December 31st, 2011
My closet has been driving me crazy!
I braced myself this morning and dove in full-steam.
Removing things I do not wear anymore, color-coordinating the things I do wear.
I realized black must be my favorite color!
Now, I can stand back and look at my closet without cringing.
There’s so many other parts of my world that need this kind of attention.
I need to dive in, full-steam…
My kitchen pantry, my dresser drawers…….
So many things filled with clutter and unnecessary items.
But more than any of these places around my home, I know I need to purge my heart.
Scoop out the negative thoughts and replace every one of them with positive thoughts.
Purge the ugly parts of me and stuff them full of His love and goodness.
Envy, worry, guilt, discontentment……
I battle them all.
Today, I’m making a choice to organize some things in my home.
But I’m also making a choice to organize some things in God’s Home…..my heart.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.
Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.
Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.
Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.
His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing.
Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.
Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me-everything you heard from me and saw me doing.
Then the God of peace will be with you.
Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God?
You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price.
So you must honor God with your body.
I Cor. 6:19-20
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love.
Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.
I John 4:16
December 30th, 2011
As I look ahead into 2012, I am very aware that along the way there will be circumstances and choices that affect the outcome of my goals for the year.
Realizing this today, helps me face tomorrow.
I wonder if Jesus knew ahead of time that he would face the devil in the wilderness.
I think He did, and I think that is why He was prepared to answer every temptation with Scripture.
Today, think of verses that you can claim that will help you in the goals you are setting for this new year.
Write these verses on index cards or place them in a notebook.
Carry them with you, tape them on your mirror or refrigerator, do whatever it takes to soak them into your heart.
I’ll share my verses for this year with you tonight.
Do you have a word for this year?
Mine is “perseverance.”
To me, this means that when I run into obstacles, I am going to jump over them or figure out a way around them. I am going to press on toward my goals…no matter what.
You may already have HUGE obstacles looming in front of you that make the thought of even trying to set goals seem impossible.
Look past those obstacles.
Don’t allow them to overshadow your dreams.
Jesus had a goal when He came to earth. Along the way, He faced obstacle after obstacle.
In the end, though, He accomplished His task with inexpressible beauty and perfection.
Our goals pale in comparison to the one Jesus carried in His heart, but He knew that in the end it would be worth the pain, the agony, the rejection……….
So, as you set goals, be prepared for obstacles and remember how great it will feel to say, “I DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Even when you feel all alone, remember you are not!
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,
let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Jesus endured the cross because of the joy set before Him.
Think of the joy that is just within your reach if you are willing to endure!
Praying for you all!
Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
My dear friend, Martha, has stage three Primary Peritoneal Cancer. She will be going to Houston (MD Anderson) soon for surgery. Please keep her in your prayers.
Charlotte began chemo yesterday. They are checking her two sisters for a bone marrow match.
These two families are starting 2012 in the face of overwhelming obstacles. Please lift them daily in your prayers.
December 29th, 2011
Is there something you’ve wanted to do for a long time, but you just haven’t mustered the determination to carry it through to completion?
I can answer that question with a great big, “YES!” and this is what I’m doing today to change things in my life.
I’m setting some goals.
I’m placing my dreams in God’s lap.
I’m getting to work.
I just finished reading the book, Do the Work, by Steven Pressfield; and while this book is not written from a Christian perspective, everything about it could easily be compared to a spiritual journey.
I am going to be completely transparent with my personal goals, because I made myself promise to be honest with every word I typed four years ago when I started blogging:
I want to lose 20 pounds.
I want to finish the book I am writing.
I want to become a better cook.
While none of those goals may appear to be spiritual in nature, I promise you this:
The journey towards my goals will lead me closer and closer to the heart of God, because I am going to have to lean on Him daily for strength.
As 2012 approaches, I’m wondering if you have dreams or goals that you would like to reach during this year?
If so, please know I am praying for you and if you need someone to hold you accountable, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
We can pray for each other!
Let’s make this a year to remember!
At the same time, let’s never allow our dreams to get in the way of being the friend God has called us to be.
My heart is filled with prayers for my friend Martha this morning as she awaits her test results and for sweet little Charlotte who begins chemo this week.
Thankful for a Savior who came “Inspired and Committed” to do His Good Work and was not pleased until He said the words, “It is finished,”
December 29th, 2011
It’s hard to believe our time with Evan has already ended!
The past week and a half have gone by so quickly! We had such a nice visit!
Evan, I hope when you slip on one of these t-shirts in California, you’ll get a little whiff of your Kentucky home and smile!
We love you and miss you already!
December 27th, 2011
Finding time to blog the past few days has been a bit tricky…..
All of our kids have been home, my parents have been in town, my brother and his wife came for Christmas Day, and we have had a house full of love and laughter.
We missed my sister, who spent the holiday with her boys and her husband’s family “down south,” and of course, not having Nick here with us left us with a hole that could only be filled with God’s love and mercy.
Spending our first Christmas at home without Nick made me kind-of nervous, but I decided to try and create an old-fashioned holiday experience (in my heart anyway) by taking pictures in black and white!
I even made homemade pumpkin pies (don’t faint) and cooked a turkey (I’m still in shock about this.)
Today, can I please share a few prayer requests that are sitting heavily on my heart?
Please pray for a blogging friend’s family whose one-year old daughter, Charlotte, was diagnosed with leukemia this past week. The uncertainty that faces them is overwhelming, and I know they will appreciate all the prayers they can get! Also, please pray for Keri. She lost her daughter Madison to a brain tumor in 2009 and just found out today that she has suddenly lost the baby she is carrying to a miscarriage at 16 weeks. She has to be induced this evening and is having a difficult time today.
One of my very best friends here in Grayson finds out the results of a biopsy on Thursday afternoon, and I am asking you to please pray for her and her family as they wait for this critical news. Martha is my dear friend who tried to save Adrienne’s life by doing CPR the morning we found her not breathing in her crib. She then held Adrienne for us until the coroner arrived nearly an hour later. We gave Todd the middle name Jordan in honor of her and her family who mean so much to us. The preliminary tests are looking like an aggressive stomach cancer, and we are all waiting with anxious hearts knowing God walks this road with Martha more than we ever could.
As you go throughout your day today, remember to whisper prayers for those who are in the midst of deep grief or difficult circumstances. Life can be turned upside down without any warning.
Make every moment matter today.
While sharing photographs from our Christmas seems insignificant today, I wanted to share a little love from our home to yours………
I love you all!
December 24th, 2011
It’s a fairly warm and foggy morning here in Kentucky, so the feeling of Christmas definitely has to come from the heart not the weather.
Olivia keeps saying, “It doesn’t feel like Christmas.”
I wonder why Christmas has such a huge association with snow when so much of the world is never snowy during the holidays?
I guess it’s all the classic movies and songs we see and watch during this season.
Whatever the reason, I think I’m liking the foggy morning this year.
As I looked out the window, I couldn’t even see the town that sits not far in front of our house.
It wasn’t until the sun began to peek over the hills that the fog began to be burned away.
I couldn’t help but think of how hazy life had to be before Jesus was born. I can’t even imagine being alive in the years before Jesus’ birth, can you?
When I think of I Corinthians 13:12,
Now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror,
but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.
All that I know now is partial and incomplete,
but then I will know everything completely,
just as God now knows me completely,
I realize something even more wonderful!
One day all the things we don’t understand here will make sense THERE!
The fog will be lifted.
The sky will be clear.
Our questions will be answered!
Our faith will be sight!
Yes, this Christmas Eve couldn’t have started with anything better than a foggy scene out my window!!
Thank you, God, for reminding me that while many things that happen in life don’t seem clear to me right now,
ONE DAY THEY WILL!!!
Merry Christmas to my blogging friends and family!
May we all look forward to the day when the SON returns and removes all fog PERMANENTLY!
Then “we will see everything with perfect clarity!”
I love you all so much,
December 23rd, 2011
I wonder if Mary became a little agitated as Jesus’ birth drew near.
Discomfort, pain, a barn for a hospital….I wonder if she looked at Joseph and thought, “Seriously, is this the best you can do for the mother of God’s Son?”
I wonder if Joseph ever felt inadequate.
He had been visited by an angel and told of the amazing honor bestowed upon his bride-to-be; and he, a simple carpenter, wasn’t even able to give her a warm bed to sleep in.
I wonder if the shepherds second-guessed their appearance, their smell, their vocation as they ran to meet the “King of Kings” whose arrival had been announced to them by angels?
I wonder if the wise men felt stressed as they chose their gifts to present to Jesus?
A gift card wouldn’t have seemed appropriate for such a special young boy.
Truly, everywhere you turn in the Christmas story, it’s easy to see how people could have been feeling a little less than worthy of their place in the Nativity story.
Today, I feel a little unworthy.
Family dynamics aren’t always perfect over a holiday break.
I sense the last-minute details of the holiday bearing down on my spirit, and I know that in the scheme of life they are not that important…………
I want to have the right gifts, good food, a clean house, laundry done………..
I want to feel like Christmas is perfect for everyone around me.
AND THEN I STEP BACK AND REMEMBER THE FIRST CHRISTMAS, AND I AM HUMBLED.
Here I am trying to create perfection when the reason for this whole season began in the midst of imperfect people in an imperfect place.
PERFECTION was born in the midst of imperfection.
That’s the beauty of the holiday, isn’t it?
I think that’s why I love to look at Nativity scenes.
No fancy house, no elaborate decorating, no gigantic feast.
Just a barn, hay, smelly animals, men dressed in burlap, a baby wrapped in pieces of cloth…….
I breathe deeply now and remember that I am trying too hard.
Christmas is a cry for simple, humble moments of love and joy and sharing.
Forgive me, Lord, for trying to make it any more than this.
Bring me to my knees every time I forget that the only Perfection I’ll ever find in this life began in a manger.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.
December 22nd, 2011
Life is filled with situations that leave us feeling vulnerable.
Physically, we seek protection by carrying an umbrella, living in a house, having insurance……
Something inside of us realizes that alone we are weak, defenseless, in need of help.
Spiritually, we need protection too.
The Bible makes it very clear that the devil is prowling around, longing to sneak up on us and catch us when we are weak.
Spiritual warfare is as real as a the thunderclouds that build over our heads or the dark of night that comes every 12 hours without fail.
What do we do to protect ourselves spiritually???????
As I was reading this morning in I Peter 3:5, I was struck by this verse,
And through your faith,
God is protecting you by his power
until you receive this salvation,
which is ready to be revealed on the
last day for all to see.
I read this verse over and over.
Through our FAITH we are protected by God’s power.
Believing in what we do not see.
Knowing that there is more to this world than “this world.”
Loving Jesus whom we have never met.
Worshipping God whom we have never seen.
Understanding that there are many things we will never understand……..
while we’re here…..
and being okay with this truth.
“The substance of things hoped for.”
Last night was the annual Christmas play at our church.
As the play ended, we bowed our heads to pray.
I couldn’t help peeking up at the kids across the stage, and I hope it was okay to snap this shot during a prayer.
I thought it was priceless.
Joseph praying…and even a shepherd praying in the background.
The animals may not “get it,” but Joseph knew………
and the shepherd knew.
They were in the presence of the King.
And I have to believe that Joseph’s faith carried all the dangers surrounding Jesus’ birth just as Mary carried the Son of God.
Is your faith carrying you today?
This is the first Christmas since Nick passed away that we are spending the holiday at home.
I have to make a daily choice to either focus on the sadness of Nick not being here or on the reality and joy of knowing he is already HOME!!
I believe without a shadow of a doubt that Nick is doing great and that one day I will hug him and everything I have missed will be restored and made beautiful.
In God’s time.
If your Christmas lacks someone you love and you find the season painful, I am praying that you will allow your faith to carry you through each day of holidays.
God longs to protect you.
And as we enter 2012, let’s remember these powerful words that follow the verse above.
So be truly glad.
There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while.
These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold-
though your faith is far more precious than mere gold.
So when your faith remains strong through many trials,
it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.
I Peter 1:6-7
December 21st, 2011
It’s hard to believe that over half of my life has been spent married.
Tim and I didn’t have a clue what we were getting into at the age of 20, standing before his father saying our vows.
I wonder what we would have done differently had we known………all the laughter, all the tears………….that would be coming our way.
Somehow, we’ve survived.
It hasn’t always been easy.
BUt I know what’s pulled us through the valleys.
I got up this morning and looked outside to see Tim removing the last of Nick’s ramps from our deck.
I knew it was a difficult thing for him to do, and it broke my heart to see him leaning over the ramp undoing something that had meant so much to our family.
I thought to myself, “Nick doesn’t need that ramp anymore,” and I smiled.
Then, Tim came in and said, “I woke up at 7:11 this morning and thought, “Nick doesn’t need that ramp anymore.”
I replied, “That’s exactly what I was thinking.”
Today, we’ll go to his college Christmas luncheon.
I’ll wrap gifts.
We’ll watch Olivia in the Christmas play tonight at church.
Then, Tim and I, and all of our kids who are home, we’ll go see Sherlock Holmes at the theater.
This is a perfect anniversary day for me.
Shared with ones I love so much.
I hope your day is filled with some simple, quiet moments too.
I love you all so much.
December 20th, 2011
Glory to God in the highest, and on
earth peace, good will toward men.
We’re all familiar with this verse from Luke if we’ve ever been to a Christmas play or watched the Charlie Brown Christmas special.
There’s something magical about the Christmas story, isn’t there?
Something so simple and yet so powerful.
A tiny baby lying in a bed of hay.
Angels sang of His arrival.
What other child’s birth has ever gained such an audience?
Shepherds celebrated His delivery?
What joy could be found in the arrival of a child whose attendants included smelly cattle, donkeys, and sheep?
Wise men worshipped Him?
What honor could be due such an infant?
Herod feared Him?
What harm could come from such poor beginnings?
Children get it.
Adults are mesmerized by it.
Christmas cards capture it.
Churches reenact it.
The world longs for it.
Yet often rejects it.
Glory to God in the highest [heaven],
and on earth peace among men with
whom He is well pleased [men of
goodwill, of His favor].
Luke 2:14 (Amplified Bible)
I don’t know where you stand today in the nativity scene display.
Maybe you are an angel, proclaiming the good news that “JESUS HAS BEEN BORN!”
Maybe you are a shepherd, celebrating the birth of this baby lying in a manger.
Maybe you are a wise man, kneeling down to worship this tiny King of Kings.
Maybe you are far away from the images we see at Christmastime.
Like Herod, you are fearful of the power someone like Jesus could have over your life.
If you find yourself full of more questions than answers, I beg you to go searching.
I love that even a store called “Goodwill” could provide such easy access to more answers about Him who came to save us.
Look what I picked up Saturday for a total of only $2.50!
I have started reading all of them!
As I journey closer and closer to the One who gives meaning to my life, I feel an urge to beg you to draw closer too.
Together, let’s spend 2012 becoming intimately involved with Him who entered this world so humbly, lived so simply, died so cruelly, and rose so beautifully!
I’m excited about sharing another year
of Life with all of you.
I love that the Bible promises this in Deut. 4:29,
But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul.
Angels sang over Him.
Shepherds ran towards Him.
Wise men bowed down to Him.
Herod hid from Him.
Where do you find yourself this morning?
I hope you’re not hiding.
He came for you.