Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Delighted


Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV) ~

For the Lord your God is living among you.
    He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
    With his love, he will calm all your fears.
    He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.

Do you know how much God loves you?  He takes pleasure in you.  He actually sings over you.  That is a difficult concept to grasp. God is actually sings with delight!

I know that I struggle with it.  I look at my many sins and feel like a failure.  I ask for forgiveness, and I know it's given, but I still carry the burden of the mistake.  I see the dirt on my soul and forget to realize that when I've been forgiven, I'm washed clean.  When I keep focusing on the stain that is no longer there, I cannot move forward.

I want to encourage you today to remember that Christ takes your sin, forgives it and forgets it and casts it away!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Hunkering Down


I can say with absolute certainty that it is never dull around here.  Last Tuesday, I stepped off my back stoop on my way to go for a walk, and stepped right onto a patch of black ice.  I slipped and felt something "pop" in my knee.  I hobbled on it for a week before I was able to get in to see the orthopedist.  I just assumed that I had re-damaged the meniscus. 

However, I have a fractured lateral tibial plateau which is the top of the tibia that is the weight-bearing part of the bone.  I'm in a full leg brace for the next twelve or so weeks, along with having to use crutches.  I have been instructed to put zero weight on the leg or I can cause further permanent structural damage to the knee and leg. And no, I shouldn't have been walking on it for the week that I did.  Physical therapy can take up to a year.

I'm not happy.  When I really think of the ramifications of this, it makes me cry. I had to make a hard decision and close down my shop as I can't even drive to get there because I cannot get in and out of the car without help since I can't bend my knee past a certain point.  Inactivity is really, really hard for me.

The past few days I've been camped out in Lamentations because that's how I feel.  However, there are so many golden nuggets wedged in between Jeremiah's laments that it's hard to remain sad...

Jeremiah 3:19-24 ~

Remember my affliction and my homelessness,
the wormwood and the poison.
I continually remember them
...
and have become depressed.


Yet I call this to mind,
and therefore I have hope:


Because of the Lord’s faithful love
we do not perish,
for His mercies never end.

They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness!
I say: The Lord is my portion,
therefore I will put my hope in Him.


And another...

Jeremiah 3:31-33 ~

For the Lord will not reject us forever.
Even if He causes suffering,
He will show compassion
according to His abundant, faithful love.
For He does not enjoy bringing affliction
or suffering on mankind.

And still another...

Jeremiah 3:55-58 ~

I called on Your name, Yahweh,
from the depths of the Pit.
You hear my plea:
Do not ignore my cry for relief.
You come near when I call on You;
You say: "Do not be afraid."
You defend my cause, Lord;
You redeem my life.

How can I stay down when I know God has a plan for my life and it's a good one?  I am using this time to focus on hearing from Him and seeing what He wants me to learn from this situation.  I'm a learning to be humble and accept help where it's needed and offered.  So many people have generously offered different things.  I can't accept or don't need all of the help offered, but I will most certainly need some of it. 

So I'm hunkering down the next few months, doing work from my computer - at least my fingers aren't broken, ;-)  and listening to what God has to say to me.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Wednesday Words of Encouragement: On Eagles Wings


Pressing, clinging, crawling, struggling and fighting.

All of these verbs describe our life at times.  Often we can feel like we are just hanging on by a thread.  One snip and the rope we cling to will break and cause us to plummet downward.

I have felt like this at times in my life.  I know precious ones who feel like this now.

Yet, we have hope.  We have One who will catch us and hold us up when we fall.  We have a Savior who gives us strength when ours runs out.  We have a God who feels our pain and wipes away our tears.

Press into Him.  He will replace your weakness with His strength.

Cling to Him.  He will replenish you and give you nourishment.

Crawl to throne of grace.  He will pick you up and set you on your feet again.

Struggle and fight your way to His arms.  He will envelop you with His love.

Isaiah 40:27-31 (NIV) ~

Why do you complain, Jacob?
    Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord;
    my cause is disregarded by my God”?
Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.


Thursday, February 2, 2017

Some Goal Setting


I realize that we are now into February and I'm just getting around to some goal setting for the  year, but it's better late than never!  I've been spending January plugging through the book by Steven Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  It's a good book though reading it before I go to bed isn't a good idea since it takes a lot of concentration. 

One major thing I've gleaned from it is the activity of sitting down each week and writing down all the roles in my life - wife, mother, business owner, Great Commission Women's director, Children's ministry director and so on.  Then under each of those roles, I write out goals for the week and then transfer it onto my weekly calendar.  However, I then work through the things that will bring the greatest long-term investment and rewards first rather than just barrel through a to-do list.  For example, I had a list a mile long, but took the time to take Nathan out to breakfast last week to invest in him and work with him on writing out a bit of a financial bill-paying schedule. 

Anyway, I'm about 2/3 of the way through the book and I do want to go back through it again and highlight it but I'm learning some valuable lessons on how to work more effectively. 

I basically have three main goals this year.

Goal #1 - Personal Development

I always think it's important to work on this area and I see some definite weaknesses I have.  My tendency is to lament and feel like a failure, but that does absolutely nothing to change those bad habits, except to allow me to wallow in self-pity and stay exactly in the same place I've been.  So I'm giving myself permission to mess-up, ask forgiveness from God, myself and whoever else my weaknesses affect and then move on. 

So, I'm still formulating exactly how I'm going to make these changes.  For me it starts with spending time in God's word each day and through prayer.  It also happens when I keep myself focused.  Facebook is always a big distraction in more than one way.  I want to continue to glean and learn from good examples of this in my real life, as well as books, such as the one I'm reading. 

Goal #2 - Continue to Work on my Health

This is an area that is always ongoing for me.  To be honest, I really dislike exercise but know I need to just do it whether I enjoy it or not.  I also am pre-diabetic and my blood pressure has been on the high side for about a year now so I really need to get my rear in gear.  Both my grandmother and mother have diabetes and my dad's side has heart issues so it's something I want to improve.  At this point, I'm not so worried about the number on my scale as I am about just improving the types of food I eat, as well as moving at least 30-60 minutes each day.

Goal #3 - Scheduling, Balance, and Prioritizing

I wasn't quite sure how to word this particular goal.  My tendency is to focus on one thing and spend hours and days doing nothing but that item to the detriment of all other areas.  So this year, I'm trying to schedule my day better.  I'm fortunate in having a place to go (my shop) where I have a room devoted to this.  My computer is set up there, as well as my sewing machine.  What I'm trying to do is schedule so much time to creating items for the shop, and then so much time to doing any computer work I need to do, and so on. 

I'm finding that by doing it this way, I'm getting much more done and nothing is being neglected.  I still have the tendency to fall into the hyper-focus mode, but being conscious of it is helping, as well as working the planning Covey mentions in his book.

I also want to do more investing in people this year - family, friends, church family, etc.  It's easy for me to do things by myself.  I know that I work hard and it will get done well.  However, doing it by myself is less effective, than working with someone and training them too. 

For example, our denomination has a training ground seminar each year to teach some aspect of working with children or adults in ministry.  Rather than go by myself, my plan is to invite a few people along next year so that they also benefit from this.  It's a much more effective way to work.

So those are my three main goals this year.  I'll be tweaking them and probably adding to them but I feel they are doable and give me direction for 2017. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Wednesday Words of Encouragement

I Thessalonians 5:16-18 ~ 
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

My life seems to be a constant struggle with trying to figure out God's plan.  Always concerned that somehow I'm not doing what He has called me to do.  Fearful that I’m not walking in His perfect will.

Should I work?  Should I stay home?  Should I call this person?  Should I write to that one?  Does God want us to stay?  Does God want us to go?

A thousand questions shoot through my mind every day.  A thousand voices create internal turmoil and chip away at peace.

Yet, as I read these verses, I realize the following truth. God's will for my life is simple.  I don't think it matters to Him what I choose - work, don't work, do this, do that, go, stay, and on and on.  Only three small things matter to Him.  These short verses are the key to finding His will.

Be joyful always.  Pray constantly.  Give thanks in all.  Three small things and three things that I pretty much fail at. Short temper, frown lines, and impatience seem to pepper my conversations multiple times throughout the day. I throw out quick little "popcorn" prayers intermittently throughout the week. Complaining and grumbling often pour out of my mouth.

As I seek God's will for my life, I'm missing it.  His will as I plod through each day is to take my life one moment, one hour, and one day at a time.  Doing whatever task is before me that day with joyfulness, prayer, and thanksgiving.

It's so simple and yet, so difficult.  His will for my life today is to get up.  Determine that I will greet the day with joy.  Pray as I go through the day and face each challenge.  Then give thanks.   I am to be joyful in the mundane.  Pray as I prepare the meals, do the dishes, clean the house.  Give thanks as I give direction to my child for the umpteenth time.  Thanks as I clean up the mess.

I don't need to know what He wants me to do next week or next month or next year.  All I need to do is be faithful today.  Be joyful now.  Pray this minute.  Give thanks immediately.  
God will take care of the rest.   

It's really not that complicated, is it?

Friday, January 27, 2017

Embracing ME


I had planned on one topic for the blog this morning, but after receiving an email from a friend, I'm taking it in a different direction.

My very sweet friend, tread in with boldness, and told me that she noticed how many times I put myself down.  And she's right.  I often crack jokes about my weight, my graying hair, my sagging neck and so on.  I don't really sit around and think bad things about myself but in some ways it does come out in my joking.

So today, rather than put myself down, I decided to write some positives about myself.  I think it's a good exercise to do.  So often, especially as Christian women, we think that we shouldn't think to highly of ourselves.  But why not?  God created us in His image.  He spent time working over us.  And He doesn't make junk!

So, here goes....

❤  I'm thankful for hands that have worked hard my entire life.  They are developing age spots and wrinkles, but they have worked hard to take care of my family and others.  They clean the house, they sew gifts, they knead bread, they have held my babies and stroked their backs.  They are strong hands.

❤  I'm thankful for my gray hair (though it's covered with color at the moment).  It means I've lived a long, healthy life.  I've had very little sickness or injury in my life.  I've never had anything major health wise.  It's been good.

❤  I'm thankful for my aging eyes.  My eyes have always been bad and it is getting harder to see in certain circumstances.  But I'm thankful because I have seen many things in my life.  Beautiful sunrises and sunsets.  Oceans, lakes, streams, seas and ponds.  Wildlife and wild flowers.  This is such a beautiful world and I hope I get to see more of it.

❤  I'm thankful for a solid body.  I'm not a delicate little flower.  I have worked hard and have good stamina.  I am thankful that my focus is more on being healthy and less about being a number on the scale.  I am thankful that my husband loves me no matter how wide or how thin I am.  There are many guys (I dated one in high school) who were obsessed with looks.  I married a gem!

❤  I'm thankful for the personality I have.  Sometimes, I think I should be quieter and more demure.  But then I think that I should embrace the personality that God gave me.  I love to laugh.  I'm a leader.  I'm outspoken.  I love people.  I am bold.  It's who I am and I should love that about myself.

❤  I'm thankful for a soft heart. I am sensitive to others and feel things pretty deeply.  I wish it wasn't so at times, but then I know that God uses that in so many ways.

My friend also sent me this little meme and I thought it said it perfectly.  God made me and then He sat back and said, "It is good!"


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

A Year Older and Perhaps, a Year Wiser


Today is my 55th birthday.  It started by being jolted awake by Nathan who barreled into our room with some "crisis" which really wasn't one that couldn't have waited until a decent hour. ;-)  I was so disoriented that it took me about 20 minutes before I even remembered it was my birthday!

With each passing year, I hope I'm getting a bit wiser.  I know I'm getting grayer and they do say that wisdom comes alongside the gray hair.  We shall see!

My husband gifted me with tickets to see Wicked which is coming to the city near here.  I've been wanting to see it though I haven't said anything to him so it was a wonderful surprise.  He is taking me out to dinner tonight and Emily is making me a birthday cake.  It'll be a good day.

When I was younger, birthdays were such a big deal but not so much anymore.  But as I reflect on the coming year, there is one thing I wish for myself.

My name, Terri, means harvester and my middle name, Ann, means grace.  I want to reap, or harvest, God's grace to those around me.  I want to live my life walking in Christ's love so that His grace overflows to those around me. 

As I live through another year, my desire to mirror God's love to others is growing.  I may have a few more wrinkles and bit more gray, but my desire to live for the Lord continues to grow.  That's what makes me get up each day with joy in my heart!