Saturday, July 18, 2009

Bye bye birdies

It's been a while since I've been able to post on here. A few posts back I told you about our little chicks. They were so cute and every time I'd be outside with them they followed me EVERYWHERE! Lucy, Ethel, Blondie and Sarah, each with their own little personalities. We were in the process of building their coop and things were rolling along quite smoothly when a neighbor gave us some news that brought it all to a screeching halt. Apparently there is an addendum to the local zoning laws for residential that states that in a residential area you have to be zoned agriculture to own chickens. I understand this to a point however you can have exotic birds that squawk and live to be 100-150 years old, their poop is just that...poop, unlike the manure that is produced by chickens, they don't eat bugs and garden scraps like chickens, and did I mention the noise? I'm sorry. I really don't have anything against parrots or any other exotic bird. I just don't get the mentality of the written law. But we knew we had to obey it so through a friend of a friend we were able to find a great home for the girls (as we used to call them). They will be free roamers on their new farm. And I'm sure they will love it.

Just like we need to be obedient to the laws of our land here, I am reminded about the need for obedience in our Christian walk as well. God's desire is for us to be able to "roam free". Not free to do as we please, like society tells us we should, but free from the burdens and yolk of this world. Free to live a full and blessed life. Free from the bondage of sin.

The foundation of our faith in Christ is rooted in obedience. Through obedience to Him we develop our character and strengths. We learn to be patient and loving. We learn to be more like Him. We learn to trust Him. Disobedience only leads to sin and ultimately death. Strong words? Let's see what God says. Adam and Eve were free roamers. They had free reign in the Garden of Eden having only one admonition from God, and that was that they couldn't eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God gave them this instruction for their own protection, not to limit them, but to keep them from experiencing separation from Him and to keep them from death. Genesis 2:16-17 says this "16 And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17.but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die." They had everything they could ever want or need yet when the serpent came crawling and calling with his lies and deception they couldn't’t resist. They had to prove their independence through a prideful action, completely disobeying what God said to them claiming lies to justify their actions. And afterward they both were immediately aware of their nakedness, their own vulnerability.

Just like them, we don't look at laws as being protective, but rather restrictive. We get prideful, believing we can do it on our own. We disregard what God is telling us choosing instead to believe the lies of the enemy, “If it feels good do it” or “just one peek won’t hurt” or “If everyone else is doing it then it can’t be that bad” or how about “If he doesn’t make you happy leave him. God wants you to be happy” or maybe “It’s just a harmless flirtation”. But that's so backwards. He doesn’t give us guidance to restrict us. He gives it because He loves us. Without laws there would be no order, only chaos. It's because of laws we can be free. We need to be aware of our nakedness and vulnerability without the cover of Christ Jesus. We need to know and accept His love and protection.

Because of Adam and Eve's disobedience death was brought into the picture. The serpent was crafty and he didn't have any regard for Adam and Eve. His purpose was to plant a seed of pride into the hearts of Adam and Eve. It was to cause them to doubt God's words. He does the same thing to us today. How often are you tempted to disobey God? Does the word obedience resonate a bad image for you? Obedience to Christ is a beautiful thing and shouldn't cause distress in the heart of the believer. Choosing it means choosing life. Even when you doubt, God is still God.

He loves you my friend. And so do I.

Until next time…

Friday, May 22, 2009

Majesty in the mundane

It seems that since losing my job my days consist of working in my home. I have wanted a home-based business for a while now. I just didn't expect that my home would be my business. (lol) It's been difficult to transition to being at home and I find myself wondering..well..lot's of things. "Is this God's way of telling me that I'm supposed to be a stay-at-home mom?" "Is this permanent?" "Are you trying to teach me something, God?" "Am I supposed to be learning a craft to try to sell?" OMG, the list goes on. And I don't know if any of you can identify but I can SO get inside my own head and convince myself of all kinds of things.

And there are the days I wonder what I have to get up out of bed for. What's the purpose today??? I was lamenting to my husband that I felt like if it weren't for having to get up and take my daughter to school I wouldn't have a reason to get up. Then he reminded me that I did have a reason...actually 9 of them, the 2 dogs, 3 cats and 4 chickens!!! It's true, these animals follow me around the house everywhere I go. Except for the chickens. They do not roam free in the house HOWEVER when they are outside and I let them out of their cage they follow me. So, now you can add "farm hand" to my ever expanding list of duties at home. Or pied piper, which ever one suits your fancy.

The truth of the matter is I feel like I am in limbo and not sure what to concentrate on. And I get so tired of feeling like Cinderella. I feel like my life has come down to driving my daughter around, doing the dishes, making the bed, feeding the animals, picking up their poop, cleaning the house, yada yada yada. I can get to feeling so lousy about my situation. Ever feel like that?

I walk in the mornings with a couple of friends who have also lost their jobs and they are definitely relating to how I am feeling. And I feel so guilty feeling this way. I have to be honest, I don't always take these thoughts and feelings before Christ and confess them. Maybe because I know what He's going to say and I don't want to hear it. How can everything we go through in life have a lesson in it??? But it does, whether the lesson is for us or someone else, there is always something to learn. This morning as I was commiserating (yet again) about my life I heard God speak to me in His still small voice. He reminded me of His words to do everything as unto the Lord. I have not been doing that. To tell you the truth I have not tried to imagine that anything I do at home for my own family is like doing anything unto the Lord. I have not served them as I would God. I am so ashamed. I have much to be grateful for yet I spend too much time feeling sorry for myself. "I just want to do something that matters and has lasting impact", I tell God. "I want to make a difference." I want, (I need) validation. Ya know what He said? "It matters to Me. You matter to Me. Everything you do matters to Me. Your heart and attitude matter to Me. Your happiness matters to Me. Your sadness matters to Me. You matter. Believe Me, I see. I know. I feel. I've been there. Treat your home and ALL the things you do as if you were doing it for Me. I am there with you. I am all the validation you need."

There is majesty in the mundane.

I cannot promise that I will have a great attitude everyday. I can only promise that I will try and I will be re-directable. Teachable. Humble.

Until next time...

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Free Indeed!!!

In the months since starting this blog I have struggled to come up with a name that firstly, defines who I am and what I stand for, and secondly, isn't already taken (lol). It's gone from "Learning to Walk on Water" to "Planting Daisies", both of them are taken as blog addresses. Though I can title my blog anything I want, it doesn't make sense to me to title my blog one thing and not have a matching URL.

So, today as I was contemplating my life (so much there) it dawned on me for the first time what the name of both the title and URL should be....LivingTrulyFree. And..IT'S NOT TAKEN :)

In reviewing my blog posts and the sites that I follow it struck me that anyone reading this might wonder what my blog is really about. I think it's like any one's blog, it's a journey and we invite you go with us. But in putting all the thoughts together this is the reason for the new name. 1)I believe that if Christ sets you free, you are free indeed. 2)We are on a journey to become debt free and live more frugally and not be dependant upon others for our food and necessities 3)Both my daughter and I have celiac disease and need to stay gluten free.

So there you have it. LivingTrulyFree.

I do not intend to change the name again. But I do hope that this leads to someplace exciting. I'd like to use it as a forum to share a little, teach a little, learn a lot, hone my writing abilities and possibly write for profit, hook up with other gluten free peeps like us, encourage others who've lost their jobs, or lost anything that had worth to them, and reach out to the world that the God that I believe in created. You will see scripture reference here, gluten free comments and forums, gardening quotes and anecdotes, and always I will tie them together.

Until next time...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Green Acres, here we come!!!

We have had a desire since we first met to have a farm. Although I think a lot of our daydreaming had more to do with new and young love, and the rose colored glasses thing, there has always been a place deep inside of us that desired to get back to basics.

Since being let go from my job I have started to pursue some ideas we had been toying with. One of them was beekeeping. To my surprise John has shown a huge interest. So much so that we paid our membership fee to the local chapter and then to the state to become registered beekeepers! On top of that John has put an order in for a hive for next month. Then we start the Master Bee Keepers Program which, to my understanding, will give us the equivilant of a Master's Degree in Bee Keeping. I say coooooolllll!!!

The other idea we had played with was getting chickens for the eggs. SOOOOO, we now have 2 little Rhode Island Reds (Sarah and Lucy) and 2 little Golden Sex Links (Blondie and Ethel). They are so cute. And again to my surprise John is very into this.

Honestly, I don't know where my farmer mentality came from. I'm from Orlando and for all intents and purposes I'm a "city girl". But there's something intriguing to me about being able to plant a tiny seed and get a whole bunch of broccoli, or corn, or strawberries, etc. I LOVE the smell of earth, and good soil. If they made a perfume that smelled like it I'd wear it.

I have contemplated my infatuation and love of gardening and can come up with only one thought as to why I love it...I feel closer to God when I am tilling soil, planting seeds and new shoots, pulling weeds, pruning, tending and then harvesting.

It reminds me so much of the Christian walk. Our hearts need to be fertile soil where the seeds of God's word can be sown in, watered and fed. We sit in The Sonshine to gain vital nutrients. Sometimes there is pruning (ouch) and always there is weed pulling. But aahhh, then comes the harvest. The fruit of time spent with our Creator, love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness and self control. There are other fruits, the most precious to me being my friendship with Jesus. There's nothing like it anywhere!

I'm not a city girl. I'm not a country girl. I'm just God's girl.

Day #11 of my grateful journey I am grateful for time with my friend Gail this morning.

Until next time...

Friday, April 10, 2009

what true peace feels like

I had always wondered what true peace felt like. Now I know...

In this, my 5th day (sorry, I forgot to post yesterday. I know, I know, I need to keep up with it) of my grateful journey and spending intentional time with God, my reading led me to a quote out of Max Lucado's "Come Thirsty". In this quote we are challenged to examine how we respond to the stress producers in our lives. Do we react by worrying, complaining, pondering on the negative thoughts? He describes it as putting all of that into a big vat and turning up the heat, stewing on it, stirring it, moping and brooding about it and creating a delightful pot of pessimism. (yuck)


Do we cook up a pot of prayer? hhhmmmmm...sounds more delightful than the pot of pessimism.

Do we receive the lordship of Christ in our lives, acknowledging that nothing happens to us that God did not allow. Everything that happens to a Christian is filtered through God's loving hands. Could you imagine if it weren't?!

I know sometimes it doesn't feel like God is anywhere close when bad things happen. When I was diagnosed with cancer I was really upset with God. I remember asking John to go for a car ride. (For some reason driving around aimlessly is really relaxing to me.) Anyway, we stopped at a 7-11 to get drinks. I stayed in the car while John and Michelle went inside and I cried, and cried out to God asking Him why He let this happen. His answer surprised me. He said "I am answering your prayers." I must have looked like a crazy woman because I stopped crying, like someone had turned off a faucet and (out loud mind you) I said "WHAT?! Are You kidding God?! I didn't pray for cancer!!!" And He replied "No, but You prayed to learn to live by faith and not by sight. You asked me to use you to glorify me and show those around you that I do exist and that I am a loving God." He was right. I had asked all of those things however I had reserved the right to tell Him HOW to use me.

I wanted others to know and love God and to be used by Him but like so many of us, I wanted Him to do it without inconveniencing me, or allowing me to be hurt.

What if Jesus had felt that way? What if He had said "I love you guys, but I'm not willing to be put to death for you!! Are you guys crazy?! Man, those whips?! Those nails?! Do you know how bad that'll hurt?! That crown of thorns?! And on top of that having to carry my own cross?! No way!!!"

I'm so grateful that He didn't feel that way. The way I sometimes feel at my interrupted life. I have a long way to go to be like Jesus. But thankfully I have an understanding, patient, loving God who already knows my heart.

I said at the beginning of this post that I knew what true peace felt like. Most of you know that Michelle is in Trinidad on her first mission trip. I am the one parent that everyone would have pegged to be crying and sleepless HOWEVER I know in my heart that she is exactly where she's supposed to be and I have slept well every night (except for the animals wanting to get up at 3 am to go outside) and I have had no worry about her at all. I can't explain it other than the peace that surpasses all understanding.

Today, in my grateful journey I am grateful that Jesus did not feel the way I have felt about being used.

Until next time...

PS...yesterday in my Grateful Journey I posted on my facebook that I was grateful for 26 years with John. It was our anniversary :)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

An empty vessel

Third day in a row of my reading and you guessed it...on the money again. The title is "A Useful Vessel".

Scripture reference is Luke 9:24 "Those who give up their lives for me will have true life."

For the past few months I have felt anything but useful. Defining your value by the world's standards always sets you up to feel inferior, insecure, insignificant. But define yourself against God's word and amazing things happen.

I read a verse today that I've read and heard in sermons a bazillion times. It's where Jesus says "If people want to follow me, they must give up he things they want. They must be willing to give up their lives daily to follow me. Those who want to save their lives will give up true life. But those who give up their lives for me will have true life." Luke 9: 23-24

As I pondered this verse my eyes were opened even more to what God is doing in my life. If my days were filled with external deadlines, boss' demands, office issues, I wouldn't be able to focus on the things that I need to focus on. I wouldn't have the time to spend with God that He needs (more like I need) for me to have. I'm not saying I'm a saint or where I need to be. But I'm where I'm supposed to be. He's bringing me back to the basics. I keep hearing Him say "Just concentrate on ME. Do not worry about anything but spending time with me."

I was reminded today that I am in a place of preparation and foundation building, and that I need to be an empty vessel in order to be a useful vessel. God cannot fill me if I am full of myself.

Day #3 of my Grateful Journey I am grateful for the sunshine :)

Until next time...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Time for God...

As promised to myself, and proclaimed before you all and God, I spent time with the Lord today, again reading in my Grace for the Moment Bible (by Max Lucado). Yesterday the topic was on the money. I couldn't wait to see what the topic for today was.

Are you ready??? Again it was right on target. The topic is "A Cleared Calendar"!!!

Bible reference Psalm 42:2 "I thirst for the living God. When can I go to meet with Him?"

The next sentence was what got me. It was a question..."How long has it been since you let God have you? I mean truly HAVE you? How long since you gave Him a portion of undiluted, uninterrupted time listening for His voice?" Then the author reminds us that Jesus did just that. He arose early in the morning and went to a (now get this) LONELY place, where he prayed...(Mark 1:35)

Most of you know that God has been speaking to me about surrendering my whole life to Him. I am sure that being unemployed is part of His plan for this journey. I am convinced that He has cleared my calendar on purpose so that I will have time to meet with Him, and listen for His voice. How long has it been since I've done that? Too long. It's interesting the choice of the word lonely because that's how I feel so much of the time. And yesterday I took a walk after my time with Him (I almost said quiet time but all of my time lately is quiet time) and on my walk I was contemplating on the difference between being alone and being lonely. There's a big difference. defines loneliness as this, "affected with, characterized by, or causing a depressing feeling of being alone; lonesome. 2. destitute of sympathetic or friendly companionship, a lonely exile. lone; solitary; without company; companionless." And this morning as I was reading the verse, it dawned on me that I am in a lonely place for a reason...however I am not alone. And there's a reason I am here.

Remember that I had said that I was hoping that through this journey I would find out what my true purpose was? For years I've been told by many people that I would make a great counselor (or teacher) and that I should be writing for a living. I've just never known how to get started. It hit me today that the place I am in right now is a place of preparation, of cultivating my relationship with my Creator and readying myself for what he is bringing my way. I have wanted to be able to have it all, a career, a family, etc. You know, the way the world defines having it all. But what I really need is to have all of Jesus, and He needs to have all of me. I've known for a while that I was not giving my relationship with God my all, that I operate at times by "winging it". The problem is that I am not honoring Him that way, and I am not being a benifit to others. And I am missing out. I don't want to miss out anymore.

So even though I feel like I am in isolation, I know that I am not alone. I know that God is continuing His good work in me and will be faithful to complete it. I need to be faithful to give Him all of me. I want to take this time that He has granted me and use it wisely, to grow and to truly know God.

Day #2 of my Grateful Journey and I have 2 things I am grateful for 1) Michelle and the rest of the Trinidad Team made it to Trinidad safely and are having a great time of fellowship with the people there. 2) Cool weather in April :)

Until next time...

Monday, April 6, 2009

Never alone

OK, I just had to write a follow up. Since I had purposed to spend time with God, I chose my Grace for the Moment Daily Bible.

The topic for April 6 is "Never Alone". (OK, if that's not God speaking.)

The bible reference was "Don't' be afraid, because the Lord your God will be with you everywhere you go." Joshua 1:9

Then the caption heading is from "Traveling Light" and says this: "The Lord is with us. And, since the Lord is near, everything is different. Everything! You may be facing death, but you aren't facing death alone; the Lord is with you. You may be facing unemployment, but you aren't facing unemployment alone; the Lord is with you. You may be facing marital struggles, but you aren't facing marital struggles alone; the Lord is with you. You may be facing debt, but you aren't' facing debt alone; the Lord is with you."

Then it says "Underline these words; you are not alone

And all I did was take the 1st step :)

Until next time...

Friday, April 3, 2009

Brighter days are on the way my friend...

I am preaching to the choir here.

There are days when I look at where I'm at in life and I consider all of the blessings. And then there are the dark days, where discouragement creeps in and Satan pokes me and tells me how useless my life is. I have to admit that I have been struggling with some depression in the last month or so. Just when it seems that I can actually function with a real smile on my face, those deceptive thoughts about my life creep back in. You know the ones. They sound like this, "You don't matter." "You're not valuable." "You have never accomplished anything in your life." "You are incapable." "You are nothing but a big failure." There are so many more.

I know these sound harsh but the reality of it is that many people, yes even Christians, get depressed. We are not immune. And we entertain thoughts that are destructive.

I've been trying to pinpoint the place of the depression and this is what I have come up with: 1) I am not accepting, nor believing God's truth about who I am. His word says that I am a masterpiece, intricately woven by the Master Himself. He has uniquely gifted me yet I have allowed people's opinions of my gifts determine how I will feel about them, and subsequently use them. I have allowed the opinions of others towards me determine how I feel about myself. 2) I am lonely. Being home and jobless has been hugely depressing for me because of the isolation. And when you are already feeling alone it's wierd, but you don't feel like being around anyone else. There's such a stigma on sadness and depression and you have to wear a mask because most people just want you to snap out of it. 3) I had put so much of the value of who I am on what I did for a living, on where I worked and what people there thought of me. I've allowed success to be defined by the job that I did at work 4) I have never put the value on my family that God intended for me to place on them. The value of being a godly wife, a godly mother. I can't help wondering if God has intentionally given me this time at home to spend getting to know Him better and take better care of my family. Everytime I think about our financial situation my heart hurts and gets heavy. I know that not having my income has hurt us, but I feel that if God wanted me working He would have provided a job, I am sending out resumes almost daily, and networking with so many different people. I have so many ideas but can't seem to bring them to fruition. And this is where I give up. I hate that I let discouragement be my companion. I know there are better friends to spend time with.

I poured out my heart to John last night. He's so supportive. He says he's not worried about our finances and that we WILL be debt free in the next couple of years. I guess I would feel better about being out of work if we didn't have the debt looming over our heads that we do. But I guess that this is also where God does His best work.

So this morning I decided that I am going to act. I decided that I needed to take the 1st step and then let God do the leading and guiding. I mean isn't that where the faith comes in...when you just start walking???

Today I am starting a "grateful for" journey and will document daily for the next 30 days 1 thing I am grateful for. I am also going to spend the 1st 30 minutes of the day with my Creator, and not myself or my new companion (discouragement). I am going to take pride in the things I accompish in my home and pray that God will mobilize me to work in the areas He has gifted me in.

I pray that through this my life will be forever changed, my eyes will have clear focus, my heart will be lifted, others will be blessed and that God would be glorified. I pray that I truly find the purpose for which I was created.

Today I am grateful for: 1) being able to write

Until next time...

Monday, March 16, 2009

To those who say to you "Aha, aha!"

"I am afflicted and in not delay, O my God".

This morning I woke up a little melancholy. Mostly tired because I drank some coffee last night during bible study, even though I knew better, so I was wide awake from 1:30 am to about 4am, however I was a little blue also. These past few months, though in some ways have been awesome, have also been a tremendous testing ground for my faith and I need to be honest about how difficult it is sometimes to keep on keepin' on.

I think if we all were to be honest, we would admit that walking out our faith can be tiring. It doesn't mean we don't have faith in God, or that we are trying to do things in our own strength. Even the man after God's own heart grew tired at times, and in those times He drew close to His creator, the one who knew him best.

This morning after my walk I went onto the computer to check my e-mails. I get daily devotionals, one of them is from Steve Marr's Business Proverbs. Immediately my eye was drawn to the words of the first sentence of this post. As I usually do, I looked up the chapter that this verse came from and knew right away that God had given me this word (His word) for where I was at in that moment. (Thank you, God, I love you so much. Thank you for loving me so much more).

Anyway, it's from Psalm 40 and the chapter is titled "Faith Persevering in Trial", isn't that so appropriate?! It starts off with "I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, (I hear a song or two in there) and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth-praise to our God."

It goes on in verse 10 "I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart; I have declared Your faithfulness and Your salvation; I have not concealed Your lovingkindness and Your truth from the great assembly. Do not withhold Your tender mercies from me, O Lord; let Your lovingkindness and Your truth continually preserve me. For innumerable evils have surrounded me; my iniquities have overtaken me, so that I am not able to look up...Be pleased, o Lord, to deliver me; O Lord, make haste to help me! Let them be ashamed and brought to mutual confusion who seek to destroy my life; let them be driven backward and brought to dishonor who wish me evil. Let them be confounded because of their shame who say to me "Aha, aha!"

I can so relate to King David right here. I did not keep God's word in my heart. I lived it and spoke it and shared it. Though I am not without sin or fault, I presented all the evidence before the throne of grace and laid it at the feet of the Father and waited for Him to move me, expecting Him to use me for His purposes. It's not easy standing up when everyone else is sitting down. It's not easy being the one to speak up when everyone else wants to, but is too afraid. I cannot watch injustice. And I especially cannot be a party to it.

It goes on to finish with "let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You, Let such as love Your salvation say continually 'The Lord be magnified!' But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinks upon me. You are my help and my deliverer; Do not delay, O my God."

I really needed this today. It comforts me to know that David felt this way, the same way I feel at times, and yet he was considered a man after God's own heart. It comforts me to know that I am not alone. I woke up with a heavy heart. God is lifting my burden.

Without going into too much, I ran into the gal who fired me yesterday. She came up to me and called me by a short nickname that she had given me when I worked for her and told me that she missed me. If my jaw hadn't been tightened in a purposed smile it would have dropped to the ground. We exchanged hugs and she asked how I was doing. I told her I was doing good and returned the question. Like I said, I am not going to go into anything but I am still confused by it all. How can someone be one way one minute, and another way the next?! Then God brought David and Saul to my mind. (isn't He cool?!) He reminded me that even though Saul sought to kill David, David still loved him, and that I need to do the same. He reminded me that our battle is not against flesh and blood but against the principalities of darkness in the heavenly places.

I need to get to the point in my life where someone's spiritual stability is more important than my feelings, where the place they will spend eternity is a more pressing matter than what ill things they say about me.

Forgiveness isn't optional. It's obedience. Love isn't optional. It's a command.

Until next time...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Here I am Lord, send me

A little over 4 weeks ago Michelle came to me after church and declared that she felt that God wanted her to go to Trinidad with the youth missions team. I shared in an earlier blog my first reaction and how it had been based in fear and human knowledge. I have constantly put limits on God over the course of my life as a believer, even though He has consistently proven His love and faithfulness to us.

Today I need to share with you how He has demonstrated (yet again) how He supplies our needs, and also prepares those whom He calls.

The trip to Trinidad cost is $1200.00, plus the passport cost, and the luggage (they are all going to get the same bag so that they can minimize issues at baggage). My first thought regarding the money was that we didn't have $1200.00 to give. I totally didn't even give a conscious thought to the fact that GOD had $1200.00. I somehow always forget that verse in Philippians 4:19 that says "And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus".

I do know though, that we need to actively walk out our faith, so as we prayed about supply, Michelle started making beanies to sell, sent out support letters and spoke to friends and family about what God had laid on her heart. The only thing that John and I paid for was the passport and $30 in rolled coin. In the first 2 weeks she had raised $230 from beanie sales!

One of the gals in my bible study class wanted to give a donation. She believed God had put on her heart a specific amount however she needed confirmation, so she asked me how much Michelle's next payment was and when it was due. When I told her that the next payment was $300 she smiled and said "I thought so, that's the amount God put on my heart to give." Another friend told me that she wanted to give some money. She can't go on a missions trip so this was her way of living vicariously through these youth to spread the love of Christ. She said that it wouldn't be much however since she hadn't worked in quite some time. In my opinion, when you give out of obedience to your love for God, any amount is a huge amount. I was so humbled by this and was seeing God's handiwork in it all.

Last Sunday I spoke with the leader who is keeping the books for the trip. I asked her how much Michelle had collected and wanted to know how much more we needed to raise. You're going to love this...she said that Michelle had surpassed the goal at $1202.00!!!! She said that she receives 2-3 checks a day for Michelle and that she gets more donations for Michelle than any other student!!!

Again, God was showing his desire for Michelle to go to Trinidad in the details of this.

This post was going to be about Michelle's trip but I am so in awe and wonder at the amazing ways He works out His plans for us. This is really helping me to see more and more that He prepares those whom He calls. I have spent so much of my life in a confused state wondering what His plans for my life were (are), and letting others define what my life should look like, or what my gifts are, or where I should be using them. I've let others tell me what success is. The problem is that success is not defined by the world, and it doesn't look the same on all people. It's not a one size fits all thing. I have been crippled by fear, immobilized by indecision and paralyzed by details. These last 4 weeks have been a tremendous faith building experience for all of us.

Being out of work has been scary, yet I know that this was in God's plan for me. And even though I am applying for jobs, I am also leaving my life open to God's handiwork. I'm not sure I want to return to the corporate world. I know I am not going to a foreign country on a missions trip like Michelle (yet), however I want my life to be available and have room for God's plans.

I am in a place of preparation and He has put dreams in my heart. I just need to trust that He will work them out. I have begun to write (again) and quite frankly would like to see it go somewhere. I have gone back to the earth as a gardener and I guess my enthusiasm has been contagious because several friends have been inspired to do the same thing. I have been able to do things in my kitchen that I didn't have time for before, like making preserves and trying out gluten free recipes and making soups from scratch, and when the cashiers at ACE and Publix see me with all of the canning stuff they remark that they always wanted to make preserves. I was one of them.

I have been able to visit with neighbors who are elderly and or widowed. They are alone and lonely. I am available.

I want my life to glorify Him. I want the world to see in my life the faithfulness of The Father.

Just as Michelle has said "Here I am Lord, send me", I, too, am saying "Here I am Lord, send me". Though I won't be travelling as far as Michelle, the blessings of a surrendered life are tremendous and I am looking forward to the rewards.

Pray for us, will you? We will be praying for you.

Until next time...

All the buzz...

About 3 months ago John bought a beekeeping book at a yard sale. It was a great deal at .25 cents. I guess I had mentioned something to him about wanting to learn about bees so when he saw this book he bought it. (I've mentioned that I like diamond rings but he hasn't bought me one of those, hhhmmmm...). Anyway, we really hadn't discussed keeping bees until recently, after I took Delilah to the vet. Dr. Gillespie mentioned something about bees, I went home and told John what I had learned, one thing led to another and the next thing ya know John and I ended up at the local beekeepers meeting last night. (there's a little more in between here, but it's just boring details)

Beekeepers are some of the neatest folks and we learned a lot. We learned that we have a lot to learn about bees (lol) We also learned that 5 people in our neighborhood are already keeping bees as a hobby. Frankly, I would like for it to turn into a business for us. I didn't anticipate John's interest in this, but he is all into it. Not sure when but I anticipate us getting a nuc hive (kind of a starter hive without all the fuss) in the next few months. Michelle's not so keen on it. Her reacton was "what if I get stung?" She had to ask it. That was the one thing I was trying not to think about. I would much rather concentrate on the honey!

Until next time....

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

You want me to do WHAT God?

Even though I knew that I had put it all at His feet, I still wasn't expecting Him to use me this way. I figured He'd have me give an encouraging word here, a pat on the back there, some prayers with people, maybe even a little scripture reading now and then. And oh yeah, the occasional food item, lovingly prepared in my home by my own 2 hands.

But stand up to the enemy in the heat of battle? Is He kidding? What is He thinking? Does He not know me at all? Doesn't He know that I am weak and fearful? He created me so He should know.

Doesn't He know who they are? Doesn't He know how uncomfortable this makes me? Or that the outcome could be really bad? I mean come on now. Can't He just fix it and make everything better?

But it doesn't work that way, now, does it? It's like praying for patience. How can we become patient people without the irritating issues that help cultivate a patient heart within us, if we are truly willing.

I honestly could identify with several old timers...People of faith (though sometimes a little faith) from the old testament who were used mightily by God, who trusted God with their lives and the outcome of every circumstance.

I related to Daniel when he was commanded by Nebuchadnezzar, his earthly king, to fall down and worship a golden image immediately upon hearing the sound of all kinds of musical instruments. Anyone who did not obey was to be immediately cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire. I knew the affinity there because I was asked to agree with lies, deception, and bullying. No, not worship like we think of worship, but when we go with the flow because we are afraid to rock the boat we may as well be worshipping something other than God. Maybe our own egos. (hhmm) Because let's face it, we may not be thrown into a real fiery furnace, but if people gossip about us and keep us on the outside of their circle doesn't it feel the same?

I knew how David felt as Saul was seeking to kill him. No, nobody actually sought to physically kill me, just my good name and reputation, which can have deep effects on a person's mental, emotional and physical health.

I was in the sisterhood with Moses, who stuttered and felt small and unusable. Not to mention the murder he had committed. That made him a wanted man back in his home town. I've sinned. We all have. Don't believe me? Romans 3:23 "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God..." Yet, even with Moses' history God had a plan to use him to free the chosen people. God's people. I have felt like Moses. I'm a sinner saved by grace. I have a lot of fear at the thought of having to face any giants in my land. (ring a bell?) Most people wouldn't believe that because God has gifted me with boldness and I don't always show my fears outwardly. He has also gifted me with integrity and I knew that He was calling me to be a mouthpiece, to stand up in defense of the people. For the people. They are afraid. Still.

The truth is, God uses us in spite of our weaknesses, fears, and sins, and sometimes because of them, to work out His plan. Obedience comes with a price. But it also comes with great reward. The outcome of my stand has left me unemployed. But I am still employed by God. The worst, what I had feared would happen, did happen. But I rejoice because I know that I was obedient to each moment and put it all before the throne.

Honestly, I don't ever want to again be in a position to say "You want me to do WHAT, God? Are you sure?" But the truth of the matter is that I would do it again if He asked me to. Through all of this He is revealing His strength in and through me. He is revealing His character more and more and showing me what is important to Him, and for me. He is building my character, faith and hope. And He is revealing His plan for my life in regards to where it fits in the big scheme of things.

Until next time...

Monday, February 23, 2009

Grace for today...not tomorrow

I was visiting with a friend a couple houses down from us the other day. We were talking about the economy and how we have become a society of consumers. Our homes are consumer households. We purchase our food, our water, our energy, our clothes, etc.

A few decades ago it wasn't that way. I can't remember ever as a family going to the local Wal-Mart, yet somehow we had food to eat, clothes to wear, actual Tupperware :). Mom used to make most of our clothes. We hung our laundry on the line to dry. Many of our meals didn't contain steak or a roast, but when they did my mom could make a roast last for 5 meals. We ate a lot of fruits, veggies and beans. And we were healthy. We played outside until it got dark, or dinner was ready. And we had 3 T.V. channels in black and white (that has nothing to do with my message today but I just had to throw that in there)

Aaahhhh...the good old days.

Many of us are going back to that kind of lifestyle. We have a clothes line and as I was hanging laundry out the other day it dawned on me that, really, everything we need to exist and even thrive is a gift from God. The wind, the sun, the rain. I love the fact that I can dry my laundry without having to pay FPL. I love that I can collect the rain water for the garden without having to pay Lee County Utilities. I love that I can take the seeds from our fruits and vegetables, put them in some dirt (again a gift from God) and harvest food for our table. And none of this is difficult stuff.

As my friend and I were talking, we both shared our concerns in our lives and our finances and she said something that really hit my heart. She said "I just keep reminding myself that God gives us enough grace for today, not tomorrow. And I know that as much as I love my kids and give good things to them and take care of them, God loves us even more, and I know we are going to be ok."

I'd never thought of it quite like that but it's true.

He gives us enough grace for today...I accept that.

Until next time...

Friday, February 20, 2009

If at first you can't see it, readjust your focus

Have you ever received one of those images via e-mail that instructs you to stare at it for a certain period of time and then look away, at a wall or something, and all of a sudden there's an image of Jesus? Or another one where when you first look at it you see one thing but then when your eyes adjust you see something else, again usually an image of Jesus?

That's how it's been for me lately with things in my life. At first glance the image is not great. Others may not see it, but John and I know how things really are. Unfortunately for me at first glance all I can see is the problem. It's difficult for me to "see" Jesus in the circumstances. It takes me a while, (and usually with the help of a friend or my sister or my husband), to finally readjust my vision to see God working in the circumstance. I am reminded through this that the Christian walk is not about what we can see but about what we cannot see.

God's word tells us that the righteuos will live by faith and not by sight and I think this is where many of us get hung up. We watch the news (and come on now, we all know how the media is...dooms day this and glooms day that), we get a bill that we don't have the money for, we hear a diagnosis that's not good, and the list goes on. But what we tend to do is make these details bigger than the God who created all things, and then our actions start revealing our fear instead of the faith by which we are called to live. I, for one, am so guilty of this and it breaks my heart to know that I still carry a seed of doubt in my body about the abilities of God.

One of my favorite verses is Romans 8:28 "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, and who are called according to His purpose." I look back at my life and never, not once, has He ever left me or left me without. Why would I think He would start now?!

Though my actions and thoughts don't always reveal it, I love Him and I want to be considered a woman after God's own heart. I ask forgiveness for my disobedience and doubt and today I will readjust my focus. I know He is there...even though I cannot "see" Him.

Until next time....

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Surrender or else

"Have me, Lord; though He slay me, still will I trust Him."

This has been a year of faith and character building. After our youth retreat in August I had a very audible conversation with God and in that conversation I told Him that I wanted to surrender everything to Him. He reminded me that I didn't really know what I was asking for and I (in my so "I know more than you think I do" attitude) told God that maybe that was true but that I knew HE knew what my request encompassed, and that I trusted Him to accomplish His purpose in and for me.

Ever been there? Thinking you know more than God? Well, maybe not exactly in those words but that's what we are saying. We are almost calling His bluff and daring Him to use us and do His will (or His bidding, as we sometimes refer to it-if only in our minds)

Here it is February and I am walking yet again in a valley. It's a valley of what I have referred to as indecision. I am the type of person who can become crippled by the forks in the road. I am constantly acting like Gideon, "Lord, if this is truly from You then give me a sign and let it look like this ____ _____." You fill in the blanks.

I have been like this for far too long and it's time to grow up. Not that asking for direction in the way of a sign is necessarily a bad thing. It's just that it became my crutch, my excuse not to move until I saw the "dew", so to speak. Another term that could describe me is "paralysis by analysis". I can get so caught up in the details that I can't move. It's the old bugs bunny scene where his right arm is pointing left and his left arm is pointing right and he says "which way did he go, which way did he go". Only for me it's which way do I go.

When I had this conversation with God back in August I knew in my heart that He needed me to let go of everything; my pride, my fear, my offenses, my anxiety, my heart, my job, my relationships, my children, my husband, my dreams, my gifts, my talents, my thoughts. And the list goes on. I did not realize how much control I actually had, or wanted in my life, until He asked me to let it go. I would love to say that I have entirely let go. It's not the truth though. We feel out of control if we aren't holding onto something. And I know that in all of this He is telling me to just hold onto Him. I've never really done that before. I've never understood what that looked like played out in "real life" yet I know in my heart that this is where He is taking me.

"Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of it's own."

I know that in this season of my life I need to surrender or else...or else I will never truly live to His glory in my life. I will never truly be free. I will never be able to understand sacrifice as defined by Him. I will never be able to honor Him fully. I will never be the example and my life will never be the testimony that He desires for it to be. And I will never experience the abundant life that He offers. I have to surrender so that my life can be a limitless blessing to others.

Today I will cultivate a heart of gratitude for the things that I DO have, and not ponder on the things that I DON'T have.

That is my daisy for today.

Until next time...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Fear Not

The flu has been running rampant through our house. Didn't invite it. We weren't "prepared" for it. It just showed up. First Michelle, then me and now John. (He is home in bed with a fever and chills. I know he hates having to be in the bed but the cats are loving it :) He makes a great pillow!)

Today we take Michelle to get her passport. She felt God nudging her on communion Sunday that she was supposed to go with the youth group to Trinidad. My first reaction was visible anger. If she was going to go, there was a meeting right then and we weren't prepared to go to a meeting. Plus we had missed the first 2 deadlines, she hadn't filled out any paperwork, or gone to any of the initial meetings. Also, we didn't have the money to support her. I could think of a half dozen reasons why she wasn't supposed to go however the truth of the matter was that God was calling her. I knew it. I couldn't deny it, though I wanted to. And the anger I was feeling was totally displaced. And in delving further into my own heart I could see that it wasn't anger that I was feeling, it was fear. I had a couple of dreams the week prior. They were very disturbing and normally I don't remember my dreams but I did remember these because they had to do with my daughter traveling. Don't misunderstand me, I'm not one of those who follows stars, horoscopes, visions or dreams. It's not one of those twilight moments. But these dreams woke me up and in one I remember sobbing. It was horrible. And my fear was starting to dictate my actions.

Then I remembered conversations with Michelle about how important it was to go on a missions trip at least once. I never had these opportunities at her age. She was scared of being in a foreign country around people she didn't know and I was trying to convince her that God could use her in spite of her fears. (I was preaching to the choir here). At the time of these conversations I was working and we could help financially. Now I am out of work and cannot help the way we would have been able to had she said yes to the call in October when this first came up. At that time she was adamant that she was not going so for me, I had put everything in a "locked file" in my brain thinking it would never come up. I felt "safe".

The truth of the matter was that God wasn't calling her in October. He made His desire known to her during prayer on communion Sunday, a time when by all human standards it seemed impossible for her to be able to go.

Now those dreams surfaced and I didn't like this at all. All I could think of was "we're not prepared". But that's a sorry excuse, if it's one at all. We are called to be prepared at all times. We need to be prepared to drop everything and go where He sends us and trust that He will make a way and provide our protection and our needs. We're told to be prepared with an answer for the hope that we have. We spend our whole lives preparing for just such moments as these. Or at least we're supposed to and now I can see my failures and how they have affected our ability to support this cause, or any cause. My failure to put money away for the future, my failure to put God's word in my heart. My transparency is painful...but helpful. I am sorrowful...yet hopeful. In our selfish acts of living for today our God still prepares for tomorrow. He still provides for His will. And because I know that He has called Michelle at this time, to this place, I know He will provide. In fact, it's in these situations where He does His best work. I know this to be true so why am I always so amazed when it happens?!

My daughter, who is so shy and introverted, felt God calling on her heart to plant seeds in another country, to reach beyond her own limitations and allow God to stretch and grow her. Who am I to stand in the way? Her mother? Yeah, but HE is her Father. I know that whatever happens to us is filtered through His loving hands, and He has called her to lavish His love in a place of His choosing. As He tenders her heart, and strengthens her courage, I look forward to seeing the daisies she is going to plant.

Until next time...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What next...

It's been 42 days since my employment status changed. I'd love to say that I'm ok with it but that would be a lie. The truth of the matter is I'm in a state of limbo and this has brought on many conflicting emotions. I'm so used to earning a paycheck and my day being defined by an office schedule. It's not easy defining it myself. Or should I say, allowing God to define it. I thought I'd be able to just pick myself up, dust myself off and then go on about the business of applying for jobs and getting a great offer. That's not how it has worked out though. And as much as I didn't want to see this before, I am starting to understand that if God wanted me working back in an office somewhere it would've happened already. I'm not saying that He doesn't have that in the future somewhere. Just not yet. He has a plan. I know this. I just don't know what the plan is. Well, maybe I partially know. There is so much to do around this house. So much "stuff" in the closets, drawers, garage, etc. And there are people to tend to. We move through each day, or at least I do, inundated and busy without much time for ourselves or our families, let alone our Father. We stuff things away and promise we'll get to it later; the bible study lesson, the note to your friend at church who lost her husband, the visit with the neighbor who lost his wife, the friend you promised to have lunch with, etc. The truth is we make time for what is important to us. Ouch!!! But it's the truth. I've done it way too often. And I believe that God is telling me it's time to refocus.

I would be lying if I said that our financial situation hasn't crossed my mind (or taken up residence there). But God has reminded me many times this week to store up treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy, nor where thieves break in and steal. He has reminded me that He is our provider.

When/if God wants me back to work in the traditional sense it'll happen. For now I am going to concentrate on planting some daisies...

Friday, January 16, 2009

And we're off!!!

2009 is already shaping up to be a year of faith building and testing. On 1/07/09 I was let go from my job. It left me unemployed with nothing in the wings so to speak. Then last night we got word that my husband's employer is performing a mandatory across the board paycut. This on top of having frozen all pay increases 3 years ago. It's a tiered paycut % so John's will be a 7 1/2% decrease, our son's will be a 5% decrease. He is thinking about moving back home because he is already living paycheck to paycheck.

Normally John and I would be anxious and worried. Normally I would be frantically looking for a job. Well, I say "normally" like this is a common occurance. (LOL) It's not. I've never been let go from any job and I've never really had to go looking for a job. Any job that I've ever had was obtained through networking somehow. And normally John wouldn't be having pay decreases, he would be getting pay increases. The interesting thing is the timing of all of this which John pointed out this morning. I asked him if he was worried and he said "no, it's just funny (ironic funny, not haha funny) that all of this is happening the same week that we started our Financial Peace study by Dave Ramsey. :) God truly does have a sense of humor.

Immediately I thought of Job. How satan got permission to basically man-handle his life in so many areas and was convinced that Job would curse God. We've been man-handled in some ways. But the cool thing is the faith that God is building in our lives and His faithfulness to us. We stand on His promises of provision. We stand on His promises to never leave us nor forsake us. There is so much we have to be thankful for. I praise God in times of plenty, and times of little. I praise God in times of happiness when all is "right", and in times of sorrow and pain. I praise Him in the rain and the sun. I praise Him. In ALL things I praise Him.

Another cool thing is witnessing my husband's faith life transform. He has always been the quiet strength in our home and is very witty. He doesn't talk much but what he does say has impact. I'm sure there's scripture about that somewhere in the bible. He is an amazing man and I am so blessed to be married to him. It'll be 26 years in April. Looking forward to another 26!!!!

If our son has to move back home for a while, we will all adjust. I have started a business from home and honestly, doors are already opening up for me that I didn't even know existed before. And with working from home I am able to attend to other things that we were either struggling to keep up with, or neglecting altogether. I believe that in times like this God shows us what HIS priorities are in our lives. It should bring families closer in a world that tries to tear families apart and break down the family unit by telling them that they need to make it on their own. God did not intend for us to be islands. (hey, that would make a great book title)

Life as I knew it is changing. And change is scary. But I heard a definition of change the other day that I really liked. It is an acronym. CHANGE is C-choosing to H-have A-a N-new G-growth E-experience. Choosing to Have A New Growth Experience. I like that.

Charles Stanley also has a great definition of the word peace-"Peace is the ability to wait patiently in spite of the chaos brought on by uncertainty." aahhhhh PEACE. Who doesn't want it, or need it?

So, here's to change, and growth, and God and family. And here's to true peace.

Until next time.....

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Out with the old and in with the new

What a concept. A fresh start. A clean slate.

Hhhmmm...sounds a lot like the life we have in Christ. 1 John 1:9 "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us of all unrighteousness". I love that. A new beginning with no dirt (because we are cleansed), no bondage (because He has forgiven us) And we know that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Free to start over. And all we have to do is confess. (sounds so simple)

But I know that with true confession comes freedom. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from fear. Freedom to live out my life in the authority God has given me. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says that "if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things have passed away; behold the new things have come."

Again, OUT with the old and IN with the new. What a concept!!

As I start 2009 I am convinced that it will be a year of tearing down, letting go, giving away and true freedom.

Happy New Year. Happy New Life.