Living Life in a Fish Bowl!

Gloria’s take on life.

fast forward and insert changing circumstances

There have been some changes in our home this week.  Two things you can count on – change and God.

There was a brief time in our married life when the only pets we had were fish.  At one point we thought about becoming fishless.  (I especially think that when it is time to clean the tank.)

Meet Jasmine

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When our youngest son moved out, he wasted no time in getting a puppy.  He now realizes why we would not let him or his brother get a puppy.

Fast forward and insert changing circumstances and Jazzy came to live with us.  We dog sat while he went off to college.  He has graduated and moved home to pay off some of that huge college debt.  Jazzy is very excited.

Meet Daisy May

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She loves to curl up on our bed.  She enjoys it even more now that we have added another dog to our house and only she is allowed in there.  (btw the crazy flower pillow was made by my grandmother who died in 1980)

When we got Daisy May, she was a free to good home, declawed,  and spayed  cat – everything on Curtis’ list of requirements.  She belongs to us.  Actually she is Curtis’ cat, no doubt about it.  He says it is because he feeds her.  However,  I wanted to give her away and he said no.

So my oldest son, not to be outdone by his brother, gets a puppy.   Being the good puppy grandmother that I am, he was only allowed in my house a couple of times.  There are reasons we didn’t want puppies.

Fast forward and insert changing circumstances and my son has to find a home for his dog.

Meet Killian

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I was dead set against adding Killian to our household – 2 big inside dogs??  Yet, this dog has seen my son through an extremely difficult time in his life.  He is part of our family.  How could I say no without seeing if the dogs would get along?

Would the dogs get along?

Fast forward and changing circumstances = the test.  Will they get along?  Killian is much bigger than Jasmine but Jazzy wasted no time letting  Killian know she is boss.

The test

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So we now have two large dogs and one very unhappy cat at our house.    It is a good thing that our cat is sneaky  and fast.

Both dogs are social and under my feet.  That will take some getting used to. Life is about how you deal with change.  I choose to see this as an adventure.

Two things you can count on — change and God.   When it comes to change, I remind myself that change does not take God by surprise.  Whatever comes my way,  I know that with God I can handle it and He will work all things out for my good.  (Romans 8:28)   God is an ever present help in trouble.  (Psalm 46:1)  God is a God of hope.  (Romans 15:13)  God’s love is unending.  (Eph 3:16-19)

til next time

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January 21, 2016 Posted by | living in a fish bowl | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

adjustments

This new chapter in my life will require some adjustments.

I was awake at 5:30 yesterday  morning.  No, my alarm did not go off.   My body is programmed to wake up early on Thursday because I open the office at 7:00.  Make that I used to open at 7:00!   Yes, this will take some adjustment.

I found myself rushing around picking up this and throwing laundry in the washer and then realized that I didn’t have to be any where until 12:30.   What a wonderful adjustment to make.

I have given lots of prayer and thought to what my new schedule will look like. What does it mean to finally place my focus on home and ministry?

One thing I know about myself is that I will have no problem filling up my schedule.  The possibility of being even more crazy busy, than I was as a bi-vocational minister, is very real.

I have no fear of laziness or boredom setting in.  That is just not how I am wired.   Knowing this about myself is why I am taking a couple of weeks to regroup and not adding anything to my schedule except study time and some much-needed house work.

swapping this office

swapping this office

for my new office

for my new office

what a great place to study -- my moon flowers make a beautiful wall

what a great place to study — my moon flowers make a beautiful wall

the flowers open up in the evening and close up during the day

the flowers open up in the evening and close up during the day

surrounded by beauty

view from my swing –  surrounded by beauty

as you can see the flowers are as tall as my clothes line pole

as you can see the flowers are as tall as my clothes line pole

 

Sure I have an office inside the house – two of them in fact.    I also have an office at the church that I will be using.  For the next couple weeks, though, my office will be the one pictured above.  One more adjustment that I am ready to make.

Of course there will be a financial adjustment to be made.  I am grateful for a husband who is a financial guru.  Long ago we made the decision to not buy on credit.  We live off of  a budget.  Most importantly, we depend on God to be our provider.  We are firm believers in the principle of tithing.  We trust that God will bless the remaining money (after tithes and offerings) and cause it to meet our needs and even some wants.  We are blessed!

Jeremiah 29:11-13  (NASB)

11 For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.

Following God, no adjustment needed there.  I learned the truth of this scripture years ago.   His plan is so much greater than anything I could come up with.

The key is to follow God’s leading, to not let fear hinder you, to not be in bondage to needing answers to all the ‘what if’  questions,  and to let your faith rise up removing the doubt that would try to stop you.

God has a plan for you!

til next time

August 2, 2013 Posted by | living in a fish bowl, ministry, Pastor's wife, Woman Pastor | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

to go or not to go

Decision making

Some decisions are so easy it almost doesn’t feel like you have to make a decision.   Some decisions are aided by circumstances.  While these may not always be pleasant, they are not difficult to make.  Other decisions are made easy by thinking through the consequences of the decision.

I had to make a decision  yesterday that was much more difficult.

My mom’s birthday is today.   mom and me

Our bi-vocational lifestyle tends to have us taking it one day at a time.  This is a good thing, but it leaves little room for spontaneity.  We pretty much have to plan weeks ahead if we are going to be gone.

Earlier in the week I realized that we actually could arrange it so that we could  make the trip to spend my mom’s birthday with her today.  It is a 6 1/2  hour drive (maybe longer depending on how many stops) so we would get to the hotel sometime Friday, visit a bit with mom Friday night, then see her for about 5 -6  hours on Saturday before heading back home.

The problem?  When we make a trip to see mom we try to at least do a 2 night stay.  It is a costly trip (both financially and physically) so to do it in just an overnight is more difficult.   Driving home late Saturday night and then getting to the church at 8:00 Sunday morning is not a good combination.  We have learned this the hard way.

mom and IBut it is my mom’s birthday.  I miss my mom.

My mom has dementia.  She will know at the time that I am not there, but she won’t remember who was there later on tonight.  However, I will know.

Friday morning came.  Friday is our day off, our sabbath rest.  We guard it carefully as it is vital in being bi-vocational for the long haul.   Do we pack up and go?

Man, I hate hard decisions.

This is one of those times where I would like to know the future.  In going – how would that affect the coming week? I am already pushing the overload button.   But in not going, will I regret that?   Will mom lose more of her memory before I see her again?  Should I take this opportunity, at whatever cost, to see her again while she still remembers me?  In looking at the calendar it will be weeks, possibly months before we will have an opportunity to see her.  Ugh!!

After praying some more about it, I still didn’t sense a clear direction.   What I did sense was a lack of motivation so I made the decision to not go.   It  helped to know that there would be others there to celebrate with mom.   She would  spend her birthday with family.

I try to live my life in such a way as to not have regret.  Life is too short.

Happy Birthday Mom!  I hope to see you soon!

til next time

As I was finishing up this blog I heard Joyce Meyer say:

“We are anointed by the Holy Spirit for hard.”

Isn’t that the truth!!!

January 26, 2013 Posted by | dementia, ministry | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

timing

Back in the beginning of July my son and his wife started the process of purchasing their first home.  We are very excited as it is just a few blocks from us.  They closed on the house this past Wednesday.

They have their own ‘horror’ stories to share of yo-yo Dan the loan officer, but all things happen for a reason.  Timing is indeed God’s department.  This is a valuable lesson to learn.  Whatever we are facing, whatever the time frame, God is still the One we depend on.

This is the beginning of the end of a chapter in their life and the start of a new chapter.  You see for the last almost 10 months they have been living with us.  If you have read any of my other posts than you know that I love, love, love having my family home.

I was not a fan of empty nesting.  However, I know from experience that God has that all in control too.  Timing again is God’s department.

Change.

Seasons change — not just the weather but in our lives also.

Part of living a life to the fullest is learning how to handle change.  Part of successfully learning to handle change is understanding the truth that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  (Hebrews 13:8) He never changes. (Malachi 3:6 ” For I am the LORD, I change not;…”

He is the stability we have when the rest of the world is changing all around us.  He is our helper when we need to make changes in our behavior and our thinking.

Change.

It is a new day, a new opportunity to choose to really engage in life or to just go through the motions.  It is so easy for me to get wrapped up in all that needs to be done that I forget to fully enjoy this day that God has given to me.

Change.

Let there be change in me as I desire to be more and more like the One who gave His life for me.

til next time

October 26, 2012 Posted by | just thinking about stuff, life lessons, relationships | , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

old dog – new tricks?? is it possible?

What is important to you?

Could someone tell by looking at your life what you value?

Have you become trapped in  never-ending lists and forgotten what is most important?

Priorities – sometimes I really don’t like that word.  I know what is important to me.  Sometimes, though, I find myself getting caught up in doing things that take more time than I had thought and make those things that I feel most important seem to take a back seat.  The “urgent” replaces the vital — that sort of thing.  Ugh!!!

It seems that as soon as I get one thing off my list, two more jump on.  I have indeed become my mother.  I hardly remember her ever sitting down when I was growing up.  She would work a 10 hour day, come home, and be on her feet til bed time.  (She did sit for supper.   However,  if we weren’t eating at the table,  I would find her eating at the kitchen sink.)

I remember as a child thinking I was so not going to be like that.  I was going to take time for play and relaxation.  I did fairly well with that while the boys were growing up.  I made play time a priority.

Now that the  boys are adults the priority to keep play time in my schedule has gotten squeezed.   I am becoming more like my mother.  Well, you can’t eat off my floors and you don’t have to look far to find the dust bunnies, so I am not exactly walking in her shoes.  Yet the pressure to stay on top of it all is still there.

It is a driving force in my life.  For example, I may take a book out to my swing thinking that I will get some reading done.  I may make it two pages before I set the book down and start weeding.   It takes a long time to get through a book that way.

The other day Curt and I were talking again about the benefits of exercise.  We had agreed awhile back that neither one of us would add another commitment without giving up one we currently have.    I just did not see how exercise was going to fit into my schedule, nor what I would give up in order to find the time.

Yet I go back to the question what is important to you?  Health IS important. Some day I want to enjoy grand kids.  Yet, my life style does not usually reflect that health is important.  I eat way too many carbs and have no exercise routine.

Why carbs?  Carbs are  quick and portable.  I can grab a pop tart on my way out the door or I can take time to fix myself an egg.  Time, that is a huge factor.  It doesn’t help that I have trained my body to love carbs.   Set some form of a carb in front of me or a piece of fruit and I’d pick the carb almost every time.  I am a carb food junkie and not proud of that.

So, can you train an old dog new tricks?  I hope so, because this old dog needs to be retrained.

A couple of weeks ago I decided to add walking into my life.  What am I giving up?  Facebook — Oh not entirely.  I still have it up when I am doing other things on the internet.  I check it on my ipod but facebook time has been drastically reduced.

There are still days when finding that hour or even 1/2 hour is impossible but there are days that I manage to squeeze it in.  As for the  carbs — I am making time for that egg in the morning and determined to fit fruit into my daily diet.

It’s a start.  It is also really easy to fall back into old habits.  I’ve been told that if you do something for 30 days it becomes a new habit.  I have tried that and can say that it is not always the case.  Old habits are buried deep inside a person and will resurface if you let it.  Maybe that is why Paul stated in the Bible “I die daily.”  I Corinthians 15:31

til next time

June 23, 2012 Posted by | just thinking about stuff, weight loss | , , , , , , | 5 Comments

perimenopause

It is sometimes referred to as the change before the change.

A couple of years ago I found myself in uncharted territory.  My energy level barely registered.  Yet my responsibilities and commitments continued to increase.  Things other people had committed to do but were unable to do (for one reason or another) fell back into my lap.

Picking up the slack is just a part of who I was.  It was one of the hats I wore as a PW.  Adding things to my plate was the norm.  Seeing things that needed to be done or should be done just came  natural to me.  Multitasking was an art form that I had  mastered.

BUT

Things were changing.  I couldn’t seem to get it together.  The pressures of all the various things on my plate seemed to be suffocating me.

Looking back now I realize that I was entering perimenopause.

Perimenopause….

Some women state that they had no symptoms and sailed right thru.  How?  Only God knows.  Sadly it is not my experience.

Here are a few symptoms:  irregular bleeding, problem sleeping, weight gain, hot flashes, bladder control weakness, mood changes, sudden tears, night sweats, fatigue, hair loss, difficult concentration (brain fog), memory lapses, dizziness, bloating, allergies, brittle nails, changes in odor, irregular heartbeat, depression, anxiety, irritability, panic disorder, breast pain, headaches (migraines), joint pain, burning tongue, electric shocks, digestive problems, gum problems, muscle tension, itchy skin, tingling extremities……….

Brain fog is the hardest for me personally.  With all the various things I have going on, multitasking was a huge part of my life.  Brain fog and multitasking mix about as well as oil and water.

I have it on good authority that the brain fog will lift.

So I wait.

While I am waiting:

I will continue to fight the symptoms with prayer and praise.

I will look for ways to reduce multitasking in my life.  One way I have done this is to release myself from helping with the set up of all activities held at the church and the need to be the last one to leave said activities.  In the past 20 years there were but a handful of times that I left an event while clean up was still going on. (All but one of those times has been in the last two years.)

While I am waiting

I will remind myself to take a deep breath.  When pressure increases – breathing can tend to become shallow.  Three deep breaths helps me to focus.

I will extend grace and mercy to those around me who don’t understand.  I will guard my heart.  (Proverbs 4:23)  I will dig deeper into the Word.  When people say things that are hurtful and my hormones are all over the place, I will remember that “nothing shall offend me.”  (Psalm 119:165)

I will be mindful to not do or say something that later I will need to apologize for.  “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable.” (Psalm 19:14)

This starts at home.  Perimenopause can certainly be a trial for my husband.  After all, I don’t understand what is going on – so how could he?

His wife, who used to be able to handle so many things all at once, now at times can’t seem to handle getting supper on the table.  His wife, who one minute is the confident women he married, the next minute is crying over something so very insignificant.

Perimenopause

I am trying to embrace this period of my life.  Yet I wonder at times ‘who is this woman?’

While I am waiting:

I will hold tightly to the King of Kings.  Jesus will bring me through this season of change.  I am confident that all of this will make me more sensitive to the needs of others and more like Jesus.  In my weakness, He is strong.

So to all you women who find that you have entered the peri -cycle – know that you are not alone. Know that this too shall pass.  Be kind to yourself.  Recognize that you may not be able to do everything you could before AND that is ok.

Extend grace and mercy to others for truly you will need some yourself.

And remember that God is an ever-present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)

til next time

May 29, 2012 Posted by | perimenopause, relationships | , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

water only?

Did you give up something for Lent?  If so, how is that going?  Lent can be kind of like a New Year’s Resolution.  You start out strong but then……….

At the beginning of the Lent season, K-love radio was encouraging their listeners give up all beverages but water and then to donate the money they would spend on other beverages (for the 40 days) to help bring clean water to areas that have no clean water.

This is a very noble cause.  At the time I thought that I could give financially without giving up my diet soda, coffee, and tea.

I am a firm believer in supporting Missions.  It is giving that goes above and beyond my tithe.  After all the Bible clearly states that the tithe belongs in the store house so that there will be a local place for worship and teaching.  The local church is God’s tool for the community.  (Malachi 3:10)

Ah, but this is not a blog about tithing.    It is a blog about doing something in your life that stretches you to be a better person.

I am a pop-a-holic.  It is my beverage of choice.  It is not uncommon for me to get a 32 ounce soda (fountain pop is the best) after drinking a couple of 12 ounce cans at work.   This does not take into account the coffee I have had in the morning.

Awhile back my ENT doctor got on my case big time about caffeine.  (FYI just writing that sentence produced an involuntary heavy sigh even though it has been weeks now since I gave up caffeine.)  So I went to decaf coffee and caffeine free soda.  Actually it was caffeine free diet soda.  You know the whole no caffeine, no sugar, bad taste but still addicting soda!

Then K-love got me thinking about water only.  Could I do it?  Why should I do it?  Am I crazy to think about doing it?  I love fountain pop!  Isn’t it enough that I gave up caffeine why should I consider giving up soda all together?  I’ve missed the start of  Lent so maybe next year?  and so the argument went…..

While on vacation I gave it some more thought.  Isn’t it funny how once the distractions of daily living are gone that we can see some things more clearly. Vacation is a wonderful thing!

40 days?  hmmm?  When would 40 days be up?  If I started on Thursday (while still on vacation) it would be 40 days until my ordination.   BUT start while on vacation?  Who am I kidding?  Yet the thought would not leave me.   The more I tried to push it aside the deeper the realization came that I needed to do this.  I recognized that I was drinking way too much soda and way too little water.

It’s been over a week now and I’d love to say it is so easy but that would be lying.  It is hardest at restaurants where they have fabulous fountain pop.  Those of you that love fountain pop like me know what I am talking about.  (another heavy sigh)  However, since I am just drinking water the decision of what to drink is gone.

Why do this?  What is the purpose?

I think that the discipline of giving up something, even for a short time, is good.  It causes us to be stretched and to get out from under our comfort zone.   It teaches our flesh once again that it is not in control.

Temptations are everywhere.  While in Branson, before I had made the decision to do the 40 days of water, we had bought some fabulous decaf coffee beans.   They smell so good!!!   The weather is so beautiful and ice tea sounds so refreshing.   I am surprised at the cravings I have had.

Drinking water only is quite simple.  It doesn’t require much thought just discipline.  Now if only food could be so simple.  Who knows maybe it will impact that as well.

What are you doing in your life to stretch yourself?  What causes  you to get out of your comfort zone?

til next time

March 23, 2012 Posted by | just thinking about stuff, spiritual reflections | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

caffeine is not my friend

I had my follow visit to the ENT this past week.

Good news is that my overall hearing has actually improved. That was a wonderful surprise – both to me and my doctor.

The test that was done to check out my inner ear was not as good.   It is a test that emits sound waves into your ear.   On one ear I passed three out of five.  On the other ear I passed two out of five.  Unfortunately there is nothing that can be done about that.

The ringing is still there.  Some days, it is absolutely horrible.  Other days, I hardly notice it.

So he gave me all my options – such as they are.  He again stressed the importance of reducing salt, no caffeine, and reducing stress.  Sigh!  The salt is not a problem.  Attempting to eliminate caffeine does not reduce my stress.

Here is how that played out.  When I tried it last time I did not notice any significant change in the ringing.  What I noticed was that I was way more tired.

At work the thought of making decaf coffee would send some of my coworkers over the edge.  Not to mention that I absolutely love fountain pop and there are very few places that have good caffeine free fountain pop.

However, I did try to go no caffeine.  Like I mentioned though, it really wasn’t helping the ringing.  I missed my morning coffee at work so I decided one cup wouldn’t hurt.  That led to two cups.  This in turn led to –  “well I guess one soda at lunch won’t make any difference.”   Funny how that led to two sodas at lunch.

Which meant that when I went back to the doctor I was not caffeine free.  😦

Hmmm, kind of the same way in our Christian walk.   For example, grumbling should be avoided.  It does no one any good.  Yet how easy is it to complain or mutter?  (Check out my 30 challenge to not complain)  How easy it is to justify something that is so unhealthy.

It takes discipline to remove that bad habit.  It requires making a conscious effort to guard your mouth.

It is a daily thing.

Life sometimes comes at us very quickly and things happen that we don’t like but complaining about it won’t help.   Grumbling will not get you out of the mire.  It will only keep you down.  I’ve yet to see anyone get into the solution while complaining and murmuring.

So I left the doctor’s office with renewed commitment to walk this walk caffeine free.

The next day I opened at work so I made a  pot of decaf coffee and put it in a thermos.  Then I made real coffee for the rest of them.    I have a plan for Monday.  I am buying a small coffee pot to have in my office.

Choices — it comes down to choices.

til next time

February 4, 2012 Posted by | just thinking about stuff, living in a fish bowl, spiritual reflections | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

ordination

Life in our fishbowl is adventurous.

A couple of things have managed to squeeze their way into our lives.  At a time when I absolutely was not going to add anything to my schedule, I found myself in the midst of the process required for  ordination.

Let me back up a bit — I graduated from college in ’85 but it wasn’t until the fall of 2000 that  I finally went through the steps needed to get my license to preach.  When the boys were little I felt that my first responsibility was to them.

One of the things that made licensing so special was having my mom there.  My dad died when I was 17.  He had no idea that I followed in his footsteps.  (My dad had a degree from a Bible college before he met and married my mom in ’46. I was thrilled to be able to use some of his textbooks for my classes.)  I know that situations came up and he never used that degree in the traditional way, yet I often wish that I had asked him more about it.

Jumping to the present –  as only God could orchestrate, one thing led to another and  the next thing I know I am studying for my ordination test.   Every free moment I had found me with my nose in my study sheets.  I had around a month and a half  before the test.   Of course Christmas and all that entails for a ministry couple was happening at the same time.  Yes life was full.

My mom, as some of you know, has dementia.  I miss having her to share this with.  I miss the excitement that I know she would have.  As it turned out, I used her Bible for my test.  It was my way of having a part of her with me in this process.

Yesterday I had the final step – the interview.   I guess it went well.   At least that is what Curt tells me.  It actually gave me a lot to think about.   I am excited for what the future holds.  (On a side note – My mom had left a pair of her shoes here when she moved to Florida to live with my brother.   I wore those shoes to the interview.  I miss my mom.)

On the heels of this process my husband decides to enroll in a graduate level class.   My “have a plan, be the plan, do the plan” husband didn’t have a clue how this would work.  Yet he felt strongly that the time was now.  God leads in mysterious ways.  God knows how to shake things up and bring about true adventure.

To let you know just how quickly this college class came up, we had to change my interview time in order for him to get to his class afterwards.  Yes yesterday was a day full of adventure.

Just following our leader (Jesus) into the great unknown.  Life is a great adventure!

(reminds me of an old Steven Curtis Chapman song)

The great adventure

til next time

January 24, 2012 Posted by | living in a fish bowl, ministry, Woman Pastor | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

made it 1 entire day :)

grumble……..murmur………complain………….whine

How much of my day includes one of those things?  Well if you would have asked me two days ago I would have said “I don’t have a big problem with it.”  –click here to read earlier blog —

In fact, I decided two days ago to be mindful of what and how I am saying things for the next 30 days.  No problem??   or so I thought.

I like to talk a lot.  Did I mention that? 

Yesterday went by pretty smoothly.  To the best of my knowledge no complaining, murmuring, whining or grumbling came forth from my mouth. 

Ah, but this morning I had to be to work early and the first thing out of my mouth was “it is way too early to be up.”  I barely got it out of my mouth when I remembered.  UGH!  I told Curt that it really didn’t count because I wasn’t fully awake.  (heavy sigh)  Ok that is reaching just a bit. 

It just showed me how easy it is to grumble and not even realize you are grumbling. 

I much prefer mornings when I wake up and before getting out of bed, I say “Good morning Lord, it’s gonna be a great day.”   Hmmm I am sure God prefers that too,  along with my family and friends.

Then off to work.  I need to go back to the doctor for a follow-up visit.  I mentioned to Susan, “I hate spending money on doctor bills.”  

Oops, there it is again.  Yes, that is a true statement but murmuring none the less.  Instead I am grateful that I can make payments to such noted doctors.

So I have had two strikes today and it is only lunch time.  However, this is not baseball and I am not limited to three strikes. 

Yes, being mindful of my words and purposing in my heart to stop any and all griping is a good thing.   After all, I am confident that God is at work.  God will take care of those things that come my way.  With my mouth I will be grateful and thankful.

Oh, I forgot to mention, when I got home at lunch there was yet one more explanation of benefits from our insurance.  It was a shocker.  Let’s just say that Curt has met his $4,200 deductible for the year. 

Strangely though, I am not freaked out about it nor do I even want to grumble.  It just isn’t worth it.  I am determined to live in peace. 

What about you?  How often do you complain, grumble, murmur, gripe?

I challenge you to replace it with gratitude.  Let your hope in God rise above the fear.

What we say does impact our lives and those around us.

til next time

July 14, 2011 Posted by | living in a fish bowl, ministry, relationships, spiritual reflections | , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments