Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Christmas Pictures 2015

Ok, moms, ADMIT IT.

Getting family pictures is stressful!  We all have to match. Everyone's hair has to look perfect. Everyone has to be rested and everyone has to smile at the same time.  Oh, and no throw up, spit up or diaper explosions.

We get there and try to smile, while encouraging the rest of the clan to look at the camera and smile!  Most of the time (at least for us) there are 25 terrible pictures and 4 good.

At our latest session, our sweet little princess was no sugar and ALL SPICE. Whewwww!  She wanted nothing to do with those pictures.  After a VERY long sitting, we got a few that we were able to work with, however, we all were CRAZY by the end of it. We were "all through".

Normally, we only share the sweet pictures, but I had to share these others because I wanted you to know that I'm a real mom with real kids struggling to point them in the right direction.

It's rough at times, it's crazy at times and it's awesome at other times. So today, I had to laugh and share and just say, "It's OK mom. It's really OK."  These "spicy" pictures will be ones that we share at her graduation. :-)  I hope these make your day a little better.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Nisi Dominus Frusta

Nisi Dominus Frusta means " Without the Lord, Frustration". Have you ever started a project and become so frustrated because it just didn't seem to be of God?

Have you sat back and wondered whether what you were doing is of any importance?

Ok, it pays the bills, gives you a little extra, but is God in it?

If you were to stop doing what you are doing, would it make any difference?

Ok, here is some straight-up honesty.

A frequent argument between my husband and myself occurs because I forget to ask him before I make plans. Usually, I make plans and then closer to the time, tell him about them. About 90% of the time, he likes the ideas or plans, but sometimes our schedules overlap or it's something that he doesn't agree with. I've always been a very independent person and an idea person, so when I get a new plan, I don't stop to ask, I just do. Many times, things work out great but God is not always in them and THIS is a problem.

So I struggle not only with asking my husband, but more importantly God.

God has a plan for my life and knows where I can be best used, but if I don't "with" His plan, then I am laboring in vain.

This HIT me hard recently when studying Psalms 127:

Vs. 1: Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.

Vs. 2: It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.

Solomon who wrote this Psalm also said in Ecclesiastes 2:1 "Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity."

Can you imagine working all your life and then finding out that it was all in vain? How painful that would be! In fact, that is a terrifying thought to me. I want to be ALL that God wants me to be. I would like to be intentionally spending every second of my life ONLY doing what God would have me to do. Anything less would be vanity.

Read Psalm 127:2 again. You know those hours that you have been burning late at night getting that project done? Well, what does the verse about that?

Friend, we need to get rest. We need to live on less. We need to be where God desires us to be. We need to spend every second doing what God has desired for us.

Now, that doesn't mean I can't work in a secular work environment. What it means is ask God where He wants you.

Ask Him how many hours He wants you to work.

Ask Him, "do I really need to do this extra work to get that extra __________?"

Is that extra item really going to bring God glory and honor?

Be intentional about labor and laboring for God. Don't get to the end of your life and realize that all you did was WORTHLESS.

To end, I want to share with you a statement from Benjamin Franklin. Many people believe that he wasn't a Christian, but you will see that even he knew that there was a God in control.

I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth- that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? To that kind providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful Friend? or do we imagine that we no longer need His assistance? I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth- that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that "except the Lord build the House they labour in vain that build it." I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without His concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better, than the Builders of Babel:
Vanity or Fruitfulness--what do we want our life work to be? - Rejoicing in the Present

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Plugging into Christmas

Ok, I totally get ya! Christmas parties, Christmas presents, decorations and cookies--there is LOTS to do. Christmas is a busy time of the year, but just recently I was reminded again about what is really important.

As many of you know, we finally have our house back after MONTHS of bathroom renovations. It's been just a little stressful so when I was able to finally CLEAN the house and put up my decorations, it was WONDERFUL.

That night, little A. and I celebrated next to our lit tree with hot chocolate, popcorn and a Veggie Tales movie. It was WONDERFUL. Then the next day, I woke up and jumped into Christmas shopping., then went to Christmas play practice and started preparing for one of our MANY parties. My sweet husband worked on a few projects, including putting the Christmas lights up outside. We have lights that outline our house, lights surrounding our tree, a lit nativity outline and some lights on our porch. Since we added a few more this year, we quickly found out that they were not all going to be able to be plugged in.

We had half of the porch lights off for a few days but that looked a bit weird so the lit nativity got pulled. It would be a few days before my husband had time off again so I just waited it out. I walked past it everyday in frustration and went about my busy Christmas schedule.

Finally, after too many days of an unlit nativity, it hit me. STOP! Unplug the tree lights and plug in the nativity. It was quite simple. The only light that really needs to shine this Christmas is the nativity.

At this point, I really don't care if our tree lights get turned on. If my husband has time to fix it all, then that's great, but REALLY the meaning of Christmas is Jesus and that is what needs to shine from my home this year.

This was a great reminder.

My dear lady, don't worry about all the presents and decorations and cookies. Make sure that Jesus shines. Make sure that it's about His birthday and His celebration. Enjoy those other things and let them come out of His celebration. Plug in Jesus. He needs to be the One shining this year. - Rejoicing in the Present

Friday, December 4, 2015

Our Shamar

As I am studying the PSALMS OF ASCENT with Beth Moore, I have come upon a comforting fact that I want to share. Let's first go to the Word of God to find this nugget.

Psalms 121 says.I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.
The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.
The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

Each of the words in bold above come from a Hebrew word, Shamar (shaw-mar), which means to keep, to guard, to preserve, to protect, to watch. 

Get a hold of what this word means. It's the type of word that puts your heart at ease.

The writer of this Psalm did not use multiple synonyms. He used one strong word to describe what God would do for us. 
  1. Our Shamar does not sleep.
  2. He will shamar Israel.
  3. He is our Shamar.
  4. He will shamar thee from all evil.
  5. He shall shamar thy soul.
  6. The Lord will shamar thy going out and thy coming in. 
He not only protects us but He is our Protector in everything, from everything, for all time

At a time when the future looks scary, war seems to surround us, and our journey appears daunting, God is our Shamar. 

Rest assured, there is no place that we, as believers, can go that God will not go with us.  He will never abandon me.  He is the keeper of your soul. - Rejoicing in the Present

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Where are Your Eyes?

Terrorist threats, government incompetence, the drama of life, sickness, death-- it is all around us. And raising my children in the midst of it is terrifying. As I was reading Psalms 123 in my Bible study, I was reminded of an important truth.

Psalms 123: "Unto thee lift I up mine eyes, O thou that dwellest in the heavens. Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God, until that he have mercy upon us. Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us: for we are exceedingly filled with contempt. Our soul is exceedingly filled with the scorning of those that are at ease, and with the contempt of the proud."

We are surrounded by those who scorn us and would love to see evil come to us. Friends, we need help. "Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us." These are the times when our Savior and our salvation are especially an encouragement and our hope. This is not the end. It is just the beginning.

Many of you sweet ladies are in a really dark place; you're crying out for mercy; you need a balm, you need come comfort. You need mercy.

Let's look back at the first verse. The psalmist says "Unto thee lift I up mine eyes, O thou that dwellest in the heavens."

He is looking UP. This is where our eyes must be.

In Acts 3:1-7, we see a poor man who is living a pretty sad life, begging for money. Peter tells him, "Look on us." In a few short moments, the beggar was healed.

What happened? The beggar took his eyes off his problems. This is not to say that you will necessarily be physically healed because you look away, but looking up DOES heal your heart.

This is how Beth Moore described it in our Bible study:

WHERE I LOOK leads to -> WHAT I HEAR, which leads to -> WHAT I FEEL which results in = WHAT I EXPECT

How does that effect my walk with God?

When I take my eyes off my problems and look to Jesus, I can hear Him. Thus He can guide and lead me. This way you will develop the peace that He brings, which will make you feel like a whole new woman. Thus our expectations will be what we know God will do.

So who is this God? The God of the Bible, not the God that we have decided on in our imaginations.

He is holy - Psalm 22:3-4

He is King and in control. - Psalm 29:10

He reigns, surrounded in all His glory. - Psalm 99:1

He is HIGH above the nations. His glory is so much more then we can fathom. - Psalm 113:4-6

The God of the heavens, the God that is revealed to us in the Bible, is worthy of worship and praise. He is truly God. He is in control. Let's get our eyes on Him and all the rest will fade away. We have HOPE because we have Jesus and we have mercy and grace because of a loving God who cares about US. - Rejoicing in the Present

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Love is Kind Pt. 2

I discussed a Biblical example of love, yesterday; today I want to give a real life example of how selfless love played out, in one instance.  

A group of friends and I heard of a need.  We talked about all putting together items for this needy person.  

While we were in the process, I noticed something special that one of my friends was doing. She was gathering items that were not old or unwanted.  In fact, she had just gone to the store, to buy these items.  She had bought these as "treats" for herself.  When she heard of the need, she didn't give the extra or the unwanted.  She gave from the heart.  She gave the nice and the new, the things she had wanted for herself.

That REALLY hit home to me. 

When different organizations collect canned foods or other items, I tend to donate my extra stuff or things I no longer want.  When I give away clothes, they are used and unwanted. 

Is this love?  Or could I just be just trying to appease my conscience?

When there is a need, do we give where it hurts or do we give only to the extent that it's comfortable? 

Jesus gave until it hurt.  In fact, He bled and died for us.  Is our love comfortable?  Love is sacrifice. Let's love until it hurts.  This is what God did for us. - Rejoicing in the Present

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Love is Kind - Pt. 1

I Corinthians 4 says  "Charity suffereth long, and is kind;" 

Love is kind. 

In my accountability group, we are studying what love is.  The story that we were encouraged to look at last week was the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10.

Love is kindness in action. 

Let's look at some steps that this man, known as the Good Samaritan, took. 

1. He saw a need. 
Many times, we get so busy that we just miss that fact that there are needs all around us.  We drive by.  We don't see it. 
SLOW down.  LOOK around.  It won't be hard to find someone in need.

2. He sympathized with the man's plight.
This Samaritan man was "filled with pity."  He felt.  He listened. Sometimes, we need to shut our mouths and just listen to people.  Just be there.  Just feel what they are feeling.

3. He seized the moment.
In this study Rick Warren says "Do what you can, when you can, AS SOON as you can, with what you have."
He stooped down, which means he got on the stricken man's level. He used what he had, oil and vinegar. and didn't wait around to do it. He seized the moment.
The situation could have been a very scary one for the Samaritan; he didn't know if those robbers were still around the corner.  But, as I John 4:18 says, "there is no fear in love". 
This man loved freely.

4. He spent whatever it took
Lastly, this man spent his own money. He told the inn keeper to use what was needed.  This man took care of a need and didn't expect anything back.  This IS true love. 

Love is Kind. - Rejoicing in the Present

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

More on Helping a Widowed Heart

John 15:13 "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

FIRST, please watch this video clip of how to help your friend's with their grief. 

Below are some things I take away from the video:

#1.  Let the grieving person tell her story
Invite your friend to tell her story.  It is a way of imprinting the story on someone else.  It's part of the process.  It's part of the healing process. You are carrying their story. 

#2.  It will take AT LEAST a year before healing can fully begin
A grieving person has to go through all the annual events and anniversaries that occur each year, at least one time.  After that, there will not be a first time of doing something without the missing loved one again.   Make sure you are sticking around to be there for these "firsts" with your grieving friends.

How can you tell if your friend is just angry or truly bitter?  Anger is being upset at the situation while bitterness involves your outlook toward the world.

Watch your words...things NOT to say:
- "God needed another angel in heaven."
- "Satan took your baby." 
- "Well, you have three other beautiful children"
-"10 years from now...."  The grieving person is not interested in anyone talking about 10 years from now.
-"You have a baby, so you have a piece of your husband.   It doesn't replace the loss.

Don't fill the silence. Just SIT in silence.

Acknowledge the loss and don't minimize it.

Grieving is good and hopeful because you are fighting through your pain and not just ignoring it.  God is in control.  In Him is no darkness at all.  He is good. We have to hold onto that and the perspective of the hope of Heaven. - Rejoicing in the Present

Friday, November 13, 2015

Virginity vs. Purity - Part 4

I wanted to end this series with a note to married woman.  I closed with this comment on the last blog but felt led to expound a little bit.

On a side note, if you are unmarried or an unfulfilled wife, go to a CHRISTIAN counselor to get help. God has given you permission to be sexual (read Song of Solomon).  Don't read 50 SHADES to try to find help! 

God created us to respond to our husbands.  This is a gift.  Don't ignore it or set it aside. For free counseling or to get a recommendation for a counselor in your area, call Focus on the Family 1-800-A-FAMILY

From sexual abuse to the Christian "no's" before marriage, many dear ladies have a hard time finding freedom in their marriage, especially in this area.  It's hard to get married,and say "yes" to your husband, after saying "no" before. 

If you watched the part 2 video clip that I linked to my last blog, Priscilla asked Julie about what the boundaries within marriage are and she gave us three three questions. 

  • Does God say no? (Homosexuality, adultery, fornication...)
  • Does it relate to only my husband and myself? (If you are fantasizing outside your marriage, then it is not just you and your husband)
  • Is it good for us and our relationship?
    • Is it loving?
    • Does it promote safety and security with us as a couple?
    • Is there risk involved?
    • Humility or pain is not helpful or loving
    • It needs to be about growing in love, not just about thrill of arousal.

The devil has us delight in things that are wrong and gives us guilt over things that are right.

Ladies, God wants us to enjoy our husband.  Sex inside of marriage is truly right and if you are not enjoying him, seek for some Christian advice. 

A while back, I realized that I needed to go outside our marriage and get some help.  A friend of mine had been to a Christian counselor and she recommended this counselor to me.  I was so embarrassed to meet with this lady, but it was exactly what I needed.  I was hours away from home but I was still so nervous going into this lady's office, afraid that someone would see me, but it was one of the best things I have done. 

She opened my eyes to some areas that I needed to work on and showed me how right the intimacy in our marriage was.

If we do not have an intimate relationship with our Savior Jesus Christ, first of all, and second, with our husbands, that part of our life becomes fragile and the enemy can easily come in and attempt to destroy the purity in our marriage. 
The devil would love to destroy your marriage.

This is very very important and thus why I felt the need to extend this conversation. I just want to encourage you to have liberty in this area. Sexual intimacy is the way many husbands express their love to their wife. Let them express it and if you still struggles, get help! It will be the best thing you do for your marriage. - Rejoicing  in the Present

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Virginity vs.Purity - Part 3

Disclaimer *I have not read this book, but I have done research on this topic, as well as research of this book.

We can not talk about virginity vs. purity, and not discuss the book 50 SHADES OF GREY.  If you read my post about "50 Shades of Grace" yesterday, you may have wondered what the book 50 SHADES OF GREY is about.

Over 40 million people (mostly woman) are reading this book. Ironically, this book is not just pornographic but is also poorly written, (grammatically). 

So why are woman reading it????   

"It's scratching an itch." 

Ladies are reading this thinking it will give them ideas regarding the sexual side of their marriage.  "It will start a passion", they think. 

HOWEVER, because it is a very erotic book and because woman are wired the way they are, the book is feeding a part of the woman that should only be fed by her husband.  

When you are aroused (whether by your husband or reading a spicy book) you produce certain chemicals in your body. The chemicals that are produced when aroused bring you closer to what you are responding to. Those chemicals, that God gave us are supposed to draw your husband and you together and keep you together for a lifetime. That is not happening when you are aroused by a book or video instead of your husband.

Not only will this book eventually divide you but this book also promotes "harmful and perverted practices"

Ladies, this book is detrimental to marriages. It starts a passion--but not for "more", it starts a passion for "different." Often this different does not include your husband. 

Please, take the time to listen to these experts. Both of them are on the front lines, fighting for purity in marriages and in singleness.  Please listen to this chat.... ( the 2nd part of this clip is fuzzy)  To watch the first part go to:  "Are There Really 50 shades of Grey? - Part 1 ...the 2nd part is below.

On a side note, if you are unmarried or an unfulfilled wife, go to a CHRISTIAN counselor to get help. God has given you permission to be sexual (read Song of Solomon).  You are supposed to enjoy your husband. If you are not,  you need to seek counsel.

Don't read 50 SHADES to try to find help!  

God created us to respond to our husbands.  This is a gift.  Don't ignore it or set it aside. For free counseling or to get a recommendation for a counselor in your area, call Focus on the Family 1-800-A-FAMILY  - Rejoicing in the Present

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Virginity vs. Purity - Part 2

Regarding the subject of virginity vs. purity, I think we need to discuss the hot topic of romance novels, especially the popular one, 50 SHADES OF GREY.  I love Priscilla Shirer's open conversation about "50 Shades of Grace".  Please take the time to watch this clip. Tomorrow, I will actually discuss the book.

My sweet lady friends, please know that it is not OK to bring a third party into your relationship, except Jesus Christ.  If we can focus our eyes on Jesus and intimately have a relationship with him, then other things will fall into place.

Your sin is not to big for God to forgive. His grace is sufficient. 

2 Corinthians 12:9 "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."

Ladies, we CAN NOT do it on our own. We must rely on the power of God to help us live a life of purity. Whether this struggle is to refrain from physical contact outside of marriage or even to surrender to our husbands and his needs inside of marriage, we must live a life surrendered and focused on Jesus. 

The goal is PURITY not virginity. - Rejoicing in the Present

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Virginity vs. Purity - Part 1

As a former counselor and as a youth pastor's wife, I have seen and heard all sorts of stories, but one sad story that I hear often pertains to Christian girls who make a stand for virginity but are far from pure.

(And I know this is difficult. When I was a single Christian young lady, I had these temptations as well.)

We make the commitment to be virgins until we are married but we don't make the commitment to be pure and so we are like the Pharisees in the Bible.  On the outside we look "spiritual" and white and pure, but inside we are full of rotten sin.

Matthew 23:27 "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness."

Why does this happen? 

How can we have both purity and virginity? 

I don't think I have to tell you how to remain a virgin, but to be pure, you have to have a different mindset. 

Your mind is not on virginity, if you will do "everything"
but the actual act of sexual intercourse.  That is not purity; this is FAR from what God had in mind.

Many times young ladies are one extreme or the other. 

One extreme does everything but "connect the dots", while the other extreme is scared that if they touch the opposite sex they will get pregnant. 

Let's go back to the scripture that can be a hot topic in churches...

If you read Paul's Epistle, I Corinthians 7:1 it says "Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman."

The "touch" in greek there, means "sexual touch."  It's a touch that starts a fire.  It's the touch that makes you want a little more.  It's the spark that makes your mind get smokey and you become unable to think.

This is what I would encourage you to pray and think about. What makes you tick?  What are the touches that are sexual?  Does a peck on the cheek send you off the deep end?  Or a kiss on the lips? What about holding hands? What about when he puts his hand on your back or on your leg? 

Pray.  Ask God to show you and know yourself. Decide to set your boundaries at a place that is before you get all smokey and it becomes "too late". 

Furthermore, your relationship with another person (of either sex) should really draw you closer to Jesus.  This is the point  of everything if you are a Christian.  Jesus is the goal. 

If you are all "into"each other and all over each other, is that drawing you to Jesus or each other?  Ask your self that question. Know yourself. 

...and what about your mind?  Are you fantasizing about each other? Purity is full body. Loving God includes your whole body.

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. - Matthew 22:37

Philippians 4:8 says "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

I understand the hormones, I get the "security" and the right desires of having a man in your life. ...but NO man's love will EVER satisfy you like the love of Jesus.  Surrender to intimacy with Him. 

Focus your eyes on Jesus Christ. Ask Him to lead you to your partner for this world.  Jesus is your Prince... your husband is just a bonus.  Build a solid relationship with Jesus now.
It's about purity, ladies, not virginity and it's about a really intimate relationship....with Jesus. - Rejoicing in the Present

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Helping a Widowed Heart

Psalms 34:18 "The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart;"  "I KNOW He is close to the brokenhearted."- These were the words spoken by one of my dear friends, recently widowed.

She is a testimony of God being present in her life. I have never seen such peace and such a solid relationship with Jesus as I have seen in her.  When asked about bitterness, she said "What do I have to be angry with God about?  He is such a good God and He loves and takes care of me."  She doesn't blame God at all; instead she is just grateful for the memories and times she has had with her husband. 

She is doing wonderfully well, while we, her friends, are not quite sure what to do. We have made some blunders and mistakes but we are just trying to love her through this time of trial.  So, I asked her to help us. 

#1. Watch your words.
I asked her, what do you say?


There really are no words that will help the situation. Especially if you have not "been there", it is hard to understand. Many times, if you just sit and listen, it means so much to these dear ladies.  They need you.  Don't ignore them, doing nothing. Go to them, sit with them and listen. 

#2.  Don't ask, Are you ok?
Of course they are not ok!

...most of time they will give a short and sweet answer but truly they have lost the one whom their soul loved. 

My friend Cheri mentioned that when reality hits her it's like the breath is literally sucked out of her body.  Her whole body is racked with grief and she just wants to lay on the floor until she can get through the moment.

Yes, she is strong and, yes, she has the peace of God and the hope of eternity and of one day seeing the one she loves again, but for now, she misses him and the grief hits her hard.  She is not ok!!!

#3. Words again.
JUST BE SO CAREFUL WITH YOUR WORDS!!!!  Telling a widow that she needs to get on with life OR find a new life OR that she will get over it OR that things are going to be a certain way is just painful. The best response is NO response.  LISTEN!

#4. Don't say "Call me if you need something."
Unless you are her mother or best friend, the grieving person is not going to call you if they need something.  Instead, say, "Hey, I am going to the store and I want to pick you up some groceries...what can I get you?"  Be specific.

#5.  If you are going to bring over a meal, ASK what they like. 
So many people have the BEST of intentions and so they cook a meal for a grieving family. However, if the grieving family does not like the food that was prepared, it's not much of a blessing. 

#6. Ask them to hang out with you. 
It's really hard to transition back into the world after they have lost their soulmate. They were so used to having someone to be with and now the loneliness is overwhelming. Help them get out of their house. 
"I'm running out to Target to do a little shopping, do you want to come with me."
"I am putting together some baskets for the church, can you help?"

#7.  Remember special days and send a note. 
This is going to be a really hard day for them. Whether it's a birthday or anniversary, DON'T ignore it. That will only add to the loneliness.  Send a note or text or even ask them to go to lunch.
"Hey sweetie, I know this is an important day. I am praying for you today."

Ladies, I am a fixer. It is hard to sit back and not to fix the situation.  However, God is doing something big in the lives of our grieving friends. We need to pray for discernment and tread carefully. 

Whatever you do, do not walk away from your friend.  She has just lost a big part of her life and does not need to lose more.  Pray for her, love her and be there for her. - Rejoicing in the Present

Monday, November 2, 2015

Memorizing Scripture

Psalms 119:11 says "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee."

2 Timothy 3:15 "And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus."

Scripture memorization is important.  The Bible talks about hiding Scripture in our hearts, dwelling on it, feeding on it and more.  Having scripture in us is a MUST as

However, memorizing is not easy.  I REALLY struggle with it, myself.  So, I wanted to share an easier way to memorize scripture.  I learned this while working at The Wilds Christian Camp years ago.

What you do is write down the first letter of each word in the verse. For instance, Psalms 119:11 says "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee." 

So, you would write, TWHIHIMH,TIMNSAT.

Then when you are going over the verse, use the initials to help you.  Eventually you will be able to stop doing that. 

Lastly, pray about it.  God wants us to have His Word in our hearts and so asking Him to help is a no-brainer.

I hope this helps you. - Rejoicing in the Present

Thursday, October 29, 2015

God's Battle

While I was with my dear friend while she was in labor, there was a moment that changed the rest of the day.  She was standing up during a contraction and she started to faint.  Her husband tried to hold her up but she was crumbling, so he gently set her down. 

After that moment, it was hard for her to come back and finish the "battle".  Eventually, she had to be transferred to the nearest hospital and, within 30 minutes of arriving there, her sweet baby was born. 

Later on I was discussing this moment with her midwife.  We were reflecting on the birth and the midwife pointed out that she had many factors against her.  My friend had not slept since she started having active labor at midnight. She had not eaten anything other then a few bites AND She was exhausted from her labor of 12 hours.  She had no strength left. 

You can't drive a car if there is no gas. 

I shared this moment with you because this is a HUGE lesson to us as Christians. 

We have to be rested up for our daily fight. We must get the rest we need and the fuel we need. 

This fuel and rest comes through our prayer and dwelling in the Word. 
We must have a daily walk with God. Our ONLY power comes from God.

We will have battles, we will have to push through our trials, but on what strength will we depend?

The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace. - Exodus 14:14

Psalms 28:7 -The LORD [is] my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.

My sweet friend, you have to have the power of God on your life, because one day you will have a "life-contraction" that you can't handle.  It will only be the grace of God and His power on your life that holds you up.

Ps. 27:13 I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. - Rejoicing in the Present

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Sisters in Christ

"Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep." - Romans 12:15

NEVER has this verse had meaning, like it did this last week. One of my closest friends lost her husband, while another of my closest friends birthed her baby girl. 

It has been a week of pure exhaustion. It has made me hold my babies a little closer and sit down and patiently trust God a little more. 

I have wept like I never have this week.  I have wept in sadness and I have wept in gladness.  I have wept!

...and this is very appropriate. In fact, the Bible teaches us to do this. We are a family and we must support each other. 

There is way too much gossiping and tearing down of one another in the normal church scene...too much judging and criticism of other believers. It's sad and wrong.  How can we help our sisters in Christ if we are talking about their hem line or picking at other insignificant details?

I would encourage you as a sister and a friend to reach out to your sisters in Christ with gentleness and godliness.  Find out what is going on in their life, pray for them, love them and help them. 

I was SO encouraged by our church through this latest ordeal. People have come out of the woodwork to make meals and love our dear ladies. We have meals coming for all the families. We have had cards sent, money raised, gifts poured out and MANY prayers sent up. THIS...yes THIS is what a church should look like. Let us rejoice and weep with our sisters - Rejoicing in the Present

Friday, October 23, 2015


Death hurts.  My heart is hurting today as one of my brothers in Christ has gone to be with Jesus.  My eyes are swollen because of tears and my heart is heavy with the burden that my sweet friend, his wife, is caring.  We have been tormented as we have walked this path with them.  We didn't want to let him go, we wanted him with us, but God's will was different.

As we were standing around the hospital bed, my husband prayed over this dear couple. He couldn't continue as this man was a dear friend of his.  As he prayed, he mentioned the reminder that Job gives us.  He said "The Lord gives and sometimes He takes..." 

...and then Jer had to stop, he silently wept. He couldn't continue the prayer.

Then the wife of this dying man blurted out. "BLESSED be the name of the Lord."

I am weeping over this even as I write.  How does God give such peace to this young couple?  A couple who are very much in love, a couple who loved God and each other so much.

How can she have such peace?

The answer lies in the hope that she has and the promise that has been given her: that her love is being taken care of.   She knows that her husband is in the hands of the One who created him AND that if he passed away, Danny would be going home.

Before Jesus died on the cross, a sinner reached out to Him.  In Luke 23 it says "And he (the thief) said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. 
And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise."

“for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance".   - Jesus, Matthew 19:13

 “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” - John 3:16

When that thief on the cross reached out to Jesus, "Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise."

Years ago, Danny reached out to Jesus and asked him to forgive his sins and "remember Him."  And Jesus did.  Jesus became His Savior and Friend.

Cheri knew and believed the promise that, since Danny believed in His Savior, Danny will not perish, but have everlasting life.

What peace, what hope, what a Savior!

My heart grieves for Cheri, but I am doing a happy dance for Danny.  His life is really good!   No more pain, no more tears, no more sin struggles, no more drama.  :-)  Life is good in Heaven!

I don't know how people manage life that don't  know the Savior, that have no hope of a future in heaven or of seeing their loved ones again. 

I am so grateful that this is not my home, this is not my final destination, this is not "it".  I have hope today!  If you don't know our Savior, I pray you will come to know Him and have this Hope too!

 - Rejoicing in the Present

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

??? WHY ???

Struggling through what life has laid in front of me, I have wrestled with the question “Why?” 

I know that God is good and that His plan is the best, but I just don’t understand why He is taking home to heaven some people who are especially precious to me.   I don’t understand why he has caused one of my dearest friends to become a widow at a young age.  I don’t understand.

I haven’t lost trust in Him.  I haven’t even lost my hope; I am just asking Him for some insight.  I stumbled upon this on a friend’s blog.  She posted an article from Elisabeth Eliott and I love it!

Now is it a sin to ask God why? It’s always best to go first for our answers to Jesus Himself. He cried out on the cross, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’ It was a human cry; a cry of desperation springing from His heart’s agony at the prospect of being put into the hands of wicked men and actually becoming sin for you and me. We can never suffer anything like that, yet we do at times feel forsaken, don’t we? It’s quite natural for us to cry, ‘Why, Lord?’

The psalmist asked why. Job, a blameless man suffering horrible torments on an ash heap, asked why. It doesn’t seem to me to be sinful to ask the question. What is sinful is resentment against God and His dealings with us. When we begin to doubt His love and imagine that He is cheating us of something we have a right to, we are guilty as Adam and Eve were guilty. They took the snake at his word rather than God.

The same snake comes to us repeatedly with the same suggestions. ‘Does God love you? Does He really want the best for you? Is His Word trustworthy? Isn’t He cheating you? Forget His promises. You’d be better off if you’d do it your way.’

I’ve often asked why. Many things have happened which I didn’t plan and which human rationality could not explain. In the darkness of my perplexity and sorrow, I have heard God say quietly, ‘Trust Me.’ He knew that my question was not the challenge of unbelief or of resentment.

I don’t understand Him, but then I’m not asked to understand, only to trust. Bitterness dissolves when I remember the kind of love with which He has loved me–He gave Himself for me. He gave Himself for me. He gave Himself for me. Whatever He is doing now, therefore, is not cause for bitterness. It has to be designed for good, because He loved me and gave Himself for me.

"He knew that my question was not the challenge of unbelief or of resentment"  Yes, I could not have said it better. I know He loves me. I know He is working things out. 

Trust, my child. TRUST! I'm so thankful for a God we can trust! - Rejoicing in the Present

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Big Picture - Part 2

If you were to go into my basement bathroom, you would see about a foot and a half of dirt piled up on the concrete floors. You would see a huge hole that has been drilled into the concrete and you would definitely known there is some construction going on. MY HOUSE IS A MESS!

There is a toilet, 2 vanities and a bathtub sitting in my living room. I have one working toilet in the house and no shower or vanities. MY HOUSE IS A MESS!

We just redid the kitchen but there is now a hole in the side of the wall where the bathroom construction got a little messy.

I have suitcases and dirty clothes piled up, from a weekend away from the house. I am mopping while construction workers and plumbers track in dirt. Have I mentioned that MY HOUSE IS A MESS?

Construction is messy!

I wrote about this before, A Dirty House but these same thoughts are coming to my mind...

This is like my spiritual life. I know there are issues I need to clean out and fix up, but it's work and it's DIRTY. It's going to hurt, it's going to be embarrassing and I am going to lose things that I have held on to.

When Jesus cleaned out the temple, He made a mess. He overturned tables and stirred up some dust. When He died on the cross, it was HORRIBLY painful and messy.

When we give up that sin habit, there will be withdrawal pains. When we make it right with that person, our pride will feel stomped on. When we decided to put aside _________ to make time for our devotions, we are going to have to give something up, or at least put it off.

Construction is not fun. Revival is not fun! It's often painful! I really dislike my house right now, but there is a MUCH LARGER PICTURE and my dad reminded me of this recently.

"Dirt can be cleaned up but look at those new pipes. THIS IS EXCITING! Look at what has been done." He said. "Look at the brand new bathroom that is being built; look at what is being done. Get your eyes on the end result."

I will be honest. I see A HOT MESS right now. I see the pain of moving everything around, the disrupted house, the dirt everywhere, the inconvenience without working bathrooms. But there is a big picture. There is a construction worker and an electrician and a plumber who are working together to give me the bathroom of my dreams. It's going to be amazing and I can't wait to show it to you all. I am so blessed!

I am blessed that there is a pile of dirt in my basement bathroom because that means my bathroom is being fixed.

I am blessed that I have BRAND NEW fixtures sitting in my living room, waiting to be installed. I AM SO BLESSED.

I am blessed that I have holes in my walls, which will eventually be fixed. They mean that work is in progress. I AM SO BLESSED.

I am blessed to have dirt to clean up, because that means some one is working on the problem. I AM BLESSED.

Let's look at the big picture. -Rejoicing in the Present

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Big Picture - Part 1

Bathroom messes, new baby coming, ordination preparations and a brain tumor among many other stresses have been my life. It's mind boggling to be so excited about one friend whose precious new baby is due any day, and at the same time, crying over the phone over another friend who's husband is in ICU in a coma because brain tumor surgery became complicated. 

LIFE IS STRESSFUL!  It's full of surprises--some we love, some we hate.  It's full of memories--some beautiful, some torturous.  It's full of questions and sometimes no answers. 

Recently, I was talking to a friend on the phone about our dear friend who's husband is suffering due to this surgery.  The surgery was supposed to be pretty routine.  I mean we all knew that something bad COULD happen, since it's the brain, but we never expected this. In fact, many of us were praying that God would just take the tumor away.  So I half expected for the surgeons to go in  and everything be gone and healed. 

So when I received news to the contrary, that it was really bad, I was shaken.   WHAT?  This isn't what was supposed to happen. It was all supposed to be gone. 

So we chatted about that and she reminded me that there is a big picture.  I don't know the complete plan. ...but I do know the One in control of the plan and I have seen His working and the results before.

He's "got it"!  I just need to remind myself of that. If He can control nature, heal the sick and conquer death, don't you think He's "got it"? 

"Casting all your care upon him; for He careth for you." - I Peter 5:7

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." -Prov. 3:5-6

"As for God, his way is perfect;" - 2 Sam 22:31

"The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower." - Psalms 18:2

I honestly don't get it right now, but I know that He has got it! - Rejoicing in the Present

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Parenting Race.

I thought that I would dig up some old blog posts that you might enjoy.... This is a lesson that I am still learning. :-)

I noticed that after my husband watches my son for an extended period, the little guy usually comes back to me with a better attitude. This has happened on a number of different occasions, so the other day, I approached hubby and asked him what his secret was.

He commented that he doesn't focus his eyes on the immediate fix, instead he focuses on the end product. 

It wasn't a profound statement but it was something that clicked with me. I know I've heard it before, I'm sure I've read it a thousand times but THAT time it spoke to me.

As you may know, I live with fibromyalgia and one of the big symptoms of it is nerve pain. When I'm having a bad fibro day, my nerves are SHOT.  Thus, when my child cries or wines, it literally hurts my body.  So, I tend sometimes to just focus on the immediate fix. 

How do I get her to stop crying?  Pick her up, soothe her, rock her...?

Why is he whining? Give it to him? Shut him up? Discipline out of anger because I'm annoyed? How do I respond?

Many times I don't respond right. This is why my husband's comment was so valuable. It reminded me to not look at the quick fix.  Not to just "get them to be quiet," but to decide what I want in the end and to slowly pursue that goal. 

This may mean that I need to move my whinny child to another room until he can ask properly for the item or so that I can calm down before I discipline him. 

It also may mean that I need to turn off the baby monitor while my child is crying herself to sleep.  She is learning to self-soothe and I have to be able to give her those tools that will help her in life.

Hebrews 12:1-2

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."

Parenting is a race, not the 100-yard dash, but a marathon.  It takes LOTS of patience and comes with many trials and weights. We have to put those aside and look to Jesus. 

We have to see the goal, the finish line, and keep our eyes set on that. We can't throw our hands up, fall down and cry when life gets us down. We have to focus our minds on what we want and persevere to the end. 

If our eyes are on Jesus and the goals He has for us, it makes it a little easier to respond to our children even when it's hard.  

Maybe that means that you need to take a breather and walk away for a second. 

 Don't hand it to your child right away.  

Teach them.  

Whatever it is, go against your instinct for the quick fix. In the long run, it will be worth it. - Rejoicing in the Present