Sunday, March 25, 2012

Always hungry...

This morning I went to the fridge to get some milk for my cereal and found, yet again, that the gallon jug was almost empty. I poured the last few drops over my cereal and made myself a mental note to pick up another gallon this afternoon. I find that now I just automatically pick up milk every time I go to the grocery store whether I think I need it our not - because with my son, it's more often need it than not!

At 14 years old, that boy eats ALL the time - he's always hungry! Of course, he has good reason to be hungry. He is always working out and I'm pretty sure he grows in his sleep! I can always tell when he's about to hit another growth spurt because the pantry will be bare-er than usual! I have to visit the grocery store almost every day simply to keep up with the demand!

All those moms out there recognize this phrase, "Mom, I'm hungry. Do we have anything to eat?" This is usually uttered less than an hour after a huge meal and while standing looking into the open fridge. Oh the joys of a growing boy.

That's when it hit me....of course he's hungry - he's growing! But does that mean that when I am NOT hungry for God's Word that I'm not growing? Am I not "working out" my faith so there's no real need for extra nourishment?  I should be consistently hungry and in need of nourishment...finding myself opening that Bible and saying "Hey God, I'm hungry! Do we have anything good to eat?"

Yep, I've got a bottomless pit disguised as a growing boy; and I'm thinking maybe it's time I joined him. It's time I worked up an appetite for more.....

Psalms 63:1 
God—you're my God! I can't get enough of you! 
   I've worked up such hunger and thirst for God, 
      traveling across dry and weary deserts. 

Matthew 5:6

"You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God. He's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Feeding my f_ _ _

Okay, I bet you thought this blog was going to be about feeding my face. I admit, that is something I do on a regular basis, but this blog is really about asking myself the question am I feeding my fear or my faith.

This past week in a Bible study, the topic came up of visualizing what we pray for. Now this isn't some new-age kind of positive thinking I'm talking about here; it's about what you picture when you pray and  what difference does it make.

I honestly had never thought about this, but our study really got me to thinking. I had to ask myself, am I looking so much at the problem that the picture of it has become my reality? Or, can I picture what I am praying for and allow that "picture" to feed my faith?

For example, when I pray for my children, do I picture the problems we are having that week, or do I picture them serving the Lord - happy and successful in their lives? When I pray for my husband's healing, do I picture the problem and whine to God that I don't know what to do; or do I picture him healthy and happy and able to enjoy all the adventures our family has yet to experience? When I pray for my students, do I picture the attitude they are so prone to display; or do I picture them "getting it" and maturing into all that God has for them?

Simply put - do I picture what the problem seems to be or do I picture what God says? What I picture can determine whether I am feeding my fear or my faith.

That reminded me of a Bible story (...welcome to the first edition of Friday Favorites.) This story may be familiar to you, but as I am learning - there are a lot of people who don't know these stories. That is why every Friday I will attempt to "retell" a familiar story. This week we'll look at someone who had to decide whether to focus on the problem, or what the Lord said. This week we'll look at good old Peter.

This story takes place following the feeding of the 5,000! If there is anything that should get your faith running high, it should have been seeing Jesus take 5 loaves and 2 fish and feeding all those people and still having 12 baskets of food left over. I'm just feeding 2 teenagers and there's rarely ANYTHING left over!!

Anyway, after all this, it was time to head to their next "appointment" so the disciples got into the boat and headed out to sea. Jesus stayed behind to pray and basically told them He'd "catch up with them". 

Can you imagine the conversation on that boat! I bet they were all talking at once about the miracles they had seen and rubbing their full bellies from the blessed meal they had just eaten. It was getting late and while they were excited, they probably also getting tired. It was about then that the storm started brewing. 

This is how the Message version tells it: (Matthew 14: 24-31) "Meanwhile, the boat was far out to sea when the wind came up against them and they were battered by the waves. At about four o'clock in the morning, Jesus came toward them walking on the water. They were scared out of their wits. "A ghost!" they said, crying out in terror.
But Jesus was quick to comfort them. "Courage, it's me. Don't be afraid."
Peter, suddenly bold, said, "Master, if it's really you, call me to come to you on the water."
He said, "Come ahead."
   Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, "Master, save me!"
Jesus didn't hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand. Then he said, "Faint-heart, what got into you?"

There it is....Peter started out by visualizing himself walking out to Jesus; he jumped right out of that boat! He got a picture in his head of what Jesus said, but then his gaze shifted. He no longer had a "picture" of what Jesus was saying but instead pictured what seemed to be the very present reality - a storm. That's when he started to sink.

I love that Jesus didn't let Peter just sink. I can almost hear His gentle voice as he caught him and said, "Faint-heart, what got into you?" I also think I know the answer...fear got into Peter. 

I have to ask myself what do I "see" when I pray. Do I "see" something that is feeding my fear, or do I "see" things as God does and thereby feed my faith? What I picture could make the difference in whether I persevere and walk on, or whether I let go of my faith and sink into the problem.

"See" what I mean? I'm thinking I need to "picture" what God has promised instead of the storm that has me praying in the first place. I want to see things God's way because my way usually doesn't work that well!

Yep, I'm thinking it's all in how you "look" at it. ;)
I'm thinking it's time to feed my faith.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


I admit it. I hate the word "Duh!" but sometimes it just fits! Today I had one of those "duh" moments when truth slaps you "up-side" the head and gets your attention.

I am currently enrolling in a program to further my education and vocational opportunities. Let me say to begin with, this is NOT an area I had ever considered before....but since last summer I could feel that gentle nudge that led me to believe this is an area where God is leading me. I have done what I knew to do and am trusting (trying to trust) God with the outcome. That really is easier said than done, you know.

Yesterday, as I was completeing the final papers to send in before the deadline, I realized that the "bar" had been raised. What had initially looked like a shoe-in, now looks to be a much more difficult program to get in to. To add insult to injury, the price of tuition has gone up! Now mind you, I didn't really have the money in the first place, but to add another $500 and possibly gas money to the mix was blowing my feeble little mind! I was lamenting - okay, I was COMPLAINING about this to a friend and she reminded me, "God's got this." I laughed and said something along the lines of yeah, He's got all the money, so why worry...but it was this morning that it "hit" me - the "Duh" moment.

I was getting dressed and thinking about sending my daughter to the store to pick up something for me. I, of course, was about to give her the money to make the purchase, plus a little gas money for making the trip when I went, DUH! I'm not about to send her to the store to get something I told her to get and not give her the provision with which to get it! How much more can I trust God to provide for what I believe He has told me to do?!? Plus, I had already given her money for gas (which I might add she somehow burns through at a lightning speed) but since I really wanted her to make this trip to the store for me, I was going to give her a little more. (There's a whole other blog on how she had foolishly 'spent' her gas...)

We all know the scripture the from Matthew 7:11, "If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" So how come I so often forget this?

The whole point of today's blog is this. If God has directed us to do something that HE wants done, don't we realize He'll provide? Duh!

1 Thessalonians 5:24 (NIV)
"The One who called you is completely dependable. If he said it, he'll do it!"

2 Corinthians 9:8
The Message (MSG)
8-11God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you're ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done. As one psalmist puts it,
He throws caution to the winds,
giving to the needy in reckless abandon.
His right-living, right-giving ways
never run out, never wear out.
This most generous God who gives seed to the farmer that becomes bread for your meals is more than extravagant with you. He gives you something you can then give away, which grows into full-formed lives, robust in God, wealthy in every way, so that you can be generous in every way, producing with us great praise to God.

Sunday, March 18, 2012


I love spring. It seems like the whole world is waking up again. It's like the lights get "turned on" and we shake off the stupor of winter.

Today, our pastor shared a passage out of Ephesians 5 about walking in the light. When I got home and looked up this passage in the Message Bible, the heading for the chapter was "Wake up from your sleep!" Maybe that explains why, as he was preaching, I started to remember another sermon from many years ago. I wish I could remember who it was who shared this story because, even 20 years later, I think of it more times that you would imagine.

A visiting pastor shared the story of his three daughters. It seems that each had her own distinct personality, as children always do. These differences were most readily seen in the mornings. 

When he would go in to wake them, the first would say, "I'm up," and then immediately roll over and go back to sleep. She would do this over and over until he pulled the covers off and made her get out of bed. 

The second was a bit more, shall we say, demonstrative. When he would go in to turn on the light and wake her, he would immediately duck because she did NOT like being awakened one bit and a pillow was usually tossed in the direction of whomever had dared to disturb her sleep.

The third little girl was his favorite to wake up, so he saved her for last. She would turn over with a smile as if to say, "Oh...did I fall asleep? Thank you for waking me!" She greeted the light with a slight squint and a smile, ready to jump out of bed and greet the day.

I think of those three little girls often, and I wonder - which one am I? When God shines His light on something in my life, do I live in denial and say "I'm awake," and then roll back into my slumber hoping to not be disturbed? Do I get angry and toss whatever I can find at whomever dared to shine the light? Or will I be that third little girl? Will I squint a little and then receive the light with gladness?

The decision lies not in the light, but in me. Either way, the light is shining and it's time to wake up.

Ephesians 5:8-10
8-10You groped your way through that murk once, but no longer. You're out in the open now. The bright light of Christ makes your way plain. So no more stumbling around. Get on with it! The good, the right, the true—these are the actions appropriate for daylight hours. Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it.

Ephesians 14-15
Wake up from your sleep,
   Climb out of your coffins;
   Christ will show you the light!
So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

It's all connected...

"Foot bone's connected to the ankle bone; ankle bone's connected to the leg bone...."

Lately I've been thinking a lot about how things are "connected" in my life. I remember a dear friend once telling me there was a definite connection between the physical symptoms we experience and what is going on in our lives spiritually. At the time, I think we were talking about back pain and she mentioned that usually meant you were trying to "carry a burden" that you were not meant to carry. No, that's not the same as saying it's "all in your head." It does, however, bring up something thoughts to ponder. 

We are a three-fold being...body, soul/mind, and spirit. It is impossible to separate one from the other - well, except by the Word of God. (Hebrews 4:12 - "For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.") So whatever is going on in one would understandably effect the other two.

One article I read talked about the things we deal with each day, that fill our mind, effect our emotions and how we view the world. The author's friend was a police officer dealing with the world of drugs - understandably he saw the darkest emotions and actions of man and grew morose and cynical. She, however, worked in a flower shop and saw those coming in to celebrate life and love on a regular basis...she tended to see life in an entirely different perspective. We have to realize that which we constantly deal with makes a difference in our emotions.

Another article I read pinpointed different emotions and where it shows up in the human body, usually as pain. Lower back pain, something a number of people I love are dealing with, is often connected with the stress of finances. (With today's economy, many are literally 'feeling the pain.') Again...the connection is there. 

As a diabetic, I am constantly learning how what I eat effects my body. Putting the wrong combination of foods in can cause sugar spikes and emotional lows. My energy can suffer and my ability to process is definitely effected!

So what is the point of all this pondering? So what if everything is connected? Should I go on a diet of all organic, surround myself only with sunshine and flowers (not good for my allergies by the way - which are probably a symptom of some other area of weakness now that I think about it), and spend my days in meditation massaging my feet, which evidently are directly connected to every part of my body as well? I don't think so.

I think a more practical approach will simply to be aware of what I allow in my mind, body and spirit. When one part sends a "signal" that something is out of balance, I won't simply write it off as a bad day or getting old. I will look to see, instead, what may be out of balance in another area of my life. It's all connected. 

Oh, and I'll remember to sing the rest of that song I started with...."praise the name of the Lord!"

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

The Message (MSG)
 23-24May God himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole, put you together—spirit, soul, and body—and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ. The One who called you is completely dependable. If he said it, he'll do it!

Friday, March 16, 2012

A name change....

Some may have noticed the name of my blog has changed. Since only a few of my posts are specifically about running, I thought a better idea would be to go with the blog address - which means explaining the name.

It started as a running mantra. For those who may not know what a running mantra is, it is simply something you say to yourself when you are out there running and you simply want to quit. It can also be something you say to yourself to make you run harder and stronger. Yes, I have just admited that I talk to myself - but sometimes it's because I "need a good talkin' to" and sometimes it's because I'm just trying to find someone who will listen. At any rate, my mantra was "Everyday I run is another battle won." This got me around the track and through more miles than I ever imagined it would...and then it became something more. It became a mantra that helps me get through each day.

Maybe I'm the only one who ever has those days that make you just want to sit down and call it quits - the ones that make you want to say I'm out of this race. If so, then I'll just keep writing this to me. After all, I've already admitted I talk to myself. Still, I have to believe there are others out there who sometimes struggle as well. After all, there is nothing really new under the sun.

In 1 Timothy 6: 11-12, it says, "But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses."Sometimes it is a battle to pursue those things we are told to pursue, and not always a battle with the enemy. Sometimes it's simply a battle with myself. 

One of my favorite books in the Bible is Nehemiah. In that book, Nehemiah has been called by God to go back to rebuild the walls of the city of Jerusalem. The people had returned to that city years before and set up the temple, but the walls of the city still lay in ruins - leaving them vulnerable to attack. I remember the first time I studied this book and realized this explained how someone could be a Christian and yet their lives could still be in ruins. The temple had been set up in their hearts, but the walls of their life that the enemy had torn down over the years still lay in ruins. To rebuild those walls, the workers actually had to have a sword in one hand and a building tool in the other! 

Nehemiah 4:16 - 18  From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. 
Rebuilding was not only work, it was a battle. 

That's what another battle won really means to me. Some days are a battle of the will to do what I know is right; sometimes they are a battle to keep my focus on the Lord and what He has called me to; some days are a battle to listen not to the enemy, but to the promises of my Father who has never failed. 

Nehemiah 6:9, 16 "They were trying to intimidate us into quitting. They thought, "They'll give up; they'll never finish it." I prayed, "Give me strength." ; "When all our enemies heard the news and all the surrounding nations saw it, our enemies totally lost their nerve. They knew that God was behind this work. "

So that's what another battle won is all about....taking this call God has given me and walking it out one day at a time. On this day, I choose to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.I will  fight the good fight of the faith. so that when I lay my head on my pillow at night I can close my eyes and say, "Today has been another battle won in the Lord."

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Vanity, thy name is contacts.

Okay, I'll admit it. I am blind as a bat. Thanks to diabetes, some days more than others it seems. Since discovering I am diabetic, one of the challenges has been adjusting my vision apparel so that I don't walk around like I'm drunk! I've worn contacts for years, but some days they just do not work - so I resort to a pair of 5 year old glasses that actually work better than my newer prescription.

I have a LOT of reasons for wearing contacts. One - I hate having anything between me and another person when we are talking. I feel like there's a wall or something. Two - working out with glasses is a hassle. I am a sweat-er and within five minutes of a good run or weight session, my glasses are sliding down my nose. Three - well, there's not really a three but all good arguments need three points. I guess three would be I don't really like the way I look in glasses....especially lately.

Lately I've been noticing I look a lot like my grandmother...and not the young version of her either! When I wear my glasses, the resemblance is even greater, (or maybe I can just SEE it better.) At any rate, it was the third, supposedly non-existent, reason that was on my mind this morning as I made the choice to wear one contact so that I could somewhat see both far away and up close. I'd like to say I was thinking about my workout later today, but it's not nice to lie to your blog readers.

That's when the random thought hit me....I am more concerned with how I am seen rather than what I am seeing! Oh my! Am I really that vain? Yes, I guess I am. I am spending more time thinking about how I "look" than I am "looking" at the world around me.

Vanity - thy name is contacts...and I've got some serious re-evaluating to do! (But I'm still just putting in one contact today....only this time it really is cause I'm about to go workout.)

John 4:35

35 Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.

Matthew 13: 10-17
10The disciples came up and asked, "Why do you tell stories?" 11-15He replied, "You've been given insight into God's kingdom. You know how it works. Not everybody has this gift, this insight; it hasn't been given to them. Whenever someone has a ready heart for this, the insights and understandings flow freely. But if there is no readiness, any trace of receptivity soon disappears. That's why I tell stories: to create readiness, to nudge the people toward receptive insight. In their present state they can stare till doomsday and not see it, listen till they're blue in the face and not get it. I don't want Isaiah's forecast repeated all over again:

   Your ears are open but you don't hear a thing.
      Your eyes are awake but you don't see a thing.
   The people are blockheads!
   They stick their fingers in their ears
      so they won't have to listen;
   They screw their eyes shut
      so they won't have to look,
      so they won't have to deal with me face-to-face
      and let me heal them.

 16-17"But you have God-blessed eyes—eyes that see! And God-blessed ears—ears that hear! A lot of people, prophets and humble believers among them, would have given anything to see what you are seeing, to hear what you are hearing, but never had the chance.

Am I living for the red part?

As I read through my emails today, I saw this video shared on another friend's blog. It has given me so much to "chew on" that I just had to share it with others. I am so often consumed with what is going on around me....I've forgotten what comes next!
Warning...don't watch unless you're ready to be challenged today! (For those who cannot see the video link, you can find it at youtube by typing in What are you living for? Francis Chan.)


The following is adapted from a lesson I shared in my Women's Bible Study Group. 

Have you ever known a bully or a mean girl? Okay - don't everyone try to talk at once! (It seems that EVERYONE has dealt with at least one or the other.) 

I dealt with a "bully" when I was younger. She kept me in fear, wondering what she would do next. The whispers were the worst...never really knowing what was being said. Finally one day, I had enough. I turned and faced her and said as much. I was terrified because I knew I very well might take a punch to the face, but to my surprise, she backed down. (I'm sure my trembling voice scared her into leaving me alone!) That was the first of many times I've had to face my fears...and the bully creating them.

For some, a bully is someone who pushes you into a locker and takes your lunch money. I find that today's bullies are far more subtle. They rely on intimidation to get what they want. The Oxford English Dictionary defines intimidation as: to render timid; to inspire fear; to discourage; or, suppress by threatening. Wow... that sounds like tactics the devil uses against us!

We have an enemy that truly has no power over us, but through intimidation keeps us cowering in fear. The Bible describes him as a lion that prowls around looking for who he can destroy. He looks for those who are isolated - away from the flock. That makes them easier to attack. The lion is also an opportunistic hunter, doing most of his hunting at night....ever notice how feelings of inadequacy fill our minds at night? And lions go after those who are tired. (See previous blog: Lesson from under the juniper tree ) 

1 Kings 18 tells the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal. 1 Kings 19:1-4 tells how he ran from the intimidation of Jezebel. What happened? How could such a man of God who had just seen such victory then turn and run at the words of a woman? He was so intimidated and discouraged by Jezebel's words that he wanted to die! The purpose of her intimidation was to prevent Elijah from completing God's purpose. 

The enemy does the same thing to us today. He couldn't keep you from accepting Christ, so he tries to keep you from completing God's purpose in your life through intimidation. I don't want to stand before God one day saying, "I know you had things for me to do, but I was scared."

To break the bully's power, we have to turn and face him - not in our own power but in the power of God's Word, just as Jesus did in the wilderness. One of a bully's greatest tactics is to keep you on the run...afraid to turn around and face him. You can try and "fly under the radar" and hope he won't notice you, but that won't work for long. At some point, you have got to take a stand.

This doesn't mean you'll automatically "feel" like you're winning. I know when I stood before my bully I certainly didn't feel like a winner. I was shaking so hard my teeth were rattling! But trembling inside, we still stand and declare what God says about us and our situation. We need to get to the point where we've "had enough" of the devil's lies. It may mean praying like the man with the demon possessed son in Mark 9:22-24, "I believe - help me with my unbelief."

Then what? Well, the enemy will usually try to get us to stop or give up - usually with more intimidation. Keep praying. Don't give up too soon. It's not something you can do on your is truly relying on God's power and promises to you. We also have to stop saying negative things into our own lives...stop helping the devil! Instead, we need to start speaking the truth that God has given us over and over in His Word. It's that simple...but it isn't easy.

It's time to end the intimidation. Our enemy really has no power over us. It's time to turn around and take a stand. The results? We will be stronger....and we'll have life - more life. 

James 1:1-12

The Message (MSG)
 1I, James, am a slave of God and the Master Jesus, writing to the twelve tribes scattered to Kingdom Come: Hello! Faith Under Pressure 2-4Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
 5-8If you don't know what you're doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You'll get his help, and won't be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who "worry their prayers" are like wind-whipped waves. Don't think you're going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.
 9-11When down-and-outers get a break, cheer! And when the arrogant rich are brought down to size, cheer! Prosperity is as short-lived as a wildflower, so don't ever count on it. You know that as soon as the sun rises, pouring down its scorching heat, the flower withers. Its petals wilt and, before you know it, that beautiful face is a barren stem. Well, that's a picture of the "prosperous life." At the very moment everyone is looking on in admiration, it fades away to nothing.
 12Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Did I say that????

Today I was reading something that made me stop and ask myself, "Just what am I saying?" 
Click here to read the post that started this random thought. Red Letter Believers

Now, I know that words are powerful, but sometimes I speak without thinking...okay, so I OFTEN speak without thinking. I usually try to say positive things, but to be honest, I have a knack for exaggeration that, while funny, is probably NOT what I want to say.

For example, I sometimes say my kids are "driving me crazy," or that my head is "killing me," or even "I'm so broke I can't even pay attention." 

Right after I started pondering all this, I came across this article by Kenneth Copeland and it really seemed to express what I was already thinking about.
"Listen, the world of the spirit doesn't operate on what you mean. It operates on what you say. Mark 11:23 tells us that "whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith." 
Take note. That verse didn't say you shall have whatsoever you mean. It says you'll have what you say. It's what you say that counts. 
Now, I'm not suggesting you should be tied up in knots all the time worrying about what your next phrase might be. Just use the wisdom God has given you. Train your mouth to be obedient to His Word. Then, when you need it most, you'll find that Word dwelling richly in you." often have I forgotten that what I say counts? Maybe I need to do some adjusting.

"I hate my job." (I don't by the way, I just heard someone else say this recently!) Instead - thank you Lord for putting me here - show me what you want me to do here today.

"I hate my house/furniture/kitchen/bathroom." Thank you Lord for shelter - a place to call home.

"I hate my thighs/stomach/nose/whatever." Thank you Lord that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. You knit me together. None of this is by accident (and I'm going to take care of what YOU made for me by HAND!!!)

"I hate what is happening in our government." Thank you Lord that You turn the hearts of those in authority and use them to bring about YOUR purpose...even if to me it seems like to me that they are complete idiots.

"I hate what is happening in my life right now." Thank you Lord that you work ALL things for my good and Your glory.

"I can't handle this." Thank you Lord that "No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God."
~ Romans 8:39, NLT

Psalms 19:14 " May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer."

I would wash my mouth out with soap if I thought that would help....but instead I think today I'll spend a little (make that a lot!) of time praising God and thanking Him for my life....starting now. Thank you Lord for those you send to read my random thoughts...may they be blessed today.

For just a partial list of some of what GOD says about things, click here:
 God's promises for every situation

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Broken crayons....

This a post from about 4 years ago...something a friend shared today brought it back to mind so I thought perhaps I'd share it again.
A friend reminded me tonight of a conversation we'd had a while back...I'm not sure if the thoughts are entirely original, or if I'm repeating something I read somewhere. Either way, it's worth sharing.

As a teacher, I am a sucker for fresh school supplies. I love post-it notes, new pencils and notebooks, colored paper clips, you name it. But by far my favorite new school supply is a box of crayons.

Almost everyone knows the absolute joy of opening that new box and smelling the new crayon smell. You gaze down at the row of colors, all unused and perfectly sharp, and you begin to create. Perhaps it will be a rainbow, a castle, a futuristic car, the face of someone you love, or simply your name in curly cues and fancy swirls. You can't wait to use them, yet you almost hate to dull the first one as it glides across your paper.

Contrast this with the crayons children bring home in their backpacks at the year's end. Those crayons are broken, worn down, used and reused again. They have already created masterpieces....but they are no longer treasured. These crayons are tossed to the side in hopes of a new box to replace them.

What a shame. In being so enraptured with the new crayons, we forget to see the potential in the broken crayons we already have. These crayons are the ones that can be molded and blended to create colors beyond what any box can provide. These crayons can be peeled to expose the perfect side for shading and adding color to the sky. These crayons are ready to be used without fear of marring their perfection. These broken crayons truly do create some of the most beautiful pictures.

Of course, there is an analogy here....sometimes we see people, dreams and ideas the way we see these crayons. Everyone wants the new ones, the fresh ones, the ones that seem "perfect". Unfortunately in doing so we often overlook the ones that are "broken". We forget that in brokeness, we can find beauty. In brokeness, we are made whole. In brokeness, new "pictures" are created that can touch our world. Those around us that seem broken or worn out are some of the richest "colors" there are to be found. Whether it's a dream that has faded, a person who the world sees as "broken", or a life that feels worn our weakness, He is made strong. There are pictures yet to create.

May your day be filled with beautiful pictures today.

1 Samuel 16:7

The Message (MSG)
 7 But God told Samuel, "Looks aren't everything. Don't be impressed with his looks and stature. I've already eliminated him. God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart."

Sunday, March 4, 2012

What is the problem with kids these days

The other day I heard a friend ask, "What is it with the kids these days?" It was the typical conversation that happens after a rough day with students. We often see them make poor choices, but some days just make you shake your head. Often, that 'head-shake' is a result of students who just seem unwilling to give the extra effort needed to excel. Good enough is good enough for them. They do not seem to demonstrate something called "integrity" in their lives.

Let me give an example. Recently, we were having a fund raiser at school to raise money for a charity. Friendly competition was going on in all the classes and my class set a goal of what they wanted to raise. I told them if they met their goal, I'd bring doughnuts for the class. I allowed them to set the goal and while I reminded them each day, it was up to them. (I planned to give to make up any money they needed to make the goal if they didn't quite make it, but I didn't tell them this.)

The final day arrived and we were a little over $15 short. Then one student said something that definitely did not sit well with this teacher...."Can't you just lower the bar as to what we needed to raise?" A chorus of "yeah, we did pretty good - can't you just reward us anyway?" was heard. I stopped right there. No, I could not. I could not in good conscious reward for a goal not met. I loved them too much for that. Now, before you think I'm an awful teacher, I did bring doughnuts another day, making sure they understood it wasn't a reward for reaching their goal but simply because I wanted to bring them. It was grace, not something earned.

This story illustrated something I see in my own children, and in my own life. There is something that is often missing in my life - integrity. The dictionary defines integrity as "adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty." In other words - do I live what I say I believe or do I want credit for just good enough?

My conversation with another teacher made me ask, What is going on with 'kids these days?' The next day, I stumbled upon a verse that answered my question and made it clear. Proverbs 20:7 - "The godly walk with integrity; blessed are their children who follow them." If I want my children to be blessed, I have to walk in integrity. Psalm 119:1 says "Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord." Does my life demonstrate joy? If not, maybe the problem is that I am not walking in integrity. If I want my children joyful and blessed, it starts with me!

Have we, as a people, forgotten how important integrity is? Do I hold others to a standard I do not hold for myself? Do feel it is okay for me to yell at someone in traffic but not okay for my child to yell at their brother or sister? Do I feel it is okay for me to tell a little lie and yet expect my children to be honest with me? Do I cut down my boss or co-workers and yet expect my children to speak with respect toward their teachers and speak kindly toward others at school?

Do I make excuses for my children and yet expect them to try their best to succeed? Do I demonstrate a life of integrity?

I guess it all boils down to this; the question isn't really what is the problem with kids these days. The question is 'What is wrong with us?' because whether we realize it or not - our children are watching and following in the steps we leave.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

It happened in the McDonalds drive-thru

Today I did something I rarely ever do...I went through the McDonald's drive through for a coffee and an egg mcmuffin. My daughter was getting her hair cut and it was going to take a while so I thought I'd splurge.  I pulled up to the screen and ordered a small latte and then since I hadn't had breakfast I decided to order something to eat. I looked for whatever was cheapest, but decided this once I'd go all out and get their "signature" breakfast sandwich. 

As I pulled around, I was thinking about the fact that I'd just spent unnecessary money. I started to think through what bills I needed to pay later in the day and work through each one in my head. Since it's the first of the month and I've just been paid, the list started with my tithe. It was then that the conversation with God began. 

As a "mature" Christian, I'm not supposed to still struggle with tithing, but people who read my blog know I'm brutally honest about my own struggles. When it comes to tithing - I know I need to do this, but with the economy like it is, my mind starts the argument once again. I realize I should trust God to provide for our needs, but it's tough sometimes.  That's pretty much what I said to God..."I know I'm supposed to trust but it's tough sometimes."

I then pulled up to window to pay for my splurge of coffee and an Egg McMuffin only to have the cashier tell me it had been paid for. What? I was speechless. I sat there with my mouth hanging open. The people ahead of me had paid my bill. I have no idea who they were or if we even knew each other! The cashier told me they have that happen quite often. I was completely floored! I accepted my food and shook my head in awe.

I was overwhelmed with the kindness of a complete stranger, but as I drove away it hit me. I had just been talking to God about how hard it was to trust for all my needs...and here He had used some sweet person to not only provide for my needs, but for a want as well!

I'm still in the middle of this "conversation" with God. I will be taking my tithe check with me to church in the morning, but I'm still working on understanding what is going on in me. I obviously need to grow in my "faith" and trust that God will provide. Guess it's another part of that "American" Christian idea where I'm determined to do it myself. In me, there is no good thing. It looks like I still have a lot of growing to do.

Oh, and thank you so much to whoever it was who bought my breakfast this morning. You've caused me to want to turn around and bless someone else today....and to trust God a whole lot more.

Romans 7:18 - For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot perform it. [I have the intention and urge to do what is right, but no power to carry it out.]

Malachi 3:10 - Bring all the tithes (the whole tenth of your income) into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and prove Me now by it, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.