Wednesday, January 27, 2010

FREE Outfit Giveaway!!

I guess I started something last week on Shari Braendel's What To Wear Wednesday post. She shared about the perfect jeans for each body shape. She said that Riders by Lee are the best jeans for Type A body shapes. I innocently commented that I have always thought of Riders as "mom jeans." Honestly, it was just an innocent comment. :)

Well, Riders by Lee actually contacted Shari (she thinks because of my comment!) and offered to give her 3 outfits to give away to 3 of her reader! How cool is that?!?!

You can enter to win...simply go to Shari's blog post HERE and follow her directions. Anyone can leave a comment...just click on comment and choose "anonymous", enter your comment and don't forget to sign your name. :)

Take some time to look around Shari's blog while you're there. She gives great fashion tips and advice...and is a lot of fun too.

Remember you have to play to win, girls! :)

Hope to post again soon. Until then...HUGS, PRAYERS and BLESSINGS to each of you!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

What Makes You Feel Loved?

Andrew in Feb of 2009

A few months ago Renee Swope shared on her blog about asking her son, Andrew, the question, “What makes you feel loved?” I thought the blog post she shared was very good. I also thought that my little Andrew (2½ at the time) was probably too young to understand that question, but wanted to be sure to remember it so that I could ask him in the future.
Last week Andrew (who will be 3 on the 30th) and I were playing in his room. It was just me and him. Suddenly, the question “popped” into my mind which is actually kind of strange since I hadn’t thought of it again since reading it. Within a matter of seconds different thoughts crossed my mind like, “He’s too young to understand that” to “I could always rephrase the question if I need to” to “Well, it doesn’t hurt to ask him…if he doesn’t understand it now, I can always ask again later.” So…I asked.

I said, “Andrew, what makes you feel loved?” He said, “Huh?” I asked again, “What makes you feel loved?” He said, “Ummmm…” I decided to rephrase the question. I asked, “What do you like that Mommy does with you or for you the verrrry most?” He didn’t hesitate. He drew out his words, “When you pray with me.” I thought, “Wow, really?! Huh! How incredible is that?!” I didn’t realize that.

Maybe this momma is making more of it than it really is, but that seems HUGE to me! He didn’t say when we play together, do puzzles, read books or even when I do special craft projects with him. He didn’t say when I buy him toys or candy or when I take him somewhere special. He didn’t say when I make his meals, wash his clothes or bathe him. He didn’t even say when we cuddle on the couch (although I know he loves that). Nope, he said, “When you pray with me.”

Does he just like this family ritual (his daddy often prays along with us)? Or does he sense something significant about this activity? Prayer is something I believe he is starting to understand…and I pray (and believe) is being permanently instilled in his heart as an important part of the day. Still, I’m not sure what made Andrew think of this when I asked (and rephrased), “What makes you feel loved?”

What I do know is this: it reminds me of what is truly important! All of the other activities (or at least most) I mentioned above are good and much needed also; yet it’s those simple, yet meaningful things that mean the most! He wants ME. He wants my time and attention, taking the time to pray with him. He wants to know that he is important to me. When I pray with him he must sense the love I have for him and for God. I am teaching him by example and beginning a legacy. Honestly, I may not know the true significance and value of this time together for many years to come.

When I was sharing this story with a friend at church today she said something profound. She said as I was telling her the story she thought of what God might say if we asked him that same question, “What makes you feel loved?” And she wondered if he would say something like, “When you pray to me.” Wow!
God wants our time too!! He wants US. He wants our time and attention, to be glorified. He wants to know that He is important to us, to be praised. When we pray He knows of our love for Him…and others. Our time with Him is significant, valuable and needed! (Note: He always has time for us, is available and willing to listen too. I don’t know about you, but I would say that, that sure does make ME feel loved!)

I am in the midst of reading three different books at the moment. Interestingly enough all three of them came to a point this past week where they were focusing on (what else?!)…PRIORITIES. Each of them contributing to what God had already been laying on my heart.

Although it is important to meet the needs of my family, I can not spend my whole day fretting over making meals, cleaning house or doing laundry. If I am too busy trying to minister to people outside of my home to focus on the ones within my home than my priorities are “out of whack.” If I’m too busy trying to find ways to bring in extra income so that Andrew can have one more toy or treat, I’m really “missing the boat.”
Of all the things I can do throughout my day, my number one priority must be spending time with God, building that relationship. Then, as a wife and mother, my next priority must be the people within my own home, my family. They are the number one ministry God has given to me.

Quality time with God. Quality time with our family. These are the MOST important things we can do throughout our day!!

What makes you feel loved? What do you think makes your kids, husband or other loved ones feel loved? Why don’t you ask them today? You might be surprised by their answer!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Remember to Expect

What is your measure of expectation as you approach God for a blessing? Do you expect to receive from God or do you tend to be forgetful like me?

In our women’s Sunday school class we are going through the book “Women of the Covenant: Spiritual Wisdom from Women of the Bible” by Kimberly Sowell and Edna Ellison. Each chapter focuses on one woman from the Bible and encourages you to make connections between the Biblical woman’s life and your own. It has been an excellent study so far! Each week I am blessed by the very insightful lessons that are also very applicable to my daily life journey.

This past Sunday we discussed, “The Needy Widow: Like Oil, the Blessing Flowed”. This was a focus on an unnamed woman featured in II Kings 4:1-7. She was the widow of a prophet. A creditor had come threatening to take her sons as slaves. She went to Elisha the prophet for help. Elisha asked her what she had in her house. The only thing she had was a flask of olive oil. Elisha told her to borrow as many empty jars as she could. Then go into her house, shut the door and start pouring the olive oil from the flask into the jars.
Vs 5 and 6 says: “So she did as she was told. Her sons kept bringing jars to her, and she filled one after another. Soon every container was full to the brim! ‘Bring me another jar,’ she said to one of her sons. ‘There aren’t any more!’ he told her. And then the olive oil stopped flowing.”

Elisha told the widow to sell the olive oil and pay her debt. They had enough left over for her and her sons to live on!

As we discussed this lessons many aspects of the story “came to light.” Eventually the question was asked, “What is your measure of expectation as you approach God for a blessing?” The widow obviously expected God to do what He said that He would do (through the prophet Elisha), because she gathered jars…apparently many, many jars as they had enough money left over to live on!

What about me and you...what is our measure of expectation as we approach God for a blessing?
As I listened to these lovely Christian ladies share in Sunday school, it became obvious to me that it is all too easy for us to forget God’s faithfulness, provision, ability and promises…even immediately after He’s done something major in our life!

Why do we start to forget all too quickly? Why don’t we always recognize the things He’s doing for us even in the ordinary moments of our days? Why are we so human?

God IS capable! It’s not that God has changed. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He remembers! It’s that we have changed. We forget! It’s that our focus gets…well, out of focus. Our memory fails us. Our expectancy wanes. We get caught up in the “hum drum” of life. Our focus in on what we can currently see and what we feel (feelings lie) instead of on the One who is faithful and just!

How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Everything he does reveals his glory and majesty. His righteousness never fails. He causes us to remember his wonderful works. How gracious and merciful is our LORD! He gives food to those who fear him; he always remembers his covenant. Psalm 111:2-5

Do I believe that God truly wants to bless me? Well, why wouldn’t I?! God has shown his faithfulness to me time and time again. Do I believe that He’s interested in every detail of my life? Well, why wouldn’t I?! He has answered prayers, performed miracles and opened doors for me, showing me His abundant love many times! How about you?!

I want to go to Him with that child like faith, expecting to hear from Him. To see miracles like that the “Needy Widow” experienced…and even less extravagant ones (in the eyes of others) that will mean everything to me! To see His hand at work even in the midst of potty training, laundry and making supper for my family. Don't you?!

In Joshua 4 after God dried up the Jordan River so that the Israelites could pass safely on dry land, the people took 12 stones to set up a memorial. God told the people to do this so that the stones would be a reminder to them and future generations of God’s provision and power.

In Genesis 32 Jacob was afraid that his brother Esau would kill him as he tried returning to his homeland. However, Jacob remembered God’s earlier promise to him, “I will surely treat you kindly, and I will multiply your descendants until they become as numerous as the sands along the seashore--too many to count.” (vs. 11) Jacob remembered! Although he was afraid, he prayed and reminded God of his promise.
It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed that God would keep his promise. Hebrews 11:11

It seems to me that the way to be more expectant is to remember His faithfulness from the past more vividly! To set up memorials for ourselves so that we won’t forget His provision and ability to see us through any situation…even the norms of everyday life. Keeping His trustworthy promises fresh in our memory. Building our faith with evidence of His faithfulness!

What are some modern day memorials that I can set up? Perhaps keeping a journal; speaking to my son (and others) on a regular basis about the things God has done for me in the past (leaving a legacy); maybe even blogging about answered prayer and unexpected provision. Of course, I need to be in God’s Word and prayer. I need to meditate on His promises. And reflect on His good deeds. What else should I be doing?
I don’t want to forget! I want to go to God in eager expectation of what He is going to do next! I want to believe His promises and remember His faithfulness! I want to set up some very practical memorials for myself and my family!

I would love to hear your thoughts. How do you remember God‘s faithfulness? Have you set up memorials for yourself and your family? How do you keep from becoming “stale” in your Christian walk? Please share!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Find Happiness!

Everyone is seeking happiness! How do we find it?

As the New Year 2010 rang in I heard a lot of comments about the past year 2009. Most people were eager to “start fresh” in 2010...forgetting about the “dreadful” year 2009. There was much talk about “new beginnings” and the hope of finding happiness in 2010.

Amidst all the comments it became painfully obvious to me that most of the people making them didn’t have much more hope for finding happiness in 2010 than they did in 2009. Not that it’s not available to them, it’s just that they’re pursuing it in all the wrong places. They’re pursuing relationships, things (more money, better job, trinkets and gadgets) and “fun,” all the while quoting all the fine-sounding, self-help happiness slogans. Always seeking the “next big thing” that’s going to bring them that ultimate happiness. Yet, they’re still as unhappy from one day to the next !

Psalm 84:11b-12 says, "No good thing will the LORD withhold from those who do what is right. Oh Lord Almighty, happy are those who trust in you."

What’s the answer? What brings true happiness? I believe (from reading the scripture reference above and many others) it’s wrapped up in two words: TRUST and OBEY!

Trust and Obey (Love that old hymn)…“for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” So true!!

How do I know that trusting and obeying are the answer? Because I am living proof!
I spent way too much time in the past seeking happiness in the wrong places. I prayed and still believed in God, but I didn’t do much trusting God and I definitely didn’t do much obeying Him. Yet, I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t happy. Why God wasn’t blessing me?! I wanted to do things my own way while keeping Him on the back-burner. Then I wondered why I was miserable. Sure I had some fun--some of that fleeting, temporary “happiness” the world offers. I often had a big smile on my face. Still, when all was said and done, I had very little (if any) peace, hope and joy. My life was not blessed by God because I (my life ) was not blessing Him!

Proverbs 19:3 says, “People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the LORD.”
We all want God to bless us right? But do we really want to bless Him? Why do we expect God to bless us if we’re not willing to serve Him wholly? Jesus clearly said in John 14:15, “If you love me; obey my commandments.” If we don’t obey Him (showing our true love for Him) then why do we think He will continue to show favor to us? We’re all going to fail at times, but do we earnestly have a desire to serve and honor God? Or are we holding back a bit (or much) of ourselves from Him?

God is able to accomplish more than we would ever dare to ask or even think (Ephesians 3:20). He will supply all we need (Philippians 4:19). He will bless us IF we obey (James 1:22-26).

Obedience and trust really go hand in hand. If you trust Him you will more easily obey Him. The more you obey Him, the more you will realize that you can trust Him. Then the more you trust Him, the more you will obey Him. You get the idea. It goes on and on into a more loving, intimate relationship with the LORD.
Does this mean that if we trust and obey God that nothing will ever go wrong in our lives? Of course not. We live in a fallen, imperfect world where pain, disappointment and sorrows linger. Because we live this human existence we will experience some of life’s difficulties. Even Jesus Christ’s life wasn’t exactly a “walk in the park”, remember?

Yet, through this often difficult journey the person who is trusting and obeying our risen Savior will find peace, hope and joy…the peace, hope and joy only He can give! Not as the world gives--fleeting, temporary happiness. No! He gives peace that passes all understanding or comprehension (Philippians 4:7). He gives abounding hope (Romans 15:13) and joy that gives us strength (Nehemiah 8:10). He turns sorrow into peace, hope and joy as we choose to trust and obey Him through all of our days…even the darkest of times.

I still have a lot to learn about complete surrender. I need to trust and obey my LORD more thoroughly, more readily, more promptly at times. Yet, I have a yearning desire to trust Him more wholly. I want to more quickly obey Him. I want my life to bless Him. And in turn, I pray that I will continue to be blessed by Him…with His peace, hope and joy through all of life’s ups and down.

My life is not “perfect” today, but I AM HAPPY! My happiness is not wrapped up in another person, thing or upcoming event. Nope, it’s in a relationship with Jesus Christ. I’m learning to trust and obey Him more completely with each passing year. And that’s why 2009 was a great year for me…and I know that 2010 will be even better!! Thank you LORD for all of our many, many blessings!!

My reading friend I want this happiness (and even more) for you as well!! Let 2010 be the year of complete surrender to truly trusting and obeying God! Get into His Word, seek Him and follow Him more closely...and I will do the same. I know our lives will be blessed because of it!!

Galatians 6:7-9 says, “Don’t be misled. Remember that you can’t ignore God and get away with it. You will always reap what you sow! Those who live to satisfy their own sinful desires will harvest the consequences of decay and death. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So don’t get tired of doing what is good. Don’t get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time.”