Thursday, May 31, 2007

A New Look

Just updating my look. A couple things in the sidebar are not working yet. I'll get them corrected soon. Hope you like the new decor. Blessings on your day!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

IOW--Diminishing Heaven?

"Lower your expectations of earth. This isn't heaven, so don't expect it to be."
~ Max Lucado ~

Contemplating this quote this week, I have decided that I do heaven a huge injustice. I downplay it. I diminish its awesomeness. I create it in the image of earth--not the other way around.

Sunday afternoon, while on holiday in Norfolk, I found a really awesome patchwork quilt shop. I could have easily spent hours/days/maybe even months fondling gorgeous fabrics. But German and the girls were in the car, so I settled for a couple of metres of fabric and some thread. As I got into the car I asked German what were the chances of getting a job in the area because "I may have just found heaven." Yes I was commenting on the fact that I found a place that was beautiful and could make make me very happy---but it is nothing like heaven.

Vacation places are called "heaven on earth". Heaven is used as the nth degree of beauty for comparisons. I can become almost glib about what heaven must be like. But the truth is: I-haven't-got-a-clue. Not a clue. The very best of the very best--not even a glimmer of the real thing. And that blows my little mortal mind!

So what is heaven going to be? The images I have created (and these are my imaginations as I read Scripture) are bright, shining, joyful, celebratory, loud with praise, and filled with God's presence. The body of Christ will always (always, always with no hesitation) love each other. Illness will be demolished. Fear--gone. Fighting and striving, nonexistent. Racial, ethnic or geographic differences abolished. We will act as one, be as one, all serving the awesomeness of our GOD together without judging how others are worshiping. Unity in Worship. That is what I look toward. And for all my comparisons on earth, it's going to be even greater.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." Revelation 21:1-4

Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. Revelation 7:16

There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. Revelation 22:5

Can you catch a glimpse of heaven? Isn't it amazing? But I must remember in my imagining, that it is greater than here, more beautiful than here and more awesome than here. Why? Because God totally reigns there, and here I must cope with the falleness of the world and with my own sinful nature. The fallen state is demolished in heaven. I must not be surprised when earth doesn't measure up to heaven--it can't. And I must not diminish heaven to earth's best--it's greater than that. Praise the Lord, it's greater than that.

One of my favorite praise choruses is "I Can Only Imagine" by MercyMe. But, praise His Name, someday I won't have to imagine anymore. Blessings to you today!

Our hostess this week is Iris at Sting My Heart. Please join us there.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I AM--Lesson Six, Westside of the Wilderness

Here are my responses to this week's I Am study over at Lisa's place. Although the answers may seem a little short/curt, the thought process to get here was longer. I just found that conveying the emotion of the study into answers was not very simple.

1. How current is your God? Is he up to date on all your issues or do you have old hurts you still hold behind your back?

As far as what God has revealed to me, I believe that He is current and up-to-date. There are issues that rise--often new perspectives on old hurts, and at that time I seek to move where He is leading. I'm learning to trust His timing in bringing issues to mind.

2. Has the enemy ever told you there are situations that are 'old news' that are better left stuffed down? Or perhaps because they were so long ago they can't possibly be affecting you now?

Absolutely. The enemy will try any tactic to make us insufficient. And for years he whispered to me that it was better to just "stuff it" because that was the generational way of coping in my family. But, the glorious truth is that the enemy is a liar and that nothing is so "old news" that I can't deal with it in a Godly way. Thank the Lord He is teaching me that lesson.

3. In the matter of established authority, does God truly reign in your life? Where are you when He calls your name?

My heart's desire is for God to be God of everything in my life. I try to daily (or multiple times during the day, lol) thoughtfully and honestly put God on the throne and take myself off. There are the times I totally fall for the temptation to put my tiara back on and pretend I'm master of my life. Those times seem to be fewer and further between. I pray that I am always where I can hear Him when He calls my name.

4. Do you ever feel God has forgotten you in your 'west side of the wilderness'?

No. I don't feel forgotten. Often I wish the wilderness trip didn't have to be so hard, but I don't feel abandoned.

5. Have you ever experienced a time of cleansing where God has illuminated and rejuvenated you? If not, do you find you are in need of this now?

Yes I have experienced this. This is the question I am having the most difficult time explaining. Those times come, often unexpected, and just wow me. Not often am I speechless but God rejuvenates where words can't describe.

Thanks for another great study Lisa!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

IOW--Remembering our Beauty

I was brushing Jewel's hair, and said half to myself and half to her hair, "You are so beautiful baby."

"Mom," she asked, "when you were a little girl did your mom say you were beautiful?"

( to mom was not the best at sharing the blessing with her children)

"I'm sure she did."

"Did you believe her?" asked the innocent.

(where did that question come from?! I try so hard for her not to see the way I struggle with my mom)

"Don't you believe me when I tell you you are beautiful?"

"Of course."

"So why ask if I believed grandma?"

"Because wouldn't you remember if you believed it?"

Then she hopped down and went to play. But she is right, wouldn't I remember if I believed it?

Somewhere along the way I learned that God did think I was beautiful. And I chose to believe it. I heard, and believed the words He wrote.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
Psalm 139:13-16

I began to understand that if God created me in His image, then I must be created with worth. I believed it and I remembered it. And that is the turning point of being able to minister. Once we believe the worthiness of humanity because of the creative power of God, then we can share it with conviction. Then, and only then, can we expect others to believe us when we tell them God finds them beautiful and worthy and cherished. They will believe us, because we believe it for ourselves. Confidence in our God is attractive--and others will want it.

"Until you settle the issue of your own worth, it's impossible to bring holiness into anyone else's life. Until you understand that your worth is already determined by the fact of your birth, everything else is an exercise in propping up a dying tree."

~ Carol Brazo ~
"No Ordinary Home"

Dear Lord, help me today to show that I believe you by remembering what You say to me about my worth. Help me to live a life that exudes your confidence. May I always be aware that my worth comes not from what I have done or what I possess but because of Your grace as my Savior and my Creator. May my children see your beauty shining in my life and may they always hear and receive my blessing, not because of their actions but because they are gifts from You. Use my life as a magnet to draw others to you, so that they may also believe they are worthy. May I bless others because you have blessed me. Amen.

Christine at Fruit in Season is the hostess for In Others Words this week. Please join us there for further discussion.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Monday Menu Plan

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Monday: Grilled Chicken with Feta, tzaiziki, pita bread, green beans, Greek Salad
Tuesday: Pork with Marscapone, steamed carrots, salad
Wednesday: German out of town---ham and cheese with melon
Thursday: Grilled salmon, salad, melon, vegetable tbd
Friday: Turkey burgers with cheese, salad
Saturday-Monday: on holiday in Norwich

For more menu ideas, please visit Lara at Org Junkie. Have a great week!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Craving chocolate and other spiritual truths

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I've been craving chocolate the last few days. Not a casual, "gee some chocolate would be nice," but a "if you want something from me and you don't have chocolate you might*as*well*go*away" type craving. It has become a physical as well as psychological need. It isn't really that surprising. I usually have a day or two each month when I crave chocolate, and I usually have some stashed for just those moments. But I've been serious about this lifestyle change of eating better and haven not kept chocolate in the house for three months (I know some of you are gasping). And this month it is driving me crazy, but I'm going to resist temptation [note to self--keep reminding yourself of the 28 pounds you have lost and fight the craving].

In all seriousness, it has made me think about why we crave certain things. According to to crave means to:
crave /kre…™v/ –verb (used with object) long for; want greatly; desire eagerly: to crave sweets; to crave affection. require; need: a problem craving prompt attention. ask earnestly for (something); beg for. ask (a person) earnestly for something or to do something. –verb (used without object) beg or plead (usually fol. by for).

—Synonyms 1. yearn for, hunger for. Unabridged (v 1.1)Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.
With the exception of some really weird pregnancy cravings you sometimes read about, I don't hear of people craving something they have never tasted. My daughters never asked for chocolate until they were given their first taste. I don't go around thinking, "wow I'd like to have some kim chee (Korean fermented cabbage that I have managed to never try) today" because I have never eaten it. I have, however, seen German get very excited to see it on a Vietnamese menu--he loves the stuff after working in South Korea. My point is, we generally need to develop a taste for something before our body tells us we really need/want greatly to eat more of it. The evolution is first taste to liking the flavor to eating some more to almost being able to taste it before we eat it.

Admit it, you are smiling because you know exactly what I'm talking about. Whether it is chocolate or something else, we have all been there. But you are thinking, "what difference does it make?" Well I made the leap, as my weird mind often does, to another thing that I am craving--more and deeper Bible Study. I am at a point in my walk, in this season of my life, where I just want to know more. I'd like nothing more than to lock myself away and just study. Of course that is impossible with two little ones, but I find myself searching for extra time for "a few more minutes." I'm not reading anything except study materials and my Bible--why waste the time on a novel when I can have the Word. I look at my stitching and think, another time. Computer time has been seriously cut back. Chatting online--nonexistent. I am at a stage where "if you want something from me and you aren't bringing a piece of the Word you*might*as*well*forget*it". And it is a great and exhilarating place to be. And as much as I pray that I will always crave the Word like this, I know that the craving will ebb and flow--but hopefully the habit will be established before the craving subsides.

Since this craving is so real to me, I am a little taken aback that not everyone shares it. I was chatting with a friend the other day about wanting deeper studies than our church is currently offering. She made the comment that if she wanted it and I wanted it, weren't the others wanting it as well. And we discussed why so many people don't want to invest themselves into a deeper study. But in my thoughts about craving, I think I may have part of the answer--they don't want it because they haven't tasted it. So many Christians have never undergone serious study on their own, so they don't know what they are missing. They believe that they get the Bible teaching they need from the sermon on Sunday morning and maybe a quick devotional reading each day (and please don't get me wrong, those are great and important tools in our walk with God). But they have never undertaken a serious study of what the words, the contexts, the content and the application of the Word of God means for them. So when I say "I want more" they look at me blankly--what does more mean when you have never tasted it?

Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. 1 Corinthians 3:1-2

Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. 1 Peter 2:2-3

I've seen this at work in the Ladies Bible Study I lead on Friday mornings. We had been doing a study of a thematic topic and just discussing Scripture and application to our lives (friendship, fellowship, trust, etc). Each person could invest a lot of time thinking and researching the topic or just come and learn. But for the last 6 weeks, we have been studying Beth Moore's "The Patriarchs". And any of you who have done her studies know they involve lots of homework and lots of Scripture reading. Comments I'm beginning to hear is "why haven't I done this before?" "wow this is so great, I can't wait to do my daily study" "have you thought what we are going to do next, I don't want to stop". YES! They tasted it and they want more! How exciting. I've always known that my heart was for discipleship--helping to mentor and shape a person who has made a decision into a disciple of Christ. Helping new believers (and even stale believers) find the tools for a vibrant life in Christ. I think God is defining that for me even more. I want people to taste the Lord and know that He is good. I want to help them crave His Word. I want to teach them how to study the Bible so it becomes alive to them. I'm excited about what God is doing in my life and in the lives of the ladies in my group. I'm praying it continues.

As I seek to help people crave the Word, I wonder what has been a turning point for you to want more study? What was your signpost? What did you taste that you couldn't wait to get more of it? I'm preparing for the next study and any direction you could give me would be welcomed thankfully.

And I think I've found the cure for my chocolate craving. Think I'll go read some more. Blessings to you all.

I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me.
How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path. Psalm 119:102-104

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Matthew 5:6

photo credit: artist=rosevita

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

IOW---A Flawed Plate is Still Usable

"What makes life on this frightful sod so exquisite is God's merciful propensity to perform divine tasks amid deeply flawed people."
~ Beth Moore, LPM Blog ~

I am fortunate enough to live within driving distance of a set of towns known as Stoke-on-Trent or more affectionately called "The Potteries." This is a collection of towns where the potteries of English dishware have existed for hundreds of years. They are all there--Spode, Wedgewood, Burley, Leeds Creamware, and (my personal favorite) Portmeireon, among dozens of others. And the glorious thing is...they all have factory stores! It is a fun-filled day out, even for this shopping-phobic.

But there is a given in a factory store---the merchandise didn't get there unless it was flawed. Big flaw, little flaw, obvious flaw, hidden flaw. Somewhere on that dish, there is a flaw. And the flaw makes it a bargain. But you have to be patient to find flaws that will "work" together. I have an incredible set of 3 bowls that I paid ten pounds/five dollars for all three. I stacked bowls for quite some time before finding 3 that would fit snugly together--the flaw was in the sizing. Several friends bought the same bowls. One potluck dinner at church we all brought things in our bowls. And as we washed the bowls, it was easy to determine whose was whose--their bowls didn't fit in mine and vice versa. The flaws were not compatible.

Another visit to the Potteries found me sitting on the floor, painstakingly feeling the surface of Spode Christmas tree plates. I finally found twelve that stacked nicely and did not have any serious bumps in the center of the plate. Yes they are flawed, and I know where the flaws are from spending that much time choosing, but they are perfectly usable. And for twelve pounds/six dollars for the lot instead of twenty-five pounds for a single unflawed plate, it's worth it. The flaws do not make them unusable, they make them unique.

In the same way, our flaws do not make us unusable, they make us unique. God painstakingly looks into our lives, matches our flaws with areas of ministry and commissions us. If I'm trying to live someone else's life, I'll find that it is not a good fit. My flaws are connected to my life to make me the most useful I can be. So many of my ministries are with folks who have similar flaws--because we understand each other we can help each other. And as that is happening, an amazing phenomenon takes place. Our flaws become less sharp, less defining, less glaring. We smooth each other out. We find the healing of God in each other's flawedness. And we become stronger, not weaker. God is not content to leave us flawed--but He is more determined to use our flaws to minister to His Kingdom and grow us into His Likeness.

Scripture tells us that God is the master potter. He shapes us and reshapes us and reshapes us again until we become the likeness He envisions. I must trust that He knows how to form me. I need to allow Him to ease the flaws and make me useful. Only He understands the plans He has for my life, so I need to allow Him to bring the plans to fruition. How marvelous that part of the shaping of me is His use of other flawed people. How miraculous that His shaping of other people is in part because of His use of my flawed vessel. God is the master potter. Let's let Him shape us, flaws and all.

You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, "He did not make me"? Can the pot say of the potter, "He knows nothing"? Isaiah 29:16

Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. Isaiah 64:8

So I went down to the potter's house, and I saw him
working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as
seemed best to him. Jeremiah 18:3-4

Dear Lord, today help me to understand that we are all flawed clay in Your hands. Help me to be gentle with myself regarding my flaws and to give them to you to be reshaped. Help me to be graceful to others regarding their flaws and trust You to work in their lives as well. Forgive me when this piece of clay has had the audacity to tell you how to shape me. I want to be moldable and useful. And I want others to see you shining as I minister despite my flaws. Thank you Father for being the Master Potter. I place myself in Your hands....Amen

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This week our hostess for In Other Words is Laurel. Please come join us in reflecting on Beth Moore's quote. Blessings to your day!

Monday, May 14, 2007

I AM---Lesson 5 "I Was"

1. Have you ever found yourself 'in faith' yet bewildered or demoralized?

Yes. After miscarriage number two (at 14 weeks) I was totally 'in faith' that we would be or have the family that God intended. But I was still heartbroken, bewildered and confused why we were unable to have "this" child. It was compounded by the whys. The baby was trisomy-21 and the doctor said it just didn't make it. The week we learned the "why", friends at church had a beautiful little girl--trisomy21. I could not understand why ours didn't make it and theirs did. I still don't understand the why, but God did give us the family He intended.

2. Do you consider yourself content? Would you describe it as Decidedly Content or Dreamily Content?

I am content. I am dreamily content in that I love watching German with the girls and get that "how can I be so lucky" feeling. I walk through my house and review my life and am just amazed at how much God has blessed me. But I am also decidedly content. I choose to be happy wherever God (and the job) lead us, with the things that we are able to do, and the current situations. I could spend my life saying "what if" but that would be so much of a waste.

3. If you are not content, are there circumstances that keep you from this feeling?
I was tempted to just say "not applicable" but then I realized that a situation arose yesterday that I am unsettled and discontent over. I need to spend some time with God choosing to be content in it, even if it is decidedly going to a place that is NLIP.

4. Have you ever found yourself in a place where you looked back on a period of your Christian walk and believed a great opportunity passed you by?
Honestly, no. I look back and think "I could have done that better" or "I could have spoken sooner" or something along those lines. But I don't see "great opportunities" that pass me by. I try to keep the perspective that everything in the past shapes me to who I am in the present.

5. Do you ever believe your faith was stronger in an earlier time in your Christianity and find yourself floundering now?
I believe that I am in a great period of growing in and trusting God. I think my faith has changed over the years--become less childlike and more adult, more of a deliberate choice, more foundational. Yes, it has ebbed and flowed with life, but always seems stronger for the experience. Sometimes I am nostalgic for the "just loving and believing in God" faith I had as a child, but I really appreciate the faith I have now that is based up seeing God's faithfulness and believing Him no matter what.

6. Can you recognize that this season may be one of great preparation instead of a period of "I Was"?
I believe each season of our life is preparing and growing us for the next. It is in looking back to the periods of "I Was" I can see what God has kept me from being. I don't have to dwell on "I Was" (infertile, miscarriage, unbalanced in school/work/church life, disobedient, prideful or whatever) because God has brought me through those times (and continues to bring me through) to be the mentor and minister I am today. And He will take these times in my life, good and bad, to make me an even greater mentor and minister for the future. That is the glory of it---a life in Christ is never stagnant. Hallelujah!

Monday Menu

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Monday: take away (German is out of town)
Tuesday: grilled cajun chicken breasts, steamed carrots, mixed salads
Wednesday: Baked ham, sweet potatoes, salad
Thursday: Grilled polish sausage, sauerkraut, sweet peas, salad
Friday: Garlic Shrimp, salad, green beans
Saturday: Chef's salads
Sunday: Mixed bean soup and crackers

For other great menu ideas, join Laura at Org Junkie.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day

Mother's Day can be a difficult time for some of us who struggle with the relationship with our earthly mothers. Choosing a card that is "pretty" and "sweet" but not "deceitful" can be agonizing. But instead of focusing on the difficult part of the holiday today, I am simply going to share my mother's favorite Bible verse. For in spite of all the faults in our relationship she did always demonstrate a love of Scripture memory. (as you read, remember she was a farmer's wife)

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Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD,

I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign LORD is my strength;

He makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
He enables me to go on the heights.
Habbakuk 3:17-19

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there!
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photo credits: both from cotton by mitchlee83, flower by nazka2002

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

7 Random Things

Tami at The Next Step has tagged me with the meme, 7 Things About Me.

Here are the rules: Each player starts with 7 random facts/habits about themselves. People who are tagged need to write on their own blog about their seven things, as well as these rules. You need to choose 7 people to get tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they have been tagged and to read your blog!

So, here it is:

1. I absolutely love Art History. When we went to Florence a few years ago, I spent hours on the internet mapping the Uffizzi, marking the paintings I *had* to see, writing commentary to teach my non-art-loving husband. And then, the museum workers were on strike the day we got there. My loving husband delayed our leaving for Pisa so I could spend 4 hours in the museum!

2. My first job was data entry of parts at a tractor dealership. My grandfather used to love to come in and ask for me and then ask for whatever he needed, because he knew I was clueless about tractors. But I typed well. :)

3. When I got my graduate degree (in Kentucky) I only looked for jobs in the Pacific Northwest--a place I had never even visited. I figured I was young, single and it was a good time to make a move (plus there were so many people looking for work where I was). I phone interviewed and flew out for a trial run during Spring Break. Took the job, ended up not being the best fit but I met my husband while living in Washington so God was in control of the move.

4. In college, I rented a 4 bedroom *period* home that had not been refurbed with 3 other girls. Our names started with J,K,L,M so all our friends called the place the "alphabet house". It was in a not-so-great part of town. I saw more than a few drug busts while driving home, and got pretty good at being able to determine if the gunshot was on our street (only was once). My Dad was sure glad to see me graduate and move.

5. My undergraduate degree is in math. I became a social worker. My husband has a math degree but works in IT. Jewel loves math...maybe she'll continue the math degree tradition someday.

6. Now that I am raising a *mini-me* in Flower, I am constantly amazed that I even lived to adulthood. I actually apologized to my Dad recently for what I must have been like.

7. I am an absolute introvert. But I would love to be a party planner. Then I could plan the party and leave while others' enjoyed the fruit of my labor.

Now to tag others, hmmm.... Margaret, Velda, Megan, Maria, Floss, Emma, Tina consider yourselves tagged.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

I AM-- Lesson 4

I am determined to get this posted before Lisa posts the next lesson. I have had it completed for a few days, but have not had time to type it in. Forgive the short time line between lessons. I really loved this lesson. Dealing with my call and how that plays out is a large part of who I am as a mentor, minister, mother and wife. I find difficult to even articulate what God did in my life as He made me aware that I was Called. The specifics of what I am to be doing changes with the seasons of my life, but the calling is always there. Glory! Now for the questions:

1. I am going to present to you a little acrostic to begin our discussion today. What is your latest NLIP (Not Like I Planned)? I actually have two current NLIPs. The first is I never planned for it to be difficult for my husband to transition jobs. He loves what he is doing, but the stressors are different than we anticipated and I find myself unsure how to support him at times. The other NLIP, and really the biggie for me, is how difficult it has been to find a person who can be a soul friend and accountability partner here locally. I have wonderful accountability people all over the world, but not someone here that can look in my eyes and heart and see the real me. Causes me trust God's hand more and be accountable only to Him, but it is not how I prefer it.

2. How did you react to your NLIP? Are you still upset about it? Happy about it? Baffled by it? Explain. With my husband I tend to be protective want to fret and fuss that it is not happening the way I planned. But I so clearly see God's hand in the transition, so mainly I am just trying to be flexible. With my stuff, I am saddened that it is not easier to create those friendships but I do trust that in His time they will come. I am somewhat baffled that what appears to be a Godly desire was not met immediately, but it is part of my trust-development and I want to trust Him more than I want my way.

3. Have you ever attempted to step into an area of ministry and found your desire rejected? Did this cause you to question God and yourself? Perhaps distrust what you perceived to be your calling? In my early days of my call, I found road blocks due to the fact that I felt called to go to seminary. As a Southern Baptist woman that was not overwhelmingly welcomed. I never doubted myself or my call. In fact, when my pastor at the time asked (in the meeting to decide whether to endorse me to seminary), "little lady what do you think you can do for God in the church as a woman" God gave me the answer I needed, and I clung to that answer. I responded that "God created me a woman, He put me in a Baptist family and He called me to ministry. Whether I understood how He was going to fulfill that, I had to believe He was big enough to meld the three." (they endorsed me with no further questions) So when I question my call, I remind myself of Who created me and Who called me.

4. Do you harbor any bitterness towards any individual or situation which you believe waylaid your best laid plans? There is friend who I believe waylaid many of my plans. The situation was deeply disappointing, but I have refused to let bitterness take hold and just tried to learn from it.

5. Have you had a life experience or trial that left you with a shaken faith because it ended in an NLIP? yes (the above situation) but I don't feel it would be right to elaborate.

6. Based on Moses' response of faith to his own rejection, how will you re-evaluate your own experiences or look at future ones differently if a NLIP presents itself? God is always at work. I find myself trusting this more and more as I see how God works through NLIPs. I hope to be able to do that on a deeper level in the future.

In 'Other' Words

"When God is involved, anything can happen. Be open and stay that way. God has a beautiful way of bringing good vibrations out of broken chords."

~ Chuck Swindoll~

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

As I look back over the brokeness of my life, it is apparent how God has worked in each of the situations to bring *good*. In a broken relationship at college, God taught dependence on Him and showed His protection against all earthly odds. In the shatteredness of my parent's marriage, God made me vigilant for my marriage. Although my relationship with my mother could never be called *close*, God has made it respectful. The loss of two pregnancies has shown me the preciousness of two daughters. Brokeness in my life has allowed God to mold me and shape me into the person that I have become. Good has never equated with easy, but it has always exemplified God's grace to grow me into a woman who reflects Him.

Why is it that when we are our most vulnerable God works His greatest miracles? I think, in some part, it is because at those moments we don't have the strength to resist His calls of love. In order for God to work in our lives, we must get out of the way. When we think we can handle life on our own, there is little room for God to work. But in vulnerability, He can show His strength. Chuck Swindoll in this week's quote calls us to "be open." Be willing to see God. In hard times we often swing to two extremes: retreat and wall ourselves up to not get hurt more or allow God to work. Mr. Swindoll is reminding us that God can use the situations only if we are open to His Spirit moving in our life. If we are closed up, all we are going to have are broken chords. If we open our lives to Him, then we can hear the music.

It is easy to look into the past and say, "that's where God was at work, even if I didn't realize it." Sometimes it is more difficult to look at the present and say, "God is at work, even if I can't see it." I pray that you and I will remain *open* and allow God to work.

Father God, you know the struggles of my heart. Hold them in Your hand and work in them. Do not allow me to shut off my heart, but allow it to be an open channel for your work. Give me the strength to be vulnerable and to trust. You know where I believe, help me where I don't believe. And in your grace, may I hear the music you make from the broken chords. Amen.

Join us this week at Joy in the Morning for more discussions of Mr. Swindoll's quote.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Goals and a SBQ

I didn't set any specific goals in April since we would be traveling. And as is often the case, no goals meant no progress. So I am back to setting May goals:
1. Finish Jeremiah Junction "For Every Season"
2. Finish 50% of the rocks on my fish RR
3. Keep up with Blackwork Round Robin
4. Complete baby quilt for the Cross Stitch Crazy message board

1. Keep up with and complete all the reading for 40 Days of Community at church
2. Stay on track with Beth Moore Patriarch's study
3. Stay on track with I AM blog Bible Study
4. Order summer curriculum for Jewel
5. Enroll Jewel in swim lessons
6. Complete at least 2 photo albums
7. Plan a family weekend away

Looks like May could be busy. :)

Today's SBQ was suggested Kathryn and is:

How many WIPs do you have? How many UFOs do you have? When does a WIP become a UFO?

The permalink to this post is:

I have 7 current Works in Progress (For Every Season (75%), Hinzeit Alabama (50%), Flag Quilt Sampler (20%), Bug Sampler (20%), Stoney Creek Tractors (just started), My Heart Belongs to Needlework (20%), and Come and Share (just started)). Then I have 5 Round Robins that have been returned and I need to complete. I have 3 UFOs which will never be finished I just need to either give them to someone or throw them away. (*blush* I also have 7 projects ready to start as soon as I finish something/anything).
A WIP becomes a UFO when I stop planning to finish it. Usually because my tastes have changed, my situation has changed or it was intended for someone who would no longer appreciate it. Of my current 3 UFOs, one was for my office before I quit working and the other two were started with the intention to someday give to my brother--but now his interests have changed as well. As long as a project still draws me and I want to finish it, I consider it a WIP.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Praying for Heather

If you are looking for In 'Other' Words, please scroll down. But please read this first!


Heather at Especially Heather is undergoing surgery for a brain tumor on Thursday at 8:00 a.m. CT. Kelli at Living in Grace is organizing a round-the-clock prayer chain for that day and the days following to cover Heather and her family in our prayers. If you have followed this story, you know that Heather and Mark are trusting God to show His glory in and through this difficult time. She is an inspiration, and I am honored to be a part of the prayer chain. If you pray, please remember Heather on Thursday--and everyday up until then. She will be in ICU for at least 24 hours, and remain in the hospital another 3-5 days depending on recovery. If God leads you to, please go to Kelli's site and sign the Mr. Linky that you will be praying and leave a comment there of when you will be praying. Let's cover our dear sister many times over every minute of that day and the following week. Bless you! (I'll be praying 7-8 a.m. BST which is 3-4 a.m. CT).

IOW--at a Snail's Pace

"By perseverance the snail reached the ark."
~ Charles Spurgeon ~

We had an object lesson in on our doorstep last Thursday evening. A snail was steadfastly making its way from our flower bed to our front door as German arrived home from work. He called the girls out to see it. They marveled at how it propelled its body and its shell. They worried that it was going to fall into the 1/2 inch "abyss" created by the space between paving stones--and were delighted to watch it stretch its body out of the shell enough to reach the other side then pull the rest behind. And then Flower got worried that it was going to get into the house and started to make a scene. German assured her that even if it made it to the door, it was slow enough that we could close the door before it entered. She was reassured and happily went back to watching it leave a trail on my front porch. Little did I know that the next day Iris would choose a quote about the snail, and send my mind back to that moment.

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It was the steadfastness and perseverence that propelled the snail toward its goal. It has made its home around the corner on the side of the house--why I don't know--but the girls don't want me to remove it. It may have been slow, but it continued to move forward. To make a rather irreverent jump, its journey somewhat illustrates the act of friendship evangelism. We have friends who God has clearly laid on our hearts as people He desires to know Him. And they have no interest whatsoever. It feels like it is slow-going. Somedays, it feels like we are stretching our necks out--vulnerable--as we seek to be an example in their life. Other days I am sure we will fall into the abyss of their lifestyle if we are not totally vigilant. But this is where God calls us to be, and we must persevere. God does not call us to be responsible for the result. He calls us to represent Him to them. There are days I am frustrated because it would be so much easier to just present a 4-step Gospel message and be on my way. But they aren't ready for that. God says walk this slow path of just being their friend, living your faith, and giving God credit for what happens in our lives. He says "let them see Me and how I keep you from the abyss." He says, "Persevere in love, I'll do the rest."

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 1 Corinthians 13:6-8

Spurgeons's snail may have been slow, but its journey led to the ark. My snail may have been slow, but its journey led to a perch on the house. Slow as my journey may seem, I believe that the journey leads my friends to the cross. And so I do persevere.

When I called, you answered me;
you made me bold and stouthearted.
The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me;
your love, O LORD, endures forever—
do not abandon the works of your hands. Psalm 138: 3, 8

Lord, give me the patience to persevere with my friends. May the life I live in front of them reflect you. May the words I say glorify you. And may this journey end at the foot of the cross for them. Amen.

Iris is our hostess for In Other Words this week. Please join us here with your reflection or to read others' reflections.

photo credit: ariadna at