My sun porch

My sun porch

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Are you one of those people who hates cloudy days? When the sun is hidden by dark and dreary clouds, it tends to affect our moods. When those clouds bring rain, that also tends to bring on depression-like feelings.

"Rainy days and Mondays" can bring us down because there is something about sunshine that lifts our spirits. But in these mostly dark and dreary winter months, we can sometimes go DAYS with no sun. Does that mean we are doomed to gloomy moods in the winter?I don't believe so. When grey skies cloud my mood, I try to remind myself that we NEED rain and other forms of precipitation in order to have water to drink and plants and flowers to enjoy when the sun shines. Clouds are part of the deal. The problem is, no matter how much I remind myself, no matter how much I try to rely on my own attitude to lift my spirits...I still find myself becoming a "gloomy Gus."But God made us a promise...

"O Lord, you are my lamp. The Lord lights up my darkness." 2 Samuel 22:29

Dear God, how I needed to hear this promise today!
You will lighten up my darkness.
I cannot, nor can my family and friends.
You alone can bring light to my darkness.
Though it is pitch black
Though clouds pile heavy and high
Though thunder roars
Though I see only confusion
YOU will lighten my darkness!
My hope is in you.
I look for You.
I wait for You.
Nothing will prevent it.
You will lighten my darkness.

It is possible to shake off the on God to lighten your darkness. He is there for you. Does that mean if we have God in our lives we will never get depressed or gloomy? Will we always have sunshine in our hearts and sing and skip through this dark and dreary world? Not at all. There WILL be hard times, there WILL be times when we are saddened and depressed by our situations. The promise God makes means that when the clouds roll in, when the darkness comes, if we look to God, if we "give" our dark mood to God, He will walk us THROUGH it and back to the light of the sunshine. Call out to Him...He is there.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Planning for new beginnings...

It has been several days since I last posted. I'm still having computer issues and I also needed a writing break.

I thought it would be neat to get a conversation started here...I don't like making New Year's Resolutions because I just end of breaking them. But, a new year gives us a chance to recommit ourselves to goals we have made in the last year. Do you do that? I have made great strides in making healthier choices in the food I eat and in the exercise I do. I would love to have a strong and healthy body to help me keep up with the fast pace this life has me going at. Right now, I would like to get back on track after slacking off a bit over the holidays. I am back to recording everything I eat and my activities and exercise on (A GREAT tool!!!) I also need to get a little more focused on time management this year. Making sure I have time to do my daily devotional and write my messages AND have time to exercise in the morning means I have to manage the other things I do in the mornings a little differently.

I am hoping that these things will help me lose at least 30 pounds in the next year. Pastor Geoff talked about Sunday, I have to remember that I cannot do these things alone. I need to give these goals to God and allow myself to rely on Him...I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I also know that in my life, God works THROUGH people. My First Place family encourages and inspires me and keeps me accountable. It's not just the weigh-ins...its the notes of encouragement, the advice and the hugs that get me through.

So...what are your goals for this year? Do you have a support system to keep you accountable and keep you going? Let's use this as a sounding board and help each other get motivated to get healthy in 2011!! What do you think?

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Very Merry Christmas to you!!!

In these past several weeks, my postings have run the gamit of emotions. I have been sad over the death of a friend; I have been worried about money, my family, and work; I have felt joy at being with friends and family and reminded of my many blessings; I have had melancholy feelings about Christmases gone I read back over what I wrote, it makes me think I seem a bit mixed up! Exactly what mood am I in these days? But, I think God gave us emotions and feelings to let go of the hard things going on inside of us, kind of like the steam coming out of a pressure cooker. I think it is ok to feel and let others know what we are feeling...that is how we relate to others because we ALL have feelings. Some of us just show more than others.

Today though, I just want to concentrate on Christmas and the joy that God's gift of Jesus brings to me.

It's Christmas! Sing! Rejoice! Celebrate!
Let God create in you colorful explosions
Of joy and excitement!
Smile away fears, push away tears.
Out with the pretense, in with the praise!
Open your heart to light, trust and hope.
Awaken slumbering memories
Stir up stupendous dreams
Anticipate surprises
Open your arms wide!
Thank God for life.
Thank Him for the manger,
For the splintered cross, for the empty tomb.
Thank Him for the gift of Jesus,
The savior of the world.
Shout! Laugh! Share! Care!
And say to God on Christmas morning:
"I entrust myself anew to you today!"
It's Christmas!

That is my wish for you, my friends! Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Thirsting for SOMETHING...

Have you ever wanted something that you didn't have? Since this is Christmas, you might be thinking of that perfect present and hoping someone picked up on your subtle hints. How about other things you want...a better body, college education, a nicer car, bigger house, how about a family that doesn't fight all the time...

We all want things we don't have. The problem is...those THINGS don't fill the hole; if we do get them, we still find ourselves wanting more. The problem is we are searching for the wrong THINGS. We are parched...dry...empty and we long to be filled to the top...We are thirsty for something...something that we can't get through things here on earth.

John 4:14 says "whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life." I have wanted that water...and I have asked for it and received it. I feel confident knowing that I DO have eternal life.

When I remember this promise from Jesus, I feel satisfied, quenched and full to the top! The problem comes when I let my frustrations overpower me and I forget and allow myself to feel that hole inside me to open up again. I don't understand myself! How can I possibly forget?????

This world we live in is a powerful thing...almost a drug that clouds our vision and judgement. We are given a taste of "the good life" through the tv shows and movies and books we read. We want what THEY have because it looks so good. We get frustrated with our lives because they aren't what we want them to be. We allow ourselves to get THIRSTY again!!! Perhaps that's the reason we should stay in constant communication with God and read His word keep ourselves quenched in HIS PROMISES and not the promises of the world.

Yes, I do these daily messages everyday, but yet I still allow myself to forget. I can't even imagine what my life would be like if I DIDN'T have God in my life every day!! No wonder there is so much sadness, drug and alcohol abuse in this world today! So many THIRSTY people!

Are you thirsty? Is there a hole in your life that you can't seem to fill with food, things or relationships? God is there, just waiting to give you a drink of that living water! It's a daily journey to the well...not a one time deal. We need water to survive on this earth, and we need that living water to survive every day too!

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Melancholy Christmas feeling

Why can't Christmas be like it was when I was a kid? I looked forward to Chrsitmas...the presents, the family, the fun, the tv shows, the food, the music...the anticipation was tantalizing!

Now, as an adult, I love the reason for the season and thank God for the gift of His Son who saves me every day! I sing His praises and I have moments of great joy!

But...that tantalizing anticipation is not there. It's five days until Christmas and while there is part of me that is looking forward to the big day, there is a bigger part of me that just wants it to be over so I can get on with regular life, regular eating and my regular routine.

That lack of excitement and antipation fills me with feelings of sadness and melancholy that I don't like.

I recently heard a friend sing a beautiful song..."Soon and Very Soon." It speaks about Jesus coming and all the wonders we will se when that happens. I love how it says all our sins will be erased and shame will be forgotten. (What a wonderful thought! I know God forgives my sins, but it's me who remembers the shame.)

But, the verse that gets me the most is the one that says soon I'll be with the one I love...

"I will be with the One I love

With unveiled face and I'll see Him

There my soul will be satisfied

Soon and very soon."

My soul will be satisfied...I won't feel lonely, unworthy, unlovely....I will have no unmet needs or desires. No more aches, pains and sickness. No more sadness and tears. I will no longer feel the subconscience need to eat to fill the void. There will be no void!

Hanging on to those promises will get me through this bout of seasonal melancholy. There are still things to be joyful about and even if Christmas doesn't hold the same joyous anticipation as it did when I was a child....I can still look forward to it and enjoy the joy I see on other faces as they enjoy it as well.

I encourage you to hang on to thosepromises that God made to all of us. THere will be a time when your soul will be satisfied as well!

Happy 5 Days 'till Christmas!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Finding the joy...

I have so many friends who are hurting in some way right now...broken marriages, family issues, money issues, health problems...the list is longer than Santa's gift list. How hard it is to be happy with holiday cheer when your life has been turned upside down for one reason or another!

I try to keep joy in my heart each day (I wear a JOY pin to remind myself) not so much for myself, but for others. It makes me happy to give someone else a smile and I feel it makes getting through the day easier seeing others smile. That sounds pretty simplistic...I am not delusional enough to think my smile and a kind word can change someone's life situation, can't hurt!

My problem comes when I forget that many others don't share my need to smile and make others happy. There are many who would rather revel in their own misery. I seriously think there are some people who are happiest being unhappy...and making everyone else around them as unhappy as they are. I feel sorry for those people, and give them my very best, practiced and perfected Pollyanna! It is good therapy for me, (and fun too!!!) to drive the habitually grumpy crazy with my cheeriness!

Oh, I know people get aggravated with this cheery "sun porch" attitude...but I believe God gave me this personality for a reason...perhaps it's my job to try to make people feel better and bring a little positivity into their lives. I get frustrated with grumpy complainers...I hope I can remember that they have had hurts in their lives that have helped to make them that way...and love them all the more!

In my fretful impatience

I am so often inclined to ask"Why can't she change?"

"Why is he so slow?"

"Will they ever learn come past mistakes?"

"Why is she so mean?"

And then God begins to impress me

With my own slow process and growth

I see His stretched-out patience with me

I remember how long He has waited on me

And I am sad at how often my attitude

Is so intolerant

O God, keep fresh the imprint

Of my own need to grow

And make me more flexible

More understanding

More forgiving

And alway more loving.

Put on your own JOY pin and remind yourself that even in the hardest situations, we have reasons to be thankful and happy when we rely on God!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Let it snow

Words, words, words

There's a line from "My Fair Lady" in which Eliza sings, "Words, words, words. I'm so sick of words." That's what today's message makes me think of.

Just in case some of you don't know me...I like to talk. Words are usually not a problem for me. As a matter of fact...especially when I write, I use TOO many words. When writing papers for classes, I was often instructed to be more susinct and to the point.

Do you think God gets tired of our words? I mean how our prayers go on and on and on...The devotional I read today encouraged me to do two things. First, we should start out, before we ask anything for ourselves or our families, we should begin with worship. Praising and worshiping our God creates a connection and better enables our hearts to pray how HE wants us to pray. Imagine...God will give us wisdom and guide us to who, what and how we should pray! And here all along, I have been droning on and on about what MY needs are...God knows better than I what my needs are!

But, in order to gain from this God-driven guidance, I have to HEAR it. Perhaps one of the biggest surprises comes when the Lord asks you to sit and be still. He just wants to be with you. He isn't interested in words; he just wants you to let him love you. I have studied about being still before. Our pastor did a whole sermon on this topic...encouraging us to pray, "Speak Lord, your servant is listening."

Today, I am stopping my words right now...asking God to lead me, my thoughts and my prayers. It's not about my's about my heart.

Have a wonderful day and STAY WARM!!!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

When you're worried and cannot sleep...

Good morning! you have any? How about ones that wake you up in the early morning and stick with you all day? And how do you keep the Christmas spirit and joy in your heart that you long to have when worries spread through your brain like a speeding locomotive? That's what I woke up to this morning.

Worries...about many things really. And being the "positive" person that I being depressed by Christmastime worries...well, that worries others. It's a vicious cycle.

Matthew 6:25 That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life-whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn't life more than food, and your body more than clothing? (NLT) Sounds so easy, doesn't it?

Then why can't I put those worries out of my mind? It really is all about trust. I have responsibilities and God trusts me to use the time, talents and treasures He gives me to keep my family safe and warm and fed... and to keep my work, church and friend lives in order as well. It all just seems too much sometimes. That is when (like now!) I am not trusting God enough and trying to handle everything myself. Why do I do that to myself????

Are you like me? Are you wanting to enJOY this holiday season but your joy is being clouded by worries about money, family issues, work, world problems? I have a feeling there are many out there like me. Well, since there's strength in numbers...let's all work on this together! There's also strength in knowing and BELIEVING and TRUSTING what God has to say about worry.

In 1 Peter 5:7 we are instructed to “cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” God does not want us to carry around the weight of problems and burdens. In this verse, God is telling us to give Him all of our worries and concerns. Why does God want to take on our problems? The Bible says it is because He cares for us. God is concerned about everything that happens to us. No worry is too big or too small for His attention. When we give God our problems, He promises to give us the peace which transcends all understanding (Philippians 4:7)

I love hearing The Messiah sung at Christmas. Someone I know recently said that Handel was a genious...I truly believe that as that music touches my heart every year...but it's the words that carry the real meaning and those come from the REAL genious, our loving Father. Through Jesus, He said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30)

So, in this week or so before Christmas, you can work on this with me. I want to do what it says in Philippians 4:6, Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank Him for all he has done. (NLT) Maybe then I will experience even just a little of that peace that passes all understanding. A little peace is all I want this Christmas!

Remember that scene in "White Christmas" when Bing Crosby sings about "when you are worried and cannot sleep, count your blessings instead of sheep." Count with me, won't you?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Letting go...

Good Monday morning!

Getting in the habit of having a quiet prayer time with God each day is a hard thing to do...whether you try in the morning or at night before you go to bed. We are SO busy doing life (going to work, school, church and other extra can we POSSIBLY fit an hour with God into all of that? It's not that we don't WANT to...but where to find the time!!! It's all about priorities...

I've been thinking a lot about control much I WANT to be in control of things, but don't do a very good job of keeping things in order. Perhaps if I "Let go and let God." as they say. Realizing that He IS in control is something that many of us need to do. Maybe that would help me to let go of the reigns and let God do what He wants to do THROUGH my life. A friend recently shared with me how she finally, after all these years, surrendered her career to God. After she made that conscience decision, God did some amazing things in her workplace. I believe God wants to show us what he can do for us and through us, but we are so busy trying to run our lives that we don't take time to SEE!

Surrendering is the hardest thing for me. It sounds good, right, and what I am supposed to do, but it's really not that easy. It took me a LONG time to give up and hour or so each morning to pray and write these messages...but I see now the benefits...for me and for the people who read them. That HAS to be God working in me because I would much rather be back under my electric blanket snoozing, than sitting here at the computer!

Doing these messages has helped me to see how selfish I really also has helped me deal with some major sins in my life. There are times when I KNOW God can see and know all I am doing, but am not honest with Him or myself. These quiet times with just me and God help me to focus on what HE wants me to do, and He helps me see what I need forgiveness for and what I still need help with. It has also filled a hole in my life...there are times when I feel very alone...even in the midst of my own house. These quiet times in the morning remind me that I am NOT alone...

Are there things you are avoiding talking to God about? He already knows...He is just waiting for you to come to Him with it. Find a time today when you can be still with God and allow Him to take control over whatever that thing may be.

"Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on Your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart." Psalm 15:1,2
How can you hope to get rid of the sin in your life and work toward being blameless in the eyes of God if you never TALK to him and ask him to help you? I can't get rid of my sins, but God can! He gave us a way out from under our sins through Jesus...join me in that daily journey of putting Christ FIRST! Let HIM fill that hole in your life too!

Have a good week! Stay safe and warm!


Friday, December 10, 2010

A song of Praise for a life well lived!

It's a sad day for me and my church family will be saying goodbye to Betsy Ford. But, last night at choir, we talked a lot about her and how she loved to laugh and sing and how much she loved the Lord. As I sing for her this morning, I will praise God for her life and ask God for the strength to live the kind of life that Betsy lived...I want to walk THAT walk!

Today, as I sit here in my quiet living room, I am reminded of Psalm 89:15 - Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, o Lord.

In these few minutes of quiet, before I face the noise and confusion of the day, Lord I ask that you prepare me for what lies ahead today and tell me what I can do in this busy day to follow you more closely.

I think if God was speaking directly to me, He would say, "Dearly loved child, praise me joyfully, talk with me intimately, trust me totally and love others and I will be pleased."

Bless you all today!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas gifts

It's WAY too cold to be on the Sun porch today...or for quite a while. But...the blessings from my morning quiet time still begin my day on the right foot.

Today I was reading and thinking about Christmas gifts. In an effort to cut back this year, and give more than just trinkets to people who really need it around the world, I had to do some creative thinking. And during that thinking I realized it was ME I need to surrender fully instead of hanging on and trying to control my life.

Dear God
This Christmas
I want to give You me.
I come just as I am
Without glitter
Or glamor.
On the name tag of my heart
I've written
"To God with love"
Do with me exactly as you choose.

And in return...God says:
Dear child
I choose to give you Me.

Friends, as you rush to buy Christmas gifts for friends and family, don't forget to let God know you are ready for whatever He sends your way! Talk about the gift that keeps on giving!

Keeping the JOY in my heart!