Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Work


There has been so much to do at work this year that it has felt as though I haven’t had a chance to catch my breath.  My coworkers and I have had an extra event (a Biblical Counseling class) that we have been running for the last 3 months, and we just finished!  God has been good and enabled me to keep up with everything that had to be done (what a blessing!).  I am, however, looking forward to being able to catch up on all of the things that have been waiting for me to get to them.

I was reflecting on my work load, and realized that I am truly thankful for having work to do - and even for having so much.  I enjoy my work, and enjoy doing it to the best of my ability.  It’s a great way to honor God.

Genesis 2:15 says, “Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.”  I believe that God created us to work; it brings Him glory.  So I am thankful that I can bring glory to God in my work, which also brings me His Joy.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Home Movies


Our year-and-a-half old son loves watching the little home movies that we take of him on our iPhones.  I find it amusing that he isn’t very interested in the clips that don’t feature his cute little figure.  As his attention span grows longer, he will watch them “Again!” (which is actually communicated by his own variation of the ASL sign “REPEAT” along with the sound “kee”)... and again and again.  It’s one of his favorite things to do.

We are trying to teach him not to immediately ask for a movie upon first seeing Grandma (as opposed to Grammy), because she, too, has an iPhone.  He uses his own variation of the ASL sign “MOVIE” when he sees her, so we generally won’t let him watch immediately.  When we do let him watch "movies," though, it is so adorable.

I rather treasure it, because my tremendously busy little man will climb into my lap and sit still.  His brow turns a bit serious and sometimes furrows in concentration.  He knows how to swipe to the next or previous home movie, and to press the little play arrow that pops up in the middle of the screen, so I can really just sit and enjoy cuddling with him while he’s occupied.

I thank the Lord that I can take and play home movies of and for my little man.  I pray for God’s patience and wisdom to know how best and when best to let my son watch them, but know that I am blessed to even have the opportunity.  In the meantime, I will enjoy the snuggles.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Weekly Impressions - Choose Wisely


Self-discipline isn’t easy, but it is a choice.  I’ve been struggling with self-discipline lately on several fronts, and must keep reminding myself that the choice is mine.  

On the spiritual front, do I want to follow God and experience His Joy, or do I want to focus on myself and how “bad” things are?  Then I must choose to be obedient to His Word and commandments.  

On the physical front, do I want to let my pain take over, or do I want to do what I can for my body?  Then I must exercise, drink plenty of water, and monitor my diet.  

On the family front, do I want to stay up late at night and sleep in late on the weekdays, or do I want to get to work on time and provide for my family?  Then I must go to bed on time and discipline myself to get up on time.

The problem with each of these questions is that, at times, I don’t want to do the right thing.  My feelings do not always align with what is good for me - or others, for that matter.  Staying up late and sleeping in late feels good now, but it has its consequences.  The choice is mine to be made, and I cannot base it upon my feelings.  (I also maintain that love is a choice, not a feeling, for much the same reasons.)

Colossians 2:23 is a verse that I have to Meditate on:  “These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.”  What am I using for my self-discipline?  Am I using something that is of no value in my battle?

For example, what do I turn to when I am depressed?  The first question I often ask myself is, “How did I get here?”  It isn’t necessarily a bad question, but I have the tendency upon answering it, to think that that the circumstance is what sent me spiraling.  If that’s the case, then I need to change the circumstance, right?  

This is wrong for two reasons:  1) I am not in control of my circumstances (to a point), God is, and 2) it wasn’t the circumstance that made me depressed; it was the fact that I placed my hope in the circumstance instead of God, and from there, allowed my self-focus to spiral me downward (probably because I’m focused on the fact that I’m not in control of my circumstances, instead of on the fact that God is).

Once I’ve started down that path, I feel less and less like I want to turn to God and focus on Him, or be obedient to Him in order to get out of my turmoil.  Yet my feelings are of no value against fleshly indulgence.  I must discipline myself if I am to pull out of it.  

That’s hard.  However, I am not alone, “...seeing that His Divine Power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.” (2 Peter 1:3)  Through the true knowledge of Him.  “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)  He gives me the strength.  “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)  I’m not the only one who has struggled with this issue (though the world may have you think so, here the Bible says you’re not), and God says in His Word that He will give me a choice.

So... what will I choose this moment?  This day?  This week?  This year?  If I choose to follow God intentionally, and to be obedient to His Word, and to spend time with Him regularly, meditating upon what He has told me, then it will be easier to choose righteousness in those split-second-choices that will lead me toward or away from God; toward or away from “a good mood;” toward or away from “health.”

What are you choosing?

Friday, April 26, 2013

Knitted Baby Blankets


Between my family and my extended family, we have a few knitters among us, so my son was “well-equipped” with knitted baby blankets by the time he arrived.  He loves them!   I have found that he doesn’t have just one favorite blankie; as long as it’s knitted (or crocheted - the feel is what counts), he likes it.  That makes it much easier as far as keeping him happy.

However, the part I am most thankful for was perfectly demonstrated to me this morning.  I walked in to find my little man still asleep in his crib; he’d had a big day the day before.  He was a cute little curled up bundle... whose head and arms were wrapped snugly and entirely by his blanket.  If it were any other type of blanket, I would worry that he had suffocated himself.  A knit blanket, however, has breathing room between the stitches.  It might be possible to suffocate yourself with one, but you’d have to work pretty hard at it.

I promptly unwrapped him, and though the worrisome thought did cross my mind, he was just fine.  In fact, my sleepy little boy wanted his blanket back.  So I thank the Lord for knitted baby blankets, that I don’t need to fear for my little man’s life from something so innocuous as his blanket.  With all of the regulations, advice, facts, and myths that get thrown at new moms, it makes for one less thing to worry about (with the bonus that I can make it myself!).  

While God certainly gives me responsibilities as Mommy, I must also entrust my son’s life to the Heavenly Father.  There are a myriad things that could go wrong in that first year, especially, but I am so glad that, ultimately, God is in charge of them all.  Sometimes I must sit back and remind myself of that.  His Grace isn’t just sufficient for me; it’s sufficient for my son, too.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

This Blog

You may have noticed that, though I do fall behind a day or two at times, I blog almost every day.  That was my intention from the first:  to keep myself accountable to write about something that I am thankful for each day.  I have found it so useful, because it helps to purposely bring my mind around to writing about God and what He has done in my life. That alone has helped to bring my focus around to where it should be.

God has used this blog to increase my thankfulness in general (and thus, my quality of life), but He has also used it in individual situations in my life.  When I'm struggling with depression or self-focus and it's time to write my blog, He helps me to write even though I don't feel like it.  Then, He often goes a step further and shows me something while I write, and blesses me with being able to focus on how magnificent, or powerful, or gracious, or loving (etc., etc., etc.,) He is, and find myself no longer depressed or self-focused, but Joyous in the Lord.

What a blessing He has bestowed upon me in this blog!  I hope that it has blessed you and caused you to meditate upon Him more, too.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wind

Have you ever heard the beginning of the Irish blessing: "May the wind be always at your back...[?]"  I always took it to mean that since it's rough going against the wind, the person is wishing that the wind be helping you at your back instead of hindering you from the front.  It took on a slightly different meaning for me today.

I've been really tired today, but disciplined myself to take my walk anyway (I've found discipline to be a tremendous helper in being intentional), partly in the hopes that getting my blood flowing would help energize me.  As I labored through my brisk walk, the wind blew to and fro.  I was battling self-focus - not especially successfully - and God seemed to wait until I was paying attention.  As I looked down at the well-worn path at my feet, the wind gathered some scattered dry leaves and skittered them across the ground from behind me to dance along in front of me as I continued to walk.  It brought to mind my poem in Blossoms and the idea I wrote about in Rain:  God is the force behind the wind and leaves He sent to dance for me.  It was His reminder that He is in control of all things, and that - whether He calls the wind to my back or my front - He is the strength that will keep me going.  God is the wind at my back.

I am thankful that He used wind to remind me of His sovereignty in the midst of my struggle today.  I won't say, "May the wind be always at your back..." because God uses the wind both ways - and both are for our good.  I do pray that you (and I!) be intentional about practicing His presence and will in our lives.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Proof-Readers


I have been working on creating a book out of my first 100 thankful things.  It’s intended to be used as a springboard for your own thankful things, as well as a personal resource to use your own thankful things in your struggles.  (You can read more about it here.)  Last week, I completed the process of inserting the text, editing it, formatting everything, kerning all of the text, and indexing my thankful things.  It was ready to be proof-read.

I wanted to get a certain friend’s opinion on the book, and she had also told me that her mother was very good at proof-reading, so I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone.  I printed the book out and gave it to her last Wednesday.  She informed me that her mother had been a college English professor.  Score!

My friend gave me the book back today (Monday) completely proof-read!  I was rather amazed that her mother was already finished, and thumbed through to see what sort of notes she had left.  They’re absolutely what I needed!  They don’t affect the tone, point out where I was confusing, tell me what was good (or even enjoyable), and are just all-around helpful.

I am very thankful that God directed my book to such a capable and willing proof-reader!  Hopefully, I can use them to be a bit more clear in my thoughts.  I didn’t want to add too much polish to the work - I’m supposed to be encouraging you to write your own thankful things, and you don’t need to have polish to write about something you’re thankful for.  I think she completely understood what I was going for, and added just enough polish to make it more readable, but not daunting.  I’ll incorporate my choice of edits (which is definitely the high majority) as soon as I can, and hopefully the book will be ready for printing rather soon!

I pray that I get to see how God uses my book For His Glory - and maybe even your good.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Visits from Old Friends


An old friend of ours married about a year ago and they came to our area to visit today.  We haven’t seen them for awhile, and didn’t get the chance to truly meet and spend time with his wife, so it was a lot of fun to get to see them and catch up.  

He has known my husband’s family since middle school and I’ve known him since high school, so we reminisced about many memories of growing up together.  We also got to share our nearly one-and-a-half year old son, who provided not a little entertainment for the evening until he went to sleep.  Then we got to hear more about their lives, fun stories, and plans for the future.  

It’s really nice to get to see them again, and I am thankful that God brought them back up our way, even if only for a quick visit.  God used it as a night of laughter, fond memories, and enjoying where God has us at the moment.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Weekly Impressions - His Final Say


Being intentional is a little like waking up.  I don’t wake up quickly.  It’s a bit of a slow grueling process.  Which is fine, because I’ve got an awesome God with me through it Who uses that somehow For His Glory.

So I’m beginning to work on how to be more Intentional about being a child of God, and being in a relationship with Him.  Part of that is “...taking every thought captive,” (from 2 Corinthians 10:5) and examining my Focus.  I’m trying to “check in” with Him throughout my day, to reinsure that my perspective is in the right place.  

God is God and I am not; 
He is in control.
Eternity on my horizon
God within my soul.

His hand - within my ways it works,
My circumstance commands.
Perfectly He advocates;
My life within His hands.

His will shall be my highest goal,
But when I go astray
Confession me, Forgiveness Him,
And He the final say.

I’m considering memorizing this one as a quick reminder of who I am and who He is.  God Keeps My Soul (Psalm 121), and as such, whom have I to fear?  He commands my circumstances, He controls the outcome.  Am I living this moment within His will?  Am I showing His Love?  What does this moment look like in light of eternity?  What would His final say be in this moment?

I mentioned that it feels a bit like waking up and that it’s a slow process.  Honestly, I think it’s just so much to take in.  It affects everything, as God always does.  I am grateful for His Teaching.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Christian Bloggers Community


When tootling around to learn more about Google+ one day, I discovered that it had something called “Communities.”  I promptly checked out the feature and discovered that I could search for just about any type of Community that I wanted.  So I searched “Christian.”  A number of things popped up, but when I saw “Christian Bloggers” I got a bit excited.

This is a Community for christians who blog about their faith, and is geared toward helping one another toward that end.  It’s full of people with tips and tricks, people willing to take a look at what you have and give some constructive criticism, and they have weekly challenges for blog posts that can inspire thought about a subject you might not otherwise have considered.

When considering how best to structure my devotional journal (which turned into “My Thankful Beginning ~ A Shift in Focus”), I posted some of my ideas of what I wanted to do, and received some great ideas in return.  These played a significant role in how I did eventually structure the devotional.

One thing that participation in this Community has taught me is that, even if I feel my opinion isn’t really significant, any feedback can truly be helpful.  Just share your impressions, thoughts, ideas, and constructive criticisms.  Even if another blogger doesn’t use them, it is helpful to that blogger to know that opinion, impression, etc. exists.  It’s a great Community to get involved in, and I am thankful that God led me to it.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Jury-Rigging


We had some friends over recently for an overnight stay, and they had forgotten to bring some contact solution.  We live a few blocks away from two small local markets, but it’s a really small rural town, and there was no contact solution - or distilled water - to be found.  By the time we discovered this, it was already too late to go to town (25 minutes away) for the one 24-hour store that would still be open there.

So... we put on our thinking caps and jury-rigged (as opposed to jerry-built) a still.  It was quite humorous and a lot of fun.  We have an old (OLD) humidifier that utilizes the minerals in the water to conduct its electricity and turn the water into steam.  I determined it would be easier to use than my tea kettle, simply because it didn’t have to be on the stove.  

Next, our friends said we’d need a tube - maybe of foil - to catch the steam.  So I wrapped some tin foil around the humidifier’s power cord to create a tube... of sorts... to place over the steam’s exit hole in the humidifier.  The makeshift tube needed to be propped up in some fashion, so I placed the humidifier on a chair next to our son’s high chair.  I was told that the tube either had to be really long, or had to go somewhere cold so that the water would condense and turn back to liquid.  I smiled and pulled a frosty mug out of our freezer.  I also needed something to catch the distilled water, so I snatched a small Glad tupperware that the mug’s mouth could rest on, but not in.  I fit the tube inside the mug, and butted the other end against the steam’s exit hole.  Voila!  A makeshift still!  (Hehe!)

Now we just had to give it time to work.  We had already planned on watching a movie, so we let it do its thing while we watched.  It certainly wasn’t efficient (no kidding!), but it did distill enough water during that time for him to place his contacts in.  (It covered a little more than the bottom of the gladware.)  His contacts wouldn’t get clean, but at least they had somewhere to rest that wouldn’t make them worse.  I was glad that my friend didn’t have to sleep in his contacts, or do without the next day.

I am thankful that God made more than one way to do something and thus made it possible to jury-rig.  Not only does it get you by in a pinch, but it’s a lot of fun!  I also got to do it with Friends (without whom I probably wouldn't have had quite enough knowledge to make it work).  Yay for adventures!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Progressive Sanctification


Philippians 1:6  
“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

The term “progressive sanctification” refers to how God works in our lives to make us more like Him, and contains the idea that we will not be perfect until Jesus returns.  This, to me, represents more of the grace of God.  Even after becoming a follower of Christ, we still sin.  Paul struggled with a “thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7) and lamented that he was, “...not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.” (Romans 7:15b)  Whether it’s a white lie, the pride and self-centeredness of thinking of ourselves before God, giving in to sexual temptation - whatever your personal struggle (mine leans toward pride and anxiety) - we struggle with sin.

That’s why Jesus had to come live a perfect life to be the perfect sacrifice in order to atone for our sins.  Yet not only that, He rose victorious from the grave and bestowed upon us the Holy Spirit so that we have a direct connection with the Father as He did.  We see in 2 Peter 1:3:  “..His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.”  So He has given us the tools (which are listed within His Word) and the power of the Holy Spirit to not sin, yet “...from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness.  All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.” (Mark 7:21-23)

Our hearts are still sinful, but God has freed us from the power of sin and is working on and in us, as it says in Philippians 1:6 above.  He also writes in Romans 8:29a that “...those whom He foreknew He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son[.]”  He didn’t save us and leave us.  He is with us every moment, even when He feels far off.  God is molding us here on earth, and we can rest in His Grace and learn to shift our focus back to Him when we sin.

That does not mean that God’s work in us gives us license to “let go and let God.”  We must be Intentional in our relationship with Him, just as we are intentional in our relationships on earth.  Just as those who are married will grow apart if they aren’t intentional about their relationship with each other, we must actively and intentionally follow God.  

I am to be an active recipient of God’s shaping; to learn from my mistakes and take steps to help me not do it again, which involves laying aside the old self and putting on the new self. “Christ is all, and in all.” (Colossians 3:9-11) That is progressive sanctification. 

I am thankful for the opportunity, and God’s grace and Divine Power to work out God’s progressive sanctification in my life.  Each time I sin, I can Confess it to Him, know that I am forgiven, put on the new self, and use His tools to follow Him more closely the next time that I am tempted.  That is such an encouragement and picture of God’s grace.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Sermons


Our pastor has been going through the book of Genesis and we are currently on the life of Joseph.  This past Sunday, our pastor taught a sermon on Genesis 41:1-45, which tells about how Joseph went from being “In God’s Waiting Room” (as his previous sermon was titled), in regard to being in prison for a significant amount of time, to being second in command to Pharaoh after interpreting the ruler’s dream.  (This sermon was titled “From Prison to Palace.”)

It was a very good sermon, as was the sermon before it.  In the passage, the Bible talks about how Joseph gave God all the credit, and didn’t become embittered, but was receptive to God’s shaping of his character.  When before Pharaoh, a worshipper of many gods, Joseph boldly stated that it wasn’t he who could interpret dreams, but the one true God.  He was a great example of what seeking God first in your life looks like.

I don’t want to give the sermon away, because I would highly recommend that you listen to it - to both of them (see title links above).  However, I will say that God definitely used it to speak into my life.  The examples of how to give God the glory and not take it for yourself, the encouragement to be bold in Christ, and the knowledge (and hope) of God’s sovereignty and His Teaching in our lives was a tremendous tool for not only conviction, but encouragement.  I am thankful that God created sermons through which He can renew the minds of His children.  

Monday, April 15, 2013

Learning


It is so precious to hear my one-and-a-half year old’s voice as he tries out word-like sounds.  He has “mommy” and “daddy,” but not “grandma” yet.  We’re trying to get him to say “me-ma” and “me-me” for grandma and grammy.  He’ll say “me” and he’ll say “ma,” but when we try to get him to say “me-ma” he’ll say “mommy.”  I don’t think we’ve successfully gotten him to repeat the syllable “me,” either.  He is definitely learning, though, and will get there.

It’s fun to watch him learn about the world and how to manipulate his limbs, hands, fingers, feet, and mouth.  Something new is often accompanied by Laughter.  Unless, of course, it crosses his will or relates to discipline.  It presents a rather familiar parallel to my own life.

I enjoy learning things, whether it’s about how to perform a task at work or home, a new song to sing, or about God (and all the myriad facets of that).  However, I don’t particularly like being disciplined by God, or when I want to do something differently than He does.  Yet, I am learning.

The more that I learn about Him and keep my focus on Him and the things He has Taught me, the less I dislike His Discipline - which can also result in needing His discipline less.  You could say that I throw fewer tantrums as I learn and grow in Him.  The same will be true for my son as he comes to understand more about the world - and that what his parents do, including discipline, is for his good.  

Such is true of our Heavenly Father, as well.  Except for one very important distinction:  our Heavenly Father is God Almighty.  He is perfect, sovereign, omniscient (all-knowing), omnipresent (everywhere), and omnipotent (all-powerful) to carry out that good for His children.

I am thankful for learning, and for the growth that God is tending in me through it.  He is my Joy and my comfort, my Rock and my Redeemer.  May I be Intentional to seek His glory above my own.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Weekly Impressions - Intentional


If there’s one thing that God is impressing upon me at this juncture of my journey of thankfulness, it’s that it must be intentional.  I didn’t realize how useful it would be for me to have the structure that I created in the beginning with my schedule of one per day with a “summary” at the end of the week - God did that.  Even within that, however, it is easy enough not to think about being thankful until it is time to write the blog.

Even that little bit of time is useful - and God certainly uses it.  Yet that is not all that God requires.  It’s fine to start small - we need our Milk - but then we must advance in His calling.  He doesn’t ask for a portion of our lives, He asks for all of it.  Being thankful doesn’t just happen, but I can cultivate it.  To do this, I must be intentional about it.

God has worked in my life to show me the art of being intentional, and how to begin to weave it into all areas of life.  It is discipline, but not only that, and I cannot do it on my own power alone.  At its zenith, it is like living and breathing God.

What does God command me to do?  To “...love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might,” (Deuteronomy 6:5) and to “...love your neighbor as yourself...” (Leviticus 19:18c).  Love, God has shown me, is a choice, not a feeling.  You don’t carry out a choice passively.  You are intentional about it.  So how can I be intentional about loving God and loving others as myself?

His Word is full of ways to do this.  There are 30+ “one-anothers” in the New Testament, that speak to loving one another, caring for one another, admonishing one another, etc.  I can look to the example of Jesus Himself and how He carried love out in perfection - not only in His death (and resurrection!), but in His life.  

Part of what He did in being the perfect sacrifice for our sins was to bridge the gap between God and His children - to be our perfect high priest (read intercessor), and thus, unleash the Holy Spirit to reside within His children.  No gap exists now between God and His children; we have the same power of the Holy Spirit that Jesus had for living in God.  Not only did God sacrifice His Son for our offenses (read sin), but He broke its bondage over us and empowered us to live as He lived.

That power is there for us to draw upon within His will, which is love.  It doesn’t just happen (though God may decide, in love, to carry us for a bit).  We are to intentionally draw upon His power to love Him and those here on earth.  Loving God is played out in loving others, but also in spending time with Him, in focusing on Him, in praising Him, in enjoying Him.  The more intentional I am about focusing on Him (which is being obedient to His will), the more I want to focus on Him.  Without that intentional drive, I fall back into my bondage.

Are you intentional in your walk with God?  Are there areas of your life that you have let drag?  Perhaps it’s time to give that area of your life to God and entrust yourself (your time; your energy level; your children; your husband; your things; you fill in the blank) to Him and to draw upon His power to do what He’s calling you to do.  

It is a constant work-in-progress that is discouraging if I am looking at myself.  I could never do it, and it seems exhausting.  Yet God is right there at my side.  “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)  When I focus on Him and entrust myself to Him, He fills me with His peace, His hope, and His joy.  It is a joy to do all things through Him who strengthens me.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Quiet Times

I am thankful for time alone with the Lord that is focused solely on Him.  Whether it’s reading His Word, Meditating upon His Word or Him in some way, praying and talking with Him, singing to Him, writing to and about Him, or any other form in which we can focus on Him alone.  That time of undivided attention is such a great help.

More time spent with your focus in the right place has a tendency to perpetuate itself.  I remember hearing as a teenager that “what you put in comes out” in reference to what you watch, read, etc.  I understood the concept and that it was true to a degree, but didn’t really pay much attention to it.  I wasn’t putting bad things in.  Yet, though I was putting some good things in, I wasn’t being intentional about it.  That intentionality goes a very long way.

Since I have begun the intentional discipline of being thankful, I have learned so much, and my relationship with God has grown much deeper, my walk with God much richer, my life - now more fully in God - much brighter.  It isn’t just the thankfulness that has helped, though.  It’s being intentional - disciplined - about walking with Him in general.  It’s “taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5b), with which the thankfulness has helped.

God is amazing.  I cannot say it enough.  His Love for us, His Grace, His Joy, are beyond my comprehension, yet because of them it is my privilege to partake of them - abundantly!

I used to think that those “mountaintop highs” in my spiritual walk were great, but just another part of the roller coaster of life.  The more that I focus on Him, the more that I live in Him, the more I’m realizing that the roller coaster doesn’t have to be such a roller coaster.  Those highs don’t have to be at a christian camp, and you don’t have to wait for God to “move” to get to that mountaintop.  He is always moving in the lives of His children, we just have to shift our focus to Him to see it.  That makes for a lot more mountaintops and far fewer valleys.

Not to say that there won’t be valleys.  However, when we draw on the Joy of the Lord, those valleys don’t have such a hold on us.  He has freed us, not only from the bondage of sin, but from the cares of this world.  We can rest in His peace that, “...weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5b)  Soon, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain...” because He is coming!

Look to Him and see eternityThat is the God I serve, the God I have a personal relationship with, and the God who always cares for me.  Quiet times may seem like a tiny step in my relationship with Him, but this is what He does with them, which is why they are so important, and why I am so thankful for them.

God.  Is.  Amazing!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Spontaneity


I have nothing against Planning... I was just thankful for it!  However, it is nice sometimes, to be a bit spontaneous.  My husband  was going to be out late tonight, so I had planned to get some things done in his absence.  While still at work, my grandma and mom swung by, and I had a question for my grandma about a Knitting project of mine.  She told me to come over whenever I wanted and that she would show me how to do what I was asking.

First of all, it’s pretty neat that my grandma is willing to take the time to impart her knowledge to me.  Secondly, she’s also the type to be pretty spontaneous (which may be due in large part to my late grandpa... in all senses of the word).  As I thought about her offer at work, I realized that tonight would be the perfect night.  It would require a little doing, though, as my in-laws were expecting me to come take care of my son after work.

So... on a whim... I called my in-laws and asked if they wouldn’t mind watching my son for the night.  They said they didn’t mind, so I called my grandma and asked if tonight would work, to which she replied in the affirmative.  Spontaneity often seems to require a bit of “the planets aligning,” which makes it fun to see God move on my behalf to make it possible.  It also makes me step back and realize that God had already figured my spontaneity into His plan.

I am thankful that God created spontaneity, and that I was able to go enjoy an evening with my grandma on a whim due to His work in my life through the people I love.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Steri-Strips


My son (not quite a year-and-a-half) received another noteworthy wound a couple days ago.  Though I am still thankful for Experienced Moms (of which there was one present), I am also thankful for steri-strips.  

My little man was running full tilt around my mother-in-law’s living room.  He twisted, lost his balance, and smacked right into the corner of my mother-in-law’s hutch.  Each of the three women in the room (myself included) made a dash for him, but I got to the poor little guy first.  I held him to me with his head over my shoulder and did my best to comfort him, while my mom-in-law saw what she could see... blood.  Split part of his eyebrow open.  Fortunately, it didn’t bleed profusely (certainly nothing like when he bit through his lip), and was easily managed.  This is when I found out about steri-strips.

If you’ve never heard of them (as I hadn’t), they’re one of the items that they would use in the hospital for this purpose.  It’s a little adhesive strip that works much better than a butterfly, and covers more area, though still small.  You leave it on until “it falls off.”  It’s probably all they would have done had we taken him to the emergency room.

With not a little difficulty, we used a Tucks wipe, of all things, to disinfect the area, then applied a steri-strip over the wound.  Of course, he didn’t want to leave it there, so we put a bandaid over it to make it less likely that he would tear it off.  After we were able to take his attention away from it, it worked like a charm!  It bled a little more, so the dried blood doesn’t look very nice under the clear strip, but the little guy doesn’t even touch it now (which makes me think that it must not hurt very much, if at all).

Steri-strips are just one of the many things that I am thankful for in this incident.  It was certainly God’s direction that allowed my son to specifically hit his eyebrow instead of, say, the side of his head, or his chin - or his eye!  Hopefully, the steri-strip (and God’s healing hand) will prevent it from scarring, but I know that if it does scar, God will use it for His glory, and the good of those who love Him.  I am one blessed mama!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Planning


When I say planning, I mean it as in the opposite of procrastination.  That isn’t all that’s involved in opposing procrastination, but it’s a beginning.  Our church has been holding a class on biblical counseling.  (It’s a great class.)  As secretary at our church, I print up all of the syllabi, outlines, and materials.  I also usually create the presentation slides.

In order to produce these, however, I need a completed syllabus from the class teacher.  Most often, this comes the afternoon of, which makes for a flurry of activity a few hours before the class.  This week, however, it came ahead of time.  That meant plenty of time to proof everything, make sure everything matched, and time to put the finishing touches on the building’s setup.  Sometimes, these fall through the cracks when it comes through at the last minute.  It was a nice reprieve.

I’m one of those people who usually procrastinates.  My mind seems to kick into “the zone” when under pressure.  However, I am feeling a little convicted in that my propensity for procrastination often takes a toll on others, just as our teacher’s procrastination can create a crunch on my own time.  My choices don’t affect only me.  How am I showing God’s love to others in my choices?

I am thankful for planning, for how God used it in this week’s teacher’s life to alleviate some pressure on me.  I am also thankful that God used the contrast with procrastination to show me another way in which His testimony can be shown in my own life.  It’s one thing for Him to tell me to portray His love, but I understand it better when He shows me how.

How are your own choices affecting others?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Games


Thank You for making games, Lord.  They’re the perfect excuse to hang out with Friends and enjoy one another’s company.  While winning is fun, the journey of time spent together with Laughter and getting to know each other more is even better.  When You are first, serving those I play with is more prominent than winning, and that, too, is enjoyable.  

I love how keeping You first changes everything.  It affects all areas of life with a peace and Joy that “surpasses all comprehension,” and guards our hearts and minds in Your Son. (Philippians 4:7)  Help me to constantly live in Your Presence, with my service unto You; my goal as Your will; and all aspects of my life as Your tools.

Thank You for Your lovingkindness.  May I be purposeful to let it flow through me, and not to try to hoard it for myself, which is only self-defeating, since it destroys the opportunity for joy and peace that I might have had.  Keep my gaze steady upon You.

In Jesus’ Name,
Amen.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Weekly Impressions - The Use of Pain


Something that God has been impressing upon me this week is that I’ve been emphasizing how everything He does is for my good and His glory.  That’s very true, but it isn’t just my good and His glory.  The verse says “...for the good of those who love Him,” which includes me, but isn’t confined to me.  Everything He does is for the good of His children and for His glory.

For example, I have fibromyalgia.  That is for my good and His glory.  Yet He can also use my pain to encourage others - His children.  Non-believers look at that and say, “See, how can there be a god who would allow that?”  Believers can look at it and say, “Wow, see how God is using her through that!”  It isn’t about the pain, it’s about its use.  Pain is a hard thing, which is why it can be used for such a great testimony.

Others who know pain like that can be encouraged by my walk with the Lord.  Of course, I can also falter - and do - and that isn’t the best testimony.  Yet even that can be a slight encouragement in that they know they aren’t alone.  They will have times during which they falter, as well, and it is a small comfort during those times to know that you aren’t the only one of God’s children who stumbles.  

It’s an example God places before us of what He said in 1 Corinthians 10:13:  “No temptation has overcome you but such as is common to man[.]”  It doesn’t end there, though.  It continues on to say: “and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”  God’s Grace is sufficient for His children.

When I am struggling with my perspective, I need to immediately turn to God, Confess my sin (or the temptation to), recognize that He is in control, then thank Him for that, and request His help.  As I ask for His help, I should continue to thank Him for the many things He has given and is doing for me.  That thankfulness is a practice of humility before the Lord, which will already start to help shift my perspective back to where it should be, with God on the throne, and thoughts focused on Him, not on my situation.

Thank You, Lord, for Your grace.

*       *       *

I wrote a poem a long time ago that ties in with this theme and might be encouraging to you.  It is called:

In Dreamer’s Dawn

In dreamer's dawn, 
In sunlight's kiss, 
Life's misery and pain
burn away, 

In song, in fable
In midnight tale - 
But none can account
for Truth.

Where are the days
When the sun's rays warm? 

When troubles are but
a dream?


When life deals happiness 
Boundless, abundant, 
And our childish souls 
Laugh with joy?

Why, lost, little one,
Held hostage, entombed, 

Trapped by our ignorance
and sin.


Locked up, deep within
Held tight, lest it slip 
And slither, lost forever
from our grasp.

But joy is not joy 
When held imprisoned, 
Not free to be shared
in love.

Joy is everlasting 
Radiant and bright 
When freed by the power
of the One. 

Christ's awesome power
His redeeming love 
Cannot be won,
but freed. 

Unlock that door
Inside your heart 
That guards the last
of your stock.

Christ is light, and life, 
And truth, and joy -
He is everything your heart

can dream. 

Just open the door
And leave it ajar;
He'll take care of the rest

from here on.

True treasure will pour 
Into your soul
Where once so little

was grasped. 

Now, overfull,
You can share your treasure, 
Your love, truth, joy, peace,
and the One.

We often throw out 
The key to the lock, 
And forget what is was
at all.


But the key is His Word,
A broken heart,
And the trials and burdens

that we face.

We may despise
What we cannot escape, 

But if we could see through
His eyes... 

Then we would know
The use of pain,
The wondrous blessing

it can be.

Yes it hurts for a time,
But Christ is eternal;
If you give Him the reins from

the onset -


Just guess at the things 
He will teach you anew,
And the joy you will have 
through the pain.

In dreamer's dawn, 
In sunlight's kiss, 
Life's misery and pain
burn away. 

In radiant beams,
In moonlit streams, 
Joy's Master shall reign
throughout all.

~by Jenari Skye
(For more of my older poems, click here.)

Friday, April 5, 2013

A Good Night's Sleep


Many things seem to be cured - or at least helped - by a good night’s sleep.  I’m not sure how God worked that out physically and mentally, but I am thankful that He did.  

My sleep has been interrupted by various things lately.   Mostly by symptoms of my cold, or my one-year-old son waking up in the middle of the night.  This doesn’t contribute to a good night’s sleep.  Yet God allowed for that, and His Divine Power is, of course, more than enough to see me through.  

Last night, it was within His perfect will for me to have a good night’s sleep.  For this, I am very thankful, as I am now almost completely over my cold, and its much easier to keep a good perspective when you aren’t so tired.  Thank You, Lord, for Your provision of a good night’s sleep!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Tech Support


This one’s kinda cheating, because my Husband is my tech support... but he really is good at it.  I started using a new Apple program today:  Keynote, which is the Mac equivalent of Powerpoint.  My Church is slowly migrating over to Mac, so I’ll be using Keynote at work, and thus, need to learn how to use it.

I can fumble around a new program well enough, but there are usually one or two things that I have to ask about.  Such was the case today, and I called my tech support.  I was also a little sketchy about how to access and save a file over our network from my personal Mac to my work PC.  (As an aside, I like being able to call my sweetie from work.)  

He walked me through the steps, and when I had a hard time explaining, he logged onto my computer remotely and showed me what I needed to do.  He always seems to have some technological trick up his sleeve.  It’s kinda fun calling him for tech support, because I’ll often find out about some other cool thing that he can do.

So I am thankful for tech support... mine, more specifically.  Without him, I would have a significantly harder time accomplishing certain things at work.  I’ve run ideas by him at a few different jobs that I’ve had, and have been able to make some great recommendations and provide better service as an employee as a result.  I am thankful that God gave me such a wonderful resource - especially since it’s in the form of my husband!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Nightstands


Any surface in my home tends to get overrun with stuff.  My nightstand cannot escape this inevitability.  It, too, needs periodic clearing, just as our Table does.  It accumulates jewelry; various items for my hair; nail clippers; Chapstick and Lotion; candles; holds my lamp, phone, and keys; and the occasional odds and ends.

It is most useful to me as a catch-all and as a stand (go figure) for my Water.  The water is the more important feature of late, as I have been Sick, and needed to wet my dry mouth during the night.  Falling asleep seems a bit hit-and-miss lately.  Not being awake very long to take a drink of water helps me to fall back to sleep much faster, rather than having to get out of bed to obtain one.  It would be harder to maneuver my water off of the floor - and then, my one-year-old wouldn’t have the finite boundary of the nightstand to stay away from.

I am thankful for nightstands, that God provides conveniences for us.  I use it daily (and nightly), and probably wouldn’t get as much sleep without it.  Thank You, Lord!