Monday, October 24, 2016

Multitude Monday

This past week was one in which I felt as if I didn't even have time to breathe.  In fact, in looking back over the week it's hard to even remember individual days.  It's all kind of one big blur.  And when that happens, I feel "Cranky Terri" start to come out.  In fact, yesterday afternoon was spent sitting on the couch, feeling lethargic and irritable.  Which tells me that I need to work harder at being selective about my activities. 

As I reflected about this and what was causing the stress, I realized it was centered around something that I hadn't planned on doing but was coerced into.  It's my own fault for not saying, "No." and the exhaustion I still feel is morning is a hard way to learn this lesson. 

I want to work on saying, "Yes." to those activities that I truly feel passionate about and that I also feel God pushing me to do.  And that requires slowing down, thinking about it, and then the ability to not feel guilty when I tell someone that I don't want to do it.  But that is difficult for me and something I just need to develop a backbone to do.

However, I'm also remembering the words found in 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 ~ "May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal encouragement and good hope by grace, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good work and word."

I'm sure I'm going to lose my resolve in this at times but I am thankful that God gives me the strength and encouragement to keep moving forward when I stumble.

This week I'm thankful for blessings #2791 - 2800.

2791.  A burden lifted.

2792.  I had an MRI on my shoulder which has been bothering me for two years.  It turns out there is no rotator cuff tear which I thought.  The doctor things physical therapy will help.

2793.  Nathan LOVES his new job.

2794.  Little notes of encouragement from church friends.

2795.  Gifts of eggs that I received from a friend.

2796.  Being able to use my creativity.

2797.  Emily is loving cooking and is coming up with scrumptious meals a few times a week which takes the burden off me.

2798.  Laughter which helps lift burdens.

2799.  A wonderful worship service yesterday.

and finally...

2800.  Jesus who gives me strength even when I get in over my head.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

An Apple a Day

Dan, Emily and I went apple picking last week and I'm not sure what I was thinking but decided that it would be a good idea to pick a bushel and a half of apples.  Needless to say, I'm up to my eyeballs in apples!

Apple jelly, apple sauce, apple filling for pies and on and on it goes.  I finished one bag and am halfway through the second one.  I've been trying to do a bit each day so it's not so overwhelming but the sweet smell of ripening apples is in the air so I need to move fast before they get overripe.

I'm enjoying making the apple jelly mostly because it doesn't require peeling or coring the apples.  Just cut them up into chunks, skin and all.  Simmer them in a bit of water, strain and use the juice for jelly.

If an apple a day keeps the doctor away then I am set for the year! ;-)

Monday, October 17, 2016

No Regrets

Dan and I were chatting the other day when he made the observation, "We've really had a great life."  And he is right.  I feel like I've been able to experience so many different things.  It's not been an easy life, but it's been one in which I truly have few regrets.

I love what I do, whether it's caring for my home and family or sewing and creating or ministry.  I can honestly say that I'm happy.

However, I recently came to the realization that one of the things I've missed the most the past few months is using the talents God has given me in the artistic end of things.  Creating makes me happy.  It's an outlet for me, especially being in full time ministry.  It's the one thing I had in my life that was truly just for me and I felt as if part of me had been lost. 

So as time has gone on I decided that in order to stay sane, I needed to add that back into my life.  God has wired me to be active and I know my limits and how much I can handle.  So I decided to wade back into the waters of creating for pleasure and business on a limited basis. 

A friend started a three month "pop-up" business in a prime location in a nearby city (Syracuse) and asked me to take part in it as one of her artisans.  Because things are slower at the moment and this is just through the holidays I said, "Yes!"  At the end of three months she will have the option of continuing on with a lease and I'll have the option of evaluating whether I want to continue as well.  It requires me to keep my display stocked every couple of weeks but no other time commitment.  It's an outlet for my creative side and I felt joy surging back through me yesterday as I set up my display.

One of the things that I've been doing which is really helpful is setting up a schedule for my day and a limit for each of the activities.  So far, it's been working well, helping me to find balance, and I find that I get much more accomplished. 

Today's schedule involves working on my ladies Bible study for Wednesday morning, taking care of apples that I'm swimming in and getting my house back in order after a very busy weekend.  Creativity doesn't necessarily mean my house looks put together!  lol

I love the Erma Bombeck quote above because that is how I feel about my life.  I want to use every bit of personality, talents, gifts and resources that God has given me and not waste a single, precious moment of this life! 

I want to be able to continue to say, "I have no regrets!"

Saturday, October 15, 2016

When You Reach the End of the Desert and See the Promised Land for the First Time

Two events happened yesterday that made my heart leap with joy.  The first occurred as I was driving Emily home from school.  She had been working on her essay for her college applications.  As she read her heartfelt words to me, the tears began welling up in my eyes and spilled down my cheeks.  She glanced over at me as the fountain of salt continued to pour out.  "Why are you crying?" 

I had to tell her that the tears were happy ones because she finally caught on to what I knew for the past few years.  God was using some of that rubble that had happened to her in her life and was building a beautiful structure with it.  He had taken some of the terrible experiences and used them to shape the woman he wants her to be.  I was crying because she was understanding this truth too.  She was acknowledging how the bad was being used to push her towards the good God wanted for her life.  And it was beautiful!

The second was that after a year and a half of trying to find different employment, Nathan has been hired by a wonderful store.  He has struggled through some very unkind situations and yet, he has stuck it out.  Last night was his final night.  He had given two weeks notice.  He did everything right and finished well.  He has proven that he is loyal to a company, even when that company didn't deserve it. 

We met with his job coach yesterday as well as the head of the organization that provides services for those with disabilities and it struck me that God has placed a strong support system in his life.  For so many years I felt as if it was just Dan and I.  I asked the head of the organization what would happen now that Nathan finally got a new job.  I wasn't sure if he would no longer have that support and she said, "He has us for life, or as long as he wants us."  I felt the tears begin to well again. 

And the wonderful bonus of that support is that the Lord has also placed those around him who have the same faith.  The head of the organization often talks with us about her faith.  Nathan's job coach is moving on to a new job and we met the new young man yesterday.  Turns out his dad is also a pastor and he also plays drums like Nathan; a connection point.

As I drove home, the tears flowed.  I began to understand how the Israelites must have felt when they first saw the promised land.  Joy leapt into their hearts.  The realization that sand would no longer be their daily scenery, but grass, trees, fruit and beauty would bombard their senses. 

I know that life goes in cycles and that there will be times ahead when I feel like I'm back in the desert, but for now I'm enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells of the promised land.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Wednesday Words of Encouragement

I Peter 2:12 ~

"Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world."

Matthew 5:14-16 ~

"You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father."

We live in such an individualistic society. It's all about doing your own thing. Living your life the way *you* want. Grabbing the American dream. Not letting anyone tell you what to do. Unfortunately this thinking has crept into the church and into believer's thinking.

Yet, according to God's word we do not live for ourselves. We are to be a light and an example to those around us. Those of us who profess to know Him and follow His way are here on this earth to be the compass that directs others to Him.

Much of the way we do that is through the way we conduct our daily affairs. Do your deeds and actions reflect the Lord? Can you say that the choices you make would cause others to see God's hand on your life? Do you speak and act in an exemplary way? When you are falsely accused of wrongdoing do you respond in a way that would allow people to see Christ?

So many times we don't realize that our words and actions either point people to Christ or away from Him. Strive to live your life in such a way that people will desire to know what it is that makes you different.

Shine your light for Him today!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Strong Women

My husband points out from time to time that I'm a strong and determined woman.  He doesn't mind, but does do some good natured teasing about it.  And he's right; I am. 

I come from a line of strong women.  They were women who had to deal with harsh circumstances, were knocked down and yet, somehow managed to get back up.  They spent their entire lives doing what was necessary to get through the day.  They didn't give up.  They kept trudging forward, determined to make things better for their families.  Their strength came through adversity.  And yet, they are two of the most generous and caring women I know.

As I look at my grandmother and mother, I realize that I have many of the same characteristics.  When facing a problem, no matter how big, I tend to roll up my sleeves and get to work.  I make quake inside but I still come face to face with the giant.  Any bit of strength I have in me has also come through the trials and adversities I have dealt with in my life. 

And my daughter is developing those same characteristics.  There is a strength and tenacity in her that I can see.  She perseveres through many things and is developing some very independent thinking, and yet, she is quite merciful and kind.

There are times when I wish I was different.  I'll see women who are quiet and demure and want to have some of those qualities.  But while I can work to develop some of those things, the reality is the Lord made me with the personality I have.  My environment growing up and the example I saw in women in my life has also shaped me. 

Strength has come to me in many ways because I needed to be strong to deal with a child with special needs.  I had to be that way as we worked in ministry.  And much of my strength has come through having faith in God, knowing that He is control of all my circumstances.  There is joy in knowing that and that knowledge gets me through many of the hardest moments.

I can truly say that, "The joy of the Lord is my strength!"

Monday, October 10, 2016

Change the Lens

I have a sign in my sunroom that says, "Live Simply."  I love it because it's a reminder to me to appreciate the simple things in life.  It's impossible to be happy if you are always dissatisfied with your life.  I do a lot of talk on this blog about living frugally and I know that it's also impossible to do that if you are constantly looking to "things" to make you happy.

Learn to look around and appreciate the beauty in all you see.

 If you constantly look for what you are missing, you will feel dissatisfied.  If you can appreciate the simple things, contentment will follow.

Look around you today.  Smell the air - it's free.  Appreciate the beauty of nature - it's free.  Feel the cool breeze on your face - it's free.

List the numerous simple things around you that bring you joy.  Most of them are free or very inexpensive.  Enjoy them.  Appreciate them.  

As we learn to appreciate the simple things in life, we will begin to be thankful.   If we can take our eyes off what we don't have and see the things we do have, our attitude will change. 

Just as different camera lenses can adjust the picture, we too need to change our lens so that we can see our life in a different way.