Monday, January 31, 2011

Girlfriends in God

I just have a heart to encourage, especially women. I go to the Bible Gateway every day and at the top (in pink, my favorite) are the words "Daily Encouragement for Women in our new Girlfriends in God newsletter - sign up now!" So, of course, I did. This is just part of the devotional/newsletter that was sent today.

Doing Life Together (1 Thessalonian 2:8)

"so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well."

I've been forgiven and transformed by the unconditional love of God. I was dead in my sins, but am now alive in Christ! I am free and it is my privilege to encourage you towards that same freedom in Christ. God longs for you to experience His perfect healing and hope too - no matter what you've done, no matter where you've been, no matter what has left you broken.

What's your story? Jesus came that we would have life abundantly (John 10:10). Not because of anything that we have done to deserve it, but because of what He has done. His grace is sufficient. The guilt, pain, and shame of our pasts tell us we are disqualified to move on, to serve God, to be free, and to know peace. But to believe this lie is to believe that your sin is outside the scope of God's grace. Nothing could be further from the truth. You have purpose in this life. And though you may have gone through a season of hurt, rejection, or pain, God can and will pick you up and place you back on track. I'm living proof.

There is no condemnation for those in Christ. While the enemy loves to cast false guilt, our Lord loves to extend grace and forgiveness, which is the remedy that restores all your broken pieces. Don't hold onto those pieces. Don't hide them behind a plastic smile. Bring them into the light, lay them at the feet of Jesus, and let go. Allow your wounds to be healed today.

Let's Pray

Holy Father, today I come to You with the broken pieces in my life that I have been hesitant to deal with. Take my hand and lead as I walk past my fears and doubts to the refuge of Your forgiving arms. Please take what is broken and transform it into beautiful. Please free me from the lies that have me shackled in silence and that keep me from believing that Your forgiveness can be mine. Help me to trust that You can redeem and restore every area of my life.
In Jesus' Name,
Amen.

Now it's your Turn

Ask yourself these questions:

What secrets or lies am I allowing to hold me captive?
How could God use my story for His glory?
Am I willing to share my experiences and failures for the transformation power of Christ to be seen by others?

Then, read Luke 7:36-50.

Written by Gwen Smith

Friday, January 28, 2011

My (Our) Get-Away

It appears that I was alone but really my love came along too.




Paradise Island (from a distance because we didn't pay to go on the private beach.)



Each day they had a drink special. Each one had either coconut or apricot or some kind of fruity something in it. I had a few glasses of wine and a few strawberry daiquiris, over the four days. On the last day, I saw on the menu that they had a banana daiquiri. I am glad that I didn't notice that until the very end of the trip!



The hot tub was HOT!



We went to a local "strip" of tiny "restaurants" called Da Fish Fry. We had Conch Fritters, Yellow Snapper, rice and beans and plantains. It was the best food we had the entire week!




I read every day on the Serenity Deck. The view was always amazing.






You can see the Atlantis Hotel from a distance. We visited it but we were not impressed.



Fishing in Freeport, Bahamas, was lots of fun. I caught a Yellow Snapper and a Grunt. It was windy and rocky. I didn't get see-sick but I did get sunburned.







We got to the Orlando airport at 10am anticipating a 1:30 flight. We didn't let the 3.5 hour delay get us down. We played Sequence, ate at the Outback, read and talked. I played cards with a four-year-old and visited all of the airport shops. Then we got on the plane at 5 pm. We were home by 9 pm. It's nice to get away but it's always nicer to get home.

We are now counting down until Carnival Alaska...only 150 days to go!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

W.O.W

"It has always seemed strange to me," said Doc. "the things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detests, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second."

"Who wants to be good if he has to be hungry too? said Richard Frost.

"Oh, it isn't a matter of hunger. It's something quite different. The sale of souls to gain the whole world is completely voluntary and almost unanimous - but not quite.

John Steinbeck's Cannery Row

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Reason for God

By Timothy Keller

I did not read this book but heard Scott and Kelli reading parts of it on KLove. You can view the entire thing from their Facebook page. You can probably find it on the KLove page as well (however, I couldn't).

Chapter 10: The Problem of Sin

At some point in most lives, we are confronted with the fact that we are not the person we know we should be.

Our response is to turn over a new leaf and try harder to live our principles.
Our ordinary idea is that once we satisfy the demands of morality and society, we can finally live for ourselves.

But Christianity is different, both harder and easier.
Christ wants ALL of us. Not our things. US! And HE will give us a new self.
Sin is not simply doing bad things, it is putting good things in the place of God
So the only solutions is not simply to change our behavior, but to reorient and center the entire heart and life on God.

If Jesus is the center of your life, and you fail Him, He will forgive you.
Anything else you base your life on you will have to live up to.
But there is NO OTHER center for your life which died for you!
Everybody has to live for something.

Whatever that something is becomes Lord of your life, whether you think of it that way or not.

Jesus is the only Lord who, if you receive him, will fulfill you completely, and, if you fail him, will forgive you eternally.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Marvelous Monday Morning

This was on the KLOVE page, under lyrics for the song by Chris Tomlin, called KINDNESS. It was not part of the song but it said (praying).


Lord,
We stand here,
As the desperate people
Hungry for the things of you
Come quiet the storms,
That rage all around us
So that we hear
The passion that
Beats through your heart
Spirit put healing in our hands
Put life in our words
And drive a passion
For the lost deep
In the hearts of your people
Inhabit the praises of us
Through children
And father send us out
With a reckless passion
Deliver us from evil
And set a standard of unity
To break down laws
And to heal your people
Unity is the cry of your church, Lord
Reckonsile the children to the fathers
And with forgiveness and mercy
Rush through the hearts of our land
We cry out our deep need for you Jesus
Oh God come in power
And bring glory to your name.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Joyful

Today's characteristic is JOYFUL. That's kind of funny...well not funny ha ha but funny "of course", seeing what we have gone through in the last two days. And you know what? It is an appropriate characteristic to describe BOTH of us right now (joyful that is).

Yesterday was my love's birthday and he was struggling as he attempted to hang a new door. He said "this is not how I expected to spend my day." But he had a smile on his face.

Getting back to the book "A woman who reflects the heart of Jesus". I love it. I have awakened for the last fifteen days to read this book before starting my day. Here are the characteristics that have been covered so far:


Approachable
Available
Compassionate
Confident
Courageous
Disciplined
Faithful
Focused
Forgiving
Generous
Gentle
Good
Gracious
Humble
Joyful

Hey, I just noticed that they are alphabetized. (I am a little slow).

Notes I took regarding JOYFUL:

You will never find the word happiness in relation to Jesus. Why? Because happiness is a response to a sense of well being or good fortune or prosperity. Jesus never allowed Himself to be controlled by His circumstances.

Jesus' joy was a gift from the Father.

Joy comes from having a consistent relationship with Jesus. As you walk in the Spirit, your life is vitally connected with Jesus.


Galatians 5:16 "So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh."

Your heart will rejoice and no one will take that from you.


John 16:22 "So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy."


Who wouldn't want joy instead of the draining, negative alternatives?

Changes you can make even while you are under the stress of suffering:

Take joy in your salvation.
Walk in the Spirit.
Choose to respond in joy.
Offer up praise to God
Understand God's will regarding thanksgiving.
Pray for joy in your ordeals.

The purpose of this book is to take a good look a the character traits that stand out in Jesus' life. Our hearts' desire is to follow in His foot steps, to emulate Him, to grow and become more like Him.


Each chapter ends with a beautiful prayer.

Dear Jesus, help me to remember that my joy comes from my relationship and walk with You. You are my joy and the source of my joy. May I stop allowing anyone or anything to rob me of my joy in You, and may others see Your joy in me. AMEN.

Why don't we feel ALIVE in this world we are living in? Maybe because we don't know what joy is. We don't know Joy Himself.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

It's Just Stuff




I just wanted to add this.

It is now 6:40. We tried to install the new door but the entire frame has to be replaced so my love will be spending his Sunday doing that while I celebrate Dad's birthday with the rest of the family. We talked about how we felt this morning. We both agreed that we don't feel like this was a robbery. We are calling it a break-in. They did not "steal" from us. We still have our security. We still have our peace. We still have our joy. And I have a strong faith in the LORD as He has given me all of those gifts. It is a little bit colder in the house (62 degrees instead of 65, brrr). So I am having a cup of hot cider and then going to bed.



**********************************************************************************

Father,
I pray this morning for the person who broke into our home yesterday. I am very sad for them, Lord. They must be in a low, low place in their life to do such a thing. I pray for their soul that they turn from their wicked ways and look to you for help in their desperate life. In Jesus name, Amen.


The only thing they took was my jewelry box which was not valuable. It was something that you would find at AC Moore. It was cardboard-like. I honestly couldn't describe it other than to say I think it was black and yellow with sunflowers on it. Dad and Mom gave it to me one Christmas. Inside I had shells from Mexico, Disney pins, cheap Claire's boutique earrings. Stuff. And my silver pendant.

I took the pendant off in September.

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes.
1 Peter 3:3


Last week, I thought about putting it back on but decided not to. I think it was maybe a couple of hundred bucks, maybe. Amanda's bracelet was also in there. It was a tiny child's bracelet, gold, that my mother-in-law wore as a child.

Then this morning I thought about the green necklace jeanniehopes gave me. And of course, the bracelet from Ray. That made me incredible sad.

None of these things were of anything but sentimental value. The thieves are very disappointed that they broke in to our house. Everything can be replaced if I wish to, except Mom's bracelet.

I am not angry. I'm not feeling violated. I am grateful that no one was here. I am just heartbroken by what sin can do and will do.

I am incredibly sad for the individuals.

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

W.O.W

Today's character trait:

Gentle

Lord Jesus, by Your grace may I accept what happens in my life as part of Your purpose. May I gently submit to each situation without complaining. May I refrain from trying to manipulate my way out of problems. May I remember to trust You and count on Your love. Thank You that each difficulty handled with gentleness makes me more like You. Amen.


From the book A Woman who reflects the heart of Jesus

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Woman who Reflects the Heart of Jesus

I am reading a book by Elizabeth George. It is 30 Days to Christlike character.

I started the book on January 2nd. Each day I am given a different character trait to reflect upon. Here are the ones that have been covered already:

Approachable
Available
Compassionate
Confident
Courageous
Disciplined
Faithful
Focused

At the end of each chapter is a prayer. Today's chapter listed the ten essentials listed in Titus 2:3-5 for us to focus our time and energies on.

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

1. Be godly in your behavior.
2 Be truthful and kind in your speech.
3. Be disciplined and self-controlled.
4. Be a teacher and encourager of good things.
5. Be devoted to your husband.
6 Be devoted to your children.
7. Be discreet and wise in your actions.
8. Be chaste and pure inside and out.
9. Be focused on your home.
10. Be kind and good to all.

Today's prayer about being focused:

Blessed Jesus, I have so much to do...and want to do. And I have so many options today for how I spend my time and where I put my focus. My heart yearns to live for You and live out Your plan for me. Know my heart and lead the way. I want to follow! AMEN

This video is one of my favorites. Every time I watch it I cry because it is so true. So beautiful. I am overwhelmed by the love of my Lord. I want to share that with you!

Keeping a Journal

I feel like I need to be here but just have a hard time putting my heart in to it. Emotionally, it's been an exhausting three weeks. Well, I guess more like a month. I am looking forward to going back to work tomorrow. How many people do you know who can say that?

Our most recent news is that two weeks from today, my love and I will be on a flight to Orlando. We got an outrageous deal on a 4-day cruise to the Bahamas. It started out as a joke at 8:45 am and by 3 pm, I was talking to the travel agent and booking it. We don't do many spontaneous things in our lives. We are planners. But there has been a few moments over the last fifteen where people would have to ask "are they crazy?"

I just keep thinking that Dad always wanted to go to Alaska with Mom. Now Mom is going with us.

No regrets! Live your life with no regrets...or at least try.

Yesterday I started typing my brother's journal that he kept in 1995 when Dad had the first aneurysm rupture. You may not even know that story. On October 21st 1995, I was living in Harrisburg. I came home for the weekend to visit my boyfriend. I stopped at my parents house and visited Dad who was sick in bed with "the flu". A few hours later, my brother called to tell us that Dad was taken to the hospital. We later found out that he had an abdominal aortic aneurysm rupture. He was given 1% chance of surviving. My brother wrote something each day about my Dad's hospital stay. Dad was suppose to be in the hospital for twelve weeks. He was in for forty-one days. He was suppose to have both legs amputated. He didn't and never walked with a limp. He was suppose to be on dialysis for the rest of his life. After a couple of months he was completely off it.

In other words, Dad was a walking, talking, miracle of God. There was no medical reason why he survived except God was not through with John Flynn.

We had Dad for 15 years (and about six weeks) after the rupture. Dad saw us all get married. He saw us all have children. He watched my little baby every day for three and a half years. He had relationships with all five grandchildren. And his relationship with the LORD strengthened.

After working on the journal for a little while (I got up to November 7th)I was completely and utterly emotionally drained. I was in tears. I sat on the couch with Amanda and watched Disney Channel sitcoms. Then we painted out nails.

This morning I woke in a funk also. I cried. I journaled. I prayed. Then I started reading my book about reflecting the heart of Jesus. The first sentence talks about the author keeping a journal. What a coincidence...not really.

"Aim at nothing and you will hit it every time."

This post is getting a little long so I am going to make it in to two, because I want to share this information with you.

But know that what I read was exactly what I needed to read. I am encouraged again.

Jesus is Lord.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

W.O.W

January:

In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16

“Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”
St. Francis of Assisi

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Answers for Debt-Free Living

By Joyce Meyer



How to Get Through a Financial Struggle God's Way
For many people, 2010 has been a financially difficult year. The housing market is down, some businesses have closed, and gasoline and food prices are rising. Some are struggling to stay ahead. But, what does God have to say about our finances and our future?

Don’t Make Decisions Based on Fear
God’s financial system is not like the world’s system. No matter what happens around us, we don’t have to be fearful because God loves us. First John 4:18 tells us, There is no fear in love...

Even if situations seem out of our control, the love of God isn’t ever going to crumble and remains our solid foundation in life. We can have confidence that whatever is happening, God wants to help us and will go out of His way to meet even our simple day-to-day needs.

Recognize Your Source
Second Corinthians 9:10 says, And [God] Who provides seed for the sower and bread for eating will also provide and multiply your [resources for] sowing and increase the fruits of your righteousness...

God is the One who provides our finances; our jobs are not our source—God is. So when positions disappear, we don’t have to feel hopeless, because God is not limited. He can provide for us through other means, in ways we may not have imagined or are able to figure out ahead of time.

Matthew 6:26 reassures us that if God takes care of the birds, we can believe He is going to provide for us, too.

Maintain a Generous Spirit
I’ve discovered the best way to deal with money is to give it away. This is a key factor in helping us to maintain a biblical focus on our finances. And we need to keep on giving, especially during challenging financial times.

If we obey God with our finances and give to help other people, the more God will have other people do for us. It’s just that simple. Proverbs 28:27 says, He who gives to the poor will not want...

Work with What You’ve Got
It’s possible to live debt-free with biblical principles, even in difficult times. Romans 13:8 tells us to Keep out of debt and owe no man anything, except to love one another...

My husband, Dave, says that if we learn to live within our income, or our borders, then God will bless us, our borders will be stretched and we’ll have more.

Luke 19:17 tells us that God is pleased when we are faithful and trustworthy in very little things. When we are, it says He will give us authority over bigger things.

Start Paying with Cash
It’s so easy to use credit cards without realizing how much you’re actually spending. If you’re trying to downsize your debt, start paying cash for everything. You’re more apt to stretch (even save) your money when it’s literally in your hands.

It’s okay to use credit cards for convenience as long as you pay them off at the end of the month. The point is: You don’t want to get into a situation where you’re so distracted by debt that you can’t focus on God.

The enemy wants you to be fearful of tomorrow. So your main goal needs to be to enjoy the life Jesus died to give you today. Do what you can to live in righteousness, peace and joy, and trust Him to do the rest.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A Message From Joyce

Romans 8:28 (New Living Translation)"And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them."

HAPPY NEW YEAR!


The #1 Way to Start Your Day
by Joyce Meyer


God wants us to have joy in the midst of our ordinary, everyday life—even on the worst days of our life.

It took me a lot of years to figure this out, but I now know that the very best way to start my day is by giving thanks to God for what He’s done for me, and asking Him how I can be a blessing to other people.

There were times in my life when I dreaded facing each day. All I could think about was my circumstances—wondering how Dave and I were going to pay the bills or get everything done that we needed to do. Sometimes I wanted to pull the covers over my head and just stay in bed.

I was so wrapped up in worry that I was missing the point: God had created a new day, and He wanted me to enjoy it.

Achieving an A+ Attitude
Every single day is filled with all kinds of situations that could upset you—things like losing your car keys or getting caught in a traffic jam. But you can choose to be at peace and in control.

God doesn’t necessarily create difficult situations for us, but He will use them to develop our character.

When you and I take our minds off ourselves and our circumstances, and put our focus on God and loving others, we are embracing an attitude that will bring honor to Him.

No matter what happens during our lifetime, we can be sure that God is working everything out for our good.

Setting Realistic Expectations
Another thing I’ve learned is that you cannot count on someone else to make you happy. You must take responsibility for your own happiness.

There was a time when I would feel sorry for myself if Dave went to play golf the day after one of our big conferences. I wanted him to go shopping or watch a movie with me. But God showed me that we have different ways of relaxing and unwinding.

By keeping our expectations of each other “real,” we can be free to do what we really enjoy.

Putting God and Others First
When you feel discouraged about yourself or your circumstances, remember that God made you and loves you just the way you are. He is leading you to where you’re supposed to be. And He is going to be with you every step of the way.

I encourage you to spend time each morning focusing on the good things God has done in your life. Think about the dangers and difficulties He’s brought you through, the ways He’s healed you and changed you, and how good it is to know He cares for you and hears your prayers.

When you learn to set your mind on God each morning, He’ll give you all the peace and joy you need to love others every single day of your life.