Thursday, April 28, 2016

Refreshed







This past weekend three hundred and seven ladies descended upon the Holiday Inn in Auburn, N.Y. for our annual Spring Refresh retreat.  It is always an uplifting time of getting together with friends and being encouraged.

However, this year it seemed even sweeter.  I'm not sure what it was but it was definitely an enjoyable weekend.  The speaker, Lisa Meiner from Deeper Still Ministries was wonderful and I enjoyed getting to know her and her agent throughout the weekend. 

There were nine of us from our church who went and even though I didn't get to spend much time with them since I am on the leadership team who planned the retreat, I did get to fellowship here or there.  I roomed with two of the ladies so we had great conversations in the room.

It generally takes me a couple of days to recuperate just because I never get enough sleep but it's a good kind of tired. :-)  Our theme this year has been GPS - God's Positioning System: Placed for a Purpose.  It has been neat to see how every event in my life has been used by God to bring me to this point in time where He has placed me for His purpose.

God's GPS never takes you down a wrong path!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Wednesday Words of Encouragement

This was from a few years ago, but still good encouragement for today!

Psalm 27:14 ~

"Wait and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage and let your heart be stout and enduring. Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the Lord."


I hate waiting! I remember as a little kid sneaking in my mother's closet to look at my Christmas presents because I couldn't wait until Christmas. Of course, immediately after I looked I felt bad because I ruined the surprise.

Recently, I have been praying about a situation in my life and how I wanted it to change. Yet, I distinctly heard the Lord say, "Wait." It was not the answer I wanted! I certainly don't feel strong or stout or enduring when I have to wait in the midst of less than ideal circumstances.

I love this verse in the Amplified version of the Bible. When we wait on the Lord we are not just hoping that He will come through but we are expecting it! That is the reason we can be strong. We expect Him to show up and work in the midst of our circumstances.

That doesn't necessarily mean things will change, but our hearts certainly can change. Our faith can become stronger. Our reliance on the Lord will increase. We will learn to persevere through it. Those are all things that will make us become mature in our faith. (James 1:2-4).

If you are struggling with waiting today, be encouraged. Expect the Lord to show up. He will help you through the wait and if you rely on Him you will come out stronger on the other side.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Broken Road


I remember when my children were babies and I would nurse them and rock them to sleep.  I would breathe in that wonderful baby smell and hum as I rocked back and forth.  Those were some of the most precious moments to me.  My children were safe in my arms and all was well with the world.

But babies don't stay little forever.  They grow and develop and eventually become young adults.  I no longer can keep them safe, nor protect them from a harsh world.  In fact, I have no control over anything they do.  I can only trust that I raised them right and they will make wise choices.  There are times when I feel like I'm on a long, broken road and every obstacle causes me so much anxiety.  Yet, as I look back along that broken road, I can see exactly how each obstacle was used by the Lord to make us stronger.  As we trusted God, we grew in our faith and we grew closer as a family.


I believe the Lord has a purpose for each of my children.  They are unique and have unique talents, abilities, strengths and weaknesses.  They are being shaped and molded into adults that can be used by God. 

Dan, Emily and I went to visit Stephen yesterday and long car rides are good opportunities to talk and listen.  I enjoyed hearing my daughter's thoughts on different subjects and realizing that she has become quite mature and solid in her thinking.


As we took Stephen out to eat, and visited with him, we enjoyed hearing about the different things he is learning.  We listened to him and were able to also challenge him and he challenged us too!  The thing I enjoy about having adult children is the give and take we now have with them. 


Nathan was home because he had to work and he held down the fort here.  I was thankful to see that after having a very bad night at work, how quickly he was able to spring back from it.  He is getting better at advocating for himself and also working his way through different issues that arise.   


Dan and I have done the best we know how.  There are times when I feel regretful that we did or didn't do something better, but my children are turning into mature adults.  They are compassionate and caring.  They are responsible and hard-working.  They persevere even in the midst of trials.  Those are the traits I believe will help them go far. 

 
I wish there was a parenting manual that would spell out what to do for each situation. Parenting is a long, hard road and it never seems to end.  But we trust God, move forward in faith and pray for wisdom.  We have three children, all with different health challenges, but with God's help, they are turning into wonderful adults. 

That is all I could ever hope for as a parent.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Wednesday Words of Encouragement

Hebrews 12:1-12 ~ 

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.  Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.

And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said, 

“My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline,
    and don’t give up when he corrects you.
For the Lord disciplines those he loves,
    and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.”

As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all. Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever?

For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.

So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.

One of my favorite passages in the Bible are chapters 11 and 12 of Hebrews.  Chapter 11 is like a Who's Who among those of the Christian faith.  Their lives inspire me to do better.  However, chapter 12 goes on to further challenge us.  We are not to just sit by the sidelines and watch these giants in the faith run the race.  We're supposed to be in there with them.  We are running the very same race that those men and women did more than 2,000 years ago.

We desire to do that and often start out on the course well, but the minute things get hard or we think we don't see God answering, we swerve off course.  Yet these verses remind us that God allows hardships in our lives to discipline us.  Notice, the passage doesn't say "punish!"  We are being trained for this race we are in.  

Just like runners have to train and prepare and work hard to run a race, we must do the same.  Instead of viewing every difficulty that comes along with dismay and discouragement and then giving up, let's view these things as obstacles put in our way which will  strengthen and train us.  When we work through the obstacles, keeping our eyes on the Lord and trusting him, we will be stronger.

It's also very difficult to run a race when you are weighed down by a burden.  When we hold onto anxieties and worries, instead of giving them to the Lord, we are slowing down our race.  How can we run well when we are struggling with a cumbersome burden on our shoulders? 

Finally, we are to strengthen ourselves.  To strengthen our resolve.  To continue to run.  Why?  Because there are others coming behind.    We are in a great race with other runners.  Some of them have weaker faith and need our strength to continue to run.  When we begin to view our Christian walk this way, we realize that it's not all about "us".  Our faith or lack of it does affect those running with us.

Let's make sure we are keeping our eyes on Jesus, running the race, accepting the obstacles in our way as tools to train us. and then not wavering so that those behind won't either.

We are in this race together and we are in it to win it!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Multitude Monday


John Piper ~

"Thanksgiving with the Mouth Stirs Up Thankfulness in the Heart"

As I read this quote this morning, I felt a resounding, "Ouch."  How many times do I walk around complaining and whining about my circumstances?  How often do I look at the negative, instead of the blessing?  How many times will I stomp on the gifts that God gives me because I refuse to be thankful?

I want to be thankful and eventually I do get there, but I truly wish I would learn to have an overflowing heart of thankfulness right from the start.  That is only going to happen if I continue to thank God with my mouth.  If I complain; I feel discontent.  If I talk about the negative, then I feel negative.  This is probably going to be a life long lesson for me, but one I want to excel in.

This week I'm thankful for blessings #2691 - 2705.

2691.  My first meeting in my role of GCW Director went well.

2692.  Emily is better after being home sick from school all week.

2693.  An unexpected weekend visit from Stephen.

2694.  Steve has struggled with his generalized anxiety disorder for years, and certain things trigger the anxieties.  He's struggled over the past month, but his anxieties are calming down and he is doing much better.

2695.  Bright sunshine and warm temperatures this past weekend.

2696.  Walking with Emily through the woods, listening to her share some hurts and being able to offer some wisdom and advice.

2697.  A beautiful memorial service, honoring the 100 years of a wonderful man who recently passed away.

2698.  The faithful love of my husband.

2699.  Keeping Dan safe on the road as he drove the 10 hours round trip to pick Stephen up and take him back to college.

2700.  Nathan was able to get transferred to a different department at his job.  The hours aren't wonderful but he will have less pressure and be able to do a job that better fits his ability.  I'm so thankful that he is learning to advocate for himself.

2701.  Good fellowship over a potluck luncheon at church.

2702.  Accountants who work hard to do our taxes and realizing we don't owe anything this year.  Whew!

2703.  Spring flowers.

2704.  My children are very merciful and compassionate and meek.  Unfortunately, that gets them stomped on by their peers quite a bit.  As a mom, my heart hurts for them, yet I do realize that God is developing their characters so they can be used by Him later down the road.  So I'm thankful that I can keep trusting Him to work in their lives.

and finally...

2705. Speaking words of thanksgiving.

Psalm 89:1 (NKJV) ~

I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever; With my mouth will I make known Your faithfulness to all generations.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

In a Creative Slump


I have been at a loss for inspiration lately, it seems.  I get up and sit down to write my blog as usual, and it feels as if there is nothing to say.  I haven't been taking pictures which usually inspires me.  In fact, I haven't been doing much of anything in the creative realm.  And lack of creativity is not a good sign.

I'm not sure why this is.  Perhaps, it's the dreary, wet weather.  Perhaps, it's the lack of fresh air.  This weekend is supposed to be beautiful so I'm thinking that I need to plan some sort of outing.  As I was tossing and turning at 3 a.m., I felt as if I'm in a creative slump

I also realized that the one thing that kept me out and about in the community was my business.  It was a way to meet new people, make connections and feel energized.  So I'm going to have to find some way to keep that part of myself which is the way I am wired.  Just sitting at home is not great for my mood or energy-level.  And when I'm not out and about, my mind begins to shrivel a bit.

Don't get me wrong, I have plenty to do and plan for, but getting out in the fresh air actually helps regenerate those creative thoughts and inspiration.

So at some point today I want to grab my camera, get out in the fresh air and walk.  I need to get up from my chair and get energized.  Hopefully, this will provide something more interesting for you to read than all my self-reflecting. ;-)

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

A Mouthful


Did you ever hear the adage, "Don't bite off more than you can chew?"  That's kind of how I feel this week.  However, when I look at the task I have before me in my new ministry role, even though it may feel as if I bit off too much, I'm realizing that I can do this through the strength that Christ gives me.

I have a mouthful and my cheeks are full, but I if I organize myself and take it one chew at a time, I can do this.  I had my first meeting the other day to plan for an upcoming leadership retreat in June.  It was such a great meeting and I'm looking forward to working with these ladies over the next few years.

God has certainly put a lot on my plate, but I enjoy being active so I'm rolling up my sleeves and plunging in.  The only thing that is frustrating me is that I can only do so much physical activity for the moment because of my knee.  I'm thinking I may need to schedule my surgery earlier than July if it keeps hurting the way it has been lately.

We also seem to be passing the same cold around our home too.  I was sick a few weeks ago and it has made it's way through everyone and landed on Emily.  I woke up with a sore throat again yesterday so I'm hoping that it doesn't progress any further.  Stephen is coming home for the weekend so hopefully, he doesn't end up catching it too.

Today, my mouthful includes...


  • Planning worship for Sunday (our regular worship leader is away)]

  • Typing up a bulletin and Powerpoint slides for a funeral on Saturday.

  • Putting together our church bulletin for Sunday.

  • Possibly taking Emily to the doctor.  She is now starting to wheeze, and her inhaler isn't working. so I'm thinking it's turning into something else. 

  • Cleaning up some things around the house.

  • Finishing up 4 centerpieces for a retreat next weekend.

  • Making a pot of soup.

  • Typing up a number of things for the leadership retreat in June.

  • Work on a message I'm giving a mother's day luncheon at another church in May.

I guess the first part of getting all this accomplished is to get off the computer and start chewing!  Have a wonderful day, my friends.

Editing to add that I'm going to cross them off as I get them finished.