Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Spiritual Boot Camp...

The fact is - this life keeps delivering trouble as promised. My first reaction - EVERY time - is defeat...I have to take time to size up all of the hooey happenings and then I react in faith.

I hate to say it - but maybe God has got me in boot camp. Maybe he keeps giving me chances to react correctly FIRST and I keep missing the mark. So he brings around the opportunity again. To be honest - I want my first reaction to be wonder. Wonder at what God is doing that will bring the next blessing.

This is how I wish it had happened yesterday:

Man from car place: "Mrs. Smith?"

Me: "Yes?"

Man from the car place: "Your car is going to cost $2000 to repair and we don't think we can find the parts for it since Oldsmobile is no longer in business."

Me: Awesome! No problem...I will come pick it up first thing in the morning and I can't wait to see what's going to happen next! God is going to use this in some way - what an adventure!"

But no, I had the quivery voice and the what are we going to do thing wailing in my head.

We are not going to do anything. God is though.

So - my prayer for the next thing is - Please Lord - let me react in faith, in expectation of a work you are doing whether physically, spiritually - mentally - whatever. I want to be ready for whatever - good or bad - by proving my faith is sound in God's ability to bring me through any situation.

Proverbs 24:16 
16 for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.

I will not be one of the wicked that falls when bad things happen.

But I will -

James 1:
 2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

Lord give me presence of mind and strengthen me through your HolySpirit to do this and do it well.

Pinwheels


So my next fun project has been pinwheels. I made puppets and pinwheels for all of my friends babies for the twins first birthday party. I don't know why. I just did. They were actually pretty cute. It was a lot of fun - but of course the twinks didn't remember it at all. I have determined that those 1 year old birthday parties are for the parents...I used longer dowel rods which worked better than these pinwheels I make from pencils...but I like the idea of being able to use the pencil once your tired of the pinwheel. If you make your square smaller - it will be fine. You will need: Scissors, Construction paper (oragami paper works too and has pretty designs) Markers, Pencil (brand new not sharpened) Straight pins, beads, needle nose plyers/wire cutters.

 Cut a square



Cut Diagonal from each corner to about 2 inches from the middle

Decorate the edges - It can just be simple...


 Take one corner and bring it up to the middle for all four sections...
Secure in the middle with a straight pin...
 Put a bead for a spacer on the backside of the pinwheel...
Stick the pin through the eraser part of the pencil. Then you will want to take your needle nose plyers/wire cutters, and clip that end off - make sure you leave plenty of room for the pinwheel to be able to go around...just clip off the sharp point (IMPORTANT: do this inside a box so that the end won't flip into the air and onto the floor so that you can't find it and then finally do - at a later date - in a bare foot )

And there you have your happy, little pinwheel! Easy to do and a lot of fun! And REALLY cute...

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Decision

It happens every day. Every moment of every day. We make decisions to move forward and do what we need to. To get out of the bed and get about our work. To eat that piece of candy or not to (especially around Valentines - we KNOW we are going to have to put on that bathing suit in a few months - but it's CHOCOLATE...) So we make the decision...probably hundreds a day.

The decisions I make can either bless or curse me. Some blessings are easy and fairly mild - some have a bigger effect and can be exciting. Same with the curse... it can be shrugged off or it can crush.

Every once in a while I have to make a decision. I used to think I did not have control over this decision. I thought it just happened to me and that I had to work through it and do the best that I could in the circumstances. I am starting to believe that I was wrong.

There have been times where I was overwhelmed and would fall into a depression. Meaning I would go to bed and stay there. For days. I could not cope with whatever was at hand. I simply threw up my hands and gave in to the idea that whatever was going on was more than I could handle and I would retreat from life. My excuse was a generic "I don't feel well". My husband pegged it many times but I ignored him and stayed there in the bed until I felt I could re-engage.

I have since come to the conclusion that I made a decision to give in to my depression. Do I think this is what happens to everyone who has this problem? I cannot speak for them. I know there are chemical imbalances that cause problems for people - but in my case - it is absolutely a decision I make. Knowing my personality as I do - the manic part of me is happy and industrious and when something comes along and tears down my house of cards I hit the skids and fall into the abyss. It's a personality thing. But I don't think I have to fall into the abyss.

My example: Last week we closed on the refinancing of our house. It gave us two months to use the mortgage for whatever we chose to. I was so excited, because it was going to relieve my heart and mind on things we needed to do that had just been hanging over me for months. So when smoke started billowing into the van yesterday at lunch - yes - I said IN THE VAN - and out from under the hood....I was so sad. I cried. My plans had been thwarted and as I made dinner last night I HEARD MYSELF SAY (of course it was in my head) "I don't know why I even try". I went to bed at 9:00PM with no intention of getting up again the next day. My spirit was tired. My heart was heavy. I made a decision to give in. I had a passing moment of "God may be using this...", but at that point I just wanted to sleep.

In the early dawn hours as I laid awake listening to Biscuit hum in her sleep, I realized that I could make the decision to trust God. To tell him my fears. To place this burden of the van on him (because that van is also a blessing) and trust that he would get us through this. At least we had the extra money to pay for whatever the problem is. And honestly - I had transportation. My mother-in-law called and told me I could use the truck. Which is a blessing - because I could use it to haul some stuff to Hannah Home and such...so really - there was no reason for me to be sad, or overcome by that spirit of depression. Though I wanted to. So, I asked God to help me be strong, to trust him in this situation and to help me to do what he needed me to do in this day. I rolled out of bed and moved forward. I decided I wanted to write it down because I need to be held accountable in this.

I remember reading in My Utmost For His Highest many years ago something that has stuck with me - I found it online (what a treasure!) http://www.myutmost.org/04/0416.html
"....don't say - "I'll do it"; do it! Take yourself by the scruff of the neck and shake off your incarnate laziness. Laziness is always seen in cravings for the high hour; we talk about working up to a time on the mount. We have to learn to live in the grey day according to what we saw on the mount."

I thought of this in the wee hours and feel it fits this situation amazingly well. So - I am "taking myself by the scruff of the neck and shaking off" - in this case - my incarnate selfishness. I will learn to live in the gray day according to the vision God has given me in the moment of enlightenment.

So this day I am making the decision not to do what the people of Israel did in Jeremiah 7:
....22 For when I brought your ancestors out of Egypt and spoke to them, I did not just give them commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices, 23 but I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you. 24 But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. They went backward and not forward.

I decided to walk in the Spirit. To wake up and to heed God's prompting to trust him in this. To live in joy this day for my salvation is sure and I have everything I need. My children have everything they need. It is wrong of me to want to give up for such a little thing...but so easy to do.

But God's gift of the Word...
Galations 5
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

God is good. Once again - I am satisfied. The decision to trust God instead of giving in is a blessed one. If something goes against my plans again - and it will - I pray that I continue to make the decision to look to God rather than giving in to my own selfish indulgences. It is useless. I would much rather walk with the Spirit and have my time here accomplish something...giving in to self pity is worthless. Praise God that he has given me a way out...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Kicking and Screaming or Gracefully....

I don't know. I go back and forth.

The other day I had my glasses on and happened to be in really good light and looked down at my feet. AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH! Holy cow. I needed a pedicure. In the worst way.

What was appalling was not so much that I couldn't SEE how bad my feet were, but that they were that bad. they never used to be this difficult to maintain. Oh! It makes me angry. And then as I was reminded of something from my past.

I used to do nails and pedicures in college. I worked at a day spa for a friend of mine's mom. It was fun. Sort of - I really sucked at it and never found my groove there. But I LOVED the nail polish and the fella that cut hair there did an amazing job - AND - he was hilarious. That made it all worth while.

One day I was taking care of an older woman's feet. This woman could have been 42 and I would have considered her old at the time. I was 24. I let their feet soak in a vibrating bath for about 10 minutes before I started the pedicure. As I lifted those feet from the bath and saw the task before me - I was horrified. Inside my head was screaming NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! But - thankfully I had rubber gloves - like surgeon's gloves - I can do anything in surgeons gloves and I set to get those feet back in pristine condition...in the end...they were a better version of themselves. But dang. They needed that pedicure. And that is putting it nicely.

Now here I am - the old fart - in the same boat. Makes me so mad I could spit nails. I DON'T WANT TO BE OLD. As I did the pedicure I was thinking, "this can never happen again - I will never let my feet go like that EVER again. I will fight against the effects of time with every fiber of my being. I WILL continue to color my hair and use ROC with retinol to reduce the signs of aging. I will tan those legs to disguise the spider veins and vericose veins that occured during the child bearing years."

Well - it's just exhausting. It truly an uphill battle!

But then there are these amazing moments of clarity and peace - where I actually feel that I am finally embracing the idea of where I am right now. The fact that I am in fact becoming older. I am by no means old. Though I lack the freshness of my 20's - even my 30's - there is a sage wisdom (not in huge amounts mind you) that I have gained over the years that I didn't have then. I think there will come a point where I cross over totally - and become totally okay with my older skin and worn feet. As long as  my heart stays young and tender - I think I will - eventually - grow old gracefully. And this makes me smile.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

He says not to....but I still do...I am SO like my kids.

But many people do apparently. I looked up the phrase "How many times does the Bible say Do Not Fear?" What was amazing was not just the varied answers (several said 365 times - 1 for each day of the year) but how many other people were looking for that same answer. Whether the 365 times is true or not....

We are afraid. We want comfort - so we are Googling it.

I was actually just trying to get a grip on why we fear, and why God felt he needed to reassure us as much as he does. Because - I am afraid. There are days where I don't even really know what I am afraid of. My head and my heart are telling me there is nothing to fear, and yet there is a faint aroma of fear that lingers...yesterday was one of those days.

I woke up unsettled. Did my Bible reading and devotional, went to work, came home, cooked dinner cleaned up and felt this haunting - All. Day. Long.

I listened to the news yesterday morning for the first time in a very long time - it was scary. With Egypt in chaos and now Jordan - I was immediately assaulted with fear. We close on the refinancing of our house next week. I am scared. Something might go wrong, what if it is more than we think, should we ave done this in the first place? Then there was some really nasty, rainy weather, I was a nervous wreck all the way home. Physically exhausted when I got home from the tight gripping of the wheel and tense defensive driving I had to do in that 5:00 rush hour. Yuck. What punctuated it all was when I was tucking my youngest into bed and he told me he was scared. I asked him of what and he said he was scared a robber was going to come into our house. I reassured him the best I could...but at that time, I did not even give him the best reassurance I could have. My own perplexity at my fear had me spouting common sensical phrases that seemed to work at the time and I threw out - God will take care of us. I know he will and yet - I still struggled so much yesterday. How can I relate this to my child?

I looked up the phrase "do not be afraid" on Biblegateway.com. I have not had time to research it all but it is said over and over and over again.

John 14 is when Jesus is preparing his disciples for his leaving. In the chapter before he has predicted Judas' betraying and told his beloved Peter that he would deny him three times (out of fear). So now he is laying down his words of comfort for the men who followed him more closely than anyone else while he had his ministry here on earth.

John 14
25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Peace I leave with you - Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. What wonderful phrases. And our Advocate - the Holy Spirit will teach and remind when needed of all these things Jesus said. He left us with The Comforter. The believer's own baby blanket. When things are scary - we need to remember we have The Comforter.

I am well acquainted with fear. 2009 and 2010 brought things that I feared very much. There are other things that are even scarier to me. I think the fact that I saw some of my top 10 fears come to pass causes that fear to try to settle and become a part of my existence. BUT - what I also saw in the midst of those scary things is how God brought us through. How he held us up. And how we are still here and thriving - even happily in spite of the scary things....and it bears me up.

In John 16 - Jesus is still trying to comfort his disciples and prepare them for his death - I believe strongly that he left these words with his disciples and that they penned them because he wanted us - also his disciples - to have these same comforting words.

33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

I love this verse. First of all because God is warning us that this world is going to be trouble. We see it every day. But he reassures us of his peace - we CAN have it. In the midst of the trouble - he is promising us peace and that we have a sure hope - in the fact that HE HAS OVERCOME THE WORLD (and its trouble).

Wow.

Read 2 Corinthians 5:4-21
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2 Corinthians+5:4-&version=NIV