Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Wednesday Words of Encouragement: Faithful With a Few

Matthew 25:14-23 ~

“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

“After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’  “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’ “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

Faithful with a few.  Ouch!

I struggle so much at times in my life.  I struggle with dissatisfaction and discouragement.  I fight feeling depressed and even angry about different things.  I wrestle with a host of emotions that threaten to overwhelm form time to time.
I want to be faithful.  I want to keep plugging away even in the midst of feeling discouraged.  But I want something more.

I want to not feel the discouragement.  I want to be so content where the Lord has placed me and in the circumstances He  has allowed, so that I don't feel the dissatisfaction, discouragement, and anger.   

I want to be faithful with a few.  With the difficult.  With the small.

Ever since I was young I have prayed that the Lord would allow me to serve Him no matter where I am.  I have prayer journals dating back to my college days and almost every prayer says, "Lord, allow me to serve you."  Perhaps I should have been more specific!  Lord, I want to serve you where I can see success.  I want to serve you in the easy situations.  I want to serve you where others notice.

However, this is where the rubber meets the road.  

Can I be faithful when my financial situation is difficult?  When I have a child who has a disability and life is hard every single day?  When I have health issues?  When things aren't going my way?  When I feel forgotten and alone?  When nothing exciting happens?  When others don't notice?

That is true faithfulness.  Moving forward step by step, every single day no matter what happens. 

My desire is to remain faithful.  To keep my eyes on the Lord.  To keep plugging away, and here is the key, with joy! I'm not wanting to just say I was faithful.  I want to live a full life which means serving the Lord with joyfulness and contentment.  

When the end comes and I come before God, I want to hear Him say, "Well done, good and FAITHFUL servant.  I want that for all of us.  Let's keep on keeping on in faith, following and walking in the paths that are both easy and hard and doing it with joy!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tell Your Story

God takes the things that happen to us in our lives and if we allow Him to do so, can shape them into something beautiful that we can share with others.  When we share the story of our lives and what God has done, many will see how He works and can use their own struggles.

My story is fairly simple.  God took a young girl from a broken family and called her into full time ministry.  I've had struggles, heartache and pain along the way.  Things were pretty bumpy my entire life and yet, God has used that pain and heartache and I'm able to help others who are going through similar things.

And that makes it all worthwhile.  My story will not be the same as yours.  Each of us has our own unique circumstances that the Lord can use for His purpose. 

We have a women's study in our church that meets once a month and it is part of our larger denomination's group.  The theme this year was "Tell Your Story."  We had our last meeting for the summer last night and to send them off with a tangible reminder of the theme, I gave each of the ladies a gift.

In the gift was a bar of my soap, a little pot of lip balm and a pocket tissue holder with a pack of tissues in it.  I placed a card inside that said...

Tell Your Story
Soap - This bar of soap represents the fact that Jesus washed our sins as white as snow and we are made new in Him. - Psalm 51:7
Tissues - The Lord sees our tears, takes away our pain and turns it into ways to bless others. - Psalm 56:8
Lip Balm - As we tell our stories, let our words be pleasing to the Lord and a sweet balm to those who listen - Psalm 19:4
As you tell your story remember these same things.  God uses the things that happen to you in your life and He can turn those ashes into beautiful nuggets of gold to share with others.  Allow Him to mold the bad into beautiful and then go and share your story with the world!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Multitude Monday

Psalm 13:5-6 (NIV) ~

But I trust in your unfailing love;
    my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
    for he has been good to me.

God is good to me!  All the time.  And for that I am so very happy.  I'm learning to recognize this even when I'm going through a difficult time because even in the difficulties, I have lessons to learn.  They are not easy but I know that ultimately it is for my benefit.

So today I want to sing His praises!

This week I'm thankful for blessings #2501 - 2510.

2501.  A friend who loves us enough to help Dan & I work through some rough emotions from a past church experience that holds us back at times.

2502.  Fresh fruit.

2503.  Emily is officially a junior in high school!
2504.  My bee swarm is gone, taken away by a local bee keeper.

2505.  A steaming cup of coffee and time in God's word while sitting on my deck, enjoying the sights.

2506.  Beautiful flowers from my husband.

2507.  Serving lunch to the faculty and staff at the local elementary school as a thank you; a tradition our church has done for the past ten years.

2508.  Going with friends yesterday to anoint another friend with oil and pray over her in the ICU.   Seeing her beautiful smile and having her interact with us by mouthing words (she has a trach tube in so she can't talk) was wonderful after being sedated and unresponsive the past three weeks.

2509.  Dinner and fellowship with friends.

and finally...

2510.  Knowing that God answers prayer!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Around my Yard

I'm trying to get outdoors more this summer and actually enjoy some of the sights around my yard.  I can get so wrapped up in sewing, cooking, cleaning and computer time that before I know it summer is over!

Yesterday, as I strolled around my yard I saw a few things.

Vegetable plants that are doing well.

Blackberries that will be ready in August.

Beautiful flowers.

Pretty blossoms.


Noisy birds.

And a swarm of bees hanging off the bottom of one of my bushes.  Yikes!  A friend gave me a link with information about swarming honey bees.  Supposedly they will be gone within a day or two.  If not, I'm going to have to get someone to relocate them because it's not the ideal location for them or ME!

 My daily visitor.

There is a cool breeze blowing this morning and while we are supposed to get rain later, it's been nice morning on my deck.  It's a great way to start my day!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Frugal Friday

Calvin Coolidge ~

"Industry, thrift and self-control are not sought because they create wealth, but because they create character."

It's 2:41 a.m. and I haven't been able to sleep for hours.  So I guess it's time to write a Frugal Friday post!  lol  My body is not cooperating with me today.

One thing that I'm finding is that organization is the key to frugality.  I used to pride myself on how organized I was but it has been slipping a lot lately.  One of the reasons is I'm very busy and stretched thin so it's even more important that I get on top of things.

The saleslady at Hobby Lobby yesterday gave me a wonderful idea on a way to keep track of prices, orders, etc.  She suggested keeping a swatch of every fabric I buy with a note on where I purchased it and the price.  I thought it was a wonderful idea because there are many times when someone will order something and I'm out of that particular fabric and then can't remember which store I purchased it at.  It will save on time and I'll also know what the best price is for that fabric.

Another idea came to me as I was running to four different shops, hunting for fabric for a custom order.  I'm going to have those who want custom orders get their own fabric and then I'll just charge them for my time in making it.  I spend so many hours trying to find just what they want and I never charge for my time, gas or energy doing this.  My time is valuable so I think it's a better option.

I made a major mistake in my business checkbook which involved not writing in a very large charge.  Because of that, I depleted my account and it was a very painful reminder that I need to slow down and get organized.  I've only done something like that once or twice in all the years I've been doing this and it was a big OUCH!

Life is about constantly learning, isn't it?

Ways I've saved this week:

$ Made my own cream of chicken soup mix for a dish I was making.  It tasted wonderful and was much healthier than the condensed soup you buy in a can.

$ Made a batch of potato dough and out of that I made dinner rolls 3 different nights as well as Stromboli for lunch one day.

$ Made pancakes from scratch for a Father's Day breakfast at church.  Very inexpensive and yet, everyone raved about them. 

$ Found fabric for an order, marked down from $5.99 a yard to $3 a yard so I bought extra for future projects.

$ Used my Retail Me Not app to get 40% of my total order at Joann Fabrics.

$ Making my own granola rather than purchasing expensive boxed cereal.

$ I needed a graduation gift for someone who was done with college and moving into her own apartment so I went shopping from the items I make.  I used one of my handmade cards, gave her one of my books for encouragement, as well as a collection of bath and body products I make.  I keep the gift bags I get from people and always reuse them.

$ One thing I will be doing is speaking to Emily's new allergist about a way to save me on my time.  She was tested this past week and is allergic to so many things, which we already knew.  However, we have decided to start allergy shots.  The allergist is almost an hour away and they suggested seeing if her local doctor will do the injections.  However, that doctor is still about 25 minutes away and she is going to need the shots once a week for 6 months and then every other week for another six months before it's weaned down to once a month.  I'm going to see if they will give me the serum and syringes so I can just give her the injection myself.  I did it for years for Nathan with growth hormone therapy and I gave my grandmother insulin injections for 2 weeks so I'm not squeamish about it.  Hopefully, they will agree to this because that will save a tremendous amount of time and money in gas.

That's it for this week.  I'll be working on getting myself organized in the coming week so I can stay on top of my expenditures.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Recipe for a Marriage

This post is from a couple of years ago, but since today Dan & I celebrate twenty-seven years of marriage, I thought it was a great one to revisit. 

For better or for worse.  We've had better days and we have definitely had worse, but we've stuck it out all these years.  I think our marriage has stood the test of time because we've used the following recipe.

Ingredient #1 - A strong foundation.

It really helps to start out the right way.  Make sure you are on the same page spiritually.  That goes a long way towards making a good marriage.  I know plenty of couples where one is a Christian and the other is not, and some do have really good marriages, but this is an area that always brings heartache.  It is helpful to start out heading down the same path.

Ingredient #2 - Commitment

We are both committed to each other.  When we took those vows twenty-seven years ago we knew there was no turning back.  Trust me when I say that there were times when we both had our doubts.   There were days when I just thought I made the worst mistake of my life!  Yet, we both entered into the marriage contract and knew it was for keeps.  Bailing out was not an option.

Ingredient #3 - A Common Purpose

Dan & I met at seminary and we both had felt God's call on our lives to go into full-time ministry.  We have a common purpose in our lives and a desire to reach people with the love of Jesus.  While it isn't necessary to have exactly the same "job" or "gifts", I think that it helps when you both have the same goals for your lives and family.   Support of each other in your specific gifts is absolutely important.

Ingredient #4 - Communication

Good communication is important.  You have to talk to each other.   Being able to tell each other your hopes, dreams, disappointments, and discouragements is important.   When you spouse disappoints you, tell them how it made you feel.  But again, the key is GOOD communication.  Speak the truth in love.  

Ingredient #5 - Forgiveness

Forgiveness is the key.  Your spouse will mess up!  They will disappoint you and make you really, really angry at times.  But don't go to bed angry.  Talk it out and forgive one another.   Sometimes, you need to just let it go.  Forgive your spouse and ask for their forgiveness when needed.

Ingredient #6 - Learn to laugh together

In our relationship, I can be really uptight over little things.  I've learned and am still learning, not to get in a tizzy over the minute things in life.  I'm learning to laugh!  We've had some really funny things happen to us over the years, and having a good sense of humor, helps get over the rough patches as well.  Sometimes, it's important to have a good belly laugh together!

So those are the ingredients we have used in our marriage.  There are a few more and my list may look different than yours.  However, some of the key things listed here are in all good marriages.

We won't be able to do any celebrating today since he has an event to go to tonight.  But as I look back on our 27 years of marriage, I'm so glad that the Lord brought Dan into my life!

Happy Anniversary, Honey

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Wednesday Words of Encouragement

Proverbs 12:25 ~

An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.

My son, Stephen, was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder when he was eleven years old. At that time his anxieties were so bad that he would get facial tics when he was in the midst of a full blown attack. We took him to a counselor for about a year until he was able to learn coping techniques to get them under control.  Nowadays, most people would never know that he struggles with this. God is good! 

It was difficult to deal with his irrational anxieties and I have to admit I was not always very patient. To be honest, I wished he would just snap out of it! However, I found that when I was patient in the midst of one of his more anxious times and spoke kindly and gently to him, it helped him to work his way out of it.

Most of us do not have anxiety to that degree, but I’m sure we can all relate to the fearful knots we can get in the pit of our stomachs periodically.  There are times when we are under a heavy burden and it’s easy to feel worried. When we are going through a time like this, and someone speaks words of encouragement to us, it often helps to ease the anxiety.

The dictionary tells us that kind means 1. Of a friendly, generous, or warm-hearted nature; 2. Showing sympathy or understanding; charitable.  When we try to encourage someone who is struggling with anxiety do our words reflect this definition? Or is it more of a “get over it already” tone?

We can become so busy and wrapped up in our own world that we forget to take a moment and really listen when someone talks. We can neglect to show kindness with our words. We can forget that sometimes people just need to know that someone understands and cares.

As you go about your day today, keep your eyes open for someone to whom you can show kindness.  Who does the Lord want you to cheer up today?