Posts tagged ‘Christianity’

May 18, 2011

Sometimes…

Sometimes, God speaks to us without any words….

Even in the muddy moment of life, His amazing LOVE shines through.  Are you experiencing some muckiness in your life?  Know this, my dear one, God loves you eternally & unconditionally & lavishly!

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 1 John 4:16

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June 19, 2009

Frugal Friday: Leggo Those Eggos!

100_0230Remember watching those commercials as a child, begging mom to buy a box, and taunting your younger siblings with the “Leggo My Eggo” shenanigans? Eggos may be nostalgic, but there is nothing frugal about them.

A better option:

Make a big batch of homemade waffles (sprinkle some wheat germ in the batter for added100_0232 protein & fiber).

Freeze the extra waffles on a cookie sheet…

When completely frozen, pack in freezer bags… 

Pop in the toaster for a fast-food breakfast ala Eggos… 

Nutritious, convenient and a budget saver!

Happy Frugal Friday!

My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods. Psalm 63:5a

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June 17, 2009

Another Irish Prayer

May your day be filled with blessings
Like the sun that lights the sky,
And may you always have the courage
To spread your wings and fly!

Celtic Cross

Our oldest son, Drake, will soon be leaving for a summer long missions trip to Northern Ireland with Teen Mission International (TMI). The fact I can write those words means that I’m not completely in denial – it is literally 3 days away!

His journey will take him first to Merrit Island, Florida, for Bootcamp. This primitive 2 week training includes team building with an early morning obstacle course run, brick laying and other construction training, and evangelism courses. He will be living in a tent, hand-washing his clothes, and doing physical labor. The purpose is to train teens for missionary work around the world.

Next, he and his team will depart for Dublin, Ireland, via Canada. They will then bus to Northern Ireland where the remainder of the summer will be spent in dormitories, and working with a local youth missionary organization. He will not only be evangelizing and partnering with Fringe Youth Works, but also doing light physical labor.

To say my emotions are mixed is an understatement. I’m so proud and excited for him, yet my heart is breaking! As a former TMI team member (Glasgow, Scotland), I know first-hand what a live-changing experience it is – he will never be the same! While I’ve had months to prepare myself to let go, I’m finding it difficult to let go.

My niece, Ashley, is also going on her first TMI trip (following in her mother’s footsteps). Her summer will be spent in Malawi, Africa, washing the feet of AIDS orphans. Sweetie, I‘m completely enviously and totally proud of you, too!

This Irish prayer is my prayer for Drake and his companions as they prepare and leave for the Emerald Isle. It is also reminiscent of a poignant song about a parent singing over a child especially the lines, “It’s not living if you don’t reach for the sky. I’ll have tears as you take off, but I’ll cheer as you fly.Godspeed, my dear one!

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June 5, 2009

From My Bookshelf

Turn on the tea-kettle, grab your prettiest chintz teacup and settle into your favorite chair. Reading Lisa Bevere’s new book, Nurture, is like an intimate afternoon tea with your very best friend. Listen as she shares from the depth of her heart:

This gathering of women, this hunger for nurture, is what drives me. I want to find the daughters and help them recover life and safety. I want them to grow so they can fly. I want to turn the heads of busy mothers so they will notice the daughters who are searching. And I want to empower the grandmothers to lend the comfort only they know how to give so well. I want these women nurtured well, so they can in turn enlarge the lives of others – who will hear the cry of Earth’s citizens.

Lisa Bevere BookNurture will take you on a journey of the heart with the destination being a rediscovering of God’s purpose for you as a woman. When God made woman, she was beautifully equipped and gifted for nurturing from the heart to the heart. Somewhere along the way, we seemed have lost our God-given endowment to nurture and reproduce, but not hopelessly. God is raising up wise companions who will walk with us and encourage us to take our place in God’s plan (Proverbs 13:20). Lisa Bevere is a voice of wisdom calling out the daughters, mothers and grandmothers of our age.

Like Wisdom personified in Proverbs 9, Nurture provides a table of nourishing delights. It could also be likened to a cup of steaming tea to be sipped, savored and enjoyed. 

 Wisdom has built her her house; she has hewn out its seven pillars.

 She has prepared her meat and mixed her wine; 
       she has also set her table.

 She has sent out her maids, and she calls 
       from the highest point of the city.

 “Let all who are simple come in here!” 
       she says to those who lack judgment.

 “Come, eat my food 
       and drink the wine I have mixed.

 Leave your simple ways and you will live; 
       walk in the way of understanding.

Proverbs 9:1-6

May 25, 2009

It Takes Faith to Garden!

FMOBeansBushBlueLkFIt takes faith to garden. Seeds are collected. The long winter provides ample time for sketching and plotting the garden. Spring finally arrives so hoe in hand the garden is cleared and tilled. The work is hard, but pleasant and invigorating. The frost is finally gone and the weather is nearly perfect. Taking advantage of the opportunity, the garden plan is produced. Holes are dug. Seeds are planted, covered, and lovingly watered. Rows are marked and prayers go up for an abundant harvest. And then, the wait.

It takes faith to garden.

FMOBeetTallTopFDuring the wait, the questions come: Are the seeds deep enough? Are the seeds too deep? Will the abundant spring rains wash all the seeds away? Will the sparse spring showers damage this crop? Will those pesky chickens get into the garden again and eat all the seed? Were the seed bags correctly marked or will runners grow instead of bushes? WHEN WILL THE GARDEN GROW?

It takes faith to garden.

Parenting is form of gardening. As a mother, I try to daily plant seeds of love and wisdom found only in God’sFMOEggplantEarlyLongPurpleF word. I water with many, many prayers (and oftentimes my own tears).  I attempt to weed out bad habits and nip foolish tendencies in the bud while covering my sons with kisses and hugs and “I love you.” I must take it all in faith that my daily tending is going to produce a bountiful and beautiful harvest. Children’s gardens have a looooooong germination time, and we’re given many precious years to nurture and tend these gardens. We will not see the mature fruit for decades.

It takes faith to garden.

FMOPumpkinBigMaxFMinistry is too like a garden plot. As a children’s pastor, I also plan and plot and pray along with my fellow laborers. Each week, we plant seeds of God’s love and God’s word in the heart of children. Some of these children we only meet once while others spend years in our ministry. We encourage each other with reminders that God’s word never returns void and always accomplishes what it intends (Isaiah 55:11). But still, we are planting by faith. In ministry, chances are we may never see the final outcome. The Apostle Paul wisely understood the nurturing connection between ministering and gardening. He eloquently explained in this verse, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.” (1 Corinthians 3:6) We do our part and trust God to make it grow.

It takes faith to garden.FMOWatermelonMoonStarF

May 22, 2009

Frugal Friday: Time

Dost thou love life? Then waste not time; for time is the stuff that life is made of. – Benjamin Franklin

Frugal might be a trendy, buzz word right now, but what does it truly mean? In defining this word, Noah Webster referred toAstronomicalClock frugal as being “wise in the expenditure or application of force, materials, time, etc.”  In other words, we wisely use the resources God has given us. It is no small thing that Mr. Webster included time in his definition. Time is a such a precious commodity!

Lately, time has not been on my side. I’ve been rushing here and there busily crossing out tasks on my mental to-do list. Finally, I found some perspective and realized, “Oh my goodness, I have no joy!” Caught up in the various demands on my time and the “tyranny of the urgent,” I’d been completely drained of any pleasure in my work. It’s not about managing my time. Actually, I believe you can over manage your time. We have learned to cram into one weekend what others would do in a month of weekends.

Perspective and priority are two things to consider when spending time. Time is indeed money and saving money isn’t always saving time. Gaining a clear understanding of your priorities and looking at things through a clearer lens will help you spend your time frugally and with joy. This can be easier said than done especially when all the urgent tasks are seemingly noble.

I’m on the road to recovery, and have purposed in my heart to find pleasure in the moment. Praying daily for wisdom, I press on toward the goal of being “a good and faithful servant” of all God has given to me.

Peace and joy!  Happy Frugal Friday!

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May 20, 2009

Weeding My Soul

This mess is you! Together, you and I, we have been working with a purpose in your heart. And it is wild and beautiful and perfectly in process. To you it seems like a mess, but I see a perfect pattern emerging and growing and alive – a living fractal. – The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity

shackcoversmRecently, I read an interesting and intense piece of literature called The Shack by William Paul Young.  If you haven’t yet read this New York TImes Bestseller, the book is a beautiful allegory exhibiting God’s love for broken humanity.  My favorite chapter in when the main character, Mack,  joins Sarayu, the Holy Spirit, in a messy garden.  The two spend time together laboring over a plot of weeds all the while weeding through Mack’s deepest questions and hurts and utter confusion.

Today was a perfect spring day and I was fortunate to be able to spend much of my morning in flower beds pulling out many, many weeds.  One of the reasons I love to garden is because nature truly reveals some of the deeper things of God. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. Romans 1:20

As I pulled and hoed and clipped, I was able to reflect on the imagery of The Shack. Isn’t amazing how garden plots are so similar to our lives? Just take a look at weeding. Weeds are the enemy to our soul. Their sole purpose is to choke out anything fruitful in the garden plot.  They steal. They kill. They destroy.

So what do these perversive weeds look like in our lives? Jesus describes them as “sons of the evil one” in Matthew 13. Weeds are really anything that separates us from the love of God thereby inhibiting growth and fruition. Weeds are worries.  Weeds are 450px-Tulip_-_floriade_canberralies. Weeds are sin. Weeds are condemnation. Weeds are past hurts. Weeds are works. Weeds are a physical representation of our fallen state. Weeds are the enemy of our soul.

What is amazing about weeding and gardening is that it is a lifetime task.  One cannot just weed their garden and expect that they will be weed-free thereafter. It is a process of pulling and uprooting. And, if one is diligent about this task, it actually gets easier. The roots aren’t as deep and so becomes quite easy to pull them up. But, pull we must.

Jesus told us in this life we will have trouble. In other words, we will have weeds – it’s a given. But if we diligently partner with the Holy Spirit, we will be able to root out these enemies to our growth and freedom. Together with the Master Gardener, we can walk through the garden secure in the fact that we are loved and that we are a work in progress. Weeds will grow, but the Holy Spirit will be there as our Helper and Companion. He will patiently assist us as we yield to Him.

There is no condemnation or judgement in this garden. God has a plan and loves us deeply. He isn’t concerned that everything isn’t perfectly manicured. He is God the only infallible one. He understands our fallen state better than we do. When we do miss it, His grace and love are poured into our lives. His love washes over us and causes us to be a well-watered garden. (Isaiah 58:11)

I am so grateful that the Holy Spirit is actively beside me and He lovingly identifies the weeds that have prevented growth in my life. It is like Sarayu says to Mack, “To prepare this ground, we must dig up the roots of all the wonderful growth that was here. It is hard work, but well worth it. If the roots are not here, then they cannot do what come naturally and harm the seed we will plant.”

March 24, 2009

Tips for Tight Places

Earlier, I wrote about claustrophobic places.  When the walls seem to be closing in on you, and you begin to feel like Pooh Bear (a wedged bear in a great tightness).  But take courage, there is relief in those tight places. David prayed in Psalm 4:1 for God to expand him in those tight places.  He had the wisdom to know sometimes God leads us to spacious places, but there are also times God chooses to expand us in those places of great tightness.

If you are in a similar place, whether physical or emotional or whatever, God can expand you.  Here are my Tips for Tight Places:

1 – Pray for expansion:  David admitted that he was in a tight place, and prayed for expansion.  He did not just assume that God would notice and do something about it.  David knew the value of asking.  Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive and your joy will be complete. John 16:24

2 – Pray specifically for the need:

If any of your lack wisdom, he should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.  James 1:5

Financial expansion – This can include wisdom in budgeting, discovering new avenues of income, and utilizing current resources creatively.  Watch for out-of-the box answers to your request.  

This past year has been very tight financially for our family. But, we’ve discovered a wealth of things that have expanded our finances and our perspective.  One extremely valuable thing my husband and I did was to attend Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University.  This provided us with tools and knowledge that we quite frankly didn’t possess before.  

We worked with my parents and my sister’s family gardening all summer, and canning the harvest. Anyone need a jar of kraut?  My two older sons and I spend our early mornings during the summer months at a local market garden picking fragrant strawberries, raspberries and blueberries.  Some afternoons, we also sold buckets of berries.  We were rewarded with a small income, and often times with berries as well.  We became berry rich!  Again and again, we discovered that God can expand a limited budget.

3 – Pray and meditate on God’s word – Then would you read a Sustaining Book, such as would help and comfort a Wedged Bear in Great Tightness? – A.A. Milne, In Which Pooh Goes Visiting 

There are many comforting passages from THE Sustaining Book: The Bible. Write them on notecards and memorize them. Repeat and personalize them daily.  Romans 8:31-39 is one such passage:

 What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: 
   “For your sake we face death all day long; 
      we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

4 – Trust GodTrust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5 & 6

Tight places can be exceedingly uncomfortable places, but there are places of intense personal growth. Often times, they are a proving ground or preparation for new phases in your walk with God. Trust God not your circumstances, and know that He WILL make your way straight.

March 6, 2009

Tight Places

CB042434I am claustrophobic.  Well, not clinically, but I really, REALLY do not like tight places!  I cannot remember I time I didn’t feel this way. Crowded elevators, no thanks – I’ll take the stairs!  

Recently while reading a familiar Psalm, I noticed something in the footnotes that I had underlined years ago. In Psalm 4, the NIV version reads “Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer.” Who doesn’t want relief, but the literal meaning of this phrase really spoke to my heart and into my life. This phrase give me relief from my distress literally means make room for me in tight places.  Tight Places…

 Guess what? Now here is a revelation: Sometimes I get very self-centered and think that no one could possibly understand my life.  No one else on God’s green earth (or even the current greyish-white) could possibly be going through what I am going through!  Yet, hidden here in the original Hebrew is a gem of truth: David too was claustrophobic!

Am I speaking of an actual fear of Tight Places? No (but I’m sure this prayer would apply there too). Sometimes life gets very tight.  Sometime it feels as if there little room to move.  Sometimes it feels as if you can barely breath.  

The past year has been a tight place for me – financially, physically, spiritually, emotionally.  So, meditating and praying this Davidic psalm gives me great comfort.  It puts my heart at peace to know that David too experienced the tight places. We also know from reading other books in the Bible that the tight places were not the end of David. He survived those tight places.  Eventually, he also moved on to spacious places and greener pastures.

But how did David find relief in tight places?  I think the answer too is hidden in this verse and in his heart’s cry – make room. The King James version puts it this way: …thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress. I’ve come to understand God doesn’t always remove us from the tight places; although He surely can. Sometimes in His great mercy and infinite wisdom, God simply makes room for us in those places and enlarges our ability to cope.

Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God.  Make room for me in tight places; be merciful to me and hear my prayer.  Psalm 4:1 (my emphasis)