Boundaries Have a Good Purpose....

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.
I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.

Psalm 16:5-7

My portion.

My cup.

A secure lot.

Boundary lines.

Pleasant places.

A delightful inheritance.

Praising God.

Counseled by Him.

An instructed heart...even at night.

One verse and yet so many powerful possibilities.

If you're cup is overflowing with the wrong things.

If you are feeling insecure.

If you are feeling like you have no boundaries.

If you are feeling like life is unpleasant.

THINK ABOUT THIS...........

God never planned for you to feel this way.

He longs to help you set your boundaries.

He longs to counsel you.

He longs to instruct you even by night.

 

 

WHY?

 

So that you can live in pleasant places.

So that you will have a delightful inheritance.

So that you will ultimately praise Him.

 

Today, take a good look at your life.

Where can you say "no?"

Where can you cut back?

Where can you let go?

While it's easy to get caught up in excess and expanding,

God is all about pruning and parameters.

I'm trimming hedges in my life in 2013.

I'm putting up some fences.

If you are feeling overwhelmed today, I'm challenging you to do the same.

There is great freedom in allowing God to step in and help you set boundaries!

Say "no" when necessary.

Limit your use of technology.

Determine your passion and live it fully.

Deepen a few friendships and be thankful for them.

Pray before your say.....anything.

Read the Bible before you pick up another book....always.

The Creator of the universe longs to be your Perfect Property Surveyor.

Allow Him to set your boundary lines today.

And trust that He knows best!


Praying for you today,



When Storms are in the Forecast, Listen.........

Today, our county is in a tornado watch.

High winds are in the forecast, along with lightning, thunder, and rain.

It's strange weather for January.

With 70 degree temperatures yesterday,

our area of the country is now looking at a 40 degree thermometer drop by the end of the week.

 

Weather is unpredictable.

Weather can be scary.

 

Yet, over and over again the Bible speaks through the symbolism of storms.

 

Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm..

Job 38:1

I would flee far away
and stay in the desert;
I would hurry to my place of shelter,
far from the tempest and storm."

Psalm 55:7-8

He fills his hands with lightning
and commands it to strike its mark.

His thunder announces the coming storm;
even the cattle make known its approach.

Job 36:32-33

Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
and he brought them out of their distress.
He stilled the storm to a whisper;
the waves of the sea were hushed.
They were glad when it grew calm,
and he guided them to their desired haven.

Psalm 37:28-30

Praise the Lord from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,
lightning and hail, snow and clouds,
stormy winds that do his bidding,
you mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars,
wild animals and all cattle,
small creatures and flying birds,
kings of the earth and all nations,
you princes and all rulers on earth,
young men and women,
old men and children.

 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for his name alone is exalted;
his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.
And he has raised up for his people a horn,
the praise of all his faithful servants,
of Israel, the people close to his heart.

Psalm 148:7-14

Maybe your life feels a little stormy right now,

literally or figuratively.

Either way, listen.

Find shelter in God's arms.

Trust Him.

Lean on Him.

Know He is with you.

He who speaks to the winds with the words, "Be still," longs to speak the same words into your heart today.

Praying you hear Him even in the midst of stormy forecasts.



How God Uses Our Gifts Beyond our Wildest Dreams!

Last fall, Maria, who is like a daughter to us, was trying to figure out how to go home to Peru to visit her family for Christmas.

As we sat and talked with her about the cost of the trip, I had an idea.

I have a dear friend in Columbus whose husband travels frequently with his job, so I decided to just call her and ask if he happened to have any extra frequent flyer miles Maria might be able to have for this trip.

Pam quickly went to work, trying to help Maria get home to see her family.

While she was unable to collect miles for a ticket, she was able to rally her prayer group to do something even more unbelievable.

One day, about a month after talking with Pam, we received a certified envelope in the mail and in it was a check to not only cover Maria's travel expenses but also allow her to have some money on the trip for other things.

 

Pam, I want you to see what the generosity and love of you and your friends ended up helping to make possible in Peru at Christmastime!

 

Maria and her family decided to visit a very poverty-stricken part of their community and bring the love of Jesus and the spirit of Christmas to children who otherwise would have had nothing.

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Over this open fire, they prepared the hot chocolate.

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Children and adults waited for their treat.

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Maria shared the love of God with them.

They took time to thank Him for his love.

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Children, who rarely get more than just what they need to survive waited for their yummy drink, something Maria says they never normally have the chance to enjoy.

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Toys were purchased for each boy and girl.

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A Christmas party was created just for them!

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Maria handed out the gifts!

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And all of the children said, THANK YOU to people in America they will never meet this side of Heaven.

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If you support mission work of any kind, this is what your gift can do for a world that needs to see and hear and feel the love of God.

Thank you, Pam and all of your friends who gave Maria a beautiful Christmas.

And thank you for allowing her to then give a beautiful gift to all of these precious children.

One day, I want to go hug them all.

Thankful today for the way God uses our gifts to one person to become gifts to so many more.

 

Now he who supplies seed to the

sower and bread for food will also

supply and increase your store of

seed and will enlarge the harvest of

your righteousness.

II Cor. 9:10



Remember Who's On Your Side...

Psalm 56:3

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise-
in God I trust and am not afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?

This week our district is going through a state audit.

Nerves are on edge.

Evidence waits in notebook after notebook to "prove" that teachers and staff have been doing everything they can to provide quality education to the students here.

When I think about this week in light of the Old Testament history surrounding the tabernacle and the preparations required for God's presence to enter it,

I have to smile.

How has man reached a place where "man" makes us so nervous???

Our goal should be to please God daily.

Out goal should be to purify ourselves so that we provide within ourselves a place for Him to dwell.

Our goal should be to cross the finish line one day and hear the words, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

Yes, we want to do our best at our jobs.

Yes, we want to "do everything as unto the Lord."

But, fear?

No.

I don't think this week is a week to be afraid of an audit.

I don't think any day is a day to be a afraid of being observed.

We won't be perfect in any man's eyes.

There is always room for human opinions to differ.

However, we can be made perfect in God's eyes through His Son,

and

personally, that's the only perfection I care about these days.

So, today, if you find yourself feeling a little rattled, a little nervous, a little overwhelmed about this week,

relax.

Take a deep breath.

Smile.

Moral man can do nothing to you.

Nothing.

Put your trust in God.

Do not be afraid.

God's got your week covered in His Presence.

Lean back in that knowledge and have a great Monday!

 



When God Speaks to Winter Hearts.........

I woke up this morning about 45 minutes late.....

jumped out of bed, disappointed that I would have NO time to read and no time to write

before the hustle and bustle of the morning routine began.

I checked the back yard in hopes of snow......

NOTHING. Sad smile

So, I started my normal routine.

Coffee brewing, I thought, "I'm just going to check the forecast, maybe snow is almost here."

The Weather Channel predicted snow a little later in the day, but WSAZ seemed to list every school but ours as one already deciding not to risk the elements.

Errrrrrr.......

So, I continued my morning routine....

for only a few minutes before I received a text saying,

"No school!"

I couldn't believe it.

About that time, Olivia squealed from where she was sleeping, "No school!"

She had received a text too!

We're pathetic here, aren't we?!?!

We just love permission to stay in our jammies and have an extra cup of coffee or hot chocolate!

But, even with this news, I found myself not feeling my "old excitement."

Some things just aren't the same at our house.

 

Snow days are definitely a part of our life that has changed a lot over the years.

 

This house use to hum with the sound of boys playing Zelda, fixing frozen pizzas at all hours of the day or night.

This house was a house of action.

 

The humming settled down to a purr over time,

and parts of me have adjusted and actually savor the quietness of a purring house.

 

Parts of me still miss the wild days of snow boots, snow pants, and gloves scattered throughout every room.

This emptiness inside me feels a lot like the trees look outside my window,

barren branches, unprotected from the cold winds of winter.

 

I find myself having a winter heart lately.

 

Do you ever feel this way????

 

It's always risky to be transparent.

If no one can relate, then I'm setting myself up for pity.

I don't want that.

I just want to know I'm normal. Smile

 

Today it's worth the risk to share, because I took my winter heart outside this morning and God shared something with me that I know I needed to see and hear.

 

He spoke to my winter heart.

 

I felt selfish keeping His message to myself, because you may be feeling a little blue too.

 

And when God speaks, He speaks to all who will listen.

 

Here's what happened..............

 

I stepped outside this morning in hopes of catching a few photos of the falling snow.

It was so pretty.

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As I snapped this photo, the sound of one loudly chirping bird penetrated the silence of the otherwise quiet morning.

The contrast of the peaceful snow with the almost frantic calls of the bird became my focus.

I wanted to see this bird.

I kept thinking, it has to be right here.

It is so loud.

And then I saw it!

It flew from a bush nearby and landed right in the bush I was photographing!

 

It looked like a bird full of new life to me,

ready to burst forth with a nest full of little ones.

And I sensed in the bird a feeling of excitement over something.

I'm not sure what was going on in this bird's little life, but in the distance I could hear other birds replying and the whole experience made me smile.

To be a part of nature corresponding with nature.

 

It just made Twitter seem so "birdly" all of the sudden........

Who needs technology when you have wings and a beak!?!?

 

echs homecoming 2012 014

Watching this bird brought back a moment in Nick's cancer journey when I accidentally stepped on a tiny newborn bird that had fallen from its nest.

I'll never forget the horror of that moment as I was loading the car to leave for one of Nick's doctor appointments.

I remember vividly how I felt deep inside when I realized what I had done.

And I'll never forget how God used that experience on my sidewalk to speak to me that day,

He said,

"You have claimed me, Tammy, the One who feeds the sparrows, the One who knows when even a sparrow falls from His nest, as your Lord, and I know about this tiny bird that just fell.  I love this bird.  I did not kill this bird.  You did."

 

In that moment, I knew God was leading me to accept something I was fighting in my own life.

God was telling me this......

I love Nick.

I am not killing Nick.

Cancer is.

 

I'll never forget the profoundness of that tiny snapshot in time,

and I don't think I'll ever forget today.

 

Because as I walked through my backyard snapping photos, I noticed something about me..............

I cannot do with human hands what God does daily with supernatural hands.

 

I have plenty of ways to feed birds, take care of birds, provide for birds,

but all my ways are meaningless, empty,

not offering cold, hungry birds a single thing.

 

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And yet they chirp with joy,

they trust in Him,

they do not worry or fret.

 

They know their Provider will do just that.........

with or without me.

 

And today, God spoke these words to my winter heart,

 

"Birds trust Me and sing for joy even on bitter, cold January days.

I want you to do the same.

Sing.

Have joy.

Embrace today.

Don't depend on this world for support, strength, nourishment..........

depend on Me."

 

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?

Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of God.

Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many? sparrows.

Matt. 10:29-31

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body,

what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.

Are you not much more valuable than they? 

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life.

Matt. 6:25-34

 

 

 

Praying you find peace, joy, and hope knowing that just as God takes care of every bird, He longs to take care of you.

With deep love,



How Dark Can It Get and What Can We Do About It??????

You don't have to watch the news for any length of time before you sense darkness in this world.

Evil lurks in parking lots, schools, malls.....

anywhere you find people.

I've heard people say, "I just don't watch the news anymore,"

as if denial has power over reality.

I sit with other professionals who worry about the next generation of adults...

lost, broken, hurt, angry.

Evil breeds evil,

and

darkness somehow manages to get darker.

I wonder how the Egyptian people felt as plague after plague overcame their land.

I wonder if they realized what was going on in the palace as Moses pleaded for the release of his people yet Pharoah continued to have a hardened heart, saying, "No, your people cannot go."

The plague that stood out this morning as I read didn't involve flies or locust or hail.

No, it wasn't a plague that brought physical discomfort or pain.

It was a plague that brought a feeling from the lack of something.

Then the Lord said to Moses,

"Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that darkness will spread over Egypt-darkness that can be felt."

Exodus 10:21

I have to think that by this point in the series of plagues, a break from physical suffering would have felt like relief,

but there's something very creepy about "a darkness that can be felt."


The absence of light can be that powerful.

I'd say they could feel all the way to their bones.

 

Scriptures goes on to say that it was so dark that no one could see anyone else and for three days they were unable to even leave their homes.

That is what I call extreme darkness.

 

On top of this overwhelming darkness had to be overwhelming fear, because they didn't know when it would end.

Each minute that ticked by with no sign of light had to be terrifying.......

 

But in the distance, could they see Goshen?

Small flecks of light danced in the homes of the Israelites.

Surely they could see this soft glow way, way off in the blackness around them and wish that somehow they could figure out a way to stumble toward it.

 

We live in a dark world.

Sometimes I think I can feel the darkness when I hear of men trying to abduct women in broad daylight.

Moms and dads hurting their own children.

Children killing their own parents.

Countries burning other countries flags.

Hate and anger rise up and snuff out the candle of peace every chance they can,

 

so..........

 

what do we do when darkness gets dark enough to feel??

 

That's what I've been asking myself lately.

 

It's so easy for me to "cave" to the darkness,

literally slip right into it and let it get the best of me.

Feel discouraged.

Defeated.

Hopeless.

Even angry that the world has become such a mess,

and life has gotten so complicated.

 

But every single time I do,

the devil wins.

 

So, how do I climb out of these feelings of despair?????

How do I see good in a world where simply changing the channel or walking down a school hallway reminds me that the good is not always easy to find?

 

The devil loves when we "feel the darkness" and can only sense a soft glow far in the distance, unreachable.

He loves to paralyze us in our fear.

 

 

I think Christians have one option in a dark world.

It's not complicated, but it's definitely a choice we have to make daily.

 

We have to be the light.

We have to keep each other's embers glowing.

We have to remember that one light transforms a dark place.

 

One light.

 

One glow.

 

One candle.

 

One ember.

 

Darkness isn't truly darkness anymore if we realize the power of our one light.

 

I hope that today you can enter whatever world it is that God has called you to...........

as a light.

 

 

A bright spot in a seemingly dark place.

 

If darkness can be felt,

so can light.

 

Allow someone to feel His presence today because you are there........

bringing light.

 

Be Goshen today in a dark, dark world.



When Backing Up is Easier Than Moving Forward......

I've started about ten different blog posts this morning.

I've deleted them all.

I'm just finding myself in one of those little seasons where my own words get on my nerves,

like I'm trying to think of something to say just to have something to say.

Ironically, this is exactly what I'm doing right this minute -

but for some reason I feel okay about these words, because at least I'm being honest.

I'm just in one of those wordless little episodes of blogging where I find myself soaking up a lot more words than I do releasing them.

Like a sponge that needs to be held under a faucet for a while, I'm feeling a little dried up in my word department. Smile

I'm reading about Moses right now in my daily Bible reading, and I had to laugh this morning as Moses stood before God and felt quite wordless himself.

I love that God was so patient with him, and I especially love how God continued using someone who seemed to think they had nothing to offer.

Do you ever feel like you have nothing to say, nothing to offer, when people need encouragement, hope, joy, peace, or purpose?

Do you ever feel like you are the person needing encouragement, hope, joy, peace, or purpose, and you just can't seem to find someone to give you that "word" you need to make it through another day?

If so, then I understand you........

because I have been the person having both of those kinds of feelings many times in my life.

I'm so thankful God has worked with people like me and you since the beginning of time.

He gets us.

And today, on a day when backspacing to delete my words seemed so much easier than clicking forward,

God somehow stepped in and said, "Let me have the keyboard, Tammy, you need My help."

So, the forward journey this morning in this blog post has definitely not been me.

It's been Him, and when He takes over, it is so easy to let go and just let Him use me to say something I never would have said on my own.

He wants to be our forward-moving helper.

He wants to be the One who gives us words to say; and even more than that, He  wants to be the one who gives us encouragement, joy, hope, peace, and purpose.

He is the Great I Am, and when we gets our attention and gets us to step aside, allowing Him to step forward,

the delete button doesn't seem as needed as it did just minutes ago, because God is always working to

move us forward in His plan,

move us upward towards His throne,

move us outward to be His light,

move us inward to find His heart.

He's a God of forward movement, not a God of backspacing.

On my own, I go backward, just like Moses trying to run.

But with God, I step out with courage I didn't know I had, even if the movement is just my fingers on the keys of a computer.

I love that even when I feel like I am in a rut, God is moving me along towards something.

And He's moving you too.

Don't feel stuck today.

Don't backspace today.

Let go and just let God take this seemingly regular-old-Wednesday and do what only He can do through you.....something spectacular!!

Maybe it's making one person see His love in  a way they've never seen it before.

Maybe it's helping someone find hope on a dark day.

Maybe it's encouraging one student to find purpose in life when there's not a lot of reasons to think there could be a purpose for his/her life.

I don't know how God will move you forward today, but I do know this:

When we allow God to move instead of trying to move ourselves, He is ready, eager, and willing to jump in and take the lead.

I hope you have one of those days where you are fully aware of His presence in you, near you, moving you, and using you..........

the world needs you to be led by Him so they can find encouragement, joy, hope, peace, and purpose not through you but through Him in you.

I'm thankful this morning that God stepped in and stopped my backspacing so that He could move me forward in this post.

Have a great day!

I love you!



Give-Away for Someone Who Needs Comfort.......

If you or someone you love is in the midst of a time of loss, I would love to share a couple of books with you that helped me in my early days of grief.

Please leave a comment below that includes your email address, and I will have a drawing this Friday for a winner of the following books:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have a wonderful Tuesday.

I love you all so much!



How To Please Him...........

I don't know if you are anything like me,

but if you are, then you have a hidden desire to keep everyone around you happy.

And if you've been like me for very long,

you've slowly started to realize that doing this is not always possible.

 

People are people.

Everyone has different needs, different dreams, different goals, different longings........

and sometimes (many times) there is nothing we can do to keep another person happy.

We let people down.

We disappoint.

We forget.

And the list goes on and on.

 

So.............

after almost half a century of life (YIKES!),

I'm starting to finally understand something  I wish I would have "gotten" a long time ago,

"Pleasing God is all that really matters."

In pleasing Him, I can live at peace with most everyone around me, and honestly, help them more by turning them to Him not me for counsel, advice, support, and love.

 

I love everyone.

I truly do.

But I love God more,

and

I want to please Him above everyone else.

 

When I went to Biblegateway.com, I found all kinds of verses about pleasing God.

 

This morning, I am listing only a few of many.

I hope you'll take the time to look some more up in your Bible concordance or online.

What if we all chose to focus on pleasing God today?

 

Live as children of light  (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness,righteousness and truth)  and find out what pleases the Lord.

Ephesians 1:8-10

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone- for kings and all those in authority,that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.  This is good, and pleases God our Savior,  who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

I Tim. 1:1-4

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise-the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

Heb. 13:15-16

 

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Hebrews 11:6

When we choose to please God, we begin to measure success with a different ruler than the world uses to measure success.

We begin to slow down and realize life is a gift to be savored not a mad dash to get all we can get before we die.

We begin to soak up conversations with people we love rather than rush through life to the "next thing" on our list of things to do.

We begin to prioritize choices so that man is not controlling our hours, our free time, our peace or lack of it.

We begin to see everyone through the eyes of Him who made them.

We begin to have compassion in places we once had intolerance.

We begin to speak words that bless not curse.

We begin to love unconditionally.

We begin to be Him to a world who needs Him.

Praying for you today,



Almost Wordless Wednesday.............

 

It's one of those mornings where I've spent way too much time checking the weather channel and WSAZ for any sign of a school delay.

The temperature here teeters between 32 and 34 degrees with a steady, bitter cold rain falling from the sky.

My Bible reading this morning was pretty much the genealogy of Esau, which in and of itself wasn't that enlightening..

so-and-so begat so-and-so over and over again.

I kept thinking, "Why, of all things, is so much time given to genealogies in the Bible?"

Yet, I know this gives us a way to measure time and history, and it shows how people are connected to each other.

But then it hit me,

each of these "so-and-so's" is a me and a you.

It's someone who lived, breathed, impacted those around them, and then died.

They existed and that alone matters.........

I hope.

 

Because one day, we will all be part of a list in a genealogy record, and then what?


I don't know.

 

All I know is this:

 

either we don't matter at all and we are just a stepping stone to the next generation

or

every person listed in Bible genealogies mattered greatly to those around them

 

And I'm just thinking the second statement is more true than the first.

 

We matter.

 

Maybe not to the whole planet, but we all matter.

 

So, today, my prayer is that you will see yourself as someone who matters to someone else.

Maybe it's a kind word to an employee at a store or a note mailed to a hurting friend.

Maybe it's something you do around your house that turns your house into a home.....

lighting a candle, turning on soft music.....

It's up to you.

 

Just know today you are more than a name in a genealogy.

You matter.

And God is just as faithful today as He was two thousand years ago........

 

 

Deuteronomy 7:9
Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God,

keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.



What We Need Daily.........

A lot of my time at work is spent with teachers trying to come up with ways to help kids become better readers and writers.

I often hear about the struggle teachers have with filling in the gaps from what children missed out on at home before starting school.....

 

learning their colors

learning their alphabet

learning to count

 

These use to be things that all parents spent time teaching their children before they even walked into a school building.

Today, this isn't always true.

 

I think it's a mixture of technology, television, and lifestyles that has distracted many parents from giving their kids undivided attention at home.

I believe I was more distracted when Olivia was young than I was years ago when I became a mom for the first time.

Oh, to have a chance to go back and do some things differently!

 

Anyway, as we met with teachers yesterday and talked about the reality that kids should have 1,000 hours of laptime reading with an adult before the age of five in order to develop a love for reading, I was struck with the truth that the same goes in our spiritual walk.

 

We need laptime with God every single day in order to learn to love Him and trust Him completely and fully.

He needs to not only be our King of Kings but also our friend of friends.

God's lap

 

Today, I challenge you to take some time just to talk to God as your best friend.

Tell Him what is on your mind.

Be honest (He already knows anyways!).

Ask Him to help you.

Tell Him where you're weak and struggling.

 

Just as moms and dads need to give undivided attention to their children,

we need to give undivided attention to God.

 

He's always ready and willing to pull you up on His throne and listen.........

 

 

Do not be anxious about anything,

but in everything, by prayer and petition,

with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Philippians 4:6

 

16Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence,

so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Hebrews 4:16



Rain in January??

It's January, and if you have kids or if you are a teacher (smiles), you know rain isn't what you hope to see falling from the sky this time of year.

Yesterday sounded like monsoon season outside as we sat in Sunday school and then as we spent our Sunday afternoon doing are normal Sunday afternoon activities (napping, reading, watching football).

So..............

Monday is upon us with no signs of snow in the forecast,

and

January ticks on as a rainy, somewhat warm month.

 

Winter seems to be passing us by disguised as spring.

 

Deep inside I know we should be thankful.

 

Lower electric bills.

Easier travel.

No need for gloves or scarves.

Longer summer break.

 

But, there's just something about a winter wonderland I love.

I love the peaceful feeling of branches draped in white.

I love the muffled sounds after a fresh-fallen snow.

I love watching the early morning news  to see if Carter County is listed as "closed."

I think I will still love this when I am 85 and have no connections to the school calendar.

I just love snow days!

 

I have no idea why I am writing all of this except to say that sometimes in life it rains in our Januarys even when we want snow,

and we just have to press on in rain boots instead of snow boots and with umbrellas instead of big, fluffy coats.

 

 

Life is all about pressing on.

 

In the.......

Rain

Sleet

or

Snow.

 

Today, I'm praying that no matter what kind of weather you're facing in life, you'll find some beauty in it.

And you'll be reminded that you are not alone.....

in the rain, in the sleet, in the snow......

or even in the sunshine (if you happen to live in a sunny-January-kind-of place).

 

One thing I did notice the other day while walking in the rain was that puddles form in low places,

which in and of itself doesn't seem like anything earth-shattering;

however, it struck me the other day that in life, water travels to the lowest places.

 

This reminded me that Jesus, our Living Water,

does too.

He is with us.........in our lowest places.

 

He fills up our valleys with Him.

 

And maybe for today on this rainy Monday someone needs to know that.

 

If you find yourself filling low today,

know that Jesus is there.

 

He creates a puddle of love to fill up every part of your valley.

 

Soak Him up today.

Whether it's through sunshine, snow, or rain.

 

Happy Monday from rainy Kentucky!



Fully Present...........

It's Friday morning at 6 a.m. and here I sit, sipping my coffee and wondering how in the world one hour can rush by so quickly.......

A little time in the kitchen, giving Peppy a morning treat, staring a pot of coffee, and reading a bit while waiting for it to brew......

It's crazy to me how an hour can pass by so quickly when I'm loving every second.

When I'm all in the moment, totally present in the breathing in and out of all that's around me, I am....

 

Fully present.

 

These two words together became a phrase my husband used several years ago when I was struggling with enjoying life, living in grief, missing our boys that had moved away.

"Tammy, be fully present," he said, "Enjoy this moment."

 

I've not forgotten those two words though I often struggle to remember the beauty and power that comes from living them out completely.

 

Fully present.

 

I wonder if that's why God chose to send His Son down to us.

 

He needed us to know He was here......fully  present with us.

 

Galatians 4:4 says,

 

"But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son..."

 

The gift of His Son is just that.....a "present" of His Presence.

And it came when time had "fully" come.......

 

 

Fully Present.

 

Jesus became the model of how we should live, and maybe it's just me but I think the devil has fought it ever since.

He competes for our attention through social media, cell phones, television, insecurity, and every other kind of distraction that keeps us from being fully present right where we are.

 

God is working on me this year.

 

He's working hard.

 

He's pointing out weaknesses and drawing my attention to things about me that need refined, reshaped, restructured, renewed, and restored.

 

I've asked for it, so I don't know why it's surprising me that He's being so clear,

but

I'm learning everyday that even though I feel as if I have already been through the fire enough times in my life,

God still has a lot of refining to do inside of me.

 

And today, He's speaking loudly about the joy of being totally captivated by the very minute in which I am breathing.

 

Yes.

 

Captivated by the minute that I am doing dishes.

Or folding laundry.

Or getting ready for work.

Or riding on a bus with 16 teenagers to an academic competition.

 

Yes, God somehow grabbed my attention this morning as I sipped my coffee, read the Bible, prayed, and then wondered what in the world I had to say to you today.

He made it very clear that I had nothing to say to you.

He had something to say to me.

And so, I'm just sharing what I'm learning about what I need to change in my own heart, my own mind....

daily

weekly

monthly.

 

My camera helps me soak up the present, and I can always tell when I'm slipping because my camera stays on the shelf for longer and longer periods of time.

I am a photographer at heart.

And a writer.

 

When I lose touch with either of these two forms of art, I begin to lose touch with myself.

So, I'm taking my camera today to an academic meet.

 

I want to take pictures for the yearbook, but I'm just guessing God has some other plans for my camera today.

And when I lose myself in His plans,

I find myself again.

 

Today, I'm praying that each of you can lose yourself in God's plans for you.

 

In the losing of yourself, I'm praying that you can find Him powerfully present.

Fully present.

In you and with you.

 

When we allow Him to become fully present within us,

I believe we learn to live fully present with others.

 

Let this be our prayer today:

 

Lord, I'm here.

Fully aware of you.

Speak to me.

Use me.

And help me be fully present to the world around me.



How Holy Should We Be?

But just as he who called you is holy,

so be holy in all you do; for it is written:

"Be holy, because I am holy."

I Peter 1:15-16

In a world where there is so much evil,

it's easy to lower our standards just a little bit for the sake of a good joke or a little humor.

Television shows make it seem normal to see life as one big sitcom.

Honestly, there are many days I feel like I'm in a sitcom and someone just forgot to tell me I'm being filmed.

But......

the director of my life isn't looking for the next joke to come out of my mouth.

He doesn't expect or even want me to carry life along as a comedian.


He wants me to be holy.

 

Why?

 

Because He is.

 

I looked up the word "holy" this morning, because I want to know exactly what God wants from me,

and what He wants is not a half-way- when-I'm-at-church-or-in-Bible-study-Kind-of life.

I Peter says,

"be holy in all you do."

 

Every conversation.

Every action.

 

Holy.............

 

Set apart.

Dedicated to God.

Declared sacred.

Consecrated.

Saintly.

Devout.

Godly.

Devoted.

Having a spiritually pure quality.

 

Not self-righteous or proud or religious to the point of judging others,

but committed to Him in all I do-

not just when I am in a place where others are serving Him too.

 

Nothing upsets me more than thinking that I have let God or someone down by saying or doing the wrong thing,

but sadly,

it still happens.

 

I'm thankful for Paul's own struggle to do what was right only to find himself turn around and do the very thing he was trying not to do.

 

Not that I struggle with great big sins

(if you can put sins on a chart which I don't think you can,

although Christians do it all the time to make themselves feel better about their own weaknesses),

but I still struggle.

 

And when I do,

I feel convicted.

And I don't feel holy.

And when I feel like I fall short of who God wants me to be,

I begin questioning everything about who I really am and who I want to be.

 

So, this morning as I read I Peter and saw the phrase,

"be holy in ALL you do,"

ALL jumped out at me.

 

I want to be ALL in for Him.

I want to be His in ALL ways.

I want to give my ALL.

And I want Him to be my ALL in ALL.

 

The Bible says that when Jesus returns every knee shall bow......

that means that one day ALL people will worship Him.

 

I don't want to wait until He's coming back to realize how worthy He is of my devotion, my attention, my worship, my everything.

 

He deserved it yesterday.

He deserves it today.

And He deserves it tomorrow.

 

2013 is the year where I can feel God calling me to an even higher place of commitment to Him.

I want to feel convicted.

I want to be aware of my shortcomings.

I want to be challenged.

I want to grow.

 

At the end of it all, I don't want to come up lacking.......

and that's a scary request because reaching that goal requires some testing.

 

James 1:1-4

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  

because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.

Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

I don't know about you, but I feel tested almost  every single day.

I want to pass the test.

I want to persevere.

I want to finish the race with a victory.

I don't want to be a half-way, lukewarm person who does just enough to feel safe.

 

I want to give Him every part of me every single day.

Not to look religious but to feel faithful to Him who has given His life up for me.

 

I have felt convicted often lately,

and

today seems like a great day to simply say,

"Lord, I'm stepping up to a new place of fellowship with you."


As I look at the word "ALL," I realize there is just one letter separating it from FALL.

When I fall, I have stopped giving my all.

 

"Forgive me, Lord, in those moments of falling.

I long to

be holy in ALL I do.

Help me, I can't do it on my own."

 

Praying for you all today as you strive to live a life holy and pleasing to Him.

 

 

 



My First Thought on a Good Morning..........

No matter what kind of day faces me, I love when my first thought of the morning is of Him.

There's nothing like rolling over on my pillow and hearing myself think,

"I need you, God, to make it through this day."

It seems like the mornings I get up determined to get "this" and "that" done and take care of "this" and "that" thing

WITHOUT

asking God for help are the very days I find myself feeling overwhelmed and incredibly stressed.

Not that God takes every problem away and removes every difficult person or situation, but there's something about

knowing that I  have let Him know that I can't handle all my stuff alone that seems

to spread some kind of peace over an otherwise extremely difficult day or moment.

I'm a fairly weak person on my own.

Actually, I'm incredibly frail.

I wear my feelings on my sleeve.

I get hurt easily.

I hurt deeply and often do not know what to do with pain.

I wish I had a tough shell like some of my friends,

but for whatever reason God created me with emotions that run out of me like a river that has overflowed its bank.

I'm thankful for a God who works as my spillway.

I love this definition of a spillway.........

A spillway is a structure built in conjunction with man-made dams.

Its purpose is to provide a controlled escape for water when flooding occurs and water risks overtopping or overflowing the dam.

New & Used Heavy Equipment http://www.ritchiewiki.com/wiki/index.php/Spillway#ixzz2HTdNIsoC

 

 

Without God, I would overflow emotionally much more often than I do.......

I'm still learning, and I have such a long way to go.

But this I know without a doubt.

 

I am nothing without His help.

I need Him every morning to get me through every day.

 

So, on a good morning, this is the first verse that comes into my mind and heart,

I rise before dawn and cry for help;
I have put my hope in your word.

Psalm 119:147

If you don't have a favorite verse to start your day,

I challenge you to memorize this one.

If you have another one,

I'd love to hear what yours is!

Leave a comment or send me an email or Facebook message.

Or send me a tweet.........

@ilovepennies



The Best Security Alarm System.........

May the Lord answer you when you are in trouble;

may the God of Jacob make you secure.

Psalm 20:1

I'm reading a great book right now in which a man, in search of his own faith, leaves his world to literally "walk the Bible."

When I finish the book, I'll share more.

For today, I am struck with the verse above because I actually read it in another book I'm reading right now too, yet it flowed beautifully with where I'm at in the Bible and in the author's journey who is "walking the Bible."

As I read this verse and saw the words "may the God of Jacob make you secure," I was taken with the thought that we, modern-day humans, serve the same God Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob served.

We listen for, answer to, and follow the God of the Old Testament who made life with Him possible through His Son of the New Testament.


Like the Israelites, we have been chosen, called out, accepted, and pursued.

 

And in our accepting of the call,

God offers help when we are trouble.

 

He offers security.

 

Burglaries seem to be on a rise in our area, and I just spoke with a friend yesterday about the cost of an alarm system that would alert neighbors if someone entered our home.

It's scary to think that life has reached a point where homes don't always feel safe.

 

But, if you think about it very long, it's not surprising.

The devil loves insecurity.

He loves to rob us of more than earthly possessions.

He loves to rob us of joy, peace, hope.....

all the things God offers freely.

 

Today, I'm praying that God will instill inside of me a security alarm that will alert me to moments when I allow Satan to "break and enter" my heart and mind with thoughts of doubt and insecurity.

I want to react immediately to these thoughts, "taking them captive and making them obedient to Christ."

 

This world isn't going to get any easier to live in, I'm afraid.

 

So, the choice is ours.

 

Do we allow the thief easy access, or do we protect ourselves with the same security system Jacob had......

the God of Heaven and Earth?

 

I'm choosing today to claim the same power over trouble that these great men of faith had over theirs.

I hope you will too.

 

Find security in Him and Him alone.

Set your alarms today.......

and don't fear the devil's attacks.

 

"Greater is He that is in you than He that is in this world!"



What Does She See???

Olivia's IPhone 183

 

Fifteen Today

The years - they seem to fly right by.

We laugh, we hug, we fight, we cry.

Life isn't easy.....especially for a girl

in her early teen years in a messed-up world.

Self-esteem, self-worth, self-image and more

words about self than you could find in a store.

How does a girl survive today?

How does she know what to think or to say?

I look at her young little face in the mirror

and wonder what thoughts were behind that sweet smile.

I'm sure at the time she was totally happy

to sit and stare for a long, long while.

Reflections are fun when we are so young.

The world's cruel lies haven't begun.

But as we grow older and begin to see

Parts of us that we don't like to be......

It's harder to stare.

It's tempting to run.

It's easy to forget

That God's only begun.

So, my prayer today,

for my sweet teenage girl

is a year of discovering

again how to twirl.

I'm praying for more laughs,

more joy, more peace.

I'm praying she learns on God's

Word to feast.

I want to see Olivia confidently stand

as a teen who loves Jesus

more than any new band.

I want to see her help

her peers who need love...

and become a friend to the friendless

so they know Whose above.

I want her to look in her mirror and see

A reflection of Him who loves her deeply.

I want her to know that each day is a gift

And through all the world's messages, she must carefully sift....

Constantly sorting the good from the bad.

Leading to happy moments not sad.

I'm thankful today for each moment with her.

She's deep with her thoughts and makes my heart stir.

As I dive into Monday, I had to take time

To reflect on my girl with a short little rhyme.

I'm praying today that each of you will see

a person in your mirror who God loves deeply.

Stare for a minute and know with a smile

YOU ARE HIS, YOU ARE HIS LOVED CHILD!


Don't fight the love

Don't try to run.

His work with you

Has only begun.


....he who began a good work in you

will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Phil. 1:6

 



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