Wednesday, December 30, 2009
One more difference between resolutions and goals - at least the way I see it - is this: I write down my resolutions, but that's it. When I'm thinking about my goals, I apply more thought to them and plan. This is an important first step in achieving my goals. In March, I posted a blog about procrastination. In it I mentioned three steps Joshua used to help the Israelites possess their promised land. I believe these three steps are beneficial in helping me achieve my goals.
First, I must have a plan of attack for my goals. For example, if I want to lose weight, then I need to allot time in my schedule for exercise and meal planning.
Second, I must allow others to hold me accountable. My husband is helping me with the health goals, as he wants to be healthy as well. I talk and pray weekly with a friend regarding our family and ministry goals.
Third, and this is the most important one, I must dedicate my plans to the Lord. I want my plans to be His plans. I've already prayed for wisdom to know the difference.
What about you? Have you thought about your goals for the new year?
I pray the Lord blesses each and everyone of you. I also pray all of us grow closer to the Lord and become the salt and light He wants us to be.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Lately, there are times where I want to give up. Give up writing, healthy eating, exercising, and training the new dog (he's an adult with puppy tendencies). My slothful, gluttonous self would rather plop down in front of the television eating pizza and chocolate. But God has called me to a higher purpose (thankfully). He wants me to persevere during this race. I know the word "perseverance" does not appear in any of those verses, but the idea of perseverance does.
According to the Holman Bible Dictionary "perseverance" means to "maintain the Christian faith through the trying times." I believe trying times can be anything from battling my old self to experiencing suffering. It's during those times of wanting to be slothful and gluttonous that I choose to persevere in my faith.
Perseverance requires focus. Paul wrote that we are running to gain an eternal crown. I must keep my focus on what the prize is at the end of the race. If I lose sight of the prize, then I lose the reason for running this race.
Perseverance requires a plan. Paul says he does not run as one who runs aimlessly, which implies to me he has a plan. He knows the track and stays on course. This is what I must do, not only for the areas of my life, but for my life in general. For example, I not only plan a wholesome menu to become healthy, but I plan to be healthy the rest of my life in order to accomplish what the Lord has set before me. Of course, no one knows the track better than the One who planned it, so prayer is a necessity to determine where I should go.
Finally, perseverance requires discipline. Paul mentions beating his body and making it a slave. I see this as an example of becoming a servant to God and putting to death my old ways. He also mentions going into strict training. This is where discipline needs perseverance. If I don't persevere in disciplining myself, then my old habits are going to creep back in, replacing the new habits.
I'm not perfect with perseverance -far from it. But now that I have a new understanding of these verses, I pray I can put these points into practice and persevere during all types of trials and suffering. What are your thoughts?
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Earlier, I posted what NaNoWriMo was teaching me (click here). Now that I've completed the project, I still agree with what I wrote, but I've learned other things as well.
To begin with, I enjoyed writing my piece of fiction. Each day, as I wrote, I could see the story coming together. I could see my flaws (characters need to be more dimensional, use more descriptions of places, and so on). Finally, I realized I can actually write a novel, slowly.
At one point I finally decided to have fun with the novel and not take it so seriously. After all, it was just my first draft. I can always edit - later. Which is what I'll do at some point in the near future (right now I want to focus on a different writing project).
All in all, I enjoyed the challenge and the learning process. I may do this again next year, I may not. It depends on what is happening in my life at the time. But, yet again, this challenge proved to me that I want to write.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Lesson #1: Novel writing is harder than I thought (not that I thought it was a walk through a park). Though I am, for the most part, an intuitive writer (meaning I just sit down and write what's in my head), I may benefit from an outline. This takes me back to a fifth grade project where I had to write a required outline for my report on President Andrew Jackson (I think I used the entire eraser on my erasable pen). I couldn't wait to finish the outline so that I could write the paper. Now, as I write my novel, I'm wishing I had taken the time to complete an outline. There's got to be a balance there somewhere.
Lesson #2: At this particular point in my life, a full-length novel may not be my path. Novel writing takes a lot of focus, at least for me. I'm also focused on my family and the many facets of our life. I have a habit of thinking I can do everything, but then really end up doing nothing well. I'm beginning to think devotionals, articles and short stories may be the way for me to go.
Lesson #3: It is possible to dial back my internal editor. One of the purposes of NaNoWriMo is to have writers put their words to paper without editing. Whenever I get the strong urge to go back and edit a scene I have to tell, or at times yell, to myself "I don't care - just write!" This is a huge step for a former tech writer whose internal editor was continually turned on to high.
These are the things I've learned about myself so far. I'm not sure if I will make my word count for the contest, but I'm still trying. Even if I don't meet the word count, I'm still glad I accepted the challenge. It has been an eye-opening experience for me.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Honestly, I haven't written much since May. Actually, other than journaling here and there and a weekly blog post, I haven't been writing. The summer, full of travel, organizing, researching, and planning other endeavors, didn't provide me the mental opportunity to write. So, I gave myself permission not to write for awhile.
By September, I missed writing - so much so I felt it in my soul. I decided the NaNoWriMo challenge provided the perfect introduction to writing again. I'll admit, I waivered a bit. Okay, I waivered the whole month of October. I overwhelmed myself with thoughts like "I'm too busy," "I feel overwhelmed," and "What if I don't write 50,000 words?" Finally, I decided "Who cares?" Yes, I'm busy, but if I'm organized, I can do it. So what if I don't meet the word count? I would still write more than if I didn't do the challenge. It just took me a while to reach these conclusions. I signed up for NaNoWriMo October 28 - four days before the contest started. I'm glad I did though. Five days into the challenge, and I'm enjoying it. I'm also finding myself a bit more organized in order to fit everything into the day.
I'll keep you updated on my progress throughout the month. Not just word count, but how I'm feeling about the challenge. Who knows what will be next after the month of November. Maybe I'll edit and rewrite my novel or maybe I'll move on to nonfiction. Either way, I already feel encouraged through this process and I know it will only bring good things.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
This is one of my memory verses from earlier this year. I used it to remind myself not to be so gluttonous. Let's just say I've lost focus a few times. Of course, this verse can apply to anything that may damage the body, which goes against God's will. We are His creation, made in His image. And now that we've been sanctified through the blood of Christ, we are sacred. Our actions should reflect the character of Christ.
I know I look at my ways and sometimes feel overwhelmed with the task of controlling them. The good news though is that the Spirit of God dwells within me and when I focus on Him, then I have self-control, since it is a fruit of the Spirit.
Why is it important for me to remember that the Spirit of the Lord lives in me? Because I am to be the salt of the earth, an example of God's love, grace, and redemption. If I'm living according to my own desires, then what difference will the world see? Why would they want to follow God if I'm still a slave to my own desires? Also, knowing that the Spirit of the Lord lives in me reminds me of the sacrifice made for my life and how sacred that sacrifice was.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Romans 6:22: "But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life." (ESV)
Sanctification, according to the Holman Bible Dictionary, means "the process of being made holy resulting in a changed lifestyle for the believer." Sanctification is a process where the end result is a holy, eternal life spent with the Lord.
How do we live a sanctified life? We must dedicate ourselves to being holy, to carry out the Lord's will, to follow Christ. We need to turn away from our sinful lifestyles and live a life consecrated to God.
Romans 6:22 speaks of fruit leading to sanctification. If we become slaves of God and imitate Christ, then, I believe, the fruit leading to sanctification is the fruit of the Spirit. "Love, joy, peace patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control" (Galatians 5:22) are all of Christ's traits. As I write this, I am becoming more aware of the work of the Trinity - God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit - in the process of sanctification.
Sanctification is one of those words I have heard over and over in church rhetoric, but really never gave any thought to - until recently. I was speaking with a friend who is truly dedicating herself to sanctification. Listening to her talk about everything she's going through - sacrifice, self-control, dedication, and more importantly a closer walk with the Lord - made me think about my life. Am I truly a slave to God or am I serving my own purpose? Last week, I spoke about my season of pruning, and I feel this is one of those areas God is working on to bring me to a closer relationship with Him.
What are your thoughts about sanctification? Are you living a life consecrated to God or serving your own purpose? Please feel free to comment.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
I am entering a new season in my life. A time for me to cut back on my activities and focus even more on my children, particularly since I am homeschooling them. I am enjoying this new season - teaching and watching my children learn how to read, write, and add. I am overjoyed when I hear them recite their memory verses each week - sacred scripture to help them live their lives for the Lord.
I am a little hesitant about this season as well, because I know pruning is involved. Yesterday, we had our trees pruned. At first, I thought the tree-trimmers were trimming too much off of the trees, but once I viewed the end result, I loved it. No longer broken and unruly, they are healthy and nicely shaped. I know this is what the Lord wants for me. He wants me to be whole, and not broken; healthy, and not diseased. I'm a little hesitant because I don't want to feel pain. He's already bringing up past insecurities and rejections to the surface and I don't like the emotions accompanying them. But if this is His will, then so be it.
Jesus says in John 15:2 "Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit." I would rather be pruned and bear more fruit than to be "gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned." (verse 6).
Enter faith. I have faith in my Lord. I know He is pruning me out of love so that I may be productive for His purpose. How do I know this? Romans 8:28 says "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose." Also, Philippians 1:6 says "And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ."
I know in my heart this pruning is what is best for me. It will loose strongholds keeping me from His work and better prepare me for His purpose. I also know in those times of sadness, anger, and reflection, He will be there for me, comforting me along the way.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
When Elijah heard the gentle whisper, he knew he was in the presence of the LORD. I'm not so sure I would have reacted the same way. I probably would have expected Him in the wind, the earthquake, and the fire because He is a mighty God.
Recently, my aunt, uncle, cousin and her husband stayed the night with us. As my aunt and I were talking, I could also hear my husband's conversation with my uncle a few feet away from us. I had to focus more on my aunt's quieter voice and block out the men's louder voices. I then realized I need to do the same thing with the LORD because He does speak in a still, small voice. I need to block out life's noises, such as politics, tv, or anything else distracting, and focus on Him.
I'll admit I haven't been focusing on God like I should. I've let life interfere. I've drowned out His voice with my own and as a result, I feel empty. The good news though is that He is waiting for me to turn my attention to Him. I can't wait to hear what He has to say.
What about you? Do you hear the gentle whisper or just the noise?
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Dictionary.com defines rhetoric as "the ability to use language effectively; the art of making persuasive speeches." After watching clips of town hall meetings and the responses from our elected officials, I wonder if more could have been achieved with better rhetoric.
I understand many people are filled with concern for America and the direction it appears to be going in (for example: years of debt passed on to our children and grandchildren). I am as well. I also understand people are angry because they feel their voices are not being heard, or worse, ignored, by our politicians. I feel that way, too. We cannot give in though to the impulse of our anger. It is not effective speech when we confront our politicians with name-calling and finger-pointing. Once that starts, the politician will be offended enough not to listen. It is more effective to approach them in a calm manner and present them with the facts and concerns.
Now, as far as the politicians are concerned: they are not winning people over with their name-calling either. Referring to their constituents who disagree with them as "mobs" or "astroturf" or "un-American" only stokes the anger a lot of people are feeling. They are not a doing a good job of presenting the facts to Americans and calming their fears.
So, what can we do? Gather facts and write your representatives and senators with your concerns. Treat them as you would want to be treated - with respect. Use your right to protest - but peacefully. Also, vote. Finally, pray. Pray for our elected officials. Pray they will open their ears to their constituents and that they will turn away from corruption and selfish-deeds.
I wonder when history and rhetoric courses look back at this moment in time, if they will find any inspiring speeches spoken by a true leader ready to work with Americans instead of against them.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
I understand that sin is a an act of rebellion on my part against God. Sin separates me from Him. I also comprehend the seriousness of sin since God sent Jesus to die for our sins.
My sin not only affects me, but those around me as well. I'll use my sin of gluttony for example. When I overeat, I am mistreating my body - God's temple. The more I overeat, the unhealthier I become. When I am unhealthy, I am not at my best to deal with my responsibilities, let alone opportunities. I'm just too tired. I then become sick and unable to give 100% to God and my family.
When I pray for forgiveness of my sin, what are my expectations? Do I reflect upon my sin and ask the Lord for help? Or do I expect Him to wave a wand and *poof* the sin is gone never to bother me again? When the Israelites celebrated Yom Kippur or Day of Atonement, they took it seriously. They fasted and stopped working for the duration while the High Priest performed the ritual, which included sacrifice, burning of incense, and confession in the Temple. They used this day to renew their covenant with the Lord.
Second Chronicles 7:14 says "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." The original context of this verse is God's answer to Solomon's prayer of dedication. In the prayer, Solomon asked the Lord to hear His people. This was God's response. I believe it is just as applicable today as it was then.
Asking forgiveness of sin is more than "please forgive me." It requires action on my part as I turn away from my sin and constantly seek the Lord's face. Thankfully, through the sacrifice of Jesus, He hears me. He helps me through the Holy Spirit. He desires the restored relationship. For this is the abundant life.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
This verse is part of the Ten Commandments. Sadly enough, while God dictated these words to Moses, the rest of the Israelites grew impatient and fashioned their own god - a golden calf. Despite escaping from Egypt and miraculously crossing the Red Sea, the Israelites lost their faith in the one true God.
I've been reflecting on the way I live my life lately and one of the questions I keep asking myself is if I have any false gods or idols in my life. No, I do not have any carved or gilded statues in my house, but there are other ways of worshipping a false god or idol.
The Hebrew word for "gods" is "elohiym" (pronounced el-o-heem) and it simply means "God or gods." (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance).
The Hebrew word for "idol" is "eliyl" (pronounced el-eel') and it means "good for nothing; idol, no value, thing of nought."
The definition for idol seems fitting for what I use or do instead of turning to God. For example, when I'm emotionally exhausted, I make my way to food. I could turn to prayer. I tend to veg out in front of the television or Internet when I feel stressed - just to get my mind off of my issue. I could worship God and meditate on Him during those times instead.
Idolatry is some thing that we deviate to instead of God. It dilutes our faith and weakens our walk with Him. In Isaiah 1:21, the Lord says "See how the faithful city has become a harlot!" He was referring to Jerusalem and how the people, who once worshipped God, now worshipped many idols. He considered it adultery.
I have noticed though that when I rely on something else other than God, though it may temporarily satisfy me, the feeling quickly goes away. I am left empty and dreading the extra calories I just inhaled. When I turn to God, I feel full. I may still have a problem, but I have peace about it and possibly wisdom to help me with the situation. I hope I remember this though next time I'm faced with the choice to worship and pray or eat junk in front of the tv.
What about you? Do you have any idols or false gods in your life?
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Fast forward two years. My husband had to be out of town for the day on business, but planned on being back to celebrate our two-year anniversary. I listened to a local radio station as I sat in rush-hour traffic. The morning DJ came on and announced that a second plane had just hit the World Trade Center. A second plane? I didn't realize one had hit the first tower. I turned up the radio and listened to the barely-there details. Once I arrived at work, I joined the rest of the employees in the lounge area watching the television. Details trickled in. The Pentagon was hit, the towers crumbled, and the plane crashed in the field. I remember standing there, jaw to the floor, awe-struck with what I was hearing. The company sent us home to be with family. That day, full of terror, tears, and sadness will forever remain with me as well.
Obviously, we didn't celebrate our anniversary that night. In fact, we didn't celebrate our anniversary on the 11th for a few years, instead waiting a couple of days. It didn't feel right. This year though, I want to celebrate it on the proper day. God blessed us that day and has blessed us for ten years. I want to acknowledge and commemorate the occasion. I no longer feel I'm disrespecting those who lost their lives, but rather honoring the Lord for what He has done for us. I've decided there has to be a balance between celebrating my marriage and remembering those who lost their lives. That is why this date will forever be bittersweet.
Today, I'm borrowing heavily from his outline. In particular, the section titled "How to Pray With Power." This may be a little long, but I believe the points he makes are important.
To begin with, our prayers must be made to God. I know, you're thinking, isn't all prayer made to God? Here are some things to consider.
Do we make a definite, conscious approach to God? We need to have a vivid realization that God is listening to us as we pray.
Do we allow our minds to be taken up with what we need? They shouldn't. Our minds need to be focused on God. Our needful thoughts should be secondary.
Do we allow our minds to wander? I'm guilty of this. One moment, I'm praying and the next, I'm thinking about something that happened last week.
"In this type of praying (the wandering, not-focusing-on-God type), there is no power - this prayer is not to God."
So, how can we make sure our prayers are unto God? "Look to the Holy Spirit to lead us into the presence of God. Develop an attitude of reverence (don't be hasty with words and wait for the Holy Spirit's lead)." Romans 8:26 says "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words." Jude 20 also says "But you, beloved, building yourselves up in our most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit..."
We should also pray without ceasing and with all earnestness. When Jesus prayed in the Garden, "He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground," (Luke 22:44).
Hebrews 5:7 reads "In the days of His flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears..."
The point these two verses make is to pour our prayers from our soul, "stretching out toward God in intense and agonizing desire."
The next point convicts me: "If we rush into God's presence, run through a string of petitions, jump up, and leave - if we put little heart into our prayers - we cannot expect God to put much heart into answering our prayers." He might because He is gracious, but I see the point. Also, if I'm not willing to deeply express my requests, then are they that important to me?
I hope this helps you in your prayer life. I know my grandpa's words have given me many thoughts to seriously consider. What are your thoughts?
Monday, September 7, 2009
I'm a little nervous, but excited beyond words. Both of my children seem to be excited as well. My daughter has been counting down the days and even picked out her first-day-of-school outfit.
I try not to be overwhelmed with the idea that my husband and I are responsible for their education. And trust me, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. There are learning styles, homeschooling styles, numerous choices for curriculum, state laws and requirements, independent school requirements (more on that in a minute), homeschool organizations, homeschool legal defense associations, and on and on and on.
I attended an introductory course a month ago and a some of these questions were answered. I also learned new things to add to the plethora of information currently floating in my brain. For example, there are three homeschooling options to choose from (according to Colorado law). I could homeschool and submit information (i.e. attendance records and testing scores) directly to the school district or I could work through an independent or private school, which means I follow their guidelines for attendance and testing, while they maintain our records. Another option requires me to have a teacher's certificate. We chose the independent school option.
I'm also trying not to feel pressured. I feel like this year is for trial and error as my oldest is starting Kindergarten. I'm sure curricula will come and go, depending on each child's needs, but hopefully I can attune myself to each child's learning style early on to avoid frustration.
The one thing I'm looking forward to is the look on my children's faces as they learn something new and it clicks. I want them to be excited to learn more about the Lord and His creation. I'm sure it will be a refresher course for me as well, and hopefully I, too, will appreciate the Lord and His creation a little (okay a lot) more.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
As I reveiwed the Scriptures last night regarding prayer, I noticed how seriously the Biblical heroes took prayer. Moses, Daniel, Jesus, and many more, would go to a quiet place or rise before the sun to pray. Some prayed for 40 days and nights, some fasted during their prayers, some wore sackcloth and ashes as a sign of true mourning and repentance. Pleading for mercy, praying for their nations, for protection, for a child - these prayers were offered from the heart. They prayed without ceasing (1 Thessolonians 5:17).
How can I improve my prayer life? I can't necessarily go away for 40 days and nights, but I might be able to find 40 minutes (keep in mind there are no time limits on prayer, I'm using this as an example). I can go to bed earlier so I can get up earlier and use the quiet time of the early morning for prayer.
I can also watch what I pray. James 4:2b - 3 says "You do not have, because you do not ask. 3You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions." (ESV)
What are the motives for my prayers? Am I praying for God's will to be done or am I praying for material possessions that will bring no glory to God?
How am I praying? Am I like the hypocrite and the pharisee - praying where others see me (Matthew 6:5) and bragging to God how great and pious I am (Luke 18:11)? Or like the tax collector who hung his head, beat his chest and begged for mercy (Luke 18:1) realizing my great sin and His great grace?
The benefits of prayer are endless. I will draw closer to the Lord as I relay my most intimate thoughts to Him. My relationship with Him will grow stronger meaning my faith will grow as well. It's also a chance to check my thoughts and motivations and pray for forgiveness. I can't do this though in short prayers, just like I can't build a relationship with someone with short phrases.
How's your prayer life? What are your thoughts on prayer? I would love to read your comments.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Phillipians 4:6 "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." (ESV)
I've heard this verse many, many times - so much so that I never really paid attention to the meaning of the words anymore, but rather recited them from memory. As I prepared for this study, I became curious of the word supplication. The Greek word for supplication is "deesis" (pronounced deh-ay-sis) and it means "prayer, request, supplication" (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance). So, reading the verse with this definition, it sounds like "...but in everything by prayer and prayer..." but that seems a bit repetitive. I then looked supplication up on Dictionary.com and it defined it as a "humble prayer."
I also looked up the definition for prayer and it seemed to make the verse a bit clearer. The Greek word for prayer is "proseuche" (pronounced pros-yoo-khay), meaning "prayer (worship)."
Now I read the verse as "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by worshipful prayer and humble prayer and thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."
This is how Jesus prayed when He was in the garden before His arrest. Mark 14:36 says "And he said, 'Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what You will." He worshipped the Lord by acknowledging His power - "all things are possible for You..." Then he humbly asked the Lord to take away his cup, but "not what I will, but what You will." Jesus didn't list off his accomplishments or say why he deserved not to die. He put aside his will and prayed for God's will.
Present your requests to God in a humble and worshipful matter. Most importantly, pray for His will, not yours.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
My daughter struggled with me as I tried to help her write the number eight. "I can do it," she said as she pulled the paper away from my reach.
After a few moments, I pulled her aside for a talk. "Honey, why don't you like it when I help you?" No comment. I continued. "Is it because you feel like you're a big girl and can do it yourself?"
"Yes," she said sheepishly.
I then went on to explain that it's okay to ask for help. Then it hit me. I'm just as guilty. I think that since I'm a woman in my mid-30s, I should be able to do it all without help. The truth is, I can't.
I've been feeling a bit overwhelmed the past few weeks. Occasionally, I may have prayed for help, peace, guidance, and rest, but not consistently. It's during those times of inconsistency where I feel like I'm drowning.
The word "help" originates in Hebrew as "azar" (pronounced aw-zar). According to Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, it means "to surround, to protect or aid: help." Using that definition, I imagine the Lord surrounding me, helping me with my issues. Maybe like the way I stood behind and surrounded my daughter, holding her hand while helping her write eights.
Times are tough - bad economy, a lot of stress and anger, distrust of others, disappointment, and fear. Add those to personal issues and it's enough to make one feel helpless - but God is here. "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." All we have to do is ask and trust in Him.
Monday, August 10, 2009
Isn't this how we should be as we present our gifts to the Lord? Carefree, full of love, and from the heart? There's a freedom in knowing that if I present my talent to my heavenly Father as a gift of worship, He will not reject me. In fact, I imagine His reaction to be like mine to my daughter's dance - full of joy and delight.
He gives us talents not only to minister to the world, but also as a way to worship Him. As long as I use my talent and present it with love, I'm not only obeying His will for my life, but I'm also worshipping Him.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Oddly enough, after a couple of days with no access, I found myself less stressed and more energized. I became care-free. It’s been awhile since I felt that way. I then realized I spend too much time on the Internet. I need to moderate my time. But how can I moderate my time, especially when my urge to visit the web hit me as soon as I came home?
I’m still thinking through this. I do have a few changes coming up in my life (more on that later), so I need to rethink my whole day. One way is to schedule specific time periods for my recreational surfing and follow it. Another way to moderate it is to cut back on what I read. I read a lot. I read news sites, blogs, online magazines, emails, and social networks. I need to review and weed out the material not edifying my soul (for example: entertainment magazines).
These are just a couple of ideas I’ve come up with so far.
What about you? Do you find yourself spending too much time on something? What do you do to moderate it?
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
"Mommy, come look at my room," my daughter yelled down the stairs. She wanted me to see her clean room.
"Great job, Sweetie," I said looking at her room. Her smile beamed across her face as I expressed my delight in a job well done (granted this was the third time to look at her room, but it was finally done). As children of God, we should want to please Him, just as children long to please their parents.
So what pleases the Lord? Jeremiah 9:24 gives us a hint: "...but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight." Just as the LORD exercises kindness, justice and righteousness, we should as well. He delights in those who practice His ways and live as children of light. Of course, living as children of light, we should shine in the darkness.
What's the reward for pleasing the Lord? Psalm 37:23 - 24 says: "If the Lord delights in a man's way, he makes his steps firm; 24 though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand." My favorite part of those verses is the phrase "...the Lord delights in a man's way" My prayer is that He delights in my ways and that my ways are His ways. I imagine Him watching me, smiling and delighting in my way of living. A smile beams across my face.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Recently, my friends and I were discussing the Ark of the Covenant. Our conversation consisted of comments like "Can you imagine traveling with the Spirit of God like that?" "I can't begin to imagine carrying the Ark..." Then a friend reminded us that the Spirit of God dwells in us. Oh, yeah.
Since then, I've been contemplating my body and how I treat it. Not just physically, but spiritually and mentally as well. How do I honor God with my body? It is in the way I live my life.
Romans 6:19 reads: "...Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness." The Greek word for slavery is "doulos" (pronounced doo'-los) meaning a "slave (literally or figuratively, involuntary or voluntary frequently therefore in a qualified sense of subjection or subserviency): bond, servant."* We were once slaves to our bodies, needing to gratify every carnal desire, but not anymore. Jesus died in order to pay for our sins. He paid the price for us to free us. Now that the Spirit of God dwells within us, our old desires have been replaced with new desires to please God, to live a holy life.
What does a holy life mean? "holy" means "...morally blameless or religious, ceremonially consecrated: saint."* Believe it or not, this is possible by listening to that still, small voice inside known as the Spirit of God. Holiness comes from obedience to the Word of God. We cannot attain holiness without God. Of course, the only way to get to God is through His Son Jesus.
If we live our lives recognizing, on a daily basis, that we are the temple of God - the dwelling place of His Spirit, I wonder how different we would be? Would we be kinder to others and to ourselves? Would we be healthier physically and mentally? Would we be the salt Jesus talks about? And before anyone thinks I'm judging them, I'm not. These questions are directed to me as well.
What are your thoughts?
*Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Too many demands and not enough rest in the Lord makes an empty, cranky person. At least that's how I feel. I don't necessarily feel burdened, but I do feel weary. I've allowed my to-do list to control me and now my body and mind are rebelling. It's not that I need sleep - I need to rest in the LORD. I need to soak in His glory, to gaze upon His beauty, and to know that He is God.
The Greek word for "rest" is "anapauo" (pronounced an-ap-ow-o Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible). It means to "take ease, refresh (give, take) rest." Jesus is offering us refreshment and rest. To me, it's like swimming in a cool pool on a hot day. We are immersed in His rest, His refreshment.
How do we rest in Him, especially if we have responsibilities requiring our attention? Look at your daily schedule. Are there any blocks of time (an hour here, a half-hour there), that are free? For example, I know once the kids go to bed, I have a couple of hours to myself (which I've been using poorly). I also know I watch too much television and spend too much time surfing the Internet.
Jesus found rest by escaping to quiet places. In Mark 6:31, Jesus tells His disciples to "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." Mark 1:35 says "Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed." Notice both of these verses state He went to a quiet or solitary place. He gives us rest when we are quiet.
Find a quiet place and rest in Jesus. Make time for Him because only He can restore our weary, burdened souls.
How do you find rest in Jesus? Feel free to discuss it in the comments section.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
I face a constant battle as a Christian writer. One part of me desperately wants to be published and recognized for my writing. The other part desperately wants to glorify and worship the Lord with what He has given me. Thankfully, these verses help quash my ego and everything is put into perspective.
These verses not only apply to my calling as a writer, but to my other roles as wife, mother, house manager, and so on. Whatever I do, I should see it as working and serving the Lord. That includes those days of folding underwear and scrubbing toilets.
What if I don't want to do the work? I have to admit, this has been an issue lately. Other than updating my blog and sending a few e-mails, I have not been writing (I'm in so much trouble now from my writer's group). I've been putting off my writing because "my heart just isn't in it." I've allowed distractions. I've taken my focus off of God and placed it on earthly concerns.
How do I remedy an unwilling heart? I'm reminded of Romans 12:1 "Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship." Sacrificing what I want to do and focusing on what the Lord wants me to do is an act of worship. It may be difficult at first and will require discipline, but viewing my actions as worship prepares my heart for the work.
Also, it's considered an act of worship when I write for the Lord's glory and not for mine. It doesn't matter if zero people read my blog postings or if I ever become a published author, as long as I'm obedient to Him.
What is your motivation behind your work? Is it for you or for the Lord?
Monday, June 29, 2009
I stayed away from news networks this weekend (which is hard for a news junkie). Why? Because the majority of stories focused on the life and death of Michael Jackson. Granted, his death, tragic and sudden, impacted a lot of people, but do we really need to know all of the details? Do the news outlets even know the details - or is it all speculation?
This morning, I decided to brave the news again. They actually had some news: Madoff sentenced to 150 years in prison for his fraud, Iran declares (again) Ahmadinejad as the winner of the election (after counting a few votes - that's a whole other post), bones positively identified as St. Paul's, and so on. Then came the replay of the 911 call regarding the late infomercial pitch man Billy Mays. Really? Do we need to hear the frantic call placed by a grieving family member? I know it's a matter of public record, but I still feel like I'm intruding. Then, of course, more "news" about Michael Jackson.
I guess I'm wondering where the line is drawn between news and gossip? To me, it's news when someone famous (or infamous) dies. It's gossip when rumors swirl around regarding the manner of death. If the coroner has not stated the manner of death, then any speculation is just gossip. This leads to confusion, more rumors, defamation of the deceased person, and added pain to the already-grieving family.
There are so many other stories the networks should be focusing on: the coup in Honduras, the ongoing protests in Iran, the CAP and Trade energy bill (again - another post), and the threats from North Korea.
Okay - I'll get off my soap box. Anyone else feel the same way or differently? Feel free to comment.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
As he finished his sermon, the guest speaker closed his Bible, looked out into the congregation and cited Ephesians 5 - without looking at the Bible or any notes. My friends and I stared at each other in awe at this man's memory. The rest of the congregation seemed to be in awe as well. When finished, he hit us with this question, as if in reply to our astonishment: "How many of you have songs or lines from movies and tv shows memorized?" Ouch. His point was that we should know the word of God by heart, since it is our life.
The definition for "word" comes from the Hebrew word 'imraw or 'emrah. It means "commandment, speech, word." (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance)
The definition for "heart" is interesting (to me, anyway). Its original Hebrew word is "leb" (pronounced labe). It refers not only to the heart, but to the "feelings, the will, and even the intellect." (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance)
One could almost interpret the psalm as "I have hidden your word, your commandment, and your speech not only in my heart, but in my will, my intellect, and my feelings so that I might not sin against you." His word soaks into our very being. First, through knowledge and memorization, then into our heart where we can recall it when necessary.
This may sound daunting, but it's important. I believe it ties into being a disciple of Christ. If we do not know the Lord's commands, His words, or speech, then how are we to know the Lord? Jesus knew the word of the Lord. He replied several times using the phrase "It is written."
Why should we know the word? The psalmist answers that question. So that we won't sin against God. If we do not know that coveting is a sin, is it still a sin when we covet our neighbor's new car? Yes, it is. The Lord makes it clear in the Ten Commandments not to covet.
Don't get me wrong. I am not the best when it comes to memorization. That is why I depend upon the Holy Spirit. I feel if I take the time to memorize the word, then at some point, when I need it, the Holy Spirit will bring it to mind. It may not be word for word, but the point is still there.
Knowing the word of God should not be a grade-school task, but rather a gathering of sacred knowledge sent to us from our Father so that we may live lives pleasing to Him.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
My Dad and I have always had a great relationship (even during those dreaded teen years). I'm not saying we didn't have our issues, but we always worked through them. Though I may not have agreed with his wisdom (I was a teen after all), I always knew he came from a place of love and experience.
I enjoy spending time with Dad. When I was younger, he would take my brother and me to the golf course with him. At the time, I'm sure we complained about it ("It's too hot!" "It's too cold!"). Looking back now, I value the time we spent together. I also had the joy of witnessing his hole-in-one.
We also walked a lot. I treasure those times as well because it allowed us to talk. We'd talk about work, school, friends, and so on. Though we live in different states now, we still talk several times a week.
One of the important lessons Dad taught me was that it's never too late to change what you do in life, though you may have to work hard for it. Just about the time I started college, Dad decided to get his CPA license. Though he already had a degree, he still needed to take a few classes to meet the accounting requirements before taking the CPA exam. He worked a full-time job and took night courses. He would then come home and study, study, study. After a couple of years of hard work, he completed the required courses. After prepping for the CPA exam, he took it and passed with flying colors. I learned that if you really want something, hard work and sacrifice are required, but the results are worth it.
This is just one of many lessons I learned from my Dad. He's always been generous, forgiving, encouraging and loving. I hope to pass these lessons to my children.
Thanks Dad! I love you!
Friday, June 19, 2009
This happened a few times between my daughter and my son. They were focused on playing and running around and lost sight of where I was sitting. I never lost sight of them though. Eventually, they remembered where I was sitting.
At times, my relationship with God resembles this. I become so focused on what is going on around me, I lose sight of God. Thankfully, He never loses sight of me. When I look around and call out His name, He replies "I'm here. I've been here all along." My panic-struck heart then calms and I continue on, but this time focusing more on God.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
"If you're not popular in Hell, then there's something wrong," my minister said one night. I laughed, but the impact of that statement has stayed with me for several years. Why? Because if our enemy, satan, is not battling us, then we are not a threat to him. If we are not a threat, then we, as Christians are not doing what God has called us to do.
Last year, my enemy attacked. Weird things happened. Illness, depression, nightmares, and falling down a flight of stairs all within a few months. Worse yet, these attacks were not limited to me. My family experienced illness and nightmares as well (except for the youngest).
I reached out to several friends - one of them a minister. After explaining every crazy thing happening to my family and me, he asked if I had done anything or made any decisions affecting my spiritual life. DING! I realized then that my spiritual awakening and decision to begin writing for the glory of God led to these attacks. My friend reminded me to put on the full armor of God - the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, feet fitted with the readiness from the gospel of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit (my friend Robbie has started a series on the armor of God. Click here to read the first installment). I also prayed. I prayed by myself, I prayed with my children, I prayed with my friends. I prayed with anyone who would pray with me. I walked throughout my house and read scripture out loud (thanks to a suggestion from another close friend). I also became angry. I didn't shy away from the battle. After several weeks, things returned to normal - a new, more aware normal.
Our enemy doesn't just attack in large, noticeable ways. He also uses subtle battles to his advantage. For example: yes, I decided to write again, but how long did it take me to create a blog or attempt my first article? Longer than it should have. I allowed distractions. I permitted negative thoughts. I didn't look to God during these times and the enemy won - temporarily. Or rather, he postponed defeat.
Our enemy comes to "...steal, kill, and destroy" (John 10:10) and will use whatever means necessary to carry out his plans. But, God is greater. God is the Almighty. He will:
"3...save you from the fowler's snare and from the
deadly pestilence. 4He will cover you with his feathers and
under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and
rampart. 5You will not fear the terror of night, nor the
arrow that flies by day, 6nor the pestilence that stalks in
the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday..." (Psalm 91: 3 - 6)
It is extremely important to know our enemy. I guarantee you he knows us - every weakness, every fear, every button to push. We need to know his so that we are prepared to battle. Our Commander has the plan. Follow it and don't forget your armor.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
How do we produce fruit? We, on our own, can't. In John 15:4, Jesus says "No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me." This makes sense, since a branch on its own cannot live without the vine. We must abide or live in Christ and He must live in us to bear fruit.
Jesus states that God, as the Gardener, will cut "off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful." (John 15:2). It's inevitable, we will be pruned so that we will grow stronger and bear more fruit. To reiterate what Jesus said, bearing fruit not only shows ourselves as His disciples, but it also brings glory to God.
I know I've been pruned, usually through some sort of a life change - a move to another city, a death of a loved one, a change of habit, and so on. Yes, the pruning may have been painful, but whenever I look back at where I was before and after the pruning, I see growth. I also notice myself growing stronger in Jesus - my vine. I would rather be pruned than to be completely cut off from the vine. To be completely cut off from the vine leads to death.
What kind of fruit will we bear? Jesus answers this as well. Answered prayers (vs. 7, 16), obedience to His commands (v. 9), completed joy (v. 11), and love (vs. 9, 12, 13, 17). Once again, Jesus commands us to love another (see last week's post), even to the point of death. Let it also be noted that obedience to His commands is a result of living in love (v. 9). Love is crucial to being a disciple of Christ.
What kind of fruit are you bearing? Are you willing to be pruned in order to grow stronger and to bear more fruit? Are you living in love? More importantly, are you abiding in Christ? These are not just questions for you, but for me as well.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Being a disciple is more than accepting Christ as your Lord and Savior. The definition of disciple is "a learner; a pupil* (which is why the twelve men who followed Jesus were called "disciples"). They were learning from the Master on how to live a Christ-like life. Notice the definition does not say "one who has been taught" or "graduate." The definition implies a current existence. As a disciple, we are continually learning how to be like Jesus.
So, how can we be like Christ? One way is to love each other. Jesus says in John 13:34 - 35 "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
Let's look at how he loved us. In John 3:16, Jesus says: "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." He came to die for us so that we may gain eternal life. I cannot think of a better example of love. Jesus showed love to everyone, the leper, the adulteress, the tax collector, and those who wanted to kill Him. Even as the soldiers nailed Him to the cross, He prayed for them (Luke 23:34).
I am by no means perfect in this area. I too quickly speak words of hatred (it shames me to write that) towards those I may dislike (politicians come to mind - just as an example). If I want to be like Christ, I need to exhibit love towards those people. How? I can pray for them and pray for myself that God will show me how to love them. I can also keep my mouth shut.
What about you? What can you do to love others, even those who seem unlovable?
Next week: Abiding in Him
*Strong's Exhaustive Concordance: Greek Dictionary (3101 mathetes (pronounced math-ay-tes))
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Discipline: (3809 in Strong's Exhaustive Concordance): The Greek word for "discipline" is Paideia (pronounced pahee-di-ah). By implication, it means "disciplinary correction: chastening, chastisement, instruction, nurture."
Trained (1128): The Greek word for "trained" is Gumnazo (pronounced goom-nad-zo). It means "to train; exercise."
There are two ways to interpret this verse. One way is to look at discipline as a chastening from the Lord. The other way is to view it as instruction from the Lord. I believe though that these two interpretations intermingle with each other.
Discipline is a common theme in our household. We discipline the children when they do something wrong. We discpline our dog for tearing into the trash. When we do discipline, it is not for the sake of punishment. Granted, punishment may be involved so that our children will learn more about actions and consequences (the dog is hopeless), but we discipline in order to correct a behavior or action that is wrong.
Though we may be Christians, we are still human and still exercise free will. Sometimes we do things that are not in line with Abba's way, including actions that may harm ourselves or others. Since we are His children, He will discipline us in order to correct our behavior or action.
Don't think His discipline will take away our free will. We still have the choice to either accept or rebel against His discipline. When we do accept His discipline and train ourselves according to His will, we will reap righteousness and peace. Of course, when we rebel against the Lord, there is no peace because we are not in righteous standing with Him.
The other way to interpret this verse is to see discipline as instruction from the Lord. He shows us, through His Son Jesus, how we should live our lives. It is up to us to train ourselves, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to follow His examples, His instruction.
Whether the Lord is chastening you or instructing you, it is for the good. It may hurt, but the results will include peace and righteousness in God's eyes. As children of the Lord, that should be what we desire.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
I also want to thank those of you who sent me encouraging words of support. Those words helped me more than you know during a difficult time.
I plan on getting back on the blogging track beginning with my Word Study Wednesday tomorrow.
If you need prayer for anything, please let me know. I've always believed in the power of prayer and the events of last week strengthened that belief.
Saturday, May 9, 2009
I've always been thankful for my mom. We've had our disagreements, but I've never doubted her love for me. She let me know from an early age that she (and my dad) always loved me, no matter what. She also worked hard during my pesky teen years to maintain a close relationship with me (although I was nearly perfect - okay maybe not, but I can dream, right?). Though we may be hundreds of miles apart, we are still close. I call her looking for advice and I love telling her stories about her grandchildren.
One of the most important things she ever did for me (besides giving birth to me) occurred when I was five. I remember sitting in her lap and accepting Jesus as my savior. I may not have understood the complete importance of it at that time, but it impacted my life. I am forever thankful for that moment.
I truly never appreciated the difficult task of being a mom until I became one. So many of my emotions, thoughts, and actions dedicate themselves to my children. Though exhilirating, it is also exhausting. So, thank you Mom for your sacrifice, your wisdom, and your love. You are a blessing not only in my life, but in others as well. I love you.
PS: Mom, I'm listening to JG as I write this post in honor of you!
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
God spoke these words to Joshua as He prepared him to take over the Promised Land thousands of years ago. He now uses these words to guide me through my writing career. Granted, my writing career does not entail physical war with large armies, but I am waging a war - with myself.
This past year battles raged inside me. Attacks from the enemy included "What would you write? Who would want to read something you wrote? You think you can really write?" But the message from my Commander came in loud and clear "I called you to write."
So, here I am today, writing a blog and working on a few submissions, no longer terrified, thanks to the LORD.
I will admit, discouragement, disguised as a rejection, snuck through my defense line, briefly. More attacks - "See, told you." More encouragement "I'm with you - write more." I accepted my rejection and am now re-working the article a bit for resubmission to another publication.
I've learned, re-learned, accepted, and rejected several issues throughout this battle. One of the biggest lessons I've learned is that fear keeps us from our calling. Our enemy wants us to be terrified of the unknown and discouraged through rejection and failure because if we're not, then we are doing what God has called us to do - which terrifies the enemy.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Today's news is full of fearful things: swine flu, tanked economy, food shortages, severe weather, terrorism, and the list continues. It is understandable if people live in fear. But we as Christians are called to live a life a faith, not fear. I'm probably the last person who should be talking about this as I tend to turn to fear first before faith, but I'm learning.
God is our hiding place, our shelter for when we are weary. God is strong for us and is always there for us. He is our Father and we are His children. No verses illustrate this point more than Luke 22:42 - 44:
"'Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.' 43An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him (emphasis: mine). 44And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground."
As a disciple of Christ, we are to follow His example. In this case, when Jesus felt anguish, He prayed to His heavenly Father - our heavenly Father.
This is our chance, as Christians, to let others see God in us. When you feel weak or tired, seek the Lord - He will strengthen you. Even if the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the sea.
Update: After posting, I remembered a quote I wanted to add here. I'm not sure who said it, but if someone does, please let me know. "Fear is to Satan what faith is to God."
Monday, April 27, 2009
Fear flowed through me when I learned of our relocation to Colorado. I lived in Texas for 17 years, and, despite the severe storms and hot summers, I enjoyed living there. My parents and brother lived only minutes away. I knew I would miss them terribly and regretted the fact that my children would not have grandparents and an uncle living nearby. I would also miss my friends. My family and I were starting over.
On the other hand, I realized this move was an opportunity for my husband. He worked really hard at his job, and I felt he deserved this promotion (I'm not biased or anything). After a few weeks of dwelling on the subject, I started to see the move as an adventure - a new state, new friends, and so on. What I didn't count on was a spiritual awakening.
You see, after a couple of years of the same routine, I became numb. Not numb towards family and friends, just numb inside towards daily life. I went through the motions. I also let my spiritual life become numb. The Lord used this move to shake up my life.
After the big move, I felt different - scared, but invigorated. I ventured out, became familiar with my new surroundings (I must say I have a great view of the Rockies). I joined a local writer's group. I hadn't even thought about writing in over three years. I attended a Bible study. During this time of newness, God opened my eyes to my spiritual state and awakened my soul to His mercies, grace, and love. He reminded me that I am His and He has a plan not just for my family, but for me as well. He also has me facing fears and conquering them (this blog is proof).
I am now thankful for this move. Sure, I'll complain about the April snow (a new experience, indeed) and miss my family a lot, but I feel I am where the Lord wants me to be. And I am embracing it.
Are you embracing your experience?
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Name (8034 Strong's Exhaustive Concordance - Hebrew) shem (shame): by implication honor, authority, character
LORD (3068) Yehovah (yeh-ho-vaw): Self-Existent or eternal; Jewish national name of God; Jehovah the Lord
Praised (1984) halal (haw-lal): Make a show to praise, give thanks, cheer, extol, to make one's boast (in the name of God)
I like the definition to "name." In essence, the name - the honor, the authority, the character of the LORD is to be praised. No matter what we are going through - good times or bad - we are to praise:
- His honor: He will not do anything or have us do anything that will bring dishonor to His name
- His authority: He is God - creator of Heaven and Earth. He is our creator
- His character: He has so many facets to His character - provider, healer, banner, shepherd (just to name a few)
I also believe a good starting place is to know the many names of the LORD. Recently, some friends and I finished studying Kay Arthur's book LORD, I Want to Know You. In this book, Arthur explains the names of the LORD. This study reminded me of the many characteristics of our LORD. He is our Creator, Healer, Shepherd, Provider, and so many other things. Understanding these different aspects of God's character has made my praise, worship, and prayers more intimate. I not only praise Him as God, but I also praise Him as the LORD who is there (Jehovah-shammah) or the LORD who sanctifies me (Jehovah-mekkodishkem).
We need to praise God, not only for what He has done for us, but because of who He is. Whether we are experiencing great or painful times, scary or silly moments, the name of the LORD should be praised.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
My daughter could talk clearly by the time she was two years old. My son, on the other hand couldn't. He couldn't even say "mama." I asked our family doctor about it and she told me that boys develop slower than girls and that his sister probably did the talking for him. So, I didn't worry about it.
His limited speech skills affected his self-esteem, though. He didn't like to play with children his age (except for his sister). He would watch our mouths intently when we would speak. He would try to mimic what we were saying, but when he couldn't, he would lower his head down and sadly say "oh." He would also get frustrated and start crying. My heart broke. I decided to take him to a speech therapist. She diagnosed him with Dyspraxia. Her diagnosis was confirmed by another evaluation through the county.
His speech therapist explained that it is harder for him to speak than those who do not have Dyspraxia. He at times doesn't know what to do with his tongue or which way to move his mouth when he speaks.
After months of intense speech therapy and practice at home, my son can now talk in complete sentences (not perfectly, but he's come a long way. His therapist said she could tell he really wanted to speak. I told her it was so he could stick up for himself against his sister). He no longer hangs his head or cries out of frustration. He even has a friend he likes to play with. Just tonight, as I was tucking him in bed, I told him "I love you." He said "Not me." When I gave him a look, he said "I just teasing. I wove you." Warmed my heart.
Please click here to learn more about Dyspraxia.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Recognized (1097 Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, Greek): ginosko (ghin-oce-ko); to know; recognize
Fruit (2590): Fruit
What fruit am I bearing? Am I bearing the fruit of the Spirit or my own bitter fruit? In this verse, Jesus is speaking to His disciples. He continues saying, in verse 45, "The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks." My fruit takes root in my heart and then ripens and bursts forth through what I say and do.
What fruit do I want to bear? To begin with, there is the Fruit of the Spirit - "...love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control..."(Galatians 5: 22 - 23). There's more! Second Peter 1:5-8 lists a few more fruits to add to faith: knowledge, perseverance, godliness, and brotherly kindness. Peter adds "For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive (unfruitful in KJV) in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."
What happens if I'm not bearing fruit? Peter addresses this as well in verse 9: "But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins." I don't know about you, but I don't ever want to forget that I've been cleansed from my sins.
So, how do I know my fruit is good? By knowing Christ and living my life like He did. Follow His example of loving God and others, expressing joy, exhibiting peace, showing patience, being good, faithful, and gentle, and exhibiting self-control. These may not appear overnight, but through perseverance and most importantly, prayer, this good fruit will take root.
What fruit are you bearing?
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Recently, I finished reading Brennan Manning's latest, The Furious Longing of God. In the chapter titled Giving, Manning asks the reader if Christ went through all of that brutality just to make us nicer? Or did he endure it all so that we would be new creations? New creations willing to give ourselves completely to God (I'm really not doing it any justice here. If you get a chance to read it, please do. It's very convicting).
Please don't take Christ's sacrifice for granted. He knew what He was about to endure and still went through it so that we would be saved. What magnificent love!
He is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Amen!
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Forsaken: (1459 Strong's Exhaustive Concordance) egkataleipo (eng kat a li po): to desert: - forsake, leave
According to the commentary listed in my Bible, Jesus used this quote from Psalm 22:1 to express grief and anguish brought on by being forsaken by God, his Father. It goes on to call it a "double death." He not only died physically, but spiritually as well, as he died for our sins.
I cannot begin to fathom the anguish he felt - not only the physical pain, but the spiritual pain as well. He not only was separated from God, the creator and ruler, but God, his Father. From an early age, Jesus knew he was the Son of God. Remember Jesus' reply to his earthly parents when they questioned why he stayed in Jerusalem. He said "Why were you searching for me?...Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?" (Luke 2:49). As a side note, I like the way he said "had to be in..." like it was an urgent desire that had to be fulfilled.
Someone once asked me what was my biggest fear. After a little bit of thought, I realized my fear was being separated from God. I can't imagine not being able to worship Him, adore Him, admire the works of His hands. I can't imagine living without His peace, His love, His joy, His grace, His forgiveness.
Jesus experienced all of that and more while on the cross so that we wouldn't have to. I know I don't want to be separated from that kind of love.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Still (7503 Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, Hebrew): raphah (raw-faw): To slacken (in many applications, literally or figuratively): - cease, consume, idle, let alone, stay, be still, be slothful (just a few of the words associated with raphah).
Know (3045): yada (yaw-dah); to know, acknowledge, acquainted with, be aware, consider, understand
God (430): Elohiym (el-o-heem): gods in the ordinary sense; but specifically used of the supreme God.
I know this verse seems simple, but I feel it is relevant. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have a lot of thoughts, or noise, going through my head right now. Add to that the worries of the world and everything seems chaotic. This verse centers me. It reminds me to shut out the world and to focus on Elohiym.
I need to remember that God created the world and He is still in control of the world. Nothing is in chaos. It just feels like it because I'm not focusing on Him, but rather concentrating on issues that I'm trying to solve myself. I need to remember that He is God - holy, gracious, loving, merciful, creator, and so many more things.
One thing I noticed - the word "still" is the same Hebrew word used for "slack." In last week's Word Study, "slack" had a negative reference. In this case though, God is calling us to be still or slack. It is as if He's saying it's okay to be idle now and to center ourselves on Him, to rest in Him.
I hope this helps you to rest in Him and to be still. It is easy to let life's issues take over our thoughts and actions. Take time today and know that He is God.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
I've been pondering this all week. The biggest obstacle I've encountered so far is noise. Not so much external noise, but more like internal noise. Before you ask, no, I'm not one of those people who hears voices in her head. I'm talking about the self-talk. The voice listing everything I have to do, reminding me of the things I have not done, expressing concern about my children (does Princess have too much attitude? Will I ever be able to potty-train Little Guy?), and nagging me constantly ("you should me exercising." "You should be writing."). My response has been to shut down and not in a good way.
Another obstacle is fear. Is my idea for my book a good one? Will people want to read it? I will say that having a blog has helped me conquer some of my fear. It's not completely gone, but it also does not have the stronghold it once had over me.
The solution to my obstacles is to obviously be quiet and know that He is God (see Psalm 46;10). He has plans for me and my desire to serve Him will help me overcome these challenges. Again, it comes down to focusing on Him and not myself.
What are your obstacles in accomplishing what you want to do?
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Slack (7503 Strong's Exhaustive Concordance): Raphah (raw-faw): forsake, idle, leave, let alone, be slothful
Possess (3423): Yaresh (yaw-raysh): to occupy (by driving out previous tenants, and possessing in their place)
Given (5414): nathan (naw-than): apply, appoint, ascribe, assign, bestow, distribute, give (forth, over, up) (these are just a few of the words given for nathan).
Though the word procrastination does not appear in the Bible (at least in the KJV), this verse illustrates it perfectly. Most of the Canannites had been conquered and the land now belonged to the Israelites (see Joshua 18:1 - 2). Seven tribes though, had yet to lay claim on their property. Why? Was the job too difficult? Too time consuming? Why didn't they "receive their inheritance?"
Though I'm not claiming any land, the Lord has set before me a purpose for my life. A lot of the time though, I do not work on my purpose. I procrastinate. I know the Lord wants me to write, but there are some days where I prefer to clean my house, run errands, even exercise (gasp!) than to sit down and write. Don't get me wrong, there is a time and a place for me to do these other things, but when I do them instead of writing, I am procrastinating. So now, I must ask myself, why am I so slack? Is the job too difficult? Too time consuming? Why am I not receiving my inheritance. I know some of the answers, but to be honest, they are more like excuses.
So, how do I beat procrastination? In the verses following verse 3, Joshua appoints men from each tribe to map out the land and to divide it. After the mapping is done, Joshua tells the tribes that he will then cast lots in the presence of the Lord. Joshua had a plan. That's what I need - a plan. I need to allot time for chores, errands, exercise, and writing. When it is time to perform these tasks, I need to be disciplined (another word study coming soon) to do them.
He also had the appointed men report back to him. He held them accountable to their purpose, their plan. That's what I need to do as well. Whether it be through a writer's group, a critique group or partner, I need that accountability.
Finally, Joshua cast lots before the Lord. By doing this, he was leaving the division in the Lord's hands. Though I probably won't be casting lots before the Lord, I will dedicate my work to Him. The point here is letting the Lord's will be done.
So, right now I am acknowledging my procastination. I know I do it and do it well. I will, however, create a plan, find someone to hold me accountable, and dedicate my work to the Lord. Now, hopefully, I won't slack in creating my plan.
Friday, March 20, 2009
I had hoped I would be wrong about this administration. I wondered if we would really see any hope and change. A popular bumper sticker during the campaign said this: "Change: It’s all you’ll have left." I’m beginning to believe it. I’m sure the slogan "Yes, we can!" didn’t originally mean "Yes, we’re the government and we can tax you on everything!"
I have decided, for my own peace of mind, to stop watching the news. At least for a few days. This whole mess with AIG, Congress, and the Treasury Secretary is just the latest. It stresses and saddens me. I find myself extremely cynical of the government and I don’t want to be.
This past week has been no exception. First, Senator Dodd claims that he had no idea the stimulus package contained a bonus protection clause. Then, the very next day, he admits to writing it himself at the behest of the administration. He also claims that though he was hesitant about it, he didn’t think it would be a big deal. Seriously? Millions of dollars in "retention" bonuses paid to people who no longer work at AIG wouldn’t be a big deal to the country. Oh, please! We’ve already given them billions of dollars that we’ll probably never recoup. Now Congress is trying to cover its backside by taxing the recipients of the bonus. I have mixed feelings about this. I feel it sets a bad precedent. We’ll have to wait and see if the tax is legal. I’m sure tens of lawyers are already on the case.
Instead of watching the news, I will read a book or two. I will write. More importantly I will pray. I will pray for our leaders and our country. I will pray for the people who have lost jobs, suffered salary cutbacks, are concerned with their housing situation, have health coverage worries, and so on. Though I may have lost hope in this administration, I haven’t lost hope in the Lord. He alone can change the hearts of people and give them hope in their situations.
Note: March 23: Here is the link to the article that Loretta mentioned in her comment. For whatever reason, the whole link isn't appearing in the comment box (at least on my end. I'm sure it's an error on my part). http://www.1440wallstreet.com/index.php/site/comments/aig_puts_goldman_sachs_back_in_the_limelight/
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Will (2307 Greek - Strong's Exhaustive Concordance): thelema (thel-ay-mah): desire, pleasure, will.
I was recently reminded of this verse during a Bible study. To be honest, a knot formed in my stomach as I read it. I questioned whether or not I was truly doing the will of the Father.
In order for me to understand the context of this verse, I read the verses before and after verse 21.
Verse 20: "Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them."
Verses 22 and 23: "Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' 23 Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'"
I believe Jesus is referring to those who "talk the talk," but don't walk with Him. They are doing their own wills, their own desires, not the will of the Father. Their fruit is rotten.
So, what is the Father's will? In John 6:40, Jesus says: "For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." It's God's desire or pleasure for us to believe in His Son and to spend eternity with Him. What a great verse! More proof as to how much the Father loves us.
This particular definition of "will" is also used in other places. The first mention of it is in the Lord's Prayer: "...Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." (Matthew 6:10).
Jesus used "will" during his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane: "My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done."
Again in both of these verses, Jesus is referencing the Father's will, not ours, or Jesus' will.
Another point I find interesting is whenever Jesus spoke of God's will, he used "Father" instead of "God" or "Lord." It adds a degree of parent-child intimacy (obviously, since Jesus is the Son of God), but for me as well. It adds a sense of wanting to do the Father's will, since I am His child wanting to please and obey Him.
Now I use Matthew 7:21 as a spiritual check. Am I doing the Father's will or mine? To do the Father's will is to say so long to my will, my desire. At times, it will be a sacrifice to me, but it's a choice I make, just like Jesus made his choice to die for our sins. If the Father's will is important enough for Jesus to follow it to the point of death, then, as his disciple, I need to follow his example.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
I believe it is very important for a Christian to truly understand the Word of God. In order to do this, it is necessary to learn more about the origin of the word.
The "My Take" section is my opinion on what I learned from the study. I am in no way a theologian. This section is to encourage dialogue only. I would love to hear what you have to say. As Proverbs 27: 17 says: "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." (NIV).
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
HUH?!? I grabbed my jaw and took a deep breath. "No, I don't think so, sweetie," I told her. My face flushed. "Boys sleep in boys' rooms and girls sleep in girls' rooms," I continued. Where is this coming from? I'm really not ready for this conversation.
I found out about Prince on our way to the grocery store. She informed me that Prince would be sitting in the middle seat. Usually, she refers to her younger brother as Prince, so I told her that no, he had to sit in his car seat. She then informed me that Prince was her "pretend friend." Ah. For some reason, it bothered me that she had an imaginary friend who was a boy. I'm just not ready to go there yet.
I'm trying not to make a big deal about Prince. Occasionally, if she brings him up, I'll ask a question. The other day, she eased my mind with the following conversation:
Me: "Is Prince another brother.
Her: "Yes, mommy. I have two brothers."
At that point, the youngest one looked at me and said "No, one sister."
The other day, the mystery behind Prince was solved. We were watching one of her favorite cartoons. I noticed that the little girl in the cartoon had a pretend friend who was a boy. "Is that where you got the idea for Prince?" I asked her. She gave me a sheepish look. She proceeded to tell me that she had to have a prince she could dance with since she's a princess.
I'm a little more comfortable with the idea of Prince, just as long as he stays in the boy's room.