Thursday, May 27, 2010

Out on a Limb Part 2

Oh Ladies- if you went on the retreat- I had so much fun with you! If you didn't, we missed you! :) This was truly a God filled weekend. I was trying to tell my husband about it when I came home and I ended up all over the place and finally said "let me get my notes!" I'm pretty sure he wasn't interested in a full on hours lesson but he got an earful anyway!

If you'll indulge me, I'm going to recap some of my favorite points, and I'll try not to hit every single one!!!

- One of the main points of the weekend came from a fable in Judges chapter 9. It was talking about how the trees were looking for a ruler. They asked 4 different kind of trees- each one representing something that rules us-
-The Olive tree- we can often choose/have our religion rule us. I'm not talking Christianity, but religion- the dos and don'ts so to speak.... But we know that got says "The LORD your GOD is your KING!"
-The Fig tree- indulgence- in anything- food, people, alcohol, anything
-The Vine- intoxication- anything that makes us feel different or gives us a manufactured gladness
-The Thorn Bush- we all have thorns or difficult things in our life and often times we can let them rule us- it can rule our moods, relationships, even our homes. This was huge for me- I do this so very often. I will take something that is just that- a little thorn, an prick in my side, an annoyance and let it control my day or my thoughts!

The other major thing I got from the weekend was the fruit that my life produces. I am trying to ask myself often about the things I'm doing- "does that produce good fruit in my life? Will doing this show good fruit?" I so want my life to be filled with things that please Him. Beth said what goes into us GROWS out.
Gals, you made me so happy by indulging me on my eyes closed picture!
we love Max!
Look at all these women praising our great and mighty God! I know he was honored last weekend by all the glory and praise going to Him..... Wow is all I can say. :)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Lessons from Out on a Limb- A Weekend with Beth Moore

Hi everyone! I just wanted to share a few pictures from our amazing retreat this weekend to Michigan to see Beth Moore and the Living Proof Live worship team! My camera was not cooperating the entire time, but I got a few good ones! I am so thankful for all of the ladies who went on the trip! God's presence was certainly felt, especially while worshipping with 7300 other Christian women! I have never been a part of anything like it, and it was beyond words.
If you have any pictures you would like to share, please email them to me and I can post them!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I've been working on the Railroad

All my livelong days!!!!! Lately it's really felt like that.. like I'm a railroad worker and all that I can do is focus on the next tie to put down because if I look at all of the thousands still left to finish I'll go crazy!

When I was pregnant with Grace, Shane and I decided that I would stay home to be with her. My thought? Perfect, just what I've always wanted. I love being home with her. I love spending my days playing blocks, reading books, and even doing potty runs (ok, that's not my favorite part, but it comes with the territory). Of course there is also the dirty toilets, laundry and a gazillion messes to clean up each day that goes along with the job description too- I'll still take it I said. But I also realized that I am happy being busy. I like to have plans and projects. So I started adding things. There was the usual play dates, plans with friends, outings... etc. I also added some church commitments which have been wonderful and such a blessing. Then a part time job and then... maybe you get the picture? I also am a wife and have a house to keep at least semi clean- you know.... find your way to the bathroom, stuff like that. :) All of this is good and fine, but here's my deal. I deal with the insecurity of wanting to make everyone happy and not to disappoint so I have the tendancy to say yes, when I should just say no.... All of the things I do are great in and of themselves but when I don't say no to something I end up either doing something else halfway or I miss something like... time at home, or time to recoup.... It's not anyones fault but my own.

Colossians 3:23 says "Whatever you do what at it with all your heart as if working for the Lord, not for men." This verse has taken on a different meaning for me in the last few weeks. It is on an index card on our fridge and I have often referred to it in the fact that we won't always get the reward we want for the work we do here on Earth, but now I'm thinking of it differently. If I was to tell God that I'd take on a job for him, or I agreed to do something... I would want to do my absolute best and nothing but that for Him. I most certainly would not want to give him half my best because I am overcommitted or too tired or trying to squeeze to much in.

We are in a season of our lives where we are so busy. Fortunately we feel that God has opened doors for us in many different areas so we know we are following His will but that doesn't solve the worn out, just plain tired, feelings we still have and also the fact that some things in our lives then have to be put on the back burner in order to get other things done! I do believe it's a season for us though.

When I said a few weeks ago that I need to "choose JOY" every day I was so right. I have to but I also realized that I have to do more than that, I have to pray - get right down on my knees- and ask God to give me that joy, to give me the strength to keep going, and also to give me perseverance because if we go back to the beginning, we are doing it all for Him anyway.

It's easy to get caught up in "being busy" even if it is for noble, worthy, even Christ like things. I've had a few rough awakenings lately where I have seen how I am caught up in that busyness and as a result not serving him in the way I should. Are the things I 'm doing worth it? Absolutely! Do I like to be busy? Yes. But my eyes have turned away from my focus a bit and I'm working so hard now on getting back on track and to remember that I'm working for HIM. Even if that means dirty diapers, toilets, teaching, or running errands. It's all for Him.

I know some of you stuck with me and have read down to the end.. :) I'm praying the same thing for you. That if you are caught up in the busyness of life you'll stop a second and focus back on Christ and see how your priorities shift.

Love you ladies!

Monday, May 17, 2010

What I Learned from Bob and Larry

I have to admit that I really like some of the Veggie Tales movies. As annoying as the talking and singing vegetables can be at times, I find myself laughing and really thinking about the points that they make. For example, today I watched "Lord of the Beans" with Caroline. It is about using the gifts that God gave us to help others. Not just our monetary gifts but our special talent and abilities.

All day I have been mulling over how I can better use my God-given strengths to help others. And not only those in my church, but those in my community and in the world. As Larry so poignantly said in the movie, God made us special and gave us our spiritual gifts so we could do good work for others. A lot of people just use their talents for themselves to earn money or recognition, which may make us feel good for a while. But it doesn't last. God wants us to use our gifts to make a difference in our neighbors' lives. And that is when we experience true joy-- using our gifts the way that God intended.

One of my spiritual gifts is teaching and loving children. I am praying about ways I can use that gift outside of my family and my church. I have a few ideas--- I will keep you updated! I have also been thinking about how to teach my children how to use their gifts to help others.

What are your spiritual gifts? How are you using them? How could you use them to help others?
Whether it is baking meals for the homebound, visiting and encouraging those in the hospital or nursing home, tutoring at-risk children, or building or fixing homes of the needy..... and those are just a few....... I encourage you to reach out beyond the walls of your home and your church to find a way you can make a difference for Jesus.

"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Living Proof Live

Ok.. I know that this post will only really affect a few of us but... we are just about a week out from heading to Grand Rapids to a Living Proof Life event where Beth Moore and Travis Cotrell will be speaking and sharing worship. There are about 20 ladies going with us (and one brave man who will drive our bus!) and I can't wait.

Life is in fast forward for us right now. I am so looking forward to just... sitting and listening and soaking in His word. I do believe that God speaks to us all the time and we only need to listen but for events like this, we often seem to take that pause to really hear Him. That's what I plan on doing. I'm having to "choose" joy more days than not lately and I am so ready to just have that joy flood my heart.

And for you ladies who aren't going? We still want to spend time with you and our great God. Look for info soon about our fall Bible study. It's going to be fabulous and we want you there!

Monday, May 10, 2010

God moments

Finding a front row parking spot when you are in a hurry, making that green light on the way when you are running late, finding $20 in your coat pocket from last winter.......Don't you love when these things happen to you? Sometimes I think, and I hear others say, "God must be looking out for me today!" Well, as great as these moments are, they aren't necessarily "God moments.

Jason and I went out to dinner with some friends of ours who are missionaries in Central and South America. Talk about some God moments! They shared with us that they see God moving in amazing ways every day out in the mission field. I asked them why they thought that they noticed God's intervention more there than here in the States. There reply was that a. life moves at a much slower pace in the villages of Belize. They are not running on the crazy schedules that we all have, plus they don't have all the "stuff" we have complicating their lives.
b. also, they said that when you have to rely on God and your faith for your safety and needs,
and rely on Him to show you what He wants you to do for Him, you will see His work so clearly.

How awesome is that!!! It really was inspiring listening to their stories. I have to share with you their "top" God moment. They had traveled from Guatamala to the jungle of Belize to a tiny village with a pastor that had 8 churches he led. They had 2 men, and 9 women and children crammed into a Kia Sportage (very tiny car meant for 4). They traveled to one of the churches (basically a hut with a thatched roof and a generator for power). After the church service, they started their drive back to the pastor's village about 15 miles away, through the jungle in the pouring rain in the pitch black of night. (Usually they did not travel at night). And she said rain in the jungle is like no rain we have seen here! Well, a few miles into the trip, the battery gave out, and the men had to start walking through the jungle to try to find someone with a battery.... What are the chances of that happening? Pretty slim, but there was no other choice. The women and children stayed in the car. Two miracles occurred that night: 1. The men spotted a light through the jungle and they found a man who had a battery that had been taken to town that day to be fully charged! 2. On their way back to the car, lugging the battery on his shoulder, our friend saw headlights coming toward them. It was a truckful of drunk men coming right toward the car of women and children. They had seen them earlier in their trip down the road. Our friends shared with us that drunk men in this country are very mean and do harmful things to women. He starts running toward the car as fast as he can. Amazingly enough, the men just drive by, like the car is invisible to them. Now they do throw bottles at our friend and the pastor, but not a glance at the carful of women on the side of the road. Now that is a God moment for sure! Obviously, God wanted our friends to continue in their work and make it back to the village with the pastor and women and children. He had plans for them that did not include the truckful of men. Praise God for his divine intervention.

Those of us who are not missionaries may have a harder time finding God moments on a daily basis, but they are there. Take a few moments to reflect and journal on how you saw God in your life today. They can be big things, like healing or an answered prayer, or small things, like a hug of a child, or an encouraging note from a friend. No matter what, God is alive and active in our daily lives. Praise Him for it!!

"His incomparably great power for us who believe... is like the working of his mighty strength." Ephesians 1:19

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Good evening! I'm sitting here, with my windows open, waiting for my hubby to get home and thinking about my day... I'm still stewing on the post I started last week... it's about being busy. But I don't feel ready to share it yet, so instead I want to share with you what I did today-

  • washed one load of diapers (I'm using cloth!)
  • planted 7 pots of impatiens
  • pulled a bazillion weeds
  • walked to church and back
  • took my daughter out to eat at Subway while on our walk
  • did some work for the things I volunteer for at church
  • kept my house somewhat in order
  • kept alive, fed, clean, and hopefully happy, two children
Whew! I feel a bit like superwoman! I'm bragging a little I know, but here's the thing. I often do these things during a day but there is something different. Today, I did them with joy. I did not let Satan get after me about all that I have yet to do or infuse me with an attitude that this is all too much.... AND? It felt wonderful! I didn't crab at my daughter for being ... a toddler. I didn't stress about the floor that still needs vacuumed or the to do list on the counter for tomorrow. I often have days like this but when 8 o'clock rolls around I feel like a big crank. I'm tired and feel overworked.

My attitude plays so much into my day and today I chose joy. I chose to let God be in control and the little things that did go wrong did not dig under my skin like they have in the past. I know I'm not the only one that gets bogged down under her "to-do" list and I'm not the only one who let's little things upset her.

My prayer is that when I wake up tomorrow I will remember this day and remember that I CHOSE joy. And I'm praying that I will ask God to give me the strength to do it again.

Edited to add: It's Friday morning- we all got up late which means not being ready when the little guy I watch got here... it's raining and blah outside and PBS isn't coming in (cartoons for Gracie)- BUT I AM CHOOSING JOY!!!!!!!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Lukewarm or Piping Hot?

I love to read, as most of you have deduced from reading this blog. If I could get a job and all I had to do was read books, I would be gloriously happy. And rich. But, sometimes I get too many books going at once. Hence Exhibit A:

This picture of my bedside table is slightly embarrassing. But, authentic. I am a bibliophile, a lover of books. And I do not have enough shelf space, obviously. Anyhow, I would like to share with you tonight a little bit about two books; one that I am in the midst of reading, and one series I just finished.

Our small group is currently reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan. I am only on chapter 4, but I love it so far. Let's just say that this book is meant to radically change how you think about yourself and your relationship with Christ. It is honest, probing, uncomfortable at times, but takes an amazing look at God's absolutely insane love for us, and how we can return that love in same. Chapter 4 is the chapter where Francis just tells it like it is. After I read it, I took the book to my husband and said, "You need to read this now. It will make you feel like crud (except I didn't use the word crud) but you need to read it." You have to understand that Jason does not like to read AT ALL and getting him to read something is like pulling very stubborn wisdom teeth. But he read it, and then we proceeded to have a long conversation about it. The title of this chapter is "Profile of the Lukewarm". In all honesty, most of churchgoing America is lukewarm in their pursuit of God, including myself. I am trying to transform myself into the follower of Christ who offers Him everything and will do anything he calls me to do, but it is not easy. This chapter really convicted me to change my thinking in a lot of areas of my life. Just a few excerpts I would like to share: (Chan follows each of these with relevant Scripture which supports what a true follower of Christ should do.

"Lukewarm people gauge their morality of goodness by comparing themselves to the secular world. They feel satified that while they aren't as hard-core for Jesus as so-and-so, they are nowhere as horrible as the guy down the street."

"Lukewarm people say they love Jesus, and He is, indeed, a part of their lives. But only a part. They give Him a section of their time, their money and their thoughts, but He isn't allowed to control their lives."

"Lukewarm people will serve God and others, but there are limits to how far they will go or how much time, money and energy they are willing to give."

"Lukewarm people are continually concerned with playing it safe; they are slaves to the god of control. This focus on safe living keeps them from sacrificing and risking for God."

In contrast to the lukewarm Christian, I just finished The Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers. When I began the first book in the series, "A Voice in the Wind", I wasn't sure I was going to like it because it is historical fiction, set back in the days right after Christ's crucifixion. There were a lot of Latin and Greek words that I didn't know and names I couldn't pronounce. But once I got into the characters, I could not stop reading. Talk about people who were the opposite of lukewarm! The story revolves around a Jewish girl who becomes a slave after the fall of Jerusalem to Rome. Her family was Christian, and she is the only one who survives the aftermath of the destruction of Rome. Her transformation from a shy, timid girl, to a woman of unbelievable faith and trust in the Lord is inspiring. Living in the world we live in today, we cannot even understand the level of persecution Christians were up against back then. As I read through the series, I got to see how her faith walk and willingness to obey Christ's calling for her life affects so many people who know her, and even ones down the line who did not. She believed God!!!!

I hope you all get a chance to read these books. Books cannot replace time you spend reading God's word, but they can offer hope and inspiration in your life and broaden your knowledge in different areas. Here's to dumping out that lukewarm water, and filling yourself with piping hot love for our Lord!

"Jesus replied, 'Love the Lord your god with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. ' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt.22:37-38)