Thursday, January 31, 2013

How to Deep Clean Your Home: Day Five

Kitchen: Day 2

My goals for today are to finish the kitchen and to address the formal living and dining room...and maybe the half bath (if time permits). I still have counter space to sanitize, the stove and baseboards to wipe down, floor to vacuum, and then mop. Oh, yeah, and a window to detail. So I am going to start there and work my way around and down to the floor.

Four hours later, the kitchen is FINALLY complete. (Though, admittedly, I did not clean out the refrigerator at this time.) Now, I am on to the formal areas. There is very little furniture in these rooms so they should not take very long. I am going to "fuzzy" brush along the crease between the ceiling and walls (like with the other rooms), "sweep" the walls (where I can reach...I am not able to "sweep" the vaulted ceiling), detail the windows and fixtures, wipe off the desks, armoire, and baseboards, sanitize the door nobs, light switch and socket plates, and vacuum.

Hubs wants to bring in the pool table from the garage, so I need to have this room ready for him by the time he gets home from I might need to speed things up a bit. (Generally, slow and steady wins the race, for me...but I'll put a little oomph behind it so as to not be stressed later.) Actually, before I do that, the young bloods are waiting for their next school assignment, so I will get that for them, then lunch, and lastly, back to my project.

A couple hours pass and I realize I am quickly running out of time. I dust at the ceiling and wall level (as best as I can given my height) but do not get to detail anything. I did vacuum the carpet, though, so the pool table can be brought inside. There are some light fixtures and a fan that are WAY out of reach (even if I did bring in the ladder) and I am not about to try to get to them...perhaps someone with a cherry picker would have better luck...or a super long attachment.

I still have to get ready to leave the house and make dinner, so time is up for today. I place my cleaning rags, microfiber cloths, and sweeper pad in the washer/dryer so they will be ready again, tomorrow.

"A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed." (Proverbs 15:13 ESV.)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

How to Deep Clean Your Home: Day Four

Today for my cleaning workout, I will be focusing on the kitchen. I feel the kitchen is tedious because of all the cabinets and drawers. It is so tempting to cut corners or take short cuts but I am going to try and keep myself from doing that. Each of the drawers should be wiped out and cabinets vacuumed out if necessary.

Okay, I guess I should quit stalling and get started. Without further ado, I am going to begin, like yesterday, with the fuzzy brush and go along the crease between the ceiling and walls and down all corners of the room. Following, I will take my sweeper with microfiber pad and "sweep" the walls and ceiling to get rid of dirt and dust that has collected there.

I have removed the ruffle curtains to hand wash later. I was hoping I could just take them off the rod and launder them, but that does not look feasible, so hand washing it is. Before cleaning off the counter tops, I am going to use a wet microfiber cloth on the blinds and all cabinet doors. I will check inside cabinets to see if they need to be vacuumed out and I will detail the windows. There are four, so it is most likely going to take me longer than yesterday. The blinds and windows are pretty time consuming.

At, at least an hour into the windows, they are still not finished. As I continue to work on them, I have my table cloth in the dryer (just switched it over from the washer before I got going on the blinds) and the seat covers (for the benches under the windows) in the washer.

I have learned one of the tricks to housekeeping, is to not make it more difficult than it has to be. For example, on various days, the FlyLady would send out an email saying it was time to clean off the counter tops. She would tell each reader not to completely clear the entire work area but instead, move items over, clean, then replace them.

After four hours in the kitchen I had to stop to take one of the kiddos to an extracurricular activity. After which I wiped down all the cabinet doors and appliances. I am thinking I will be back at this room again tomorrow to sanitize counter tops, vacuum, and then mop...oh yeah, and I still have one more window to finish. Then, I will consider it all DONE!

Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (Matthew 19:21. ESV.)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

How to Deep Clean Your Home: Day Three

Second Attempt

Good morning! So far things look to be moving a little smoother today so I am optimistic I will be able to get in some good cleaning time! Maybe I will even be able to make up a little bit for what I did not get accomplished, yesterday. I am still working on the downstairs portion but have decided to start with the family room instead of the formal living room and entry way.

The ceiling is lower in these rooms, thankfully, so I do not need to bust out the ladder. And, hubs repaired the vacuum cleaner, yay! I have started by placing all the blankets, throws, and pillow cases from the couch in to be laundered. I will be doing the same for the rugs that can go into the washer as well. Our large, shag, area one will just have to be vacuumed, though.

Ceiling to Floor

1. With my fuzzy brush (sorry I do not have a more technical name for it), I go along the crease between the ceiling and walls and down the corners of the room to knock down any cobwebs that might be present.

2. Using my flat sweeper (with microfiber pad/cover) I go over each of the walls, collecting any dust or dirt trapped on them. (The ceiling in this room is low enough for me to "sweep" over it as well. I had to move the bookshelf, to get the wall behind it. And, I am thinking I might want to at least rinse the microfiber covering before starting the next room.)

3. I consult my checklist to make sure I am meeting goals. Next, is cleaning the vents (mine are up high, not on the floor) and wiping down the ceiling fan. (For the vent I am using my vacuum cleaner w/ attachment. And, for the fan, I am using a damp microfiber cloth.

4. Continuing with the damp microfiber cloth, I wipe down the wood on the sliding glass door (I'll use my glass cleaner on the widows in a moment.), the wooden blinds, windowsills, the mantle, and around the fire place. (I'll come back and detail the glass and tile, later.)

The blinds and windows are taking the most time, so far. (I even did the outside of the windows.) I'm getting ready to do the panes in the sliding door then I am on to dusting the bookshelf (so I can store television accessories on it and get them off the floor). For the bookshelf (which I got at Ikea and totally adore...though I don't love dusting it) I used the vacuum cleaner w/ attachment first, and followed up with a damp microfiber cloth.

I have been at this for at least four hours and am almost finished. I still need to dust the television, detail the fireplace (glass and tile), wipe down the baseboards, sanitize the door knobs and light switch plates, vacuum the furniture (base and cushions), vacuum the floor, and finally mop. After which, I will officially call this room, DONE!

Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. ESV.)

Monday, January 28, 2013

How to Deep Clean Your Home: Day Two

Happy Monday! It is time to get the cleaning workout started. For me, that means running to the store for some more cleaning supplies. (I left some at the old house and have run out of what I had here.) Being I botch the details sometimes, I did not plan ahead and pick up this stuff yesterday. So, I am stuck with doing it now. This, of course, puts a crimp in our already busy schedule for today.

Now (two hours later) that the supplies have been purchased and the kiddos are working away on school assignments, I can turn my attention to the project at hand. First, I have created a checklist for myself as an outline (and to be sure I hit those marks).

A bit of advice an acquaintance once gave me, is to start high and work my way down...ceiling to floor. So generally, that is what I do.

I have my fuzzy brush, on an extendable handle, to reach dust and cobwebs high up, and my micro fiber sweeper for getting dust off of the walls.

I am very quickly running out of time to work on my designated areas for the day, not to mention my vacuum cleaner has stopped working and is in need of repair. (I am hopeful hubs will be able to work his magic on it, tonight.)

While cleaning up Christmas decorations (yes, I know it is the end of January...but this is how we roll) in the formal living room, I find the pug has soiled the carpet. Argh! He is not even allowed in this room but it appears he had creeped past the pet fence and used our tree, ornaments, and "easy cleanup bag" as his own "indoor plumbing"! Yet another set back. I take off all the homemade items, glass balls, lights, and garland, bag the dry fir, and drag it out the front door. The Little Chef and Little Leaguer use the hose of the vacuum (which is still in working order) to suck up all the pine needles that escaped as I wrestled the thing out of the house.

Once all that is finished, I sit down for a quick bite to eat before shepherding the kiddos out to the car to shuttle us off to our extracurricular activities. My window of opportunity is closed to complete any items on my list. Though I would not call today a total bust, it definitely was not what I had all.

This is the day that the Lord has made;let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24 ESV)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

How to Deep Clean Your Home: Day One

Where to begin? I used to use the "FlyLady"'s advice. This time, however, I am going to go with D and R Tabb's "18 Ways to Deep Clean Your Home" and a local housekeeping company's guidelines to get started.

All Rooms:
- Dust baseboards (Wipe down all baseboards with a wet cloth. Follow up by rubbing a dryer sheet on them to prevent dust from sticking.), light fixtures, furniture, sills, shelves, blinds, ceiling fans, and décore.
- Clean behind and underneath all furniture. Move beds, scoot dressers away from the wall and get all the dust that builds up.
- Remove cobwebs.
- Vacuum/mop all floors, carpets, rugs, and stairs.
- Vacuum cloth furniture including under cushions.
- Clean glass surfaces.
- Make up or straighten linens.
- Empty wastebaskets.
- Clean/sanitize door handles and light switch covers.
- Dust and wipe down the top of cabinets, armoires, bookshelves, etc.
- Clean vents.
- Wipe down the front and back of all doors.

- Clean, dry, and shine all appliance surfaces, range hood, and sinks.
- Clean stove drip pans, burner grates, and control knobs.
- Wash countertops.
- Damp-wipe cupboard fronts, tables, and chairs (even the legs).
- Clean microwave oven inside and out, including turntable.
- Clean out the fridge and freezer.
- Wipe out kitchen drawers.
- Dust and wipe down the top of cabinets and fridge.

- Clean and sanitize showers, tubs, toilets, and sinks...inside and out.
- Clean and dry all mirrors, glass, counters, and tile until they shine.
- Damp-wipe cabinet fronts.
- Clean all shelves, fixtures, and items on vanity.

Oh boy, that is quite a list. I imagine this would be rather overwhelming in a house that has not been tidied this particular way in years. If the task does appear to be a mountain, may I suggest initiating the whole process by first throwing away all the garbage (i.e. old papers, newspapers, tissues, wrappers, plastic utensils, straws, boxes, broken items, plastic/paper bags...anything deemed as "trash"). Then, go from there. I find that helps. Another trick someone showed me is to sweep EVERYTHING that is on the floor (i.e. socks, toys, game pieces, buttons, tacks, nails, coasters, pictures, books, video cassettes/DVDs, CDs, etc...ALL that you see, into a pile. Then sort through it from there. Again, tossing the rubbish, before doing anything else. I believe it is easier to focus on a smaller, condensed area rather than the entire room, spread out. Further, taking items to their proper area as you walk through your place is also beneficial. Full hands in, full hands out. Used towels in the bathroom get carried to the laundry room and washed articles are moved to their appropriate bedrooms/closets. Used cups and plates in those territories are brought with you into the kitchen, so on and so forth.

It is estimated my dwelling would take two and a half to three and a half hours for two people to address. (It is 2,140 sq. ft.). Being I am doing this alone, I am going to give myself a goal of four and a half to six and a half hours (over a span of five or six days). No problem, right? This, of course, does not include the time I need to school the kiddos, do the laundry, maintain the day to day stuff, cook meals, go grocery shopping, get to extracurricular activities, etc. Looks like I will be making myself a schedule.

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. (Philippians 2:14-16. ESV.)

Like Paul and His Thorn

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:7-9 ESV)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

How to Deep Clean Your Home

After reading D and R Tabb's blogpost "18 Ways to Deep Clean Your Home", I thought to myself, why not blog through "deep" cleaning my house? I am ALWAYS looking for innovative ways to quickly and efficiently keep our residence spic and span (and, consequently, hubs happy)! Our new place is due for it anyway (given we've been in it over a month now and we have a Super Bowl party coming up). Side note: I'm not really a NFL fan...I'm a college ball gal, myself...but, hey, any reason to throw a soirée!

Being I only have a week until the gathering, I will have to do the important stuff first and the more intricate details later. Nothing like a little accountability to get the job done. Admittedly, I am not a lover of cleaning up after other people. It is a challenge for me but, as a Proverbs 31 wife, I feel it is my responsibility. God has blessed me with a wonderful family and they need my help staying organized, and well, hygienic. (They do have good hygiene, for the most part...but at times a little reminder is in when there is a ball of dust and dirt trailing behind someone, like with Pigpen...just joking.)

I have this big idea now, while I am sitting (or more or less hiding out) in the corner at a local indoor children's play place. It is crazy crowded and quite loud! When it comes time to actually do the in depth labor of love, it might not seem like such a great idea. I also confess I just met with a local housekeeping service, on Thursday, for an estimate. They are pretty expensive! And, I do not really need the amount of help they provide. I just wanted an extra hand is all. We seem to struggle with keeping surfaces (i.e. table tops and counter space) clutter free (which drives hubs bonkers). It is other things like dirty shoes (or dog paws) on the white carpet, laminate, and/or tile flooring, soap scum, mildew, or hard water spots on the bathroom tile and/or glass shower enclosure, spills in the refrigerator, dirty clothes on the floor instead of in laundry baskets, excessive soiled dishes piled in the sink, etc. that gets my goat.

So, I guess come Monday (or maybe even tomorrow) I get started.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
...And who keeps me disciplined. I reckon it is like sticking to a workout. No pain, no gain and all that.

She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night.

She opens her hand to the poor
and reaches out her hands to the needy.

She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates.
(Proverbs 31:18, 20, 27, 30, 31 ESV)

One Way

The clouds grazed the hill tops surrounding us. Maybe they were going to skirt around the riding site. As long as the sun was shining it was not a big deal. It kept the cold at bay...and was tolerable, I suppose.

Walking along the road, parking area, and campgrounds, one either slid or stuck to earth beneath the soles of his/her shoes. Mud caked onto boots, tires, and anything else it could reach. Catch and gripped to a tire then flew through the air until coming to rest, "clunk," on a helmet, peg, plastic, etc.

"The quad is throwing rocks at me!" claimed the Little Chef.

"Actually, it's globs of mud," I replied.

The sky was a radiant blue until the hazy gray dipped down to touch us, blocking the sun in the process. Who turned off the heat? Die hard campers, determined to stay the weekend, pitched a tent. No amount of persuasion or manipulation could ever get me to tent camp in these conditions. (Staying in the RV on a frigid, wet weekend...been there, done that...even without the heater working!) But, there is just something about canvas oozing with puddles of rain and soil. Not my idea of sitting by the fireplace, snuggled up with a book (or writing an article), hot coffee sipping, goodness.

After several attempts (on rocks, stones, and tufts of grass) at freeing my R.M. Williams from the muck pasted on the bottom, I finally waved the white flag of surrender and carefully pulled them into hub's truck. Despite the less than preferable track status, I do believe a nice time was had by all.

One Way

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him."

Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves. "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.

"If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him." Jesus answered him, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me.

"These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
(John 14:6, 7, 10-12, 15-21, 23-26 ESV)

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Sermon On the Hill

Back in the 90's, I was involved in a FANTASTIC youth group (which was lead by four different youth pastors while I was there). One of them, who's leadership and teaching never gets old, has posted about the Sermon on the Mount. He says,

This is Jesus at his most radical, turning the world upside down with his words.  Just think of all the teachings included in this magnificent message.  The Beatitudes, which the late, great Rich Mullins referred to as "the condensed version of everything Jesus wanted us to know."

I invite you to join me at his blog "I'd Laugh...But All This Happened to Me!" to continue reading this message.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

And All Who Believed Were Together and Had All Things in Common

The swelling waves of thought ripple about in my mind and crash against one another. I can tell this post is most likely going to be all over the place. God's word says He is the potter and makes some vessels for "honorable use" and others for "dishonorable use".

For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. You will say to me then, "Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?" But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this?" Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? (Romans 9:15-24 ESV)

But, I have a hard time understanding why God does not save people sometimes...or why He allows such wickedness at times when He can easily intervene. But He says we are made for His glory. Further, Jesus said some are children of satan.

They answered him, "Abraham is our father." Jesus said to them, "If you were Abraham's children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. You are doing the works your father did." They said to him, "We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God." Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God." (John 8:39-47 ESV)

Despite being called to keep the peace in the midst of the liar who promises truth yet is incapable, I am thankful for "the body" with whom I have fellowship and things in a ray of sunlight radiating through a blanket of gray fog, or a breath of fresh air in a smoke filled room. Together we love, pray, worship, praise, serve, encourage, support, lift up, learn, and attend "temple" together! When they are with me, an "awe" comes upon my "soul" and I thank God!

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47. ESV)

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Temptation by satan

#1. Lust of the Flesh
#2. Pride
(Just to name a couple.)

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread." But he answered, "It is written,
"'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, "'He will command his angels concerning you,' and "'On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'"
Jesus said to him, "Again it is written, 'You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'"

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, "All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me." Then Jesus said to him, "Be gone, Satan! For it is written,
"'You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'" Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.
(Matthew 4:1-11 ESV)

This scripture was explained to me and I find it to be very helpful in identifying how satan operates. When we are hungry, thirsty, lonely, sad, etc. he comes with suggestions...and dangles a tantalizing carrot with the promise of fulfillment, satisfaction, pleasure.

God does NOT operate outside His word. He does NOT encourage people to act against His commandments. But it is so easy to tell oneself, "God wants me to be happy! He... (has given me the opportunity to steal, to dishonor my parents, to cheat on my spouse, to not recognize the Sabbath...etc.)" God does NOT do that! Further, He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

"You shall have no other gods before me.

"You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

"You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

"Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

"Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

"You shall not murder.

"You shall not commit adultery.

"You shall not steal.

"You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

"You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor's."
(Exodus 20:3-17 ESV)

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The God of Fear

And he withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, "Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done." And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. (Luke 22:41-44 ESV)

Each day has been pretty chilly around here. Being a FL girl (born and raised), I generally shy away from the cold. The bitter winter mornings also tend to bring with them fog so thick one feels like he/she just stepped into a Stephen King novel. Barely being able to see a couple feet in front of my vehicle causes some pretty tricky challenges maneuvering around the other motorists.

It's no wonder I have not been overly keen on venturing to our old house to finish transporting items to the new one. But this is not what causes me discomfort. Right before Christmas there was a rash of home invasions and armed robberies in the little community where we were living. We sighed a breath of relief when we got the heck out of dodge and moved into our current home. But, I have to be honest, there is a ripple of fear that creeps up my spine each time I return to the former residence...especially if it is dark (which normally I do not do). I have the Little Chef and Little Leaguer wait for me at the front door as I make my way through the place checking each room, behind doors, in the showers, and around blind corners.

God, the word made flesh, knows the sensation of "agony". And, though mine is nowhere remotely close to what He felt (I do not sweat blood! Rather, it is more on the level of right after a fender bender or traffic ticket.), I have comfort in the fact He understands. I have been told, "The bible says not to fear man." Okay, well, tell that to my body as my heart rate goes up and my hands begin to tremble. I cannot completely control the physical effects. Further, I believe it is wise to be scared/leery sometimes. When David found out King Saul wanted to kill him, David did not stick around to "face his fears", this mighty man of God booked it out of there and hid until God delivered Saul to him, TWICE. (David could have killed the king, both times, but did not and Saul's heart softened.)

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. (Hebrews 5:7, 8 ESV)

Likewise, God hears us when we call out to matter how the flesh stings! He experienced the flesh!

I am the Lord, and there is no other,besides me there is no God;I equip you, though you do not know me, that people may know, from the rising of the sunand from the west, that there is none besides me;I am the Lord, and there is no other. (Isaiah 45:5, 6 ESV)

Friday, January 11, 2013

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Come as You Are

This post is kind of a continuation of yesterday's "Sin No More". I am still referencing the event of the adulterous woman being brought before Christ Jesus and he says, "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her." And also the occurrence of the disabled man by the pool when Jesus told him to, "Get up, take up your bed, and walk."

In both of those situations (and all of the others in scripture where someone is healed, pardoned, and/or saved or judged, God and Jesus met each individual where they were...Paul on the road to Damascus on his way to continue persecuting Christians, Zacchaeus up in a tree, the disciples while they were fishing, Samuel as he was sleeping, Cain whilst he was fleeing, Adam and Eve when they were hiding, Jonah in the midst of his defiance, David was visiting his brothers when Goliath showed up, wedding guests were at a feast when they received the wine Jesus had made, etc.

So being Jesus did that for others (and God continues to do so to this day) should I not catch up with people where they are instead of trying to drag them to where I am (or insisting they join me where I stand)? Jesus did as God's word instructs, He went out and "made disciples" and He taught them, each on his own level. For the beginners, he told parables.
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)

As a dance instructor, I must go level by level, tiny step by intricate step according to each student's ability. Otherwise, the one learning becomes frustrated (maybe quits) and I would feel my efforts futile. Can the same not be said for sharing the word of God? The bible illustrates new believers as sipping on milk like an infant and slowly graduating to meat (1Peter 2:2, 1 Corinthians 3:2, Hebrews 5:12-13, John 16:12). To unbelievers the gospel is either foolishness, they cannot understand it, or are perhaps even offended by it. For me, I grew up in the church but still I just could not comprehend it. It was not because I had an old King James bible, I had a children's bible (from the third grade) for Pete's sake! I just did not get it! The Holy Spirit was not in me. I fell completely in love with Jesus as my Lord and Savior in high school and things started to make sense, but it was when I began spending each day in God's word that everything truly came together! That was when I was 30! So, who am I to get impatient with others?!

Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:17-24 ESV)

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Monday, January 07, 2013

Sin No More

How many times, in scripture, does Jesus tell someone to "sin no more"? I found two occasions (though there may be more):

but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, "Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?" This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her." And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more."]] (John 8:1-11 ESV)

Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, "Do you want to be healed?" The sick man answered him, "Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me." Jesus said to him, "Get up, take up your bed, and walk." And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.Now that day was the Sabbath....Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, "See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you." (John 5:2, 3, 5-9, 13, 14 ESV)

As Jesus said, He did not come to condemn the world, He came to save it. Neither should I "condemn the world" or judge others. It is not my place. Further, Jesus shows grace, as should I. Pointing out a person's sin (while I have a log in my own eye, no less) and proclaiming the wages of sin is death, only puts a very bad taste in the mouth of the unbeliever. No doubt he/she would say to himself/herself, "If that is a Christian, I want no part of it!" (I have ticked off at least one individual in this manner (years ago) who, to this day, has not fully forgiven me, yet. Did it glorify God? Nope! Naïve me, in my infinite wisdom (NOT!) only made matters worse! But, of course, I run to Jesus and beg Him to please right my wrongs! I imagine Him saying to me, "Go now, Brook, and sin no more."

The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous
and his ears toward their cry. When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hearsand delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenheartedand saves the crushed in spirit.
(Psalm 34:15, 17, 18 ESV)

When I Look at Your Heavens, the Work of Your Fingers

The light barely entered the room as the late morning sun tried to burn through the clouds. What time was it? There wasn't a sound until the clawing at the laundry room door indicating the dogs were awake. No whispered conversations. No suppressed television shows. Just, silence. I got up swiftly and maneuvered the stairs at a quickened pace. I don't like it when the dogs scratch the paint on the door. This is a rental house for Pete's sake!

The rain clouds were hours away yet the sky was gloomy. I never mind having a moment or two to myself in the morning or evening. It helps me breath, if that makes sense. Once the house stirs there is no turning back. No quiet time, no "me" time, no time to think. I sit at the kitchen table and drink up the quietness. The calm before the storm. Not that life is always stormy but, who knows what the day has in store. Maybe it will be fun, light hearted enjoyment of each other's company. Perhaps it will be mundane, routine. Or, it could be unpleasantness, as dictated by the weather outside. quietness and in trust shall be your strength. (Isaiah 30:15. ESV.)

The fragrance of the crackling (turkey) bacon meanders thought the kitchen and then upstairs when I decide to make it and French toast for brunch. Yes, brunch. That is how late we slept in because of the gray outside. No alarm clocks on a Saturday leave the sun as our indication when to rise. French toast for the rest of the family. Red grapefruit and a simple salad of spinach leaves, (turkey) bacon, and boiled egg whites for me. Some of my favorites. I imagine in a new life, a fresh start years from now, I will love them still.

The day increasingly gets darker as it progresses. The rain is here. With it being the last weekend of the Christmas break, the children and I hang on each passing minute. The previous couple of weeks jammed packed with Christmas, News Years Eve, and everything in between. Thursday was a final day of the season at Six Flags' "Holiday in the Park" where songs of Christmas cheer filled the air, lights twinkled, and the wind made each individual clutch his/her coat and hat tighter...chilling to the bone.

Squeals of delight were offered up to heaven on waves dripping with the Christmas spirit as children and adults alike sledded down the man made snow hill. Trained employees waited at the bottom to catch run away tobogganers before they met the pavement. Unauthorized snowballs whizzed from the designated snow "playground" as acquaintances attempted to pelt one another in the name of fun. The Little Leaguer and Little Chef laughed with friends.
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
(Psalm 8:3. ESV.)

By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
and by the breath of his mouth all their host.
(Psalm 33:6. ESV.)

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.)

Father, I thank you for all you have made! From the dreary cumulonimbus to the star-filled heavens...from the cutting wind to the exhilarating ice. You are the creator of all things!

Saturday, January 05, 2013

The God of Broken Hearts

He is the same, you know. The God of the Old Testament, New Testament, of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Provider, the Heavenly Father, the King, the Word made flesh. He too, is the God of broken hearts.

Jesus knew a little something about being heart broken.
Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. So the sisters sent to him, saying, "Lord, he whom you love is ill." But when Jesus heard it he said, "This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it." Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Then after this he said to the disciples, "Let us go to Judea again." The disciples said to him, "Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?" Then Jesus told them plainly, "Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him." Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you." Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to him, "Lord, come and see." Jesus wept. Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, "Take away the stone." Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, "Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days." Jesus said to her, "Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?" So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me." When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out." The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go." (John 11:1, 3-8, 14, 15, 17, 21-23, 32-35, 38-44 ESV)

Jesus wept. God, felt grief. I believe, He gets it...when His created feel sorrow, for whatever reason, not just the death of a loved one. I do not know about you, but that brings me great comfort, that He can empathize when I am feeling saddened.

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. (Jeremiah 29:11 ESV)

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Life Is...

“Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.
Life is beauty, admire it.
Life is a dream, realize it.
Life is a challenge, meet it.
Life is a duty, complete it.
Life is a game, play it.
Life is a promise, fulfill it.
Life is sorrow, overcome it.
Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a struggle, accept it.
Life is a tragedy, confront it.
Life is an adventure, dare it.
Life is luck, make it.
Life is too precious, do not destroy it.
Life is life, fight for it.”

― Mother Teresa

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

― Maya Angelou

I hope you feel loved!

The Spirit Helps Us in Our Weakness

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:26-28 ESV)

Friday, January 04, 2013

Who Can Bring Him to See What Will be After Him?

I think I always have the same questions for God. Each day, there they are...same as the day before. He knows my heart! He wired me the way I am. He can tell me the exact number of hairs on my head. Yet, in my heart, there is silence in response to my queries. I am impatient, like Sarah of the bible, and I try to "fix" things (which, of course, only makes it worse)! Then, inevitably, I whine and complain about the disaster I created and beg God to right my wrongs!

While on a break from writing this, I heard the line by T.S. Eliot,
I will show you fear in a handful of dust,
which brought me to Ecclesiastes 3:17-22.

I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time for every matter and for every work. I said in my heart with regard to the children of man that God is testing them that they may see that they themselves are but beasts. For what happens to the children of man and what happens to the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity. All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return. Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down into the earth? So I saw that there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his work, for that is his lot. Who can bring him to see what will be after him? (ESV)

I NEED to rejoice in my work...whatever it is the Lord gives me. Currently, it is not in writing, dance, or any other field in which He has given me a degree of talent (which may or may not have monetary value and help provide for my family). Rather, it is in raising my children, who are so, very dear to me, and managing our home! Truly, I am blessed! So then why would I ever feel any measure of discontentment?! I must do what I tell my grateful for all that I have, for what the Good Lord had given me, his servant...dust.

He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality. (Romans 2:6-11 ESV)

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Tuesday, January 01, 2013

God in Everyday Words

When each child in my household was younger, it was easy monitoring and regulating the music to which they listened and the shows/movies they watched. As they get older it becomes increasingly more difficult. (The older ones are now 21 and 18, so my teaching time with them is over but there is still much time with the Little Chef and Little Leaguer.) "The Hokey Pokey" and "Itsy Bitsy Spider" have given way to contemporary Christian and top 40 selections. I find myself looking up the lyrics to new songs with which I am not familiar and searching the Internet for the "clean" version of some of those. Really? Artists can't keep it "clean" in general? (If an appropriate rendition cannot be located, they don't get to listen to it...when they are with me.)

I am reminded of the book EVERYDAY TALK by John A. Younts. The concept being (as I understand it), our children are listening attentively to everything we say so we should chose our words carefully and biblically! "Stupid rain" is given as an example in the first chapter. The words illustrating discontentment rather than thankfulness for all God provides. The rain is a blessing upon the ground and quenches the thirst of the soil and plants...not an inconvenience because it messes up plans.

I feel the images they view, lyrics they take in, and books they devour are more important than I can imagine. They are filling those sponge like, impressionable, brains of theirs with the things of this world. What seeds are being planted in their hearts?

A quote by Timothy Keller comes to mind. He stated,
So we can say that we are more wicked than we ever dared believe, but more loved and accepted in Christ than we ever dared hope — at the very same time.

I want my everyday words to glorify God and point my children to Christ Jesus! I desire the songs to which they listen to be of praise and worship, not mind numbing, offensive chow chow they regurgitate time and again. Yes, the beats are catchy and I have even caught myself reciting a line or two of's tempting but empty!

If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. (John 15:19 ESV)

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:9-14 ESV)

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