I love a beautifully landscaped yard. The neighbor to our west has one of the most beautiful yards in town. It comes with a price tag. He is constantly doing something with his yard. Yet if you ask him, he will tell you that he thoroughly enjoys it.
Time — it takes time and lots of it.
I enjoy working in the dirt. That is why we have so many flower gardens. When I worked for the school, I had summers off and time was not an issue. Early mornings would find me out in the dirt. I loved it.
Then my job changed. I no longer have summers off. Time became an issue. These days the weeds seem to mock me.
This patio section is done – well at least for now. In addition to my own weeds there are the weeds at the church. If no one steps up to take care of them then it gets added to my list of things to do. Green grass is now my favorite tool in landscaping.
One thing about weeds – they just keep coming. If left attended, they will take over.
So it is with our lives. If we allow weeds (worry, doubt, fear, sin…..) to grow, they will take over. Before we know it our joy and peace will be replaced with sorrow and stress.
How do we control the weeds in our lives?
By staying plugged in to Jesus – spending time in the Word, prayer (which involves both speaking and listening – be still and know that He is God! Psalm 46:10), gathering with others for worship and instruction (preaching) Heb 10:25, cultivating an awareness of the presence of Christ in your daily life….
By allowing God to prune us – get rid of those things that displease Him, those things that get in the way, those things that will only cause us pain….
I often pray this scripture from Psalm 139:23-24 (AMP)
“23 Search me [thoroughly], O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there is any wicked or hurtful way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
By growing in the fruit of the Spirit — Galatians 5:22-23 (MSG) “But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.”
Have the weeds taken over your life?
til next time
Every had that feeling that someone was indirectly talking about you and yet they didn’t have a clue? They may mean well but sometimes in an attempt to help – they actually cause pain. If you don’t understand something – please ask – don’t assume.
Some people have the gift of encouragement and some people have room for improvement.
I have had people assume that our life is problem free. Really? We are fighting on the front lines of a spiritual war against an enemy who seeks to destroy and devour. We are standing up for truth, justice, and morality. We believe in the power of prayer and we point people to God. Still think that is going to be a problem free life?
What we do have is a relationship with all mighty God that sustains us, comforts us, fills us with hope and washes over us with peace. No problem is too great for our God.
For those of you who don’t know me, I am a wife, mother, pastor’s wife, worship pastor, Sunday school teacher, counselor, church bookkeeper and secretary, billing and insurance claims specialist at an eye clinic, and I am available to people. When I am home, I spend my evenings working until 10:00 – many times til 11:30, or you will find me crashed on the couch exhausted.
My husband is a pastor and a college teacher. He has turned into a great cook – partially out of necessity. Three days a week I do not have time or energy to cook.
We both struggle with overworking. It saddens me to see this trait has developed in our children. They also set aside time for fun – I pray this continues.
Early on in our ministry I learned a very valuable lesson. People may have great ideas but it is not up to me (or my husband) to carry out those great ideas. Having an idea is the easy part. Carrying out that idea requires commitment.
Being over committed is an area that I struggle with. I read a face book status today that reminded me of this — “The need is the call.” That kind of statement, taken to heart, can cause me to stretch myself too thin. Every where I look there are needs. Yet I know that God is not calling me to be the answer for each need and become so busy that I miss the opportunities that God has in store for today.
That said, there are times that I hear an idea and it resonates in my heart. I know that I want to be a key part of it. Last year we did a girls night in for all ages. It wasn’t my idea but I wanted to be involved in seeing it through. It was fantastic. It was energizing!
This week is our very busiest week at the eye clinic where I work. It comes at a very inconvenient time for me. Yet it is what it is.
It has brought to the forefront of my thinking that I have too many irons in the fire. That right there can burn up the joy and rest that God so wants to be evident in my daily life.
For a long time I tried to remove irons, but then other irons would just find their way back in the fire. I am real good at picking up things others lay down. So I have come up with a new plan. I am going to throw water on the fire at 9:00 every night. That may not sound like a big deal to you but it is huge to me and it is a little scary.
I’ll let you know how it goes.
til next time
It isn’t that I didn’t see it coming. Really I shouldn’t be surprised. Yet, I get tired of the same old mountain. This is one mountain that I would love to toss into the sea. Yet I don’t think that is what Matthew 17:20 is talking about.
This mountain could make Mount Everest appear small. Treacherous terrain appears to be everywhere. It is daunting and has almost a mocking quality that seems to be everywhere. Yet I am confident that getting to the top of this mountain is an attainable goal. Scripture says I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)
It takes more than determination and wanting it bad enough. I really get tired of hearing people say -- if you want it bad enough.... or – well you must not want it bad enough.….
It has very little to do with wanting it bad enough and much more to do with fighting the onslaught of rough terrain that threatens to send me back down the mountain side. There I will need to bandage my wounds and have to begin all over again.
When that happens the mountain seems to actually get bigger.
What mountain am I talking about? The mountain that looms in front of me every time I attempt to go on a diet or make a healthy lifestyle change.
As perimenopause is setting in, this mountain seems to have added a few twists and turns that I could truly do without. Losing weight wasn’t a picnic before but add to that a dropping metabolism and I find myself facing a mountain of sheer rock.
In the past I have said that just starting a diet means I will gain 5 pounds. My husband has witnessed this more than once or twice. I have tried writing down everything I eat. I have tried numerous diet plans. I have lost the same 20 pounds more times than I care to count. Each time the mountain seems to grow.
For me, the carbohydrate diet is a good fit. It is not truly a diet but more of a way of life for those people who are truly carb junkies. Yet even though it is a good fit, that doesn’t stop the numerous ways the mountain will try to sabotage my efforts.
So that brings me to today – day three of my carb diet. The first three days are indeed the hardest. My body is not happy. It happens to love carbs and is doing all it can to remind me of that.
Then there is the mountain. It has thrown all sorts of boulders at me in an effort to send me back down the mountain. While this is not a surprise, it is still something I could do without.
What will tomorrow bring? I don’t know but as we sang in first service today I know who holds tomorrow!!
til next time
Day 4 – Since I hadn’t posted this yet, I have a confession. I almost caved to the boulders that were being flung down the mountain. Last night I was overly tired, hungry and had faced some pretty difficult things. I just wanted a sandwich. Yes complete with soft yummy bread.
I have a great husband who caught me as I was smearing the mayo all over my bread. What did he do? He promptly tossed it in the trash and gave me a pep talk. Whew!! That was a close call.
Heading a little higher up that mountain.
ok that’s it for now
Today I am off work. I am not sick, nor does my boss think that I am sick. This wasn’t a planned vacation day. I am not on vacation.
Yesterday I asked my boss if I could leave after lunch and take Tuesday off. Maybe I should mention that I was off last week for spring break. I had plenty of work that had piled up while I was gone.
Yet I knew that I was in great need of a day of rest. ‘You have not because you ask not.’ (James 4:2) I am finally getting smarter. I love God’s favor. I am grateful for a boss who did not hesitate to grant me my request.
I came home from Spring break exhausted. I truly experienced the grace of God on Sunday. I know that He gave me an abundance of strength to do the work He has called me to do and to do it with joy!
Monday morning I could tell my body was tapped out.
Spring Break – Last year we went to Branson, MO. This year we talked about heading to the coast. A week of lounging around, soaking up the sun and doing much of nothing was very appealing. However, our conference was rescheduled to the first weekend of our vacation. (I blogged about the conference – click here)
We were losing 2 days of travel time so instead of going south we decided to go north to see family and friends. God knew what we could not possibly have known — that we needed to be going north for Spring break.
On Saturday morning we found out that my step-sister had passed away. It was pretty sudden. She had a stroke Friday night that caused bleeding on the brain.
Years ago she had asked my husband to do her funeral and for me to sing.
This trip I was planning on surprising my step-sister. She didn’t know we were coming. I guess she was the one with the surprise.
Normally on vacation we pack casual clothes. However, since we were at a conference we had business casual clothes with us. Still this was the first funeral Curt did in dress pants and a sweater, but I know that Phyllis would have loved it.
Sunday, after church, on the way back to the hotel we realized that there was a problem with the car. I refused to get jazzed up about it. Sunday was the only day we had nothing on the agenda. I was not going to ruin it by worrying about something I couldn’t control anyway. God was very aware that we would be on the road a lot in the next week.
The next morning God directed Curt to just the right shop. We were on the road 15 minutes before we had originally planned. Thanks God!
A couple of hours later we were in our old neighborhood. It was so good to see mom. We played a few games of dominoes. Later Phyllis’ son, wife and good friend joined us. It was a time of reminiscing and planning. The funeral would be Thursday. I am sure mom did not know what was going on but she enjoyed all the attention.
Connecting with family and friends was wonderful. I cherish that time. Although it did make for a full week and a whole lot of eating.
Thursday was the funeral. We had a couple of firsts at this funeral. Rick sang You and me Jesus. When he was done the people broke out in applause. Yes, applause at a funeral. Rick makes that piano sing like no one I have ever heard. The song itself is powerful! Then there were at least 11 people who spoke during the ‘share a memory’ time. Young, old, male, female, family, friends — what a tribute! I was grateful that I made it through the poem and song that Phyllis had wanted me to do.
We were among some of the last to leave the luncheon. Seeing people from way back was therapeutic. Lots of hugs. Lots of catching up. Lots of new things to pray about. One more visit with mom and then it was back on the road to the hotel – 2 hours away.
I am grateful for the time I have with mom. However, it is emotionally draining to see the impact dementia is having on her.
Our last get together was with some of our friends from St. Mark’s. Seems like just yesterday. It is true that time flies and yet when you get together with old friends time seems to stand still.
So yesterday I knew that I was in need of some serious down time. Yes, I am getting smarter.
til next time
Why is it that two people can be at the same church service and one of them leaves refreshed and the other leaves unchanged?
Why is that one person can only complain about the worship service and the other person entered the very throne room and was changed during worship?
How about the person who is bored during church? Is it really boring or has that person missed the whole point of church?
Church is a gathering of people for the purpose of joining together for worship, uniting together in prayer, and hearing the preaching of the Word so that they can apply it to their day-to-day lives. Ephesians 4:11-12 “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.” We gather together to give and receive. It is not a spectator sport. As you leave our church you pass under a sign that says “You are now entering your mission field.”
More important than winning a drawing was the presence of God that filled that place and filled my life to over flowing.
The music was powerful –”From the highest of highs, to the lowest of lows, Your glory will be known.” That’s it. No matter what is going on let God’s glory be known. Let God’s grace be known. Let God be praised and let that be evident in our lives.
I went with an expectant heart and God met me there is a powerful way. He does that you know, meet you at church in a special, powerful way. (God is always with us but there is a special anointing of His presence when we gather together for church.) As you enter into worship and give God your attention, seeking Him –He will speak to you through the music, prayer and the Word.
Here are a few things that spoke to my situation.
God doesn’t change His purpose when the storms come. Just because trouble comes, God hasn’t changed His mind. Storms are opportunities for God to demonstrate His power. You don’t know the availability of God’s grace until you step into it. Being wounded in ministry is a sign that you love. –Laurie Hoyt
Crucible — 2 Kings 4 Every life and ministry will face heated crucibles. You don’t get to decide what it will be, when it will be or where. You decide how you respond. What you have is God’s starting point. Every crucible is an opportunity for answers to emerge. –Gary Hoyt
My heart goes out to those people who attend church but miss the opportunity for God’s presence to make a difference in whatever they are dealing with. Even if you don’t know the songs, or the songs are old, or they are too fast or slow, don’t let that stop you from engaging in worship. Worship is warfare!
With all the technology that we have at our finger prints - guard against that becoming a distraction from what God would speak to you during the service.
I can use my iPod for Bible reading but I, personally, cannot post a quote from the service on facebook without getting pulled in to facebook – at least a little. It becomes a distraction. Another thing I find is that I have to sit up front. I am way too distracted by movement.
What distracts you? Guard against those distractions. Find what works for you to be able to give your attention to worship, prayer and the preaching of the Word. You will be glad you did.
But most of all come to church bringing a sacrifice of praise with an expectant heart and you will be changed (strengthened, equipped, refreshed) in the presence of a Holy God.
til next time
When I tell you that God will take care of His children, I know of what I speak. Time and time again, God has proven Himself faithful to our family. In big ways and in small ways His fingerprints are evident.
A few examples:
a check from a stranger covering the cost of both boys glasses
hitting a huge bump going 65 mph on our motorcycle -causing a chunk out of our back tire and the frame to partially rest on the tire – not realizing it, we continued at 65 mph to our exit. And then God prepared a very nice place for us to wait for the tow truck.
our garage door opener started to work properly after years of requiring help
if you have read any of my blogs you know that they are filled with little and big things God is doing
When you place your life in the hands of Almighty God and live your life trying to follow His Word then you have embarked on a journey like no other. Knowing that God is with you, that nothing takes Him by surprise and that with each test, He is right there to help you, changes your perspective. (An ever-present help in trouble Psalm 46:1)
Lord, help me remember that nothing is going to happen today that You and I can’t handle.
Fear can be a powerful emotion if you are not careful. I think that is why the Bible has so many scriptures that tell us not to fear. I have heard it said that there are 365 “do not fear” scriptures. Hmmm, one a day. I think God is trying to get the point across!
What do you do when fear looms over you?
All the what ifs ————now whats————-and what are we going do——- can certainly ruin a perfectly good day. I have learned that faith and fear are not equal partners. Faith silences fear. Giving in to fear and letting it take over cripples faith.
Worship is a powerful force against fear. It is hard to sing praises to the King of Kings and remain fearful. There is just something about singing “My Savior loves. My Savior lives. My Savior’s always there for me. My God He was. My God He is. My God is always gonna be” that raises you up above any thing you are or will be facing.
Fear was trying to rear its ugly head this past Wednesday. I was finishing up February, on paper it looked pretty sad, but God is so much bigger than that. He is not limited to nor bound by numbers on paper. Instead of letting fear take over I decided to look in anticipation as to how God is going to work this out. He will – of that I am sure!
In choosing songs for worship that night “My Savior, My God” was one of the songs we sang. What a proclamation! Sing that a few times and see what happens to fear.
It is true – what you feed gets stronger. Are you feeding your faith or your fear?
til next time
My husband and I pastor a small town church in rural Iowa. There have been many changes in the 20+ years we have been here, both in the church and the community.
When we first came here the church was on the edge of town with a house on one side and fields on the other three sides. In the fall we would be surrounded by corn. It truly was rural Iowa.
Now one field has been turned into a car dealership and houses have lined the back of the property. We still have a field on one side that has had hay planted for the last couple of years. The owner is holding out – for what exactly – I am not sure, but it is prime property.
Recently I started a new Sunday School class. Since we are short on teachers I have combined classes. While I do think that there is a lot to be said for having classes that are specific for a particular age. I also think that sometimes we separate too much. There is a lot to be gleamed from having people of varying ages in a group.
As I thought about what it was that I wanted to focus on I came up with four things.
1. First God loves me — what does that mean?
2. Loving Jesus — how do I do that?
3. Loving me — why is this important?
4. Loving others — why and how?
It is my desire that as a group we will grow in our understanding of God’s love, fall in love even more with Jesus, learn to truly love ourselves and then take all of that and Rock our World with love.
I just couldn’t come up with a group name. I think Facebook is a wonderful tool. I put it out there that I was looking for a name. I got a lot of really good ideas. Our new name — Impact!! It is exactly what the group is about – making an impact on our little corner of the world.
We have seen many changes in the past 20 years. The best changes have been those involving people who are letting God work in them and through them. Truth is we impact people everyday. Hopefully that impact is for good.
til next time
I wrote about reminders awhile back (click here to read it.)
Now this doesn’t mean I don’t have a good life. In fact, just the opposite is true. I have a great life – a full life.
Yet, I can get so focused on others that I forget to take time for me. While helping others does indeed make me happy, it is also important that I take time out for me too.
The Bible says to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39).
My life is full. I am surrounded with all sorts of blessings from God. However, I can find myself so immersed in whatever I am doing that I forget to truly enjoy it.
Laziness is not now, nor has ever been, a trait of mine. In fact, I often think that my mother set the bar too high. She didn’t sit down to rest until all the work was done. Well, in my occupation the work is never done so I have had a hard time learning to find that rest. God is calling me daily to a life of balance. It begins with changing my focus. It is not about accomplishing the mission but enjoying the process.
Here is my other Hobby Lobby purchase.
As a Christian there is no better life. Yet I see Christians that are practically miserable. Lack of trust or disobedience are among the top things that can cause a Christian to be miserable. How that must grieve the Father’s heart. Jesus came that we would have life and life abundantly. (John 10:10)
When I reflect on my life, I am in awe of the way God reveals Himself to me. So often it is in the every day miracles. His fingerprints are all around me. How sad when I allow myself to be too busy to notice.
Sometimes I wonder if my zeal for life is evident. I can get so caught up in the task at hand that I am clearly in the zone. My daily list of things to get done before going to bed can set me in a driven state that can become void of enjoyment if I am not careful.
I love my life. I love the way God orchestrates little things and big things. I join my voice with Matthew West’s in singing “I don’t want to go through the motions.” Life is meant to be enjoyed!
til next time
My Valentine – 27 years and going strong.
This Valentines as I think about what a gift you are to me, I am reminded of many things. (and just for fun — the first letter of each word in bold spells out your name – although they are not in order)
When we were dating, I knew you were unique. Your commitment to God was a sign of what your commitment would be to me.
I would come to view you as my rock. (Most of the time in a good way.) You are trustworthy, dependable, righteous, and steady. Those characteristics truly make you outstanding.
Intelligent certainly describes you. I admire your love for learning.
You are a generous man for which I am grateful. While you are indeed a financial guru, you see the importance in helping others. You set aside money in our budget to do just that. Along with that you give generously of your time.
You are a man of integrity who puts his hand to the plow and gives his all.
Lastly, you are truly irresistible. Even if I am “not happy” with you, I can’t stay that way for long.
We are in this together!!
Happy Valentine’s babe!
til next time