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I Am Wealthy Beyond Measure

The message this morning at church was about wealth.  The world’s defining of it, and then true wealth.  While it isn’t something new to me, the message was so good and so rock solid that I felt compelled to evaluate some of the wealth that I have.

Nothing that I have is truly mine.  God grants me everything that I have and so often I forget to be thankful for those gifts.  No doubt you have seen, and if you haven’t then ponder this, “what if you woke up tomorrow morning with only those things that you thanked God for today?”  To be honest I would not have anything most mornings.  I am guilty of putting everything else ahead of my spiritual life on pretty much every single day unless I remind myself to be thankful.  Even my life struggles are something to be thankful for as they build a Christ like character in me.

I thought I’d take a moment, in reverse order of importance, to ponder the 5 “capital investments” of wealth spoken of in the message today, acknowledging those things that are the riches of my life.

Financial

I have a job, a very good paying one at that.  It has enabled me to have a number of great things as far as earthly possessions:

  • My adorable little car.
  • My phone, tablet, and Kindle Fire, all of which keep me connected on social media.
  • Makeup and clothes, jewelry and a ridiculous amount of trinkets and gizmos that I don’t need but want very much.
  • Food that goes well beyond what I need to sustain life, in fact it is the reason I’m over weight and need to shed some pounds.
  • Nails – those wonderful mani/pedi dollars spent to feel feminine and spoiled.
  • Candles, perfume, 15+ watches (really!) and so on….loads of completely unnecessary things that are not wrong, just not really necessary.

For these and so many more items I am thankful for God’s provision of  a job to purchase.  I need to be mindful to tithe 10% of my income back, which simply means saying “no” or “wait and save for it” to myself on those unnecessary things.

Intellectual

My brain, despite my 51 years, works quite well.  I process thoughts clearly, though sometimes too emotionally, and I’m smart. My intellect is one reason I have that wonderful job, because I am bright and thoughtful.  I can read, write and problem solve thanks to my amazing mind.  Read…oh the number of books there are to read and that I am able to personally own!  But I often forget to read the most important one on a regular basis, my Bible.  But I am so very grateful that God has given me my brain and the skills associated with a well working mind to do my job and put His Word in my heart.

Physical

My body works fairly normal.  All parts are functioning and reasonably healthy.  I can move myself about with ease (make no mistake aging is starting to be felt at times), I am unrestricted in range of motion.  And my body had plenty to eat!  Okay I have way too much to eat but that is something I need to control.  I am thankful for the unlimited supply of nutrition at my fingertips on a daily basis.  I need to take better care of this physical vessel I’ve been given to travel through this life within.

Relational

My life is full of family and friends.  I see my sister, nieces and mother every single day.  I am able to see my children as often as I wish, and my adorable grandchildren (biased granny here).  I’m able to smile and greet the ex-husband and hug his beautiful wife, all without bitterness but instead with much love on Sunday at church or a gathering of mutual interest (our offspring).  I am slowly meeting new family members in the church family and making new friends on this journey.  God has richly blessed me in the area of relationships, and I am very thankful.  I have forgiven every enemy I can think of and even pray for them and rejoice when I hear from mutual friends of those individuals successes in life.

Spiritual

Most importantly this prodigal daughter of the Most High King is back home where I belong.  Praying (never as much as I should) at the throne of grace, kneeling at His feet and knowing His hands protect and guide me when I am open to hear His voice.  I have a Bible that thanks to the financial wealth to purchase (roughly 5 translations and 8 or 10 copies which way more than I need) and intellectual wealth to read and understand, fills me with the Word of God and directs my path.  I have a wonderful church that I can attend each  week to feed my soul and my heart, not to mention my brain.  In fact every one of these 5 areas can be fed within God’s church, when a need might arise.  It is also a place I can help feed another, paying it forward when I have abundance to share.  And anything more than what I need truly is just that, abundance.

As if the message itself wasn’t enough, my favorite hymn with an upbeat twist, Be Thou My Vision, was sung this morning and I was just filled up with praise for God’s mighty work in my life.

It was a good message, and later this coming week you can watch or listen to it on the Crossroads website under the media section.  You can catch last weeks message on happiness there as well.

And for your enjoyment, last week’s rendition of Amazing Grace from the service.

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Difficult Choices

In my quest to begin writing novels, I had hoped for a particular domain name to go with the pen name my sister and I are going to use to write under.  But that one was taken 😦  and that makes me said.  Just in case, I bought up my other choice to hang onto it.  But that isn’t the difficult choice.

The choice that is difficult at the moment is what type of novels to write.  I can write some pretty juicy material that will curl toes and cause folks to gasp just from my own life experiences.  A tweak here and a nip and tuck there and I can fictionalize it enough to cover my tail when it comes to legal issues.  Believe me I am convinced I could hit the best seller’s list, and I’m not flashing ego here at all.  I know I write well, and many have told me I need to publish a book.  My difficult choice(s) comes down to certain content.

I could write a juicy, steamy, sex filled story that would no doubt make me money.  Sex sells, no doubt about it. Jasinda Wilder proved that a quick read, short book loaded down with seriously descriptive sex scenes will sell like hot cakes and make you a lot of money.  I actually find her story inspiring, as she and her husband were about to lose it all and she sat down and wrote the first of her books, Big Girls Do It Better, and BAM they were rolling.  Trouble is I don’t know if I SHOULD write that type of book.  See, as I walk this road of faith, little by little I see that all things in my life need to be seen through a biblical perspective.  Would it be honoring to Christ to write such stuff?  The issue I had with her book was just that, the sex.  There was just TOO much of it!  I’ve read a number of her Big Girl series and honestly the story line is decent, but I started skipping a good portion because the sex scenes were just getting ridiculous.  Realistic sure, but entirely too much of it.

When I read, I love a good story.  I love several Christian authors, especially Lori Wick.  I think my very favorite book of her’s is Pretense.  It was so real, so impacting and a modern day story.  Historical fiction is great and I love reading it, but I really love things that are present day.  Face it, I cannot relate real well to living in a covered wagon or a log cabin, washing my clothes on a rock somewhere.  I enjoy getting lost in a good book but prefer things I can relate too.  I will naturally write about things in my novels that I can relate too.  There won’t be any vampires, no super model in looks characters, just real, ordinary characters, average. But with extraordinary situations and stories.

But what about the sex?  Sex between a husband and wife is beautiful, and special.  Is it wrong to write steamy scenes between two people married to each other?  And what about the fact that lots of believers don’t walk a perfect path, should I write my characters more realistic or as more fictionally perfect examples?  Sure, there are many real life believers that go from cradle to coffin walking out the Word of God in seeming perfection.  I’m not one of those.  My life, to say the least, has been rather colorful and edgy.  Woven into characters who while believers, have stumbled through some seriously sinful situations and made some poor choices, would those be more of interest to readers than the almost perfect ones I could make up?

SIGH…so many important choices.

Gratitude Explained

If you do nothing else today, take time to sit and watch this 10 minute video.  The images are gorgeous.  But there is so much more in the words.  Listen to the child and then the elderly man.  REALLY LISTEN to what is said.  I wrote some of it down it was SO good.

The Penny Story

A great story floating around on Facebook, and a reminder.  You can bet I will never fail to pick up a coin on the ground in the future and not stop for a moment to pray.

pennyYou always hear the usual stories of pennies on the sidewalk being good luck, gifts from angels, etc. This is the first time I’ve ever heard this twist on the story. Gives you something to think about.

Several years ago, a friend of mine and her husband were invited to spend the weekend at the husband’s employer’s home. My friend, Arlene, was nervous about the weekend. The boss was very wealthy, with a fine home on the waterway, and cars costing more than her house.
The first day and evening went well, and Arlene was delighted to have this rare glimpse into how the very wealthy live… The husband’s employer was quite generous as a host, and took them to the finest restaurants. Arlene knew she would never have the opportunity to indulge in this kind of extravagance again, so was enjoying herself immensely~!

As the three of them were about to enter an exclusive restaurant that evening, the boss was walking slightly ahead of Arlene and her husband; He stopped suddenly, looking down on the pavement for a long, silent moment..

Arlene wondered if she was supposed to pass him. There was nothing on the ground except a single darkened penny that someone had dropped, and a few cigarette butts Still silent, the man reached down and picked
up the penny.

He held it up and smiled, then put it in his pocket as if he had found a great treasure. How absurd! What need did this man have for a single penny? Why would he even take the time to stop and pick it up?

Throughout dinner, the entire scene nagged at her. Finally, she could stand it no longer. She casually mentioned that her daughter once had a coin collection, and asked if the penny he had found had been of some value..

A smile crept across the man’s face as he reached into his pocket for the penny and held it out for her to see. She had seen many pennies before! What was the point of this?

“Look at it.” He said. “Read what it says.” She read the words ” United States of America .”
“No, not that; read further.”
“One cent?” “No, keep reading..”
“In God we Trust?” “Yes!” “And?”
“And if I trust in God, the name of God is holy, even on a coin. Whenever I find a coin I see that inscription. It is written on every single United States coin, but we never seem to notice it! God drops a message right in front of me telling me to trust Him? Who am I to pass it by? When I see a coin, I pray, I stop to see if my trust IS in God at that moment… I pick the coin up as a response to God; that I do trust in Him. For a short time, at least, I cherish it as if it were gold. I think it is God’s way of starting a conversation with me. Fortunate for me, God is patient and pennies are plentiful!

When I was out shopping today, I found a penny on the sidewalk. I stopped and picked it up, and realized that I had been worrying and fretting in my mind about things I cannot change. I read the words, “In God We Trust,” and had to laugh. Yes, God, I get the message.

It seems that I have been finding an inordinate number of pennies in the last few months, but then, pennies are plentiful! And, God is patient.

Author unknown
Image by Ryan McVay/Thinkstockphotos

Aspiring To Be A Proverbs 31 Woman

If you have ever read Proverbs 31:10-31 you are familiar with the Virtuous Wife.  This and the Titus 2 woman seem to be the bar of standard set for the woman who follows the Lord to aspire too.  And if you are female and have ever tried to achieve this standard, you likely went sideways long before you ever reached the goal.

For me, for starters, I’m not married.  Divorced 3.5 years now, I’m reaching for the praiseworthy girlfriend edition of the Proverbs 31 gal.  Don’t panic, I’ve got a way to go before I win the gold medal.

My life’s landscape has changed since last year, I’m living with my boyfriend, yes in sin, no we don’t need a reminder of this, we get it.  We won’t try to justify it because we cannot.  I cannot.  But after spending 22  years married to someone who bailed on me, his faith etc, I’m gun shy.  The boyfriend is equally gun shy after being married and not having ‘happily ever after’.   We don’t need the ceremony and rings at this point, it is the level of commitment that matters.  I’m all in, as is he, and when the time is right the rest will follow.  Yes we’re aware this sounds like justifying our sin.  No we are not doing that at all, it’s simply the facts.

Back to me and that impossible level of being woman that the Bible puts out.

I’ve been living here about 7 months now.  Strange as it is, we’ve not had a cross word between us.  No fights, no arguments, no bickering.  That is not to say that it cannot or will not occur, but it is less likely.  Neither of us tries to bait the other to a fight.  There is no being insulting, no name calling.  What there is, is adult, mature discussions about things.  And believe me when you living with someone, carving out a future, being ‘step-mom’ part time to his 3 kids, with no mutual past to build on, there are discussions.  We have decisions to make, dreams to share, desires for what the future holds for us, and these in the chapters of life known as middle-age.

Without a shared past, we lack the “remember when…” conversations.  Instead we are sharing our versions, life experiences through our eyes, in getting to know each other.  We also got to come to this stage in life together with a completely clean slate.  There isn’t any “well YOU did…” and so on about our past.  This is actually good for us, no throwing the past up in each others faces.  So what does this mean for this wacky, quirky woman?

It means I go at being significant other, mother figure, etc with no baggage or ill feelings.  I cook dinner often because I enjoy doing it.  I’m playing with recipes and enjoying knowing the tummies are full after dinner is cleaned up (She also rises while it is yet night, And provides food for her household).  I bake brownies because they are enjoyed.  I gladly clean up after dinner because I want too. Laundry is a labor of love, as is the simple things like making the bed.  I’m appreciated immensely for my efforts.  I work full time too, helping as much as possible, with the expenses of this household.  I have 3 direct sales businesses (She considers a field and buys it; From her profits she plants a vineyard) that I am trying hard to make into something profitable.  There are many more things I could add that are, in my opinion, modern takes on the verses of the Proverbs passage, but you get the idea.  I’m trying.  My faith is back on track and my focus where it belongs.  Funny, I don’t have to work at it now, I’m happy, I love my life and love where I am, and love the man I’m sharing life with now.  All that I do to help make this a home, comes from the heart and a desire to make everyone happy here.  It doesn’t feel like work at all most days, it’s just what I do.  It’s just me.

I have a long way to go, but I am enjoying very much where I am now.

The Virtuous Wife

10 Who[b] can find a virtuous[c] wife?
For her worth is far above rubies.
11 The heart of her husband safely trusts her;
So he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
13 She seeks wool and flax,
And willingly works with her hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
She brings her food from afar.
15 She also rises while it is yet night,
And provides food for her household,
And a portion for her maidservants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
From her profits she plants a vineyard.
17 She girds herself with strength,
And strengthens her arms.
18 She perceives that her merchandise is good,
And her lamp does not go out by night.
19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hand holds the spindle.
20 She extends her hand to the poor,
Yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of snow for her household,
For all her household is clothed with scarlet.
22 She makes tapestry for herself;
Her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates,
When he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
And supplies sashes for the merchants.
25 Strength and honor are her clothing;
She shall rejoice in time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
And on her tongue is the law of kindness.
27 She watches over the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many daughters have done well,
But you excel them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
And let her own works praise her in the gates.

Loving My Enemies

love your enemies

Matthew 5:43-48

New King James Version (NKJV)

Love Your Enemies

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,[b] 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren[c] only, what do you do more than others?Do not even the tax collectors[d] do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

It IS easy to love those who are in our camp, who love us and support our view.  Those who rally around us telling us what we want to hear even when we may be dead wrong.  But when it comes to loving those who do not like us, maybe hate us, speak evil and unkind words about us…those we’d consider enemies.  Well that is a much more difficult task.  Seemingly impossible, and maybe it IS within our own strength.  But then nothing we do is to be in our own power, it is from God that we find the ability to forgive and let go of grudges.

I know, I’ve been there.  For several years I had harbored bitterness in my heart.  And bitterness takes root and if you’ve ever tried to kill weeds you know how tough that can be to remove them for good!  But I also knew it was what I had too do.   Once I released the hold I had on that bitterness, and yes you read that right, I had hold of it,  I was the one not letting go, it died.  An emotion only has power over us if we hang onto it, nurture it and help it grow.  Every time an unkind thought came into my mind toward the persons I felt bitter, I would refuse to think it, and replaced it with a positive one.

Don’t misunderstand, it wasn’t and some days still isn’t always easy to pray for an enemy or someone who has hurt me.  When  I reach out and try to extend an olive branch and it is shot down, it is very difficult not to go on the defense and lash out.  Sometimes I do trip over the issue and post or say unkind things.  But this work in progress manages to let God’s spirit speak to my heart and I again try to right the wrong.

So, I keep praying for my enemies, and love them from a distance.  No matter what they do or say, they cannot stop me from doing this, and in the end it isn’t really about them.  They will answer for what they do, I have to worry about answering for what I do.

Bible Study With 167 Facebook Folks

I love technology.

I love my church family.

I love my brothers and sisters in Christ.

I love studying God’s word.

Now, combine all that, through the brilliant idea of a college student and friend and you have a Bible study with 168 people (and growing) through a Facebook group for encountering Proverbs 27:17.

Proverbs 27:17

New King James Version (NKJV)

17 As iron sharpens iron,
So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.

I was SO excited to be invited into this!  We are spending now through 2/23/13 studying through the book of Romans.  One chapter a week.  Not hard at all.  And interacting on the group. You cannot begin to imagine how sweet this is for me!  Some are folks I know, some are strangers, all are of a common interest and desire.

Thank you Jessie, this is a FANTASTIC group!