I am so ready for a dry ground! I am so ready for sunshine......consistent, every-day sunshine! I am ready for ground that is cracked and dry! Yet, as I say that I am reminded of so many times when the ground has been just that way, and I have found myself longing for rain! Longing for moisture to help my flowers grow!
So, as I begin this rainy day, I am praying for contentment.
I am praying that I can see beauty in the mud puddle as a bird lands for a drink of water. I am praying that the moat at the end of my driveway will remind me of the hedge of protection I pray will guard my family from the devil's schemes.
Thank you, Lord, for rain, and forgive me for grumbling! You truly have created a perfect world! And You speak to me..... even through the rain!
As I thought about the word "taxed" tonight, I couldn't help but think of the definition that refers to stress or being totally maxed out on time commitments. Feeling taxed is not pleasant!
I wonder how Mary and Joseph felt as they traveled to Bethlehem. Was this an event that left everyone feeling "taxed?" If so, I am sure that discovering that there was "no room in the inn" didn't make life any better for them. I wonder if Joseph ever looked at Mary great with child and thought, "What have I gotten myself into?" Or I wonder if Mary ever looked down and thought, "Why me, Lord?"
Isn't life like this? So often God calls us to do something that seems quite "taxing." Many times He stretches us out of our comfort zone. Mary could definitely relate to being stretched beyond comfort!
If only we could see the whole picture! If only we could understand the Divine plan that we are part of!
The next time you are doing something that you feel God has called you to do, and you find yourself saying, "What have I gotten myself into?" or "Why me, Lord?" Remember Mary and Joseph! They were "taxed." Yet they fulfilled God's plan beautifully. So beautifully, in fact, that we place their family picture on our walls or on our shelves in statue form every Christmas!
The Nativity scene........not a normal thought during tax season, but tonight as I hear Tim shuffling papers in the other room at midnight, I can't help but smile and say, "Thank you, Lord," for calling Tim to a life of ministry. Yes, it is taxing, but it is worth it!
What have you been called to do that has stretched you out of your comfort zone?
Just imagine how great it will be on the day we meet Jesus face to face! No more need for wondering, no more need for waiting and hoping and trusting.....We will know fully, just as we are fully known!
There's another verse (James 1:23) that talks about a mirror, though, and this verse can be very challenging. "Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like." This verse is a warning to all of us that we must not just listen in Sunday school, take notes during sermons, study Scripture during our quiet time, and read devotionals written by other people. We must DO WHAT THE WORD SAYS!
We must walk our talk. We must practice what we preach. We must be doers and not hearers only.
So, another thought comes to mind when we think of mirrors. It is the thought that we must live a life devoted to God! We must remember what we hear and take it into our world and LIVE IT! We must read our daily devotions and allow them to shape us and mold us. We must study the Scripture not so we become "smarter" but because we want to become wiser.
We all encounter mirrors everyday. The next time you look into one, try to remember these two things:
First, one day we shall see Jesus face to face and this life will fade as a mere reflection of eternity.
And second, when we do meet Jesus we want to hear Him say, "You not only heard my words, but you lived them! Well done, my good and faithful servant!"
I am praying a mirror prayer for all of my children.....and for you!
If we can reflect Christ now, He will give us so much more than a reflection for eternity! What an offer!
Love you all!
"10I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. 12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
15All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16Only let us live up to what we have already attained."
The part in bold jumped out at me tonight when I looked up the entire passage. I kept hearing "the power of His resurrection" in my mind, and I wanted to read everything before and after this phrase just to be reminded about what all it said. When I read verse 15, I thought "wow!" As we mature in Christ, there are different expectations as to how we should view things! So I looked back to see what "things" Paul was talking about.....
First, we should long to know the power in the resurrection of Christ! Can we even grasp the power needed to raise someone from the dead? To breathe life back into someone from which the last breath has been taken. To cause blood to flow through veins that have become motionless by the ceasing of a heartbeat. Oh, to truly know this power.
Second, we should want to share in His suffering. Can we ever begin to suffer in the way Christ suffered for us? To feel the whip against our back, the crown of thorns upon our head, the rejection of our friends and family, and worst of all, the feeling of separation He felt when even God turned away from Him as He hung on the cross.
Third, we must realize that until the day we die we are pressing on toward the prize. Small victories may come in this earthly world, but until the day we meet God in Heaven we must treat life as a race with ONE FINAL GOAL and ONE FINAL PRIZE! The only way to do this is to stop looking backward and to simply press on toward what is ahead. I love the fact that Paul used the words "straining toward." This implies great effort. Not looking back is hard. Not reliving mistakes, hurts, and injustices takes extreme discipline. Have you ever met someone who lives in the past? Constant blaming and excuse-making fills their conversations. Bitterness has been rooted in their hearts to the point that their past seems to control their future.
I love the fact that Paul simply says it like it is: All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. In other words, if you are growing in Christ, if you study His Word and pray, if you are a Christian who considers yourself to be striving to be more and more like Him everyday, then you should expect your view of life to change day by day. Part of this change will be that you no longer look back, even when you want to. You strain toward the finish line.
Maybe that's why Lot's wife turned into a pillar of salt. Not because she longed for what she was leaving, but because she couldn't let go of her past. Straining forward was too difficult. It's almost as if she was saying, "Just one more glimpse of where I was and what I was." Don't we all do that from time to time? Just one more feeling of regret, disappointment, rejection......just one more. Is that what God wants from us?
No. Paul says very clearly, we must press on in order to win the prize.
As you celebrate Easter, I pray that you will somehow grasp the power of His resurrection and that you will make a commitment to the Lord to PRESS ON.............and stop looking back....literally forgetting what is behind you.
Please continue to pray for my friend who lost her mom. She is struggling to make sense of life.
As I sat with my friend earlier this evening and held her hand, she talked through her day and wondered what she could have done to make it any different. She is sleeping upstairs now with her husband.
Her boys are still playing with Nick in the living room, the oldest swinging from moments of laughter to periods of questions to times of tears and the youngest spending most of the evening relishing the night of coloring eggs and playing video games almost unaware of reality. My friend's husband has been amazing. He has held her, encouraged her, and loved her through every minute.
When someone chooses to end their own life, they destroy so many others. The questions left for the family are endless. The hurt rips every heart affected by the loss. As we all sat in the kitchen tonight in silence, eyes were dark and sad all around the room. "Why?" That was the question tonight. "Why?"
As the two boys colored their eggs, I couldn't help but be touched by the fact that both of them individually made eggs that simply said, "Nana." One of them even asked his mom what Nana's favorite color was.....hearing my friend reply "I think it was purple" and then begin to cry again just broke my heart. Nana may have felt that life wasn't worth living, but to her broken family, her life was priceless.
My plea tonight to all of you is that you hug your family a little closer and that you realize how important your presence is in the lives of others even when you don't feel that important.
If God colored an Easter egg, your name would be on it. So would Nana's!
Please pray for my friend.
Friday, Erich was standing in the rain waiting for the van to leave for Mexico. I heard him say, "We need to stop before we get on the road...." and being the helpful, and I guess pesty, mom that I am, I hollered at Erich and told him to come hop in the van and I would run him to our house so he could do what he needed to do before starting the long trip. I noticed that it took him a minute to hear me, but it never occurred to me that He was trying to ignore my voice! When he got in the van, he informed me that "I needed to stay out of things." He said, "We always stop, Mom. It was no big deal." Well, I felt defeated. I just wanted to help. I waited in the van while Erich ran in the house, and when he came out I noticed he had not only grabbed a bottle of water, but he had also been given one of Nick's tacos from Taco Bell. Erich seemed quite happy riding back over to the group preparing for their mission trip, and he did say thank you, but he never said he was sorry for being annoyed with me or that the trip to the house had actually benefitted him more than he thought it would. UGH! I was irritated.
Suddenly this thought went through my head, "Tammy, Tammy, Tammy, how many times have you been unhappy with the road I have taken you on and then later realized that the road had many blessings you had never expected or asked for?" "And Tammy, how many times have you said you were sorry?" Wow! I felt humbled at that moment. Humbled that so often I expect more out of my kids than God gets out of me.
Forgive me, Lord.
Yesterday, it happened again with my son Evan. His car is broken down at college in Morehead, and he has reached a point where he is tired of car trouble. His solution is to sell his car and look for something else. However, in his mind he thinks a motorcyle makes so much more sense than a car. He argues that the gas bill would be so much less. He says that he would find other ways to bring home his dirty laundry (gee, thanks). And he assures me that he would be careful when he drove it.
Sorry, Evan, but this dream won't be coming true.
See, his dad and I realize that he only has 2 years of driving experience. We understand that there is no such thing as a "fender bender" in a motorcycle accident. We know the dangers, and we feel that we know what is best for him at this time. Watching Evan's disappoint, though, is hard. He doesn't see what we see. As I think about his request and our answer, I again hear thoughts in my head, "Tammy, so many times you ask me for things that aren't good for you. Trust me. I am working. I know what is best."
Just as I long for Evan to see life from my angle, I know that God longs for me to see it from His!
Forgive me again, Lord.
My prayer is that I will recognize the"taco moments" in my life and that when I pray I will tell God I am sorry for the times I have complained about the journey to the taco. Also, I pray that as I ask for things from God, I will learn to be patient and understanding when His answer isn't "Yes" but instead it's "wait" or even "no."
My prayer for you is that You will hear God speaking in the circumstances of Your day-to-day life! Enjoy the "tacos"along the way and be thankful for the times when God doesn't immediately say "yes" to your requests. Our Father does know best!!!!!
One of the powerful things about the book A New Earth is that it deals with your mind and thought processes. The author argues that our "ego" fights against us and that once we become aware of this battle we are somehow "enlightened." In some ways, it is easy to buy into this argument, because I think we do fight our inner thoughts a lot in this world.
The problem is this: the enemy is not our ego, it is satan. We are not being alienated from ourselves. We are being alienated from God. We are not enlightened when we become aware of this battle. We are saved when we give this battle over to God through following His steps to salvation that are clearly spelled out in Scripture.
II Corinthians 4 says "outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day." Romans 12 says we are "transformed by the renewing of our mind." Titus 3 says that we are saved "through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit."
Yes, we will still face times of doubt, fear, and temptation. The difference is that we will have the Holy Spirit as our Guide.
We will no longer live, but Christ will live in us!
Now that renews my mind for today!
The first thing that I noticed in Colossians was that the church was known for their faith and love. Of all the things I want to be known for, those two things seem the most important to me....faith and love.
I simply wrote in my journal, "That's how I want to be known."
Then I had to ask myself "How do I show love to others?" That's sometimes a tough question to answer. With all of the needs within my family, I often don't make time to really be "out there" showing love. I want to really grow in that area. The truth is, though, right now my family needs my love more than anyone else. So, for today, I am declaring that my love for my family be evident and active.......
My typical Tuesday is going to be foremost full of love........with love comes kindness, gentleness, patience, and the list goes on and on. I Corinthians 13 is a great chapter to read if you're wondering how to show love.
I hope you have a day where you are known, especially to your family, by your love!
This picture was sent to me all the way from Hungary where my dear friend Donnette's daughter is doing a one-year internship with her husband David. This picture is actually Deborah and her brother-in-law, Aaron. They are showing their love, support, and prayers for Nick all the way from the other side of the world!
This journey with Nick as had so many moments just like this one. Times when God reminded me that we are not fighting this battle alone. To see more about Nick's story, you can go to his website, www.nick7-11.zoomshare.com, and see many, many amazing pictures of God's people showing their love to Nick.
Be sure to look for the picture of the cloud my mother saw while driving to our house to begin Nick's radiation! It is a perfect thumbs up! Also, look for Sarah's ultrasound picture where her new little baby sends an amazing thumbs up from within the womb!
This list goes on and on.........
God is with us. For tonight, that's all I need to know. Living with a child who has cancer is not always easy, but living with a God who promises to meet our every need is ALWAYS EASY!
I hope that you live a life with God right in the middle of it! If not, please email me. I want to help you find your way to Him! In the end, that's ALL that matters!!!!!!!!!
He has been saving his money since Christmas to buy a game that was scheduled to come out on March 9, 2008. This meant that it would go on sale tonight at midnight. So, I called my oldest son Erich, who is in college, and asked him if he would go on a little trip to Ashland with us. He said he would, and I was thrilled. The roads are a little icy, and I really wasn't interested in going on this journey with only Nick. We decided to leave at 11:15 in case there was a line in the electronics section.....what was I thinking???? It is well-below freezing, the roads are a little icy, and everyone knows they are going to lose an hour of sleep! Why would ANYONE else be out tonight just to buy a video game?!?!?!? We got to the store and headed straight back to the electronics department only to find one very tired and very bored employee. I told her why we there and quickly discovered that friendliness wasn't her spiritual gift, so we decided to do a little other shopping. When we returned at 11:59, I noticed that she was handing over her position to someone who "never works this section." It was obvious that she didn't bother to tell him about us and why we were there. As it turns out, this young man was very friendly and happened to be nice enough to tell us that the truck with deliveries had not made it to their store today because of the weather. (Hmmmmmm.....I, a middle-aged woman with very little extreme-weather driving practice, made it to Wal-Mart and the Wal Mart truck couldn't?) Well, the friendly worker went the extra mile and called another WalMart 20 minutes away and found out they did get their shipment!! So, off we went. At this point, we couldn't go home empty-handed. We'd been gone an hour already!!! As we finally drove home with our long-awaited purchase, I looked at the clock and said, "This is the first time in my life I have actually been awake for the springing forward of time!" I don't think either of the boys realized just how cool I thought this was! When we got home, I sat here at the computer and watched the little clock in the bottom of the screen and sure enough! At 1:59 it clicked to 3:00 a.m.! Who is in charge of the computer clock!??!?!? That was just so fun to watch! Now, as the reality sinks in that I teach Sunday school in the morning and then have the nursery during church, I am definitely thinking that a Sunday afternoon nap is on my list of things to do tomorrow. But for tonight, I am happy and thankful! Happy that Nick was able to get his game. Thankful that he is doing so well and that every once in a while he can have a special memory like this that makes him grin ear to ear! Happy that Erich is here to enjoy the fun night with him (he decided to stay all night here instead of in the dorm). Thankful that Erich and Nick are so close!
So, to me "springing forward" has gained an entirely new meaning! I will always remember the year I was able to watch the computer literally skip an hour. I will remember driving all over Ashland to make Nick's little dream come true! I will remember Erich making us laugh all along the way! I will remember how someone going the extra mile made my day.....and hopefully I can carry that on in my life with others.
I will remember that sleep is not always as important as making another memory!
And........what I lost in sleep I gained in joy! Here's to a great spring!
But when my son reflected on the night, he remembered one boy in particular that looked familiar from a concert the night before. And in order to give my husband some type of image of this boy at the game, he simply said it like it was...."He was the "s" in "Ashland." I thought it was so cute when I heard it! I probably would have tried to describe him....blonde hair, medium heighth, nice smile....something personal. But Nick saw him as part of something bigger. Something outside of his own personal space. He saw him as a very important letter in a very important word. Without him, Ashland would have simply been "Ahland," which makes no sense. Alone at the concession stand, this same boy would have simply been "S" which makes no sense by itself. But in his right place in the word, he made everything make sense. Just like every other boy who stood in the line. Not only that, but each boy knew where to stand. The letter "d" didn't try to come first, and the letter "l" was fine following the letter "h." The word was "Ashland," the school was Ashland, and the boys all knew how to communicate this message to the crowd!
Isn't our life just like this in many ways? We all have something to offer. Something very special and very unique. Often, our contribution to church or to life in general doesn't seem very powerful all alone, but when we learn to fall in line, take our place, and join the team, we DO make a difference-a difference that people notice and a difference that sends a message-not about us but about our team or our family or our church.
Who are you lining up with? Does it make sense? What message are you sending to those who are reading your life story as it fits into a bigger message?
Remember what Paul says in I Corinthians 3, "2You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. 3You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts."
Have a "s"pecial day! I love you all!
I often wonder why this is the way it is. Truthfully, I believe the problem lies more within us than it does within the situation. I think back to the pioneer days when heating a cup of water for tea would involve building a fire, walking to the creek for a bucket of water, and then patiently waiting for the ice cold liquid to warm over the open flame. Having a hamburger for dinner would require not only raising a cow, butchering it, and then having it made into beef, but also buiding a fire and waiting it out. But, I have to believe that back then the pioneers weren't thinking about the time it took to do these tasks. They were just doing what they had to do to drink or eat.
When did we get in such a hurry? I've heard it said that the more conveniences we gain in life (computers, microwaves, VCRs, etc.) the less time we have to enjoy them. For some reason, we are lmost always in a hurry!
Since I have been home with our son who is battling cancer, I have definitely learned some important lessons about life! First, there is always tomorrow to do what you don't get done today, so stop and take time to have tea with a friend, to swing with your kids, to laugh with a neighbor out in your yard. Second, I've learned that waiting rooms can be places to reconnect with old friends, read a favorite book, make a list of things you want to do, or write cards to friends. Third, I've learned that time in my car can be a worship experience if I turn on my favorite Christian radio station and just listen and think about how wonderful God is! Fourth, I've learned that much like I had grown impatient in the little things of life, I had grown impatient with God. I asked, and I wanted answers. Even if it was "no," I felt that I needed an answer.....asap! Now, I know that waiting on God is also a time to worship Him, reflect on my options, pray, study His Word, and so much more.
If you are having trouble waiting either in an earthly sense at a red light or in a spiritual sense as God is working but not yet answering your prayers, I encourage you to sit back, turn on some Christian music, pull out your Bible, and just enjoy the wait!
The pioneers seemed to do just fine with little to no conveniences! And I just bet that many of them had some pretty amazing experiences with God along the way!
Living while waiting......not that's real living!
As I thought about this, it occurred to me that as humans we value something that is new! Many times the worth of something is measured by the price we pay for it and unfortunately whether or not it has been used and/or enjoyed by someone else.
Isn't it amazing that God knew this quality about us long ago when He said that He would take our dirty, sin-filled lives and through the blood of His Son Jesus be able to promise this in II Corinthians 5, "So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation."
Wow! God knew that in this life the devil would allow us to become "worthless and used" in a spiritual sense through our selfishness and sinful nature. He knew that this feeling of unworthiness would cause us to struggle to feel valued in His eyes. So, He didn't just promise Heaven and the forgiveness of our sins. He promised that we would literally become a NEW CREATION! That's powerful!
Do you feel unworthy? Do you feel inadequate? Do you feel like a worn-out Ty Beanie Baby beaten down by your choices and life's struggles?
There's good news for you in II Corinthians 5. Christ came and not only paid the price for your sin, He gave you the opportunity to actually be restored to a state of "NEWNESS!" Can you imagine being a Ty beanie baby sitting on the shelf in a department store, sparkling new, being offered at the top-dollar price? Well, that's what God wants to help you become!
If you are not sure how to do this, please read the book of Acts and see how person after person became a new creation in Christ! If you are still struggling, email me at email@example.com and I will help you find a church in your area that can lead you to life that is 100% BRAND NEW!
I love you all!