Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Defeating My Doubt

Well, here we are with another month in the history books - and a time to look back at May.  For me, this month has been a month of preparation.  Yes, May is always eventful and there were the annual graduations and picnics that follow and, of course, the mental transition to summer - even for an empty-nester.  We had flags in the front yard this past weekend and have begun to stalk the local soft-serve ice cream spots in earnest. 

But when I look back over the calendar, this past month has included more than just a few days - weeks even - and several circumstances used to prepare me for next month!  I mentioned a few weeks ago - in this post - that God has opened the doors for me to take another missions trip.  In June.  As in, soon.  I leave in 14 days.  I will be going to Thailand - with a team of four others - and we have a full itinerary of ministries opportunities.  We will be meeting and working with two missionary families and will be involved in church services, English classes, a children's home, a prison ministry and a few other projects.  There is also a day set aside for riding elephants:)  (oh my.)

Yes, I am excited.  I know, without doubt, that God not only opened the doors for me to take this trip 
and has provided for the trip, but also that He wants me on this trip.  But, it does not take much for the enemy to try and discourage, to make me doubt or even to terrify me.  More than once, over the past couple days, I have found myself wondering "what in the world were you thinking!??!"  The doubts and hesitations seem to multiply overnight.  But, if I know - without a doubt - that God has this trip planned for me, then I can be sure - without a doubt - that He will accomplish all He desires.  Both for me and through me.

This is trust.  I read this statement this morning.  "Continual peace come from continual trust."  If I trust Him - and I do - then I have peace.  When my peace starts to erode, usually I'm starting to trust, or rely, on my own strengths and abilities.  And those are sorely lacking.  Just as He provided exactly what I needed, financially, to get to Thailand, I can be confident that He will give me the physical strength, the wisdom, even the courage I might need to do whatever is needed in Thailand.  Even ride an elephant.  (oh my.)

Psalm 37:4-5  "Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.   Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass."

(Today I am linking up with all the friends at Stories from the Porch!)

Friday, May 25, 2018

Lessons Learned When I Pause

Pause.  A temporary stop or rest and, I like one definition I read:  a breathing space.  Even in this empty nest phase of life - where the daily schedule is much more my own and certainly more relaxed - there is the need for pause.  A bit of breathing space.  My regular pause comes, at least, twice a week when I visit with my senior friends at the assisted living home near me.  And what a wonderful pause it is!  My afternoons spent there are not only a balm for over-active cares and concerns, but also a real refreshing to my soul!

Most of my sweet friends there are in their 90s - or very close to it.  Their schedules are no longer dictated by careers or other daily work.  They do not drive and are not drawn into the myriad of activities that keep us busy and/or distracted.  I'm sure there are exceptions, but everyone I have met is content - even happy to be there.  I have learned much during my games of UNO or FlipIt - these chances to pause during my week - with these friends.  Let me share just three:

1.  Relationships are key.  No longer defined by their career, the house they live in or where they are going on vacation, these folks simply enjoy being together.  No doubt, some have closer bonds than others but everyone is included, looked out for and everyone belongs.  Friendships and family bonds are what support us.  How much more important to invest wisely in these than in the fleeting things that so often drain us of time, energy and even joy.

2.  Good health should never be taken for granted.  All of us are aging.  We cannot stop it but we can do our best to prepare our senior bodies to be the best they can be.  Investments that I make in my health now will be much appreciated when I am 82, 92 or beyond. 

3.  A genuine hope of Heaven makes all the difference.  These seniors are not naive that their time on earth is short.  They know that life is fleeting.  But there is always a difference - whether they recognize the difference or not - between a believer who is close to eternity and one who is simply "hoping" for something decent after death.  Knowing that death reunites you not only with loved ones but also with the savior who died for you removes the sting and the fear of death.  These saints possess an assurance and a peace that is enviable.

Pause is the prompt for this week's FMF.  I am very grateful for the pause - the breathing space - that I enjoy every week while I volunteer.  I am blessed to be sure. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Do you Have a Decorating Style?

We recently had some of our house repainted.  (No, not bright blue...but isn't that cool??) The largest part of our project was painting our basement - a spot where we spend most of our evenings.  Not only was the paint in need of refreshing, but once we took everything off the walls, I also wanted to rethink what went back on the refresh the style there as well.  It needed to better reflect us.  Since moving into this home, the main floors, and even the bedrooms have gotten the most of my attention for creating an atmosphere that says "home" for us.  Apparently, many of the things that I no longer needed or wanted to use were relegated to the basement.  It was neat, and even arranged, but the basement didn't feel like "home" but more of an attic - or a place for used storage.

And so I began contemplating exactly what is our style.  I searched for it on Pinterest.  I took notes from my favorite home design shows.  I tried to put a catchy name to our style.  And I still have not found it - the catchy name or even the exact style.  But I have created a space that feels right - that feels good - for us.  And I think that is the best design style. 

What says "home" to me?  Home is a reflection of the 33 years my husband and I have been creating a life together.  I want my home to make others comfortable when they visit, and I want a home that is warm and inviting.  But, more importantly, this house needs to be a comfort - a haven - to us as we not only retreat here each day but as we share life together under this roof.

Home is where I can wear my comfy clothes.  Where we don't have to talk - just for the sake of talking.  And where we have someone to talk to when we need it.  Home is full of laughs, dumb jokes, and talking to the dog in "dog talk."  It is the place for making dreams and dreaming big!  And for all the 100 ordinary moments in between.  Our home is uniquely us and, hopefully, our style reflects just that.  What says "home" to you?

Friday, May 18, 2018

Uniquely Me - Some Random Facts

I am a good secret-keeper.  Whether it is the perfect Christmas surprise you are waiting to exchange or a special prayer burden that you simply had to share with one person, you can depend on me to keep your secret safe.  Just a little-known something that my friends who read here may or may not know about me.  And, the more I thought about it, there might be a few other random "facts" I could share.  So, in the interest of pure fun, here are some things that make me - well, uniquely me:)

1- I can keep a secret.  Yes, I mentioned that one already.  The idea of secrets came from the FMF prompt this week.  I really enjoy the FMF community and reading the other blogs and different thoughts that come from one simple word.  Kate shares a fun secret herself this week!  The idea is to write for five minutes, unedited (which is just about impossible) and I will admit, upfront, this post will probably be a bit longer than five minutes.

2 - I have no ability to be a nurse - or even to render first aid.  Actually, you would not want me to help out in any emergency of a medical nature.  It's not just blood (which is bad) - but also stitches (oh my!) or even the evidence of pain, as in a broken bone, etc.  In people or in pets.  It doesn't matter.  In all of these situations, I am not the one you want to call for help.  You would be doomed.  I have tried, on more than one occasion, to "man-up" and to "be there" for someone who needed help.  Every time, I become a second person in need of medical attention.  Sad, but true.

3 -  I need my personal space.  As in, more than the average bear!  Everyone has a comfortable personal boundary before they feel that others are "in their space."  For some reason, my space feels intruded, sometimes even violated, way before others.  I have been known to panic in prolonged overly-crowded places.  And, my body language often expresses protection of my space. I have no explanation for this but I know it - and I try hard to be aware of it.  Do you know how many women express friendship, hellos, and even simple kindness with a hug?  You would if you were hyper-sensitive about your space:)

4 - I am a college drop-out.  Not a flunk-out.  But, between my sophomore and junior year of college (way back in the day), I got a job making more than money than I needed, bought my first car and then met my husband.  And I didn't go back to school.  Regrets - yes or no?  Those answers are many (and maybe a whole post of their own) but I am sorry that I was a quitter.  I actually I heard this statement in our sermon on Sunday.  "We Independent Baptists (of which I am one) are very good at starting things, but we often do not finish well."  Hmm, very sobering, if not convicting.

5 - I am forever marked by grief.  My husband and I have two adult children.  We also have two children in Heaven.  Our youngest son died at 13.  Without a doubt, navigating through grief and the years of missing Tyler have been the hardest thing we have done.  But grief has also been deepened our faith, molded and refined us, and yes - even with all the pain - has been some of our sweetest times as we have seen God's promises proven true and learned for ourselves what a faithful Heavenly father we have. Our last pregnancy (which was years before Tyler's birth) ended in a miscarriage and, in contrast, the months that followed were some of the darkest days of my life as I refused His grace, failed to trust and was almost destroyed by despair afterward.  My heart breaks for those who face the trials, heartaches and challenges of this life alone - without a savior.  My prayer, though, this blog, is that others can not only know Christ but know what a difference walking with Him makes.  I personally know the difference.  I also know the joy that life can have with the certainty of a literal Heaven and knowing that we will together for eternity.

  A little more of Tyler's story can be found above at the "Could It Be Any Worse" link.

I would love to get to know you a little better.  What is one thing that makes you uniquely you??

Friday, May 11, 2018

He Included Me!

The prompt for today's Five Minute Friday is INCLUDE.  As soon as I read it, I began humming and (mentally) singing the hymn "He Included Me" and, yes, it will probably be on repeat in my head all day.  But that's okay.  I can, no doubt, benefit from these Bible truths running through my thoughts for the day (or two)!

  1. I am so happy in Christ today,
    That I go singing along my way;
    Yes, I’m so happy to know and say,
    “Jesus included me, too.”
    • Jesus included me, yes, He included me,
      When the Lord said, “Whosoever,” He included me;
      Jesus included me, yes, He included me,
      When the Lord said, “Whosoever,” He included me.
  2. “Freely come drink,” words the soul to thrill!
    Oh, with what joy they my heart do fill!
    For when He said, “Whosoever will,”
    Jesus included me, too.
  3. Jesus included me, yes, He included me,
    When the Lord said, “Whosoever,” He included me;
    Jesus included me, yes, He included me,
    When the Lord said, “Whosoever,” He included me.

  4. Yes, when Jesus died to offer salvation to anyone who would accept His free gift, He included me!  When He considers His children - He includes me! And, as well, offers to me all the promises He has given to believers.  The secret to joy, and an abundant life.  The freedom from condemnation and the shame sin brings.  Strength, courage, boldness.  Contentment and peace.  And the list goes on.  All of this is not reserved for a select few or for an elect group of "super Christians" but is for all God's children - including me!!
  5. STOP.  That's the end of my five minutes but definitely not the end of the encouragement I found in these lyrics this morning.  So many things routinely, if not daily, try to rob me of these precious gifts and promises.  Alyson, at Write Them on My Heart, in this post, referred to several of them as "dirty villains."  For me...villains are things like comparison, anxiety, self-doubt/comparison, worry.  All of them keeping draining my joy and stealing the abundant life Christ offers me.
  6. But the second stanza of this hymn jumped off the page to me:  "Freely come drink......oh, with what joy they my heart do fill!"  God's word.  Life-giving.  Life-changing.  And "fill your heart with joy" words!  That is the secret.  God's word.  Reading it...digesting it...meditating on it. It is a non-negotiable must.  To be in the word - every day.  And, I believe, every morning.  Defeating those dirty villains before they even begin.  If He offers so much to all of His children - including me!! - why would I settle for anything less??
  7. I'm so thankful He included me!!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

God is Involved Even in the Details

In the spirit of recent end-of-year school testing.....Which of these does not belong with the others??

Missions  - and missionaries.
Senior saints.
Writing - words, words and more words.
Trail mix - with dark chocolate:)

Well, actually, all of these go together (didn't mean for that to be a trick question!) especially in reference to me and things I love - am even passionate about!  Can one be passionate about trail mix?  Not sure, but I do love that tasty snack and, with dark chocolate....the absolute best!!  The other three simply reveal what really makes my heart sing!  Whenever and however I can be involved with any of those three -but especially missionaries or senior saints - is the best of time for me.

I have been privileged to go on two foreign short-term missions trips - and they were life changing for me.  Some of the lessons learned while on these trips continue to impact me daily.  If it were possible, I would take one of these trips every year.  When I stopped working last year, I was not sure if I could ever afford another trip!  However, at the beginning of this year, God laid on my heart another trip - scheduled for next month.

I was able to put down a deposit but had no extra income or any sign of money becoming available in order to pay the balance.  I did not want to go back to work - but I needed a paycheck.  I wanted a paycheck without a job...or, at least, without a long-term commitment job.  But those don't show up too often.:)    But God.

But God - two of the most encouraging words for any situation!  I was having lunch with a friend and happened to ask about a friend of a friend of a friend (who used to work in her office).....which led to the conversation that my girlfriend's office had a temporary position available in May.  Just for two weeks.  Simple receptionist type duties (no training).  Easy.  And would I be interested?  Well, yes.  Thank-you.  We never really discussed the salary.  I trusted my friend and was just thrilled to have any amount to apply towards my trip.

But God - I got started last week. It has been super quiet.  I am, basically, "office sitting" while the staff is off-site with their annual convention.  Before the head of the office left, she casually mentioned my paycheck to my friend.  For the exact amount needed to pay the balance of my trip!  I never mentioned this to my friend.  To anyone.  God was involved in all the details - better than I could ever imagine!

God is always involved in the details.  He is concerned about the details.  The little things.  And all the things that matter to our heart - and that make our hearts sing!  I know this - but a reminder, every now and then, is always a blessing.  Be reminded yourself - and be encouraged!  No matter what may seem impossible, feel impossible - is (on our own) impossible, remember.....But God!

(and yes, the photos are some clues about my trip!!)  :)

Friday, May 4, 2018

Refusing to Adapt

Not too long ago, my daughter got another pup.  Not quite a new puppy but still a pup (maybe a toddler??) :)  She already has one spoiled rotten pooch and her dad and I thought two dogs was a bit much; however, as much as she loves dogs, I suppose it is a wonder she only has two!!  Indeed....she is smitten with her newest "baby"!!   Don't even ask me about that coat???

Both dogs have adjusted super well.  They are best of friends and everyone seems to have adapted to two dog-small space living!  They've adapted.  Assimilated.  Learned to blend in.  That is great for puppies and their dog mamas.  But Christians are different.

"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."  II Corinthians 5:17

As new creatures in Christ, we are called to be different.  Not to assimilate, blend in or choose to adapt with the world around us.  This can be a continuing challenge, especially as our world becomes more and more antagonistic towards Christians -  and Christianity.  How do we love those in the world - and show them the love of Christ - without becoming strange bedfellows with the world?  (Yes, strange choice of language there....but it just fit with those two cute puppies!!) 

The answer to that question is probably more suited to a longer than five minute post but I do believe the short answer is:  renewing the mind.  The key to victory with any spiritual battle or challenge always begins with a sound mind.  And a sound mind comes from regular, continual filling our mind with God's word.  His promises.  And truth.  Surely there are practical ways to embrace being a new creature, but the wisdom, the courage and the strength to do those things will begin with renewing our minds.

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.  Romans 12:2

STOP.  My thoughts on the FMF prompt today:  Adapt.  I missed a couple posts, including last Friday's FMF, but am glad to be writing again today.  I have been working a temporary job and my hats are all to (so many amazing!) bloggers that work, mother, write books, function normally....and STILL manage to post regularly!  I admire all of you!  But, I am actually thrilled to have this temporary job - how God provided it and why?  I plan to share about it on Tuesday.  (I hope you stop by the blog again next week.)  It is beyond exciting for me....and makes my heart happy.  So do sweet puppy friends:)