Friday, September 28, 2012

Hope Positively

I have begun to declare positive words over my life and the lives of my family. God wants so much more for my life than what I've been living in. He wants so much more for YOUR life, too. Believe it because it's true. But as long as we keep speaking negativity ("That's just my luck," ~"I'm not talented in anything,"~ "I have no special skills," etc.) into our lives, we will never move forward. Every day, every situation, is another "ingredient" in our recipe of life. Another ingredient, we rise to another level. Like baking cookies. As long as you put all the ingredients in, the cookies bake up very nicely. Leave out an ingredient, like baking soda, and the cookies never rise. They ruin.

God's "baking soda" can raise you to a whole new level. But if you never put it in, you'll never rise to that level. You have to stay in His Word (read your Bible), you have to talk to Him (pray), and above all, you have to trust Him (have HOPE). 

"For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." ~Jeremiah 29:11

It sounds easier said than done, doesn't it? I'm learning, and I want to share this with you as well, that the more I put my trust in God and believe that He will come through on His promises, the better my life becomes. In fact, as I was stewing over what I thought was a problem, I opened a new book from Joel Osteen & read the following declaration:

I declare I will experience God's faithfulness. I will not worry. I will not doubt. I will keep my trust in Him, knowing that He will not fail me. I will give birth to every promise God put in my heart and I will become everything God created me to be. This is my declaration. (Joel Osteen, I Declare, Day Two 2012)

The story after the declaration was even more confirmation that I'm in the right place at the right time. Everything that I read was exactly what I had been going through at that moment. And God let me know that He was going to take care of it. He has it under control. I don't need to worry. 

Many of you today claim that you are worriers.  You worry over everything, and when there's nothing to worry about, you worry that you aren't worrying. Stop it! Instead, start claiming God's Word. Speak it out loud over your life. When you do, the most amazing things will begin to happen. 

"The Lord is my light and my salvation-- so why should I be afraid?" ~Psalm 27:1(a)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Beacon of Hope

Do you have HOPE? If you know Jesus, then you do. Or you should. Because frankly, our hope is in trusting that Jesus will do what He promised. And I have yet to read anywhere in the Bible where He ever went back on a promise. 

So what is hope? Hope is actually having faith and a whole lot more...

"Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see." ~Hebrews 11:1 (NLT) (emphasis mine)

God wants us to have hope. He wants us to believe in Him, believe He can and will change our circumstances, our lives. Hope is having a positive everything. Believe that God can change you and He will. But many times people begin to believe the lies of the world and the one in the world...the devil. And their lives become so hope-LESS that they give up. They have forgotten WHOM they belong to!

"Return to the stronghold [of security and prosperity], you prisoners of hope; even today do I declare that I will restore double your former prosperity to you." ~Zechariah 9:12 (AMP) (emphasis mine)

Becoming a prisoner of hope basically causes us to put all of our trust in God and believe that He will come through for us. It actually FREES us from the lies we believed in the past. It frees us from our anxieties, our despair, and that feeling of hopelessness.

When we trust in the Lord, we give Him permission to take over, so we don't have to worry about our lives. Trust. Faith. HOPE. Putting these into practice makes us capable of achieving great things in the very God Who made us, Who shines through our lives like a beacon to others. Who knows...putting hope into practice in our own lives just might give hope to someone else.

I think we should start a HOPE Epidemic...what do you think?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Grace, Who?

A2Z Meme and the Letter G...

... G is for Grace ...

Sometimes I just don't get it. I mean, I've heard it for so long, attribute it to my salvation experience, but actually GIVING it... well, sometimes I just don't get it. Grace. In the past, grace, to me was always a "who" not a "what." Grace, who? Where is she going? What is she going to do when she gets there? And just where is THERE? 

Then I met Jesus. Thing is, it took me the better part of 29 years to really figure out grace! For the longest time I thought "I'm saved. What more do I need?" I literally thought that's all there was to it. However, there's a whole other realm of not only grace, but forgiveness, learning, peace, love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Oh boy...

For the last three or four weeks, grace has been popping up everywhere I go. It started off three months ago with forgiveness. But God fixed that when He healed me of the brokenness I carried for nearly my entire life. Got that under control (hence this website), and now we turn to GRACE. What in the world?

"For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold From those who walk uprightly." ~Psalm 84:11

I get a few devotions in my email. For the last few weeks they have almost coincided with each other... Max Lucado, Proverbs 31 Ministries, Internet Cafe, just to name a few. Max even has a new book out. Wanna take a guess at the title? Grace. Topic of his devotions? Grace. Topic of many of the other devotions...grace. I see Facebook and Twitter posts from Joyce Meyer and Joel Osteen. Many of them are about... grace. Okay, okay, I get it! Grace. defines Grace this way: favor or goodwill, manifestation of goodwill, kindness, mercy, clemency, pardon

"But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: "God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble." ~James 4:6

In my "Journey to Forgiveness" I have learned how to forgive those who intimidated, oppressed and controlled me for many, many years. Now that I have figured that part out, the next step is to give them grace. To show them kindness. Show them love. Show them mercy, clemency, pardon. It does NOT mean that I allow them to treat me badly over and over. I have set boundaries so that doesn't happen again.

But grace is so much more than that in my book. Grace is not only saying, "I forgive you," but it's also saying, "I love you." You may be able to do this in person with some, maybe not with others. And there may be some who are not longer here, whom you're just going to have to give grace to their memory. But... If Jesus loved us so much to give us his forgiveness, grace and mercy, shouldn't we do the same for others?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Grumbling, Gossip, Grudges... and Chipped Shoulders

There are a lot of grumpy people in the world. I used to be one of them. Oh, I still get a little grumpy at times, but it doesn't last long and I can usually work through it and get over it in record time now. It wasn't always that way, though. See, there was a time when whatever someone said to me either made me angry, grumpy, or upset. I would then go through a process of re-living the moment over and over in my head, trying to figure out how I could have handled it better, or what I could have said differently to stop the insults and intimidation, or how I could have just avoided the situation entirely. Before long, I would have made myself so upset that I was sick!

Over the course of time, I just got to the point of immediately going on defense whenever someone wanted to talk to me. In addition to that, I incorporated an attitude of "strike first and get the upper hand." I had watched this from various family members, friends, and a few teachers, so I learned a great deal about intimidation and control. If I could "get my bluff in" on the people around me, then I maintained control. However, many times that backfired. Oh who am I kidding? It ALWAYS backfired! I had no idea that this was not the way to gain friends, or respect from anyone. In fact, what it did was quite the opposite. But of course, I learned the hard way.

"Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God, without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation..." ~Philippians 2:14-15a

Thank God that He never gave up on me! Jesus never meant for us to be alone or without friends. But it IS okay for us to get mad.... just don't sin in the process. Get over it and move on. There is no need to "get your bluff in" early, or at all. There is no need for grumbling, gossip, grudges, or even carrying a chip on your shoulder. Because all those things cause sickness. 

Whether it's upset stomach, headache, depression, or loneliness, we often become our own worst enemy when we try to blame everyone around us for our own mistakes. Then we try to drag others into our pit to try to gain support, often twisting the truth just so much as to turn the situation in our favor. We become very bitter people.

"Be angry, and do not sin." Do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil." ~Ephesians 4:26-27 

So learn from your mistakes! Let Jesus help you get over yourself. And let Him also help you with handling those around you who want to grumble, or gossip, or hold grudges, or try to chip at your shoulders with the chips on their own. Because frankly, you have no use for it. Get out of it, get over it, and let's continue down the road to forgiveness! You will be much happier when you do.

What could you let go of today?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Tying One On... At Church?!?

You better believe it! We tied one on at church... our aprons. Of course, tying on the 'ol apron was only part of the fun. The rest was being able to visit (we call it "Fellowship") with the other ladies, see all the different aprons they were wearing, and hearing some of the stories behind our aprons.

The meal was a wonderful conglomeration of dishes provided by everyone who attended. It was easy to overeat. Then again, how often do you attend a potluck and get to visit with precious, funny ladies and have a great time out for the evening? 

Of course, no ladies potluck is complete without loads of laughter. And let me tell you, these ladies did not disappoint! Because when the program began, that's when the laughs started too. Our program director, Norma Jean, handed everyone a small container with one "chewable Memory pill" (an M&M) and told us to take our pill, because we would need it later. Then she told us how aprons got their start and what they were used for "back in the day." 

Aprons were used as coverings. To protect from getting dirty. The first aprons (coverings) were mentioned in Genesis. They were used for Adam and Eve...

"Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings." ~Genesis 3:7

Of course, aprons were used for many other things as well; to protect Grandma's dress so it didn't get dirty. Because in the 1930's and 40's, Grandma didn't have many clothes. She would sew herself aprons to protect the ones she had. Many aprons were made from old flour sacks. The fabric was sturdy, yet soft and provided many years of use.

Some of the uses of Grandma's apron, in addition to protecting her dress, were to dry tears, to wipe the sweat from her brow as she worked. She would often use it as a potholder to take pies out of the oven. It was used to carry eggs in, or fussy chicks. Sometimes her apron would carry half-hatched eggs to the warmer so they could finish hatching. She would also carry apples or gather vegetables from the garden, or even pea hulls. Many times Grandma's apron served as warmth as she wrapped it around her arms. She would use it to wave to the men to call them in for dinner. Or to carry kindling so she could start the fire in her wood stove. It would also serve as a cleaner for dirty ears. If company showed up unexpectedly, her apron would become an impromptu dusting rag. But it would also serve as protection for shy children to hide behind.

No apron potluck is complete without a "Fashion Show" of sorts. We had eight models to walk the runway and show off aprons. As each model strutted her stuff, you could hear the laughter around the room. Each apron had a story, which was told in the poem Norma Jean read for each. However, none were as memorable as the one "only worn on the deck" in the summer. Words cannot describe this apron... you have to see it to believe it. But let's just say that the laughter turned to hoots and hollers as our dear sister, GiGi strutted and danced all around the room!

It was when the program turned to sharing our personal apron stories that the atmosphere changed. Especially when one Momma came forward to share her story. Sara made her apron out of one of her maternity shirts, for herself, her baby girl, Ella Grace... and two of Ella's baby dolls! What a legacy she made for her daughter to share someday! There was laughter, and a few tears.
"Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children..." ~Titus 2:3-4 ESV

There were other stories of course, and a game to write down all the uses of an apron, but my Memory Pill is wearing off! I'm wondering if one is even enough? Norma Jean didn't really say how many we were supposed to take in a day. It also doesn't say on the package. Hmm... I may have to ask my son-in-law, Jake. He's a pharmacist. Maybe he will know... 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Happy Fall Y'all!

This week's a2z meme is the letter F

F stands for FALL!!

I love FALL! I may have mentioned that before... and I'll probably mention it again... Several times. I love the changing of the seasons from the hot, humid, and sticky of Summer, to the cooler, less humid, un-sticky of Fall. I love the changing colors of the leaves on the trees. Since we are surrounded on two sides by woods, the view is spectacular! Of course, I could be biased, but I don't think so. 

Fall is also the time for sweatshirts and sweaters, wearing my mismatched socks again, football (even thought I'm not a big fan), hot chocolate (although again, I'm not a big fan... I would rather have a hot Chai tea, or a pumpkin flavored latte)... Oh I could go on forever. I just might!

One thing about Fall... it bring us closer to the holidays. Many people start to grumble about that, but I don't. Here's why; when the holidays roll around (including Halloween), they bring with it an atmosphere that makes me feel cozy, close to family, and happy inside. It's those memories of days long ago...  

Radley in the woods Fall 2011
October brought pumpkins and Halloween, when we could Trick-or-Treat at every house on the block, because we generally knew everyone. People were just generally just good people. Treats were usually homemade & delicious! 

November brought Thanksgiving, Turkey-Day Games (football), family gatherings, loads of turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, corn, cranberry sauce or relish, or salad, hot rolls, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, and every other kind of pie Mom and Grandma could make. Thanksgiving was a time to give thanks to the Lord, for all He had blessed us with, and more. 

And then December and Christmas. Ah... Christmas! Decorated trees, ornaments, more food (much like Thanksgiving), family gatherings, presents...  A time to celebrate with family, the best Present of all... Jesus

New York in the Fall 2010

I realize that Christmas is in Winter, but you see to me, Fall is the gateway into all these treasured things. With the changing of the seasons, the changing of the leaves, it's not an ending, but a beginning for me. Many people view Spring like that. I guess it's because as the leaves change into their brilliant colors, I see them as this was the way God made them! Sometimes I wish they could stay their beautiful colors year round. But then, I imagine that I wouldn't enjoy them quite as much. 

Either way, whether I'm looking at the trees in their green suits of Spring or Summer, or in their multi-colored suits of Fall, I can celebrate Jesus because He was there when it was all created... But my favorite just happens to be Fall.

What's your favorite season?

Friday, September 7, 2012

Clearing the Fog

Walking outside on the porch this morning... HEY, where did the trees go?! My whole world was encompassed in FOG. The beauty of the scenery was hidden from view. Turning around, I couldn't even see my daughter's house, which is just a few yards in front of mine. Well, isn't this a fine Howdy-Do. Actually, it wasn't so bad. Because it was in that moment that I realized that God is still in control. He is in charge of everything in and around me, and if He wanted fog today, then we have fog. It was actually quite pretty.

It made me think of what was going on in my heart and my spirit. Lately I've been feeling a little foggy inside. Things just haven't seemed as clear to me, nor have they seemed as happy. I realized that I hadn't been paying attention. I had got so caught up in the things I needed to DO that I had taken my eyes off of Jesus. Therefore, the fog had descended and blocked my spiritual vision. 

Looking at the fog I realized that I had become like it. Foggy. I had lost my focus, not read my Bible, and begun to let thoughts and feelings pop into my head that really had no business being there. And it's amazing to me how one simple thought can lead to another, then another, and before long the fog is so thick that you can't find your way out! 

As I stood there on the stoop, I began to think of the sermon my pastor had preached just the night before. One thing he said was to keep your eyes on God, and He will keep His eyes on you! Well, I had taken my eyes off Him. I had got distracted and ran into fog. Fortunately, there was a solution. A very quick, very distinct solution. I took a deep breath, spread my hands in surrender, and began praying.

"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." ~1 John 1:9

Within just a few words, I began to feel that sweet peace come over me. I began to relax. I don't know how long I stood there, talking to the Lord, but as I finished I noticed that the fog was lifting... not only in my heart, but in the field as well. And another thing I noticed was my two little visitors sitting on the fence posts. They hadn't been there the first time I came out, but as I stood there praying, they had been there, and stayed for the duration of my conversation with the Lord. 

Had they felt His presence? I don't know. But they were a welcome sight. In my mind, I felt as if they were there to reassure me that not only does He take care of them, but He wants me to know He's taking care of me, too. How much more value I am than they. And they sure are precious!
"Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" ~Matthew 6:26

You're precious to Him too, did you know that? If you're feeling foggy today, why not talk to the Lord about it? He already knows about it anyway. But if you'll take your fogginess to Him, He'll begin to gently blow it away and before long, you'll feel bright as a sunny day! 

What's keeping you in the fog?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Ew! What's That Smell!

This week's letter for the a2z meme... the letter E

E stands for ... Ew!

I must admit, at times I'm completely blank. I wasn't sure I was going to have an E post this week for a2z. I started a couple different ideas... but hit a brick wall with each one. Then it happened. EW!

What IS that smell?

Ew! Burning nose. Eyes beginning to water. I hear the dog re-positioning himself on his pillow at the foot of my bed. Wait a minute... Nope. He isn't doing anything but sleeping. Well, it is almost 11 o'clock at night, too. This isn't even a dog smell.

EW! Oh... I know...


You may think this is an S post, but it's not... it's an E post, inspired by the S-word. 

Living in the country, we get many critters. But skunks usually are scarce, unless something runs them up this way. And the only thing I can think of is our wayward, scruff of a mutt, stray dog, Sparky. He "hunts" everything. If it moves, whether it's a rabbit, deer, turkey, or the corn moving in the wind, he hunts it. I'm hoping he didn't hunt up a skunk. Ew! I'm also hoping he is NOT what I'm smelling. Because he'll be smelling bad for a while. Ew! Sparky isn't even our dog. We don't know where he came from, but one day he showed up and decided to stay!

We once lived in a basement house with a glass-sliding front door. The house faced east, so every morning the sun would reflect off the glass panes, making a lovely light on our patio. One morning we heard a "pop" at the door, and within a few minutes the whole house was filled with the horrendous odor of "Eau de Skunk." Ew! 

Skunks are so cute though, aren't they! But get close enough to one to make them feel threatened and look out! Ew! And once you've been initiated by one, how do you get the Ew! off of you?

According to the "Turtle Man," Ernie Brown, Jr., you take a bath in tomato juice, apple cider vinegar, and raw potatoes. Turtle Man says, "The taters is what soaks up the stink!" Ew! I don't know if that's true or not, but if I'd been skunked, I'd probably try any remedy to get rid of it. And Turtle Man ought to know, because he's been skunked before!


I sure hope this stink leaves the house soon...

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