Friday, March 20, 2009

Professional or Rookie?

Thoughts taken from my hand-written journal this morning:

I feel like my life is a car flying down the road at a couple hundred miles an hour! It's go-go-go from the time my feet hit the floor at 6am until I fall into bed close to midnight. The machine feels barely under feels like one slip or wrong move and it will be careening, spinning and crashing.

I guess it's a matter of who's in control of the machine, eh? Take a race car, for instance. If I was driving a race car on the track, it'd crash within minutes of the start of the race. Yet in the hands of a professional driver? No worries! Obviously, God is the "professional driver" and I'm the I have to make sure HE is the one in control of the car of my life!

I found a couple Bible verses that talk about this principal.

Galatians 5:25 - Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
Proverbs 16:9 - In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.
Jeremiah 10:23 - I know, O Lord, that a man's life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps.
Proverbs 16:3 - Commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed.

This is why it's so important to spend those first waking moments with Him every morning! It keeps my spirit in step with His, it's me giving the firstfruits of my day to Him, thereby dedicating the whole of the day to Him. What better way to keep Him in control of the car and keep me safe!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Just a couple of things to share

I wanted to share a couple of things that I thought were cool.

I was at Worship Team practice last Thursday, and, as always, we pray for anywhere from ten minutes to a half an hour before we start worshiping. And, as often happens, I was struggling as thoughts and events from the day were sneaking in from the sidelines and invading my brain while I was trying to focus on Him. I asked God why it's such a struggle for me to enter in to His Presence sometimes and He showed me that it's as easy as stepping from one room into another. All I have to do is open the door and walk in - easy as that, I'm there! And so, in my mind, I did just that! And as I entered, my first instinct was to bow before Him and honor Him as my God and my King. He's so awesome, so beautiful, and holy, and mighty sitting on His throne! My very next desire was to run into His arms! To jump on His lap and throw my arms around His neck and just love on Him. :-) And He told me that I'm welcome to do just that! He is not a King who holds His people at arm's length, who is dared not approached. He is a King whose lap I can jump into! What an awesome God we serve, that as holy and righteous and amazing as He is, that He is still so personal that we can run to Him and love Him and be loved on by Him!

As I reflect on how awesome He is, this is my favorite image that captures some of His amazing-ness!

The next thing I wanted to share are a couple more designs I did up as I reflected on a few of my current favorite Scripture verses. :-)

This one I did after my last blog where I mentioned this is my favorite version of this verse.

This one I did after my friends pointed out to me that I'd been walking under a black cloud and it was time to enjoy life...even the "crises" that hit on a daily basis!

I did this one on Monday. Our church encourages us to fast every Monday through dinnertime as a firstfruits offering to God. Every day I get an email sent to me from KLOVE radio station with a Bible verse in it. This was the verse for Monday and I thought, "how appropriate!". God's timing is perfect! So I did this design for my desktop to remind me as I fast of why I'm fasting.

Anyway...that's it for today. Be blessed and be bless-able! :-)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Colors, dark clouds and vipers nests

Ok, so I got reprimanded for not updating my blog lol. I have been remiss in writing online of late. In my defense, I do write a lot in my journal...with an actual pen and paper!But alas, it doesn't end up online, and most of it won't :-)

So I'll start by saying I WANT SPRING!!! I cannot express how absolutely sick I am of looking out my window to white and brown everything! I want green grass and blue skies and the orange breast of robins. Perhaps a cardinal or blue jay thrown in for a splash of color. Definitely the purple and pink and yellow of tulips. I'm even looking forward to dandelions! Anything for color!

God has been moving in my life in very cool ways. Not only has He been showing me the many, many blessings He has bestowed on me, He's also been teaching me about being bless-able through obedience and being passionate for Him! I'll start to complain about someone and I feel the Holy Spirit nudge me, asking me if, at that moment, God would want to bless me. Or I get sassy with other drivers, grousing because they're in my way, and the Holy Spirit shines His light on the absolute arrogance in that thought pattern. I get angry over something stupid (in the past week Dar and I have argued over cookie dough...I wish I was kidding) and again, the Holy Spirit shines His light into my heart, and I see that I'm not bless-able when I'm disrespecting my husband.

God has blessed me so much and yet I wonder what thoughts, behaviors, words, and actions make my Heavenly Father choose to not bless me in those moments. What blessings have I missed out on??? I don't want to be the kind of person that He can't bless because I'm not listening to His Spirit when He shows me wrong thoughts and actions in my life.

I also see so much complacency and apathy in my heart that I desire to be eradicated by Him. This week our pastor's been sharing the verse that says our God is a consuming fire, a jealous God. (Deuteronomy 4:24), and that God wants us to love Him with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our strength. (Deuteronomy 6:5) I love "The Message" version...

Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.

So that's my focus right now. I want God to absolutely consume any part of me that is not wholly dedicated to Him. I've learned, over the past five years, to trust Him completely for provision. He has provided for us unceasingly! I've learned, over the past two years, to trust Him completely with my children. He loves them so much more than I do, or can. He is the ultimate Father! Amazing, awesome, loving, perfect, full of mercy and grace. When He disciplines, it's not a harsh, punishing discipline, it's loving, directing, guiding discipline. Sometimes it's hard, that's for sure, but never harsh. I'm learning to love His discipline! I love it when He teaches me new things. when He reveals areas in my life that need work.

Just a few weeks ago He revealed to me through two very good friends that I'd been allowing the circumstances of my day to rule my emotions and words. My mood had been dependent on what "crisis" or events came up in the day. The smallest things grew in my mind to be a huge catastrophe and I was walking around with a black cloud over my head.

Following is an exerpt from an email from my friend that woke me up to this:

I may be overstepping my bounds, but I hope not. (she wasn't!) Often I hear you tell about an aggravation you’ve gone through and then you’ll say something like, “Welcome to my life.” Last [week] you told the story about running out of gas at the gas pump, and then expressed a desire to trade lives with someone (anyone!) else. And I thought, “Would you want to trade lives with Tina (who lost her 3 year old son a year ago after a 2+ year battle with illness) because of that? Or Gina (who has a child with a heart condition)? Or Ann (who's daughter has a muscle disease)?” I don’t want to see you empower our enemy by losing perspective on things that are really trifling matters of everyday life.

You are God’s favorite – and mine! – but you’re not special in this: We all encounter problems and setbacks on a daily basis – kids missing the bus; teenagers (or me) not finishing the laundry; cars running out of gas; having to cancel credit cards because of unauthorized charges; losing an hour of productivity because office equipment isn’t working; being stuck in an email volley for half an hour, explaining the same problem to four different people; and on and on and on. I’m learning from my own experiences that there’s no God-given benefit in dwelling on ordinary inconveniences and allowing them to rule my emotions and define my life.

And she was absolutely right! They were such minor, ordinary inconveniences that I was building up in my mind to be these huge crises! I had been opening my arms to a victim's attitude and crying "woe is me!" So I've changed my reaction to these things..instead of throwing my hands up in despair, I've been lifting my arms in thanksgiving and worship. God showed me that I'd been trying to appear self-righteous like "oh my problems are so horrible, look...I trust Jesus!" when in reality I'd been trusting only in myself. So I've laid down the "super-Christian" and "super-mom" and "super-wife" mantles. I'm not super anything! While I'm special in God's eyes, and loved by so many awesome friends, so are all of God's children. I'm an ordinary human being with ordinary problems and challenges and anything "super" about me comes from God!

So that's a glimpse of where I'm at spiritually. There is so much more I could share, but that's the most recent, foremost in my life right now.

Last week Dar and I celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary. Thanks to God, my mom, and my brother Dan, we were able to get away for the weekend just the two of us! We didn't go far...up to Chaska where we stayed in a hotel on the river. It was lovely! We didn't do anything too elaborate, just enjoyed spending time together! So much of our time is spent apart, and when we are together we're dealing with teenagers and finances and schedules, just like most families. So it was wonderful to have the time to enjoy each other. We relaxed in the hotel room and then went out for appetizers at Applebee's late Friday night. Saturday was a short walk (it was only 5 degrees!), a movie, a bit of wandering around a mall, relaxing in the hot tub at the hotel, ordering in pizza and watching some tv (which is novel for us since we haven't had tv in our home for over 5 years). Sunday we got up and drove home to attend church at our church in St. Peter. We were going to visit a church in the Cities, but when it came time to go, we decided we'd rather go "home" :-)


You may be wondering how Casi is doing? I think she's doing awesome! I went to conferences at her school last Thursday and every one of her teachers had glowing reports about her. She comes to class prepared, takes awesome notes, does well on her assignments and tests, helps other students, is such a pleasant girl, they love having her in class...and on and on :-)

She's getting A's, B's and C's in every class except one, which she's getting caught up in, so that will be improving as well. So different from a year ago when she was failing every class but one! I stood there watching her interact with her teachers and was amazed. Who is this poised, confident, wonderful young lady standing before me? When did she grow into such a young woman?!? I'm so proud of where she is and how far she's come! God is SO faithful!

Pastor taught last week that we let "vipers" into our homes. Vipers are sin personified. We let them into our homes when we watch a show we shouldn't watch, look at websites we shouldn't see, commit sinful acts that we know are wrong. And once we "clean house" spiritually, repenting of those sins, there are still nasty viper's eggs in our homes and they hatch and then we deal with more vipers! And the only way to clear out the eggs is through prayer and fasting.

Last week was our church's 3-day fast, which I participated in. My main focus of prayer was freedom for my children from the chains that are holding them down. For Casi it was her past, her non-understanding of delayed gratification, and her disrespect for authority. She's come so far, yet we still have battles occasionally that wear us all down and wreak havoc on our family unit. I believe a breakthrough occurred through the fasting, yet when I walked into her room, I could still feel the old "spirit" of all that we've dealt with.

It all came to a head Friday night. Mom usually sleeps in Chris' room with him, but since he had a friend over, she wasn't very comfortable with that. Casi was at a friend's house, so I suggested she sleep in her room. Mom walked in and came out almost immediately. It smelled so bad in there, that she couldn't sleep in the room! I determined then and there that I would clean it the next day. I did it as a gift for my daughter. I did it as a physical symbol of wiping out the final remains of the viper's nest that she's been living in spiritually. And it turns out I did it as an emotional cleansing for myself.

It took me six+ hours! I cleaned out her closet where she keeps the litter box and food/water for my mom's cat, who Casi is watching. I don't think the litter had been cleaned for a verrrrry long time! And of all the nasty things I've done as a mom in the past 15 years, that's by FAR the grossest thing I've ever had to do. I shudder to even think about it! I swept and scrubbed her floor, sorted through her clothes and hung them all up in her closet. I picked up all the garbage strewn on every surface of her floor, washed all of her bedding and pillows.

I found some things I would rather not have found, and had a good cry in the middle of it all, but overall it was a "cleansing" activity (pun intended!) physically, spiritually and emotionally.

So I've been working on this post now for 8 hours on and off. There is so much more I could write about. But I'll just have to try and write more often! :-) I'm off to bed with my handsome hubby...God bless you all and good night!