Monday, November 28, 2011

Some Days Are Tougher Than Others

I started a new round of workouts this morning - and I'm whooped!

With the move, living in a hotel and the moving-in process, I had completely given up "exercising" for over a month. Oh yes, I've gotten in some good workouts just moving boxes around, but nothing that really challenged my body the way an organized workout does.

So, needless to say, I found muscles I forgot I had. Just a couple of minutes into my routine I was ready to give up and crawl back into bed. Those few hours of sleep I just finished would have been a really good excuse and who needs to do a full workout the first day anyway?

But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 3:14-15

Isn't it easier to stop when things get uncomfortable? Why keep pushing your body, your mind or your testimony? Life would be much more simple if you weren't always striving and trying, wouldn't it?

Under the inspiration of God Himself, Paul urges us to continue on. When we know what we know, we have all the motivation we need to stick with it. Some days are tougher than others, but we're called to press on even when those around us are giving up and falling by the wayside.

And that's hard. But combine self-control with the grace of God and we have everything we need to make it through this moment.

This morning.
This day.
This week.
This month.
This year.
This earthly life.

So don't stop today when the going gets tough. Turn your eyes upon Jesus and continue in the things you have learned. It will make the day both joyful and productive in the cause of Christ.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

In Every Thing Give Thanks

This is what we woke up to earlier this week. They're dining on our new grass seed. And yes, they're all still out there - I guess they've all received pardons for this year's meal!

I pray you have a fabulous Thanksgiving Day. And let's all strive to stay in an attitude of gratitude for the rest of the week...month...year...decade...until Jesus Christ comes back for His Bride.

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Makes You Think A Little...

I knew exactly what I was going to the store to buy. The menu for Thanksgiving is set and I needed just one thing - the decoration for my dessert. I knew where to go and I knew what to get.

But when I walked down the aisle where I had seen what I saw...it was no longer there! The seasons had changed and I was now looking at Christmas trees and penguins. Not in my plan...but really, really cute! Oh well, next trip.

So my brain had to switch over from prepared-mode to what-next-mode. That's when I saw them.

I don't know if these are new or if they're just new to me. These bite-sized beauties are tiny graham cookies covered in chocolate and drizzled with peanut butter. Now, this is my favorite combination in the entire world, so to be able to take a handful at a time is a wonderful notion.

And these will be the perfect decoration for my Thanksgiving dessert. I think they'll be even better than what I had in mind, and I can enjoy the leftovers, too!

Stay tuned to see how they turn out!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

All Unpacked And Ready To Craft!

I'm now one step closer to being settled into our new life in Iowa - I've opened my etsy shop back up!

Yes, after days and days of toting boxes down to the craft area of our basement (lots and lots of boxes), I can finally get back to work. Or is it play when you love it so much? Hmm...

If you go to the shop this week, you'll see lots of black and white. There's a reason for that, so don't adjust your screen. I challenged myself to do something completely different for an entire week. I'm using one set of papers, in just two colors, just to see how many different styles and combinations I can create. It's a lot harder than it sounds!

But the results have been amazing! Two sets of cards have already flown out the door (Thank you Cherie!) and I'm so excited with the traffic that's coming through.

It's been a long few weeks with all of my crafting supplies packed away, so be ready for lots of new stuff. It was like a really weird Christmas - Look, it's a paper trimmer! Look, it's idea books! Look, it's...oh, wait. Those are mine. I forgot.

And who knows what I'll challenge myself to next week...there are so many colors and patterns out there. And the Lord is showing me new Scripture every day to use. Such a joy.

Try this idea in your crafting projects, too. Work a little outside your comfort zone and see what creative new finished products you'll make.

So go visit the shop and let me know what you think! Go to http://www.stufffromtrees.etsy.com/ or just click on the pictures in the left hand column. Enjoy!

Monday, November 21, 2011

How To Stay Faithful When Those Around You Aren't

Unless you stay in your house all day - or you live under a rock - you have to be out and about in the world.

There are all kinds of people around us: saved and unsaved, devoted and wishy-washy, dependable and undependable, faithful and not-so-much faithful. We come in all shapes and sizes, for better or for worse.

It's challenging for a Christian woman to stay victorious and faithful to God when the world around us isn't. Scripture tells us to do a lot of very difficult things in the face of opposition.

Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. 2 Corinthians 6:17

There's no choice to just blend into the crowd or take the easy route - to simply do what everyone else is doing and hope we don't stand out. We will be noticed when we come out from among the world. Separation can be a frightening, lonely experience when we're just trying to be loved and accepted. But following the Lord's command to be set apart means connection with Him, which brings peace and joy.

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Galatians 5:1

The Lord Jesus Christ sacrificed everything for us to have complete and perfect salvation. What a disrespect is must be then to watch the unfaithfulness of Christian women. Instead of standing fast in the faith of His liberty, we retreat to the old, well-known paths that we've spent so much time in. The comfort of the old bondage yoke is short-lived, though, while the reward for the faithful is everlasting.

His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. Matthew 25:21

The unfaithful world won't understand our desire to be faithful to God. They simply can't understand a relationship they've never experienced. But we can look forward, with joy overflowing in our hearts, to a time when the Lord will be able to say: Well done, thou good and faithful servant.

That one, simple statement will make all of the separation, the steadfastness and the pain of this earthly life fade away to nothing. Inconvenience and disappointment for a season will mean nothing when we're standing before our Lord. What a day, glorious day, that will be!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Weekend Of Finding Focus

Yep, this is what the two garages still look like. Moving is hard work, but we're making some steady progress in getting settled. A few boxes a day and we'll be done before you know it!

Know anyone who needs cardboard boxes?

The whole process of setting up a home can be daunting. Just the unpacking alone seems endless, let alone finding a home for everything, keep things clean and still finding time to eat and sleep. Maybe less of those last two than anything else...

When you're feeling overwhelmed, you quickly lose your focus. You're unpacking boxes and decide to take some things to another room. While you're in there you think of additions to your shopping list. So you leave that room and go look for your list...but where did you put it? Oh, and that trash needs taken out, the phone company needs to be called and you still need to go check the mail.

Where did your focus go? And what did you actually accomplish in the last hour?

Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Matthew 6:33

When we're focused on God and His priorities for our life, all those things - the boxes, the phone, the kids, the husband, the house, the job - they are all taken care of. When the Lord is clearly in focus in our easily distracted minds, He provides the rest.

And hopefully the rest includes a nap!

Make this a weekend of finding the focus that really counts - Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

In The Midst Of An Evening

The Internet installer didn't show up until the next day, leaving me waiting without word.

The telephone company had to send a repairman out, too, which meant a couple more days without communication.

I know my shoes are in a box...somewhere.

We still have to register the cars, get new driver's licenses and get all of our insurance worked out. For every one thing I check off the to-do list, it seems like four more get added.

And they all seem like inconveniences. No, I never assumed I'd walk right into our new house and our new life in Iowa would just begin without incident. But while working odd hours at the newspaper and trying to get the house turned into a home, anything extra just makes me sigh.

And then God does something miraculous. In the middle of another evening of unpacking, breaking down boxes and cleaning the driveway, He paints the sky with the most beautiful array of colors. The mundane is instantly replaced with awe and joy because of a simple blessing from the Lord.

Ye are blessed of the LORD which made heaven and earth. Psalm 115:15

Our lives are filled with human inconveniences, but they are completely outweighed by the glory of the Lord! The day may hold some complications and a hiccup or two, but their memories are washed clean away when God opens our eyes to His creation.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A Weekend Of Acting Squirrely

Usually the word "squirrely" has negative connotations. It's typically a slang word to describe someone with questionable character, someone odd or a little crazy.

But this weekend I want to give the word "squirrely" new meaning.

This little guy couldn't see me taking his picture through the front door. He could hear a little noise and was alert, but because of the angle of the sun I was completely invisible. He was aware of my presence, but went about his business of finding lovely things to eat.

This weekend I challenge all of us to have this same squirrely attitude. Yes, there are things behind the door that we can't see - evil, the unexpected, people who would see us harmed, maybe even a tragedy or disappointment. At this moment we're aware there's something out there, but we just can't quite see what's happening.

We have two choices: be afraid or be squirrely. We can hide inside and cower in fear. Or we can be victorious in the Lord and be like the squirrel, going about our Father's business. One choice will destroy our peace and joy. The other will heighten our awareness of God's grace and block out the negative.

Are you ready to be squirrely this weekend?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Home Is Where God Is

We are still not in our house.

Through postponements and questions and paperwork and heartbreaks, we are still living in a hotel. There is joy in someone to clean up after you, but there is still longing for home. There are simple pleasures in someone else's roof over your head each night, but there are desires for a place and a purpose.

You take those blessings for granted until you're uprooted. Normal has been exchanged for new adventures, familiar faces traded for people you've never met. Suddenly you are out of your routine, unsettled and aching to have that normal life back. It will be different, the house will be different, but life will seem stable and permanent again, if you were just in that house.

But home isn't about a house. Yes, we will move into our house in just a few more days, but I'm still home. Not because we're back in my hometown or because this is where my family is. I'm home because I'm in the presence of the Lord.

Abide in me, and I in you... John 15:4

With the Savior of the world living in my heart, I am always home. The place doesn't matter, the building doesn't matter and the feelings of my heart don't matter. Jesus Christ chose to take up residence in my undeserving heart, so I am home.

Instead of our lovely new home in the country, I could be living in a cardboard box. The Lord is still abiding in me. I could be bedding down in a shelter, a mansion or a cottage. It could be new, old, fancy or simple, and my home is still permanent in Jesus Christ. No matter where I go or where I find myself tomorrow, I'll always be home.

When the flesh wants to fight back, to be angry and disappointed, the Lord living inside me says, Abide. It's all about resting in Him and submitting to His timing. Home will never be out of reach when I'm abiding in His marvelous grace.

Are you home?