Tuesday, April 30, 2013

When 'Thank You' Just Isn't Enough

Have you ever noticed that the words "Thank You" seem so inadequate.

And while there are a handful of ways to verbally say "Thank You," they just never feel like enough.

For the past few days, the Lord has heaped - bountifully and abundantly - blessings on me. One right after another after another until I'm positively giddy inside.

And yet, just saying "Thank You" doesn't seem like enough. There's got to be something more, something else, another way or another word.

I think David ran into the same problem while he was writing the Psalms. Over and over, he thanks the Lord for what He's done, what He's doing and what He's going to do. We read passage after passage with the word "Thanks."

I will give thee thanks in the great congregation: I will praise thee among much people. Psalm 35:18

As powerful as words can be, sometimes it's the repetition that means the most.

Unto thee, O God, do we give thanks, unto thee do we give thanks: for that thy name is near thy wondrous works declare. Psalm 75:1

Are you just as thankful today for the blessings of yesterday? Are you just as thankful for the blessings God has promised will come tomorrow as you are for the ones you hold in your hand right now?

Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. Psalm 30:4

Whether it feels like enough or not, it's all the Lord wants to hear from us. We want to hear words of appreciation when we do something - imagine how much more so it would be for God.

So say it - again and again and again. Give thanks to Lord so often that the words seem inadequate.

And then say it a few more times. God is worthy.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

A Weekend of Staying Centered

And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.

And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise. Luke 23:33, 39-43

Make this a weekend of staying centered. Look to the Savior Who hung on that center cross just for you. Focus on that cross and the price of His precious blood. Let everything else fade away as His presence becomes the very center of your weekend.

Friday, April 26, 2013

An Eye-Opening Experience

It's been years since I've had my eyes dilated at the eye doctor's office. I didn't know they'd be doing that at my appointment today, but they did.

She warned me that the sun would be blinding, and she gave me those adorable roll-up sunglasses to wear afterwards. Because, yes, I had planned to drive to the grocery store afterwards. I was every bit the fashion statement as I headed for the door to leave the office.

And today is the very first day in a long time that I've truly been blinded. As soon as I opened that door, the sunlight flooded my poor dilated eyes. I'm sure the ladies at the front desk were watching me stumble to where I thought I had parked my car.

At least the key fit, so I'm pretty sure I brought my car home.

I made it to the store, made it through the store and made it home without incident, praise the Lord. But my eyes were opened, literally and figuratively, for quite a while after that.

As soon as I got home, and got the groceries put away, I looked up these verses from the very back of the Book:

And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. 

And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever. 

And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done. Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.  Revelation 22:1-7

If I was blinded by the just sun, imagine what the light from the Lord God Himself will be like. We'll have to have new bodies just to be able to stand in the presence of such a shining light.

The everlasting light will be such a sight behold. I can't wait for a world with no more darkness and no more night. There will never be need for lamp or candle or flashlight - it will all be taken care of.

How sweet to have just a taste of what a glorious day that will be.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

What's Your Perspective?

For the past few weeks, God has been leading me through a couple of different storms. They have not been easy, and there is really no end in sight for one of them. I'm absolutely certain that you've been through the same kind of situations in your own walk with the Lord.

There have been moments during this time that I have been ready to throw in the towel and call it a day. I've run the range of emotions from angry to frustrated, sad to discouraged and just plain done.

But lately, through much time in prayer and Bible study, I have found a peace that passeth all understanding. Instead of being up in arms over the situations I've been placed in, I'm becoming aware of how God is moving through every one of them. And because of this realization, He can work through me, using me as an instrument of His peace.

I can choose to look at these storms as completely hopeless and abandon ship. But while this thought have have crossed my mind several times, that's the wrong perspective. If I'm right in the very middle of the darkness, isn't that the perfect place to let God's light shine through me? I can't help from the sidelines, but I can contribute with everything that I am if I'm right in the center of the field.

For years I've had this written in the front of my Bible: Sometimes God calms the storm, and sometimes He calms me.

The circumstances may never change. But I can still be in the absolute center of God's perfect will and have a clear perspective of myself, what's happening and where the Lord wants me at this exact moment.

So what's your perspective?

Is it a challenging co-worker - or an opportunity for intercessory prayer?

Is it a serious health problem - or God slowing you down to draw you closer to Him?

Is it communication issues - or the perfect time to simply listen?

Is it financial difficulties - or the Lord teaching you to be content?

Is it someone demanding something of you - or a moment for you to give of yourself freely and with a smile?

Is it pain and defeat - or God's strength and victory?

It's all about your perspective. The circumstances of the day may never change, but you can allow God to change you completely, from the inside out. What a glorious change He can make in our lives if we'll just look at things the way He does.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

One of God's Lists

I don't know if you're like me or not, but I love lists. I like seeing all the information right in front of me, and I thoroughly enjoy crossing things off my lists. It's that sense of accomplishments.

There's something about a list that just sums things up for me. It's not paragraph upon chapter upon novel trying to get to the point. You look at a concise amount of information and know what you're supposed to know.

I like lists.

So when God lays out a list for me in His Word, I get all excited. There are so many lists in the Bible, and I know that the Lord knows that I love His lists best of all.

One that recently touched my heart is found in 1 Timothy. I'm sure I've read it a dozen times before, but I never really paid attention to it until now. Isn't it amazing how the Living Word works on your heart?

Let no man despise thy youth, but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12

Would you like a checklist of what Paul told young Timothy was the way to be an example of the believer? Here it is in very simple terms:

* Be an example in your word: Does your speech reflect the Christ living in your heart with every word you say?

* Be an example in your conversation: Does the way you live your day-to-day life say that you're a child of the King?

* Be an example in your charity: Do you love everyone you come across in your daily walk the way God loves them?

* Be an example in your spirit: Do you have an attitude that conveys the joy of salvation?

* Be an example in your faith: Do your reactions to circumstances show that you're resting in the Lord and trusting Him?

* Be an example in your purity: Do those around you know that you're working to be separate from the world?

Paul told Timothy that age doesn't matter. This list should be a check-up for us all, regardless of how old we are. What does matter is how it convicts your heart.

I know I needed this list. How about you?

Monday, April 22, 2013

My Blue Period

This weekend, I started putting a new line in our etsy shop. Apparently I'm going through my Blue Period because I couldn't get enough of these gorgeous colors.

I even found some vellum quotes that I forgot I had, which made such a different look for several of them. And spring gives such a creative boost, since you can cover things with butterflies and dragonflies to your heart's content.

Plus, the color combination reminds me of water and warmer temperatures. We could all use that right now, even though the calendar says it really is spring.

These new cards and gifts will help you celebrate spring with a touch of nature.
To see the whole line, as well as many other cards and gifts, visit our etsy shop at www.stufffromtrees.etsy.com.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A Weekend of Overflowing

After several days of rain, both of our ponds were at their flood point. It's been amazing to watch them rise and then flow out through the drainage pipes.

Last year, we were in such a drought that the waters receded dramatically. It was a real worry for farmers, especially, but anyone with water on their property like our ponds was concerned.

The drought is now officially broken, thanks to the rains that walloped the area. The river is completely out of its banks and more is expected to come down from lakes and streams north of us.

And I will make them and the places round about my hill a blessing; and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing. Ezekiel 34:26

Make this a weekend of overflowing. God has showered us with blessings, so we should all be filled to overflowing with His goodness.

Let your joy gush over the banks so that it can be shared with others. No matter what's happening in the world around us, our hearts and lives are blessed in every season.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Controlling Your Mind

Have you ever noticed how completely your mind can control you if you let it?

Here's the perfect example:I've had several people to interview for the paper this week. I was so tired and so run-down from the pace I've been trying to keep that I let my mind get away from me. My thoughts went places they didn't need to go - they wouldn't want to talk to me, they'd make me feel like I was bothering them, I wouldn't be able to get a hold of them at all. Then everyone would be upset, I wouldn't get anything done and everybody involved would be disappointed.

Obviously, I got myself all worked up and anxious over something that hadn't even happened yet.

And it never did.

I called all those people, had lovely interviews and was able to put all the words in the right places and meet all my deadlines.

But then, even after all those positive moments, my mind wandered away again. Did you put the right address in that article, are you sure you spelled that name correctly, was that really how they said that?

There's not much in this world that's worse than second guessing yourself. And all because you don't think you can control your mind.

Well, God's Word says differently.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. Philippians 4:8-9

We're perfectly capable of bringing our thoughts into submission, we just don't always use our self control and do it. And that's a personal problem.

Instead of thinking the worst, think on what is true.
Instead of running thoughts over and over again, think on what is honest.
Instead of allowing your mind to go wherever it wants, think on what is just.
Instead of filling your thoughts with meaningless nothings, think on what is pure.
Instead of deciding to just give up, think on what is of good report.

Find those thoughts that are virtuous, giving praise to God, and roll those around in your mind for a while. Those are the thoughts that should fill your brain and spill over into the way you live. This is where the peace of God comes from - thoughts that bring glory and honor to Him.

What have you been thinking about lately?

Friday, April 12, 2013

My Not-So-Little Green Plant

 I love spring. I love everything turning green again and all the plants coming back to life. It's an exciting time to be in Iowa - soon the farmers will start planting and see God's miracle of the soil one more time.

 In a small way, I've been seeing this miracle myself through the plant on my window sill. I bought four small plants when we first moved here a year and a half ago, and this is the only one that survived. Yes, it is entirely my fault.

But it has grown and thrived regardless of what I've done or not done. It's been an amazing plant, reaching toward the window to soak up more sunshine.

And now, this spring, it has finally bloomed! I never realized that it wasn't just a green plant. How wonderful the miracles of all God's creation. And how wonderful to enjoy these tiny white flowers every day.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

10 Things To Do Before Bed

Normally we think about organization as something you spend a lot of time - during the day - doing just to keep up. You tackle a closet, conquer the filing or take everything out of the kitchen and put it all back in.

In all honesty, though, I just like getting up in the morning to a clean, organized house. It really bugs me to find a sink full of dishes I should have put in the dish washer last night. Or puppy toys trailed all the way down the hall. Or craft supplies all over the table.

A clear space clears my head space, which is a must, right?

What if organizing was a simple as 10 little things you do every night before bed?

1. Put together lunches and snacks for the next day.
2. Make sure all of the dishes are out of the sink.
3. Clear off the kitchen counters.
4. Gather everything you need for tomorrow's errands. (Books to return, bills to mail, checkbook)
5. Put toys (child or pet) all in one place.
6. Pull out your Bible study materials for the next day's reading.
7. Put away the supplies from your various projects so you have a clean space for morning.
8. Lay out the next day's clothes, shoes and jewelry.
9. Wipe off the bathroom sink.

You'll notice I said 10 things to do before bed, but I only wrote down nine. What is the one most important thing you'd like to have done or organized before you go to bed at night? Add it to the list!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Congratulations! It's A Boy!

 This is Barn Kitty. Kitty has grown abundantly over the winter months. You'll see the difference immediately if you remember my first post about our being adopted by this stray.

Last week, Kitty was very sick. Usually there are pitiful mews coming from the deck at all hours of the day and night. When it was silent for several hours, I went to investigate.

Kitty was down under the deck and took quite a bit of convincing to come out. This let me know that something was wrong.
I called Danny out and just held Kitty on my lap for a while. This is very rare because I am incredibly allergic to cats. But you can't help it when something so little looks so pitiful.

Danny came over and put his hand on Kitty's chest to see if the heartbeat was unusual. It wasn't, but his next comment blew me out of the water.

"You realize your cat's a boy, right?"

Um...no. We've been saying "her" from the beginning. I don't normally flip over strange cats before I introduce myself. And not being able to get close because of my allergies has kept us a little distant. So I just assumed.

So now, out sweet boy cat is all better and back to mewing, stalking and pouncing. He brought me a mouse the other day, perhaps to say thank you. I let him keep it.

Monday, April 8, 2013

This Light Affliction

What's weighing you down today? What burdens are you under that have you sinking down into the ground?

We're all facing circumstances in our lives that press us down and make us a little loopy. I know you know exactly what I'm talking about. Maybe it's that one little thing that frustrates you. That one thing that would make you elated to be rid of.

Paul knew all about those afflictions. He, of all people, could relate to the people, things and events that so easily bring us down and steal our joy.

But here's how he described those circumstances:

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

Paul had his trials, just like we have ours. He knew what it was like to be hated, busy, tired, hungry and ready to give up. But you don't read those complaints - you read about hope and peace and joy.

His afflictions were still afflictions - he even calls them just that. But he didn't perceive them as heavy anchors tied around his neck. They were simply light. Just a small hindrance for a moment, soon to be shed and forgotten about.

Are we prepared to call our own afflictions "light" and move on? This momentary conundrum may poke at us for a while, but it's a short while. Are we able to look at our own burdens in the long term instead of the weight of the moment?

Those light afflictions, Paul says, are working for us. They're preparing us and growing us for what God has planned next. Think about the weight of glory - how wonderful that must be - and the burdens of the day will seem light, indeed.

Perception is everything, and it's often hard to get past the discomfort of the moment, whatever the circumstances may be. But if we're looking at the things not seen, the things of God and eternity and glory, the inconveniences of the moment don't seem quite so weighty.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

A Weekend of Redeeming the Time

Did you ever have one of those weeks that lasted forever while you were in the middle of it ... and then suddenly it's gone? It's the weekend and I have no idea where the time has gone.

Are there things you wish you'd done this week that you didn't? Anything you'd like to do this weekend that you just didn't have time for over the past few days?

Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. James 4:14

Make this a weekend of redeeming the time. We have no idea what tomorrow may bring - only God knows that. So fill this weekend with wonderful, lovely, godly things that will bring honor and glory to God while filling your life with joy.

Whatever that may be, make it special.

Monday, April 1, 2013

30 Verses on Faith

I could sit here and expound for days about my faith, your faith, the church's faith and the world's lack of faith. I could, but I won't. Wouldn't you rather read, in His own Word, what God says about faith?

There are 30 days in the month of April, so here are 30 verses about faith. Read one a day. read them all every day. Read a few a week. read the verse itself, then the verses around it to put it in context. Just read them and let His Word soak in. There are over 200 verses in the Bible about faith, so this is just a sampling of what the Lord Himself says.

1. Deuteronomy 32:30
2. Habakkuk 2:4
3. Matthew 8:10
4. Matthew 9:22
5. Matthew 17:20
6. Mark 10:52
7. Mark 11:22
8. Luke 8:25
9. Luke 17:5
10. Luke 22:32
11. Acts 3:16
12. Acts 6:8
13. Acts 14:22
14. Romans 1:8
15. Romans 3:25
16. Romans 5:1
17. 1 Corinthians 2:5
18. 1 Corinthians 15:14
19. Galatians 2:16
20. Galatians 3:25
21. Ephesians 2:8
22. Ephesians 6:23
23. Philippians 1:25
24. 1 Thessalonians 1:8
25. 1 Timothy 1:5
26. 2 Timothy 2:22
27. Philemon 1:5
28. Hebrews 11:3
29. James 1:6
30. Revelation 14:12