Friday, September 28, 2012

Notes for Strangers


The other day there were memo notes left on some mirrors in the building where I work.

So, I ended up researching this idea and found a site called operationbeautiful.com  which encourages women to do that very thing. It inspired me so much that I'm thinking maybe I will do this around town? Maybe I could leave something encouraging on a restaurant mirror, or on a gas station pump, or maybe even on a bus stop bench? Any suggestions?


Hebrews 3:13
But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,”...

Romans 12:6 & 8
We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.
If your gift is...to encourage, then give encouragement.

2 Corinthians 13:11
Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace.
And the God of love and peace will be with you.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Overcome Evil with Good!

Encouragement cards for young women living at YWCA
“Love” Romans 12:9-21
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

PRACTICAL:
Is my love sincere?
  • I’m called to hate evil. Do I watch TV shows, listen to music, or watch movies that promote evil?
  • Devoted: Am I loving and loyal to those around me?
  • In what ways do I honor others above myself? 
  • Disheartened? What ways can I still show zeal & spiritual fervor to serve the Lord?
  • When was the last time I gave something to someone in need?
  • When was the last time I invited someone into my home and served them?
  • Am I sensitive and understanding to the needs of others or what they are going through? Maybe I should ask them!
  • Write down some ideas of ways I can overcome evil with Good:

I hope you get to spend some time being faithful in prayer today, especially about the love we are called to have as disciples of Christ :) and also praying about whatever situation you find yourself in where you need to be joyful in hope & patient in affliction.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Journal of Daily Greats


I've been keeping a new journal on my bedside table. It's not a journal of my random thoughts or even a gratitude journal, per se, like the ones you hear about so often. This journal is where I'm recording at least 3 great things that happened each day.

For some reason, it's easy for me to remember all the things that went wrong during a day. I lay down for the night and my mind starts racing about how I burnt the toast, I forgot to send that email, or the disagreement I had with someone. Honestly, that's silly and no way to live! To combat this type of thinking I decided that I would instead focus on all the great things that happened. I've listed stuff like:

  • I worked hard today and earned every bit of my paycheck
  • Connected with that person I had been praying for and got shared my faith
  • Resisted buying that expensive ring I didn't need
One day I even wrote: drank more water today than normal!

haha

This is just a little way for me to celebrate and really focus on the positive. Some scriptures I'm using to encourage me are:

Finally, brothers & sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)

The cheerful heart has a continual feast. (Proverbs 15:15)

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Be...Here.


I saw this marvelous picture on "Pinterest" the other day. I'm guilty...ya know, you're hanging out with a friend, or family, or in a work meeting and yet you are taping away on your cell phone/ipad/whatever screen really spending time with someone else and mentally in someplace else. I know I get frustrated when someone does it to me but I can also be so glued to my cell phone or computer...soooo guilty!

There is something to be said for LIVING IN THE MOMENT (even the phrase falls off the tongue like a happy waterfall). I'll soon get to put into practice this very picture because there's an "All Girls Getaway" coming up. I'm going to have some hang time with some special woman who have really taken care of me. No, I mean really taken care of me...calling me, hanging out with me, fixing us dinner, helping me clean the house and even picking up tree limbs or sawing fallen limbs in half to be carried away! Since I've been sick these women and our relationships have been priceless.

During the trip we are going to be focused on building memories, adventure, relaxing and getting spiritually fed. Woo-hoo!!!! But you don't need a getaway to do this, in fact, even though I'm sooo looking forward to the getaway, I can't let myself forget to enjoy the right now. Won't you join me today? Let's live in the moment! We can practice it right now.. as you enjoy reading these quotes below, tonight at dinner, when a coworker steps into the office to talk, or even when we notice the first rays of the sun beaming in...ahhh, wonderful moments!

Thank you Stephanie M, Angie, Ivonne, and Nikki. May God remember your kindness to me and bless you double. 

Quotes:

With the past, I have nothing to do; nor with the future.  I live now.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

The living moment is everything.  ~D.H. Lawrence

Forever is composed of nows.  ~Emily Dickinson

As you wait for better days, don't forget to enjoy today, in case they've already started. ~Robert Brault

Life is always walking up to us and saying, "Come on in, the living's fine," and what do we do?  Back off and take its picture.  ~Russell Baker

...and probably what's been one of my all time favorite quotes:

May you live all the days of your life.  ~Jonathan Swift

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

All Hat, No Cattle

In Texas, someone who is described as "all hat and no cattle" means they are 'claiming' to be something without having or doing what it takes to actually 'be' what they are claiming.

In "Walden" Thoreau says, "There are nowadays professors of philosophy, but not philosophers. Yet it is admirable to profess because it was once admirable to live. To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts...It is to solve some of the problems of life, not only theoretically, but practically."

A few weeks ago, I had a long phone call with a best friend who helps me talk through situations. I tend to realize things, while talking through 'life' with her, that I didn't even know I was dealing with in my heart. That day, my heart hurt and as we talked I found myself saying...

"I think some of the people at work would not call me a Christian. They would say I love God...but a Christian? No."

Shocking? I've worked at my job for over 6 years and I've shared my faith, shared my struggles, shared my victories, shared what my life as a disciple of Christ is like but I'm around people daily who profess faith in Jesus yet as a daily practice disagree with and disregard God's word. All cross necklace and no Christ? All hat, no cattle.

But as my friend and I talked through it all, she mentioned that even though it's hard and hurts my heart, it is actually a good thing, especially in the 'bible belt,' that some wouldn't call me a Christian. The reason? Because the definition of a Christian nowadays is seriously skewed and not bible based. Many "Christians" have a non-practicing, TV version of..."you should be nice but shouldn't pull out the bible to help me, and no one is perfect so God doesn't expect me to try" version of Christianity. They have been mistaught and hold to misteaching often because they've not yet taken the time to read and study much less live out for themselves what God says. I know, because until I was 25 years old, I was guilty of that very thing. My heart hurt because I look around and see the "old me" in others and understand why they want to skip the challenges and hold only to verses that give warm fuzzies.

Yet, deep within me now, I want to be the woman who will share encouragements and also the biblical truth and it is that fact, in talking with those around me at work, that makes them not call me a 'true Christian.' God's been merciful to me by sending people in my life then and now who remind me to not just read the bible, to not just study the bible, but to LIVE the bible.

My Dearest God, please help me to keep having courage to share all of your word and not just the parts that would make me well-liked or beloved to others. Please help me live it myself. Help people who are reading this post, not just to take my word or (anyone's word) for everything, but to pick up the bible themselves and take Your Word for it. Help me...help us not to be all cross necklace and no Christ. Help us not just SAY we are your disciples but to actually BE your disciples. Help us to not just study your word but to LIVE your word... even if that first step needs to start today! In Jesus' name, Amen.

Monday, September 17, 2012

He Hears Us...

pic from http://www.flickriver.com/photos/christianmontone/4000690499/
Have you ever prayed "against" or in opposition of something? This may be a concept you've not thought of before, although I bet you pray against more things than you realize. I do tread lightly with these types of prayers so let me give you an example.

A few months ago, a new billboard picture popped up in a small town I pass through on my way to work. I think it advertises a clothing line? Anyway, the reason I don't really know what it advertises is because all it shows is a woman with her clothes on but in a very seductive sexual position. My first thought was 'whoa' and I turned my eyes away. You see, I'm a single Christian gal and I don't want or need extra visuals in my head to cause me to struggle with my purity! Most days I'm very disciplined and don't look, sometimes I forget it's there and I happen to notice it then I have to look away again. Arg! I was getting very frustrated so I started talking to God about it.

As I prayed, I remembered that about nine years ago almost the same thing happened. I lived in a different area, drove to a different job but on my way to work there was this stupid billboard advertising for a "gentleman's club" and it use to make me struggle. Back then, I began praying to God against that billboard...that it would be changed, that it would get destroyed somehow...anything...because it was not only making His little one struggle but because satan would use it to draw in others. A few weeks later it was gone!

So I began praying 'against' this new billboard that has been a small thorn in my walk with Him lately. And guess what...this morning it is changed! Now the woman is more of a ballerina type. *celebration!*

Isn't God wonderful?! I so appreciate that He took care of it! It's such a small item in the grand scheme of things. If God hadn't changed it then I would have just kept on doing those things I needed to keep doing because I know that God won't do all the work for us - we have to be disciplined, diligent, and have convictions. Still.. I wanted to spend time praising Him for it anyway! His little reminder to me that He hears us...that He does protect us and that God is on our side. Yay! My heart is lifted!

John 17:14-16 (NIV) Jesus' prayer:
"I [Jesus] have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it."

1 John 5:14
"This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us."

Friday, September 14, 2012

Heaven - The Rose Without The Thorn

"Rose without a thorn"
You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them.
You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.

This amazing image by the Hubble Space Telescope shows the complex interaction between two galaxies known as UGC 1810 and UGC 1813. Go ahead, click the picture and simply gaze at it for a moment and reflect.

How often do you think about Heaven? If we turned our thoughts toward Heaven more, I believe that would change our perception of life now. There was a brother at church who would call me out of the blue and with excitement in his voice say, "Hey, just calling to say hi. Wanna talk about what Heaven might be like?" Each talk we had together we spoke about Heaven. Truly those conversations brought me so much peace and excitement. The main thought that always comes to my mind first about Heaven is being with God.

Try it! Take a look at scriptures with the word "Heaven" in them and talk about Heaven more! Ask others to dream with you about what it will be like to get to be with God, to see Him, to hear His laugh, to see the four creatures and meet those flawed yet faithful folks you read about in the bible, to sing songs to God with them and with angels by your side or to experience only joy, happiness, and fun. I hope that just thinking and talking about it makes your day a little easier.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Stress-Busters



Ha Ha. I saved this particular comic strip years ago because it has always made me chuckle. (sorry it stretches outside the page but I wanted to make sure you could read it) It's one of a set of comic strips I've collected that I might glance at when I'm stressed out.


Are you stressed? Lately, I've been reflecting on how much stress most of us feel, the majority of the time. Almost daily, we can experience extremely stressful moments. And sometimes, those moments affect us long after the event is over. Lingering results of stress haunt us.

In my family, we quote my "Uncle Walt's" favorite saying often. After a stressful week, he would often state, "Well...just don't let it ruin your weekend." I've found myself using that wisdom on a daily basis when something stressful comes along. "Okay, well just don't let it ruin your day." Besides the fact I know deep inside God doesn't want me to worry and live all stressed out!

Of course, you can do a simple internet search and find tons of ideas but here's what helps me:

  • Take a prayer walk - As poet William Stafford said: "Sometimes the truth depends upon a walk around the lake."
  • Go on a mental vacation; where would you go, what would you do?
  • Close your eyes for a few minutes and breath deeply. Here's a post on prayer breathing.
  • Recite a scripture you have memorized or read some inspiring verses for perspective. My favorite is Psalm 116 or Psalm 25!
  • Watch a silly animal video. - Like this one with funny cats
  • Look at the situation from a "10 years from now" perspective.
  • Talk the situation over with someone you trust.
  • Go to a quotes page and read inspiring quotes.
  • Take 5 minutes and think about the next item on your dream list.
Let's give up our tendency toward hand wringing! I'm praying specific prayers and doing a fast today for everyone who will read this post to be able to shake some stress they have been carrying lately. If you have any stress busters - please share them. :)

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Artistic Soul


God has so many sides to his character. One side that I really connect with is Him as an Artistic Creator! I can't even fully imagine how much fun God had creating everything.

I came across a video last week that I think is STUNNING. I watched it and found that I pictured myself as these women, then I relaxed and suddenly felt myself wanting to be creative too! I hope you take some time to watch at least some of it, reflect, and be reminded that everything you are seeing our God created...the places, the people, the animals...there is still such beauty in the world. :)

May it inspire your creativity, or relax you, or just help you dream big! Here's the video...


Friday, September 7, 2012

He Makes the Flowers Bloom

"Tend to God's business, He will tend to yours..."

~Joyce Meyer




This is a photo of my recently established Moonflower plant. Moonflower's bear large trumpet-shape flowers that open softly in the evening (or on overcast days) and stay open until the sun rises. Some are sweetly fragrant when open. This beautiful plant is also very heat- and drought-resistant which is perfect for my neck of the woods.

The Moonflower's large white flowers are in the same family as the morning glory and their vines have smooth blue–green leaves and grow very quickly. In fact, moonflower vines can grow up to 18 feet in one year! The plant gets its name not only from its nocturnal blooming habits but also because the opened flower looks like a full moon.

Recently, I read that the Moonflower symbolizes dreaming of love in the language of flowers. One article said that during the 19th century people actually held parties to watch these lovely nocturnal blossoms which can open fast right before your eyes.

Isn't it amazing that God made such a beautiful flower and made it to bloom at night with the moon when most people won't even see it? This morning it reminded me that God is constantly at work and 'tending' to LIFE! When I'm asleep, He is tending. When our edge of the world is dark, He is tending. When times are hard and we just don't know how to carry on, He's tending. Tending the large issues, tending the small, and even during all of that... He makes the flowers bloom. And with each new flower that opens on my Moonflower plant in my garden I will reflect warmly...God is dreaming of my love and I will dream of His.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Surrender & Surprise Blessings

I have been reading the story of Joseph over the past few days. One area of his character that amazes me is his trust. He got to a place of confidence in his life. In situations most people would see as only horrible, he saw that God was working through them and that they happened for a divine purpose.

A challenge for me is to go into my "frustrating" situations with that same full trust even though my problems are not near as serious as Joseph's. But God is teaching me. For example, like many homeowners - I have the nagging stress of maintenance. Trees need to be chopped down, fences mended, shower tile sealed, sink leaks corrected...etc.

These house problems (and other general situations of life) pop up and "whisper" to me, "You've gotta fix this!" However, there has been a prayer that I've been praying again lately that has brought me a lot of peace. During that recent huge wind storm which boasted 70 mph winds, the power was out and I was sitting in my dark living room on the floor. I prayed, "God, I can't protect our home from these winds. They are two big for me. If you want the house to not be damaged then you'll have to be the one to take care of it." This prayer of surrender has helped my heart with ALL the crazy situations that have come into my life lately.

"What? There is a chance of losing my job or being asked to drive to a location 30 minutes away to keep it? God, I'm working my hardest but if you want me to have this job, then it's gotta be you that works out the situation." God's answer - done.

"Taking that rotted tree down and cutting the stump out will cost $700?!? God, I don't have that money. It's too big for me - I can't protect the house from that tree or take it down. I'll do what I can but it's going to have to be you that finds a way." God's answer - done.

"God, my fences are really needing repair and I just can't take care of it now with all my medical bill expenses ...It'll have to just wait unless you find a way." God's answer - done.

"God I can't afford to fix the backyard's drainage problem by adding grass. Grass is too expensive. It'll have to wait until next year's budget." God's answer - done - now. :)

These are just faith building situations. God has been using them so that when situations come up where the answer is less obvious I can look back and trust. (Like, "God, I've shared my faith and your Word with that person but I can't save them. It's gotta be you that works in their life."

My job drama? Well, going into details would create a longer story but I can say that God took that drama "off the table" right now faster than anyone would have thought. Also, I came home a few weeks ago and my rotten fence was gone! The builder had decided to replace it for the new home that was just built behind my house. I got a new, FREE fence. Dad and I were able to remove the tree ourselves (totally with God's powerful arm reaching down to help and protect us because it took us at least 9 hrs). While we were out there working (on a Wed.) a young man got our attention through the fence and said, "Hey, we have a 1/2 pallet of grass back here that we can't use for this new house...would you like it?" Dad and I just looked at each other, jumped in his truck and now my drainage area is fixed (plus I was able to pay it forward but giving the remaining grass squares to a coworker's son who needed it.)

My point is not, pray this prayer and God will fix all your problems. My point is that I prayed this prayer and was brought to a place of peace. God just decided in these situations to fix the problems too. And for those amazing blessings I'm grateful. I see God working and can say with boldness too like Joseph did in Genesis 45 that it was God working. And even more - I'm thankful for the blessing of peace these prayers of surrender have provided to my heart.

Old fence suddenly gone

New free fence

Large tree that needed to be removed (closest to camera)

Done - will make stump into a side table once we completely remove it :) also making other small tables & coaster from some of the limbs.

New grass taking root around my brick path...

It'll be beautiful once it fills in - yeah for less drainage problems!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Wine Cork Blessings

I posted a request for things like mason jars, old windows, wood pallets and wine corks on a work web page where employees go to sell/buy items. I was totally blessed when a woman named Claire offered me two large bags of wine corks. Because of her generosity, I wanted to make sure I put them to good use!

Project #1 Wine Cork Mat:

A few weeks ago I bought a simple .99 cents table place setting and hot glued whole wine corks to it. I imagine it would be ten times stronger if they were cut in half so that you could glue the flat side but I was just experimenting. I had it in front of the stove for awhile because it felt good on my feet after a long day at work when I was standing there cooking. Now I've placed it by my back door and I go over and walk on it when my feet are sore. The other day, I saw the Trickle cat go over, stand in front of it and place just her front paws on the mat. Cats are funny imitators! Although I'm not certain how long it will last, I'm happy that my feet have benefited and I've gotten some laughs too. :)


Project #2 Wine Cork Mirror

Oooh, I really like this. I purchased a simple, full length, black framed mirror for $5...oh about 4 years ago and just this weekend decided to line it with wine corks. It took about 30 minutes. I arranged the corks first and then started hot gluing. Originally I wanted to double line it by gluing corks on both the inside of the frame and on the frame itself but the corks do not contrast enough against my fireplace brick so I let the black frame show.






It's very unique and will be perfect for a fall mantel. All in all, I'm pleased and most grateful for all the blessings that have come my way. More posts on those blessings to come!