Thursday, August 6, 2009

Being Quiet

I have been frustrated in my attempts to pray on my own lately. I would sit there and have to fight to come up with the words to pray - and then they would sound so juvenile instead of the "pretty" prayers I'm used to "coming up with". I recently started journalling my prayers, and thought it would make it easier, but if anything it's now worse. I have no words of my own. Instead, the only thing that comes to my mind is Scripture, whether it's in prayerful worship or in intercession. I was writing out my frustrations to God this morning, and He quickly showed me that I am in a season of "being made silent". (Not sure why I put that in quotation marks, it just felt like it should be in quotes.) I have grown self-sufficient in how I pray. He wants me to get back to praying only Spirit-led, Scripture-fed prayers. (I mean, Hello! That's what Pastors Harry and Kevin have been leading us in for well over a year at my church, Shades Mountain Independent!) And sometimes, He doesn't want me saying anything - just being still and trusting that His Sovereignty and grace are sufficient. He sees my heart and knows what's in it - the worship, the gratitude, the requests, the concerns, the desires, and yes, even the sins and weaknesses, the deceptions I've bought into. He knows it much better than I ever will. I don't have to say anything. Sometimes, I just need to be quiet and get out of the way so His Spirit can do His work in me and through me.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Hi! Remember Me?

Wow. It's been a while. I've missed this. So why haven't I been blogging? Hmmm, several reasons, I guess: I can usually only blog in the evenings, and am usually too tired to think, much less converse; Facebook was satisfying my need to put my thoughts out there to my cyber-friends; I kept thinking I needed to start off with some big, fantastic blog with lots of followers, and would get discouraged when I kept falling short.

A lot of that thinking has changed. I'll start with the last one first: this is MY blog, and it doesn't have to fill anyone else's shoes - just mine. No one's blog started off big and fantastic with lots of followers, and if I only ever have 6 followers, then that's enough for me. My main purpose for blogging is not to entertain the masses, but to share my thoughts with my friends - especially those thoughts that God has been teaching me.

That may be another reason why I haven't been blogging: not to sound too lofty, but maybe, just maybe, the enemy of my soul has been keeping me distracted. Just before I stopped blogging on a semi-regular basis, I had shared with a friend that I felt like God wanted me to use this blog to share the amazing things God is teaching me. I have a gift of prophecy, which means a gift for declaring truth. What better platform than this blog? The devil obviously doesn't want the truth to go out in any way. Well, I'm done cooperating with that plan.

And finally, the Facebook distraction. As of last week, I am no longer doing FB. I deactivated my account. I had been wrestling with that decision for a long time. It became too much of a time drain, and it was competing with my time that I should have been spending with God. Our pastor has been challenging us to give up things that distract us from hearing from God and seeking Him. I was choosing time on Facebook over time with God - in other words, it had become an idol for me. It was also compromising other priorities - like getting in bed on time, conversation with people in my house, and blogging.

I don't have anything against Facebook itself, or anyone who uses it. It's just for me, at this time at least, it's gotta go. I want my relationship with God to be my number one priority. I don't want anything else to get in the way of that. Seriously. When I do get rid of the distractions and spend that time with Him instead, I am always amazed at His amazing grace, and at the things He shows me. Do you know how much He desires our undivided attention? How delighted He is when we let Him show us some of the wonders He has for us? Someone recently showed me a picture. It depicted Christ sitting in a forest with a child in His lap, tucked up against Him under one arm, while He was holding a butterfly on the end of His finger on His other arm. The child was delighted with the butterfly, and Christ was delighted in the child's delight. That child is you and me - if you have made Jesus your Lord and Savior. He wants to pick us up and sit us on His lap, tuck us up under His arm, and then show us the wonders of His grace, mercy, love, and Creation itself. I have tried to hold one of my children before, but because they didn't want to put down their toys, I either couldn't pick them up at all, or had to hold them at arms length because the toys were in the way. I want to put down my toys so that He can pick me up and tuck me under His arm. I want to lay my head on His breast, and behold the wonders He has in store for me. And I want to share what He shows me with you.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Pottery Pictures and a Pottery Giveaway!!!

I just wanted to show you some of the things I've made in my pottery class so far. I am still LOVING this class! I've had 4 of 6 classes so far, and I am dreading the end of that 6th week. I will definitely go through clay withdrawals. Seriously. I am in love with the stuff! I love the way it feels on my hands. I love the way it changes shape on the wheel. I love the way it smells. Okay, stop looking at me like that (yes, I can see you). I know how weird that sounds, but I can't help it. I have been told by one of the instructors and others in the class with me that I seem to have a "knack" for wheel-throwing. If you have ever wanted to take pottery classes, I highly recommend going here and signing up for the next available classes!

Now, if you love hand-made pottery, but would rather just own it rather than make it, head over to Rachel's blog. She is having a giveaway for some gorgeous pottery, created by Tena Payne, who is teaching the class I'm taking. I've blogged about her before.

Now, without further ado, some of the pictures of my work. Remember I've only had 4 classes at this point, so be kind in your opinion. Honest, but kind.

This is the clay after being wedged, thrown, centered, and opened. See how wet it is?

These are my very first 2 pieces. I made the cup first, and then the bowl. To be honest, I had to chunk the first 3 attempts, but that's part of the learning process.

I made these my second week. The larger one is one of my favorite pieces so far. You'll notice the bottoms look rough. That's because they had not been trimmed yet.

This is my other favorite piece. It's supposed to eventually be a teapot, but I like it like this so much that I might just use it as a vase.

Another angle of my teapot/vase.

This past week we learned how to trim the pieces. I don't have those pictures ready yet, but I'll get them up soon. We will be glazing the pieces in the next couple of weeks. I can't wait! Don't forget to sign up for the pottery giveaway on Rachel's blog!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Collecting Buttons

I Conquered The Caption Resized

I won - again! Actually, twice again! Rachel has a "Conquer the Caption" contest every Friday. I had the honor of winning the first one, and have won the last two weeks in a row as well. And no, I did not have any inside information or previous knowledge to give me an edge. I just have a quirky mind that thinks this way all the time, and Rachel has just so happened to stumble on a good outlet for it.

Thanks to Rachel and all her wonderful, generous giveaways, I can never again say I hardly ever win anything, even if it is just a virtual button.

And while I am on the subject of buttons, I'm going to start collecting them. You may have noticed my blog button on the sidebar. That was also created by Rachel - just to be nice. I didn't win that one. If you would like to display my button on your blog (if you use Blogger), all you have to do is to copy (ctrl-C) the code under my button, then go to layout --> Add Gadget --> HTML/Javascript --> Paste (ctrl-V) your code in. You will start seeing more of my friends' blog link buttons on my sidebar as well in the near future.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

My First Pottery Class!

Today was my first pottery class! And. I. LOVED it!! As I have mentioned before, I have always wanted to try my hand at pottery since I first saw someone doing pottery at Tannehill State Park when I was a child, and I was not disappointed!

CahabaClayWorks offers several classes taught by several teachers, and I chose the Tuesday morning class because: 1) My husband is at home on Tuesdays to watch our kids and 2) Tena Payne, whose children I went to school with, was the teacher for this class. There were 3 of us for this first class today, which in my opinion was great because it allowed Tena to give us more one-on-one time. And at the beginning anyway, we really needed it!

Tena started the class by telling us about clay. It's straight from the earth. It is the end result of erosion and is found all over the world. It also comes in a variety of colors. You can make it into any shape you want and change it as much as you want, but once you fire it, it will last forever. That's how archeologists learn about ancient civilizations is primarily through the pottery they find because it is the most well-preserved.

Then she made some spiritual applications. (after asking permission to do so with the class). God calls Himself the Potter, and He calls us the clay. He comes and digs us out of the "earth", out of the filth of our sin. We are unable to come to Him first, just like the clay has no power on its own to come to the potter. God cleans all the dirt and impurites out of us to make us something that He can use. And then He molds us and shapes us. We cannot tell Him what we want to look like. It is completely up to the Potter. There are many different tools you can use when making pottery, some of them are "normal" tools (like a sponge), and some of them are quite strange (like a corn-cob-looking...thing). The spiritual application there is do not be surprised at the unlikely tools God uses in our lives to shape us into His vessel, and do not resist the process. Once a piece of clay is shaped and left to air dry, it will try to go back to it's original shape. How true of us as well. As Christians, we are so quick to fall back into the sins and habits that God just rescued us from, just like the Israelites who wanted to go back to Egypt. And then of course, there is the firing process. (which we didn't do today). It hardens the vessel into the shape the potter made, and it becomes a useful and beautiful object. The fiery trials in our lives God uses to transform us into a vessel pleasing and useful to Him and to those He brings into our lives. I LOVED it! I don't know why, but I had goose bumps as she shared all of this with us. Oh, and another thing, if during the process of making the piece of pottery, the clay goes awry, the potter doesn't throw it away, he/she reclaims it, and starts all over again. And God never gives up on us, but reclaims us and makes us into something new. Isn't that awesome?! I told Rachel that my only regret about this Tuesday class was missing Bible study, but God still gave me an awesome lesson about Himself through Tena and the clay. Praise God!

Tena demonstrated everything for us first, and made a beautiful bowl in no time. She made it look so easy. Then we got to do it ourselves. It wasn't that easy, but it was so much fun! Now, to be honest, I was afraid I would discover that I didn't enjoy getting the clay all over my hands, because as a child I hated getting dirty, but that was not the case. I loved the way it felt on my hands. By the end of the 6-week class, I bet the skin on my hands is going to look great!

If you watch a potter working on a wheel, they make it look like the clay just melts at the slightest touch of your hands, but you have to exert a lot of pressure on that clay. You don't just use your hands, but your whole body. I mean, I can feel it in my muscles still, maybe I should go take a Motrin... Now, I messed up right away, because I didn't throw my clay on the wheel firmly enough, so when I went to start centering it, it went flying off the wheel (don't worry, no teachers were harmed during the production of this vessel.) I ended up having to start over 3 times, but the fourth time was the charm, and I was amazed at the pretty bowl that turned out. (Tena says that for beginners', you don't decide what you're going to make ahead of time, you just take what the clay gives you.) I'm so sorry to not have a picture to show you, but I left my camera at home. I'll take pictures next week and show you. I then did a second piece all by myself! Well, under Tena's close supervision anyway. I was rather proud of my very first 2 pieces! My 2 classmates only made one piece, but they came together and were having fun chit-chatting while I was in the zone.

In the end, I had 2 lovely bowls of different shapes and sizes (I'm assuming we'll do the finishing work on them next week), my jeans and shirt covered in clay (they tell you to wear clothes you don't mind getting muddy), and a huge smile on my face. I loved having Tena as a teacher, and it was fun getting to know the 2 older ladies who were in the class with me. They were a hoot! I have always been told that I am creative and artistic, but I haven't found an outlet for that creativity that I have enjoyed as much as I enjoyed this today. Thank you, Rachel, for this wonderful prize. And thank you, Tena, for donating these classes to her giveaway.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A New Name

Rev. 2:17 - " 'He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.' " (emphasis mine)

I once read somewhere that to know a person or a thing's name is to have some degree of authority over them. Think about it, if you are in a large crowd and hear someone shout, "Hey you", you will assume they're talking to someone else and keep walking. But if you hear someone shout your name, it will most likely make you stop and see who is calling for you. And the more specific they are with your name (I.e. - first and last), the more it will compel you to stop. Perhaps this is why parents are known for calling their child by their full name when that child is in trouble. The parent is letting the child know that the full weight of their parent's authority is about to come down on them.
Your name is also your identity. Before and during the Middle Ages, if I'm remembering my history correctly, a person was identified by what they did for a living or something they had accomplished. For good or for ill, that identity became their name that the person - and their descendents - were known by. To this day, some people strive to "make a name for themselves".
This verse tells us that Jesus has given us an identity. We are identified with Christ! That means we are identified as holy and blameless (Eph.1:4), a joint-heir (Rom. 8:17), being seated with Him in the heavenly places (Eph.2:6), set apart (Col.2:11, 12), and made complete in Him in all the fullness of Deity (Col. 2:9, 10). What an encouraging, life-changing truth. No matter what the world tells us, no matter what our family history is, no matter what mistakes we've made, if we are born again, then we are identified with Christ - by Christ! And because Christ is the only one who knows this new name of ourse, He is the only one who has authority over us! We no longer have to listen to the lies of the enemy, to temptations, or to the voices of the world that try to distract us or taunt us because they don't know our name and therefore have no authority over us. Because Satan has no authority over us, he has no authority to put any guilt or condemnation on us. His threats and accusations are not valid. (Rom.8:1,2) We only have to listen to the voice of our Lord and Savior, and we answer only to Him! Praise the Lord! Hallelujah!!!!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

An Epiphany

I have been a Christian since I was 4 years old. I have grown up in the church and have enjoyed a close walk with God for most of my life. However, there is a fundamental truth to the Christian faith that I have always struggled with, and that is the issue of our sin being separated from us "as far as the east is from the west". I have been taught that at length all my life through various things, and I knew it in my head, but I didn't own it for myself. As a result, even though I knew my sins were forgiven, I have been living life weighed down with guilt and self-condemnation. I would read verses like Ephesians 1:3,4 - "Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him." (emphasis mine) and I would think, well that will be nice one day, but I am not holy or blameless right now. When I sinned, my head knew I was forgiven as soon as I confessed and repented, but I still felt like I had to work my way back into fellowship with God, that there was a series of hoops I had to jump through in order to "make it up" to God for screwing up. As a result, I was always angry with myself, and I could not fully grasp my identity as a child of God and what He has called me to do. I thought I was too messed up to by fully used of God.

However, tonight, at our Sunday night prayer time and Communion, God revealed the truth to me. I finally got it, that my sin was not just "washed away", but that the blood of Jesus Christ obliterated my sin. It does not exist anymore! The moment I confess my sin, Jesus is "faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness".(I John 1:9) At that instant, I am holy and blameless before Him (Eph.1:4). That lie I told in 2nd grade - washed away; losing my temper with my kids this morning (yes, before church of course) - gone; getting impatient with the slow-poke on the road - doesn't exist anymore. Hallelujah!

That guilt was a lie of the enemy to hold me back from living a victorious Christian life, and to keep me from fully realizing the call God has on my life. I can now declare that "Therefore there is now (not "someday", not "maybe", but "now") NO condemation to those who are in Christ Jesus." (Rom.8:1 - emphasis mine). It doesn't mean I will never sin again, it means I no longer have to bear the guilt or condemnation of that sin because Jesus Christ bore my sins on His body on the cross. He paid the penalty, and when He arose from the grave, He took the victory over my sin, and because I believe in Him, that victory over sin - and its guilt and condemnation - is now mine! Praise the Lord!! Hallelujah!!! Glory to God!!!!!

Friday, March 20, 2009

I Conquered the Caption! and other fun stuff

I Conquered The Caption

This has been a good week for me. I've won two things! That's a pretty amazing accomplishment for a person who rarely wins things. As you can tell from the button above, I won Rachel's very first "Conquer the Caption" contest! This is a fun little contest that is going to be a weekly feature on her blog. She posts a picture, and readers comment with a caption to go with the picture. What did I get for winning the very first Conquer the Caption contest, you ask? Well, I won....the button at the top of this post!!

Here's the funny thing - back in my very young teenage years, I loved silly lapel pins/buttons. You know the ones that would say things like, "Smile, Jesus Loves You" or "Kiss me, I'm Irish", or sometimes just the little guardian angel pins. I would wear one almost every day. At one point, there were 3 different ones I was wearing at the same time, and I had a few on my denim purse as well. Weird, I know. So, anyway, now that I've won this button, I'm thinking perhaps I should start seeing how many blog buttons I can collect! Whadduya think? Huh, HUH???....well....maybe not.

What I won earlier in the week though really is something to get super excited about - for me anyway. I won a 6-week pottery class - also through Rachel's blog and her first annual giveaway jubilee! I have always been fascinated watching people make pottery, and have always had a secret desire to try it myself. I think it's going to be so much fun to have this time to look forward to once a week to get out of the house by myself, and try my hand at something artistic. I've always been told that I'm a creative person, but other than playing my flute, I don't really see it. I have a tremendous desire to be creative and artistic, but haven't found an outlet for it that I really got excited about - except scrapbooking, but I just don't have the time for that anymore. So maybe pottery will turn out to be my thing! Wouldn't that be cool?

The other thing that makes this so neat for me is the person who donated these classes, Tena Payne. Her daughter and I were best friends back in junior high school, and I remember her doing pottery back then. In fact, my mom still has some coffee cups that Tena made her and gave her for Christmas or something way back when. Tena's pottery is now used in high-end restaurants and the like all over the country! You should stop by her web site, Earthborn Pottery, and take a look at all the exquisite pieces she has that you can buy. And if you're interested in taking some pottery classes yourself, you can visit Cahaba Clay Works and click on the "Classes" link at the top of the page for information.

There are a whole lot of other fun things we've done this week, but I will post about it later. And I will definitely let you know how the classes go!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Rejoice Evermore

I Thess. 5:16-18 - Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

I recently heard a report from a lady who was in...Uganda, I think, on a short-term mission's trip. She was working in an orphanage where many of the children came from pasts that would out-do most horror movies. And yet these children were some of the most joyful children she had ever met. Was there intense counseling? No. Drug therapy? No. They just spent all their free time in praise and worship. These children would go to school, then do their chores, eat supper, and have praise and worship time. Then in the morning, they would begin their day with praise and worship before going off to school. This missionary said these children weren't forced into these sessions, they looked forward to them and participated in them with all that they had, and would leave the sessions still singing, dancing, and rejoicing in the Lord! Isn't that wonderful?
It makes me wonder about us, though. How much time do we spend worshipping and praising the Lord? What would happen if we stopped wasting our time on Facebook or watching the junk on TV or even reading the latest Christian motivational book, and used that free time to worship God instead? I am willing to guess that we would find our stress and our concerns put in their proper perspective - God's perspective. We would have a much easier time of letting go and letting God handle everything. It would change our lives.
These verses in I Thess. 5 are what came to my mind when I was thinking about all of this. I looked up some of the words. "Rejoice" means to be cheerful or calmly happy. "Evermore" means every when (which made me think of the phrase "even when ....") and at all times. Sometimes I think of rejoicing or being joyful as exuberant happiness and I think to myself, "I just don't have the energy for that right now". I'm so glad that word means calmly happy - one could probably say peacefully happy. And of course, the next two phrases are pretty clear cut - "pray without ceasing" - turn everything over to God in prayer. "In everything give thanks" - giving thanks in the midst of a trial or giving thanks as soon as you've asked Him for something is displaying your faith in the God who hears and answers our prayers - and knowing His answer will be for our good and His glory. The next phrase is what gave me a little bit of pause: "For this is the will of God..." - we hear that phrase so much, but what does the "will" in the will of God mean? According to Strong's, it means a determination, desire, or pleasure. God's desire is for us to spend our time praying, praising Him (expressing gratitude for the works of God), and rejoicing in Him, which is worship.
So my challenge for myself and all of us is the next time we need to unwind, instead of picking up the remote or booting up the laptop, turn to God instead. It can be with music or meditating on His Word (not with the assistance of any other books, sometimes we're so busy trying to figure out what so-and-so says about a verse that we miss what the Holy Spirit is saying about it.). It can be through just talking to God or just sitting and listening to Him (Ps. 46:10). It can be whatever God leads you to do. Remember, worship is all that we are responding to all that He is.

Friday, March 6, 2009

A Google Game

On Facebook right now, there are a lot of fun little memes going around for people to play. The latest one I've seen is to do a Google search with "(your name) needs", and to write/type out the first 10 results. Well, by the time I got to it, the search was skewed because of all the people doing this game, so I didn't take exactly the first 10, just the first 10 that were somewhat funny to me. I also went to ask Jeeves and did the same thing. Here are the results of the 2 searches:

1. Jennifer needs a smack daddy. - umm...exCUUUUSE me?
2. Jennifer needs to play by the rules. - 'cuz I'm such a rebel, you know.
3. Jennifer needs to give birth in the next week. - That would take a LOT of talent since I am not pregnant.
4. Jennifer needs to date Jason. - nope. I am happily married, thank you very much.
5. Jennifer needs to accept that she's gained a lot of weight. - again - exCUUUUSE me?!?!?!?!
6. Jennifer needs a shave. - Man, Google is rather rude. I shaved yesterday if you must know.
7. Jennifer needs your support. - Yeah, after Google has insulted me and depressed me, I guess so.
8. Jennifer needs a mortician. - One of the stranger ones. I'm not planning on needing one, and last I checked, Google can't tell the future.
9. Jennifer needs a muzzle. - mmm-hmm, mmm-mmmm-hmmm!(that's me trying to talk with a muzzle on.)
10. Jennifer needs to stop watching "Lost" season 1. - In order to stop something, I would have to first start it, and I've never watched that show. (Some of you need to pick your jaws up off the floor now.)

Ask Jeeves
1. Jennifer needs to get over herself - Not much nicer than Google, is it?
2. Jennifer needs to get slapped. - In fact, it goes from verbal abuse to physical abuse. Yikes!
3. Jennifer needs to at least pay a fine. - Yeah, I had some library books overdue.
4. Jennifer needs this diva publicity. - A diva??? Me???? Hahahahahahaha!!!!!!
5. Jennifer needs a holiday! - AMEN!!! Is Google or Ask Jeeves willing to pay for it?
6. Jennifer needs to ease up on herself. - Sometimes that is very true.
7. Jennifer needs to tell people to have a nice, tall glass of "Shut Up". - Oh My, that's not very nice. tsk, tsk, tsk...
8. Jennifer needs more patience. - especially if I am going around telling people to shut up.
9. Jennifer needs to take things one baby at a time. - Umm, but I have 3 babies....

Apparently, I miscounted and forgot to write down a 10th one. Oh well.

Have you played this game? If so, let me know what you "need"! : )

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Kid Tips

My friend, Rachel, did a post a while back on Baby Tips, things she learned as a mom over the first year of her daughter's life. It was so helpful, in a tongue-in-cheek sort of way, that I've been wanting to do my own for some time. Today is her one year blogging anniversary (hooray!) and she is inviting everyone to help celebrate by posting their own tips. So now is the perfect time to enlighten you with all the wisdom I have gleaned from 6 years of child-rearing. So without further ado, and in no particular order, here are my "Kid Tips".

First, some rules regarding sleep:
NEVER let your baby sleep on his stomach, or with stuffed animals, and definitely not on their stomach with a stuffed animal

or with a blanket - because it might wind up over their face.

Do not let your children share a crib - with each other or with the above-said stuffed animals.
Second: Enforce good hygiene habits early on.

Like brushing their teeth.

And bathing

But it is important to remember that as they get older, it sometimes really is easier to hose them off outside.

Now for some safety tips around the home:

Keep your child away from electrical outlets and light bulb sockets.

And do not let them play with any kind of open flame.

Avoid sugary foods and desserts.

but encourage them to try new foods.

Discourage nasty habits, like picking their nose...and bathing in their food.

From an early age, encourage them to enjoy yard work, like collecting raking leaves.

but also always encourage them to take time to stop and smell the flowers.

Encourage a love for reading as soon as you can.

It is also important to teach respect:

For their siblings,

And for adults, especially when they are being spoken to by an adult.

And finally, encourage them to celebrate their unique fashion sense,

but also teach them the importance of dressing for the occasion.

Also, go back by Rachel's blog and check out this year's addition - Toddler Tips!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Rachel's Giveaway Jubilee!

I wanted to let you know of a very fun event going on over at my friend, Rachel's blog. Saturday will be her one year blogging anniversary, and she is having a giveaway extravaganza all this week! There is something new being given away every day this week - from practical things like indestructible kids' labels, to pieces of beautiful pottery, to even a custom blog design! To enter, all you have to do in comment on each post (but read carefully as some of them tell you specifically what to comment on), but there are lots of ways to get extra entries too, which she explains on this post. You have until March 16 to enter, so go do it now while you're thinking about it. I hope I win you win!

And happy bloggy anniversary, Rachel!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Being Content

Phil. 4:11b - "for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances."
Don't you just love it when God so wants you to "get" something He's teaching you that He surrounds you with that one message? Well, this has been my lesson the last couple of weeks. All week last week, He kept having this verse run through my mind everytime I got aggravated with life's circumstances, and then in Sunday School, the teacher taught from this verse AND then Pastor Harry used it in his sermon! The funny thing is, I thought this was a lesson I had already learned. When big, bad, scary things happen, I know how to keep my eyes on God; I've experienced His peace that passes understanding. However, it's in the day to day that I struggle with this. I'm all about praising God when things are going great, but the minute things get difficult or stressful, I am often too quick to start complaining, and it is impossible to praise God about anything while you're complaining about something. God doesn't want a fair-weather worshipper. He wants a true worshipper - one who worships in spirit and in truth. If I truly believe God's promises for me, then I should be able to look beyond any temporary difficulty, small or large, to see God's hand using it for my good and His glory. In fact, Paul goes on to say in this passage - "I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation....I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." (Phil. 4:12b, 13).

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Surprising Motivation

We have a couple of friends coming over tomorrow, and our house is still not recovered from Christmas and Harris' birthday. So today, I decided that we were going to have to tackle the clean-up of all these toys. Like with most kids, it's hard to get them to stay on task while cleaning up, and in the process of wrangling them in, I also lose focus on what needs to get cleaned up. Usually, I get tired and frustrated and give up with a half-way clean and half-way messy house.

Today, however, I made a list. I showed it to the boys and explained what the list was. I even had them help think of things that needed to be put on the list. I told them how we would cross each thing off our list once it was done. I mainly did it to help me stay focused on what needed to get done. However, Harris got all excited about doing the list. He took it and a pen downstairs. I was cleaning up in the kitchen, but I overheard him telling David, "Okay, the first thing we need to do is, put away our cars and trucks." A few minutes later, I heard him telling David about the next thing on the list. Before I knew it, they had completed everything on the list, and Harris had dutifully marked off each item. I thought maybe they just did a half-way job just so Harris could cross off the things on the list, but when I went to check behind them, I was impressed at what a good job they did!

So, what was supposed to be a tool for me turned into a surprising motivation technique for Harris and David to clean up! Awesome! I'm going to go make some more lists now...

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A Conversation with Boys

I was playing with my hair this morning, trying to make it cooperate with me. David asked me what I was doing, which led to this converation:

David: What are you doing with your hair?
Me: Just playing with it.
David: Why?
Me: 'Cause girls like to play with hair.
Harris: Well, boys don't. Boys like to play with stuff like dinosaurs - especially T-Rexes - and cars and trucks and...
David: And we like to run into walls.

At which point Harris pauses to consider this and then says, "Yeah, and we like to run into walls!"

That explains a LOT - not the least of which is why I've noticed my walls looking quite banged up lately...