Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Wrapping it Up

I continue to finish up Hebrews this week with my goal of starting a new book in January.  I have learned a great deal from the slow study of this book.  My goal for this week is to re-read all of my Hebrews posts and get a good overview of what God has shown me. 

My other goals are to figure out what book to move on to next and what my 'resolutions' will be for the new year as well.  God has put many different things on my heart and I am praying about which ones to pick, as there are so many I know I need to pick a few and really concentrate on those.  If I try to go at them all, I am sure to fail.

Currently the list to choose from includes: More time in prayer, memorizing scripture, continuing on with a focus on thankfulness, learning more about discipline, organizing almost every aspect of my life a little more efficiently, devotions with my kids, better consistency in quiet times, doing a study that focuses on encouraging my husband more, studying more about praising God, and I am sure there are others that He has put on my heart that I am forgetting to list.

These are all things that have come to mind in the last few weeks as I am thought and prayed about how to better myself as a Christian in the upcoming year.  Last year I tried to focus on a word, but I don't think I gave myself enough direction with it, as I piddled out on thinking about it after a few months.

So, I have some praying to do to figure it all out.  Any suggestions?  What are your plans for growing in your walk with Him for the upcoming year?

Just so I have a note of it, I did learn something new in my Hebrews reading again yesterday.  Sometimes I think I have never really read this book, even though I know I have.  There just must be some things I skimmed over too fast to really let it sink in, or God just chose not to open my eyes to it the past times I have read it.

In verses 11-14 of Chapter 13 it talks about how Jesus was crucified outside the city gates of Jerusalem.  Now, this I knew, but had never made the connection of the fact that sacrificial animals from the old covenant were burned outside the camp of Israel as well.  Another link.  The removal of the dead bodies of the sacrificed animals represented a removal of their sin, thus Jesus being taken from the city of Jerusalem signifies the removal of our sins as well.  We are to go to Him outside the camp "bearing the disgrace He bore." (v 13). 

Oh, how I love meeting Jesus wherever He is and wherever I am, knowing that He will make me clean again and accept me for who I am as long as I am seeking Him.

Lord, lead me.  I have so many hopes and desires, but I know that I cannot handle them all at once.  Growth  takes time and consistency.  I know myself well enough to know that if I try to tackle too many things at once, I will grow weary and lazy with all of them.  Show me how you want me to grow with you and with my family in the upcoming year.  Where should my focus of growing in you lie?  Thank you for leading me through Hebrews and the things you have taught me.  Thank you for bearing my disgrace and carrying away my sins.  There are not enough words given to us to express the thanks you deserve for this. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The 'List'

Oh that lovely word that loves to haunt me.  Contentment.  I am the queen of 'never quite enough'. 

God handed me the perfect verses to read today as we are just three days away from Christmas.  The wonderful day to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior and to ask for everything we think we need.  Right.  Now. 

I love how my friend and fellow blogger put it in her post last Friday and earlier this week about Christmas making us want things we didn't think we needed last week and needing it to be 'reclaimed'. 

It is so true that Christmas has gone commercial and it is a true struggle to keep Christ at the center.  It is hard to stay content during the season of giving, because it is so hard to not look at all the new shiny things and lists and not put a few things on yours as well...even if it is just a mental one.

There is always something on my wish list.  For the last two years it has been my dream digital SLR camera.  I finally got it 2 weeks ago and I couldn't be more thrilled.  We had a few other more important things to save our pennies for first and then I got to save up for my dream camera.  Since we are big believers in paying cash for everything, I had to be patient.  But, wouldn't you believe that as soon as the thing I had been waiting for was crossed off my list, it only took me a week to add something else to it?

I love the verses I read at the beginning if Hebrews 13 today.  "Entertain strangers for you could be entertaining angels."  Perfect for the season of parties and get-togethers.  "Remember the prisoners."  I think this could be literal and figurative.  We are all kept prison by something.  A past that haunts us.  A sin we can't seem to let go.  A need we think we have.  A love one we lost but haven't let go.  "Honor your marriage."  What a great reminder during this time of year where kids and family-get-togethers can seem to take over and your spouse can easily get put on the back burner.  "Keep yourself from the love of money."  Oh, so many places to go with this one.  And "Be content with what you have."

Yep.  That one is screaming at me.  Be content with what you have.  How can I not be?  I have a beautiful family with 3 healthy (and I must say adorable) children and a devoted, hard-working  husband.  A beautiful home, fully furnished and decorated.  A car in each garage stall.  A pantry and fridge and freezer jam packed full of food.  Money in my bank account.  Drawers and closets full of clothes and shoes....the list could go on and on.  But, yet, I still have a 'list'. 

Why do I struggle so with 'I wants'?  I think God might be hinting at my word for the upcoming year.....

God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." (Duet. 31:6)  This is truly all I need to be content.

Do you have a long 'list' that seems to grow this time of year?  I challenge you to put it on paper and write this verse over the top of it.  How does that make your 'list' look now.

Contentment.  Only God can get us there.

During this Christmas season of giving and getting, Lord, help me remember you above all.  Help me remember that tiny little baby in a wooden box meant to feed barn animals.  Show me His selfless journey here on earth from one wooden structure to another.  Point me to the cross where he bore my sins and selfishness instead of my list of desires.  Put the desire in my heart to only seek you and your heart.  Help me find my contentment in you alone and the grace you have given, the best gift of all.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Sting of Discipline

I am not thinking it is very fun, this discipline stuff.  It is hard work. 

When it comes to disciplining a very curious, ornery, sassy 2-year-old it is especially hard.  I think most days God is disciplining me through the necessity to discipline her.  Especially the days that she does the same thing over and over and over.  She gets disciplined (spankings in our house) every single time the offense occurs, then an age appropriate discussion on why it was wrong and finally has to make it right.  It takes a while to get this all done and by the 3rd time she does the same thing in one day I have usually hit my boiling point.

Disciplining children takes some major parental discipline as well.  I have found God is probably feeling the same way about me that I do about my daughter every time I loose my cool with her and fail to discipline in the right way.  "Geez, Shauna, when are you going to figure this out.  Screaming at them doesn't work.  My way works.  Get back to it." 

I need to revert to Hebrews 12 every time I get tired of the whole rigmarole.  God disciplines me because I am His true child so that I may share in His holiness.  No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. v. 11

Well, by the time I have this one disciplined I would think I would be fully disciplined as well and ready for some peace. 

Once again, Shauna, run with perseverance the race marked out for you.  My race is motherhood.  Discipline is part of the course.  Fix my eyes on Him and I will make it through to righteousness and peace.

Holy Father, it seems so far away.  The day where I won't have to scold and spank a child for disobedience.  Help me endure and remind me that once the days are gone, I will long for them to be back.  Thank you for your gentle discipline on me in this area.  Each time I get close to my boiling point bring my heart back to you.  Help me be the mother you want me to be and to discipline my children in righteousness.  Thank you for your love and grace when I screw up.  Bring me closer to you through the discipline you provide.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Gets Me Every Time

OK.  So I threw my little pity party yesterday and God smacked me in the face with it today.
Hebrews 12:1-3 humbled me today.  Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

1.  Sin.  Throw off sin that is entangling me and hindering me.  I was being totally prideful.  I wanted my family to come see me.  To see what I had been doing and working so hard on.  Focusing on the fact they had not come to see me act, to see me sing completely hindered me from focusing on what I needed to when the production was over.  Him.  What had I done to further His kingdom?  Not to further what others thought of me or did for me.  Had I done all that work for His glory or my own?  Ouch.  That stings a bit. 

2.  Fix my eyes on Him.  Run the race, Shauna.  I should know this one well as I often recite this to myself while in the throws of a long run and want to give up.  How can I give up so easily on a measly little workout in comparison to what Christ did for me.  It helps me get through. 

In light of my recent selfishness I had my eyes fixed on myself and not on Him.  He endured much more than his family missing a performance he worked hard on.  He suffered on the cross. For you.  For me.  Simply, that is all there is to it. 

Do not grow weary and lose heart.  Do not cry your eyes out on a drive home because a few of your family members didn't make it to watch you in a Christmas musical that you were being prideful about.  Fix your eyes on Him.

God, you do it every time.  You smack me upside the back of my head to help me see what is keeping me from you.  Even though it hurts (a lot) sometimes, thank you.  Help me focus on what is really important.  Keep the smacks coming so that I can continue to grow and learn.  Thank you for your discipline in this way, even if it isn't always fun to learn.  I know if I don't grow weary and lose heart it will all be worth it in the end.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Practice What You Preach

The Christmas Musical is done.  It is a sigh of relief and a sadness all at the same time.  I did an entire post on it on my other blog here

I drove home from the last performance in tears.  Not because I was sad it was over or even that happy, but because I was feeling very sorry for myself.

You see, none of my family, besides my dad, came to see me.  They all had excuses and most of them pretty good ones...but it still left me feeling very unimportant.  I just kept thinking that even though they had an excuse, if they would have just tried a bit harder or planned ahead a bit more, they could have made it.  Heck, most of them didn't even apologize for not making it or even mention it, like they hadn't planned on coming in the first place.

It is really hard to put that much work into something and then have barely anyone that is close to you come see it.  Especially since I had a pretty big part this year and wanted them to see what it was all about. 

Through my tears, it hit me, "By the grace of God, I am what I am".  This is one of the main lines in the play.  I don't need my family to make me feel important or loved or valued.  I am all of these things through the love of God.  It hit me that the play I just performed spoke to me in a way I never even thought about.  I needed to practice what I had been preaching through the message of the musical.

Now, I am not saying my family didn't come because they don't love me.  But I do often fall on the bottom of the priority list in comparison to my sisters and brother (except to my dad).  It has always been this way and you would think I would get used to it.  But, truthfully, it never stops hurting.  All I can do is pray for God to remind me that He is the only one that matters.

My reading in Hebrews today helped me as well.  "These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.  God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect." (11:39-40)

My reward for my hard work won't come through my family coming to watch me use the talents God gave me or telling me what a good job I did or that they really enjoyed the show.  It will come through Him.  When I get to hear "Well done, good and faithful servant."

Thankfully, the family that I can always count on was there.  My precious husband and children and my father did come and enjoyed the show.  My in-laws and one sister-in-law and my mom's sister and her husband came as well which was great.  Why can't that be enough for me?  Why do I always want more. 

Father, help me remember in those times where I get to feeling sorry for myself that You are all that matters.  That even though some of my family may let me down, you are always there.  I praise and thank you for a wonderful, giving earthly father and supportive husband and children.  Stop me when I get in my 'pity parties' and remind me of what really matters.  Thank you for your grace and for letting me know that your grace is sufficient for me. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

By Faith

More on faith from chapter 11 in Hebrews.

I love how it goes on through the chapter with such a great theme.  By faith Noah built the ark.  By faith Abraham went where he was told and in his very old age received a child.  By faith Abraham offered his son as a sacrifice.   By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau.  By faith Jacob blessed Joseph's sons.  By faith Joseph spoke up.  By faith Moses' parents went against the Pharaoh's law.  By faith Moses returned to his people.  By faith the Isrealites passed through the Red Sea.  By faith the walls of Jericho fell.  By faith Rahab was saved. 

All these things happened because of faith in God.  And this is such a short list of all the acts of faith in the Bible. 

What can God accomplish because of faith?  Anything. 

It makes me stop and think whether or not I am keeping enough faith to be useful.  What could God accomplish because of my faith?  Most days a fair amount.  Others it would be amazing if my faith could get a pot of water on the hot stove to boil.  But, why am I not confident that my faith could accomplish such feats as listed above?

What a challenge this has given me.  Faith enough to save all species of animals from certain death.  Faith enough to save an entire Hebrew nation.  Faith enough to offer up my only son as a sacrifice.  Do I have this kind of faith?  I hope to get there. 

I think faith is always a work in progress for me, final only on the day I see Jesus face-to-face.  But how sad it would be to get there and have to say, "Well, I was planning on working on that, God.". I think I'll start working a little harder right now.

Oh, to have the faith of these people, Father.   I know it is not something that comes freely, but attained through a life of following and trusting, experiencing and praying.  I know you can accomplish great things through me if only I allow you to.  Remind me, Father, when my faith faulters that you can do great things through anything, any person and any situation.  I thank you for your amazing power to do this.  Help my faith grow.  Help me trust in you always to know you are God and you are always in control. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Oh Me of Little Faith

Yes, I know the title isn't quite correct, but that is the point.

If you are familiar with the Bible and have been reading any of my posts lately you can probably guess where I am right now:  Hebrews 11.

A few of my favorite verses rest here because they are such great reminders to me every day and in every situation of what it means to trust in God.

"Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." v. 1 and "Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." v. 6

So often I struggle with faith.  Not in the overall faith and belief in God type of faith, but in the trusting Him and giving Him complete control of every situation type of faith.  Why is it so hard to let go?  Why do I just want to do it my way and hope that God will be along for the ride?  I need to loosen the grip, better yet, release it and trust in what I do not see.  It is so easy to be a control freak, but so hard to go by faith. 

But if I do let go, Hebrews tells me that I will be pleasing Him and He will reward me.  Should that be a great motivation?  Heck, just the fact that He gave His only Son to die for my sins should be all the motivation I need, but He tells me here that He will be pleased with me and reward me.  And we aren't talking a great piece of chocolate cheesecake type of reward or a pretty plaque to hang on my wall.  We are talking heavenly reward.  I can't even imagine what chocolate will be like in heaven ;)!  Amazing.

Father, help me let go. Give me faith like a child in you.  Move me past wanting control and into trusting you and your plan completely.  You have done so many amazing things for me already and brought me through so much.  Help me remember when the hard times come or when my grip wants to tighten that it is by my faith that I please you.  It is in the depths of my heart that I trust you and can always count on you.  Give me the assurance that I know comes from you, in trusting that your plan will prevail.  Maybe not on my terms or how I might have hoped for, but always for the best.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Too Much Church and Not Enough Christ

I think the hardest person to bring to salvation is the one who thinks they know what is going on, but is missing the main point.  I was raised this way.  In a church that taught about Jesus and went through all the practices and said all the right things, but was totally missing the part where it takes Jesus changing your heart for it to really count.  You went to church and said all the prayers you had memorized because it was expected of you and because if you didn't people might talk.  But there was no heart in it at all.

"If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgement and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God."  Hebrews 10:26

This verse makes me think of that kind of "Christian".  They do the things they are supposed to, like attend church and help in all the pot lucks held there.  They know The Lord's Prayer and the Apostle's Creed by heart.  Heck, they might even be able to tell you a couple Bible verses.  But knowing Christ has not changed their life.  They keep on keepin' on in the same way everyone around them does and church and God are just Sunday things.

Heaven knows I know way too many people that fall into this category and it pains my heart to think that because they know the truth about Jesus, but have not changed their lives for Him, that they will face the fearful expectation of judgment. 

Problem is, if you try to tell them that they are missing something, they just don't get it.  They know the stories, they were raised in church.  They are good to go.  Even more so, they may get defensive if you suggest that they truly are missing it. 

How do we reach these people?  How do we let them know that there is so much more?  The only answer I have come up with so far:  prayer.  No reasoning or arguing is going to work.  We just have to pray that the light will come on someday.  That it will make sense somehow.  We have to be the example of what it is to truly live our lives for Jesus with Him in our hearts instead of just the knowledge of Him in our heads.  We have to hope that by our example and prayer God will change their hearts and open them up for the real relationship with Christ.

Disclaimer before I offend someone: I am not saying that everyone who attends a church where things are often repeated and recited/says The Lord's Prayer and Apostle's Creed does not have Christ in their hearts and/or have a great relationship with Him.  I would not make this generalization.  I know there are many who attend these churches and have made the decision to follow Christ in their hearts.  Sadly, I just know too many people who fall in the other category and thus pray for them feverishly.

Father, I pray today nothing for myself, but for those I love with all my heart to find you with all of theirs.  Help me, by your power, to be an example for them of what it is to truly give my life to you.  I know I often fall in the category of just wanting to go with the flow and not stand out, but I need to stand out and up for you.  Help my witnessing not be offensive or prideful but only a reflection of you.  Bring their hearts to you and open their eyes so that they may live with you forever in heaven and not have to fear the day of judgment.  Remind me to daily pray for them and their salvation and thank you so very much for mine.

Friday, November 11, 2011


We live in a competitive world.  I have not overcome this.  Working on it, but not there yet.  I am totally one to get snared up in "keeping up with the Jones'".  I want to do better than others, I want my kids to be better than others. I want to win. 

Really?  What am I doing to myself?  Not anything good that is for sure.  It is so hard to remember that all this junk doesn't matter.  I don't belong here and I don't need to win anything here.  I have already won the battle that counts.  I know where I am going to end up.

Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.  Hebrews 10:24  Definitely not, "Let us consider how we may do better than one another and make every deed a competition."  I need to be encouraging others who are doing well, not trying to figure out how I can do better or even just catch up.  That is just plain exhausting and gets me nowhere on the road to glory.

...let us encourage one another ... Heb. 10:25 It truly feels good to encourage another person, even if they are better than you at something.  This is one I need to pin on my forehead and remind me to encourage or congratulate or spur on next time I feel the ugly green monster of envy or jealousy or just my plain competitive spirit edging it's way out.

Father, once again, I thank you for the positive reminder of your word and how easy it is to apply it to my life.  Thank you for the reminder that I don't need to do or be or have anything better.  I have you, your Son and the Holy Spirit, so I have it made.  Help me remember this everytime I want to keep up or do better.  Plant the seed of encouragement in my heart, even for those I struggle with.   Give me your words and love for them in all situations. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Forgiveness of a Child

I have been continuing in Hebrews still, making it all the way through chapter 9.  God has really been revealing some things to me that I haven't really ever thought much about before or connected. 

One of the things I noticed in a different light was the necessity of blood for the forgiveness of sins.  Now, yes, I did realize that it was Jesus' blood that makes me clean and forgives my sins and I have also read through the Old Testament a few times and know the significance of their sacrifices and the blood spattering and smearing and all that gross, stinky stuff.  But, I had never, for some odd reason, put much significance in the fact that it was the offering of the blood of these sacrifices that they used to ask forgiveness.  I call it my light bulb moment. 

My light bulb moment today (well, actually, it came from yesterday and today): forgiveness.  Hebrews 10:1-10 talks about how Christ's blood was our forgiveness, once for all.  No more blood needed ever again.  Yesterday, I saw a glimpse of how easily God forgives us through the innocence and love of my 2-year-old daughter.

It had been one of those days,  a three potty-training accidents before 10 a.m., cell phone fell in the toilet, constant discipline issues, three babies screaming at me at once, printer won't work, woke up at 5:30 a.m. type of day.  At 11:30, when my hopes of stopping by the post office before I picked up my 3-year-old from preschool had fallen through due to very frustrating printer issues, three children were all literally bawling and screaming at me, and my 2-year-old was messing with my computer again after just being disciplined for it 20 minutes earlier, I lost it.  I totally lost it.  I screamed right back at my little girl.  "DON'T TOUCH MOMMY'S COMPUTER!"

I was livid.  I just couldn't take any more.  She had already received 6 or more spankings that morning for blatant disobedience, and I was at the end of my patience rope, I was just done.  I yelled so loud it scared all of the kids and they screamed even louder.  I, then, escaped to my garage to strap in car seats so we could pick up Miss Firecracker, came back and got all the children and strapped them in the car seats.  Low and behold, Miss Thumb Sucker had wet her pants, accident #4 for the morning, and we were already running late.  I strapped her in anyway.  I didn't have time.  And of course scolded her again for not using the potty. 

Anyway, the point of this long-terrible-mommy-day story is that only 2 minutes into the car ride, still intermittently sobbing from having her mommy scream at her, my little girl cheerily said something about picking up Miss Firecracker and going home for lunch.  I don't even really remember what it was.  I just remember her tone was happy.  She had already forgotten all the yelling and was moving on, while I was still churning from the morning.  I was still mad.  She had already forgiven me, and I hadn't even apologized yet. 

Why is it so hard for us to forgive and forget when we expect it from God?  Christ died, once for all and God forgives.  Instantly.  As soon as we ask for it, it is done.  Why is it so hard for me to do the same?  My little girl opened my eyes to how Satan was working in my heart that day.  He was reeling in my head reminding me of all the awful things that had happened that morning and keeping them there.  And by not forgiving and moving on, they just kept piling up and getting worse.  If I had focused on God and forgiveness my day would not have seemed near as terrible. 

So, by the time we got back home I had finally cooled off, squeezed my baby girl and told her that mommy was very sorry for losing her temper and yelling.  She squeezed back and gave me a kiss.  All taken care of.  Now, hopefully, I can learn from this and not have it happen again. 

Father, I failed.  I lost it.  I try so hard to do it the right way, to follow in your loving and forgiving footsteps, but I screw up.  Over and over again, I screw up.  I am so grateful that you give me forgiveness every single time.  That Christ's blood covers it all and I just have to try to do better next time.  Thank you for the chance to pick up and move on.   Thank you for my children's loving and forgiving spirits.  Help me hide your Word, love and forgiveness in my heart so that Satan does not have room to harbor vengeance in it as well.  Help me overpower him though your love.  Help me see the bigger picture, that potty accidents and phones and computers don't really matter, but the little girl does.  Forgive me, Father and help me have the strength to do it right next time.

Friday, November 4, 2011

True Tabernacle

Once again drowning in things I am finding a bit over my head, but through the grace of God and knowledge of the Holy Spirit I am starting to tread some water.

Moving on from Melchizedek, I am finding, in Hebrews 8, more on the covenants.  The entire chapter 8 is devoted to edifying the new covenant much better than the old.  I love how it says in verses 7-8 "For if there had been nothing wrong with the first covenant, no place would have been sought for another.  But God found a fault with the people and said,..."  Then it goes on to quote Jeremiah 31:31-34, the prophetic announcement of the new covenant to come. 

God's covenant wasn't flawed, we were, and still are.  So, He had to make a way out for us that didn't depend much on us and our actions.  Only one true decision.  To follow Christ.

This is a picture of what the tabernacle built by Moses might have looked like
OK, so onto why I titled this "True Tabernacle".  One main thing that stuck out to me this week while reading chapter 8 was the very beginning where it talks about Moses building the tabernacle.  I usually always get bored while reading all the descriptions of measurements and placements of what goes where and how big it is supposed to be and what it is supposed to be made out of, when they are reciting the buildings to be erected in the Old Testament.  But this caught my attention.  It says in verse 5 that Moses was given these exact instructions because it was to be a shadow of the one in heaven. 

How have I missed that before?  I had no idea that is why God was so specific about all of his instructions.  How cool is that?  A total glimpse of what is to come.  Now, of course, as stated in these verses as well, Moses' version was imperfect and temporary, and really there is no earthly way to duplicate something we will experience in heaven.  But, now I get it a little better and might try to read through it all to comprehend. 

Well, I hope my totally new insight (yes, I realize I am a bit slow and probably should have known this a long time ago, but that's just me.  I miss things like this often.), helped you in some way as well.

Father, as you reveal more to me about your Word, I pray you will continue to keep me hungered for more.  Thank you for showing me your insights and giving me a possible glimpse of what is to come.  Again, I beg of your forgiveness as I am a sinful being, but thank you for your new covenant for me in Jesus.  Thank you that I can go into your presence in the inner sanctuary of your tabernacle through His blood.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Priests and The Law

OK, so for the past couple of days I have been reading in Hebrews about the priesthood and the Aaronic/Levitical line and the line of Melchizedek.  I must admit I was totally lost without the sub notes in my Study Bible. 

At first glance of the section titles I thought, "Seriously, what am I going to get from this priest stuff, Lord?"  And even after a few readings and a couple of days I still am not completely sure.  But, at least now I am starting to figure it out a bit and gleaning some bit of wisdom out of it so that I can feel good about moving on.

The Mosaic law, of course, was tragically flawed.  Not by God, but in the fact that there is no way any of us flawed human beings ever could have followed it well enough to be forgiven.  My sub notes say "The law is holy and good (Rom 7:12) but it is not able to make right those who sin by breaking it, nor can it give the power necessary to fulfill its demands.  How true that is.

So, no one from the line of Aaron could fulfill God's promise in completing his oath.  Thus, one from the line of Melchizedek did, and that, of course, is Jesus.

I am not sure if I have still made complete sense out of it, but I do get the fact that I am very thankful to be under the new covenant instead of the old one.  Only Jesus can get us there.  He is the new covenant.  He can make us right after we sin.

The other thing I love about the new covenant is the ability to approach God on my own.  I can go straight to Him and not have to pass through any priest to confess my sins, bear my soul and beg forgiveness.  He is right there.  Always. 

Lord, I am speechless at your love.  You have given me the easy way out.  While this life may not always be easy and choices may not always be easy, you have provided me with an easy button.  Your Son.  I am so thankful for that.  So thankful for your new covenant with me and anyone else who will accept you in his/her heart.  As I keep reading in this section, help me to see what you would have me learn.  Open my eyes to your Word and love.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

God's Promises

This is yesterday's post I didn't get finished until now...
Numbers 23:19: God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?

God's promises are all throughout the Bible.  We find them from the first promise of offspring to Moses, to the promise land to promising His return.  It is so good to know we can always count on something.  God, never lies, He never lets us down and He is always there. 

Why do I always seem to forget this?  Why, when things aren't going my way, do I think God is working against me?

OK, so I know the following story isn't a life-altering, majorly dramatic life event, but it is so often times the little things that trip me up more than the big ones.  Maybe that is because, while I have had my fair share of 'events',  I haven't had a ton of big ones to deal with.  Of which I am very thankful.

Anyway, just earlier today, I pulled the whole, "Why, God?" thing.  I had just gotten all four children in my house asleep.  It had been one of those mornings, followed by an even worse night.  I had gone to bed at 9:15 with a horrid migraine, got woken up (to find out I still had a bad headache) at 2 a.m. by my son with growing pains and the alarm went off way too early.  That morning had consisted of rushing the kids out the door to the bus and realizing they hadn't brushed their teeth, a toddler screaming at me most of the morning, a fussy baby and a defiant almost two-year-old who required 4 spankings before 11 a.m.  So, at 1:15 when I finally got all of them laid down I was ready to curl up on the couch with a blanket and my Bible, read and hopefully fall asleep myself.  God had another plan that I didn't appreciate at that moment.  The baby woke up literally as soon as I plumped my rump down on the couch.  Ahhhhh!

Now, I don't know if I specifically gained anything from that moment, but I did as God, "Why?"  Why can't I just get a little rest.  I was going to spend time with you.  Why would you interrupt that? 

Then, guess what I read later, after I got the baby settle down enough to play on his own so I could read.  Yep.  God's promises.  Which in turn remind me that He is the only One who will never let me down.  I need to find rest in His promise of eternal rest and seek to find what He has to teach me in finding strength in Him rather than on my own. 

I think this kind of goes back to I'll Sleep When I'm Dead as well.  Wasn't it one of God's promises? 

Heb. 6:18-19a God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us my be greatly encouraged.  We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. 

God, remind me to trust in your promises and not my selfish desires.  Thank you that you never change, you never lie and your promises are always completed in your own time.  Help me to have complete faith in your plan for even the little things in my life, like naps. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

God Remembers

In today's day and age it is so easy to get caught up in recognition.  It is so tempting to 'toot your own horn' or want others to praise you for your efforts.  Heck, it is nice to be acknowledged for what you have done.  And, really, there isn't anything wrong with it.

The 'wrong' part comes when you do it only for the recognition, for the horn tooting and when you fail to acknowledge God's hand in what has been done.

Hebrews 6:10 tells us that God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.  This is such a great verse to hide in your heart for all those times you feel like your work has gone without thanks.  This is especially a great verse for mothers to keep on hand.  It is very rare that the thank yous are handed out to moms sufficiently. 

Yet, when I stop and think about this even more, I stop myself.  Why should God have to thank me?  Why should He have to reward or recognize the work I have done?  I don't deserve any thanks or rewards compared to what He has done for me.  So, on days where I feel like all the work I do is in vain, I need to stop and think about all the work He does that goes unrecognized, un-thanked and definitely unrewarded by our thoughts, words and deeds. 

But it is so nice to know that we do not labor in vain.  God does know everything we do for His glory and He will thank us for it someday.  So, We do not want to become lazy; but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. (Heb. 6:12)

Father, please forgive me when I whine about being an unappreciated mother, friend or worker.  Help me to see that I do not do the work for my glory, but for yours; that I need to stop and thank you for your work in every situation instead of wanting the thanks myself.  Thank you that you do see my work and that I can know you will reward me for it someday, even so undeservedly.  Help me to keep up the good work for you and not grow lazy.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Little Bit Slow

Oh how often do I feel like I need to be 'held back a grade' when it comes to studying God's Word.  So many times I could feel like the author of Hebrews is talking to me when he says, "it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn." in 5:11. 

By this time, I should be a teacher, but still so often need someone to teach me the elementary truths of God's Word all over again.  Why does it take so long to sink in?  Why do I sit and read and feel like it all just flew right over my head?  Is it just a waste of my time?

All these questions usually plague me down, but I have found that the old adage really is true.  (Funny how all of those old adages that stick around for all that time really do seem to be true.)  Practice makes perfect.  Now, I will never be perfect this side of heaven, but filling myself with the Word of God every day can help me understand His perfect Son and how He lived and how I can try to model my life like His.

Thankfully, I have found that practice does make perfect, even when it comes to reading my Bible and letting the Holy Spirit teach me the elementary truths of God's Word.  I have found the more time I spend in it, the more time I pray about it and the more time I take to sit and process it, the more I learn and understand what God and the Holy Spirit are trying to teach me.  I have fewer and fewer days where I feel like the words I just read flew right over my head with every time I take the chance to read and study His word.

I must also confess that another great resource for me in learning how to more effectively study the Bible on my own was the book A Modern Girls Guide to Bible Study by Jen Hatmaker.  This hilarious author offers up real truths and practical ways of learning how to get more from your time in the Bible.  I highly recommend it!

Father, please forgive me for being so slow.  As long as I have known you, I should be a teacher of your truths, but so often I feel like I am still an infant.  Help me to learn all that I can from my time with you and also to be able to retain it so that I can use it in the future.  Your Word is so good for me and my life, again, help me desire to be in it each and every day.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Obedience Through Suffering

It is learning the hard way.  If it hurts enough, you'll know better than to do it again.  Just like discipline.  Learning obedience through suffering, I guess, is discipline.  Although, in this passage of Hebrews the author speaks of Jesus' obedience and suffering, and Jesus never had to be disciplined for His sin, but took a terrible suffering for ours.

Obedience through suffering.  It is how God teaches.  Where Jesus faces the same temptations that we do, he prevailed, but I seem to fail over and over and God instructs and disciplines me through it.  It may be something small, the equivalent to a little smack on the hand and it may be much bigger.  We all need to learn, to be disciplined.  If only I learned a little bit quicker.  If only once were enough.  It is just so easy to give in and deal with the rest later.  That is, until later comes and you're stuck dealing with it even if 'it' is just a heavy conscience for knowing you were wrong.

That is where time with God helps.  You come to recognize what He is telling you a bit easier.  Those Bible verses you read last week pop into your head and give you the wisdom you need to out-smart the situation, or maybe just make the smart decision.  Oh, how often all it comes down to is spending time with Him.  What an easy answer, but why do I have to make it so hard?

Father, I thank you that you discipline me to teach me your ways.  I pray that I would listen to your Word and thirst for it every day so that I learn obedience.  Help me see how stubborn I can be and trust in the fact that you always know best and have a plan in place to prosper me.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Confidence defines confidence as full trust; belief in the powers, trustworthiness, or reliability of a person or thing.  Confidence is something I am fairly fickle about.  It totally depends on the group of people I am with or in and the role I am playing.

Put me in a room a people in a formal setting and tell me to lead and my confidence is under the table.  Put me in a small group of good friends and my confidence is just great. 

Put me singing alone in front of people and my confidence is shaking along with my voice.  Put me singing in a role as a character and my confidence is at a fairly decent level and steady. 

Put me in a group of people I feel pretty even-keeled with and my confidence is normal.  Put me in a group that I really want to fit into or of girls that I think are 'way more cool' than I am and my confidence is totally fake.

As you can see confidence is only mine when I am totally comfortable with the situation.  So, when the author of Hebrews tells us in 4:16 to approach the throne of grace with confidence it makes me wonder.

Approaching a throne is not something that I see as an easy and comfortable task.  Yet, as it says, we approach the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.  Such a throne should be comfortable to approach.

It made me stop and think about how confident I am, not only in myself, but in Jesus.  Sadly, I would have to admit that this confidence waivers upon the group of people and situation I am in as well.  Geesh!  This is pretty convicting. 

The first thing that comes to my mind is a great night I had out with some girlfriends recently.  We went to a great restaurant for a friend's birthday and just before we ate, God really put it on my heart to say grace.  This is something I have been trying to do better with (praying before all my meals), whether at home on my counter, sitting with my family at the table, at a fast food restaurant or nice sit down joint.  Anyway, I digress. 

The thought was sent to me and I sat and debated for a couple of seconds whether to just do it quietly to myself or offer to pray for the group.  Now, this was a group of friends who were all Christians so it was not a huge deal.  I can promise you if I would have had this thought with another group of friends, I would have squished it as soon as it fluttered through my head.  Sad, I know.  Thankfully, God gave me the confidence and the words to pray for all of us and we had a wonderful meal and evening.

So, God has now placed it on my heart to be better in my confidence in Him in all situations, and when the confidence isn't feeling to strong, to come to Him in full confidence and ask Him to grant it to me. 

Father, I know how fickle I can be.  I waiver back and forth in so many things when it comes to you.  My time with you, my prayers to you, my confidence in you.  Help me in all of these areas to remember that time and prayer with you helps me deepen my relationship with you and renews my strength.  Help me have confidence in you and through you in all situations.  Jeremiah 17:7 “But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him."

Friday, October 14, 2011

Into the Depths

"The Word of God is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."  Hebrews 4:12

I love this verse.  It is such a good one to counteract those that believe God's Word is outdated.  They think that so many principles of the Bible don't apply to them anymore because it was such another place and time. 

Hello?  Ever read the Old Testament?  I stop and think of how corrupted this world is today.  Sex isn't something held in high regard for husband and wife, it is a form of entertainment.  Violence is unbelievably horrid.  Families are broken.  War is among us.  The list could go on and on.  But if you read through the old testament and even some things mentioned in the New Testament, you can see that all of these things were present then as well. 

They may have been in another form and not exploited by every form of media we have today, but they were there.  God's Word is alive and applicable to all of us. 

This verse even tells us it is sharp and can penetrate to the depths of our soul.  God's Word is meant to touch our hearts.  That is what He wants it to do.  God wants us to take His Word in our hearts, have a conversation with Him and apply what He teaches us to our lives.  Today.

Do you let God's Word pierce through you and judge your thoughts?  I think in this passage a double-edged sword is meant to be a good thing.  It is meant to get through our thick skulls and tough skin and get into our hearts and minds and souls.

Father, help me apply your Word to my life today.  Get it through my tough exterior and into the softness of my soul.  Give me your wisdom through the Holy Spirit.  Grant me the use of this wisdom to share with others who might think that the gift you left us in the Bible is dead.  To show them that it is very much alive and true.  I thank you for that gift and the instructions and reassurance left in it.  Help me find peace, comfort, guidance and life-application in it daily as I seek time with you.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

I'll Sleep When I'm Dead

Oh, this saying makes me smile every time I think of it.  It is something I often hear from my husband.  I usually just chuckle at it and move on, but my reading today in Hebrews 4: 1-5 gave me an entirely different perspective on a verse my husband often teases me with.

In this passage author of Hebrews reminds us of the rest promised by God.  My Study Bible tells me the original promise of rest was a physical promise of rest given to the Isrealites under Moses and finally granted under Joshua in Canaan.  The promise of the rest was only gained through faith in God and His promise. 

Obviously, here the 'rest' referred to is eternal rest in Christ.  Again, a rest only gained through faith.  So, it seems my intelligent husband is correct once again. (I knew I married that handsome man for so many reasons!)  I will get to 'sleep' when I am dead.  Even though we might have to exchange a few words in this phrase to make it fully true.  It might be a bit more applicable if it were to say, "I will get to rest when I am in heaven." 

What a great thing to remember.  On those days where I feel like I have so much to get done that I want to skip my quiet time with God, those days where my list seems a mile long but I want nothing more than to lay my head on a pillow and not wake up until the next morning.  Reminding myself that God will give me the strength I need to make it through the day and reward me with eternal rest for my faithfulness, will surely get me through.

Isaiah 40:31 But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary.  They will walk and not be faint.

Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Father, I thank you that you grant me rest.  I thank you that I can find the strength I need to get me through those days where all I want to do is rest.  You are so good to me, God.  Your promises are always true and I can have eternal rest in you.  Help me remember that you will renew my strength if only I place my hope in you and that hope comes from spending time with you.  Remind me that it is this time with you where my strength is built up for the times I need it most.  I pray for all those that do not have your strength.  Give me the opportunity to share it with them and the good news that they too can have it themselves. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Real Fairy Tale

In my women's Bible study at my church our lesson for this week focused on Esther.  I have always loved this story.  A real-life picture of a fairy tale.  A poor orphan girl who had nothing and was changed into a princess.  Perfect.

Now this is the real princess I want my girls to adore.  Sure, all of those Disney princess stories tell good tales of a beautiful girl on a good task, but Esther was on a task for God.  She followed through for His plan.  What a woman to teach your girls to live up to. 

Esther went through some pretty scary things.  She had to hide her identity in order to survive in the castle.  She had to stand up to a man with a well-known temper.  She risked it all.  For her people and for her God. 

Why have I not found a princess story version of this?  I bet I might be able to if I tried!

Blogging Block

Well, it has been a while since I have posted anything on here.  Not for lack of trying or doing my devotions/quiet times thankfully, but for lack of thinking I had much to write about. 

What I seemed to have forgotten was that the main reason I started this little blog was to use it as a converstation/thought starter for my quiet times, not as a way to impress my entire 3 to maybe 5 readers.  I have felt lately that I haven't had anything worthwhile to put on here.  But God really put it on my heart that when I don't journal in some way shape or form, I am missing out on some great conversations with Him. 

If I merely read His Word and say my general prayers, I am really skipping the part where I think through and process what He is trying to tell me in my time with Him.  I am just simply, doing my job and moving on, but not taking the time to reflect and talk with Him about it.  He reminded me that I started doing this as a discussion with Him, not with someone who might be reading it.

I seem to think and type well at the same time.  I can type faster than I can write, so I tend to forget fewer of my thoughts and can follow them through...thus, typing a blog for a journal has worked great for me.  That is, until I let my head get in the way of my heart.  I wanted to impress a reader instead of spend my time with God.

Time to get back to the basics a great conversation with my God and the Holy Spirit.  Sorry if it isn't very impressive or entertaining to really don't have to read it if you don't want to.  Like I said, this is for me, not you.  A bit selfish maybe, but you aren't the one I am trying to please. ;)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Building a House of Spirit

Patience....once of those things that most of us struggle with and the topic of my abiding study today.  I always remember a friend's comment when it comes to praying for patience.  "If you pray for patience, God is going to give you something to teach you patience."  Thus, she never prays exactly to learn patience, due to the fact that patience is learned through experience.  Good thought.  But, God is going to teach us patience anyway, isn't He?

The fourth listed fruit of the spirit, patience is one I thought I had done pretty well at in life.  That was until my children showed up.  I have never had to pray harder for this 4th fruit in my life.  And pray I do.  Sometimes it is the only thing that gets me through some poop-on-the-floor-fell-over-the-toys-burned-the-lunch-because-I-had-to-clean-up-said-poop days (not that I have ever had this happen :). 

Hebrews 3:1-6 tells us to fix our thoughts on Jesus and that He is who builds us as well as everything.  Well, fixing my eyes on Jesus is often the only thing that keeps me from having an all out melt down where I scream at my children and lose all control.  Although I would be lying if I say this doesn't happen from time to time anyway, I know that it rarely happens when I am doing my part to fill my cup with His word and my heart with prayers and 'conversation' with Him.

So, for God to build me up and fill me with the patience most of my days require I have to remember to fill my cup with Him and His word.

What are some of the ways you do this?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Abiding in my Daily Decisions

Stopping to ask God, "Should I go down this path?" is not a strange question to most Christians.   I often ask myself this many times a year or even in a month, but how often to I stop to ask it every day?  This is the question the author of my little 'abiding' devotional posed for today. 

Yes, I am very devout in asking for God's guidance on the big things.  Wanting to abide in Him and His will for those things that will affect a long period of time or even the rest of my life.  But do I stop to ask His will for even the little things?  Is my general, 'Guide me in my day today, Lord.  Help me follow your will," type of prayer every morning cover enough for stopping to ask Him before making a daily decision?

For example, this morning I decided to make a quick trip up to Lincoln to do a little shopping.  Totally an unnecessary move, but I didn't have anything else pressing on my schedule (shock and awe, I know), so it was a whim I decided to go with. 

However, I knew it was going to be quick since I had to be back in time to pick up my middle daughter from preschool.  Had I really stopped to pray about it and ask God, I am not sure I would have gone.  It was just a 'lets find some cute fall clothes' type of trip because I got an email that one of my favorite kids' clothing stores was having a sale and I had a coupon for that store as well.  But, I was rushed, I didn't get to really enjoy my time and I got short with  my youngest when she wasn't cooperating when it was time to go.

Yep, not the greatest of decisions on my part.  Like I said, I probably should have thought to pray about it when the idea popped into my head.  But, honestly, I didn't and don't often stop to think, "What does God have to say about this quick little trip that will only affect my morning?" 

So, I am thankful for this little snippet of reading I had this afternoon to remind me that, yes, God wants me to follow in His will even in the little things as simple as a quick shopping trip. 

What else have I been missing?  It will be an adventure to find out.  I am going to try hard to remember to pray, and stop to wait (one of the big keys to seeking God's guidance) for where I believe He is leading me?

Do you have any good tips on remembering to do this and how you hear His 'answer'?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Changing it up, again.

Well, I got a good start in Hebrews, and I do plan to continue in there, but I also just started a little devotional book with my wonderful friend and mentor.  So, I may be changing it up depending on which I decide to blog on that day.

Yesterday, I didn't blog, but I really enjoyed what I read in my devotional book "Becoming a Woman Who Walks with God" by Cynthia Heald.  It is all on abiding in Christ... don't worry I looked up 'abide' in the dictionary.  It means to remain or stay with.

What a calling.  Remain with Christ.  If we all just remained in Him all day everyday.  Kept Him at the forefront of our thoughts, decisions, reactions and deeds each and everyday, how would that change our lives.  So often, 'abide' is another one of those 'Biblical' words that you just skip over.  One of those that you are supposed to know about, but never really stop to think much about how it really effects your life. 

Not so surprisingly, the first day devotion was titled "The Security of Abiding".   So true.  If you stay with Christ always, He provides security.  Life Insurance, if you please.  :)  She gave a great analogy of abiding in that a vine has to be attached to the branch to stay alive.  If it just exists next to the branch but not totally attached, it will gain nothing and will die.  Oh, how true this is.  We can go to church, do good things, live a good life, be next to all that great stuff, but if our lives aren't completely connected to it, if our hearts aren't totally sold out to Christ, completely attached to Him?  Toast.  Makes you stop and think, doesn't it?

Where are you abiding in Christ?  Next to Him?  Snuggled up close?  or Completely attached gaining all the wisdom, knowledge and nutrients needed to gain the everlasting 'life insurance'?

Today's devotion totally hit home after a couple of weeks ago totally feeling that funk.  "Choosing to Abide".  It starts with the story of Mary and Martha. Yep the one where Martha is working, feeling unhelped and unappreciated and Mary is sitting with Jesus, soaking it all in.

I am a Martha, definitely not Martha Stewart (who I think was appropriately named btw), but a doer.  I am all about hosting and entertaining and all that fun stuff.  But I will admit, my attitude can totally be like hers as well.  "Why isn't anyone helping me?"  "I hope they appreciate all the work I went through for this."  Rather than easily preparing for my guests and enjoying their company.  Oh, how I would have hated to be that way if I had been given the opportunity to be the hostess of Jesus. 

But I am given the chance every day, to host Him in my heart.  To host a small amount of my day for just Him and me.  To enjoy His company.  But, oh so often, I get busy.  Too many things on my "To Do" list and the quiet time with Him gets pushed to the side.  This chapter is such a great reminder to not "eat haphazardly from His table and only give Him the leftovers" but to make Him the main course guest of honor each and every day. 

I leave you with this quote she included for the day.  ""Mary has chosen which is better...." He brings His point gently home.  Fellowship with Him is a matter of priorities.  And a matter of choice.  It is the better part of the meal life has to offer.  In fact, it is the main course."  Ken Gire

Friday, September 9, 2011

Another Brother

I, again, read and re-read my section of scripture today for my quiet time.  Once again, upon finishing going "what the heck did that say?" in my head.  So, I got out another translation to see if that would help me out any more.  Sadly, not really. 

Ugh.  I hate days like this.  When you just feel too dumb to really understand what God is trying to tell you.  Like the Bible was written on a totally different level than where you are.  But I know that this is not what God intends at all.  He is a real and personal God and His Word is meant for all of us.  Why do I have to remind myself of that so often?

So, I stopped, again, prayed for some understanding, and read it over, again and again.  Actually, a total of five times and the subtext in my Study Bible before a light finally came on.

No huge revelations or anything very deep, but what I did gather from my reading today (Hebrews 2:10-13) were two simple things that I have kind of always known but never really thought about their significance all that much.

1) Christ's ability to identify with us was made perfect (or complete) in his suffering endured on the cross.  Christ lived a sinless life, but was not void of ridicule, hardships or sadness while on the earth.  He was able to identify with us on this level, but through His torture and death on the cross He became able to truly identify and empathize with us on a physical level I hope I never have to endure.  Oh, does that make me ever so thankful for the sacrifice He completely is.  Christ entirely understands it all because He lived it.  Amazing.

2) Through my cleansing of His blood, Christ is not ashamed to call me His sister.  What a compliment this is.  Heck, I know there are times where my own flesh and blood siblings would like to disown me as their sister (OK probably not seriously, but you know what I mean), but Christ, who lived a blameless life, is not ashamed of me.  And, frankly, He knows a heck of a lot more about me than my siblings.  What an honor it is to love the same Father and be His sister.

Phew, dumb moment gone.  Thank you, Holy Spirit, for speaking to me today and reminding me that God knows exactly what I need to hear and read and understand.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

In Charge

Jeff and I just watched "The Adjustment Bureau" last night.  It is amazing how God's timing works.  If you have never seen this movie, it is about a politician and a dancer who meet briefly and have an immediate connection.  The rest of the movie is all about The Adjustment Bureau trying to keep them from ever seeing each other again.  For a while I kind of thought it was a movie with a message, but they were very careful not to make it direct. 

Anyway, the Bureau could be seen as angels and their "chairman" as God.  They made reference often to "The Plan" and the fact that humans have no control over it.  Anyway, the politician finds out about the Bureau and tries to find ways to alter "the plan" so that he can be with the dancer.  I won't ruin the movie for you, but at the end there is a voice-over of the politician saying we have more control over "the plan" than we think.  At that moment I heard a big crash in my head and the could-have-been-an-awesome-message-movie totally blew up in my face.  Still a decent and mostly clean flick.

Truth is, we have no control over God's plan for our life.  We are along for the ride, abiding in faith and trying to do His will, hopefully.  This is His plan.  Oh so often we get in the way and try to push our way to the forefront.  Only to find out that His plan is always best, even if it involves a little heartache or tears along the way.

So, what does this have to do with my quiet time today?  My reading today quoted Psalm 8:4-6, "What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?  You made him a little lower than angels, you crowned him with glory and honor, and put everything under his feet." 

What are we that He has to care for us?  He doesn't need us in any way, shape or form.  Yet, He loves us.  He has our best interest in His heart and His plan is the best thing for us.  It is so awesome that He does this for us.  Because, truthfully, He doesn't owe us anything.  How thankful are you that He is an awesome and loving God and we are so well taken care of by Him?

The other thing that kind of made the corner of my lips turn up about this reading was that everything else was under our feet.  We may not be in charge of our own plans, but God has given us a great responsibility in the care of everything else on this earth.  What a calling this verse is to take that responsibility to heart and make sure you are doing a good job. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Gaining Momentum

Well, I haven't quite gotten to the point yet where I am just waiting for my quiet times to come everyday just yet, but I am getting there.  I am not avoiding them or just down right forgetting them.  I'm on an upward slide.  Yesterday I really was ready to sit down for my quiet time, but never got it due to a few screaming and crabby children.  So, today I am quite thankful for some peace and quiet.

I am having a good time in Hebrews.  Over the weekend I got in a couple readings and finished out the first chapter.  Reading about how Jesus is higher than the angels.

Today, I am heeded to "Pay Attention!"  I had to read the passage and do some praying for the Holy Spirit to really show me something about this one, but after this thought and prayer time it started to come together.

Vs. 2 and 3 say, "For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?"  How shall we escape?  We don't.  Simple as that.  If we do not pay attention to the message of salvation, to the blood on the cross, we must pay the punishment for our sins.

Have you ever stopped to think about what the punishment should be for your sins, each and every single one of them?  No?  Well, the Bible tells us it is death.  That keeps it pretty simple, doesn't it?  Big sins, little sins, sins other people know about, sins you keep to yourself.  Yep, all the same.  Death. 

Might seem a little steep to some, but when you really stop to think about it He has made it so simple for us to get out of it.  You must stop to pay attention to that simple little thing.  That selfless act of love given to us on the cross saves us from having to answer for every little slip of the tongue, every impure thought, every selfish indulgence, every prideful slip.  Every. Single. Sin.  That's it.  Plain and simple. 

So, please.  Pay Attention!  Listen to the message of the cross.  Your price has been paid, you just have to cash in on it!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Diving In

Well, since I finished the gratitude study, I must move on.  I could start back up with where I left off in Acts earlier, but just didn't feel God leading me that way.  So, as I thumbed through my Bible praying about where to stop and read I felt a little drawn towards Hebrews.

Why?  I am not quite sure, but I am guessing I am sure to find out!  Don't you just love that.  You can feel some kind of nudge to make a certain decision but have no clue why.  It will be a wonderful little adventure to see what God has in store for me in this book.  It is one I have never really looked at all that closely before so I am hoping to dive in and come up with a treasure.  After all, its God's Word.  How can I not find some jewels?!?!

So, I just dove in.  Reading vs. 1-4 of chapter one.  This little section is so poetically written, I can't wait to read on.  I love how it gives a beautiful picture of God's radiance, like that of the sun.  And the truth that Jesus, His Son, is one and the same with God's radiance is a brilliant capture as well. 

This first part of the chapter eludes to some great learning about the significance of Jesus being a part of God and higher than the angels.  I can't learn to dive in a little deeper.  For now, I am needing a bit of prayer time, thinking and basking in His radiance.  We'll see where I get tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"Grattitudinal" Goals

So, yesterday was the end of my 30 day gratitude devotion.  However, due to my recent "funk" I am a little behind and just finished it today. 

For our final day in the devotions the author implores us to be specific in our goals.  Not just, "I want to write more thank you notes." or "I will thank my husband and children more often."  But real and measurable goals.  I have learned this is a must in the physical fitness world.  As a fitness coach at our local YMCA (don't let the title impress you, I just help people learn how to use the equipment and set up a plan for exercising) I have learned that, "I just want to get into better shape," doesn't get one very far.  Goals such as these need to be as detailed as possible. 

My thankfulness goal?  Express 'Thank You," to at least 3 people every day.  This shouldn't be too hard since I have 4 others living in my home and an awesome God I purpose to talk to each and every day.  But, I won't stop at just thanking them to take the easy way out. 

The two main things I discovered while doing this devotion are the facts that 1) being ungrateful is a serious sin of pride and 2) I fail to thank certain people because I feel like that is admitting they are better than I am (another issue revolving around pride).

Before completing this study, I never really considered myself a prideful person, but, wow, did God have a lesson in store for me.  Every time I whine, complain or just am plain not thankful, I am telling everyone and God that I think I deserve better.  Geesh!  I don't deserve anything but the fiery pits of hell, but am so eternally thankful that Christ saved me from that.  That is what I need to remember every time I want to whine about having things a bit rough.

And this thing about not thanking others....Yikes!  It totally brought to my attention that I have a very big pride issue with some people.  I withhold thanks to them because it would be admitting that I needed their help and that would make it seem like they are better than me.  Talk about pride.  What a smack in the face.  I am going to purpose to thank people no matter who they are, what they have done for me, or how it makes me feel.  I will give thanks where thanks are due.

So, starting today I need to keep track of my three thanks.  I put 2 thank you notes in the mailbox and have one more thank you to give out by the end of the day.

Let Thankfulness be the Habit of your Life.  (Thank you to my awesome mentor and friend for the beautiful gift and reminder).

Monday, August 29, 2011

Get Up Out of that Funk

It has been a while.  Sadly, I can't say I have been consistent with my readings and quiet times and I know I am suffering from it.  Why do I go through times like these?  A funk.  A time where I get everything else done but my time with God.  (OK, maybe not everything else, but you get my idea.)

I just haven't had the desire for it lately.  Does that make me a bad Christian?  That is how I feel when I skip it, or even just get so busy that I plain out forget it.  I know it is just Satan working in my life, trying to keep me separated from my time with my Lord.  Satan is good at what he does, that is for sure.  It seems to work every time. But I know my God is so much better.  I have got to get out of this funk. 

So, I get back in the saddle.  More feeling like I have to than I want to, but I know the 'have' will turn into a 'want' once I get back into the closeness that I need.  Once I get my head and heart in the right place again.  Once I get the Word back in me.

I do it all too often, and I really wish I didn't.  It is a hard thing to admit, especially here on 'blog world' where anyone can see it.  But, that is me.  That is real.

So, pray for me.  Pray that I would get out of this funk.  That Satan would get out of my head, telling me that other things are more important or more fun.  Pray that my time with God would be fruitful.  I'll pray for you too.  I hope you don't get in these "funks".  Or, that if you do, you would quickly get out of it as well.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Sacrificial Thanks

(Psalm 50:14-15, 23)

Today's is a hard one for me.  Not because I have such a hard time thanking God for hard things in my life, but because, thankfully, I don't have that many hard things in my life right now. 

Don't get me wrong,  I have been through my fair share of hard things in life.  Growing up without a mom (although I did have wonderful mother figures very active in my life), having my dad serve over seas, a year of trying to get pregnant before it acutally worked, a miscarriage, and many other small issues along the way have been my plights in life. 

On this list of things, I don't see much in which I haven't been able to see God's grand scheme in it all after time.  Oh yes, going through them, was hard but in the end God has used them for wonderful things.  Had my mom survived that car accident, I would have grown up travelling the country with my dad as a pilot in the USAF.  It would have been fabulous, but would I have been loyal to the wonderful state of Nebraska had I not grown up here?  Would I have attended the University and met my amazing husband?  Questions that will remain unanswered because God's planned prevailed.  I grew up without a mother and ended up meeting the love of my life.  The only thing I still struggle with in this situation is my dad.  He has never remarried and since he is a mand of very few words (this is an extreme understatement if you know my father) I don't really know how he is in his thankfulness for my mom's death.  Wow, it is really hard to say you are thankful that your mom died when you were young.  It just feels wrong.  But, I know where she is and that I will see her again.

As for the rest it is easy to see the thankfulness in the end.  Having my dad over seas meant we corresponded mostly through email.  Evidently I get my ability to 'think' better through a computer from him, because during his time away was some of the most informative and touching communication I have ever received from him.  I saved all of those emails and still have them (that was 9 years ago). 

A year of 'trying' resulted in my precious son and a great lesson in prayer and patience and trust in God's plan.  The miscarriage resulted again in trusting God and my one experience of truly and literally 'seeing' His power.  On the way home from the ER the night we were given the news our baby would not survive, God displayed in power of it all to me by showing me the most magnificent lightening I have ever seen.  I could see and feel God telling me that He was in control of it all.  I have never been so amazed at anything in my life. 

Currently, I can't say I have any large trials facing me (well other than having to send my precious boy to kindergarten, but I am very thankful we have such a good school to send him to).  I praise God for this.  I pray that when the time comes, I will remember to 'praise Him in the storm'. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Playing Catch up

OK, behind again.  I have been doing my study but not blogging on it.  I am beginning to think I am not really that great at this blogging thing.  My goal this week is to get 4 of my 7 days blogged. You can hold me to that and help keep me accountable. I think and process so much better with a keyboard than with a pen and paper.  Does that seem weird to anyone else but me?  I just know that when I sit and type it seems I can process a lot faster than writing and thus my processes go farther and more in depth.  With writing my brain gets ahead of my hand and by the time I catch up, I have lost the thought.

Here goes,

Day 7: Healing Gratitude (Luke 17:11-15) This is the healing of the 10 lepers.  The author points out how the one Samaritan leper came back thanking Jesus in a loud voice.  We are often loud to voice our complaints about anything and everything to anyone, but how quick are we to loudly thank people and God for what they have done for us.  When you have been giving a blessing how quick are you to voice your thanks to God in front of others?  The 2nd thing she notices about the leper is that he came back to thank Jesus "from a distance".  Oh, we stop and thank people as we go, but how often do we go out of our way to show our thanks?  I thank God today for giving me a sympathetic husband, who allowed me the time away from the kids to take a nap.  Even after I was the one who spent the last two days/nights scrap booking until 1 am. 

Day 8: Gratitude and Humility (James 4:6-10) v10 says Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up. "Humble people are wrapped up in Christ....A humble person does not feel entitled to have more, or for life to by easy or for everyone to love and treat him well.  He is grateful for the least little kindness that is extended him, knowing it is more than he deserves." (taken straight from Nancy's Day 8 devotional in Choosing Gratitude).  It is just that simple.  Prideful people think they deserve better, so they complain and are ungrateful when things get tough.  Humble people realize they don't deserve a thing, and so recognize the smallest things to be thankful for.  This really hit me hard.  I know I can do my fair share of complaining (wanting the camera I have been waiting on for 2 years, too much laundry, not enough sleep, too many dishes, kids never picking up their toys, not having skinny legs, pimples on my face...Buckets!  As I write this list, I realize just how much complaining I do.), but I never considered whining an act of pride.  When I look at it this way, I realize that is what it truly is.  As I sat and prayed to God, confessing my pride in these issues, I literally had tears come to my eyes.  I asked him to make me thankful for the laundry, for that meant I had the money to clothe my children.  Thankful for the dishes because that meant I had food to feed my family and thankful for a dishwasher!  Thankful for toys on my floor because happy children were playing with them and loving family and friends had given them those toys.  I am still working on a thankful angle to the pimples....maybe that I have makeup to cover them?  Anyway, there is a positive spin to any negative and I pray that God will help me start to see that before I complain next time.

Day 9:  Gratitude and Generosity (2 Corinthians 9:6-15) God loves a cheerful giver (v7b).  If you aren't thankful for what you have, how can you give it away?  This is the question that came to me while going through this devotional that day.  If you don't recognize that you are blessed beyond belief, how can you pass blessing onto others?  Oh yes, many people do good things for others out of obligation or guilt, but God loves a cheerful giver.  It doesn't say God obligates you to give.  I think you do have to be thankful in order to cheerfully give.  How can you pay it forward today?

Day 10: Invisible Blessings (1 Corinthians 2:6-11) Being thankful for what we don't have.  Now here is an area of thankfulness I don't often dive into.  And if I do, I often feel guilty about it because it is lieu of seeing someone have something I wouldn't want to deal with.  i.e. "I am so thankful my children are healthy" as a prayer after finding out an old co-worker's daughter was just found with an inoperable brain tumor. Or, "Thank you, God for blessing me with a good vehicle" after driving by someone with smoke coming out of their car.  But truly, there are so many more things we can stop to thank Him for when we think of all the trials we don't have to face.  My husband has great job security.  I don't think I have ever stopped to thank Him for that.  I live in a small town where I don't have to worry about much violence or crime. Thank you, Lord.  I have never had a close family member in the throws of a life-threatening illness or cancer. Thank you, Lord.  My basement has never flooded.  Thank you, Lord.  There are so many more things to be thankful that I don't have to deal with.  Is it wrong of me to feel a little 'worried' now that some of these things might happen to me.  Kind of like jinxing yourself?  I guess "Do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself" (Matthew 6:34).  Whatever God brings me I will learn to thank Him for it.

Day 11: The Greatest Gift of All (Romans 5:1-11) Romans is probably my favorite book of the Bible because it reminds me of how much God has given us and is just such a great book on how to be the kind of Christian Jesus calls us to be.  Vs 3-5 say "We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom he has given us.  Nancy talks in this chapter how time can begin to dull or appreciation of that wonderful gift of salvation.  This should be the thing we are most thankful for each and every day, but how often does it just get put on the short list of things we thank Him for daily?  Start today and everyday with the true heartfelt thanks He deserves for His demonstration of love for us is this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (vs. 8)

Day 12: Gratitude You Can Feel (3 John 1-4) Today, Nancy tells us of a number of psychological studies that have been done to prove the health benefits of gratitude.  Did you know thankful people are, in general, more healthy and happy with their lives than those who are more prone to complaining?  What a great benefit to being thankful!

Day 13: Gratitude from Ground Zero (Psalm 43:1-5) "Resolve not to let you joy level be determined by the presence of absence of storms, but by the presence of God.  Choose to be joyful in Him today." (taken from Day 13 Devotional in Choosing Gratitude) Going through the Psalms you could definitely find many things to add to your "thankful I have-nots" list from day 10.  But a common theme runs through the Psalms as well.  Praising and thanking God for what He has brought them to and through.  Do you stop to thank God when it seems you have nothing?  Even when I might think I don't have anything at all, I need to remember that I have grace, love and salvation from a God who knows what is best for me in the end.

Day 14: Gratitude on the Run (Psalm 56) This Psalm is written by David after he had been captured by the Philistines in Gath.  David looked beyond his circumstances and thanked God for what He was doing in the midst of them.  Are there any specific things you can thank God for that always bring you comfort in times of turmoil?  I know I am thankful for the gift of the Spirit in me to reassure me with God's Word and love.  I am thankful to know that I can turn to Him in prayer and I am thankful for a believing husband and sisters in Christ who can give me sound advice on where to go and what to do in certain situations. 

Ah, now I am all caught up.  Hopefully, the next entry won't have to be quite so long!!  Keep thanking Him!!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Benefits Package

Behind again on posting, but here is a quick catch up.

I loved the way the DeMoss put this in day 4 of my 30 day thankfulness devotional.  A benefits package.  How perfect is that?!  We definitely have a wonderful benefits package as Christians and don't stop to recognize and thank Him for it enough. 

-Unconditional Acceptance
-A Calm to my Soul in the midst of trouble
-His Word for Guidance
-Brothers and Sisters in Christ
-Assurance of the 'After life' for me
-My Home

These are just a few things I listed off the top of my head and are some of the 'major' ones. 

Psalm 103: 1-5 is a wonderful thanksgiving verse to use.  "Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.  Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits - who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's."

On day 5 Nancy challenges us to think of our thankful list as a jar of rocks.  At first glance the jar looks pretty full of wonderful things to thank Him for.  But there is still a great amount of space between the larger stones for smaller rocks, sand and even water.  What another great way to think of filling up your thankfulness.

So many more thanks to fill up those cracks:

-A car that I don't have to worry about (mechanically speaking)
-Computers and Internet
-Clorox wipes
-boxed macaroni and cheese and frozen pizza (don't call the 'super mom' police on me for this one!)
-carpet cleaners
-air conditioning
-garden produce

These are just a few of the 'random' things that have been in my thankfulness journal the last few days.  They make me think of a quote I heard a while back that said "What if you woke up tomorrow with only what you thanked God for today?"  There are so many blessings and conveniences that I have today that I take for granted. 

The fact that a quick conversation with a friend is just a text away.  That, when I am exhausted from a long day I can throw a frozen pizza in the oven or when I am not home for supper my husband can do this himself.  That my grocery bill has been greatly helped this past month by not having to buy fresh veggies because I can walk outside and pick them from my garden.  And on and on. 

O, we all have many things that might plague us down on a daily basis or even be huge struggles facing our families, but to stop and look at all the big and little things we still have to be thankful for helps you put things into prospective.

What 'random' things are you thankful for today?