Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Faith that Moves Mountains

I consider myself a student of prayer.  Like the disciples before me I have asked the Lord to teach me to pray; so whenever I come to verses like those in Matthew today I stop and ponder.  These are not new to me, but I still struggle with them.  Upon coming to a fig tree that had no fruit Jesus caused it to wither on the spot and He tells the disciples, "I assure you, if you have faith and don't doubt, you can do things like this and much more.  You can even say to this mountain, 'May God lift you up and throw you into the sea,' and it will happen.  If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.  (Matt. 21:21-22, NLT1)

Believe and receive. It sounds so simple. Just last week I read another passage from Matthew, "I assure you, even if you have faith as small as a mustard seed you could say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it would move.  Nothing would be impossible." (Matt. 17:20, NLT1)  So it does not take much faith, just a teeny bit.  Makes me wonder what Jesus would say to me today, "Why do you doubt and not believe?"

There are some mountains out there that I would love to "throw into the sea," but no matter how much I pray for them to be gone they still loom large.  I wonder if the problem is in me and my lack of faith.  If I ask myself whether or not God can conquer cancer, I give a resounding yes.  So why do I have friends whose children are not being healed?  Why is there not victory for every one of them?  Why did a family have to bury their sweet little boy last week?  I know the "pat" answers, but I don't want the pat answers.  I want those mountains completely gone from their lives.  The more I know of God, the more I believe that He can do this, He wants to do this.  He is the God who lavishes His love upon us.  I've seen Him do the impossible in the past.  I've heard the triumphant stories.   And the only conclusion I have come to so far is that I have no formula for success but to pray. Oh, that my faith would unleash His great power!

“A man is powerful on his knees.” --Corrie Ten Boon

 "Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work."-- Oswald Chambers

Grace, Peace, and Mercy,

Monday, January 30, 2012


I was finding it difficult to get up this morning.  I just kept rolling over and enjoying a few more minutes of sleep.    I don't have anything particularly pressing I have to do today.  Sometimes it is hard for me to think of what I do as "work."  I write and I quilt- two things I love to do.  I try to do both "as unto the Lord."  I've even set office hours for each in order to keep from getting distracted by other things.  But it is very easy not to stick to them when you are working from home.  Neither is a paying job, but rather my choice to use the talents God has given me for the benefit of others.  And I am trying to be very intentional about using them that way.

I just had to laugh when I read the passage from Proverbs for today.  "Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones.  Learn from their ways and be wise!  Even though they have no prince, governor, or ruler to make them work, they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter.  But you, lazybones, how long will you sleep?  When will you wake up? -Proverbs 6:6-9, NLT1

Grace, Peace, and Mercy,

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Gaining God's Perspective

My To-Do list is pretty long today.  A lot to get done and time just seems to fly by.  Do I take time to start my day in the Word and in prayer.  You betcha!  Jesus rebuked Peter in Matthew 16:22 -"You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, and not from God's."  You see Jesus had just revealed to the disciples what lay ahead for Him.  That He must go to Jerusalem, suffer many things, be killed, and then raised up on the third day.  Peter's response was, "God forbid it, Lord!  This shall never happen to You."  Jesus, in a not very gentle rebuke tells Peter he is not setting his mind on God's interests, but man's.

If I don't start my day with the Lord I will have the same problem.  If I try to write, or prepare my Bible study, or do the laundry, or wash dishes, or clean toilets, or spend time volunteering, or all the other things that must get done today without seeing these things from God's perspective I will fail miserably.  If I first take time to get my heart in the right place I have something worth sharing as I write and lead the Bible study, I have a motivation that is outside myself to make those toilets sparkle, to find joy in being able to serve my family in a myriad of ways around the house and to serve others in the things I do, many of them hidden from view.  You are probably familiar with Colossians 3:23, "Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men."  Webster's says that means I need to do it with zest or gusto.  I like the fact that Colossians says to do it heartily.  Makes me think again about how important it is to begin my day getting my heart aligned with God's.

Gotta run, tons to do today-and I am feeling very blessed to be able to do it all with a grateful, happy heart.

Grace, Peace, and Mercy,

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Guard Your Heart

"Pay attention, my child, to what I say. Incline your ear to my sayings.  Don't lose sight of my words.  Keep them in the midst of your heart.  For they are life to those who find them and health to all their body.   Above all else guard your heart, for it affects everything you do." -Proverbs 4:20-23 (From the NASB and NLT)

Those verses seem to be a continuation of yesterday's thoughts which I first titled, Be on Guard, but then changed my mind and ended up with Holy And Blameless.
I have been keeping my daily quiet time routine for over 11 years now.  Too many times, even this Mary heart, has neglected it.  My family always seems to know.  I bring more tension into our home when I have not guarded my heart.  I am quick to find fault; not very patient, kind or loving.  When all that my heart has meditated on is me.  When all that I have feasted my eyes upon has been the world and it's ways; that affects everything I do.

It all started with conference speaker Becky Tirabassi who shared her book Let Prayer Change Your Life and a notebook for journaling prayers.   I've changed it up some over the years, but it was her challenge to commit to spending daily time in prayer that started me on this journey.  She connected time in the Word and time in prayer.  Two things that I had always done, but not with the purpose of hearing from God each day.  Reading His word and looking for what He might be saying specifically to me- that was a new idea to incorporate.  These daily times of sitting at His feet and listening to His Word, times of praise and confession and thanksgiving and bringing my requests before Him- these are the things that guard my heart.  Life is so much better for everyone around me when my mouth speaks out of the abundance of a heart that has spent with the Lord.

Grace, Peace, and Mercy,

Monday, January 23, 2012

Holy and Blameless

Heartbreaking words today.  "These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far away.  Their worship is a farce, for they replace God's commands with their own man-made teachings."  Matthew 15:8-9, NLT  When I came to my study of our Sunday School lesson from Deuteronomy I read these verses: "Hear, O Israel!  The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your might.  These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up."- Deut. 6:4-7, NASB

There are days when I am as guilty as the people of Israel.  There are days when I honor God with my lips but my heart is far away.  I know I do not love the LORD with ALL of my heart and ALL of my soul and ALL of my might.  But I want to.  I want my heart to be so near to His that I never stray.  I want to be a child of the King who loves Him with every fiber of her being.  How thankful I am that He knows me so well.  He knows that I struggle with a deceitful heart.  "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?"- Jeremiah 17:9 KJV.    The LORD knows it.  He knows my heart.  He knows yours as well.

I have been giving a lot of thought to the blessings we have in Christ as I begin to make my way through Ephesians.  One of those blessings is that God chose us to be holy and blameless.  I don't feel very holy or blameless.  I had been taught that to be holy was to be set apart and while that is true, I found that Webster's defined it as, "devoted entirely to the deity or the work of the diety."  That brings me right back to  that verse in Deuteronomy.   You shall love the LORD your God with ALL of your heart, soul, and mind.  ALL- holding nothing back, in entirety.  Oh thank goodness for the verses I read in Psalm 19 today.  I wrote them down in the confession section of my prayer journal this morning.  I think I may need to write them on my bathroom mirror, my refrigerator, inside every cabinet door, post them above my computer.  God knows me so well.  He even knows how I should pray.  "How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart?  Cleanse me from these hidden faults.  Keep me from deliberate sins!  Don't let them control me.  May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to You, O LORD, my Rock and  my Redeemer."- Psalm 19:12, 13a, 14.

Grace, Peace, and Mercy,

Friday, January 20, 2012

Making Progress

It's January 20th already!  Just one more full week left in in the month.  As I look back on this week I can see progress in some areas and others that I have been lax in.  My quilting being one of the later.  I just got around to doing some of the redwork yesterday afternoon, briefly.

Then I noticed today that I am working on the same square I showed you back on January 6th when I wrote Friday Reflection.  Reading over the list of goals I set for myself this year I am happy to report that I am on track in most areas.  I am right where I should be in reading through the Bible, and only missed one day.  I cannot believe I let last Sunday get by me without doing my Daily Bible selection- I read the passages on Monday, but that is not the habit I want to develop- I really don't want a day to go by when I have not spent time sitting at His feet and listening to His Word.
My prayer journal goal is going well and I have written in it everyday except for Sunday.
I made my goal for my blog writing this week, and I think I have done a fair job with my posts.

As for my physical goals, the running has still been on hold this week, but I was able to get in some low-impact aerobics and this morning I am finally under the 150 mark on my scale!  That has been the weight I have just not been able to get under since about July. Five pounds gone since I weighed in last week and I really can't explain it, except maybe that the Christmas candies are finally gone.  Oh chocolate, how you love my hips!
I am being brutally honest here with an actual number.  I hit 150 for the first time many, many summers ago and I thought at the time- "no way!  It is time to do something about this weight gain!"  But it only went up from there. So I moved into a size 12, then a 14, and this past year I was going to have to move up again. Thankfully our budget was being used up by our son who was studying in Australia at the time and I really could not afford to go out and buy the next size up and that motivated me work to get back to a healthy weight.  I've lost 30 pounds since February and would like to lose another 20-25 this year.  I must brag on my beloved husband here- he has lost about 50 lbs and is looking really good.

I've done a lot of reading this week, but confess it has all been "new to me" books- Love my Kindle and the freebies that are available.  I was feeling very unqualified to lead a ladies Bible study that was set to begin on Wednesday and started scooping up everything I could get my hands on related to Ephesians.  I really started to feel convicted about it though. This verse from the New Testament kept coming to mind,  "By His divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life.  We have received all of this by coming to know Him, the One who called us to Himself by means of His marvelous glory and excellence." -2 Peter 1:3, NLT
 I stopped reading all the commentaries and the other studies and just started to trust that the Lord wanted me to lead this study because of what I had to offer, not all of those other people.  He really laid on my heart and in my mind that what He wanted me to share was not about amassing knowledge of the book of Ephesians, but letting it just soak into my soul and change me from the inside out.  That is what I have always done and that is what He wants me to share with the ladies in this group.

It has been a great week!  I am praying that you will learn a similar lesson- that the Lord has given you something to do, something that you are uniquely qualified for.  And You do not need to lean on anyone else but Him to accomplish it.

Grace, Peace, and Mercy,

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Eyes to See and Ears to Hear

What a wonderful evening I had last night.  I don't know about anyone else but I left feeling very encouraged.  I loved sitting down with 15 other women--some whom I know well, others who are just acquaintances, and still others that I met for the very first time--then leaving feeling like I had spent some quality time among sisters.  We shared the Word, a good deal of laughter, and even some concerns.  We asked questions and considered how truly blessed we are to be daughters of the King.
It was all very challenging for me.  You may recall the fear I shared about leading a Bible study- how "out of my comfort zone" this was going to be.  Today I am feeling blessed for having been faithful to that which God has given me to do.  There is a lot I can learn from these sweet ladies about how to apply the verses we are studying in Ephesians.
We started out by going around the room and stating whether we were a Mary or a Martha.   I was not too surprised to learn that I was a Mary almost completely surrounded by Marthas.  There are a number of books out there directed at helping the Marthas of the world develop some Mary attributes, but not much for we Marys who could benefit from a little more Martha.  I have a strong feeling that the Lord brought each of these ladies together with me as part of His plan to make me into the woman He wants me to be.

I  read Matthew12:46-13:23 today as part of my devotional time in the Word.  This particular verse stood out to me: "But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear."-Matt. 13:16NASB   We talked a lot about the blessings we have in Christ last night as we looked at those first few verses of Ephesians. It struck me that even our ability to see and hear is a blessing God has given to us.  How grateful I am this morning that He has blessed us with everything we need to be the women He wants us to be, including sweet sisters to study with.

Grace, Peace, and Mercy,

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Are You Listening?

My New Testament  reading for today was from Matthew 12.  The pharisees are at it again and Jesus responds to them this way, "But you would not have condemned those who aren't guilty if you knew the meaning of this Scripture: 'I want you to be merciful; I don't want your sacrifices.'"  You know, I read that somewhere else just recently.  Just last week, as a matter of fact, in Matthew 9:13.  Jesus was speaking to the pharisees that time too.  "Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: 'I want you to be merciful; I don't want your sacrifices.'"

It would appear that the pharisees did not do what Jesus instructed them.  The Scripture He tells them to learn is from Hosea 6:6 where the LORD says of His people  "I want you to be merciful; I don't want your sacrifices.  I want you to know God; that's more important than burnt offerings."  The book of Hosea is a pleading from the prophet for the people to know God.  "Oh, that we might know the LORD!  Let us press on to know Him!"  -Hosea 6:3, NLT  He says very pointedly to the priests of the time, "Don't point your finger at someone else and try to pass the blame!  Look, you priests, my complaint is with you!" -Hosea 4:4, NLT I am pretty sure the pharisees would have been very familiar with this book.  But for all their knowledge it could be said of them, "My people are being destroyed because they do not know me." -Hosea 4:6.

I can store up all kinds of knowledge about the Bible, quote verses from memory, go to church every Sunday, do all the right things, and still miss knowing the LORD.  I need more than knowledge, I need understanding.  I strongly believe that understanding only comes when I spend time meditating on the verses I have read.  When I spend time praying about how to apply God's Word to my life.  When I spend time searching the Scriptures to learn more about God.  When I, like Mary, spend time sitting at His feet and listening to His Word, not just reading it, but really listening to what God is saying to me.

Grace, Peace, and Mercy,

Monday, January 16, 2012

His Burden is Light

There is excitement in the air at our house.  Tomorrow classes will resume at the university where my husband teaches and our son attends.  This week I am adding a new role- leader of a women's Bible study at church and online.
"Take My yoke upon you.  Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light." -Matthew 11:29-30, NLT.  As I read those verses this morning I thought, how can Jesus say that?  How can He say "My burden is light?"  I am fixing to lead a Bible study- me, the shy one, the one who prefers to sit at His feet and listen to His word, the one who takes on jobs where I can be behind the scenes rather than in the public eye.  How can He say His burden is light?!  I started to focus on the earlier part of that verse: For My yoke fits perfectly.  I love how the New Living Translation renders that.  He has perfectly fitted me for the work I am to do.  What is this burden He has laid upon me?  It's not the Bible study, it's not the writing, it's not the housework or anything else -it is simply to be obedient.  God is with those who obey Him- I read that this morning too, in Psalm 14:5.
 "The LORD looks down from heaven on the entire human race; He looks to see if there is even one with real understanding, one who seeks God." -Psalm 14:2, NLT    Sadly, the psalmists answer was that God could find no one.  When God looks down over the human race today, that is not what I want Him to see.  I want Him to find you and me seeking Him, gaining understanding and wisdom from the time we spend with Him each day.  That is the heart that motivates me to write this blog, to be available as a tool to lead a Bible study, to pray for the women I come in contact with.
In Proverbs I read, "Wisdom is a tree of life for those who embrace her.  Happy are those who hold her tightly"- Proverbs 3:18.  I thought about Adam and Eve, removed from the Garden because they might eat from the Tree of Life and live forever. We have access to that tree!  It is not some tree in some hidden garden- we have access to Christ.  We have access to wisdom through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives as we read God's word and meditate upon it.
All of those thoughts brought me back to "His burden is light."  As I began to pray I thought of Moses at the burning bush.  God had a plan to use Moses.  He wanted Him to speak to Pharaoh and to the people of Israel, but Moses saw his weaknesses and feared he could not be the leader God wanted him to be, even after all of God's reassurances. This angered God and so He appointed Moses brother Aaron to speak for Moses.  I can relate to Moses.  Words flow when I write, but speaking is another matter.  When I have to speak to people face to face I often struggle for the words that come so easily when written down , and they never sound as good to my ear as when I pen them.  I prayed about what I perceive to be my weaknesses,  and  realized that I want to be obedient above all else.  I will go where He leads me and do what He purposes for me because I know He is faithful.  I know that He will give me everything I need for the tasks before me.  He has perfectly fitted me for what He wants me to do.  I hope that I come out on the other side of the next few weeks with a real understanding that His burden is indeed light.

Grace, Peace, and Mercy,

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Almost Ready for a New Semester

Ken and I took some time to ourselves this week.  We went for a drive to some of our favorite locations in the hill country of Texas.  It was beautiful, though a bit nippy for around here, and it gave us the chance to enjoy each other's undivided attention- at least when we were not wandering antiques shops.

The hobbyist birder in me enjoyed a few "first sightings" for the year and some even cooperated for a photo-op.  
Mallard at park in San Saba

Ring-necked duck near Enchanted Rock
Web image of Northern Caracara -
we spotted one near Enchanted Rock but he flew
before we could take a photo.
Web Image of Eastern Bluebird
web image here too -
 he is too hard to spot in our photo

I love the history that is found as we wandered a little further south in Texas to the area settled by German immigrants.   We traveled a new road that brought us to Trickham, Tx.  The town was originally named Muke Water but later renamed "Trick'em" for the reputation of the store propreiter who played practical jokes on the local cowboys.  The post office refused to enter the name and went with Trickham as a substitute.  I have learned a lot about Robert E Lee this past year as I picked up Jeff Shaara's God's and Generals and am slowly making my way through it.  He was stationed in this area in the years just before the civil war.  How exciting for the history buff in me to stumble upon this marker in town!

Some of the very unusual graves in what is left of the town.

We enjoyed lunch at one of our favorite parks.  San Saba has a beautiful city park with trails to walk and lots of water features to enjoy.

water spilling over dam at San Saba city park.

Water wheel in San Saba city park
I love the old stone houses in many of the towns in this area.

Window at a  home in Fredericksburg

The quilter in me seems always drawn to patterns, wherever I find them

We had such a peaceful, wonderful time together.

I started to share all of this yesterday as part of my Friday Reflections.  But life with its interruptions does not always go with my plan.  Instead it is now Saturday, tamales from a local Clyde family are warming for lunch and looking back upon this week I have made progress in some areas and not much in others.  I am still on track with reading through the Bible this year using my Daily Bible NLT.  I did not get as much writing done for the blog this week, but that is the way vacations should be.   My running was put on hold while I dealt with a bum foot, arthritis is not always my friend.  I read a bit of the book I am working on, Blogger Behave  I love some of the points Laura Booz is making about the priorities in our lives and have started to share some quotes and thoughts on my page What I am Reading.  No work done on a quilt this week but you should see my closet!  I suddenly was motivated to have Ken and I go through all the stuff in our bedroom and closet and get rid of things we do not love, things that do not fit anymore (because we are making good progress on our weight loss goals!), and just some of the stuff we have accumulated.

It has been a good week.  I love having my guy around and it will be hard to see him off to work next week.

Next week will bring some new challenges as I take on leadership for a women's Bible study.  The shy side of my nature is getting pretty nervous, but the woman who wants to become all that God wants me to is excited about the opportunity to share that which fuels my life with passion and purpose.

Grace, Peace, and Mercy,

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Peace, Be Still

"Lord, save us!  We're going to drown!"  Have you ever felt like that?  I have.  On the morning after a sexual assault.  On the day the LifeFlight crew flew my newborn son off in a helicopter.  On the night I learned my younger brother's colon cancer had spread to his liver.  These are some of the times I have felt like the disciples when they cried out to the Lord.  I am not at one of those moments in time right now.  The waves are not crashing around me and I do not feel like I am drowning.  But I thought about some of those moments as I considered the Scripture passages I read today from Matthew 8: 23-27.  I simply heard that still small voice inside of me whisper, "Peace, be still." and I knew what I had to write about today.

Those experiences I mentioned and many others have worked to shape my life and put me on the path I am on to becoming the woman God wants me to be.  The woman I want to be.  I know that He can see me through the most gut wrenching, horrendous things.  I know that even in man's inhumanity to man there can come an amazing healing.  I know that even when my sweet baby boy is away from me in some strange hospital, struggling for his every breath; when things are completely out of my control; God is in the midst and can calm my heart; and He can save my son.  I know that even when I hold a precious loved one as he takes his final breath, God can fill that moment with the sweetest peace I have ever known.

Jesus is right there with me, in everything that comes my way.  No matter how storm-tossed my boat, He is the one who can calm the seas, He is the one who can calm my soul.

The winds and the waves
shall obey My will, peace be still.
Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea
or demons, or men, or whatever it be.
No water can swallow the ship where lies
the Master of ocean and earth and skies;
they shall sweetly obey my will,
peace be still, peace be still.
They all shall sweetly obey my will;
peace, peace be still.
-Chorus from Master the Tempest is Raging by Mary Ann Baker

Grace, Peace, and Mercy,

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Avoiding Power Failures

It was a dark and stormy night...which left us without power yesterday morning.  Being a rainy morning it was dark in the house.  Too dark to sit at the kitchen table and try to have my quiet time.  No internet, no cup of tea, no heat.  It was a good morning to just linger under the warm covers.  So that is exactly what we did.

Web Image
I was thinking this morning about our own personal power failures when we do not spend the time we need with the Lord.  In my read through the Bible this year I am currently in Genesis.  I arrived at the portion of Scripture that related how Abraham's servant finds a wife for Isaac.  Abraham tells his servant, "He (the Lord) will send His angel ahead of you, and He will see to it that you find a young woman to be my son's wife."  -Gen. 23:7b, NLT  When the servant responded with doubt about his success, Abraham reaffirms his statement, "The LORD, before whom I have walked, will send His angel with you and make your journey a success." -Gen 24:40a, NLT

Abraham knew where the power for success in this mission lay- it was in God alone.  God was not some stranger to Abraham, he spent a great deal of time with the LORD.  Through that relationship He had come to trust the LORD and God had even commended Abraham for his faith.  The success of whatever I do, be it writing a blog, leading a Bible study, raising a family--whatever my "mission"-- it is vital that I am connected to the power source.  Me without God is like my house without power, everything looks fine, but nothing works.  I want my light to shine when the switch is flipped.

Grace, Peace, and Mercy,

Friday, January 6, 2012

Friday Reflection

 It's Friday, and that means a day of reflection for me.  My day to look back over my Bible study notes and think about how to take action on some of those ideas I have been thinking about.  I wrote out my list of the things that I need to be rid of in my life and decided to keep it in my prayer journal on the first page of my confess section.  (Chocolate did not make the cut, though I suppose it is implied by the recognition of my need to lose another 25 pounds.)  On the back side of that page I made a note of actions I want to take this year to help in that process.  This is the list I came up with:
1. Read Bible daily, Genesis through Revelation
2. M-F have quiet time involving prayer journal (not limited to those days but a minimum I want to attain)
3. Devotional Blog writing 3 days a week minimum.
4. Couch to 5k done by April
5.  Finish 5 UFO's- a quilting weakness I have identified is falling in love with new projects before finishing the old, which then end up sitting in boxes in my quilt studio.
6.  Read 12 books- again I have many in the works but have not been finishing any.

Eight of twelve quilt blocks completed so far
 I decided in that process that Fridays would be my reflection and accountability day to share with you what I have accomplished towards those goals.  The first week of January 2012 has me off to a good start.  I am on track for reading through the Bible this year.  Had my quiet time every day this week.  Put in time on my running program with couch to 5k- though I am staying put at week 4 next week as I feel my body needs some extra time on these workouts before increasing my running time.  I finished one square and began work on another for a redwork quilt I started last year.  These squares were designed by Alex Anderson and featured in the February 2011 issue of The Quilt Life magazine.  It was my "learn something new" quilt from last year and made it to the top of the list for finishing UFO's since it is red and white and will look great on my dining room wall where I like to hang and enjoy my quilt projects for awhile.

As for my read, I am picking up my brand new Kindle (thanks to my sweet family) and reading Blogger Behave: Make your blog benefit your life, so you can love both  by Laura Booz.  I chose this book because I need to find a balance between social media and life that works for me, my family, and my ministry.  It is far too easy for me to get sucked into computer time and have the rest of my life suffer as a result- another one of the areas I identified that needs some work.
  So that's it for me.  I am feeling pretty good about this week, where the Lord has been leading me and the choices I am making towards becoming the woman God wants me to be in 2012.  What about you?  Are there some changes/goals that you want to work towards.  Friday is going to be my accountability day and I would love to have you join me and share how you are doing as we go through the year together.

Grace, Peace, and Mercy,

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Out with the Old

Stock photo from the web.  
Have you ever felt like the little girl in this photo?  At the start of every year I begin thinking about the clutter in my home and what needs to go, what needs to stay, how I can better organize.  This morning I am thinking about the clutter in my life and the cleaning out of my heart I need to do.

In Numbers 33: 51-53 Moses shares this word from the LORD, "When you cross over the Jordan into the land of Canaan, then you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their figured stones, and destroy all their molten images and destroy all their high places.  And you shall take possession of the land and live in it, for I (the LORD) have given the land to you to possess it."

In considering how this section of Scripture might apply to me I began thinking about the things I have allowed in my life that do not honor God.  Things I have kept in my life that pull me away from a life that brings honor and glory to Him.  Many of those things are attitudes deep within my heart such as old hurts I have held on to or areas in my life that tempt me in ways that are harmful to my life and walk.  Others are activities that I engage in, things that ask for my time.  It can be a struggle at times to find balance in these areas.
And have I told you about my weakness for chocolate and what that does to my waistline?  I tell myself it is just that "over 40 weight gain," but there are things I should be doing, and things I should stop doing, that would really help me obtain and maintain a healthy weight.

How overwhelming it can be; looking at the big picture of my life and identifying "inhabitants" I need to drive out.  There are things in my life I feel the Lord has been calling me to destroy that I have been stubbornly clinging to. When I really stop and think about it, I am amazed at how much control some of these things have over me.  I am not pleased with that realization.  So, in my desire to become all that God wants me to be I am going to start taking steps to be rid of these things.  It is not something that can be done all at once.  As I prayed it over with the Lord this morning a couple of things kept coming to mind and I made a commitment to Him to start right away cleaning out those areas.  If I am brave I will even make an actual list this week of all those things I need to drive out or destroy and keep it tucked away in my prayer journal until next January.  If I am brave enough...there is something about writing specific things down that makes them very real, that makes it hard not to deal with them since I have actually acknowledged that they exist. Hopefully I will be able to celebrate a year of successes in my campaign to be the woman God desires me to be.

Grace, Peace, and Mercy,

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

He's Got My Back

As I was musing about today's reading from Numbers 32:20-24 a scene from the movie The Bear came to mind.  The clip I found is a little longer than I would have liked, but I love the scene where the mountain lion is face to face with the cub and suddenly turns tail and runs away.  At first all you see is the cub standing it's ground and roaring for all it is worth- but as the camera pans out, standing behind the cub is this huge bear also roaring and looking much more intimidating.

I thought it was a great picture of the verses for today.  Moses tells the sons of Reuben and Gad that they must arm themselves and cross over the Jordan, not just before the rest of Israel, but also before the LORD and then adds, "until He (the LORD) has driven His enemies out from before Him, and the land is subdued before the LORD."  Sometimes when I am "going into battle" I forget who is really the One who achieves the victory.  I forget that when I am facing "my enemies' it is not me they are running from, but the One who stands behind me.  Bearing that in mind, what do I really have to fear as I enter into 2012?

Grace, Peace, and Mercy,

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

It's Not All About Me

Then they came near to him and said, “We will build here sheepfolds for our livestock and cities for our little ones; but we ourselves will be armed ready to go before the sons of Israel, until we have brought them to their place, while our little ones live in the fortified cities because of the inhabitants of the land. We will not return to our homes until every one of the sons of Israel has possessed his inheritance.

This is an image of a sheepfold I pulled off the web and is not my own.
Today's study in Numbers brought me to Chapter 32, verses 16-18.  As I thought about how building sheepfolds and fortified cities, going to battle, and possessing inheritances had anything to do with me I noticed a couple of things.
First, there was still a fear of the inhabitants of the land, but in their willingness to go into battle to take possession of the promised land perhaps there was also more trust and faith in God to do what He had promised.  I totally understand the desire to provide a safe place, I like my safe place.  In praying this year to become the woman God intends me to be I also want to be willing to leave my safe place and venture wherever He leads.  This is so totally against my nature; I could be a very happy hermit.

Secondly, while the sons of Reuben and Gad were being given what they desired, they were still a part of the larger community.  There was still a responsibility to see that the other tribes of Israel received their promised inheritance.  Sitting here in my comfy chair, safe and secure in the knowledge that I have eternal life though Christ my Savior, I am convinced that I have much to do in sharing that precious gift with others.  Knowing that God does not desire for any to perish but all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9) indicates to me that I need to make sure this goal encompasses everyone I meet.  Yet I see in it too a responsibility to other believers, like the ones I worship with every Sunday.  A call to lift them up in prayer, to encourage them in their own journeys, to seek their good and be a positive influence.  I am feeling more and more called out of my safe, comfy place, to go out in the world.  Already I am starting to think that becoming the woman God wants me to be is going to present personal challenges that will work to deepen my own faith and trust in the One who has saved me and calls me His own.

Grace, Peace, and Mercy,

Monday, January 2, 2012

On Becoming What I Am Meant to Be

We had a wonderfully refreshing week with family in the Dallas area last week.  Now it is back to semi-normal around home except for the fact that the university does not start back until January 17th.  So I either need to resort to getting up in the wee hours for my quiet time or retreating to a quiet place somewhere away from distractions while my fellas are up.  With all of our late nights for the last several days the wee hours did not work for me this morning- even with the best of intentions.  I sympathize with you moms out there trying to fit in a quiet time with children about the house.  I remember well how hard it was to get up while it was still dark in order to finish my quiet time before the boys got up and our home school day got underway.  I can be much lazier now; so this vacation thing is really messing with my peaceful attitude.  (Funny how, when I sit down to write, these things come to mind and I see I have a matter of the heart that needs some prayer.)

I am back in Numbers this morning for my Old Testament reading.  The sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad have come to Moses to seek his permission to settle on the side of the Jordan river that they currently occupy rather than crossing into the promised land and taking possession of it.  Moses responds, "Shall your brothers go to war while you yourselves sit here?  Now why are you discouraging the sons of Israel from crossing over into the land which the LORD has given them?  This is what your fathers did when I sent them from Kadesh-barnea to see the land." (Numbers 32:6-8, NASB)

My initial observations were that these men were simply identifying a good spot to settle down with their flocks and families.  What's the big deal which side of the Jordan river it happens to be?  Yet Moses' response to them makes it clear it is a big deal.  In fact it is no different than that huge turning point in Israel's life when the men came back from spying out the promised land with their reports of giants in the land and as a result were made to wander in the wilderness for forty years.  I do not know whether these men feared what lay ahead or just really liked what they saw and desired to go no further.  Either way, their decision would impact the whole nation, bringing discouragement and perhaps disobedience to once again refuse to go where God was leading.

As I look ahead to this new year of 2012 I was challenged by our pastor yesterday to become what God wants me to be.  His sermon was based on Philippians 3:12-14 and verse 13 really hit me:  "This one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind me, and straining forward to what lies ahead."  I have to ask myself: will I cross my Jordan river this year or settle for what lies on this side of it?  Will I strain to move ahead towards becoming the woman God wants me to be or will I stay put in my comfy place?

The Psalmist asked of me today in my daily reading "Why do people waste time with futile plans?" (Psalm 2:1b, NLT) and in Proverbs I was reminded that the "Fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.  Only fools despise wisdom and discipline."  All are pointing me to the one thing I want to do this year and what it takes to accomplish that goal.  So I am once again committing to read through the Bible this year and to make prayer a priority.  Without those two things I am woefully bereft of those things which will allow me to become more of what God wants me to be.  It is part of the straining forward process as I too, like Paul before me, "press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." (Phillipians 3:14, NASB)

Grace, Peace, and Mercy,