July 27, 2007
July 26, 2007
CJ is singing in church on Sunday. The title of the song is simply "Pray". I asked her to sing it for me last night. Let me tell you, the Holy Spirit ministered to me through her soft, wobbly voice! I don't remember the order of the lyrics, but I know a couple of lines:
Pray when you're happy. Pray when you're worried. Pray when you don't know what to do. Pray without ceasing. Pray. Just pray.
It reminded me of something I'd written a couple of years ago, that I don't believe I've shared on the blog.
“Mama, this is the most important thing I’ve ever gotten!” CJ exclaimed. She was so excited because a missionary couple from our church had put together a prayer board just for her … various pictures of the couple and the countries they are going to minister in. On the back, they had written a special note to let CJ know how important her prayers are to them.
CJ’s fascination with this couple and their upcoming mission has touched their hearts, as well as mine. Though she was faithful to pray for them before, I have no doubt this is going to kick her prayer life into overdrive.
God has given CJ an amazing gift of prayer. When she hears a prayer need, she doesn’t just say “I’ll be praying for you” and then forget it. She has a genuine interest in whatever she is praying for, and is consistent in her prayers until the need is met. Oh, how I wish I had such a heart for prayer! Too often, I commit to pray for a need, and then tuck it into the back of my brain … where it is soon forgotten.
Jesus spent a lot of time talking to His disciples about the power of prayer. After the Resurrection, they finally started to realize the truth of His teaching. We may find ourselves judging the disciples for their lack of faith, but do we really believe that prayer is the key to the Kingdom of Heaven? If so, why aren’t we praying more and complaining less? We have the assurance that if we ask in God’s will, it shall be accomplished. Our prayers can release angels of Heaven to carry out God’s plan, and can keep Satan’s army at bay. In their note to CJ, the missionaries reminded her that her prayers can take Jesus to people on the other side of the world. God is listening. Why aren’t we asking?
Beyond our petitions, prayer is a time to discover God’s purpose for our lives. We can relax in the freedom of being our true selves and revel in His extravagant love. In prayer, we experience His presence in a way nothing else can match. When CJ was 3, she once told me that we can touch God. Then she held out her hands, closed her eyes, and said “Let’s touch Him now.” I’ll never forget that moment for as long as I live.
The enemy is attacking as never before. He is trying to frustrate us and make us ineffective Kingdom workers. We are surrounded by moral decay, pain and suffering. The only way we can stand is to hit our knees. Isn’t it time to get serious about prayer?
The prayer board will find a place of honor in our home. Although the gift was meant for CJ, God has used it to prick my heart. Not only will the board remind CJ that her prayers are important … it will remind her mother that a strong prayer life is vital. I’m ready to release some angels … aren’t you?
I'm thankful for a daughter with a heart for prayer & worship. I'm also thankful for this missionary couple. (2 years later, we still have the prayer board!) They need your prayers, especially this weekend.
I'm also thankful that we'll be vacationing next week! I'll be back tomorrow to post the winner of the magazine giveaway, but then I'm outta' here!
Now head to Iris' to see who else is giving some praise!
July 25, 2007
I've been stuck trying to figure out how to manage our paperwork. Bills, bank statements, etc. seem to overwhelm me. I could never find a system that didn't seem to require a lot of time & effort. I think I've finally figured it out.
I bought something similar to this:
I've labeled each section by category (i.e. "Utilities", "Medical", "Bank Statements", etc.). I did broad categories, rather than very specific, because that's what works best for me; still even if I have to pull something, the category isn't so large that it will take me long to find what I need. I put EVERYTHING in its section throughout the year, whether I think I'll need it or not (that gets rid of the pile of "Should I keep this?" items). At the end of the year, I'll throw out those "maybes" and transfer the keepers to 10 x 13 envelopes labeled by year (I'll probably do only two...financial & medical), to be stored in a large plastic bin. When I don't need to hold on to that particular envelope anymore, I'll burn it or shred the contents.
I'm still in the very early stages of doing this, but I'm amazed at how much I've gotten organized in a short amount of time. Trying to follow someone else's idea of organization was a little much, so I'm glad I finally found something I'll be able to live with & maintain. Wouldn't Laura be proud?
Need more great ideas? Head to Shannon's next week, when she resumes WFMW!
July 23, 2007
My goodness, there are a lot of people giving away FREE STUFF this week! All thanks to Shannon's Bloggy Giveaway Carnival (click on the picture to get the details). Since I recently won something, I'm going to share the love by giving away one magazine subscription. But you've got some work to do, too...decide which of these magazines you'd like to receive FREE for one year (if you're not familiar with the publication, click on the title & it'll take you to the website for that particular magazine).
How do you play? Leave me a comment with a link to your blog (and email). If you don't blog, you can still enter but you'll have to give me a valid email address. I'll let CJ pick a number on Friday, July 27th & advise you of the winner before we leave for vacation on Sunday. The winner will get to pick a new subscription (or extend a current one) from the list.
Head over to Shannon's to see what else you can win!
July 21, 2007
Your Monk & Neagle CD Is On Its Way!
Yippee! Thanks Boomama ;P
Now, click here & you can enjoy the musical stylings of Monk & Neagle for yourself!
July 20, 2007
I steam cleaned the carpets.
No particular reason. No spills. No stains. No pet disasters (which is wonderful, considering we don't have any pets). No detectable odors. Just my own need to get rid of all the hidden dirt.
As I finished each room, I emptied the tank full of water as black as midnight. I shuddered at the thought of my precious daughter's bare feet treading on this filth. How could I have let this happen?
My floors looked clean. In fact, when I mentioned to friends that I was going to steam clean, they insisted it wasn't necessary. I keep a fairly tidy home, and vacuum regularly. On the surface, my floors looked great. No one would have suspected what was hiding below.
When I don't spend time in the Word, in prayer, and in genuine worship, the dirt starts to accumulate in my heart. One transgression leads to another, and my soul begins to blacken. It is only when I allow the Holy Spirit to release His power that I am spiritually cleansed and renewed. On the surface, I am still a Sunday School teacher, a Deacon's wife, and faithful church member. On the surface, my life still looks fine. No hurts. No struggles. No one would suspect the filth that's lurking below. Only One knows. He isn't fooled by the mask I wear.
The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.
-- 1 Samuel 16:7
He wants nothing more than for me to stop the surface cleaning and allow Him to go way down deep...penetrating my soul and changing my life forever. Only then will I be truly clean.
"Come now, let us reason together," says the Lord. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson,they shall be like wool." -- Isaiah 1:18
July 18, 2007
This week, I'm feeling especially thankful for:
~My brother-in-law's safe return from Kuwait
~Time to visit with good friends
~Confirmation that R's ankle isn't broken. It's taken so long to heal that he finally went for x-rays.
~A husband who helps. R's inability to help around the house in the past two weeks has really made me appreciate what he does for me!
~An upcoming church lock-in for CJ, which means that hubby & I get a date ;D
Let me know what you're thankful for, and visit our guest host Laurel Wreath to see what others are saying.
July 16, 2007
Quenching the Thirst:
My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
-- James 1:19-21
Drinking it In:
The tag line from one of my favorite shows. Something I don't say often. Something I do even less.
I'm engaged in conversation & I may hear the words, but I'm busy formulating my response. Or, while I'm not preparing my portion of the dialogue (which, let's be honest, could be a monologue as far as I'm concerned), I'm preoccupied with other, more important issues. Like what I'm cooking for dinner, or what that blogger wrote, or how I can't wait to get home and read, nap, blog, etc.
Quick to listen? Not so much.
Quick to speak? Oh, yeah.
Quick to become angry? Depends on the situation.
It occurs to me that if I were quicker to listen, I'd be slower to speak. I'd be so focused on what the other person is saying (verbally and non-verbally) that I would want to give it some serious thought before just blithely offering my opinion. I'd be slower to anger, too. I'd better understand where the other person was coming from. I might even be...dare I say it...more compassionate.
I'm listening wouldn't be some trite phrase. It would be a genuine, willful act.
What a difference that would make.
~How often do I tune people out because I'm not genuinely interested in what they're saying?
~Do I truly listen to others before I speak? Before giving advice that isn't Biblical, or getting angry/offended?
~When I am angry, am I acting righteously or self-righteously? Am I more worldly or Godly?
~When I am angry, do I lose control and allow moral filth & evil to come out of my mouth? If so, these things are in my heart (Matt. 12:34)
Pouring it Out:
Father, you have pricked my heart with this one! I pray that you will give me a heart that will truly listen to others. Not just with my ears, Lord...but to focus on others and hear what You hear. Lord, remind me that I have two ears and one mouth...that I should be listening twice as much as I'm speaking. Keep me from becoming angry without cause. Lord, when I am rightfully angered, give me a double portion of your mercy, that I may show mercy to the offender. Lord, guard my heart so that moral filth and evil will not penetrate it, and will not flow forth when I'm angry. Help me to remember that I'm a witness for you, in every day and in every situation. Capture my heart, Lord Jesus. Amen.
~Picking my girl up from camp! She's been to two different camps this summer, and I'm glad there aren't any more. We're ready to have her home.
~Watching 75 kids sing praises to the Lord at the camp's closing ceremony
~Visiting dear friends, and having an opportunity to bless them as they've blessed me over the years
July 11, 2007
Is it Thursday already? My four days of ALONE TIME have flown by & I haven't gotten nearly as much done around the house as I'd hoped. Probably didn't help that I had my nose in a book ;D
This afternoon, I'm leaving work early to pick CJ up from her second (and last) summer camp. I've been thankful for the time alone with R. (first camp) and totally alone (second camp). But I'm ready to see my girl!
I'm also thankful that I get to spend some time with my former pastor & his family today & tomorrow. Our girls have been at camp together. We now live 2 1/2 hours apart & don't get to see each other as much as we'd like. The girls have been looking forward to camp ever since we signed them up in March. I know they won't want to say goodbye, so I'm also thankful that vacation is two weeks away & they'll be joining us!
Finally, I'm thankful that R. is healthy. He fell while jogging Monday, and we thought he'd broken his ankle. It's just a severe sprain/strain, but it looks horrible. It's getting better each day, and hopefully he'll be back in the swing of things soon.
Go visit Iris and see who else is thankful! And let me know why you are!
July 9, 2007
Well, virtually, anyway...
I'm actually posting about two weekends in this first post.
~Hearing CJ & one of her oldest friends (who's visiting from her new home in Georgia) giggling in the back seat
~Watching CJ take notes during the sermon yesterday. Our pastor preached on obedience. I think the Lord is trying to tell me something!
~Praying with a dear, dear friend
~Walking leisurely through K*hls and T*rget, all alone, with no particular agenda. Followed by dinner at P*nera & dessert at my favorite coffee place.
~The long drive home alone (good thing I had caffeine & Randy Travis' greatest hits to keep me company!)
~Reading a book, without interruption
I'll spare you the sordid details & simply say that I wasn't very good at honoring my husband this past week. In fact, it was downright ugly at times. Not outwardly, but in my heart.
Thankfully, it's a new week and His mercies are new every day.
No new goals this week. I've got to meet the old ones first.
Go on over to Christine's to see how everyone else is doing (hopefully, much better than I've done!)
July 4, 2007
Last night during prayer time, CJ thanked the Lord for America's upcoming birthday. Afterwards, I kept pondering 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 - You are not your own; you were bought at a price. In context, Paul is speaking of treating our body as the temple of the Lord. But I was reminded that many people have paid a price for me. People like her husband, hers, and hers. And my wonderful brother-in-law, who is nearing the end of his tour overseas (Hallelujah!) There is nothing we can say to thank these families enough for the sacrifice they're making, but gratitude pours from my heart.
Today, I sit here thinking about freedom. The freedom we Americans tend to take for granted. We're entitled to it. We boast about it. We celebrate it. We misunderstand it.
We think we're free because we can choose:
~our children's education
~where we want to go
~what we want to do
~where and how we worship
~who we worship
Choices don't make us free.
I am free. Not because I was blessed enough to be born in America, but because over 2000 years ago, Jesus bought my freedom.
The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has annointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.
-- Luke 14:18-19
Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
Tonight, when I'm watching fireworks with my family and celebrating Uncle Sam's birthday with a piece of brownie cheesecake, I'm also going to thank God for the Red, White & Blue.
*updated to add - I can't think of anything I'm more thankful for this week...so I'm being lazy & letting this serve as my Thankful Thursday post, too. Go to Iris' to read more!
Because of Jesus,
July 2, 2007
We've finished two weeks of the "Honor Your Husband Challenge". Based on my own experiences, and reading those of other participants, "challenge" is definitely the appropriate word! It's so easy to put our husbands behind the children, the home friends. Why is it that we can't see that these big strong men need us just as much, if not more, than the other things/people in our lives? Or am I the only one in this predicament?
After setting my goals last week, I got off to a bumpy start. I finally got on the right track, though. On Thursday, we had a discussion about something pretty insignificant. I knew I was right, but the Lord held my tongue (in my own power, I would've knocked him over the head to prove I was right on this minuscule point!) Later, when R realized I was right, he told me so. Again, the Holy Spirit kept me from saying, "I told you so!" I felt the taste of victory...not from being right, but from not asserting my rights! He's probably forgotten the entire incident, but I realized I didn't seize an opportunity to put another chink in the armor of his authority. That is HUGE for me. And this will be my ongoing goal throughout the challenge, and beyond.
Christine's post today asked the question, "What do people learn of God by looking at your (my) marriage?"
I've never asked myself that question before, but I must admit that I've been quick to make judgments of other marriages. It's an occupational hazard. I'm a paralegal and the bulk of my work load is domestic. Unfortunately, I am bombarded with divorce and custody disputes every day. My job has given me an appreciation for my man. It's also caused me to become a master craftsman at appearances. I don't want other people to look on my marriage and judge it the way I've judged others. R and I really do have a terrific marriage. We love each other and are committed to each other. We're friends and soul mates. Yet it's not perfect, no matter how much I want to think that it is. If it were, I wouldn't find this challenge so challenging!
Which brings me back to my goals for the week:
~greet him when he comes home (pretty successful)
~leave him love notes (needs work)
~speak kindly to him & about him (improving)
~lay down my need to be right (a work in progress)
~create an atmosphere of peace in our home. I'm de-cluttering, re-organizing, & just altogether making big changes in the way I keep our home. I know when I'm done with this LARGE project, it will be a blessing to R& our family as a whole.
I'd love to hear how the challenge is going for you! Post your own link, or check other gals' progress, over at Christine's.