Thursday, March 13, 2014

Truth Is ... I'm Tired

 
 
(This song has been on replay ever since the day my worship leader introduced it to me.  It definitely has met me where I am, and I can't get enough of it! Take a moment to listen. You won't regret it.

Truth is . . . I'm tired. Have you ever been there?  You may be there now.  If not, chances are you will most likely be there at some point in your life. Truthfully speaking ... I am there, in more ways than one.  This post may be a bit uncomfortably transparent, but it is what it is... the truth.
 
While I am the happiest I have ever been in my life... I have an unbelievable husband who is my best friend and never fails to show me how much he loves me; I have two teenage boys of whom I am very proud because of the fine young men they are growing up to be; my family is healthy; but most of all and most importantly, my God is a good God and has blessed me and my family beyond measure.  Yet, I am tired.
 
Mentally tired.
 
Physically tired.
 
I am all tapped out.  I am full so full of joy but, at the same time, tired of almost everything; so much so that I can't fake it anymore.  I'm just tapped out.  Out of fuel.  I seem to be just pushing myself to even go through the motions.
 
How does one get to this point?  I can't tell you for sure;  I only have a guess.  My guess is that the rush of this fast-paced life can catch up with you, hold on, and drag you by the heels.
 
It's easy to just want to 'be' more and more every day, and to rest.  I want to be able to spend more quality time with my husband, drink up these last few years with my boys before they head off to college, nurture my family and home the way they need to be nurtured, take care of my health the way it needs to be cared for, and rest. Did I say rest?  Yes...rest! 
 
I want so much to be one of those women who 'has it all together' with an organized life, a healthy life, the perfect wife & mother, the perfect daughter/sister, the perfect employee, the perfect friend, and the perfect person all the way around.  I'm just not.  As a matter of fact, I find myself not measuring up to what I need to be at all in ANY of these areas.  You know, the 'jack of all trades but a master at none'  kind of scenario. 
 
For this reason, over the last year, I have started reprioritizing things in my life one by one. This has left me saddened in some areas of my life, with a sense of guilt in others, and in others a relief.   I realized there just had to be a change.  Women, especially, need to come to the realization that every single thing cannot be at the top of the priority list.  There must be a balance, and the balancing scales constantly move up and down as each wave, or phase, of life rushes in and out.  When there is a shift in priority, it doesn't mean that those things that are shifted down on the list cannot be shifted back up to the top again at some point, but for such a time as it is, these things are where they need to be in order to be able to function properly.
 
What do you do when you find your head spinning and you find yourself in this place of tiredness and exhaustion and you are all tapped out?   Draw near to God. - 'Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.' (James 4:8) -   'Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all of these things will be added unto you.'  (Matt. 6:33)   And pray.  Pray, pray, pray.  In ALL things pray. God asks us to 'Come to Me all who are heavy laden and I will give you rest.' (Matthew 11:28) This is where my heart is right now - seeking the King and praying, praying, praying, and resting in His presence.  
 
I have been in a season of introspection over the last several months, which has brought me to the realization that I had gotten away, slowly, from making God my first priority in all things.  Scripture says "Seek first."  It doesn't say to seek God after your plans are made and request a blessing over your own plans/agenda.  We need to seek God and pray that He makes our desires the same as His - then all these things will be added - we will be blessed.  It doesn't mean life will be easy, but we will have peace in the midst of the storm if we allow Him to take the lead.


 
When reprioritizing things in one's life, there will be those who will not understand, but that is okay.  This is what a sweet, sweet mentoring lady told me just the other day.  She said "others will not understand, but that's okay.  God knows your heart, and that is all that matters."  Wow.  God knew exactly what I needed that day, and He used that sweet, Godly, God-fearing pillar to reassure me and show me a piece of His glory.  Such simple and few words but powerful ones for me on that day.  God is so good.  He is better to me than I deserve, and I am so very thankful.

♪ Truth is . . . I'm tired . . . So take me to the King.  I don't have much to bring. Take me to the throne; leave me there alone to gaze upon His glory, and sing to Him, I will.  Just take me to the King. ♫
 
Have you ever felt this way?  I would love to hear from you!  Post a comment, or email me @ danaholden87@gmail.com.  Give me your thoughts and, as iron sharpens iron, maybe we can encourage one another.
 
All for Him,

Monday, March 3, 2014

Life or Death

What one positive thing has a parent, friend, teacher, coach or mentor said to you when you were young?  Do you still remember it vividly?
 
What one negative thing do you remember a parent, friend, teacher, coach or mentor saying to you when you were young?  How did this comment affect you then? Does it still affect you today?
 
Personally, one of my most vivid memories is that of my 5th grade teacher and his picking on me playfully as he made a derogatory statement about some shoes I was wearing, or so I thought was a derogatory statement.  They were new shoes - high heels (of sorts) -  and one of my best friends had a pair just like them.  I was so very proud of them!  This was my first day to wear them, and I chose to wear a dress to school just so I could wear my new shoes (a maroon colored dress with cream colored lace, no doubt).  The shoes looked something like this...

 

but they had more of a wedge and they were brown leather (pleather).  They were also more open toed than this picture shows....more of a criss-cross pattern.  I can't imagine why I couldn't find a picture of an exact replica of those shoes!  I know...beautiful, right?!  One of my best friends owned a pair just like them, so they MUST have been 'all that'! 

You may be wondering what the teacher said that crushed me so.  I will tell you.  He said, "What are you wearing those clod hoppers for!?"  Well...not anything to go home crying to mom about, but that's exactly how I felt at that moment.  Who knows what was going on inside my head at that time to make me feel so crushed?  I don't know, but his words definitely made an impact that wasn't so positive, so much so that I still remember it to this day.  He didn't mean anything by it.  I realized this as I began to grow up.  However, for some reason, it humiliated me and made me feel 'less than', and it stuck with me my whole life.

Unfortunately, we tend to hold on to the negative experiences rather than the positive, and as we hold on to them, they shape our world by adding to the next experience and the next and the next. 

The book of James addresses how badly the tongue can bite and how hard it is to tame.  James 3:1-12 says this about the tongue:

My brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2 We all make many mistakes. If people never said anything wrong, they would be perfect and able to control their entire selves, too. 3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can control their whole bodies. 4 Also a ship is very big, and it is pushed by strong winds. But a very small rudder controls that big ship, making it go wherever the pilot wants. 5 It is the same with the tongue. It is a small part of the body, but it brags about great things.
A big forest fire can be started with only a little flame. 6 And the tongue is like a fire. It is a whole world of evil among the parts of our bodies. The tongue spreads its evil through the whole body. The tongue is set on fire by hell, and it starts a fire that influences all of life. 7 People can tame every kind of wild animal, bird, reptile, and fish, and they have tamed them, 8 but no one can tame the tongue. It is wild and evil and full of deadly poison. 9 We use our tongues to praise our Lord and Father, but then we curse people, whom God made like himself. 10 Praises and curses come from the same mouth! My brothers and sisters, this should not happen. 11 Do good and bad water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree make olives, or can a grapevine make figs? No! And a well full of salty water cannot give good water.
 
Words can bite so badly that they can speak death.  Nothing has been more clear to me than this with the number of teen suicides recently that has struck our small town and surrounding areas, one of which happened the day after my husband and I watched the movie 'Cyberbully' together.  I have been burdened ever since watching that movie knowing that, in this day & age of technology, it is much easier for people to bully as they hide behind the screen of a laptop, phone or ipod rather than having the courage to say something face to face.  I think ALL schools should show this movie in their school system and help children realize that their words matter, whether they are typed or spoken.
 
The concept of how our words impact others does not stop with bullying, but it covers a realm of categories....gossip, 'constructive' criticism, 'picking' or playing, to name a few.   I confess....I have been guilty of not tasting my words before I shared them with others, and I am not proud of this fact.
 
It is important for us all to remember that we never know what is going on with a person on the inside, so words can cut to the core or they can soothe the soul.  Words speak life, or they speak death.  Be sure to taste your words before you spit them out.  If they are not sweet to taste, then do not share them with others.
 
Just T.H.I.N.K. before you speak.  Ask yourself, "These words I am about to speak, 
 
     Are they TRUE?
     Are they HELPFUL?
     Do they INSPIRE CONFIDENCE?
     Are they NECESSARY?
     Are they KIND?
 
I pray that I am always aware of the words that I speak, and may I always speak life into others.
 
When you talk, do not say harmful things, but say what people need—words that will help others become stronger. Then what you say will do good to those who listen to you. - Ephesians 4:29
 
More than anything today, I am preaching to myself.
 
#SpeakLife
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Fall Challenge: Making Your Home A Haven

One of my FAVORITE blogs, Women Living Well, is making  a challenge to us in the month of October to 'make our home a haven'.  

Go to www.womenlivingwell.org to enjoy the blog, or click here to start the challenge. 

CHECK IT OUT! 


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Saturday, May 4, 2013

Beautiful Things

Our church has gone through a renovation of our sanctuary and the addition of a new children's wing over the last several months, and it is soon to be completed.  The architect and construction company have taken measures to keep the rubble, mess & noise away from the church members and the staff to make our church as "user friendly" as possible while construction takes place. 

As a staff member, I occasionally find myself in areas where construction is taking place as, at times, it just cannot be avoided. I recently entered an area where construction was taking place, but the work zone was blocked off by pieces of pressed wood that had been boarded up.  You could hear the grinding of the saws and the hammering of the nails, and you could hear the workers talking, but you could not see any of the work going on behind the nailed-up pressed wood.

Have you ever wondered how some people always seem to have everything all together?  Everything is always in place, kids are always perfect, everyone is all smiles all of the time, etc. etc. 

Have you ever noticed anyone that appears to have NOTHING together?  Yep, that's me!  I always feel like I am in survival mode:  house always seem to be in disarray, there is always laundry to do, there are groceries that need to be bought....bills need to be paid....calls need to be made, places to go, etc. etc.  However, the kids are always perfect and showing extreme love for one another, right?  (NOT!)

Everyone has a story to tell.  Everyone has life issues.  Everyone has been - is - will be going through some sort of trial at some point in their life.  Everyone will experience tough ground sooner or later.  What does that tough ground look like for you? What does that tough ground look like for me?  More importantly, what do WE look like as we endure this hard, tough ground?

Todd & I have always referred to ourselves as vessels that are always under construction - God's construction. That piece of pressed wood in the construction zone reminded me of our always being under construction and what that might look like to others.

Pressed wood... old, discarded pieces of wood veneers, particles and wood fibers bonded together with adhesives under heat and pressure, so the definition states.

You know, that piece of pressed wood COULD have been dressed up with a nice, pretty coat of paint and pretty hardware to make it look like the rest of the walls in the hallway.  They weren't.  The pressed wood has been taken down & put back up several times to allow for the transformation of that area for whichever phase of construction that was taking place at that given time.  The pressed wood is only temporary.

Likewise, our bodies are only temporary homes until we meet our Maker in Heaven.  Until we reach our permanent home, we will go under many, many phases of construction.  Every construction site looks different for each 'home', and each phase will be different than the last.  Nonetheless, construction is still taking place.  Whether wrapped up tightly in a pretty package or loosely & sloppily put together, the construction process is taking place.

Everyone has a story, but God . . .  He promises to make 'all things new.'  There is growth & pain in the construction phases of our lives - in the 'stories' that we are living.  The refiner's fire, as you go through the heat & pressure, is just that, a refining process which helps remove the impurities in your life and brings you to more of a cultured, elegant state of spiritual awareness.  Each construction phase is a spiritual marker showing what you once looked like - on the inside - and what you now are.

The most refining moment one can make - EVER- in life, is to make God Lord of his life.  Are you tired?  Are you tired of life in general?  Do you feel like you are fighting one battle after another? Are you tired of fighting alone and on your own strength?  Do you need to make a change? 

Are you ready to burst through this tough ground?  There is hope.


All around, hope is springing from this old ground


God promises to make all things new for you.  He is just waiting for you to ask. 

"Draw near to Me, and I will draw near to you." - James 4:8

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come!" - 2 Corinthians 5:17 (HCSB)


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Too Old to Learn?

I share Sunday School teaching responsibilities with two God-gifted, God-fearing ladies who, I must say, inspire me tremendously to keep seeking God diligently in my daily walk.  These two ladies love the Lord with all their heart, so much so that one can almost smell the sweet aroma of their burning desire for God! I am so blessed to be a part of Bonnie's and Amanda's lives, especially in this arena, as they encourage me in the Lord for such a time as this!!

On the flip side...Unlike Bonnie & Amanda, I am not a natural teacher.  It is not a gift that comes naturally to me -- I have to work hard at devising a 'teaching plan' that would flow and prick the hearts of our oh-so-special teenage girls.  Mind you, I have PRAYED that God would speak to me like He does Beth Moore and give me the talent he has given her of story telling and writing in-depth Bible studies, etc. etc.  Oh, to be as flamboyant and outgoing as she is so that I could just be interesting enough to REACH people! - but I am more of a 'back row Baptist' that likes to hide in the corner and speak only when spoken to.  I am more of a mental processor, or 'people watcher' as my husband likes to call it, as I drink things in around me, process the situation and try to figure it out, whatever 'it' is.

I do, however, see God carving me and molding me differently more and more every day, especially as he urges me to leave my comfort zone of the 'back row'.  Leaving the comfort zone of the back row currently consists of my being a co-teacher to 7th/8th/9th grade young ladies.  I have always been my husband's helper as he was always the teacher.  Teaching is definitely his God-given gift, so I have always been more than happy to encourage him and be his help mate and do whatever needed to be done to help him prepare for the lesson.  Don't get me wrong, I can interject all day long, and I love a small group discussion, and I absolutley love digging down deep into the Word, but to assign the label 'teacher' and put me in the front of a class just puts me in a tailspin!

I have, however, begun to realize this is a different season for me.  As God takes me from one season to another, he prunes and promotes growth in many ways.  Pruning is not easy, and it is not comfortable and can be painful at times, but the fruit that is produced is fruit that can only come from our Creator!

As I am being pruned of those areas that are dead or stagnant, I am growing at the same time.  It may be a slow growth at times, but growth none-the-less.  Growth is good! 

When I teach, I have to TOTALLY submit to God as I rely on Him to direct me and use me as I try to glean and regurgitate those things He wants me to teach.  I totally give myself to God, knowing that teaching is not a strength for me, and I have to submit Every. Single. Time.

Did I mention that I have to do this EVERY. SINGLE. TIME?

Yes, Every single time!  

You know what happens when I submit?  He totally takes over!  Every single time I teach, God, in turn, teaches ME!  I'm convinced that I am really not there for the girls....I am there to be taught myself!  If only I would learn to submit like this in every aspect of my life, then my already rich life would be so much richer. 

The more I study His word, the more I learn.  The more I learn, the more I realize how much I do not know!  Oh, but how RICH is His word and how much I want to drink it in, soak it up like a sponge and squeeze out his living water on everyone around me!  I want to 'water' so I, myself, can be watered! (Proverbs 11:25)

I just pray that every word spoken that might be in error (because I am flesh and WILL mess up) would be erased from these precious young minds.  I pray that any of GOD'S words spoken through me would be written on their hearts.

I am under God's construction 24/7.  I am aware that I am a complete mess.  I mess up daily.  I regret messing up daily.  It is a constant battle.  Oh, but what a forgiving God, and how great a grace is given!!  God's amazing grace continues to astound me!!

For such a time as this, I am learning that periods of discomfort, or pruning, can prove to be the richest, most special periods of one's life. 'Spiritual markers' is what I like to call these pruning periods.

In the midst of the pruning, I thank God for His amazing, undeserved grace.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Most Beautiful Name

Life.

It's full of joys!  It's the oh, so simple things that bring me the most joy. . . 









 - A clean house. :)
 
 - Seeing my husband's truck coming "round the bend" towards home after a long day at work.

 - The crisp orange, red and yellow changing leaves of fall.

 - The smell of apple cider and pumpkin spice as the weather begins to cool.

 - Comfort food made in the warmth of my own kitchen.

 - Gathering around the table with family talking about our joys and disappointments of the day.

 - S'mores!

 - Hugs!

 - Being able to sleep in on a Saturday morning.

 - Laughter! 

 - The look of happiness on your child's face as he has successfully accomplished a daunting task.

 -  Music, music and more music!  (I love music!!)

 - Sunshine.

 - Rain.

 - A nice, steaming hot cup of coffee (or two)!

 - And the list goes on . . .

Life.  It's good.

It's also full of disappointments.

People change - some may break your heart, disappoint you, or even confuse you. 

It may be family. . .
a parent who has gone to be with Jesus where you can no longer call him/her up on a whim or share any more holiday memories.  It may be a child or brother or sister who is lost and you don't know how to help anymore.  

It may be a friend who has moved on and is no longer in your life, and you don't really know how that happened.

It could be someone that you, at one time, looked up to but has now shown you that he/she is 'real' and is not perfect. . . just like you.

Maybe someone said some hurtful things about you....someone that you thought loved you.

Things change - Everything changes over time.
Jobs.
Family.
Friends.
Finances.
Homes.
Life. 
Everything changes over time.  Whether good or bad, nothing ever stays the same.  

But Jesus....
He is the ONLY constant in this life.  Never changing.  Always the same - yesterday, today and forever!

Your heart may be breaking for some reason - you may be torn and not know what to do in a certain situation. Things may seem hopeless at this time and you may not even know where to begin.

When you don't know what to do, call upon His name.  Ask Him for wisdom, which He promises to give freely.  Keep praying until that answer comes.  Pray without ceasing.  Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you. (James 4:8)

Jesus . . . The most beautiful Name of all names.

 Jesus....The Most Beautiful Name
(by Klaus & Kari Jobe)
 
Jesus.  He can turn life's most heartbreaking disappointments of life into pure joy!
"You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy," 
Psalm 30:11

Saturday, October 27, 2012

HIS PASSION

If you died today, are you confident in knowing where you will be? Have you ever given more than a second's thought about what the torture of hell would be for you? What about the splendor of heaven? 

Do you know where you are going?

I cannot even wrap my brain around what splendor God has in store for those who make Him Lord of their life!! I am looking forward to finding out! 

ALL of us need to receive God's forgiveness and grace for our sin.  How can we do that?  The only way possible is by accepting God's gift of salvaiton through faith in Christ (Ephesians 2:8).  Jesus died for our sins.  He was buried.  He rose from the dead to give us salvation, forgiveness from our sins, and eternal life, where we will spend eternal life with Him and our Heavenly Father in spendor! 

Living eternally is a given.  Where do you want to live?  In the eternal torture of firey hell, or in the splendor of God's glory where you will live in perfect health with no sorrow or pain? 

Have you ever received God's forgiveness and salvation? If not, God eagerly awaits for you to do so. Just draw near to Him and He will draw near to you. (James 4:8) 

Roman 10:9-10 says, "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved." 

If you'd like to receive God's gift of salvation, you can. Talk to Him. Tell Him you want to be forgiven of your sins and that you believe Jesus died to save you and rose from the dead to give you eternal life.   Invite Him to dwell in your heart and save you. When you do that, He will not only save & forgive you, but He will also send His Holy Spirit to live within you to enable you to live a life that glorifies and pleases Him (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). This means that you don't have to do ANYTHING in your own strength! You can do ALL things through Christ who gives you the strength! (Phil. 4:13) 

Please...Take a minute or two...or two hours to be exact... to watch the following movie giving in explicit detail, as best as the human brain can describe, exactly what God's love for us and the amazing gift of Jesus' life for us looks like

Jesus did this for me.  He did this for you.  It is very hard to believe that someone loves me enough to go through this much torture for MY sins.  He never sinned, but he suffered as though he did.  Every stripe he bore, every insult and every betrayal....all of this was for me.  And for you.  "Amazing Love, how can it be, that You would give Your life for me??"

Salvation: It's a GIFT. It is FREE. A gift cannot be given, however, if the the receiver doesn't accept it. You just have to reach out and accept that gift.    Watch, and be moved.  Move to live a life for Christ today.  Please accept God's gift of salvation to you today.  Click on this link to watch:  The Passion of the Christ

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Xtreme Clean

Tomorrow is 'Xtreme Clean' Day at my church.  We are in the beginning stages of building an addition to our church to make room for growth and to have a central place where all of our children can meet.  Currently our church parents with different aged children have to go to several parts of the building to get their children dropped off in their appopriate classrooms.  Our current children's wing is so old it does not meet 'code' and to do so would be almost as costly as building a new wing for them.  During construction, many of our Sunday School classes will be moving to new areas to make room for the construction zone.  In preparation for this, we are making a clean sweep of our church and having a cleaning day after our church services tomorrow morning to hold on to those things that need to stay and discard those things that need to go.  We have had over 180 willing servants to sign up and help us clean up & clean out, and we have set aside 2 hours to get it done.  Mind you, there is so much to be done and so many items accumulated over the decades that it most likely will not get done in 2 hours.  It will be a process over the next month or so and mainly for our church staff, but it will help the process greatly by making this initial clean sweep.

Having said all of this, God has been speaking to me over the last few months regarding 'clean hands and a pure heart.'  I have had such an urgency to make things right that are wrong in my life, and to make amends with people that I may have offended, and to be strong enough to do what's right.  And when I say urgency, that is really an understatement of how I really feel.  I cannot tell you the desire in my heart to 'do' the right thing, 'say' the right thing, and 'be' the right thing for my heavenly Father!!  But not only for Him, but for others as well!  I know I fail him DAILY, and it is so frustrating to me that I can't 'get it!'  Like Paul, those things that I don't want to do, I do.  Those things that I want to do, I don't do.  It is a daily struggle for me. 

I KNOW there are people that I have let down, and there are those that I may not know that I have disappointed.  An eye opener for me was one of my friends who told someone in conversation that "I used to think Dana was perfect, but now I know she's not." 

(*gulp) (To myself:)  What?  Me?
(*sigh)  ................   Seriously?  Did you really mean that? (*gulp)
(*sigh)  ................   Nah....she didn't really mean that! :-/  Yeah...she did.  But even though she might not have, I know it's true.
(*gulp) .................  Oh, dear God.  How can this be? I mean, really.  I try really hard to do what's right...  seriously?

WOW.
This was a HUGE eye-opener for me!!  Whether she meant it or not, it's true. 
I am not what I desire to be at all times:  faultless. 
It let me know that even though I pray daily 'Lord, let the meditations of my heart and the words of my mouth be pleasing to You..." that I have a lot of work to do. 
There are areas, and especially with my tongue, that need a lot of work!  That was an 'Xtreme' kick in the gut for me and it rocked my world for several days after, and STILL does.  I am ever so thankful to her for saying that, and for opening my eyes to areas in my life that I need to work on.  This brings to my mind one of my dear friends who told me years ago, "Dana, you are your own worst enemy."  lol   It is so true!  That was an eye-opening day for me as well and proves to be a spiritual marker in my life for many reasons.  (Thank you, Jacque!  I love you!)

I am by nature a people pleaser, so when things bother me, I've always had a problem with bottling things up inside rather than speaking about it.  After all, we are supposed to overlook, right?  I am too afraid of hurting someone's feelings.  However, the bottle can only hold so much.  It builds and builds and builds and, when it gets full, it has overflow.  When my overflow decides to come out it is usually not so pretty.  The delivery is not smooth nor is it desiring.  So.....in the process, I have not done myself nor the other person a favor by this. 

Over the last few years I have tried so hard to rectify this part of myself.  I have gone to those whom I felt God was leading me to speak and share my feelings.  I don't have the gift of speaking.  I can express myself better, most of the time, through writing than by speaking, so there have been a couple of friends I have truly disappointed and some I may have lost in the process. 

In the process of this 'Xtreme Clean' over the last couple of months, I have asked God to bring to my mind those areas which need to be 'cleaned' and to bring to my mind people that I may have offended so that I could make it right.  There are areas in my life that He has brought to my attention, and there are people that He's brought to my mind as well.  I have written some letters asking for forgiveness for disappointing and/or offending as I feel this was what God led me to do.  I am STILL asking God DAILY to bring areas of need to my attention.  But what it so disappointing to me is that it took my friend's one statement to get me to do this.

God's word says, in 2 Corinthians 13, that we are to examine ourselves.  We must do this daily.  God's word says we all fall short of the glory of God, so it is our duty to ask God where it is that we fail Him, to repent of those things and make it right, and to turn away from our wicked ways.

I am asking you:
 - Are you one that I have offended or disappointed in any way?
 - If so, please let me know so I can make it right with you!

If I died tonight, I would hate for there to be any 'undone' business that needed to be taken care of.  I promise from this day forward to try to do what is right, and I am asking all of you who are my friends, to hold me accountable.

I have been transparent in this post, and to be honest, it makes me feel very uneasy. I don't like to appear 'less than' to others. I tell my kids all the time "It doesn't matter what they think, just do what is right and God will take care of the rest." It's is easier said and done, especially for a people pleaser! If I feel I have failed someone else, then I am a failure - period. I know that's not true, and it's something I'm learning to overcome little by little as I get older. 

As I come to the end of my post today, I would like to close with verses from 2 Corinthians 13.  I am using the version from The Message:

Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don't drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. You need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay, that Jesus Christ is in you. Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it. I hope the test won't show that we have failed. But if it comes to that, we'd rather the test showed our failure than yours. We're rooting for the truth to win out in you. We couldn't possibly do otherwise.
We don't just put up with our limitations; we celebrate them, and then go on to celebrate every strength, every triumph of the truth in you. We pray hard that it will all come together in your lives.
10I'm writing this to you now so that when I come I won't have to say another word on the subject. The authority the Master gave me is for putting people together, not taking them apart. I want to get on with it, and not have to spend time on reprimands.
11-13And that's about it, friends. Be cheerful. Keep things in good repair. Keep your spirits up. Think in harmony. Be agreeable. Do all that, and the God of love and peace will be with you for sure. Greet one another with a holy embrace. All the brothers and sisters here say hello.
14The amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit, be with all of you.

- Are you one that I have offended or disappointed in any way?
- If so, please let me know so I can make it right with you!
- Are there any areas in your life that God has revealed to you that needswork?  If so, what do you plan to do to make it right?

I would love to hear from you!  Post a comment or email me!  Let me know your thoughts, as 'iron sharpens iron.'  I NEED TO BE SHARPENED!!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Overflowing

I am so full right now I could just explode!!  Not physically full but spiritually full.  Todd & I are participating in a couple of Bible studies together - one is a discipleship training class called "Not A Fan", and the other is for our 6th Grade Sunday School class: "Experiencing God - Youth Edition." 

I have mentioned in earlier posts that I am trying to have a Mary mentality for 2012.  We are very rarely home, so the Martha mentality tries to overtake me whenever I do have a scoop of time at home.  When we do make it home after a work day, we are usually home just long enough to make a mess only to have to turn around to go to another function and leave the mess behind with a promise to tend to it as soon as time becomes available.  Over the years, I've developed a practice of giving it a 'lick and a promise' for another day!  Frustrating. (especially if company comes over -- EEK!)

Because of this busy-ness, I always feel like there's a 'Mary' screaming to get out of this 'Martha' body.  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to be in God's word, however, it is sad to say that because of our fast-paced life it is easier for me to stay in God's word if I have accountability.  Discipleship training classes/Bible studies help hold me accountable to staying in God's word every day.  I was hooked at my first study, so that always keeps me searching out more! (thank God!)  I have so many books that I want to read right now and do not know how I will ever get to them, but looking at them keeps me eager to find the time.

I have spent time in both studies this morning and I just have to say I am overflowing!  I wish I could take at least half a day every day to just dive into God's word.  I will have to say that today, when I desperately need to be a Martha around the home, being Mary has been so fulfilling.  The Martha that is about to appear will be so much more happy since Mary was allowed to visit!  :) 

I want to leave you with a thought from 'Not A Fan' that I posted on Facebook earlier today: 
"As you go about your day, anticipate situations that will likely occur. In each case, picture yourself following Jesus into that situation. For example, if you awaken your kids, envision yourself walking into the bedroom behind Jesus, with Him going ahead of you and showing you what to do and how to do it. Or if you have a meeting, imagine Jesus walking into that office ahead of you, and you following His lead in how to listen, speak and act. Following Jesus is a 24-hour a day commitment; it is not just knowing what He knows but rather living how He lived. Mentally follow Jesus into every situation, and allow Him to take the lead. (Kyle Idleman)"  Wow.  This really resinated with me today.  It is a good word for ANY situation!!

Well....this Martha is about to go about my much-needed business around the home, but I will follow Jesus into each endeavor! 

Do you have a 'Martha' or a 'Mary' tendancy?

Do you have a particular Bible study that has changed your life?  What is it?  How has it changed your life? 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

My new favorite!

Have you ever read a scripture that 'screams' at you so loudly that it seems as if you've just heard it for the very first time?  That happened to me today.  My reading today included  1 Corinthians 3:7 - "So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase." (NKJV)  This is my new favorite verse!!

This is the version from The Message - "It's not the one who plants or the one who waters who is at the center of this process but God, who makes things grow."

Those who buy the seed are important.  Those who plant the seed are important.  Those who water the seed are important.  But they are not the center of the process.  God is.  (The "I AM.") 

It is for God that we do all these things.  Each one of us have been given different gifts to help in God's process of Kingdom growth.  The important thing to remember is that it is "GOD....who makes things grow."  All we are required to do is what God leads us to do - nothing more - nothing less.

If you have the gift of giving, Do your giving.
If you have the gift of planting, Do your planting.
If you have the gift of watering, Do your watering.
(And so on and so forth...)
But whatever you do, do it all for God; and let HIM take care of the rest!

Matthew 6:1-4 - “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.  Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.  But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,  that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Pleased to Meet Mary

(I'd like to apologize beforehand for a lengthy post!  The material was just so rich I could not bear to shorten it.)

After coming off a whirlwind of 2011, my goal for 2012 is to 'gear down' in this Martha-esque world and make a determined, intentional resolution to take time every day and sit at the feet of Jesus and earnestly seek His face as Mary did.   In a world of  'to do' lists, and feelings of satisfaction with every check mark of completion making me feel productive, my main purpose of twenty twelve is nurture the relationship I have with my Father. Nothing else matters. Everything else will fall into place.

I have been reading a very small but powerful book entitled 'Towards a Powerful Inner Life' by Graham Cooke. (A big 'thank you' to my friend, Jacque, for this gift!)

I should have read it all in one sitting but have been savoring over each page for several weeks now.  The material is so rich I can only take it in small doses; I need time to process what's just been read and savor every word.  My intentions are to read it even a second time (or 3rd or 4th, however many it takes!) just to ensure that I soak it all in so as not to miss anything.
Yes...It is that good!

Over the last few weeks, Todd & I have felt God speaking to us about 'rest.'  Not just physical rest, but He's been speaking to us about the busyness of our life and to intentionally make time for Him.  It is easy to have our own agenda and then ask God to bless it.  It is scriptural, however, to 'seek FIRST the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.' (Matt. 6:33) 

We must seek God FIRST, and fit our busy schedules around Him rather than fit Him around our busy schedules.

The excerpt that I just read from this book 'Powerful Inner Life' reflects this sentiment:

There will always be something  that will prevent us from resting.  It doesn't matter what is occurring around us or within us; we are acceptable in Christ.  So rest.

Matthew 11:28-30:  'Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For MY yoke is easy and MY burden is light.'

A yoke is a harness which fits over the shoulders. It connects you to the one walking alongside and enables you to move in unison. Jesus has promised us that if we walk with Him we can bear our burdens in a completely different manner.  What would the freedom to rest really bring us in our busy lives?

Sometimes peace is restored by the simple act of pushing away worry, fear, anxiety, panic, and unbelief.  Try it. Get tough on the causes of unrest within yourself.  The writer of Hebrews calls it laboring to enter that rest (Hebrews 4:8-11).  We have to work at being at peace!

God says to 'Be still and know that I am God.' (Psalm 46:10)  With every year that passes, my desire to do this magnifies. 

May the year 2012 be a time that my family & I can grow more spiritually mature and boldly take a stand for Christ; may we seek and find wisdom beyond our years; may we water others with God's revelations so that we ourselves can be watered (oh, how I love to be watered!); and may we boast solely on the unconditional love of our Lord & Savior, for if we should boast in anything, may we boast in the Lord.  May the year of 2012 be a year of reaching the lost and entertaining angels unaware.

I'd like to leave you with Cooke's meditation on resting in God:

A meeting: in the secret place

Come and join me
I'm drawing you into a quiet place of introspection
Come away from the noise into the place of stillness.

No beloved, I'm not talking of externals
I'm not speaking of a physical place that you need to reach.

There is a safe place within you
A quiet place. Where stillness reigns.
I'm asking you to retreat from the soul
Your Martha of many distractions
Legitimate, powerful, necessary, but ultimately unhelpful....
compared to what I want to give you.

Step back into your spirit
Through the inner fortress of your heart
Away from the world and the busyness of your soul.

Meet the Mary that is in your spirit man
And come to sit at My feet.

I'm  here, in the secret place of your spirit,
Waiting.
All you need is here by Me.

Provision, peace and a rest for your soul
Come and sit quietly by Me.

I am the pool of water by your feet
I am the manna falling
I am the raven feeding you
The tree of life that gives you shade
I am the gentle breeze that kisses your brow
I am the eagle's cry, watching over you from above
I am the velvet paws of the lion padding protectively around your camp.

Step back, far back into your spirit
Practice being still, learn the way of peace.

I will deal with the issues
Remove the spots and blemishes
Refine your heart.

I will empty you of all that you don't need and never wanted
I will purge and purify your heart.

I will imprison Eros and release Agape within you.
All self-obsession, ambition, preservation will die in you
I will empty you of all that grieves Me and frustrates you
And fill the vacuum with worship.

Out of that pace of internal rest
Will come a new creation
Soft, pliable
Owning nothing yet possessing all things.

A servant will merge with the son
A warrior will grow out of the child
Action will flow out of rest
In the secret place of your spirit.

The enemy cannot find you
The vagaries of life, leave you untouched
Impurities will be drawn away from your heart
In the quiet strength of My presence.

The aching, the longing in your heart
Will be overshadowed by all My desire for you.
You shall be fully known
And you will know.

I am going to make a determined purpose, every day,  to meet the Mary in my soul who sits at the feet of Jesus in complete surrender!

  • Identify your current unrest or lack of peace.  What are you not seeing about God's power or faithfulness?
  • Does your lack of peace arise out of a wrong perception?
  • What needs to change so that peace may remain?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Faith....Making the Season Bright

Christmas at Dad's.

Family Traditions kindling a climate of love and warmth which create a sense of completion....a family bond ... family unity.

Cords that cannot be broken.

There's nothing else like it.   And it was all captured through the eye of the lens.

Christmas was at Darin & Jen's house this year (my brother & sister-in-law.)

Jennifer, adding the last minute touches
Jennifer did an outstanding job creating a festive atmosphere with all the decor that was so very simple but elegant and Martha Stewart-ish, with her own personal touch of course.




I love this!
The food and trimmings were out of this world (thanks to a family of great cooks!)

Lots of side items to go with the BBQ & baked beans, yum!
And along with the BBQ, baked beans and side items, there were lil smokies and lots of desserts.

The peppermint cake is absolutely my dad's favorite!
My mom used to make my dad's favorite peppermint candy cake every year, crushing the peppermint by hand.  It was quite a long undertaking, or so I'm told!  My mom passed away 8 years ago, so my sisters-in-law are carrying the peppermint cake torch and making my dad happy every Christmas by creating this masterpiece.  I have not experienced making this oh-so-divine piece of torture, and I can honestly can say that my feelings are not hurt by this!  Thank you Teresa and Jennifer for carrying the torch!

The meal was followed by the reading of the birth of Jesus, or the Christmas Story, which has been a tradition in our family for years and years.  The reading is usually done by the younger ones, and this year Grant & Mason received the honor of reading the story out of Luke chapter 2.


Following the reading of the birth of Jesus, we have a time of prayer.

Then the gift exchange begins, which is so fun to watch!  The younger ones each receive gifts while the older ones participate in Dirty Santa.






Of course, dad is still young at heart so he still gets presents too!

How fun is this!?  I love this pic!
The Dirty Santa exchange between everyone 18 and older came next, and I'll have to say.... it did get a little interesting but nothing too dangerous!  I thought I was gonna have to fight a bit, but I am happy to say that I came home with what I brought, and it is EXACTLY what I wanted!  A cutting board!  
I've already put it to use!  YIPPEE!
Needless to say, this night full of family and fun was exactly the medicine I needed to calm my soul.  It pulled me back down from the 'panic/rush' mode that has been ferociously stirred in me during this busy, hectic time of year and thrust me into a more rooted/grounded frame of mind.  (God's gift to me!)

Family was the best part of our night. 
I am not speaking of family in the physical sense, but the family dynamics of being together and loving life and loving one another. 

My brother & sis-in-law, Darin & Jennifer

My nephew, Chaise and Alaina

My brother & sis-in-law, Don & Teresa
My niece, Jenny, & her 2 boys - Knox & Ace

My sister & bro-in-law, Delynn & Garry
My sweet daddy, Shirl
Me & my sister, Darla (I look like a chipmunk)
My nephew, James
Donald & Jodi (my niece) and Ethan


Me & my groom of 19 years, Todd, with our 2 boys, Grant & Mason

And it's all possible because FAITH is the foundation of our family. 
And THAT is what makes the season bright!

 
(P.S. - My niece, Jodi, has a clever little blog that I absolutely love to follow. 
Check it out at www.southernflavoredlife.com.)




Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thankful - As Time & God Allows

It's been a 'month of Sundays' since my last blog, but time has just not been a friend to me in my blogging world!  I would LOVE to be able to post every day, but for now....only as time allows!

This Thanksgiving season as I thought about our fast-paced life and wallowing in self-pity for those things I desire to do that time doesn't allow, the Holy Spirit reminded me that in every situation I should be content (Philippians 4:11-13; 1 Timothy 6:6.) 

Oh, I am not really wallowing in self-pity, although I have before, and I DO desire to do things that time doesn't allow:
 - there are many books purchased of which I've not been able to peruse past the 1st page
 - many blogs I've posted in my mind simply because of no time to put it in type
 - giving my house 'a lick and promise'... a promise to clean deeper the next time....only to have to do the same the next time
 - and blah, blah, blah...many others too numerous to count.

I have spent many days feeling guilty about not being able to see family more, but have had to come to the conclusion that we can do only what we can do.  The most important thing is to not waste energy on allowing negative thoughts to get a foothold but rather take advantage of those times we do have together and be thankful for them. 

This past Thanksgiving Day was the best year for me & my family so far.  The older I get, the more my mind wanders to the days of my youth and to those family members that have gone on to be with Jesus.  It warms my heart to reminisce and to remember from whence I came.  My heart seemed to reminisce moreso this Thanksgiving season than most.  As my mind roamed backward onto memory lane, I tried to capture, on film, more memories for future generations.

For myself...this is where it all started.
(photo by Chris Stalls)

This is a picture of my Granddad & Grandmother's house.  In my mind, this is where 'family' all started.  We lived, literally, just a hop-skip-and a jump across the street from them. 

Kirk Morror & Oleta Clementine Frazier
(Granddad & Grandmother)
My grandparents loved with a deep love - an unconditional, God-fearing love - a love that 'taught' with warmth and gentleness.  I love the memories of the short time I had with Granddad and Grandmother.  (She passed away when I was 6 years old and he passed away when I was in Jr. High.) 

Memory lane took me to the front yard of my grandparents' home where my brother, Darin, and I would ask Granddad, many times,  to take us to the store down the road.  He would take us....oh, but only if it weren't "too fer & snakey" that day!  That just meant he didn't want to go that day.  Sometimes my brother and I would beg so much that the trip to the store was worth it just to get us to hush!
This was the road to the store....maybe a mile away
(photo by Chris Stalls)

Granddad had a contagious laugh that came from deep down within.  It wasn't a loud, roaring deep laugh, but one that used every bit of breath he had to get it out, shook his whole body, and made his shoulders go up & down with every breath.  I loved it!!  When Grandmother passed away, he spent a lot of his time making egg custard pies.  We would be his guinea pigs trying out his different 'custard pie' recipes.  They were actually pretty good!  There was a time when we didn't have a TV growing up, and we would go to Granddaddy's house after supper to watch it with him.  Sometimes he'd stay up late (7:00-ish?) to watch 'The Jefferson's'  & 'Sanford & Son' with us, but most of the time he was in bed by 6:00 or 6:30pm!  Even still, he would let us stay and watch his TV and would just tell us to make sure we turn off the lights and the TV before we left.  One time, for Halloween, he bought some hard candy.  The only problem with the candy was that it wasn't candy; He mistakenly bought cough drops! 

Grandmother would allow us to do things that I'm sure she regreted time and time again!  She let us dig in the mud with her good spoons only if we promised to bring them back and not lose them. (I can't tell you how many spoons I lost!)  I remember washing dishes a time or two and my feet, for some odd reason, started itching so badly that I couldn't get them to stop.  I would run across the street to Grandmother's and she would drop whatever she was doing and rub my feet until the itch went away.  (Now THAT is love!)  Grandmother was the one who taught me how to color inside the lines.  We would get off the schoolbus after school everyday and stay with my grandparents until mom & dad got home from work.  Grandmother always gave us an after-school snack, and even if it were a bowl of oatmeal, she could make that bowl of oatmeal taste like the meal of a king.   One of my fondest memories of my grandmother was hearing her belt out songs from the hymnal she kept at home; you could hear her all the way across the street!  She spent a lot of my days very sick with colon cancer.  She was not able to go to church as much as she wished, but she was faithful in singing her praises to her Heavenly Father!  I absolutely LOVE that memory of hearing her sing her favorite songs through that screen door, especially 'What A Friend We Have in Jesus,' which was her absolute favorite.

As our families were able to get together this Thanksgiving, and as my mind wandered down memory lane, I was especially thankful for being able to make memories for my children for them to pass down to their children some day. 

What a great foundation my grandparents gave to our family.  My parents have done the same for us, and I hope to be at least half the parents to my children that they were to me & my brothers and sisters.
Mom & Dad in later years
Mom & Dad in early years










My brothers and sisters
(Back Row, left to right:  Don, Darla, Delynn)
(Front Row, left to right:  Me, Darin)
Ya know, I have always hated getting my picture taken, even with my boys, because I don't like how I look; but my sister-in-law, Lori, once told me something that I never forgot:  "These are memories you are making for your children."  I am sure I will never, ever be satisfied with  how I look, and I would much rather create a memory for my children than to have nothing for them to look back on and be able to share with their children.  It warms my heart so to look back at pictures of years past and be able to remember those things so quickly forgotten.  I want my children to have the same.

I guess I get my love for looking at pictures from my mother; and I absolutely LOVE to take pictures as well.  Mom placed pictures of her family everywhere in her home, whether they 'fit' there or not.  She just wanted to show off her family, because she loved them so. 

The pictures on the wall still remain (in every nook & cranny as well), as my dad obtains the same love of showing off his family.
The 'picture wall' at my mom & dad's home
'The Wall'
poem written by my mother a couple of years before she died

As our families got together this Thanksgiving, we were able to get everyone in the same place for a family picture. The only one missing is my mom. Oh, how she would have loved to be in the picture!  But, no doubt, this picture will end up on the wall, somewhere in my dad's home.
Dad, the patriarch, was seated in the middle with
the two oldest siblings, Delynn & Don, seated to his left & right

I promise to do better about not worrying about the time I don't have to go visit family as much as I'd like, nor about not being able to do those things that I desire (that really don't matter in the whole scheme of things anyway.) 

I promise to take advantage of the time God does gives me to do those things, and to savor every moment...and be thankful... as time allows.

Being thankful 'as time allows'  doesn't mean to just give thanks whenever you can squeeze it in.  It means to be thankful ALWAYS for the time that IS allowed and be thankful in ALL things and for every moment you get and be thankful with whomever you get to spend your time.  Be thankful as time, and God, allows you to do what you do, for we are never promised tomorrow.

Actually,  I am content. Yes, I do wish we could slow down a bit, but I am loving these years watching my boys' independence take over as it should (although it's bitter-sweet all the same!) and watching them develop into fine young men. I am loving the fact that I am more in love with my husband than the year before, knowing that our anointed marriage has continued to grow stronger in the Lord more and more every year.

No, there is not enough time to do all that my heart desires to do, but for such a time as this, I am thankful - and content - for the life God has given me.

I promise to be thankful.....as time & God allows.

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