Thursday, November 22, 2012

You've got something on your face...

Yesterday as I was out running errands, I drove past a man and a woman getting out of their cars and walking toward each other. My first thought was, they must be mother and son - they have the same scowl etched on their faces.

That got me to thinking of how many people walk around with a permanent frown on their face without even realizing it. I'm sure they know how to smile, but their expression most often shows that frown. They've worn it so long it has become a part of who they are. 

When I was much younger, I was reading one of those teen magazines - probably Tiger Beat, and I read from one of my heart-throbs (pretty sure it was Donny Osmond or Davy Jones) that the one thing they looked for in a girl was that she had a smile on her face even when she wasn't thinking about it. I have to admit that made a HUGE impression on me. I know it did because I still remember it all these years later, and I sometimes check myself to see - am I smiling?

Now I have no ambition to be noticed by Donny or Davy anymore, but I do want my face to reflect the hope that is within me. When people look at me, even when I don't see them, do they see a slight smile on my face? Will it draw them to want to know why?

I know I don't smile ALL the time, because sometimes when I am working online and read something special, my son will ask, "What are you smiling for?" I may not walk around with a grin permanently on my face, but I want it to be so close to the surface that it takes only the slightest nudge to break it out. Besides, I know something. My emotions will often follow my will. I smile and the rest of me follows into a happier more joyful place. I frown and all of me will follow the slide into the doldrums just as fast.

This is a season that can make it easy to smile....or it can bring out the worst in us all. The decision maker is me. Will I notice all the small blessings around me and smile or will I focus on what I don't have and spread the discontent? I want to be an agent of joy. I want to give my smile away every day. In fact, the more I write about this the more I want to break into dance and joy...oh, maybe that is because of the song that is playing in the background as I type this. (Note to self - make sure I have LOTS of joyful music playing this holiday! It helps make it easier to smile! Thanks K-Love for having an all Christmas channel!

As you walk out your doors today, make sure you are dressed completely. You'll have on your shoes and your shirt and pants, and even a jacket if it's cold outside...but did you remember that you've got something on your face? Is it a smile, or at least the beginnings of one? No one has a better reason to wear one - we are loved by God, and that alone is reason enough to shine. 

Proverbs 15:13 MSG
A cheerful heart brings a smile to your face; a sad heart makes it hard to get through the day.

Job 8:21

New International Version (NIV)
21 He will yet fill your mouth with laughter
    and your lips with shouts of joy.

Psalm 126:2

New International Version (NIV)
Our mouths were filled with laughter,
    our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
    “The Lord has done great things for them.”

Proverbs 17:22

The Message (MSG)
22 A cheerful disposition is good for your health;
    gloom and doom leave you bone-tired.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The New Year....

I know, it's a little early to start thinking about the new year...we haven't even had the turkey for Thanksgiving yet. Just hear me out. 

The past couple of days I've had something cluttering my mind. It is, in fact, clutter. That insidious disease of American prosperity that has crept into my life in the past 7 years. I know it has been 7 years because when Hurricane Katrina swept through our area, it effectively "de-cluttered" my home by almost destroying it. So the stuff that is now stuffing my closets has pretty much accumulated since that time. And we have a LOT of closets!

And now it's TIME for it to GO! 

The problem will be - how? How do you tackle a monster that is so overwhelming? I guess like you eat an elephant. One bite at a time.

I might have delusions of having a garage sale - my daughter loves having those, but honestly, I think that will mean just moving my clutter to another room till we can figure out how to have a garage sale and then spending an entire day of our lives to make only a few dollars. My junk isn't really worth that much. 

No, I think it's time to toss....let it go....move on. I saw someone up the street who has recently been putting some "good stuff" by the curb for whomever might want it. Don't worry - I remained strong and did NOT stop. This person has got the right idea. Just let it go!

Clutter has a way of taking over your life. You can't clean clutter. You can't enjoy clutter. You can't even really hide clutter...not for long, anyway. It has a way of creeping out of its hiding place at the worst times, falling on some unsuspecting victim who just happened to open the door. Obviously this goes for mental and emotional clutter as well, but that would be a post for another day.

I just want all this clutter GONE!

In the past, I've noticed that when I get this urge to "clear out" and get rid of the stuff that is crowding my life, it usually coincides with something going on in my life spiritually as well. I had a friend that used to joke with me after an exceptional worship experience that it was time to go home and do some cleaning! This time, it's not quite the same. This time seems like it's going to take a bit more determined effort on my part. It involves a decision - not a feeling.

Growth is like that. Sometimes it just happens, and sometimes you have to make a decision that it will happen...changing habits and life-style patterns. Realizing you have somehow gotten off course and you need to grab the wheel and turn the ship from its projected path to the right one...the one it should be on.

I'm really not sure what I'll find in the process. Perhaps I can post weekly what surprising things I have found. That could be very interesting in the laundry room...the deep abyss that I fell asleep thinking about last night. I do spend a LOT of time in there for it to be such an unpleasantly cluttered place. 

All I know is that this clutter is weighing me down and its time to lose it before it brings me to a grinding halt. I'd love to think that before we hit 2013 I could have it under control, but I'm not sure. It's a pretty big job. What I do know is this, it will never get done if I don't start.

For now, I'm promising myself 15 minutes a day to tackle the problem. (Some of you who are familiar with Flylady will recognize that number.) I'll try to keep you posted on my progress. Feel free to remind me of the goal. For me at least, it's time to lighten the load and move forward into the New Year and what God has planned for us.

Hebrews 12:1

So then let’s also run the race that is laid out in front of us, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us. Let’s throw off any extra baggage, get rid of the sin that trips us up,

Romans 13:11-14
But make sure that you don’t get so absorbed and exhausted in taking care of all your day-by-day obligations that you lose track of the time and doze off, oblivious to God. The night is about over, dawn is about to break. Be up and awake to what God is doing! God is putting the finishing touches on the salvation work he began when we first believed. We can’t afford to waste a minute, must not squander these precious daylight hours in frivolity and indulgence, in sleeping around and dissipation, in bickering and grabbing everything in sight. Get out of bed and get dressed! Don’t loiter and linger, waiting until the very last minute. Dress yourselves in Christ, and be up and about!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I'm a little short. (Revised)

Seems like I have spent my entire life being "a little short." Well, maybe not my entire life. 

When I was about 12 years old, a relative remarked that I was growing like a weed and it looked like I would take after my great uncle John. Uncle John was well over 6 feet tall. Evidently I hit my peak at 12 and never grew another inch. 

So here I am, at 5' 2"with eyes of blue, has anybody seen my gal? Ooops. Sorry for that unexpected song interlude.

At any rate, I have been short most of my life...and in more areas than just height. I can be short-tempered, have a short attention-span, short on time, and of course I ALWAYS seem to be short on money. Unfortunately for those who love me, the only thing I don't seem to be is short on words.

I don't really mind being short. It is a part of who God created me to be...but there are parts of my "short" life that are a problem. 

My short attention span. I start things and don't finish. I find I have a bit of trouble concentrating when I read. You get the picture.

My short-fuse...dynamite comes in small packages and can cause a lot of damage when used improperly. Still working on that.

My short-sightedness. I can tend to look at today and the chaos around me and lose sight of what is really family and what God has called me to do. I keep thinking I'll "get around to it" only to find once again I'm short on time.

I posted this earlier, but something just did not rest easy in me. I removed the post because I knew I was missing something...I just wasn't sure what. Then while getting ready for the day I was praying and asking God why did I lose my peace so quickly when it came to finances? That's when it hit me...what I am really short on is TRUST.

When I am short-tempered, I am not trusting God to take care of me and I am instead trying to look out for me. 

When I am short on patience,I am not trusting God to do what He said He will do and trusting in His timing.

When I am short on finances (and lose my peace) it's because I am not trusting Him to provide for our needs no matter what the check book says.

It all boils down to being short on trust...and so today my prayer is, Lord - help me to grow. The problem isn't that I am's that I've forgotten my need to grow.

Thank you God....You are NOT short! You are not short in providing for our needs....

Exodus 16:16-18

The Message (MSG)
15-16 So Moses told them, “It’s the bread God has given you to eat. And these are God’s instructions: ‘Gather enough for each person, about two quarts per person; gather enough for everyone in your tent.’”
17-18 The People of Israel went to work and started gathering, some more, some less, but when they measured out what they had gathered, those who gathered more had no extra and those who gathered less weren’t short—each person had gathered as much as was needed.

Your arm is not too short to save us...

Isaiah 59:1
Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.

And best of all, You are not short in Your love for us....

Psalms 136:1 (But check out the entire Psalm when you're not short on time...)
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.

Be sure and check out the link below...God never falls short...His love never fails.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Bruised from the fight...

Today as I woke up, my body ached. My neck is stiff and my core feels as if I have been in a fight. No, it's not the flu, although that is running rampant around here lately. I know why I am so sore today....yesterday I participated in a Krav Maga self-defense intro class, and today I am feeling it.

This is not the first time I've taken part in a Krav class - been doing this at least twice a year for about the last 5 years (I am evidently a perpetual beginner.) Today, however, I realized that my "pain" isn't from doing all the hits and kicks - the pain I feel today is a result of being the pad holder.

For those who have never taken a class like this, one part of the training involves holding the "tombstone" for your fellow Krav novice and allowing them to work on their moves. Yesterday I had a partner who was quite a bit taller than myself, which of course meant she outweighed me a bit as well. Let's just say, she had a pretty powerful punch. Since I had taken this class numerous times, I also could help her with a few tips every now and then....which meant her hits got harder and far more powerful! The results - today I feel like I have been hit by a pick up truck!

Of course, all this got me to thinking. Krav always does it seems.

Being ready for a fight has been on my mind a lot lately. Of course, I don't mean a fight with my fellow travelers here on earth...I mean that fight we have with our true enemy - the one who would destroy our souls if given half a chance. Like the Pevensie children in Narnia, it is time to prepare for battle. While Aslan will strike the deciding blow, we are all a part of the coming battle.

Back to the pad holding and Krav. I will admit that holding the pad is not one of my favorite parts of these classes. I love to hit, kick, and yes Sam (our instructor), I love to yell! Holding the pad, well - that's just a necessary part of the participation. But today, I'm realizing it is more than just helping someone else prepares me to take hits and keep standing.

We are foolish to think if we are in battle that we will come out unscathed. We will take some hits...and I am realizing that those hits will be hard - very hard! It's called a fight, not a tea party after all. A phrase came to mind yesterday during our training - "do not fear the pain." In a fight - there will be pain.

I sat down to write this blog thinking my "random thought" would be about holding the pad so that others could learn....sort of a discipleship sort of theme...but as I began typing this blog took a turn. As Christians, we often think we aren't supposed to feel pain, have difficulties, or even take hard hits. We think we are dressing for battle and will swing our sword and never really have to fight. There may be times when, like Elisha and his assistant we will find that God will send angels to fight the battle for us. At other times, we may find that the battle is more like what Nehemiah and his men fought - with a sword in one hand and a trowel in the other, and more often than not, we may find ourselves in an all out war - like David. 

Today I have a new appreciation for Sam and Dwayne and my new fighting partner, Beth. You are not only preparing me to fight - you are preparing me to take a hit and get back up. I'd hug you if I could raise my arms that high.

1 Timothy 6:12

New International Version (NIV)
12 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.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Nobody looks fine with a toilet in the background...

This blog might be seen as somewhat of a public service announcement to all women everywhere who feel the need to take a "cute" picture of themselves while in the bathroom. I'd like to think this message is limited to teenagers, but from some of the pictures I've seen posted, this message crosses multiple age boundaries...and it applies to men as well! People need to know, nobody looks "fine" when they have a toilet in the background.

I'd really love to write some deep insightful message to go along with this post, but it just sort of speaks for itself. I guess we all have some sort of "toilet" that we try to make sure no one sees, that part of us that just doesn't fit the picture of "fine" that we present to the world.

We all like to present a picture of ourselves to the world that looks pretty that does NOT include a toilet in the background. We pretend that we've got it all together, yet we have to realize that no matter how we pretend, that toilet is still there. It's normal. We're normal. No need to spend a lot of time focusing on that "toilet", analyzing it and telling others about it...just realize it is there.

Other people have toilets too. They probably don't need you to point them out - they already know about them. No need to think we are superior either. Remember we have our own "toilet" at home.

So there you have it. Nobody looks "fine" with a toilet in the background. Just thought I'd share.

Romans 12:3

Common English Bible (CEB)
Because of the grace that God gave me, I can say to each one of you: don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought to think. Instead, be reasonable since God has measured out a portion of faith to each one of you.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Carry a Sword

The other day I sat down to do some serious channel hopping and came across a favorite movie, The Book of Eli. That movie is so thought provoking and I love finding it on regular tv (they clean up the language and I can focus more on the plot.) I'd use a picture from the movie, but I'm afraid it might infringe on some copyright law. Be sure, however, to read all the way to the bottom of this blog for some really cool quotes from the movie. 

Days after the movie was over, I was still thinking about what I had seen, and it hit me. Eli carried a sword. A sword....and a Bible.

In the movie, Eli traveled for 30 years carrying that Bible and a sword...heading he did not know where. And as he traveled, he read that Bible...committed it to memory...sharpened it as it were. I have to wonder if the reason it took so long was so that he could commit it all to memory and make it sharp.

Along with the Bible, Eli also carried a sword, and he knew how to use it when necessary. He never pulled it out unless he needed to protect himself or someone else. Then, whatever enemy that dared to try to stop him would be met with the sharp edge and let's just say they realized they were pretty much powerless against Eli as long as he carried that sword.
It seemed as if the enemy could not touch Eli. Some tried, but their threats and weapons could not touch him as long as he carried that Bible.

All this has been mulling around in my mind and today as I drove to work, it was on my mind once again. It is time to sharpen my sword. Of course I don't mean I plan to go to the nearest pawn shop and purchase some ancient ninja weapon. (I'd look silly dressed up like a ninja.) Still, everywhere I turn, I seem to see devotions that nudge me to get serious about reading the Bible and learning His word....committing it to memory....sharpening it and learning how to use it to protect....

I recently had a conversation with an old friend. We were talking about kids who sometimes make wrong choices and I asked - "Have you done battle for them?" 
"I pray for them," was the response.
"I didn't say pray - I asked do you do battle?" It was then that I felt that warrior spirit inside me start to rise up. So THAT'S what the sword is for!

We are in a battle - every mom, every dad, ever sister or brother or aunt or uncle, young and old, big and small. We battle not against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities and spiritual wickedness in high places....this battle isn't with people. It's against the one who would destroy those people.

I don't know what mountain is standing before you...what battle you are facing. But you have a sword. The question is, will your sword be sharp when you need it? Will that warrior spirit rise up in you? Will you face the battle secure in the knowledge that you carry a sword?

Hebrews 4:12 -13 The Message (MSG)
12-13 God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God’s Word. We can’t get away from it—no matter what.

Ephesians 6: 10 - 18 (Message)
10-12 And 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.
13-18 Be 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.

Joshua 1:8 (Message)

1-9 After the death of Moses the servant of GodGod spoke to Joshua, Moses’ assistant:
“Moses my servant is dead. Get going. Cross this Jordan River, you and all the people. Cross to the country I’m giving to the People of Israel. I’m giving you every square inch of the land you set your foot on—just as I promised Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon east to the Great River, the Euphrates River—all the Hittite country—and then west to the Great Sea. It’s all yours. All your life, no one will be able to hold out against you. In the same way I was with Moses, I’ll be with you. I won’t give up on you; I won’t leave you. Strength! Courage! You are going to lead this people to inherit the land that I promised to give their ancestors. Give it everything you have, heart and soul. Make sure you carry out The Revelation that Moses commanded you, every bit of it. Don’t get off track, either left or right, so as to make sure you get to where you’re going. And don’t for a minute let this Book of The Revelation be out of mind. Ponder and meditate on it day and night, making sure you practice everything written in it. Then you’ll get where you’re going; then you’ll succeed. Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take.”

Oh, one more thing. I really liked these quotes from the movie, so I decided to share them. We'll let them speak for themselves.

Eli: People had more than they needed. We had no idea what was precious and what wasn't. We threw away things people kill each other for now.

Eli: In all these years I've been carrying it and reading it every day, I got so caught up in keeping it safe that I forgot to live by what I learned from it.

Solara: Do you really read the same book everyday? 
Eli: Without fail. 

May we never forget what is truly precious...and may we remember to live by what we 
learn from God's Word. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Is God a Liar?

The following is a repost from 2010...I noticed it was one of the four most popular posts I've ever had, so I decided to share it one more time.

I almost titled this blog, "God is a liar", but I didn't want to give those who know me a heart attack.

This has been a week filled with reminders that God can be trusted...He never lies.

I have a facebook friend who recently asked the question, "Can God lie?" and it got me thinking. I mean, I immediately knew the answer, but when I started to write my response, I realized I didn't act as if I did. While I know that God cannot lie, I find myself worrying about things and lying awake at night trying to figure out how to make life what I think it should essence, I'm calling God a liar and not taking Him at His Word. If I were, I'd be sleeping like a baby instead of tossing and turning trying to figure out how we are going to make ends meet or what tomorrow will hold. See what I mean?

A quote by Max Lucado caught my attention this week. He said, "Our problem is not so much that God doesn’t give us what we hope for as it is that we don’t know the right thing for which to hope." I can really identify with this. I remember times in my life when I have been disappointed with God. While part of me wanted to believe in His promises, a bigger part of me wanted to pitch a two-year-old fit. Now, if you've never been around a two-year-old perhaps this is a foreign concept to you, but for all of us who have ever dealt with a two-year-old who was not getting what they wanted, the picture is pretty clear. They will pout, scream, bargain, yell, plead.....pretty much anything to get their way. If you dare to act as if you know what is best for them...well, let's just say earplugs and a strong will come in very handy in times like that.

I can say this, because I remember very well a time in my life when I was disappointed with God. Tragedy had struck and to be honest, it just wasn't fair! I was being good and others weren't and yet somehow they were being allowed to hurt me! I did all the predictable 2 year old things....I bargained, pleaded, cried...I even shook my fist at God and told Him if that was who He was, I chose not to serve him. Now if I had been God, a lightning bolt would have made an appearance to straighten this little 2-year-old out! (Good thing I'm not God!) Instead, the very next day God poured out His love on me in such a real way that I knew....I had no idea who He was or how much He loved me. God wasn't unfair, He was simply my Father and He knew what I needed far more than I did. The situation didn't change, by the way, but I did.

So back to the question. Is God a liar? We know, of course, that the answer is no. So why do I act as if He is?My problem seems to come from either my two-year-old self that has placed my hope in the wrong thing, or in the fact that I am rehearsing the problems instead of His promises. It's easy for me to lie in bed and think about the bills or the plumbing or what tomorrow will bring. To lie there and think about His promises takes a bit more discipline on my part. First of all, I've got to know what His promises are and then focus on them! I also have to rehearse in my mind all the times I've seen God be faithful in the past - times He was faithful even when I was faithless. I have to remind myself that God does not lie. I also have to trust that God doesn't really need my help to figure all this out. He knows what tomorrow will bring.

This week, I also had a friend share something with me that resonated in my soul. She said something along the lines of "God has a plan for you that's if it's not good yet, He's not finished." The cake is still baking, the picture is still developing, the quilt is still being sewn..... He's not finished yet.

A song by Josh Wilson called "Before the Morning" came on the radio the other day and pretty much had me in tears before I got to where I was going. (Video link) It answers the question so much better than I ever could:

"Do you wonder why you have to,
feel the things that hurt you,
if there's a God who loves you,
where is He now?

Maybe, there are things you can't see
and all those things are happening
to bring a better ending
some day, some how, you'll see, you'll see

Would you dare, would you dare, to believe,
that you still have a reason to sing,
'cause the pain you've been feeling,
can't compare to the joy that's coming

so hold on, you got to wait for the light
press on, just fight the good fight
because the pain you've been feeling,
it's just the dark before the morning

My friend, you know how this all ends
and you know where you're going,
you just don't know how you get there
so just say a prayer.

and hold on, cause there's good for those who love God,
life is not a snapshot, it might take a little time,
but you'll see the bigger picture"....

The message has been coming to me over and over this week, so, I guess it's time for this two year old to start acting like I believe what I say I believe. It's time to trust God. Care to join me in the adventure?

"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." Jeremiah 29:11

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful." Hebrews 10:23

"God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?" Numbers 23:19

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The day after the election...part 3

Had another one of those "random thoughts" today. 

Think of the those running for President. 

Ask yourself, "Does my favorite candidate even know my name?" Now think, if something should happen in your life (not on the natural disaster level - just normal 'life' stuff) would the candidate come to your help or those around you? 

I'm thinking, it's not worth alienating those around you to support you

r candidate. The day after the election - the president, whoever that may be, still won't know your name. Those around you will still be the ones who will come when you are in need.

Vote your conscious and leave the results up to God. Reach out to those around you...those from both parties. They are your friends.

Ecclesiastes 4:

7-8 I turned my head and saw yet another wisp of smoke on its way to nothingness: a solitary person, completely alone—no children, no family, no friends—yet working obsessively late into the night, compulsively greedy for more and more, never bothering to ask, “Why am I working like a dog, never having any fun? And who cares?” More smoke. A bad business.
9-10 It’s better to have a partner than go it alone.
Share the work, share the wealth.
And if one falls down, the other helps,
But if there’s no one to help, tough!
11 Two in a bed warm each other.
Alone, you shiver all night.
12 By yourself you’re unprotected.
With a friend you can face the worst.
Can you round up a third?
A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped.