Monday, July 28, 2008

OK, here's the situation....

my parents went away for a weeks' vacation

LOL Remember that Fresh Prince song?!

Now, for real....I may have mentioned somewhere on the internet that I have shingles. If you missed my whining about it, look around, I'm sure you'll find some! I am not in pain, which is fantastic. What is not fantastic is A) that the shingles are on my rear and B)they itch like no other. I mean, all. the. time. The only real relief I get is by keeping the rash iced and therefore numb.

So there has been some feeling sorry for myself happening in this body o' mine over the past 10 or so days. And then I found this today when catching up on emails I hadn't been able to get to while out of town.

"Blessed is the man who preserves under trial, because when he has
stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has
promised to those who love him." --James 1:12

Praise be to You, God. I am blessed in so many ways and I want to
stay focused on that. Forgive me for feeling sorry for myself and
forgetting that joy in You is a real source of strength. I want to
sing your praises at all times!

No matter what you do - there will always be someone who has more
money or a better lifestyle than you. At the same time, there will
always be someone who doesn't have the blessings you do. Find joy
in God's love and remember to count your blessings.

God IS good. ALL THE TIME. Keep reminding me Lord!! Keep at me!!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Internet Cafe Devotion--Rain Down

Please go read the devotion here! It is an awesome story of how so much more can be in store for us than WE have planned, because God has the ULTIMATE plan!

Reflection questions:
Storms in life are inevitable. What storms are you in the middle of today?

Ahh, what an appropriate day to ask! I have had a rash for a few days, and since we are leaving town tomorrow, thought it might be a good idea to get it checked out. Turns out it is SHINGLES! It is not hurting as much as it is itching like the blue blazes! Itching to the point of bringing tears of frustration. I SO thought that after I took this GRE today, things were going to be easier for a week or two, then this was thrown in there. So yeah, I've pouted and felt sorry for myself, and then I got back up and hit the Bible to try to get myself back on track.

Are you at peace that God's perfect plan is at work in the middle of these storm?

Yes, I'm sure it is. It is just one more reminder to slow down, relax, and let Him have control. There is nothing I can do about this, just like much in life, so I might as well enjoy the scenery, so to speak!

How can we "prepare" our heart for those unexpected "pop~up" showers?
By doing exactly what I'm doing now...spending time with Him in His word. The more time I spend with Him, the less upsetting and out of control these experiences will be.

I know this storm is minor compared to many. However, it is situations like this that often get us worked into a tizzy. I thank the Lord that He gently reminded me to take refuge in Him instead of taking pity on myself! He is so good!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I Am study: I AM Your Fame

The title of this chapter reminds me of one of my favorite Chris Tomlin songs, "Famous One". And that reminds me of the t-shirt that he sold on tour several years ago that had a star covered with the words "I am not famous". That has definitely been a conversation starter!

1. On a scale of 1 to 10, rate yourself on how often your conversation is seasoned with the works of the Lord on your behalf? If you speak very little of Him, is there a reason you know of? If you speak often, how do people respond?

I'd say that I'm around a 6. It depends on where I am. Like right now, I'm not out and about as much, so other than with my kids, I don't have the opportunity to discuss Him as often. When I'm working, He comes up much more often. There are only a few people that I have ever discussed Him with that reacted negatively, one of them being a janitor at work. I'm still praying for him and working on him, as are many others on our faculty.

2. Have you experienced a Set Up for a Show Up when you were uncertain whether the situation was the chastisement of the Lord or a temptation of Satan?
Maybe....God definitely was shown to be the stronger in the situation, but I'm still not sure if I was not tempted by Satan. My intuition told me NOT to get into the situation, and I didn't listen. Hence the maybe!

3. Have you ever or are you now experiencing any Job trials where you can still not identify any wrong-doing on your part?

No, thanks be to God! And I pray that I do not have to go through any!

4. Apply this principle: How can my response make my God famous? Will obedience result in my sanctification and God's Glory?

Right now, it can be that I am following God's lead on going back to school. There are quite a few times that I have felt almost sick with apprehension, but I am certain of God's hand in how I came to have this opportunity. It is not going to be easy at all but with His help, I can do it!

5. Does the origin of our affliction matter in view of the fame God can gain from it?
No, I don't think so. God can gain fame from ANY situation if we choose to give Him the glory!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Draw Me Close

I'm very saddened by the loss of a 17 year old boy who I watched go through the school where I teach. This song is one of my favorites and helps me focus on the Lord!

Draw me close to you
Never let me go
I lay it all down again
To hear you say that I'm your friend
You are my desire No one else will do
Cause nothing else can take your place
To feel the warmth of your embrace
Help me find the way
Bring me back to you

You’re all I want
You’re all I've ever needed
You’re all I want
Help me know you are near

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Let me tell you about another of my favorites!

Melissa at Mel's World offers a devotion each Sunday, but right now, she is leading a mini-study called "Soak Up the Psalms". She's highlighted specific Psalms that bring her comfort, help her give praise, and pretty much are her favorites!

If you have a moment, go check her out, and tell her that Christi sent ya!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Becoming a Proverbs 31 Woman

This is another Bible study that I found here!

What does chayil actually mean? It is more than simply virtuous, according to this study. This word also means capable and intelligent (Amplified Bible) while Strong's Hebrew Dictionary says that this word would describe someone who possesses a certain strength, might, and power.

I don't know about you, but I would love to be described with these terms!

And as I read on, boy does it hit home! As a Proverbs 31 woman, I need to be one who spends time with the Lord getting ready for the daily tasks that I am given, just like Mary, sister of Martha, at the feet of Jesus. I'm doing fantastically with this during the summer when I have lots of time at my disposal, but when I'm working and we're running every night?? I'll readily admit that my time with the Lord falls by the wayside.

This statement sums it up well:

Sometimes, it is easy to be so busy running around doing things for God, that you forget all He really wants is your heart.

God wants our hearts, not just our time spent doing. He needs us to spend time with him UNDISTRACTED. Oooh, that is a hard one for me!! When I spend time with the Lord without being distracted by other things, He can give me all I need to do my daily tasks. But if I don't give Him my undivided attention, is all of His message going to get through? Certainly not!

Discussion questions:
1. Does understanding the true meaning of "chayil" change the way that you see God's plan for you as a woman?

Not so much my plan but definitely my worth as a wife and mother. Our society is SO bad to make us think we can do it great at work, a fantastic wife, and a doting mother. But that is not easy to do! I can do well at being a wife and mother when I don't have my job to distract me, but we gotta pay the bills, don't we?! Here is the thing that is so true but so easy to forget: when I let go of my time with God, I'm entering my day without a safety net. Without a map. Without that calm reassurance that He is with me. Why, oh why, are we so willing to drop this to the side and not see IT as the most important part of the day?!

Ok, I'm off on a tangent here!

2. Do you ever fall into the trap of striving for the world's idea of a Strong Woman? Why or why not? If so, how can you safeguard yourself from doing this?
Hee hee, I got ahead of myself didn't I? Yes, I do! See #1!

3. Do you feel that the example God gives you in Proverb 31 is attainable? Why or why not?
Yes and no...I'm not ever gonna be the most domestic thing ever, but you know what? Chris and God both love me for who I am. I don't need to try to be someone I'm not. I need to do my best at what I am, for God created this in ME!

4. What are a few ways that you personally could make more time to be like Mary and sit at Jesus' feet?
I need to take some of the time I spend doing 'me' things...surfing the net, watching tv, and spend it with the Lord--and truly, this will benefit me so much more! It may mean that I have to get up a little earlier or give up a few things that I like to do, but I need to do it! If my priorities are straight and I give God the time He deserves, it will make the rest of the pieces of the puzzle fit so much better!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

I AM study lesson 8: Instrument of Wonders

Time for lesson 8! I so love this study, and God has worked it out that I have also been reading Christian fiction about the people who were instrumental in Moses' life lately. I first read about Aaron in The Priest, a novella written by Francine Rivers. Then I read Miriam's Healing: Footprints from the Bible by Cynthia Davis. Now I'm getting ready to read Zipporah, Wife of Moses by Marek Halter.

I LOVE reading Biblical based fiction because it makes the stories so much more real to me. For naysayers who think it some sort of sacrilege to read these (as my grandmother did), here are my thoughts: could God not have ordained these persons to write these books just as he ordained people to write the books that are included in the Bible? Sure, they may not be 100% true, but I am sure that these authors did plenty of research into this, and also prayed without ceasing while they wrote each word.

OK. Off my soapbox. Can you tell I've had to debate this subject before?!

Back to the study!

This scripture really struck me as I was reading today's lesson: Hebrews 12: 12-13:
So don't sit around on your hands! No more dragging your feet! Clear the path for long distance runners so no one will trip and fall, so no one will step in a hole and sprain an ankle. Help each other out. And run for it! (Message translation)

Discussion Questions

1. Have you ever been in a situation where you had to 'go back' to a place of shame or ridicule? How did that make you feel?

Two thoughts come to mind when I read this. First, the rough situation at a church where I worked that I have referred to several times during this study. I did not HAVE to go back to the place, but I chose to. Since I knew that I had not done the things of which they had accused me, I felt that I needed to go back there with my head held high. If people wanted to talk, so be it. That was between them and God. I was not going to live my life in fear of entering that church again. Was it hard? Sure! The first two times were VERY hard and I cried. The second time was probably more painful than the first since I had also then split up from a guy who attended church there and that I thought I would marry. So I had a double-edged sword that time. BUT I also had the support of my college roomie, who drove an hour there to make sure I was NOT alone. (I wasn't alone anyway, I was with my entire choir! But you know what I mean.) Just cause that is the kind of friend she is. I've been back several times since then, and though it still hurts a part of me each time I do it, I can do it much easier now. And truly, the people who know me, who REALLY know who I am on the inside, know that I have nothing of which I am ashamed. I made some bad decisions, yes, but I was young. And though they did make life harder, those decisions have helped shape me into who I am today.

The other thought is where I have chosen not once, but TWICE, to eat crow and admit I was wrong when caught gossiping about someone. My tongue can be my worst enemy, gals! I have a hard time reigning it in at times! And both times I could have easily and indignantly denied it or treated the other person as though they were wrong. It was not easy to admit that yes, I had spoken out of turn and that I was wrong. The second time was particularly hard because I had to face the person at church. It was REALLY hard for quite some time. I would feel guilty each time I saw her, and she would barely speak to me. Thankfully, God has worked with His grace through this situation, and has remedied it. I am sure it would have taken longer and been more painful had I not admitted my wrongdoing. And I pray that I keep my tongue in control and do not repeat the experience!

2. Is there any circumstance in your life that still has you running for cover? Share if you feel comfortable.
I can honestly say that there isn't. Up until about 4 years ago, I had one friendship that had ended badly where I no longer communicated with the person. We have since reconciled. It is not back to where it was and since we live hours apart, it may never be. But I know in my heart that I have given the relationship every chance I could, and that is all I wanted.

3. When is the last time you felt like an overcomer?

Um about 3 seconds ago when I answered that last question! LOL No, really, I can say of myself (and you ladies know I'm saying this honestly and not to brag!) that I have an overcoming spirit. I have overcome some seriously hard obstacles. I do not deserve the credit though. It is the Lord's doing, every bit of it. I could not and would not be here today had it not been for His love and grace. And that is something that a day barely passes without me thinking.

4. If you have not yet taken the serpent by the tail, are you willing to stop running, take hold and trust God to transform it into a tool for wonders?
I'm tryin' my best! My latest challenge is following through with the schooling opportunity that God has given me. I am dragging my feet a bit with it, but God keeps on me about it!

5. I would like for you to write down this statement based on 1 John 2:14 somewhere you will see it often this week: "I am strong, the Word of God abides in me, and I have overcome the evil one." Memorize it. Say it over and over until you believe it. Will you do this?? Most of the time, there are no right or wrong answers, but on this one, I'm expecting a 'yes'!

LOL YES, I'll do this, Lisa!