Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Cookie Angel

I know some of you who read my blog are aware of what we've gone through with our neighbors. For those of you who don't know the situation, suffice it to say we've had trouble with these neighbors the entire time we've lived here (9 years in September). Almost from the start, we've felt it was a spiritual battle because we are Christians and these people obviously are not. We tried to stay to ourselves, but sometimes it was close to impossible when they would get verbally abusive and would threaten my husband whenever he did say anything.

A few months ago, I was in the living room and the air conditioner was on. I turned off the air and immediately became aware that there was a lot of noise coming from outside. At first, I ignored it because I thought it was an argument. As I continued to hear raised voices, I realized that something was wrong. I opened the front door, but I didn't see anything. I could, however, hear the voices were in our neighbor's back yard. I went to our back door and opened it. I saw some people in the neighbor's yard and I asked if someone needed help. They replied no because the lady's son was handling it. It was then I saw the neighbor give me a look that at first I thought was an angry glare, so I simply said "OK." and I closed the door. A few minutes later, I noticed an ambulance pull up and the neighbor's mom was loaded in. A week later, I saw our neighbor outside when we came home from church. I decided to ask him how his mom was doing. He was on his cell phone so I waited. He kept looking at me so I knew he too wanted to say something, so I silently breathed a prayer for God to help our words to be pleasing to Him. When he got off the phone, I asked how his mom was and he said that she had broken her elbow and was getting surgery the next day on it. He then thanked me for asking if they needed help! I apologized that I hadn't heard her cries for help sooner, but I was at the front of the house with the air conditioner on and it wasn't until I had turned off the air conditioner that I heard the commotion. He understood and accepted my apology. I truly think that the fact that I had gone to see if they needed help in spite of how awful they have treated us for 9 years made an impression on him, and then I apologized on top of that for not hearing sooner.

Since that initial conversation, we've talked to them a few times. Our conversations may not always be real long, and some are just to say hello, but it is a huge improvement considering the words being spoken by all are said with kindness instead of anger. Yesterday, my husband and my son were out hunting so my daughter and I decided to make Christmas cookies. Before starting the last batch, I was putting the cookies that had cooled into a container and I realized we had A LOT of cookies. I felt impressed to take some cookies over to our neighbors. To be honest, I have felt like doing that before, but I was sure they'd probably just throw them in the garbage thinking we were trying to kill them or something! LOL! This time, however, I didn't hesitate. I went to find a container and put in a few cookies. I walked next door and rang the doorbell. I was invited in and simply said that I had been making Christmas cookies and I wanted to give some to them if they wanted them. The adult daughter was there and said "You are like an angel! My mom just said that she wished she could make cookies, but she can't do anything with her arm. She JUST got done saying that and you rang the doorbell with cookies! I have chills!" I have chills typing this! I smiled and said "Well, I guess that's why I felt that I should come give you cookies!" The mom came over and gave me a HUG! As I was hugging her back, I was filled with awe that this was happening. 

I couldn't help but smile as I walked back over to our house. I thanked God for being so awesome. I was thankful that the one batch of oatmeal cookies had made far more than I had imagined. I had actually split the oatmeal cookie dough in half and made half with raisins and half with chocolate chips. Each type made close to 4 dozen cookies! I hadn't doubled the recipe, but God must have multiplied the dough! I was thankful that I had listened to that feeling about giving the neighbors some cookies. I was thankful I didn't dismiss the thought or delayed in bringing them the cookies. I went at the exact time God wanted me to, and it made a huge impact on our neighbors...and on me! I'm not often called "an angel", but it was an awesome experience to know that God used my homemade cookies (which just so happened to be my grandma's recipe, who is singing with the angels now) to further mend the rift between our neighbors and us.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What Are You Wearing?

Colossians 3:12 says, "Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." When I read that verse, I thought of what it means to clothe yourself. It means you are putting something on that everyone who looks at you will see. I then looked back at the verse to take another look at what God thinks is important for others to see when they look at us. God wants others to see compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience when they look at us.

What I see in all those character traits is that we are to be thinking of other people before ourselves. We are to be putting their needs before our own. We are to show them how much we care about them because by doing that, we will be showing them how much God cares about them. That is why I believe God wants us to be clothing ourselves with these traits. He wants everyone who looks at us to see that we genuinely have a love and concern for others. The way we treat others will either point them to or away from Him.

For me, I know that it is not easy to be showing patience or humility all the time. I'm sure everyone who may read this blog could say the same thing about at least one of these traits. It may not be the same ones that I struggle with, but I am certain that each person has something that they find hard to do. We are human, and thankfully God knows we are not perfect. We won't be able to do this on our own. It is something we truly need to daily ask God to help us do.

What do people see when they look at you? What are you wearing? What have you clothed yourself in? This verse has really given me something to strive for. I truly want others to see in me the things God wants them to see. I am determined to do my best to clothe myself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. I want to point others toward God and not away from Him.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

God Means What He Says

Hebrews 13: 5-6 says "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.' So we say with confidence, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?'"

When I read that this morning, I thought of how hard it can be to be content with what you have when you are struggling financially. It's easy to think of things you need or want but can't afford to buy. It's even harder to be content when unexpected bills pop up. Just because I am a Christian does not mean I don't worry about money just like so many others do. There are times I am able to say "We'll be ok. God's in control." and not worry about the situation. There are other times I feel almost overwhelmed with fear over how in the world we are going to pay our bills.

Over the last month and a half, I worried about the damage the leaky roof was causing. I worried about whether mold would form on the walls and floor. I worried about it causing damage to the floor and walls, as well as the ceiling of the floor below. Every time it rained, I felt sick to my stomach from worrying about how much rain would come in and whether the buckets would catch it all. I worried about how paying for it would cause us to possibly not have enough money to pay other bills in the coming months. Even though the price we wound up paying was a great price, it was still a lot of money for us. Yet, in spite of all my worries, I kept trying to give it all over to the Lord. I knew He understood my worries, and I saw how He answered our prayers.

It might be easy for some people to think that God abandoned us. They may say, "If God knew how bad your finances are, why would He allow your roof to leak and cause you to pay a large amount of money that  you really needed?" To that I say God uses ALL things for good. Could He have prevented our roof from leaking? Yes. Could He have provided a way for us to get the roof fixed without paying anything? Yes. I know it could have been very possible that someone could have stepped forward and gave us the full amount of money needed to pay for the roof repair, but I'm glad that's not the way it happened.

I can almost hear people saying "What?!" As a result of all this happening, I learned SO much about trusting God when things seem worse. He spoke to me through my devotions and constantly reassured me that He was there. I learned anew that God really does mean it when He says "Never will I leave you. Never will I forsake you." He was there whenever I prayed for the rain to stop. He was there when it was raining and I started to worry. I would pray and feel His presence, and peace would start to replace the worry. I can say with confidence that the Lord is my helper. He helped alleviate my fears by providing a lot of sunny days. There were times when it did rain, but the roof didn't leak at all. There were days it was suppose to rain, but it didn't rain in our town. I saw how much God loved and cared about us through all of this, so I can say with confidence that I do not need to be afraid.

Monday, November 15, 2010

God's Perfect Timing

For those of you who have been following our leaky roof situation for the last month and a half, you will be very happy to read this blog! The roofer showed up today!! Yes, the same roofer we had originally called at the beginning of October. The same roofer who didn't return any of my calls that I had left for him. He didn't call so we had no idea he was coming. He simply showed up ready to work on the roof! He wanted to beat the rain that they are calling for us to get tomorrow. I'm truly hoping that we won't be seeing any water in those buckets up in the attic when we get rain!

The fact that the roofer showed up today is amazing to me for a few reasons. One is that we had contacted another roofer, who had showed up last Monday and then called us with an estimate. The amount he quoted us to fix just ONE window was the amount our original roofer had quoted us to do BOTH windows. We knew we could have chosen to just do the window that was leaking, but we knew we'd be constantly wondering when the other window was going to start to leak. The other window was the one that had been leaking a few years ago and was the reason we had the whole roof redone. It hadn't leaked since the roof was fixed, but then the other window started to leak. We just felt it would be best to have both windows removed so we didn't need to worry about it. We chose to wait a little while and not go with that roofer, and the weather was beautiful all last week!

The day after we declined to go with the second roofer, the friend from church who had referred us to that roofer let me know that his brother is a contractor/roofer. His brother was suppose to come Monday or Tuesday and he would probably be able to give us a better quote than the other roofer. I had just sent a note to our friend with directions to our house so his brother would know how to get to our house when he showed up. Minutes later, I had to send him another note letting him know our roofer just showed up. The man's brother didn't come today, but we were able to let our friend know that we would still like him to come over since we will need drywall put up in the spaces where the skylights were so the walls are smooth. Even if we can't afford to do it right now, we would be able to find out what exactly needs to be done and we'd have an estimate of what it will cost to do it. We also will have a contractor who we know we can call to do the work!

God's timing was perfect! We didn't hire the other roofer to do just one window instead of two. It didn't rain today so the roofer was able to get both skylights removed and the roof repaired. The amount we paid was exactly the amount I had told God I wanted to pay. This roofer had quoted us $700 to do both windows. I prayed and told God I only wanted to pay $500. A couple at church gave us $200 just 3 days after I prayed that. $700 - $200 = $500! The contractor/roofer did not show up today, which may have been awkward since our roofer was here. We won't be home all day tomorrow so if he comes early enough, we'll be able to talk with him about what needs to be done and what he thinks it will cost. If we don't get to see him tomorrow, we know how to get in touch with him. Best of all, it is suppose to rain tomorrow. For the first time in a month and a half, I do not feel any anxiety about that. God is good! All the time!! And His timing is PERFECT!!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

God is Listening!

Last Sunday, my husband and I were talking with a man at church. He asked if we had gotten our roof fixed yet and mentioned the name of a roofer, but I didn't think much of it at the time since we had a roofer who was suppose to be fixing our roof...even though we hadn't heard much from him and it had been almost a month since we initially contacted him about the leak in our roof and wanting to get both skylights removed and the roof fixed. On Thursday morning, I was doing school with the kids and I suddenly felt very strongly that I was suppose to call this other roofer. I sent a message via Facebook to the man we had talked to the previous Sunday asking him if he could give me the name and the phone number if he had it. Within minutes, the man responded back and said it was "funny" that I had just asked that because he had just called the guy about 10 minutes ago. He gave me the guy's name and phone number and I thanked him.

I waited until my husband came home from work because I didn't want to call another roofer without talking to him first to see if he agreed to it. He said it was fine so I called and left a message for the roofer. The next day, I received a phone call from the company and was told that the roofer was away this week; but he would be back on Sunday and would call me on Monday. It felt amazing to me to actually receive a phone call letting me know that "we got your message and we'll get back to you." since I haven't had that with our current roofer.

On my way to worship team rehearsal on Thursday night, I felt that I needed to pray to God and claim the price that I wanted to pay for our roof repair. A price came to my mind that was what we originally were hoping for, but our roofer quoted us something $200 higher than that. We had said ok, but we knew it was going to be a stretch for us. Now a month later, the roof had still not been fixed, but I knew God had been faithful in protecting our house. We had been praying every night that either the roofer would call or that God would "put an umbrella over the roof". When my husband first said those words, the kids laughed. We explained that we wanted God to protect our roof however he saw fit. Many of the days in the last month were sunny. There were days it was suppose to rain, but it never did. There were days it rained lightly and no rain came in. There were days it rained and the roof did leak, but it wasn't as bad as it had been. No matter what the weather, we knew God was protecting our house and watching over the leak in the roof. So now I decided to claim the price I originally was hoping for even though in my mind I felt our roofer had probably given us a price lower than any other roofer we would call and it would be impossible to get a lower price. As soon as the thought "impossible" popped into my mind, I thought "NOTHING is impossible with God!" Then I said "Lord, I want to spend $____ to get this roof fixed. I know it seems impossible, but I know nothing is impossible with you. You can do this, Lord! I trust you!"

Even though I didn't get to talk to the roofer the next day, I knew that I would be talking to him soon. I knew in my heart that God was in control. We went to church today and afterward, a couple came up to us. I had spoken with them about two weeks prior because they had heard about our roof situation. We talked for awhile because they totally understood what we were going through since they too had a leak in their roof a few years ago and had a lot of trouble finding a roofer. They prayed with me and I went home. Today at church, they came up to us and handed us an envelop. They said they felt God told them to give it to us and had blessed them with it so they could bless us. Inside was the EXACT amount of the difference between what our roofer quoted us to fix the roof and the price I claimed to God on Thursday that I wanted to pay!!! As soon as I saw the amount, I felt God saying to me, "I'm listening!"

I don't know what is going to happen when I talk to this other roofer tomorrow. I don't know when he'll be able to give us a quote. I do know if it is the same amount as what we were expecting or less, than we will have a new roofer! If he quotes a higher price, then maybe the amount given to us today will cover that difference and we will be able to hire him. If his quote is too high, then we'll just continue to wait for God to lead and direct us. I have a peace in my heart though because I know God is listening. He knows we've been patient and kept trusting Him to protect the roof and our house, and He has been faithful to do that. He knows the price we can afford, as well as what we can't afford. He knows what price I claimed in faith is what I want to pay and I truly believe that it is not impossible for Him to make that happen.

God is listening when we pray! He hears us! He knows what we need before we even ask, but He wants us to ask anyway. He wants us to show Him that we trust Him. He wants us to give everything over to Him and then just watch what happens and how He works through it all. I am truly looking forward to seeing what happens this week! God has been listening to my prayers for the last month and I think I'm about ready to experience His answer in a big way!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Lord is Near

This morning I read just one verse - Philippians 4:5. That's all I needed to read. God spoke to me in a huge way, and it was not pleasant! I am so thankful for His forgiveness, because I needed it this morning!

Philippians 4:5 says, "Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near." The first part of the verse spoke to me immediately because I had a very frustrating day doing school with the kids yesterday. I knew my gentleness would NOT have been evident to all. I thought of my two kids and knew that they certainly didn't see my gentleness! I asked for forgiveness for that and prayed for the Lord to help me be gentle ALL the time, even when I have a reason for feeling frustrated or angry. I may have a perfectly good reason for having those feelings, but I still need to be gentle with my words.

When I first read the second part of the verse, I thought "The Lord is near." was referring to His second coming. I thought of how if His coming was near when this was written, how much closer it is now! Then the Lord gently said to me, "No, I am near." That's when it hit me. The Lord was near when I was not displaying gentleness to my kids yesterday. He saw and heard everything. OUCH! How I must have saddened and disappointed Him. There are times I feel the Lord's presence and I am so thankful He is there. There are other times it seems I "forget" that He is always there. He is always in the same room with me. He is with me wherever I go. I realized how much I need to think before I speak. I need to stop and ask Him for His help. He is right there with me and I don't ever want Him to have to see and hear me acting in a way that displeases Him. So, I apologized and asked for His forgiveness again.

Yes, I am thankful for the Lord's forgiveness today because I needed it...twice! He understands that I am not perfect and I will make mistakes. He understands that I will feel frustrated or even angry, and He understands why I am frustrated or angry. I need to remember that whenever I feel myself getting frustrated or angry, I need to ask for His help. I am thankful that He is always ready and willing to forgive me when I ask Him to. I am thankful that He is always near to me. I need to keep that in mind though ALL the time!

I felt I needed to share this today. Maybe you have the same problem I do with not always being gentle with your words, especially when you are frustrated or angry. The Lord wants us to let our gentleness be evident to all. That isn't always going to be easy, but I know God will help all of us do it if we simply ask for His help. Maybe you needed to be reminded that the Lord is near. I know sometimes it may seem that He isn't there, but He has promised us that He is always with us. He will never leave us. Trust that He is there even when you don't feel Him. Perhaps you needed to be reminded of both of these things, the same way I did. Just ask for His forgiveness, and be thankful that He is there and ready to forgive you. Be thankful that He is near to you all the time, and use that reminder to help give you the strength to display gentleness even when it isn't easy. 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Rejoice in the Lord...always?!

As a mom, I've done my fair share of having to repeat something I just said. The main reason for me having to repeat myself is the simple fact that my kids weren't listening the first time I said it. Sometimes they didn't hear it because they were so busy being loud that they simply couldn't hear me talking. Other times, it is due to them tuning me out. I can usually tell by the expression on their face or the fact that I can see them looking around or doing something else as I'm talking that I'm being ignored. Regardless of the reason behind it, I find myself often repeating something that I find to be important and I want to make sure my kids heard.

I thought of this today as I read Philippians 4:4 which says, "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" Paul was writing a letter and he told the people to Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS. I emphasized that last word because I know that it can be very hard to rejoice in the Lord in each and every situation. I'm sure Paul knew that sentence was read, people would probably be thinking "Is he serious?! Does he really expect me to rejoice all the time, even when something really bad happens?!" I think Paul knew those kinds of questions would arise, so he immediately repeated himself so that the people knew what he had just said was important. He wanted to make sure they heard what he was saying.

When I read that verse today, I knew that rejoicing in the Lord always must be important if Paul felt that he needed to repeat himself and say it twice. I then started to think about times when it is not always easy to rejoice, and then think of how I could possibly find a way to rejoice even when it might seem impossible or at least very hard to do so. The first situation I thought of was when someone dies. I almost laughed when I thought of how it is not my first thought to yell "Praise the Lord!" when I hear that someone has passed away. I then thought of my sister who died suddenly at the age of 28. Even though this happened sixteen years ago, I remember that day very clearly. I remember that the farthest thing from my mind was rejoicing in the Lord. However, I also remember knowing that she was now in heaven and seeing the babies she had lost. I was sad for all of us that were left behind, but I was comforted in knowing that I would see her again one day. In a way, I was "rejoicing" that she had lived her life in such a way that she had heard "Well done thou good and faithful servant. Enter in to the joy of the Lord." and that one day, all of us who had given our heart to the Lord would see her again. When someone is sick for a long time, people may breathe a "Thank you, Lord" when the person finally passes away because they know that person is no longer in any pain. It is a lot harder to find the "good" in a situation when it comes so unexpectedly, but God wants us to rejoice even if it is to say "Lord, I don't understand why you allowed this to happen, but I know that you are in control. Thank you for the promise that you will comfort us during this difficult time. Thank you for loving me and being with me every step of the way. I know I will make it through this with your help." If you know the person who passed away is a Christian, you can thank the Lord that person is in God's presence. You can thank the Lord for the privilege of knowing that person. You can thank Him for the blessing they may have been in your life. Focus on all the positives of that person's life and you will find yourself rejoicing in the fact that God had placed that person in your life and you will never forget them.

I know it won't always be easy to rejoice in the Lord, but I am sure that you can find SOMETHING to say "Thank you" to the Lord for in EVERY situation. It may be that you can rejoice you are still alive. It may be that you can rejoice the bill wasn't more than it was. If you can't think of something specific, just rejoice that God is in control and has promised to never leave you or forsake you. Rejoice in the Lord always! I will say it again: Rejoice!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Are You Strong?

Today, the verse that stood out to me during my devotions was Ephesians 6:10 which says, "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power." I am not a strong person...not physically anyway. I guess that's why I like this verse so much. It's a great reminder of HOW I can be strong. It doesn't matter what comes my way, I can be strong IN THE LORD. When I am faced with a crisis or situation that I feel I can't handle, I can give it to the Lord. By admitting I can't do something, you may be thinking that I'm just admitting that I'm weak. You are right, and that's exactly what God wants and needs us to do! To be truly strong in the Lord means we have to admit we are weak so that we can see how strong God can make us. He will give us what we need to handle everything that comes our way.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Rely on God to Meet Your Needs

This morning, I read John 15:1-8 in my devotions. It is the passage where Jesus is saying He is the vine and we are the branches. Verse 4 includes the words "No branch can bear fruit by itself." At the end of verse 5, I read these words "apart from me you can do nothing." I will admit that the first thought that popped into my head as I was reading those words in those two verses was "What about these people who aren't Christians, but they never have to worry about money. That doesn't seem like they have done nothing to me!" I was almost shocked by that thought coming to my mind, but I realized that it has been very hard financially and all the things that have gone wrong with our house lately have just amplified our financial worries.

Then I read verse 7 : "If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you." I immediately heard God's quiet words saying "Yes, there are non-Christians who are successful and don't have to worry so much about money; but they don't know that they can come and talk directly to me about anything. You know that you can ask me anything, and I WILL do it. I know what you need. I want to give it to you. Just ask." Just writing those words right now brought tears to my eyes again. I have a God whose resources are limitless. Why would I put Him in a box and think that He can't help me with something?

Yes, we chose for me to be a stay-at-home mom. Yes, it can be very hard to make ends meet financially because of that choice. Does God care that we have financial difficulties as a result of that decision? YES! I fully believe HE led us to make the decision for me to stay at home. He has been faithful over the last 11 years to supply our needs. Yes, it has been hard and we have done without some things over the years, but God has always been there to help us pay our bills on time and meet other needs we may have had. Were those needs always met in our timing? No.

We were a one car family for two years. It was hard, but we were able to make it work. God eventually rewarded us for being faithful and trusting Him and provided us with a car....for FREE! Our church had a Family Fun Day and one of the things there was a raffle for a used car that a church member had donated. A couple of ladies from the church knew we only had one car, so they decided to buy some raffle tickets because they had decided they would give us the car if they won. When I heard about it, I cried because I was so touched that they would have even thought to do something like that. The next morning at church, one of the ladies walked up to me and asked "I won the car. Would you like it? I want to give it to you." I could barely speak. I think I said "Are you sure?" and she said yes. So I nodded yes, and then had to go up on stage to sing since I was on worship team that morning. One of my friends who I sing with saw my face and asked if I was OK. I told her what had just happened and she hugged me and we both cried at how God had provided for my family. God met our needs in a way we never would have expected.

That's just one way God has met our needs. So again I need to ask myself, "Why do I try to handle things on my own? Do I think God can't meet me needs? Do I think He doesn't care about even the smallest details of my life, even though He has proven time and time again that He does care about everything that happens to me?" Yes, God does care. Yes, we need to be dependent on Him because He wants to meet our needs. We just need to bring those needs and requests to Him, and then believe that He will answer us. Don't put God in a box! He can handle anything you bring to Him. Don't try to limit Him by thinking He can't or won't help you!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Needed: Attitude Adjustment

This morning the verse that jumped out at me while I was reading my devotions was Philippians 2:5. It says, "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus." When I read that this morning, I simply said "OUCH!" Is my attitude always the same as Jesus'? No! It can be very easy to come up with "reasons" that seem to "justify" why my attitude was not what it should have been; but when you come right down to it, there is simply no excuse why I allow my attitude to not be the same as what Christ would have had in that same situation.

I know God is working on my attitude. It is HARD to homeschool or cyber school as I do. I have an extremely strong-willed child who simply does not want to listen to what I say. She wants to do things HER way, even if that means doing school for 12 hours and redoing an assignment two or even three times. On those long, stress-filled days, do I display an attitude that Jesus would? Sadly, my answer has to be no. To anyone else, I could say "Hey! I'm human!" or "She didn't listen to me so she deserved to be punished!". As true as both of those "excuses" are, the fact remains that my attitude at the time should be the same as that of Christ's. He would have shown LOVE first. Yes, it does say in the Bible to "spare the rod and spoil the child" so I do believe in spanking or disciplining when my children disobey and I do not believe there is anything wrong with that. My attitude, however, is what needs to be correct before AND during the issuing of any form of discipline.

I really needed this verse this morning because just an hour later, my daughter needed some correcting. She shot a rubber band at her brother, but it missed him and came within millimeters of hitting me in the face. I knew she was in the kitchen and that the rubber band had come from that area, so I simply said "Sarah, what are you doing?!" Her reply, "I'm washing the dishes". Yes, she is VERY good at finding a way of answering in such a way that it technically is the truth, but she also knows exactly what I am asking and chooses to "lie" by not giving the answer she knows I want. I called her on it and she finally admitted that she had shot the rubber band because her brother had shot one at her first. She started to get defensive like she always does during our conversation and this verse popped into my mind. I was able to remember the reference and verse verbatim (something I can't usually do!) so I told her what I read and then simply asked "Is your attitude the same as that of Jesus? Would Jesus act the way you are?" She lowered her head and simply said "No." WOW! I think this verse is definitely going to be a key verse for us in the next few weeks and months. I'm going to write it on an index card and stick it to the wall next to where she does school. Whenever her attitude starts to turn ugly, I'll simply ask her to read the verse and then ask "Is your attitude the same as that of Jesus? Would He act the way you are?" It will also be a great reminder for ME as well.

Are you in need of an attitude adjustment as well? Maybe you have a child who needs one as well. I think this would be a GREAT verse for both of you to memorize and meditate on. I know it won't be easy, but I know God wants us to have the same attitude as that of Jesus. I also know that He will give us all the strength we need to adjust our attitudes so that they do become the same as His.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Do I Make God Proud?

Philippians 1:27a says, "Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ." My first thought when I read that this morning was "WOW! That is NOT easy to do all the time!" First, I thought of times when I am frustrated with the kids for disobeying me for the millionth time. Do I respond in a way that makes God proud? What about when the neighbor is doing stuff just to tick us off? Are our actions and/or words making God proud? Does the way I respond in every situation point people to God? Do I make others want to know God and have a personal relationship with him, or am I turning them away from Him because of how I handle myself when things are going badly? It's easier to conduct ourselves in a manner that makes God proud when things are going smoothly for us, but I want to make Him proud ALL the time! I have a wonderful earthly father, and I know it makes ME feel proud when I know I made him proud. How much more should I want to make my heavenly Father proud?! That is what I want to strive for! I want to make God proud in each and every situation. I want to conduct myself in a manner worthy of Him, and in a way that gives Christians a good name! Are you making God proud?

Friday, October 8, 2010

God is Good...ALL the Time

I almost had to laugh when the title I chose for this note popped into my head, but it fits so well in spite of all we are going through right now that I just had to use it. I'm sure God is the one who put that "title" in my head anyway, so I might as well listen to Him since He's been talking to me a lot lately through the scriptures.

I almost have to start this from a few months ago. We had had a lot of rain during the day and into the night. When my husband woke up at 2:00 am to get ready for work, he discovered his work clothes that hang in the bathroom closet were all wet. He realized that we must have a leak in our roof, which we were definitely NOT expecting since we had put a new roof on our house just a few years ago. We put plastic down on the floor and placed buckets where the water was coming in at. The man who had done our roof came over and told us he strongly suspected the leak was coming from the one skylight (we have two, one on each side of the roof). Oddly enough, it was the skylight on the other side of the roof that caused us to put a new roof on! He put more caulk around the window, but he said he wasn't sure if that would help. He said if it continued to leak, we'd either need to replace the skylights with better ones or just have them removed and fix the roof. We discovered a few weeks later that the roof was indeed still leaking, but it wasn't leaking very much and sometimes it wouldn't leak at all so we decided to wait until we were in a better place financially to do something.

Last Thursday and Friday, we had a tremendous amount of rain so I continued to run up to the attic to check whether the situation. The roof was definitely leaking so I just kept an eye on whether I felt the bucket needed to be emptied. I dumped about an inch of water from the bucket around 11 am. My husband checked on it at around 7 pm and said there wasn't much water in it (probably about an inch), but the bucket held a gallon and figured it would be fine through the night. He was wrong. Sometime after he left for work and before 5:30 am when I woke up, the box which the bucket was sitting on either gave way from the weight of the bucket or became soaked as water started to spill out of the bucket and then partially collapsed. In any case, enough water came out of the bucket that it made its way down to the bathroom ceiling and came through all over the floor. When I awoke at 5:30 am, I had no idea why I was standing in water when I walked into the bathroom. My daughter came in and simply said "The ceiling is leaking." I immediately RAN up the stairs and into the attic and was horrified to see the box soaked through, partially collapsed in the center, and the bucket leaning precariously to the one side. I grabbed the bucket and saw it was FULL. I realized how much worse it could have been had the bucket completely fallen over and all that water had spilled out. Yes, God is good....all the time! I took the bucket down and dumped the water out of it. Then I went back upstairs and cleaned up the water that was all over the plastic...totally soaking quite a few towels and other rags in the process. My daughter brought me another box and I set that up as good as I could to try and catch any more water that came in. Then I went downstairs to clean up the bathroom floor. Finally, I called my husband at work and told him we had a problem!

I called the roofer and was thankful that the rain had finally slowed down. On Tuesday, I left another message for the roofer because he still hadn't called back. That same day, it rained again and we noticed the one wall in Micah's room (which is on the third floor and technically part of the attic) was now wet below and beside the skylight. As the rain continued to come down and my husband was upstairs trying to figure out if there was anything at all we could do, I told the kids we needed to pray for the rain to stop. Micah, who is only 6 years old, said "Mommy? I didn't pray for that. I prayed that God would do a miracle and that our roof would stop leaking." I had to fight back tears at the faith in my little boy and realized I must be doing something right! I told him that was good, but I still wanted us to all pray for the rain to stop. Micah and Sarah both prayed, and then I prayed. As the kids ate dinner, I went on Facebook and asked my friends via my status line to please pray for the rain to stop. Within MINUTES, the rain stopped and the SUN came out! Later, my daughter yelled down that there was a rainbow in the sky. I didn't need to see it. I knew it was there as soon as I saw the sun come out. I knew God was reminding me that He keeps His promises and He was in control. Of course, Satan didn't like that very much and caused me to start worrying later that night because it was suppose to rain all night. I laid awake and literally felt sick to my stomach with worry. I just kept praying for God to intervene. It didn't rain until almost morning. Yes, God is good...all the time!

Wednesday morning, I woke up with the following verse in mind: Philippians 4:19 says "My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." I noticed it said WILL meet, not might meet. It says ALL your needs, not some of them. I claimed that verse as my own. Later that day, the roofer finally called. He said he'd have to think about what estimate he would quote us and would call us back. I was worried about how long it would take for him to get back to us with a quote on what it would cost to fix our roof, so I checked the weather report and saw no rain was in the forecast until Tuesday. Yes, God is good...all the time!

Yesterday morning, I was doing devotions and read the following verse: Deuteronomy 31:8 says "The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." I was so thankful that God was again reminding me that He was with us. He knew what we were going through. He knows about our finances. All I need to do is trust Him and not be afraid because He will be there to help us through this. Yes, God is good....all the time!

I thought about writing a note last night, but I wasn't sure what all I wanted to say or if anyone really would want to read it. God made it perfectly clear this morning that He did indeed want me to share what He was teaching me. My devotions today were to read John 14:1-6, but it was verse 1 that stood out to me. It was Jesus' own words: "Do not let your heart be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me." I know many people think God and Jesus don't exist, they are a myth, or a fairy tale. Well, I know that they are wrong! I do not have any doubt that God does exist! I also know that He speaks to us and gives us exactly what we need when we need it. I don't think these verses I've been reading the last three days are just a coincidence. I know God has been sending them my way to comfort me and remind me to just keep trusting Him. We still are waiting on the roofer to call back and give us an estimate as to what it will cost to remove the skylights and fix the roof, but I know that God is in control. In spite of all the reasons I have to be fearful and worry, I know that YES! God is good....ALL the time!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

RUN the Race

I have never been much of an athlete. Sports have never really interested me, probably because I wasn't good at any of them! I do enjoy watching certain sports, and I love watching the Olympics. I know that people who run in a race, whether it be a sprint or a marathon or any distance in between, dress as lightly as possible. They don't want to be weighed down by heavy clothes because that would prevent them from running as fast as they could. In longer races, a runner who chose to wear bulky/heavy clothes would not have a chance of winning, and they very possibly would not even be able to finish the race because they would be too exhausted and/or overheated.

The Christian walk is often referred to as a race in the Bible, with the finish line being heaven. I did a search online for the word "race" in the NIV Bible and specifically looked for verses where the word was used to describe how we "run the race" or "finish the race" and found 6 references (Acts 20:24, I Corinthians 9:24, Galatians 2:2, Galatians 5:7, 2 Timothy 4:7, and Hebrews 12:1). For most of us, the race of life would be more of a marathon that a sprint, so it is very important that we are not being slowed down by carrying along things that weigh us down.

The other day I read the following verse: Philippians 3:13b -14 says "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." When I read this verse, I was reminded of how easy it is to focus on things that have happened in our past. It doesn't matter whether it is something that happened to us or whether it is something we did, we can allow ourselves to be weighed down by our past. If we are running this race called life, why would we risk not being able to reach the finish line....heaven?!

If you are holding onto things that have happened to you in your past, it is time to turn those things over to God and throw off those chains that are weighing you down! If you are focusing on things you did wrong in the past, ask God to forgive you of those things and then let it go! When you ask God for forgiveness, He forgives and FORGETS all of the things you did worng. It doesn't matter how big or small those things are. You don't need to keep worrying and being weighed down by chains that God Himself removed from you. Instead of slowly dragging yourself through life because you are weighed down by all this junk, get rid of it so you can RUN to the finish line!

I think those verses in Philippians can be paraphrased like this: "Forget about all the stuff that is in your past! Turn it all over to God and keep moving forward no matter what. When you reach the finish line, you'll receive the best prize of all...eternal life in HEAVEN!"