Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Long Time Coming

August 2008. That’s the last time we got to visit. It’s been a long time comin’, but this is my last post to this blog. I can’t put my finger on why. I resisted the urge to do this since May. Remember when my husband went back to work? It was really hard to get back in the groove of blogging, even though when I had to semi-give it up in April when he was out of work for a while with his broken arm. It pinched real bad to alter my habits and step away from the PC. I thought once it was everything back to “normal”, that I couldn’t wait to get back “on” on a regular basis. But, it wasn’t like that. I kept feeling like I was being invited to something sweeter, better. I didn‘t answer the invitation. That’s just the truth. I didn’t.

What I did instead? I COMPROMISED! Yeah, that’s a beautiful word, is it not? Not so much? Yeah, I know. A little time away, a little time on. That got me through the summer. I had loads of stuff I wanted to blog about, but I also had a “check” about them. Not yet. Not time. When we left off in August, something unexpected came up on a Friday that completely took my attention away. Diverted my energies to something else. In regards to blogging – I was immediately paralyzed. At first I kept in touch. Then I couldn’t even do that.

2 things. I’m very visual, and back in late April, early May I kept picturing my blog with a picture of a window, shutters closed, and “Closed for Business” written across the front. I did NOT like the picture. I resisted. Kicking and screaming, I resisted. By October the picture was of me in my living room, company pulling up in the drive, knocking on the door (i.e. visiting me on the PC), me peeking through the drapes, so as not to be seen. But, I can’t make myself let them in. I can’t open the door. A sort of paralysis.

A hundred times I felt it would please God for me to shut down the blog. A hundred other times I felt it would please Him that I should push past the malaise, dig deeper and do better than I left off. Indecisive paralysis. Pathetic, eh? In my weak and partial defense, anytime I would try, my computer would “lock-up”, dial-up would be a pain, nothing would work. It seemed pretty clear that I just needed to give up the ghost. Never been good at that, though. Sorry.

Now that I am over the “hump” of decision, I hope to be in contact with those of you who are inclined to forgive my absence, and trust that you remain in my heart and in my prayers. I didn’t keep in touch, because I didn’t know what to say, and didn’t (and still don’t really, but now I am resigned to it) know what was going on. Because that’s the other part of this. There IS a metamorphosis of some sort going on. It almost feels like a bad thing. Definitely a strange thing. But, my God says “No, it’s a good thing”. I see changes in me, that I don’t understand and aren’t clear to me. But, I think a little dose of belated obedience may help things along. As I type, I see more and more clearly, that I am on the right track. And I am excited at what the future holds.

Things are good here. God is still on the throne. He reigns. Always will. He’s on the throne. But I haven’t been heeding Him. He gave me an invitation back in April. I am going to see if it’s still good. Better late than never, at least I hope!

I want to say THANK YOU from all of my heart to yours for your friendship, kindness, and encouragement. Please know that you each, if you ever visited, made my life richer in ways you will never understand. May God richly bless you in your lives in every way, and keep and hold you high above the fray of life, as you give Him glory and honor and praise.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Pleasure in the Pain - Really?

Just like a rose has beauty, that can only be obtained by risking the thorns, so life has a beauty and joy to be attained only through enduring pain. Back in early July I blogged about some Scattered Thoughts, among which was the phrase Pleasure in the Pain. Here were some of the thoughts about this phrase from that post - "I have to admit - this one irks me. This one is not engraved in my heart just yet. I believe it. But, I struggle tremendously with it. I don't have wisdom to offer in this one. It is a new concept to me. I will share from my journal here as well. "I asked God about this yesterday as I swept, as I admitted I was NOT feeling pleasure in the pain. "Where is the pleasure, Lord? I'm not feeling this." So far what I have is this - "For the Joy set before" me - its the pleasure of knowing, of being "fully persuaded" that God is sovereign and at work in the midst of the pain, in order to bring glory to His Name, to make His Word true - What Words do I believe Him for? "

This phrase and this concept have continued to wander through my mind and to blossom into something a bit more fruitful. I am going to take a leap of faith and try to lay out my discoveries about a painful topic to discuss. Because pain, for all of us, is real, and personal, and we don't generally want to air out or discuss or "touch" our boo-boos.
Here's h
oping that putting these thoughts out here will be a worthwhile endeavor, that something in here will bring hope and comfort to us!


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In late July, through several circumstances, it became clear that I was to study the Sermon on the Mount. The way it all came to a head was one of those wonderful pile-up of occurrences where you know The Holy Spirit is practically flashing a neon arrow - saying "Here-Here! I have some good stuff for you to know! You need this!". It was a wonderful time of study, and it was all good (of course), but, in particular there were 3 treasures I came away with. This was without a doubt, my most prized. Matthew 5:4 "Blessed and enviably happy (with a happiness produced by the experience of God’s favor and especially conditioned by the revelation of His matchless grace) are those who mourn, for they SHALL be comforted". I have to say, on the surface, this still is not exciting to me when I read it. Sorry, call me shallow, but, I can't get excited in my own messy, human self, to consider the prospect of mourning. And I don't really think we are meant to. Rather, I think we are to have an expectant, confidence that God in His utter goodness, doesn't allow our grief, our pain to be wasted.

Here is how my Strong's Concordance helped me to discover the truth in God's Word on this subject, as I wrote in my journal about my discoveries:

"To mourn as it is used here means just what it says, i.e. mourn or grieve. But, the real treasure is comforted. Which means to call near, i.e. invite, invoke, (by imploration, consolation) beseech, call for, (be of good) comfort, desire. 3844 – near, from beside, at the vicinity of, proximity to. 2564 – to call. What do all these definitions combine to tell us? This - our grief is our invitation to draw near to Our Maker, Our Abba Father, Our Comforter. Our grief calls us near to Him, like nothing else (unfortunately) does. This speaks to me of a recurring theme lately. It seems The Holy Spirit is encouraging me to believe and seek to know the pleasure in the pain. To me this is a biblical promise of it. If I combine the invitation to come near to God during my grief, with the specific “blessing” mentioned in this scripture, then I see that there is an opportunity to know God in way that allows us to experience His favor, and having a very personal revelation of His matchless grace". So went my notes....

In the middle of July, Former White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, left this world for one far, far better, as we all hope to do one day, due to complications from cancer. As I watched person after person share their testimonies that weekend, about how he lived his life, and how that living had enriched their lives, I had many thoughts. One, again being the idea that you can't run from the pain and have optimal life. Many forms of Eastern religion strive for "nothingness", "detachment" and variations of that philosophy. However, only Judaism and Christianity embrace the pain and look to the overcoming strength we have through our confidence, our hope in The One who not only created us, but Who we abide in, Who lives in us, and Who is working a far greater treasure in and through us than we can imagine. My Mama and I were speaking on the phone about Tony Snow's life and death and this principle, and she shared with me about an anecdote she found at One Cosmos, (an intellectual sort of blog a bit over my head - but worthy). In the story, Tony was being interviewed about 1 year ago, and all that he had to live for was the topic, i.e. all the reasons NOT to want to leave this earth just yet. You know, the part that makes going to our REAL home heartwrenching, mostly for those left behind. And Tony Snow turned to the man who was interviewing him and said words to the effect "Isn't it great to love this much?", with tears in his eyes.

To me this is a poignant illustration of the fact that when we run from the pain, when we choose denial, and cover-ups through activities to hide and anesthetize ourselves from the pain, we rob ourselves of the richness that could be ours. The richness of acknowledgingthe pain, running to the Father and sobbing, "This hurts, it hurts so bad! I don't know what to do or where to go, PLEASE help me, Father! Make this count for something, turn this to something that will strengthen me, make me more like your Son, BE GLORIFIED in my life, in the lives of our family. Be glorified!" The grooves yielded pain makes in our heart etch out more room for Him to live inside of us. I believe that when we hide from, fight or otherwise try to mask the pain, we run the risk of destroying ourselves, of turning bitter, or becoming brittle. Right now, I can't point to any good reason, its just an instinctual belief. And I can look at my life and see that no painful experience I or people I know and love have gone through, has ever failed to bring an etched beauty to our lives. Like those candles that were the rage years ago. They were very beautiful when lit. They were etched out on the inside so that when lit, the cut pattern showed. Our pain cuts a beautiful pattern on the inside of us, hollows us out, carves off some of that sin nature, so His light can then shine through, yet again, Christ in us, the hope of glory!

CLOSING: As I prepared to put this together this morning, I sought further examples in scripture. Here are an Old Testament and New Testament examples that I believe illustrate the promise and invitation to KNOW GOD more completely, the invitation to draw near to Him in a brand new way, found in Matthew 5:4. "I had heard of You [only] by the hearing of the ear, but now my [spiritual] eye sees You. Therefore I loathe [my words] and abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes." These are Job's words to God at the end of his fiery trial, just prior to the Lord turning his circumstances to showers of blessing. Job 42:5-6 This feeling and knowledge always follows knowing God at a deeper level. It is good for us. And now, "But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God." Acts 7:55-56, a passage from Stephen's martyrdom. Note - he SAW The Glory of God, Jesus, and an opened up Heaven!

His pain was NOT in VAIN!

Neither is your pain or my pain. It's not in vain. It's not for our destruction. Whether the pain is from our own personal failures, or the blindsiding, t-bone that life can hit us with, no pain that we will run to the throne with will be in vain. We can claim that for ourselves, and for our loved ones.

Don't let pain have the last word, let God!

"28 We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose...31What then shall we say to [all] this? If God is for us, who [can be] against us? [Who can be our foe, if God is on our side?] 32 He who did not withhold or spare [even] His own Son but gave Him up for us all, will He not also with Him freely and graciously give us all [other] things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God's elect [when it is] God Who justifies [that is, Who puts us in right relation to Himself? Who shall come forward and accuse or impeach those whom God has chosen? Will God, Who acquits us?] 34 Who is there to condemn [us]? Will Christ Jesus (the Messiah), Who died, or rather Who was raised from the dead, Who is at the right hand of God actually pleading as He intercedes for us? 35 Who shall ever separate us from Christ's love? Shall suffering and affliction and tribulation? Or calamity and distress? Or persecution or hunger or destitution or peril or sword?...38 For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers, 39 Nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Free to Fly Flashback!

Hey everybody! I sure hope you are all enjoying your Sunday evening! I haven't been able to get to the PC to put my thoughts in order, but I am so very much looking forward to doing so and to getting around to visit! Tomorrow I will be doing that.

In the mean time I was working in my journal, and saw some old notes, from last fall. It reminded me of a post I did based on those notes and I felt it was quite timely, really, even more so now that 1 year ago. So, if you feel life is placing you at a crossroads, this one is for YOU!

Much love, and prayers,
Maria

Click here to read this post on choices.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Joy!




Good morning all! Hope Ya'll are hanging in there today! We're hanging in there too! Things are good here at the Ponderosa. But what does that mean when I say good? Does that mean that there are no "issues"? All bills paid? Vehicle (yes, that IS singular) all maintenanced and in hot shape? All projects moving forward, yard perfectly mowed, and no dust bunnies? Have I and each member of my family set and achieved all appropriate spiritual goals? Well, that would be an emphatic NO! This is not the Cleaver household, this IS the planet earth, where we are promised troubles and MORE importantly an answer to them all! Why do I bring this up today?

Because it is my heart to throw a life line of hope, a reminder that all is not lost, all is not topsy-turvey. What keeps us going, what is the characteristic that allows us to enjoy life, in spite of and in defiance of obstacles? Joy. The joy of the promise, the answer, the sufficiency, the abundance, the overflowing, eternal, majestic, overwhelming, life-giving wonder of Jesus. Joy unspeakable and full of glory!

Got bills to pay?
Jesus will give you wisdom, give you time, give you favor, give you opportunity to get it done - maybe a little at a time, but if you will consistently seek Him and do your part, you will look back and see how far you have come....just DON'T STOP!

Got a family issue, with spiritual roots?
Get in the presence of the Lord - get in The Word. You need the strength of it, the life, the wisdom and change of perspective it will give you. Take that Word with you everywhere you go, chew on it, pray it, declare it, sing it (while you drive, mop, clean the shower, pay your bills on-line, travel to a meeting, etc). DON'T STOP! ("This Book of the Law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe and do according to all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall deal wisely and have good success. Have not I commanded you? Be strong, vigorous, and very courageous. Be not afraid, neither be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:8-9)

Got a habit to kick
or trying to make a new one? Trying to break free of a stronghold in your mindset? Turn your back on a sinful behaviour?
  • Keep your eyes on HIM! He'll keep you in His perfect peace.
  • Acknowledge you can't do it without Him. And don't think too far ahead. Just take it one day at a time, remember - it's "give us THIS day our DAILY bread"! Even the provision in the wilderness was daily manna.
  • Testify of your desire to see His change in you
  • Thank Him for the victory that is yours because of Jesus completed works!
  • Determine to let Him live in and through you TODAY!
  • When you fall, get right back up - be quick to!
  • Then do it all again tomorrow! DON'T STOP!

Got a hurt to heal? A grief to endure? Stay tuned! That's my next post!

Why do we have so much trouble anyway?
"So that [the genuineness] of your faith may be tested, [your faith] which is infinitely more precious than the perishable gold which is tested and purified by fire. [This proving of your faith is intended] to redound to [your] praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) is revealed. Without having seen Him, you love Him; though you do not [even] now see Him, you believe in Him and exult and thrill with inexpressible and glorious (triumphant, heavenly) joy. [At the same time] you receive the result (outcome, consummation) of your faith, the salvation of your souls." 1 Peter 1:7-9

He, most emphatically, IS our JOY!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Rain, Rain Go Away, 1st Day of School, & THANK YOU!


Fay, Fay - go away! Phew! As I type this I just heard the weather woman say that Fay is still bringing the wet stuff, maybe to some of you all. Fortunately, it is not so much now days, and should be gone soon! I have to say, that we were so blessed to only get lots of rain. Not flood porportions here, like in some towns. Not much at all in wind damage, either. And to do without electricity for a day or two, well, that's just an opportunity to be reminded how good we have it in the USA, and how many luxuries we take for granted.

Well, we navigated our way through the paper maze and our youngest, (my home school student for 8 years!) is at school getting his schedule for his first day of 10th grade today! God was in all the details, every step of the way, and that made me so happy as we went along. I was able to be confident that God was handling this. I truly felt like a passenger in a vehicle, with a VERY capable driver! It's my hope that our son will have that same assurance as he goes about his day today, through out this week, and through out this year.

I want to especially say thank you for hanging in there with me, and many of you have had kind comments and prayers for my family. And I can't tell you how much it encouraged me and caused me to draw strength, knowing that God was working and moving through hearts of friends and family all over the place (thanks partially to the internet) to pray for my family. We all thank you!

I will be posting later today, but I didn't want to wait a minute more to tell you all that your prayers matter and so does your friendship!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Transition!

I wanted to take a few minutes to explain my absence. This summer there's Lots of change in the air. Changes in me. Changes in my role in SEVERAL areas. We are all doing well. I guess it would be better termed as transition, rather than simply "change". But, times of transition are precarious, often frought with challenging situations which make you want to give up, when there is truly no going back, and so you must go forward. Paul spoke one time of having an open door of opportunity, and with it many adversaries. And I feel like that's what's ahead of my family, myself, my husband, and both of our sons. Especially our youngest. Opportunity. Lots of it. A wide open world. The thing about opportunity and the transitional state of crossing over the threshold from the previous to the new now is that, we DO have an enemy and we would be wise to remember our enemy is not the people who make us count to ten, turn red in the face, and grind our teeth. Oh, sorry, you've never done that? :) No, when opposition comes, and the opportunity to given in to a defeatist attitude, we must rather remember, the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but MIGHTY through GOD to the pulling down of strongolds. We must train our hearts and minds and mouths to moving forward and letting go of our right to be hurt, or angry or even weary. We must continue to engage in life and faith and love. All the while moving forward.

So, the transitional place I find our family is a good place filled with life threatening challenges. But, God is good, He is at work, He goes before us, He covers us and watches our back. He is our life, our salvation our future and our hope. There are a couple of analogies from when a pregnant mother gives birth to where I am at. First being, I understand (I had c-sections ahead of time so I don't know from experience) that just prior to labor the baby is very still. That fits me, because inside I have felt "very still" and any blogging I have done has been usually with great effort in the last 3 months. I understand it better now, as the stillness is a time of preparation. During birth (the transition period) sometimes something happens to the umbilical cord, which endangers the child, threatening it's life supply of oxygen infused blood. Well, that is a picture of situations I have been facing. When the umbilical cord gets twisted or caught in someway, this has to carefully be treated. This is simply an anology of things, of people needing much prayerful attention and me not being able to multi-task as well as I'd like. I have just only been able to perform my daily tasks, go about daily living in the moment, pray, and pray, keep moving forward and it seems to take ALL of my attention right now. There has been absolutley nothing left in me to visit, comment, or post. But, you are all in my thoughts and prayers. I know there are moves, and not moves, college, jobs, financial challenges, health challenges, and many more things all in between the lines facing you all, and being experienced and you are in my heart. I just wanted you to know.

I can say this: I have several things to accomplish in the next few days. At the end of those things, I believe I will have successfully gotten our youngest enrolled full-time in a local public high school as a sophmore. My heart is excited for him, because I believe that this is part of God's design for him, and I KNOW that he will be blessed and will be a blessing. I am in much prayer for him and his circle of friends. Like Psalms 127, I believe he is like an arrow being sent out to accomplish the great things God has for him. There has been a great struggle for his heart and spirit. It is so hard to witness a loved one or anyone for that matter, struggle with life and death choices of which way they will go in life. Lest you think I am being over dramatic, let me just say the question of which way our lives go IS most defintely a life and death question. And no one can make that choice for you. No one thing anyone says to you, or book they give you, or song they play for you does it. It is a sacred dance between God and us, us as an individual, and there is no one else that can dance your step for you, and no one that you can dance their step for them!

So, if I can succesfully navigate (and I believe I can) the paper hoop to get him in, then next Friday on 22 August, I will no longer be a home school mom, and our "youngun' will be embarking on the next phase of his journey, and I am very excited for him.
I am not sure this post is making sense, but its the best I can do right now. I can assure you I will be able to focus more and post, visit and comment, when that date arrives and we have been successful at making this transition.

Oh, here is a definition of transition:
1.movement, passage, or change from one position, state, stage, subject, concept, etc., to another; change: the transition from adolescence to adulthood.
2.Music. a. a passing from one key to another; modulation. b. a brief modulation; a modulation used in passing. c.a sudden, unprepared modulation.
3. a passage from one scene to another by sound effects, music, etc., as in a television program, theatrical production, or the like. –verb (used without object)
4. to make a transition: He had difficulty transitioning from enlisted man to officer.

Much love and prayers to you all! "See" you 22 August!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

ABCs of the Word - Be of Good Cheer!

My new Bloggy friend found over at Grey Like Snuffie is hosting The ABCs of The Word every Thursday. Every once in a while I will be chiming in. Today I'll just let the scripture speak for itself. These words come from the Amplified Bible, which takes the King James and gives the Hebrew (OT) and Greek (NT) more descriptive meanings to some of the words which don't translate as vividly into our English.

"I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence
. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]"
John 16:33

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

He Has Gone BEFORE Us!


I was typing a comment early last week at a friend's site. As I typed I realized that something we all often count on and rely on is the fact that we believe and we know that God goes before us. It is something I contemplate prayerfully more and more as I grow older. It gives me great comfort. On behalf of myself, but most especially loved ones, and situations that life brings us to. It is so reassuring when you view those situations from the vantage point of God BEFORE you. What really excited me though as I typed I "flashed" on a scripture I had used in a header a while back. And I realized that the two concepts go together. Let me show you:

"And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty;..." Exodus 34:5-7. See?

He goes before us and He is with us
. He dwells within us, and we abide in Him. As He goes before us, He goes in His mercy. Stop and contemplate right there. He has gone before you into that medical waiting room, or into that court room. He knew about the car accident, He has gone before you. He is with your son and your daughter, on the battlefield, in the school room, on the bus, in the locker room, in the guidance counselor's office. He has gone before them in His MERCY preparing grace, goodness and revelatory truth to light their path.

We must teach them to look for signs that He has been there BEFORE them! We must remember to look ourselves!

We live in very uncertain times. Financially, relationally, politically, you name it. But, we have a CERTAIN God! We have a CERTAIN Word. We can take Him at His Word and then we can rest assurred as we go out into that wide, wide world, and send our loved ones out into it. We can go like David went to Goliath. He ran to the battle and He went confident of the Name of the Lord!

I used these beautiful tropical pictures to show that a God who took such care to make sure that EVEN in a fallen world we would have signs of His beauty and care for us, that SAME God has gone BEFORE us, and BEFORE our loved ones - preparing a way of goodness, mercy, longsuffering (that's how He treats us - He suffers long on our behalf!) and in truth and graciousness.

Ok, now that we know He has gone before us, you got your running shoes on? You ready to go run take out Goliath? Ready, Set, RUNNNNNNNN!

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Bird in the Hand


"A Bird in the Hand is Worth Two in The Bush", or at least that's the age old proverbial saying. It has always seemed the prudent course to take. You know..."Don't let go of what you have, in the "hopes" you might get those two over there in the bush..right there....oops...hurry...they're getting away! Agghh"! :) This has always seemed the way to go. Until last night, and even then it was actually in retrospect that I thought of the saying and the irony of turning it around for wisdom, at least in a certain type of situation. I can't take any credit for realizing it ahead of time!

Last night as I was thinking of the pattern of laying things down that I have been on the last 6 months or so, and I was reminded of this saying. I thought how that saying is so true EXCEPT when it comes to God. When God asks us to lay something down, it is ALWAYS for our good. Even if we can't see it. Even if it doesn't seem to make sense. Sometimes it's even something that many would say God doesn't care about. Let me say from personal experience...He Cares! He is an intricate God, He's made us complex, and that means if you touch one area of our life, there is no telling the domino effect it can have. Not to mention the benefit to us in "denying" ourselves, picking up our cross and following Him!

In God's economy when He asks us to lay something (our "bird in the hand") down, we can be sure He has something else to give us, "two birds in the bush" so to speak. But the thing is, we want to know WHAT? What will happen if I let this go? And God just doesn't work like that. It's a matter of faith, and a matter of surrender. He can't bless us unless we approach Him in faith, and unless we obey. It's that simple. So, when God prompts you to give up a habit, let something go, you can ask What? What will You give me in return, or Why does this matter? I just don't imagine you getting an answer. That's just not how He rolls! :)

I'll give you some examples in my life
. Last August in a mid-week service during praise and worship, I felt impressed to change a habit of mine. And the funny part is the impression was very clear and succinct. Only when I try to verbalize it, it seems to take more words, does that makes sense? You ever have that happen? Anywho - The habit I had to surrender is I had to give up being a pajama mama - ever. Yup, that was one of my nick-names for about 2 years. Because on days that I didn't have to go to town or have company over, I relished being able to have class in my pjs! Now let me say in my younger day, that might have been cute. But the weight I have put on the last 4 years is not giving me "cute days" anymore! Weight ages you, like you would NOT believe! Regardless, the impression in my heart was that God wanted me to "be bold and beautiful" and that "you have prayed and taught your son to look for a certain type of girl, someone who among other things will value herself and take care of herself, but you have not given him a picture of that in his home".

See, I had rested on my laurels. My life as a former career woman. The laurels of the day, after day, after day, after day, of getting up at 4:00 - 4:30 a.m., having Bible and prayer time, make lunches, get shower, get children ready for school, get my hair and make-done, everyone's looking good, been fed and got a meal to take, let's run - and then go, go, go all day and come home and you know, lather, rinse, repeat! But, that was then, this is now. What my son was now seeing day, after day, after day was an aging, overweight (sorry ya'll, not beating myself up, just stating the facts!) woman in her pjs too often, too late in the day, and sometimes not putting make-up on the entire day (OK for some, but as I have aged, my skin needs that extra care - not the skin of my youth for sure! :). And don't even mention the shabby attire for around the house. Not attractive, but, defintely cheap. Some things just needed to be thrown away! Some better choices had to be made for what to wear around the house. And I had to learn to not go near the PC until the shower, excercise, make-up and hair and decent clothes got done EARLY!

Before you think this was just in my head, I can tell you that I so wanted to believe that. But it turned out not to be the case! At first, I was really good about it. Then one Saturday I decided to "take the day off" and wait until just before I attended a birthday party at about 1:00 pm. Because I was home by myself, after all! Let me just say that I could have kicked myself! I missed out on a terrific opportunity to help out a family member, because they needed someone to come right away! Since I had to jump in the shower first, guess what? Yup! I missed out on a great opportunity, someone else was able to get there in time, but I was soooo bummed! I would like to say that was the last time I missed out. But I have to confess, I kept trying to get out of it (winter, etc.). Time wore on, and I still was not taking God up on His offer to "let go of my bird". I found myself facing the most frustrating, stressful and unusal sort of situation with a loved one (completely unrelated to this) and all of a sudden it occurred to me, "I wonder if you were doing that thing, you know that you felt like God put on your heart, if you would be dealing with this issue now if you had been obedient?" I was chagrined. But, I still didn't obey! (Gosh this is embarassing! rolls eyes, shakes head) Anywho - I finally got going and started the whole thing, excercise, shower, make-up, decent clothes, early every day (My vanity makes me add for clarity's sake, that I am a known shower freak, but the point was, I was way too slack about how I took care of myself, as far as attire, make-up and excercise). In less than 7 days the situation I had been facing turned COMPLETELY around! What's even better, is I didn't do it for that purpose. I did it because I knew that it was the right thing to do, and frankly I was just sick of being so undisciplined. I didn't do it to "get" something! But, He gave to me anyway!

The pay-off has been terrific, the guys know I look much better, though they loved "pajama-mama". Some days one of them (husband or son) will STILL ask, "Are you going somewhere?" I love it!


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The second thing is much shorter. Remember my post about my alabaster box? Well, by Thursday of that week, there was no longer any doubting that God really was asking me to give up most of my sugar. Don't know that its forever. And I am not extreme about it. But, many days I now have no sugar at all. And some days I feel like I am "allowed" a little bit. You would have to know how extremely fond of all things sweet I am to understand this I did not seek on my own! I was most definitely led! :) But there's been such a grace for it, its been great! And within 5 days of letting sugar go, I lost 4 lbs! That was thrilling since I was stuck on a plateau at that point!

Last night I surrendered my Bible Study that I have been hosting and teaching since January 2007. I LOVE my Bible Study and the girls! We have so much fun & I am so jazzed by the time everyone goes home, that I can't go to bed until 12:00 or 1:00 a.m. God ALWAYS shows up, and always confirms His words to us through the next few days. It made it really hard to be sure that I was "hearing" right. And I kept getting stuck on this "What if I am wrong, you can't just go start another Bible Study and say, oops! I goofed! If I'm wrong, I may never get another chance again" I mean, if I was wrong, I knew God would look out for the people who had been attending, because that's how God is, He'd make sure they were covered. But, I felt like I could not afford to "make a mistake". I wanted to keep my "bird in the hand"!

Needless to say God has a way of getting through to my sometimes hard head, sometimes crowded mind. He reached me, and by yesterday I knew, and I had peace. I was a little lost feeling last night, but, I just pressed in and made a stand of faith. I am looking forward to what is next. I am so sure I won't regret letting my "bird in the hand" go and I will be looking forward to my "two in the bush"!

Greetings! Been Real Busy IRL! Sorry!


Just a quick note to say that though I haven't blogged, I have been studying a lot. I have lots to post on and hope to have opportunity to do so this afternoon. Tomorrow morning at the latest! Hope you all are having a fun summer!

I will leave you with a question, and we can chat about it when I come back - Is a bird in the hand truly worth more than two in the bush? I always thought I knew that answer until last night! I have decided I have a new answer! How about you?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Family Nicknames - Terms of Endearment


Remember the post Weddings, Cowboys and Tuxedos about the wedding hubby and I went to in June? Well, what I didn't tell you is, as we prepared to leave early that afternoon, up come one of our famous afternoon thunderstorms. Florida is known for these. They come suddenly, leave just as suddenly, then out comes the sunshine!

Well, as I sat in kitchen putting on my heels, listening to the downpour I saw something shiny on the wall opposite from me. It's the wall behind the stove. As I peered at it, I realized it was a STREAM of water running (not walking) down the wall. Clearly something around the exhaust fan pipe on the roof had come lose. As I showed it to my hubby, up came the thunder. Whooowheee! Was he hot to trot! This has been a year of repairs, but for every repair The Lord has graciously and wonderfully provided for us. And the things truly outside of reach to repair at this time, mercifully, have not needed it. We have a list of things we want to replace as we can. But there is nothing on there that we are lacking at this time, its just the knowing the time is apporaching, where it will NEED to be replaced. He was under the impression that possibly the whole roof was in need of replacement. I made the strategic (bad timing!) error of pointing out the possibility that it could just be around where the exhaust pipe comes out in the roof, i.e. something simple, followed by "Hey, we could put some of the plastic stuff around the pipe until we fix it!" Not my smoothest move! But, I wasn't done! No, not by far! As he rattled out the concern he had at so many things to be replaced, I followed up with this "Well, it really hasn't been that bad, Honey. We have been able to handle it all, and the really super expensive things are hanging in there!" Again, not good timing! It makes me laugh to type it! We went on to the wedding, which was about 30 minutes away, and we got our happy on, on the way there. We were giggling by the time we got there.

Anywho, he shared with me that he was just getting a little overwhelmed and exasperated at the things facing him to replace and repair. And wait for it, wait for it....he just didn't need to hear from Mrs Polly Sunshine! Tee-hee! We both laughed at that! I DO have tendency to be optimistic, and I do trust God a whole lot. But I also have my struggles! Mercifully, mercifully, we don't struggle at the same time. We balance each other out! Thank the Good Lord! But, if you HAD to peg each of us, we have concluded that his nickname is Rolling Thunder, always quick to be the voice of caution! Mine would have to be Mrs Polly Sunshine, because sometimes I need to just listen and keep my cheerful thoughts between me and God, until a more fortuitous time presents itself!

And we recently told our youngest that makes him Little Thunderhead! He also has the nickname Jellybean, and that is probably his favorite. Even my oldest had one growing up, Jamie-doo, was his. My Mama did a great job of calling all her 4 children by various terms of endearment, and we all knew that those names meant we were loved. It made us feel special, and cared for. I have been thinking how important that is to a child. When I was a supervisor at the Sheriff's Office, I had a few that needed a nickname, and I was always happy to oblige.

I love that when we go to Heaven we get a brand new name. I can hardly contain myself at the thought sometimes of what that name might be. What secret about myself, that He knows, and I don't yet see and appreciate!

So, how about you all? And nicknames? Any terms of endearment?
Much love,
Mrs Polly Sunshine!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Why Do We Do That?


Does it ever bother you when people put all their hope in a person? Instead of where it ought to be? Even more perplexing is the tendancy to turn on same said person, as soon as anything looks questionable, shaky or Heaven forbid like difficulty or failure. It's part of our fallen nature to do this. But, it's also a part of our humanity that I will never, ever make peace with.

What am I speaking of
exactly? Well, in my Bible reading sometime at the beginning of April, I got thinking on it again. Deuteronomy 34 (which btw has SOOOO much good stuff in it) is where God lets Moses see the promised land, though he will not be making the trip there. He wanted him to be able to see it. Then he was calling him home to paradise. Here's the verse that I have been mulling over "And He buried him in the valley of the land of Moab opposite Beth-peor, but no man knows where his tomb is to this day."

Why did God see to it that Moses' body was buried where no people knew? Because He knows us SO well. He knew that people would get tripped up over the relics of Moses' body. He knew that our tendancy to want something tangible, would cause some of us to take our spiritual eyes off of Him, and start looking at the physical world around us for security. In further illustration that satan knows our weaknesses, we see in Jude that satan disputed with Michael the archangle for the body of Moses right here, "But when [even] the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, judicially argued (disputed) about the body of Moses, he dared not [presume to] bring an abusive condemnation against him, but [simply] said, The Lord rebuke you!" .

I've been thinking about this problem that is in all of us a whole lot since I read this in April. Then along came the healing revivals in Lakeland. Now, this is tricky, because I do not begrudge the wonderful reports of what the power of God is doing there. I am always glad ANYTIME that God is glorified and people are blessed and that certainly seems to be happening.

What is bothering me, is I believe every day we all have the same opportunity to seek God with GREAT expectancy, in our own prayer time or in our own congregations. Don't get me wrong, I know that God does certain special things at certain designated times. I hope I do not give the impression otherwise. I am not limiting Him. Rather on the contrary, I believe WE ARE LIMITING Him. In general, we (either people of faith or people who think about the possibility - seekers I'd say) seem to look for that "special person" who can reach God for us. It is an unfair burden on our spiritual leaders. One which they are not meant to bear. We have to seek God for ourselves. While pastors have a role (as shepherds), it is not the spiritual "superstar" role our humanity keeps trying to put them in. Love, affection, respect, and financial support for our shepherds - these things are all right and good. Looking to that person to do what we can believe God for ourselves, this is what is seems not good or healthy.

ADDED ADDED ADDED ADDED ADDED
******I have had a couple of questions about Lakeland. Sorry! It was such a big deal where I live (because I live within driving distance to it), that I didn't take into account you might not know. So here goes. A youngish man with quite an extraordinary testimony, who travels around the world and ministers somewhat prophetically, often in healing, and encouraging people to seek God visited a church in Lakeland, I am guessing sometime in April. Anyway, it was one of those weekend services/meetings that the Holy Spirit is said to have really impacted everyone mightily, and by Sunday night families were hearing of it and watching it on TV, and loading up and driving to it (it's a town in central Florida). People came from all over the world.They had to get bigger and bigger facilities to house all the people. I have known of good that came from it, and have also heard of the typical things that make something like this questionable and disturbing. I haven't been myself. I am very careful not to sit in judgement of what is there. That is not my place and when the Holy Spirit does get moving things can be very uncomfortable to us in the natural. I just know that my concern was the over the top fascination with it. It seems to have died down as far as people's interest now. But all during May and June you could go to a couple of churches that I know of and watch it on TV. ??? It was like all these many people forgot that we ARE the church and this is not what God made us for. He didn't make us to sit in chairs and watch Him move on TV. We are to be LIVING lives that testify. God is in the everyday, longing for us to make room for Him to work in and through us, to love, to serve, to be bold and courageous. Where is the passion for THAT?****** END OF ADDITION

I know people are going to Lakeland for different reasons. I am sure many go with healthy, faith-filled hearts. I also believe that many go because they want to be where the action is, they want someone to help them make contact with God, where they are not sure how to. And in the midst of it all God knows it all, and its no surprise to Him, and He is able to meet all right there, in all different states of faith and motives. He's so merciful to us.

I am just so hungry for us to all expect more from Him right here in our towns, in our homes, and in our congregations. It takes an effort, a self discipline, (one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit - because we don't have much of this on our own). But, I am determined to expect great things from Him, daily and weekly. Why? Because He is a Great and Good, and Tender God, and to expect anything less is insulting to Him.

"Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Him, Teacher, we desire to see a sign or miracle from You [proving that You are what You claim to be]. But He replied to them, An evil and adulterous generation (a generation morally unfaithful to God) seeks and demands a sign; but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah." Matthew 12:38

I can't escape this disturbing sensation when I hear everyone talking about Lakeland, and I feel like He (God) is saddened that we just don't get it. Jesus could only be one place when He was here before. But now, He resides in all who believe and abide in Him. Why are we seeking for a man's ministry in Lakeland? Why do we DO that?

I hope this is not upsetting to anyone. I mean NO disrespect to God or the wonderful work He has chosen to do. Feel free to comment. It's cool if you are seeing it different. I am totally open to the fact that I may be seeing it all wrong. I'm sure He will get my heart straightened in this regard and all others before my time here is done! :)
Well, duty calls! Take care! And remember - expectancy!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Why Seek Ye The Living Among The Dead?


A few years ago, a line in the scriptures pertaining to the Resurrection story really "got" to me. I knew that though I "got" it on one level, there was (and is) a wealth of meaning there, which I would look forward to the Lord revealing in His good time.

Lately the line has been "poking" me more and more, like so "remember, remember, look me up, ponder, seek The Lord, don't miss out!" So, I have been looking at it, pondering, seeking. It haunts me really. I feel led to post on it. But, in such a way as to let it speak what it will. Not so much of my thoughts on it. That will be at a minimum!

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"Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen:"

Just some data for you to consider. They came seeking, the way the word "seek" is used implies worship, or you could say a worshipful attitude, or intent behind the seeking. They brought their gifts (like we do), early in the morning on the first day of the week. However, where they went seeking, they found He wasn't there, not any longer. He was gone. He was RISEN.

I will share that since I first saw this, what really spoke to me was how often we go seeking life where there is no longer life. Or maybe never was. Since that time its my prayer that the Lord will not let me or my family waste our respective short time here, looking for life outside of the only source of life.

More lately the thought is that sometimes we hang onto things where once where God's plan for us was, but now that time/season has passed. It gives me pause. So I am considering where His life is flowing best in my life. Trusting Him to make clear if it is time to surrender any parts, so that the life He does live in me, can have free access and flourish even more. As in the pruning of a favored tree or shrub!

That's all I am going to say for now. If this left you with more questions than answers, well then GOOD! That means I did well! Happy seeking!

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Beyond The Night

When I was in 4th grade I was taken to the eye doctor. I still remember coming home and being able to see the Christmas tree clearly from the kitchen with my brand new glasses! Before it had been blurry, indistinct smudges of brightly colored lights, decorations and tinsel (remember tinsel?). My baby sister is in the same boat as me. We are both EXTREMELY nearsighted. Those experiences made the wonderful book, "Beyond the Night" a real page turner for me.

Without giving the plot away, I can tell you it's a smart mix of Sixth Sense combined with When Harry Met Sally! The setting is mostly 1970s. There are several struggles with light over darkness, and even learning to embrace the pain of the darkness as a means of gaining the light available always even in the most dark of circumstances.

Here is an excerpt
from a teenage brother and his baby sister discussing why he has decided no more Sunday School for him. We can all relate to struggling with our faith in some fashion, at some point in our lives:
Malcom: "I've given up on fairy tales."
Maddie: "I haven't."
Malcom: "You will. Someday, something will happen to you, and you'll realize that God either doesn't exist or He doesn't care. And you'll be right where I am, wondering why you've wasted your time with prayer."

I love the way the story and the romantic conflict cause you to humbly reconsider how you might feel or believe when life throws that hateful curveball. Ultimately many of us would reconcile with Christ. That doesn't preclude the very real chance we would intially struggle with fear, struggle with the unknown darkness of the future.

This book "Beyond The Night", written by Marlo Schalesky (really a neat, neat lady!) , can be purchased here for a sweet, sweet deal! I recommend it HIGHLY for yourself or any female in your circle from 15 up. "Beyond The Night" is being promoted through the most excellent Glass Road Public Relations.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Rome Wasn't Built in a Day! It's Worth The Wait!


This is just a quick bundle of thoughts. I keep thinking of the Colorado River, and those beautiful red rocks in Utah. Both show the etching of much time. Much wear and tear. And it wasn't to destroy them. It was to form and chisle them! To make beauty that testifies of the glory of God and blesses us to see!


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Many times the promise God puts on our hearts, the desires, the hopes the dreams, they take much time to manifest. For lots of reasons. Some we will talk about, I hope soon. But the point is God doesn't change His mind. He takes His time, because He knows we are fragile and it takes time to be changed into the divine image of His Son Jesus Christ. Its coming. I am chaning, you are changing, every time we get in His presence, every time we get in His Word.


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Here's what He tells us in Hebrews 3:14 "For we have become fellows with Christ (the Messiah) and share in all He has for us, IF only we hold our first newborn confidence and original assured expectation [in virtue of which we are believers] firm and unshaken to the end."

That's a little unsettling! Something major in the development is up to us! We must stick to Him, cling to Him, abide in Him, so that we will not lose hope. He is trustworthy! That's exciting!

What beauty is He at work chiseling into your life? Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man what God has prepared for those who love Him, But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

If, like me, you are making changes that seem to take such a long time to manifest the desired results...Hang in there! Hold on tight to Him! It's worth the wait!


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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Making Every Day Living Extraordinary!



I have several different ideas rumbling around in my head. All of them pertaining to making the ordinary every day lives we live EXTRAORDINARY! See, I am so not a domestic diva like so many of you neat ladies! Yes, I stay at home. Yes, I believe in making a good home for my family and a welcome home for visitors. But, I don't sew. I am not a decorator. I am not particularly crafty. This will never, ever be one of those sort of blogs because blogging by nature is an extension of our own paticular personality, and that's just not me!

But, that doesn't mean I don't love to bake, or that I don't recognize a great idea when I see it! Or that all teen angst aside I haven't had many wonderful experiences as a wife, mother and friend to fuel some posts to inspire you in this regard. Towards that end, here is a wonderful, easy recipe from my absolute favorite cook on television. She is such a neat person. I love her story and how much she has overcome in her life. You can click on her name below and it will take you to her website.


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From the website of Paula Deen:

Creamy Macaroni and Cheese
Ingredients:
2 cup uncooked elbow macaroni (an 8 ounce box isn't quite 2 cups)
2 1/2 cup (about 10-ounces) grated sharp Cheddar cheese
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sour cream
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed Cheddar cheese soup
4 tablespoon (1/2 stick) butter, cut into pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Directions:
Boil the macaroni in a 2 quart saucepan in plenty of water until tender, about 7 minutes. Drain. In a medium saucepan, mix butter and cheese. Stir until the cheese melts. In a slow cooker, combine cheese/butter mixture and add the eggs, sour cream, soup, salt, milk, mustard and pepper and stir well. Then add drained macaroni and stir again. Set the slow cooker on low setting and cook for 3 hours, stirring occasionally.

Yield: 12 servings Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 3 hours Ease of Preparation: Easy
Recipe courtesy Paula Deen

I picked this recipe because I have noted in some of my visits that some younger families are having to make grocery money stretch. This means they buy less meat. This recipe gives lots of calcium, protein and flavor. You can get it ready and let it cook in the slow cooker (crock pot) and it won't heat up your kitchen. It will go nicely with some veggies cooked like you enjoy for a nice hot lunch or dinner. Also, cheese is great to buy on sale and stick in the freezer, when you plan to cook with it. Thawed cheese crumbles easy which for cooking is convenient. And since it does crumble easy it helps if you don't have a food processor!

Be on the look out for future posts on making every day lives Extraordinary!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Confessions of a Semi-Reformed Control Freak!


This is by way of a confession and a hope that someone else out there could benefit from my mishaps! I started to title this "Do You Find Yourself Depending On Someone Else's Happiness For Your Own?". Never in my wildest dreams did I consider that I would ever be or stand for becoming such a person. Yet, there it is. I have succumbed to a great temptation of motherhood.

During recent weeks, we have careened around on the carousel of our youngest's life, where he struggles to find his way, his faith, and his place in this world. Facing temptation, peer pressure, a truly unfair harrassment by two families at our church (which we are trying to get a handle on), and numerous challenges that are unique to the youth of this particular culture, which includes so many things that we of our generation, and those before us really didn't have so much issue with. And don't get me started on the whole impact of the romances that have scarred him and made him a cynic. It's hard some days to remember what a day was like at home just 2 or 3 years ago. Sometimes when I read my dear friends blogs I can't even make myself comment, because I don't know what to say to their successes and joys. I'm happy, truly I am, for them. I'm just not walking that out right now, and it can be painful to relate to their ability to live out the scriptures in a way that I have seemed to fall terribly short. You may remember a post where I spoke of following a recipe to make one thing, and instead opening the oven to find a completely different food product.

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You mothers and even aunts, and grandmothers (God bless you) will relate when I say that when your child, niece, nephew or grandchild is cut, you bleed with them. When they struggle, you feel pain, with them. When they fall, you long to pick them up, and help set them aright. Wish they were like weeble-wobbles. That is my biggest problem. Weebles wobble, but they don't fall down. I seem to fear the falling down the most. I would spare him the horror of a life lived other than what he knows to be true. To whom much has been given, much is required. That weighs on me. You want them to understand the stability and confidence, the completetion and contentment that will ONLY be found in relationship with the 1 Friend and Family member WHO WON'T Let You Down. He won't stab you in the back, egg you on to a path of destruction, he won't do drugs, lie, cheat or steal, He won't mock you, degrade you, lead you astray or try to reinvent you to suit His urbane tastes of dress, music and attitude and or sexuality. Like many of this young generation, my son has been brought up to KNOW The Truth. He believes in The Truth, and stands up for it. But, he is somewhat distracted with life and unsure how to translate that belief system into what he sees adults he respects living out. So he feels frustrated, sometimes frantic, and sometimes hopeless at his ability to live an authentic life that reflects the ideals he believes in, and unwilling to hear ideas for solutions to the problem.

He is on a leg of the journey that mostly we can only love him and pray him through. But we want to do so much more. Though trust me, I am finding that those two jobs are so much more difficult, weighty and challenging than we realize, most of the time. I assure you that he will find his footing and faith, and it will be more resilient and shining than it would have been, had he led the sterile, happily ever after I couldn't help but want him to have. He was a gift from The Lord to us, like every child is. And we have raised him, as best as we knew how, to love and serve The Lord. The Lord will make up the difference. He and the Lord will get along just fine, just as his Father and I have found our way in the Lord.

So that is the background. The issue at hand today is, during the past few weeks I have noted that my happiness is becoming overly dependent on his happiness. That's not healthy for him, me, my husband and I, or anyone at all. Not. Acceptable! :) It is essential that now as always, my joy comes from my hope in the Lord. And that transcends circumstances. What sort of witness is it to him, if I am encouraging him to find stability in the sureness of God, yet I have none to display for my fears for him? Is God sure? Or is He not? Hmmm...you see my dilemma.

So, I am learning, yet again, to release our young man to the wild and wide open life of knowing, loving and being loved by the Lord. I am telling the Lord "He is Yours, of course, have your way in his life! Help him to hear Your voice above ALL others! Help him Lord to be strong, yet obedient to You, Help him know when to bend and when to stand, when to submit and when to fight. Give him a desire and a hunger for You, Your presence, and Your righteousness! Help him to be a Godly mate, and grant him a Godly mate! Heal him, draw out the hurt and disillusionment. Help him to have the joy and satisfaction that comes from being a vessel used by You! And Oh sweet, sweet Lord, don't let one tear, or any pain be wasted or get the best of Him, but only let it bring YOUR best into him!"

You may be saying, well, this is just a Mom thing, I don't see it as a control issue. Oh, but it is! As an oldest child, and a person who lives to make sure everyone is happy and communicating and feeling validated, let me just say that I recognize the trademarks. It is just a "pretty way" of trying to have OUR way! We can not make ALL the choices, we can not control the outcomes, we can't even pray the "PERFECT" life into being. As I have written before, beauty is born out of ashes. Remember Jesus had to DIE before He could rise! Why would it be any different for us? Or our children?

I hope that you will forgive me my eccentricities as a wife and mother. Hopefully you can relate at least a little. I certainly hope you great success at instilling Godly values in your young charges, and then RELEASING them to their adventures in life. Let them be able to see you loving and living life. Save your angst for your prayer closet (or shower as the case may be!), let your joy be evident always! And YES, we ALWAYS have a reason for our hope and our joy! Right? Wish me well at relinquishing control, Ya'll!

Much love!
Maria, a semi-reformed control freak! :)


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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Power of Light Over Darkness



In the last 24 hours I have been humbled to read two different blogs by two completely different women. Each opened up and shone the light on either a recent hurt or a past series of painful life events. Very powerful in the effects to the writers and the readers alike. Like pebbles on a pond, the words, the truth out in the open bring ripples of healing across time, and across geographic distances.

Considering the bravery in bringing the hurts to light, the strength of character to take such bold steps, I couldn't help but remember how in God's grand design there is no darkness "And this is the message [the message of promise] which we have heard from Him and now are reporting to you: God is Light, and there is no darkness in Him at all [no, not in any way]" 1 John 1:5. He has designed us to carry His light and live His light and shine His light where ever we are, where ever we go. The light that He is in us warms people, exposes darkness, brings truth to bear, allows healing and conviction and courage to be fostered. I love when the Bible tells us that where He is there are literally no shadows. That's because He IS light, and He is everywhere, there is no place to cast a shadow because the light comes from all directions. I reckon while we are here in this life, on this earth, we are intended to as containers of His light, IF we will dare to let our light shine, cause the shadows to flee!

Hearing the experiences these two, different women told, and seeing the impact the "light of day" had in taking some of the power of the hurt away, caused me to consider how we all gain inspiration and strength as we bear witness to another's struggles, heartache and victories in life. It reminded me to be grateful for the gift of people courageous enough to not only overcome in life, but to share the very personal struggles, and think of how we are subsequently moved to silently cheer them on, from our heart to theirs. The prayers squeezed out through our pursed lips, spiking towards Heaven, as we read or listen as the case may be, eggs our sisters on in the pursuit of life that is whole, liberty which is spirit deep and happiness which is invincible.

If you have
a story inside you to tell, don't fear letting it out into the light of day. You never know the lives you help find THEIR freedom when you dare to shine the light! You'd never suspect the sting of pain that is removed from your heart in so doing. Why do you think the enemy fights you so hard to hold it back, and threatens you with senseless fears to keep it in?

"That you may show yourselves to be blameless and guiltless, innocent and uncontaminated, children of God without blemish (faultless, unrebukable) in the midst of a crooked and wicked generation [spiritually perverted and perverse], among whom you are seen as bright lights (stars or beacons shining out clearly) in the [dark] world, Holding out [to it] and offering [to all men] the Word of Life,"
Philippians 2:15-16 and "Sing for joy, O heavens, and be joyful, O earth, and break forth into singing, O mountains! For the Lord has comforted His people and will have compassion upon His afflicted." Isaiah 49:13

Have I mentioned I think you ladies are the greatest? You bless me no end! Shine on!

What Does it Mean Anyway? "Free to Fly"...

Well, it's like this: Here are some of the Webster's Dictionary definitions of Free: a : having the legal and political rights of a citizen b : enjoying civil and political liberty c : enjoying political independence or freedom from outside domination d : enjoying personal freedom : not subject to the control or domination of another2 a : not determined by anything beyond its own nature or being : choosing or capable of choosing for itself...having a scope not restricted by qualification 7 a : not obstructed, restricted, or impeded ...Now, here are some of the Webster's Dictionary definitions of Fly:1 a : to move in or pass through the air with wings b : to move through the air or before the wind or through outer space c : to float, wave, or soar in the air ... a : to take flight ...6 : to work successfully ...Examples which apply from Websters: fly high : to be elated - fly in the face of or fly in the teeth of : to stand or act forthrightly or brazenly in defiance or contradiction of

What does this mean in my life? This means that in life we are meant to be free. While historically mankind has not always enjoyed the opportunity to fully appreciate what that means, we are so indescribably fortunate as to live in a time of the greatest spiritual, physical, financial and political freedom ever known. Freedom doesn't come cheap, nor does it come easy. But the best things in life don't come that way do they? As I write this I am struck by how this sounds like a political statement, and for me this is much more of a spiritual thing, but, same goes for that (political that is). Freedom doesn't come easy. And it's worth whatever fight you have to make to overcome in your life in order to live a life that succeeds. Now the questions is - what is success for you? What is your standard? In my mind what is needed is a definite target - because you can't hit and maintain a moving target. A stable, rock-solid, anchor with no variable, yet multi-faceted. Something pure, just and worthy. If you look at any web page of news you can see that our society is certainly lacking in this area. What a great time to live as a rebel! Nowadays to be a rebel, all you have to do is be willing to engage in the battle of life, while anchored to Christ!