Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sharing MORE


In order to receive, you have to open up yourself more.  To that end, I've shared a little slice of my life over at Mrs. Pancakes - Living Out Our Vows Series.

I was flattered and honored when I was asked to write a guest post (and yes this is my 1st guest post - hurray). I took a while to write it, and then ran it by my husband who also gave it his stamp of approval. It was challenging, because I wasn't sure how much I wanted to share, but as I kept writing it came out. Perhaps God is nudging me to share this area of my life.

I also wanted to update my "About Me" page on this blog, but somehow could not remember how to do so.

So if any of you remember before I do, please let me know because I want you to get to know me a bit MORE.

Hop on over to Mrs. Pancakes and get to know me a bit MORE!!! 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Marriage - Silly Season



Your spouse doesn’t take out the trash like he’s supposed to for the umpteenth time.  Instead of calmly talking to him, you huff and puff and before you know it, you’re just being cordial.  That’s silly season.

Your husband lovingly touches you while you’re making dinner and because you think it will lead to something more intimate and you’re not up to it, you brush him off.  Unfortunately, he just wanted to hug you, but you’ll never know.  He feels like he’s been rejected one time too often and now he’s no longer the amorous guy you fell in love with.  That’s silly season.

I went to a movie preview last night about a marriage that had gotten in to a rut, which was now becoming a ditch. The wife was unhappy with the current situation and the husband appeared to be fine with it. They were married for 32 years and in the past 5 years had not slept with each other. Every time she tried to initiate something, he blew her off. To his credit, he never cheated on her, but he was willing to accept the boredom that had become his marriage.  The wife decided that they need help and booked a trip to see a highly touted marriage counselor. I didn’t agree with all of the counselor’s advice, but in the end the marriage was restored.

In marriage, silly season starts with little every day things that build up if never addressed.  When they’re not addressed, you convince yourself that this is our new normal “everyone goes through this” or you ignore it, hoping it will go away. Intimacy may suffer on both sides, because you no longer are on the same page. Sex is not the cure all for what ails a marriage, though it plays a part.

So how do you end silly season? The first person that recognizes that something is not right should nip it in the bud. How do you nip it in the bud? Deep heartfelt communication that makes you vulnerable, a willingness to do things differently, recognizing and understanding the heart of the other person and praying and relying on the scriptures. 

Marriages go through seasons and even good marriages go through difficult times. But when you’re in silly season and you recognize it, do what you can to change it. Don’t let it last any longer than it has to. 

Seems like marriage was on quite a few minds today, so I'll also share this link I received via email.

Ever went through silly season in your marriage? What's the longest silly season you endured? How was it eventually resolved?


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Confirmation

I wish you could see the amount of things that are swirling around in my head at any time; it's scary even to me!

Entering in to the one word challenge, I did not choose the word MORE half-heartedly or randomly.
There's an old saying that goes - "Talking to God is better than talking to yourself", so I was doing just that - talking to God while laying down in bed with all my thoughts swirling. We were having a conversation that went something like this:
Me: so much stuff is happening, sometimes I'm not sure what you want from me. Where are you leading me?
God: I want MORE of you; I will direct your paths; I will show you what you should be doing.
Me: MORE (smiling)...Yes that seems so right.  If I acknowledge you in everything, you will direct my paths.
God: Yes, trust me MORE; read my word MORE; pray MORE; pray as a family together MORE; pray as husband and wife MORE.
Me: I don't know how I'm going to do it, but I'm committing it to you. We're on this journey together.

When I woke up I posted my one word post and the following day during my quiet time I read Psalms 19: 7-11. (BTW, the first time I heard these verses was in a song; its such an old song I couldn't find it on youtube).


 7The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. 8The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. 9The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. 10More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. 11Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.

MORE to be desired are they than gold......that would be Law of the Lord, his testimony, his statutes, commandments, fear and judgement - are priceless and have greater value than anything we can think of; and when we keep his commandments there is great reward to us and those around us.

It was such a confirmation and was as if the Lord was speaking directly to me and answering my question from the previous night.

Have you ever had conversations with God? What has He revealed to you? Do you typically receive confirmation?


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

MORE

Anything that I write about on this blog is something that's been on my mind, or that came to me as I read the Bible, or it's something that encourages me that I wish to share with you. In this day and age its so easy to look at others and feel inadequate, especially in blog land.  I hope no one reads my blog and feels inadequate because my goal is to encourage you by using Biblical timeless truths. I use to think life was black and white; I've come to realize that there's lots of grey and the only way to successfully navigate the grey areas is to rely on someone bigger and better than yourself.

As a Christian, every day presents a new opportunity to serve God and develop or Christian walk more.
And so MORE is my one word for this year - 2012. MORE means a greater amount or additional degree.


I want MORE of Christ and less of me.


I want to bear MORE fruit, to the point that I'm bearing much fruit.


I want a MORE abundant life - overflowing with God's goodness and grace. Jesus said, "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it MORE abundantly." John 10:10


God wants us to abound MORE and MORE. - 1 Thessalonians 4:10


I'm excited to see where this will take me in the new year.


If you had one word for 2012, what would it be?


This post was inspired by Melanie of Only A Breath



Sunday, January 22, 2012

Musings on Being a Parent

As a parent you go through so many stages - getting to know them as babies, the love that develops, the intense dislike when they begin to test you, and the letting go as adults.  As a parent, I've experienced every emotion and know that every stage is fraught with challenges.

The vows you take when you get married say nothing about parenting, yet so much of our married lives are taken up by parenting and child-rearing. I think if we focus on our marriages, we are able to be better parents.

Sometimes, I don't want to know what my children are doing - especially as it relates to some of the choices they make, because maybe I'll be disappointed. I've learned that pray is the only thing that can soothe my troubled mind.

Parenting is hard - because every child is different and just when you think you have this figured out another child comes along or a new personality trait develops.

As a parent you have to be cognizant of how you treat each child in relation to his siblings. Jacob outwardly favored Joseph and that didn't go over well with his brothers. Then there's the child that's needy, difficult, different, who may ultimately require more attention than the others; you hope each sibling understands, but sometimes they don't.

I wish my parents said "I love you" more when I was growing up.  Now I say it so often it sometimes seem trite.

Seeing my parents as old, humbled me.  I had to hold my father's hand when walking and become really patient whenever we went some where.  It made me wonder if my children would do the same for me when I become old.

As a parent, you may have regrets.  My father often says "He did the best that he knew how to, at the time." Wrapped up in this statement is the unspoken - " Now that I know differently, I would have done some things differently."

Parenting is rewarding - the hugs, the love, becoming young adults that value what you value...priceless!

God is our Heavenly Father and his Heavenly attributes outweigh mine.  As a parent, I become impatient, I snap if I'm tired or hungry, I'm not always loving, I sometimes feel overwhelmed. But God is never like this - He's patient, loving, and kind all the time and as a parent this gives me something to aspire to.

my children

Are you a parent? Do you have any additional observations and insight? 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Generations

I'm sitting here watching my parents in the kitchen baking "Sweet Bread" a coconut filled dessert from Barbados.
It's quite funny to watch as for all my life when I was at home my mom was the baker and made the best sweet bread.  Since my dad retired he's taken up a new hobby - baking and now he's the expert.  It's quite funny listening to the interactions between them in the kitchen.

Last night they made my dad's version, tonight my mom is doing hers.

My little one commented, "Grandpa really knows how to bake!"  I don't know how that went over with my mom, but she knows how to bake also.

In any event, we are the beneficiary of all of this wonderful baking and plan to enjoy it - I'll just work out harder!

If you're curious - here's a recipe.


I'm glad my parents got a chance to visit and spend time with us.

Do your parents have any special recipes that they share with you?



Friday, January 13, 2012

The Comforter


As a mother, some days my mornings are not as uneventful as I would like them to be. The last of the oldest children is travelling overseas, my husband is going through a stressful time at work and my parents are visiting.
This morning I read a passage of scripture that provided great comfort:


15If ye love me, keep my commandments.
 16And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
 17Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
 18I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. John 14: 15-18

Do you know why we need comfort in this world? Because things happen; because our emotions can put  us in a tailspin; because our children grow up and we have to let them go; because we get the blahs; or we just get weighed down by all of our responsibilities.
If I listened to those who don't have this Comforter and what they do to be comforted, I'd come up short - there's not enough drinks, money, things, or food that can provide the comfort we need.

God is so good - He does not leave us comfortless. He was a man just like us when he walked this earth and had the same feelings many of us have. He knew we would need something supernatural and He provided it to us.

Thank you Lord for the gift of your Holy Spirit.

Do you have The Comforter?




Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Witness

I recently read The Witness on my Kindle. A Kindle is a perfect gift for a reader, and now that I've discovered sources for free e-books, I download quite often.
This book is in the Christian Fiction genre.  The story line is quite riveting and action packed for a Christian book - I didn't think I would find murder, mystery and intrigue in this type of book. I was pleasantly surprised.


Synopsis: Amanda Griffin is deep in hiding, using various aliases to fly under the radar of nefarious criminal interests. When she witnesses a multiple murder, Deputy Chief of Police Luke Granger befriends her. He fails to convince Amanda to come out of hiding, however. Three years later, Amanda's story and that of two newly minted millionaire sisters come together, and Luke finds his interest in Amanda becoming more personal. 


In the midst of all the action, there's plenty of soul searching (see excerpts below) and without giving away the story line we are able to see God's grace in difficult situations.

  • When the main character is asked, do you still trust God? She answers, "I understand the doubts that surface when you look at someone and can't totally be sure if what you are seeing is the real story.  But is it trust that is the problem, or is it discernment?"
  • But this is earth, not heaven. And the reality on earth is its the good days that are the exceptions in this life, not the bad.
  • Now God hasn't changed, he's still loving and righteous and in charge. And evil and free will still exist. God could change this, but it doesn't necessarily mean He will.
  • That's been by God's grace; accepting where I am limited and figuring out there will be some way through the latest wrinkle.

What are your thoughts on the quotes above? Is it hard to trust God when your circumstances seem difficult and unfair? How do you reconcile a loving God with your circumstances?




Tuesday, January 10, 2012

He'll Do It Again


This song by Shirley Ceasar has accumulated so much mileage as it gets me through literally and figuratively.  Literally - when I'm on the elliptical or treadmill, it inspires me to finish. Figuratively, whenever I'm going through difficult situations, I remember what He's done for me in the past and am encouraged by what He will do.

Life goes in intervals, doesn't it? One minute you're coasting and the next you're holding on for dear life. God is always there even during the times you're coasting, but it's during the difficult seasons, you really know He's there as you call on Him more, rely on Him more and your faith increases.

Be encouraged by God's faithfulness, and wherever you are, remember - He'll Do It Again.


Judges 5:11 - there shall they rehearse the righteous acts of the LORD.........

How did the New Year start for you? Are you going through or are you coasting?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Goal Setting & Chocolate


It's the new year and it seems the natural thing to do is to make resolutions. I wrote about compromises on my first post for 2012 and how our resolve fails because we compromise on the outcome.

Through the eyes of an 8 year old I saw the power of setting goals. Every year, my daughter's school has a chocolate fundraiser, to raise money for the school and missionaries overseas. If you participate, they are great incentives for selling. On the first day of the candy sale, she looked at the sheet that listed all the prizes. Realizing that she didn't have a bike, she declared,  "I want to sell 16 cases so that I can get a bike." I asked her if she was serious and she said yes. The adults in the room looked at each other and tried to figure out how we could facilitate her meeting this goal. I sent out emails to everyone I knew asking for donations or sales, even though I felt I was being annoying. I asked family members to sell cases for her. She suggested we go to the grocery store and sell. I came up with a schedule for selling. To make this work, I had to come out of my comfort zone - I had never done anything like this before; I also had to constantly encourage her and remind her of the expected outcome. If we compromised, she wouldn't meet her goal.
Once out selling, it became relatively easy and when she wanted to quit, I reminded her of her goal. Wouldn't you know it, she sold 16 cases and got her bike. As a matter of fact she exceeded her goals by two cases. And when she got the bike she had the widest ear to ear grin.

This made me think - if an 8 yr old can do it, why can't I, why can't all of us?

I can't tell you what goals to strive for, but I do think your goals should enhance your character and your walk.

Some thoughts from the scriptures on setting goals:

Philippians 3:13-14 - Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.


Psalms 37:4 - Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.


Matthew 6:33 - But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.


It's always a good time to set goals and strive to be better.
My goals as we start 2012:

  • Re-establish self discipline as it pertains to my quiet time.
  • Become more effective at working from home
  • Be open to whatever the Lord has in store for me - trust more.

Do you have any goals you wish to share? We can hold each other accountable.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Compromise


Not all compromise is bad - for example if my husband and I are undecided in our choice of movie for a date night, he may compromise and see a chick flick because he knows it would make me happy, even though he would rather see an action flick.

However, compromising on our core spiritual values will not have the same beneficial effects. To illustrate, let's look at Daniel and his three friends Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Daniel 1.  For three years, Daniel and his friends were in training, being indoctrinated by King Nebuchadnezzar.
They were 4 areas were Daniel and his friends were challenged, and in one of them he did not compromise (v 4-8):

  1. Their language was changed  - they learned a new language.
  2. They served King Nebuchadnezzar - Nebuchadnezzar was considered a political genius of his time so this became beneficial to Daniel in the long run.  This is similar to working in Corporate America and learning the ins and outs so that you can eventually branch out on your own.
  3. Their names were changed - They accepted their new and it's how we commonly refer to them.
  4. Eat the king's meat - this seems like the easiest thing on the list, but this is where they would not compromise. Apparently in ancient times, food was sacrificed to false gods before it was eaten by the Babylonians. To Daniel and his friends this would be akin to worshipping false gods, or serving another god besides the true God. So on this point they said no.

This no was not easy, but very hard and potentially life threatening. Instead Daniel suggested that they would eat vegetables and drink water for ten days. In the compromise, they had favor with the official who handled the food (v 9). God intervened.

At the end of ten days here's what happened:

  • They received knowledge and wisdom - they were 10x better than all the king's magicians.
  • Daniel was blessed with the ability to understand visions and dreams
  • They were elevated to a position of power
  • Daniel was granted long life
  • In addition they were fitter and stronger than the men who had eaten the kings meat. Eating vegetables and water for 10 days will not build up muscle and make you bigger - it was a supernatural intervention.

Many people resolve to be different or better at the start of the new year. We're well intentioned and, this time we won't fail. But what happens? If we say we're going to lose weight we start off well and eventually we compromise the foods we're eating and before we know it we're back at square one.

As Christians, we sometimes compromise the core values of our faith. God loves me and He died for me but He's not serious about me not gossiping, lying, fornicating, sowing strife, being involved with an unbeliever in serious dating relationship, or a host of things that we think are harmless but really aren't, is He?

Don't compromise on the core values of your faith; be like Daniel and his friends who became ten times better than all the learned men. This didn't happen over night; it took three years, but it was worth it.

What areas will you choose not to compromise in? Do you know the core values of your faith? How will you strengthen your faith this year?


PS - my pastor taught this message on Sunday and I had to share it with you as it really blessed and challenged me.