Monthly Archives: February 2014

God Knows Your Address

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Do you ever feel small?  That somehow you escape the mindful eye of the Creator of the universe?  

“O Lord, you have examined my heart
and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say
even before I say it, Lord.
You go before me and follow me.
You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too great for me to understand!” ~ Psalm 139:1-6

I bumped into two of my dad’s cousins while I was out shopping earlier this afternoon.  One is 77 and the other around 70; both are very sweet.  I hadn’t seen them since our last family reunion a couple years ago.  I should preface this by saying that I live in an area where it’s unusual to see anyone you really know.  It’s a big, busy place.  The pace is break neck speed, always.

I actually rarely pop into the dollar store, but I needed a gift bag for a baby quilt and pillow I just made for a friend.  So, $1.00 is always the right price for me!  🙂  But, I digress…

We had the nicest time catching up on life for a few minutes and then she said she wanted to talk to me about something.  She said that she has a set of my grandmother’s china that she willed to her when she passed over thirty years ago.  They are just sitting in her basement, so she wanted to know if I’d like to have them.  How sweet of her to think of me!  I was overwhelmed at the thought of having a piece of family history and, particularly, a set of dishes my grandparents used.

You see, I was only ten when she passed away and nine when my grandfather passed, so I never really got to know them.  I do have a bracelet she left for me, which is very special.  It’s likely not worth much monetarily; however, invaluable in my heart, knowing she wanted me to have it.  I’m the sentimental one in our family, kind of the family historian of the younger generation.  I’ve done copious amounts of genealogy research and love interacting with long lost relatives, filling in missing pieces of the family puzzle, etc.  So, for my (second) cousin to offer this set of dishes was just so very special to me.  It really filled my heart with pure joy.

Isn’t it just like God to know exactly what you need?  I have found that God has been answering seemingly unspoken prayer requests lately.  They’re just desires of my heart and then before I know it, God “wows” me with a blessing!  I relish when the Lord demonstrates His love for me.

I love giving gifts!  I really do.  It’s who I am.  I’m a giver.  I’m always sewing a little quilt for someone or making up a small gift bag for a friend.  How much more does our heavenly Father enjoy blessing His children, who are walking in obedience to Him?  I am confident that He wants to bless our socks off!

I’ve been meditating on:

“The Lord is compassionate and merciful,

    slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.” ~ Psalm 103:8

As I reflected on the coincidence of meeting my two cousins at the dollar store today, I was reminded that it was totally a “God thing”.  If I had been thirty minutes earlier or later, I would have surely missed them.  In fact, I was running a little behind schedule today and it took me longer to get out the door than anticipated.  It turns out I was operating on the schedule God had planned for me today.  🙂  I love how God orchestrates our lives.  Because I was at the right place at the right time, there were blessings in store for me.  I think God likes surprises, and He certainly surprised me today.  My heart is overflowing with gratitude and praise.

The wonderful thing about God is that He is no respecter of persons.  (Acts 10:34)  What He will do for one, He will do for another.  He has no favorites.  So, just as He planned for me to be at the dollar store today, knowing it would bring joy to my heart, He has great plans for you also!  Trust Him.  Draw near and allow Him to lead and guide you into all truth today, my friend.  When we are walking in the ordained paths He has for us, blessings will follow.  Be blessed!

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Intercessory Prayer

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What is intercessory prayer and why is it important in the Christian’s life?  Intercessory prayer is one that we offer on behalf of another.  It is “standing in the gap”, pounding the gates of heaven in stead for our family, friends, our nation, our leaders, etc.  It is vital for a variety of reasons:

  1. It shifts the focus from your circumstances to another’s.
  2. It allows God to honor the seed (of prayer) that you are sowing to bring a harvest in due time in your own life. (Job 42:10 and James 5:16)
  3. We are to carry each other’s “back packs”. (Romans 15:1)
  4. It is an encouragement to others to know someone else cares enough to pray.

 “And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.” ~ Ezekiel 22:30

First of all, we all should pray for our country, those in leadership, that righteousness will be restored and that many will turn to Christ during these last days.  The story of God’s conversation with Noah when he sought for sufficient righteous (those in right living) men comes to mind.  (Genesis 18)  He looked for men who had a heart toward Him so he wouldn’t destroy the land.  Noah repeatedly begged God not to destroy man because of his sin, and they had this “tug of war” of sorts going on.  Oh, that we would rise up and be like Noah, standing in the gap for our land!

“And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” ~ Ecclesiastes 4:12

In Job 42:10 it says, “When Job prayed for his friends, his captivity was turned.”  I have seen this principle work so many times in my own life.  I know it works without a doubt.  Whenever I need healing, I begin to pray for friends who also need healing.  When we spend time in earnest prayer, asking the Great God of the Universe, Who made us and Who holds all things in His hands to intervene on another’s behalf, I believe it moves the heart of God.  I believe it is at that moment we connect with our Abba Father and He is well pleased with us.  When we offer prayers out of compassion and concern for others, I believe it is God’s good pleasure to pour out blessings in our own lives as well.  This is not the sole reason we pray, of course, but it is a by product of intercessory prayer.

“We who are strong [in our convictions and of robust faith] ought to bear with the failings and the frailties and the tender scruples of the weak; [we ought to help carry the doubts and qualms of others] and not to please ourselves.” ~ Romans 15:1 AMP

In the above Scripture the strong are compelled to carry the weak.  How do we do this?  It certainly is not in our own fleshly strength.  No, we must carry their needs to the Lord in prayer and place their concerns at the foot of the Cross.  I love the picture I often view in my mind of a rustic altar at the foot of a huge, wooden Cross.  It is there I bow my knee in prayer and offer to God all the burdens of my heart.  It is there I worship God in the majesty of Who He truly is.  It is there I leave the weight this world so easily bears upon my soul.  And it is there I find rest in place of weariness, peace in place of angst, and hope in place of despondency.

“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”  ~ James 5:16

My favorite parable of all time is the “Widow and the Unjust Judge” found in Luke 18.  Here we find a persistent widow who could not be stopped.  She petitioned this judge continually, and, despite the judge’s neutrality of faith, he finally granted her desire…just to shut her up!  The twist in this story is that you and I are that widow, however, we do not serve a God who is unjust.  No, he is ever fair.  (God keeps accurate records.)  We serve a just God and a high priest,  who “is touched with the feelings of our infirmities”. (Hebrews 4:15)  We know that if He hears our prayers (and we know that He does), He will answer.  (I John 5:14-15)  Sometimes the answer is yes, sometimes no, and, often times, wait a while.  But, rest assured, the answer will come.

“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” ~ Galatians 6:9

God is searching for one who will stand in the gap.  Will it be you?  No special skills required.  Only faith.  Faith the size of a mustard seed will do.  Will it be you?

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He Restores My Soul

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He makes all things new.  Is your soul weary?  Do you feel as though your best days are behind you?  Don’t allow the lies of the enemy to take residence in your heart.  God’s Word declares:

And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.  And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”

And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.  He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.” ~ Revelation 21:3-7

We, who have trusted Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, are not like those without hope.  No, we have the great hope of Heaven, where all wrongs will be right, all injustices corrected in the blink of an eye.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” ~ Psalm 23:1-3

The promises in the Word of God are for you and I today.  So, if you’ve found yourself believing that much has been lost and your hope is dim, trust that the Lord is able to restore your soul and bless you in such a way that your latter will be greater than your former.

“Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the Lord will do great things.

Be not afraid, ye beasts of the field: for the pastures of the wilderness do spring, for the tree beareth her fruit, the fig tree and the vine do yield their strength.

Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month.

And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.

And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you.

And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed.”  ~ Joel 2:21-26

Sometimes things occur and we don’t understand why.  Situations are beyond our control and we struggle to move past them.  Instead of attempting to comprehend the causes, I challenge you to simply place your hand in His unchanging hand.  Walk with him, talk with Him, get to know Him on a deeper level through His Word.  He will bring peace to your heart as only He can.  God will restore your soul.

“Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:

Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;

Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;

Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” ~ Psalm 103:1-5

” So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.” ~ Hebrews 10:35-36

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15 Tips To Declutter

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I always say that if the house is clean, it means no one is coming over.  And if the house is messy, we’re definitely having company!  🙂  Haha!

How do we avoid the panic stricken frenzy when friends or family call to say they’re on their way?  My personal favorite is when a neighbor shows up at the front door and the house is a disaster.  Thankfully, that doesn’t happen too often.

Here are some ideas to get you motivated toward decluttering:

  1. Put on your favorite music & set the timer for 15-30 minutes (or however long you like) to tackle a problem area.  Somehow knowing you have parameters to work within make it more mentally tolerable.
  2. Select a room or area to tackle each week and focus on making it a peaceful, pleasant space.
  3. Invite friends over for dinner & clean like crazy.
  4. Make a list of tasks to be done as you go through each problem room/area.  Note large items to be donated or sold.
  5. Get a kitchen trash bag and fill it with donations for your favorite charity as you go through the house.  Sort dresser drawers, kitchen cabinets, books, DVD’s, etc.  Whatever is not necessary, useful and loved…needs to go.
  6. Ask yourself, “What if I no longer owned this?  Would I miss it?  What would be a better use of this space to make it more functional?”
  7. Challenge yourself to view your home as an outsider, critiquing your setup.
  8. Do you have duplicates?  Do you really need five staplers and four pizza rollers?
  9. Establish a set place for bills and important papers to avoid archive avalanches on the dining room table or counter.
  10. If you must save magazines, corral them in nifty holders.  If you want to be frugal, cut out a cereal box & cover with decorative contact paper to create your own magazine holder.  🙂
  11. Baskets are a great way to keep like things together.
  12. Make up a bag to give to a friend who may need the “extras” you have.
  13. Grab another kitchen trash bag & go from room to room, collecting all garbage, snagging fast food cups or snack wrappers that may not have made it to the trash can yet, etc.  Somehow removing the first layer, gives motivation to address other cleaning/organizing issues.
  14. If you are completely overwhelmed, enlist the help of a friend or family member.  Moral support goes a long way.
  15. Start.  Start somewhere.  Even if it’s a kitchen junk drawer.  One success begets another.  Before you know it, you are on your way to accomplishing your goal of a clean house!

~ Happy organizing!

 

 

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My Husband, My Best Friend

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Okay, can I just brag for a moment?  This June, we will celebrate nineteen years of marriage!  Whew!  Time flies.  It really does.  Has it all been wedded bliss?  Not hardly.  Our journey has been replete with ups and downs, joys and sorrows, victories and valleys…just like most.  

Our secret?  God has been at the center of our relationship from the very beginning, and, how we’ve relied on Him to see us through!  We would have failed miserably if we rested on our own strength, but thank God for His mercy.  His never ending grace has not forsaken us.

I am so thankful for my husband.  He is wise, kind, generous, loving, compassionate, intelligent, hard working and creative.  Whenever I have a problem, he tries to fix it.  When I’m sick, he prays for me and nurses me back to health.  When I’m discouraged, he speaks uplifting words.  When I try to take on the world, he urges restraint.  😉

He brings me flowers, sometimes for no reason at all.

Is he perfect? No, but he’s perfect for me!  God brought him from half way around the world just for me, and I am ever grateful for that!

When we’re apart, I’m looking forward to our reunion.  When we’re together, I am at peace.  He completes me and we complement one another.  He is my best friend.  I know I can confide in him.  He holds my deepest trust and I am secure in his love.

We’ve been through many difficult and challenging seasons together and our love is richer for it.  Young love is a many splendored thing, for sure.  However, mature love, love that has endured decades, has a depth that is gratifying and fulfilling like no other.

He loves to sing and we often enjoy singing together.  In the quiet times, his melodious voice soothes my soul.

My husband strives to do things that he knows will bring me happiness.  He really tries to please me…and I him.  That’s what love does.

Just to “keep it real” … When we’ve argued, he forgives me and I forgive him.  We don’t keep score.

Love doesn’t attempt to change what it cannot.  It accepts and keeps rolling on. I think that’s one of the greatest keys to a happy marriage.

He captured my heart twenty years ago and holds it still.

…Thanks for indulging me to brag on my husband for a minute.

What do you love most about your spouse?

“My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.

My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love!” – I John 4:7-12 MSG

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Vacation Dreaming

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Okay, I’m heading south.  At least I am in my mind.  I’m ready…more than ready to bid farewell to this bitter winter and say hello to sunshine and warmth!  Anybody with me?

The white, fine sand of Florida is beckoning me.  I am sitting on the beach, under my trusty beach umbrella, of course.  (Gotta protect my fair skin.)  A stack of books are nestled in a yellow tote bag beside my rainbow colored beach chair as I listen to the waves lap against the shore.  The seagulls are squawking and swarming around those who foolishly offer their human food.  The lifeguards are in their wooden stations keeping watch over the happy swimmers enjoying the warm waters.  Mounted police officers casually make their rounds up and down the coastline.  Occasionally, beach goers stop to pet the officer’s horses.

The cool breeze coming off the ocean is enough to ease the warm temperature.  A father controls a huge, red kite with his little ones running behind with excitement.  Power boats and jet skis can be seen racing along the blue green water in the distance.  Daring souls are having the time of their lives as they parasail above the crystal ocean.  Children merrily build sand castles while the older ones hone their skills on their wakeboards.

One or two older gentlemen make their way slowly down the beach with their metal detectors actively waving across the sand in hopes of finding treasure.  A family from up north plunks another handful of seashells they’ve collected along the shoreline in their sand bucket to remember their fun vacation.

The sunshine is unrelenting and the relaxation tangible.

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My suitcase is pleading to be released from my closet, and my summer wardrobe is itching to see the light of day once more.  My new white, Crocs flip flops are waiting to get broken in.  The SUV is gassed up and ready to navigate the busy interstate.

Oh, that the calendar pages have turned to the circled and highlighted date when my inner coastal lover can be released!  🙂

I can hear the symphony of the sea.  Can you?

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Time – Our Most Precious Commodity

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What is time?  It is the measurement of our days, isn’t it?  When we’re young, we think we have an endless supply, and the older we get, the more we realize we need to be more deliberate with our usage.

“So teach us to number our days,
that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” ~ Psalm 90:12

We spend our free time in various ways – playing sports, watching t.v., talking on the phone, reading, surfing the web, crafts, etc.  One thing is certain: We all operate with a finite amount of time.  Therefore, we must choose wisely the extra activities we fill our days with.

For me, watching t.v. is a total time waster.  Others may disagree, but I can always find more entertaining and constructive things to do.  It’s a great thing when you’re sick and need a diversion, though.  Yes, there are uplifting and educational programs on.  Just my personal opinion.

I’m all about being productive and having something to show for my time.  If I spend hours on end watching mind numbing t.v. shows, what do I have to show for it?  However, if I spend hours creating a quilt, for instance, what is the result?  A piece of me to hand down to my children = legacy.  And if I spend hours reading a good book, what have I gained?  I’ve further expanded my knowledge and vocabulary in the process and engaged my mind in a stimulating exercise.

As I mentioned in my What is Money? recent blog:

“You can make more money, but no matter how hard you try, you cannot create more time.”

Time is an irretrievable resource.  Once it is evaporated, it is gone forever.

It’s all about living with purpose.  It’s about asking yourself the questions, “What do I want to accomplish this month, this year, in my lifetime?”  Goal setting is an important component of living a life with purpose.

“If we fail to plan, we plan to fail.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

Simplify is my word for 2014.  I’m throwing off every distraction and pursuing my goals.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.”- Hebrews 12:1-2

Sometimes those weights that slow us down are not necessarily sin, but perhaps they are not producing anything of value in your life.  There are many good things we can do with our time, but we must evaluate whether the timing is right, if they are hindrances rather than benefits, and if there is lasting value in our choice.

Just as our vehicles require maintenance and evaluation periodically, so do our lives.  An assessment of how we spend our precious time is necessary in order to live your life with purpose.

What is slowing you down?  What is distracting you?  I don’t watch football, but I’ve endured enough games with my husband to know the classic scene:  Picture the running back sprinting down the field, running through opposition at every turn, and, despite all odds, makes the winning touchdown!  Sometimes that’s what our lives feel like, don’t they?  We’re hit with so many issues and situations, and somehow we keep going.  We can only do so if we keep our sights on the goal, though.  What’s your goal?  What are you going to do to make that happen?

Time for a fresh start!  New beginnings.  New mindset to keep focused on what’s really important.  Because at the end of the day, we’re all given a set amount of time.  What will you do with this precious gift?

 

 

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