Thursday, January 31, 2013

Headbands


My grandmother taught me how to Knit and crochet as a child, and I discovered that I rather enjoyed it.  There are a number of things out there that one can knit or crochet, but I enjoy creating things that have practical purposes.  Headbands are one of those.

Up until two years ago, my hair was always long - usually below my waist.  I love the feel of my hair much like I love the feel of long falling fabric.  During the 90’s I wore my hair in a headband almost every day so that I could feel the length, but still keep it out of my face.  I had not, however, begun to make headbands; they were all store-bought.

In high school, headbands were out of style and the claw clips were in.  I used those and barrettes, but though my hair was thick, it was also slippery.  The clips and barrettes wouldn’t usually last a whole day and I was constantly dealing with my hair.  

I noticed recently (in the past few years) that knit and crocheted clothing accessories have really come into style, and decided to try my hand at a few simple headbands.  Simple, because flowers aren’t my style.  The result?  I am back to wearing headbands most days.  They’re just so practical.  They also look appealing enough.  It’s a little more fun, now, too, with being able to make my own designs and thus make exactly what I want.  (I am also missing my long hair and growing it out again.)

I am thankful for headbands, that God created a way to accessorize that’s actually practical, and that I can alter to express my own “style.”  (My friends might laugh at that.)  I can even use it for a ponytail holder in a pinch.  It is such a simple thing, but very useful in its own right.  It is fun to marvel at the fact that God imagined all of these things and planned for them long before He created the world.  Thank You, Lord, for being detail-oriented!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Pillows


I’m having one of those days where the pain from my fibromyalgia is a little worse.  While I am disappointed that it meant that I couldn’t go for my walk around the lake at lunch today, God orchestrated events so that my husband brought me lunch at work and I got to spend some time with him.  In other words, I wouldn’t have gone for my walk anyway, and I got to enjoy a special lunch with my sweetie.

Earlier in the day, the pain was mostly in my knee, but as the day progressed, the pain spread to my back, making it a little harder.  Tuesdays are a longer day for me, as I attend my Community Group after work.  I wasn’t about to skip out on my Community Group, and when I got there, I realized that there were several pillows on the couch.  My friends offered me a chair, but that Comfy Couch looked pretty inviting.  

It would have been heavenly to lie down, but that would have taken up all of the room for others to sit, not to mention I wouldn’t have been able to participate as well.  So instead, I claimed the couch corner and arranged several small pillows in such a way that I could still recline into the corner without gravity compressing my back so much.  It worked perfectly!  The pillows helped to alleviate the pain a bit, which helped me to participate more and enjoy the company and thoughts of the others in the group.

I am glad to rest in the knowledge that God has a reason for my pain.  The fact that He doesn’t let me in on the reason is all the more reason to rely upon Him.  In the meantime, He also provides everything that I need.  Tonight, it was pillows.  I am thankful for pillows, that God used them to help me fellowship and learn more about Him.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Confession


Confession has always seemed a little strange to me.  I understood that I needed Christ’s forgiveness, and that the Bible says that I should confess my sins to God, but I wasn’t really sure what that looked like.  I would ask God to forgive my sins, knowing that I sin daily, but it wasn’t like I was outright lying to someone or murdering them.  Big sins needed to be confessed individually, and little ones could be confessed generally.  I didn’t commit big sins very often.

God has been changing my outlook bit by bit.  First, He showed me that there really isn’t much difference between “big” sins and “little” sins.  Just because I didn’t lie, didn’t mean that I didn’t break the ninth commandment; I didn’t tell the whole truth.  Just because I didn’t lie in bed with a man didn’t mean that I didn’t break the seventh commandment by thinking about him that way.  Just because I didn’t bury an axe in my “enemy’s” head didn’t mean that I didn’t break the sixth commandment by hating him rather than loving him.  Also, “the wages of sin is death...” (Romans 6:23a), which means that no matter how “big” or “little” my sin, the penalty is the same.  Death.  God revealed this little bit of wisdom to me during high school.

Second, He started showing me that being self-deprecating wasn’t the same as being humble.  Christ didn’t practice humility by being self-deprecating.  He “humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:8b)  May I have that kind of humility in obedience to God.  My self-deprecation only led to guilt and depression.

Third, this definition of humility began to bring out just how prideful I really am.  In fact, my sins in general started becoming far more apparent.  I had recognized my selfishness and my worry, but my pride - which manifested itself in fear, worry, selfishness, depression, and need to control and manipulate - had disguised itself well in my own deceitful heart.  “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)

Fourth, and recently, He is beginning to bring about a new understanding of confession in me.  I have previously experienced the healing that confessing my sins to Him can bring.  A youth pastor once made the analogy that with each sin, we place another brick that builds a wall between us and our holy Creator.  Until we confess those sins and are bestowed with His gracious forgiveness, we alienate ourselves from Him and His Grace.  

Now that I can more readily recognize my own sin, I am now confronted with the ability - and need - to confess those sins specifically, and to ask for His forgiveness for them.  To have a relationship with God, I cannot just ask for a general forgiveness of all of my sins and leave it there.  That isn’t personal, and it robs from Him the opportunity of giving the gift of His Son to me - the One who died and rose again to conquer the very sin that I am confessing.  That, in turn, robs me of the Joy of the Lord.  

I wondered why the same word “confess” was used in admitting our sin, and also in professing Christ.  In writing this, God showed me that confessing my sin is confessing Christ.  I confess that I am a sinner and cannot atone for my own sin, and thus I confess that I am a follower of Christ, Who took my sins upon Himself - even though He was blameless - and paid the penalty for them (death), and rose again to conquer even death and prepare a place for me to join Him in that everlasting life.

He did - and is doing - so much for me.  How can I be anything but thankful?  So I am thankful for confession, for the amazing gift to be able to give over my sins and profess Christ, my Savior.  This is Where the Healing Begins.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Faith


One of the things that God has been impressing upon me lately is the importance of turning my eyes toward Him.  It is just like when Peter went out onto the water with Jesus.  As soon as he took his eyes off of Jesus, he began to sink.

I personalize it just a little more in my metaphor of the precipice (see About This Blog).  In my struggle with depression, I have often felt as though I were walking along a knife-edge precipice in the dark with death and sin below on either side.  Above is the kingdom of God, but it seems out of reach in this life.  The light of heaven doesn’t seem to pierce the void of darkness surrounding me.  I can look down and see where I need to step on the precipice, but if my ankle were to turn, I would fall - and if I step too hard, I may cut my foot.  Faith in this place is to look up at God on His throne and to take the next step.

Looking up is a good way to throw off my balance and fall, but God isn’t concerned with gravity.  As long as I look to Him, He will guide my next step.  If I look down, the sin of worry grips me, even though I can see where to step.  The step itself worries me.  Not to mention the fall into the abyss filled with monsters of the past and unknown worries of the future.  I do not see God in the darkness around me, or the precipice before me, or the sin and death below me - I see Him above.  Colossians 3:2 “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.”

God did not intend us to walk this life alone.  He walked with Adam in the garden.  Though we can’t see Him anymore, He walks with us still, if we accept Him His gift.  Even if life were a dark abyss with a precipice to walk like a tight-rope, God would still be right beside me.  

It is difficult to readily see Him when I look at the things of this world.  That is part of why I am seeking Him in thankful things.  It is partly an exercise to see His work in this world.  Yet when I get caught up in the cares and worries of this world, the best place to look is up - as backwards as that may seem to take the next step.

I am thankful that God gave us faith, to be able to lay our anxiety at His feet and say, “Not my will, but Yours, Lord.”  Is there something that you need to give Him today?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Weekly Impressions - Will You Forgive Me?


In this journey, I am seeking how God is working in my life (and, or in the world) through the things that I’m thankful for.  I can see different manifestations - especially metaphorically - but I should be sharing what God is sharing with me, not just making my own point.  I have, again, let it get to the point of having something to say personally above what God is saying to me.  (I previously wrote about this in Weekly Impressions - Distraction.)

My grandfather modeled to me what it was to share what God was sharing with him.  I hadn’t really thought about it that way until he died.  He was a cool grandfather and a powerful tool of the Lord.  (You can see more about him in Sunsets.)  God, in showing me this, has stirred in me the desire to proclaim upon the housetops what He has whispered in my ear (Matthew 10:27).

I am thankful that I am getting to the point where, though I realize that I have overstepped myself in my pride, I am not falling into depression because of it.  Yes, I have sinned, but I can ask God’s forgiveness, repent, and move on.  I recognize that I will fall into this particular pit again, but that, too, is to God’s glory, because it helps to humble me, and shows how much I need the Savior.

I hope you have enjoyed and been encouraged by what I have previously written, but I want to apologize that I let my pride become the motivation behind it.  Will you forgive me?

Lord, I pray that this can be a beneficial example to others of Your will at work in the life of one of Your children.  May Your glory be evident in my life.  Amen.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Disposable Diapers


I have never tried cloth diapers and have heard great things about them.  However - at least in my ignorance - I am much happier to use disposable diapers.  I would use cloth diapers if I had to, but I would much rather spend the extra money to be able to throw them away in a Covered Trash Can.

You see, God made me with a sense of smell that affects my stomach.  Diapers can be a rather unpleasant experience - especially if the experience is prolonged.  So I am thankful for disposable diapers, that God provided a way to accommodate my sensitivities (and gave me the means to use it).

What is an everyday luxury that helps you with a sensitivity?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Covered Trash Cans


I am so glad that we have covered trash cans to hide the smells of the trash that we put in them.  Poopy diapers, for example.  That’s a pretty powerful smell.  A really nasty powerful smell.  Call me lazy, but it’s really nice not to have to take the dirty diaper - and Our Son - outside to the trash company’s can (which is also covered) every time I change him so that the stench doesn’t permeate my entire home.

Of course, if we don’t eventually take the trash out, cover or no, it will spread its smell.  The same goes for our spiritual walk.  If we don’t take the trash out, no matter how much we cover over it, the smell will leak out.  Whether it’s bitterness, selfishness, pride, worry... if not brought before God and dealt with, they ferment and we begin to reek even to those around us.

I think that God gives us spiritual covered trash cans out of mercy, simply because we have so much trash that we couldn’t possibly deal with it all at once.  So it sits until the time is right, and the smell begins to leak out.  If I am stubborn and don’t deal with it, the smell worsens until I am forced to deal with it or cease functioning.

I have a tendency to not notice my own spiritual trash until the smell slams into my senses.  (Sometimes not even until someone else smells it and I notice their reaction.)  I’ll start to feel my heart beat a little faster, or I’ll snap at someone.  I catch just a whiff and take a good look at what I’m thinking about.  Usually, it’s my poopy diaper of worry.  Worry is one of the most difficult for me.  (You can see more on that in Weekly Impressions - Worry and Meditation.)

I would love to be able to catch myself earlier - and God is leading me there.  I can look back and see that God has brought me further than when I just sat in the stench of worry, and slowly lost my ability to function.  Thank God for His Grace, mercy, and Love.

I am thankful for covered trash cans, that they are another Medium of God’s glory.  Have you noticed your nose wrinkling lately?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Cars

I appreciate cars for their transportation capabilities, but I also appreciate their luxuries.  I don’t own a luxury car, but I think your average car has plenty of luxuries.  I spend a fair amount of time in the car with a 45-minute drive to work.  When you spend 1.5 hours a day in a small space, you begin to appreciate the parts of it that don’t make it difficult.

Heaters, for instance.  (Of course I’d go there, first.)  Heat makes for a pleasant atmosphere.  The seats aren’t the plushest and don’t have all the adjustments of a luxury car, but they are comfortable, and I don’t find myself shifting because of the seat.  The Radio is nice to have, also.  I enjoy having the Music and DJ’s of K-Love in the background to help encourage me in Christ.

I also like the fact that I can carpool with my husband part of the way, which allows me to work on my blog and be productive during travel.  This wouldn’t be possible without cars and Laptops.  I am thankful that God created cars so that our job possibilities are greater, and that cars - though small - are a workable space.  May God guide ours and your travels in safety.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Mediums


Art has a variety of mediums - from canvas to paper to marble to the abstract.  These things are all used to convey a picture, idea, or statement.  God brought to my attention that if “...from Him and through Him and to Him are all things...” (Romans 11:36), then everything is a medium for His glory.  

Sometimes in a painting we see the agony and pain of a battlefield, but the overarching theme is the victory of a king.  Yet the pain and agony in the painting was necessary to convey what the king went through and how great was his victory.  This is a poor example, but one that may open our eyes to see the battle that is raging in this world - and our victorious King of kings.  He uses more than a canvas and oil to convey this glory; the entire world is His.

We see His glory through His Creation, through His people, and, though it is often harder to see, through the day-to-day things, interactions between people, and even in death and sin.  “And we know that God causes all things [emphasis added] to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”  (Romans 8:28)  These sufferings and agonies are for your good and His glory.  No purpose of God’s can be thwarted.  (See Job 42:2)

I am thankful for mediums, that all things are a medium for God’s glory.  This is why there is such Victory in Christ.  He is not only over and above all things, but He is right here with you and in everything that happens.  I cannot truly wrap my mind around that, but I know it for truth.  Our God is an awesome God.

To Him be the glory forever.  Amen.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Emotions

God created us as emotional beings.  It is true that we are not to be led only by our emotions, but neither are we to shut them off.  An indicator that God has shown me as to whether or not my emotions are “right” is the motive behind the emotion.  God always checks the heart.  If the emotion is fueled by a total focus upon ourselves, then it is born of pride.  As soon as we lose focus of His glory, our emotions - and our thoughts - are subject to lead us astray.

Though we try, we cannot simply shut off our sinful emotions, either.  God gives us the power to overcome them - but how?  By redirecting our focus.  If I am afraid that someone is going to hate me because of something I say, where is my focus?  It’s on myself, and wanting to be loved and accepted.  Wanting to be loved and accepted isn’t a bad thing.  But why I am seeking it from man first?  I am placing my fear in man.

But “who [am I] that [I am] afraid of man who dies and of the son of man who is made like grass, that [I] have forgotten the Lord [my] Maker[?]” (Isaiah 51:12b-13a)  Rather, I should “fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28)  Namely, God.  (You can see more on this in Weekly Impressions - Fear.)  By redirecting my focus - and in this case, at least, my emotion, fear - upon the One Who sustains me, I can align myself with His will through His Divine Power.

Emotions can be Warning Signals that our focus has strayed.  They can also be indicators that we are on the right path.  The key is to examine the motive behind it - and be honest with yourself.  “‘The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind...’” (Jeremiah 17:9-10a).  Ask God to reveal your heart to you.  He will, and it isn’t always easy to face.

I am thankful for emotions, that God gave them to us for a reason.  I am glad that God does not wish us to stuff them, nor to boast in them, but to use them for His glory.  May we fix our eyes upon Jesus.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Weekly Impressions - Forgiveness


I was having a particularly difficult day struggling with my pride the other day.  Everywhere I turned, I faced my pride.  I couldn’t escape it, and I couldn’t change it.  It made for a very frustrating and depressing day.  I was able to cling to the knowledge that the feelings would pass, but I was searching for what would help me to change my attitude and be more humble.  I could still be prideful in my obedience, and even in thinking about others.

It came later - and a bit after the fact - when I was discussing the issue with my husband.  He queried if I had asked God for forgiveness for my pride.  That stopped me in my tracks.  No... no, I hadn’t.  It’s such a simple beginning - and the first that I should go to - but it simply doesn’t register on my radar yet.  The very act of asking for forgiveness is humbling.  Certainly, it isn’t the be-all end-all answer, but it is a great beginning.

I confessed my sin right then and there and asked for His forgiveness.  By this time, my pride wasn’t so at the fore, so it wasn’t as immediately beneficial as it would have been in the moment, but God is always there to forgive us - and forgiveness is always healing.  Now I just need to come up with a way to help me remember that asking forgiveness is one of the first places I need to go.  I am so glad that when I fail, God is right there to point me back in the right direction.  That might hurt sometimes, but it is always for my good and His glory.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Electric Blankets


I am a Heat fiend.  My Husband says that I “suck the warmth away” with my freezing extremities.  I believe it, too.  I can feel what he’s talking about.

We have one of those mattress pads that’s similar to an electric blanket and I love it.  I crank it up on the highest setting and let it get nice and toasty before I get in.  Yet no matter how warm it is to start, my feet soak the warmth in so quickly that the amount of warmth given can’t keep up.  I feel the lovely warmth at first, but within about five seconds it’s gone.  So I shift my feet around, soaking in the little pockets of Heat.  It makes for an odd little nighttime dance that I try not to wake my husband with.

I had an electric blanket, too, but my dog chewed through the cord a long time ago.  We kept it, as my husband is good with electronics (and it’s made of microfiber), and he recently fixed it for me.  My new plan is to have both my electric blanket and my heated mattress going at the same time.  It probably still won’t be enough warmth to keep up with the initial “heat sucking,” but the process of warming my feet to a comfortable sleeping temperature should be faster.  I’m jazzed.

The other part of the plan is to use my electric blanket before I get in bed, given the opportunity.  Then the process will be started sooner, too.  I’ve used it the past couple of nights and it’s been wonderful.  I want to just leave it on high and enjoy the bliss.  If I do that, though, I start to sweat, which is funny, because I still want more heat.  Yep, I’m a heat fiend.

I thank God for electric blankets and the ability to have something that helps.  The problem with socks, etc. is that they rely on retaining your own heat.  I have come to the conclusion that I don’t produce - or even release - heat in my feet.  It never makes it that far (cold-blooded woman that I am - I know there are others out there).  So I enjoy my little creature comforts and am reminded yet again of Jehovah-jireh - the Lord will provide.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Doors


It’s surprising how much we take doors for granted.  I lived without interior doors in my home for about three years (except for the bathroom).  However, this was while only My Husband and I lived there.  Once we had Our Son, and after the period of the baby in the same room, we discovered just how much we really did want doors.  The privacy, the ability to muffle sound, the ability to keep a little munchkin in a safe place while you take a break... doors are a beautiful thing.  

I can’t imagine what life would be like without exterior doors.  Cold, hot, arachnids, rodents and snakes... shudder.  I am very glad that we have doors.

Then there are the metaphorical doors.  An open door and an opportunity, a closed door and a decision you don’t have to make.  The metaphorical doors give you little hints as to where God is leading you.  It’s true that a lot of closed doors can be very discouraging, but bear in mind - God is in control, and He always has the best in mind for you.  He always Answers Prayer, and He will guide you in His Victory.  

I know it doesn’t always feel that way, but I encourage you to “look full in His wonderful face” during those times.  Don’t squint away, or get distracted by the waves around you.  Truly look full into His face, and see “the light of His glory and Grace.”  This reminds me of the song by Jamie Grace “I Love the Way You Hold Me.”  As I walk through this life, I am seeing His hands holding me more and more.  It isn’t that they are holding me more than they used to, it’s just that I’m seeing it more.  He is holding me every moment.  Open doors - and closed doors - are one of those ways that He holds me.

I am thankful for the many uses that doors have, and for the direction that God gives us with the metaphorical ones.  What doors has He opened and closed in your life?  Are you taking it in the light of His glory and Grace?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Our Son


You have heard a fair amount about our son by now.  He primarily hears how Cute he is.  The Lord has blessed us tremendously in our son.  He has an incredibly sweet temperament, was a pretty easy baby, and often listens when we tell him, “No.”  God has used Little Man to brighten our lives and Teach us many things.

So here’s where I get to brag on how God is creating our son.  Little Man has danced since it was possible.  It always makes us smile to watch.  He would turn in circles (which I think really improved his balance) and look out of the corner of his eyes, like he’s trying to spot, but can’t quite figure it out just yet.  He is starting to make up new moves now, and he’ll squat, or raise his arm and dip his head and shoulder.  

He smiles very readily.  I thought smiles were infectious before, but around him they’re an epidemic.  You can’t help but smile when he opens his mouth in that toothy little grin, often accompanied by a little laugh.

I can’t tell if he’s going to be an engineer, an athlete, or both.  He shows the mind of an engineer in that he always tries to see how things work.  As soon as you show him how to use something, he understands it, and the only thing stopping him from doing it is fine motor skills.  (Dangerous!)  He started walking at eight months, and has always been on the go.  Mommy and Daddy can have a hard time keeping up!

He loves people.  Fortunately, he’s okay to play with toys on his own for awhile, but he does need somebody else at least in the room.  It’s also preferable that the somebody’s attention is on him, but sometimes that’s just icing on the cake.

It is amazing how much God Teaches us through our children.  He says we are to be like children in some things, and now that I have my own child, I understand what He means by that a little better.  I can see so much of my own sinful and naive behavior toward God when our son does the same to us, and it really helps to humble me.  I am thankful for many things in our son, but I think I am most thankful for the Joy that God uses him to remind me of, and for what the Lord is Teaching me through him.

What has the Lord shown you through the children in your life?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Compost


I was on my usual walk around the lake at lunch, contemplating my thankful thing for the day, when I noted the dead leaves on the ground.  I was not particularly thankful for the dead leaves on the ground at that moment, but I have come to the conclusion that I should be thankful for all things, because God purposed them for something.  That got me thinking about how I could be thankful for dead leaves, and I remembered gathering the decomposing leaves from my grape vine a few days earlier.  I had marveled a little at how quickly they had begun to decompose and at what great compost it would make; I promptly added it to my composter.

God did not create things to die at the outset - death entered the scene when sin did.  I wondered how dead leaves fit in.  Did God originally make trees whose leaves didn’t fall and die?  Since the Bible says that He created all the plants and all the creeping things on the earth, He must have already created each species.  That includes the bacteria that process dead leaves, as well as the trees whose leaves fall.  That’s not to say that God couldn’t have created their leaves not to fall and that sin couldn’t have caused it.  In which case, if the bacteria didn’t eat the leaves, did they eat something else, like all of today’s meat-eaters?  I really don’t know.  I can’t imagine a world without Fall, but God could have done anything.  It was a fun little detour to consider.

Either way, it is all part of God’s grand design.  If sin caused the leaves to die, then God caused it to work for good, since the bacteria process the leaves into compost that replenishes the ground with nutrients.  If God originally designed it that way... well, then God originally designed it that way, and that in itself is pretty amazing.  God’s imagination is truly something to behold.

I am thankful for compost, that God designed a use for the aftermath of the beautiful Fall.  I am thankful, too, that God gave us compost as a tool to better work the earth that He gave us.  What is God bringing to your mind that causes you to ponder upon Him?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Cupboard Doors

One of the projects that we have been wanting to do on Our House is our cupboard doors.  We haven’t had any since we moved in four years ago, and we didn’t quite make our goal of getting them in by the time our baby was mobile (which was 5-6 months old).  Our son is almost a year and two months, and guess what?  We got our first cupboard door on!

We pooled some Christmas presents together and were able to order a pretty and economical design for the lower cabinets that I’m really excited about.  My Husband slaved away on Friday while I watched our son, and got all of the holes filled and the facing sanded, primed, and painted.  There was just enough time to drill the holes for the hinges in one of the doors (the one on the outside of the kitchen) and to mount it on.  It feels like a huge step in something we’ve wanted for a long time, and I am so grateful.

The doors themselves still need to be primed and painted, and we might be able to get that done soon, also, but just getting them up will be immensely helpful with our little man.  It’s hard to believe the extra energy we burn chasing him around, trying to keep his little hands out of the cupboards.  I remember sitting on the kitchen floor playing with a couple pots and lids while my mom cooked or cleaned, and nurture the hope that I might get to do that pretty soon with my little man.  (She didn’t have cupboard doors, either, but I was old enough by that time to not pull everything out, and to know what I could and couldn’t play with.)

Jehovah-jireh.  The Lord will provide.  I am so thankful (and excited) to be one step closer to a fixed-up home, a child-proof home, and even to the look that we would like to have in our home.  I feel so blessed that the Lord would choose to see these Small Desires Met in His own timing - the best timing there is!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Weekly Impressions - Our Hope

I lost my closest grandfather a little more than a week ago.  It was a good thing, as he knew the Lord and was suffering.  That doesn’t really make it any easier to not miss him, though.  (You can see a tribute, of sorts, that I wrote for him in Sunsets and Sunrises.)

The first place my mind goes with that sort of thing is, “Okay, what has to be dealt with right now.”  In other words, it’s as though I put off the emotions until I know that the immediate needs are dealt with.  I think it’s the reason that I don’t generally panic.  Different people deal with grief differently, and I don’t think it’s bad to do that initially.  However, the emotions will need to be dealt with at some point.

My thought was that I would wait until the funeral service to let everything out.  (The funeral service is tomorrow.)  However, I struggled at the beginning of this week with going to work.  In fact, I took Monday off.  The grief hit me harder and earlier than I had figured.  I was a little unsure of what to do, and I sought the counsel of one of our Biblical Counselors at our church.

She reminded me that our hope is in the Lord.  Yes it hurts, and we need to take some time to heal, but we need to look to the Lord to be our Healer.  He is the God of all comfort.  (2 Corinthians 1:3)  I realized that I had let the grief take over, and was not living in the Joy of the Lord.  

I don’t mean that I should have been happy while grieving.  Happiness is different from Joy.  Joy is the peace and thankfulness born of faith that God is always in control and knows what He's doing - no matter what.  For your good and His glory.  

In this case, I could extend that to knowing that He was also taking care of my grandfather.  Living in the joy of the Lord is living in the constant knowledge of His Presence, and knowing that He is in control.  This made it so much easier to grieve.  I am so thankful for the One Who is our hope.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Houseplants


I love gardening, even the weeding.  It’s rather therapeutic for me - and not in the I get to take my anger out on the weeds way.  It’s more that I get to sit quietly and work with the earth, which often turns my mind to the Lord.  His Creation has that effect on me.  It can be very helpful if I'm feeling lonely, too, as it brings God's Presence to the forefront of my mind.

My backyard needs a watering system before I can care for a garden, however, because I often don’t have much time to go out and tend to it.  I forget to water it a little too often, which doesn’t lead to a healthy garden... it gets pretty sick looking.  So until we can design, afford, and take the time to install a watering system, I have houseplants.  They aren’t nearly the same, but they do help.

I don’t have much of an imagination when it comes to interior design (unless we’re talking about a fantasy mansion, complete with a dragon you can sit and read on in the library, maybe) and colors are daunting enough to me that I don’t generally bother.  The houseplants, though, add a nice lush green that makes it a bit more inviting - for me, at least.

I often forget to water them, too, but that is why I have placed them strategically in my home where I will see them and remember.  I also keep the watering can near the sink to make it quick and easy.  Not that I do it intentionally, but being able to trim off the dead leaves can be therapeutic in the same way as gardening, so it’s not altogether bad that I forget to water.  They are also pretty hardy plants.    

I am thankful for houseplants, that God created multiple ways to assuage a desire.  It boggles the mind how God incorporates different passions or desires into the life of His children and into what He has called them to do.  I love how the Lord Provides.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Breakfast


Since I was in middle school (roughly 16 years ago), I have avoided breakfast as best I could.  Why on earth would I do this?  Because I could only eat certain foods a couple hours after waking up, and I couldn’t eat much of what I ate, or my stomach would feel like it was burning or nauseated.  It was especially dangerous to drink much liquid.  Altogether, it was a much more pleasant experience to just skip breakfast and eat later.  I would still eat if there was a family breakfast or some such, but watched what I ate and how much of it, testing the results by the burning about 10 minutes later.

During my pregnancy with my year old son, I found myself much hungrier in the mornings (after the morning sickness stage) and decided that I had better eat even if it hurt - for my baby’s sake if nothing else.  Bread was usually the least painful in the correct quantities, so I started having a piece of buttered bread in the mornings.  I was glad to find that it didn’t hurt.  

Wanting variety (and more) I soon changed it to peanut butter and boysenberry jam on top.  I added a granola bar.  Then I started eating two of the instant oatmeal packets.  Before I knew it, I was eating a full-on breakfast and my stomach wasn’t burning.  I was incredibly grateful, but distantly dreaded the eventuality of the issue returning after my little man popped out.

Here I am, about a year and two months later, and I am still eating breakfast.  For a little while, as I tried to lose a little of the weight and be healthier, I replaced it with juicing.  That was amazing, too, as the straight liquid didn’t upset my stomach like before.  Now, I have a 12 ounce glass of juice about half the time along with eggs, sausage, and sometimes an english muffin.  I can’t tell you how nice it is to be able to eat breakfast!  

I thank God for changing that aspect of my anatomy through my pregnancy!  I don’t know why He chose to do it that way, but it is enough for me to know that He did.  Whenever I try to do things my way, I am always reminded that I am not nearly as intelligent as God, nor do I know how best to care for everyone.  Only He knows that.  That’s why God is God, and I am not.  I will choose to follow wherever He leads.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Many Names of God


Elohim - Creator
El Elyon - God Most High
El Roy - God Who Sees
El Shaddai - All Sufficient One
Jehovah - I Am That I Am (YHWH)
Jehovah-jireh - The Lord will Provide
Jehovah-rapha - The Lord Who Heals
Jehovah-nissi - Lord my Banner
Jehovah-mekoddishkem - The Lord Who Sanctifies You
Jehovah-shalom - The Lord is Peace
Jehovah-sabaoth - The Lord of Hosts
Jehovah-raah - The Lord my Shepherd
Jehovah-tsidkenu - The Lord our Righteousness
Jehovah-shammah - The Lord is There

This is by no means a comprehensive list of the names of God.  It doesn’t even include the ones like Lion of the Tribe of Judah, The God of All Comfort, Ancient of Days, King of Kings, Everlasting Father, Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace.  To look at this list, one would think, “Yeah, God is awesome, and powerful, and heals, and sanctifies.”  Yet to just look at these meanings is so superficial.  

Each of these names is presented in the context of one or more stories in the Bible.  They are intended as illustrations of the many ways that God loves us and to point our minds toward how incredible and awesome God really is.  I would highly encourage you to do a study on the names of God.  You’d be amazed at how well you get to know Him, and how He reveals even more of His relevance in your daily life.

I am so thankful that He has all of these names to direct us to the many facets of His Person.  His Love, might, Grace, power, and glory.  Every one has its own story, its own context, and its own meaning, to speak to us in the differing moments that we falter, stumble, doubt, and when we have fallen.

Lately, I have been leaning on Jehovah-jireh - The Lord will Provide.  It is first mentioned in the story of Abraham, when God asks him to sacrifice his only son, Isaac.  Abraham told his son that the Lord would provide the lamb to replace Abraham’s son as the needed sacrifice.  Indeed He did - and He did this for us, too.  Jesus was God’s only son, Whom He sacrificed to save us from our sins.  He provided for us the Redeemer.  

If He is so dedicated to providing for me, that He sacrificed His only son to do so, then how can I fear?  He is the Great I Am, Who always was, and is, and is to come.  He will always provide for me.  I lack the words to describe how awesome and amazing is the God who can do that.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Our House


The house we purchased four years ago was a fixer-upper and turned out to be a lot more work than we were expecting.  Each repair or improvement we have tried to make has been met with unexpected setbacks, since once we tore down what was there (drywall, for instance), we would find something that either also needed to be fixed, or had been done in such a way that we couldn’t repair it the way we were planning on.  It has been quite a trial... and quite a blessing.

God brings trials into the lives of His children to make us more like Him.  It is one of the many ways in which He Teaches us.  It isn’t an easy process - and it can take a fair amount of time - but it does drive the point home once you understand the point.  God taught me contentment through the process of repairing our house.  We still aren’t finished, but I am content.  I am also thankful that we even have a house to call our own.

God provides.  At every turn of life, He is right there beside His children.  He will provide for you - it’s one of His Many Names:  Jehovah-jireh “The Lord Who Provides.”  When I am in the midst of a trial, the best thing is to look to the Lord and to know that He will provide, and to see that He always has provided.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Shoes


I am glad that God gave us feet that can toughen up to withstand a lot of barefooted walking over varied terrain.  However, I am thankful that God gave us shoes so that we don’t have to do that.  Shoes are so versatile.  We have specialized shoes for whatever you want to do, be it working, hiking, running, sports, or dancing.  I most definitely appreciate all of these - especially since mine require orthotics - but honestly, I think the part that I appreciate most is their appearance.

I’m not the kind of woman who has fifty pairs of shoes in my closet; I think that would just be too overwhelming.  I wouldn’t even have enough outfits to match them to.  That, to me, is the whole reason to have “so many” shoes.  Shoe shopping can be difficult unless you’re just getting one pair of shoes to match one outfit.  I just can’t bring myself to spend the money and space on doing that, with two exceptions:  my wedding dress and my prom dress.  Actually... I used the heck out of my prom shoes (and even got to wear the dress a couple more times).  

I do feel, however, that there are a few staples to a woman’s shoe collection.  In the open-toed dressy category, you have your black, brown, and white shoes; a pair of sandals and a pair of flip-flops; a pair of black boots and maybe another of brown; a pair for all-purpose every-day wear; a pair of tennis shoes; a pair of grungy shoes; and a pair of house shoes.  

Now that’s 11 pairs of shoes.  You can take it from me, men - a woman’s basic shoe count requires double digits.  You may not think you care about how our shoes look, but it really would look pretty tacky if your wife had to wear her all-purpose shoes with a skirt.  Shoes really can make or break an outfit, and it takes some hunting to find a pair that’s versatile enough for more than one outfit.

Isn’t it amazing how much God has given us?  Millions of people out there would be thankful for just one pair of shoes, and here I’m talking about at least 11 pairs.  It is expected in our society - and I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing.  It’s a reality of different worlds.  I am, however, very thankful that God chose to place me in the “world” that gets to have at least 11 pairs of shoes.  

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Weekly Impressions - Do's and Don'ts


Most people think of God as a God of rules.  Don’t do this, don’t do that.  He has been showing me that “don’t” is only part of the message.  It isn’t about what not to do, it’s about what to do.  We are not only to put off our old selves, but to put on the new self.  (Colossians 3:10, Romans 12:2)

I believe that for every sin, God gives us something to replace it with; something that will fulfill us far more than the sin ever could.  For example:  the most obvious is pride and arrogance.  We are to replace this with humility.  That’s the easy answer - but I encourage you to delve into not only what humility means, but what it is, what it looks like, how to do it specifically.

During one of my struggles with selfishness, my Biblical Counselor pointed me to Philippians 2:3-4.  “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”  The don’t is clear, but so is the do.  However, I wanted to know more about what humility looked like, so I kept on reading.  Philippians 2:8b says of Christ, “He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”  I realized that part of being humble is being obedient.

Now replacing pride with humility is, as I had said, an easy example.  What about anxiety?  What about fear?  God has shown me answers for these as well through seeking Him in the book that He gave His children to learn about Him:  the Bible.  

Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Don’t be anxious. Do pray with humility and thankfulness.  I am to replace my anxiety with thankfulness, recognizing that I am always in the presence of God and that He is the One in control.  This is a large part of the reason that I began this blog.  I wanted to have a way to hold myself accountable to create the habit of being thankful in all things.  Anxiety and fear, though closely related, are a little different.  For an explanation on what I found to replace my fear with, see Weekly Impressions - Fear.

It may also be noted that the previous verses say, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).  In context, it stands to reason that the above tools are the same tools to use in order to have Joy.  I am so thankful for God’s gift of the Bible, and that we can know Him more through it.  The more I know Him, the more Joy I have.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Sunrises


Just as I am thankful for Sunsets, I am also thankful for sunrises.  I don’t see them as often, as I am not a morning person (which is why I enjoy Sunsets so much).  That fact , however, does not decrease their beauty.  They make for a very pleasant and peaceful beginning to the day.

As I had mentioned in yesterday’s post, my grandpa is experiencing the most awesome sunrise of his life in passing from this life to begin life in the full presence of his Savior Jesus Christ.  What a gorgeous and glorious new beginning that sunrise must be!  I am reminded of Paul’s sentiment that “...to live is Christ and to die is gain.”  (Philippians 1:21b) On the one hand I cannot wait to join with my Savior and the saints who have joined Him before me.  On the other hand, I know that God has a purpose for me here until He personally calls me home.

I am thankful that I can rest in the knowledge that I will see that glorious sunrise one day.  But not yet.  Not yet.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Sunsets


My favorite time of day is just after sunset, when the lighting is relaxed and the light of day is drawing to a close.  It’s a precious half hour when the light seems a little warmer, a little cheerier, and yet without the hurried push to get things done.  Preceding this time of day is sunset, when God showcases the light in a medley of vibrant warm tones as His grand finale of the sun.

Sunsets are a magnificent end, with the expectation of a sunrise and new beginning the following day.  My grandfather passed away a couple days ago on New Years’ Eve.  It seems much like the sunset to me.  He truly shown with the light of the Holy Spirit and shared it with others as best he could, like the sun shining down on the earth.  

It wasn’t his job to try to make it through if people blocked his light with shades or hid in their houses, or if the Lord saw fit to harden their hearts and sent clouds so they couldn’t see.  It was simply his job to shine God’s light.  I’m not quite sure what the moment of his glorious sunset was.  Perhaps my grandmother knows, but I know that God got to see it.  I enjoyed the cheery, warm, and relaxing light in his later years as his life began to fade.  

I never saw him but he didn’t quote at least one verse to me.  He overflowed with a perceived urgency to share what God was sharing with him.  What God whispered in his ear, he proclaimed from the rooftops.  (Matthew 10:27)  God spoke many truths into my life through my grandpa - many of which I didn’t fully understand until later.  Those clouds cleared when God’s timing was right.

I am thankful for sunsets, for the gorgeous light that God shines - on the earth and through His people.  Now that my grandpa has had his sunset and the light is gone, I am so glad that he is experiencing a sunrise with his Lord and Savior.  I look forward to seeing him again when God’s timing is right.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Seeds


Seeds are such an amazing miracle to watch.  The way that a tiny white tendril breaks through and stretches out to the sun.  Upon reaching the sun, the tendril turns green and then sprouts leaves to better catch the sun’s rays.  The more energy it can gather, the larger it can grow.  It would be pretty incredible if it took place in a matter of minutes, but I think it demands a greater appreciation for the simple fact that it takes awhile to accomplish.

I am thankful that God made seeds for us to tend and water, and then rely upon Him to make them grow.  They are a wonderful example of how God doesn’t need us, but He chooses to use us to accomplish His will.  How is God using you right now?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Parties


When I think of the word “party” I think of a big party with tons of people, loud music, loud conversation, and available alcoholic beverages.  This is strange, because it’s not my idea of a party.  I’m not saying it’s bad, it’s just not what I enjoy.  I enjoy a smaller group of people - in which it’s not as easy to get lost - with low music in the background to encourage conversation, who gathered to spend time with each other and probably play board, card, or video games.  Games are fun.  Alcohol is optional, but not highlighted.  A movie can also be a fair addition.  This is my idea of a party.

For New Years’, my husband and I had a party at our home.  I always find myself content and smiling after one of these parties.  We have awesome Friends, and love being able to open our home for fun and getting to spend time with them.  We live a fair way out of town, so I always also feel blessed that they are willing to come out to our home.

So I am thankful for parties, that they are an opportunity to spend time with Friends and to share our home and blessings from God.  I hope you all had a Happy New Year!