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Friday, January 29, 2010

Watch Where You Step!

Because of Jason's work schedule, we are not able to take the dogs out hiking on a regular basis anymore. As a result, I've noticed a few things. First of all, none of us seem to have the energy that we had back then. Second, we're all putting on weight. Third, our emotions are not as stable. We're more prone to "the blahs." And last but not least, the piles of poop in my yard have multiplied by a factor of ten. It's not the dogs' fault. (Well, it is, but they can't help it.) When you gotta go, you gotta go. I understand that, but I'm just not adjusted to all the new land mines.

I went out to the back of our property to dump some of the ashes from the wood stove. I had to plot a path around the piles. Anyone watching me may have thought I had been into the whiskey, the way I was weaving back and forth. The path was chaotic, but it was better than the alternative. I hate cleaning poop off my shoes!!!! So, I weaved my way out to the back and then weaved my way back to the house. I was successful in avoiding all land mines.

The whole process reminds me of our walk through life. There are many obstacles in our way that we must avoid, but in order to avoid them, we must pay attention. If I had not watched every step, I could have easily landed in a gushy pile of poop. Life is the same. We must be watchful. We must watch each and every step.

Thankfully, the Lord is our Guide; however, that doesn't stop Satan from planting obstacles in our path. It's our job to be paying attention and listening closely for the voice of our Guide as He steers us in the right direction and out of harm's way. It takes a lot of hard work and a great deal of focus, but it will keep our shoes clean and lives from smelling unsavory.

So as you travel down life's road today, I caution you to watch your step. There are land mines all about, and many of them are far worse than a poop pile. Watch. Listen. Follow. The Lord will get you through!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Use Those Muscles

Ouch! My arm hurts. Nothing is broken or sprained, but it is REALLY sore. So, what activity was I involved in that caused my muscles to cry in such agony. Volleyball? Nope. Basketball? Yeah, right! Rock wall climbing? I wish. No, it wasn't any of those things. The activity that was too much for my poor muscles was. . . playing the Wii. (Sad, isn't it?)

Here's the situation. My sister's family got a new game called Boom Blox. The object of the game is to use the controller as a "ball" of sorts and to "throw the ball" and knock down the blocks. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, the difficult part is that the blocks are different sizes. The smaller the block, the easier it is to knock down. But some of those blocks are HUGE! You really have to throw hard to get them to budge, and even then it takes three or four times to knock them off.

My arm isn't use to that kind of abuse. We only played for about an hour, but when I woke up the next morning, I was certain it must have been longer. Surely I couldn't be so sore from playing a video game. That's just ridiculous! But that's what happens when we don't use certain muscles. They become weak and lazy. Then, when you decide to use them, they make you regret it.

I recently read the following:

In God's economy, getting to the end of yourself is the beginning of hope. . .When you realize that you are poor and helpless without God, you are ready to ask him for help. And the moment you ask God for help, you transcend your own limitations in finding your way, and God's resources are available to you. . .Whatever it is, God will make a way for you, perhaps in very unexpected ways. And he does his best work when you are at the end of yourself--and you admit it. (What to Do When You Don't Know What to Do by Henry Cloud and John Townsend)

Just as our physical muscles get weak when we don't use them enough, our spiritual muscles (like faith) suffer the same fate. I think that sometimes God has to get us to the place where we have to use our spiritual muscles. I think He allows us to go through certain trials so that we can strengthen our faith and our dependence on Him. He doesn't want our muscles to grow weak and lazy. God is always pushing us toward greater things.

So the next time you're facing a trial, remember that God has you there for a reason. There are some spiritual muscles He wants you to use, and it's easiest when we're at the end of our rope. Hold on tight; you may be in for the ride of your life! But rest assured, God will bring you through. . .and you'll be a stronger Christian because of it. Go on, flex those muscles, but be warned, they're going to be sore for a while.

Oh, by the way, did I mention that I won the game of Boom Blox. That's right! I beat my husband. (Sorry, honey.) My muscles are sore, but the victory is definitely worth it! (Ask anyone who witnessed my victory dance. SCARY!)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


This is my favorite scene from the movie, Fireproof. I pray it will bless you as much as it always blesses me.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Dry Wells

Lately, as I'm sure you've noticed, I've been having difficulty coming up with devotions for these daily posts. I've experienced writer's block before, but this has been different. It's like the well of thoughts and ideas has completely run dry. I've prayed. I've read. I've searched. I've wracked my brain. Still, the ideas just won't come. The few ideas that did come my way were so bland that I really wasn't sure what to do with them.

I think part of the problem is that I usually write about things that are happening in my own life. My life has become rather sedentary lately, making it difficult to find new things to write about. Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that nothing is happening in my life. On the contrary, there's a lot going on; however, most of it is depressing, and I have no desire to talk about it. (Plus, I always feel like I'm whining when I get into stuff like that.) What I'm referring to is that most of my day is spent in front of my computer. Not much to write about there!

Another problem is that I've had a bad case of the "blahs" lately. You know about the "blahs," right? It's that state of mind where nothing seems to matter and the only consolation can be found in a piece of chocolate cake. Why have I had the "blahs"? I don't know. Why do any of us get the "blahs"? I think it happens when we take a good look at our lives and think, This isn't what I had in mind!

Regardless of the reason, my well of ideas has been dry lately. But in working on one of my books, I was reminded of a blog post the Lord gave me a while back. Through it, He reminded me how He handles dry wells. It was a blessing to me, and I pray it will bless you as well. Here's the post:

I am currently reading through the book of Isaiah, and I admit that a lot of it goes completely over my head. I have to be very careful when I read passages like this because I find myself reading the words without really paying attention to what I'm reading. I often catch myself doing this and make myself go back and read it again.

Every now and then, there is a verse or two that just jump off the page. I don't know why or how, but some verses reach out and grab me. The verse that really got my attention this morning was Isaiah 41:17. When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the LORD will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them.
In our day, we have no idea what it means to be truly thirsty. I know I often say, "I'm about to die of thirst," but the truth is we are blessed and have no idea what it's like to go without water. But, I don't think this verse is just talking about water. I think it's talking about anything we may need. I don't think it would be harming the Scripture if we inserted another word in place of the word "water."

When the poor and needy seek
money, and there is none. . .I the LORD will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them.

When the poor and needy seek peace, and there is none. . .I the LORD will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them.

When the poor and needy seek acceptance, and there is none. . .I the LORD will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them.

When the poor and needy seek love, and there is none. . .I the LORD will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them.

When the poor and needy seek employment, and there is none. . .I the LORD will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them.*

When the poor and needy seek companionship, and there is none. . .I the LORD will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them.

There are many words that we could fill in right there. Perhaps you even have one that describes what you are needing right now. The point is that no matter what we need, the Lord will hear our cries, and He will not forsake us. He has our best interest at heart. He will meet our needs in His own time. Our job is simply to trust Him.

*NOTE: At the time I wrote this chapter, my husband was getting laid off from his job. I had no idea! God was speaking to me before I knew I needed to hear it.

Friday, January 22, 2010

What to Do When You Don't Know What to Do by Henry Cloud & John Townsend

What to Do When You Don't Know What to Do
is a short book discussing eight principles in finding God's way through difficult circumstances. The book highlights the fact that the best time for God to work in our lives is when we've come to the end of our rope. As long as we're trusting in our own strength to "fix" the problem, we're not open to the lessons God has for us. Once we realize our need for Him, God will give us the strength and wisdom to get through the problem, not out of it.

I found this to be a delightful read. Even though the authors are doctors, the tone and language was very conversational and "down-to-earth." The ideas in the book, though not new, were presented in a clear and concise manner. The most important thing I learned is that faith is a two-step process: attitude and action. The section on that topic was a real eye-opener for me.

On the negative side, there were several typos that caused me to stumble over the message being presented. Other than that, I have nothing but praise for this book.

Dealing with Worry?

This morning I would like to share with you an excerpt from Max Lucado's newest book, Fearless. In the chapter dealing with worry, Max gives this advice for dealing with overwhelming anxiety:

P ray first (I Peter 5:7)
E asy now (Psalm 37:7)
A ct on it (Matt. 25:13-28)
C ompile a worry list (Luke 10:41)
E valuate your worry categories (Matt. 6:25-27)
F ocus on today (Matt. 6:34; Heb. 4:16)
U nleash a worry army (I Thess. 5:25)
L et God be enough (Matt. 6:28-33)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Church Bulletin Bloopers 2

Bertha Belch, a missionary from Africa, will be speaking tonight at Calvary Methodist. Come hear Bertha Belch all the way from Africa.

Announcement in a church bulletin for a national PRAYER & FASTING Conference: "The cost for attending the Fasting and Prayer conference includes meals."

The sermon this morning: "Jesus Walks on the Water."
The sermon tonight: "Searching for Jesus."

"Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It's a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Don't forget your husbands."

The peacemaking meeting scheduled for today has been canceled due to a conflict.

Miss Charlene Mason sang "I will not pass this way again", giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.

Next Thursday there will be tryouts for the choir. They need all the help they can get.

Barbara remains in the hospital and needs blood donors for more transfusions. She is also having trouble sleeping and requests tapes of Pastor Jack's sermons.

Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.

A bean supper will be held on Tuesday evening in the church hall. Music will follow.

At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be "What is Hell?" Come early and listen to our choir practice.

Eight new choir robes are currently needed, due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.

Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered.

Attend and you will hear an excellent speaker and heave a healthy lunch.

The church will host an evening of fine dining, superb entertainment, and gracious hostility.

The ladies of the Church have cast off clothing of every kind. They may be seen in the basement on Friday afternoon.

This evening at 7 pm there will be a hymn sing in the park across from the Church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.

Ladies Bible Study will be held Thursday morning at 10. All ladies are invited to lunch in the Fellowship Hall after the B.S. is done.

Weight Watchers will meet at 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use large double door at the side entrance.

Our next song is "Angels We Have Heard Get High."

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Church Bulletin Bloopers

  • Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles, and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.
  • The outreach committee has enlisted 25 visitors to make calls on people who are not afflicted with any church.
  • Evening massage - 6 p.m.
  • The Pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday morning.
  • The audience is asked to remain seated until the end of the recession.
  • Low Self-Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 to 8:30 p.m. Please use the back door.
  • Ushers will eat latecomers.
  • The third verse of Blessed Assurance will be sung without musical accomplishment.
  • For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.
  • The Rev. Merriwether spoke briefly, much to the delight of the audience.
  • The pastor will preach his farewell message, after which the choir will sing, "Break Forth Into Joy."
  • During the absence of our pastor, we enjoyed the rare privilege of hearing a good sermon when J.F. Stubbs supplied our pulpit.
  • Next Sunday Mrs. Vinson will be soloist for the morning service. The pastor will then speak on "It's a Terrible Experience."
  • Due to the Rector's illness, Wednesday's healing services will be discontinued until further notice.
  • Stewardship Offertory: "Jesus Paid It All"
  • The music for today's service was all composed by George Friedrich Handel in celebration of the 300th anniversary of his birth.
  • Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our church and community.
  • The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare's Hamlet in the church basement on Friday at 7 p.m. The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.
  • The concert held in Fellowship Hall was a great success. Special thanks are due to the minister's daughter, who labored the whole evening at the piano, which as usual fell upon her.
  • 22 members were present at the church meeting held at the home of Mrs. Marsha Crutchfield last evening. Mrs. Crutchfield and Mrs. Rankin sang a duet, The Lord Knows Why.
  • A song fest was hell at the Methodist church Wednesday.
  • Today's Sermon: HOW MUCH CAN A MAN DRINK? with hymns from a full choir.
  • On a church bulletin during the minister's illness: GOD IS GOOD Dr. Hargreaves is better.
  • Potluck supper: prayer and medication to follow.
  • Don't let worry kill you off - let the church help.
  • The 1997 Spring Council Retreat will be hell May 10 and 11.
  • Pastor is on vacation. Massages can be given to church secretary.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Clogged Drains

While writing the last blog post, the Lord spoke to me about another lesson to be learned from our small kitchen flood.

Basically, the kitchen flooded because the faucets were running but the drain was clogged (with ice). The water had no place to go. It couldn't get where it needed to go because of a blockage.

Lately, I've been praying for the Lord to send more joy and peace into my life. I've been asking for Him to clarify His will for me, to help me to know without a doubt that I am where He wants me to be. I've begged and pleaded for Him to speak with me, to help me feel His presence. And I've been disappointed. I've found myself frustrated and aggravated, discouraged and depressed, unsure and confused, and at times, a little bitter.

Then, it hit me. Maybe there's a blockage. Perhaps my drain is clogged. Sure, I'm asking God for all these things, but I am listening for His answer? Is my heart prepared to receive His answer? It seems to me that the water's running, but it has no place to go. My job now is to unclog the drains. How? By making sure that my heart is right, that I've confessed my sin, that I have a tight reign on my attitude. If I want God's blessings on my life, I need to do my part.

Thank you, Lord, for using disasters in my life to teach me more about You and my relationship with You.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Walking Through the Water?

Saturday morning I had the opportunity to walk on water. . .twice! Well, actually, I walked through the water. We arrived home at 4:00 Saturday morning after attending a concert in Marietta, GA the night before. The concert was a blessing, so I should have known Satan would be waiting to kick me down.

As I entered the bathroom, I quickly realized I was standing in an inch of very cold water. After further examination, we realized that one of the valves on the back of the sink was leaking. Not wanting to deal with the problem at 4:00 AM, Jason turned off the water to the sink, and we went to bed for some much-needed sleep.

When we awoke, we decided to take things easy. We opted for breakfast in bed where we could set up the laptop and watch a little Star Trek Voyager. Fixing breakfast had been interesting due to the frozen pipes and the lack of running water in the kitchen, but we managed.

About the time we were finishing our breakfast, I heard the sound of running water. "Do hear water running?" I asked Jason. I left the bedroom and immediately noticed that the kitchen sink was running full blast. Evidently Jason had turned the water on in hopes that the pipes would soon thaw. The problem was that the faucets had thawed out but the drain hadn't. So all that water was running (and had been running) but with no place to go except. . .you guessed it. . .the floor.

For the second time in just a few hours I found myself standing in water. This time the water was about two inches deep and covered the entire kitchen floor as well as both sinks, the counter, everything on the counter, etc. Just like Peter when he walked on the water, I focused my attention on the storm instead of the Savior.

As my husband worked to clean up the mess (thankfully, he had his work equipment at the house), I stood in the middle of the living room. I couldn't cry. I couldn't laugh. All I could do was stand there. Just like Peter, I could barely utter a cry for help.

Isn't it good to know that when we don't know what to do, God's already working? Isn't it good to know that He knows what we need before we ask? Isn't it good to know that He can hear our cries before we ever utter them? And best of all, isn't it good to know that He's reaching down to lift us up from where we're sinking in despair?

Whether we're walking on water or walking through water, God is with us. He knows what we need. He knows how frail our faith is. He will save us. Let's reach out to Him today and allow Him to pull us to safety.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Learning to Pay Attention

Just a few short weeks ago, I posted the story of the man who was in danger of drowning from a flood. Three times the rescue boat came to save him, but each time he refused their help saying, "The Lord will save me." The man died and entered into Heaven where he promptly asked Jesus, "Why didn't you save me?" Jesus replied, "I sent the boat three times."

Funny story! Not so funny when it happens in real life. Last weekend was rough. We battled everything from broken pipes and a flooded kitchen to lack of heat and rowdy neighbors with guns. Needless to say, by Monday I was a bit of a basket case! My faith had the fragility of a Fabergé egg. I was tired. I was weary. I was discouraged. A quick look in the bank account was all it took to throw me into a tantrum.

I cried as I prayed, "Lord, I don't mean to be disrespectful, but I've asked and asked for help, and things keep getting worse. I can't handle it anymore. I need some help. I need money. I need firewood. I need repairs. Please, Lord, won't you meet these needs!"

A little while later my mother-in-law called to say that she was going to the store and wanted to know if I wanted to go with her. She offered to pay for the trip. Not wanting to put her in a financial bind, I told her, "No thanks," and went on my way waiting for the Lord to meet some of the needs I prayed about.

That evening when I went to take the potatoes out of the oven, I noticed we had another problem. I had put the potatoes in the oven 1 1/2 hours ago, but I had failed to turn the oven on. Dinner was ready except for the potatoes which had to be nuked in the microwave. That was the straw that broke the camel's back.

"I'm so stressed I can't even think straight!" I cried to my husband. He listened to my cries and my frustration and then quickly pointed out to me that God had tried to help through my mother-in-law, but I had turned that help away. As much as it hurt to admit it, he was right. I prayed for help, God answered my prayer, then I turned it away because it wasn't the answer I wanted.

God, forgive me for being so stubborn and for not paying attention. Forgive me for not seeing how much you love me and try to help me. Help me to be gracious and accepting of any help, no matter what form it may take.

God will answer our prayers. It may not be the answer we're looking for and it may not come to us in the way we think it should come. But God will answer. It's up to us to pay attention.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

How to Reach Your Full Potentential for God by Charles F. Stanley

Do you ever look at your life and feel that there must be more to it? Do you ever wonder about God's plan for your life yet feel as if you're falling short? In his book, How to Reach Your Full Potential for God, Charles Stanley hits on seven key points necessary for living your life in God's will and at your full potential.

From the very beginning of the book, I felt as if Dr. Stanley was speaking to me and that through him, God was answering many questions that I had been asking lately. God has so much in store for us, but so many of us are falling short of the blessings He has laid out for our lives because we are not living up to our full potential.

Chapter by chapter, Dr. Stanley lays out the Biblical truths behind being all we can be for Christ and experiencing all that He wishes for us to experience. This book helped me to realize that I have not been as fully-surrendered to God as I thought I was. It has challenged me to surrender my entire being to God and instructed me how to live up to my full potential, whatever the risk.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Looking at Things Through New Eyes

God has a way of getting my attention. I've been wanting a new laptop for a long time. My laptop is at least six years old. For the most part, it's in really good condition, although it is sometimes very slow and some of the keys are falling off the keyboard.

So, I found myself growing discontented with my laptop. I wanted a new one. I looked at new ones and quickly realized that I didn't have the money to buy a new laptop. Still, I found myself wanting one and growing increasingly frustrated that I couldn't have one. (You know the routine: "It's not fair!")

Then, the unthinkable happened. . . my laptop got a virus. In the attempts to get rid of the virus, the entire system crashed! I tried to get mad, but somehow I knew God was trying to teach me something. I wasn't satisfied with my laptop, so He took it away. (Not the plan I had in mind!)

For days, we explored our options. Buying a new one was simply not possible. The funds just weren't there. For a while, it looked as if our only option was to do without. (Please note: I did not like that option!)

I'll skip all the long, boring details, but after a couple of weeks, we were able to transfer the files from the laptop to the main computer, wipe the laptop clean, and start over as if it were a new computer (with a few faulty keys). The laptop is running better than it has in years. We're still working to get some of the files transferred back to the laptop, but I cannot express how grateful I am to have my laptop back. In fact, as I type this post, I'm sitting on the couch in front of the fire. I couldn't do that without my laptop. I have an all-new appreciation for it.

God has a way of reminding us to be thankful. When we grow discontent, He allows us to see how ungrateful we've become. When He takes away the blessings that we have, it opens our eyes to how much we'd miss them if those things were gone. I've learned a lot over the past month. Not only did God teach me a good lesson, but He also made it to where my computer now works almost like new. See, I didn't need a new computer. I just needed Him to fix my old one. Thankfully, though, He didn't stop there. He also took the time to fix my attitude which was in serious need of repair.

Would you join me is saying today, "Thank you, Lord, for Your blessings on me!"

Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. - Hebrews 13:5

Monday, January 11, 2010

Keep It Clean!

In my last post, I spoke a little about new year's resolutions. One of my resolutions this year is to a better job at keeping my house clean. Somehow, that "neatness" gene passed by me. My parent's house is always so neat and clean. My sister's house is immaculate. I don't visit my brother's house often, but when I do, it's always very organized despite having a 3-year-old. My house? Well, let's just say that I would be VERY embarrassed if someone stopped by unannounced.

I try to keep a clean house, but sometimes the task just seems impossible. Nevertheless, I have made it my goal to double my efforts this year. With that "bee in my bonnet," I've been on a cleaning rampage the past few days. Dust bunnies, beware! (Although we don't have dust bunnies in our house, we have dust bears!)

Each time I "de-clutter" a new spot, I feel a sense of peace and relief. Yes, it's hard work, but the feeling that I receive in return is well worth it. That being said, though, I often wonder how much easier it would be if I didn't let the clutter pile up to begin with. What if I actually throw away the appliances that don't work instead of hoarding them in the laundry room or the attic in hopes that they might miraculously fix themselves? What if I get rid of things that I don't use anymore instead of thinking that I better hold onto them just in case? What if I give away clothes that don't fit or that I'm tired of? What if I would keep up with the chores instead of allowing them to mount up into a mountain of mess? Wouldn't that be easier? Wouldn't it be nice to feel that peace of a clean house all the time instead of on the rare occasions that I tackle the mess? Of course! So why don't I? Hmm, that's a tough one!

I guess it's the same reason that we often allow our lives to be cluttered with negative feelings, angry thoughts, and bitterness. Instead of doing our daily spiritual cleaning, we allow things to pile up until we have such a mess we don't know where to begin in sorting it out.

My pastor often makes the statement, "Keep short accounts with God." In other words, confess your sins daily to the Lord. As soon as you recognize a bad thought, bring it into captivity. When worry rears its ugly head, pray for strength and turn the problem over to the One who can handle it. Don't allow sin to clutter up your spiritual life. It's much easier to clean daily (or even moment by moment) than to allow it to become a dreaded mess. This year, make it your goal to keep a clean heart.

Now, if you'll excuse me. I hear the linen closet calling me. If I'm not out in an hour, call for help!

Friday, January 8, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. - Luke 12:16-19

Sounds like a good plan, right? Work hard. Save for the future. Build up your retirement, so you can enjoy your later years. Prepare for the winter months or hard times. On the surface, it sounds great, but look at what God had to say about this man's actions.

But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. - Luke 12:20-21

Ouch! God literally called this man a fool. Why? For working hard? For preparing for his future? For making plans and setting goals? No. In his new book, Fearless, Max Lucado points out the problem. Look at the passage again, paying special attention to the words in red.

And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. - Luke 12:16-19

I, me, my, mine. No wonder God was angry. In all this man's "wise" planning, he left out the most important thing -- God! Notice he didn't ask God what he should do. There's no evidence of him thanking God for how much He had provided. The man seems to have forgotten that everything belongs to the Lord, including his abundant crop. He was so focused on himself and what he wanted that he neglected to ask God for advice.

As we face the new year, we feel obligated to make some resolutions. After all, it's customary. These resolutions often include things like losing weight, getting in shape, learning a new skill, improving an existing skill, etc. These are all admirable goals, however, let us not get so caught up in making plans that we schedule God right out of our lives. Instead, as we make those goals and plans, how about if we ask Him what He wants us to accomplish this year? Let's find out what His goals are for our lives and then make our resolution list to match His. Let's make it our goal to "be rich toward God" this year. . . and every year that follows.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Mountains and Valleys

Have you ever noticed how some people refer to tough times as valleys while others refer to them as mountains? I was thinking about this over the weekend when Jason and I went on a rather strenuous hike.

At times we were in the valley. It was calm and peaceful (albeit cold). The trees were lovely. The flowing river was hypnotic. All in all, it was a pleasing experience.

At other points, we were high on the mountain overlooking the country below. The view was breathtaking. We could see rolling mountains stretched out before us, their dark hue silhouetted against the blue sky.

Neither of these experiences were bad or negative in any way. I couldn't imagine comparing them to trials of life. They were both peaceful and beautiful in their own way.

You know what was a trial? Going up and down the mountain. On the way up, my legs burned so bad that I thought they had literally caught fire. I found myself gasping for air more times than I care to recount. The way down wasn't any better. My knees began to ache due to the constant stress on them from the steep descent and my bottom throbbed from where I landed on it after slipping on some wet leaves. The rest of my body, since it wasn't exerting as much energy as it was when I was climbing, became very chilled from the cool weather. All I could think about was getting home and sitting in front of the fire.

So, I've come to the conclusion that it's not the mountains or the valleys that are so difficult. It's the transitions. That's why we need to depend on the Lord. He is there to give us strength, to hold us up when we can no longer stand. He will carry us up and down the mountain if we will let Him. At the very least, He will allow us to lean on Him. He will help bear the load.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

What Kind of Life Are You Living?


8:00 am - Dog food! My favorite thing!

9:30 am - A car ride! My favorite thing!

9:40 am - A walk in the park! My favorite thing!
10:30 am - Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!
12:00 pm - Lunch! My favorite thing!
1:00 pm - Played in the yard! My favorite thing! 3:00 pm - Wagged my tail! My favorite thing! 5:00 pm - Milk bones! My favorite thing!
7:00 pm - Got to play ball! My favorite thing!
8:00 pm - Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favorite thing!

11:00 pm - Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!

Day 983 of my captivity:

My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength. The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape. In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet. Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what I am capable of. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a "good little hunter" I am. There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of "allergies." I must learn what this means, and how to use it to my advantage. Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow -- but at the top of the stairs. I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released - and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded. The bird has got to be an informant. I observe him communicate with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe. For now...

Same family, same circumstances, same life. One is happy, finding the joy in everything. The other is miserable, convinced that life is "out to get him." The question is, which one are you? Life is life. Make of it what you will. Will you enjoy or endure? Celebrate or complain? See problems or privileges? The choice is yours. As we start this new year, I hope you choose wisely.

As for me, I'm going to celebrate life. And what better way to celebrate than with chocolate cake?

Ooh, chocolate cake! My favorite thing!

Monday, January 4, 2010

A New Year's Prayer

Dear Lord, please give me. . .
A few friends who understand me
and yet remain my friends
A work to do which has real value,
without which the world
would feel the poorer. . .
A mind unafraid to travel,
even though the trail be not blazed
An understanding heart. . .
A sense of humor.
Time for quiet, silent meditation.
A feeling of the presence of God.
And the patience to wait
for the coming of these things,
with the wisdom to know them
when they come.

-W.R. Hunt