-punched in the gut and you're still feeling a little bit dazed. There is good have an advocate that is standing before the Father with an answer to refute every lie the enemy uses to try condemn you. Our problem is that we listen to the accuser more than we listen to our Advocate! We actually help him form the weapons he wants to use against us! I don't know about you, but I'm tired of feeding him ammunition!

I truly hope your day was one filled with sunshine and lollipops, but just in case it wasn't, I want to leave you with some words of encouragement from Isaiah 54:17. "no weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the LORD."

The Lord has declared it and that's good enough for me. Today will not defeat me, it will become just another battle won for the Lord!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Sometimes you just know what's inside...

Lately I've been reading a LOT about a book called 50 Shades of Gray and a movie called Magic Mike. Seems a lot of people are watching or reading...and no, I have not. 

I heard about Magic Mike first - actually thought about going to see it with some girlfriends...then I thought, "How would I feel about it if my husband told me he and a bunch of his friends wanted to go see a movie about beautiful young girls who stripped?" Well, the answer is obvious on that one! So, if I wouldn't want my husband to do it, why would I think it was okay for me? 

Then, I started hearing about a book (which I think is being made into a movie) titled, 50 Shades of Grey. From what I have read about the content, I can readily say, this is also a book I will not read. Why? It simply does not fit into the criteria of "whatsoever things are good, honest, pure, of a good report" that the Bible tells me to think on.

Now before you go and call me a prude or close-minded or whatever, please hear me out. I recently had conversation with a colleague about the Twilight series - I said I did not read them simply because of the vampire content. My reasoning had to do with a book I read in high school about vampires that opened the door of my imagination to some very dark areas (which would be considered very MILD by today's standards.) I was "reprimanded" and told it is simply a love story and I shouldn't not decide until I had read it for myself. I had to wonder, if it's simply a love story, then why make them vampires?

The point is - I came away feeling ashamed that I had made a decision to NOT read the books. 

Then, my teen brought a movie home from Red box that he REALLY wanted to see. "Everyone had seen it and" ...well, you know the arguments. I let my guard down and didn't check reviews or watch it before hand. It was awful! Now those "jokes" and images are in my child's head because I made a compromise. (I only caught the last couple of minutes of the show - he'd already watched it....twice!) 

This incident reminded me of something that happened early in my marriage. My husband and I were returning some movies to the rental store (wow...hard to believe those will soon be a thing of the past!) and they were pretty mild by most standards. I think they were light comedy/horror. As we parked, my mind went to what other movie I would rent and immediately another thought entered in. "Why do you ask Me to station angels around your house and then walk right past them carrying the enemy and letting them in?" 

I knew what that meant. I was asking for God's protection over me and my household, but those angels would not stop ME from bringing it in. That wasn't their job. They were there to stop outside attacks and couldn't do a thing about my own stupidity!

It seems to me that a lot of the new books and movies are cloaked in "romance" or "comedy" or any number of other good "story lines", but in reality they are nothing more than the enemy coming into our lives via a Trojan horse!

All this has also reminded me of something that happened when I was a little girl. Once, when I was very young, I discovered some wonderful little sand "castles" in an area of my yard. I thought someone had come to play in my yard while I slept! With my bare foot, I played in the sand castles only to discover that cats make "sand castles" too. I will never forget that inside that pile was a load of yuck! 

So no, I haven't read 50 shades or watched any "Magic" movies. I'm not telling you what to do...I'm telling you WHY I choose not to. Sometimes you don't have to play in a pile to know what's inside.

Just my thoughts on things.

Ephesians 6:10-18

The Message (MSG)
A Fight to the Finish
 10-12And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we'll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels. 13-18Be prepared. You're up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it's all over but the shouting you'll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You'll need them throughout your life. God's Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other's spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.

Philippians 4:8

The Message (MSG)
 8-9Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

I was bored...

This has been a summer of classes and not much else which makes for one bored me.
Boredom usually results in a major funk for me, so I decided to do "something"....anything so long as it didn't cost money and didn't require me getting hot.
Answer - refinish an old end table that has been bothering me. In hindsight, I probably should have taken some before pictures...guess you'll just have to use your imagination on that part. As it is, you just get to see the finished product.
That's all - no real post today...just wanted to share my "new" table.
So what do you do when you get bored...remember - it can't cost money!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Missed the turn...

I was really excited to see all my friends at the big 4th of July BBQ and Wedding Shower this week. Nothing quite like good food and good friends to make a day special. We left in plenty of time to get there - it was only an hour and a half away...but of course something went wrong.

Let me just say - I printed out the directions! Two people in the car had GPS on their phones. We've gone lots of places before and my daughter's phone will kindly tell me things like "two more miles and then turn left" - well, her old phone did that. Seems this new, far more expensive model doesn't talk to you like the old one did. Neither did my friend's phone. You had to read the map and figure out what it meant on that tiny little screen. But like I said - I had printed directions!

After driving for well over and hour and a half, I started to question ALL our directions! It was about then that my friend said according to her GPS we were now headed the wrong way. WHAT? Time to turn around, call our friends and try to find the place the old fashioned way - with verbal directions!

It took a while to get someone on the phone....those smart phones we carry with us EVERYWHERE had been put on a counter somewhere so no one was answering our call. Finally, we got another friend at the party on the phone. The laughing on the other end of the phone made it obvious, we were now the object of conversation and jokes. It was okay - by now we were all laughing our heads off too!

When my friend got her husband on the phone to give directions, he was super apologetic and started to give me really good, detailed directions. The problem with that was, I was driving and I'm ADHD - I can only handle so much information at once before it all becomes blah, blah, blah. I got him to narrow it down to one thing - where was the turn I was supposed to be looking for? He told me the town it was in (that would have REALLY been helpful in the original directions - but the map neglected to tell me that part and I've already mentioned that the phones weren't "talking" to us.

Thankfully, we finally found our way to the party (after almost 3 hours in the car!) We refrained from going in, giving them our gifts, going to the bathroom, and then asking for a "to-go" box! Once we settled in and laughed with everyone at our misdirection, we had a really good time.

Of course, almost nothing happens in my life without my mind taking a detour to a random thought. Actually, what is funny is that the conversation my friend and I had been having on the trip was about missed chances. I had actually made a reference to something I'd once read where they compared the Holy Spirit to God's GPS...and when we miss a turn, it says "recalibrating" and still gets us to where we're supposed to be, just with a few more "scenic details" involved. 

By the time we got back home, I realized I have been missing more than a few turns - and I'm not talking about in the car. I have been missing opportunities left and right! Inside, I wanted to just stop and cry. I had a bad case of the mully-grubs....and I kept thinking about that missed turn.

I'm trying to remember that God isn't surprised when I get distracted or don't understand and miss a turn. He's already got a plan to turn me around and get me where I need to be. I just do best when I can "hear" that I'm off track. Sometimes it's from that gentle voice inside; sometimes it's from the kind words of a friend....sometimes it's because I run into a "wall" and figure it out for myself. I'm just thankful that no matter how He does it, He loves me enough to give me another chance.

Today I find myself "recalibrating" and trying to figure out where I missed a turn so I can get back into the direction God wants for me.

So how's your summer going?

Isaiah 30:21

New International Version (NIV)
21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”