Wise Words

"Wait on the Lord, be strong and of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart...wait on the Lord. Psalms 27:14


WWW As My World Turns

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

So much on my mind

So, I have a lot to pray about and think about and work toward. As some of y'all know, my work is getting so stressful to the point where I dread getting out of bed every morning. But, I am thankful to have a job, in this economy, and I am thankful to have benefits and great co-workers...it's just other factors in it that are stressing me to the max and the fact that I am not able to be there for my kids as I would like. But...again...I am so incredibly thankful to have a job right now when there are so many who I know that are struggling to find one, and my prayers are with them that God will provide richly for them.

I love my secondary job with AdvoCare that I do from home right now and hope to turn that into full time within the next year or so. This past weekend they had "Success School" that I was unable to attend this time but they had over 13,000 people attend. On Sunday there was an optional church service in the Ft. Worth convention center. You might think that only a handful would show up. No, I was told that it was completely filled to capacity and I saw the pictures, and it was. Many of the key leaders in this company are very strong and committed Christians, several are pastors or involved in their church in some pivotal way. My team in Texas is extremely involved in their respective churches. I love that! They have tickets for 20,000 for the next Success School in February...less than 500 are left. Tickets just went on sale Sunday.

Additionally, when I went "home" to Iowa and Minnesota this past week for a family reunion – first one in 19 years that didn't involve a funeral – not only did Emily and Nate love it, I also started to feel the tug of maybe that's where we belong. Emily loved the small towns and wants to live in the country where life is slower paced, people know each other and everyone is more "God oriented" – this coming from a 10 year old who's lived in the big city all her life...shocking, right?! She loved it so much so, and the chance to be around family on the farms and in the small towns, that she started getting stomach issues (she has a nervous stomach) when we started heading back to Texas. She wanted to stay there. In fact, she wants to live in Dave's parent's farm house and on their farm. LOL!

Dave's family very much wants me/us/the kids up there, as well as my cousins...the ones who live in the area...and there are MANY. I think that all of us would seriously thrive up there, but it's scary as all get out thinking about it, especially when I've never moved from Austin and have lived there all my life. Then there's my church that I so greatly love... Plus, Dave just moved down to Texas, yadda, yadda, etc. While he and I are no longer dating, we are each other's absolute best friends, we do everything together, and yes, we still love each other with all of our hearts, it's just that the timing isn't right...but I'm pretty sure that if I moved somewhere else, he would follow. 

It seems that the older I get, the more mature I become, both spiritually and in life, and the less I find I have in common with my group of friends and I've been drifting from them for a while now. I don't love them any less, I just have much less in common with them than I did a few years ago. There's less tying me to Austin than there's ever been. The only negative is that my mom probably wouldn't move with us up there. She says she loves to visit, but she doesn't want to always have to "be on someone else's schedule".

I just have so much to bring before God in prayer...so much. And I have to make sure that I truly LISTEN to what He tells me. Who knows, maybe we'll be gone *in the blink of an eye* before then, but right now, I know that I have to do something to work on being able to be a work from home mom. The kids need me and I need to be there for them. Maybe that is here in Austin for the long(er) haul.

I posted the following on FB yesterday. I wanted to post it here too. It seems, to me that the more I talk about it, the more accountability I have, the more I am determined to make it a reality.

I have dreams...BIG dreams...that I've been thinking a lot about on this last week's family vacation and I have some hard work and dedication up ahead to turn those dreams into reality, but it WILL happen...make no mistake. I have my VISION, my GOALS, my DETERMINATION and most importantly my WHY. The only thing standing in my way is me. Change my mindset and I change my path. I change my path and I change my destiny. I change my destiny and I change my legacy and that of my family. Challenge myself, my mind, my body. Challenge myself to change my life.

I want that destiny and legacy for myself and my family to be a Godly one full of promise, and I feel maybe I'm being called from Austin to elsewhere in order to accomplish that in full. I just don't know where, but it might be back "home" to Iowa, specifically. At least that's where I feel a tug but God will guide me, I just need to listen, and listen with an open mind and an open heart, which is the hardest for me to do, when I'm so "self sufficient" because I've had to be in order to take care of myself and my kids. I have the utmost trust and faith in God that He will provide for us, but it's hard for me to step out on that faith because I can't see where it leads. 

A great analogy from a phone call that I was on last night at 9:00 with the national team put it this way. There is a difference between a front flip on a trampoline and a back flip on a trampoline. The front flip is so much more difficult, but that's the one that most people do because they can see where they're going. It's stable and predictable...but incredibly hard to do. The back flip is exponentially easier to do, but so few try it because they can't see where they're going.

It's the same way in life. So many people do the same thing, day in, day out because it's stable and that's all they know and they can see where the stable, predictable life will lead, even though it is harder to trudge through a job they hate, or a life that is lacking...life. They do it anyway. If they stepped out on faith, with God's help, even though it is scarier because they can't see where they're headed, it actually is easier to do the unknown and put that hard work into it in order to reap the rewards that will come.

Even when I was in gymnastics and did springboard diving, I always went for the back flips. So I guess I already have that ingrained in me. LOL! One thing I do know...If you don't focus on building YOUR OWN dreams for you and your kids and family, you will always be hired to build someone else's dreams. 

Just have to step out and do it if it is where God leads me. There are a lot of obstacles in the way to get there, but if it's where God is leading, then He WILL provide the way. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Providing Solutions...

So, as you all know in my last post I did the AdvoCare 24 Day Challenge and was super excited to see the results I was getting after just 3 days.

In all honesty, I wasn't sure what to expect when I went on the 24 Day Challenge, but after finishing it, I'm a true believer in the AdvoCare products. After the 24 days was up I lost a total of 15 pounds and had an over all inch loss of 32.5"...and I'm STILL losing weight and inches and gaining energy 4 weeks after by continuing the products after the Challenge. I am now at a total of 18 pounds (and 4 dress sizes) lost and 35.75" overall gone from my body! 

I am NOT the kind of person who endorses a product, that is unless I TRULY believe in it, but I can't stop talking about the 24 Day Challenge and the other products that have me able to work out harder, longer and faster with better results than I've ever had. This is a product that I wholeheartedly endorse! Not only do I have the body back that I had 15+ years ago, but as a single mother of two kids with a full time job, I have more than enough energy to keep up with my kids when I get home and on the weekends...especially my extremely active 2 year old!

I decided to become a distributor and an advisor after several friends asked me about it from seeing my results so far. I figured why not help others get the same or better results than I did and catch the same excitement to live an EXTRAORDINARY life?! 

Along with the weight loss and energy increase, in 6 weeks I now have a debt-free business and made over $1,000.00 in profit (every little bit helps these days!), the person helping me is currently making an extra $1,200.00-$1,500.00 a month, and is on target to make well over $3,500.00 a month before the end of this year – doing this part time, I might add...and the person helping HIM went from making between $3,000.00-$4,000.00 a month in January of THIS year to making over $12,000.00 a month with the company, as of LAST month. That is how explosive the growth is behind these products and who doesn't want part of that?

AdvoCare provides solutions for what your goals are and gives you a way to reach them. My vision is to be able to have no more debt and be financially FREE and able to work as a single, work at home mom who can support myself and my children and AdvoCare is providing the way. If you are interested in the opportunity to do the same, please don't hesitate to let me know and I will be happy to talk more with you about how YOU can do it too. In this economy, the opportunity and ability to make money, be your own boss, be debt free and to help others is really a blessing!

Here are some links for you to check out if you are interested in either the Challenge, the Business Opportunity, or both:

Challenge Information: www.choosethechallenge.com
Business Opportunity Information: www.workwithchampions.com

If you have any questions about the products or the business opportunity to become financially free and be your own boss please email me at southaustinadvo@gmail.com and I will be happy to answer them for you! If you want to take a look at the AdvoCare products lines, you can view them online at www.southaustinadvo.com and order from there if you want to try anything out. And...they have a completely 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.

I KNOW where I'm going with this company! I'm looking forward to getting more out of AdvoCare in all ways and bringing others along for the exciting ride!

By the Way: Here are the final results!

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

And now for something I've never done before

Ok, so I never endorse a product unless I love, love, LOVE it! Especially anything having to do with a "diet" or anything like that, but it's getting to come up on tubing season AKA TOOBIN'...AKA bathing suit season. *CRINGE*

After 2 kids and a body where the hormones have gone out of whack for the past 9 years, I am in dire need of help. So...enter Advocare.

I have several friends who have taken it and have had fantastically amazing results on it. Not just women, but men too. Their weight is down, lost inches, BETTER cholesterol, heart function, lower blood sugars...all the stuff I need to work on.

One of my friends, who is my advisor these next 24 days, lost 7 inches from his waist alone and 25 pounds in that first challenge.

I will be posting pictures/stats for the next 24- days so you can keep up with my journey to a healthier me on the Advocare 24 Day Challenge. I'm SUPER excited about this. I started on Sunday and ALREADY there is a noticeable difference in my my stomach. It is not as flabby and looks more trim and flat...and it doesn't "done lop" over my jeans (as much) anymore.

                                                     Day 1                                                                       Day 3

Monday, April 30, 2012


In a Christian forum that I belong to, there has been some discussion about evangelism and what it means. Not all of us are called to evangelize like Billy Graham or Ray Comfort, in fact, very few of us have that amazing gift. Be we all can reach someone. Often times more than one person, without ever even knowing it.

I never thought I had an impact on anyone before, but last year a former boyfriend contacted me out of the blue. He was so involved in church when we were together. He participated in choir, and I think he was even a Sunday school teacher, Bible study leader, etc. I thought he was a very spiritual person and definitely a Christian. He grew up in the church, but it turns out all of his participation was just a front. He had never personally accepted Christ as his Savior.

When he emailed me, he let me know that by my example back then and my introducing him to the Left Behind series and talking about the Tribulation and the Rapture, etc. that he started really looking into things and studying the Word, not just skimming it, and realized that he was just paying lip service to Christianity and had no true heart service to it. It wasn't that he didn't believe - he definitely did...but he wasn't a Believer. And therein lies the crucial difference. It says in the Bible that even the demons believe...but obviously they are not Believers. He said that it was because of me and my love for God and passion for "the things to come" that led him to fully commit to God and finally become a Christian in deed and not just "name".

That probably is one of the most meaningful things I have ever been told because I know that I have not always lived a Godly life or set a Godly example, I still struggle daily, and I definitely didn't really think back then that I was any example to show anyone...but to him I guess I was. And I have to remember that I will always have someone watching my example and I pray to be worthy of living in accordance to the example God has required of me.

So, he is married now with 4 kids in 5 years (#4 is due in less than a month) and his legacy is leading a Godly life for his family and I can't think of a better one to leave them with. His wife and kids are blessed indeed because of that.

Sometimes we will never know until we reach heaven, but sometimes we will be able to know beforehand, and it doesn't have to be because we evangelize verbally, but it's in the way we live our lives daily. Often we may be the only example of Jesus that others see.

Legacy: leg·a·cy
n. Something handed down from an ancestor or a predecessor or from the past; practices that are handed down from the past by tradition; "a heritage of freedom"; heritage, inheritance, legacy, tradition

What will your legacy be? His is to show through his example to his children that a Godly life...a TRUE Christian life...is the only way to live so that, in the end, God willing they will choose the same.

What do you want to pass down to your children and to others? What do you want to be remembered for?

What will YOUR legacy be?


I can't embed this right now, but here is the link to Nichole Nordemann's great song, "Legacy". I will try to embed it later:

I don't mind if you've got something nice to say about me
And I enjoy an accolade like the rest
And you can take my picture and hang it in a gallery
Of all the "who's who's" and so-and-so's
That used to be the best at such and such
It wouldn't matter much

I won't lie, it feels alright to see your name in lights
We all need an "atta boy" or "atta girl"
But in the end I'd like to hang my hat on more besides
The temporary trappings of this world

I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love?
Did I point to You enough
To make a mark on things
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace
Who blessed Your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy

I don't have to look too far or too long awhile
To make a lengthy list of all that I enjoy
It's an accumulating trinket and a treasure pile
Where moth and rust, thieves and such will soon
enough destroy

I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love?
Did I point to You enough
To make a mark on things
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace
Who blessed Your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy

Not well-traveled, not well-read
Not well-to-do, or well-bred
I just want to hear instead
Well done, good and faithful one

I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love?
Did I point to You enough
To make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace
Who blessed Your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy

I don't mind if you've got something nice to say about me

Thursday, April 26, 2012

I got chills

I want to go to this Museum of Biblical Art in Dallas to see this. I got chills and teary eyed when I watched this. The mural is SOOOO cool!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

It's about love, love, love...it's about love.

I've had a lot of time to think about the verb, the action, the definition of love lately. Andrew Landon summed it up pretty much perfectly here (with a few additions of my thoughts) so I will let him take over, for the first part anyway. This is probably one of the most important and well said definitions I have found yet of what love, the reality of it, is all about.

"Love is a funny thing. You expect it to be easy. You expect it to be a world of roses and laughs and perfect moments that you find only in movies. You expect them to always say the right thing, and always know exactly how you feel, or exactly how to react to it. You expect them to calm you down when you're yelling or to chase you when you run away. You expect so much that you feel entirely and utterly defeated when something doesn't exactly match up with all your plans. But that's the thing. Love isn't a plan. It doesn't have a certain beginning and it certainly has no end or visible finish line to those deeply in it.

Love happens; and it is so incredibly messy. People around you can't comprehend why you do the things you do, or why you fight so hard for something that seems to cause you so much pain, because simply, they can't see. They can't see the invisible ring of insanity that surrounds you when you're in love. It's inconvenient and painful and devastating at times, but we can't live without it. We can't breathe the same way or function quite right without it. See, that's the thing about love. You hold it up to all these images you've learned to attach to the word 'love' since you were little.

We learn so many things about love before we are even capable of falling. Don't rush in. Keep steady. Prince Charming/your Princess will fix everything. What you don't learn is how hard love is. How much work it takes. How much of ourselves we have to put into it. How it isn't worth it until we are complete and utter idiots about it. Don't rush in? I practically dove with my eyes closed; fully aware that I had drowned before. "Love is a battlefield." Never really made sense because it is contrary to everything we have been taught to believe how 'love' is supposed to be. But it is so entirely different.

Love isn't them calming you down when you yell. It's them yelling, just as loud, just as hard, right back at you, right in your face to wake you up and to keep you grounded. It isn't him bringing you roses everyday or pretty things that make your relationship appear more presentable. It's after a long fight, that drains the life and bones right out of you both, and yet him showing up at your door the next morning anyway. It's not her saying all the right things or knowing exactly how to handle you. We are human beings. We don't handle one another, and we can't be handled. We are mutable creatures that need something different everyday. Need something more or less to keep us going, to keep us believing that it's not all for nothing.

So no, it's not them holding you and telling you everything is going to be all right and will be sunshine and roses. It's them standing there, admitting they're just as scared as you are. You have to remember that with love, you're not the only one involved. You've unknowingly put your life, your heart into the palms of another person's hands and said, "Here, do what you will. Mash it into mince meat. Or forget I ever handed it to you. As long as you have it."

That's the thing about love. It makes us crazy. It makes reality invisible and it erases all the lines that we shouldn't cross. Because love isn't about fencing ourselves in; feeling safe, feeling sure about the future. It's about scaring the shit out of every nerve in our body, but pushing forward anyway. Because all the fighting and all the tears and all the uncertainty is WORTH IT. And it's a hell of a lot better than being 100% happy without someone to show us that there is a world of a difference between feeling 'happy' and feeling whole."

In love you don't give up when the going gets tough. Love can be simple, and it actually really is. It can be made to be so complicated though when people over think it. We have become a disposable, throw away society, tossing what doesn't conform perfectly to our idea of what we think love "should" be. There are a lot of "should's" in life, but rarely do they ever match up with that fairytale definition/vision in our head. "Should" isn't "IS".

We have become so conditioned to thinking love HAS to be a certain way. BS! What works for one, doesn't work for someone else, and so forth and so on. Love is not perfect. It IS messy. There are no perfect relationships or people. There are only perfect moments worth cherishing and treasuring that are created by two imperfect people who share love. If you know someone who thinks love should be a perfect story from beginning to end, tell them to go see a romance movie because that's the only place in life where things work out "perfectly"and in the span of 2 hours.

There will be arguments and misunderstandings in love, let downs happen and illusions are shattered, but love will mean that you will try your absolute hardest to get over any hurdles and issues together. True love isn't selfish and can bring people together in a way nothing else can, it is a soul connection, a commitment of the heart. Love is seeing the person for exactly who they are and loving them anyway, with all their faults, flaws and the things that annoy or irk you sometimes and that you may not understand because you know that they are so much more than those things. So much more than their past. They bring life to your life because of who they are.

Love is understanding that the differences, big or small, are ok because you know that those differences compliment each other. Where I am weak, you are strong and vice versa. Love is celebrating the similarities. Love is allowing the other person to expand your experiences and show you things you may have missed without them there to show you. Love is knowing that you can trust them with your deepest secrets and know that they won't look at you differently because they know YOU...and love you anyway.

Love should never be taken for granted, although often it is. Love is more balanced than the highs and lows that passion and frustration bring. Love can conquer all, but only if work and effort from both sides is implemented in order to not destroy love. Understand that it is not perfect, but it can bring perfect moments together, moments you want to capture in other ways, so you build and grow together.

If the person in your life makes you want to be a better person, if they challenge and motivate you and make you think, if being around them allows you to just "breathe" because you can be yourself, relax, allow yourself to be vulnerable with them...hold on to that. If they encourage and support you and don't laugh at your dreams, that is worth its weight in gold.

Love is feeling more right with a certain someone than you have ever felt with anyone else, regardless of the challenges or the differences. Because you know you belong. You know you, and your heart, are safe with them. Because they let you know in ways, big or small, that you matter.

Love is give and take and falling in and out of love several times...but always with the same person. And when the "out of love" happens, it's holding on because you know that those seasons in life come and go. So do the good times and the hard times. Having someone there with you to weather the storms and celebrate the joys is what makes all of it worthwhile.

Love isn't the fairytale we would all like for it to be. It, like life, doesn't come with an "easy button". It's hard, it's work, it's gritty work sometimes, it's fun, it's acceptance and understanding, it's bending so that it doesn't break irreparably, it's trusting the other person with your heart and taking care of theirs, it's mutual respect and honor, it's creating the good memories and the laughter to guide you through the tears and the sorrows and the not so good times, it's opening yourself up to hurt and pain and allowing yourself to be vulnerable, it's letting someone else in with all their baggage, their past experiences, and being unable to see your life without them in it...it's protecting and cherishing each other and what you have created. Love, as non-fairytale like as it is, truly is beautiful in all of its forms and inceptions. It's worth fighting for and working on daily once you have it.

Love, after all, is what they say makes the world...makes YOUR world...go 'round.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Trust...so easy to say...so hard to do

Have you ever just had "one of those times" where it seems that everything you want is within reach and then it starts to crumble? I've been going through a REALLY tough time since early, early Wednesday morning. It's personal. It's taking a toll on me. It really sucks. It's nothing life threatening, just emotionally painful. It's a struggle to make it through the days with such limited sleep. About 5 ½ hours since I finally got in bed around 6 a.m. yesterday morning. I feel like a zombie. And it's especially difficult to be dealing with this on my own, so to speak, with no buffer between myself and the kids. My mom is out of town for a few days so I am putting up a brave front for them but it gets tiring. But, as always, I have to be the strong one.

But God has my back. He's told me so in no uncertain terms. I'm a firm believer that if God says something twice, He's really trying to tell me something – just as my pastor says – if God says something in the Bible more than once, He's trying to get our attention on that subject.

And I agree 100% on that...HOWEVER...if God tells me something SEVEN times...I'd better be listening, understanding and obeying.

All of the below posts are from around 7 or 8 last night through around 11 this morning. All of them from friends who know nothing about what is going on in my life. But POOF, there they were at different times. SCREAMING at me to LOOK and PAY ATTENTION.

As I said...SEVEN posts on the same theme...I'm being given a "God Smack" right upside my head.

3/28 FB Post: Picture: "My child, you worry too much, I've got this, remember? Love, God"

3/28 FB Post: So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34

3/28 FB Post: "Doubt less, more Faith "

3/29 FB Post:
Don’t Be Troubled

“Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you.”
I Corinthians 15:58
Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.
John 14:1
In life we will have trials. We will have struggles. To grow is to stretch ourselves. With this come risks. So we step out in faith; and even then, we can have times of fear, doubt and anxiety. Many times we avoid conflict, hide from our struggles or simply try to escape pain through various ways. We can try and ignore our pressures but sooner or later avoidance won’t work anymore. We have to face the situation we find ourselves in. The good news is that God is faithful. He knows our struggles, He knows our limitations. Paul the Apostle encourages us, because of the love and power of God, to stand firm and let nothing move us. Jesus encourages us not to let our hearts be troubled by believing in God who is almighty and all loving. God is for us. He loves us. He is our strength. So today, stand firm, put all your trust in God. Exercise your faith and give all your struggles, trials and temptations to Him.
Father, You know all about my situation. You know my worries, fears and anxious thoughts. Help me stand firm. Help my heart not to be troubled. I do believe in You, dear God. I come now and trust You with all my life.
I will trust in God

Feel yourself being weighed down by trials and tribulation. You burden is so heavy. You are at the end of your rope when you remember to call out to Jesus. You cry out to Him and decide to stand firm letting nothing move you from your resolve to trust God. You feel you burden become lighter. You sense that God is giving you strength to live for Him. You affirm, “I will trust in God!”

3/29 Tweet: "And once again I say... NO MAN can open a door God has already SHUT nor can they SHUT a door that God has already OPENED #DEPENDENTonHIM"

3/29 Retweet: "If anyone has had a rough day: 1 Peter 5:7 - Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you ". (This actually goes with what a dear friend told me yesterday that God was telling her to tell me to read, which was all of 1 and 2 Peter. This retweet is by someone who also doesn't know my other friend who told me that. How's that for a READ THIS NOW!?)

3/29 Tweet: Tough times? The reason why GOD gave the assignment to you and not to someone else, maybe because HE TRUSTS YOU with the task!

All of these random, posts, all with a central theme all for me. DON'T WORRY...so easy to say...so hard to do, but I'm trying. It's hard but I'm really trying. I'm a worrier by nature. I constantly feel like I HAVE to be in control of my life b/c it's so hard to give over that control to anyone else. On this earthly realm I've never really been able to depend on anyone but my mom and myself and my best friend, MC. Everyone else has let me down in some form or fashion.

God has proven time and again that He is nothing but FAITHFUL to the very end...but my human nature and propensity for worrying is so strong that God really does have to "hit me upside the head" a la "Gibbs" style with these messages. (Those of you who watch NCIS, will get the reference there)

So, God, I'm trying to give that control over to You. It's painful for me to do, so please be patient, as You have already been. But please know that I'm trying. I'm listening and I'm trying.

I love You... ♥♥

Friday, March 09, 2012

10 truths about happy marriages

The title of this article caught my attention and, while the boyfriend and I are not at this stage...yet, I think it is good advice not just for marriages, but romantic relationships in general. It's 10 simple and practical steps on how to keep a happy marriage (relationship).

10 truths about happy marriages
By Laurie Puhn

People in happy marriages don’t fight, satisfied lovers never complain, and romantic love is constant and everlasting. Are you cracking a smile yet?

Even the best of us who start off in marriage with knee-knocking love and tingles up the spine, will eventually discover that love has ups and downs. -- Picking up dirty socks isn’t what you’d like to be doing, but it’s what you do anyway, for the sake of marriage.

Happy couples are happy because they handle mundane issues and conflict with verbal tact and warmth so they are still holding hands when serious obstacles come their way.

If you want to have a superior relationship with your partner and be a good role model for your children, then enhance your verbal skills today by adopting the tips below.

What I have found as a couples mediator is that the same verbal skills work to improve every relationship.

These 10 quick and simple tips from my book "Fight Less, Love More" will keep the peace in the family and make your love connection stronger.

1. Happy Couples Pick Their Battles
Before you get angry and reprimand your mate for making a mistake or doing something you told him or her not to do, stop and ask yourself this one wise question: "Does this affect me?" If it doesn't, button your lips and avoid a fight. After all, your mate is the one who must deal with the consequence, not you.

2. Happy Couples Play Detective
When your mate's mistake does affect you, what then? Rather than being hostile, find out what really happened. Ask neutral and respectful questions such as, "Can you tell me what happened?" or "I don't understand. Am I missing something here?" You might discover a good reason for the oversight or blunder, which could avoid a blow-up.

3. Happy Couples Complain with Impact
When you have a complaint, say what you do want, not what you don't want. For example, rather than saying to your child or mate, "Get off that darn computer -- you're so rude!" instead target your mate using a positive approach: "I miss your company. Can you join me in the living room to hang out?"

4. Happy Couples Skip the "Whatever" Word
Being passive by often saying "whatever you want" might temporarily avoid a fight, but it could breed resentment because it leaves the majority of decisions to your mate, which can be stressful. Instead, have a real opinion and share it.

5. Happy Couples Create Policies
If your mate does something that affects and disturbs you, such as overspending or making plans for both of you without asking the other first, don't get sucked into the heated "How could you?" argument.

Instead, focus on the future by creating policy solutions, as in, "From now on can we agree to make a budget for our personal expenses?" Or: "Can we agree to check in with each other before making plans for both of us?"

6. Happy Couples Show They Care
Forgetting to ask about what's going on in your child or your mate's daily life is a surefire way to erode a relationship. From now on, if you know that someone in your family has an important meeting, test, doctor appointment, or event that day, don't neglect it -- instead, respect it. Call, e-mail, text, or ask in person, "How did it go?" This sends a clear message: I care about you.

7. Happy Couples Avoid Factual Arguments
Do you and your mate often find yourselves arguing about the name of a restaurant you went to, a certain address, someone's birthday, an historical fact, or sports figure? Then you are prone to having a dumb argument! Stop the conversation and do an online fact check, call a friend, or simply drive by the location.

8. Happy Couples Apologize with the “B” Word
Quickly saying the words "I'm sorry" is a bad apology because it often comes off as insincere, and could trigger another battle. Next time you seek mercy, add the "B" word: Say, "I'm sorry because..." and share how you hurt your mate and what you will do to prevent the wrongdoing from recurring. Research shows that when you add the "because clause" your words are more persuasive.

9. Happy Couples Create Border Control
Are you ever angry with your partner for revealing something to others that you consider private, like a health issue, a child discipline issue, job insecurity, or a marital disagreement? If so, bypass the "How could you say that?!" argument. Instead, establish border control: Outline the topics that should remain private to insure that neither of you becomes an accidental traitor.

10. Happy Couples Give a Daily Dose of Recognition
Most couples on the divorce path seldom compliment each other. In our online survey for "Fight Less, Love More," we asked people, "Would you rather your mate compliment you for being kind or good-looking?" The result was that 84 percent of people said "kind."

The lesson: Find daily opportunities to recognize your mate for something that reflects a character strength (you are such a wonderful mother/father, you are so thoughtful when you...).

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Giving it up vs OFFERING it up


I am not Catholic, Lutheran or Methodist, but I do participate in Lent and it seems like I've been going about it all wrong, which is probably why my Lenten "sacrifices" never stuck. A lovely and very wise, former high school friend pointed this out to me this morning and it really FINALLY made sense to me.

I posted on my FB status that I am giving up a couple of things for the Lenten period and focusing on two main things. I spoke about how my hope is that giving those two things up for Lent would carry over to being every day changes in my life. (My mouth...I have issues with keeping it clean when I'm in traffic and/or dealing with idiot drivers, but I never, ever use profanity around my kids. And, I smoke every now and then. Ok, 2 cigs a day. One going to work and one leaving work. Don't smoke on the weekends.) I wrote of how cutting both of these out for 40 days should make a difference in various areas of my life for the better.

My lovely friend wrote the following:

"I saw it put so nicely on another page where a conversation was being held about Lent and the writer said, "join us sufferers". The person writing back stated, "Jesus suffered and died, so that we don't have to suffer." I thought that was well put. If God is speaking to you about something, listen to Him, pray and ask Him to help you stop whatever you are failing at. Don't have to "give it up" for Lent – OFFER it up instead. Such a great thing for us non-denominational Christians! Amazing GRACE!"

I never thought of it that way, but really, it makes SO MUCH SENSE! Instead of suceeding by trying to do this "on our own", so to speak by "giving" it up, we are, really, without relying on the Lord for help, learning that any plan is doomed to fail eventually when we go that route.

By OFFERING it up to the Lord, we are humbling ourselves with our issues and telling Him that we have no chance of doing it on our own. We are admitting that we NEED His help to get through whatever it is we are trying to get rid of in our lives and we are TRUSTING that He will do it, when we obey what it is that He wants us to do.

Really, the observation of Lent is about external rituals. God is after something much deeper than those external rituals. He wants our hearts. He wants our souls. He wants them completely. We should rejoice in the fact that we are 100% forgiven through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. We should be praying for guidance from the Lord about what are the stumbling blocks in our lives that are hindering our relationship with God and others. What is it He wants us to "give up" by offering it up to Him? Once He leads us to the things we need to work on ridding our lives of and we entrust the struggle to Him, often this leads to a healthier lifestyle, whether physically, mentally or other, and creates a less stressful life all the way around.

I know I have a LOT more than just those two things to work on and offer up and I believe with God's help and surrendering myself to His direction and offering those areas up to Him, that ultimately I will be successful and I have nobody to thank but God for the changes He is going to make in my life for the better.

Live and learn every day. I'm learning to do it for the RIGHT reasons.

In writing this, the wonderful hymn "Trust and Obey" was brought to my mind...I'd say it fits pretty perfectly!

When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.


Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.


Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross,
But is blessed if we trust and obey.


But we never can prove the delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows, for the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.


Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet.
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way.
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.


Monday, February 20, 2012

I'm only human

I finally was able to get around to reading a dear friend's outstanding briefing from Saturday, February 11, and I can't help but feel a little guilty. The gist of the article is the generational discussion regarding what Jesus said in that "THIS GENERATION shall not pass until all of this has been fulfilled" (Luke 21:32). It was a very thought provoking article and really stellar...I completely enjoyed it. However, it brought up some thoughts that are weighing heavy-ish on my mind and heart...

While, yes, I do long to be up in Heaven...experience the Rapture first hand...and be with my Lord and Savior, I still also long to have more time with my precious kids, my mom, the wonderful man and friends in my life as it is NOW in terms of those relationships.

I know I will have an eternity with them and I can't even begin, with my impossibly mortal little mind, to fathom what that will be like. But I cherish hearing the giggles and whispered "mommy"'s and "I love you"'s and "you're the best mommy ever"'s and getting the snuggles and cuddles from my children and I love the amazing hugs I get from my man and the time that we spend together. I love being able to share scripture with him and prayers and know that God is working on us and drawing us ever closer to Him and to each other.

In light of that, with my frail little human self and mind, I can't help but wish that we had just a few more years yet here. And I know it's b/c I absolutely lack the capacity to and cannot begin to comprehend just how awesome it will be when we're up there in Glory. Through a glass darkly, right? And I know when I get to heaven I will wonder how foolish and ignorant I was to ever want to stay away from heaven for any length of time.

But here, on earth, in my frail human vessle of my body, my heart and soul longs for both sides of the coin, if that makes any sense at all. SIGH...

And I wonder...am I the only one who feels this way?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

In Other Words for Valentine's Day 2012

1 Corinthians 13:4-7
New International Version (NIV)
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.


It can be a noun, as in
1. a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.
2. a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, asfor a parent, child, or friend.
3. sexual passion or desire.
4. a person toward whom love is felt; beloved person;sweetheart.

And it can be a verb
5. to have love or affection for: All her pupils love her.
6. to have a profoundly tender, passionate affection for (another person).
7. to have a strong liking for; take great pleasure in: to love music.
8. to need or require; benefit greatly from: Plants love sunlight.
9. to embrace and kiss (someone), as a lover.
10.to have love or affection for another person; be in love.

But the worldly "love" of today doesn’t take into account the Biblical standards for LOVE. Infidelity and divorce rates are at an all time high, even among Christians...or those who believe themselves to be. The world has subscribed to the Nike philosophy "Just do it".

"If it feels good, do it"
"What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas"
"Look out for number one"

And so forth and so on, are the mantras of today. To the world it's all about hedonism and taking care of yourself first instead of taking care of the one you chose to cleave to.

It's not easy these days in the hustle and bustle of the RUSH and technology laden crowd to be PATIENT with people. Our expectations have been sorely distorted. Technology is supposed to make our lives "easier", but in reality, it has only made our lives busier with less time and attention for the relationships that are supposed to matter.

In losing that patience for those we love, for paying attention to other things instead of our relationships, we tend to be less KIND. Our words can be harsher instead of soft and gracious when we are frustrated by our loved ones actions. We can say cutting words when we are upset instead of gently explaining why we are having a tough day. We need to check our words and our actions when we are having a bad day and season them with grace instead of griping.

When we love someone we are not to be ENVIOUS, meaning, we are not to be jealous. If you have a relationship grounded in God and in trust, there is no reason to be jealous. In past relationships, I admit, we were not grounded in God and therefore there was not complete trust and over time the relationships deteriorated due to the breaking of that bond between us. Thankfully, I have a man in my life who believes that a cord of three strands is not easily broken and knows that doing things GOD'S way will only make our relationship stronger and bring God's blessings to it.

I often tease my boyfriend that I don't get dressed up to go out for him because he thinks I look better without the makeup and the fancy hair, I get dressed up to show the other women out there that they don't stand a chance with my man. Let's be honest. There are women out there who see a man they're interested in and will go after them, no matter what...unless they see that the relationship is strong and not going to be worth their time. I call the makeup and hair my "war paint", but in reality, the loving glances, affection and laughter between my boyfriend and I do more to keep those wolves at bay than anything else.

The envy and jealousy goes both ways though. Don't seek to make your significant other jealous of other people. It only brings strife and harm to the relationship in the end and creates the opposite effect of what you were looking for.

Hand in hand with the envy and jealousy is the BOASTing and PRIDE. One of the most famous sayings is "pride goeth before a fall". For the same reason you don't seek to make your loved one jealous, you don't boast to others about the perfect relationship you have and give all the details. People will want what you have and will try and take it from you. Create within that relationship a safe haven where you find comfort and peace after a tough, wearying day. A place where they will feel safe in knowing that what the two of you have is sacred and isn't broadcast for the world to hear.

When you love someone you do not DISHONOR them by airing their faults or by talking down about them or to them. You do not flirt with others, doesn't matter if your loved one is there or not. That is going outside the bounds of a Godly relationship and sows seeds of disharmony and allows the third party to think that they just might have a chance with you, even if they don't. It creates that "what if" scenario..."man, I'm having such a great time with so-and-so...what if I were single?" That is huge, to me anyway, in the area of dishonoring your partner and your relationship.

These days, we tend to think of ourselves first instead of putting others in front of us. We've conditioned ourself to "look out for number one" and be SELF-SEEKING. "What can YOU do for ME" becomes the mindset instead of "What can I do for YOU". In work and at home that is my theme...what can I do for YOU?...and I do it without regard for them "doing" in return for me. After all, that is not what love is about. Love is about putting the other person first. The Bible says, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you". Trust me, it makes things so much easier in the give and take of a relationship.

Love does not get ANGRY at the slightest misstep or error. Yes, people will say or do things in error, many times unintentionally, without thinking. Grace...always grace. There have been times where my boyfriend has said some things that I was kind of hurt or offended by, but, being that I am the first real relationship he's had in about ten years, I realized that he was speaking out of inexperience. That allowed me to put the brakes on my tongue and gently explain my view of the situation, which, in turn, defered what would have been an inevitable fight. All because I would have taken affront in error to something that was said out of lack of understanding.

Alongside the anger is the issue of KEEPING A RECORD OF WRONGS. If it happened in the past and has been apologized for...leave it in the past. How simple is that? So many friends that I have have told me that their spouses or significant others have fought dirty by bringing up their past. Some have been things that they did even before they met their loved one or things that they did when they first started dating their loved one, etc., things that are not fair bringing up in the present because they have changed the and are no longer that person. God fogives us our transgressions as far as the East is from the West, who are we to do less for those who have asked our forgiveness and have changed? It's dirty pool to bring up the past when the past is...the past.

Love should not DELIGHT IN EVIL, it shouldn't want to do the wrong things. If you love someone you are TRUTHful and honest with them. You want the best for them. You want them to be happy. You want the relationship to last forever. Well, let me tell you, that doesn't happen overnight. Anything worth having is worth working hard for. Right? Love will not be smooth sailing. You will not always be in love with your significant other or your spouse. Chuck Swindoll has a brilliant quote about marriage. A successful marriage involves falling in love many times...but always with the same person.

There WILL be hard times.

There WILL be hurts.

There WILL be times when you just want to throw in the towel and walk away because y'all just can't see eye to eye.

Yes, to all that and more...BUT...

Love ALWAYS PROTECTS...hold your vows, your relationship as sacred. Protect it from outside influences. Protect it from the wolves trying to tear it apart. Protect it from your own angers and misunderstandings.

Love ALWAYS TRUSTS...believe the best about your partner. Trust that their actions are truthful and honest. Trust in God's plan for your relationship and especially TRUST in GOD, that He is faithful and true. Remember, a cord of THREE strands is not easily broken. Keep God at the center of your relationship and you will weather the storms of life much, much better.

Love ALWAYS HOPES...instead of losing that hope when things don't look so good, keep your faith that God knows what He's doing. “Love comes to those who still hope even though they've been disappointed, to those who still believe even though they've been betrayed, to those who still love even though they've been hurt before.” To still have hope means that we haven't given up through the trenches and valleys and will be rewarded with the views from the peaks.

Love ALWAYS PERSEVERES...To quote Winston Churchill...Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, give up! Love goes the extra mile...love gives you the strength to endure what you never thought you could. Love allows you to see your significant other through God's eyes and not through the weary, materialistic, world-viewed eyes that has been shoved in our direction and fed to us day in and day out.

On this Valentine's Day, I pray that you get to see your loved ones through God's eyes and that you see that same vision reflected in their eyes back to you.

The greatest of these is LOVE...

To view other perspectives on this In Other Words quote, please visit our hostess this week Heart Choices.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

How can I KNOW?

One of my dear friends is struggling hard right now with the issue of Salvation. He's been a Christian for years, but lately he is struggling with the thought of the fact that he brings nothing to his own Salvation, that God ALONE is the One who brings us to Him. He questions "if I am saved, why did I do that"? "Why did I act that way"? "I thought by now, "I would have changed more"? How do I know for sure "The Holy Spirit lives in me"? I told my prayer partner last week as we wrestled through this question "If I am not saved, I can't be saved". I have begged The Lord to save me a thousand times. My wise prayer partner told me it would be like asking my wife to marry me a thousand times.

I, in my limited human understanding, tried to answer his questions as much as possible and I thought that this might be helpful to others out there struggling with the same thoughts...

Oh, my lovely friend. I've wrestled with the same question from time to time, but after how God has so thoroughly provided for me, time and again, and proven Himself faithful to me, insignificant, mere mortal, completely daily sinner ME, I have no more doubts b/c He always looks after His own and provides for whose who are His, in Him.

I, like Jack, and everyone else here is a sinner. I freely admit to smoking from time to time, to drinking a little too much sometimes, to having the absolute WORST mouth when it comes to traffic...unless my kids are in the truck with me, to conforming a little too much to the world much more often than I should (which is to be never) and not spending enough time in the Word, among many, many other things. But do I love God with all my heart? Does He work on me daily? Does the thought of being without Him in my life bring me to tears and despair? Yes, yes, yes.

Satan likes to make us question our salvation. Does it mean we're not saved? As Paul said, "God forbid!" But Satan is the master of mind games. Satan has no control except the power of deceit. He seeks to lead us away from God; he tempts us to lose our focus. Like the experience of Peter, walking on the water in front of our Lord, Satan seeks to have us sink into our own raging sea of doubt and fear (Matthew 14:30-31). Satan is at work in our minds and hearts as we contemplate this. He is saying to us that not only is the Christian commitment difficult, it is unattainable. Satan's attack upon us as Christians is to try and deceive us into giving up the Christian struggle. And, it is a struggle, sometimes more than others, as we seek to not conform to this world that surrounds us 24/7. As Christians we are encouraged to believe that the improbable walk up the steep path of our Christian journey is not by our own power, but by the presence and power of God (Matthew 19:26). Satan deceives by telling us that we must rely upon ourselves, and therefore Christianity is futile.

Satan plays out his deception according to the faith and life of those that he is tempting. For those who are close to God, Satan must work hard to deceive – for these he will even attempt to copy the very power and glory of God himself (Angel of "Light" anyone?) – but sometimes it is as easy as planting seeds to doubt their salvation. Especially when there are already struggles going on in their lives.

The greatest deceit, the great victory of Satan is not that he is leading a willing world to destruction, it is that he is, sadly, often able to deceive and lead astray the Christian person who is struggling to be transformed more and more into the image of Christ (Rom 12:2). Satan deceives the Christian by convincing him to take his attention off Christ. To become doubting of the power and promises of God.

How do we resist this deceit? What is the response of the Christian person to the tricks and deceit and charms of the Devil? The answer for the Christian is to continually seek God and His Kingdom; to fight the deceits of the Devil, despite the pain and suffering he can cause, with a faith founded upon the All-powerful and All-loving God.

Satan can only deceive, he CANNOT pluck us out of the hand of God, he CANNOT send us unwillingly from the kingdom of God. If God no longer becomes the focus of our vision and life, it is not He who has moved, it is that we have taken our gaze from him. God doesn't move, He doesn't change. He is the same tomorrow as He is today and was yesterday. We are the ones who move closer or further from Him.

One of my very most favorite verses is this: For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39.

Did you read that? Truly read each and every word? It is in the Word of God, the infallible, inerrant Word of our Creator, therefore it is true. God cannot lie. Nothing...NOTHING can separate us from His love...once we are His, WE ARE HIS. We can question and doubt all we want. We have times in our lives where we go through the valley, such as what you are going through, my dear Sarge, but God allows us to go through those valleys so that we know we have free will to choose, to question, to try and work things out in our minds. He allows us to go through them so that when we realize that God has saved us because He called US to Him; because He LOVES us with a love that is eternal, He CHOSE US from the beginning of time and there is nothing we can do to remove ourselves from His hand, from His love, from His grace or mercy; then we will fully GET IT. God allows us to go through these valleys so that we can better appreciate the view from the peaks once we stop trying to work out our salvation in our own mind and accept that it just IS...with absolutely no help from us.

One of my tattoos, yes, I have tats, has a beautiful cross with wings and a banner above and around the cross and up top it says one of the five solas...Solus Christus...meaning Christ Alone. In Christ ALONE I am saved. Christ ALONE. The rest of the banner says "Grace", "Forgiveness", and "Mercy" with "Love" being at the bottom of the Cross. These are all attributes of God that I cling to on a daily basis, attributes without which I would be totally lost.

I love that I KNOW that my God is BIGGER than any problems that I'm facing. Trust, placing absolute and completely trust in Him has, admittedly, been hard for my human nature to do. But God has been gracious and merciful with my stubbornness and pride and has led me, sometimes gently, sometimes with a THUMP upside my head, to that place where, no matter what happens to me, I KNOW I am His. I KNOW He is in control of it all. I KNOW that all outcomes have His approval, even though I don't understand at the time – I know I will understand in God's time. But it was not always so and that struggle happens for most of us at different times. How I envy those who have always had that complete and utter faith and trust in the Lord and have never questioned. But I also know that in my struggles in my own mind, life and heart, I have reached a level of complete understanding that they possibly might never know.

I pray that you find that understanding very soon...and as Christine so succinctly put it...GET THE DEVIL OUT OF YOUR HEAD! He doesn't belong there, but he's trying to weasel his way in. Call out to Jesus...resist the devil and he will flee from you.

My love and prayers go out for you, my friend. I'm including the lyrics to two of my very favorite Christian contemporary songs. It's appropriately titled, "Cry Out to Jesus" by Third Day (my favorite line is "He'll meet you wherever you are") and "Untitled Hymn" by Chris Rice...this one I always cry on, I can't even read the lyrics without tearing up.

Cry Out To Jesus

To everyone who's lost someone they love
Long before it was their time
You feel like the days you had were not enough
when you said goodbye

And to all of the people with burdens and pains
Keeping you back from your life
You believe that there's nothing and there is no one
Who can make it right

There is hope for the helpless
Rest for the weary
Love for the broken heart
There is grace and forgiveness
Mercy and healing
He'll meet you wherever you are
Cry out to Jesus, Cry out to Jesus

For the marriage that's struggling just to hang on
They lost all of their faith in love
They've done all they can to make it right again
Still it's not enough

For the ones who can't break the addictions and chains
You try to give up but you come back again
Just remember that you're not alone in your shame
And your suffering

When you're lonely
And it feels like the whole world is falling on you
You just reach out, you just cry out to Jesus
Cry to Jesus

To the widow who suffers from being alone
Wiping the tears from her eyes
For the children around the world without a home
Say a prayer tonight

There is hope for the helpless
Rest for the weary
Love for the broken heart
There is grace and forgiveness
Mercy and healing
He'll meet you wherever you are
Cry out to Jesus, Cry out to Jesus

Untitled Hymn

Weak and wounded sinner
Lost and left to die
O, raise your head, for love is passing by
Come to Jesus
Come to Jesus
Come to Jesus and live!

Now your burden's lifted
And carried far away
And precious blood has washed away the stain, so
Sing to Jesus
Sing to Jesus
Sing to Jesus and live!

And like a newborn baby
Don't be afraid to crawl
And remember when you walk
Sometimes we fall...so
Fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus and live!

Sometimes the way is lonely
And steep and filled with pain
So if your sky is dark and pours the rain, then
Cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus and live!

O, and when the love spills over
And music fills the night
And when you can't contain your joy inside, then
Dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus and live!

And with your final heartbeat
Kiss the world goodbye
Then go in peace, and laugh on Glory's side, and
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus and live!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Farewell Angel

Last night was a particularly wonderful and beautiful night. Bittersweet in the reasoning behind it. As you may have read, my dear friend Amberlyn passed away back in November. FULL of life, full of love, full of spirit and goodness and generosity. She was one of a kind, my Amberlyn.

Amberlyn left behind a legacy of love, of caring for others more than herself. Last night was her memorial/benefit concert to help out her family and her special charity, Amber's Angels, which is for kids in Dell Children's and one other hospital in San Antonio who are stuck in the hospitals at Christmas. She personally touched all the musicians who were there last night. And there were some SUPER big names! If you know Texas Country, you'll recognize the following:

Granger Smith
Curtis Grimes
Ryan Beaver
Bart Crow
Ray Wylie Hubbard
Casey Donahew
Wade Bowen
Brandon Rhyder
Josh Abbott
Cory Morrow
Roger Creager
Randy Rogers

...and many more!

4 sets of 4 musicians for each set (and associated fiddle players, etc.) for an unprecedented acoustic show. Each played 4 songs in their respective sets. And it was PACKED!

Amberlyn always wanted a party when she left this world and, trust me, though this party in honor of her memory was STELLAR, I guarantee you that it is NOTHING compared to the party that Heaven threw when she was called home.

Oh, my sweet Amberlyn. I miss you and I love you. And I rejoice, not only because you no longer struggle daily to breathe, but because I KNOW that I will see you again on the other side.

One of the things that was really driven home to me last night at my Amberlyn's concert is that we never truly know how much time we have left on this earth. Don't save things for "someday" b/c that day might never come. Don't ever pass up a chance to tell those important to you that you love them and let them know how important they are in your life. Never turn down a hug or kiss or a chance to hold hands with those who matter most b/c you don't know if that will be the last time. Live LIFE without hesitation! Laugh freely...love completely. What last memory do you want to have of others...what last memory do you want them to have of you? Let it be one of love. ♥

I will post more pictures as I have them, but for now, here are a few...

These first 2 pics are of us in the beautiful shirts that my amazing, thoughtful and caring sisterfriend, Leigh, had made for us...

Back Row: Jordan, MJ, Leigh, Colleen, Me
Front Row: Misty, Christy, Taryn and Jen

Me and the beautiful Samantha:

A little later in the night:

Back Row: Colleen, Leigh, Jordan, Jen, Taryn, Me
Front Row: Misty (LOL!)

Back Row: Jordan, MJ, Leigh, Christy, Me, Colleen and Jen
Front Row: Misty, Amberlyn's sweet and lovely mom (Debbie) and Taryn

Thursday, January 12, 2012

God's 10%

Have you ever thought, I mean REALLY thought, about the 10% thing? Not just in a financial sense, but in a sense of our daily lives?

There are 24 hours in a day. 10% of that is 2.4 hours, but how many of us actually spend 2.4 hours out of the day with God? Kind of a difficult concept to imagine with our busy lives full of activities, work, family...especially if you have kids who have homework, participate in after-school activities, such a sports, etc. Then, speaking from a mother's POV, there's the dinners to get ready, the baths/showers to supervise, the clothes/dishes to wash, house to clean/pick up, the preparation of everything for everyone for the next day...and that's just for everyone else, not to mention the things you need to do for yourself, especially if you work! And what if you're a single mother like me with an emotionally charged pre-pubescent tween girl and a son who is in his adorable, yet terrible, twos?

Where in the world are we supposed to find the 10% out of our day for God?

This is a question that I wrestle with. I believe in applying that 10% to my life, but how? Sleep is at a premium as it is and lately, with the allergies being in FULL force, it's a struggle to get out of bed on a daily basis, get everyone up and ready and out the door and I can't even fathom waking up an hour or two earlier to squeeze more time in with God than the sad little amount I already spend on Him.

Not to mention, now that Dave has moved here and we're getting used to actually NOT having a long distance relationship for the first time in 19 years, I'm kind of loathe to kick him out of the house early or to leave his place early on the nights my mom is generous enough to watch the kids so that he and I can spend a couple of hours together after I get the kids fed. Granted, I'm home by 10 or shortly after that and the kids love being around him when he's at the house or I bring them over to his apartment for a few hours on the weekend, etc., but it seems like there's just so much going on right now.

And what does one do in that 10% of the day? How do I fill that time? It's an awful long time for prayer. While I love to read, I can't see reading the Bible for that long each day, and what happens when I've read through the Bible? What then?

So here's my sort of solution...

I am going to start doing devotionals such as the "Power of a Praying..." series by Stormie Omartian. Those are very thought provoking and sometimes difficult devotionals, but ones that are eternally worth it as it teaches me HOW to pray for others, especially my children and my (potential) future spouse. In them I have also gotten the workbooks and prayer books and have started a journal to put the insights that God has given me while answering the questions or reading the chapters. I'm hoping to be able to go back when I am done with the series of different books and see how I've grown or changed from where I first started from in them.

I am also determined to read through the Bible, front to back, for the first time ever this year. I say I'm going to do it every year, and every year...I don't. I can spend the time I would normally spend at the end of a long day, in my bed, reading the Bible instead of a fiction novel or political book. It may be 5 minutes, it may be 30 minutes. I have no set schedule or time frame or chapter limit per day. Just that I want to get it done THIS year.

Lunch time can be spent reading my devotionals, reading the Bible, praying for whatever burdens God has placed on my heart, whether about my own life or for someone else.

In the grand scheme of things...2.4 hours out of a 24 hour day is such a small slice of the pie to give to God, when we spend so much time on other pursuits. Out of an entire year, that's only 876 hours out of the 8760 hours that we are all given. Small amount. But how much more could your life be enriched spiritually by just giving that 10% to God? How much more could you enrich other's lives from the truths and blessings you receive from that time spent with God?

How much more time do we spend on our own (worldly) leisurely pursuits that have nothing to do with God? Shouldn't He get just as much time, if not much more? What would happen if we pursued our outside interests FOR God instead of apart from God? What would happen if we pursued God with every bit as much interest as we pursue our outside interests? How much would our lives change? How much richer would they be in terms of what really matters?

Just a thought...

Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust him, and he will help you. Psalm 37:5

Commit yourself and all that you do to the LORD, and your plans will succeed. Proverbs 16:3

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Biblical Motherhood: Week Four/Day Three Who Gains?

(My apologies for being away from this for sooooo long! Life happens, but I will pick up where I left off and continue to post on this as I can. You can read the introduction to this 8 week study here. You can also click the tag at the bottom of this post and all of the Biblical Motherhood posts will be shown to you.)

Who Gains?

Today you may want to ask the Lord to do a special healing in your life! To do that, He must have access to your wound. It will be worth the cost to be close to Him.

"'For I will restore health to you And heal you of your wounds,' says the Lord,"
Jeremiah 30:17.

At times, as mothers we may wonder if our unrest is caused by our loved ones. We may feel bitterness toward them and not recognize it, or not know what to do with it. While it may be difficult to do so, we will uncover the end of the attitude of resentment in the life of a mother. Her condition may be related to the difficulty of raising children, even toward her husband for not supporting her in the way she would find most helpful. It may be that she has had hardship and feels that the Lord has abandoned her when she most needed Him; she doesn’t think He is predictable enough for her to trust Him. Maybe she sees her role as wife and mother from God as an unfair burden rather than a blessing. Whatever the case, the Word of God seems to slide right off of her heart, and she finds herself taking care of her own needs, or at least trying to, but not making a lot of headway.

We find some of the traits of this old nature described for us in the prophets. In the book of Lamentations, Jeremiah is writing to the people of God who have been afflicted by their own sin, yet they did not heed God’s warnings and finally were invaded and conquered by Babylon.

In Lamentations 2:9 we read of the city’s broken condition. Among the things listed, we find, “...the Law is no more,...” You may recall that as parents, a father is given the privilege by God of leading and teaching the family to know the Lord, and as a mother is a help meet for her husband, she is qualified by God to assist him in the work. This begins at infancy, holding, feeding, bathing and changing diapers, smiling and talking to a little baby, and grows in specifics as a child grows and has different needs. “No, no, honey, that isn’t yours,” is actually the teaching of God’s law of love. Setting the boundaries for a child and enforcing obedience when they cross them is the work of a mother. All the time, the Biblical mother’s goal is to reach their heart in Jesus’ name, and it is done while a child is young by teaching them right from wrong and the pleasure of choosing the right. But in Lamentations, we find that this training is gone from the people of Jerusalem; as it is written, “...the Law is no more,...”

Because of this, in Lamentations 2:12, what do the children ask for and from whom?

From this verse, what is happening to the life of the children?

Please find Matthew 26:26-28, and John 6:51,54. Jesus says that He, indeed, constitutes real nourishment! What is the meaning (in the realm of the spirit) of the nourishment for which the children are crying out?

See Lamentations 4:4, and also John 6:57. What might it mean to “break bread” for the young children?

In Lamentations 2:20, we read, “Should the women eat their offspring, the children they have cuddled?” Lamentations 4:10 says, “The hands of the compassionate women have cooked their own children; they became food for them in the destruction of the daughter of my people.” As their enemies sieged the cities of God’s people, the Israelites were starved to the point of such agony that they did the unthinkable, what they never would have entertained otherwise. These desperate women let their children’s lives be destroyed for their own attempt at survival. They devoured instead of sacrificing themselves, using their children’s lives to gain strength for themselves.

In this time and place, how might a mother’s struggle in her own life cause her to put her survival and well-being ahead of her child?

When we put the demands of this life as priority over giving the knowledge of God to our children, the devourer eats away in the unseen places of our souls. If our reputation means more to us than training up our children, we will be concerned with how we are coming across rather than what the Lord is showing us through them. If we are rushed, we won’t spend the time together, or hear the thoughts of our children in the midst of daily life. Yet it is often through those times together that the Lord would expose the place of hunger in the heart. Are you trusting someone else to give your child the ‘bread and wine’ of the knowledge of Jesus? Who will live His love before them in the daily goings on of this life? Who will teach them of His sacrifice and His resurrection power if you won’t?

And how will your life be healed if you decide to willingly follow society’s dictates and not hear the Lord?

It is never God’s heart to destroy His children, so when you read the prophets you must understand that He allows spiritual bondage in order to cause His own to cry out to Him and look at Him to save them. Fellowship with us is so precious to God that He died to gain it. So take to heart that He longs for His children and will go to great lengths to win us back. Eternal treasure is more valuable in His sight than temporal comfort.

If we will not come to Him, our lives will be tainted by waste, but not because of His lack of effort to turn us from our destructive ways. With this in mind, read Hosea 4:4-6.

A priest was to talk to God about the people; a prophet was to talk to the people from God, and mothers were to teach their children to know the Lord from infancy. What brought destruction into their lives (verse 6)?

Please read Hosea 4:5,6 with 5:7. “Pagan” is also translated “strange” from the original Hebrew. God says that it was the parents who dealt treacherously with Him by bringing up their children to be pagan, strange children. How did that happen? The things that God gave to them they began to use to exalt themselves. Their New Moon festival had been instituted by God Himself as celebration and worship to Him, but when people began to worship the ritual, or even the moon itself, they forfeited the peace and heritage that God would lavish on them. How do you think God feels as He says, “Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children”?

The Lord grieves over those who will not come to Him! He longs for us, and would gather us to Himself to love, protect and heal us!

From Hosea 7:13 we read, “Woe to them, for they have fled from Me! Destruction to them, because they have transgressed against Me! Though I redeemed them, yet they have spoken lies against Me. They did not cry out to Me with their heart when they wailed upon their beds.”

The Lord watches over the responses of the people, and His grief is evident. He says that in fleeing from Him instead of to Him, there will be woe and destruction waiting for them. He says that He has already redeemed them, but they have rejected Him by speaking lies about Him. How does one speak lies against God? This is how: to say that God demands more than we are able to live up to. Living in a way to attempt to “appease an angry God” is a lie against God. It totally ignores the cross and the Way God has made. It looks only to human (self) effort. Often it is the case that the person who accuses God of anger is actually the one who is angry at God.

The “father of lies” is Satan, and he is continually accusing us before God, and he even accuses God before us. Can you identify any lie(s) he has wanted you to believe about God?

Note that the people “wailed upon their beds.” They were grieved and heartsick; they were broken in heart! But they didn’t cry out to God. To cry out to God requires humility, an acknowledgment that one who is needy is coming to The Answer. It is our natural born arrogance that keeps us from telling the truth about, or crying out to, God.

God knows that the eternal end of man is separation from Himself in hell except for the Way that He made Himself. Please also read Hosea 5:15. When you understand the loving heart of God better, these verses become a cry of warning! He is not angry because He’s not getting the attention He wants. He is God who shouts out across the span of all time with His agonizing, victorious cry, “It is finished!” He calls all men, “Come to Me! Come to Me and escape your certain future of destruction! Turn to Me; I will heal you!” Yet He will not force anyone to come.

1 Timothy 2:15 says, “Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.” The words “will be saved” in the Greek is sozo, pronounced “sode’-zo” meaning to save, deliver or protect: heal, preserve, save (self), do well, be (make) whole.”

How can God use your motherhood experience to protect, deliver, and heal you?

Please read Isaiah 48:18 and make note of the benefits of a mother’s obedience to God’s heart to bring up their children to know Him. (Keep in mind that waves are caused by wind, a picture of the Holy Spirit.)

There are promises from the Lord for those who build the walls of their house on the foundation of God’s Word. Please read Isaiah 54:11-14. What does He promise?

Please copy verse 13 here:

Remember that the Lord goes before you (Deuteronomy 31:6)! Wherever you go, He has already been there. He has won the essential battle, but the wage for territory still remains our training ground. This battle is for an area in our soul (life), delivered from the enemy’s purpose to the purpose of our King! We now fight from a position of rest, trust, in His victory.

If you find that you are afraid, decide where to place your trust, and by an act of will, tell Jesus you are giving Him your faith. Copy Psalm 56:3 to take courage!

For further encouragement, the Lord has given us Isaiah 51:12. It gives us His perspective on the matter. Please look it up and pray it in!

You have many promises from God; some you will find in this study, all you will find in God’s Word. Isaiah 49:15, 16 tells you that you are always on God’s mind.

Please write it here:

Not only will the Lord go before you and never forget you, but He also promises you that He will fight for you! Isaiah 49:25, “For I will contend with him who contends with you, and I will save your children.” He has issues with anyone who comes against you when you are His child, and your children have the attention of His heart! If you will walk in obedience with Him, He will meet you at that first step with all the power of heaven to see that you are able to do what He calls you to do. And He will use you to draw your children to Himself!

If you are encouraged, thank God! If you are heartsick, pray! Repentance must start with one who will humble herself before God and agree with Him. You will find healing there at the foot of the cross.

Please write James 4:10. (You don’t need to lift yourself up. God will!)

“Come, and let us return to the Lord; For He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up. After two days He will revive us; On the third day He will raise us up, That we may live in His sight. Let us know, Let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord. His going forth is established as the morning; He will come to us like the rain, Like the latter and former rain to the earth,” Hosea 6:1-3.

Please come with me to bring it all before the Lord:

Dear Father, Thank You that You intend healing for Your children, though it means that we be offended first. Your Word goes deep into the heart where everything is visible to You. Nothing is hidden from Your sight. Please cleanse me from my fear. Help me to care about my children, and their eternity. Give me strength to take a stand upon Your Word. Oh, Lord, I trust that You meet Your servants where we are needy, where we choose to trust You. Right here is that place for me. I surrender it to You and wait for Your deliverance. In Jesus’ saving name I pray, A-men.