June 28, 2007

What Can I Say...She's Right!

CJ started day camp at the local YMCA on Tuesday. After spending just one afternoon in the pool (with 30 SPF), she's darker than I'd get if I were to quit my job & do nothing but sunbathe for the next 10 years. Thankfully, she has skin like her Daddy's. But, she freckles like her Mama.

When I picked her up Tuesday I told her I could tell she'd gotten some sun. She pulled down the mirror and said, "I hate my freckles, but they sure make me look cuter."

All I could do was agree...


A Needed Reminder

This was my email devotion from Turning Point today. It's too good to keep to myself!

Year of Confusion

Sometimes there aren't enough minutes in a day—or days in a year—for all our work. Well, then, how would you like to have a 445-day year? It happened once. The early Romans established their calendar on a lunar model, and their year had only 355 days. In 46 B.C., Julius Caesar mandated a new solar calendar, making the year 365 days long. To bring the new calendar on track, he added two extra months to that year, sticking them between November and December, and he also squeezed three extra weeks between February and March. The result was a one-time-only year of 445 days, which became known as the "Year of Confusion."
Sometimes every year seems like a year of confusion. But the secret to getting all your work done isn't adding days to the year, it's doing only what the heavenly Father has ordained for you. When Jesus ascended to heaven, there was still much work to be done, yet He said, "I have finished the work which You have given Me to do" (John 17:4).
Ask God for His agenda each day, and don't let the urgent usurp the important. Make sure to finish the work He gives you day by day.

Place all the hours of this day quite simply at His disposal, and ask Him to make and keep you ready to do just exactly what He appoints. -- Frances Havergal

Because of Jesus,

June 27, 2007

Thankful Thursday #2

Even in the midst of feeling like I'm under attack, I still have reason to be thankful:

~ CJ's home! She had a great time at camp, and plans to go back next year.

~ Blogging friends who challenge me to be a better wife & woman.

~ A good book. Don't know why I didn't read this before!

~ Friday afternoon, CJ & I are leaving to spend the weekend with friends at the beach. I can hear the waves calling my name.

What are you thankful for? Head over to Iris' to participate & leave your link!


James 1:5-7

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be gven to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive
anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

Question to Ponder:

~Do I ask God to show me who He really is or am I content to keep Him in the box I've built for Him?


~I've been satisfied with my own small definition of Him, choosing which parts I want to see. If I want to see the fullness of God, I have to ask Him to reveal Himself to me. I may not always understand what He is doing, but I am free to ask Him to show me what He wants to accomplish in my life through whatever circumstances He's put me in.

~God wants to give me wisdom. He wants me to know who He is. He generously gives wisdom to those who genuinely seek it

~I need to come to God with my requests, expecting Him to answer & ready to do what He says. Anticipate His answer & be prepared to act in whatever way He tells me.

~I must be strong in the Lord; wavering between God & the world will make me unstable. If I don't believe in who He's shown Himself to be and in what He promises to do, I won't be able to stand strong.

Dear Jesus, I praise You that when I am unsure of what You're up to, I can come to You & ask. You tell me to ask, seek & knock. Lord, give me a persistent heart to find out what it is You're trying to accomplish in my life. Give me a thirst for wisdom and knowledge of You. Give me a passion to get to know You deeper. Give me an obedient & prepared heart, so that I will be ready to act in whatever way You direct, Lord. Remind me that You are who You say You are, and that You can do whatever you say You can. Only then will I be able to stand strong in You, Lord, and fight the enemy of my soul. I thank You, Jesus, that You alone are the victor!


June 26, 2007

Under Siege

Well, I knew Satan wasn't going to be happy about my commitment to honor my husband. Especially when I went and set goals and everything! I blew it last night, and it was NOT PRETTY! It wasn't so much what I said (I wasn't talking), but the attitude in my heart. The worst part...I didn't want to lay down my need to be right because I was convinced I was the injured party in the whole scenario. It was a ridiculous argument that soon blew over. Later, we were having a discussion about something else and I took offense at something he said. (Needless to say, I disagree with his point of view on this particular topic.) I didn't let it escalate into an argument, but again with the attitude of my heart...

I'm telling you, I feel like I'm getting it on all sides. I've been studying James 1, which is mostly about dealing with trials and tribulations. My Pastor has started a series about handling life's challenges. While I was listening to the sermon, I was gripped by fear...What are you trying to tell me, Lord? Are you preparing me for a trial? What's going to happen to me?

I've learned that when God is speaking the same thing over and over again, I need to listen up. So I'm really on edge about whatever pending trial is out there. Of course, it could be my attitude problem or the ministry struggle I'm facing...which are plenty big to me. Still, I wonder if there's anything larger looming.

FDR said "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself". Fear and its symptoms scare me more than anything. Several years ago, I survived a season of absolute fear. I'm praying I'm not about to enter another. I know the enemy would like nothing more than to paralyze me with fear and doubt. I realize God is in control and He is trustworthy. But, to be honest, I'm concerned that He's trying to equip me for some monumental burden. I'm scared. I'm scared that I'm scared.

Looking back at my journal entry, I remember the confidence that filled my heart. I want to keep that confidence. So, I'm going to do as James suggests and ask God for wisdom. Then I'm going to draw my sword and get ready for battle.

Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. Stand, therefore,with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest, and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace. Ready to go tell others about the gospel. In every situation take the shield of faith,and with it you will be able to extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation,and the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word. - Ephesians 6:10-17

I'm not going down without a fight.


A Must Read

Wondering when not to talk? Read THIS. It's a great reminder for those of us honoring our hubbies. And if you have to deal with people (that would be everyone!), you should click over, too!


June 25, 2007

Honor Your Husband - Week #2

What a week I had, focusing on intentionally blessing my sweet husband! I've gotta tell you that the Lord blessed me so much for it, I felt a little guilty.

My goals for the week were to:

(1) Greet him when he got home - I succeeded on all but one evening. Still, this week I want to focus on giving him a peaceful atmosphere when he walks in the door.

(2) Leave him love notes - I did this once. I think once a week is a good encouragement, without seeming sappy & going overboard. So, until I feel led to do otherwise, I'm going to stick with once a week.

(3) Speak kindly to & about him - I had the "about him" part, in spades! I had a chance to goosh about him to others. With CJ gone, I was able to really spend a lot of time telling him how I feel about him, appreciate him, and what I love most about him. BUT, even though I was lavishing compliments, I'm not sure I was always kind. This week, I want to really focus on how I speak to him...not so much the things I say, but the attitudes I have. We've had a running joke in our marriage that I'm always right. I've wanted to rationalize that by claiming that it's not so much that I'm always right, but I feel I'm right so I defend my position until he can convince me I'm wrong (he usually can't). The Lord has opened my eyes to see how UGLY that is! And I've recently become aware that it's really not a joke to R. My goal is to lay down my need to be right and all the sinful attitudes that come with it. This is one area that's going to be a HUGE, GIGANTIC struggle for me, and the only reason I'm even sharing this on the blog is because I need some sort of accountability.

Even though I wasn't as successful as I'd hoped to be, and I have a lot more to work on, God blessed my efforts. He has begun a work in my heart that I hope will overflow & pour out onto my husband.

If you're part of the challenge, let me know how you're doing. If you're not...it's not to late to join. Just click here to read all about it.


June 22, 2007

James 1:1-4

Like most women I know who like to read, I'm in the middle of at least three books right now. I'll be perfectly honest...if they're non-fiction, I most likely won't finish them. I'm terrible like that. Ditto for Bible studies. I'm always psyched up at the beginning. This time's going to be different. I'm going to be different. But then, somewhere in the middle my enthusiasm starts to wane. By the end, I'm just worn out.

And I must say, I'm tired of being worn out (which reminds me, I've got to finish The Worn-Out Woman!). So, last week, I made a commitment to the Lord. I asked Him what book of the Bible He wanted me to study, and He pointed me to James. Since I've been working on being obedient, I complied.

Now, when I first flipped through James and realized Chapter 3 is about the tongue, I felt certain I knew why He led me there. (OUCH!) But, even though I need to engrave that chapter on my heart, I'm going to resist the urge to skip ahead and start at Chapter 1.

I'm going to be blogging what I write in my journal during this study. It won't be in any structured form...but I will try to let you know the questions I'm asking myself & what I feel the Holy Spirit is revealing to me.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything. -- James 1:2-4

Questions to Ponder:

Do I consider testing of my faith to be joy, or an inconvenience?

Though God's Word says we can expect trials, am I worried or even offended when they come?


I learn perseverance through trials. If I learn to persevere, I'll be equipped to finish the race. Being a believer isn't easy in this world, and I won't make it to the finish line without some practical life skills (i.e. patience, strength, kindness, discernment). Because He loves me, My Father doesn't want me to lack anything. If I'm lacking patience, He's going to give me opportunities to learn to be patience. If I'm struggling with disobedience, He's going to call me to stricter obedience.

As a parent, I have a mental list of things I want to teach CJ. How to love, be kind, be respectful, put her laundry away, obey without questions. She's going to get better at those things with practice. I have to create opportunities for her to practice. In the same way, God does that for me. I can't expect CJ to learn if I'm not willing to do the same.

When I face a trial, I need to ask God "What am I lacking? What do you want to develop in me?" THEN, I need to ask for a willing heart so that He can do His work, and I can become more complete in Him.

Dear Lord, please give me a heart willing to seek You in whatever trials I face. Help me to see, Father, that You are the giver of every good gift, and that You have only my best interests at heart. Lord, because You love me, I can trust that You are working for my good, and I can rest in You. It's easy to know these things in my heart right now, when I'm not in the midst of any difficulties. But I know troubles, either great or small, will eventually come. I pray that I will remember what You've taught me today, and seek to discover what You want me to learn so that I can be made complete in You.


One More Night

It's Friday afternoon. I'm home, waiting for my man. We're going to pick up a pizza and watch "Ocean's 12" (I think that should qualify for the Honor Your Husband challenge!) We'll enjoy a quiet night at home, before he turns in early. He has to get back up at 2:00 a.m. to head off for a deep sea fishing trip (see how much I'm honoring him?!) Once he's in bed, I'll venture back to CJ's room and get it ready for her return. I'm going to pick my baby up from camp tomorrow (with the right directions!)! I'm so excited, I can hardly stand it! This week at home has been very different, to say the least.

As much as we've missed her, this week was fantastic. R and I had a chance to really connect again. Not that I don't love him to pieces anyway, but it was nice to really remember why I fell in love with him. And it was nice to be the only girl in his life, for a change. He truly is my best friend. I genuinely enjoy spending time with him. We were married for 5 1/2 years when CJ came into our home and our hearts. This week was a reminder of those days when we were just starting out and it was just us against the world. Aaahh...good times.

The past 8 1/2 years, however, have been the best times. CJ made our family complete. Days without her giggles and insights are less sunny. Bedtimes without her hugs can be downright miserable. R said we've gotten a glimpse of what college is going to be like. I nearly hit him!

So, the girl returns home tomorrow and all will be right with the world! At least for two weeks...until she heads off to another (shorter) camp. I'll try really hard not to cry this time, though.


June 21, 2007

Thankful Thursday

This is my first Thankful Thursday post. I've been reading other bloggers' posts for a while, and decided to jump in!

This week, I'm thankful for:

  • Time alone with my hubby, while CJ's away at camp. We've had a great time re-connecting and just being newlyweds again! Being able to talk, watch movies, etc. without interruption has been a priceless luxury.
  • Being able to finally see some pictures of CJ at camp yesterday. Since we can't talk (I've been bombarding her with emails, cards & care packages), I've been a little nervous about how she's doing. I could look at her face in the pictures & tell she's having a great time.
  • Accountability to honor my husband. By blessing him, I've been tremendously blessed.
  • The Book of James, which I'll start posting about this weekend.
  • God's financial provision. He continues to amaze me.
What are you thankful for? Let me know in the comments. Then head over to Iris at Sting My Heart to post your own thoughts!


June 20, 2007

Show Me The Way

Whenever we travel, I'm in charge of getting directions to our destination. I'm a little obsessive about it, really. Recently, I downloaded three sets of directions for our women's trip to this conference! I had to make sure I had directions to the hotel, because we were going there first. Then from the hotel to the church, so we could get to the conference. And then from the church back home, because we were leaving straight from the church. I didn't want to leave anything to chance.

I printed out directions to CJ's camp a couple of weeks ago and put them in my camp folder. I'd ridden to camp once with a friend, but I was much too busy chatting to pay attention. But I wasn't worried because, after all, Y*hoo could give me directions at the click of a mouse. Easy peasy!

So, Sunday morning I picked R up from work and we headed to camp (in the MAN TRUCK, I might add!). I had my trusty directions on the console, so we were set. Or so I thought.

To make a long story short, I'll just say that the kind people at Y*hoo wanted to make sure we saw a lot of the beautiful countryside & a quaint little town that I hadn't seen on my first trip. We made it there, eventually. But it was a crazy trip - definitely the road less traveled. Since I've committed to honor my husband, I will just say that we had some TENSE moments. I think you get the picture.

I'm still not sure how we got there. Needless to say, before we left camp, I asked a friend for her M*pquest directions so we could get home without incident!

R insisted that I should've known better than to get directions from Y*hoo. I disagreed, because I've never had any trouble with their directions. I've been able to trust them to get me where I needed to go.

I've also trusted in people to get me where I need to go. Some of them trustworthy, some not. Some wise, and some not so wise. Some who genuinely had my best interest at heart, and some who most definitely did not.

Even when I've sought Godly counsel, I've sometimes ended up in the wrong place. Or I got there, but through a series of twists and turns that I could have avoided. Because people, no matter how well-intentioned, are fallible. We make mistakes. We interpret the Map according to our world-view. We don't mean to lead people in the wrong direction, but we sometimes do.

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." -- John 14:6

If we don't want to get lost or take a field trip through the middle of nowhere, we must find The Way for ourselves. Of course, sometimes we need to advice or confirmation. Still, when we seek direction from other sources. no matter how trusted, we've got to make sure those instructions follow the Map. Only then we will be able to plot the course He has for us, and arrive safely at our destination.

Now, if I could just find such reliable directions back to camp!

Because of Jesus,

June 19, 2007

I'm an Enigma, Really

We recently bought a truck. Not just a truck, but a MAN TRUCK. It's a 4-door, diesel, heavy duty, hear-ya-coming-a-half-mile-away truck. The kind of truck, as my brother-in-law said, that makes you feel small when you stand next to it. It's R's dream truck. Go figure.

In order to keep some miles off my aging SUV, I'm driving the MAN TRUCK a couple of days a week. Can I tell you a secret? I. LOVE. IT.

There's no better place to blare country music and, every now & then, I just have to listen to some country music!

Our recent acquisition got me thinking about one of my favorite chick flicks, "Sweet Home Alabama". I could really relate to Reese Witherspoon's character, Melanie (well, except that she had to choose between Josh Lucas and Patrick Dempsey...and how IS a girl to do that?!). In one scene, she is struggling with finding her place. She's made a life in New York City, but her small Alabama town still feels like home, too.

I so get her.

I adore my small town, but I must say I love The Big Apple. I'm equally at home on my granddaddy's farm and on the streets of Manhattan. I can belt out Billie Holiday, Randy Travis, and Paula Abdul with the same fervor. I'm just as happy wearing flannel, flip flops or high heels.

I'm just a woman who likes everything in moderation...except coffee, chocolate and cheesecake. Which presents a problem. Because, while moderation is good in some things, it's most definitely not in others.

Like faith.
Bible study.

It's in these areas of life that I need to be extreme, but I'm stuck in that "moderation is key" mindset. Or heartset, if you will. Too afraid to commit one way or the other, I find myself wavering between the Godly and the worldly.

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm - neither hot not cold - I am about to spit you out of my mouth. - Revelation 3:15-16

I pray He doesn't give up on me and spit me out!

It's time for me to stop riding the fence and choose who I'm going to serve.

I choose God.


June 18, 2007

Camp Update, Obedience & a Challenge

We took CJ to camp yesterday. The place is beautiful - a 400 acre farm with nearly 20 horses, tennis courts, an archery range, go-cart track, & a man-made lake. I left her making new friends & giggling away. R & I stopped to have dinner on the way home, enjoyed a ride of conversation without interruption, and settled in for a movie.

As soon as the ending credits started rolling, it hit me that my little girl was going to bed without me tucking her in. Poor R! Tears started flowing. Fortunately, he's had plenty of practice in calming me down over the years. My tears caught me off guard. I thought I'd cried enough Saturday night, and that I'd be fine until about Thursday. But bedtime was tough for me.

I hope it wasn't nearly as tough for her.

We can't talk to her until Saturday. I'll be able to see pictures on-line every night and I can send her cards & emails. But I won't hear her voice until we pick her up Saturday. The reality of that is setting in.

I took the day off. R's at work until this evening. I have the next 10 hours alone. So, I'm going to put on my iPod, and get moving to organize my laundry room & our bedroom closet. But first, I need to finish the obedience series.


A couple of weeks ago, close friends lost a family member in a horrible car accident. I never know what to say in times of tragedy, because it's so hard to make sense of what God's doing. I guess the trick is to realize we can't wrap our human minds around God, and to just TRUST that He's working.

My friends came to church the Sunday following the accident. God specifically told me that I needed to pray with them during altar call. I realized I wouldn't know how to pray for them, and quickly decided to pray with someone else. During the altar call, I literally watched God take away every other person I intended to pray with rather than be obedient to Him. Finally, in the third stanza of the invitation hymn, I walked to the back of the church to pray with my friends. I didn't know what to say, but He took over & took care of it.

The wife called me that night to thank me for being obedient. While I was arguing with God, she was seeking Him. When she saw me walking toward the back of the church, she prayed I would stop at their row. Her insistence in prayer moved the Holy Spirit to move me! I was humbled, and ashamed that I had been so stubborn. I was unspeakably grateful that He still allowed me to be part of that sweet, sweet moment.

Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other. Keep his decrees and
commands, which I am giving you today, so that it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the Lord your God gives you for all time. -Deuteronomy 4:39-40

#5 - Obedience Brings Blessing - When we trust Him and do what He tells us, we will bless others & He will bless us. There will be times the things He asks us to do won't make sense. We won't understand. We won't like it. We'll be stubborn. We'll miss out.

But in those times when we can put ourselves aside and JUST DO IT, He'll be glorified. We may see it, and we may not. But He promises to bless us if we simply obey.

I don't know about you, but I could use some blessing. So could the people in my life. Particularly my husband. Christine at Fruit in Season has started a 30-day challenge to honor our husbands. Scripture calls us to bring honor to our husbands. I can't think of a better way to put what I've learned about obedience into practice!

My Goals for the Week:

1 - Like Christine, I need to greet R when he gets home from work. Too many times, I'm at the computer or on the couch.

2- Leave him love notes this week, telling him how much I appreciate him.

3- Remember to speak kindly TO him and ABOUT him.

Want to join me? Head over to Fruit in Season & link away!


June 17, 2007

It's Harder Than I Thought

It's a little after midnight here, and I'm not ready to go to bed. I'm usually a night owl anyway, but tonight I'm fighting sleep with everything in me. Because when I wake up, it'll be tomorrow. And tomorrow (more accurately, today) is the day we drive a couple of hours away and drop our girl at summer camp. I'm tearing up just thinking about it.

I'm excited for her. I've been eagerly waiting for some time both to myself and with R, without the constant "Mama" interruptions. But just now, the thought of leaving her there is overwhelming me.

We've been separated before. Every year, R & I travel for an extended weekend without her. She's been to the beach with friends for a weekend. I've even left the country without her. But right now, being home alone without her for a whole week is not as appealing as it was just 5 hours ago!

Maybe it's because I watched "The Brooke Ellison Story" tonight (great movie, but have a box of tissues!). Not a wise choice. Maybe it's the realization that my little girl is growing up faster than I'd like. Whatever the reason, I'm having some major Mama drama right now!

I know the Lord will take care of her. Funny, this whole week, I've been reassuring her that she'll be fine. I typed Joshua 1:9 on a sheet of paper & taped it to the inside lid of her trunk.

Be strong & courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

I know He's going to look after her so much better than I could. I just didn't realize letting go would be so hard.


June 15, 2007

It's Fantabulous!

It's time to give Him some more praise!

#1 - It's the last day of school. F.I.N.A.L.L.Y! I can't believe 3rd grade is over! It's been a great year, and CJ has matured & blossomed in so many ways. So much so that she's leaving for a week of summer camp on Sunday. We've got to finish laundry & packing tomorrow! I'm going to miss her to pieces, but I know she's going to have a great time. (will you say a prayer for her...she's a bit nervous about leaving home for more than a weekend)

#2 - I've had some amazing time with the Lord this week. I started studying the Book of James. I'm taking it very slowly...just a couple of verses a day to allow them to really soak in. I'll start sharing next week, after the obedience series is done (been tied up with camp prep & will finish that sometime over the weekend).

#3 - I said BUH-BYE to another .8 of a pound. Considering I had one of these

which only has about 1,738 WW points...I feel pretty great!

#4 - R's done with second shift, and we have a family date tonight!

C'mon, I wanna know what's been fantabulous in your life this week?


June 13, 2007

Serious Business

This is Day 4 of the Obedience Series. If you're just joining me, catch up before reading further.

Through Deuteronomy 4, God has shown me that obedience is simple, it's my testimony, and how I must sacrifice to be obedient. In this chapter, Moses is pleading with the Israelites to be obedient. Moses had toyed with disobedience and lost. God's punishment was to prohibit him from entering the Promised Land. Was Moses' disobedience was trivial? Did it warrant the punishment God doled out?

The Lord said to Moses, "Take the staff, and you and
yoru brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink." So Moses took the staff from the Lord's presence, just as he commanded him...Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out,and the community and their livestock drank. But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, "Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them." -- Numbers 20:7-9, 11-12

#4 - Obedience is Serious to God. Moses obeyed the first part of the Lord's command to gather the people together, and he used the rock to bring forth the water. His trouble came because he didn't want to just speak to the rock, he wanted a dramatic display. Was he trying to bring glory to God or to himself? It doesn't matter, because he didn't do what God told him.

We can't compromise with God. There's no negotiating when it comes to obedience. If He asks me to serve in the church nursery and I offer to be an adult Sunday School teacher instead, I'm being disobedient. I can't expect Him to be happy with my disobedience, even if it is cleverly veiled as service. I also can't expect Him to bless my effort. It may be good, but it won't be best because it's not what He ordained.

Moses' disobedient heart was getting in the way of the journey into the Promised Land. God knew what struggles lie ahead and that Israel would need someone who obeyed without question. Unfortunately, Moses was not that leader.

How many opportunities have I missed because of my own disobedience?

How many blessings will I never know because I had a rebellious and disobedient heart?

Obeying God will bring blessings into our lives. Tune in tomorrow to find out more!

Because of Jesus,

A Question of Great Importance

It's summer time here in the South, and that can only mean one thing.


As hard as we try to tame CJ's hair in a pony tail or a quick bun, curly-Q wisps soon frame her face. It's adorable, actually.

And most definitely from her father!

I'm on the other end of the spectrum. And I wanna' know...Why can't my stomach be as flat as my hair?!


June 12, 2007

Give it Up

We're at Day 3 of the obedience series. You can read the first two posts here & here.

Be careful not to forget the covenant of the Lord your God that he made with you; do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the Lord your God has forbidden. For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.
--Deuteronomy 4:23-24
#3 - Obedience Requires Sacrifice. In order for God to build the monument that we talked about yesterday, some things in our life have to go. They're impeding progress. It's time for the idols to go.
Wait a minute, I don't worship idols!

Are you sure about that?

Maybe it's a TV show. (it has been for me).

Or a relationship.

Perhaps it's a habit.

Or a hobby.

It could be anything.

What's hindering us from experiencing true fellowship with God? If we're honest, we may already know the answer.

Whatever it is, IT'S GOT TO GO.

But I can't give it/him/her/that up! It's asking too much!

That's where God comes in. He's not asking us to do it alone. He created us, so He's well acquainted with our weaknesses. As David tells us, "for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust." (Psalm 103:14) I find such comfort in that verse. I realize it doesn't do any good to hide from Him, and I can be myself. It reminds us that we don't have a single ounce of strength. But God, in His marvelous, sweet and generous spirit, steps in and gives us what we need. Have you noticed that whenever He commands us to do something, He provides everything we need to do it?

Isn't that just like Him? Doesn't it blow your mind?

I can testify that I was thoroughly convicted about giving up those two television shows (and some other entertainment idolatry). I knew I couldn't do it in my own power, so I literally laid them at the altar. And, Praise His Name, He has done it! So far, not even a temptation. Now, I'm not stupid enough to think Satan won't start messing with me over it, but I can trust in His strength to fight the battle.

Still, it can be tough to obey an "invisible" God. In those situations, we should ask Him to provide us with encouragers - people who will walk alongside us, cheer us on, and give us a swift kick in the pants when we need it. I don't know about you, but I'm at a point in my life where I don't have time or patience for people who don't encourage me. If I'm going to seek the abundant life He wants to give, I have to surround myself with people who are like-minded.

God has given us all the tools we need, and He expects us to be obedient. It's serious business to Him. And that's where we'll meet again tomorrow.

Because of Jesus,

May Day Challenge, Week 5

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It's been a good week. I stopped obsessing over the scales so much, and am limiting weigh-ins to Fridays. And I'm down another pound. I have no idea how much that makes since I started the challenge, because I don't remember where I started. But I've only got 28 pounds to go in my own 40 by 40 challenge!

This isn't happening fast for me, but that's okay. I'm trying to focus on lifestyle changes, instead of getting big results fast. If I make drastic changes too quickly, I'll end up binging. Slow & steady wins the race for me!

Hopefully next week, you'll see even less of me!


Happy Birthday, Baby!

Today is my sweetie's birthday. In his honor, I'm recycling a Thursday Thirteen I did a while back.

Though there are MANY more, here are 13 reasons why I love my man:

1. He's my best friend.

2. He's a fun person to hang around with. He's been with me to gaze at the Paris skyline from the Eiffel Tower. Held my hand as we walked the streets of NYC shortly after 9/11. And sat beside me on a Duck Tour in Boston. Whether we're spending 18 hours together in a car (in one weekend), flying across the "big pond", getting lost on our honeymoon, or turning the search for a Christmas tree into a weekend affair...our adventures have always been fun.

3. He watches "Iron Chef America" & "Throwdown with Bobby Flay", and actually enjoys it.

4. He nursed me through 5 surgeries in 4 years. He took care of everything for me. Heck, the man even shaved my legs! Now THAT's true love!

5. He's patient. Not one of my virtues. Not even close to being one of my virtues. But he's got it in spades. I guess the Holy Spirit gave R my portion of that particular fruit of the spirit.

6. He's got great legs, and I'm not the only one who thinks so. Years ago, some friends watching him play softball dubbed him "Legs". (Once at a softball game, our pastor's toddler got confused on the nickname & yelled out, "Go, Foot!")

7. He's devoted, faithful and loyal to those he loves.

8. He calls me and CJ "his girls". He loves to take care of us ~ from backscratches to foot rubs, to killing spiders and snakes. The man can do it all and, believe, me, he's had to.

9. He introduced me to Jesus. There's no way I can thank him enough for that. At least I can spend eternity trying, though!

10. He is encouraging me in my weight loss. (Bye-bye to another pound this week!)

11. He cherishes me. He may not bring me flowers, write poetry, serenade me, or wine & dine me, but I know, without a doubt, that he loves me. That I'm an important part of his life. That he doesn't want to live without me. Knowing that makes my heart melt. (correction: I meant to say he may not ALWAYS do these things. He hardly ever brings me flowers, NEVER writes me poetry or serenades me, but he occasionally wines & dines me...as much as our schedules & wallets allow!)

12. He's great with kids. (I think it's because he's a big one himself!) CJ's friends & cousins all love him to pieces, and he's always willing to play with them.

13. He supports me in whatever I do. Whether it's giving me time to prepare my Sunday School lesson, lead a Bible study, work on my Southern Living at Home business, exercise, or minister to a friend...he's usually willing to do what it takes to help me do it.

I am one very, very, very blessed woman!

Happy Birthday, honey!


June 11, 2007

A Living Testimony

Yesterday I started a series about obedience, based on Deuteronomy 4. If you're coming in late, please go back and read the first post. As I said, our lack of obedience doesn't only affect us. It directly impacts those around us.

See, I have taught you decrees and laws as the Lord my God commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it. Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, "Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people." What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him? And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today? Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.
--Deuteronomy 4:5-9

#2 Obedience is Our Testimony. Our obedience speaks volumes about our belief in God. I can loudly proclaim faith in God's ability to do anything, but my actions speak louder than any words. Particularly to the non-believers who are watching me. How can I expect others to repent & submit to His authority if I'm not willing to do that very thing?

I find myself again paraphrasing Priscilla: the more sturdy our foundation of obedience, the greater the miracles God will accomplish in our lives.

Large buildings need a much stronger foundation than smaller ones. Merely going to church & reading the Bible every once in a while makes for a poor foundation. Spending time with Him in prayer and Bible study strengthens the foundation. The foundation becomes strongest when we are obedient.

Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.
My father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home
with him." --John 14:23**

Did you get that? When we are obedient, God makes His home with us! He is a mighty fortress. Obedience lays a foundation strong enough for God to take our pitifully human lives and build a towering monument to Himself. The higher it goes, the more people who will be able to see it. It will bring glory to Him. And we get the privilege of being a part of His work.

So, if obedience is simple and it's our testimony to others, why do we disobey Him? Perhaps we're afraid He's going to require to much.

That, dear ones, will bring us to tomorrow's lesson.

**This is our family verse (and the 40 by 40 verse) for the week.


Humble Beginnings

Chili is a bit nosy. She wants to know about our blogs. And since I'm a little nosy myself, I thought I'd participate.

  • How did you start blogging? I read Lisa Whelchel's "Coffee Talk" regularly. In one entry, she mentioned her friend Sarah I checked out Sarah's blog and was hooked! I had been writing devotions for a while & emailing them to friends. Blogging seemed to be a much more efficient means of doing that. Then I got into the memes and other fun things. It quickly became an obsession.
  • Did you intend to be a blog w/a following? If so, how did you go about it? I don't have a following. I have no idea how many (more accurately, how few) people read my blog. I got too concerned with stats and turned them off. I don't get many comments. Sometimes that's depressing...but then I remember why I started the blog in the first place. Meeting new friends is the whipped cream on top of the latte'!
  • What do you hope to achieve or accomplish with your blog? Have you been successful? If not, do you have a plan to achieve those goals? I want to have a record of my life at this point in time, and what God's telling me. I'd also like others to be blessed by what they read and draw closer to God. I think I've done the former. I pray He's accomplished the latter.
  • Has the focus of your blog changed since you started blogging? How? The focus changed because I got very caught up in stats, commenters, etc. I'm trying to get back to the original focus (see above)
  • What do you know now that you wish you'd known when you started? That it's very easy to let this become an addition, and that it's not a popularity contest.
  • Do you make money with your blog? No. I just got my first email from a company that wants me to link to it, but I haven't pursued it yet.
  • Does your immediate or extended family know about your blog? If so, do they read it? If not, why? They know. My husband has read some entries, but isn't a regular reader. Some other family members have told me they read it. I don't talk about it often, though.
  • What two pieces of advice would you give to a new blogger?
(A) Set some parameters for your blog writing & reading. What will you write about? What won't you write about? How much time will you spend reading & writing? As Shalee said, time limits are important!

(B) It's tempting to put on a "bloggy face" since most fellow bloggers won't know you, but be yourself.

If you're wondering how other bloggers got there start, click here to read all about it!


June 10, 2007

Just Say Yes!

God and I have been talking a lot about obedience lately. Mine, not His. Or, more accurately put, my LACK of obedience. When Paul talked about "working out our salvation" (Phil. 2:12), he wasn't kidding. It's hard work. Not to mention the "fear and trembling" part. I've been doing enough of that lately. This topic of obedience makes me squirm in my seat. (Interestingly enough, Paul also mentions obedience in that verse. Hmmm....)

When I started preparing for Sunday School this week, of course the lesson was on obedience! The Holy Spirit spoke so clearly to me, it's been what my friend Donna would call a "frying pan experience". He must've whacked with me a cast iron skillet, because it's left quite an impression!

This week, I'm going to focus my blogging time on what He's taught me about obedience, based primarily on Deuteronomy 4. I'll be using the outline He gave me for the Sunday School lesson. I need to memorialize what He's told me, for my own good even if not for anyone else's.

#1 - Obedience isn't Easy, but it IS Simple.

Hear now, O Israel, the decrees and laws I am about to teach you.
Follow them so that you may live and may go in & take possession of the land
that the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving you.
Do no add to what I command you & do not subtract from it,
but keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you.
--Deuteronomy 4:1-2

Moses has gathered the Israelites together to give them his "farewell speech". He knows he's about to put the mantle of leadership onto Joshua's shoulders. He wants to share some parting words of wisdom. Deuteronomy 4 is devoted to obedience. Moses, whose own disobedience kept him from the Promised Land, is imploring the Israelites to follow God's commands.

We are called to do the same.

So many times, I don't want to obey. I would rather question God. Or ask Him to compromise with me. I'm ashamed to say, there have been times I've pretended I didn't hear Him. Or worse, I just dug in my heels and refused to do what He commanded. It looked too hard, or I was afraid of being called foolish.

Perhaps you're the same way. Do you often give the excuse, "You just don't know what God's asking of me."

Does it matter?

There should be no argument, no negotiating, and no delay. Obedience is simple.

Obedience is simple because His Word is clear. We don't have to wonder what He wants from us. There are no gray areas. His instruction manual is very detailed, and specifically sets out how we are to live.

Obedience is simple because He is trustworthy. We can obey without fear that He's going to put us in a situation that's anything other than what's best for us. Often my earthly eyes can't see "best" the way He can. Yet if I trust in Him completely, there should be no question that I will obey Him.

Obedience is simple because He enables us to obey. If He tells me to do something I can't do, I can know that He can do it through me.

Sometimes, it's down right hard to obey God. We think about how others will react. We don't trust that He can bring it to pass. We're just stubborn. Our disobedience hinders our fellowship with God. It keeps us from entering the Promised Land. And it affects our testimony.

That's where we'll pick up tomorrow.

Because of Jesus,

June 8, 2007

Fantabulous Friday

It's Friday, and life is FANTABULOUS! Here are a few of the reasons why:

*I have the opportunity to take CJ & a couple of friends to Busch Gard*ns tonight. Those season tickets were such a great investment!

*We just subscribed to N*tflix, and our first movie should be waiting in the mailbox today. Hooray for quality, family friendly movies in the house! And I've put quite a few musicals and pre-1960 movies in my queue, for those nights when R's working. AND I won't have to deal with the video store anymore!

*Our church is having a pancake breakfast fundraiser for a mission trip to Greece. Yummo! So, I'll sacrifice my WW points to help the team. I'm selfless that way.

*Next week is THE LAST WEEK OF SCHOOL. Hallelujah & Praise Jesus!

*Having a family verse has been great!

*Weekly weigh-in: -1! (28 to go in 40 by 40)

What's fantabulous in your life?


June 5, 2007

That's My King

If you haven't seen or heard this wonderful sermon before, click HERE and you will be so blessed! It opened the Going Beyond conference this weekend, and I had chills! I was so happy when I found it on-line tonight.

Have a good one,


May Day Challenge

I haven't posted my weight progress on the May Day Challenge for a couple of weeks. There really hasn't been a change. I've pretty much been at a stand still. I think part of the problem is that I weigh myself every day. EVERY. DAY. And my weight fluctuates by as much as 2 pounds every day (or so it seems). I can't remember what the scale said on the last day I actually posted, so I've just stopped posting. SO...I'm only going to weigh on Fridays from now on, and I'll post on Tuesdays.

I'm a little discouraged, but I have to honestly say that I haven't worked very hard at the weight loss lately. I should be happy I haven't gained. On the bright side, in the last week, I've had 4 people tell me I look great (and 3 of them aren't related to me ;p)...so I do feel good about myself.

If you want to see how the other challengers are doing, click here.


June 3, 2007

Under Construction

We’re taking a new approach to family devotions in our home. Each Sunday, we’ll pick a verse or two, really discuss it and explain it on the elementary school level (which will benefit CJ & her parents), and put it on 3 index cards. Each of us will put our card someplace we’re sure to see it during the week, so that we can focus on the verse(s) and how it applies to our lives. We’ll share how God uses His Word during the week. I’ve decided to use these verses for 40 by 40. I’ve been so unfaithful in that commitment, but I’m thankful for His new mercies & the chance to start over.

R & I filled CJ in on our plan today and, naturally, she wanted to pick the first verse. She chose a verse she already knew, I guess because it seemed easy. Little did she know that it was the Holy Spirit, not she, who picked the verse!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.
-- Proverbs 3:5-6

This weekend, I had the blessed opportunity to attend a "Going Beyond" revival with Priscilla Shirer. If she's ever near your area, RUN...do not walk...to get there. She is such a willing servant of the Lord, and He worked amazingly through her. I'm at a loss for words (for those who know me, I'm sure that's hard to believe!). I just can't accurately describe the experience. I'm still processing everything God spoke to me. I will be for a long time.

There's no way to share it all. I don't even want to. Some of it will stay just between me and my Jesus. But some of it, I need to share, for accountability's sake. So, I'm asking the 3 of you who read my blog to keep me accountable.

Priscilla shared that we'll never get to our personal land of milk and honey...the fullness of God...unless we're willing to break the rules that govern us, to look & act different, to make some tough decisions, and to let some things die. OUCH! As soon as that was out of her mouth, I knew He was telling me to let 2 television shows go. I won't name them. Not because I'm ashamed, but because this is the Holy Spirit's conviction on my life & I don't want to open the blog for debate about these particular shows. I shared my feelings with R, and he agreed. I'm blessed to have such a supportive husband.

Now, I know that cutting 2 hours of tv watching out of my week won't accomplish very much unless I'm willing to make some other changes. Believe me, there are lots of changes to be made! This is a start. And I know it's from Him, because I wouldn't make this choice...I'd rationalize why I watch by saying, "It's just entertainment. I'm not condoning the behaviors on these shows." But the truth is, I've got to stop putting junk into my brain. It's taking up room that should be reserved for God. Besides, God told me to do it. Not that I'm a model of obedience, but I know I can't go any further in my walk with Him until I start obeying more & excusing myself less.

Obedience requires that I trust Him & not me. To stop complaining about the seemingly insignificant and realize it must be important to Him, or He wouldn't ask. To stare into the face of a completely impossible situation and not flinch. To follow the Leader and quit taking my own paths.

My life is about to undergo a major overhaul. Looking at the calendar tonight, I realized there are 40 weeks until my 40th birthday. It's time to recommit to the 40 by 40 plan. I'm a little nervous, but I can't wait to see what He's going to do in the next 40 weeks!