Saturday, September 29, 2012

Weekly Impressions - Big Picture Check


This past week has left me rather exhausted.  It was one of those weeks where it seemed like everything had to be done the hard way.  Not everything that could have gone wrong wrong did, but it was certainly trying.  I find that during these times, God is usually teaching me Patience.

I wasn’t learning the lesson very well.  By Thursday I was quite frustrated.  I went about my morning routine of juicing (several things had already gone wrong by this time).  I started juicing a clump of grapes that my husband had taken off of the stems, and was busy trying to get them in the juicer without bouncing back at me.  I didn’t realize that the little pour spout was lifted, which stops the juice from exiting the juicer, which means it fills up... and eventually overflows.  This little setback also made me late for work.

After that, I got in the car to drive to work, knowing that my attitude wasn’t what it should be.  I talked to God about it a bit (a little afraid that He was going to allow my drive to be difficult as well), and found a small measure of peace that I had at least gotten that far.  I told Him that I knew this had to be for my good, but that I wasn’t particularly happy with Him at the moment.  I asked for His strength to change my attitude.

The change didn’t come until later that day.  I was listening to K-Love and the song “It’s a Good Day” by FFH came on.  The chorus has the line “Jesus is Lord and I am saved so, say hey - it’s a good day.”  I took a deep breath and said “Yes!  That’s the attitude adjustment I needed!”  It’s amazing how simple it can be to shift an attitude once you find the right tool to change it.  I needed a big picture check.  I could be thankful that He saved me, and that He is Lord. 

I was still exhausted, but it was like God swept all of my negative feelings away with that big picture check.  I knew that He knew what I was feeling, and it wasn’t like God pushed a button and everything was fixed, but the attitude adjustment had come, and now I could actually move on to enjoy the rest of my day.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Cribs

Cribs are a wonderful thing.  You can set your baby in one and go away and not worry about whether or not the baby will hurt itself.  In short, you can take a break!  This is truly wonderful when you don’t have anyone who can spell you.  It’s pretty imperative to take breaks from the baby, or you will burn yourself out.  That’s bad for you and the baby.

If the baby won’t sleep, has been taken care of, and is still crying, it’s okay to let them cry awhile.  Especially if you’re approaching your limit.  Take a break, take some time to talk to God.  He’ll refresh you and reel you back in.  Then you can go back and deal with your baby if needed. 

There are few things - short of a person - that a person can feel safe leaving their baby in to go take a break.  I think a crib is probably the one that usually gives the most relief for the longest period of time.  Yes, I am thankful for cribs.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Patience

I am thankful that God gave me the patience to deal correctly with my child.  I have been having trouble getting him to go to sleep when I try to put him down - and the problem has seemed to be with me, since others don’t seem to have as much of an issue.  I was trying to determine what the cause might be and realized that I have been letting him get down from my lap when he wants to, thinking that I could let him run some of his energy out.

So tonight I decided to try a different tack.  I usually have an issue with loud noises - a crying baby not least of these.  I have only been able to rely upon the grace of God for the ability to deal with a crying baby.  When my son is fighting me directly, my limit has (generally) seemed to be approximately 30 seconds... not a great track record.  This is why I am so thankful that God gave me the patience to deal with my son for 4 minutes of crying while fighting me directly - and I didn’t have a problem at all.  (I know that’s nothing on some moms.  I am truly blessed with an easy baby.)

This was a great victory for me, and I was only able to do it through God’s power.  I am thankful for the patience that He granted me!

Rules of Engagement


It seems that some things just can’t be understood without being able to talk them through with someone.  At the very least, it is an invaluable tool.  Rules are sometimes required to protect the innocent and ensure calm emotions, but that, too can be invaluable.

I have a difficult time holding ideas in my memory, so I often try to discuss things as they come up (which truly requires rules).  Otherwise, I can forget my point of view - or that I even had an issue - until it arises again.  Then the frustration rears up where it left off.

My husband and I have a system of “putting it on the table.”  We preface what we are about to say with something like “just so you know,” and we try to communicate how we feel rather than accusing the other person.  This way, you have communicated your issue without riling the other person’s emotions.  Instead, you have placed them on the table to be examined by both parties.  Then you can try to figure out what to do with them together.

There are many other “Rules of Engagement” in conversations, but I find myself most thankful for this one at the moment.  It allows us to resolve issues without splitting us apart - to be unified in Christ.

What are some Rules of Engagement that you use in discussions?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Cameras


One of the awesome things about having a cute kid is having a handy camera to capture some of the cuteness.  I have said it before and I will say it again:  my son is absolutely adorable!  

I’m not the type of person to remember to take or grab the camera.  However, I have an iPhone (which isn’t usually far away), so I can take photos and video quite handily.  The pleasure of remembering the moments later is wondrous.  My husband and I just perused the photos and videos we have taken of my 10.5 month old for the past couple months.  It is amazing how quickly he has grown, and yet how little his personality has changed.  He is so full of laughter and smiles!

There are many other types of photos that make me thankful for cameras:  scenery, vacations, celebrations, trips, and normal photos of friends and family.  It can foster a certain respect for time and priorities when I go back over old photos and memories.  It’s one of the more fun ways that God will use to remind me of where my priorities should lie.

How long has it been since you looked over your photo albums?  Is it time to make a new one?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Playlists


God gave us all personal likes and dislikes.  It’s part of what makes us able to partner with one another to fill in each other’s gaps.  Playlists reflect those likes and dislikes - and can be a way to share them with others.  I am truly thankful for the ability to create playlists.  It gives a lot more variety over a CD, and allows for your own choice of music, unlike a radio station.  And you can have multiple playlists for multiple occasions.

I use music as an aid.  I tailor the type of music that I play to help me get in the groove for whatever it is that I need to do (or tickle my mood within what I’m doing).  Upbeat music for working on the house, relaxing and joyful music for writing, soothing slower music for relaxing or going to sleep.  It’s all so wonderfully customizable with playlists.  They’re just one more reason that I’m so thankful that God gave us Technological Tools.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Weekly Impressions - Listening


Romans 2:4
“Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?”

I wrapped him in his blanket, sat down in the rocker with the pacifier ready, and popped the bottle in his mouth.  My little son was tired and it was time to go to bed.  He, however, had other ideas.  He promptly pushed himself out of my lap and began exploring his little nursery away from home (where he’s used to going to sleep).  By the gusto with which he was galavanting around, I could tell that putting him down in the crib and letting him cry wasn’t going to work, either.

So I took him into another little room that he likes to run around and play in and let him do his thing for about a half hour.  After zipping around awhile, he started to smell, so I took him to the nursery to change his poopy diaper (he had just had a bath).  As I cleaned him up, I noticed a small spot that might be developing into a diaper rash and reached over for the Desitin.  You guessed it - he peed himself.  

I cleaned up that mess, got the Desitin on, and set him down to take off his now soiled clothes.  He made a grab for his bottle, which was sitting on the floor next to the rocking chair.  I couldn’t let him start that without being prepared, so I took it away from him.  This, of course, upset him, but I was able to get his old onesie off.  As I reached for a new onesie, he took off into the hall.  I snatched the onesie as quickly as I could and ran after him into my in-law’s dark room where he had almost made it to the toilet in the attached bathroom.  I was rather frustrated at this point, being quite tired myself, and gave him to my mom-in-law for a quick moment while I washed my hands and threw away the poopy diaper.

Try again.  I turned off the overhead light in the nursery and plugged in the night light.  I came back and wrapped him in his blanket, pacifier and bottle in hand, and took him back to the nursery.  The moment I sat down in the rocker with him, he pushed off my lap.  I breathed.  Yep, he was interested in the night light again.  
“No, son,” I told him for what seemed the hundredth time.  Whether it’s the night light, the firewood, or electrical cords, he doesn’t seem to listen very well when I tell him, "No.”  Before he could grab the light, I swept him up and shoved the bottle in his mouth.

“Do I have to get angry before you’ll listen to me?” I asked him, trying to keep my voice level.

And then it struck me.  How was this situation any different from how we treat God?  Does God have to get angry with me before I’ll listen?

He is so patient with us, and we are so blind to what He is trying to do for us.  Sometimes we can’t see, like my 10.5-month-old son - and sometimes we choose not to see, because we want what we want.  

I have been wanting rest.  This is not a bad thing.  It has taken my husband quite awhile to teach me that.  However, when my priorities supersede my God-given responsibilities, we have a problem.  I have been seeking rest at the expense of my quiet times with God.  

I also sought it to the point of trying to sleep during a video of a marine corps graduation - lots of men yelling at the same pitch in nearly indiscernible words for about an hour - and hadn’t actually requested that anyone look after my son during that time.  There is an unspoken rule that if the parent isn’t watching the baby, then the person present needs to.  I try not to abuse this too much, and felt a bit guilty about doing it for so long without communicating the request.  I was also a bit upset that I still hadn’t been able to rest like I felt that I needed to.  I never did communicate these needs or requests - I just sought them.

I let my self-focus take control.  Now I see that God didn’t let me rest in order to show me the priority that I was placing on it.  God knows our every need, and He always has our best interests at heart.  I fought Him on what I wanted, and He kept telling me, “No,” until I finally listened.

I pray that God gives me the same patience with my child.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Comforters


You know that feeling when you “wake up” in the morning and the comforter is just so nice and plush and warm?  You start to move to get up, but then the plushness changes a little and feels so inviting.  I can waste quite a bit of time in the morning just enjoying my comforter.  Such blankets are aptly named.  (And you wonder why I don’t just pop out of bed like one of those insane morning people...)

Yes, I am thankful for comforters.  I am thankful for the above reason at the moment, but as with all things, they are as useful as how you employ them.  Comforters are useful for a great many things.  As a child and teenager, I occasionally used mine as a cape to enwrap myself on a morning that I didn’t have to be anywhere.  That way I could sort of ease into the day as I slowly shed my bedding.  Comforters are the next best thing to cry on if no one is around.  They make pretty cool tents, too.  I enjoy that God gave us imaginations to make things versatile.

What are some ways that you use comforters?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Showers

Psalm 46:10
“Cease striving and know that I am God...”

The obvious aspect of this thankful thing is personal hygiene.  The added benefit, though, is that I actually fall asleep easier and sleep better after a shower.  It also helps to have clean sheets.  I just feel like I can relax with that clean feeling.  The wet hair can be an issue, but that’s just a matter of timing.  If you shower early enough before bed to have 15 minutes to a half hour to let the immediate excess dissipate, it works rather well.

I have a feeling that the ability to relax when I feel clean can be attributed to the level of stress that I can put on myself about cleaning the house.  I “can’t” relax until the house is clean.  It isn’t bad to want a clean house - but it is bad when you can’t relax because your house isn’t clean.  In much the same way, I “can’t” relax until I’m clean.  Once clean, it seems that I’ve finally arrived at that brief, but pleasurable place where everything that has to be done has been.  If I am placing stress upon myself to the point that I can’t relax until everything is done and clean, then I am idolizing cleanliness.  Sometimes, the house just has to wait - and that’s okay.

I have found that I haven’t had such an issue with stressing over the chores not getting done since I have submitted responsibility for them to my husband, even though it is still my job.  (See “Weekly Impressions - Submission” for more on that.)  This is one of the ways that I have been able to move toward a focus on life the way that God sees it.

So I am thankful for showers.  Not only do they help me sleep better, but they are a reminder from God of how I can be free from the bondage of that sin in my life.  

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Community Group


Philippians 1:27
“Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel...”
I am thankful for my community group.  Corporate worship and teaching is wonderful, but it doesn’t give you the time needed to truly connect with people.  A community group provides a better platform to do so. (Other churches often refer to them as small groups.)  And we social creatures - that is, humans - need our connection fix!

A community group is a place where we can bear one another’s burdens, hold each other accountable, pray for one another, learn from one another, and serve with one another, just to name a few things.  In short, it is an essential tool to help unify us so that we may stand firm and strive together for the faith of the gospel.

This is another reason that I am so thankful for My Church:  it is so connection-based.  We were immediately able to get connected with other people.  In fact, we learned how to do so upon coming to this church.  The Lord has truly blessed us.

If you struggle with connection, get plugged into a community group, but don’t stop there.  Get together with one or another couple from your group at some other time during the week.  Like I said, it is a better platform to help you connect.  That doesn’t mean it’s the be-all end-all.  Your social needs go deeper than just checking in and out of a group.  You should also develop one-on-one (and two-on-two if you’re a couple) relationships with your group members.  This is how you really get to know and serve one another.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Boogie Wipes


At my baby shower almost a year ago, one of the gifts I received was Boogie Wipes.  They are essentially a saline baby wipe that is made to be soft on a baby’s nose so that their little noses don’t get chapped and make them more miserable while sick.  The woman who gave them to me had said they were a wonderful thing.  I passed on my cold to my poor 10-month-old son, and my, but his nose was runny.

I hadn’t remembered the Boogie Wipes in the past when my son was sick, so we had just used kleenex.  This time, we remembered.  That stuff is the best!  It wasn’t just that it was easy on his nose - he liked them!  He would fuss when you put a kleenex up, and shake his head away from it, thus smearing snot all over his cheeks.  He thought the Boogie Wipes were interesting, sometimes even laughing at them.  It made the whole experience so much easier.

And so I am thankful to God that He made it possible to have such a thing as Boogie Wipes.  (You should seriously check them out.  My first mention of them is a link.)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Well-Written Help Files

For those moments when you can’t figure it out, there are help files.  Some aren’t so helpful, but others are intuitive and easy to understand.  Mac, for example.  (Sometimes I wish they had a built-in thesaurus, though, so that you could match your terminology to theirs.)  At times, the help files let you know that the program doesn’t do what you were wanting to do, and while disappointing, that is also very helpful and greatly appreciated.  

I think a well-written help file is its own art.  I applaud those who possess the ability.  It can really make all the difference in learning a program.  Most of us don’t get to take the training courses and have to figure it out as we go.  A help file that can inform a person how to do something no matter what level they’re at is truly useful, and a great success.  I am thankful that God created the ability and gave it to some.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Weekly Impressions - My Good and His Glory


Romans 8:28
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
I have mentioned before that it is easier for me to see God and be thankful to Him when I’m outside, because His Creation is a constant reminder of Him.  It is harder when I am inside, because nothing inside reminds me of Him that same way.  I had originally thought that lack of an obvious reminder just meant that I should focus more on the abstract:  things like Grace, Victory, and Teaching.  However, I think that it’s time to make more of an effort to see God in my house.

I am thankful that the Lord gave us a home to own, and for the things we have learned on that journey.  However, our house is a fixer-upper.  We’ve done a lot to it, but we still have miles to go before our house is finished, and we’ve lost our steam.  I think I have let the disappointments and constant reminders of what still needs to be done to the house - as well as some frustration in not being able to tend to them for one reason or another - get in the way of how I view my home.  I am, to some degree, discontent it.  God is showing me that the problem isn’t all the issues my home has; the problem is my attitude.  I have lost sight of God and His care for me specifically in my home.  If I am discontent with my home, then I am discontent with God, who gave me my home for my good.

It’s easy to start looking at God as some sort of taskmaster who enacts constant discipline.  It is true that we need to be constantly diligent - and the Holy Spirit helps us with that - but God is also our caregiver.  Everything He does in our lives is for our good and His glory (“our” referring to His children).  He has our best interests at heart.  He loves us dearly, and will never let us go.  God is love, and that is why we have trials.  He empowers us to give thanks during our trials and for our trials, as well as to have His joy through those trials.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Chapstick

What do you use when you have a cold and your nose is chapped from how much kleenex you’ve been using?  I use chapstick - either Burt’s Bees or Carmex.  It rather stings after a moment, but it soothes the itch and burn before long.  It’s miserable without it, so I am quite thankful for chapstick.

I have had a longstanding relationship with this ointment.  I don’t generally drink enough water (although I do try and am getting better).  Another trouble is that when I do drink plenty of water, my lips have the opposite reaction you would expect... they get really chapped.  Thus, I have become rather familiar with the use of chapstick and hand lotion.  The only two chapsticks that have had any longstanding effect of those that I have tried thus far are the above two.  I would highly recommend them.

[Disclaimer:  No, I have not been paid to advertise for Burt’s Bees, Carmex, or chapstick in general.  I certify that the above testimony is true and correct to the best of my knowledge.]

So, as I am thankful for Electric Toothbrushes, I am thankful that God gave us such a thing as chapstick.  

Thursday, September 13, 2012

My Work Atmosphere


1 Corinthians 14:26
“What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.”

I am very blessed in my current work atmosphere.  I am rather used to the small business scurry of cramming too much work into too little time.  It seems to be a necessary evil of the small business.  Don’t get me wrong; I rather enjoy that at times, and I love not having to specialize in any one thing.  It is rather fun being a jack-of-all trades - especially if you’re any good at it.  My current workplace, however, has a rather different feel to it.

I work as a secretary for a medium-sized church.  We still have that small feel of being involved in everything (so I still get to be a jack-of-all trades), but the scurry and flurry of too many things in too little time is usually not present.  The work load is usually still there, but the attitude while facing it is not.  I truly appreciate that.

The people are more important than the work.  I’m not talking about customer service; I was under the gun the most in that line of work.  I mean taking the time to connect with people, rather than efficiently moving them through the work flow.  

There’s a well-known illustration depicting a professor pouring golf balls, pebbles, and sand into a container in that order.  (It’s a fun and meaningful illustration.  If you’d like to read it before I spoil it for you, click here.)  Each time, though the container is full, it still has room for the next item.  After filling it with sand, the professor then pours in two cups of coffee, and the container is still able to hold it.  Part of the idea behind the illustration is that there is always time for a cup of coffee with a friend.  (If you like coffee.  Myself, I prefer hot chocolate.)

This illustration paints, for me, a fair picture of the way we “handle” people at my work.  No matter how busy I am, I can always take some time to connect with a person.  If they require more time than I have, perhaps they can help me, say, fold bulletins while we talk.  Barring that, I can find someone to help - usually one of my coworkers.  But the people are more important than the work.

It has been a little strange for me, as I am a task-oriented person, who likes to make things flow as efficiently as possible.  Despite this, I have still found that this attitude, or philosophy, if you will, is a breath of fresh air.

After all, God gave us our gifts and talents to be used for other people.  Thus, God intended for people to come first (after Him) in our lives.  “Let all things be done for edification.”

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Electric Toothbrushes


We bought our electric toothbrush at the suggestion of our oral hygienists.  I don’t remember to floss very often, which creates problems, as you can imagine.  However, our electric toothbrush has made all the difference in a dental clean bill of health.  I only have issues when I forget to brush intermittently for extended periods of time.  It takes less time and less effort, and is easier on the pocketbook (and the mouth) than a cavity.

The battery in our electric toothbrush has been keeping less and less charge, and finally won’t make it through a brushing anymore.  We have had to resort back to brushing our teeth by hand again until a replacement battery arrives.  (*gasp*)  I am missing my electric toothbrush.  I was very thankful to have it while it was working, and now I remember just how much.  (I have developed a sore in its absence.)  

So, I look forward to the arrival of the replacement battery, and thank God that there is such a thing as electric toothbrushes to help us not have sores.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Distraction


Philippians 4:8
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”

For those times when I’m having difficulty in my thought life, and I can’t seem to pull healthy thoughts together, I am thankful for distraction.  This gives me that extra bit of help I need to peek through the dark clouds to see just a little sunshine that puts everything in a better perspective.  The content of the distraction matters, however, or it cannot pull you out of the dark.

This is why Meditation is so important.  It is not only a preventative measure to keep our thoughts from depression, stress, anxiety, and [insert your issue here], but it can be used to replace those thoughts once we have gone there.  For those times, however, when we have let it go too far, God has given us distraction to help us focus on something of “excellence.”  It is during these times that we need some outside source to help us stop spiraling in the dark storm clouds.  (Just don’t let it go too far and keep you from dealing with the issue once you’ve surfaced.)

This time for me it was a decent movie.  What are some things that you use?

Monday, September 10, 2012

My Church


Acts 20:28
“Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.”

There is so much about my church that I am thankful for.  The overall reason would have to be that our leadership truly strives to adhere to what God’s Word tells us, and what He desires for us, His children.  That manifests itself in a myriad ways, because God’s Word speaks to so many different things, but each of these ways just confirms to me that our leadership is comprised of true and diligent shepherds.

Every new event or ministry is juxtaposed with our mission (“We exist to magnify God,  to win, build, and equip for ministry.”), which has been determined based upon what the Bible has outlined as the purpose for a church.  They also analyze whether the new event or ministry will take away from other events or ministries, or crowd the schedule with too many activities, thus drawing families away from their number one ministry - their own family.  Our primary ministry is Community Groups (which is another name for Small Groups).  This ministry is based, as per our mission, on building and equipping our church body to serve one another, as well as to branch out to our community.

I am so blessed to be a part of my church community.  To be able to serve collaboratively alongside my fellow believers - and especially my friends - is a humbling and edifying experience.  I get excited just thinking about it.  May we remain true to His purpose in our lives.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Weekly Impressions - Words of the Wise


Proverbs 1:2-7
“To know wisdom and instruction,
To discern the sayings of understanding,
To receive instruction in wise behavior,
Righteousness, justice and equity;
To give prudence to the naive,
To the youth knowledge and discretion,
A wise man will hear and increase in learning,
And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel,
To understand a proverb and a figure,
The words of the wise and their riddles.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
Fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

I have been looking for practical ways to help me shift my focus off of myself and to fix it on God.  I get frustrated when people say things like, “Don’t be selfish,” because that doesn’t tell me how not to be selfish.  It’s like expecting me to just stop without knowing how.

I encounter this sometimes with verses.  For instance, I was reading Philippians 2:3, which starts out, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit,” and I started to mentally roll my eyes in frustration.  However, God stopped me as I kept reading:  “...but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves[.]”  

At first, I didn’t think that this was really telling me how, since having “humility of mind” seems like another concept that doesn’t explain the how.  Don’t be selfish by having humility.  Okay.  How do I have humility?  Well, it says to regard one another as more important than yourself.

This presented a different problem for me.  It seemed a little backwards to shift my focus to others instead of to God.  By placing my focus on God, I will naturally regard others as more important than myself.  However, this is the Bible that’s telling me to do this, so I can’t say that it’s wrong.  So I continued to read, hoping that it would give me a better idea of how to have humility.

Philippians 2:3-8
“...do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.  Have this attitude which is in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.  Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

So Christ was humble by becoming obedient to the point of death.  Obedience I understand.  However, I do sometimes have an overactive conscience, and I knew that God was not telling me to become legalistic.  (Don’t take this out of context, but as Paul said, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable.”  1 Corinthians 6:12)  So I tried to delve a bit deeper.  Here is what God told me.

He has shown me in the past that when I serve Him and my heart isn’t in it, I am not fulfilling His purpose for me.  (“If I... [fill in the blank], but have not love, I am nothing.”  Paraphrased a bit from 1 Corinthians 13:2)  In those instances, if I am obedient to Him, then in my obedience to God, my heart will eventually come around.  It is much the same with this instance.  It is true that if my focus is on God, I will naturally serve others.  However, if I am having trouble focusing on God, then Plan B is to serve others, and in my obedience to Christ, my heart will eventually follow, which will lead my heart and focus to God.

This revelation is an example of why I am so thankful for Instruction.  As it says in the passage above in Proverbs, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,” and God recorded that knowledge for us in the Bible.  Another verse to back this up is Romans 15:4.  “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

I just had the Author explain a part of His Bible to me (as I mention in Truth.)  For this, I am exceedingly thankful, and by it, incredibly encouraged.

Friday, September 7, 2012

My Husband


Ephesians 5:25
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her...”

My husband is the bomb.  He has taken care of my son at night for the past two months without me spelling him.  He has taken over responsibility for the chores, does most of the caring for my son, shepherds me spiritually, loves me deeply, and makes sure that we’re taken care of in all respects, while he’s going to school.  He’s a blunt person by nature, but he curbs that for my sake.  He makes a point of trying to understand where I’m coming from.  I love my husband.  I treasure my husband.

I am thankful that God gave him to me, and me to him.  I pray that God would give me the strength to be a help to him, and to see the best moments in which to help.  May we follow the path that God sets before us to guide us toward greater unity.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Instruction


Proverbs 1:2-3
“To know wisdom and instruction,
To discern the sayings of understanding,
To receive instruction in wise behavior,
Righteousness, justice and equity...”

I am thankful for instruction.  Proverbs, for instance, as stated above, was written down for our instruction.  There are so many nuggets to glean from it.  Some verses don’t have a very apparent meaning - it mentions “the words of the wise and their riddles” in verse 6.  However, I have found that as life progresses, and as the Holy Spirit guides, He has applied some of those verses toward a situation that I have found myself in.  I wouldn’t have understood it, but for someone taking the time to write it down for me for the time at which I would be able to understand it.

God often seems to work that way.  Though you may not understand it now, continue to Meditate on it, and He may well reveal the meaning in time.  (See Weekly Impressions - Words of the Wise for an example of this in my life.)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Roads

I am thankful for roads because they enable us to traverse greater distances with greater ease.  My home is located about a 45 minute drive away from my work.  If I had to live closer to work, I would be renting instead of owning, because the cost of housing closer to town is beyond what my husband and I could afford.

I am also thankful for the drive because my husband and I carpool for about 25 minutes of it, which gives us a little time to discuss things.  If we weren’t forced to be in the car with one another while unable to do anything else, we would probably use the time to accomplish other things.  This discussion, however, helps to keep us on the same page and striving toward the same goals.  

It makes me wonder a little about how much a husband and wife relationship could be affected by the amount of communication (positive and negative) that would have occurred when it took much longer to travel from point A to point B.  Then, as now, we have the choice when we spend time with our spouse to draw closer to them, or to alienate one another.  It doesn’t take effort to alienate someone.  In fact, quite the opposite; it takes effort not to.

My husband and I aren’t always purposeful in our time together, but when we are, it draws us closer together.  I’m not talking about simply being purposeful that you spend time together, but also in what you do and how you spend your time with one another.  

Do you and your spouse have a recurring time that you are both purposeful about?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Double Dates


I am thankful for the opportunity to go on a double date with friends our age.  Double dates are a lot of fun, and a great way to get to know other couples.  It is nice to spend time with others who share the same phase of life.  There’s a certain comfort in connecting with others who are going through the same things that you are.  It is much easier to relate to them - and it can be easier to accept advice from them.

If you are part of a couple, when was the last time you went out on a double date?

Monday, September 3, 2012

Camaraderie


Proverbs 18:1-2
“He who separates himself seeks his own desire,
He quarrels against all sound wisdom.
A fool does not delight in understanding,
But only in revealing his own mind.”

You know that feeling you get when you’re working on a team that purposely works together as a team?  Wins and losses don’t matter when you’re working cohesively.  It’s about giving your best and having fun doing it.

I am thankful for camaraderie.  It’s easiest for me to see it when I’m playing (or watching) a team game.  Working with people helps me to feel more connected with those people.  That’s probably why I enjoy team games so much (sports, video, cards - it doesn’t really matter).

God created us as social creatures.  The need for interaction is ingrained in us.  Not so that we can get something out of someone else for our own personal gain.  It’s so that we can work together to meet each other’s needs and to accomplish greater goals than we could alone.  When we use other people, we end up alienating ourselves, since fewer people desire to meet our needs.

When was the last time you experienced camaraderie?

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Weekly Impressions - Holding Pattern


Romans 7:15
“For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.”

It feels as though I’ve reached a bit of a holding pattern.  I am able to recognize when my focus is in the wrong place - mostly when I start to feel a bit sour - but it has been far more difficult to actually shift my focus of late.  I must say, I am glad to be able to recognize the issue.  Now I think I need to increase my arsenal of tools in order to utilize the correct one for the correct situation.

I’d like to just be vague and gloss over this sin, but that wouldn’t be fair to anyone.  The reason I’m having trouble shifting my focus is because the center of my focus at the moment is myself - and I don’t really want to shift my focus.  Except, of course, that I do.  I am comforted by the fact that even Paul did the very thing he hated.  It doesn’t seem to matter how much I understand the negative effects - although my worldly mind may never truly understand the whole of those effects.  I will still willfully disobey.

One of the things I am realizing that I did not utilize is prayer - one of our key tools and weapons.  This is due, in part, to the fact that I didn’t want to change my focus.  I think I start to naturally dodge things that will help me not to sin, without overtly realizing it.  My thoughts seem to zoom and flit and I can’t concentrate - especially to pray.  Sometimes the only word I can get through is the plea, “Help!”  I am thankful that the Holy Spirit intercedes for me.

I am going to assign myself the task of finding a verse or passage that talks about focusing on God (probably aside from “seek first His kingdom”) and then memorizing it.  When next the issue arises (which I’m sure will be soon), we’ll see if I can whip out my “sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17) and do battle.  If that verse doesn’t do the trick, hopefully I will be able to determine what I need the verse to speak toward, and will try another.

I know that you will eventually encounter the same issue of doing the thing that you hate.  I will keep you in my prayers, and I ask that you would add me to yours, if it crosses your mind.  We are not in this battle alone.  “A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.”  Ecclesiastes 4:12