Monday, March 31, 2014

Things I Learned in March

1.  I will fall prey to watching weeknight television in the form of Dancing with the Stars if it features the gold medal ice dancing couple of Meryl Davis and Charlie White. 

2.  I will get foot cramps every Monday night from subconsciously pointing my toes during every dance.

3.  I will cry during almost every tribute dance.

4.  I will have to backdate blog posts because of watching DWTS because the show consumes my Monday evenings.

5.  Cooking chicken in the crock pot is my new favorite thing, mostly because I never cooked chicken until now due to having the curse of pink chicken at restaurants and to being a wee bit uneasy about cooking meat.  Thank goodness Mix & Match Mama put a link in her recent menu plan that taught me how to do it.

6.  I love hearing about what the Lord is doing in my mentee's life.

7.  People who come view a house like to turn on random lights, close random doors, leave your pantry door open, sit at your table and on your bed, and use two of your toilets; they have trouble following showing instructions such that they set off your home alarm (4 times and counting); and they are not afraid to track mud all the way to the bath mat in your master bathroom.

8.  The Type A/OCD part of me has a very hard time handling #7, especially when it requires me to re-vacuum and re-mop the floors and to sanitize the bathroom.

9.  The movie God's Not Dead is worth driving 20 miles or more to see.  It's a shame that it wasn't showing in more theaters.

10.  The true baseball experience involves sitting with friends in the stands, cheering on a ten-year-old outfielder, watching him get a great hit, and eating peanuts out of the shell.

What did you learn in March?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Perpective: Bravery

Over the last few weeks, I've developed a new perspective of bravery.  A friend of mine once shared that she heard Jill Briscoe say on the radio that bravery doesn't mean you aren't scared, it just means doing it scared.  In saying "yes" to whatever Christ has called us, it doesn't mean that everything goes perfectly smooth or that it will all turn out perfectly.  Instead, it means saying "yes" and trusting that He will be with you every step of the way.

To my friend who said "yes" to God's prompting to adopt a close relative's baby, knowing that it was risky, you are brave.  And when the birth parents changed their minds a few weeks before the baby arrived and you chose to show up and love on the birth mother and the baby anyway, your bravery was astounding.

To my friend who said "yes" in the form of "I do" over twenty years ago and who chooses to continue to say "yes" to upholding that vow that was made before God even though your husband has done something tragic, you are brave.

To my friend who said "yes," not once but three times, to foster adoption of some little ones who came from birth parents who were incapacitated due to addictions or mental limitations, you are brave.

To my friend who is daily saying "yes" to God as she leans on Him to walk through the storms of dealing with two parents and a husband who have all had major health issues in the past few months, you are brave.

To my friends who have said "yes" to raising their children to know and love the Lord and spend time on their knees on behalf of their children so that they would not get swept up in the culture, you are brave.

And to my mother who said "yes" to raising two girls as a single mom when our dad got sick, you are brave.

I've heard the phrase "obedience produces blessing," and I pray that each of you would be blessed and shown favor by the Lord for your obedience in saying "yes" to what God has called you to do, even if you are doing it scared.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Perspective: Empty versus Emptying

Now that the season of Lent has begun, I keep reflecting on the empty tomb.  The fact that Jesus's body was no longer there meant bad news for the guards who were charged with keeping watch, but it meant good news to all who believed:  Jesus had conquered death once and for all.

As I've thought about the empty tomb, I've wondered about what emptying needs to take place in my life during Lent.  Things that come to mind include bitterness, frustration, selfishness, anxiousness, discontentment, and the list could go on.  I know that in my own power, I can't rid myself of these behaviors or reset my default to joy.  I need to tap into the resurrection power that Jesus displayed in emptying the tomb and that He gives to me.

And the best part, even better than being emptied of those things I listed above, is that once they are gone, I then have the capacity to better live out the fruit of the Spirit, showing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Who doesn't want that?!

So as you go through Lent, if you decide to give up something, think about what you are making room for and all the good that can be accomplished with His power when you are empty.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. - Philippians 2:5-7

Monday, March 3, 2014

Things I've (Re)Learned in January & February

Emily Freeman tries to do a post at the end of each month with things that she has learned.  And although I may not do it monthly, I like the idea of thinking back through what I've learned or relearned recently. 

1)  I relearned just how much I like rules.  And I really like when people follow the rules.

2)  Along those same lines, I relearned that I love rules that are absolutes at all times.  For instances, periods and commas ALWAYS go inside quotation marks; there's nothing subjective about that.

3)  I learned that I like keeping Sundays completely task free, meaning that I no longer even attempt to blog on that day.

4)  I was reminded that my prayers are not in vain and that I want in on the Kingdom rewards that come with praying without ceasing, no matter what the circumstances are.

5)  I learned that my allergies are not a fan of 2014's crazy winter weather that can span from 80 degrees to 19 degrees in a matter of twenty-four hours and that the pattern can be repeated multiple times during a month.

6)  I learned that meal planning is not as easy as it looks on blogs.  Tips on successfully doing this weekly are welcomed!

7)  I learned that there's an essential oil to help with just about every ailment but that I'll also gratefully add in the occasional steroid nasal spray when I start itching all over due to #5 above.

8)  I learned just how quickly I devour memoirs after polishing off The Antelope in the Living Room in a matter of hours and Notes from a Blue Bike, which I finished over the span of a few days.

9)  I learned that Ellie Holcomb's new album As Sure as the Sun can brighten up an afternoon or make running errands a lot more enjoyable.

10)  And I've learned that I can't end a list with just nine things.

What fun thing have you learned over the past two months?

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Agitator

As I mentioned in the previous post, the year started off with the purchase of a new washing machine.  As with any electronic, I quickly realized that during the thirteen-plus years between the time I purchased my previous washer and now, the basic washing machine has undergone a major transformation.  There were no longer just top loaders; there were also front loaders.  Based on the scores on Consumer Reports, the clear choice was a front loader.

I was surprised that a front-loading washing machine sans an agitator could get clothes as clean as a top-loading washing machine with an agitation stick in the middle of the drum.  But review after review said that the agitator had the potential to damage clothes and that this new engineering, which uses less water and less agitation, somehow produces better results.  So I decided to trust the reviews and paid the extra money for the front-loading washing machine.

After almost two months, I haven't noticed that my clothes are any cleaner with the new front-loading washer than they were with the old top-loading, agitator-laden washing machine.  Instead, the big thing I've noticed is that it takes more time to do a load of laundry.  My guess is that the lack of the agitator has something to do with that.

And with my one-word resolution this year being "perspective," this whole agitator versus no agitator cleaning process has gotten me thinking about how God removes impurities from my heart and refines my character.  It seems like I pay attention to the refining a lot more when He allows some painful or stressful event (agitation) into my life that requires me to cling tighter to Him and His Word.  This process is not fun, but on the whole, it seems to produce results.  And though the results might still take some time, I'm so aware of my need for Jesus that I tend to notice even the smallest changes He is making in me or my circumstances, which feels like progress is being made.  On the other hand, when I don't have noticeable obstacles (agitation) in my life, I know the Lord can still change my heart.  But I usually don't recognize the change or the growth because I'm not looking for it and because it's harder for me to notice.

When I think about it like that, I'm actually grateful to have an agitator in my life (even if I no longer have one in my washing machine) because I like being able to see the changes and knowing that He loves me enough to continue molding me to be more like Christ.  And maybe it will help you view the agitators in your life a little differently.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  James 1:2-4

Monday, February 17, 2014

2014: Perspective

Over six weeks of the new year have flown by, and I have not managed to type a single blog post.  Today's holiday will hopefully enable me to change that, even if it's just to recap quickly in list format. 

--Christmas at home was a sweet time as always.  Mom was sick for the first couple of days, but we managed to get in a trip to eat Chinese food and to watch Saving Mr. Banks (which was not the happy movie that was portrayed in the commercials, but I'm glad I saw it).   My sister and her husband arrived after Christmas, and the time flew by.  We enjoyed putting together puzzles, cooking a few meals, and attending church as a family.

--There's nothing quite like getting back from a trip and realizing that (1) your key ring does not possess a key to your front door because you never come in that way, and (2) the faucet you had turned off under the sink has been dripping for 8 days.  But there's also nothing like a friend who will drive over 20 miles round trip to bring you a key, and a plumber who comes and solves the problem quickly.

--Two days later when your 13-year-old hand-me-down washer does its last load, you will sing its praises for its long-suffering service and be grateful for a $6.95 monthly subscription to Consumer Reports and for Lowe's Sunday delivery.

--When choosing a word for this year, I found that the word chose me.  I read The Noticer and The Noticer Returns, both are fantastic books by Andy Andrews, and kept seeing the word "perspective."  It came up again in Priscilla Shirer's book God Is Able.  So "perspective" is something I will be concentrating on this year.

--I'm learning that "perspective" is imparted through God's Word and through the Holy Spirit.  It's the latter that I am becoming reacquainted with.  As I've been going through Jennie Allen's study Chase with my mentee, I'm seeing just how much the Holy Spirit equipped David and gave him the courage and perspective he needed to face the trials in his life.  Learning lots here.

--I love that the first-ever IF Gathering in Austin provided a livestream so that I could watch in the comfort of my home!  Incredible teaching on repenting, walking in freedom, and following one's calling.  And now they are equipping women with a daily email that has half a chapter from John, three questions to answer, and a 2-3 minute video featuring those same incredible teachers talking through the day's Bible reading.  Good stuff.

--Without college football on Saturdays, I've been devouring my reading stack.  (See the margin for recently read books from the past several weeks through the beginning of last year.)  I'm currently reading a meaty book called Respectable Sins that is also calling me to press into the Holy Spirit. 

I hope that your 2014 is off to a great start and that the Holy Spirit is teaching you how to walk through each day.

"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you." - John 14:26

Monday, December 9, 2013

Counting His Gifts During the Ice Storm

The ice arrived Thursday evening, and I've been home bound (quite happily I might add) ever since. Thankfully, we had notice of the storm's approach days' in advance, and I was able to stock up on food and prepare for time at home. But being home in the midst of such harsh weather has opened my eyes to gifts that often go unnoticed. Never have I been more thankful for sustained electricity and a salaried job that does not require me to get out in this weather, and never have I been more prayerful for those without power and those whose jobs require that they show up in spite of the ice. I know that many people, both businesses and individuals, will suffer financially as a result of multiple days when businesses were closed or when no one got out to support them while they were open; may the Lord provide for them financially in spite of this time of inclement weather. Here's what else made my gift list during the past few days:

--getting to watch the live telecast of The Sound of Music and for its strong Christian message
--being able to enjoy this view

--first Jesse Tree with devotionals from The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp

--finding out Thursday night that work would be closed on Friday so I could sleep in and not have to worry about navigating icy roads
--a phone chat in the middle of the day with my friend who lives in London and had seen that I would be home due to the ice
--thick socks, blankets, layers, and a hat
--getting to start and finish two books
--provision: shelter, electricity, food, clothes
--not having to drive anywhere or run any errands
--Christmas music
--strength and safety as I shoveled the driveway (a first)

--finding out last night that work would be closed today, so I didn't have to figure out the situation with the roads
--quietness of the neighborhood with no traffic
--sound of icicles dripping
--a time to be still and focus

If you endured the ice storm, what were your favorite moments?