Saturday, January 28, 2012

Versatile Blogger Award

Thank you so much, Ms. P.J., from the blog "P.J.'s Prayer Line" for nominating me for this award. Your continued support and encouragement is such a blessing to me! I am grateful to God for you!

The Rules to Follow For the Versatile Blogger Award:

1. Add a picture of the award to your blog post.
2. Thank the blogger who nominated you and include a link to their blog.
3. Share 7 random facts about yourself.
4. Nominate other bloggers and inform them that they have been nominated.

Seven Random Facts (you might not know) About Me

1. I once took a class taught by Patsy Swayze (mother of Patrick Swayze) and at least one by Gus Giordano.

2. I tapped around a little bit with Gregory Hines (when he was rehearsing at the dance studio I attended in my home town for a Kennedy Center Honors performance).

3. I performed in shows with Bob McGrath (from "Sesame Street"), and made a guest appearance in The Moscow Ballet's "The Nutcracker". (I have pictures from each of the above mentioned (except with Mr. Giordano) but don't have time to look for them at this moment. That might be a post for a later time.) ;)

4. I attended an audition and ended up in a picture in "Life" magazine. (December 1991. Pgs. 20 & 21. Photo by Joe Burbank, Orlando Sentinel.)

5. I studied dance (with a focus on ballet) for 13 years before working as a professional in that field for a short time.


6. Currently, I work as a dance teacher and web developer. My favorite classes to instruct are advanced ballet. And, as a "web developer" I customize websites to the desires of each owner. (I also do a little graphic design.)

7. I attended web production courses at a school in San Francisco.

The Blogs I Would Like to Nominate for This Award
(In no particular order.)

1. Meditations and Confessions of a Woman Found

2. Life with Kaishon

3. Radical Womanhood

4. Scribbles from Emily

5. Girl Talk

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Faith. Hope. Love: Chapter Seven

My first experience cooking with gas was in Singapore. Our “L” shaped, outdoor kitchen was striking and what I would expect in a cabana on a tropical island in a location like the Whit Sundays…where the water is a clear, radiant blue; champagne is served like juice or soft drinks; and fine dining occurs under a vast blanket of stars.

Being I never really learned how to cook, I refrained from using the gas range often. One time, I distinctly remember lowering my face to watch as I tried to light the flame. Needless to say I walked away with singed eyelashes on my left eye and was fortunate I did not loose my eyebrows.

I was asked to Christmas dinner with some others whose friendship I enjoy. Cocktail dress or formal gowns were required. Thirty minutes before washing I had to remember to flip the switch outside the bathroom to heat the water. Such a tiny toggle for a fairly important job. Well, essential to me anyway, I did not favor cold showers. (Infact, I would rather stink than bathe in frigid water.) Tonight I remembered. I put on a velvety, maroon, sleeveless number, black nylon stockings, and heels. With my hair swept into a graceful do and clutch under my arm I was ready for an evening of sophisticated dining. I spritzed a bit of my favorite perfume on my neck before leaving and left a trail of fragrant fruity flowers behind me. We headed to an expensive restaurant with a sensational view as that of birds.

Seated in an alcove booth we could look out the picturesque windows and see for miles. The scenery was breathtaking. The city radiated with a glowing vibe below us. We were on top of the world. Spirits were high as we browsed the menu. Fifty dollars for a salad and appetizer and one hundred dollars purchased a dinner plate with portions so small they barely filled me up. I would most likely eat again later. But I felt it was worth every penny. I was in great company and we laughed and posed for pictures with each other after our meal. The place was deserted as we went from one location to the next for each photo…by the vase, on the stairs, near the bouquet…each change of surroundings warranted a swapping out of people. (This was before digital cameras so I am not sure how many rolls of film we went through that night.)

--------------------------------

Before I went out some mornings I walked across the street to a little hole-in-the-wall place where I got my photographs processed. By the end of my five month stay in Singapore I had enough prints to fill an oversized album (that was rather difficult for me to transport). There were hundreds of portraits of people, colleagues, and roommates along with landscapes of the Sentosa Merlion, temples, work, the city, and rural areas. Moments of time frozen on four by six paper until they eventually fade into nothingness. Flashes of a life that can be pasted together into a story.

One final decision stood staring me in the face…where to go on my vacation? And as it came together, myself, a member of my work family, and her boyfriend planned a trip to one of the most amazing places I have ever visited…Cairns, Australia. Following were two more weeks in Singapore, back to the States for one month, then on to Taipei, Taiwan.

Faith Hope Love: Chapter Seven

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Cross, Sepulchre, Hill Difficulty, and House Beautiful

Pilgrim's Progress Virtual Journey

The "Pilgrim's Progress Virtual Journey" is a "blog hop" (if you will) based on John Bunyan's THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS. Each of my posts (at the start of the "hop") will contain a "place" and "characters" from the literature. Today's is:

The Cross, Sepulchre, Hill Difficulty, and House Beautiful

1st Stop - Watchful: Albert Mohler
2nd Stop - Discretion: Donna Perugini Children's Author
3rd Stop - Prudence: The Little Missionary Girl All Grown Up
4th Stop - Piety: PJ's Prayer Line
5th Stop - Charity: The Worst Preacher's Wife Ever
Final Stop - Humble-Mind: A Pause on the Path

I hope you are encouraged!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Death is Swallowed Up in Victory

There are parts of a marriage that are private. Just as, I suppose, there are pieces of a relationship with God and Christ Jesus that can be deemed as personal and intimate. But other things about a marriage are public and I feel the same can be said regarding faith. Like a wedding ceremony, baptism is an open declaration of love and commitment. There are just certain behaviors that go hand in hand with the union of a husband and wife as with receiving grace and the Holy Spirit. A single person behaves differently than one with a spouse likewise an unbeliever from one who believes.

So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. (1 Thessalonians 2:8 ESV)

When I ponder the question, "Why blog?" I feel the above scripture sums it up nicely... to not only "share the gospel of God but also" a bit of myself (however awkward that may be at times) because the body of Christ, (those yet to be, and even those who are not) are "very dear" to me.

In the Lord Your Labor is Not in Vain

I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

"Death is swallowed up in victory."

"O death, where is your victory?

O death, where is your sting?"

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
(1 Corinthians 15:50-58 ESV)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Faith. Hope. Love: Chapter Six

I do not mind being alone, really. I do not feel there is anything wrong with one eating unaccompanied, having a drink by oneself, watching a movie, reading a book, living, or even traveling solo. “One” is not always “the loneliest number”.

I have yet to find anything quite as exhilarating and (in a sense) death defying as a cab ride in New York City…though I feel traffic in Paris (and Italy at World Cup time) is a close second. (I have gone skydiving but that is a different kind of thrilling and risky!) Aside from the Singapore subway (SMRT/ MRT) and the “Air Con”/ “No Air Con” buses, taxis were abundant (and the most common form of transportation I used).

I suppose you never know what to expect when you climb into a taxicab for the first time in a new place. (I am certainly not brave enough to rent a vehicle and drive myself around!) Though an adventure in itself, riding in a car-for-hire in Singapore is tame compared to the swerving, high-energy, heart-stopping, near miss, madness that is New York’s idea of public transportation. Sometimes, the drivers would even practice their English on me.

In the United States I can be found moseying around a bookstore and café by myself but here in Singapore it is the floors and stores of Takashimaya or along the stretch of Orchard Road. I am especially fond of the small section that contains two American fast food joints. Now, I would not frequent these places in the States but here is a different story.

I order my value meal then sit outside in the warming sun. All of a sudden home seems so much closer. I look around and admire the beauty that is Singapore. The skyline is breathtaking as the modernized buildings reach to the heights. The delicate, orchid looking flowers bob their heads in the humidity. Some have centers painted by yellow and framed by pure white petals. Others boast of lavender with a sunshine middle. Their cheerful faces greet all who walk passed.

December and January are upon me and with them come an invitation to a Christmas dinner with some members of my work family and a two week vacation (though admittedly I am still undecided on where I want to go). Before my relationship with my “boyfriend” was severed I was going to visit with him in England but now I am thinking somewhere a little more tropical might be the way to go. With Stella still fresh on my mind, how can I resist?

I am finding even though I make plans for myself, it is actually God who directs my steps (Proverbs 16:9 & 19:21). And although I learned of God as I grew up in the church, I do not truly know Him or his Son. But, God has started a good work in me. One I know He will continue until completion (Philippians 1:6). One day He will give me eyes to “see” and ears to “hear” so I may receive grace from faith alone (Ephesians 2:8). It is a narrow path and I have a lot to learn…first of all being: God is sovereign. This concept is foreign to me yet I feel it is truth.

In high school I was a member of my church youth group. Between the ages of ten and eighteen are the years I believe I matured the most in my love for God and His Son Christ Jesus. I used to sit on top of the trunk of my mother’s Mercury Marquis and stare at the heavens. I watched as the clouds meandered past. Their wispy, light bodies sailed gently and slowly through the sky. They appeared friendly and inviting not scary and threatening like the storm clouds that rolled through at least once a day. I offered up prayers of petitions and thankfulness to God while light outlined the clouds and illuminated their edges. They pressed together and squeezed the sunlight into streams that broke through and cascaded to the earth. It is at these times I think God is looking down on someone. “Shine your light on me, Lord,” I would say. “Please let me be favored in your sight.”

My peers and chaperones at “youth group” created a perfect storm, if you will. It was such a mix of personalities and individuals that complemented each member. We laughed together, cried collectively (Romans 12:15), were challenged, stretched, and developed as one body…a young “body of Christ” with many parts (1 Corinthians 12:12-31). Some of my strongest memories of and ties to other people are from that crowd and it will always hold a special place in my heart.

So how is it I stumbled and fell so far away from God during my very short attempt at a University before traveling? I had the head knowledge. I strived so hard as a teenager to apply the bible to my life. But it would not be until grace that the scriptures would become my life. This heart of mine was still made of stone (Ezekiel 36:26).

Faith Hope Love: Chapter Six

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

House of the Interpreter

Pilgrim's Progress Virtual Journey

The "Pilgrim's Progress Virtual Journey" is a "blog hop" (if you will) based on John Bunyan's THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS. Each of my posts (at the start of the "hop") will contain a "place" and "characters" from the literature. Last week's can be found here. Today's is:

House of the Interpreter

1st Stop - Goodwill: Grace to You
2nd Stop - The Interpreter: Eternal Perspective Ministries
3rd Stop - Innocent: Apert.org
4th Stop - Mr. Great-Heart: Campfire Cowboy Ministries
Final Stop(s) - Shining Ones: Flowing Faith and Ordinarily Extraordinary

“This parlor, said the Interpreter, is the heart of a man who was never sanctified by the sweet grace of the gospel. The dust is his original sin and inward corruptions that have defiled the whole man. He that began to sweep at first, is the law. But she that brought water and sprinkled it is the gospel. Now you saw that as soon as the first began to sweep the dust flew about the room so that it could not be cleaned, and you were almost choked with it. This is to show you that the law, instead of cleansing the heart by its working, from sin, does revive, strengthen and increase sin in the soul even as it does discover and forbid it. For the law does not give power to subdue sin. Again, you saw the young woman sprinkle the room with water, upon which it was cleansed with pleasure. This is to show you that when the sweet and precious influence of the gospel comes into the heart then sin is vanquished and subdued and the soul made clean and, consequently, fit for the king of glory to inhabit.” ~THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Walking with Lisa: Chapter Two

(This is a work of fiction.  Any references to historical events; to real people, living or dead; or to real locales are intended only to give the fiction a sense of reality and authenticity.  Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used factiously, and their resemblance, if any, to real life counterparts is entirely coincidental.

The character "Lisa" is inspired by the character by the same name in Susanna Kaysen's 1993 publication GIRL, INTERRUPTED.)


Chapter Two

Before Lisa, I had never met anyone like her!  So to say, "I was unprepared," would be a monstrous understatement.

Lisa seemingly fails to acknowledge people as human beings but rather appears to view them as objects...like chess pieces to position, control, and manipulate strategically.  Trying to walk with her, spiritually, is mentally demanding...staying focused on the cross and seeing her tactics for what they are takes a lot of brain power and is exhausting.  Too much time with her is never a good idea.

[Her] throat is an open grave;
[she uses her tongue] to deceive."
The venom of asps is under [her] lips.
[Her] mouth is full of curses and bitterness.
[Her] feet are swift to shed blood;
in [her] paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace [she has] not known.
There is no fear of God before [her] eyes.
 (Romans 3:13-18 ESV)
 
Putting on the Whole Armor of God
 
Walking with Lisa raises some debatable points (i.e. Is it wise for one to engage with her or should she be avoided (Proverbs 12:26, 2 Corinthians 6:14, Proverbs 14:6, 1 Corinthians 15:33)?  And should love cover her sin (1 Peter 4:8) or should she be confronted regarding it?  But before all of this, comes putting on the full armor of God, everyday!

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. (Ephesians 6:10-20. ESV.)

As the wickedness within her seeks to unravel me, I am able to stand steadfast with strength in Christ (Philippians 4:13)...and renew my mind each day with the word of God.  But fastening on "the armor" before every interaction with her is imperative.  If for no other part, the "helmet of salvation" to protect my thinking and reasoning is paramount.  Lisa wages war in a person's brain more than anything else.

Take Every Thought Captive
 
5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, (2 Corinthians 10:5. ESV.)

When I am careless in contemplation doing chores (like laundry, cleaning, etc.) my ideas are left unsupervised. They dance foolishly about with no method to the madness. Such empty reflection in the presence of Lisa is dangerous. She says things like,
"You know, there's too many buttons in the world. There's too many buttons and they're just - there's way too many just begging to be pressed, they're just begging to be pressed, you know? They're just - they're just begging to be pressed! And it makes me wonder, it really makes me...wonder, why doesn't anyone ever press mine? Why am I so neglected? Why doesn't anyone reach in and rip out the truth and tell me that I'm a..., or that my parents wish I were dead?"
She is so good at pressing buttons. And yet, people let her! They do not "take every thought captive".

Yet, why did I choose to walk with Lisa? To be honest? Because she is the complete opposite of me...of you...of just about anybody.

Monday, January 16, 2012

No Matter How Steep or Treacherous the Path Before You

"A life lived close to Me will never be dull or predictable. Expect each day to contain surprises! Resist your tendency to search for the easiest route through the day. Be willing to follow wherever I lead. No matter how steep or treacherous the path before you, the safest place to be is by My side." (Young, Sarah. JESUS CALLING. Thomas Nelson. 2004. Nashville, TN.)

I am joyfully blessed in a season where my family and I can serve the community. We did not arrive here easily or overnight and there were times when it just did not seem to be working out well...but here we are, ready and willing to be of service to our community, family, friends, and coworkers...and not a moment too late (it seems)!

We do not have a big home, infact it does not even hit the 1200 sq. ft. mark but we are still able to do various things whether it is collecting and distributing hand me down clothes, offering a warm meal, or even supplying a place for rest. In an economy where jobs are limited and forecloses are abundant, I am so thankful to be able to do for others.

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" He said to him, "What is written in the Law? How do you read it?" And he answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself." And he said to him, "You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live." But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"

Jesus replied, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.

But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, 'Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.'

Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?" He said, "The one who showed him mercy." And Jesus said to him, "You go, and do likewise."
(Luke 10:25-37 ESV)

Thank you, Lord, for the opportunity to serve. I pray I am a good steward of all you provide for me and my family.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Selling God and Jesus

Marketing faith and making money off of knowing God, the giving of His only begotten Son as an atonement of grace for our sins, and the receiving of the Holy Spirit just feels wrong to me. (And I say this in all innocents in spirit...no malicious intent involved.)

From where in the world did this thought come?

I was reading some blog posts about how to make an income using one's writing when I thought to myself, "What is my "niche"? About what would I write and then sell?" when my answer to myself was (my favorite topics), "Faith. God and Jesus," I felt a wave of "Ick" wash over me. For me, if a person's soul depends on information, why would I charge them money for it?

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17 ESV)

When You Heard the Word of Truth

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
(Ephesians 1:11-14 ESV)

Grace Through Faith

Faith comes from receiving the word of God. The Great Commission says,
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:19, 20 ESV)
And grace comes through faith alone:
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10 ESV)

The sower sows the word. And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.
And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold."
(Mark 4:14-20 ESV)

For me, I will continue to share the scriptures without charging a fee. And I pray God will always hold me to that!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Failure Is Death

“Chaos is found in greatest abundance wherever order is being sought. It always defeats order, because it is better organized.” ― Terry Pratchett, Interesting Times

Here at this blog, I seek some kind of order. Though it may appear somewhat organized in appearance, I feel the posts are not. They're rather all over the place per se. So, I figure I'll attempt to keep some kind of schedule.

Mondays and Tuesdays will remain "free" post days for me.
Wednesdays are going to be "Walking with Lisa" Wednesdays.
Thursdays I will dedicate to the "Pilgrim's Progress Virtual Journey" blog hop. And, Fridays are slotted for "Faith. Hope. Love" Fridays.

Why Create

“The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive. To him... a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death. Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create -- so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating.” ― Pearl S. Buck

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.

My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!

If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you.
(Psalm 139:14-18 ESV)

Friday, January 13, 2012

The City of Destruction and Slough of Despond

Pilgrim's Progress Virtual Journey

Each follower of Christ has a path all his/her own while walking with God (Genesis 5:24) . At times our courses may intersect or run parallel with others in the body of Christ for a time and then split until eternity. For each, sin riddles the Way and leaning on one another becomes imperative. I feel God designed the body for support, encouragement, and perseverance for running the race (2 Timothy 4:7) for His glory.

12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.(1 Timothy 6:12. ESV.)

The "Pilgrim's Progress Virtual Journey" is a "blog hop" (if you will) based on John Bunyan's THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS. Each of my posts (at the start of the "hop") will contain a "place" and "characters" from the literature. Today's is:

The City of Destruction and Slough of Despond

1st Stop - Christian: Intentional Christian Living
2nd Stop - Christiana: Tracee Persiko
3rd Stop - Mercy: All Access Pass to Jack
4th Stop - Evangelist: Desiring God
Final Stop - Help: I'd Laugh...But All This Happened To Me

I pray you will be encouraged!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

And the Lord Went Before Them

And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people. (Exodus 13:21, 22 ESV)

The cool breeze rushed through the aft door of the plane as the catering service endeavored to replace used product while the aircraft was at the gate. My tired body grabbed some carry on luggage and I summoned the kiddos as I slowly made way toward the cockpit. Finally, we were (almost) home after a long day of travel "from sea to shining sea". What began at 6:30 a.m. EST was now winding down at 6:00 Pacific time...(not including the hour and thirty minute drive home from the airport). I was just about spent...nearly ready to call it a day...and what a day!

God's Word

(Let me be weighed in a just balance,
and let God know my integrity!)
(Job 31:6 ESV)

Yes, let God (and everyone else) know my integrity and my heart!

What Draws Us Together?

So, what draws me to you and you to me? The things we have in common, I suppose...especially since we have most likely never met in person (so physical attraction does not weigh in on this one.) So, on what common ground do we stand?

Travel

I am a traveler by nature. I can honestly say it runs in my family and I am just wired that way. Give me two weeks worth of clothes, a suitcase, access to the Internet, a means of travel, and a way to bring my family along and I am a happy girl!

As a young adult it was a method and feeling of freedom. Then it became a job, income, and excitement. Now that I am married with children it is mainly for visiting family...however one day I am prayerful I will again get paid to be a nomad.

Oh, Lord! I am so tired. Though I love seeing your creation and experiencing various locations, tonight I am exhausted. Yet, I thank you for the opportunity!

Called in the Lord

For he who was called in the Lord as a slave is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a slave of Christ. You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men. (1 Corinthians 7:22, 23 ESV)

Friday, January 06, 2012

If Any Believing Woman Has Relatives Who Are Widows, Let Her Care for Them

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (James 1:26, 27 ESV)

I know I said it is not quite time to talk about this but I am going to a little bit anyway. "Visit orphans and widows in their affliction." I reference this scripture whenever I perceive a woman and/or child(ren) in need. What would God want me to do? He says to "visit them". But, what does this mean? Matthew 25:36 says this,
I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' (ESV)

Job 31:17-18 states,
or have eaten my morsel alone,
and the fatherless has not eaten of it
(for from my youth the fatherless grew up with me as with a father,
and from my mother's womb I guided the widow),
(ESV)

Bring Justice to the Fatherless
learn to do good;
seek justice,
correct oppression;
bring justice to the fatherless,
plead the widow's cause.
(Isaiah 1:17 ESV)

With this economy being what it is, there are many without an income, a home, etc. So if I have something to offer (like a job position, extra bed, hand-me-down clothes, etc.) I feel I should make it available to "orphans and widows in their affliction". But the word of God also tells me, "if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household".

Honor widows who are truly widows. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God. She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day, but she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives. Command these things as well, so that they may be without reproach. But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.... If any believing woman has relatives who are widows, let her care for them. Let the church not be burdened, so that it may care for those who are truly widows. (1 Timothy 5:3-8, 16 ESV)

I have let my heart be known. I stand before the throne of grace with my petition. Please, Lord, hear my plea. The door remains open. It has not yet been closed. Please, Lord, reveal Your will on this matter and let not my heart be troubled but in obedience to You, have peace.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8 ESV)

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Dominion and Fear Are With God

I feel the scriptures are packed with what I consider to be helpful (encouraging) words. This original "daily devotional", speaks to the heart of the reader regardless of their circumstance.

Be Healthy

Remove vexation from your heart, and put away pain from your body, for youth and the dawn of life are vanity. (Ecclesiastes 11:10 ESV)

Be Wise

Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. Your heart knows that many times you yourself have cursed others. (Ecclesiastes 7:21, 22 ESV)

Do not speak in the hearing of a fool,
for he will despise the good sense of your words.
(Proverbs 23:9 ESV)

The Only Thing to Fear is God Himself

Though he slay me, I will hope in him;
yet I will argue my ways to his face.
(Job 13:15 ESV)

"Dominion and fear are with God;
he makes peace in his high heaven.
Is there any number to his armies?
Upon whom does his light not arise?
How then can man be in the right before God?
How can he who is born of woman be pure?
Behold, even the moon is not bright,
and the stars are not pure in his eyes;
(Job 25:2-5 ESV)

Be Intimate

Having a relationship with God is very intimate. Likewise, I feel our bonds to one another should also be deep, faithful, loving, and profound. Each should strive to be the friend who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24) and learn the important lessons God teaches us through those He places in our life.

Do not forsake your friend and your father's friend,
and do not go to your brother's house in the day of your calamity.
Better is a neighbor who is near
than a brother who is far away.
(Proverbs 27:10 ESV)

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

I Will Bring You Back to the Place From Which I Sent You Into Exile

This life (James 4:14) seems like going from one season of waiting on the Lord to the next. Some of these periods of time are stressful for me (because I just cannot seem to keep my mind quiet). Others, are peaceful yet hold me in suspense as I await the unknown...that which is hidden from me yet clear to my all knowing God. (And did I mention He is all powerful too. I much prefer having Him in my corner rather than against me!)

Should I be surprised? The bible is full of occasions when God instructed someone to, "Hold that thought." Sarah and Abraham held onto the promise of a nation. Daniel was steadfast in a lion's den. Joseph served time in jail until God's appointed time. Noah and his family lived on a floating zoo as days ticked past. Ruth hung out with her mother-in-law. Zacchaeus killed time climbing a tree. (And these are only the examples that spring to mind! There are a multitude of others.) Further, what does each of these have in common? An amazing, God glorifying, breath taking outcome! I suppose the saying, "Good things come to those whom wait," is appropriate here.

I can rest in the knowledge that in each and every circumstance I can only (and be sure to) do my part. I am responsible for me...not others. I am to walk in a manner that is pleasing to God without attempting to control and/or manipulate a situation. Most importantly I am to pray and keep the faith.

Not sure what I am going on about here? Are you a bit confused? There is a work in progress which I am itching to share...but it is not quite time yet. (To be honest, it has collided with another "work in progress" and totally took me off guard!) Both are challenging...one far more than the other (on my end) and each involves individuals other than just me. So multiple lives are being touch by these events. Awesome! Anyway, once all is said and done I will be able to show you the beautiful picture God is painting (in my tiny section of His vast canvas). The seemingly random paint blots eventually come together and make sense.

For now, I will conclude with this:
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile. (Jeremiah 29:11-14 ESV)

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Your Will be Done

There are times, Lord, when I do not know how to pray. When I cannot even keep a thought in my head or form a sentence to articulate the deepest depths of my heart.

But You see the confusion, sadness, thankfulness, resentment, frustration, hopefulness, hopelessness, joy...

I thought about life tonight. The waves crashed in front of me as I looked into the darkness...my arms resting on the rail of the balcony. A tear nearly formed in my eye and would have fallen to the ground 16 floors below. Of course, it did not help matters that I had just watched the ending of two sad movies: "The Notebook" and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button".

This life is but a vapor (James 4:14). It "appears for a little time and then vanishes away". And what do I (one out of billions of people) expect to accomplish? I go about my day to day but to what end? Eternity. Yes, forever with Jesus. But what about what I leave behind? Should there even be a "but"? It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man (Psalm 118:8). Who cares about what the human race thinks, right?

Tonight I care. Yet, who will even remember me when I am gone from this earth? Maybe a few hundred people...for a little while. Just briefly, then time marches onward.

Ick, pride! Is that you? Be gone!

My pajama pants are warm as I pull them from the dryer. I can still hear the surf against the shore through the screen door. Thank You, God, for Your creation!

In the afternoon sun I had watched a fish jump from beneath the water's surface. It flicked it's body seemingly with glee. Joyfully it launched itself as dolphins meandered parallel to the coastline.

For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. (Romans 1:20 ESV)

Your Will be Done

Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
(Matthew 6:10 ESV)

Sovereign God, creator of all things, my trust is in You, Lord. You are my refuge and strength. You keep my going out and coming in (Psalm 121:8). I do not lean on my own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). When you open a door, I run through it. When you close a door, I try to accept it gracefully. If something is unknown, I must be still and wait on You, my King. Your Holy Spirit relays to You the desires of my heart. I am Your humble servant, stand before Your throne of grace, and anticipate (with unbending faith) Your instruction.

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