Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The case of the internal clock

Get UpEver since I was approved as a substitute aide for a local school district, I tend to wake up every morning by 6 AM without the help of my alarm clock.

The gal who calls the subs to work indicated she would call sometime after 6, but before 6:30 if she needed me. I don't bother to set my alarm, since I know I won't get a call every day . And if she doesn't call, I want to sleep at least until 7 before getting up to start my day.

I've always had difficulty when startled awake from a deep sleep by the telephone. It leaves me jittery for awhile and I have to really work hard at calming my mind in order to go back to sleep.

Being in ministry, it's a fact of life that goes along with the job so I've learned to live with it. After all, emergencies which need the pastor's attention can't be scheduled between 9 AM and 5 PM.

But apparently, because I anticipate a possible 6:30 call from the school, my internal clock kicks in to wake me up - just in case the phone rings. My brain is saving me from that jittery awakening.

Has that ever happened to you?

We are fearfully and wonderfully made! God equipped us with a stress hormone called adrenocorticotropin which apparently starts to build up in our systems about 30 minutes before we actually wake up. When it reaches a peak, it gives us the gentle "jolt" we need to rouse us from sleep to wakefulness. Somehow, this internal clock of ours can even be set for specific times like a 6:00 wake up call.

When we are startled awake by our clocks, that hormone doesn't build up gradually. Instead, we experience an adrenalin rush, that fight or flight feeling, which can leave us disoriented, tired or jittery for awhile until the hormone dissipates. 
Apparently plants have an internal clock too. Researchers studying certain plants found that about an hour before sunrise, the genes that activate sunlight absorption in the plant began to "wake up" for the day. This same internal clock regulates the plants' ability to produce buds and fruit/seeds at te proper time.

In Matthew chapter 24, Christ gave his disciples indicators of a sort of spiritual "internal clock" for creation. He foretold of a cosmic build up of earth stressors (an increase of wars, famines, earthquakes, hatred among people, and an increase in wickedness) designed to wake up the hearts
Too late - conceptual alarm clock showing that you are too lateof men, alerting them to the coming of Christ. Those who anticipate his coming will respond to the "internal clock" wake up call and be ready to go, while those who don't, will be startled awake to the harsh reality of God's judgment.

Thank you Lord for those internal clocks that not only wake me up for my daily activities, but that also help me wake up to your light! Amen.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Have a puzzling day!

“When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” Jeremiah 29:13 The Message

Today is National Puzzle Day - Though I'm puzzled about who came up with the idea and when it
became official, it sounds like a fun day to celebrate.

MP900385328.It seems that puzzles have been around forever. They entertain us for hours. We use them to improve our vocabulary, math and memory skills. They help young children develop motor skills and hand-eye coordination as well as problem-solving skills.

We print daily cryptograms , Sudoku and crossword puzzles in our newspapers. We have entire magazines filled with puzzles of all sorts. There are aisles of jigsaw puzzles and other brain-teasing game puzzles in our department stores. We even watch puzzling game shows on TV.

As a matter of fact,well-written fiction stories are puzzles too. Have you ever watched a mystery on TV, trying to figure out who-done-it between commercials? Or read a page-turning book from cover to cover because you've just got to see how it ends?

And don't forget that the world's greatest inventions came into existence because someone was looking for a solution to something that puzzled him or her.

Today you can make a cookie puzzle with the kiddos Or create your own word puzzles at sites like Discovery Education.

However you choose to celebrate National Puzzle Day, it's sure to be a fun, albeit puzzling experience.

We all experience puzzles on a daily basis in some form or other. God created us with an insatiable curiosity to know, to learn and to become. And he uses puzzles in our lives to help us do those things - all those challenges, tests and stories help us to grow as human beings and as Christians.

But ultimately the puzzles in our lives are there to help us seek him and to help us to know our Father/Creator. When we seek to solve the puzzle of God and who he is to us as individuals, we will find the answer we will find him - when we look for him with all our hearts.

Happy Puzzle Day!

Monday, January 28, 2013

This means war! - Monday Momennts With God

My Dearest Child,

If you could see into the spirit world for just one moment, you would have a better understanding of everything that is going on around you. Everyday, there are battles going on between my angels in heaven and the forces of the evil one to bring you down.

Each time you pray, those same evil spirit-world forces seek to delay the answers to those prayers from getting through to you. Often those forces try to prevent you from coming to me in the first
place by distracting you or lying to you.

MP900178865Don't listen to them! Instead, use the tools I have given you to protect yourself and to fight back. My word is truth. Wrap that around yourself each day and cover yourself with my righteousness, my peace and the salvation I give you, like Kevlar body armor. Faith will offer you added protection, like a shield, when the spirit-forces shoot fiery darts at you.

Then I give you my Word as a weapon to fight back against those spirit-forces that would try to bring you down. Learn what my word says and how to wield it against the enemy of your soul.

Draw close to me. Learn from me so you are prepared when these spiritual attacks come. I will be there with all the forces of heaven, surrounding you. We will fight in front of you and beside you so you may overcome anything this life throws at you. And we will be at your back, defending you.

You will always win with me.


Then he said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer. But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels, came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia. Now I am here to explain what will happen to your people in the future, for this vision concerns a time yet to come.” Daniel 10:12-14 (NLT)

"A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we[a] are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. Ephesians 6:10-18 (NLT)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Have you read your Bible today?

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of
praise. Philippians 4:8 NLT

MP900444315A wise Christian writing mentor once counselled her students to write a devotional every day - even if devotional writing wasn't their forte. She encouraged her class to use a traditional format with a scripture vers at the beginning, relevant thoughts or a story to illustrate the verse, with a challenge and a prayer to close it.

Her reasoning ?
  • 1. It got her class to write something every day. Writing is like playing a piano - when you practice every day and apply the writing rules you are learning, your writing will improve over time. Practice DOES make perfect - or at least better.
  • 2. It got them reading and thinking about the Scriptures each day to find something to write about. She believed that a writer who is a Christian should spend some daily time in Bible reading and prayer for direction for their writing.
I found some interesting statistics about Bible reading from a survey done in 2012 by the American Bible Society:
  • 36% of Americans read the Bible less than once a year or never while 33% read the Bible once a week or more (American Bible Society, The State of the Bible 2012)
  • The proportion who never read the Bible increased (from 21% in 1999 to 25% in 2011), while the proportion of adults who read the Bible only once or twice a year decreased over the past decade, from 16% in 1999 to 11% in 2011 (American Bible Society, The State of the Bible 2011)
Those are pretty sobering stats!

And truthfully, as I examined my Bible reading habits, I found that even though I was involved in ministry, my Bible reading habits left a lot to be desired. I knew my Bible pretty well since I've been a Christian for over 50 years. I read it as I studied to prepare weekly Bible lessons, or as I prepared to do some special speaking. And the two Bible-based novels I wrote demanded a lot of research. But I didn't sit down and just READ my Bible consistently.

Last year, I decided to take my writing mentor's advice. Each day, Monday through Friday, I tried to write a devotional based on Bible Gateway's verse of the day and to post it to my blog.

I found out she was right - it did help me to get back into the habit of writing each day and helped me to focus better on my other writing - I've almost finished my third bible novel!

But the biggest plus I've found is that it improved my relationship with the Lord. I had something fresh from him each day to focus on. So many times, the verse was exactly what I needed and it came back to me through the day like a song you can't get out of your head.

Writing about it for the blog forced me to stop and interact with the verse, discovering what it meant to me personally before I could write about it to encourage others. The daily devotional blog was as much for me as it was a ministry to others.

I encourage you to try it in a daily diary. You don't need to be a writer - just copy a scripture verse each day, then write a sentence or two about what it means to you and how it challenges you. Write a short prayer to conclude it.

It will help you keep your heart and mind on the Lord more each day and will make a difference in your life - God's word always does!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Hope in the darkness

The first thing I usually do in the morning is to boot up the computer and check the Bible verse of the day. Then I pray about what to write about that verse for my blogs. But some days, though the verse is great, it's hard to come up with anything related to the verse.

This morning was one of those days. I guess I felt mildly depressed and tired - the thoughts just muddled around in my brain without direction.

So on a whim I decided to type in a random scripture reference and see what popped up. Lamentations was the first Bible book that popped into my head because it's one I seldom read. So I typed in Lamentations 3:6. The verse that popped up really surprised me.

"He has buried me in a dark place,
like those long dead."

OooooKaaaayyyy... Not what I was expecting, though maybe it did match my slightly depressed, brain-dead mental state this morning. 
What I saw in the early part of the chapter was a person who felt like they were hopelessly alone in their suffering like even God was mad at them. Nothing they prayed about could get through the emotional fog they felt and even if it did, God wasn't listening. Hmmm. I know from experience that depression can cause me to feel like that.Long Tunnel

I wasn't sure what to do with it until I felt the Spirit nudging me - "Keep reading." As I obeyed that nudge, I noticed a change in the writer's attitude. He saw a little spark of hope, a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel beginning in verse 21.

Wow! I may have woke up feeling a little low, but through a random search, (Was it really random? LOL!) God lifted my heart too, especially through the middle section of the chapter.Here's just a few verses that stood out to me:

31 For no one is abandoned
by the Lord forever.
32 Though he brings grief, he also shows compassion
because of the greatness of his unfailing love.
33 For he does not enjoy hurting people
or causing them sorrow.

In this chapter that starts out so depressing, the first 20 verses are dedicated to the suffering of the writer. The next 21 verses speak about God - his faithfulness, his love and his desire to lift his people out of that suffering state.

This was written by Jeremiah, during the time of when the once great nation of Israel under King David had fallen away from their devotion to God and they were being judged for their sin. The remainder of the chapter deals with the writer's appeal to God's righteousness to defend him against his enemies.

Check out the whole chapter of Lamentations 3 and tell me which verses speak to you today.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Pass the wisdom, please

“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for
asking.” James 1:5 NLTWise Owl

One of the joys of parenting is being able to pass your wisdom on to your children.

I learned how to preserve foods from my mother-in-law soon after I married my hubby. Over the years, I've canned lots of peaches, tomatoes and green beans along with lots of other foods.

In the beginning, I was the one calling her on the phone to ask for her recipes, or instructions on everyday problems which I encountered in the kitchen. Of course, she offered a lot of other advice too - some that I asked for and some I didn't LOL!

Often I rejected the unsolicited advice, even getting angry because I felt inferior. "She must think I'm not a good enough wife to her son or a good enough mom to her grandchildren."

But over time, I saw the things she struggled with. I learned why she gave the advice she did as I learned to know her as a person. The more I knew and understood her, the more I valued the advice she gave. Her wisdom worked.

Now I find myself in that role, passing advice about cooking, canning, child-rearing and all sorts of things on to my own daughters. My grand daughter even asks me for advice about writing. It's exciting and a bit humbling to think they value my advice.

As our heavenly parent, God must feel elated when we come to him asking for his wisdom about anything and everything. He's eager to share it with us and pleased that we value his answers. But he also knows we won't become wise over night.

Wisdom develops slowly as we get to know our heavenly Father. We observe the things he does; we ask him questions , listen to his answers and obey what he tells us. Over time we draw close to him and understand why he says what he says.

One of my favorite verses in the Bible explains it like this: Moses knew God's ways while the children of Israel knew his acts.

When we ask God for wisdom, we're not just asking for answers to our problems, we're seeking him, drawing close to him and getting to know his heart. No wonder that makes him happy!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

God's Open-Door Policy...

“[Asking, seeking, knocking] “Ask, and you will receive. Search, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Whoever seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door is opened.” Matthew 7:7-8 CEB

Have you ever misplaced your keys, or some important paperwork you needed? I seem to misplace 
things all the time, and boy, is it frustrating!

Key in LockI begin by turning every place they should be upside-down, then checking all the places they might be, then checking in the more unlikely places. What really frustrates me is when I know I've only been to 2 or 3 places in the house and my keys HAVE TO be there somewhere, but they're not visible.

I've learned a secret though. Before I start to panic because I can't find an item, I pray. God is supposed to know my every move, yes, every hair on my head. Surely he must know where I put those pesky keys.

Perhaps it's the act of slowing down or stopping the mad dash to find the keys that helps me remember where I left them. Added to it is the fact that God really does know where they are and he cares about me. But I must say that prayer has never failed. I always find what I'm looking for - eventually. I have my keys today as proof. LOL!

The thing is that God has an open-door policy. We can always come to him and ask anything and he will answer. When we are searching for something, he will lead us to the answer. But it requires us to do some things.
  • We must ask. Nothing is too small or silly to ask God. Nothing is too big or impossible for him to accomplish. The only thing limited is our own mind or our willingness to ask.
  • What we seek must be important to us so that we will keep on looking until we find the answer. Persistence pays off.
  • We must get past the idea of being a "bother" to God. I don't like to knock on people's doors after 9 PM at night or before 9 AM in the morning - eve if it's important - because I might "bother" them. I'm the same way with phone calls. But God says "Don't hesitate to knock." He's always at home, always willing to receive us and listen to /answer our cries for help.
If it's important to us, it's important to God.

Thank you Lord, for having an "open-door" policy.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Happiness is... Monday Moments with God

My dear child,

Do you want to be truly happy?  MC900433817

Then you must listen to the things I tell you and follow my leading.
Embrace my words, plant them deep in your heart and live them.

Let your roots grow down deep into my word until they reach my life-giving water. You will be nourished and won't fall apart or become stressed during the dry, difficult seasons of your life. Instead, you will stay healthy - you will continue to grow spiritually and produce my kind of success in your life.

If you only follow me for the things I can do for you, you will reap selfishness and sadness. But if you learn to know my heart, you will reap an eternal harvest of joy.


“Make no mistake, God is not mocked. A person will harvest what they plant. Those who plant only for their own benefit will harvest devastation from their selfishness, but those who plant for the benefit of the Spirit will harvest eternal life from the Spirit.” Galatians 6:7-8 CEB

Happy are those who trust in the Lord, who rely on the Lord. They will be like trees planted by the streams, whose roots reach down to the water. They won’t fear drought when it comes; their leaves will remain green. They won’t be stressed in the time of drought or fail to bear fruit.Jeremiah 17:7-9 CEB

1 The truly happy person doesn’t follow wicked advice, doesn’t stand on the road of sinners, and doesn’t sit with the disrespectful. 2 Instead of doing those things, these persons love the Lord’s Instruction, and they recite God’s Instruction day and night! 3 They are like a tree replanted by streams of water, which bears fruit at just the right time and whose leaves don’t fade. Whatever they do succeeds. Psalm 1:1-3 CEB

Saturday, January 19, 2013

And the 2012 winner is...

Bible Gateway crunched their numbers to find out which Bible verse people read most often during 2012.

Can you guess which one came out on top?

Holding Glasses over Bible

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (NIV)

Surprised? I'm not.

In my eighth grade Spanish class (many years ago LOL!), we had a visitor. An aviator pilot who worked with a missionary organization came in and spoke about his experiences flying across the Spanish-speaking countries of South America. I was enthralled by his stories and decided right then and there that I wanted to become a missionary.

When I told a classmate about my dream to go to South America as a missionary, he promptly laughed in my face. He told me I could never be a missionary unless I memorized some Bible verses. Then to prove his point, he asked me to quote John 3:16.

Uh... well.... I fussed and fumed at him because I couldn't quote that verse. He told me it was only "the most important verse in the whole Bible."

So I went home and memorized it. But for the rest of the year, he needled me about not knowing my Bible.
John 3:16 may have been the most important verse in the Bible and the first Bible verse I ever memorized, but it wasn't the last. As a matter of fact, I have memorized all of the verses on Bible Gateway's top 10 list and many more over the years.

As a young teen, I travelled to a Christian camp in Tennessee with a missionary friend to work as a junior counselor. That summer, she challenged me to memorize the whole chapter of Romans 8 which contains the 4th ranked verse on the Bible Gateway list:
Romans 8:28 “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” (NRSV)

I wish I could say I did manage to memorize the whole chapter - I was more interested in having fun than doing memory work at that point. But as I matured, I began to realize the value of learning large portions of scripture. During my Bible College years I finally did buckle down and learn more verses.

What I discovered is that the more of God's Word that I tucked away in my heart, the more he was able to speak to me. A fragment of a verse will pop into my head and when I look it up, I find it's just what I needed for guidance or encouragement when I need it. Or while I speak to others, God will remind me of a verse I memorized long ago that will help them.

No, I never became a missionary to South America like I dreamed about in my Spanish class, but as a writer I get to spread God's Word each time I sit down to blog or work on my Bible novels. Knowing God's word is important for my own spiritual life and for reaching out to others.

So - who's the real winner? I am - because I know all of those top 10 verses and then some!

Check them out at Bible Gateway's top 10 . How many do you know? If you haven't memorized many Bible verses in your lifetime, why not start with these? You will be a winner too!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

What do you crave?

“So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature
craves.” Galatians 5:16 NLT

Close-up of ChocolateOne of the worst things about living in rural central PA is that everything closes after 9 PM - or even earlier on Sundays.

So when we're watching CSI or other nighttime TV and a commercial comes on that depicts a juicy burger, chocolate truffles or steamy pizza, there's no way we can just go out and satisfy that craving those ads generate. The stores or restaurants are either closed, or they're 30 miles away! LOL!

That's probably a very good thing since advertisers are quite adept at pushing those "crave" buttons.

But did you know that those cravings may be a product of conditioning and habit? When we eat certain foods, especially rich, high-calorie foods like chocolate or pizza as a snack when we feel hungry, we are more likely to crave them than lower-calorie, healthier foods when our energy levels

One study found that students who ate a half of a chocolate bar as a dessert immediately after a meal were less likely to crave chocolate when they were hungry. Some even said it didn't taste good to them when they felt hungry.

The other half of the study group ate a half of a chocolate bar about 2 hours after their meal when their energy levels were starting to drop. They reported a much stronger craving / urge / need for a chocolate bar at that time each day and nothing else would satisfy that urge.


So if we make a spiritual application here, we might say that if we are full of God's spirit and keep ourselves sated with his presence, we may not be as prone to crave those things that our sinful nature once craved?

Just sayin'...

Monday, January 14, 2013

Get that song outta my head...and into my heart

Take to heart these words that I give you today. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you’re at home or away, when you lie down or get up. Write them down, and tie them around your wrist, and wear them as headbands as a reminder. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:6-9 (GW) 

I woke up with a chorus rattling around in my brain this morning from my Vacation Bible
School days - XX number of years ago. But, Kids' Church music has changed so much over the years, that none of the young people I teach today would remember the chorus, probably because it used King James Version English for one thing.

MP900314085Yet it was a chorus based on a timeless Bible truth - there are to be two loves in our lives - God and others. Because I learned the chorus, I will never forget the two great commands Jesus gave to his disciples in Matthew 22:37-39 (KJV)
"This is the first and great command, to love thy God above.
This is the second, as thyself thy neighbor thou shalt love.
Who is my neighbor, he who needs the help that thou canst give
This both the law and prophets say to do and thou shalt live."

The truth is that music - its forms, styles, beat and the instruments used to promote it will change over time. Many of the choruses that we sing today will be forgotten by the generations to come, but the truth and message of the scripture must never be forgotten.

Music gives us a great way to help memorize scripture. There's something about the rhythm and cadence of it that makes it easier to remember any words set to music. Try it this week. Choose a song that you know well and put the words of a scripture verse to it. You'll find you can remember the verse more easily and the tune may just get stuck in your head so that you find yourself repeating that verse over and over again.

Sing it until the meaning of the words impact your heart. It doesn't matter how the words get there, but they must get there - into your heart! It really works.

Father help me get your word into my head so that it gets rooted in my heart. Amen.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Relish the Memories...

How precious is Your steadfast love, O God! The children of men take refuge and put their trust under the shadow of Your wings. They relish and feast on the abundance of Your house; and You cause them to drink of the stream of Your pleasures. 9 For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light do we see light. Psalm 36:7-9 (AMP)

Several weeks ago my husband's sister stayed with us for a few days so she could visit her parents in the local nursing home. While with us she asked for some of my home canned relish because it was made from Mom's recipe. She always loved her mom's relish and Mom had been unable to can that
Hot Dogsweet treat for many years because of her severe arthritis.

Judy had used up all the jars of relish left in the basement at the homestead and no one else in the family makes it except me. How could I resist that look of longing in her eyes as she asked if she could have a couple of the jars I had canned this past summer?

I decided to repeat the relish recipe here today so others can "relish" mom's homemade relish. Since I'm already planning my garden for this coming summer, I want to be sure I grow enough of the necessary veggies  - it looks like I'll have to make another batch or two this coming summer. My sis-in-law isn't the only one who wants more of it....

Mae's Pickle Relish


1/2 bushel of cucumbers (about 20 pounds)
5 lbs. each of green peppers (add a few red peppers for color), green tomatoes, onions
2 heads of cabbage, small to medium sized
Grind everything up and place in a food-grade container or crock. Salt and let stand overnight to bring out the natural juices of the vegetables.
Drain - squeezing out excess moisture the next day.

Place the drained relish in a large pot and cook for 1 to 1 and a half hours with:
1 quart of apple cider vinegar
1 quart water
2 T celery seed
2 T Mustard seed
3 T Turmeric
Sweeten it to taste with 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of sugar.
(I use my crock pots to cook the relish for 3-4 hours so I don't have to stand and stir it - it will stick to the bottom of the pot and burn on the stove - Been there done that!)
When relish is thoroughly cooked, you can ladle it into sterile pint jars, seal and process it in a water bath canner for 15 minutes. I usually get a dozen or more jars from each recipe I make, but I'm not sure how much the actual recipe makes since I don't measure my ingredients.
This is the best relish for hot dogs - or eating straight from the jar like Judy confessed to doing LOL!
Don't forget to "relish" the memories and traditions of your loved ones. And especially to "relish" the Lord today!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Broken glasses...

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT) Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

A few weeks ago, my regular glasses were hopelessly bent out of shape at work. So until I can get a new pair, I am wearing my old ones. The problem is that the older glasses have a slightly different prescription for the lenses. Oh, I can see all right, but it's slightly harder to read with them on. Things are a little out of focus.

When I rely on my own understanding to solve the problems of my life, it's a lot like looking at the world through my older lenses. I can see the issues, but often they are slightly out of focus so that I'm not seeing them clearly. At least not clearly enough to make wise decisions.

That's what happened to me at the beginning of this year as I prayed about my focus for the new year
your careerin my daily life and as a writer.

Last year brought about many changes in our lives. I rejoined the work force after being a stay-at-home wife for several years. I need to work in order to help with the household finances. God even miraculously provided the job for me. But in going back to work, I reverted to some old ways of coping with our situation - reverting back to some skewed thought patterns that could get me into serious trouble.

I resurrected Ms. Fix-it, thinking it was my sole responsibility to work enough hours to fix the family budget by myself. She thought I should quit writing so I could work at "paying" jobs outside the home. After all, she reasoned, "you just don't have as much energy as you used to. so you should invest it into something that pays real money."

That's when Ms. Superwoman, piped up, telling me I should continue to do all the activities I already did like writing, ministry stuff and community involvement, without making cuts anywhere. Oh, she's a feisty one! She makes me tired, just thinking about all she tries to do.

Big mistake! Those two gals just argued back and forth inside me, giving me a big headache! At that point some minor depression settled in. It was like the slight headache I felt from wearing the old glasses - not enough to keep me from functioning, but enough to get me down.

Thankfully - I'm not the same person I used to be. God has done some marvelous healing in my life and my current focus was only temporarily skewed. I'm not trying to depend on my own understanding as much as I used to.

Through prayer and the wisdom of a few wonderful blogging friends (Thanks Patty and Niki!), God was able to clear up my skewed vision and help me find my focus for this coming year. Here's what I learned:

  • 1. Release the old ways of thinking. I fired Ms. Fix-it and Ms. Superwoman, and reinstated God as the CEO of my schedule / goals to mix work and writing. I'm also working at releasing the things God has shown me are non-essential for this season of life.
  • 2. Accept the changes in my life. For a season, I do need to work outside the home again. But God has given me a job I can do that will fit both my lifestyle and my writing schedule. It's not a matter of doing one thing at the expense of the other It's in learning how they fit together and making the necessary attitude adjustments.
  • 3. Engage - put the plan into action. Through prayer, God has already shown me how the pieces fit together and what I should do to make it work - His way. His plan requires discipline and focus, but as long as I'm doing it his way, I will be able to manage it quite well without getting over burdened, depressed or burnt out.
Now if I could just get my newer glasses fixed...

Monday, January 7, 2013

Just like Dad... Monday moments with God

My Dear Children,
Nothing pleases me more than knowing you are growing up in your spiritual lives to
MP900438625become more like me. You must be controlled by love, showing love to others just like I have shown it to you.

Though it's hard, you must love those who hate you and hurt you. Allow the things they do to you to bring out the best in your character and your responses. Anyone can love those who do good things for them, but only my children can love like I do - responding in a caring way in the face of evil.

When you love as I do, you can pray for others who hurt you - not just pray that the hurt will stop. You can forgive them, even when the things they do threaten to snuff out your very life, even as I did on the cross.

When you show the same love to others that I have shown you, people will recognize that you are my children - that you belong to me! Nothing makes my heart swell with joy more than that.


Ephesians 5:1-2 GNT, “Since you are God's dear children, you must try to be like him. Your life must be controlled by love, just as Christ loved us and gave his life for us as a sweet-smelling offering and sacrifice that pleases God.” 
Matt 5:44-47 The Message “You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.

John 15:9-17 (CEB) As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.

Luke 23:34 NIV Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Resolutions 2013

“O man, He has told you what is good. What does the Lord ask of you but to do what is fair and to love kindness, and to walk without pride with your God?” Micah 6:8 NLV

Resolutions: Those elusive goals we set for ourselves for the New Year that seem to be so important, then over time (sometimes a very short time) get put aside.

I am a resolution-maker, promising to do things I need to do for self-improvement or things I want to accomplish during the year. After all, I feel like I do need some direction or I will wander aimlessly through the days just getting by. A New Year is a fresh start; chance to do over or do something new that I've never done before. But like millions of others who make resolutions, my resolve usually unravels within a few weeks.

So over the years, prayer has become an important dimension of my New Year's resolutions. What does God want me fo focus on for the year? What specifically does he want to change in me or what new thing does he want me to accomplish?

After praying about what the Lord had in mind for me last year, I made 2 resolutions. One I kept pretty well and the other eventually fell by the wayside. MP900387296

Resolution one - exercise... (Yes, I hear that collective groan. LOL!) After praying about it, I sensed God was encouraging me to use the equipment I had to exercise more. So I started exercising on my Gazelle faithfully in January and worked my way up to about a half hour a day by March.

Some days I really had to push myself to do it, but I had gotten into a habit which made it easier to keep going. And I felt good about myself for doing it, not to mention I felt more energetic. A body in motion tends to stay in motion.... Right?

My resolve lasted until July when I developed a back problem. I had a lot of pain so I stopped getting on the Gazelle. That proved to be my undoing because after a few Chiropractic treatments, the pain subsided, but I just couldn't seem to get back to it. An unexpected problem interrupted my forward momentum and I wasn't able to regain it.

The other resolution was to write and post a devotional blog every day - Monday to Friday. Though I haven't always posted every weekday, I did continue all year, averaging at least 3-4 posts per week.
So when 2013 rolled around, I began the process again of praying about my goals for the new year.

But my decision to move forward with new resolutions for 2013 took forced me to use God's mirror to examine what happened last year. Why was I successful with one and not the other. What did I learn? What do I need to change to be successful in this year's resolutions?

1.God had reasons for the things he wanted me to do. Both resolutions involved exercise - one physical and the other mental and spiritual.The physical exercise helped me to be more active. Because I had more energy, I accomplished more during the day. Even my creative processes improved. Writing a devotional about a Bible verse each day helped keep my spiritual life sharper so that when the difficult times came this past year, i didn't fall apart.

2. Develop a plan with accountability so that you will remain motivated or get re-motivated when interruptions or problems arise, especially if it's a resolution you're not excited about. There were interruptions both in my writing and exercise goals, but I automatically picked my writing back up after the interruptions, because it's something I love doing.

Not so with the exercise, though I really needed to pick it back up. The "want-to" just wasn't there. Letting down on the physical exercise affected my energy levels and productivity in many areas as well as my productivity as a writer. I needed a plan with accountability to help motivate me again after my back problem nixed the exercise.

3. Back up your goals or resolutions with prayer. It's inevitable. Things will happen that get us off track with our goals. Even though we prayerfully set our goals in the beginning, knowing it's what God wants us to do for the year, we need to remember to pray about those goals all year long. It's not just enough to want to do something or to know we ought to do it.

Looking back, I realized I prayed often about my writing. Everyday when I sat down to blog, I prayed about what to write and for help in the writing. But I don't remember praying about my exercise resolution - even after the back problems, I failed to pray for the want-to and oomph to get started again.

So this year as I pray about my resolutions, I've been asking the Lord these questions: What do you want me to focus on this year? Help me to develop a plan to do them with accountability. And if I get off track, what should I do to get back on track?

But, I think my biggest resolution of all will be to pray about my resolutions daily!