Thursday, December 19, 2013

Haymitch, Phil Robertson, and a little reminder

"This is my command: Love each other. If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you." - John 15:17-18

 I LOVE the Hunger Games. Love the books, love the movies. Seriously. In case you didn't get to read or watch, or had no desire to, here's the general gist. What's left of America in the future is divided into districts and is ruled by the Capital district and President Snow. The Capital has all the wealth and power, while the remaining districts have few freedoms and little money.

The rules enforced by the Capital include a fight to the death between 24 teenagers randomly picked from the 12 districts. Only one can live.

The story's hero, Katniss, is forced to go into the games a second time in the sequel, Catching Fire, to fight for her life again. Her mentor Haymitch reminds her as she enters the arena, "Remember who the real enemy is." 

Haymitch wanted her to remember the enemies were not the other 23 unlucky kids trying to kill her; it was the Capital officials and President Snow - the ones responsible for all of it.

I couldn't help but think of the wisdom in that. The Bible says something very similar in Ephesians 6:12.

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."

Satan can use just about anything to distract people from their fight against him and sick them on each other. I've seen some of it today.

Hearing about Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson and the attention he is getting from his words reminded me of how easy it is for us to forget who the enemy of God and Christians is. Christians might think the enemy is the people who don't know Jesus, or maybe it's the media, or a Merry-Christmasless chain store, but it isn't. Our real enemy is Satan.

Satan can get us so focused on a particular sin, topic or issue, and what might start out as sticking up for the rights of Christians can end up leaving us a hateful, bitter bunch failing to show the love of Christ to those who need it right where they are.

I'm not saying that if something is a sin, you should pretend that it is okay. But doesn't God look at all sin equally? In the GQ article, Phil paraphrased the list of some sins from I Corinthians, where homosexual practice is right alongside the sexually immoral, idolatry, adultery, the thieves, the greedy, the drunk, slanderers and swindlers. I've been guilty of more on this list than I would care to mention.

When Christians make fighting against one sin or another their platform, it takes away from our first duty and what should be our biggest delight - to love God and love others.

Back to that passage in I Corinthians though, chapter 6 verse 11 says something beautiful about a group of people like all of us who at one time were dabbling in that list of sins I mentioned above...

"And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." 

There isn't one single sin that God's grace can't cover. Not one. I am beyond grateful for this!

Standing up for what you believe in isn't wrong. Send A&E an email if you want, and proudly wear your Duck Dynasty t-shirt (I think the show is adorable and really hope it continues with Phil present - BTW, Jase is my favorite). But please be careful not to make it an "us against them" fight.

It's us against Satan, and unless we are showing the love of Jesus everywhere we go, he is winning.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Wax on, Wax off...

Ralph Macchio was way hot as Daniel-san in the original Karate Kid.


As Mr. Miyagi was training him so he could defend himself against those jerks at the Cobra Kai Dojo, he gave Daniel-san some odd training techniques. Rather than showing him how to block a kick, Mr. Miyagi told him to wax his cars, paint his fences, and sand his floors. Sounds like a scam.

And that's just what foul-mouthed Daniel-san tells Mr. Miyagi when he felt he had done enough. But Mr. Miyagi showed him just what he had learned.

While all the waxing, sanding, and painting seemed completely unrelated to the task of learning enough to show Johnny Lawrence that he wasn't to be messed with, Mr. Miyagi had been teaching him all along. 

I've noticed some wax-on/wax-off assignments from God recently. Walking around the block by Noah's school and praying, I noticed it was trash day for the surrounding neighborhood. One of the neighbor's trash bags had been ripped open by a local dog, with all their scraps and evidence of the week that had just passed. 

As I walked by, I felt God nudging my heart. It seemed He wanted me to pick up the trash. So I kept walking. I decided I would get a bag from my car and pick it up on my next lap. I forgot to stop. So I circled again, still feeling God's words on my heart. I grabbed an empty bag from my car, and walked to the yard. As I began to pick up pieces of this stranger's garbage, I discovered garbage of a family just like mine, right down to their love of Chick-fil-a. 

While nothing obviously life-changing happened from me obeying, God asked me to do it for a reason. Whether it was for that family to not have garbage all over their lawn, for me to learn a lesson in humility, for me to have a few moments focused on this family and praying for them, or for me to just learn to hear God's voice, I don't know. But I do know God wanted me to do it.

He has shared other things with me lately that He wanted me to do. And it seems the more I listen to Him and obey, the more "assignments" he is willing to give. And I really want them. There is nothing more satisfying than obeying God. 

If God is asking you to help someone unload their cart at Walmart, or say hello to a neighbor, do it. Even if it is something that doesn't seem to serve an immediate purpose. God is speaking and we are learning His voice.  

Wax on and wax off your way to a closer, more intimate and beautiful relationship with God. You won't regret it. 

"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand." - John 10:27-28

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Missing God (and a zip-lining video)

"Can you fathom the mysteries of God?
Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?
They are higher than the heavens above - what can you do?
They are deeper than the depths below - what can you know?
Their measure is longer than the earth and wider than the sea." - Job 11:7-9

My family loves to go to Tennessee. Probably our favorite vacation spot. I’d say we’ve been there nearly 10 times since we have been married. We even went there for our honeymoon.

There are so many things to do. We shop, miniature golf, ride go-karts, go to Dollywood, watch a
show. Never a dull moment.

This year when we went, we decided to get a little more into nature. We rode horses, went on a hike, and Shawn and Noah even went zip-lining (check out the video of them below). It surprises me how easy it is to be so close to natural beauty, like the Smokey Mountains, and never get close to it. Never really look at it. Just seeing it from a distance, while driving from one mini-golf course to the next.

Taking a look down the parkway, there are attractions upon attractions. And they’re so fun and entertaining. But the beauty of the area is really in the mountains, and we have missed it so many times.

This year, God nudged my heart a little on this. There are so many things that capture my attention and get in the way of me focusing on God. Seeing him, spending time with him, worshiping him. And like mini-golf and go-karts, these things aren’t bad in themselves.

It could be things originally meant to worship God, like our church building, or church activities, our music, or our ministries. If the building, or the event, or the song, or even the ways in which we serve, take our focus off God, we are missing out. It’s not how God intended it.

Music is my favorite part of a service. A song can focus our attention on the beauty of God, his power, his mystery. But if we listen to the song, liking it just for what it is, not paying attention to Who it is about, we have missed out on something lovely.

The same for a ministry. If we are serving in a ministry, like a Sunday School class, and go at it half-heartedly, just trying to survive until the class is over, or if we fail to look for what God wants us to do with the class, it’s not as great as it could be. Good things can still happen, but we are missing out on a beautiful opportunity.

Sometimes even the blessings God gives us can take our eyes off him. Things might be good for us with our families, with our finances, or otherwise, and we forget that each day we live totally dependent on Him. Our next breath comes from Him.

When we are not in a desperate place, sometimes we forget how big He is. We make Him small and understandable. He is neither.

The times we have gone through the Tennessee mountains, hiked, viewed waterfalls and enormous trees, seen the wildlife - those are when I am in awe. I am sad for all the times I was so close and missed them.

On a much larger scale, the same goes for God. When I look for Him, my worship, my ministries, my everyday things are so different. They are so much more beautiful to me.

Today, let’s make it our purpose not to miss Him. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Penny and the talking donkey

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."  - Joshua 1:9

I'm a wimp. It's true. Water, heights, going blind, the dark, going too fast. If there is something to be afraid of, I fear it. If there is a possibility that anything could go wrong, I will have already imagined it. This is especially true when things are out of my control.

My family went to Tennessee this summer, and we were able to take my niece Vivian with us. Rather than just winging it when we got there, we had a plan mapped out of some of the things we wanted to make sure we did during the trip. Dollywood, ziplining and horseback riding were on the list.

I had been horseback riding before, but I believe it was on our honeymoon, so that was 16 years ago. I was excited for Noah and Vivian to experience this since neither of them had done this.

However, as we drove to Big Rock Riding Stables, I started feeling anxious. What if I fall off the horse? What if the horse decides it doesn't want to follow everyone else anymore? What if it isn't defiant, but just dumb and doesn't know he is supposed to stay with the group? My mind filled with questions like that.
Not to mention worrying these same things about Noah and Vivian.

We all were given our horses. They were each named after states, and my horse was Pennsylvania, but she went by Penny, which I found comforting, since that was my mother's name.

The guy giving me my horse assured me Penny is an old horse, who will go slow and easy.

New fears. What if Penny decides she has had enough. She is overworked and tired of it. There is very little separating Penny and me from careening down the side of the hill if Penny decides life is no longer worth living.

As I'm fearing all of these things and more, God began to calm my heart. He reminded me of Balaam.

In Numbers 22 you can read about him. Balaam is an oracle, who told the future, and gave out blessings and curses, sometimes for money.

That is the situation in chapter 22. He was hired to curse a group of people, and the price was right. Fast-forward a few verses. So he gets on his donkey and they take off down the road, with the desire of money in his heart. On his way, his donkey saw an angel of God holding a sword in the middle of the road. The donkey veers of the road toward a field. Smart donkey. Balaam beats her. A little further down, the donkey sees the angel again, and this time it is on a narrow path, with vineyards on each side. She scoots close to the wall, squishing Balaam's leg, to get away from the angel, and Balaam beats her again. Then the third time she sees the angel, the donkey just drops to the ground, refusing to go. He beats her a third time. Then verse 28 says this, "Then the Lord opened the donkey's mouth, and she said to Balaam, 'What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?'"

To get Balaam's attention, God caused the donkey to speak. Wow.

It was here that God reminded me that He made Penny. He had complete control over Penny. If He wanted Penny to speak, He could make her speak, so He certainly could make her stay on the path if that's what He wanted.

I'd like to say I relaxed completely the rest of the ride and enjoyed it, but I'd be lying. I was definitely calmer, but I was certainly glad to see the stables at the end.

God did teach me something during that ride, something of which He has often reminded me.

I don't have to be afraid. He has everything under control. That is so comforting when I remind myself of this, or when God reminds me of it. Nothing is too big, hard, small, unimportant, for Him to handle.
Whether it's a horse, health, job, relationship, finances - He's got it. I hope that's comforting for you too.

Whatever your situation, God is bigger. I'm glad He keeps reminding me.

BTDubs - This is Penny, followed by Shawn, Noah and Viv with their horses 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

From "So what?" to "Say what?!" and a block party :)

When Noah acted crabby with a friend when he was younger, we told him to tell that friend, "I'm sorry." It was a struggle, because he did not like saying those words. And when forced to say them, they kind of lack sincerity. But other times, when he has done something and felt so bad about it, and his beautiful blue eyes filled with tears, he would offer up an "I'm sorry" and mean every syllable.

The attitude of the heart makes all the difference. 

I joined an online study through Proverbs 31 Ministries on Lysa TerKeurst's book What Happens When Women Say Yes To God, and on one of the posts, the study's leader talked about the difference between "So What?" obedience and "Say What?!" obedience. She said someone could say that God wants them to do six loads of laundry. So what? But if that person took it seriously and committed to doing that laundry, praying over each load for her family, it could be a Say What?! moment. She said, if she decided that as she folded her children's socks, she would pray for their feet, and the places they would be going, and if she folded her husband's t-shirts and prayed for him and his job, and as she folded sheets, she could pray for rest and safety for her family as they slept, and fully believed that these prayers will make a difference, her family's lives could experience an awesome change. And as she tells her friends about this, they too could decide to make this a commitment for their families as well, creating changes in homes everywhere! Say what?! 

That left a big impression on me, because I often look at things without the commitment and enthusiasm they deserve. 

Take nursery duty at church as an example. I kind of dread it when I have it. I love the kids and I end up having a good time with them, but when I realize I'm on the schedule, I'm not excited. 

But rather than looking at it as a babysitting service, I should look at it differently after this study. It's a chance to be with the kids, to pray for them now and for their futures. To pray for the babies who have just recently been born and will be in the nursery soon, and for the ladies I know who desperately want to one day have babies of their own crawling around in the nursery. What an opportunity! 

Our church is having a block party tomorrow evening. Most of us were pretty excited about doing it during the early planning stages, but, typical for me, as the day gets closer, the excitement fades and is replaced by stress and I look forward to it being over. I've been sort of looking at it like a "So What?" kind of project. 

But I'm changing that, starting now. The reason for having it is to let the people in our church's neighborhood, especially the kids, know about the classes and programs our church has. It's to get to know the neighbors of the church and hopefully get people excited to stop by and learn that Jesus loves them.

So, tomorrow morning, as I am making lemonade and sweet tea, I will be praying for the families who will be drinking it. I will pray that they will see Jesus' love poured out in our neighborhood. As I help set up tables and games, I will be praying for the kiddos who will be playing them, that they will have a good time and feel loved and wanted by the church volunteers who are there. I will also be praying for the church volunteers who will be there doing everything from serving free hot dogs to manning the inflatables, that they will see each person they talk to as someone Jesus loves and gave His life for.

Kind of turns it into a "Say What?!" project :)

Nearly anything in our day can be changed, with a change in our attitude. I want my attitude to reflect a girl who is happy to serve Jesus.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Praying for our Kids... the Sequal

Sometimes things we want don't always line up. I might want to lose 20 pounds, but I also want cupcakes and sprinkles. I want to get a bunch of stuff done in the evening, but I also want to sleep. I want to save money, but I also want to buy sparkly things.

If you read my post Praying For Our Kids, you know that Noah started his 7th grade school year this past Thursday. You also know I was committed to praying for him and had peace about it.

I spent the drive to school Thursday morning praying for Noah's day, his teachers, him and his friends. I dropped him off, then walked 2 1/2 miles around the neighborhood surrounding his school, talking to God about this new school year. I prayed more detailed prayers for all of the teachers, counselors, bus drivers, cooks, secretaries, students, their families, and specifically for Noah and his friends, as well as the kids from my church who were starting school that day.

I felt pretty good the rest of the day, trusting it would be an awesome day. But it didn't feel so awesome for Noah.

I'm hesitant to post this. Sometimes it's a fine line between transparency and being a blabber mouth, especially when it involves people other than yourself. Having said that, I'm going to share.

While it could have been much worse, he had several crummy things happen - beginning with  me not remembering he needed $5 for locker rental and him having to carry his stuff, including his lunchbox, all day. Out of respect for him, I'll skip the other details, but ultimately he rated his day, from 0, meaning the worst day ever, to 10, super awesome, at a 2. He had a bad day.

I was so bummed. I was sure with all my praying and confidence, his day would be better than that. And I was kind of frustrated with God. It seemed wrong even to say that, but God knows my heart. After all that praying and believing, I just felt it deserved better than a 2.

So I told God as much on Friday morning after I prayed with Noah again and dropped him off. I cried. I asked God why He didn't give Noah a better first day when that's the very thing I had asked for.

God wasn't silent. He quickly reminded me of another prayer I had prayed.

Last year, I began praying for Noah to have a closer, more personal relationship with God. He has a great relationship with God, but the older he gets, I know it is important for him to continue to develop a faith that is entirely his own, not just what we have taught him. I want that for him.

While what I wanted for Noah was a #10 day with happy teachers and a slew of friends to choose from at lunchtime, those aren't always the kinds of days that produce trust and faith in God.

But #2 days can do that.

In Job 36:15, Elihu, a counselor to Job, shared these words with him...

"But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction."

I've had a few #2 days before, and I can say for sure that those are the times I feel God closest to me. When I'm broken, desperate, and don't know what to do, those are the times I look for Him the most. And the more days I have like that, the more I trust that God will be there for me again and again, because He has shown me all the times He has been before. God definitely speaks to me in my affliction, just like Elihu said. Right in the middle of it, I can hear His words, and that is what gets me through whatever it is.

If these are the kinds of days that will help Noah to be closer to God, to be the person He is creating him to be, bring them on. I will be right there with him, praying for him, loving him, and thanking God for knowing far better than I which prayer to answer.

Friday, August 9, 2013

A cat, some birds, and a roaring lion

Shawn has always liked to build things with wood. When we first married, he would watch The New Yankee Workshop, learning from Norm Abram how to build benches, tables, and desks. He watched this for fun. I couldn't understand any of the tools and ways of doing things, and I couldn't understand how he found this entertaining. But I'm glad he did. He knows a bunch of stuff.

Shawn built lots of things, even as a kid. A wooden reindeer, a tiny rocking chair - just because he felt like it. In passing along this tradition, Shawn and Noah worked together to build a birdhouse a couple of years ago, and hang it on the tree in our front yard. Last year we had a tiny bird family living in it. So cute!

We've been looking for birds in there this year as well, and saw some signs, with bits of straw hanging out of the "doorway." We weren't the only ones aware of the new birds.

A neighborhood cat, who comes to visit our Meatball, (visit meaning the two of them watching each other through the front door and windows) also saw this and assumed position. He stayed at the base of the tree, looking up longingly at the birdhouse for the better part of the day. When the cat would get distracted for a second, the mama bird (or papa bird - not sure about the family dynamics or parts of birds) would sneak in quickly to get to the babies, giving them a bite to eat.

As I watched that cat, and how intent he was on making sure he didn't miss an opportunity to pounce n those birds if they would get close enough, I was reminded of somebody else.

Peter describes Satan this way in 1 Peter 5:8...
     Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

It was a real-life reminder for me to keep my eyes open. I have written along this topic before, but sometimes a reminder is good.

Being self-controlled, according to some random, free dictionary online, means restraint exercised over one's own impulses, emotions, or desires.

How do we become self-controlled?

Pray for God's help. He loves to give it.

Have a friend or two who will keep you on track, asking how you are doing in whatever area you need more self-control in.

And don't give up when you mess up. Ask God for His forgiveness and keep going.

Moving on in the verse...

Being alert, according to another random, free dictionary online, means being quick to notice any unusual and potentially dangerous or difficult circumstances; vigilant.

How do I make myself quick to notice any usual or potentially dangerous circumstances?

An answer to most spiritual questions is to read the Bible, and I think it fits perfectly here as well. That's the best way to know what it is God wants for your life, and the things that He knows aren't good for you.

Pray. A lot. The more we talk to God and get closer to Him, the more we learn His voice.

And always listen to the Holy Spirit. When you get the feeling to not do something, don't dismiss it. When you begin to justify what you are about to do as "probably okay," pray instead. It isn't worth it.

I have dismissed that feeling and justified my actions more times than I care to admit, and I can only imagine the hurt and pain I could have saved myself and others if I had lived out this verse and been alert.

God doesn't want that pain for us. He has these guidelines in the Bible to keep us from it. Trust Him to give you what you need to avoid it. Listen to Him.

You won't regret it.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Praying for our kids...

"Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." - Lamentations 3:22-23 

I remember Noah's first day of preschool. He was 4 years old. We had already taken him to meet his teacher, see the other kids, and ask any questions we might have. But on the first day, as we pulled into the parking lot, I had a hard time giving him up. I couldn't make myself open my door and get him out.

I did the only thing I knew to do. I prayed. I asked God to take care of him, knowing I couldn't. 

That prayer helped me get out of the car, walk Noah into his class, and make it back to the car with some composure. That prayer began a habit that has continued even now. 

On the way to school, each day, we pray. The brief time when he took the bus, we prayed for he left. I pray for his safety, for his friends, for him to be an example of Jesus to everyone around him. Sometimes, those prayers are specific. Tests, trouble with his friends, or friends who are in trouble. 

Tomorrow morning, Noah will start 7th grade. It's after 1 a.m. and I'm wide awake. Summer has flown by so quickly. I want more time with him. I want to have more lazy days, more sleeping in, more "What can we do today?" questions. More geocaching, more movies, more Legos, more board games. 

But tomorrow, he will go to school, and on the way there, I will pray with him. And I will have peace. 

If you have a kiddo headed off to school, preschool, college, please join me in praying for them. Whether that kid is your son or daughter, niece or nephew, or maybe a grandchild, or a friend, pray for them. Praying big and praying specific. Here are some of the things I pray about, in case the list can help you get started...

  • His safety
  • His concentration - that God will help him focus and pay attention, and remember what he needs to remember
  • His friends - that they will be kind to each other, appreciate each other, and be good examples for each other
  • His teachers - that they will have the patience they need, and the excitement they need to pass their knowledge along to the kiddos
  • That Noah will be the kid God created him to be
  • That Noah will make the right choices, and that when he doesn't, he will know he is still unconditionally loved - by his parents, and most of all by God

That's just some of them, and they change frequently. I know a lot of you are already praying for and with your kids, and I would love to hear your list of things you pray for your kids. And if you haven't started praying with your kids, why not try it now? The peace that comes with it can't be beat :)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Differences, passion and cute baby animals

"Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us." Romans 12:4-6a

Noah, my mom-in-law Sandra, and I were on our way to visit my sister-in-law and her kids and their kids for a couple of days in Ranson, WV. Driving through Morgantown, we saw a truck from WVU with the words "Division of Animal and Nutritional Sciences," which conjures up mental images of people studying how to take temperatures of horses and how to birth goats. Ewwww.

I'm not an animal person. We have a cat and a goldfish, and I take pretty good care of them. I also enjoy a good baby animal video on YouTube from time to time.  (For your viewing pleasure, check out the one posted below). However, there is not anything about Jennifer that wants to study that. I began to think about how glad I am that people are so different. If everyone on earth loved writing, but had no interest in animals or computers (yeah, I'm out of the loop there too), we'd have a whole lot of dead animals and we would have nothing on which to write.  

The fact that we are so different is a good thing. Animals are taken care of, computers keep computing, cars get painted, sick are cared for, and television shows get produced. 

It's also a good thing when it comes to the ways we serve God, though I don't always see it that way. 

When people have a different opinion than mine, naturally they're wrong. *said with only slight sarcasm* But seriously, people are passionate about different things in life. One might be passionate about the poor and the homeless, while someone else might be passionate about  music, and I have another friend who is passionate about fashion. All of it can be used for God, the very God who hardwired us with those passions. 

Sometimes I wonder why my church doesn't have a kind of ministry that is running through my head that we need. It varies, depending on what I am focused on at the time. If I am really feeling a concern for the poor in our community, I start to wonder why my church isn't out feeding the homeless. Or if I hear of a focus on adoption at another church, I wonder why my church isn't doing that as well. 

But I am part of my church. If God has placed these desires on my heart, it could very well be my job to get these things going. As much as I want to blame it on other people, and criticize us as a whole for not focusing on those things that I think are super important, I have to place the blame back on myself. 

God created us all different for a reason. I will have things He wants me to do, that He won't ask you to do. And the same goes for you. If you are wishing for something to be done for a cause that is dear to your heart, don't waste another minute waiting on someone else to do it. Pray about it. Ask God to show you what He wants you to do about it. Then do it. 

I am definitely preaching to myself right here too. When I put off doing the things God puts on my heart, not only are the people I could be serving missing out, I am too. Instead of feeling peace from knowing I'm doing what God wants, I'm feeling unsettled. Instead of seeing the beauty of watching God work in ways I never imagined, I'm wondering what it would be like if He did. Instead of making a difference, I'm not. 

There are so many reasons we can come up with for not doing the thing that needs done. We aren't qualified. We don't have time. We don't have resources. Just to name a few. 

But God isn't limited by any of that. He used Moses, a shepherd with a speech problem, to lead an entire nation of people out of slavery. Not only did Moses not feel qualified, he obviously didn't have resources to feed and care for more than 2 million people. Moses obeyed anyway, and God took care of it, using Moses and his brother Aaron to speak, and using manna and quail supplied by God himself to feed the people. 

If you haven't felt God asking you to do something yet, ask Him to show you. He will. Then do the best you can, wherever you are with what you have. God will take care of the rest. Whatever it is that God might be asking you to do, don't put it off any longer.  The world is waiting. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Tapes, faith, and Jonathan

"...Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few." 1 Samuel 14:6b

For several years, I worked as a transcriptionist for a mental health agency. I started out in data entry, then the transcriptionist had surgery, so I filled in, then she quit, so I was able to take the position. Perfect! Sometimes I was even able to do my work at home. During the summer, I could stop by the office, pick up the tapes and type them from the comfort of my home in my PJs, not needing a babysitter.

One problem. I didn't keep up. I would drive to the office to pick up the tapes, sometimes 10 at a time. I might do two of them, then need to pick up more. The stack grew. This resulted in a very large envelope stuffed with untyped transcription tapes and a whole lot of stress. When I finished my journalism degree and was about to begin my internship at the paper, I quit the transcriptionist position and I turned in this giant envelope, with something like 40 untyped tapes, to my boss. She lovingly said something like..."I'm going to kill you...Good luck at the paper."

I knew how to do the job, but it was too big for me, and maybe for any one person. 

I'm so glad God isn't like that. It's comforting to know there is no job too big for Him. 

In I Samuel chapter 14, Jonathan points this out as well. 

Jonathan and Saul were taking on the Philistines with just 600 men, and the only weapons were what Jonathan and Saul had with them. Jonathan and his armor bearer took off for a bit to get a closer look at them, and Jonathan told his armor bearer to go with him to face the Philistines. He said, "Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few." 

Jonathan was pretty wise. Not only did he know that the battle is God's, which is something the Israelites had a recent habit of forgetting, he also knew that no battle was too big for God to win, and that He could use even just a couple of guys to do it. 

On a side note, if ever there is a guy in the Bible to have a crush on, for me it's Jonathan. I'm sure that sounds weird. But if there were a Jonathan poster, I would have it hanging on my wall right next to Taylor Lautner. There's just something about his devotion to God, his humility, his loyalty to his friend, and his selflessness that really gets me all starry-eyed, like Marsha Brady at the mention of Davy Jones. But I digress...

That day, God caused somewhere around 20 Philistines to fall over when Jonathan came by, and his sidekick finished them off. 

Jonathan knew no job was too big for God. That's the kind of faith it takes. I wish I could always say the same about my own faith in God. I guess know it in my head, but sometimes my heart feels less sure. 

God doesn't guarantee He will fix things our way; however, He will do it the best way. Our job is just to trust Him and look to Him for our rescue. 

If there is something in your life that seems too big, know that it isn't. Like Jonathan, take a peek at your Philistines, and instead of seeing them, see how much bigger your God is than your situation. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Praying for guts

Standing in line for the Gatekeeper, I could feel my stomach turning. It was the first ride my husband, son, and I lined up for at Cedar Point last weekend, and I wasn't sure I was up for it. I have ridden my share of coasters in the past, but the older I get, it seems the emptier my courage is becoming. Noah was being pretty brave about it, but I was afraid that any sign of weakness from me could result in some added fear for him, which I didn't want. (Turns out that wasn't something I needed to worry about, as the next day at Kings Island, he rode the Diamondback so many times, he began posing for the camera during the ride, making goofy faces, and at one point forming his hands into the shape of a heart as a message for me to see on the screens in the gift shop). 

I had a plan to back out of it. I thought I could just stay in line for the ride, then as I start to climb on, I would just keep climbing through and wait for them at the exit... Maybe he wouldn't notice I had gotten off. But I didn't want to do that. So I prayed for guts. Lots of guts. At one point I even had to ask myself if I was sure I wanted God to give me guts, because then I would have to ride it. But probably 40 minutes into the line, I decided I did want the courage. I wanted to be able to face my fear. God did it. I had the courage it would take to get on, get strapped in, and with tears in my eyes, face the Gatekeeper. 

Here is what one article said about this ride...
The GateKeeper is indeed a record-breaker. It is the longest (4,164 feet), fastest (67 mph), has the longest drop (164 feet), and has more inversions than any other wing coaster (six). Moreover, each inversion is different than the last. It also features the highest inversion of any roller coaster in the world."  
Sounds fun, right? 

The guts I needed to make it through the ride, climbing up the enormous first hill and then twisting and turning through the rest of the 2 minutes and 40 second ride, were there. 

I realize this is just a ride, but it was a big deal for me that day. And if it was a big deal to me, it was a big deal to God. I'm so glad He feels that way. 

There is something a little bigger that I am also praying for the guts to do. I've had it on my heart for a while to have a Bible study for about a year now (I guess I don't like to jump into things?). God has kind of gotten specific about it in a way only He can do.

Not feeling sure about whether I wanted to try it at my home, or at church, I put it off, and undoubtedly questioned my qualifications to lead one. But lately God has put my neighbors on my heart.

I'm not a social neighbor. At all. I can probably count on one hand the names of the neighbors I know. I'm not proud of this, just stating the facts. I've lived in this house since the 1900s (Christmas of 1999, to be exact...). That should be enough time for anyone to get comfortable enough to introduce themselves, but not me. 

But God isn't letting me out of this one, and I don't want Him to. It started with a feeling that I should pray for my neighbors. So I took a walk around my neighborhood, asking God to work in each home with whatever situations were going on there. Then I see on Facebook, without searching for it, a daily guide to praying for your neighbors - their salvation, knowing God's love, grace, that they would have the peace of God, forgiveness and healing, and wisdom.

Then, in His not-so-subtle way, we get a package delivered to our house, but it was for a neighbor, mistakenly left on our doorstep (big bummer, by the way. I LOVE getting stuff in the mail). 

Shawn takes it to the neighbor’s house, and gets into a lengthy conversation with them. The man is super friendly, and tells Shawn he and his wife have recently started a Hispanic church in Putnam County, and that he wants to start a Bible study in the neighborhood. Wow. 

So, I will ask for your prayers as I attempt to figure out details of what God wants me to do with this. I'm excited about it, but am nervous, and a little scared. Especially scared I will chicken out, or find excuses as to why I can't do it.

The writer of Hebrews says this as he finishes out the book in chapter 13...

20 Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

So I'm praying for guts. And just like He equipped me with the guts to climb aboard the Gatekeeper, He will supply the guts for this as well. 

Obviously, this isn't us, but you can take a peek at what the GateKeeper is like right here.... Yikes!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Losing Focus

Church was, and still is, one of Noah's favorite places. When he was younger, he loved staying after church and goofing off with his friends. When it was time to head home, it was a chore to get him to leave without literally picking him up to go.

 "Hey Noah, it's time to go. You'll see them again soon. We need to go. Come on. We need to leave to eat dinner. Noah, go to to the car. I'm leaving." (I'm sure there's a big list of parenting mistakes here, but stay focused :)

Once we decided it had been long enough. We told him we were leaving. We walked out to the car. He didn't follow. We got in the car, watching him through the glass doors. He wasn't budging. We pulled the car out of the parking space. He wasn't phased. We drove off and drove around the church, through the side parking lot and circled back around. There he still stood. Not impressed. 

Noah is a kid. Obviously we wouldn't leave him, and apparently he knew that. But here's another story about someone who did get left, and it's a sad one. 

In the Bible in the book of Judges, there was a man named Manoah. He had a wife, but they weren't able to have children together.  An angel of God showed up and big things happened. The angel told Manoah's wife she would have a son. The angel gave her specific instructions for this kid - while pregnant, don't drink anything fermented or eat things unclean, and don't shave his head. He is set apart and will be God's way of getting Israel out from under the Philistines. 

His parents really wanted to make sure they were raising him the way God said, even requesting another visit from the angel for an additional parenting class.

This kid was Samson, and he was special. Samson's hair was long and he was freakishly strong as he got older. But something happened. 

Along the way, Samson lost focus on God, and in Judges we read this -
     "But he did not know the Lord had left him." Judges 16:20b

Samson wasn't a kid anymore. He was set apart by God, but he let his desires for things other than God become his focus. By doing so, He turned his back on God, and was left alone and weak and blind.

Though things didn't end well for Samson, ultimately he realized his sin. He asked God for one more shot at the Philistines and killed everyone in the temple of Dagon, including himself.

When people turn away from God, it's always heartbreaking. But there seems to be an extra layer of tragedy when they don't even seem to notice they're doing it.

I've been there. You might ha
ve too. It's easy to get so focused on something or someone else that our attention is no longer on God. Sometimes these things are "big" sins, other times they're perfectly acceptable things that we let become bigger to us than God. Neither is okay.

How can we keep this from happening? Proverbs says this-
     "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." Proverbs 4:23

Guarding your heart does seem like the best place to start. If my heart is focused on God, I won't be able to get distracted by the things that can take my eyes off God.

A lady from a Bible study I am part of shared some wisdom her husband passed to her and I haven't forgotten it - If you have a minute, do this with me.

Look at something across the room from you, like a picture on the wall. While you are looking at it, notice all the other things you can still see (especially if your peripheral vision is better than mine). Right now, as I do this, I can be looking at the picture but I can still see my window, my favorite chair, my couch, my kitchen, my cat licking himself, lots of books and papers I didn't pick up from yesterday - a bunch of other stuff.

Now walk closer to that picture you were focused on. As you get closer and closer to that picture, those other things are no longer competing for your focus. I can't see my cat, those papers, and when I finally get as close as I can to that picture, it's the only thing I see.

I want that with God so much. To be so focused and so close that nothing else will even be competition. I know you know as well as I do how we can make that happen. The more time I spend talking or listening to God, the more time I spend reading His words to me in the Bible, and the more time I spend listening to and reading from other people who are teaching me more and more about Him, the more focused I am getting.

Sometimes I just need a little reminder. Reading about Samson getting his eyes gouged out will do that.

I wonder if Samson hadn't taken his focus off of God, what a beautiful story he could have had, rather than a sad one. I want mine and yours to be beautiful stories. Let's get focused.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Cleaning out the attic

Our attic was overflowing. I didn’t see this as a problem, but my husband said our attic isn’t made for that kind of storage. What?

I guess our attic will accommodate a small amount of our stuff, but couldn’t handle the job we (well, me really – Shawn and Noah are happy getting rid of everything) were asking it to do. The way I saw it, if there was room for it, I could put it there. Apparently the weight of all my junk on top of our house is something to consider. 

I finally talked myself into cleaning it up and clearing it out.  We had at least 22 plastic totes in the attic, not including any Christmas decorations, luggage, bags of other clothes not in totes, paint, pictures, wreathes, etc. It was full.

So, I mentioned to Noah that it would be a good summer project for us, putting it on my “to-do-sometime list.” Noah had it on his short list of things to do – as soon as possible. His summer list included finishing an enormous Lego set he bought around Christmas time but hadn’t found the time to complete, finishing “Mockingjay” – the third book in the Hunger Games series (loved this series!) , and a duct tape project . We were having breakfast Friday and I mentioned that since we didn’t have any commitments that day, it might be a good day to get started on something from his list. Surprisingly, he chose the attic. Which meant I was also choosing the attic.

For much of the weekend and this week as well, we have been up there, sweating and lifting, carrying boxes and dusty things up and down the stairs.  I sorted through lots of things, some from my high school days, some from our wedding, lots from Noah’s early years, and a bunch of stuff of my mom’s. In the middle of this, I found a lot of our things ruined. Candles – melted. Sweaters – weird stains.  Any craft project that involved hot glue – fallen apart. White things – yellowed.

*While I wish I would have thought to take a before-picture of the stuff in the attic, this is the mountain of stuff we are getting rid of that is now in the spare bedroom...*

I tried to clean some of it up. I put a sheet, a blanket, and a couple of pillow shams in the washer to see what would happen, hoping they would come out looking like new.

Later that evening, I remembered the things in the washer. I went to get them out and was bummed by what I saw. All over the inside of my washer was some weird substance that resembled damp clumps of that stuff you put in the bottom of hamster cages. And some netting I didn’t recognize. Through the process of elimination, I realized that a few hours before it had been a blanket.

Not only was the blanket destroyed, it also had potential of destroying my new washer. Let me give a bit of background here – We just bought a washer a few weeks ago, after a washer we owned for around 3 years broke due to no fault of our own, with no warranty and no help from Whirlpool (even after a scathing email complete with a frowny face). Shawn used a Shop-Vac to suck all of the grossness  out of the washer last night. I am washing a test load right now as I write this, hoping the machine comes out of this alive.

God kind of spoke to me about this ratty old blanket, the melted candles, and the yellowed things from my attic that I thought were so important. By holding on to things I couldn’t let go of, not only was it not helpful, it was potentially harmful.

Things from my past that I wish I had done differently and other things I knew I had done my way that went against what God wanted for me.  I know these things aren’t good, but there was a part of me that would still think about them and not want to give them up entirely. I wasn’t giving these things an active place in my life, in my symbolic living room, but I was holding on to them, giving them value by storing them in my heart and mind. Whether it was remembering fondly things that make God sad, or beating myself up over things that have been forgiven, neither belong in my attic. Not only would it do harm to me by keeping them there, it has potential to do harm to others as well. Kind of like the harm that could come to my washer.

In Philippians 4:8, the apostle Paul warns the Christians in Philippi about this sort of thing –

            “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”

He is calling for an attic overhaul of sorts. If we have things in our minds and hearts that don’t fit into his neatly separated storage containers – true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy – toss it.  It doesn’t belong. In verse 9 he tells us that by doing this, and following his example as he follows the example of Christ, we can have the peace of God. Boy do I want that peace.

God will gladly help us clean out those thoughts, and we can start fresh with our newly acquired Apostle Paul Storage System. And to keep it clean, when we start to have a thought that we know isn’t God-approved – we need to get rid of it. Storing it isn’t an option if we want God’s peace. So glad He is happy to help.

On a side note, my washer just dinged, and I checked – it’s working great! Shew J

Oh, also I am having a yard sale this Saturday – 2 Louie Court in Williamsburg Colony in Barboursville J

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Birds, brokenness, and God's track record

Peregrine falcons are interesting. They are fast and they are committed. These birds keep the same mate for life.

The only reason I have even heard of these particular falcons is from working at the Ironton Tribune and doing a story once about some fledglings that were in a nest on the Ironton-Russell Bridge. The falcons were going to be banded and named in a ceremony of sorts, open to the public.

I was able to climb on the bridge and be close to their nest and get a couple of pictures and it wasn't pleasant. I am terrified of heights and water, so a bridge that is in such bad shape it is about to be torn down was not my favorite. I prayed a bunch.

These tiny falcons were to be temporarily removed from their nests by wildlife experts, taken to a picnic shelter at the base of the bridge, and given a tiny ID bracelet around their tiny falcon legs. Then some students who had been studying them were going to name them.

Though the little falcons would only be away from their parents for a short time, and then carefully returned to their nests, their mom and dad had no idea what had happened to them.

The screeches and squawks above the Ohio River were kind of heartbreaking, knowing that these loving parents were so scared and so helpless, swooping and flying all around the bridge in a panic, and not realizing their babies and their situation were safely in the hands of professionals.

There have been so many times in my life that I have felt like that falcon couple. I felt fear and panic, and began my own screeching and squawking, wondering why something has happened, why it seemed like there was no one to help and nothing I could do. And, like the falcons, I didn't see that I had a Professional in control of the situation the entire time.

My parents' divorce - God was there.
My Mom's sickness - God was there.
My loss of two pregnancies - God was there.

Just a few of my own examples. These situations were ugly and messy and didn't go the way I wanted, but I was never alone for even a second. It may have felt that way sometimes. There were many times I felt desperate and heartbroken.

In Psalm 77, the writer says in verses 1-9,

     "I cried out to God for help;
        I cried out to God to hear me.
     When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;
        at night I stretched out untiring hands
        and my soul refused to be comforted.
     I remembered you, O God, and I groaned;
        I mused, and my spirit grew faint.
     You kept my eyes from closing;
        I was too troubled to speak.
     I thought about the former days,
        the years of long ago;
     I remembered my songs in the night.
        My heart mused and my spirit inquired:
     'Will the Lord reject forever?
        Will he never show his favor again?
     Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
        Has his promise failed for all time?
     Has God forgotten to be merciful?
       Has he in anger withheld his compassion?'"

We aren't the first to feel abandoned. This writer wasn't afraid to let God know how he felt and we shouldn't be either. Our screeching and squawking to God also keeps us listening for His voice. In verses 11 and 12, the writer goes a different direction. He begins to remember all the times God has clearly been present throughout history and focuses on God's power and faithfulness.

     "I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
        yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
     I will meditate on all your works
        and consider all your mighty deeds."

If you are in the middle of your own squawking and screeching, hurting and brokenness, remember your Professional is close by. Remember the times He has been with you before, and the times before that He has been with others. You probably know some great examples from your own life, the lives of your family and friends. And the Bible is full of some too.

He has it under control. He wants the best for you and He will not leave you.

"...As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you." - Joshua 1:5b

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Teresa and some other stuff

A coworker of mine passed away last week at a young 51 years of age. I didn't get to know her as much as I would have liked, as my position as a reporter was to cover for her while she underwent treatment after a recent cancer diagnosis. For most of my time there, she was on medical leave. But I did have several months during my internship at the paper that she was still there, and weeks here and there when she would be between treatments. Here is what I know about Teresa.

She was helpful. She would often ask if there was any way she could help me, regardless of the work she had to do.
She always smiled. Regardless of her own struggles. Regardless of cancer and divorce occuring simultaneously. She smiled.
She was a hard worker. She took her job seriously and it was obvious she loved what she did.
She loved her daughter. She spent time with her, and on her daughter's days off from school, she would sometimes bring her to work with her.
She was a classy lady.

I wish I had more time to know her.

After her funeral, a few of us from the paper decided to have lunch together. It was good. During conversation, a friend said to us that when she passes away, "If you are still around, please say something about me at my service, or I will haunt you." There wasn't much said about Teresa during her service. It's possible that it is just the way things are done in the Lutheran church. But it left me feeling like Teresa didn't get quite the "send off" that she deserved.

I have written what I thought about Teresa.  I would have loved to hear what others had to say about her.

I've thought a lot about death this week. First with Teresa dying, and then I was listening to a series of sermons about what happens when we die. Great podcasts, and they had me thinking. The pastor mentioned funerals he had led over the years, and that he had, at times, been asked to do funerals for people he didn't know well. During times like this, he would ask the family members to tell a little about the person who died - something they were passionate about, what meant a lot to them. He said once there was a man who died, and as he talked to the family, he asked them the same question.  The room was silent, and finally the recently departed's mom said, "He loved hats. He had the best hat collection."

Sad that after his entire life, hats are all they could muster.

It got me thinking, what would people say about me? At my service, as my coworkers, family, and friends get together for a few minutes to say goodbye, what would be said about me?
I know the things I hope would be said. But are the things I think I feel are important to me, really important enough in my life that other people would notice? Man, I hope so.

During our lunch after the service, one friend mentioned how he hates when people use funerals to try to get people saved. (It didn't happen at this service, just something we talked about in conversation). He said he gets it, just that it isn't the time or the place. I understand why he feels that way.

And I also understand why it is done. There are times that people will only be in a church for a funeral, and no other time. Maybe that will be the only time someone can tell that person how much God loves them. But it did get me thinking, and while I hope that good can somehow come from my death, I hope more good can come from my life. I hope people I know and am around will see Jesus in my life. That they will want it too, becuase I really want it for them. Life is so much better with Him. Peace, love, courage, forgiveness, hope - a whole bunch of stuff that God gives that doesn't come from anywhere else.

I really would love for someone at my service to say, "She was a girl who loved Jesus. She was a girl who loved people like Jesus did."

I know I have far to go for this to be said of me, but it's my goal.

2 Timothy 4:7
      I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Sticky notes and tassels

Noah wanted an iPod for his 9th birthday. While I was worried about two things – 1. He will be disappointed to receive such a physically small present as his only present, and 2. Is he prepared to be responsible for such a pricy gift? – We did it and he loved it. He did a great job taking care of it. In fact, the only scratch even on it was from something I did.
But as electronics go, he eventually wanted the newer version – the iPod Touch. We bought it for another holiday when he was 11. Unfortunately, on a Friday evening, he and his dad got home late and Noah changed into his pajamas half-asleep. The next morning, my husband did a load of laundry and Noah’s iPod touch was in the pocket of his jeans. The iPod was ruined. We tried rice, letting it air dry. Nothing worked. So my husband decided the fair thing to do to teach a lesson in responsibility was to have Noah pay half of the cost of a replacement iPod and he would pay the other half. So that’s what they did. Fast-forward a couple of months, and I did laundry, and when putting the clothes in the dryer, I saw the new iPod in the bottom of the washer. Ruined. We prayed over that iPod and everything. He ended up getting an iPad for Christmas a few months later, rather than the long list of Legos he had originally hoped for. (iPads are much larger than iPods and harder to miss going in the washer).
While my husband and I disagreed about whose responsibility it is to check the pockets before washing – the wearer of the pants or the laundry doers – I had a hard time remembering to check the pockets before dumping clothes into the washer, even after two traumatic laundering experiences. So I put a sticky-note with a big, black check-mark over the detergent hole to remind me of my responsibility before each load. It helped tremendously. I haven’t missed checking a load since.
For my Bible reading, I am in the book of Numbers. I was cruising through lots of rules and regulations and punishments, when in chapter 15, verses 32 through 36, I read about a guy who was gathering wood on the Sabbath day – a violation of the rules God had given them. God commanded Moses that this guy had to die for his blatant disregard for God’s commands.
Back to rules and such in verses 37 through 40, it says, “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel. You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the Lord, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by going after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes. Then you will remember to obey all my commands and will be consecrated to your God.”
The tassels for the Israelites were a kind of check-mark sticky note for the Israelites. These tassels (I kind of envision a Dolly Parton sort of fringe, though I think I’m way off on that one) were to remind them of the laws to obey, laws designed to guard their hearts, to keep them focused, to train them to control their actions, and especially to give honor and worship to God.
When an Israelite woke up and put on her ensemble for the day, she would see a tassel and remember to have reverence and respect for God and only God – no golden calves, no man-made idols. Her focus would be brought back to Him, perhaps leading her to remember how awesome He is. How He led her and her people out of Egypt, when without Him it would have been impossible. How she was once literal a slave, but now she is free. How He led her and her people by a cloud during the day and fire by night. How He gave her manna to keep her from being hungry.
When this Israelite lady would clean laundry during the day, she would see her tassel on her sleeve and remember God’s command saying she isn’t to covet her neighbor’s house. She would look around and see her own home, her own dishes, her bed, and be thankful for the comfort she has, thankful for a place to rest her head and be with her family.
Sometimes I get so wrapped up in big, time-consuming projects I get myself into, or so distracted by regular everyday routines that I could use a tassel. Or a sticky note. Something to remind me of what God wants from me. Something to remind me of what he has already done for me.
Some of these things happen naturally. When Noah makes me laugh, or gets his own ear-to-ear, wide-eyed, genuine smile, I naturally thank God for letting me be his mom, and naturally feel a renewed passion not to screw him up.
When I see a beautiful sunset – the kind with pinks and purples all mixed in - I instantly tell God, “Nice work!”
But in everyday things, how do I remind myself to not grumble when things don’t go my way? How do I remember to be thankful in all things? What about the days I’m feeling down on myself? How do I remind myself not to bring everyone around me down too? On days I’m doubting how God is going to make things work out, how do I remind myself of the many, many times He has been there for me, and the bunches of times He has been there for His people in every situation I read in my Bible?
I really don’t want to go with tassels. That’s kind of ‘80s-country and not my thing. But I need a plan. I’m thinking maybe sticky notes.

Maybe one on my mirror to remind me of how I can trust God, no matter what, like Psalm 9:10 “Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.”

Maybe one in my kitchen to remind me to be thankful - 1 Thessalonians 5:18In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.”

For you, it could be something other than sticky notes. I heard a woman on the radio saying she talked to God about thinking about Him, and knowing He is thinking about her, when she sees a robin. Sounds kind of kooky, I know, and she admitted as much, but she said the experiences she has had with robins because of this have meant so much to her. Whatever works for you, just make a plan to remember.

I will start with my two sticky notes and hopefully add more. More promises, more reminders. Like the Israelites, I hope this plan will remind me of blessings, guard my heart, keep me focused and keep me thankful.