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