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Friday, August 29, 2008

Recommended Reading

I am currently reading Nancy Twigg's book "From Clutter to Clarity: Simplifying Life From the Inside Out." This is actually the second time I've read through it, but I'm amazed at how many things I'm seeing that I missed the first time. (I always do better to read a book twice. It helps ensure that I see all the little nuggets buried deep in the text.)

I highly recommend this book to anyone who feels cluttered or overwhelmed. In the book, Nancy explains that outward clutter is merely a symptom of inward clutter. She says, From now on, think of clutter as any possession, habit, thought pattern, attitude, or activity that (1) you don't need or use anymore, (2) doesn't fit or work for you like it used to, or (3) doesn't add value and meaning to your life as it once did. Wow! How many things in my life fit that description? Too many to count.

The author basically deals with the subject of clutter in three parts: from cluttered thoughts and attitudes to inner clarity, from cluttered lifestyle to outer clarity, from cluttered money matters to financial clarity. This book is a "must read" for anyone who deals with discontentment, worry, bitterness, self-image, lack of time, loss of joy, etc.

I know we are all busy, but please take the time to read this incredible book. I'm sure it will make a difference in your lives.

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.
Hebrews 12:1

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

My Thoughts Afar Off

Psalm 139 says, O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. . .thou understandest my thought afar off. Now, I know that the meaning of this verse is that God understands our thoughts when He is afar off, but the other day, I saw another possible meaning.

I was having my daily devotions, and for the life of me, I could not keep my mind focused. My thoughts were wandering all over the place. After repeating the same prayer request for the third time, I got really frustrated with myself, and the Lord brought Psalm 139 to my mind. I laughed. The way I look at it is that it's not God who is afar off, it's my thoughts. They're way out there, but even then, the Lord understands. He knows what I mean to say and what I'm trying to express, even though many times I feel that I don't know myself. He understands my thoughts, even when they are not focused where they should be.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not advocating letting our thoughts run wild all the time. I'm just saying that it's good to know that during those times when our thoughts seem out of control and out of our grasp, the Lord knows and understands. What a great God we serve!

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts.
Psalm 139:23

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I'm Back

From the look of my blog, I've been out of town again, but such was not the case. This weekend, my hubby came down with a terrible head cold. I felt a little under the weather myself, but I could tell he felt much worse. So, I devoted the weekend to trying to take care of him and not get sick myself. Well, I managed the first part. As for the second, why did I even think I could take care of him and not catch what he had? I catch everything! I'm just one of those people.

So, this morning I woke up with a throbbing in my head, a sore and swollen throat, and a brick laying on my chest (not really, but that's what it felt like). I was looking forward to getting back into the swing of things this week, but I guess that will have to wait. In the meantime, I'll try to get plenty of rest and lots of fluids.

The thought I leave you with today is this: sometimes our plans are not God's plans. I didn't plan on getting sick and "wasting" a day of work, but for some reason, God saw fit for it to happen. Maybe He wants me to slow down. Maybe He is trying to tell me something. And maybe He's just reminding me to be thankful for the health I normally have. So, even in the hard times, try to look for the good. It's there . . . somewhere!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

What a Day!

Have you ever had one of those days? You know, the kind where you just want to eat your chocolate cake and go back to bed. Today--or more specifically--this morning was one of those days. I got up early to make sure I wasn't late for my doctor's appointment. I left the house 30 minutes before my 10:00 appointment even though it only takes 15 minutes to get there. It was a good thing I left early.

Before I go any further, allow me to point out to those of you who may not know that I am horrible with directions. I get lost in the mall. (I wish I were making that up.) I know one way to get to the doctor's office. One way! That's it. Unfortunately, one of the roads that I needed to reach my destination was closed. Instant panic! I got out my GPS. It redirected me to where I basically turned myself in a circle and ended up back at the same "Road Closed" sign. (What good are those things anyway!) I grabbed my cell phone and called Jason. As the phone was ringing, I looked down at the clock on the dash--9:45.

My loving husband pulled up a map on his computer at work and patiently navigated me around the closed road. (It didn't help that some of the roads I came to were not on his map. Who's responsible for that anyway? I'd like to talk with them.) I pulled into the parking lot at 9:58. Jason's final words to me were "Breathe, Dana, breathe."

I left the doctor's office at 11:00 (record time), and immediately called Jason. "I don't know how to get home." He laughed, then guided me back to familiar territory. Once there, I decided to pick us up some lunch since he was starving and I was just in the mood to eat.

The trip to the store was amazingly quick, but on my way to drop off Jason's lunch at his work, I came across . . . you guessed it--"Road Closed." You have got to be kidding me!!!! I called Jason back, reminded him how thankful I was to work from home, and promised that after dropping off his lunch I was going home for good. The day has greatly improved since then.

So, what was the point of all that. In the book of Psalms, David says, "This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it." It's hard to say that on days like today. However, as I study that Psalm, I can't help but notice that it doesn't say, "If things go our way, we will rejoice and be glad in it."

In other words, as Christians, every day should be a good day. Why? Because we've been redeemed! And, in eternity, the streets of gold will never be closed, so what does it matter down here?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Decisions, Decisions

I despise making decisions. Often, when faced with a difficult decision, I envy the days of my youth when any choice could easily be made by the flawless "eeny, meeny, miny, moe" method. Such is not the case anymore.

Sometimes, I think I try so hard to make the right decision that I over-analyze and make things far more complicated than they should be. It's so important to me to follow the Lord's will. And, while it may be important, it is certainly not always easy to know what His will is. Some things are spelled out in the Bible. Thou shalt not kill, steal, lie, etc. It's there in black and white. Other things are not quite so obvious.

At times like this, it is imperative to listen intently for the still, small voice of God. Sounds easy, right? WRONG!!! Sometimes it's hard, and many times, it involves patience. (Yuck!) In fact, there have been times when I've tried so hard and waited so long for an answer that I've just given up and done whatever I thought was best. While it seemed like a good idea at the time, it ended in disaster. So, why, at this moment, when faced with another decision and no sound from God, do I want to take matters into my own hands again? Haven't I learned my lesson? Somewhat. I haven't taken things into my hands . . . yet. I'm only thinking about it. That alone shows growth--small growth, but growth nonetheless. Oh, how I wish there were a Miracle-Gro for the Christian life!

So, what am I going to do? I'm going to try to wait. And while I'm waiting, I'll continue to listen. I guess, for right now, that's God's will for me.

Give ear to my prayer, O God; and hide not thyself from my supplication.
Psalm 55:1

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Just a Glimpse

This past Saturday, thousands of people lined up and down the streets of Dollywood trying to catch of glimpse of Dolly Parton as she passed by. People stood on that path for over an hour just to make sure they would have the best vantage point. Our group was caught in the crowd, so we had no choice but to wait for the procession to end. "Here she comes," someone shouted. In less than a minute, Dolly had passed by, and people went back to their day's activities. It was as if the whole park had stopped just to catch a glimpse of Dolly.

As we made our way through the crowd, I couldn't help but wonder what the world would be like if more people would stop like that to catch a glimpse of Jesus and what He's done for us. My preacher shared my thought and voiced, "All these people are lined up today to catch a glimpse of Dolly, but how many of them will be in church tomorrow trying to catch a glimpse of Jesus?" It's something worth thinking about!

Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near.
Isaiah 55:6

Monday, August 18, 2008

Home, Sweet Home

I'm exhausted! I just spend the entire weekend with 13 teenagers. We had a wonderful time, but there was very little sleep during our Back-to-School retreat. Here's the highlights of the weekend:

Friday--We spent the morning running around like a chicken with its head cut off. There was packing to finish, lunches to pack, the rental van to pick up, and the list goes on and on. Anyway, we were able to leave the church by 2:00. The 31/2 hour ride to Pigeon Forge was, how shall I say, "interesting" and loud! At each rest stop, many of the teens raided the vending machines, so the sugar and caffeine made for a lot of giggling. After reaching Pigeon Forge, we stopped at the cabin rental agency to pick up our keys and directions to the hunting lodge where we were to stay. Then we rode for what seemed like an eternity (in actuality it was only about 20 minutes) on roads that couldn't decide which direction they wanted to turn. Right, left, right, left. Thank the Lord for Dramamine! We arrived safely, albeit a few of us were a bit green. The massive lodge was settled on 55-acres of woods. We spend a few minutes settling in and then decided to make use of the volleyball net set up behind the cabin. The gnats made it nearly impossible to play, so after a few minutes of trying, we decided to explore the grounds. We went hiking, and I do mean HIKING! All uphill. At one point, I stopped to wait on a few of the girls that were straggling behind. At that point, I realized just how fast and hard my heart was beating. It was a little scary! We hiked a little farther, then decided to turn back since the light was beginning to fade. The hike downhill was harder than the one uphill. We finished up the evening with dinner, games, wrestling (the guys), and devotions. I stumbled off to bed at 12:30. I could not keep my eyes open any longer. The kids were sent to bed at 1:30 when the other chaperons went to bed, but giggling and talking could still be heard long into the morning.

Saturday--We started the day at 6:30. After showers, breakfast, and devotions, we took off for Dollywood. Wouldn't you know we picked busiest day of the year to go? Not only was it the last weekend before the kids went back to school, but it was also the day that Dolly was there in person. (Yes, we got to see her.) We arrived at the park just a few minutes after opening, and we had to park in Section F (it only goes through Section G). We rode roller coasters and water rides, but the majority of the time was spent standing in line. Nevertheless, we had a great time! We left the park a little after 8:00, made a couple of stops, and then headed back to the cabin. It was around 11:00 when we sat down for dinner. We ate, had devotions, and took a few minutes to sign "Thank You" cards for our church. Everyone was sent to bed at 12:30, but again, laughter was heard for quite a while after that.

Sunday--We started today at 6:30 also. The morning was a rush of getting ready for church, fixing and eating breakfast, packing up our stuff, and readying the cabin for our departure. We attended services at a small church just down the winding road from the lodge. They invited our young people to sing. It was a good service, and by 12:00, we were on the road again. It took a little over five hours to get back home due to stopping for lunch, gas, bathroom breaks, etc. We arrived back at our church around 5:30, leaving us just enough time to change back into our church clothes for evening service. Needless to say, it was very had to pay attention in church last night since all my energies were focused on just staying awake. After church, Jason and a friend drove to Greer to return the rental van, but because the rental place didn't have a drop box, I had to drive out there this morning to drop off the keys.

And, that, in a nutshell, was our trip. As I said earlier, we had a great time, but I think I need a few days (or weeks) to catch up on some sleep and to un-cramp from riding in the van for so long. I appreciate all of you who prayed for us while we were gone. The Lord blessed us with a safe trip and beautiful weather. All in all, the weekend was a success.

Now, if you'll excuse me. I think I'm going to take a nap!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Getting My Attention

Last night at church, my preacher preached a message from Genesis 16. It's the story where Sarai grows tired of waiting on God to fulfill His promise, so she decides to take matters into her own hands. So, Abram has a child with Sarai's servant, Hagar, and today, we are still reaping the consequences of this foolish act.

Whenever I hear this story, I get so aggravated with Abram and Sarai. Why couldn't you just wait on God? I wonder. Why did you think you knew better than He did? Didn't you trust Him to keep His promise? But, about half-way through my rant, I realize that I do the same thing day after day. I ask God for something. He promises to supply my needs. But if He doesn't answer within my time frame, I take matters into my own hands.

By taking control of the situation, not only do I miss out on a blessing from God, but I also make a mess of things. But that isn't even the worse part. While cleaning up my messes and licking my wounds, I have to ask myself, Who else did this affect? As I stated earlier, Abram's and Sarai's mistake is still causing massive trouble today. What kind of trouble are my mistakes causing?

Just this week, I have been fighting this battle again. I've begged the Lord to help me with a certain situation, but it seems that He hasn't heard me. My "natural man" wants to take control and say, Fine! You won't help me; I'll help myself!" But the "spiritual man" is asking, Lord, what are you trying to teach me during this time of waiting? I can't listen to both. I must make a choice. I believe last night's sermon was for me. I believe God was reminding me to be careful, for when I try to take matters into my own hands, I may be hurting more than just myself. And that is not acceptable!

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Hopping Mad

Have you ever been really irritated by someone or something? I'm talking irritated to the point where you can actually see smoke coming from your nostrils. I think I was there this morning.

Yesterday, I contacted a book club that I am a member of and requested that they please cancel my account. I joined several months ago with the agreement that I would purchase at least four books from them in the next two years. To date, I have purchased eight. (This is not including the stuff that they sent me arbitrarily that I had to pay to return.)

This morning I received an e-mail from them stating that they were sorry but I could not cancel my membership at this time since I had not fulfilled my requirement. My first thought was 'Can't you people count?' I was frustrated, but I sent a reply saying that if they will look on my account page on their own website, they will see that I have purchased far more than required.

They came back with the reply that not all of those books counted toward my requirement. What? Where was that fine print? When you order a book from their website, no where on there does it say whether or not that book will count toward your requirement. So, how is a person supposed to know what counts and what doesn't? In my mind, this is a very underhanded way of doing business.

The thing that really bothers me is that this is supposed to be a Christian company. Yikes! I have had one problem after another since joining this club which is why I wanted to cancel my membership. For those of you who know me personally, you know I'm about as non-confrontational as they come. But, this drove me to the edge! I am tired of being taken advantage of.

The situation is still not resolved. I'm waiting to hear back from them . . . again. If nothing else, this situation has taught me to watch my steps carefully while naming the name of Christ. I am a reflection of Him and His love, and God forbid I should ever deal with people in such a misleading and deceiving manner.

If you claim to be a Christian, you'd better live it! People are watching!

Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.
Colossians 3:9-10

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Choose Your Friends Wisely

My Bible reading this week has been in the book of Job. I am always amazed at Job's patience in the midst of all his suffering. But, this week, I noticed something that I hadn't noticed before. At the end of chapter one, after losing all that he had, the Bible says "In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly."

In chapter two, God allows Satan to touch Job's body, so that he is covered with sores, and his body is wracked with pain. His wife comes to him saying he should just curse God and die. Still, the Bible says, "In all this did not Job sin with his lips." In fact, he rebuked his wife for her bad attitude.

In the latter part of chapter two, Job's friends come to see him and mourn with him. They stayed with him for seven days. I don't know what they said or did during those seven days, but look how Job's attitude is changed. "After this opened Job his mouth, and cursed his day."

What happened to his good attitude? What happened to his rebuke? Where's his motto "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord"?

It could be that Job had just suffered for too long, but I think it has to do with his friends' company. If you read on, his friends are pessimistic to the end. They don't seem like people I would like to hang around with. You know the kind I mean. Those people who, after you're around them for just a few minutes, you want to go and hang yourself.

Negativity is contagious. I believe Job's friends passed their negative attitudes onto Job. That's why it is so important to watch our attitudes and guard our hearts. Not only is it harmful to us, but we may be injuring another person in the process. It is imperative that we stay positive!

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28

Monday, August 11, 2008

Still, Be Still

God works in mysterious ways. In fact, sometimes it's downright spooky! Last week, I posted an article called "Be Still." On Wednesday night, a friend gave me a card which I put in my purse and forgot about until this morning. I read it a few minutes ago. It talked about being still in the midst of hectic times. Yesterday morning in church, a trio that I am a part of sang the song "Stand Still." That was followed up with a guest speaker whose message was on. . .you guessed it. . .being still.

Do you ever get the feeling that God is beating you in the head with something? I often tell the Lord that I don't get subtle hints and that He must be very plain with me. Many times, I think God speaks to me in His still, small voice, but I'm too busy to hear. It's times like this that the same message seems to "pop up" everywhere I turn. I consider it God's way of getting my attention. And it works!

What's the moral of this story? Let us all pray that we never get too busy to hear the sweet voice of God. Let us pray that we are so in tune with Him that we know, without a doubt, His will for each of our lives. Let us take some time today to just be still and to bask in His presence, for He is worthy of our time and attention.

Friday, August 8, 2008


In my devotions this morning, I was reminded of the importance of focusing on one thing at a time and doing each task to the best of my ability. In writing, it is so easy to lose focus. Should I work on my magazine article or my book? Do I need to set up my website or write my next e-book? What about reading? When should I do that? Some days, I find myself chasing my tail just trying to figure out what to work on next.

But focus is not only important in writing. It is imperative that we have focus in all areas of our lives. If our attention is split between several different things, are we able to devote our best to each of those? God wants us to do all things well, and for His glory. We can't do that if we don't keep our focus.

I really needed that reminder this morning. It's bound to be a busy day and the start of a busy weekend. Through my morning devotions, God reminded me that He will be with me every step of the way. All I need to do is focus on the next step.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

My New Book

This morning I finished the outline for my new book entitled "A Path to Choose." It is an allegorical tale of two men who come to a fork in the road of life and are forced to make a decision of which road to take. They each take a different road, depicting the path to follow Christ and the path to follow Satan. Each man finds joy and difficulty in his journey, but only one has a constant help and companion.

I've been chewing on this story idea for a while, but it is amazing to me how quickly the pieces all fell into place. I spent so long working on my first book that I was actually dreading starting this one. But, now that I've begun, I am so excited. I believe God will use this book to bring souls to a saving knowledge of Him, and I am thrilled that He would allow me to have a part in such a noble undertaking.

If all goes well, I hope to be sending this book to the publishers within the next few months. Please help me pray that the Lord will give me the words to write and that I will hear his still small voice.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Be Still

Psalm 46:10 says, "Be still, and know that I am God." Of all the commandments given throughout the Bible, I think this is the hardest one for me to obey. I find it extremely difficult to be still. I feel the need to stay busy. After all, there is always something to be done. And, when I can finally get my body to be still, my mind is running in circles. Where should I send this article? How are we going to get all the youth to the Youth Retreat? What was it that I thought of earlier that I need to pick up from the grocery store? Boy, I blew it today! And the list goes on and on.

Why is it so important for us to be still anyway? Doesn't God want us to be productive? Yes, He does, but not to the extent that we lose our focus. God wants us to take some time to rest and to dwell on the fact that He is God. In other words: He is our Creator. He is our Helper. He is our Salvation. He is our King. He is our Friend. He is our Comforter. He is our Hope. He is our Counselor. To sum it all up, He is ALL we need.

If I'll just be still long enough to let that sink in, my life will be forever changed. "Be still, and know that I am God." It's not just a command. It's a necessity of life!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Vengeance is Mine

In my daily Bible study this week, I've been reading through the story of Esther. Today, I got to my favorite part--the part where Haman thinks he is about to receive a reward from the king only to be told that the reward is going to his hated enemy, Mordecai. I love it! Every time I read through the passage, I can see in my mind's eye Haman's expression as it changes from one of a cocky smirk to a look of total disbelief.

And, as if vengeance wasn't well served at that point, the story goes on to tell how he was hanged on the very gallows that he had built for Mordecai. Justice is complete, and I couldn't have done it better myself!

This story always reminds me of Romans 12:19 which says "Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord." So many times in life,we try to take justice into our own hands. When someone wrongs us, our fleshly nature feels the need to repay that wrong. Not only is this response bad because it often leads us to committing sin. But, it is also wrong in that we are trying to take the place of God. Who are we to judge and determine punishment? We are not worthy of such a role.

To me, the story of Haman is always a reminder that God will handle the injustices in my life, and He will handle them far better than I ever could.

Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations.
Psalm 82:8

Monday, August 4, 2008

A Solemn Goodbye

Today, I offer my condolences to the Russell Rice family. I've known Dr. Rice for many years. He was a favorite at the Bible college I attended. He always had a smile and a joke for everyone. No matter how grim the situation, you could always count on Dr. Rice to put a positive spin on it. He was a spiritual giant who knew God's Word thoroughly and could impart great words of wisdom from that knowledge. He will be deeply missed by his family, his friends, his former-students, and his former congregation.

Last night, my pastor, nephew to Dr. Rice, commented that Dr. Rice has probably already pulled several angels into a corner to tell them a joke or two. That sounds about right!

Dr. Rice, we will all miss you very much. But, for those of us who know the Lord, we know that we will see you again. Until then, we rest assured that you are safe in the arms of Jesus.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

No Time!

I just wanted to make a short entry to let everyone know that I am still here. The past few days have been absolutely crazy, and I haven't had the time to post anything. I have a couple of good topics on my mind, so Lord willing, I'll get to those this week. Until then, God bless each of you!