Monday, November 14, 2011

A Verse to Chew On

As my mother used to say when I was little, "I have a hundred and one things to do and not forever and a day to do them in!"...wasn't sure what in the world that meant when I was 8 years 48 I am totally feelin' it! :-)

In spite of my extremely busy day and my hangover* [a hangover not due to imbibing lest you question my integrity - but a hangover from trying to keep up with my teenage daughters this weekend ;-)] I just couldn't let today go by without posting a  verse for us to chew on this week.

I found the address of this portion of scripture on a post-it note (my life is on post-it notes at this point) on my cluttered desk this morning as I was trying to sort through and make some sense of my day.  It was in my handwriting but I had no recollection of when or why I jotted it down.  So I plugged it into my laptop on Bible Resources and had it pop-up in several translations.

The one that really jumped out at me and even created a visual image in my mind's eye [see below] was out of The Message and actually encompassed 3 verses instead of the usual 1 that I like to camp on.  When you read it I think you will see why...

So roll up your sleeves, put your mind in gear, be totally ready to receive the gift that's coming when Jesus arrives.  Don't lazily step back into those old groves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing.  You didn't know any better then; you do now.  As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God's life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness.  God said, "I am holy; you be holy."
1 Peter 1:13-16

Did this image pop into your head as well?  When I thought of this image of a determined looking woman with her sleeves rolled up I didn't realize that it contained this perfect 'speech-bubble' caption as well.  This portion of scripture is a mouth full to chew's a warning, challenge and encouragement that may seem too much for us...and if we are trying to flesh in out in our mere human abilities we will fall short.  But we can do it if we seek the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in our lives!

The more busy we are the more likely we are to become lazy or rather complacent in our spiritual lives...and this can lead us on a path to a destination we really don't want to reach.  Perhaps that is why I came across the post-it note this morning.  As I zip through my busy life, trying to get done those 101 things I mentioned before, I need to make sure that I am not just rolling up my sleeves to get those jobs done, but that I need to roll up my spiritual sleeves first and foremost so that my life really counts and is 'shaped by God'.

I would love to hear what you get out of our verses as you chew on them today! :-)

Serving Him and you,

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thanksgiving...It's Not Just for November! :-)

I'm not sure why but November seems to be the month that I think about giving thanks more than any other month...maybe it has something to do with the fact that there is a holiday that is kind of focused on it...hmm, makes sense. ;)

This holiday shares it's focus in most American families with the food that is served and the football that is played or watched...but it really is about giving's how the whole thing got started to begin thanks to the Giver for provision and protection.

I have implemented various tools in my family over the last couple of decades to keep our focus on the true meaning of the holiday...I have written specific things that I am thankful for about each of my dinner guest next to their names on their place cards...I have tucked Bible verses about giving thanks into napkin rings on the dinner table and I have asked guest to share what they are most thankful for between the turkey and pumpkin pie.

The one thanksgiving tool that I am most pleased with, however, is one that is not just reserved for a specific Thursday in's one that my family has used on a much more consistent basis.

It's our Thankful Journal....and it has a short story behind it.

Years ago when the Joyster and Lopey were just little blue-eyed, freckle faced girls their daddy got sick...very when the doctor comes and tells you to 'get your affairs in order' sick.  The doctor's prognosis was grim...but God had other plans for the Man.  He worked his way out of ICU to PCU to a bed on 'regular' floor of the his bed at home - hooked up to an IV that I had to run and monitor (eek)...which in an of itself is quite the story...for another time.

It was a scary time for the girls...not only did they have to watch their big strong daddy decline and struggle to hold on...but they were told things like they would never be able to wrestle with daddy again or run and jump into his arms without warning even when he got better (one little misplaced elbow or knee would have easily caused internal damage that could have been fatal).

These little girls started asking 'why?'...why did their daddy have to be sick when their friends daddy's weren't...why couldn't they play with daddy...why was this so hard and why couldn't things go back like they were before.

Their mommy started asking 'why?' too...I had made the covenant that would stand the test of sickness with the Lord's help...but these innocent little girls hadn't signed up for any of this and they needed their daddy...what was I to do?

The night that I spent crying out my 'whys' before the Lord became a spiritual marker in my life as God invaded that time and space with His presence and began yet another season of deep growth in me...and it was out of that night that our family Thankful Journal was born.

I felt the Lord prompting me to start focusing the girls (and myself) on all the blessings that each day held...instead of focusing on the scary and hard reality of my man's health crisis.  And so it began...

Each morning at the breakfast table I would remind the girls that their day would be full of blessings from their heavenly Father...ways that He would show them that He loved them and was taking care of them in the midst of this storm.  It was their job to look for the blessings and report them to me at the end of the day.  Each family member had to bring at least one blessing to share at devotion time each night.

After dinner and before bed we began the tradition of sitting together with a journal sharing and recording "What we thank God for today" as part of our evening devotions.  We had all kinds of things pop up during those times...from the big (thankful for medicine to help daddy feel better) the seemingly insignificant (hot dogs, warm socks, jump ropes).

Our Thankful Journal taught us all to focus on the blessing and not the helped us to focus in on the goodness of God that is around us all the time...reflected in the faces of friends, sunrises, and a roof over our heads.  It taught us to pause, not just once a year, to be thankful for His provision and protection but every day.

Our Thankful Journals have become our family history book of sorts.  As I look back over the years some of the entries bring me to tears...others totally crack me up...they all speak of the Faithfulness of our Father in whatever season of life we find ourselves in.

With the oldest away at college this is not something that we do formally as a family unit every night...we limit our recordings to Sunday's when she joins us for dinner after church...but we all still start the day as detectives - looking past the stress and struggles that come with even everyday life - for the clues (some blatant, others sneaky) that God is actively involved in our lives and worthy of our thankfulness and praise.

So, don't wait until the 4th Thursday of this month to tell the Lord how blessed you are by His presence, provision and protection - grab a journal...any kind will do and create a family legacy of His goodness in your life.

Thanking Him with you,

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Verse to Chew On

Today it's back to the basics with our devotional verse for the's kind of like spiritual meat and potatoes...unless you are a vegan :)

This verse, when you really chew on it, proves to be the cure all for whatever ails woes, relationship struggles, the propensity towards sin, medical crisis...any fear - any frustration.  This verse puts our attention on the One who is forever faithful to us...Who has it all in the palm of His hand...Who never sleeps on the job or is taken by surprise.

Jesus replied, "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind"
Matthew 22:37 NLT

So what does it mean to love the Lord your God with...
     *all your heart?
     *all your soul?
     *all your mind?

Is there one of these areas that is weaker than the others in your love walk with the Lord?  How do we grow in our love for Him?...maybe by getting to know Him better.

As we chew on this verse together, why don't we make it our determined purpose - with the help of the Holy Spirit - to grow in these areas...I think it's  probably pretty important because Jesus told us we 'must'. :)

Serving Him and you,

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Chalkboards...Not Just for the Classroom Anymore

It is said that every artist has their favored medium...mine is a chalkboard...I know - a little unconventional, a little old-school.

First off I just want to say that I use the term 'artist' very loosely in referring to myself.  I attend a church chock full of the real-deal type and we benefit from their works (music, media, and hand crafted displays) constantly.

I often look at their fruits and wish that I had that gifting or skill set...but I don't.  What I do have is a love for words...spoken and written.  When I was a kid I read the sides of cereal boxes before it was cool to asses nutritional labels.  Reading beyond product packaging taught me that words are the vehicles to carry stories and emotions and ideas to inspiring art form in and of themselves.

So when I am busy fluffing the feathers of my little nest, making it a cozy place for my family, or sprucing it up to reflect the season or holiday, and I am feeling artsy...I pull out one of my chalkboards and decorate with words.

Sometimes my chalkboard is propped against the back splash in my kitchen with the Sunday dinner menu other times words like Give Thanks or Celebrate are the decoration.  My chalkboards have also held Bible verses reminding my little chicks (and their mom) to 'not grow weary in doing good' or that the Lord knows the plans He has for them.

Chalkboards are an easy medium to work with...they are relatively inexpensive, they can be easily moved from room to room for display and if you make a mistake in the creative process you can just wipe the slate clean (pun intended) and begin again...really nice for those perfectionist types ;).  They are also perfect for those of us who actually like change and get easily bored with the same old stuff to look at...the possibilities are can change your 'font' and chalk color to suit your mood or the season.

Oh and I just thought of this idea (wish it would have occurred to me when my girls were small) for those of you with little ones.  Go to a craft store and buy each of your kids their own little wood framed chalkboard and an inexpensive easel to display it on.  Give then a piece of chalk and let them create.  Instead of a bunch of paper stuck on your fridge proudly display their creations this way...allowing them to change it daily or weekly or whenever the mood may strike your budding artist.  When they are old enough to read and write have them write a favorite word or quote from a story book or a Bible verse they are memorizing increasing their vocabulary and inspiring their little minds.

If you're looking to try something new give chalkboards a shot...I have had compliments on this art form from college girls and middle-aged moms alike.  Feel free to start by using what is currently on one of my chalkboards...I borrowed it from 1st Corinthians 13...

Our Family is patient and kind,
We don't envy or boast,
We aren't proud,
We aren't rude, self-seeking or easily angered.
We keep no record of wrongs.
We don't delight in evil but rejoice with truth.
We always protect, trust, hope and persevere.

Serving Him and you,