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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Words to Live by: Determined

I am not by nature a determined person. When I think about words that best describe me that is not one of them. When I began thinking about what I would write for this weeks Blog Hop at Proverbs31 the word determination stuck out to me. Yet I really didn't want to write about it because...

Then you would know where I am failing often in life. I lack determination and often things can smother my want to be determined. Like today the weather is my nemesis. When I muster all my strength to pull up determination the chill in my morning air and the snow falling quietly sucks it all out of me. My determination to wake up early, pray and have quiet time was killed. I was left lacking.

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But God says something different about me. He believes that I am determined and He wants me to live life with determination...but He doesn't want me to do it on my own. Perhaps that is always my downfall. I try so often to do this walk on my own. I fool myself into thinking that I don't need anyone. If my friends saw where I am they would be disgusted or perhaps they would laugh at my feeble attempts to accomplish the smallest things.

And then there is God. Many times I find myself fearing Him. So often I have said that they only opinion I should worry about is God's, but sometimes I make Him out to be a monster. I cling to this verse...

Romans 2:4 "Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?"

God is no monster. It's His kindness that brings us to that most important place where we can turn around and follow after Him. Accepting His sacrifice and forgiveness of our sins. His kindness brings us closer to Him.

I tend to forget to ask God for help. I forget to ask Him to give me strength and to keep me determined. I forget that He has given me the gifts of friendships that keep me accountable. I need to keep asking God for help when I need it. He's not angry. He's not embarrassed by me. He loves me and wants to walk this life with me. With His help I will continue to be determined. Together we will fight for it not against it.

Ephesians 1:17-19 "I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe." 

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Raging Battle

I am participating in an online Bible study. Something I have never done before, but I am so thankful that Proverbs31 Ministries is currently doing the Made to Crave study. When my friend first suggested it I wasn't really interested. I don't struggle with food the same way other people do and so I thought the study would not resonate with me...I was wrong.

Perhaps because I don't struggle with food in the same way the study has really hit home. It's not just about craving food, even though we all do at times. It's about craving anything more than we crave God. So many times I see my cravings as a bad thing, yet the craving feeling is not what is wrong, but perhaps what I am craving. Or the fact that I am craving it more than I crave that time with God.


I have to be honest. I crave hunger pains. I crave the feeling of an empty stomach. When I crave that my heart is filled with guilt. I know that these feelings and my actions are harmful to my body and my life in so many ways. And how do I counteract those guilty feelings? Fast food. It's almost like I think it will counteract my dark thoughts of wanting my stomach to growl.

Why do I crave these things more than God? Perhaps the answer to the questions is actually less important than what I do about it. How do I change these cravings into cravings for God. It's not easy to change your thoughts to something else when you have been actively looking to one thing for so long. I think perhaps it's that hard work and sometimes frustration at the times it doesn't go well that keep so many from changing those cravings over to God.

One thing the author said really hit home for me...
"Each time I crave something I knew wasn't part of my plan, I used that craving as a prompt to pray. I craved a lot. So, I found myself praying a lot."

What an amazing thought. Some days might be a constant battle of putting down those cravings that aren't good and picking up a prayerful attitude. There maybe days that feel like they are never going to end, but it's building that habit of trading in our bad thoughts for time with God that will be beneficial to us in the long run.

One important thing to keep in mind. Don't walk (or hike) this path alone. Keep your friends surrounding you. A good support system is key to success in any journey. Not all of your friends will understand what you are doing, but that's ok. Find those friends who do get it and share your successes and failures with them. We are all in this walk of life together.


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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Book Review: Women Living Well


Book Review:
Women Living Well
Finding Your Joy in God, Your Man, Your Kids and Your Home
By
Courtney Joseph


At first when I was sent this book from Booksneeze I wondered to myself why I had chosen this book to review. To be honest it took me so long to actually open the book and read it that they had suspended my account and I had to get reinstated. The whole idea of finding solitude and finding time to spend with God has been a constant struggle in my life. I am not like the writer of this book. It wasn't just after I had children that I found it hard. It's been a constant struggle in my life. 

When people talk about getting up early and having quiet times I cringe. I honestly hate the idea of waking up early. So when she started talking about solitude I knew right where she was going. I struggled with the idea that she was going to talk about getting up early, but funny thing is, God was already working on me. This last week my life has been so crazy. Sleep has been my enemy and one night I just couldn't sleep. 1 o'clock came around and I was just laying in bed staring at the clock. I might have dozed off for a little while, but 3 o'clock...same thing. 6 AM stared me in the face and I figured I might as well get up. My morning was started off right. Peaceful time with just my Lord and I. And then I read her quote about "beating up my family." Meaning I should wake up before anyone else and use my time to spend in solitude with God. That was my best day of the week!

There is honestly so much in this book that it's hard to really touch on it all. She gives wonderful advice on how to show love and respect to our husbands. Keeping their needs and wants in mind during our day to day routine. I strive to be a good wife and perhaps that's the problem...I strive! I try to do it all on my own. Her quote in the book really hit home

"In the world of reality television and reality blogging, we can miss the reality of God's truth. The reality is we are sinners who married sinners, and that reality makes marriage hard. In the world of images, the image of biblical marriages has been severely distorted. Together, let's make Scripture a springboard for our actions and reactions in marriage."

And that's what this book does. It takes these areas of our lives. Our relationships with God, our husband and children and it helps us intertwine the Word of God into those relationships. Some of my favorite parts were the challenges she had in her book. The marriage challenge (which I am currently still doing) and gentleness challenge. It was a wonderful book with so much wonderful ideas and encouragement. 

Today at church I was really challenged with the idea of solitude. In Sunday school they were talking about God's command to fellowship. That we should spend time with people. I heard people talking about how they struggled with that. That they would rather move to the woods and live in a cabin with no people around. I don't struggle with that. I think perhaps I struggle more with the other side of it. I think about those times when Christ lived in solitude. When he went away to spend time just by himself and his father. That's so much harder for me. The idea of being alone is scary. It leaves me too much to my own thoughts and fears. But what a wonderful time to spend with God. Giving him thought thoughts. Giving him those fears. Enjoying those times of solitude that I can hide away with. 


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com® <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 
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Monday, January 13, 2014

Thank You Walter Mitty

There are moments in my day when tears come to my eyes. I can't always explain it. They well up and sometimes overflow onto my checks. Other times they just sit there burning my eyes unable to escape. At times it's just the emotions from my day and my over exhausted body just needing to release something. Anything. Yet putting all my efforts into figuring it all out never works. I just work myself into more frustration with more emotions I can't figure out how to process.

While watching The Secret Life of Walter Mitty I couldn't help but see my own life in his. I feel as if I have moments when I pull away trying to figure what might happen if I do this. Or what might happen if I do that. I don't often ponder on the what could have been, but the uncertainty of the future weighs heavy on my heart causing those tears to live in the prison of my eyes.

My favorite moment of the movie was when Walter Mitty takes a risk and runs to find his closest friend...one he has never met. Every step you see the motto of LIFE displayed in different ways:

"To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life."

When these two friends finally come face to face after an adventure Walter Mitty had only once dreamed of, they sat waiting for the snow leopard. Known as the ghost cat, because it never lets itself be seen. It finally comes and I expect Sean to go on snapping pictures. But he just looks like he's waiting for that perfect moment. I think maybe he is waiting for the snow leopard to move so it's looking right at him. But he's not. When Walter asks when he's going to take the picture Sean answers with this...


"Sometimes I don't. If I like a moment, for me, personally, I don't like to have the distraction of the camera. I just want to stay in it...Right there. Right here."

During the week when I was struggling the most a fictitious character helped me get it. It's not about fighting to get that perfect idea. That perfect picture. The perfect life. It's about fully being in this moment. Being right here where I am. Where I am at. Taking away those distractions of the camera... Computer... Cellphone... Kindle... Book... Music.. and just sitting here and enjoying the moment that I am in. So this last week I took time to just sit and enjoy what was going on. Letting go of whatever I was trying to process. Whatever I was trying to do...and just enjoying what was going on.

Living in the moment. Living in the now...that's where it's at. Thank you Walter Mitty. Thank you.

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Thursday, January 9, 2014

Resolutions

I've given up on New Years resolutions. Every year I make one and every year I fail. We all have wonderful intentions, but are those intentions helping us? Are they getting us to a place were we will succeed or are they setting us up for failure? I often wonder how many of us actually go through with our resolutions or how many of us are sitting in the same place we were last year...really wishing we would have finished or made it to our goal.


Perhaps that's why this year many of us just chose the word. That's what I found to be much better, and it's put less pressure on me to achieve a goal that sometime is unattainable. How often do we set resolutions that are just not going to happen and we know it the moment we say them! I have found that living life day by day is a much better plan for me, and helps me to keep things from spiraling out of control.

What are my goals for today? What do I want to accomplish? What do I need at the end of my day? Those are my resolutions for the day. Making sure I take the time to accomplish my goals and live life to the fullest each day.

I have noticed more and more that my oldest needs the same encouragement in her day. She needs help focusing on what's important and what needs to be done. She is getting to a place in life where it's less about toys and playing and more about what life is about. Things she wants to do and accomplish. So we normally start our day talking about what we/she wants as a goal for the day. What needs to be accomplished. What does she need at the end of the day? It's been helpful these last few days and we have had fewer tears and fights.

I wonder if keeping this up with her and eventually starting it with the others will help with goals in the future. Will this help them to keep the important stuff in mind and help them to not worry so much about the smaller things?

I want to hear what you do to help your daughters focus or yourselves focus. And teens I want to hear your ideas. What are ways you make your day go smoother? Do you think big year resolutions are good?
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Thursday, January 2, 2014

Starting With a Bang

I started my year out in a way I never thought I would. I nice car accident. Thankfully I am fine, and no one else was with me. Next time I will listen to my husband when he tells me to wait and not go right away. I can't really tell you all that happened, because it still feels unreal to me, but I hit a car that bounced into a pickup and this is what my front end looks like...



Not really the way I wanted to start the year, but it is what it is and as my husband said "This is why we have insurance." Thankful for that. But I was almost brought to tears as I waited for the police, because this lady in the pickup was so upset about the two dents on her truck. She did have a nice truck, but I just remember sitting there looking at my lack of front end wondering how she didn't notice the huge amount of damage there was to my van. She did have a nice truck, and it now did have some dents in it, but it would be relatively easy to fix.

I just had a conversation with my husband about his sermon he was going to give early in the day. We talked about how we often ignore the pain that people are in, because we feel like they deserve it. They made their own mess they can live with it. It's a sad phrase I hear too often in this world. I wonder though what would happen if God would have had the same thought towards us. "Sorry Sarah! You made your mess...now you have to live with it." How thankful I am that this is not his attitude towards me. I am thankful that even before I knew the mess I had made, He prepared away for me of forgiveness and mercy and love.

Two big things have really made an impact in my life this past year and they both just recently happened. First the lady who stole my groceries out of my car and this car accident. Both have taught me about love and mercy. Both have taught me about the harshness of this world and were we put our values.

So many times I have heard people say they hope that the lady who stole groceries out of my car spends a lot of time in jail. My hope is the very opposite. I don't know if that will help her much, because it's not the first time she's been in trouble. When people get themselves into a cycle of bad behavior punishment is not always the answer. Perhaps what she needs is a little bit of grace. Maybe what she needs is to know that people care about her pain. In this year I want to show grace to those who wrong me.

I remember being really upset about how this lady couldn't see my car that was going to be limping home. It gave me a lesson of what I should value in life. My car was a material possession. Even though you probably could find me in what seemed like a conversation with my car, it didn't provide me with any kind of feedback. It didn't love me back. It wouldn't give me counsel.It showed me no kind of friendship. At the end of the day my life and the lives of others are worth far more. As a friends told me...my car is replaceable I am not.

What last me for eternity is how I react to situations and people. What matters at the end of my life is not what car I had or what things I have accumulated. What matters is the grace poured out on my life and how I in turn poured it out to others.


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