Saturday, March 29, 2008

A Day of Remembrance!

Thirty three years ago, today, I got married to my very best friend!
Where has the time gone? How can it feel like yesterday, and at the same time feel like another person's life?

I am thankful for the years God has given us together and am looking forward to many more to come!!!
"But then I recall all you have done, O Lord; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago." Psalm 77:11 (NLT)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Journaling with ATC's on Seeds & Weeds

Each Monday morning I receive an email devotional from Alicia Britt Chole.


I look forward to receiving the devotionals. Alicia not only imparts some truth into my life, but she encourages me to journal and reflect on the words I've read. I almost always print them out so I can reflect on them later and journal in my "book" over the next few days. However, several weeks ago I received one entitled "Seeds and Weeds" and it took my journaling in a whole new direction.

Alicia apoke about the weeds in our lives...and how, at times, we allow them to flouish. The thing I like most about her devotionals is that usually, at the end, she gives you suggestions as to how you can use her material for reflective journaling. She asks questions and gives you direction as to how you should journal. Nothing hard and fast, but sometimes it's just a "jump point" to get your journaling started.

I love to journal...but there are times that I get a very clear visual of what the words are saying to my heart, so this time I decided to take the scripture she used and create ATC's to express what I "saw" the scripture saying to me.

Alicia used Galatians 5.19-24:
"The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires."

I started with my project with my seeds...and titled Card #1 "What are my fruits?"






















I used an old picture of myself to represent the idea that our seeds and fruits are planted early in our lives.

Card #2 "What are my weeds?"






















Weeds are easy to identify, but so hard to kill. I think there are times I enjoy my weeds...many of them are pretty and have flowers too!
Card #3 "Where are my seeds?"




















As I continued my reflection from where Alicia started, I got to thinking about the seeds I plant - not only in my garden but in other gardens I might enter...where do all my seeds fall, and will there be a harvest from my plantings? Am I working in fertile soil or tossing my seeds into the rocks?

Luke 8:11-15 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is God’s word. The seeds that fell on the footpath represent those who hear the message, only to have the devil come and take it away from their hearts and prevent them from believing and being saved. The seeds on the rocky soil represent those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they believe for a while, then they fall away when they face temptation. The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity. And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest.

Card #4 "What seeds have I sown?"























What is being cultivated in my life? Are my seeds able to flourish? Can I transplant my seedlings into the Lord's own house...or are they weeds that need to be pulled from my life?

If you are interested in checking out Alicia Britt Chole you can read her blog.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Bluebonnets & Spring

All of Spring proclaims the hope God gives our heart...


"Look, the winter is past, and the rains are over and gone. The flowers are springing up, the season of singing birds has come, and the cooing of turtledoves fills the air." Song of Solomon 2:1-12.This is my favorite time of year...it's the time of year my yard erupts with blue...Texas bluebonnets! I'm sure it's a mixed blessing for my neighbors. They all love the flowers and the photo opportunities for their children, grandchildren and dogs...yes, dogs. But, to create all this lovely chaos I have to let the flowers go to seed at the end of the season. The bluebonnets have to be able to drop their seeds, which means they have to be allowed to get big, leggy and turn brown. It's usually several weeks before all the seeds drop, and it's an agonizing time to see my yard look so terrible and know the neighbors are probably cursing me at that moment.

The bluebonnets are a reminder of God's faithfulness...

"If God cares so wonderfully for flowers...won't He more surely care for you?" Matthew 6:30

I know God cares for me...even in my unlovely state! He sees me at my best and at my worst. He knows my heart and yet His love is constant and His mercies for me are new every morning...every single morning!

I put my trust in God and nothing is too hard for Him and He has much bigger goals for me than just solving my personal problems. He wants me to KNOW Him—and along the way that changes me!

"Your mercy and your love now fills my life, And I will never be the same again."

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Selah

This morning I head a noise outside my office window and when I turned to see who was creating such a ruckus, I discovered a loud "chatty"Cardinal sitting in my oak tree. The wind was whipping the branches and ruffling his feathers, but he didn't seem to mind at all.


"All the earth will worship You, and will sing praises to You; They will sing praises to Your name. Selah" Psalm 66:4
I love the word Selah, don't you? It's in the Bible 76 times! Maybe not as many as some words, but I'm thinking it's important enough to take note.

Selah - (n.) A word of doubtful meaning, occurring frequently in the Psalms; by some, supposed to signify silence or a pause in the musical performance of the song.

I'm thinking that whenever I see the word in scripture, I should understand that the Lord is exhorting me to 'weigh' these things thoughtfully, and to reflect and consider in good sense judgment, what is 'really' being said. I should take the time to pause and meditate on what's being said. Give it time to sink into my soul. I think I need a LOT MORE Selah in my life!!!!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Sisters

I haven't completed my computer bag yet. I was going to work on it over the weekend, but I couldn't bring myself to stay inside to sew with the sun shining outside! It was just too pretty to be inside.

My husband took off Friday and we worked in our backyard Friday and Saturday... but only in the mornings. He has some fence pickets to replace and a couple of posts that had rotted out, and I cut back some of the overgrown plants in the back. However, after lunch we each found a book to enjoy and sat out back to enjoy sunshine and our quiet time. It was supposed to be cold and rainy by Sunday...so we didn't want to waste the day. Hopefully, by the end of the week, I'll have the final touches one my computer bag.

Sunday we attended FBC's sunrise service. It was terribly windy and cold, but we brought blankets and wrapped up to hear the message and see the sunrise. Unfortunately, with Easter being so early this year, we got a wonderful glimpse of a full moon setting and just as the service ended, a peek at the sun rising.

The service was a great reminder that "while it was yet dark" Mary went to the garden...and she meet Jesus! A reminder for me, specifically, to always be looking, because in the looking He will be found!

The two sisters, who attended the service, came back to the house for breakfast. Sister number one and her husband had arrived at the house with Austin (our new one month old grandson) and Lauren (our 6 year old granddaughter.) It's always a sweet time to be together as a family and just spend time with each other...we really enjoy each other's company. After cleaning up dishes it became competition time. Lauren challenged each of us to a WII game of bowling. She's learned she can "roast" (she means smoke) each of us at that game...so it is now her favorite. She did "roast" each of us...and is currently high score on the bowling game. All in all it was a very quiet and relaxing Easter!

Today my BFF-Jani shared with me a special picture of her sister and her taken over the Easter weekend. Her sister has been quite ill and they have not had a lot of "sister" time in the last few months due to the distance between them. Jani left last Thursday so she would have the maximum number of days to be with her sister so they could just hang out together and spend some time with her sister's new granddaughter.

I decided to surprise her with a little collage' of the two of them. (I actually made two so she could share one with her sister.) She'll be here later for dinner, so I know she'll be pleased and surprised!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!


Friday, March 21, 2008

Awakening to Joy!

Wednesday night was spring break from "church". All activities take a break because so many are gone..and there is no child care available.

I'm a GriefShare leader at FBC-McKinney and we were to have a night off, but in my spirit I knew it was not the right time for our group to take a break. So many in our group have fresh hurts...less than a year since they experienced death and separation in their lives. They are just beginning to speak of their loved one without tears! I thought an art project...a collage' of their loved one...would be helpful for those who can't find words to journal about their grief. I brought the idea to the group a few weeks ago, and everyone seemed excited and really thought it would be worthwhile.

As each one worked through the collage' process on Wednesday evening, I watched as they lovingly arrange pictures on their canvas. Each one spent time looking at the pictures of their loved one...their hearts and minds full of memories and of happier times. Each one...staring into faces of those that are gone...feeling again the weight of their loss. However, there was something deeper I could see working in the group. They were smiling. Not happy, giddy smiles...but quiet, thoughtful smiles.

There was small talk around the table. They spoke of their loved ones. They explained to each other why they'd chosen the picture they were gluing. There were explanations regarding greeting cards they were cutting apart, or what the words, cut from magazines, meant to them or their loved one. What I saw from each person was a quiet, inner joy.

Their joy, evident in the college' process, was deep. It was not joy built on happiness. Their happiness (their hopes and dreams ) lay torn and shattered on the canvas before them. There was no pleasing arrangement of their pictures that would bring their loved ones back. They could not glue together their broken lives and dreams.

As I looked at each "work in progress" I prayed for each person as they worked. I knew each was thinking about their unrealized hopes and dreams. Dreams that revolved around those pictures. Yet, I also knew that those broken dreams would open the door for God to give them better dreams Dreams they could not see or value until they had been through the "dark night of their soul." With the help of those broken dreams it would put them in touch with what they (what we all) most long for...better dreams...God given dreams that generate a new unfamiliar feeling...joy!

"Dreams for good things may shatter, but our pain will always have a purpose. It will not go away, but it will do its work. It will stir an appetite for a higher purpose - the better hope of knowing God well enough now to love Him above everything else...and trusting Him no matter what happens." Larry Crabb, Shattered Dreams

They didn't know it or recognize it that night...but God is at work in their pain. He is perfecting them...He is loving them. He is calling them into a deeper more intimate relationship with Him. He longs for them to know Him better. To want only Him and His purpose for their lives. They will eventually recognize the joy that is slowly taking root and growing in their soul. They will know what "new dreams" God has planned for them. I not only saw joy Wednesday night - I saw healing...God's healing.

"Life isn't about waiting for the storms to pass... it's about learning to dance in the rain."

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A New Computer Bag

I carry a very ugly (but free) computer bag. My husband picked it up at one of his IFMA Trade Shows. It's been a good bag...FREE, but it is black and has advertising on the side. It's also a tight fit for my 17" laptop.

I started thinking about sewing a new one almost a year ago, knowing that to purchase one to fit my laptop was going to cost me a pretty penny. I mentally put it at the bottom of my "To Do" List thinking I would have to find the "perfect" piece of material, which could take months!

I had no preconceived notion of what it should look like, but having a room full of fabric never means you have the "perfect" piece for a specific project. (My girlfriend's husband is a fabric rep...need I say more?) However, that perfect piece was found waiting for me at a garage sale! The fabric was on a roll and I saw it from the road as we drove slowly past the sale. The woman had purchased the bolt for a specific project (which she did not complete). After some 'haggling' I got the whole bolt (probably 6 yards) for $5.00. What a steal!


The fabric is green ultra suede. My poor little machine struggles to sew through all the layers. So far I have the pieces cut, the foam inserted, and am working on installing the zippers and my outside pocket design.

I'm thinking I will need to sew a binding around the serged edges to reinforce the bag. I still have the handles to attach and finish decorating the "lace", but all in all I'm pleased with the progress. Hopefully I can finish tonight and post the completed bag by tomorrow.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Brainstorming

We humans keep brainstorming options and plans, but God's purpose prevails. Proberbs 19:21 - The Message

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Blame

Yesterday I had a lengthy conversation with my BFF-RT. It seems there are so many around us that are hurting and in trouble. How do we help them? Sometimes I feel frustrated...there just appear to be no options on our part to help.

Yesterday's conversation centered on her sweet niece who is suffering from a serious bout of depression. Why her? Why so young? Who can we blame for this situation? Was it her fault? Her parent's fault? School pressures? There has to be someone to blame about this situation! BUT...maybe there is no one to blame...it's just one of those things that happen.

The truth is that God continually reminds me that HE has the power to change this situation immediately, so it doesn't matter if anyone is at fault, God is still in control.

“Teacher,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it a result of his own sins or those of his parents?” “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “He was born blind so the power of God could be seen in him.” (John 9:2-3 NLT)

In this scripture the disciples were looking for someone to blame for the blind man's situation. Maybe he was blind because he sinned? Maybe his blindness was caused by something his parents did?

The disciples, like me, asked the wrong questions...there was no one they could pin the blame on or point a finger to assign blame. It's so much easier to look for that "someone" we can blame. But Jesus said they were to look instead for what God can do! (John 9:1-4 Message)

"So if you're serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that's where the action is. See things from his perspective." (Colossians 3:1-2 )

Look for what God can do!

God is faithful. He has everything under control and we are safest when we stay in obedience to Him! He wants to give good gifts to His children (Luke 11:9-13)...but He wants us to trust Him and be content in whatever circumstances we are in (Philippians 4:12). Not easy to remember in the midst of my pain!

Why do I forget that God is not surprised by my circumstances, or the circumstances of those I love? He could change them immediately...so instead of asking "Why me?' I need to ask "What does He want me to do in this circumstance?" "What is He trying to teach me?"

I expend so much of my energy looking for a way out of my pain...someone to blame and lash out at to alleviate my hurt. Yet, lovingly, God is calling me to expend my energy on deepening my relationship with Him. He wants to draw me ever closer in my relationship with Him to teach me to have His heart in all circumstances.

Life is hard! Yet, God's love shines on those of us who are seeking Him with our whole heart and His love also shines on those who are running scared from Him. "Should we accept only good from God and not adversity?” (Job 2:10b) He loves us so deeply and He's looking to see how we will act in this adversity.

How will I try to "squirm" out of my trials? Will I choose to press into them and see God's hand on my life? Will I remember that God loves me...that He wants to show me my faults to enrich my relationship with Him? Or, do I let anger and bitterness take root? Do I believe the lie that something precious and essential has been taken from me? (I deserve so much better!) Do I believe the lie that there is no way out of this? I'm trapped in this experience?

I KNOW I have to monitor my thinking. How I interpret my circumstances will determine how I will react to them. Catastrophic thinking minimizes my blessings and maximizes my losses.

Everyday I am harvesting what I have previously planted and everyday I'm planting seeds I will eventually harvest. I need to plant new seeds to harvest. What I have sowed into my life in the past is what I am currently reaping. (Don't be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds. All he'll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God's Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life. Galatians 6: 7-8)

Who's to blame? Is there an easy answer? I don't think so... Maybe this is my opportunity to "Look for what GOD can do!" Maybe the way I pray for RT's niece is to ask God to be glorified in the situation...not necessarily for relief?

Lord, I don't want to be distracted from my purpose or from the tasks You want me to complete before the “night falls.” (John 9:4). Show me how to pray for those that are hurting...

Friday, March 7, 2008

Weddings and Snow Days

Two snow days a month is BIG news in Texas - but two snows days in the same week...in the month of March...bigger news!

Best news of all is the fact that my new grandson is here! The electricity went out at my daughter's house so they all came for an "over night adventure" (according to my 6 year old granddaughter). Bapo (grandpa in my granddaughter's language) is in "hog heaven" to have all of them here. He'd be even happier if the other two girls had come for the night. He likes nothing better than "Girl Camp"...although we now have a new baby boy in the mix...a whole new way of thinking. He now feels he's building power in his camp - son-in-law and now a grandson...but he forgets we still have girl power on our side!

This weekend is very busy for us as a family. My niece is getting married tomorrow and we still have much to do. Decorating the reception hall, rehersal, pictures, arranging flowers, decorating the church, etc. My sister, my daughter and I made more than 300 mints on Monday and we still have the baskets to put together that will hang on the ends of the pews. Still much to do!

I love weddings - especially this time of year. It was 33 years ago this month that my husband and I were married. My, how times flies! So much of life lived in that short time. I've spent more than half my life with him (I'm thinking the best half)...and I can't remember life before him. Lord willing - maybe 33 more!

I pray my niece has many happy and blissful years of marriage also. I pray, too, that they are committed to each other, through the good times as well as the hard times..for the hard times will come. "Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually."1 Chronicles 16:11 I pray they will seek the Lord's face daily, that He would be the "glue" of their marriage. I pray they will rely on the Lord's strength, when they have none, to get them through whatever comes in their marriage! Bless them!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Risks

Risk your life and get more than you ever dreamed of … Luke 19:26 (MSG)

"In order to obey God, you need to take risks. Risk is the substance of faith because it requires you to take Step 1 before you see Step 2. Risk compels you to action, even when there seems to be no guarantee of what will be on the other side of your choice."

I like to think of myself as a risk taker, but sometimes putting myself in situations where I'm just "out there" is a risk I'm not always willing to take. This blog, for example...way out of my comfort zone!

I'm a background person. I love working silently and busily in the background, not wanting to risk putting myself in a situation that would cause me to be criticized...or on the flip side, also not allowing praise...invisible. That's how I see myself. But that's OK with me. Is it OK with God?

Invisible - is God asking me to risk my identity...my comfort zone so He can give me a new identity? Is He asking me to become visible so I might be present and available to those around me? Large or small, God uses risks to move me from living by sight to living by faith. God wants me to follow Him...to take my direction from the Holy Spirit and give up my independent, invisible ways to become dependent on Him and His direction.

Can I risk this? No matter!! God is there, on the other side of risk! Always calling me...cheering me on, asking me to struggle with risking myself to struggle to "work out my salvation." Philippians 2:12

God is in my choices - He is on the other side of my choices. He is in my risks...always calling me to risk even more. The more I risk the more I give Him authority over my life, authority over my choices, authority to work all things for the good (Romans 8:28), with plans to help me and not to hurt me (Jeremiah 29:11). Am I risking all for Him? Am I willing?

I'm willing to risk.

Re-arranging my life for Him!