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Sunday, October 13, 2013

Nothing Less

     "To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth. When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed."~1 Peter 2:21-24


     The Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. A dark period in human history, yet perfectly planned by a God who loved us so much He allowed us to viciously and dishonestly condemn His own Son to die. Of all the injustice ever endured by human kind, Jesus' was the most undeserved. He lived a perfect life, the embodiment of love--the purity of which has not been seen before or since. Never an impure thought or motive. How? He is God in the flesh.


     Studying the events leading up to the Crucifixion is both fascinating and shocking. Jesus' submission to His Father in order to fulfill God's desire to be reconciled to His creation is unparalleled. Love Jesus poured out on humanity, knowing full well what was to come.......undeterred by the evil in the hearts and minds of the people. He loved them in spite of their faults.


     What strikes me the most very early in my research is the love that we are called to. As Jesus was ricocheted from one dishonest trial to another, He loved. As He endured pre-crucifixion torture, He loved. As He hung from the cross, He showered forgiveness born of a perfect love onto all of mankind, should they choose to accept.


     Who can grasp this love? I will spend the rest of my days marveling at God's love for us, and Jesus' life of love on this earth. We are called to nothing less than to live out that same love, and that love is life changing.


     "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you." ~John 15:12


     Is there a portion of Christ's life that captivates you?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

God's Recycling Program


     Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.
 2 Corinthians 5:17


Elephant droppings repurposed for fertilizer. This can happen for you, too!


     King of Green....reuses anything and everything! And the award goes to......GOD! Are you surprised? I'll have to admit, at times I have been shocked at His mad skills, the lengths He goes to to redeem situations that appeared to be nothing more than rubbish destined for the dumpster.


     If we recycled as well as God does, our homes would have no trash output. Curbside pickup would be unnecessary. As the garbage man stands scratching his head at the end of the driveway, we could run out and say, "There is no trash! It has been redeemed and given new purpose!"


     Though we may get some strange looks, what kind of joyous freedom lies in having no trash? It's one less bill to pay, one less chore to deal with, less guilt to live with.


     That is exactly the way God works. He takes the dirtiest trash from our lives--the darkest secrets, most shameful circumstances, dumbest decisions--and cleans them up and repurposes them for grander plans than our imaginations can fathom.


     Nothing is wasted in God's economy, and the more trash in our past, the greater the redemption. The possibilities are endless, because God is a God of endless possibilities.


     What do you say? Won't you hand God your trash for recycling? Watch what He does with it. It's astonishing.





Monday, August 26, 2013

It Must Be Raining Somewhere.....

     An elderly woman way over dressed for a neighborhood stroll approached from the opposite side of the street. She stopped and called out, "It's a beautiful day, isn't it?"


     "It certainly is!" I yelled back.


     She pointed to the sky behind me. "Can you see the rainbow? Look!"


     I looked. I stretched and strained, but I couldn't see the rainbow. I looked back at her, puzzled.


     "Come over here so you can see it."


     As I reached her and turned around, there in the middle of a cloud speckled, perfectly blue sky was a rainbow attached to a single, small, dark cloud. We stood silently side by side, marveling at the majestic arc painted in bold hues.


     Finally, she said, "Well, it must be raining somewhere," then thanked me for enjoying the moment with her, before we parted ways.


     I don't ever want to forget that it must be raining somewhere. No matter how good life is going for me and those I love, I want to remember those caught in the storms of life and be to them like the woman who pointed out the rainbow of God's promise to me.


     We have the choice to revel in the blue skies, or to walk into the rain to offer an umbrella of hope to someone stuck in the storm. How will you choose?


   


   

Friday, May 17, 2013

Cast It All Off

     My little brother undressed faster than anyone I have ever known. Our family would get home from an outing, and before the rest of us could kick off our shoes, he was headed up the stairs in his underwear. As though clothing somehow restricted his little body, he reveled in casting each item quickly away. He joyfully ran about the house in his skivvies. When necessary, he would also wear a pair of shoes.



     What if we did the same, casting off not our clothing, but our restraints? Anything that holds us back from living fully for Jesus Christ hinders our relationship with Him. Behaviors, idolatry, insecurities, resentments, bitterness, sin ~ flung far and wide while we bask in the pleasure of restoration with God.


     However hard and long you have to hammer and saw at those chains keeping you enslaved to your own humanity, the freedom achieved will be worth it. God never leaves us alone with our chains and is readily accessible to help you in your weakness.


     Witnessing the broken chains falling off the lives of others encourages those struggling with the same chains. Many of my own have been broken, giving me some momentum to break the others in the power of Christ. The biggest, most annoying chain I can see right now is the chain of insecurity. This one keeps me enslaved to my fears. In time and with prayer, this too will be flung from me.


     I can't help but think the author of Hebrews had this sort of unchained freedom in mind when he said, "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. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."~Hebrews 12:1-2


     What's hindering you?


     


     


   

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Greatest Author

     A fiction writer I am not. Plot twists, compelling characters, and believable conflict will not be achieved by me without intense study. Because of my failings in this arena, I have an incredible amount of respect for those who write fiction well.




     My favorite fiction contains at least an element of truth. I enjoy knowing that some parts of the story really took place--the creativity of man built upon the creativity of God. How incredible that He who created the universe instilled in our makeup a portion of His own creativity.


     As if creation itself were not intriguing enough, the intertwining of lives, the plot twists, drama, and conflict that occur every single day astound me. Once in a while, it's encouraging to step back a bit to ponder the bigger picture happening all around us throughout our entire existence.


     Looking back over my life, I can see how God used specific people to protect and guide me along my way. I see an ultimate good coming out of undesirable circumstances, and I love seeing where the hand of God has been with me in every situation. Realizing the depth of God's love is enough to make my heart burst.


     The people who enter our circle for a time impact us in one way or another for the rest of our lives. God allows and arranges situations encouraging our growth, educating us in His ways. We are never, ever alone, even though it may feel that way. Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, "This is the way; walk in it." ~Isaiah 30:20-21


     Feeling unloved? Unappreciated? Discouraged? Make a list of all the times you have seen God move in your life, including the people who have been placed by God to influence you at just the right moment. Write down anything good that has come out of your trials. Do you feel the embrace of God?


     Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.~Hebrews 12:2


   
   

Thursday, May 2, 2013

This Too Shall Pass...

    Car Accidents. Rehabilitation. Surgery. Persecution. Sorrow. Divorce. Death. Life gets messy sometimes, doesn't it?



     Through ten months of intense counseling intended to repair our broken relationship, my husband and I tore down the entire structure of our marriage in order to learn new, healthier ways of relating to one another. The rebuilding was slow and painful. An awkwardness like we had never experienced forced us to treat each other carefully. It was as though we were strangers trying to familiarize ourselves, much like ten years earlier while we dated. Now, however, all kinds of relationship baggage weighed us down.


     Never before was God so evident in our lives. We would rely on Him or watch our family finish crumbling. He was right beside us every single day. The best part was the healing that took place as we daily committed our marriage to God. For months while we wondered if we could make it, the good work going on in our lives as individuals and as a couple was undeniable. During that time it was imperative that we remain committed to the goal of a God honoring, vibrant family. Otherwise, we may have been tempted to take another road--to give up on us.


     We would have missed recommitting our marriage in front of our family and friends, declaring our determination to do things differently--putting Christ as the head of our marriage, and depending on Him to lead us the right way.


     Had we given up, not clung to the thread holding us together, we would have missed out on the most incredible plot line. We are co-parenting under the same roof, and our children have a more stable home because of it. The benefits are greater than we will ever know this side of heaven, but we know enough of them to be eternally grateful for God's work in our lives.


     If you are having some tough times right now, hold tight. This too shall pass, even though it may pass like a large kidney stone. Like birthing a baby after enduring labor, the reward is great. And God has a plan--for all of it.



     For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. ~2 Corinthians 4:17-18

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Taking a Break

     Sorry I have not been keeping up my posts, but I am extremely busy planning some ministry events for the youth at church. I thought I could blog in the midst of it, but my mind feels fragmented and unorganized. I hope to come back from our trip to Seattle with some amazing things to write you about. Thanks for understanding.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Come Alive

     It's Easter! God has invited you to share in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. That's right, you. Not only do you get to enjoy the benefits of having your sins forgiven, if you act within the next twenty minutes, you will also receive a free, never-empty cup of joy. Share it with your friends, neighbors, whomever you wish, it will never run out. But wait! As a special Easter bonus, you will also be sent free of charge, an uncommon internal peace.


    Actually, God doesn't really advertise, at least not in the way we think of advertising. I wrote that. Creation and changed lives are more His forte.


     So, I have to say....given the opportunity to go back to what I was before He moved in and changed my life forever, I never would. He invited me to try Him out, take Him for a test drive. It didn't take long for me to know how badly I wanted and needed God in my life. I was five years old.


     Many years passed before I completely surrendered to His will in my life, and even now some circumstances are difficult to accept. The more I see His mighty hand at work in my life and the lives of those around me, the easier it becomes to trust that He works all things together for good (Rom. 8:28).


     During my developing relationship with Him, I have witnessed the resurrection of the dead. Not dead people, at least they weren't physically dead, but the resurrection of dead relationships, dead hope, dead circumstances.


     God has renewed family relationships that seemed hopelessly lost not so long ago. Though that renewal involved me giving up my will for His, the reward far outweighs the stubbornness I clung so tightly to. God's way really is the better way, funny that it's difficult to surrender our wills to accept what He waits to show us.
   

      This Sunday, I rejoice in the resurrection of our dead marriage and family. Only six years ago, I didn't see how our marriage could last another day. Our life together was miserable for both my husband and me. God has been good to facilitate the healing necessary to have a strong relationship and build within our marriage the firm foundation our family needs to thrive.


     What an amazing gift that we have been invited to share in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, to experience resurrection in our own lives far beyond what we thought possible.


     We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.~Romans 6:4





     Happy Easter! What resurrections have you experienced in your life?


 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

In the Ring

     The bells are ding ding dinging, but I can't stand up. There's not any more fight left in me. No drink of water or toweling off renews the strength I need to keep going. The boxing ring of life takes it's toll at times, doesn't it? Part of me wants to jump over the rope and go have a massage...to scrap this whole mess and quit. Lately, it's difficult to roll with the circumstances coming at me like one upper cut after another. How about we declare a total knockout, I lose, and the fighting ends?




     I keep repeating JJ Heller's song "I Know Who You Are" . Just because I can't see why circumstances are mine to deal with doesn't mean they don't fit in to God's grand purposes for my life and the lives of those around me. I know He is still here with me and has plans to use all of the lessons I learn in times of trial.


     Why fight against the turmoil, which only exhausts my strength? Instead I will ask God for strength and grace to weather the battles threatening to take me out. He brings me through every heartache, and the result at the end of each dark tunnel has been for the benefit of many people.


     Our hope:

  • God's power is perfected in my weakness. ~2 Corinthians 12:9
  • He has already overcome this world. We just have to wait for it to play out.~John 16:33
  • The struggles of this current life are nothing compared to the glory we will enter into when it's over.~Romans 8:18
  • God is good. Therefore, if we love Him, everything we endure will work together for the best.~Romans 8:28
  • We can trust that God is continually working in our lives and the lives of those around us, and plans greater outcomes for life's situations than we would ever imagine.~Habakkuk 1:5
     Do you ever wish you could return to the Garden of Eden, yank the fruit from Eve's hand, and yell "NO! Don't do it!" She had no idea what she was setting in motion.



   

Saturday, March 9, 2013

"Let Me In!"...

     With eyes focused on the door in front of me, my clenched fists beat with all of their might....pounding at the block of wood like it somehow might hear and open up. The pleading and praying that pour forth from my heart still haven't budged the fortress before me. Is no one there?



     I thought the tossing and turning at night, the restlessness in my soul, combined with desparate pleas to God would cause something to happen, so why wasn't it? Exhausted from beating at the door with every ounce of strength I could muster, I stopped. Frustrated. Confused. I looked around, but not at the gigantic heavy door in the way.


     You know what I saw? A door open on the side of the building, beaconing me to enter. God heard me all along and was working behind the scenes accomplishing more than I would have imagined. I almost missed it because I couldn't get my eyes off the door in front of my face.


     Sadly, this isn't the first time. And I still haven't learned. God is bigger and stronger than any door that will ever be encountered. He works in ways we wouldn't imagine, accomplishing greater results than we ask for.


     This story reminds me of the Christians gathered together praying for Peter's release from prison. When he showed up at the gate, they told the servant girl to send him away because they were petitioning God. (Acts 12:1-19)


    Keep your eyes peeled. God is working everywhere all the time. Don't allow discouragement to overshadow the power of God in your life. Doors may be opening on the side of the building.


    Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. ~Ephesians 3:20

   

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Restoring A Dream

     Have you ever lost a dream? Circumstances altered your plans, sending you into a survival mode? You focus on today, because tomorrow is uncertain. Live thinking about your next meal, the next people who will walk through the door and overlook you.....again. Have you given up on being chosen? Do you loosen your grip on HOPE?



   


     Children in orphanages around the world wonder each and every day-- Will anyone ever come for me? Is there anyone in this whole world who wants to be my mom? They have been left by their own families because of illness, death, or poverty. The older the child, the bleaker the odds of being chosen for adoption. Infants and toddlers adjust to a new home in another country much easier. The language barrier is less of a challenge, healthy attachment to a family is more certain.


     So you wait, day after day, the stench of urine from undiapered children permeating the building, and you watch as moms and dads stroll in and choose their children. Choose them.....because they are wanted


     You remember how it feels, don't you? The team captains stand before you picking their teams. Please don't make me be last. You think of your strong points, give yourself a pep talk. Reasons why you would be chosen float through the mind while you try not to care. But even when you are picked dead last, you still get to be on the team.


     Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me. ~Psalm 27:10



      In this case the stakes are much higher. Children growing up in orphanages around the world may never know what it's like to be on the team, in a family. If they are not chosen, they will age out of the welfare system never experiencing the unconditional love and hope children need in order to thrive. Aging out of this system is dangerous, and in many parts of the world a death sentence. So much so, that the orphanages often lie about the ages of the children to keep them safe longer. An easy feat, considering failure to thrive is epidemic.


     These children may grow up, not feeling a mother's kiss on a boo boo, a father's arms around them to tell them it's going to be okay, wondering if God sees them.


     Jessie and Matt Gunderson have chosen their children, a brother and sister in Ethiopia. These children no longer need to hope they will be picked. They are already intensely loved. I wonder.....do they lie awake at night imagining what it will be like to have parents, brothers and sisters, a home? Have they prayed for this? Are they beside themselves with excitement?

 
     A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing....Psalm 68:5-6a


     You can read the Gunderson's adoption story here. Enter the Disneyland opportunity drawing here for just $5 through the end of February. Their children wait for them half way around the world, and the financial hurdles are huge. Please consider praying and/or donating. If we all pitch in, there will be two fewer lonely souls in this world. We can help restore the dreams of these two beautiful children.


    If God is tugging your heart to go beyond you can help them meet their $3,000 matching grant goal this week, you can donate on their behalf by mailing a tax deductible contribution to Lifesong for Orphans PO Box 40 / 202 N. Ford St Gridley, IL 61744 Please put “preference Gunderson#3461 adoption” in the memo section.



Saturday, February 9, 2013

     In over my head....again. With an unquenchable desire to take a group of teenage girls and their moms to Seattle for the Revolve Tour conference, I've plotted and planned. The hotel is booked (2 actually, just in case one falls through). Three fundraisers are in the works, each one intended to be a fun and useful service to others. Hopefully, that makes them a win-win for everyone.




 
    Next weekend is our first fundraiser ~ a 50s Diner and Sock Hop, though I don't anticipate much Sock Hopping. 240 Bottles of Coke have been purchased, the menu drawn up, prices determined. We will have some fun photo props, and the girls are planning to dress up in 50s fashion to serve the tables. All is going smoothly. So the problem?


     It is not uncommon for me to fall on my face when trying to tackle a large task. I once planned a wedding reception, and forgot to buy food. The day before, my mom called to see how things were coming along. "What! Amy, you are having eighty people for dinner tomorrow!" Well, yeah, but my house was really clean.

   
     Therein lies my insecurity. I have these great big ideas, but flop on the follow through. Someone always has to save me, swooping in to rescue my dream of a job well done. While I am grateful for these saves, they can be embarrassing. I think to myself... I can't do it. I should stop trying.


     Why do I keep trying? Because if I work at it, learning as much as I can along the way, I am bound to succeed. Forcing myself to perform outside of my comfort zone develops skills and experience I would never gain otherwise. Then there's that awesome promise that God's power is perfected in weakness, and I am counting on that this spring.


     Do you ever force yourself to develop a skill you aren't good at?

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Enjoying Simple Pleasures

     "What's for lunch today, Amy?" one of the three year olds at the daycare asked me.

     "Beef Stroganoff, Salad, and Fruit Cocktail."

     "And do you have ranch dressing for the salad?"

     "I do!"





     She immediately began chanting "GO RA-ANCH, GO RA-ANCH!" Soon all eight kiddos in the group were swinging their arms in the air and spinning, all of them chanting with her.

     With a smile, I turned to go back into the kitchen and finish preparing lunch for the daycare center. It made me think.....maybe I should let little things, like ranch dressing for my salad, make my day. I wonder how it would change my outlook.

     Letting simple pleasures thrill me lightens my mood and helps me be so thankful for every little blessing.

     "So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness."~ Colossians 2:7

     So, are there any little things that make your day?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Who is God?

     So, who is God? And if you know, how do you explain it to twenty five JR highers in 30 minutes?

     My husband and I are teaching through Max Lucado's Max on Life. It's a great book of life questions and Max's responses to those questions. Last night, we tackled "Who is God?" for the JR High Youth Group lesson.



     These are Max Lucado's main points.

  • God is unchanging (Heb. 6:17-18)
  • God is unparalleled (Isa. 40:13-14)
  • God is ungoverned (1 Tim. 6:15-16)
  • God is untouched (1 Sam 2:2)
  • God is uncaused (Ps 90:1-2)
  • God is unlimited (Ps 147: 4-5)
     We discussed these points, adding a short discussion about a creator who put so much care into his creation. and we have talked about how difficult it is to wrap our human minds around these characteristics.

      While these are great points, and each is valid, I wanted to make the lesson more personal for them. I shared who God has been to me:
  • Best secret keeper ever (Ps. 44:21). You can tell God anything and everything, and He never runs around blabbing your secrets all over school. 
  • My best friend....sometimes my only friend (Prov. 18: 24). I talked to God when there was no one else I wanted to talk to (ha ha....see above). I told him my feelings, my fears, my anger, everything. So can you. He is trustworthy.
  • My comforter when I am scared or upset. My protector (Prov. 2: 7-8). The measure of comfort I received from my Heavenly Father is almost unbelievable. His hand in my life and protection He provides is undeniable.
  • Because of God's power in our lives, my husband and I are still married. God has absolutely provided intense healing for our marriage and relationship. 
     Ps. 68: 5-6 declares "A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun scorched land.

     Ps. 27: 10 "Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me."


     In short, there is no greater advocate for the poor, broken, outcast. No other being would ever be found with the ability to change lives so completely from the inside out. None would be found with such a compassionate heart for those hurting and in need. 

     I could have spoken for hours on the topic and not even begun to scratch the surface of who God is. We encourage them to get into their Bibles and research more, to get to know God for themselves.


     Who has God been for you?


   

Friday, January 18, 2013

In the Face of Rejection

     I dance the dance of evasion with everyone I know. Sometimes toes get stepped on, feelings hurt, but it's a cost I have always been willing to pay. I reason that they are casualties of the dance, which must be performed. Dancing distracts. When others concentrate on their footwork, they aren't concerned with my tendency to pull away. Under the guise of guarding my heart, I avoid close relationships, unwilling to risk  potential pain.



     Though greatly improved, still I wrestle with an inner barrier so long in place that I can't remember life without it. What am I avoiding? Rejection


     Passed over. Stared through. Unrecognized. Unappreciated. Unwanted. Rejected. It stings, doesn't it? Not really like a bee stings, but more like the unrelenting sting of an angry wasp. Repeatedly and unmercifully, the pain of rejection lingers long after the initial poke, setting off an internal churning that is difficult to soothe. Even ego stroking from loved ones fall short of rebuilding your esteem.


     It is in personally experiencing the deep wounds of rejection that we identify with Christ, denied by humanity while devoting Himself to the good of mankind. He came to serve those who would ultimately betray Him, but He never held their mistakes against them. Christ prayed for them while they were killing Him.  I want to handle rejection like He did, to serve those who turn me down.


     God is always aware of the feelings you experience, as He compassionately guides you in the path you were meant to follow. It's  challenging to remember that a path change, though sometimes painful, leads you into God's best plan for your life.


      I wrestle with tearing down the walls preventing me from sharing much of myself with others. Those walls will come down as I rely on His acceptance of me, and trust Him in my relationships with others. I will strive to offer the same grace He offers mankind, because through that grace, others will see Him.


     I want to dance in the face of rejection.


     How do you handle rejection?


   










   

Monday, January 14, 2013

Spiritual Realignment

     Snap. Pop. Crunch. Being realigned is no fun....at least for me. Someone digging their knees into your back trying to put your spine in place. No thank you. Once in painful desperation, I begged to have it done. The benefit wound up being worth the discomfort.

     But this is no chiropractor. I am in the Spiritual Realignment Office, and boy have I been adjusted. I didn't even ask for it. They just grabbed me out of the waiting room and went to work. Seriously.

     During a phone conversation, my friend blurted out "You are off somewhere. You need to get back on track. You should start by getting right with God."




     Really? Oh my gosh, how rude! I managed to maintain enough civility to politely continue the discussion, the whole while choking down my anger, lest it jump out and do irreparable damage. After the conversation, all I could do was think about what she'd said. Who does she think she is anyway?

     The more I stewed about it, and prayed, the more I realized she was right. The next logical question: How the heck did she know? My problems weren't totally obvious through the mask I wore. Only in listening to me and hearing my heart as I bared it to her, did she realize I was off. Way off actually. I could feel it. Deep down I knew, but I didn't have to look at it as long as no one else could see it.

     God knew my pain and heard my prayers, and mercifully helped me step forward toward Him.

     That little bit of reprimand put me on the road to recovery in my walk with God. I had put Him on the back burner, and life wasn't working very well for me. I didn't even know how to fix it when I began to see the point my friend was making. I started filling my life with more God, and more God honoring things, chucking stuff that didn't belong.

     Life can never be perfect. I fail at least as often as I succeed. Though still I stumble, and sometimes fall, I continue that pursuit of God and knowing who He is. Just like a spine is uncomfortable when it's out of alignment, so is spiritual life uncomfortable when something is amiss. That discomfort is the gauge I use now, and of course, people who lovingly show me where I am wrong.


     For this command is a lamp, this teaching is a light, and correction and instruction are the way to life,     ~ Proverbs 6:23


     Am I the only one? Have you been corrected about your spiritual alignment?

   


   

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Unique Design

     Just as I planned for my next mega crime spree, a new law went into effect and my plans went down the drain. The daycare center I work for was required by the state to complete new background checks and fingerprinting.

     Nerve wracking as it was to be fingerprinted, I'm so thankful for the experience. I was called into a little room with a guy and a special fingerprinting computer. As one by one my fingerprints appeared on the screen, magnified to 100 times their actual size, I marveled. Mr. fingerprinter seemed encouraged, and possibly slightly amused, at my excitement. Every curve and ridge, bend and swirl uniquely mine, not another soul on this planet of almost seven billion would ever be found to have the exact same print.




     Though it took all of ten minutes, my whole day was amazing afterward. Why? The God who created the universe cared enough about each one of us to give us our very own design, attributes unique only to one individual. It absolutely thrilled me to think of the love that went into that creation, my creation. God chose my fingerprint, but it doesn't stop there.  No two DNA profiles will ever be the same. Your genetic makeup is only yours. In all of our scientific, technological advances, man has never duplicated the kind of intricacy born in a mind unfathomable.


     Fingerprints and DNA are two of the incredible ways God's signature has been embedded in each one of us. There are many design features that make us completely unique individuals, too many to get into here. Take a little time, though, and think about that. Maybe the next time you need a pick me up, grab an ink pad. Roll your fingers across it and stamp them onto a clean piece of paper, then contemplate the thought and love God put into your personal design. 


      For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.~Psalm 139: 13-16 (NIV)


     What makes you stop and think about God's designs?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Oregon Trail

     What do you get when you take a little girl to the craft store to let her pick out some necessities for the Oregon Trail? A very well outfitted wagon, complete with several items one might need (and some they don't) to brave the long trek west.







      This was my third Oregon Trail Wagon project, so naturally, I went into it thinking I knew what I was in for. One thing--my other two projects were with boys. Funny how differently they outfitted their wagons. They did a great job, but theirs were rugged, having little or no frills, more tools and practical things for the trip.





     My daughter's wagon is padded with pillows and blankets, contains several children and their parents, and a clothesline holding Barbie clothes stretches across the back of it. Each character in the wagon has a personality, chores, and role in the family. She was so busy coming up with their story that I had to remind her to work on the actual wagon.






     I wish I had been blogging when my boys did their wagons. It would have been fun!


     What is a memorable project you have worked on with your kids?













































































Saturday, January 5, 2013

Do You Self Sabotage?

     I know I do. It's a new year full of promise, and plenty of plans for improvement.I want to regain ground on who I should be becoming. I have such a long list of improvements I hope to make that it will have to be instituted in phases. (More on that in a future post)





     My problem is this.....already I find myself thinking I can't do....whatever. I want to write a book proposal, but I don't write well enough. I want to walk to work, but what if there's a problem and I need to get to the kids in a hurry? And so, I keep myself from starting or even trying to start. Holding a coffee in one hand and a cookie in the other, I look at the mountain in front of me without taking a single step toward it. Struggling with self sabotage and warring against it happens every single time I want to do something to change myself for the better.


     The tragedy of self sabotage is that it keeps you in a prison of your own making. It's a trap that prevents you from freely becoming who God created you to be. Those mightily used by God overcome their own negative voices, and listen for His direction.


     It's a little funny if you think about it. You have to talk yourself out of talking yourself out of improving your life. I will though. I will fight to be more.....more loving toward my husband, kids, and others I am in contact with, especially those who are difficult. More organized, more disciplined, more responsible. If I slip backward, I will get up and push into the wind once again because more than anything I don't want to stay where I am. I must keep moving forward.


     " for though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again, but the wicked are brought down in times of calamity." Proverbs 24:16


     Do you struggle with self sabotage? What do you do about it?