My sun porch

My sun porch

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Flipping the switch...

"But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His son, purifies us from all sin." -- 1 John 1:7

You know if a Bible verse starts with "But" there must be important stuff before that verse. Verse 6 of 1 John 1 says, "If we claim to have fellowship with Him and yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth."

I don't know about you, but that verse stings a little. All of us have walked in darkness at times in our lives. All of us have made mistakes and lived in ways that are not right. There is not one of us human beings that is perfect and does the right thing ALL the time...not one. But, how many of us want to be called liars? How many of us want to think about not living out the truth? We want to think we are good, we do good, we want to be good. But the real truth is...we are stumbling around in the darkness most of the time. Most of the time, we just can't seem to find the light...the switch seems to be out of our reach.

The Message translation puts those two verses this way, "If we claim that we experience a shared life with him and continue to stumble around in the dark, we're obviously lying through our teeth - we are not living what we claim. But if we walk in the light, God himself being the light, we also experience a shared life with one another, as the sacraficed blood of Jesus, God's Son, purges all our sin."

If most of the time we are stumbling around in the dark, looking for the switch...knowing it's there, we can't find it, and we know that if we find in the light and walk in it we will be safe from our own sin...HOW DO WE FIND THE LIGHT SWITCH?

Verse 7 says that once we find the light, we will live a shared life with one another. I think that in order to FIND THE LIGHT SWITCH, we need to be living a shared life with others first. Sometimes, you just need someone else to guide you to the switch...someone who has been in that dark room before and knows where to find it. Of course, we need to put God first, and when we cry out to Him, he answers...He IS the light switch. But, this life is too hard to find God on our own, especially when we have been stumbling around in the dark for a long time.

I believe that is why it is so important to have a loving church family, or at the very least, some trusted friends around you. When you go through life WITH someone is much easier, or at least it is easier to handle. As I said before, we ALL mess up...we ALL sin. The blood of Jesus covers that sin and purifies us. But, if you are stumbling around, alone in the dark, you don't see God's light shining through Jesus. Most of the time, the light switch is very near, but we need a friend to guide us there. And in turn, sometimes our friends are the ones looking for the switch, and we can guide them to it as well.

Since God is all powerful, all knowing and is everywhere all the time...don't you think that the light is ALWAYS on...we just have to find the switch inside ourselves to let the light shine through us? The switch is INSIDE our we need to touch each other's hearts, right? Don't claim to have the light already on when it's not...people will know because it won't be shining through you. You don't have to lie...God wants you to be living in His truth and light. It's as easy as...flipping a switch!

Reach out and touch someone's heart them to turn on the light inside their heart so they don't have to stumble in the darkness anymore. And, if it's you that is stumbling...reach out...find a trusted friend who is already in the light and allow them to touch your heart. They can help you find the switch inside yourself and turn it on!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Lessons learned from the Hatfields and McCoys

"But the lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one." 2 Thessalonians 3:3

I am a Hatfield by marriage, and I am a history buff, so the History Channel's mini-series, "The Hatfields and McCoys" was of great interest to me. I have read about the feud before, and my father-in-law actually went to a huge family reunion once. And, who doesn't love Kevin Costner! So, I have watched two nights of it and will probably watch the last episode tonight, but it has saddened me in a way that this is the legacy of my husband's name...violence, arrogance, and twisted faith. So many deaths and broken lives...all becasue of misunderstandings and family loyalty.

But then I think that there was more going on here than just family loyalty. Some of the things that happened in those two families and the people around them was just pure evil...killing just to kill.

I have said this before, but I don't like to think about the devil and about evil forces at work in our world. It is easier to have faith in a God I can't see but know is there, than to believe in evil forces that I can't see. But, look around...there are a LOT of bad things happening everywhere. It makes sense that there is an unholy leader at work in our world...our enemy...who wants to see us fall, to get so discouraged we walk away from God and what is holy.

Thinking again about the Hatfields and McCoys, in the beginning, there was a friendship. The two patriarcs of the families grew up together and went to war together. They both saved each other in battle. But the war took it's toll and caused a fight between the two that sparked the most famous, or infamous really, family feud in history. Don't you think that the Devil might have had a part in this whole thing? Taking a friendship and encouraging each to rip it to shreds...something good became something ugly. I know as humans, God gave us free will...we make our own decisions and live with the consequences, good and bad. But, just as the serpent tempted and led Eve astray, don't you think it is more than possible that the Devil plays a part in tempting us and leading us astray too? Instead of just letting go of it, the Devil nagged at the McCoy to make a big deal and sue the Hatfields over that stolen pig. Instead of just letting two young people who fell in love get married as they wished the two fathers forbid the marriage between the two feuding families and started an avalanche of consequences. Doesn't it make sense that the Devil was involved in that?

In the verse right before the Thessalonians verse above, it says, "And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith." There is evil in this world...not everyone has faith in the God who saves...when you don't have that faith, it is easier to be led astray by the evil one who is prowling around, looking for people to destroy.

Faith in God can save you. Faith that God is more powerful than the evil one will protect you. Anse Hatfield's nickname was Devil Anse, which seems rather appropriate. The Devil was involved in the whole thing. Later in his life, after many murders and much sadness, Anse Hatfield went to a revival and was saved. He was baptized and became a follower of Jesus. It has been written that Anse Hatfield spent the last years of his life knowing that his sins were forgiven and the Hatfield McCoy feud lost the fire behind it and finally stopped.

This famous feud is just an example of the evil at work in our world. God knows there is evil. If we ask for his protection from that evil, he is faithful and will protect us. That doesn't mean that bad things won't happen to us. But it does mean that God will protect our hearts from the evil one. We don't have to listen to the serpent whispering lies to us. When we ask him, God will strengthen us and give us a way out. We don't have to be part of the evil.

There are lessons to be learned from the Hatfields and McCoys. That is why I like history...we can look back at bad things that have happened in the past and figure out why they happened and then try to not let them happen again. I pray that our faithful God will strengthen you today and protect you from the evil one. So, Today, when someone insults you ar tries to steal your pig, just smile and walk away. I'm a Hatfield, and that's what I'm gonna do! ;-)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The gift of empathy...

"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses; but he have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet he did not sin." -- Hebrews 4:15

Empathy is the identification with and understanding of another's situation, feelings, and motives. To empathize with someone, you don't have to agree with them or feel what they are doing is right, you just understand how they are feeling and why they are feeling that way.

The verse above is saying that Jesus DOES empathize with us -- understand us -- because he himself was tempted in every way. He knows our weaknesses and understands why we can't seem to do what we want to do or be the people we want to be. He knows what we go through. He knows why we do the wrong things...he knows why we sin and how that sin makes us feel.

I Don't think we realize what a gift that is. We all know "religious" people who are so caught up in the laws, rules and legalizsm of religion that they judge everything and everyone. Certainly, if you read in the Bible about the Pharisees, Saducees and other religious leaders of Jesus' day, you see that those men never understood WHY people sinned, they just punished those who did. And we know that is also the case today. I see "Christian" judgement every day. There is not much empathy there.

God gave us Jesus, a gift in many ways. Not only did he take our sin to save us, but he experienced our temptations and became our high priest -- a high priest who does not judge us, but encourages us to be better. While on earth, Jesus hung out with sinners of all types. He didn't shoo them away because of the the things they did, he was drawn to them. He was kind to them and encouraged them to sin no more. He empathized with their situations, taught them about God's kingdom and made them WANT to be better people so they too could experience the glory of that kingdom.

If you read the next verse in Hebrews, you see what the empathy of Jesus can give us.

"Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." -- Hebrews 4:16

I love the Message translation - "So, let's walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help."

Grace, mercy and help. All things we can receive from God through Jesus.

Let Jesus be your example today. Find some empathy in your heart for those around you. Follow Jesus example and show some understanding to those you think are wrong. Show them Jesus so they too can find Jesus for themselves and experience the grace, mercy and help that He so freely gives.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Oh Lord, it's REALLY hard to be humble...

"Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up." -- James 4:10

The word humble or humbled is used 56 times in the Bible. I have found that when a word or idea is repeated in the Bible, it has certain significance. The verse above says if we humble ourselves, the Lord will lift us up. First of all, what does it mean to HUMBLE yourself?

The definition of the word humble is:
* adjective - not proud or haughty; not arrogant or assertive
* reflecting expressing or offered in a spirit of deference or submission
* ranking low in hierarchy or scale; insignificant
* not costly or luxurious
* verb - to make someone humble in spirit or manner; to destroy the independece or prestige of

That's a lot submissive words, and pretty couter-cultural! In our world, we are taught to be proud, to NOT submit, we love luxury, we love having significance and we certainly love independence. So, if we are to humble ourselves, how do we do that when we are taught from birth to be proud?

I think the key is to look at that important phrase "...before the Lord..." God is all knowing, always present and all powerful. When we know this in our hearts and learn to give HIM the glory for all we have, for all we do, for all we want to have and do, then we are taking the first steps of humbline ourselves. More importantly, when we give up control of our lives and learn to rely on God for everything, THEN he will lift us up.

But, I can't see, hear or touch God. How can I give him control of my life when I can't tell if He is there or not? Oh, he's there, alright! Giving up control means that you go to God about EVERYTHING you do. It is NOT easy! I have a friend who has lost over 140 pounds. When I ask her how she has done it, she says she has learned to pray to God about everything that goes into her mouth, and she has found that by doing that, not as much junk goes in her mouth now. I thought, what a great idea...I will try that! is NOT that easy. We forget how automatically we do things, especially eating. We just do it without thinking. Remembering to say a little word of prayer before stuffing those chips in your mouth is a lot easier said than done. But, as my friend has proved, it IS possible. It takes practice, and intention, and faith that it will work.

God has proven to me over and over that when I REMEMBER to put HIM first and me second, he does help me and he does lift me up. I dont' know why I forget that from time to time and go back to my old independent and arrogant self, thinking I can handle things on my own, but I do, over and over again.

Over and over again...God is always faithful. It is us who forgets. He reminds us 56 times in the Bible that we should humble ourselves. It's hard...really be counter-cultural and put God before everything else...but I know it's worth the effort!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sing to the Lord!

"But I will sing of your strength in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble," -- Psalm 59:16

It's funny that today's verse talks about singing. I am up early on a Sunday morning, before I get ready to go to church and sing in the choir. It's 5:30 in the morning and as the sun begins to brighten the night sky, the birds are singing all around me. I love this time of day, because there is not much traffic on the road in front of my house to drown on out the beautiful symphony of birds. I had a brief thought that they were singing to me, welcoming me into this wonderful day...but I don't think it's me they are singing to...I believe they are singing to their creator, thanking and praising him for their lives, and for this world they live in.

My daughter shared with me a Youtube video that she heard at Youth Group last week where a pastor made a "mash-up" mix of the noises that scientists have discovered that some stars make along with the haunting songs of whales. It seemed a little far fetched to me at first...stars singing??? Stars paising God??? Whales singing praises to God??? But I have listened to it several times now and read the verses: "Praise him, sun and moon: praise him, all you shining stars." -- Psalm 148:3 and "Praise the Lord Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths." Hmmmm...It makes you think! Check this video out for yourself! It's a 15 minute video, but make sure you listen all the way to the end...I bet it will make you have goose bumps!

If birds, and stars and whales can sing praises to God...shouldn't it be even more important for me to praise God? But God doesn't NEED my praises because he has a symphony of his creation singing to him...creatures that don't have the "human mess" to cloud their thoughts...worry, fear, doubt, pride, vanity....WE have those things that make us think less of God.

But, our God knows how we are, he knows us because he created us. Our God is great! If we know that, if we believe that...

"The lord is my helper, I will not fear. What can man do to me?" (Hebrews 13:6)

"Whenever I am afraid I will trust in you." (Psalm 56:3)

"The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms."(Deuteronomy 33:27)

"This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast." (Hebrews 6:19)

I am going to sing praises to God today! Sing with me and the birds, stars and whales today! "How great is our God!"

Saturday, May 26, 2012

What do you want?

"A person may think their own ways are right, but the Lord weighs the heart." -- Proverbs 21:2

Do you know what you want? I mean, do you really know what you want from life? We want to be happy, don't we? But do we really know WHY we want to be happy or WHAT would make us happy ? We are always searching for things to make us happy, and we never seem to find it, so we obviously don't have a clue. We think we find things that make us happy...marrying the person of our times with friends...traveling to new exciting places...we are always searching for something to make us happier. We think we know ourselves so well that the way we live our lives is just right for us. We don't want the government telling us what to do or how to live. We don't want our parents telling us what to do when we are children or when we are grown adults either. We have problems with authority and feel like "management" is always out to get us and we know we could do a better job than they do. If everyone would just do things MY way, then EVERYONE would be happier, right?

The problem is, we really DON'T know! We are always searching, because we don't know what we are looking for. We know it's out there somewhere, but we don't know what IT is! We are blinded by our our ambitition to be happy. I say blinded because it is right in front of us, but we can't see it. We think we know what we want, we think we know what to do in our lives to get it and we live our lives in a way that is always trying to get it. BUT...God DOES see it and he knows our heart. God weighs our heart. He sees the IT that we can't see. When we open our hearts to the power of God, he opens our eyes to the IT as well.

Jesus is famous for making the blind see. In Matthew 20:29-34, Jesus has an encounter with two blind men sitting on the side of the road. Apparently, they knew that this man has healed the blind before and they ask for his mercy on them. Jesus stopped and asked them, "What do you want me to do for you." They answered, "We want our sight." Jesus had compassion on them, touched their eyes. Immediately, they received their sight and followed him.

What do you want? Their basic need was to be able to see. If they could see, then they wouldn't need to be begging on the side of the road. What do you want? I want to see! I want my eyes to be opened so I can see the world through God's eyes and not my own. I want to see beauty in the ugly. I want to see that by seeing the world in this way, I CAN be happy! If I see everything in my life through God's eyes, seeing blessings in the tragedies, seeing opportunities in the challenges, seeing peace in the chaos. I don't want to be begging on the side of the road any more! I want to see! When you ask for sight, it will be granted to you. Maybe not exactly how you thought it would come, but you will see! God loves us enough not to give us lesser things.

But, do you think God allows us to see for a while and we are happy in the moment, and then because of our own apathy, our sight grows dim and we lose sight again of the IT that will make us happy?

If you have ever had to get new glasses, you have experienced how bright and clear things appear after you put on those new glasses for the first time. It's almost hard to walk because you had gotten used to things being fuzzy...that was your "normal." When your focus was restored, your "normal" was made better and clearer and things seem very strange at first.

When my sight grows dim, when things around me get fuzzy, I notice it. At that moment, I have a choice. I know going to the eye doctor will help me to see clearer again, so I need to make an appointment. But, time is short, money is tight, and I put it off. I get used to things being fuzzy. It depends on how strong my desire is to see clear again. If my desire is strong enough, I make that appointment and get new glasses. The eye doctor doesn't come to me, I have to go to him. God is like the eye doctor...he knows what my eyes need to see clear, and if I go to him for adjustments, he well help me see again!

What do I want? I want to see! I want to be happy! God weighs my heart. He knows what I need and what will make me happy. He asks, "What do you want me to do for you?" I answer, I want to see! But, learning from the blind men Jesus made see...when they recieved their sight...they followed him! Perhaps THAT is the IT we are looking for!!!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Thanksgiving isn't just in November!

"Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me." -- Psalm 51:12

What a perfect verse for me this morning! I've had enough sadness, disappointment, fear, worry--I've had enough!

In the past few days I have been inspired to be thankful for EVERYTHING instead of longing for things I can't have. I'm reading a book about a woman who was dared to make a list of 1,000 things she loves. It changed her life and taught her to be thankful for EVERYTHING, the good AND bad. In all situations, she looked for things to be thankful. She began with a little journal in her purse that she carried with her everywhere, and every time she saw, experienced or thought of someething about her life that she loved, she wrote it down. At first it was just the dare that kept her going..."I WILL finish this list!" But then, it became a habit, and something that kept her going. And then...something horrible happened, her young son was seriously injured. This hit her hard because even though her son was going to be ok, it made her think about how hard it is to be thankful for the really hard and horrible situations. How are we to be THANKFUL to God when our children are hurt? How are we to be thankful when we lose our jobs or have a loved one die, or when a tornado comes and destroys a town, or a hurricane floods an entire island???? How can we be thankful to God when we are hurting or see others hurting???

I believe staying connected to God...ESPECIALLY during those times when we are hurting is the key. Praying that prayer from the verse above, "Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me." Asking God to restore your joy, relying on GOD to restore your joy, knowing that when you ask for it, God will give you a willing spirit to accept that joy, and his salvation in this will sustain you in the hard times. FULLY RELYING ON GOD...not on your own efforts...that is what sets us free!

So, past few days I have been trying to think of all the things in each day that I love, that I am thankful for. I am not writing these things down in a journal yet, but I am taking a moment to thank God when one of those things comes to my mind. For example,

* A cool breeze on a hot day, especially a breeze that smells of honeysuckle!
* Laughter from a small child.
* Seeing a dad and child reading together on the floor of the library, surrounded by stuffed animals.
* A beautiful song that touches my heart and makes me cry.
* A powerful prayer said aloud by a friend.
* Enjoying my breakfast on my sunporch.
* A hug from my daughter after an argument.
* The laughter that bubbles up after a co-workers bad joke.
* An email from a friend.
* Scoring a big word in Words with Friends against a friend who always beats me! ;-)
* The tinkle of windchimes early in the morning
* The moment when I know that I can't solve my financial problems myself and ask for help.

I could go on and on...And, when the hard things hit, I pray that I can find the good in the bad...isn't that the definition of HOPE...finding the good in the bad? And ask God to help me to find JOY in everything!

What do you love? What are you thankful for? Make a list. Look for those things everywhere and in everything. You will be amazed at how much joy it brings you and how that joy will sustain you through the hard times.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Self control and broken walls

"Like a city whose walls are broken through, is a person who lacks self control." -- Proverbs 25:28

Self control is a big issue for me...or lack thereof. I lack the self control to be consistent with my healthy eating, with my exercise, with my attempts at wise spending habits and financial plan to get out of debt. But what I am discovering is that control is not mine to gain.

I have failed over and over to do things myself. I have talked about the fact that I fail over and over, and I TRY to give control to God, but I still seem to hang on.

Sometimes, I feel like a city with broken walls...thieves can sneak in and steal my joy and my health because the protective walls are crumbling and broken and easy to climb over. Even though my city is still trying to do business as usual, my enemies have invaded and I find myself cowering under the bed, waiting for someone to come save me. I cry out to God to save me...

God hears my cries and reaches out to a word from a friend, in a passage I read, in a commercial I see on TV...God reaches out to me and reminds me that He is there. He can chase out my enemies and rebuild my protective walls...but I HAVE TO GIVE UP CONTROL! I have to surrender, not to my ememies, but to my protector and Savior. If I keep trying to fix things on my own, it won't work, it won't be strong enough and those walls will come crashing down again.

I don't know why I forget about God and his infinite power and love! He has proven to me over and over that He loves me, and blesses me and protects me.

So, today...just this moment right now...I am giving up control. I am surrendering my will and I am giving up control of my body, of my finances, of my daughter, of my husband, of my work, of the things I do I church...just in this moment and hopefully moment by moment by moment of this day. Hopefully, those moments of surrender will continue and make a whole day of surrender.

What I think will happen is that I will no longer be like a city with broken walls, but I will have the self control I need to stand firm, because that control is really coming from my Savior and protector and loving Father, and NOT from me.

I have written about this before, and I will probably write about it again because it is way to easy to pick up the control again and forget God's role in my life. I am thankful that I have finally come to the time in my life where my faith in God is strong enough to help me give up that control in a quicker and easier manner than I used to. It doesn't seem to take as long for me to get frustrated and aggrevated at my own lack of self control and go back to God for help. And...luckily, He will never give up on me, but when I cry out to him, he comes in and starts rebuilding my city walls once again. God's grace is amazing and abundant and everlasting!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Fearfully and wonderfully made

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." Psalm 139:13-14

I was talking with a friend yesterday. We were both complaining about the way we are...the fact that both of us are very emotional people, wearing our hearts on our sleeve. It seems that just by looking at me, a person can see what I am feeling. And, for whatever reason, in the last few years especially, I cry at just about everything. I like to think that I am a strong woman. My faith has seen me through many difficult situations in my life. However, I cry when I'm happy...I cry when I'm sad...I cry and get blotchy when I am angry. When I cry, I think it makes me look weak, and not the strong leader that I want to be. Crying over a Hallmark commercial is one thing, but crying over something at work that makes me angry...come on!

But, my friend told me yesterday that both of us should stop feeling bad about who we are...we should starting liking ourselves more. That is a hard thing to do, liking yourself...even the parts of yourself that make you mad. Then this morning I read the verse from Psalms above. God created me the way I am. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Perhaps there is a reason I was made this way. I am soft and tender-hearted for a reason. I easily empathize with people, making me easy to talk to.

Many people are made differently than me. They hold their emotions in and are harder to read. I'm sure there is a reason they are made that way too. When I try to hold things in, (and believe me, I have tried!) I end of making myself sick! That is not how I was made.

So, instead of complaining about how I am, I should learn to embrace ALL my characteristics. God made me and God doesn't make mistakes! His works are wonderful! He knew what he was doing when he made me weepy and sappy and soft-hearted. Maybe I need to learn to control the water-works more often, but I don't have to beat myself up for feeling the way I do.

I read something else this morning that made me stop and think. You were made by God and for God and until you understand that, life will never make sense.

If I can learn to trust God more and embrace my weepiness, how can you trust God more with the way you are? Is there something about yourself that you don't like? Remember that God made YOU and God doesn't make mistakes! Embrace who you are! Join me in thanking God for making us who we are!

Saturday, May 5, 2012


"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." Colossians 3:12

I used to be confused about "God's chosen people." If the Jews were and God's chosen people, what does that make me? Well, I have read and studied and asked a lot of questions...I am no expert in Biblical theory, and I by no means have the answers. But, this is the way I feel God has helped me to understand it. Anyone who believes in God and believes that he sent his only son, Jesus Christ to earth to take on the sins of the be our own personal Savior...anyone who believes that has Christ in his heart and becomes one of God's chosen people. God created ALL people...we are ALL his children. But, some of us have opened our eyes, ears and hearts to god's plan for our salvation and we CHOSE God....therefore, He chooses us!

Ok, now that I have figured out that I am CHOSEN by God, I can truly work to fulfill His call for me. I have been doing a LOT of thinking lately about what that calling is. But I think the verse from Colossians above tells me clearly. WHATEVER I do with my life, in my job, in my home, with my friends, in my community...I should do those things with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. If I am one of God's chosen ones, then I need to act like it and be Jesus to everyone I meet. Since Jesus was perfect, and was all those things all the time, that is a hard act to is hard and impossible for us who are not perfect to be all those things all the time. But, I think God wants us to try.

Perhaps God is not calling us to specific jobs or careers...perhaps He is calling us to a JOB that is bigger and more important than any job you could possibly have on this earth. If those of us who CHOSE God and know that he CHOSE us would work hard at the job of being compassionate more often, and kinder to more people, and think less of our own needs and more of the needs around us, and had more patience with people at home and at the grocery store and on the highway....if WE did that and truly fulfilled our calling we would have more impact on this world than through any career we might chose for ourselves.

That is a big request and a big job. We are not going to be perfect at it...we will fail at times, we will not do our best at times. But I believe it is what I am called to do. How about you?

Friday, May 4, 2012

"Suck it up, Cupcake!"

"But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have been convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it..." 2 Timothy 3:14

Ok, so you've had a disappointment. Things didn't go your way. You didn't get what you wanted. Life is full of disappointments. This one won't be your last, that is for sure. Life is too short to sit around boo-hooing...there is work to be done! I used to say "Suck it up Buttercup!" but my daughter said to me this morning, "Suck it up, Cupcake!" which I thought was totally appropriate for her to say!

It is ok to have feelings of disappointment. It is natural and very human of us to have these feelings. It is also very natural and human for us to get angry and throw a hissy fit when we don't get our way. Have you ever seen a toddler throw a fit when they don't get what they want? No one taught them to act that is just what comes natural. But, toddlers grow up and learn that throwing a fit usually only makes matters worse...well, some of us grow up and learn that lesson.

"When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me." 1 Corinthians 13:11

I think part of the reason our world seems so messed up, mixed up and dangerous is that we don't heed those words enough. We all want our own way and get mad when it doesn't happen that way and we yell, call people names, scream, stomp our feet and stomp all the way out the door. Now tell me, how is that obeying the commandments that according to Jesus were the most important: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.

And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself'" Matthew 22:37-38

When we want something really bad, we pray for it, ask others to pray for it and WISH it to happen, and when it doesn't, we assume that prayer doesn't work and we get mad at God. That is just flawed thinking. God says he hears our prayers and answers our may just not be in our timing or in the way we thought they we would be answered. The sooner we learn that, understand that and grasp the importance of that, the sooner we will be able to move on to and the less time we will waste crying and complaining about how we didn't get what we want.

But, we must give ourselves time to get over it. Our hurt human feelings need time to heal. We mustn't beat ourselves up for having those feelings. God made us the way we are, and he made us with feelings. Reading the Bible, prayer and talking with wise friends are good ways to work through those feelings. Remind yourself of all the blessings in your life. Remind yourself where you would be without those blessings. Talk to someone about it and don't hold it all in to fester into bitterness that will spill out into other areas of your life. Bitterness toward someone else does nothing but cause YOU hurt and sorrow.

So your prayer wasn't answered the way you thought it should be...God has a plan for you. "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

Suck it up, Cupcake! There is work to be done and life to be lived!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

I will not be moved

"Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain."

Today my own words are few. Songs play an important role in my life and this one by Natalie Grant is playing in my head this morning. It says what my heart is trying to say.

I have been the wayward child
I have acted out
I have questioned Sovereignty
And had my share of doubts
And though sometimes my prayers feel like
They're bouncing off the sky
The hand I hold won't let me go
And here's the reason why

I will stumble
I will fall down
But I will not be moved
I will make mistakes
I will face heartaches
But I will not be moved
On Christ the solid rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
I will not be moved

Bitterness has plagued my heart
Many times before
My life has been like broken glass
And I have kept the score
Of all my shattered dreams and though it seemed
That I was far too gone
My brokeness helped me to see
It's grace I'm standing on.

And the chaos in my life
Has been a badge I've worn
Though I have been torn
I will not be moved

I will stumble
I will fall down
But I will not be moved
I will make mistakes
I will face heartaches
But I will not be moved
On Christ the solid rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
I will not be moved

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Transions...beautiful enough to share

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened." (Matthew 7:7, 8 NIV) It has been a long while since I last posted. I am in a period of transition in my life...again...and I find it hard to collect my thoughts well enough to share them with anyone these days. I guess I also feel like I don't have a right to. Let me explain that statement. When I began writing this blog, it had a specific purpose: to share our Bible study lesson with the girls in my group. But, when more and more people began reading it and commenting on it and stating that it was a good way to start their day, I felt a feeling of responsibility. God was working through my words. I loved that I really WAS able to be an active part of God's plan. I studied the Bible and read books that other very smart people wrote about how God works in our every day lives and shared my feelings about their thoughts. I took the responsibility seriously. But, since the beginning of this year, I have been in a period of searching, examining my life, struggling to trust God's leading, struggling with the idea of taking a risk and what that risk means to my life and the life of my family, struggling with trying NOT to worry. All of that hasn't lessened my faith, but does make me feel confused. I waffle back and forth from feeling elated at the things I feel God doing in my life, to feeling scared to death! I also have felt that I have had God whispering, then speaking and then yelling at me with what he wants me to do...and I again waffle between fully trusting that these feelings are God's leading and worrying that this is just me, discontented with my life and searching for a change. With all of that could I write daily, encouraging messages to my friends? When I was so confused, uncertain and could I provide a good example of total devotion and reliance on God? So, I didn't write. But, when I read today's Bible verse, it struck me that I am not the only one with these struggles. Many of my friends have uncertainties, worries and waffles of their own. Even the "super-saints" I know, who are great pray-ers and always seem sound in their faith, struggle with doubt and uncertainty from time to time. I know that I know that I know that God is there with me every day. I know that this time of transition will pass and will lead me to greater things. I know that if I live a life that follows Jesus' example I will be stronger and have a peace that I don't even understand. Even when I don't know what tomorrow holds for me, I trust that God loves me more than the birds and flowers and he will provide for me and will take care of me. Why not share those feelings with my friends? Why not share my fears and doubts along with my faith? Perhaps they will show my friends that they are not alone...that they too can have a peace during their struggles that will get them through the storms in their lives. I don't know what tomorrow holds for me. I don't know what I will be doing two months from now or 2 years from now. I am having a hard time planning for my future and the future of my family right now. But, I am trusting that since I am knocking really hard, God will hear me and open that door. I am asking for God's guidance and searching for His peace...I trust that I will receive that guidance and will find that peace. The feeling that everything will fall into place one day soon comes over me and makes me able to share that feeling with you. I pray that you are able to find the same peace today.