Sunday, January 22, 2012

Oh the Possibilities...

This week has been wonderful. I accomplished so much that I wanted to and I have seen God's provision in so many areas of our life.

I have taken a tiny step toward self employment. I bought furniture. I found amazingly, good boned furniture at the thrift store this week. Beautiful stuff. Or it will be. My first finds were end tables (2), a nice chair that I will refinish and do a slip cover for and a rattan table. The truly thrilling thing about it is that they are in great shape. Just a little hard work and they will be re-purposed.

I have researched techniques and tools of the trade. I even set up a spreadsheet to show my expenses and projected my actual profits. So many new things that just seem to feed the desire to create and learn.

I love the feeling of the possibilities. What they are now and what they could be. I love that I am going to give it a shot. It is revitalizing. Everyone should be able to wake up and feel that way.

The possibilities are endless.

I am starting to think that if someone is waking up in the morning and consistently feeling like there is no future in whatever it is they are doing, they need to rethink it. It may be a sign that they are not reaching far enough - not fulfilling their true potential.

I am not saying it is a good idea for anyone to quit their job before they have another one. I think one should always do their best to be wise in their pursuits.

To be honest, I don't know how my little venture is going to turn out. I am not even sure that I will be able to sell these pieces. But I love the fact that there is a possibility of doing it and doing it well. I love that I have control over being available to my kids and being home with them. I love that I feel good again. It has been life changing for me. These things are definitely lined up with what I think God desires for me and my family.

The bottom line is, there are endless possibilities. Nothing is impossible with God. If we believe that, then we act on it. We live like it's true. We trust that the future is in the his hands...being faithful with the gifts, the talents, the resources he has given by using them well is being obedient to God's calling. It is a guaranteed return of contentment and satisfaction in knowing you went the distance. Nothing ventured - nothing gained - and all that. ( smiling )

Once again - I say it so often these days - it's exciting.

I am posting the parable of the bags of gold from Matthew 25

The Parable of the Bags of Gold

Matthew 25


14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’
21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’
23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’
26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Projects

 I have a list of things I want to do before I start working again. I fear my list is much too big to actually get done but I am giving it my best shot.

My first project was getting my bedroom rearranged and new dust ruffle (what a goofy name - it is not a ruffle - though it does collect dust - it just doesn't keep it from getting on anything else though).




 I bought these new pillows before I knew what I would do with them. I just loved them and they were on clearance so I had to get them. They make me want to keep my room clean. Yes - I admit I still hate to clean my room. It is very hard for me to ask my kids to keep their room clean when I hate it as much as I do. So - I have to do something that inspires me to do so. These pillows are it.

 So I have rearranged and put my dust ruffle on and hung up pictures and I can check off my first project. There are things I still want to do in there. But for now, this is a very happy beginning.


Gerbera Daisies are my favorite and my Wedding angel picture from one of my bridesmaids graces my nightstand. And the sweet little angel my mother gave me that is singing her little heart out is a constant reminder of how blessed I am by my Mom and Dad. The covered bridge painting is a contribution by my husband and incorporates his love of the rustic. I absolutely love my room.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Making the old new...

I have a favorite book. It's a children's book. I can still pick it up and read it and look at the pictures and it delights me as if I were a seven year old. I love it.



It's called The Oxcart Man.

What I am consistently struck by in this lovely book, is how wonderfully time is used. How resources are pulled from and made into something useful and profitable. And something about that just lights a fire in me - encourages me - inspires me.

I want to do the same thing.

Now - my husband - even though he worked on his grandfathers tobacco farm growing up, is not going to sell the house and move to a farm where we produce crops and live off of the land. Though I would be open to it, I don't see him doing that any time soon. Though I really don't think it is a bad idea. Truly.

My favorite summers have been when I had my garden in the back yard and I grew tomatoes, herbs and such. I loved going out,  picking the vegetable and bringing it in and cooking with it. It truly satisfied a longing in me.

I want to go back to that.

But not only that. I want to look with open eyes at my surroundings, at what we have and manage it well. To use it for profit - whether that is in our home, or to give away or sell. Doesn't really matter. I want to create, to use what we have wisely and to make something useful of it. I want to take the old and make it new.

I had a friend e-mail me and ask me if I wanted to refurbish old furniture. And my answer was immediately yes! I do it all the time - or used to. I have garbage chairs that I think are adorable.

This is one of them. My mom pulled them from a garbage pile and she and I refinished them and re-upholstered them - all ourselves. We made two of them. They are my favorite chairs.

Something is so very basic about that. So down to earth and natural. It's a good fit. So I am going for it. Prayerfully - God will bless the efforts. I must make the effort to do it and not just romanticize about it (which is my tendency). Because sometimes - being creative and making the ideas work is hard. But seeing it through will bring reward. And whether that is just for our household or if it brings use to others - that is a blessing and a reward in and of itself.


Of course this is a beautiful picture of what God does for us.

2 Corinthians 5:17
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
So I am off - to do. Something. Something great. Something great for God.

So enough talk - time to put the words into action!

It's exciting.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Define It...

In a spelling bee, you are given the word and it is repeated. The contestant has the right to request to, "define it". It helps them get a handle on the word.

This morning, I made my husband a sandwich and poured his coffee and gave him his muffins as he was going to work. I sat with the boys while they played their video game and commented as encouragingly as I knew how and then proceeded to get my "to do" list compiled.

I left the mayo out, so as I was cleaning up the kitchen I picked it up to screw on the lid tighter and it slipped out of my hand and bounced on the floor. I was grateful that it did not look like it was too terribly bad until I felt it all over the front of my clothes and then saw a line that splattered all the way across the kitchen. It was impressive the mess it made. My first desire was to rant about how many sandwiches that could have made and I managed to blow it all over the floor - and myself. And then I thought, "So it's going to be THAT kind of day is it?".

BUZZER

Nope. Can't do that.

I am very into defining things lately. This room needs to be rearranged, my thought process is - "we need to define the space". "What do you want to do there?", "How do you want to live in it?"...etc. I like to ask myself - "What am I, and how do I fit into the equation?" "How do I manage to bring in an income and stay faithful to what I feel God has called me to?"....my quandaries regarding defining things - relationships, job prospects, my marriage, my play time, my - everything - are never ending. But there is a danger in defining some things - I tend to live it out come hell or hight water and that just can't happen. There has to be some flexibility.

Now honestly - defining something is actually quite useful. There are some things you just can't move forward on until it is defined. My issue comes from trying to peg something and then living like that definition is set in stone. This is not productive, especially when it comes to defining my day as one that is bad or one that is good. That is useless.

Psalm 118:24
24This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.


I should never allow a bad thing to define my whole day. The problem with that is that I discount the day. It was a bad day. It was of no use to me. The fact is, that every day is a blessing. It is another day to learn and live to the fullest and to increase our understanding of God. To blow it off as bad is wasteful. And I do not like to be wasteful. Of course I am - which totally and completely frustrates me about myself. But that is a whole other blog to write.

This day is up to me to choose how I will go about it. I will not allow a circumstance or a problem define the entire day. Bad moment - sure. It is better for me to live moment by moment anyway - otherwise I chunk it all and say I will start over tomorrow (which is why I am never successful on my diets).

Joshua 24:15
And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

I will choose not only this day - but this moment to serve the Lord, in whatever I do. Mayonnaise on my clothes and the greasy residue accross my floor and up the side of the oven will not cause me to define it as bad and give up on the entire day.

Ephesians 5:15-17
15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.

I am not guaranteed tomorrow. So I must make the most of this day. So I will no longer allow myself the loop hole of throwing out a whole entire day because something or even some things did not go right.

Now - I will give myself a little wiggle room....because some days are just like that.

But not today. I hope.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Fulfilled

This morning, as I sat on my couch, watching old Felicity episodes and folding scads of clothes, my heart felt like it would bust.

There is no good reason for me to be this happy. Financially my quitting my job has put us in a very tight spot. My sweet husband does not harp on it. He does not complain or even bring it up. But I know it is always in his mind.

How blessed I am to have him.

I should be worried. I should be tearing up the local paper and phone lines chasing after a job. But - all I can think of is the fact that I am more content and anxiety free than I have been in six months. Six months of thinking I was having a heart attack because of my worry over a job that had more to do than I could ever get done, and the fear that I would continue to be thrown under the bus at every turn by a co-worker who apparently did not like me at all. The things I had to put up with to love her well were exhausting. And sometimes I failed miserably - which only added to my burden. I have not cried since the day I left. After months and months of crying on a weekly basis - sometimes a daily basis - I can't even begin to express the relief.

But today, I got up at my normal time of 5:30AM, read and made breakfast for my babies, got their lunches ready, drove them to school, came back and made breakfast for my husband and saw him off to work. What a blessed gift! Now I sit and fold clothes and pray over the items as I stack them - the time to be able to think about my babies and how they are growing and what they need - it is such an amazing feeling.

Comparing where I am now and where I was three weeks ago is like night and day. And it makes my heart exceedingly glad.

I know that I need to find another source of income, and soon. But the time I have had to be able to recover and to regroup and to care for my home again - has been an overwhelming and welcome reprieve. In my heart, I know that God will provide for us. And that I am exactly where he wants me to be right now. I pray I will remember these precious days and hold them in my heart as a token of God's love for me. His desire to see me - not necessarily happy - but fulfilled by him and his sustenance.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Poppin' Off at the Mouth

There is a practice I have that I need to nip in the bud. It's my mouth. I say things without thinking. Allllllll the time.

It's a bad practice. Horrible habit. And frankly, it shows me for what I am...a foolish woman. When someone wants advice, my knee jerk reaction is to rush in with a verbal onslaught of my experiences without thinking. Or - to actually say what I am thinking - which really - in so many cases should probably be best left unsaid until I have thought it through - all the way.

I just read a blog where someone asked for advice from their pastor's wife and it said she, "asked for time to consider it", then came back with sound wisdom.

Yeah. That is what I should always do.

I will say that I have become much more aware of my garrulous tendencies, which in many cases, tend to be nervous energy released in verbal form. Also not such a good thing. So lately - I have asked God for help with my mouth - and my brain - that what escapes my mouth will be premeditated and ordained by God. That I will have self control and not be so willing to "pop off" as is my tendency.

There are times when my prattle - though tiresome to some - is perfectly alright. But there are other times when my light treatment of certain subjects tends to only make the waters muddier. I don't want to be that person. I would much rather be self controlled and thoughtful.

But there is the fact that God made me who I am for a reason. He gave me my personality and tendencies to manage well and to use for his glory.

Being measured in thought and speech is very doable. My first step is to look to him to help me be wise with my words. Both written and spoken.

Proverbs 31:26 She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

First step is to be aware of the need. And I need to be working toward wisdom.

James 1:5
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

I do not doubt that some folly will fall from my mouth from time to time. But I truly want to be a more thoughtful person in all I say and do. This will serve my family and friends much better - and I am sure there will be a lot less regret on my part. Which is always a good thing.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Blessed Vessel (changed the name :-) )

I dug in deep yesterday. I cleaned out and moved and vacuumed behind - it was a thing of - frankly - disgust. This house was dirty. After a year and a half of surface cleaning you can only imagine how bad it was. In my cleaning though, there were some things that just wouldn't scrub off.


 The dents in the wall that was strangely shaped like a ball. The nicks and scrapes from our many games of "hall ball" - not to mention the broken glass in the framed pitcures on the wall. Scratches were in the floor from our many tries with heelies in the kitchen.



This house was a mess. It was in need of major care.


In my frustration the thought kept occuring to me, "What does it matter? If I fixed it, it would just happen again.


And in the midst of my frustration, it suddenly occured to me that we actually LIVE in this house.

We play HARD. We laugh, we live - we fulfill God's purpose with joy. Or - at least - we are learning to.

It changes the way I see this house. It is a blessed vessel to shelter us while we fulfill God's design for us while we are passing through this short, precious, time here on earth.

Time to quit worrying over the things that do not matter and start working on the things that will count for eternity.



I love this house - with all of it's boo boos and  messes. It is God's provision for us. How very blessed we are with it!



Sunday, January 8, 2012

Into the glorious unknown...

Many of you know that I quit my job. About five weeks ago I decided that my life was not what God intended. There is no way I could accomplish what they were asking me to at my job and do it well. There was not enough pay to pay someone to do what I wanted to be doing in my own home. Why in the world would I be trying to pay someone to take care of my household when it was what I longed to do? That scenario of the working mom was not for me. My heart longed to be home. I am pretty sure my friends at work knew it as well.

So - I turned in my notice. Without another job to go to. My poor, sweet husband.

But what gripped me, instead of fear, was joy. Joy that I was home, joy that I got to take my kids to school again, that I would be home with them at the end of the day. There are things I have longed to do. My writing, my art, my music - now I could actually accomplish some of these things.

What if I could accomplish these things and make money? What an adventure that would be. And the thought my pastor planted in my head keeps going round and round. We do not trust God to step out and do something great for him.

So I have been brainstorming. Friends have e-mailed me and wonderful talks over delicious lunches have occured. There are many things that could work. Many things that may be able to provide the additional income as well as fulfill my talents and abilities. It is such an adventure!

Through it all, I keep thinking about a Stephen Curtis Chapman song called The Great Adventure. It is now my theme song.

So - saddle up your horses, folks.
This is the great adventure. I cannot wait to see what lies in the glorious unknown. Trusting God to lead me there.
I am looking forward to sharing it with you as it unfolds.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Six Little Bedheaded Boys

So the boys have been begging me for months to have friends over. I just couldn't find the gumption. Really? I have three kids already, and where I used to say, "what's one more kid?", I don't say that anymore. One more kid seems more than I can handle.

But since I have started my Great Adventure things seem different. Am I any less tired? No. I am however, not nearly as stressed out. I have also embraced the fact that things will never be in reality what they are in my head. My head is full of ridiculously romantic notions of a perfectly clean house with well behaved kids and amazing meals with memorable moments. I am nuts. Well, about everything but the memorable moments. That to me, is attainable without all of the orderly things.

I have been cleaning out an 8 year olds room this week. An 8 year old that has 11 years of hand me downs that stopped with him and never moved on. It is a small room, full of baby toys. Well...not anymore. I have cleaned it out. And with no job, I have proceeded to try to sell whatever seemed sellable. I am thinking about venturing onto eBay even.  Scary.

My house in cleaning out the room is a shambles. My ADD apparently is running rampant in the mountains of things not kept up with in the last 18 months. So, I have piles everywhere. Piles of old clothes, piles of dirty clothes, piles of clean clothes that need to be folded, piles of nerf guns, piles of Christmas decorations that need to be put in the attic. Seriously a focus nightmare. And the boys continue to beg.

We give in. I - in my normal overly optimistic way - thought I could get the piles cleared out and put away in one day. I might could have, but a friend asked me to lunch.  Well...I would much rather go to lunch than clean up piles. It's a no brainer. And I missed my friend. People are more important than things - always. And I rationalized that I could get it done in a few hours if I dropped my standards a bit.

So off to lunch I went. I came home refreshed and encouraged and full of wonderful ideas. It was such a good decision. But I had an hour to get the house clean before the SIX boys came home. A wee bit panicky - not for the boys sake - but for mine (I am still operating from that orderly idea in my head), I begin to do whatever I can to get the mess tamed.

Fail.

But come to find out, it did not matter. Within an hour of all 3 of our guests arriving and added to my own 3, the house was a wonderful, raucous, melee of arms legs and constant motion. It did not wind down until 2:30AM when I got up from my own bed and used my stern voice to yell, "GO TO SLEEP".

When I stepped down and saw six little bedheads this morning, laughing, playing and enjoying each other, I was suddenly very thankful I didn't clean the house any better than I had, because I would be doing it all over again today. But what a happy thing to hear friends playing capture the flag in my little cottage of a house. How happy it was to watch them as they grabbed pancakes and sausage and bowed their heads together to thank God for their breakfast, then scurry off to finish the game.

As I sat down to do my daily blog and Bible reading, I looked down to see the menu of the restaurant I went to with my precious friend. It is a Mediteranean restaurant and the menu is a gracious extension of the hospitality I felt when I sat down to eat lunch.

It says, " In our culture, "breaking bread" with someone is a signal of everlasting friendship. So as you break bread with us today, we genuinely hope that even though you came in as a customer, you will leave as a friend, and come back to see us soon." (Naji's Pita Gourmet - John Hawkins Parkway - Hoover, AL)

And that is exactly how I feel. I pushed aside something that didn't matter to break bread with a friend, and gave up on a perfect house and enjoyed the moment in spite of the monumental mess. I would say it was a decidedly perfectly guided decision. I feel my boys benefitted from it, as did I.

I am pretty sure the reality of a messy house and happy children, is much better then the ideal in my head. I thank God for the lovely, excited voices of these six little bed headed boys.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Way You Make Me Feel....

This morning started off a little rocky. I had to make one of the boys do something they did not want to. He needed a book off of the supply cart at school and did not want to get it. He felt "stupid". He was unsure about how to go about it and really just dug in. I told him he had to do it. He was very unhappy.

I hate for my babies to be unhappy - but this is real life.

In my desire for him to understand why he had to do it in spite of his not wanting to, I went into some detail. I asked him why he felt stupid. He explained that some older kids made some snide comments about 6th graders and their newby-ness. It was not to him, but it was to someone else in the past. It could have been their first day as far as I know. But it stuck in his head and now it has influenced him to want to look like he was an old pro at everything he put his hand to. How unrealistic.

I do the same thing though...and I am 45 years old. Ridiculous isn't it? So it's hard to be annoyed at an 11 year old when I do the same thing. I told him that the 7th and 8th graders at school had their first time at everything there at the school. They are also unsure and will begin the same insecure process when they get to highschool next year. They are no better than him. They will have to learn and make some public mistakes just like he will. It doesn't end when  you get out of highschool either. I still make newby mistakes. It's just a part of life.

I explained to him that what would make him different from others is how he reacted to a hard situation. Lashing out to make others feel badly is not a good way to make yourself feel better. Most reasonable people get that if you don't know how to do something - you ask. When you see someone else who doesn't know something - you don't use it to build yourself up by making a crack at them...you encourage and help them.
I want my boys to learn that life is not about them. It is about God. Their identity does not come from how accomplished they are. Not how smart, not how good they are at something. Their identity comes from being a child of God.

1 Corinthians 8

1 Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. 2 Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. 3 But whoever loves God is known by God.
 
Here Paul is teaching that knowledge is not always a good thing. It can cause someone to think they are better than they really are. Whereas - love is what defines us as children of God. We love God and he knows us as his own. This love will overflow to others.
 
Luke 10:27
He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ ; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”

John 13:
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
 
Romans 15:
13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.


God wants us to deny the things of the world. What the world understands as accomplishment, riches, love - is not God's understanding. His love will cause others to stumble when they rely on their own understanding. They must see with spiritual eyes that God is God. He cannot be boxed, he cannot be packaged. He cannot be made to bend to our will or our desires.

1 Peter 2:7-9
7 Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,
“The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,
8 and, “A stone that causes people to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall.”
They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.
9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

When understanding comes to us, it is not because we are brilliant. It is not because we have knowledge of our own. It is because God has given it to us.

I am about as dense as they come. I am stubborn and continue to try to push these truths away. I want to live the way I want to. A + B must always equal C. But this is not how it really is. I have a great hope and that hope is that God allows me moments of clarity - where I finally get it. And these moments carry me for days - sometimes weeks until I get another shot. I just keep hoping for those moments as I need them. But I have found I must seek them.

All of this to say - winding it all back to the premise that loving others well, is not meant to make us feel good. The focus is on God - he causes us to be selfless so that we can encourage others. If we are not so focused on how we appear to others, then it is not difficult to be more concerned with loving others better than ourselves. We can become quite foolish in our endeavors and it means nothing. Because we love God first, he knows it. That is all that matters.

This is very freeing. It simplifies everything and brings my focus in. God knows I need that.

I pray that God helps me remember this, and to instill it in my boys.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

How to do it....how to do it.....

So the last several days...since the New Year got here...I have been trying to figure how to go about making things right. What steps to take to make sure that I accomplish my goals, the family needs and what is right before the Lord.

I wrestle mightily with the ol' New Year's resolutions. I have never kept them past 2 weeks. It is a practice in futility setting them up. I have always had resevoirs of cockeyed optimism. I really, really like the whole ridiculously positive part of me. Sure - it makes for a lot of disappointment - but as a whole it is what keeps me going. That's a gift from God to be sure. So - I guess what I need to find is a way to balance that ridiculously cattywompous skew of my vision to be a wee bit more realistic. 

So my goal of the past few days has been to pray for a new vision. I want it quickly and I want it to fall into place and start working immediately. This is not so new...once again - not so realistic of me. Whatever vision God gives, I need to understand that his timing is not mine. I need to remember what God's word says:

Galatians 6:8-10
8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

So my first guide is to sow seeds that will please God. And to not give up on the harvest that will come from it.

Alright.

So the next scripture that comes to mind is:
Colossians 3:17
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.


So clearly - my guidelines for this year are fairly simple.

Whatever I do - do it in such a way that I am always mindful that God will be glorified through it.

Given my selfish nature this will probably be much more difficult than it sounds. But in light of this, I will move forward.

How will I do this? I will need to daily - probably minute by minute train myself to ask - who am I doing this for? I am sure many times I will throw up the blinders and rationalize my decisions....but I am praying that the Holy Spirit will make me strong in my decisions.

Things that must happen:
  • Additional income. I need to help with our income. Not just for now but for the boys and college. This is my first goal. I just left a job that kept me from serving my family well. I need to find one that will leave me able to happily take care of them in the evenings and on Saturdays.
Things I want to happen:
  • Have enough resources to serve others well. Not just to cover our own costs.
  • Volunteer - not just at the school, but something like tutoring those in need. That requires time.
  • Incorporate my loves in whatever I do. People, music, writing, creativity...I want these to be a part of how I live. Not a desire I am constantly putting on a shelf because of my "real" job.
Some of the things that will need to happen in order for me to have the energy to accomplish the above is going to require me to deny myself, to ignore the "foodie" within and eat right. To get over the "you deserve this" thingy that is always being whispered in my ear. I deserve nothing...less than nothing. Finding my joy and my contentment in the fact that God has blessed me with more is going to serve me better than my indulgence of my hedonistic tendencies. I must deny myself.

Luke 9:23
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.



Now I question whether these things will give glory to God. I absolutely believe that my vision will easily give glory to God. But that is also dependent upon my dependence on my heavenly Father. These desires are from my heart - and it is a heart that longs to serve well on many fronts. So my prayer becomes - "Lord let it be so".

My goal is to ask myself constantly - "will this glorify God"?

Maybe this will be the year I actually do something great for God. Something that only he can accomplish through me. I long for it. I'll let you know how it goes...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

State of the Union - 2011...(mine)

I am not quite ready to let go of Christmas. I have not wanted to move to a new place quite yet. The old was not terrible - it is known and comforting. Especially in light of all of my blessings.

 Last night I sat and looked at my Christmas lights (that will be up through this weekend - I am NOT ashamed to say) - and I remembered.

I have been given some time (which is a wonderful gift from God) to do some things around the house that I need to do.

I have amazing family. My boys are the most amazing little men. They are so smart (take after their Daddy) and conscientious (take after their Mama). My husband is my best friend and I love him so much. Thank goodness he makes me laugh and his generosity is both a gift and a reminder.

When I grow up, I want to be like my Mom and Dad. I still lean so heavily upon them and I am pretty sure it's their turn to return the favor. I love them so much. My Dad has given me his desire and will to accomplish anything I put my hand to. My Mom's servant heart is a rare gift - she uses it liberally.

My brother is still someone I admire and enjoy. His wife is like my sister and his kids are precious. They make me laugh and give me joy.

I have been blessed to have in-laws that do not follow the typical stereotype. My father-in-law and mother-in-law are so easy and helpful. I love how they come along side and seem to know where that line is to back off.

My husband's sister is also like a sister to me and her husband and family are awesome. My sadness is we just don't get to see them as much as we would like.

My Father in law would baby sit my twin baby boys. By himself - before he married. This never ceases to impress me.

My mother in law is actually my husband's step mother. She was best friends with my husbands mom. His mom passed away 15 years ago...just a couple of weeks after he and I got engaged. A couple of years later my father-in-law started dating my present mother-in-law and it is pretty obvious this was a unique situation. She is a blessing and we love her and her kids - who are absolutely like brother and sister to us as well.

I came from a baptist background. Huge church - lots of programs and I loved every minute of it. I was just about as involved as you could get. I worked there in both the youth ministry and the music ministry. It was awesome. When I moved to Birmingham to date my husband, he went to a much smaller church - a presbyterian church. Close to the exact opposite of where I attended church in Mobile. Conservative, and the music was traditional - there was no clapping...at all. Raising of the hands was shocking and tended to be frowned upon. So - at first - I was a bit lost - miserable at times. I actually did not understand the background of the presbyterian church (or church history at all) and was blessed to get into a Sunday School class where I learned. It was fascinating. I also learned what it was like to be a new-comer. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. Took me close to 2 years to assimilate into my present church. I have been there 16 years now and feel very much at home and blessed by my church home.

What I have found is:

It does not take being "like" others to feel a part of the family of God. If I am not feeling the fellowship - it is more than likely me and not others that is the cause.

I do not have to be part of the music and planning to enjoy what others have done. At first, I let it hurt my feelings. But what I have learned is there is a time for me to step back and let others do. I have tried to take part - but this is the wonderful thing - it is apparently not God's timing for me. I have learned to be content.

It is up to me to seek the lost and the hurting - does not have to be part of the church program.

I can worship in this place with people that are every bit as dear to me as those that I worshipped with my previous church- the place I considered my "ideal". 

My friends have come from surprising and even unlikely places. I have learned that the written word and phone calls can knit the heart together as easily as meeting face to face (this can be both a blessing and dangerous).

God has been good to me. He has seen that who I need is there when I need them. He has continued to have his hand heavy on my life, even though I have tried to ignore and shrug him off - repeatedly.

He has delivered me from a job that started out to be the most fun and turned into one of the heaviest burdens I have carried in quite some time. I am waiting in anticipation for His next provision for me and my family. It is quite the adventure!

My heart is full. In spite of all the things I would love to whine about and the misery I would love to waller in...it is hard to. I am a rich woman. I have everything I need....

I think 2012 will be an amazing year!