Thursday, November 21, 2013

Because God Made Me That Way

" You have searched me, Lord, and you know me." Psalm 139:1

It's hard to believe sometimes, isn't it, that the Lord knows us so much better than we even know ourselves.  Well, I thank the Lord that He does know me inside and out, good stuff and bad, the entire package, yet He loves me all the same.  He doesn't compare me to anyone because He made me exactly the way He wanted me to be.  Even though I'm far from being able to say that I never compare myself to anyone, I learned a long time ago that life is much sweeter when we embrace who we are, not who we think we should be or who someone else thinks we should be.  

I do things the way I do them and say things the way I say them because God made me the way He made me!

He's our biggest and brightest cheerleader.  He's God, and everything He does is perfect.  

Now onto this awesome online Bible study...a wonderful that God opened for me over a year ago which has changed my life completely.  It is such a blessing! 
This week, our inspirational verse is Psalm 139:1 and what a powerful message in just a few words.  But then again, that's God, isn't it?  
This week has been awesome because it really opened up an opportunity to discover a lot about myself, Our author, Renee Swope, really broke down this chapter in an awesome way to help me really understand what God made me the way he did from the inside out.

This week focused a lot on personality types, abilities, and spiritual gifts.  I'm pretty confident in my abilities and spiritual gifts, but I asked my husband for help when trying to decide what type of personality I have.  Though there are four different types, I found pieces of me in each one.  After reading each personality type, my husband decided than I am the "Melancholy type: Desires perfection." He knows me pretty well at this point, and I believe that he is right.  He made sure that I understood that all of the "Relational Challenges" didn't necessarily fit me, but some of them do.  For instance, I don't get easily depressed and I'm thrifty, but not to what I would consider an extreme, and I'm content in most situations I'm I find myself.  I actually feel that contentment is one of the most important blessings God has given us.  But I do lack spontaneity, I can be hard to please, and I am a perfectionist in the things I do most of the time.  That trait, I will tell you, is exhausting.  But it is who God made me!  

My strengths as a Melancholy-Perfectionist Type are pretty accurate.  I do work well alone, but to be honest, I don't like being a lone for long periods of time.  Aside from my quiet times in the morning and sometimes at night, or when I'm really trying to concentrate on something (perfectionist!) I really enjoy the company of people.  
I am a planner and I'm pretty organized (except for my car and our computer room).  Treating others fairly is very important to me and I try my hardest to put myself in another person's shoes as opposed to judging what they are doing and why they are doing it.  And creative...I am creative.  I love to quilt, craft, cook new things, decorate,  I love it.  I've found creativity to be an awesome way to express myself.

My God-given abilities go along with most of my strengths...creativity, singing, talking, listening.  One of my favorite abilities that God has given me is to be able to see God's greatness and wonder in the simplest of things.  Take snow, for example.  Snow, to me, is one of the most magical things God has created.  It's peaceful, quiet, and there is absolutely nothing humans can do to mess up the beauty of falling matter how hard we try.  This time of year, I'm known to wait by the window when the forecast calls for snow.  I just love it!

Before I talk about spiritual gifts, check out the Bible verse that describes them way better than I ever could!

" it is with Christ's body.  We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.  In His grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well.  So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out as much faith as God has given you.  If your gift is serving others, serve them well.  If you are a teacher, teach well.  If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging.  If it is giving, give generously.  If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously.  And if you have the gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly." 
-Romans 12:5-8 NLT

At first, discovering my spiritual was a little difficult.  Just like the personality types, I found little bits of myself in each gift.  But after reading them, re-reading them, and really thinking and praying about it, I decided that serving is my spiritual gift.  Whether it me family, friends, or complete strangers, I love to help and serve others.  I love it so much I became a nurse so I could serve others all day long.  But it's not just about's about serving others, and helping them in ways they may not be able to do for themselves.  I do that as a nurse, as a mother, as a wife, as a church member, and as a friend.  I can think of very few things that bring me as much joy...true I experience when I am serving others.  Not it isn't always a picnic, I'll admit.  Especially when someone I'm trying to help doesn't want to be helped.  But most of the time, it is a blessing.  I've said for a long time that I truly believe God put me on this earth to help others.  That is my spiritual gift.  
What has been really awesome about this week is discovering how God gave me a certain personality type, special abilities, and spiritual gifts just so that He could impact the lives of other people through me.  Little old me.  And He did it all on purpose, knowing exactly what He was doing the whole time.  I love Him for it.  He made each of us that way.  We just have to slow down long enough to figure just how special He made each and every one of us so we can make His world a wonderful place the way He intended us to.  And with that, I'll leave you with another awesome verse that just shows how special God made us and how much He loves us.  God Bless!
"...and the whole body depends on Him.  All the parts of the body are joined and held together, with each part doing its own work.  This causes the whole body to grow and be stronger in love." Ephesians 4:16 ERV 


Friday, November 8, 2013

Being A Child of God

Well here we are in week 4 of "A Confident Heart" online Bible study. This week our inspirational Bible verse is John 1:12:

"Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God."

I wanted to dig a little deeper into this verse by sharing some of the other translations:

"But to as many as did receive and welcome Him, He gave the authority (power, privilege, right) to become children of God, that is to those who believe in (adhere to, trust in, rely on) His name." Amplified

"But some people did accept Him. They believed in Him, and He gave them the right to become children of God." Easy-to-Read Version

"However, He gave the right to become God's children to everyone who believed in Him."
God's Word Translation

"But whoever did receive Him, those trusting in His name, to these He gave the right to become children of God." Tree of Life Version

Now here is the same verse in the New International Reader's Version, but I decided to go another verse deeper in this translation because I found it so meaningful:

"12Some people did accept Him. They believed in His name and gave them the right to become children of God. 13To be a child of God has nothing to do with human parents. Children of God are not born because of human choice or because a husband wants the to be born. They are born because of what God does."

Once I read all of these translations, I started thinking about what it really means to be a "Child of God". Does being a child of God mean you have to walk a straight line in everything you say and do? Does it mean we need to lead the perfect Christian example? No. To me, being a child of God doesn't mean any of those things. Actually, we would be setting ourselves up for a pretty big failure if we tried to be children of God by doing those things because we are far from perfect and we are going to make mistake after mistake...just the way God intended. As the verse clearly spells out, we are all born as children of God because of what God does not because of anything that we do. I think we mess up with what we don't do. God is always present and willing for us to receive Him. He never goes anywhere, and He is everywhere. He is a constant. We are the ones who must accept Him, believe in Him, trust in His Holy name. I know as well as anyone else that trusting God isn't exactly a cake walk because I'm just as flawed as the next girl...on some days even more.

When I think about being a child of God, I often think about my daughter. She is a beautiful three year old gift from God who thankfully still has plenty of innocence and her heart and mind haven't been tainted with much negativity at this point. We have raised her knowing God and praying to God, and teach her how important it is to talk to God everyday and that she can go to Him with anything. If something really great has happened, she can thank Him. If someone is sick or in trouble, she can pray for God to help them. She, herself, was in the midst of a terrible cold this week, so before bed, we said a special prayer that God would heal her and make her better. She's had restful nights of sleep ever since. When we talked about her getting better the next day, we said "God made you better! Isn't that great?" She was so excited, and it's things like that which make me think about what it means to be a child of God. Though she may not have a true grasp what it means to trust God and have faith in His promises, if I ask her, "Caroline, when we are sick, who makes us better?" She immediately shouts, "God!" Not doctors (even though they sure help) or medicine or even Mommy and Daddy. Just God. 

How I wish I could be like Caroline and immediately think of God and what He will do in the midst of always know without a doubt that He will not fail. Instead, many times I rely on what I or someone else can do to fix the trouble. But being a child of God doesn't mean that we are never going to make mistakes or that we are never going to try and "fix" things ourselves before remembering that God is still here waiting. But to me, it means that we know in spite of all that, in spite of all our mistakes and mess ups, we know that God loves us still, and just as He promised, He will not leave or forsake us no matter what we say or do. We have loads of Bible stories and hopefully stories from our own lives that show just how much God loves us and is here for us. We just have to trust in His very name! I love being a child of God!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Moving Forward...

This week...week 3 in our online Bible study...I was introduced to an awesome verse of scripture and it pretty much transformed my week, and hopefully lead me to a place where I could help others transform theirs as well. This is the verse I'm talking about...

" bestow upon them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called Oaks of Righteousness, a planting of The Lord for the display of His splendor." Isaiah 61:3

I've been going through a situation in my life, that while it is far from the most difficult situation I've ever been in, it is still a toughie. If I would let it, this situation could have real power to get me down and drown me in self-doubts and insecurities. I'll be honest, for a little while, it was. But that was only because #1 I was letting it and #2 I wasn't having as much faith in God to take care of it as I should've. I know so much better. I've got years of God getting me through tough situations, and I had no reason to believe He wouldn't do the same now. However, I could really start feeling my faith wander and self-doubt grabbing its hold on my life, on my spirit. Then, as He always does, God allowed a few things to happen.

First, He allowed something to occur that gave me just a little shove of encouragement and confidence, which in turn, made a HUGE difference in the way I was perceiving things. Then, He brought the above verse into my life and into my heart and into my mind, which really gave me a shove of encouragement. The verse also got me thinking, as did the reading in our OBS study book that went along with the verse. Renee compares an oak to a pine. Then I started doing it myself. I thought about a pine tree. I imagined the way it would stand in a storm...flimsy, branches flying everywhere, gusts of wind and rain chipping off pieces of its wooden trunk a piece at a time causing it to become even weaker than it already was. Then I imagined an oak in the same storm, and got a completely different picture in my mind. An oak is strong, beautiful, sturdy, meant to last. It stands tall and firm in the middle of a storm. Then the last part of the scripture spoke to me:

"They will be called Oaks of Righteousness a planting of The Lord for the display of His splendor."

Then it was like I could hear God saying to me, 
"So which one are you going to be, Jenny? Are you going to stand weak like a pine only to be knocked down by self-doubt and insecurity, or are you going to stand tall and strong, and be my Oak of display of splendor?" 

 I knew my answer, and it immediately lifted my spirit. God is the answer in this situation, just like He is in all situations. He's not going to let me down. He's not going to leave me alone, stranded on an island of pain and self-doubt. He's going to lead me in being the strong oak that I know I can be and that I can encourage others to be, but only with Him as the everlasting leader.

"For the Lord will be your confidence, and keep your foot from being caught." Proverbs 3:26

And there's more where that came from! God bless and have an awesome weekend everyone!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

I Believe

Online Bible Studies are back and I am super stoked. Actually, right now I am super tired, but I'll get to that story in a bit. But first I want to take a look at the definition of a very power word-a word that can bring about excitement or fear, sometimes both. I'm talking about change.

CHANGE: to become different
to make (someone or something) different
to become something else

When it comes to change, I am generally a fan depending on what you are trying to change. If someone wants to change my furniture around that's ok. If there was a vote to change the order of events of church services I'd be ok with that too (not sure if I would have much company in that though). I'm generally pretty flexible. However, there are those times when change is not my friend and I will fight it until I can't fight anymore. When my husband wanted me to change insurance carriers from a woman I'd known for decades to a company I didn't know at all, I was not a happy camper. And why was that? Why are we so afraid of change? I mean the change I just referred to was going to be saving my family hundreds of dollars a year, so why would I fight that? Because it would force me to leave my comfort zone, which in this situation, was a family friend I had known probably since birth. This was a lady whose voice was always a comfort when someone in our family got into a wreck or had a car issue because we knew that she would fix it and fix it quickly. She made me feel comfortable. She made me feel safe. And most of all, she was what I had become used to for thirty years.
I was thankfully raised in a family of believers so I do not really know a life without God. But I do know what it is like to fight the changes that God wants me to make. I'm struggling with it right now. Worry. I'm not a huge worrier, but there are certain things in my life that I feel like I couldn't stop worrying about if I tried. My family is usually what I worry about the most...their safety, their health, their lives in general. When I have a family member going through something really difficult, I immediately try and think of a way to make it all better. That is the nurse and the mom in me. But I'm realizing that, more times than not, I can't make it better. I can't make the bad disappear. And it drives me crazy. Of course I pray about these situations always, but it is difficult for me to stop asking God to just take my family out of the painful situations and put them in happy ones again. If is difficult for me to change my nature from wanting to fix everything and make everyone better to just letting it go, accepting I can't fix it, and completely handing it over to God to fix. One of my biggest insecurities is feeling like a failure when I can't fix the people I love. But this is an area of my life in which I know change is a must, and it is what I am really trying to learn through this study. I want to gain an even stronger relationship and trust in God. Our inspirational verse this week reads:

"Then you will know that I am The Lord. Those who hope in me will not be disappointed."
-Isaiah 49:23b NIV

And there it is. When I trust in The Lord with all my mind, all my heart, and all my soul, He won't disappoint me. This is His promise, and I believe in a God who does not and will not break His promises to His children. 

 "God is not a man;
    he will not lie.
God is not a human being;
    his decisions will not change.
If he says he will do something,
    then he will do it.
If he makes a promise,
    then he will do what he promised."
-Numbers 23: 19
 As a nurse, a mother, a daughter, a sister, and a friend, I have a lot of people around me who I love and who are always going through things...painful things, scary things, unfair things. Things that I would love to be able to lift each and every one of them out of...but here's the thing. I can't. But God can, and He will in His time. And now it is my time to let go and stop trying to do God's job for Him. My interference merely slows things down and gets in the way of His awesome plans which will trump mine every time. He's got this. Always has and always will.  

God bless all of you! Here are some pictures of change in my life over the years:

This is my cat, Callie.  She has definitely changed the lives of our family.  This quiet, skiddish cat turns into our guard dog when someone comes to our door that she doesn't know.   She is also quite  talkative with her high pitched squeaky meows.  She has definitely made an interesting addition to our family...that is for sure!

Even better than a cat is my family.  My husband and my daughter have forced me into change and flexibility over the years and I wouldn't trade any of it for gold!

And here we have our newest influence to change.  God gave our family a new gift this summer and we are so excited...even though we know that massive amounts of change are on the horizon when we finally get to welcome "the peanut" into our crazy world. 

So see, with change, be it a little or a lot, comes inevitable blessings from our Father.  He knows what is best for us and that is all He wants to give us.  I can't wait to see what change He blesses us with next!  God Bless!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Glimpses of God

So I cannot believe that we are almost done with this Bible study.  It has really zoomed by, but I've learned truckloads of ways that I can get closer with God and make my relationship with Him even stronger.  
The question on today's post that I am going to try my best to answer is:
"How can my life experiences help provide people with glimpses of God?"
 I do a few ministries with children in our church...Sunday school, Vacation Bible School, and a children's moment during Sunday morning service, and I've talked to them before about how they can witness to people.  Much like myself, the children aren't big on preaching to people about living a life for Christ.  I was raised in a household where telling people what they were doing right and what they were doing wrong as far as God goes what not the way to lead people to Him.  Quite the opposite, many times I've seen that kind of approach backfire and force people to shy away from God, for fear they just are not and will never be good enough.  The way I was taught and how I continue to teach the children how to lead people to God is by showing people how great God is in your simply telling people, "Look what God has done in my life and look at the awesome blessings He continues to give to me!"  Christianity...having that faithful and blessed relationship with God is beautiful.  Letting people know how God has blessed you is nothing but awesome, and can help those people say and believe that not only do they want a relationship with God, but that they can have one too!  I mean who wouldn't want a life of security, love, and peace?  If we show others how God makes that happen in our lives, it's only a matter of time before they start really believing that it can happen in theirs too. 
Check out his Bible verse from Philippians 2: 14-16.  I'll offer some different translations and a little verse mapping as well.

"Do everything without complaining or arguing so that you may be innocent and pure as God's perfect children, who live in a world of corrupt and sinful people.  You must shine among them like stars lighting up the sky, as you offer them the message of life.  If you do so, I shall have reason to be proud of you on the Day of Christ, because it will show that all my effort and work have not been wasted." Good News Translation

"Do everything readily and cheerfully--no bickering, no second-guessing allowed!  Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society.  Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God.  Carry the light-giving Message into the night so I'll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns.  You'll be living proof that I didn't go to all this work for nothing." The Message

"Do everything without complaining or arguing so that you will be blameless and pure, children of God without any fault.  But you are living with evil people all around you, who have lost their sense of what is right.  Among those people you shine like lights in a dark world, and you offer them the teaching that gives life.  So I can be proud of you when Christ comes again.  You will show that my work was not wasted--that I ran in the race and won." Easy-to-Read Version

And now a little verse mapping...
As Christians, God wants us to live our lives doing everything without complaining or arguing so that when people look at us they can tell who we are living for...God.  
Living in a world that is corrupted, squalid, polluted, sinful, and has lost its sense of what is right, God wants us to be a breath of fresh air and shine like stars lighting up the sky.
God wants us to live our lives so that just by looking at us, people get a glimpse of good living and the living of God.  
By doing that, we aren't living our lives in vain, but we are living them to carry the light-giving Message into the offer others the teaching that gives life.  
Then on the day when Christ returns, He will see that He didn't come back for nothing.  He came back for the world!

Just as I am doing right now, give these verses much thought before you start your day, and let the Words encourage you to do God's work in the lives of others.  Let these Words, and any other verses in the Bible that are helpful and encouraging to you...let them all be our guide to our day to day.  Reading these verses inspires me to be God's light in a dark world.  I want to shine like a star in the sky so that all a person has to do to know that I have God in my life and in my heart is just watch me for awhile.  This is my Godly goal.  I will have days of success and I will have days of failure, but I will always have God either way.  And God is great!    


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Stick With It

Here we are!  It's already week five of OBS!  I have to be honest...this week I have not been very good at "sticking with it"...the Bible Study that is.  Yes, I finished my chapters which is fantastic, but the week was not as inspirational and encouraging as I wanted it to be for one reason and one reason!  I was not opening myself up to be inspired and encouraged by the wonderful messages we receive daily from our leaders and from God.  
My life has had a bit of change over the last couple of months.  My husband and I found out that we will be blessed with another baby, which we are totally thankful for.  But let me tell you...this precious unborn angel has left me zapped.  We also have a three and a half year old who has been zapping my energy as well, God love her.  Both of these angels are nothing but blessings, but I've been allowing myself to get beat down by all the negative stuff...nausea, exhaustion, hormones, exhaustion, insane-frequently changing cravings...and of course, there's exhaustion.  But I have been allowing myself to be so consumed with all the negative that I completely closed my fist to the positive...and that includes getting all I can get out of this awesome online Bible Study!
Today, as I was catching up on my Bible Study questions and sitting down to finally do my blog hop, I was reviewing the previous few posts on the OBS website, and of course, wouldn't you know it...God spoke right to me.  I opened the page to yesterday's post and right there, big, bold, and beautiful declared this awesome verse out of 1 Chronicles 28:20:

"Be strong and courageous, and do the work.  Don't be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you.  He will not fail you or forsake you."

I mean could God have said it any clearer to me?  He is saying, "Be strong, Jenny!  Don't get scared and discouraged!  Stick with it!  I'm right here!"  
How awesome is that?  Then, it got me thinking about good old Joshua when God expected him to carry on in Moses' place in leading the people into the Promised Land.  Talk about scared and discouraged!  I love this story, it is the place where God always leads my heart and my mind when I start to get just the way Joshua did at first.  Just like all the other fearful times in my life, God leads me to this verse:

"Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." -Joshua 1:9

Once again, could he be anymore clear to us?  Did He say "well, I'll be with you when it starts getting really tough."  Nope.  Did He say "well, ok. You're scared, so I'll hold your hand this time, but next time you're on your own."  Not even close.  God says that He will be with us wherever we go.  Good times...bad times...sad times...and silly times.  He's there for everything.  He's here to help me not just get through this pregnancy, but to get through it with joy in my heart so that there is not doubt of the blessing He has given to us again!  It's the same with this study.  These studies have been such an inspiration to me since I started them about a year ago.  They have changed my life and made me so much closer with God!  My love for Him is so much deeper and my concept of Him is so crystal clear.  He brought me here.  He opened the door to this awesome study and these awesome leaders and Bible study members!  And He didn't get me this far to drop the ball.  He's going to continue leading me in the right direction...His direction.  I just have to wake up and STICK WITH IT!!!  Which means I need to get with it.  Head up, eyes up, palms open.  This week is going to be an awesome week.  I am once again, prioritizing my relationship with God over sleeping in late, household chores, favorite tv shows, and anything else that tries to get in my way.  First thing in the morning is generally when I get my great big cup of God.  Coffee used to be in there too, but nausea has replaced that with gingerale.  But if I don't have that time with God first thing in the morning, I'm lost for the rest of the day.  I'm like a dog chasing my tail, going round and round in circles getting absolutely nowhere fast.  Of course, in order to get that much needed time with God, I have to get myself up before the rest of the house.  I don't know about you, but I can't really spend my much needed quiet, concentrating time with God when my loved ones are awake and moving around. So with God's help, I will start this week right and keep it that way!
Gracious and Heavenly Father, 
Thank you so much for the blessings You continue to give me.  I know I have been lacking and tired this week.  Please, Lord, help me to rise above the fear, discouragement, and exhaustion, and help me to open my heart, my mind, and my palms completely to Your Word and Your guidance.  I don't want to miss any of the blessings you have for me.  Thank you, Father, for being with me wherever I go.  

Thursday, August 22, 2013

His Word Is My Weapon

We've had another amazing week at OBS...and it isn't even over yet!
As I read Chapter 4, a couple of things really stuck out to my heart. Reading how Jesus was tempted by the devil, but refuted those temptations with scripture...this is a powerful tool. Check out these awesome words:
"Then the devil came to Him and said,"If you are God's Son, order these stones to turn into bread."
But Jesus answered, "The scripture says, 'Human beings cannot live on bread alone, but need every Word that God speaks." Matt. 4:3-4

Jesus is saying that we need God's Word to live...we need it to sustain our otherwise empty hearts. And He wasn't just talking about then nice, encouraging Word. He said we need EVERY Word that God speaks...this includes the not so nice. But we take it all into our hearts knowing that God says all of it because He loves us more than we can fathom. His Word proves that He loves us when we're up and when we're down...when we're at our best and when we're at our worst. His love...His Word is always beautiful and always right. No one can refute it. Even the devil knows that.

Another scripture that I really enjoyed reading and studying is actually found in the Bible Study questions...I'll include a few different translations to show some different perspectives.

"The righteous eat to their hearts' content, but the stomach of the wicked goes hungry." NIV

"The righteous have enough to eat, but the wicked are always hungry." GNT

"An appetite for good brings much satisfaction, but the belly of the wicked always wants more."MSG

Lots of Word for thought here.  I'm going to do a little verse mapping to break the Word down a bit:

"The righteous"/"An appetite for good": those who not only believe in God, but carry Him in their hearts; know that His love is above all else.

"eat to their hearts' content/have enough to eat/brings much satisfaction":  Being a true believer in Christ means that we will never go spiritually hungry; we will never be alone; we will always know love; our hearts and souls are filled to the brim with God's love.

I'll sum up the last chunk of scripture:
The wicked are never satisfied; they always want more; they are always hungry; if they aren't hungry right now, they will go hungry--their time will run out.  Hearts of the wicked are not filled with joy-true joy.  Their hearts aren't filled with the unfailing love of Christ either.  And how much they are missing!  Their hearts are empty caves unable to be filled with God's love because they refuse it. 

I fell asleep praying last night, which is something I love doing.  Talk about preparing your mind for a peaceful rest.  But as I was praying, I was releasing a few matters to God.  Matters that had been consuming my mind and my heart throughout the day, and I just wanted to be done.  So up to God they went!  I know now that it's not an "if" God will take care of these particular burdens or future's "when" He will take care of them. When I say "yes" to God and lift my burdens up to Him, they are off of my heart and into His hands...the way He likes it.  Have a great weekend everyone!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Say What?

Here we are!  It’s already week two in our “Yes” online Bible Study.  I love it!  Saying yes to God is definitely a life-changing experience, and something I will need to do over and over because I mess up.  I get lazy.  I get scared.  God knows that about me and He loves me because of it.  It is those times when I am down and out, and feel hopeless…the times when I am at my weakest He is at His strongest in my life.  During those times of desperation and heartache is when He holds me tightest. 

I’ve had many “Say What?” moments with God, but there is one that always sticks out when I think about how important it is to say yes to God no matter what He is telling me to do.  A little over two years ago, my husband and I decided that we were at a point financially where I could start working part time and be home with our daughter more.  Going back to work after she was born was one of the hardest and heart-hurting things I have ever had to do, so imagine my joy when my husband and I came to this decision of me not having to work as much! 

I went to my bosses a few days later, explained the situation, and they said that while they would need to do some figuring and get certain ducks in a row, they felt strongly that they would be able to help me.  About a week later, I was called back into the same office and learned that in fact they were unable to offer me a part time position.  I was told basically that if a part time position in my field didn’t exist presently, they couldn’t make one.  I was stunned, angry, and sad.  I very still in my office, doing everything I could to hold back tears and thinking about a lot of things.  Thousands of questions were traveling around in my head, the first being, why would they give me so much hope when there was none to be had?  I left work that day, called my husband, and proceeded to let my tears flow. 

A few days after that terrible meeting, I still felt strongly about wanting to be at home with my daughter more.  Don’t get me wrong.  I loved my job very much.  It was my true niche and I didn’t really want to do anything else.  But everyone who knows me knows that my family comes well before my career and always has.  My happiness in my career was a sacrifice I was willing to make for my family.  With the feeling of determination braised with some hurt and disappointment, I started a job search for part time work.  I went to websites, I called agencies and businesses, I put bugs in ears, and of course, started looking on the internet to see what was available.  Everywhere I looked was a dead end.  One place was only offering night shifts.  A friend advised me of another place I was looking at, and strongly encouraged me to look elsewhere because employees were known to leave this particular agency on their lunch hour and never come back.  It was like hitting brick wall after brick wall. 

I was driving home one afternoon and I looked up and said “Ok, God!  What do you want from me?  What do you want me to do?  If you didn’t feel it was important to stay at home more with Caroline then you wouldn’t have placed these strong feelings upon my heart.  So where are you?  What do you want from me?”  As clear as day, I heard a voice in my mind and in my heart whisper, just once, “Be still.”  Say What? I was amazed.  I was expecting God to answer me in one of His special ways that would really leave me thinking, but not this time.  He was as clear as clear could be.  “Be still.” 

A few days later, the executive director of our agency, who had been present at the horrific meeting a couple of weeks prior, made a surprise visit to one of our satellite offices where I work once a week.  He appeared to be bummed out. 

“What’s the matter, boss?” I asked him.

“Well, I don’t like the way our meeting went a couple of weeks ago.”

I semi-chuckled and said,” Well, I really didn’t like the way it went either, but what it is what it is, I suppose.”

“I know that I made you feel like something was a possibility when it wasn’t, and I know I let you down.  I’m sorry.”

Say What?  How many times in my life has an executive of any kind apologized for making false promises?  I was a little taken back, but I told him that I appreciated his apology of how the situation ended up.  He then proceeded to tell me that while he knew I needed to do what was best for my family, he wanted me to hang on for just a little bit to see how things would unfold.  If after that time, I still felt the need to go elsewhere, he would not stand in my way.  Once again, I was whoa’d.  I thought about it briefly and looking straight into his eyes responded,

“I love this job.  I am good at this job.  I really don’t want to leave, so I will hang on for a little while.  But I do not expect to be strung along.”  He agreed, and that was that. 

This conversation, to me, was just another way that God was telling me to be still.  My big boss, traveling almost an hour to have this particular conversation with me was God telling me again, “Be still.”  So I did.  I remained still for about eight months until a position became available and I grabbed it with both hands and never let go.  I’m now working in a job that I love with people that I love, and most importantly, I get to be at home with my daughter more days than I work.  I said yes to God and received one of the greatest blessings I will ever receive.  It took a while for this blessing to be in full swing, but it was a learning experience that only God could teach me.  I learned the importance of waiting on God’s plan for my life instead of jumping ahead with my own.  I learned how that patience for His plan reveals blessings I would’ve never known otherwise.  Just think if I would’ve jumped the gun ahead of God and taken a night job.  What blessings I would have missed!  No matter what the situation, God’s got this.  He has us in the palm of His hand and He is not going to let us go. 

As for now, I must go and get ready for the job that I love so that I may stay home tomorrow with the child I love even more.  God bless! 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Me and God

I am so excited to be back into OBS.  I've continued Bible study while we've been on a break, but nothing compares to the OBS experience! 

Today I've chosen to my blog-hop topic on:

"What is holding you back from going deeper in your relationship with God?"

I was thankfully raised in a wonderful Christian household, so I really don't remember a time when I didn't believe in God.  He has always been a part of my life.  But my relationship with Him didn't start to really mature until I was an adult.  Thanks to OBS, my relationship has grown even more!  But there is always room for improvement.  
I feel like I have a deep relationship with God, but not as deep as it could be, but to be honest, I never want it to hit that point.  I always want to be longing for a deeper, more meaningful relationship with God.  I do believe that fear is one of the things that holds me back from God...Fear that God will want me to do something that I can't see myself doing...Fear that if I go down the path of God's plan that I will mess something up, or something will occur that I can't deal with.  
Time can also interfere with my relationship with God.  I'm usually the first one up and the last one down, simply because as a mother and a wife, that's the only time I have to just be with myself (I say as my 3-year old angel yells for me from the top of the stairs).  I do my OBS first thing in the morning, but if sleep to long and miss that window, it's hard to find another time throughout the day to devote to it.  I like to get the most I can out of the study, so I can't do it when I have kids running around and commotion going on in the background.  I pray to God throughout the day no matter what environment I'm in.  But I need that true one on one time with Him every morning...just me and that I can start my day right.  I know you all will believe that BIG difference between start the day with God than without.  What a blessing it is to start my day with the Lord.  

"The revelation of God is whole and puts our lives together.  The signposts of God are clear and point out the right road.  The life-maps of God are right, showing the way to joy.  The directions of God are plain and easy on the eyes.  God's reputation is twenty-four carat gold, with a lifetime guarantee.  The decisions of God are accurate down to the nth degree.  God's Word is better than a diamond, better than a diamond set between emeralds.  You like it better than strawberries in the spring, better than red, ripe strawberries.  -Psalm 19:7-10 MSG

I had never read this Bible verse before, and it has brought such a blessing to my life.  This verse just lays out for you what God has promised us if we just believe.  
  •    God promises to point us toward the right road...we just have to open our hearts and our minds so we don't miss His signposts.
  •    God has a life full of joy waiting for us...we just have to ensure that we're follow His life map and not our own.
  •    God's directions for our lives are clear and easy...we just need our eyes and our hearts to be open to Him, and not the rest of the world. 
  •    God's very existence is flawless and eternal...we just have to believe.
  •    God's Word is the perfect guide for our lives...we just have to fill our hearts and minds with as much of it as we can.

God promised to never leave us nor forsake us, and I believe that with all of my heart.  This week has been a very tough week for my family as we lost one of our dearest friends, and heaven gained another angel.  There have been and will continue to be lots of tears shed as we miss her, but never a doubt of God's presence.  Though it has been hard to get through our day to day, God has been with us every step.  He never promised us that life would be a easy.  He never promised that we wouldn't experience loss and sadness.  But He did promise that through it all, He would be right here with us.  His arms are firmly wrapped around all of this and He is holding us tight as we remember the wonderful person who touched our hearts for so long.  For this, I am so thankful.  He is our strength.  He is our comfort.  He is our salvation from life. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Last But Not Least, And Really Not Last

"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered,"you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed-or indeed only one.  Mary has chosen what it better and it will not be taken away from her." Luke 10:41-42

"Martha, dear Martha, you're fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing.  One thing is essential, and Mary has chosen it-it's the main course, and won't be taken from her." MSG

"But the Lord answered her,"Martha, Martha, you are getting worried and upset about too many things.  Only one thing is important.  Mary has made the right choice, and it will never be taken away from her." ERV

Yesterday morning, I was in a place of stress, anxiety, fear, unknown.  I wasn't completely overcome, but I was getting there.  I posted a comment, not only about my current state of mind and heart, but also asking for any strengthening verses or words of encouragement.  After I posted, I said my morning prayer to God and off to work I went.  Last evening, I was in my kitchen making a batch of caramel bars, when my daughter asked to used my Ipad to watch a show.  I took a peak at my comment from earlier in the morning, and was overjoyed with the responses.  I gave her the Ipad and scooted back into the kitchen where I cried in my cookie dough.  But not tears of sadness or fear--tears of complete joy.  My Online Bible Study girls, you are absolutely amazing.  You filled my heart with such joy and confidence through your genuinely kind words--some of the kindest words I've ever received--and you have never even seen my face.  That means so much to me, and I thank you.  Melissa, our awesome leader of OBS, suggested the book, Calm My Anxious Heart: A Woman's Guide to Finding Contentment by Linda Dillow.  I ordered it right away...actually I'm going to Tennessee to spend the weekend with my brother's family, and I'm having it shipped to his house so I can start it ASAP.  I just thank all of you girls.  You have warmed my heart like you will never know whether it be from your comments and prayers yesterday, or any day.  It brightens not just my day, but my life to be in this study, and to know that God planned it all.  
I bought myself a cheap Roladex a few weeks ago, and last night, started transforming it into a "Bible-dex" filled with inspiring and encouraging words from my OBS sisters and from my own searching.  This morning, I tried Tracie's idea of "sitting in God's lap." All of the verses I'd written down, and there were lots, were spread all around me as I knelt on the floor to spend my morning time with the Lord today.  Such fulfillment, comfort, and peace He has given me.  If you haven't ever done this, I encourage you to try it. Here are the scriptures I have so far in my "Bible-dex", and I'm going to continue to add more, so any suggested verses would be awesome, and I'll share those as well!  Have an awesome weekend girls...can't wait for the next study.  God opened flood gates of joy and peace for me through this study, and I can't wait to see what he's got in store for the next one.  God bless!


"Worry weighs us down; a cheerful word picks us up." Proverbs 12:25 MSG

"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.  Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7

  "...but it is better to have only a little, with peace of mind, than be busy all the time with both hands trying to catch the wind." Eccles. 4:6

 "The seeds cast in the weeds represent the ones who heart the kingdom news but are overwhelmed with worries about all the things they have to do and all the things they want to get.  The stress strangles what they heard, and nothing comes of it." Mark 4:18-19

"Jesus said to him,'I promise you that today you will be in paradise with me." Luke 23:43

"You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you."
Isaiah 26:3

Patience and Strength

"I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from Him, He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken." Psalm 62:1-2

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord,"plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

"If God doesn't build the house, the builders only build shacks.  If God doesn't guard the city, the night watchman might as well nap.  It's useless to rise early and go to bed late.  Don't you know He enjoys giving rest to those He loves?" Psalm 127:1-2

"Patient persistence pierces through indifference; gentle speech breaks down rigid defenses." Proverbs 25:15

"God is our refuge and our strength, an ever present help in trouble." Psalm 46:1

"Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.  I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything.  I have learned the secret to living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.  For I can do everything thorough Christ who gives me strength." 
                                                                                                   Philipp 4:11-13

"Bible-dex" Card

Ring of Prayer, Peace, Comfort, and Strength

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Week 11: The Reset Button

I cannot believe we are almost done with week 11 of this awesome study, and have only 1 week to go.  It has been an awesome ride!  
Here is some verse mapping I did of different translations of our reflection verse this week, with the blue being God's part and the red being my part.  I also replaced the "we" and "our" with "I" and "my" to make it hit home in my heart just a little bit more. 

Romans 8:26:
"In the same way, the Spirit helps me in my weakness I do not know what I ought to pray for, the but the Spirit himself intercedes for me through wordless groans." (NIV)

"Meanwhile, the moment I get tired in the waiting, God's spirit is right alongside helping me along.  If I don't know how or what to pray, it doesn't matter.  He does my praying in and for me, making prayer out of my sighs, my aching groans." (MSG)

"In the same way, the Spirit also comes to help me weak as I am.  For I do not know how I ought to pray: the Spirit Himself pleads with God for me in groans that words cannot express." (GNT)

 "Also, the Spirit helps me I am very weak, but the Spirit helps me with my weakness.  I don't know how to pray as I should, but the Spirit Himself speaks to God for meHe begs God for me, speaking to Him with feelings too deep for words." (ERV)

The words I notice the most in each one of these translations are "I am weak" and "God helps me." He takes care of it all.  He takes care of me, of us.  He knows our hearts and our minds well enough to intercede. praying on our behalf when we don't even know how to put our words together.  That, alone, gives me so much comfort because I know that when I am overwhelmed to the point where I can't even speak His precious name, He knows my heart and soul, and He'll fix it.

 This might hurt, it's not safe
But I know that I've gotta make a change
I don't care if I break,
At least I'll be feeling something
'Cause just okay is not enough
Help me fight through the nothingness of life

I don't wanna go through the motions
I don't wanna go one more day
without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don't wanna spend my whole life asking,
"What if I had given everything,
instead of going through the motions?"

No regrets, not this time
I'm gonna let my heart defeat my mind
Let Your love make me whole
I think I'm finally feeling something
'Cause just okay is not enough
Help me fight through the nothingness of this life

'Cause I don't wanna go through the motions
I don't wanna go one more day
without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don't wanna spend my whole life asking,
"What if I had given everything,
instead of going through the motions?"

take me all the way (take me all the way)
take me all the way ('cause I don't wanna go through the motions)
take me all the way (I know I'm finally feeling something real)
take me all the way

I don't wanna go through the motions
I don't wanna go one more day
without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don't wanna spend my whole life asking,
"What if I had given everything,
instead of going through the motions?"

I don't wanna go through the motions
I don't wanna go one more day
without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don't wanna spend my whole life asking,
"What if I had given everything,
instead of going through the motions?"

take me all the way (take me all the way)
take me all the way (I don't wanna go, I don't wanna go)
take me all the way (through the motions)
take me all the way

I don't wanna go through the motions

This entire song makes me thing of a man that goes to my church.  He spent close to 80 years just "going through the motions" of church, Sunday school, everything.  Throughout that whole time, he says he never truly understood what it felt like to believe in have an intimate relationship with the Lord.  This year, He realized being a believer in Christ is more than just reading some chapters in the Bible and making sure he was at church on time.  It is so much more than that.  When you believe in Christ, you honestly believe in your heart that He loves you unconditionally without fail, and that He is capable of anything.  He is always on our side.  He is capable of helping us walk a better walk, talk a better talk, and just live a better, more fulfilling life...a life where we know we are always loved and accepted in His eyes.  He created all of us.  We are all His children.  We just have to let our hearts defeat our minds, as the song says. 
I can remember a time when I was younger when I was essentially going through the motions to some extent.  But as I got older and my faith got stronger through the experiences God placed in my path, or really His path for me, I developed a relationship with God that continues to grow in different ways everyday.  I don't read my Bible everyday now because I feel like I have to or because I think I'll get in trouble if I don't.  I read it everyday because it gives me strength and comfort.  It's God's big instruction book for life showing me where I need to go and how I need to get there.  It's my alarm clock.  It's my morning cup of coffee.  I love it, and it warms my heart to no end that this sweet gentleman at my church has that in his life, too.  He's not going through the motions anymore.  He's living the life!