Monday, May 4, 2015

Multitude Monday

I'm sitting in the airport, waiting to board my plane and even though I'm going to miss my family, I'm looking forward to spending some time with my mom, stepdad and then my grandmother as I take care of her in the coming week.

As I'm sitting here there are quite a few things that I'm feeling thankful about.  So this week, as I get ready to wing my way south, I want to list my blessings.

This week I'm thankful for blessings #2421 - 2430.

2421.  I'm so thankful that I didn't get Dan's stomach bug.  I was concerned because there were a few days that I was definitely feeling queasy, but so far I'm fine.  It was a concern because I don't want to make my grandmother sick.

2422.  Very thankful that Nathan's work schedule worked out in such a way that he is able to go to a conference with Dan today through Wednesday.  He always has to work on Monday and Tuesday so it was definitely a blessing that he was off.

2423.  I feel so blessed that God led us to our current church.  It was tough adjusting to new things, but I can see His hand on our ministry here and we love our church family.

2424.  I'm thankful that Stephen got the job he wanted for the summer.  He'll be working at a camp in the Adirondacks in guest services.  Basically he'll be giving tours of the camp to visitors.

2425.  We will be getting a tax refund this year and I'm so thankful for that.  We are blessed to have wonderful accountants who work hard and ethically in this business. 

2426.  Thankful that I got to spend a wonderful few hours with my sister, helping her set up a gift shop for their retreat center.

2427.  Thankful that I can open my windows and let in the fresh air.  It's been wonderful weather lately!

2428.  I'm blessed to have some time away to work on my new book.

2429.  I'm thankful for the beautiful flowers growing outside my back door.  Everything is blooming and I'm so happy that spring has finally arrived.

and finally....

2430.  A beautiful day for flying!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Leaving the Nest

Stephen called me last night, excited that he was offered a summer job at a camp in the Adirondacks.  He had applied back in the winter and had a few phone interviews but they seemed to be taking their time about getting back to him.  So he finally heard and will be working there from June through the beginning of September. 

These are exciting times for him and I often feel wistful as I remember the excitement of just starting out and being free to go and do whatever I wanted to do.  I also feel a bit nostalgic at times when I realize that he is leaving the nest.  I'm so happy for him and I want him to go wherever the Lord leads but it's a strange feeling when your children start growing up and leaving home.

Emily turns 16 this month and is starting to look at colleges.  Colleges?  How did this happen?  My baby is growing up too.

I could spend my time feeling really sad about this or looking at it as the doors are opening for me to spread my own wings and see what God has for me in this new season of my life.  It's been kind of a strange feeling to know that things are changing but yet, it's exciting in its own way too.

I'm so proud of my children.  They've been through some very hard things in their lives and yet, are developing perseverance and wonderful character traits that will take them far.

Stephen is done with classes this week and will be heading to a friend's house for a week before he comes home.  He does have a job here through the end of May before he leaves for the camp so at least I'll get to spend some time with him for a couple of weeks.  

My children are testing their wings and I know they will do just fine when they leave the nest!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Happy Birthday, Nathan

I always do a birthday post for my family and today is no exception.  Nathan turns 24 today.  It's hard to believe I have a child that old!

Today I thought I'd do an acronym to talk about his character.  It's a bit difficult given the letters in his name, but I will do my best.  lol

N = Nice.  He really is a nice guy.  If you ask him to do something for you, he is willing.  He would give you the shirt off his back.  He will often take the unkindness of others without defending himself or being mean back.  In this day when so many are rude and unkind, it's a refreshing trait.

A = Affectionate.  Nathan generally likes people and is kind.  He never leaves the house or ends a text without telling us he loves us.  When he feels comfortable, he is warm and friendly.  He is loyal to his friends and family.

T = Tries his best.  Nathan works hard at everything he does and it frustrates him when he makes mistakes.  Yet, he never gives up and keeps working hard.

H = High hopes.  He has goals and dreams for his life and a lot of determination.  Even when faced with challenges, he wants to keep working towards his goals.

A = Accepts instruction.  It isn't always easy to hear criticism or advice and yet, Nathan generally accepts it and makes the necessary changes to improve himself.

N = Notices things around him.  He is very observant and because he has learning disabilities has really learned to rely on his power of observation.  He is sensitive to the emotions and attitudes of others.  He can pick up on someone's feelings.  He is empathetic to other's pain and suffering.  It's not a quality that many have and while it can be a burden, it is also a wonderful trait to have.

Happy Birthday, Nathan.  We love you and are proud of you!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Catching Up

I spoke with my sister, Tracy, the other day and it was wonderful to talk to her.  It had been a few months and even though she only lives about 3 hours away, I haven't seen her in over a year and a half.  We are both in full-time ministry and it just seems like our schedules never match up. 

Her husband is a pastor and the director of a Christian bible and retreat center and they are starting a little gift shop and she asked if I could send her some of my items for the shop.  They only have guests a few months out of the year so I'm not going to be doing huge sales there but I was excited about putting some of my books, soaps and craft items there.  The problem is she really wanted some for this weekend because they have a group coming in as well as two other retreats this month.

So yesterday, I made the decision to leave today on an impromptu trip to visit her and bring the items myself.  This way I can bring everything since it won't cost a fortune to ship them. More importantly, I get to spend a few hours with my sister and catch up on what is going on in her life.  I'm coming back later today but really wanted the opportunity to see her.

So I'm off in about an hour.  I realized yesterday, that the chance to go and visit comes so infrequently that I really need to grab this opportunity while I can. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Wednesday Words of Encouragement: Walk Your Talk

I Corinthians 9:24-27 (HCSB) ~

Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize. Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. However, they do it to receive a crown that will fade away, but we a crown that will never fade away.  Therefore I do not run like one who runs aimlessly or box like one beating the air. Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.

I had such a fitful night of sleep because my shoulder has been bothering me.  When Dan woke me at 5:45, I had to fight my natural tendency to go back to sleep.  I didn't want to get up.  I felt terrible but I had promised my neighbor that I would walk with her.  It would have been easy to send her a text and cancel, but I forced myself to get up and get moving.  And you know what?  I'm glad I did.  Once I got moving, the tiredness left me and we ended up getting in a good 3 miles.  If I had given in to my natural tendency I would have probably still been sleeping.

It's easy to talk about self-discipline and the need to exercise self-control in all areas of our lives as believers.  It's not always so easy to walk it.  So many of us are shocked by Christian leaders who speak about specific sins and yet, often end up caught in those very sins themselves.  It's easy to say, "Those who follow the Lord need to do x, y and z" and yet, fail in the very things we talk about.

However, if we don't walk our talk then what we say is meaningless.  Have you heard the phrase, actions speak louder than words?  It is true that what we do and how we live does speak much louder than the things we say we believe.   Our natural tendency is to live according to our sinful natures so it takes quite a bit of self-discipline to live what we say.

We talk about Christ's mercy and grace and yet quite often we extend none of that to others.  We pontificate on how much God loves others but fail to share that love to those who can often be unlovely. We preach forgiveness and still withhold it to certain people.  We speak about the need to show the fruit of the Spirit, and yet, we gossip, cause dissension and a perform a multitude of other sins big and small.

Let's make sure we walk our talk.  Live what you preach.  Do what you say.  This way we will win the prize promised at the end of our lives!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Up on the Mountain


I spent a wonderful couple of days away with 288 ladies.  We laughed.  We cried.  We talked.  We prayed together.  I love these mountain top times when I can get renewed and refocused.  It's always a little hard to come off that mountain and back to life in the valley.

Down here in the valley there is a house to clean, bills to pay, business to conduct.  Down in the valley, I came home to a husband sick with the stomach virus and the fear of getting sick myself.  The valley means that life goes on as normal.

And that's okay.  We can't stay up on that mountain.  God didn't intend our lives to be one high experience all the time.  We need those times of rest and refreshment to keep us going in the mundane of life.  I'm thankful for those times I can get away. 

But if I spend my time wishing I was back up on the mountain, I can miss some of the blessings that I receive down here in the valley of my life.  And my valley is sweet.  There is green grass and gentle streams.  The wind is slow and steady and refreshing in it's own way.  So I am thankful.

This week I'm thankful for blessings #2411- 2420.

2411.  Seeing friends I only get to enjoy once or twice a year. 

2412.  Talking with my mom and sister on the phone.

2413.  An opportunity to put some of my things in a new location.

2414.  A time of refreshment this weekend.

2415.  Making new friends.

2416.  Dan was feeling much better by last night.

2417.  I was blessed to fill in for Dan at church yesterday and the Lord gave me the words.

2418.  Fellowship with women from our church.

2419.  Waking up feeling rested this morning.

and finally....

2420.  Thankful for the mountaintop experience, as well as life in the valley.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Wednesday Words of Encouragement

 Luke 10:38-42 (CEV) ~

The Lord and his disciples were traveling along and came to a village. When they got there, a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat down in front of the Lord and was listening to what he said. Martha was worried about all that had to be done. Finally, she went to Jesus and said, "Lord, doesn't it bother you that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to come and help me!"

The Lord answered, "Martha, Martha! You are worried and upset about so many things, but only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen what is best, and it will not be taken away from her."

I've been over-the-top busy the past few days.  I'm getting ready for a retreat this weekend but also leave for North Carolina for two weeks on May 4th.  So I'm trying to get orders filled, prepare a few things for the retreat, get the house in order and wrap up paper work.  To be honest, I've been sounding a bit like a drill sergeant at home.  I had to laugh this morning as I read this passage.   

I can just envision Martha running around, setting the table, preparing the meal, making sure all the finishing touches are getting done. She is probably getting more and more annoyed as her sister, Mary doesn’t lift a finger to help. I can almost hear the whine in Martha’s voice as she finally complains to Jesus.

The sad thing is that I can relate totally to Martha. I’ve been there and done that many times. I run around doing all sorts of busy work; things that need to get done and I consider important. At times, I can begin to feel resentful of those who seem to find time to fellowship. I get so busy that I often don’t have “time” to pray or spend with the Lord.

Was Martha wrong in preparing the meal? Should she have not fed everyone? I don’t think so. Someone has to do it. I think one of the points of this story is that we can get so caught up in “doing” that we forget about what is really important. When everything is stripped away, what will really count?

When we stand before the Lord some day is He going to ask if your house looked perfect? Is he going to be concerned about whether you made fabulous meals? Will He care that you and your children looked like fashion plates? Will it matter to Him if everything in your life is perfectly organized?  Will he care that you moved up the corporate ladder? 

Or will He be more concerned about whether we spent time worshiping Him? Or is His desire to commune with us?  Or for us to slow down enough to show love to those around us?

As you go through your day today, remember to spend time with the Lord. Stop what you are doing. Slow down. Sit at the feet of Jesus and look into His face. Spend time doing the things that will last.