Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Learning the Heart and Eyes of God

Do you remember that Scripture from Monday?

And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them: and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a-whoring. Numbers 15:39

If we rely on our own heart and our own eyes, we will always be deceived.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Jeremiah 17:9

Following our own heart and eyes is like choosing a burnt, rotten cookie when there's a pan of fresh, gooey ones right next to it. Why settle when you can have the real and true?

So how do you find out what God's will really is? It's right there in His Word just waiting for us to find it. It can be daunting to face the entire Bible, but there are some very special tools we can use to get at the center of God's heart for us.

* Chain reference: When you find a verse that speaks to your heart, follow the chain reference in your Bible. It will lead you to other verses that talk about the same topic or use the same words. There are often multiple verses which lead to other verses that have multiple verses attached to them. This si my favorite way to search through the Scriptures because there are always new verses to find and love and study.

* Concordance: Whether there's one in your Bible or you use a separate one in addition to your Bible, a concordance is a massive reference source. You might be seeking a certain word or phrase or something that's repeated many times. The concordance is a great place to look.

* Commentaries: There are many, many books and computer programs that are filled with commentaries. Men who are infinitely smarter than I have have observations verse by verse through the Bible that make you think, make you cry and make you desire to keep seeking. But always refer back to the verses in Scripture - they're breathed by God, not man. He'll always show you what He wants you to know.

* Other people's writing: You probably have your own library full of writings about the Scriptures. When was the last time you picked one up and read it? They’re not conversation pieces or pretty home d├ęcor – they’re meant to be read. But, just like with commentaries, always read the passages for yourself. Don’t rely on what man has written.

Hopefully this has been a wonderful reminder of not seeking with your own heart and eyes, but seeking what God has to say. Seek God through the Scripture and you’ll find the answer to every question you have – and maybe some you didn’t know you had. That’s the power of God’s Word.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Cozy Desk Space

Whether you have an office at work, a cubicle or just a computer desk at home, it gets cluttered. This is my desk at work. If I don't have it neat and tidy every day, I literally go insane. My productivity crashes and I'm lost in a sea of paper. Yes, that's a newspaper joke.

A newspaper office is not generally known for its tidiness. If I was to turn in any direction, you would see my point. However, I absolutely cannot live like that.

If tidiness on your own desk matters, keep reading. If you already have a clean desk, keep reading just do see what I do. If your desk is messy and you don't care ... please keep reading. Maybe you'll get inspired.

Instead of having stacking shelves on my desk, I have one magazine file. In it are my current interview notes, projects that are coming up and a week's worth of back issues of the paper. I also put the day's dummy sheets in there at the end of each day. (No, I didn't call anyone a dummy. It just means the diagram that shows us where the ads are on the page and how much space we have to fill with copy.)

Danny got me a desk organizer for Christmas last year, so it's fully stocked with anything I might need during the day - pens, pencils, sticky notes, paper clips and highlighters. Plus there are a couple of fun pens and pencils that just make me happy when I use them. That's why there's a monkey and a cupcake in there. Smile! It's a work day!

And best of all, there's a picture of me with the love of my life. When ever I get burdened down with work, I just look at that smile and I'm ready to keep going. Just knowing we'll be reunited at the end of the day makes the time fly by.

All of my old interview notes, dummy sheets I need to keep and contact info are all kept behind me in this black filing cabinet. Paper is my nemesis, so I keep up with it every day. Otherwise I'd look like Dorothy's house after the tornado. Not a cozy work space, if you know what I mean.

That's the organizer in me - I work best this way. It may not work for you, or it might be just what you need. Productivity is the name of the game.

What does your desk space look like? What do you want it to look like? Would you like a professional organizer to come help you dig out from underneath your desk? Or maybe a bulldozer would be more helpful? There is hope! Start at one side, do a little bit every day and find a system that works for you. There's no secret, just a little work.

Work at work? What a concept!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Seeking God Through the Scriptures

Think back to before you got saved - you did your own thing, came up with your own ideas and followed you own set of rules. We all did. And where did it get you? Absolutely nowhere.

Then we accepted Christ and we suddenly had a different perspective - God's perspective. We are now able to look in His Word for answers, go to Him in prayer and ask for guidance in the smallest moments of our lives.

And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue: And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a-whoring: That ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God. I am the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the LORD your God. Numbers 15:37-41

It's not our own heart and our own eyes that we are to seek after. That's easy - following your own plan is simple - but it's also meaningless. The fringe on the border of the Israelites' robes was to remind them every time they saw it that it wasn't about them.  It was about God and God alone. They were to turn away from what their own heart was telling them and what their own eyes were showing them. That's a difficult human concept, but one with remarkable results.

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Acts 17:11

These people knew that it was fine to hear the Word from the preachers and teachers, but they also knew they had to read it for themselves. There are some great ideas out there that have come from the minds of men and women, but they have to be backed up with Scripture. The only way to know the difference is to look and see for yourself.

Searching the Scriptures daily is the only way we can seek the Lord fully. Prayer is our way of speaking to Him, and Scripture is His way of speaking to us. If we’re not in His Word, we may never know where we’re truly meant to be or what we’re truly meant to do.

But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul. Deuteronomy 4:29

Instead of relying on your own heart to show you the way, use all of your heart to seek the Lord. He says right in His own Word that if you seek Him, He’ll be there. He’s always right there, waiting for you to seek Him out instead of making your own personal, random decisions.

 What are you seeking this week? And what are you using to seek with? Tomorrow I'll show you some tools that you can use in your seeking mode to learn more about God and His Word.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Weekend of Letting Go

This is the tree that Barn Kitty was stuck in. You can see that she wasn't very far off the ground, but she was truly frightened.

For a tiny kitty, it must have seemed like she was on top of a mountain. She just cried and looked at me like I had taken my time getting there. In truth, I had just heard her when I took the girls out for their morning stroll.

As she cried, she moved around a little, as if she was contemplating climbing down, but there was nothing for her to cling to. So she changed her mind over and over again. If she would have just dropped, I would have caught her with both hands and she would have been fine.

Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.  Psalm 139:7-10

No matter when we go or what we do, God is there to lead us and hold us with His hands. If I let go in faith instead of holding on with fear, God will be there to catch me and make sure everything is fine.

Make this a weekend of letting go. Forget about how far up you might be - it might be a matter of perspective. Don't think about how gravity works or how hard the ground is - our God is bigger than that.

Just close your eyes, say a prayer and let go.
The Lord is waiting to catch you.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Heart Attitude

There was a family sitting a little ways away from me in the doctor's waiting room yesterday. We had never met before, but I could immediately tell their heart attitude.

I would never presume to tell if someone is saved or not - that's between them and God. But there are some pretty clear ways to tell what's moving - or not moving - in someone's heart.

Someone in the doctor's office had made a mistake and the family was going to have to wait an extra hour before they could be seen. I don't know details and didn't want to know details.

But that family sure was willing to share them.

They weren't speaking to anyone outside of their little circle, but everyone in the room - possibly the entire floor - could hear them quite clearly. They spoke with anger toward the staff. They used words of discouragement to describe the day. They had resentment toward the entire situation because it wasn't going the way they had planned.

Without regard for the other people in the waiting room, this went on for several minutes. According to one comment I heard from the far corner of the room, it had been going on for quite some time before I had arrived.

And it was having a profound affect on the others waiting there. The room was full of sick, injured and hurting people. Instead of being surrounded by loving, caring people who would help them feel better despite their physical ailments, they were forced to endure unkind, sometimes foul language from someone else who was hurting.

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh. Luke 6:45

This was the fruit that I had to consider the situation with. Going by the words they spoke and nothing else, I could only assume that the abundance of their hearts were angry, discouraged and resentful, too. You can never say that your words and actions don't affect other people, because these people affected an entire room of strangers, with possible lasting repercussions.

I wasn't in the room very long, and there was no opportunity for me to say anything to them - in between their own conversations. I don't know what I would have said that would have given them any peace or hope, because there clearly wasn't any in their hearts. It makes me a little sad now that that opportunity is gone now.

I just pray that my own heart is filled with good treasure - joy and love and peace enough to never have that unkind affect on someone else. A few minutes in your presence should reflect the Lord that lives inside you. That's how powerful our God is.

Please pray for the man in the wheelchair, his wife and his daughter. They've gone on their way now, but their heart is the same. Pray that the Lord will touch them in a special way today, opening their eyes to their need for what only He can give them - a new heart attitude.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Apple Nachos

Are you ready for an amazingly wonderful treat?

This was our breakfast one morning this week.  They're called apple nachos - think of them like thin chips covered in ooey-gooey deliciousness.

This really isn't a recipe. It's the story of how I made ours, and then you can decide how you want to make your own.

My ingredients for two plates:
1 honey crisp apple
peanut butter
caramel syrup
shaved coconut
walnuts
mini chocolate chips

So here goes - I used the  mandolin to make super-thin apple slices. Use a knife if you have to, but this is much easier. (I say that because Danny did it. Hmmm...)

You're going to serve these immediately, so don't worry about lemon juice or keeping the slices from browning.

Heat a couple of tablespoons of peanut butter in a bowl. Heat it just until it's runny and then stir it really well. Drizzle it over the apples. It's looking yummy already.

But wait! There's more!

Now drizzle the caramel syrup and add the other toppings. Serve immediately, eating just like you would nachos. Keep the extra of your ingredients close by so you can add more as you work your way through the layers of apple.

I'd love to hear what toppings you use! Let me know if you enjoyed this as much as we did.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Live Peaceably

If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Romans 12:18

Who? Me?

Yes. You.

That's not very practical, is it?

Of course it is.

But you don't know the people I deal with.

Does that matter?

Have you met my family? Who could keep peace in that crowd?

Not keep the peace. Be the peace.

Surely you don't mean my husband. He's the only one I can be myself around.

"Live peaceably" doesn't have exceptions.

But the people I work with aren't easy to get along with.

Don't just get along. Get things right.

What if they don't care or don't want to hear it?

"If it be possible" - that means try.

Sometimes it's too hard to live peaceably.

God says it's possible.

But I wouldn't know where to begin.

God gives you the tools.

This seems too hard.

God said it might take all that is in you.

What if I can't do it? What will God say then?

He didn't say you could. But He can do it through you.

All men? Everybody?

Everybody.

Even the ...

Everybody. Live peaceably. See how God can use you to change the world.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Five Hobbies In One Day

I was blessed beyond measure on Saturday. I was able to spend the entire day enjoying my favorite hobbies. Normally I'm lucky to do a little of one for a little while. This weekend I was able to take on five!

I spent the entire morning in my craft room! It's one of my favorite places to be - doing paper crafting and getting some things ready to put in our Etsy shop. Check it out this week - it will make you feel like Spring has sprung!


And the Danny and I had date night. It was the most wonderful evening, and it began with sushi. I adore sushi more than any other food on this planet. It was the first time in more than a year that I'd had any, and I was happy to drive to Fairfield to get it. 


Next was a trip around the corner for coffee and sweets - two more hobbies that I love. And I was perfectly alright with someone else making them for the evening. It's a treat to be treated.


Then I relearned how much I love live concerts. We went to the Sondheim Center for the Dallas Brass performance and it was phenomenal! I've been listening to their CDs ever since. 

So five of my favorite hobbies - paper crafts, sushi, coffee, sweets and music - all in one day! 
Now that's what I call a fabulous time. And the icing on the proverbial cake was being able to share it all with Danny. A perfectly perfect day.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

A Weekend of Glare

For about an hour every afternoon, the sun reflects off the pond and causes a terrible glare in the kitchen. You can't look directly at the floor or the sliding door because it's so bright. You even have to squint as you walk through.

The other issue is that the glare hits the counter top and shows every single crumb and smudge you've made. It's like its own little spotlight, highlighting everything you didn't get cleaned up.

I guess this is the perfect time to clean because I can see all the little messes I didn't even know were there.

This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 1 John 1:5-7

Make this a weekend of looking through the glare to find out what's really left on the counter top. The light of Christ is so strong that we have to squint against it, and sometimes we use that as an excuse to not see the crumbs and smudges of sin we left.

What is in the spotlight of the Light in your own life?

Friday, January 18, 2013

Communication 101

Take 30 seconds to think about all the people you communicate with in just one day.

- Your husband
- Your family
- Co-workers
- Clients
- Strangers at the grocery store, doctor's office or coffee shop
- On the phone
- Through email
- Facebook

The number adds up so quickly, and then you realize that you spend most of your day communicating in some way or another.

But how well are you doing? We may not think about how the message we're trying to send is being received. Or if it's being received the way we intended.

Just a couple of nights ago, Danny and I had a complete miscommunication situation. He knew what he meant and I knew what I meant. However, for several reasons, the two didn't mesh. It wasn't a serious problem, but it could have been. That's why communication is so critically important.

* Be Pacific ... I Mean Specific
When I assign stories at the newspaper, I explain exactly when they're due. I give a specific deadline for one reason - because if I don't, they may not get there when I need them. For most reporters, a Monday deadline means by the end of the day Monday. So if I need them to lay out the page before I leave, I give a Monday afternoon deadline. Being specific leaves no guesswork. And that's a very good thing.

* Don't Assume Anything
It's easy to guess that everyone knows exactly what you're talking about and will respond exactly the way you want to. I mean, you know what you're talking about, right? Well, as opposed to popular belief, I am not a mind reader. And neither are you. It never hurts to double check, review and confirm instead of expecting everyone to think the way you do.

* Speak Kindness No Matter What
When someone calls the newsroom and gets angry, it doesn't make me want to process their request any faster. I wonder if they've learned somewhere that being ruse gets them what they want. However, when some calls and asks me something in a polite, friendly tone, I'm more than happy to assist them. Even if you're the only one, let the only words that come out of your mouth be kind words.

Three simple communication skills, but imagine what a difference they could make in any number of relationships. We have to communicate, so we might as well communicate to the best of our ability.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Walking On Thick Ice


It's winter in Iowa. Can you tell?
The snow is almost all gone now, but it's still amazingly cold. The ice is still on the pond, so that's a pretty good indication of how cold it is.


I had never been out on the pond when it was frozen before, so I sent Danny and Bailey out first. I figured if it would hold the two of them, it would hold me. Sadie has absolutely no interest in this activity, so she stayed on the bank.


I never would have guessed that there would be so much to look at. The air bubbles were frozen in the ice. The cracks through the middle looked more like jet trails than broken, jagged lines. 


Just imagine those fish in there hibernating. Or maybe they're only half asleep and making fun of us as we walk across the ice. "Silly humans."


These are my lovely snow boots, and they are perfect for walking on the thick ice. Winter in the Midwest is good in small doses, and ice walking is one of my favorite parts.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Friendship Care Package

I'm putting together a special care package. There's a friend that I have been remiss in staying in contact with, and I'm pretty sure she thinks I've fallen off the face of the earth. That's unacceptable, I'm thinking.

So I've been working on a collection of things that will catch her up on what's been happening around here. When they're done, they'll all be tucked in an envelope and SWAK!

So far I've got:

* A handmade card in which I beg forgiveness for being a lazy friend.
* A long, typed letter that chronicles what's happened in my life since we last talked. Did I mention that it's a long letter? It's long.
* A recent picture of Danny and me.
* A bookmark I made with a favorite Bible verse.
* A handmade magnet that she can put in a special place.
* A Scripture study book that I think she'll love.
* All of my business cards, just so she'll always be able to get in touch with me.

Lord willing, it will be on its way the first of the week.

What other special touches can you think of that would complete this friendship care package?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

A Weekend of Fighting Back

Think about the soldier, poised on the battlefield. His uniform is worn from wear and his weapon is a little dull from use. As he stands, waiting, he looks up and sees the enemy before him. He looks around and realizes that he is, in fact, completely surrounded.

If this was you and your situation, what would you do? Fall to your knees in surrender? Try to fight your way out? Call out for help?

Right now I feel just like that soldier, weary from the battle but ready to continue the fight. But it's difficult when the enemy surrounds you and you stand alone.

But Scripture tells us that this isn't our fight. Sure, we're the ones wearing the whole armor of God  that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. We're poised on the battlefield, ready to take on whatever comes our way.

That's when the still small voice reminds us of our position in this chain of command.

Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; to morrow go out against them: for the LORD will be with you. 2 Chronicles 20:17

Are you prepared to sit this one out and let the Lord fight for you? He is on your side, and He is bigger than the enemy that stands before you.

And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace. Exodus 14:13-14

Lay aside your fear and just stand there. It may not sound like the best battle plan ever conceived, but it's not your plan. It comes from God Himself.

Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him: for there be more with us than with him: With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God to help us, and to fight our battles. And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah king of Judah. 2 Chronicles 32:7-8

He is with us. The Lord God Himself is fighting on our side. With the enemy, there's just an arm of flesh. With us, the True and Living God. We can rest just like the people of Bible times rested when we take these words to heart.

And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the LORD, to deliver thee. Jeremiah 1:19

God has already told us how the story ends. They. Shall. Not. Prevail. We will be delivered and we will be safe. That's the Lord's promise in so many places throughout His Word.

Make this a weekend of fighting back - by not fighting back. Sit this one out. Lay aside your fear. Have hope in the power of the Lord. Pray for your needs and then place the results of the battle in His hands. He's already won the war - let Him have this one, too.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

An Example of Love

Danny and I actually went out to eat together before church last night. This is a miracle for several reasons, including our conflicting schedules, his on-call status and the need to be frugal with our finances.

But there we were, and I loved every minute of it. We even used the few minutes we had to stand in line waiting for our food to hold hands and talk. That's my favorite part of any day.

A woman stepped up to us while she was waiting and said, "Don't ever stop doing this. I buried my husband last February after 48 years of marriage. Don't ever stop doing what you're doing."

Danny told me later that he had been on that funeral service and remembered her. I was absolutely without words. Something that I had been in desperate need of - time alone with my husband - she would never have again this side of Heaven.

I was heart-broken for her, thinking about nearly five decades of loving, caring, living and working together with the same person. That just made me hold Danny a little tighter that night and pray a little extra when we got to church.

This passage from Titus is one of the only places in the New Testament where it talks about wives loving their husbands. There are many verses that talk about respect and submission, but these speak of being an example of love.

The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. Titus 2:3-5

Are we an example of loving our husbands? I think about the old couples you see eating out together, but they're not talking, not making eye contact or even really aware of each other. At least that's what it looks like to an outsider.

Danny told me just the other day that he wants to get back to the way we used to be - when people could tell we were in love just by looking at us. No words necessary.

We're not talking about PDAs or acting like teenagers, but that bright, shining love that comes from deep-seeded places. I know I want to be an example of loving my husband. I want more people, like the woman at the restaurant, to know how much I love Danny and how much I love the Lord.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

What's In Your Closet?

Organization is a huge building block that I'm working on right now. And I'm doing it one closet at a time.

Every week, I get to write an article for the paper's real estate page. I tour a local home that's up for sale and write about all of its wonderful features. I adore this because I get to see the insides of houses I pass by every day.

It may be a little telling, but I love to peek into the closets of some of the fancier homes I tour. And would you believe - they all look the same? We all have stuff to hide away out of sight, and everyone has closets where we tuck it all away.

 

I won't deny that I'm ashamed of this picture. When we moved over a year ago, this closet received all the "stuff" that I knew should be in the entryway. However, you can tell it wasn't done in a very gentle, loving, organized manner.

Do you have any closets that look like this?


This is my favorite part of the closet-cleaning-out process. This is the stage that comes right after clearing everything out and piling it up in the living room. Sorting comes next, but for right now, let's just look at the calm setting of complete and total nothingness.

And we're done looking. Now the inside gets cleaned and swept. Then comes a little sorting, returning things to where they truly belong and reorganizing what's going to go back in.
 
 

Now there is a bag on a hanger that holds all of that cold-weather gear that was originally on the shelf. There's even room for some things that needed to be in here but didn't fit. Interesting concept.

And the whole process took just over 20 minutes. True, this was a fairly simple project compared to some of the other closets in the house, but finishing this one gives me motivation to do another one.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Yet Not I, But Christ

We get too stuck on ourselves. Who am I? What is my purpose? Am I doing everything I'm supposed to be? How can I be more ... better ... all ... and so on.

Did you realize that Scripture tells us exactly who we are - and it has absolutely nothing to do with us?

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

Once you're saved, it's not your life anymore. You're not the one shining through everything you do - it's Christ. You are not your own - you're His.

If you take yourself out of the equation of life, all of the focus goes to Jesus. We waste a lot of time looking at ourselves through our own eyes. That's pretty pointless.

Instead, let's look at what God's Word says about how Christ lives through us. Have your Bible handy and get ready to do some study.

I can do all things - through Christ. Philippians 4:13

I am a new creature. 2 Corinthians 5:17

I am more than a conqueror. Romans 8:37

I am supplied for all my need. Philippians 4:19

I have He who is greater in me. 1 John 4:4

I am alive. Ephesians 2:5

I have a better mind. 1 Corinthians 2:16

None of these are things that I could ever boast of doing or having or being on my own. It's only through the precious blood of Jesus Christ that I have been blessed.

And there are so many more throughout the Scriptures. I challenge you to find more and stand firm in how Christ is working in your life.

I live, yet not I, but Christ.

It's all about Him.

Monday, January 7, 2013

A Year of Building

One of my favorite books of the Bible (yes, there are many favorites in my life) is the story of Nehemiah. I am fascinated by his desire to leave his life as the king's cupbearer and go rebuild the city of Jerusalem.

This building process was not an easy one. There was much physical labor to do, putting the wall back up around the city. But there was also mental and spiritual labor, resisting the harassment by the local enemies that would see their work halted.

Doesn't this sound like your own life? I know in my own daily walk with the Lord, I want to build. I want to grow in knowledge of the Scripture, lift up everyone I come into contact with, build my home and strengthen my spiritual life in so many ways.

But building is a daunting task. Think about those people staring at the city and thinking about the work involved in rebuilding. The only way they were able to attempt the task was to concentrate on their own portion of the wall.

Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brethren the priests, and they builded the sheep gate; they sanctified it, and set up the doors of it; even unto the tower of Meah they sanctified it, unto the tower of Hananeel. And next unto him builded the men of Jericho. And next to them builded Zaccur the son of Imri. But the fish gate did the sons of Hassenaah build, who also laid the beams thereof, and set up the doors thereof, the locks thereof, and the bars thereof. And next unto them repaired Meremoth the son of Urijah, the son of Koz. And next unto them repaired Meshullam the son of Berechiah, the son of Meshezabeel. And next unto them repaired Zadok the son of Baana. Nehemiah 3:1-4

What a dramatic picture of determination to build. I'll take responsibility for my own section, you tackle yours and the next one ... and the next ... and so on all the way around the city.

They were so tormented by outsiders and nay-sayers that they had to prepare themselves to fight while they worked. This is very possibly my favorite passage in the entire story.

And it came to pass from that time forth, that the half of my servants wrought in the work, and the other half of them held both the spears, the shields, and the bows, and the habergeons; and the rulers were behind all the house of Judah. They which builded on the wall, and they that bare burdens, with those that laded, every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon. For the builders, every one had his sword girded by his side, and so builded. And he that sounded the trumpet was by me. And I said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, The work is great and large, and we are separated upon the wall, one far from another. In what place therefore ye hear the sound of the trumpet, resort ye thither unto us: our God shall fight for us. So we laboured in the work: and half of them held the spears from the rising of the morning till the stars appeared. Nehemiah 4:16-21

One hand doing the building and one hand on your weapon, ready to defend the work. Building isn't easy, and we may have to be prepared to fight along the way?

What are we fighting in building our lives as Christian women? Procrastination? Apathy? Lack of time? Lack of help? Lack of support? Weariness?

I don't know what needs rebuilding in your life, but there are so many areas of mine that need some work. I pray we'll not be overcome by defeat and nay-sayers, but find the tools we need to solidify our foundations and build strong, victorious lives.

Just remember that verse - our God shall fight for us. We're never, ever alone when we determine to live our lives for God's glory.

So that's my plan for the year.

I'm going to build. 

I hope you'll pray for me as I build. I want to build, and I would love for you to join me.

Every day during 2013, we're going to build. We're going to seek balance and peace and joy straight from the Source.

Please join me. Comment. Share your struggles and your successes. I'm going to share mine, and I want to be a support while you do the same.

Let's build our lives to be examples of the Jesus Christ Who lives within us.

Are you ready to build?

Saturday, January 5, 2013

A Weekend of Exploring

This is the perfect time of year for some exploring. We put the girls on leashes this morning and headed off into the woods. I think we all needed it.

We found snow and ice and animal tracks in all shapes and sizes. We even went down a path I'd never been on, and I found a whole new part of the property that is absolutely gorgeous. All because we went exploring.

Make this a weekend of exploring - snow boots are optional.

Maybe you want to explore some Scripture.
Or explore the depths of a relationship.
Or explore the library.
Or explore some Biblical commentaries.
Or explore a long-forgotten corner of the house.
Or explore some time of relaxation.
Or explore a hobby you haven't had time for lately.

Just go exploring this weekend and see what you'll discover.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Turning Your Mind Off

Sometimes I just can't turn my mind off.

Please tell me you have days like that, too. I'd hate to be alone in this one.

And I can't blame it on the devil or anyone else this time. My thoughts are my own, and I'm the one in control of them.

So why do they get so out of control sometimes?

An otherwise peaceful day is cluttered with the busyness of thoughts. Maybe they're not even bad - they're just there. Constantly. Reminding you of things. Trying to keep a mental list. Or rehashing old stuff. Or preparing for something that hasn't even happened yet.

Or maybe they are discouraging thoughts, thoughts that you really don't want to entertain but they arrive anyway. Then you make the mistake of rolling them around in your mind a little - and a little more - and soon you're not just listening, you're worrying.

Thoughts don't seem like such a terrible thing, but they can be if they're not dealt with properly. And that means shutting your mind off.

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. Psalm 46:10

One of the most beautiful verses in the entire Bible for meditation reminds us to shut our minds off and focus on the Lord.

Be still - shut everything else down, stop moving, create a quiet heart and just be.

And know that I am God - no thoughts in this human mind will can do anything. The will of the Lord, His purpose, His plans and His delights for the day will overcome thoughts - positive or negative.

I will be exalted - don't give more power to thoughts that you give to God Himself. In the end, God will always be glorified and He will always be victorious. Even over thoughts.

So when your mind becomes to cluttered to function, turn everything off, meditate on the Word of God and start fresh. Be still, even in the flurry of the day. Know, no matter what may come your way. Exalt Him, in every situation.