I love my job.  I really do.  I get a chance to do several things through it.  One, I get to look at some really cool houses and then show them off to people like I know what I’m talking about…which most of the time I do.  But seriously, if you ask me how to rewire a house and how much it would cost, I’m probably not going to know that.  Sorry!  Two, I get a chance to meet some really neat people and work with some really great friends, which is always a good time.

Today I met a young couple, and we looked at houses for about 3 1/2 hours.  They were a thoroughly enjoyable couple.  We were able to have an easy conversation the whole way through that time frame, and then when it was done, they called me back to let me know how much they liked the restaurant I had recommended to them.  It was just a fun time.

I don’t know if these people will move here from out of town.  I don’t know really a whole lot about them other than what I learned in the time we spent together.  But I appreciated their energy and their honesty.  What stuck out about this time I spent with this couple is after leaving them, I felt refreshed.  I didn’t feel tired and worn out like I do sometimes.

Then it got me thinking.  How do people feel when they leave me?  Do I wear them out, or do I lift them up?  Do people count the hours till I leave or until we can hang out again?  I hope it’s the latter, but I know that some days I’m a bear to be around.  Those days I usually try to avoid people altogether.  I don’t know that that’s the right response, but that’s what I do.  Or sometimes if I’m in a bad mood I try to go hang out with kids and just play.  That usually helps a ton!

I don’t have much of a point today other than I always hope to lift people up instead of tearing them down.  May God’s grace and love always shine on you through me, and if it doesn’t, may we be good enough friends for you to set me straight!

Love ya!

“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?  If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.”  1 Corinthians 3:16-17

I’m so guilty of not taking care of myself sometimes.  I don’t mean taking care of myself by the standards of the world.  I mean taking care of myself by God’s standards.  By all means, by the standards of the world, I do okay.  I mean, if I want something, I go get it…or sometimes I have to do a little work to get it, but I usually get what I want.   Something inside of me, though, tells me that this is not what those verses above are talking about.

What does it mean to continually build and remodel the temple of God, namely ourselves?  To be honest, I’m not 100% sure.  I’m learning every day, though, there are a lot of times I fall short.  I really do try to make time for study, but there is not a lot of extra time.  I try to live praying continuously, but sometimes I get distracted by the things that the world has to offer.  Who am I kidding with “sometimes.”  Actually, it’s a lot of the times.  Sometimes, I get so wrapped up in my own story that I forget that there are billions of other stories going on all around me.  We all have a story, and we all play parts in other peoples’ stories.  I forget that.  Do you?

The thing that I find the hardest to do, though, is just get in the word and soak up the wisdom and the stories in there.  All of those stories play a part in my story.  It’s hard to grasp that every move that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob made has affected my life now in the present.  The choices they made have paved my way and my relationship with God.  Then you get to the New Testament, and not only do you have Peter, James and Paul, but we have the words of Jesus himself as he lived and walked this earth.  Those words definitely play a part in my story.  I hope I never forget that.

For those of you who have been coming here each day for the past little bit and seen the same post over and over and not seen a new one, I’m sorry!  I bought a house, so I’m trying to decorate and move and it’s taking up a lot of my time, but I’m so grateful and thankful for the opportunity!  I love it!  It’s no excuse, though.  This week, I’m hoping to put up a few more posts than I have over the past two weeks.  I know that this is a very tiny part of my story that overlaps into yours, but I like that it does overlap.  God bless you!

Father, please help me to never forget the life and love that I can read in the red letters.  Help me to make time for You and for the part I play in the other stories around me.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship.  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.”  Romans 12:1-2

Sometimes I wonder if I really know what true worship is.  I can easily get so blinded about this fact because I LOVE music.  I love any type of music, but I especially like worship music.  To me it’s someone giving me the words that I can’t quite express to invite God in for just a little taste of His presence.  Most of you reading this that know me know that I usually never lack for words unless I’m trying to verbalize something that is important to me or if it’s something I feel strongly about.  I get all emotional and start bawling and can’t get anything out…for real.  It’s crazy.

I think I get so caught up in the fact that I don’t know the words to say to invite an encounter with Jesus that I just sometimes forget to ask for it.  Also, I tend to lean towards the line of thinking that I can only really invite an encounter with Jesus when I’m listening to worship music.  I’m trying more and more to remember just to start early in the morning and invite Jesus in everything I do because everything I do belongs to Him anyway.  I believe He just wants to be a part in every part of our lives…not just during worship music.

“Offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship.  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”  I think this verse works in perfectly with the whole theme of our blog here.  I think we’re conforming at home, at school, at work and at church…at least I do.  I think more often than not I’m content to play the part, to just kind of fake it through and see what happens.  Why?  Not only do I do a complete disservice to myself, but to everyone I encounter along the way.  I do no one any good.

But what if I decided not to conform, but to offer my body as a living sacrifice?  Do I know what that means?  I’d like to sit here and tell you that I do, but to be completely honest, I don’t think that I do.  What I do think that I know is that worship has to come from a hunger for something more, a hunger for love and grace and mercy, which translates into a hunger for more and more of God.

Can you imagine if “The Church” got just a little bit of this fire?  What if we stopped playing church and started being the church and showing God’s love and grace to everyone, not just those we think are deserving?  What if we went out of the church doors Sunday morning after church and after having a powerful worship experience and continued that throughout the week?

Forget about the “we.”  What if I did that?  What if I quit bartering my birthright away for temporary gain?  What if I loved without the walls that I put up to protect myself?  Did Jesus have walls up?  I don’t think he did.  If he had built up walls, then he wouldn’t have had enough wood to make His cross.

Father, my prayer is that You help me to tear down the walls that keep me from being all that you have in Your plans for my future.  Help me to learn to love like You love and see like You see.  Break my heart for what breaks Yours, Father.  Your name is Glorious.  Your love is changing us, calling us to worship in Spirit and in Truth till all creation returns to you.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.  In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons though Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will — to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.  In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the richest of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.  And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment — to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.”  Ephesians 1:3-10

I don’t deserve anything.  I don’t deserve grace and honor and redemption and love, but I am thankful for them.  Tonight I don’t really have a lot to say other than I’m thankful for the redeeming grace of God and His wonderful plan for our lives.  Father, you are holy.

“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.  He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and game me a firm place to stand.  He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.  Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.”  Psalm 40:1-3

I’m learning a “new” song.  I put it in quotes because I believe I’ve actually heard it before, but I have never tried to sing it.  The thing is is that it’s hard to sing.  Even if I had the range that it required, I still think it would be very hard to sing…but I’m going to get up in front of the church Sunday and help lead it.  I’m really glad that the video will be playing and that someone will be singing along with me to cover up all of my missed and strained notes.  I’m thankful for YouTube and for my friend that will be standing up there with me for sure.

I really want to sing this song.  It may be at the very top of my range and my voice will surely hurt for a little bit afterwords, but this is one of those songs.  You know what I mean?  It’s one of those songs that if you really listen to it and stand up and sing out, it will move you.  God will be present because two or more of us will be gathered in His name.  Why not invite Him to move, right?

Sometimes, though, I shy away from asking God to move in my life.  I guess the main reason is that I’m scared.  Sometimes, though, I think I just don’t want to head the direction that I believe that He will take me.  I’m kind of stubborn that way.

Tonight I was able to sit with some friends and have some seriously deep discussion about this subject.  By the way, I think we’ve solved all of the world’s problems if you’re wondering.  But seriously, sometimes I get some comfortable in my sin that I don’t want to ask God to take it away from me because it’s all I know and changing would require an amount of discipline that I really don’t want to deal with.

What I don’t realize most of the time is that when I sit content in my sin, or in “the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire” like the verse says, I’m selling my birthright one more time.  There’s goes a few more pieces of me for my future and the fullness of God.

I really do desire to live the best life that God has for me.  “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.”  That excites me.  I mean, really excites me that God turns and focuses on me and hears my cry, whatever my cry may be.  “He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.”  This new song I’m learning is hard.  In fact, the range of it is, like I said earlier, at my very top notes, and a lot of the time above them.  The timing, too, is pretty much unlike any other song I’ve ever sung.

That’s kinda like God.  Sometimes He stretches me until I feel like I can’t stretch any further, and most of the time His timing isn’t at all what I would have done, but it’s perfect.  He sees what I don’t, he hears what I don’t and He never misses His mark.  My prayer is that I would take the time to learn the new songs, to pray the hard prayers and to seek to see God in a way that I never have before.  Father, keep sending me new songs to learn, help me to never be content in my sin and, Father, continue to use me, even if it causes me to stretch a little more.  Let the peace of God reign in my life!

Hope you enjoy my new song!

“But the fruit of the Spirit if love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.  Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.  Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”  Galatians 5:22-26

I love fruit.  Give me just about anything fruity, and I’ll eat it.  I mean the real stuff, not the flavored stuff.  I HATE banana flavored stuff.  It kinda makes me want to gag.  Most of the rest of it I can handle, but cannot stand banana.  I’ve tried.  I really have, but there’s just something about it that makes me throw up a little in my mouth each time.  Okay.  Maybe it’s not that bad, but it’s pretty close.

I do however LOVE a real banana.  I just had some dental work done, and my tooth is still hurting, so the banana being soft is wonderful for that.  Just about perfect.  There are so many benefits to eating a real banana versus the flavoring, potassium being the main one that I can think of off the top of my head.  I can’t think of any real benefits of eating banana-flavored anything unless in my case you want to eject everything you just ate from your body in a violent sort of way.

The fruit of the spirit.  These are the biggies.  If we’re being led by the Spirit, as the scripture says, then we must be displaying these fruits.  I do ok in most circumstances, but I’m going to admit to you that I have a problem with the self-control.  The first step of recovery is admitting you have a problem, right?  I love to eat.  I like to eat when I’m happy.  I like to eat when I’m sad, I like to eat when I’m bored and I like to eat when it’s Tuesday.  Seriously, there really doesn’t have to be a reason.  I like food.

I also like to spend money.  Until I completely changed careers there was really no rhyme or reason as to how I spent money.  My general rule was that if I wanted it, I would find some way to buy it.  I justified it by maybe getting it on sale or such a great deal that I couldn’t pass up.  Unfortunately this habit of spending money got me into a little trouble.  Then work slowed down, and when you only get paid every now and then, it’s hard to just pay the bills that you have to pay to stay alive without the cell phone or internet or credit card bills.  It was bad news.

I’m telling you this because I want to be real with you.  I mean, it doesn’t take a genius to take a look at me and know that I struggle with food.  But you probably wouldn’t know about my financial issues unless you know me.  God is full of grace and mercy thankfully.  If we live our lives in step with the Spirit, He will guide us and give us everything we need.

I struggle with self-control, but I started this blog because I am no longer content to just get by.  I am no longer going to sell out and give in to my struggles with self-control so easily…or any other issues that I may deal with, but for the sake of this post, self-control is the main one.  😉

I hit a couple big milestones today.  Not only are these big milestones in my personal physical life, but they’re milestones in my faith walk.  Two years ago when I started my new wonderful job that I love (really I love every day I’ve been back here!) there was no way in the world that I would have been able to qualify for a home loan.  My credit score was BAD, but I was working on it.  Today I filled out a credit application and took it down to my friend at the bank to see if I could get pre-approved for something.  I told her what kind of price range I was looking at, and she came back that I qualified for double that.  I almost started crying.  Keep in mind, I haven’t found a house that I want to buy yet, but I want to be ready ’cause it’s coming!

At my Weight Watchers meeting tonight I hit a milestone there, too.  I have now officially lost 25.4 pounds.  I had had a lot of personal issues that sent me into a depression at one very low point in my life, and I doubled in size over that time period…literally. I’m turning 30 this year, and there was no way I was going to turn 30 without making a move to change my life from the situation I was in.  I was going to start being the person I was made to be and quit selling out figuratively and literally for one more bowl of soup.

Grace and mercy.  God grants us these thankfully.  I don’t have to have it perfect.  There are days I’m probably going to go to Culvers and order a really big ice cream and indulge a little too much.  There are probably also going to be times when I spend money that I probably shouldn’t have, but God shows us grace and mercy and love.

I’m reminded of the lyrics to one of my favorite songs as I sit here tonight.  The bridge of it says, “Chains be broken.  Lives be healed.  Eyes be opened.  Christ is revealed.”  I’m thankful that chains can be broken and Christ will reveal himself to us and open our eyes and heal our lives.  I’m thankful that my eyes were opened and continue to see new things daily.  Some days I see things that I’m doing great with, and sometimes I see things that I really need to work on.  We just have to get to the real heart of the matter, practice these fruits of the Spirit in every aspect of our lives and not become conceited and envy each other.

Father, my prayer is that you continue to open my eyes.  Help me to see what is just flavoring and what is real.  Help me to keep looking to You for guidance, Father, and lead me as I continue to crucify my sinful nature daily and keep in step with the Spirit.

“When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: ‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ‘Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’ Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples!’ ‘I tell you,’ he replied, ‘if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”  Luke 19:38-40

I absolute despise having to deal with trouble.  I hate having to tell someone that I disagree with them, so most of the time I don’t.  Most of the time I feel like what I have to say doesn’t really matter, so I don’t speak up.  Because let’s face it, most of the time it’s not really my business and I’ve been sticking my nose where it shouldn’t have been anyway.  A lot of times I’ve spoken up where I shouldn’t have and said something ridiculous that’s hurt someone.  But more often than not I keep my mouth shut because like we talked about a couple of posts ago, I’m a chicken.  I’m not an eagle.

The disciples in this passage were declaring the good news.  They were doing what they thought was best for the people they were serving, and here were all these people telling Jesus to tell His disciples to shut it.  The work of the Lord is powerful stuff.  There is opposition from every possible angle because of the power it brings.  It is so powerful that if we keep silent about it, rocks, these completely innate objects, will cry out and do our work for us.

To be completely honest with you, there are times when I’m okay with someone else doing the work for me.  There are times I’m just really tired, and there are times I’m just really lazy.  Praising Jesus and teaching people about the grace that he brings should not be left to the rocks.  We are the prize of God’s creation.  We are created in His own image, so there is no way that we should let this job slip past us.

Like I said earlier, most of the time I don’t feel like what I have to say even matters, and if I were to say something, who’s to say that it would even be heard.  As my friend Dena said to me the other night, that if God can speak through an ass, I think he can use us.  Because as insignificant as we feel, God cares, and He can use us whether we’re sitting at work worshiping him by the way we conduct our business or whether we’re actually sitting with someone counseling them and showing them the love of Jesus.  He cares, and He hears.

My prayer is that I speak up at the right times, because I don’t want God to have to resort to ugly rocks…or beautiful rocks for that matter.  I hope that I am living a life of worship so that I know when to speak up and when to shut my mouth.

Father, help me to worship you in every aspect of my life.  Help me to listen to You so that You can be heard through my life and my words.  Father, don’t let me forget that You have other options to pursue if I get to taking this job lightly.  Help me never to forget that the stones will do my job if I won’t.  Thank you for loving me, and, Father, thank you for hearing me.

We are gathered in cathedrals on a Sunday
We are shrouded in our pride and lusts despair
We have heard that You said to go to where your hearts once were
Trusting wed arrive to find You there
We have known the empty senses of a funeral
We are haunted by the promises of death
We have asked to see Your face and noticed nothing
But a well-timed honest smile from a friend,
Oh we of little faith,
Oh You of stubborn grace
We are the beggars at the foot of Gods door
We have grown cold to the kisses of our lovers
We have rolled the windows up and driven through
The forests of the autumn,
The innocence of snow
The metaphor of Jesus in the dew
We have known the heated passion of the cold night
We have sold ourselves to everything we hate
Were hypocrites and politicians running from a fight
We’ve cheated on a very jealous mate,
Oh we of little faith,
Oh You stubborn grace
We are the beggars at the foot of Gods door
We have known the pain of loving in a dying world
And our lies have made us angry at the truth
But Cinderellas slipper fits us perfectly
And somehow were made royalty with You,
Oh we of little faith,
Oh You of stubborn grace
We are the beggars at the foot of Gods door
And You have welcomed us in

~ The Normals

So I borrowed the title to this from the title song to one of my favorite CDs by Sarah Kelly.  Sarah, I doubt you’ll ever read this, but I hope you don’t mind.

I love it when I go to the scriptures and find exactly what I was looking for.  Mostly I find a lot of stuff I’m not looking for, but what I find is real and relevant and sometimes hard to grasp and put into practice.  Today, though, I’m going back to an old favorite.  I love reading in Philippeans.  It seems like I learn something new every time I read it.  There are a few verses, though, that encourage me every time I read them.  I’m always dealing with different situations every time I read them, but they are more true and more real time and time again.

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. ”  Philippeans 3:12-14

Like I said…good stuff.  Encouraging every time.  There are times in our lives that we have big decisions to make.  These decisions not only ask us to learn from past lessons, but they require this from us.  Our past is our past.  We cannot go back, nor should we, but we should learn and move forward or, as the scripture says, press on towards our goal.  The problem we run into is that sometimes we’re reaching back into our past while we’re trying to take that first step into the future and the best that God has for us.  Can you imagine trying to leave for vacation or something, and you’re walking to your car all the while turned around holding onto the door frame of your home?  It’s not going to work.  Even for Elastigirl it’s a tough deal.

The thing is is that when we look back into our past, we can’t see where we’re going.  We can only see where we’ve been.  Which isn’t always a bad thing.  I’ve got a good friend who is a recovering addict.  She looks at her past quite often and uses it as a beautiful testimony for God’s healing power and grace.  She uses her past as encouragement to her to never go that way again.  There’s too much pain back there to return to.

For some the past was their shining moment, the best part of their lives.  They sit and think about how incredible it was while they’re missing what is going on right in front of them.  They’re missing out on their chances to make the present as good or better than the past.  Sometimes it’s just down right hard, and it might not get easier.  What we have to realize is that if we’re reaching for the past or running back to the past or just living their in our minds, we’re cutting ourselves out of the present.  We may be partially here, but if we’re to live life and live it to the fullest, then we need to be fully present in the present.

I started this post earlier today and am finishing it at about 11:30 p.m.  All I know right now is that I want to live fully present in my own life and live fully open and aware as to what God has planned for me.  I can’t do that if I’m living in the past.  I can’t do that if I’m reaching to the past.  If I’m looking back, I can see which roads I don’t need to go back down and then turn around and head forward full speed and press on towards the goal.

I don’t think that Paul is saying to cut ourselves off from the past.  He’s saying to forget what is behind.  My initial interpretation of that when I started this was to cut ourselves off from it and just move forward.  After talking with a friend, I realize that we can’t cut ourselves off from our past.  The past is full of seeds planted and relationships started that maybe just haven’t taken root yet, and if I completely cut myself off from them I’m doing everyone involved a disservice.

I guess the point to this post, if it’s making any sense by now, is that where the past meets today is tricky.  To try to balance past decisions with present and  future decisions is not something to be taken lightly.  Living in the tension is the way we grow and learn and fully enjoy the blessings of God.

Father, help me to live a balanced life where the past meets today.  Help me to live in the tension where I can grow and serve You best.

“Even Youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:30-31

I have a cousin with Leukemia.  Five years ago he was said to be in remission after all of the chemotherapies and treatments of all different kinds.  Last year the cancer came back in full force.  After all of the chemical treatments had failed him, he decided to treat this cancer naturally.  With the initial diagnosis he was told that if he didn’t do chemotherapy, he would die.  He refused, so the hospital sent him home to die.  Because of that for most of the last year my aunt and my cousin lived in Phoenix, AZ working with a homeopathic cancer treatment center.  He’s been transferred around to different hospitals in that area, and then was sent back to Nashville, which is a lot closer to home for him.  A few weeks ago they sent him home to die…again.

My cousin is a fighter.  Since he’s been home, he’s been gaining weight, has been able to get off of the feeding tube and has been making incredible strides toward a recovery.  He’s planning for his future and working towards it.  Last weekend my family and I went down to transform his garage into a gym for his personal training, which is what he was doing before he got sick again.  We went down to play an active part in his recovery by believe that he can and will get better.

I heard the television playing this morning while I was trying to get in five more minutes of sleep.  Joyce Meyer was on.  I have never really watched her, but my mom loves listening to her speak and I’ve only heard good things from her.  But what she was talking about today from what I could hear was chickens and eagles.  Keep in mind this is just a loose paraphrase because I only heard bits and pieces.  She was talking about how each animal reacts when a storm is coming.  She said chickens, and I can attest to this having lived on a farm my whole life, go completely crazy and kick up the dirt and run like crazy for shelter to get away from the storm.  What she said about eagles, I didn’t know.  She said that they sit back and wait for it.  From what I heard, they use the air from the incoming front to fly higher and go faster and stronger.  They use the storm to their advantage.  They know it’s coming, and they ride it out and take full advantage of the tough times it brings.

This kind of reminded me of my cousin.  Here is a 25-year-old man who all he wants to do is live his life and get the most out of his physical body and to help other people do that, too.  Then here comes this storm.  Right now it seems like he’s just riding it out.  He’s learning a lot about his body and what a body can and cannot take.  I assume this would have great importance to someone who teaches people how to get the most out of their body by good nutrition and diet.  He’s soaring on his eagle wings, just riding out the storm and taking full advantage of it.  I expect him to come out of it stronger than ever.

It also makes me think of the storms in my life.  I tend to act more like the chickens, running for cover at the slightest hint of trouble.  I hate having to face any kind of conflict.  Sometimes, though, there are times to make waves though I would rather not.  Sometimes I think we need to take advantage of these storms.  I also think that there are times that these storms are brought to us to make us stronger.

I know the storms are going to come.  My prayer is that I would be ready for them and also that I would mount up on wings like eagles and ride it out.  Father,  help me to take advantage of these storms that come our way in this life.  Help me to learn and draw from each of them that come my way.  And, Father, help me to live my life to Your fullest intent while there is calm and while there are storms.