Friday, September 22, 2017

A Little Bit of This and a Little Bit of That

I'm finding it a bit of an adjustment to be in this new stage of my life.  It's different without a house full and everything seems just a little bit strange.  It's not bad, just different.  I miss my children, but they are doing well and happy.

I have been doing is a little bit of this and a little bit of that.  As long as I have activities to occupy my mind and hands then I'm good.  I've had people over for lunch a couple of times this week.  I've gone for walks.  I've done some baking and I've done some sewing.

I've poured a lot of time into a retreat that's coming up next weekend, and I've also been doing some writing. I've been working on some strengthening exercises for my knee and I've been creating some new dishes to try out on Dan and Nathan.

My days are busy and full.  I fall into bed each night to read and without fail can't make it past a few pages.  There is a rhythm to my days and they are good, so while I'm adjusting to an empty nest, my life is full and I am blessed.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Glass

I picked up the glass from the table for about the millionth time.  Sometimes, it's left on the table and other times on the freezer top which is near the door.  Still other times it's on the coffee table or end table.  It's never left on the counter by the sink, where it belongs.

I felt irritation rising in me because really, how difficult is it to just walk a few feet further, and place it where the dirty dishes go?  My husband downs a glass of water or juice each morning and wherever he drinks it, is where the empty glass sits.

But just as quickly as that irritation rose up, I thought about the fact that some day there may not be a dirty glass to pick up.  There may not be water splashes to wipe all over the bathroom counter because he is no longer there. And suddenly, those little, silly quirks will be missed. 

As I thought about that this morning, the irritation melted away.  The very fact that I have to walk an extra 2 steps to pick up his glass myself seemed so unimportant.  The frustration I feel as I wipe down a sink or pick up dirty socks or have to reopen a cupboard because Dan comes behind me and closes them as I'm cooking, seems so trivial. 

Life is fleeting and rather than spend time sniping at one another over meaningless things, remember to embrace those quirks.  Love your spouse with all your heart.  Those little habits are what make them the wonderful person you married. 

I'd rather pick up a glass in a house where I know my love is coming home to give me a hug, then to live in a spotless, but empty house.  So I'm going to choose to wash that glass with love, and wipe down the sink with joy and do the laundry each day because I am thankful for this man that God has given me.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Wednesday Words of Encouragement

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ~

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

Do you feel weak today? Do you feel like giving up? Have you worked at changing attitudes, patterns of behaviors, family situations, dieting or something else for a long time, and it feels like a never ending task that isn't working?

God gives us what we need. No matter what we face, He is enough. In our weakness His power is manifested. The last part of verse 10 seems like a contradiction - "when I am weak, then I am strong". However, it's when we are at our weakest that we cry out to the Lord. We have nothing to rely on but God and it's then that His power is so prevalent in us.

If you're tempted to give up today, remember these verses. Cling to the Lord's promise that He is sufficient for your needs. He will work through your weaknesses.

I'm praying you feel His power and presence today.

Monday, September 18, 2017

My Defender

Psalm 18:1-3 ~

How I love you, Lord! You are my defender.
The Lord is my protector; he is my strong fortress. My God is my protection, and with him I am safe. He protects me like a shield; he defends me and keeps me safe. I call to the Lord, and he saves me from my enemies. Praise the Lord! 

When people hurt me, I want to lash out.  I want to defend myself and set them straight.  At the very least I want to state my side of the situation and at the very worst of times, I want to hurt  them back.  And I definitely want to share with the world how I've been wounded.

But all that does is keep the fires stoked and burning.  It keeps the hurtful words churning in my mind and the pain alive in my heart. I feel like crawling up in a ball when these things happen, especially when they are unprovoked.

But then I remind myself that God is my defender.  He sees the situation and he knows my heart, just as he knows the heart of my critic.  His plan for my life is for me to continually turn these situations over to Him and allow Him to work.  His desire is for me to have gracious words and a forgiving heart.

And so when these things happen, I wrestle with myself.  I mentally defend my cause until I realize that doing that is a fruitless endeavor. When I make the choice to allow God to be my defender, I receive peace that I never would have gotten on my own.

If you are struggling in this area, then I would encourage you to forgive, place the situation in God's capable hands and rest in the comfort only He can bring.

The peace that you feel when you fully surrender this to the Lord will be amazing!

Friday, September 15, 2017

A Different Kind of Frugal Friday

Psalm 37:3-6 (HCSB) ~

Trust in the Lord and do what is good;
dwell in the land and live securely.
Take delight in the Lord,
and He will give you your heart’s desires.
Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in Him, and He will act,
making your righteousness shine like the dawn,
your justice like the noonday.

This is a different kind of Frugal Friday post.  God absolutely amazes me sometimes in His willingness to bless me, especially when least expected.  I had shared a few weeks ago that I had to give up my plans for both the class I was going to take, and consecration through our denomination because of the need to take care of Stephen's school bill, as well as Emily's. 

The problem I have is that I am the director of a women's ministry for our district and that takes up a lot of my time.  It's an elected position and is a four year term. I love doing it and it brings me great joy in my life, but because of the time commitment it makes it difficult to find employment that wouldn't affect my ministry position.  I had also put the idea of consecration on hold because there was no way I could work, do church ministry and this extended ministry PLUS work on consecration.  I was disappointed, but resigned.

I put my name in to tutor for the school district about 6 weeks ago.  It would be flexible, part-time hours and so I could manage.  However, I never heard back from the school. I had hand delivered it so I know they received it.  So I resigned myself to tightening my belt and seeing what else I could find.  I knew it would be difficult though because with my ministry position there are times throughout the year when I have conferences or retreats that are required.

This is where the awesomeness of God comes in.  I got an email yesterday afternoon from Stephen's college, stating that they mistakenly charged him as a full-time student, even though he is part-time.  They are refunding us the entire amount we paid.  We took out a loan to pay his tuition for the semester and are getting it all back! Woot!

Because it's a low interest loan with low payments, what we have decided to do is to pay off some of the higher interest bills we have in order to get out of debt sooner.  I am just amazed at how this all worked out!  God knows my heart's desire is to serve Him in ministry.

Dan and I were chatting this morning about how often God orchestrates things in ways we never would have expected. Within the past week, Dan has received two students to tutor, we got money back, and are able to pay off 3 bills that are hanging over us.

God is good!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Wednesday Words of Encouragement

Philippians 4:6-7 ~ "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. " 

Prayer is so important in the life of a believer, yet, so often it is the thing that we use as a last resort.  We'll talk to our spouse, our friends, our neighbors, or our therapists but we don't bring our concerns to the Lord!  He is the only one who can work in the midst of the situation, but we act as if He has no power at all.  

There are roughly 400 references to the words, "prayer" or "pray" in the Bible so obviously it's  something of importance.  I love these verses in Philippians because as we pray, we will gain peace in the midst of the situation.  And it is a peace which is beyond understanding.  I don't know about you, but I love that peaceful feeling of putting something in God's hands and letting Him handle it!

My desire is to spend more time focused on prayer. So often the only avenue we have to work through an issue is to pray.  Pray for change.  Pray for peace in the midst of difficulties.  Pray for healing.  Pray for provision.  Pray for God to work.

How can I pray for you today?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Beginning to Cast Long Shadows

Dan is 54 years old and I am 55 years old, which doesn't seem very old to me.  In my mind I'm still as young as I ever was, but my body is starting to slow down a bit and doesn't always work the way it should.  We have both noticed that our energy level has slowed, but overall we feel young.

n the ministry world, we've noticed a shift.  Churches want to hire young pastors with young families. We are the older ones in many settings and it's strange!  In our own church, we've noticed that it's much more difficult to reach this community as a middle-aged couple with adult children than it would have been when they were little and we were active in school activities. So the connections we would have made when we were younger just aren't there.  Don't get me wrong, we have been able to get to know many wonderful people, but our ministry definitely isn't the same as it was ten years ago.

I am also slowing down in ministry, and the things that I loved to do when I was younger, I just don't want to do anymore. In our last church, I ran all types of outreach activities, ran children's program and was always on the go.  Here, I find that I just don't have the same energy level, and I've been battling injury after injury which is difficult.  I physically can't do what I did.

But, I think in some ways, my ministry here is sweeter. I'm doing more of the things I actually enjoy doing such as women's ministry, teaching from God's word and encouraging. We had our first Great Commission Women meeting and Bible study last night and it was such an encouragement to me.  There were eight of us and we ate together, fellowshipped, laughed, dug into God's word, shared and encouraged each other and it was good.

We are beginning to cast long shadows, and our ministry has shifted and it's a bit of an adjustment for both of us, but we both are enjoying this new stage in our lives. God is still using us for HIs purposes and that is sweet!