Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thanks-giving Thursday

From now on I'm dedicating Thursdays to an attitude of gratitude. Next Thursday I will share a more in depth post on gratefulness...and share some things that I am grateful for. I'd love to hear what you're thankful for as well so put your gratitude thinking cap on this week.

"...let the Holy Spirit fill and control you. Then you will sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, making music to the Lord in your hearts. And you will always give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Ephesians 18b-20

Today I am thankful for:

THE BIG OL' BLOGGY WORLD that we're each a part of. :) What a blessing and encouragement it is to connect with other Christian bloggy sisters! I am often encouraged as I read other blogs and enjoy having the outlet to share some of my own thoughts as I journey through life. Isn't it so reassuring and freeing to know that we are not alone in our struggles, trials and searchings? Isn't it reassuring to see how God works in the lives of others? It is for me...and I am thankful!

That being said, one of my favorite bloggers is Renee Swope. If you haven't already done so, will you hop on over to Renee Swope's blog and complete her mini- survey. She's trying to get over 500 women to complete this short, 6 questions survey to help her determine the focus of the chapters of her new book about overcoming doubt. As a thank you she's giving away 4 autographed copies of Who Holds the Key to Your Heart? by Lysa TerKeurst. She's announcing the winners on Monday so go check it out!

I can hardly wait to read her new book! The more I read about it, the more excited I am about the book. I'm also excited that I'm going to get to meet Renee and hear her speak at the Rise & Shine Women's Retreat this fall!

I hope to post again before Thursday, but things are a little crazy around here lately. I get to help "pick rock" this afternoon. Don't know what that is? Lucky you. :) No, it's really not that bad. I'll tell you more about it in a future post. :)

May the Lord bless you and keep you today!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Silly Birds

All week I've been watching the birds from my kitchen window. I had a hummingbird feeder set up (I just love watching hummingbirds), but lately orioles have been frequenting the hummingbird feeder too. Not only are the holes in the hummingbird feeder too small for the orioles to get their beaks all the way into; the feeder itself is not big enough for them to pirch they would get a nice grip on the shepherds hook and then strain their neck to get to the hummingbird feeder. I like orioles. I like watching them and listening to their beautiful call; so I decided that I needed an oriole feeder. I bought a new oriole feeder, filled it with even stronger nectar than what the hummingbird feeder has. It's big, beautiful, clean, filled with better nectar..sounds great right?! Well...the orioles kept going right back to the hummingbird feeder. Look at this little guy straining his neck to get to the hummingbird feeder...


There's something so much better waiting for you...if you only look UP!

All week I kept shaking my head at these little orioles thinking, "They're so beautiful, but not so bright." :)

They wouldn't even try it!

Now, I'm not a bird expert by any means, but I wondered, "Why?" I'm assuming that these little creatures are just like me...creatures of habit. They've been eating from the hummingbird feeder, it tastes pretty good and they were kind of use to straining their necks. OR maybe they looked at this new feeder and thought, "Hmmm...I'm not so sure about that. Looks kind of scary. I think I'll stay where I'm comfortable." (Not sure what birds think, but it sounds reasonable). OR maybe they just didn't think about it at all. They were just going about their day not even thinking there may be something better waiting for them.

So there it sat...full of strong, sugary nectar made just for them. It was better than anything they'd had. I'd already provided it for them. It would be much better, much easier. All they had to do was look up...and try it, but they didn't.

I wonder how many times God has been watching me shaking His head as I "strain my neck" doing things my own way. Maybe He thinks, "I know I made her, but she's not so bright." :)

He's made a way for me, given me all the resources in the world, provided the way; yet I sit right where I'm comfortable "straining my neck" and wondering why things aren't going better for me. I'm a creature of habit going back to what I know...instead of what He has for me. I make it so much harder for myself than what it really has to be. All I have to do is look UP, believe and take hold of His promises for my life. Something much better is waiting right there for me to grab on to!

"Seek His will in all you do, and he will direct your paths." Proverbs 3:6

Yesterday, I decided to remove the hummingbird feeder for the day to see what would happen. The orioles finally tried their own feeder. They must have recognized the error of their ways because today the orioles have been feasting from their own feeder all day...and the hummingbirds from theirs.

Things are finally as they were meant to be!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

My Beautiful Mother

Okay, so I’m a little behind on the Mother’s Day tribute. I know, I know, Mother’s Day was last week. Still, all week I was thinking about my mom. Look at her…This is my mom, Mary Margaret. She’s quite a lady!

Isn’t she beautiful?! When I was a little girl I remember looking up at her and thinking, “Wow, I have the most beautiful mom in the world!” I was right! She’s beautiful from the inside out.

She hasn’t always had an easy life. In fact, she’s dealt with a lot of heartache in her time. Still, through it all she’s kept the sweetest, most loving spirit. I’ve never met another soul like her. She is the definition of grace. She is the perfect balance of tenderness and strength.

She lives her life as an example of Jesus Christ’s love to everyone who knows her. I mean it! She has loved the unlovable, forgiven the worst offenders and given everyone the benefit of the doubt. She even showed nothing but love to her smart-mouthed teenage daughter (me), for goodness sake! :) (Sorry, Mom!) Seriously though, she is a great example of compassion, grace and patience. She often told me as a kid to treat others the way I wanted to be treated. She hasn’t just taught it with words, she’s lived it!

Despite the fact that she was a tired, over-worked, single mom when I was growing up, she always had time for me. She would listen to me; pray and cry with me; and hold me close when I was scared. Even though we live two states apart now, she continues that today by holding me up in prayer. I know that she’s always available with a listening ear and an open heart even though our conversations often have to be over the telephone. I can feel her warmth through the telephone line.

I don’t think I fully appreciated all the things my mom did…the caring, teaching, sacrificing and example setting…until I became a mother myself. I’m so, so very thankful that my mom taught me about Jesus…and not just with words. I’m so thankful for her unconditional love and support; complete acceptance and encouragement back then and now that I’m an adult as well! She will forever hold a special place in my heart…a place designated only for her. I am thankful that my son has such a godly heritage set in place by his grandmother.

Down through the years I have heard that I look quite a bit like my mom. However, I wish I “looked” more like her in ways where it really counts because looking more like her would mean looking more like Jesus.

"Her children stand and bless her..." Proverbs 31:38a

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Remember His Promises

As I added the above picture to my blog header today I was reminded once again of the goodness of the Lord.

I took that picture a couple of weeks ago from my front porch. The picture only shows a portion of the big, beautiful rainbow that we saw over our barn. We could see the whole rainbow from one pasture to the other. Then, a double rainbow appeared for a short time before they both disappeared.

Our two year old, Andrew, had never seen a rainbow before. My husband, Alan, and I enjoyed sharing his first rainbow with him. We talked about the promise that the rainbow symbolizes--God's promise to never flood the earth again. Then, we talked about how we can count on God’s promises.

The following Sunday I decided to discuss promises with my 3 and 4 year old Sunday school kids. I used the above picture on their take home memory verse paper along with a portion of Psalm 18:30, “All the Lord’s promises prove true.” I was thrilled when each of the kids came back the next week knowing their memory verse. I pray they will remember this verse and that it will someday truly penetrate their hearts because it is such a powerful truth of the Bible.

We discussed some of the promises from the Bible. I told the kids that if God’s Word says it you can believe it. If God makes a promise you can count on it; either it has already happened or it will. God never breaks a promise! It never ceases to amaze me how the simplest truth from God’s Word, truths that even preschoolers can understand, can at the same time be so profound!

A few weeks ago it seemed like everything I read had to do with time. Now it seems like everything I’ve been reading (mainly the Bible) has been referring to God’s promises. I think the Lord’s trying to tell me something.

I have to admit that lately I have been pretty discouraged at times. I’m dealing with some pretty serious back and neck issues and have been since last fall. I won’t go into all of the details, but I will fill you in a little. I have been doing therapy three days a week with a chiropractor and exercises five days a week to try to avoid having the surgery the surgeon says I need. I’ve been on and off of a few different medications. I’ve tried some natural remedies. I’ve had to deal with a lot of pain, quite a few nearly sleepless nights and have had too many side effects to mention. There have been a lot of ups and downs…good days and bad days. Just when I think I see progress, I have a bad day where it seems worse than ever.

I hesitate sharing this information because I don’t like to complain. I don’t like people feeling sorry for me. Although I appreciate the prayers, I don’t like others thinking that I’m looking for sympathy. Maybe that’s not right of me, but that’s the way I feel anyway. Regardless, I have to be honest here: the truth is it’s hard being in pain everyday. I get so tired. Some days lately I’ve found myself praying for strength to just simply get through the day…and that’s a real bummer.

Most of the time I’m able to keep my focus centered on Christ and His provision. I try to stay in God’s Word and meditate on His truths. Still, there are times when I wonder why I have to go through this pain. I wonder what the Lord is doing. I often ask Him what he’s trying to teach me through this. There are times when I feel so lonely in this pain…like there isn’t another soul who understands. At times I have felt like there is no hope, that the pain is too much and that it’s going to be like this forever. The truth is: feelings often lie!

I read through Psalm 106 today. As this chapter recounted the events of the Israelite ancestors I was reminded of my own forgetful, sinful nature. Over and over God would prove Himself to His people; then time and time again they would forget what He did and rebel against the Lord. Each time when they repented and chose to believe His promises He would show compassion to them by coming to the rescue once again. (see Psalm 106:24 &25 and 43-45 for a good examples of this).

The question is how does a person remember in hard times that the Lord’s promises ALWAYS prove true? The answer: Past experience. Look at what He did in the past. Has He ever left you? Has He ever failed to see you through a bad situation? Has He ever failed to strengthen you when you felt weak? Has He ever failed to show love and compassion to you when you were hurting? He has never failed me! In fact, He's blessed me in ways I never thought even possible. The problem is I tend to forget His faithfulness at times.

Back in September we had a miscarriage. That was a hard time for us, but much easier than it could have been because we chose to trust the Lord. During that experience I wrote the following:

God is our Good Shepherd (John 10:11). A Good Shepherd loves, cares for and protects His sheep. He knows His sheep and they know Him (John 10:14). Not only that, but our Good Shepherd has a plan for us (Jer 29:11). We can trust in Him and His plan for our lives (Prov 3:5). His purpose is to give life in its fullness (John 10:10). He causes everything to work together for good for us (Rom 8:28). He helps us in our distress (Rom 8:26).
Jeremiah 29:11-13 says, “For I know the plans I have for you”, says they Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster (evil), to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me in earnest, you will find me when you seek me.”

My own words remind me that God didn’t promise us that life would be easy. However, He did promise us that He would be with us and hold us close (Psalm 27:10).

I must remember, no matter what I feel that:

I am not alone and He will not fail me (Deut 31:6 & 8).
I can talk to Him and He cares about me (I Peter 5:7).
My hope is in the Solid Rock (Psalm 62:5 & 6).
I am weak, but He is strong (I Cor 4:10).
He will give me the strength I need from day to day (Phil 4:13).

I will choose to believe His promises and trust His plan even when I don’t understand it because I know that the truth is: "All of the Lord's promises prove true."