Monday, April 30, 2012

Mother's Day Ideas

May is the month we celebrate mothers! Whether your mom is still here with you, lives far away or if she has passed away, there are ways to celebrate her and the life she gave you! I always need to get an early start on creative ideas so I thought I'd go ahead and post this now.

Celebrating Mom's memory: Below are some ideas from friends whose momma has passed away. I really appreciate them for being vulnerable and sharing their input and suggestions. A special word of wisdom from one friend said, "The main thing for me is it helps to be able to talk freely and openly about my mom. I would just encourage them to be real, because even if there is sadness there is usually so many more funny beautiful memories there."
  • One young woman said she will spend time serving single moms by watching their children and giving them some time to recharge
  • Do something that you know your mom enjoyed (examples: riding a bike, going for a hike, reading a book, work in the garden, go get your nails done..whatever brought her joy)
  • Donate to a cause your mother supported or volunteer there. For the day make Mom's passion your passion.
  • If you know a mom who has lost their child, bring her flowers or ask to treat her to lunch or a movie. You're totally not trying to replace their child but just encourage them and lift them up.
  • Buy your mom's favorite flowers and place them in your home or plant them in a container at your house. Cook your mom's favorite meal or watch a movie she enjoyed.
  • Write down all the things you know your mom would be proud of in your life at this very moment! Or write a letter to your mom and send it into the sky tied to a balloon.
  • Call a nursing facility and ask if there is a woman that needs encouragement or who doesn't get many visitors and bring her flowers.
Appreciating Mom's who are nearby:
  • Special Day/Weekend together: I've invited my mom into town (the weekend after Mother's Day) to have a Mother/Daughter Healthy Weekend. For about two weeks now we've been looking for brand new, healthy recipes to try! Our plan is to get together, shop for the ingredients and spend the day bonding over cooking & trying new meals. Then we are going to be crafty and both put together a healthy cookbook. We might also get pedicures and have a tea party in my back yard *grin*
  • Create a special box: Click these links for posts that include the Travel Box for Mom *voted one of my best mom's day gifts ever,* Ideas using Mason Jars, and other Decorative Box ideas.
  • Homemade card or gift: Make her a gift or card no matter how old you are. Homemade is always special to mom...pour your heart out with words of affection and love too! Consider making her something she can take to work for encouragement.
  • Celebrity mom: Have you ever 'interviewed' your mom? Get out a camera and ask your mom some questions. Try to keep it short (5-min). Have fun and get to know your mom a little better. Write your own or ask some suggested questions I found from the CNNi website:
1. What's your favorite part about being a mom?
2. What's the most challenging thing about being a mom?
3. Share a memory of your mother.
4. How did your mom influence how you approach being a mother?
5. Tell me two things I don’t know about you.
  • Pictures: Have a mug or puzzle made with a picture of the family together. Or take funny photos you've posted on facebook and make her a fun little album.
  • Photo shoot: Find a photographer who is just starting out (usually less expensive that way) and have a photo shoot with mom. This works great especially if you have brothers & sisters. Or...just do it yourself! One time my mom and I went outside on a pretty day and took pictures of ourselves around the house. We had a great time!
  • Start a new Mother's Day tradition: like running in a marathon together, spend a mother/daughter evening at local B&B, visit an annual flower festival or take a cooking class each year.
  • Be Sentimental: Try giving her a long hug. I'm might be surprised how much it means to her! Sing her a kids song. Write her a poem and recite it. Paint her a picture.
  • Find interesting gifts. Select these links to see examples: Flowerhead vase, fun recycled gifts, or from one of my favorite 'go to' sites... inexpensive organic artisan chocolates (highly recommend!)
  • Don't forget your grandmothers...they are mothers too! Consider doing an activity or gift that includes generations of women if possible or even organize the largest family gathering you can for a family photo. You might also get a photograph of all the grandchildren and great grandchildren together for a picture.  

Long Distance Mom: If your mom isn't within driving distance or you can't make it home for the holiday here are some ideas for you:
  • Do a card slam. A card on mother's day is nice but consider "slamming" her mailbox with cards. You could do one each day of the week with the nicest one arriving on her special day. You could also send her one on mother's day and surprise her when she gets a few in the days to follow. Maybe in each one you can share something about her that means a lot to you. *variation - you can do this with phone calls too
  • Send a Mother/Daughter letter writing set (click the link to see it) and start writing each other. Don't forget "forever" makes letter sending SO much easier. ha.
  • Write a thank you letter listing out items for which you are thankful. Some examples could be: for being a good example, for your sense of adventure, your support during ____, for your patience and discipline when I needed it...etc. Then frame it and send it to your mom.
  • Set up manicure, hair appointment, or day of pampering for you mom at her local spa or resort.
  • Unique flowers. Please send your mom flowers sometimes. My mom and grandma really enjoy these special deliveries. I look for unique arrangements. For example, have a corsage or wristlet delivered so she can wear it to church or out to lunch/dinner. Consider sending her a flower puppy. This one below was a huge hit when I sent it. Go with an exotic flower, tons of her favorite flowers, or if you choose roses try selecting the ones with floods of color. Also, consider sending her a blooming a rose bush or gardenia flower bush because these will last longer.
'Mom, when thoughts of you are in our hearts, we are never far from home'.
~Author Unknown

'On Mother's Day I have written a poem for you. In the interest of poetic economy and truth, I have succeeded in concentrating my deepest feelings and beliefs into two perfectly crafted lines: You're my mother, I would have no other!' ~Forest Houtenschil

Friday, April 27, 2012

How to Hear God

Wow, this is a tough and touchy subject but one I want to attempt to tackle. I'm often asked, "How do I know what God wants me to do?" or "How can I be sure that the decision I make is the direction God wants me to go?" I can relate to those questions.

When I was interviewing to go on a mission team, I remember asking some more mature disciples those very questions. Two of them answered in unique ways and I still to this day find comfort and guidance in their words.

A woman shared that basically, "You study it out if you can in the bible, pray and ask God, seek advice and then it comes down to trust. You learn to trust that because you've done things God's way...He will bless the decision and guide you." The guy shared that "you consider all the reasons both positive and negative then push them to the side. After that, what does your 'gut' tell you to do? Go with that because that's the Spirit talking to you."

Interesting, huh? I probably do a combination of those. I read the bible, pray, seek advice from God and spiritual disciples, then after weighing the good and bad, I toss them to the side, make a decision and trust God.

How about some scriptures? :) I'll provide a few for meditation:

Galatians 5:25 says, "Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit."

Romans 8:26-28 "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

1 Thessalonians 5:17-19 "...pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit."

John 14:15-18 Jesus says, “If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever - the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." then in verses 25-27, “All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, 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. 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."

There are many scriptures but these are some of the first I turn to because they have a lot of focus on the Spirit. You might be curious and bold enough to ask, "Do you hear God's voice?" For me the answer is well... yes, God talks to me through His scriptures. Verses always come up while I'm praying. (so be in your bible!) In fact, even today God answered with a verse while praying about this post. More about that in a bit...

It's hard to describe to someone else how I discern the Spirit and God can communicate with us differently. I'll start basic with how I detect the Spirit and you can pray from there. Reflect on these situations for a moment:
  • If you are a baptized disciple of Jesus, then you probably know what it's like to feel 'drawn' to someone with whom you should share your faith. What takes place within you?
  • When you read a scripture or hear the word preached and you 'feel' or experience within you being cut, convicted, or overwhelmingly inspired! 
  • What about when you are watching or listening to something that's not pleasing to God? Recall what you experience inside? In a lot of ways, I call that grieving the Holy Spirit.
All those situations are the best way I can describe the Spirit moving. I try to notice similar feelings of being 'drawn' when making a decision and I listen for God's words through scriptures.

Being confident in your God: As I mentioned before, I was praying this morning about this post when a verse came to mind. Specifically, I was thinking about a time when leaders in a sister congregation challenged a sister's a decision by saying, "I don't think that's what the Spirit would want...Did you actually hear God's voice telling you what to do?" I was reflecting on this and asking God, "Lord, what leg do we have to stand on when we know a decision is from You but others don't think it is the wisest or best one? How can I be confident when accused that my decision isn't guided by your Spirit because it doesn't make sense to them?" As always, God brought a scripture to mind through the Spirit while I prayed....Matthew 4:1. Which also lead to others (Mark 1:12, Luke 4:1), Acts 11:1-14Acts 16:7 or especially in Acts 20:23 when it is written, "I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me."

So why did God put Matthew 4:1 on my heart this morning while I was praying? Because it doesn't seem wise for Jesus to follow the Spirit and go to the desert to be tempted by the devil! Or during the time when Acts was written, it didn't make sense to others for Peter to go and eat with uncircumcised men like God had told him to. Sometimes the direction we as individuals hear God sending us doesn't make sense to others...or even us! We know it didn't feel comfortable for Paul to know that prison and hardship was facing him as he made decisions guided by God. Not to mention, unmarried Mary carrying the Christ or the disciples dropping everything to follow him. Not easy! Doesn't make sense in our minds!

I've learned that the direction God sends us is not always going to be the easy way, the most comfortable, or the simplest. Some don't think a decision is from God if it's unsafe, a hard road, or not a task that the church is currently doing. If you think that God's going to always, always put you on a smooth road together, watch out and that really what you see happening in the bible? We must get surrendered when asking which way God wants us to go that we might not like it and it might not make ANY sense others.

As fellow believers, who are called to love one another, we must learn to trust God and be okay that we don't understand why the Spirit might be calling other people to different decisions - even ones we don't see as best. The fact is the direction God sends them might not even be might just be different than the rest of us. We all know that just because it's different doesn't mean they are not being unified or are wrong. This is where being confident in God should strongly take over. (much tougher, I know)

I could write more but I don't want the post to become a novel. HA. I just want to share my own experiences and give you something to consider, study, and pray about over the next few days. I do with many of my close friends, I am praying that God will help you to discern His will, His Holy Spirit, and that you will be able to hear Him more and more with every passing day.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I Forgive...Me!

Something I've been struggling with lately is being super hard on myself. I've seen my perfectionism come out over the past few weeks. If I 'mess up' even the smallest thing, my inner monologue toward myself dwells on it. Really, these mistakes are barely 'mess ups' but when I don't do things as well as I think I should...ouch.

We often focus on the forgiveness we extend to others and receive from them and the forgiveness of God but lately I've been talking to people about their process of 'forgiving' themselves. If you have any thoughts, please comment.

A friend from church the other day shared something he does while praying through the Lord's prayer. When he gets to the section in Matthew 6:11-12, "Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us," he'll take a moment to forgive himself.

I think this is lovely so I've started doing it as well. I really desire to have a clear heart so I can focus on God. I don't want my harshness or critical attitude toward myself to get in the way of thinking about God. And let's face it, when I'm being hateful toward me...I'm not thinking of God!! Besides, I already have an enemy (boo-satan) and I sure don't need two!

I just recently wrote a note that I keep at my desk saying, "I do not have to be perfect. I will never do everything right." A picture I saw once that fits this sentiment well has the quote, "In Jesus, I am enough." I also saw suggestions from others of writing yourself a forgiveness letter because this can help those of us who are visual and writers. It's been good to talk to others and see that I'm not the only one who has this struggle.

Making amends. Reconciliation. This is the heart of God and I'm seeing that those very things are just what we need to extend to ourselves sometimes..

Monday, April 23, 2012


"When you entertain, you bring honor and glory to yourself. Showing hospitality brings honor and glory to God."

The topic of hospitality has been on my mind lately and for a lot of reasons. Just recently my neighbor across the street brought me a meal (enough for a small army) and a wonderful women in my life often invites me over for dinner with her family. (thanks Robin!)

When I first became a Christian, I heard about hospitality a lot in my fellowship. I even have a book with ideas, recommendations about hosting different cultures, and recipes. :) I've seen many great examples in my life of women who 'glow' in the area of hospitality...after all, being in the just grow up into 'Southern Hospitality'. But I want to make sure that my Southern Hospitality is Biblical Hospitality. And I don't just want to know it...I want to PRACTICE it. *grin*

Defined: hospitality is...
1. the friendly reception and treatment of guests or strangers.
2. the quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way.
The bible says:

Romans 12:13
Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Hebrews 13:2
Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.

1 Peter 4:9
Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.

Often I think of hospitality as having people into my home...and it can be...but really, it's more of an attitude of my heart toward strangers and friends. The 'strangers' part...well, I really need to pray to have that heart and live those scriptures out...especially at work. How about you?

Lord, help me grow and bloom in this area! I want to have a disposition of the heart to be full of warmth, friendliness, and generosity. Thru Jesus Christ, Amen. To help me, I was looking at the thesaurus for some other words to give me a wider picture. The ones that stood out to me are: cheer, companionship, comradeship, considerationfriendliness, generositygood cheer, heartiness, hospitableness, sociability, warmth, & welcome.

So my decision is to pray about this and look for areas where I can show a heart of hospitality toward friends and strangers by putting it into practice. Please pray for me :)

The quote above is from this short article that I thought was great! Click here to read: "Hospitality vs. Entertaining".

Friday, April 20, 2012

Ideas- Bonding & Building Your Friendships

Jesus loved deeply so I imagine his times with friends were interesting, fun and with a heart to build memories. Since my thoughts have been on friendship this week, I thought I'd share some ideas of things to do with your 'bestie' to build memories. Most of these I've done in the past and loved! So grab a friend with your prayerful hand and get creative!  

Movie Insider: create an activity based on a movie you both enjoy. Make costumes, hats, really dress the part and set up a time to watch the movie. Here's an example of me and one of my friends in our homemade 'yaya' hats.

Vacation/Staycation Together: This doesn't have to cost much money. It just takes a tiny bit of planning to enjoy the next town over or experience something in town you've never done before. How about giving a cute B&B a try? Travel sites run plenty of last minute deals. Decide to both save some money, decide what weekend to go, then at the last minute look for a hotel. Skeptical? My friend and I did this and ended up staying in a 5-star hotel for only $99 a night. That's just a little over $50 each to stay in one of the fancy hotels in our area! Seriously.

Spa Night: Probably something you've done before but I like to encourage these. There are few things as bonding as grown women staying up late into the night swapping stories and beauty tips.

Local Activities: Go biking together in a park. Grab you best gal pal and try out the newest gym in the neighborhood. Fancy restaurant you've always wanted to try? Then invite your best friend. Here's a picture of my friend and I enjoying the IMAX theater at the local museum one night after work. (thus the smurfy photo tone) LOL

Serve Those in Need: Decide to encourage together! Volunteer together. Have a 'girls lunch' to make cards for the homeless to encourage them or to write letters to women staying a local women's shelter. Take brownies to the local fire department, police station, or maybe even the night staff at the ER to thank them for all their hard work.

The Closet: One weekend have your friend come over and help you go through your closet. Get advise on new ways to put outfits together, or how to accessorize, or what to give away. Later make plans to go to her place to do the same. Nothing like bonding over fashion.

Say Cheese! Grab a disposable camera, grab your best friend and go outside and take pictures. It's great in the Springtime! Go to inspiring parks, wide open fields of flowers, local lakes. Then drop the camera off at some place that has one-hour development, as for double prints and take off for lunch/dinner. Pick the pictures up afterwards. I know two ladies in our campus ministry who just did this and posted the pictures on facebook. The photos were beautiful!

Summer fun: One of my favorite memories is sitting in my backyard with one of my best friends, in bathing suits and relaxing in the sprinkler with ice tea during a hot summer day. Or you can go to the pool or a lake close by and chill with a snow cone. This simple activity allows plenty of time for girl talk.

Living Legacy: Plant a friendship tree or maybe some type of perennial flowers to celebrate your friendship. Then on the anniversary each year of the 'planting' think about celebrating with a weekend as friends :)

Afternoon Tea: Spoil yourselves by setting up an afternoon tea with your closest friends. Dress in your fancy cotton dresses, hats, even gloves, and enjoy some tea and simple snacks. Some ideas are strawberries, finger sandwiches, dark chocolates. You can find dainty tea cups at local thrift stores or antique malls for a reasonable cost or invite them to bring their own favorite tea cup :) Too much work? Go to a local antique mall that has a tea room.

Summertime Christmas: Don't wait until the end of the year to celebrate. Turn down the AC, bundle up on the couch and watch Christmas movies. Bake cookies, exchange encouraging's nice to have the Christmas Spirit and celebrate Christ even when the temperature is blaring hot.

Want more ideas? Check out this amazingly creative site: Girlfriend

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Company You Keep

Bust of Menander
Have you ever heard of Menander? He was a Greek poet and dramatist who was best-known as a representative of Athenian New Comedy. Actually, he was the author of more than a hundred comedies. Would you be surprised to learn that you might have read a quote of his? At least, this is true if you've read the book of 1 Corinthians. Paul quotes Menander when he says, "Bad company corrupts good character."

Ah, friends! It's so important to have good ones. They see you through "the good, the bad, and the ugly" of life. I have been pretty fortunate to have some really good friends, especially over the past few years, who are spiritual, devoted, and loving.

The company you keep is important and it does matter! This is an unchanging fact. Those we choose to give our time to will either lift us up or drag us down. This makes it very valuable to have spiritual friends because good company promotes good character! We need their encouragement and, truth be told, we need to have them call our bluff sometimes. A real friend can do that because they are good company. I have found them to be honest and kind, in their encouragement and in their criticism. For me, my truest friends have their own unique and personal relationships with God. These women, who love God first, tend to love me truest.

Don't get me wrong, I've made a lot of mistakes and chosen wrong friends in the past but I've learned and my life has grown to have some truly deep friendships. They tend to be all over the country now, because God moves them all around, but they are cherished by me just the same.

I guess this is on my heart because my best friend is moving on the 29th of this month to another state. My dear sister, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

I'm a better woman, daughter, and disciple of Jesus because of my precious friendships. Dear reader, I pray you'll strive to keep good hard at's worth both your time and energy. Maybe you've not talked to a dear friend lately or maybe it's been a while since you've encouraged your friend that's it now :)

Never wait until life moves you forward.

Monday, April 16, 2012

God: Your anchor during changes...

Below is a story from one of my closest friends & spiritual sisters. Enjoy!   
God: Your anchor during changes...

In less than a month, I'm packing up my belongings and driving 1,300 miles to start a new job. I have So Many Feelings. I'm excited to see God work in this way after months of praying and waiting for this opportunity. I'm sad about all the Good I'll be leaving behind. I'm nervous about the uncertainty that lies in a new place. Will I make good friends? Will I like my new job? With those thoughts, I turn to the Bible which has wisdom on many of life's adventures and challenges.

In the book of Deuteronomy, God gives the Israelites instructions on how to take possession of their promised land. They decide not to go, after hearing reports about the dangers along the path, even though God had already assured them they would not be defeated by the obvious obstacles. Their leader, Moses, says this in response:
"..Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them. The LORD your God, who is going before you will fight for you, as he did in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the desert. There you saw how the LORD your God carried you, as a father carries his son..." Deuteronomy 1:29-31 [NIV]

With fear in their hearts, the Israelites decided not to follow God's path. They wandered the desert for forty years, when the journey should have taken eleven days. Many of them died on the way. That is really... sad. And Moses had given them a simple solution to help them get over their worries: To remember that God would fight for them because he already had.

And that's what I'm going to do. And that's my advice to any one who is dealing with a Big Change or a Hard Time. I can trust that God will take care of me in this new land, because God has already carried me through so much more than this. So many of the good things in my life are not things I was initially pursuing when I started college. I wasn't planning to become a Christian, to do my current job, or to pursue a graduate degree in social work. And yet, I wouldn't change any of it. Some practicals that are helping me through this time are:

1) Taking the time to write down things God has provided for me;
    specifically things that I was not planning or expecting.
2) Praying and staying vulnerable with God and close friends about my fears
3) Being flexible and open to opportunities that appear,
    and trusting that 'my path' isn't the only way to go
3) Focusing on this: "This hope [Jesus, God's promises, God's love]
    is strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.." Hebrews 6:19 [NLT]

Everything is going to change quickly. The big things: my church family, my friends, my job -- and the small things: my furniture, my cute apartment, my local hangouts. I quickly imagine that the change of these Constants will rock my world. However, the truth is only God is strong enough to anchor my life. I already feel refreshed knowing I can cling to Him to keep sane during this time.

"You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head... I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence!" -- Psalm 139:5, 7 [NLT]

God can not be contained in a box, so luckily, I don't have to figure out a way to fit him in the car.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Doxasoma® & Prayer Breathing

In my seemingly never-ending quest for better health, I have found that I really enjoy yoga. It calms me after a long day and stretches my muscles extremely well. Normally, when the instructor (usually on a video) would suggest visuals to 'see a golden bubble of light around you and in your core know that you are divine'...well, I'd just focus on the Spirit or pray.

But sometimes, don't you just get tired of filtering?!  I sure do. So I went searching for exercise programs that focused on the One True God. That's when I came across 'Doxasoma®.' Their website states that, "DoxaSoma® is a physical practice which incorporates elements of stretching and strength building with prayer, worship and reflection upon the Word of God. The word DoxaSoma® is comprised of 2 Greek words: Doxa, meaning "praise or honor" - Soma, meaning "body." DoxaSoma was developed in 2000 by Angela Doll Carlson, an ACE certified personal trainer."

YES! This was just what I was looking type exercise with a focus on the Truth. I've also found some DVD's for walking at home with a Christian focus. It's been great to push myself in exercise and have scriptures pop up on screen. HA.

Anyway, it was during one of these work outs with a focus on God where I was first introduced to what I generally describe as prayer breathing. Basically, it's repeating silently some scripture or prayer in one full breath. For example:

Breathe in: " My help comes"
Breath out: "from the LORD"


Breathe in: "Jesus is the"
Breath out: "bread of my life."


Breathe in: "Be at rest"
Breath out: "O my soul."

I use prayer breathing a lot at work, or when I'm stressed, or even when I am sad and prayers of any sort of length escape me. A quote by an unknown author says, "When you own your breath, nobody can steal your peace." I want God to own my breath and I want even my time of exercise to be a way to connect with Him. If you've found exercsie programs with a focus on God, please share...I'm always looking for more.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Tears Are Not Created Equal

Today I came across an article called, "How to Stop Yourself from Crying." It gave 31 different techniques to help you stuff your emotions when you feel like crying. As a repenting 'emotional stuffer'...well, I find this article extremely sad.

After becoming a Christian, I developed a bunch of questions to help myself get in touch. (You can find that post here) I very much desire to be soft hearted. God has given me great victory in this area since now I'm more apt to share my emotions and even my tears with others! Although, just last week, I found myself getting emotional while I was driving and I actually snapped my fingers and stopped crying. So, needless to say...I still have a long way to go in learning not to stuff.

Some of you have no problem this might seem an odd topic but I know there are other 'tough' girls who have somehow bought into the lie that crying is a weakness. In Psalm 56:8 it's written, "You [LORD] keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book." So for you girls like me...go to and look up the words, 'tears' to see who talks about their tears and how often they share them. It is OKAY to cry and show your emotions. This study has encouraged me so much in remembering God created me and he created you to be soft-hearted.

For the Geek:
Here's a bit of scientific information you might find cool. These articles show that not all tears are created equal: "Not all tears are of the emotional variety. In fact, three types of tears exist, all with different purposes. Basal tears are omnipresent in our eyes. These constant tears are what keep our eyes from drying out completely. The second type is reflex tears, which serve to protect the human eye from harsh irritants such as smoke, onions or even a very strong, dusty wind. The third type of tears are emotional tears. It all starts in the cerebrum where sadness is registered. The endocrine system is then triggered to release hormones to the ocular area, which then causes tears to form. In fact, one study collected both reflex tears and emotional tears (after peeling an onion and watching a sad movie, respectively). When scientists analyzed the content of the tears, they found each type was very different. Reflex tears are generally found to be about 98 percent water, whereas several chemicals are commonly present in emotional tears. [Article link here]

Another source expanded on this and said, "It's been shown that tears associated with emotion have higher levels of some proteins, and of manganese and potassium, and hormones, including prolactin than mere eye watering. Manganese is an essential nutrient, and too little can lead to slowed blood clotting, skin problems, and lowered cholesterol levels. Too much can also cause health problems. Potassium is involved in nerve working, muscle control and blood pressure. Prolactin is a hormone involved in stress and plays a role in the immune system and other body functions. Its involvement in tears may help to explain why women cry more than men." [Article link here]

Obviously, we NEED emotional tears for our health! When you are tempted to stuff your tears, remember they serve a purpose, one that God created and even keep us in continued good health!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Be a faucet, not a drain

This visual really helps me. I have to remind myself so often, "Hey, a faucet not a drain." It can be so easy to be a complainer. This is something I really have to watch out for in my character. Sometimes I find myself complaining about negative things others have shared with me and then realize I've never even experienced it! Weird. Well, we all know what a drain does. Put simply, it empties but a faucet on the other hand...fills! 

Today I'm looking for ways to "fill" those around me? Would you take this challenge with me to find two people to encourage, inspire or cheer? Here are some scriptures & quotes for thought.

Everyone smiles in the same language. ~Author Unknown

Skipping gives the adult a well-deserved break and lets the inner child be in charge for a while. ~Opal Montagne

One filled with joy preaches without preaching. ~Mother Teresa

Laughter is an instant vacation. ~Milton Berle

Jumping for joy is good exercise. ~Author Unknown

You're never too old to do goofy stuff. 
~From the television show Leave it to Beaver,
spoken by the character Ward Cleaver

Go alot at people today! Let your inner child & fun personality fill others with laughter! Today, I imagine that God has turned on the faucet handle full blast with the intention that I fill others up and refesh them. I hope you'll join me. 

“So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.”
1 Thessalonians 5:11

“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works."
Hebrews 10:24-25

“Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.”
Ephesians 4:29

“Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.”
Galatians 6:2

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Becoming a New Creation (pt 2)

Today is a part two the lesson from yesterday. Enjoy! 
Caterpillar Background continued:

Eat and Grow
The butterfly’s next stage of life after the egg is a larva, which we also know as a caterpillar. In this stage, the caterpillar can grow to 5 times its original size and is constantly shedding skin to accommodate its new body. Its main purpose in this stage is to eat and grow. The little caterpillar stores energy that prepares it for the transformation. We must do the same.
Scripture Breakdown of Isaiah 55:1-3
Becoming a new creation is NOT self help or self improvement. It’s allowing God to recreate you and bring you into union with himself. What does that require of you? First, simply “Come.” Go to him, “give ear,” “listen.” Read his word and put it into practice, get to know him. The imagery is beautiful! He says “you who have no money, come buy and eat” That’s the real God. Constantly beckoning us though he knows who we really are and what we have to offer. Not much.

The promise is, if you go to him, your soul will live! Deep down inside, a full meaningful life is what we all really want. We just don’t know how to get it. If Satan can have you constantly recalculating from relationship, to job, to new fad diet in search of fulfillment, you miss out on the true answer. Going to God.
My Personal Story -
It’s important for me to share that there will be obstacles. It may be other people and what they think of you, your schedule, or maybe your very own feelings. As women, our emotions can influence us powerfully. Something I “eat” to help me push past this is a scripture in Jeremiah that says “the heart is deceitful above ALL things and without cure who can comprehend it?" This verse helps me to realize that DESPITE my feelings, which God says lie to my face, I can pursue him. Make this decision.
We’ve always viewed the transformation from caterpillar to butterfly as a beautiful thing yet if we view it on a biological level, it’s actually quite gross and uncomfortable. Some organs are growing, others disappearing. Tissue and exoskeleton are being broken down. Let's face it, change can be uncomfortable but don’t mistake comfort for peace. Comfort often fights against peace. None of us here would support a caterpillars decision to stay a caterpillar because it was too afraid, lazy, busy, or uninformed to take steps to becoming a butterfly. Let's not accept that from ourselves or each other. God has a beautiful plan for your life. Allow him to transform you.
A Practical? Get to know God through prayer and studying your bible. If you need help, ask someone you trust. God rewards humility!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Becoming a New Creation (pt 1)

I've asked some young women who are learning amazing lessons in their walk with God if they would be guest bloggers sometimes for Silver Trumpets. As is the case today, every once and awhile you'll read thoughts from someone besides me. Prayerfully this will create an even richer experience! Below is a story from a very inspiring and faithful sister in Christ who shared at a recent "Women's Day" celebration. 

The butterfly was chosen as the visual representation of our theme “A New Creation” because it undergoes a very famous transformation from caterpillar to butterfly. I believe we can learn a few things from its life as we explore the question, “How do we take steps towards becoming a new creation?”
Examine Your Foundation:

A Caterpillar's Background 
The butterfly’s first stage of life is an egg implanted on a leaf by its mother. The mother takes great care in choosing where to lay her eggs because once they’ve hatched the caterpillars begin to eat the leaf. Certain species can only eat specific leaves, so if the mother puts the eggs on the wrong foundation this could result in malnourishment and even death. I believe it’s the same for us spiritually so our first step in becoming a new creation is examining our foundation.

My own story -
I never went to church growing up and only occasionally read the bible. My image of God was based on here-say and insecurities. I viewed him like a judge; pleased with me when I was good, disappointed and angry when I was bad. I needed to have people think well of me so I could think well of myself. This attitude lead me into a lot of lying and manipulation. Even when people did love me, it rarely felt real, because I believed I MADE them love me by creating someone they would love instead of being myself. I didn't know if they loved the real me. One day I was met by a young woman named Savanah. We studied the bible and with God’s word, plus her example making it real, I realized my life was built on:
  1. A god I created that could be manipulated into loving me through my good works
  2. Upholding my image
  3. Maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain
Scripture Breakdown of Matthew 7:24-27
The two individuals in these verses chose different foundations and it made ALL the difference in their lives. They had more in common than not. Both heard Jesus’ words, both were building houses, and both encounter storms. I used to think this scripture was about a person who believed in Jesus and one who did not. Not so. What made one wise and one foolish is that one “put his [Jesus] words into practice” while the other did not.

We are building something whether we realize it or not. "Sand" can come in many forms not just disbelief. Other examples are laziness, fear of change, fear of being exposed, ignorance of the truth, holding onto comfort, “too busy” to get to know God, self reliance etc...

Two great questions to ask yourself is, “Does God’s word guide my life? Am I lead by my relationship with him?”

God’s desire is to give you a full, meaningful, and inspiring life which is free from sin. Becoming a new creation begins when YOU acknowledge that you have been building on the wrong foundation; which is any other foundation besides Jesus and his teachings.

to be continued...tomorrow's post will be part 2!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Speaking God's Word

Today, since it's Good Friday, I desired a simple post. Because repetition works well to secure something deeply in our hearts and minds, I thought I'd encourage you with a simple repetition I do. Based on Deuteronomy 23:5, speak this sentence out loud, with conviction, and repeat while each time stressing a different word.

The Lord, my God, loves me.
The Lord, my God, loves me.
The Lord, my God, loves me.
The Lord, my God, loves me.
The Lord, my God, loves me.
The Lord, my God, loves me!

May today be filled with joy for you as you hold onto this scripture with conviction. I hope you'll look for other verses to speak today as well. :)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Praying Blessings All Around

I was reading the other day about the practice of blessing and it was inspiring! For many years, I have prayed silent blessings over people (especially children). Here are some other ideas...

Bless Strangers Quietly: "Another practice invites us to bless strangers quietly, secretly. Offer it to people you notice on the street, in the market, on the bus. 'May you be happy. May you be at peace.' Feel the blessing move through your body as you offer it. Notice how you both receive some benefit from the blessing. Gently, almost without effort, each and every blessing becomes a Sabbath." by Wayne Muller

Bless food: Pray for blessings that the food you eat nourish you, sustain you, and energize you! Also, "Blessings around food gently remind us that we are fragile, dependent human beings who cannot create our own sustenance." by Howard Cooper

Say Bless You: "Very often now, instead of saying 'Thank you,' I say, 'Bless you,' and people appreciate it much, much more. Last week, for instance, someone responded, 'I could use a blessing.' " by Toinette Lippe

Bless a Child: Mine are never this elaborate but this was beautiful.  "Welcome, dearest child, welcome to your two families, rich heritages converging in you. There never has been, there never will be anyone like you. You are unique! Welcome to this world — so finely formed and fragile yet amazingly tenacious and abundant...Freely and gladly accept the bounty it offers. Welcome to the marvelous era in which you were born. It promises wondrous possibilities. You have before you unimaginable frontiers, great discoveries, and new meanings. Seize your days!" by Edward Searl

Bless Your Job: Pray spiritual blessings, financial responsibility, growth and success to your job (company) and those you work with during the day.

A Poem: Make Me a Blessing
Make me a blessing to those that I meet
Make me a blessing as I walk down the street
Make me a blessing this day, even this hour
Make me a blessing. It lies in your power.
Make me a blessing at work and at home
Make me a blessing wherever I roam
Make me a blessing that people may see
I am a blessing for you are with me."

Bless God: You read right. The KJV has many scriptures with the phrase "bless the Lord." Nowadays newer versions write it as "praise the Lord" but in a scripture like Psalm 115:18 ( the words in Hebrew for these two phrases are different. In a sense, when applied to God, it's like you are saying "may that which is good be given back to You. (adapted from Richard Roper) I've found myself talking to God and giving him praise, telling Him that I hope He has a good day today, and that He's happy.

These are just a few ideas...the options are endless...but please share if you have more ideas! May the rest of the day be full of prayers focused on blessings for others.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Going Barefoot

Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.
~Exodus 3:5

"Elsie is 96 years old. The Band-Aid-pink lipstick defines pencil-thin lips that are upward at the corners when she sees me. She rarely leaves Morningside Retirement Center, but still dresses in handsomely coordinated separates and pearl earrings. Her hair is softly coiffed, unlike the tightly curled and sprayed styles of her peers. She exudes contentment. I try to sit close to her, thinking it might be contagious. Elsie has never been married and has lived all of her life in Nashville. She went to high school barely two miles from where she lives now. And she tells me about what used to be on the corner before Vanderbilt University mowed it down and put up brick buildings on it. It seems funny to me that, at 96, she doesn't tell me about all of her accomplishments or what she did for a living. In fact, after all of the times I've visited with her, I still don't know where she worked or what things made her feel significant. But when I asked her if, upon reflection, she would do anything differently in her life, she says,

'Yes. I would laugh and go barefoot more.'

I'm not 96, only 44. Maybe there is still time for me.

I wonder why I hadn't thought of this myself. But I have been very busy trying to be very busy in pursuit of fulfillment and contentment. Too busy to go barefoot on purpose, I have been busy trying to be a grown-up, doing things and making lists of things to do, hoping that at the end of all this doing there would be a reward of some sort, one that said, 'You are a really good person, and by the way, good job being busy.'

....God modeled rest for us. Genesis chapter two tells us that he laboured for six days, and on the seventh he rested. God balanced work with rest in a healthy rhythm. He created for six days, then guiltlessly ceased from his labor. He stepped back from all of it and enjoyed, or feasted, on what he had done. It wasn't that God was so exhausted that he needed a nap. He is not vulnerable to a tiring body. But he did model for us a pattern, called Sabbath, of ceasing from our labors in order to rest.

...God spoke to Moses through a bush that was burning. 'Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is hold ground.' ...Let's remember that Sabbath was the first thing God declared to be holy. He declared his work of the first six days 'good,' but he named the day of rest 'holy.' In sabbath moments, when we take the time to catch our breath, God reveals himself. And these moments are holy. So we must take off our sandals. It seems that Elsie is right - we must go barefoot more often. Make no mistake, learning to practice sabbath is a discipline. It requires a reordering of priorities to achieve rest...So I am learning to reorder priorities and schedule in sabbath time...I am taking permission to pause and rest. I am laughing more easily, and now I only buy shoes I can slip out of quickly."

I highly recommend this book by Kim Thomas called, "Even God Rested." In this book, she provides her personal story of learning about sabbath rest and also gives great 'bite-sized' tips on what to 'cease' from and what to 'feast' on.

I've literally read the book about 10 times over. In fact, I read it so much that I had to purchase two new copies! (one to lend out) The above quotes are an excerpt from the introduction.

Dearest reader, if you can relate at all to these words of Bilbo Baggins from Tolkien's Lord of the Rings..."Why, I feel all thin, sort of stretched, if you know what I mean: like butter that has been scraped over too much bread..." ...then it's time for some sabbath rest.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Journal Ideas

This is a simple subject but since there are so many invigorating benefits to using a journal it seems appropriate to give this topic its own little post. Do you have a journal? Do you have tons? HA. There are so many different kinds of journals you can keep. Some ideas are:

  • one of lessons you've heard or bible studies you have done
  • a journal about all the things you are grateful for from day to day
  • one with just your prayers for others (I knew a woman once who did this and would write the date next to answered prayers. She'd look back on it when her faith was a little low)
  • a journal of your thoughts and recording the day
  • a journal without words; if you are extremely visual, have a journal of pictures, articles you've cut out of magazines, or drawings to inspire you

Personally, mine tend to be words with pictures thrown in them and some doodles. I purchase small ones so they fit in my purse and I can write or paste in a picture whenever inspiration strikes. Mostly, I journal and talk to God...sometimes to spice things up I read a psalm and rewrite it in my own words and situations. Options are bountiful! For me, the best aspect of keeping a journal has been to be able to pick one up when times are hard and get refreshed.

I did research and found other approaches for getting your mind flowing when using a journal:
  1. Summarize your day in 20 words or less.
  2. Write out, print, or paste the lyrics to your favorite songs into your journal. (maybe see if you can find any scriptures that might match that theme)
  3. Every day write the best thing that happened that day.
  4. Write one thing you should really stop doing then find motivating quotes, scriptures, or write prayers about it. On other days write about all the positive changes you've made and how far you've come!
  5. Include quotations by your favorite famous person, or someone you admire.
  6. Record important news from the day and journal prayers about it.
  7. Write down 3 things that you’re thankful for each day and why.
  8. Record ideas for a bible subject you'd like to teach about and then study it out.
  9. Going through a rough time? Every once and awhile, go ahead and journal about it. Be real! King David was when writing his psalms. Just try to get back to the positive when you can.
  10. Look at something around you and describe it thoroughly. Don't just talk about the way it looks. How does it smell, taste and feel?
  11. Make lists of people that have inspired you and pray for them.
  12. If you could tell your younger self positive things, what would they be? Journal about it.
Want more thoughts on how journaling helps? Check this out: 100 Benefits of Journaling written by: John Robson and Patrice Steen

    Monday, April 2, 2012

    The Word that Changed Me

    Many things happened in 1998 that changed my life. I said "yes" to going to church for the first time in a long time and "yes" to letting Christian women into my life to teach me the bible. I would say "hit the road" to my boyfriend of two years who decided not to follow God and "goodbye" to my old way of living. It was a whirlwind of change...and though the above descriptions sound simple it was HARD change.

    I have deep convictions now about God's word. Looking back over my years as a Christian, the bible has been the BEST foundation. A lovely woman named Simone studied the bible with me and during our first bible study she shared scriptures about the Word of God. At the end, she asked me a question, "If you read scriptures in the bible that tell you to live your life differently than how you are now, will you try to change and follow what God says?"

    My simple answer of "yes" to that question was the first step toward a brand new life. For example, during a following study we read 1 Cor. 13: 4-8a and I was challenged on if my boyfriend really loved me. How could I say that he did when it was so obvious that nothing in our immoral relationship reflected what God says love is?  But how dare anyone say he didn't love me? In fact I was so mad, I contemplated throwing her out of my house! But as we sat there together silently, I came to realize that the fact was she wasn't saying it...God was saying it and she was only showing me the scriptures. So God brought me back in that very moment to my own spoken word. Would I change my life if I saw it didn't match the bible? Was I going to be a woman of my word? I had to be! I had to change! Dear reader, this continues to make all the difference - no matter what has come up in my life.

    Clinging to God's word is what has helped me come to convictions about all kinds of things from: what a true follower of Jesus is, or why we must get baptized and understand what we are doing, to how powerfully God brings us near him through Jesus' death on the cross and what a true church of believers looks like in God's eyes.

    In a world full of pride and religious confusion, only clinging to what God's word says, (ALL of his word and not just picking or choosing scriptures that make me feel good) has kept me faithful and grounded. So I have a few verses below for you to read and consider, no matter where you are in your walk with God. I pray your heart will be open to soaking them all in deeply. :)

    Luke 11:27-29: As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.” He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”

    Word of God Study

    1.    2 Tim 3:16-17 Usefulness even today.

    2.    Hebrews 4:12-13 (2 Peter 1:20-21) Relevant to your life.

    3.    James 1: 19-25 "Do what it says!"

    4.    Mark 7:1-13 Human traditions vs. obeying God's word.

    5.    1 Tim 4:16 We must have both right life & doctrine.

    6.    John 12: 44-48 God's word will be our judge in the last day.

    Jeremiah 9:23-24 (NIV84)
    This is what the LORD says: “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom
    or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me,
    that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth,
    for in these I delight,” declares the LORD.