Friday, November 20, 2015

When Life is Just Too Much

Recently I signed up for my first 5k.  I've been walking and running for about 10 years.  Some young friends talked me into trying it.  I started slow, and in my 'much older' sisters words, I just tapered off.   I decided I was never going to get faster and if I didn't try to finish a 5k now, I'd never do it.  I guess my impending 60th birthday is making me feel like I need to 'do' something;  something I can say, "I always wanted to do that!"

So a few days a week I get my workout clothes, my 49ers cap to keep my curls out of my face, and turn on my Nike running app.  I don't always feel like doing it.  Sometimes I hurt, or I'm tired, or I just have too much to do.  I want to give up.  But when I make myself keep going. . . one foot in front of the other, tired legs or not, ragged breathe.  I always feel better at the end.  I know that powering through the difficulties will make it worth it in the end.

This made me think on my walk this morning that my spiritual walk is the same. . . there are days I just want to pull the covers over my head and give up. Things aren't going smoothly.  I feel like nothing is working for my good. That visit with the doctor didn't give me the news I wanted.  My brother or sister in Christ let me down. . . again.  I gave in to the temptation to _____(you fill in the blank) . . after trying so hard to overcome.  Don't you have days you feel down, you feel out; you cannot go another step.

But God is faithful, even when we aren't.  I was reminded this morning as I read these words,

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is 
perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, 
is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 
while we do not look at the things which are seen, 
but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are 
temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal."
2 Corinthians 4:16-18

      This world, no matter how long, how hard, how difficult life can be, it is only temporary.  I love how God has promised to make it work for us, these light afflictions.  I know they can be heavy and feel like more than we can bear.  But His word encourages us to think beyond the moment.  So sometimes we just 'power through' this life.  Don't forget Who you live for.  So, keep your chin up and 'Look like Jesus.'

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Another Moving Experience

"Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren, "  
~ Deuteronomy 4:9 ~

I'll be honest.  It's been hard to write lately.  Bursts of inspiration seem to come at the most ackward times.  We have been adjusting to our new home and we love it.  But the emphasis is on 'adjusting.'  No matter the circumstances, it is not easy to move a family even a short distance.  My mom used to said she preferred a good long move over short ones. The mental and physical preparations made it easier for her. I have to agree.  Even though we moved less than 100 miles, I had no idea where we would land, so the preparation, while a little stressful, was neater this way.  I was packing like we were moving to Timbuktu (and for those who are curious, yes, I checked that spelling and it's a real place!)  

But, finally, here I am, sharing a small bit of knowledge and encouraging you on your own journey home.  

Now that its beginning to feel like home,  I am leaving for 2 weeks.  I volunteered to ride along with my middle son and his family on their trek to relocate to Phoenix as part of a church-planting team.  Now, moving isn't one of my top ten favorite activities.  The good Lord knows we've had more than our fair share of them.  But having the opportunity to help my children and spend some quality time in the car with 2 preschoolers was just irresistible!   Hour upon hour of "Kids Sing" dvds or "Cowboy Mickey" tapes and stretching over the seats to retrieve fallen toys or food?  I mean, you'd go in a heartbeat, right?

But you know what, even with all the crumbs I know I'll comb out of my hair each night and the endless readings of "Thomas the Train" books, I wouldn't miss this for the world! If my grandchildren (and their parents) remember anything, I hope it is this:  I'd throw myself on a sword for them.  Not because I have one, but because throwing myself in front of the moving truck, crying my eyes out and begging them to stay is just so . . . selfish.  

I want them to know I love them, but sobbing and begging wont make my point.  I want them to know the love of the Lord even more.  I'm letting them go (as if I had a choice) because they are going to share the gospel with the lost and because I know that wherever they live, they are going to be the light of Christ in a dark world.  If my storytime with them must be over Skype or FaceTime so be it, because someone else needs them more than I do.  It just means that my special times with them must be more creative.  I don't plan to drop out of their lives because of the miles between us, but it will just challenge me to find special ways to stay connected.

I take seriously the words of God.  In the beginning of this blog, I copied a verse from Deuteronomy which gives a command.  That was not directly to me, but to the Israelite people as they began their covenant relationship with the Almighty God.  I don't live under the Mosaic Law, as it is sometimes referred to, but God has not changed and I think He left some things to us for our learning.  This is still a good idea today.  Be diligent in remembering who we serve.  Don't forget the many wonders of this God we serve.  Treasure His wonders and words in our hearts.  Teach them to our children and our grandchildren.  

We think because we didn't bring them into the world that our job is over?  God thought it important enough to tell the Israelites to teach the next two generations His law. He knew how easily it can be forgotten.  I'm not sure how many times I've read the words. . .". . then there grew up a generation who knew not God. . . " but it always chills me to see it printed out.  We as grandmothers (and grandfathers) must carry the flame.  We must tend it with all our being so that the faith we carry in us is carried on in our children and grandchildren.  What a beautiful heritage!

 I think we can move that forward a few thousand years and say, "Yes, I think that it's fun to spoil the grands, but more important, lets teach them to love God and follow Him all their days."  I think we do that by diligent study of His word, pondering on it, living by it.  Our example teaches more than any words.  But use those too!  

Thanks for checking in on your errant friend. . . 

May your light never dim, until you leave this journey, to find your final destination!  

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Keys to Building a Good Marriage

Photo by Charlotte Duren
We recently moved to a new community.  In all the preparation for holiday celebrations and then the move, getting settled in our home and community, my quiet time dwindled to a few prayers on the run and scattered thoughts on the word.  Add family to the mix and it occurred to me how easy it is to neglect those things which are most important.  If my relationship to God is hurting, how much more so the relationship to my husband and children must be suffering!  

The natural ebb and flow of life is never a steady stream, but sometimes a rushing torrent, sometimes a trickle in the desert.  If we women don't carve out time for our own daily study, the whole family suffers and our marriage is not the best it can be.

Each of us has the same amount of time.  We have today.  No one is promised more or less.  But we much make a conscious choice how we spend that time.  Now we don't all have the same responsibilities.  Some of you have babies in diapers, small children clambering for your attention.  Their needs are great.  Some of you have raised your children, and your job may be the most demanding of your time.  Or you may be retired, and the demands of job or family behind you.  Time weighs heavy.

But each of us chooses how we respond to those demands.  Choosing to spend time daily in God's word and prayer will better prepare us to be the wives, mothers, friends and sisters we should be.  We cannot be all we are created to be without including the One most important.  

Today I choose to make my life more like Jesus and less like me.  I can only do that if I get to know Him better by reading His word and praying for wisdom in making it mine.  I will choose to shed some of my 'self' that I will look more like my Master each day.  

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Walk As Children of Light

As my family faces another transition in life, I am reminded that it matters how I act and react to the events around me.  I cannot control others.  But I know what is right to do and make a conscious effort to do it.  My desire is to be the face of Jesus to those around me; my friends, my family, my community.

"Therefore, be imitators of God as dear children."  Ephesians 5:1

It has been said that the sincerest form of flattery is imitation.  My desire to be an imitation of Christ is not a cheap, plastic design, but actually becoming Christ to those around me.  First, a true imitation must start with real ingredients.  I can't hope to be anything like Christ by changing any of them.    So the source must be God himself.  We must look to God's word to find that, handling the word with truth and reverence.  I must acknowledge that God himself has the right to set the requirements of his followers, and then adhere to them with all my heart, soul, might and strength.

Where do we find this?  By a diligent study of God's word, the Bible.  I must set aside my preconceived ideas and let God speak to me through His word and make me over into what He wants me to be.  (Hebrews 1:1-2)

This road we travel is not always easy.  It has a price to be paid, but those who desire to live in Christ have a wonderful destination, but also the assurance along the way, however difficult, that God will never leave us on our own.  (Isaiah 43:1-2)

"For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light, (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord."  Ephesians 5:8-10

Think on these things as you travel your road today.  

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Growing Up Isn't Just About ME

"For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned. Hebrews 6:7-8
I have been reading through Hebrews lately.  Being at my son's home with 2 little boys doesn't lend itself to much quiet time for deep reflection.  But God provides the insight. :)  He reminds me daily how important it is for me to drink deeply of His word and to live it always.  Little eyes (and big) are watching me.

We've all heard, "God sends the rain on the just and the unjust."  (from Matthew 5:45)  It states here that we should bear usefully for the One who is cultivating us.  So are we letting God garden and groom our lives? Does He use us as He sees fit, or do we spend our blessings on selfish desire and empty promises?  We know who wants us cultivating those thoughts and actions!  

Are you a beautiful herb garden, benefiting the kingdom of God or are you a briar patch?

Let me illustrate it this way:  My son recently moved into a home in southern California and the front and back yards are two very different environments.  The front  yard is kept by someone hired to water and cultivate green grass and neat gardens of rock and plants.  Roses bloom across the street, and a lovely tree shades the front yard of my son's home.  The other day I watched as a tiny hummingbird rested for several minutes on a now-empty plant hanger in that tree.  

But the back yard is a different story.  It is barren of green life; it is native sand and dirt and more sand.  The grass is brown and dry and the stickers are thick and grab on to the animals as they walk through them.  These stickers then drop on the tile and rug when the animals reenter the house and we find them with our feet!  Not pleasant especially in the middle of the night.

The point is, which yard are we? Are we allowing God to cultivate lovely herbs, useful to the kingdom He rules?  Or are we the stickers, weeds and thistles of the world, useful only for being cursed and burned?

Our choice is not only our fate, but the fate of those we influence.  Are we growing in the word, not just for our own benefit and eternal home, but those around us; our children, grandchildren, family, neighbors, and co-workers?  It isn't just a matter of making our own way to heaven.  It's a matter of being useful to God's kingdom.  


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

I have a 'guest writer' today.  Paula Bailey has been an internet friend for years. . . .and she posted this on October 27th.  She is a wife and mother of 2 girls who loves the Lord and, like all of us, needs an occasional change of perspective on the journey she travels here below.  
Thank you, Paula, for graciously allowing me to share where that perspective should be.  God bless!

Ok. So, I still can't find some of Mikayla's uniform clothes. They are hiding out somewhere. We have enough to make it for a bit, but still.... As I was looking for them today, I was aggravated. I can be pretty grumpy, so here's a list of my thoughts: Why should my kid HAVE to wear a uniform to go to school????? Really, so because there are gangs and other violence in schools, my kids have to wear uniforms-some of which I can't find right now!?!?! I then thought about our consequence-driven society. We live in a society where, regardless of the freedom people want, we are still dealing with the consequences of a few, and our freedoms - in this case to wear whatever we want - are taken away. So, she has to have uniforms. My mind went to Billy Joel's song, "We Didn't Start the Fire", because I was thinking her wardrobe choices are mandated by somebody else who decided to start a fire. After I fumed and fretted for a while, my mind then turned to how we are not to be "of the world". We live IN it and WITH all of the consequences of man, but we are not to be OF the world. Not only that, we need to be a light to show others that there is a way out of the darkness of our present circumstances.
John 17:16King James Version (KJV)
16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
King James Version (KJV)
by Public Domain
By the way, the missing pieces are still AWOL, but I learned a new perspective.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Courage and Strength

On this journey below, we often stumble.  Someone once said that success isn't how often we fall, but how often we get up.  Success in the Christian walk is about discerning and avoiding the pitfalls of life, and when we do fall, acknowledging God's strength in overcoming the weakness of the flesh.  It isn't how strong we are, but how strong our God is.

When we were expecting our sixth child, we found that he had many physical problems.  It was a time of grief, tears, searching for answers, and learning to depend on God.  One of my Christian sisters commented, "You are so courageous."  My reply, "No, but my God is."

"Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!"  Psalm 27:14  

Our strength is only from God.  It doesn't  come from any other source.  Even Paul was encouraged more than once by his connections with the people of God; their gifts, their prayers, their presence.  (Acts 28:15, Phil. 4:17, Rom. 15:30, Phil. 1:22)

I would encourage you to spend time daily in the word, letting God strengthen you with His wisdom and knowledge that is available;  spend time with God's people, encouraging one another, worshiping together the God of all strength; and in prayer, seeking God's grace and mercy for our weakness, and wisdom to reflect the image of Christ to a dark world.

When the people of God had been taken captive and Nehemiah had the law read to the people, they recognized how far they had strayed and were deeply grieved.  But Nehemiah, inspires them with these words, " Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10 (Emphasis is mine.)