Monday, December 19, 2011

Watch Your Attitude

Star ornament that was a gift from my grandparents  when I was a wee little thing.  
I am a bundle of emotions as I begin this week leading up to Christmas.  Yesterday was a wonderful day of worship, Bible teaching, music, and friends.  I ended my weekend light-hearted and filled with peace and joy.  This morning as I think about what I need to do to get ready for our family Christmas tomorrow a sense of melancholy descends.

I love history.  Perhaps that is why I tend to spend time dwelling on my own, especially at this time of year. But it is just that "dwelling on" that makes me a bit blue.  All around me are remembrances of Christmases past.  

The Santa that always sat under my family's Christmas tree when I was growing up and continues that tradition  in my home, surrounded by bears that were gifts from my brother who is now home with the Lord.

 Remembrances of those I have loved so deeply who are no longer with me.  Thoughts about how my life is changing as my little boys have grown up.  Our own Christmases are starting to look very different as we have to start sharing our sons with others.  Realizing that next year will change it all even more as one son looks towards moving to another state.  So many good memories.  But life marches on.
Stocking I made for my dad one Christmas- it serves to remind me now of days spent on his lap in his big old recliner in the living room by the fire.

Stocking I made for my mom one Christmas-  brings back sweet memories of times spent with her baking cookies.

I have a prayer notebook that I write in as I do my quiet times.  The very last section is labeled "Listen."  After my time of purposefully praising, confessing,  requesting, and thanking God, I try to quiet my mind and then write down whatever thought/s come to mind.  This morning the first thing I wrote down almost immediately upon turning to this section of my notebook was, "Watch your attitude."  It is not even lunch time yet and I can say that I believe this was indeed a warning from the Lord for me today.

I live in a house where the university schedule is our way of life and today marks the first day of Christmas break.  My husband turned in his grades this morning.  The house no longer belongs just to me during the days. One forgets at this stage in life how difficult it can be to fit in any kind of quiet time.  I am no longer used to the distractions.  Sitting at the kitchen enjoying my much needed time with the Lord I am asked by one if I would like to go for a little walk around the yard with he the dogs.  Later I am interrupted by one who needs to know how to hard boil eggs.  Soon I find myself dealing with timers going off and a forgotten pan of eggs that needs to be dealt with.  (I've not made it to my "listen" section yet.)
Sitting at the computer trying to get my thoughts in writing I am approached about the need to head to the post office to get a package in the mail.  I was not a particularly happy camper about doing it right then.  It was not until we were on the way home from said post office that the line I wrote in my notebook popped into my head, "watch your attitude" and I thought to myself, "Lord, you know me so well.  You knew the frustrations I would face today and even before they came You were already encouraging me to better handle them than I have in the past."  He knew, especially with my melancholy mood, how important it is going to be for me today to watch my attitude.

As I posted the photo I took of the star ornament at the top of this post, my mind went back to a surprise that awaited me in Numbers this morning.  "I see him, but not now;  I behold him, but not near; a star shall come forth from Jacob, a scepter shall rise from Israel." (Numbers 24:17, NASB)  And I remembered an earlier musing of mine: A Different Focus This Advent.  I love that Christmas is a celebration of the fulfillment of God's promise to us to send a Savior.  To send His Son that we might have life and have it abundantly.  I love that it also reminds me that He is faithful to do all that He said He would do-- and the story is not over yet.  And it strikes me as I write this that my attitude adjustment applies to my Christmas celebrations too.

Grace, Peace, and Mercy,

 I would love to hear about your own journeys. Feel free to share what God is teaching you, as well as your thoughts on my musings. May we grow in wisdom and understanding together..

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Configuring Upgrades

I opened up my laptop to begin writing this morning and was greeted with "Shutting Down," followed by "logging off."  Then it took over an hour for it to configure the upgrades.  Strange, I felt the same way this morning.  I had my quiet time because that is what I do, but it took me a while to get started with it, and then it just felt like I was going through the motions.  I opened my Bible and prayed, "Lord, I really need You to speak to me today.  I am so downhearted.  I need something, on this morning of all mornings."
Nothing caught my attention.  Nothing got written down on the pages in my prayer journal devoted to "New Testament," "Psalms," or "Proverbs."  I moved on to the section in my journal for Praise and I did write quite a bit there.  I praised the God who loves me unconditionally, I praised the God of new beginnings.  I praised the One who is my Rock, my Shelter, my Comforter, my Counselor, my Friend, My King.  I praised the One who is faithful and true.  Then I poured out my heart and sought His guidance.  My heart still aches, but there is hope as I trust my heart to the One who loves me so supremely.

What would have happened if I had shut down with God this morning?  What if I had "logged off" and not spent time with Him?  I would be curled up somewhere alone and in tears.  I would be beating myself up and thinking all kinds of unholy thoughts.  I needed some upgrading this morning.  And it sometimes takes time, and I sometimes get inpatient with the process.  The computer kept telling me not to turn it off while it was configuring those upgrades and I was sorely tempted.  But while I waited God had more to say to me as I thought over the words I read in Scripture and the way I am feeling today.

I did write down verses from my Old Testament reading.  Not because they struck me in any particular way, but because the S.O.A.P. method requires it.  From Numbers 14:20-23 I have a couple of thoughts.  The first being the importance of intercessory prayer.  God pardoned the people of Israel according to Moses' word.  Yesterday I wrote about Moses pleading for God to forgive the people based on God's character.  It would seem his prayer carried some weight.  I don't think God needed any reminding about who He is and what He is like.  I do think it was important for Moses to act as an intercessor for the people.  And I believe his prayer was answered because He understood the heart of God and prayed accordingly.  Which leads me to my second thought.  Over the years I have come to see my quiet time as less about me convincing God to see things my way and more about me learning to see things through His eyes; because the more time I spend with Him in these quiet moments the better I get to know Him.

Grace, Peace, and Mercy,

 I would love to hear about your own journeys. Feel free to share what God is teaching you, as well as your thoughts on my musings. May we grow in wisdom and understanding together.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Now That's Grace

Today I move to the section in Numbers where Moses pleads with the LORD to forgive His people.  The LORD has just told Moses He is going to dispossess this people who refuse to believe in Him, and Moses begins to pray.  The whole context is that the LORD should forgive them not because of who they are; not because of anything they have done, but because of who He is:  slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression.  Moses then prays, "Pardon, I pray, the iniquity of this people according to the greatness of Your lovingkindness, just as You have also forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now."  GRACE.  I sit here with great hope and joy in my heart because of grace- and it continually amazes me.

Grace, Peace, and Mercy,

 I would love to hear about your own journeys. Feel free to share what God is teaching you, as well as your thoughts on my musings. May we grow in wisdom and understanding together.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Have No Fear

Have no fear.  That is so much easier to say than to live out.  I am by nature a very fearful person; not to be confused with a person to fear.  All of my life I have struggled with issues related to shyness, fear of all sorts of things being very much a part of that.  Today I am very convicted about how those fears have interfered with my obedience to the Lord.

This morning I read the section in Numbers where Caleb and Joshua have their say with the people of Israel  (Numbers 14:6-9),  "Only do not rebel against the LORD; and do not fear the people of the land....the LORD is with us, do not fear them." (verse 9, in part)

I have come a long way from the young girl who would become physically ill at the mere thought of being called on by her teachers.  I have such a fear of failure, of looking foolish, that it has at times crippled me as a servant of the King.  What comes so easily in writing is a struggle if I have to actually talk to someone.  In comparison to the men of Israel my fears seem so silly.  I am not going into battle with mighty men of great stature.  The giants I face are in my mind.  But for me they are huge, and each day I trust in the Lord and go out to face those giants is a great victory.  Sometimes it comes in the form of speaking up at Bible study instead of whispering my thoughts to my husband and hoping he does it for me, or worse yet, remaining quiet when I feel the Spirit prodding me.  Sometimes it comes in the form of agreeing to be a part of ministries that mean I need to meet new people and engage them in conversation.  Sometimes it even means getting up in front of people and speaking to a crowd.  Mainly it means that my love for the Lord is greater than my love for myself; that I am willing to face my fears because I do not want to let Him down.

Looking back over my life I can see how the Lord has been at work all this time slaying those giants I fear and has been helping me not to succumb to those fears as often as I used to.  My knees still knock and my stomach still churns at times; so I cling to verses like the one in my reading today, "Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but to trust the LORD means safety." (Proverbs 29:25, NLT)  I do not know what giants you face each day, but I pray we both find strength in the Lord to "fear not."

Grace and Peace,

 I would love to hear about your own journeys. Feel free to share what God is teaching you, as well as your thoughts on my musings. May we grow in wisdom and understanding together.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Surprised by Joy

Why am I surprised when God does amazing things?  A family at church has been in a battle with cancer since their young son was diagnosed with a brain tumor a year ago.  Friday they were back for surgery to remove a second tumor.  Prayer warriors all over the world are praying for this family.  Yet when Rex's mom posted that her son was being discharged from the hospital on Sunday; when his dad wrote about the doctor seeing Rex walking the halls Sunday morning, experiencing absolutely no complications from brain surgery that had taken place less than 48 hours previously; my reaction was, "WOW!"  I was surprised.  And I was immediately convicted.  Hadn't I been praying all week for God to do a mighty work?  Surprised by Joy could be the title of a book about my life too.

As I read Numbers 13:26-28, 31 I was reminded once again to trust the Lord to do amazing things.  A group of men returns to Moses and the rest of the people of Israel with their report on the Promised Land.  Yes, everything about it is awesome.  They even bring back some of its produce to prove what a great land it is.  But there is this problem that leaves them terrified.  Giants in the land.  "We are not able to go up against this people, for they are too strong for us," they report.  I do not have very many brave bones in my body.  There are things out there that terrify me.  I am not able to go up against them.  They are too strong for me.  All true statements.  Equally true:  God is bigger and stronger than any of them.

I have got to remember Whose I am.

I came to Revelation 3 in the rest of my daily Bible reading. To the church in Philadelphia He says, "This is the message from the One who is holy and true, the One who has the key of David.  What He opens, no one can close; and what He closes, no one can open.  I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can close.  You have little strength, yet you obeyed My word and did not deny Me. (Rev. 3:7-8, NLT- emphasis mine)

The Lord knows how weak I am.  It does not matter.  What matters is my obedience, and I believe that part of obedience is trusting Him because He has said He is trustworthy.  My life is in His hands.  Whatever terrors are out there for me; my God is bigger.  Sometimes He opens a door, I take a peak, see that everything looks beautiful, and walzt right through it.  Sometimes when I take a peak it does not look so inviting and I hesitate to enter; sometimes I have a choice to back away, while other times I am thrust through kicking and screaming.  My prayer this morning is that I will not be afraid to go through any door that God opens, trusting Him with my life, knowing that He is able to handle anything that is beyond that open door.  And maybe someday I will not be surprised by joy, but totally expectant because of Whose I am.

Grace and Peace,

 I would love to hear about your own journeys. Feel free to share what God is teaching you, as well as your thoughts on my musings. May we grow in wisdom and understanding together.

                         Linking today with Shanda at A Pause on the Path for:

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Wherever He leads

My kitchen is a disaster this morning.  I spent the afternoon baking several dozen sugar cookies to be decorated at a Christmas party the science club at HSU is hosting this afternoon.  Then our kids all descended about 9pm with the makings for gingerbread houses so we sat around the table and had a great time together.  It became clear that some of us have a little more patience and artistic talent than others.
My beloved husband Ken, perhaps this is not his talent.

That's better.
Our two sons: Jeff and Matthew

Jeff and his sweet lady, Samantha
Hmmmm, I don't know where the boys get it from?
 Having my family around makes me feel content.  When I read the final section of Numbers this week I began to think about contentment.  Numbers 9:15-19 speaks about the cloud that covered the tabernacle by day and the appearance of fire by night.  Whenever the cloud lifted the whole congregation of Israel would set out until they reached the place where the cloud settled down again.  There the people would remain until the Lord directed them to move on, whether it be for a few days, a month, or a year. (from verse 22 further in the chapter.)
I don't have the benefit of a cloud guiding me to where I am to "camp."  But God has clearly led me to several different locations over the years.  I am such an Oregon girl.  Never dreaming that one day the Lord would lead me away.  My husband is a bit of a wanderer and by his side I have learned a lot about being content wherever I am.  I confess, though, I have a lot of learning yet to do.  I was content when we moved to eastern Washington for grad school, it was still close to "home."  I was a bit of a grumbler when we moved to Michigan for his first teaching assignment.  There was absolutely nothing familiar, and I was sooooo far from home.  Over the years of our stay there I grew more content and it began to feel like home.    But another move loomed on the horizon.  This time to Colorado.  Can you imagine someone dragging their feet about the opportunity to live in that beautiful state?  I remember how my heart sank when we pulled in to Grand Junction.  This was not the Colorado of my dreams, but high desert.  Where were the forests?!  Eventually I fell in love with our new setting, but again there was a lot of grumbling along the way.
I can't believe it has now been just over six years since we made our move to Texas.  This was the hardest for me.  The nearest forests are a day's drive.  My extended family is now further away.  It's brutally hot in the summer, which can begin sometime in the spring.  This is NOT the place for me.
Oh, but it is.  This is exactly where the Lord wants me.  Once again I am learning to be content, and I can even honestly say I love being here now, well, most of the time.  But it is not the place, the trees, the climate that make me content. It has always been about the people.  Wherever I have gone I have fallen in love with the people.  And folks, the people in Texas are the cream of the crop.  I love how they "love on you."
What is becoming clear to me is that it is not in things or places that I find contentment.  The way I feel when my kids and husband are around, that total contentment that comes with being surrounded by them; my heart needs relationships.  The one relationship that should make my heart completely content is the one I have with the Lord.  It should not matter to me where He moves us on this planet.  It should not matter how long He causes us to linger here.  Lately I have been dreaming of Oregon again.  Longing to be back where so many of my favorite places are.  It's the time of year.  I miss the big family celebrations.  I miss my family, as cancer and Alzheimer's have taken their toll.  It makes it hard to be content.  I think that is why this section of Numbers, that really has nothing to do with contentment, speaks to me as it does.  The Lord is reminding me of Whose I am.  He is reminding me that His plan for me is perfect.  He is reminding me to rest in Him and be content. He knows my heart and He's got this too.

Woofie congratulating Matthew on a job well done.
Ta Da!

Grace and Peace,

God Will Make A Way

 I enjoyed the final morning of my winter wonderland yesterday.  When I got back from my afternoon commitments the snow was gone except for the north side of the house.
The view from my front porch

Yesterday my study of the book of Numbers took me to verses 9-11a of chapter 9.  Looking over my notebook this morning I want to share that these verses spoke to me about the character of God.  He is the God who hears us.  When we come to Him with our questions He has the answers we need.  I have been guilty of sometimes seeing God as unmovable, legalistic in nature.  But here were men who honestly wanted to obey and worship but they could not with the current prescribed code.  God heard the pleas of their hearts through Moses and He answered and made a way for them to worship that did not lessen what He required of them, but gave them the opportunity they needed to follow in obedience.  It made me think of that verse in 2 Peter 3:9, which basically says the Lord does not desire that any should perish but all come to repentance.  God will make a way where there seems to be no way.  He did it then and He continues to do it today.

The Light of the World came to pour out His Blood, giving us new life, and making us whiter than snow.   I am reminded of each as I look at the photo I took this week after decorating our fence- the lights (the Light), the red ribbons (His blood), the greenery  (new life), the snow...

God made a way the night of Jesus birth!

Grace and Peace,

 I would love to hear about your own journeys. Feel free to share what God is teaching you, as well as your thoughts on my musings. May we grow in wisdom and understanding together.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Wait and Listen to the Lord

Brown Thrasher puffed up in the cold

Spotted Towhee-
I just happened to look
out the window at the right time
This morning I am distracted by all the birds coming to feast on this cold morning outside my window.  Especially distracting since two of them were newcomers.  One stuck around for quite a while while the other hardly gave me a chance to snap a hasty photo.

Oddly, it made me think about my Bible reading for today.  In the next four verses from Numbers chapter 9 the people have observed the Passover as the LORD commanded.  However there was a group that came to Moses who were unclean because of a death and were unable to observe Passover on that day and they wanted to know why they were restrained from making an offering to the Lord on the appointed day.  Moses told them to wait while he listened to what the LORD would command concerning them.  (Now I have not gotten to the answer yet in my reading, though I have read this passage many times before and know what is coming, but I am trying to approach it fresh.)  I was struck by Moses' response.  He did not dismiss them or ignore their desire to please the Lord even though outside of what had been prescribed.  He went and sought the Lord's will on the matter.  It strikes me because Moses did not limit God to what he already understood.  It strikes me because Moses recognized that the Lord just might make some room for people who do not fit in with the rest- who couldn't meet the standard of cleanliness prescribed by God.  It strikes me because Moses was willing to wait and listen to what God had to say on the matter.
It made me wonder if we sometimes chase people away because we are not very good at accepting those who do not fit into our mold- those who have a desire to worship and serve but want to go about it a slightly different way.  Do we respond like Moses to them, seeking the Lord's direction even if it might fly in the face of our conventions?  Are we willing to make changes to meet the needs of others?
Oh, that last question has much more personal application for me.  I have my way of doing things.  I have my preferred schedule for what my day looks like.  Am I willing to make room for people who need the Lord but mess up my day?
Like those birds, sometimes what I have to offer leads people to stay and sometimes I cannot meet the needs and they need to go elsewhere.  But may they never leave because I refuse to consider that the Lord might have something new for me to see.  Perhaps they have come my way because I need a fresh perspective.

Goldfinch-very bold fella that allows me to get close to the window

Plenty of Goldfinches in the winter here

Love getting winter shots of Cardinals

Chickadee- comes mainly for the sunflower seed and flits in and out,
not one to linger long for a photo.

House Finch

Blue Jay- kind of shy and only comes close when the pear tree is no longer producing.

Another Goldfinch

Surprised that a Mockingbird is hanging around
- seems to like the lantana that has gone to seed under my window

Junco- always visits whenever the snow flies

Grace and Peace,

 I would love to hear about your own journeys. Feel free to share what God is teaching you, as well as your thoughts on my musings. May we grow in wisdom and understanding together.

Monday, December 5, 2011

It Helps to Have Friends on This Journey

Today did not get started like every other day.  I think I am one of the few people in Texas who has been asking the Lord to send snow.  This morning our world was blanketed in white.

 I was out with my camera as soon as the sun started to come up and was reluctant to come in and get to my quiet time.  So I posted my photos on Facebook and joined in a few conversations there.   One of my friends has decided to seek out others who would be like-minded in doing a Couch to 5k training plan, and after some thought I decided I was ready to join in.  I started this process last year but did not make my goal so I am hoping that with the encouragement and accountability of friends this time around will be a success.

That is one of my goals with my blogging.  That through my commitment to share with you what I am getting out of my quiet times you will in turn be encouraged to spend time with the Lord, and maybe in the process we will be able to encourage one another and have some accountability.

This week my study takes me to Numbers chapter 9.  In the first four verses this morning my observations were that Moses received a word from the LORD about observing Passover and in turn shared that word with the people of Israel.  I took it as an encouragement that what the Lord reveals to my heart as I spend time with Him in the Scriptures I should in turn share with others.  He may even be encouraging me to see it as my responsibility, but that takes it to a level I am not comfortable with just yet.

Having finished my quiet time and taken care of some other Monday responsibilities I cleaned up the clutter that was in the way and opened up my treadmill to get started on the training program.  Stepping on  my eyes were drawn out the window to the icicles now forming and I quickly jumped off, grabbed my camera and headed out again.  After a few more photos to capture the day I returned and completed Day 1 on my treadmill.  Whew! and WooHoo!  
I think my legs might do some talking to me tomorrow but it felt good to add some physical activity back into my day.   I hope that you too will be encouraged to flex your spiritual as well as physical muscles today.  Let me know how it goes.

And now I am heading back out to enjoy the snow as my two German Shepherds have had enough of this sitting inside on a day like today.  I think they were even more excited than I was this morning.

Grace and Peace,

 I would love to hear about your own journeys. Feel free to share what God is teaching you, as well as your thoughts on my musings. May we grow in wisdom and understanding together.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Starting Over

This morning I sat staring at the Scriptures I had copied down.  "What can I possibly get out of that?" I silently prayed.  That still small voice that continues to encourage and guide simply said, "Start with your observations."  Have I told you how much I love this SOAP method of looking at the Word?  I just have to share again with you what I wrote in my notebook.

Scripture-But if a man dies very suddenly beside him (I am reading the section about those who take a Nazirite vow.) and he defiles his dedicated head of hair, then he shall shave his head on the day when he becomes clean; he shall save it on the seventh day.
     Then on the eighth day he shall bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons to the priest, to the doorway of the tent of meeting.
     The priest shall offer one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering, and make atonement for him concerning his sin because of the dead person.  And that same day he shall consecrate his head.
     And shall dedicate to the LORD his days as a Nazirite, and shall bring a male lamb a year old for a guilt offering; but the former days will be void because his separation has been defiled. -Numbers 6:9-12, NASB

(Do you see my dilemma?! So I dutifully move on to Observation.)

Observation-Atonement needs to be made for sin, for guilt, even when it was not intentional.  While sin interrupts the vow and he/she has to start over, it does not negate ones ability to be dedicated to the LORD.

(Wow!  I am truly excited now!  Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!)

Application- When I sin I must "Pick myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again."  Also need to watch my attitude with others; free them to start over with me too- with a clean slate.

(I am just amazed that God has been able to teach me, to grow me, with these particular Scriptures.  I can get so bogged down in my walk when I am wallowing in the sins of my past.  Jesus did it all on the cross, I need to cling to that and not to past mistakes.
And boy, I can be so slow to forgive others.  My conscience is pricked over how I treat people around me. I am one to say that I forgive- but I won't forget.  Funny, I cannot seem to find that verse anywhere in my Bible.  And so I move on to the final step in this process.)

Prayer- Father God, how can I ever put into words how grateful I am for the way that you love me?  Thank You for continuing to teach me, for encouraging me to take time to consider what You have to say and for Your Spirit at work to guide my thoughts.  Thank You for being the God who redeems, who forgives, whose love has no limits.  Father I pray that you will work in me to share this precious gift with others by being one who forgives and loves without limits.  Oh how I love You, Lord.

Grace and Peace,

 I would love to hear about your own journeys. Feel free to share what God is teaching you, as well as your thoughts on my musings. May we grow in wisdom and understanding together.

                            Linking up with Angela at Good Morning Girls today

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Different Focus This Advent

It's day two in the book of Numbers and, as I told a friend last night, I was not expecting much.  Once again I doubted that God could continue to speak through this book.  I can be such a slow learner sometimes.

This morning my focus was on Numbers 6:5-8 and a recurring phrase caught my attention "all the days of his (or her) separation to the LORD."  It led my thoughts in directions about how I am to be separated from sin, from "the world."  One verse in particular stood out, "He shall be holy until all the days are fulfilled for which he separated himself to the LORD."  My question is what does it mean to be holy.  I have always heard it was "set apart," but after a little research I do not think that does it justice.  I came away with a couple of understandings: one being the idea of wholeness and used to mean uninjured, sound, healthy, entire, complete; and the other conveys the idea of separation, a life not influenced by the world in which one lives.  So in putting the two ideas together I come up with: being holy to the Lord means being whole and being a part of but not influenced by the ways of the world.  For now I stuck in this mortal body with it's fleshly desires, I am a part of the world, but I am not to be influenced by these things.  To be whole in this life I need to let Jesus set my course, listen closely to what God has to say in His word and live a life of obedience to Him.

Another part of that verse that struck me was "until all the days are fulfilled."  This led me down the path of thinking about Advent.  Everywhere we look there are preparations for Christmas going on.  Do I get caught up in all the shopping?  Do I need my house to look like Better Homes and Garden?  Is that what Advent is all about?  Or is it a time to prepare for the coming of Jesus.  Not just the baby born in the manger, but His promised return to earth.  This year I am determined to set my sights not on what lies behind but on what lies ahead.  This Advent I am going to remind myself daily that what I am waiting for is Christ's return, not those presents under the tree.

Grace and Peace,


 I would love to hear about your own journeys. Feel free to share what God is teaching you, as well as your thoughts on my musings. May we grow in wisdom and understanding together.

                                 Linking today with Shanda at A Pause on the Path for:

What Kind of Offering Can I Bring?

Christmas.  It reminds me that God sent His Son because of His great love for us.  It reminds me that the story isn't over yet; Jesus will return one day; and oh, what a day that will be!
I came to the end of my readings in Numbers for this week.  These verses wrap up with what a person must do once their time of separation has ended, and this one caught my attention, "He shall present his offering to the LORD."  It started me thinking about that wonderful day when I will meet my Savior face to face, whether it be  at His triumphant return or the day He calls me home.  Do I come to Him with an offering?  And if so, what kind?  It won't be anything I carry with me, not like the Nazirite offering of lambs and rams and unleavened cakes.  
My first thought was a life marked by the Fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Then I remembered Samuel's words, "Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams." (I Samuel 15:22, NASB) I can offer Him my obedience.

That thought was reinforced when I read my New Testament Scriptures for today from 1 John 2:1-17 which says in part: How can we be sure we belong to God?  By obeying His commands.  Those who obey God's word really do love Him.  Those who say they live for God should live their loves the way Christ did.  Stop loving the world and all that it offers, for the world offers only lust for physical pleasure, the lust of everything you see, and pride in our possessions.  They are not from the Father.  This world is fading away, along with everything it craves.  But if you do the will of God, you will live forever.

What do you think?  Should we come with an offering to the Lord when the fulfillment of our time of separation comes?  And what does that offering look like?  I would love to hear your thoughts.

Grace and Peace,


Life on the Edge?!

We start a new study in our Sunday School class this week.  I had decided when I started writing my blog again that I would take whatever we were studying in class to use for my daily SOAP time.  I was so excited when I saw what we were studying!  Numbers, Deuteronomy: Life on the Edge.  Okay, that was not really my reaction.  It was more like, "Are you kidding me?!!"  I really wanted to jump into another part of Scripture this morning.  I read the passage for this week's lesson: Numbers 6:1-15.  BORING...I have no plans to take a Nazirite vow and I am definitely not giving up grapes or even vinegar.  Love my white balsamic on a salad.

But the title of the lesson kept drawing me back as I prayed about where to go in the Scriptures for my morning quiet times, Stay True to Your Commitments; Take Your Commitments Seriously.  Those ideas really resonated with me this morning.  As I have picked up writing again I am giving a lot of thought about what I want this blog to be, what I want to be as a writer and the things I want to avoid.  This blog is my commitment to follow the prodding of the Holy Spirit to get back to writing about my daily walk.  I want to take that seriously.  I desire to stay true to my commitment to the Lord in this venture.  Soooo maybe I should give this study a try with the SOAP method this morning and see how it goes.  Maybe the Lord can even speak to me through the book of Numbers.

S-Again the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
    "Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, 'When a man or woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to dedicate himself to the LORD,
    he shall abstain from wine and strong drink; he shall drink no vinegar, whether made from wine or strong drink, nor shall he drink any grape juice, nor eat fresh or dried grapes.
    All the days of his separation he shall not eat anything that is produced by the grape vine, the seeds even to the skin.  -Numbers 6:1-4 (NASB)

O- The LORD is instructing Moses.
   - This instruction applies to both men and women- women too can dedicate themselves to the LORD.

A-In dedicating myself to the LORD there are things I need to abstain from-not necessarily grape related, but  hmmm, this kind of follows the ideas from the last couple of weeks in Romans about not doing things that would hurt fellow believers.  I think there are also things that I should be aware of in what I watch, read, and listen to.  What things do I take part in as a woman dedicated to the Lord that I should abstain from?  There are some obvious lists that come to mind in the New Testament books.

P-Father God, forgive me for thinking that You could not possibly speak to me through Numbers. Instruct me as I read through this book, show me how to apply it's truths.  And Father, give me wisdom to discern which things I should abstain from; those things that would make my walk here on earth harder and the strength to follow through on what You reveal.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Rejoice, Give Thanks and Sing

It’s the first day of Thanksgiving break around here.  It’s quiet.  I did not expect that, but as our family grows up things change.  Our oldest is out on his own now.  Our youngest is house and dog sitting for friends.  It is just Ken and I.  So we slept in then walked out together to get the paper.  The sun was out and there was still dew on the roses.  I just cannot get over that one of my roses started blooming this past week.  All of the others are calling it quits for the season, and this one is just now blooming for the first time this year after surviving the worst drought and hottest summer in our regions history.  Sometimes survivors stand out particularly beautifully.

 This sight immediately brought to mind Grandma Payne's favorite old hymn: In the Garden by Charles Austin Miles.

I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses.


And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

He speaks and the sound of His voice,
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing.


I’d stay in the garden with Him
Thought he night around me be falling,
But He bids me go: through the voice of woe
His voice to me is calling.


Miles once gave the background to this beautiful hymn in his own words:

“I read the story of the greatest morn in history.  The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, while it was yet very dark, unto the sepulcher.  Instantly, completely, there unfolded in my mind the scenes of the garden, where out of the mists comes a form, halting, hesitating, tearful, seeking, turning from side to side in bewildering amazement.”

“Falteringly, bearing grief in every accent, with tear-dimmed eyes, she whispers, ‘If Thou has borne Him hence.’”

“He speaks, and the sound of His voice is so sweet the birds hush their singing.  He said to her ‘Mary!’  Just one word and forgotten are the heartaches, the long dreary hours, all the past is blotted out in His presence.”

I had always just thought of this hymn as being about the quiet moments we spend with the Lord, but couple that with Mary’s Easter morning and it becomes so much more.

I read Romans 15:8-10 this morning while sipping a cup of coffee that my sweet husband made for me.  It was very fitting for this season.
“For I say that Christ has become a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers, and for the Gentiles to glorify god for His mercy; as it is written, ‘Therefore I will give praise to You among the Gentiles, And I will sing to Your name.’  Again he says, ‘Rejoice O gentiles with His people.’”

We Gentiles have much reason to celebrate and be thankful.  Christ came for us too and through Him we glorify God for His mercy.  Which brings another old hymn to mind…

                      Rejoice! Rejoice!  Rejoice, Give thanks and sing!

Happy Thanksgiving dear friends,

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Wait- You Mean This Applies at Church Too?

I recently wrote another post with a very similar title.  This morning's reading has me thinking that there are some very specific things for me to take a hard look at amongst the body of believer's I worship with, both those in the present and those in the past.  The verses I focused on this morning were Romans 15:5-7.  There is a theme running through these verses about unity, about being of the same mind and in one accord.  Then the clincher comes in verse 7, "Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us (me) to the glory of God."  Follow that with this verse from Psalm 119 that I read today, "Keep me from lying to myself," (v. 29a-NLT) and I come to some difficult realizations.
For the past couple of weeks I have been in the 14th chapter of Romans.  It is all about setting aside yourself for the sake of others.  It is all about not fighting within the church about the things that are not crucial to the faith, and even more importantly not causing our brothers and sisters harm by insisting on certain things.  Today leads me to the tough questions.  Have I been a person who builds up or tears down?  Have I made issues of things that are not vital and caused harm to fellow believers?  The awful answer is there are mistakes in my past that I am very ashamed of and my confession time this morning was a tear-filled one as I finally acknowledged my terrible failings in this area.  There are times I should have simply walked away.  There are times when I stood so firmly on something that has no lasting value that I made no room for those with opposing opinions.  I have been judgmental and harsh rather than accepting others as Christ has accepted me.   I am praying this morning that the God who restores will be able to bring healing to those I have left hurting along my path.  I am praying that God would replace distrust, anger, resentments, and hurts among the body with love, grace, peace, and mercy.

There is a song I love to sing by Natalie Grant, Make Me Over.  As I seek to be more like Christ within the body of believer's this is the prayer of my heart.

I've been silent instead of speaking up
Gave my advice instead of giving love
I have been unfair, faithless and unkind
I have shut my eyes just so I would stay blind
It's not what I meant to do
'Cause I want to honor You

Make me over, Make me new
Make me a mirror, a reflection of You
Take me all apart
Take me to Your heart and pull me closer
Sweet Savior, make me over

I was working on my second quilt block yesterday.  It looks like this as I get ready to pick it up this morning and finish it.

My God is so big, so strong, and so mighty.  There's nothing my God cannot do.  Not for me.  Not for you. There is nothing He cannot do.  I am counting on Him to continue His work in my life to make me more and more in the image of Christ and sometimes I can be a pretty tough nut to crack.

Grace, peace, and mercy dear ones.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Taking Action!

I am taking action today.  Up early for my quiet time.  Started on Monday chores around the house.  Sent out the prayer list email.  Made a plan for some quilt work to get done today.  Now I am writing.  I am still about an hour behind where I would like to be, but today I am taking action.

I have been rather lazy with my quiet times this year.  I have been rather lazy with a lot of things this year.  So I am appreciating the new life this "new to me" method of Bible study is infusing into my day.  My time starts with "S" for Scripture. Next I work on "O" for observation, followed by "A" for applications and "P" for prayer.  SOAP.  I love it!  It is not my idea but the study method I found through

For today it looks like this:
S- Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves.
Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification.
For even Christ did not please Himself, but as it is written, "The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me."
For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.  -Romans 15:1-4

O- Being Christlike means I need to live not to please myself but my Father in heaven.  I am sitting here just trying to imagine what Jesus had to "bear" when He walked on earth dealing with we weak, weak, people.  I have lot's of patience when that weak person is a toddler, but grow them up and I fail miserably.
Verse 4 is my favorite-Through the Scriptures we are given encouragement and hope.  Makes me think of Psalm 119 which has always spoken to me about the person who seeks to know God through His word, and which just happens to be part of my Daily Bible reading for today:  "Happy are those who obey His decrees and search for Him with all their hearts. (v.2 NLT)  Oh that my actions would consistently reflect Your principles!  Then I will not be disgraced when I compare my life with Your commands" (vs.5-6)  "I have rejoiced in your decrees as much as in riches.   I will study Your commandments and reflect on Your ways.  I will delight in Your principles and not forget Your word." (vs. 14-16)

A-(Now for the hard part.)  Stop living for self-serving purposes.  Be patient, be patient, be patient with others.  And do not neglect that time in the Scripture- bring those words of Psalm 119 to life in my life.

P-Father God, I confess my failure to put others ahead of myself.  Father I so often serve my needs not You.  I seek forgiveness for my short-sightedness and ask that You open my eyes and heart; that You mold me more into the image of Your Son who came seeking to do Your will, not His own.  Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect your principles!

I hope by this you are encouraged to spend some time in the Scriptures today.  I will be praying that the Lord speaks to your heart as you look into His word.

Now I am off to the quilt studio- working on block number two of that baby quilt I started.  Happy Monday!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Wait-You Mean I Need to do This at Home Too?

It's Friday, and following the plan laid out in Good Morning Girls that means it is time to reflect on the Scriptures I have read this week: Romans 14:13-23.  Having an attitude of peace and joy with others even when it requires me to not insist on my own way is what stands out to me after rereading my journal notes.  At first my thought revolved around the church since this section is all about how we relate to other believer's, but then it hit me that I live much closer with another group of believer's- those in my own home.  Ouch.  I do not have to go back any farther than yesterday to see where I failed to exhibit peace and joy.
"Pursue those things which make for peace and the building up of one another." (verse 19)  This even applies to my husband who was trying to help me out with getting dinner on the table last night and wrapped the fresh out of the oven rolls in the old kitchen towel I had handy by the stove.  I knew what the towel had been doing all day as I prepared our Thanksgiving meal.  (A week early I know, but it was when we could all be together.)  I was horrified and not very gracious in my "correction."  Thankfully this towel did not see me through the turkey prep earlier so it was probably pretty harmless- still it was not my way at all!  Sad to say, but I am quick to jump on family members who do not do things my way around the house.  While I venture to work towards pursuing peace I am very much convicted that I cannot neglect this pursuit within my own home.  So much for wanting this to be just a general application with nothing very specific for me to get to work on.
My sweet family

Check out Time Warp Wife -Empowering Wives to Joyfully Serve

Thursday, November 17, 2011

In Need of a Little Restoration

This week I decided it was time to tackle the cabinets in the kitchen and baths.  The finish was getting pretty worn and we had been talking for awhile about what to do.  I came across a product a couple of years ago at an antique shop and decided this just might be the ticket.

Howard's Restore-A-Finish.  No need to strip off the old, just apply to fine steel wool and work it in.  (I forgot to take a before photo in the master bath so the before is actually the guest bath which was in better shape.)

What I love about this process is that I am not removing the "good" part of the finish, But restoring and improving where there were flaws.  I thought about that idea when I was considering my Bible reading for today.  I came across a new study method this week and have been employing it for my morning devotional time.  Courtney is well into her study of 1 John so I jumped in with where I am at in my study of Romans and it has added a spark of new life to my quiet time.

I have been contemplating the later half of Romans 14 this week.  Today's verses were 22 -23: "The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God.  Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.  But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin."
Now there was a lot of previous material this week which has led me to today's thoughts.  It is not just about what to eat and drinking wine; the last thought from yesterday was the later half of verse 21 "or to do anything by which your brother stumbles."  That got me thinking out of the box of food and drink.  What are the things I "approve?"  My faith and my doubts about the things I do either condemn me or approve me before God.  That thought puts a whole new twist on the idea of guilty pleasures.  How many things do I do each day that I have already convicted myself about yet I go ahead and make excuses to continue in them?  It was a humble prayer time that followed my contemplation.  During that time I thought about the cabinets I am working on.  My daily time in the Word and prayer are like the Restore-A-Finish.  God created something good when He created me and sin has messed me up a bit.  I need a little rubbing out here, a little color there, and some protective coating to make me shine.  I need to spend some more time with Him figuring out what things I will approve of.  Notice I said spend time with God figuring that out.  I am too good at deceiving myself.  So here I sit this morning looking forward to a little Restore-A -Finish God's way.  I want my life to shine and not be a stumbling block for others.  I am not afraid of the process because I know how great is the Lord's love for me.  Letting Him work in my life will only accomplish the good I desire.
First of a quilt block I designed for a baby quilt project