Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Bit Of Beauty

I don't know about you, but I need some beauty and flowers today.  I love our foggy weather and colder days, due to the heat being hard on me, but there are times when I just need that bright splash of color to make my day a bit brighter and more enhanced.

Isolino loves to give me flowers.  I have a sweet swan vase that is on the small side.  I love to look at it, and it sits in my kitchen window.  It catches the sun, when there are no flowers in it, and it is there for those sweet surprises when a flower shows up suddenly in this vase.

It is a wonderful gift that Isolino gives to me, to allow me to look forward to seeing the flowers he chooses for me.  It has gotten into a family gift to me, as both Jolynn and Kaylee have gotten into the act of picking beautiful flowers that they see, and putting them in the vase to surprise me.  I never know who has done it, and I do ask Isolino if it was him, when I see one there.  It is a quiet gift of love, that is appreciated so very much.  It is also to see how soon I notice these gifts.  Sometimes I see them right away, and sometimes it has been there a day, before I have noticed.  Now, I try to check every day, because it is just not right to recognize when someone has done something kind and generous for you.

I am trying to do that in my own life, when others have given me unexpected gifts or done something generous that should be recognized.  I always plan to do "thank you" cards, but sometimes my own life gets so hectic that I lose track of whether I had thanked someone or not, and then it gets so far from that time, that I am embarrassed to say anything, because it is so late.  I wonder if you deal with that too.  I have some friends that are right on top of those "thank yous" and I always wonder if they think I don't appreciate their gifts as much as I do, because I have not gotten that "thank you" to them.

I have been blessed with such generous friends.  I feel so thankful to God for the friendships He's brought me.  I tell my kids, "I prayed years and years for good friends.  Now God has given me so many wonderful friends, that the time in my life where I had few friends, seems non-existent".  It is so hard on these younger kids.  Friendships are so shallow, and dramatic.  I pray for my kids to have good friends.  My oldest and middle daughter are finding friendships to be more lasting as they have gotten older.  My youngest has struggled to find friends that understand her.  She has a few good friends, but at school the drama gets intense.

I think of our relationship with God.  Do we thank Him for the things He does for us.  Do we recognize when He's given us a gift?  How long does it take us to see that He's given it?  Do we praise Him for Who He is, or for what He does for us?  All week long, I was working on my accounting at work.  I was trying to get the bank statement and my checkbook to balance, but it just wasn't going well.  I probably went over it twenty times, and each time was getting a different figure.  I was praying and asking God's help the whole time, but it just wasn't balancing.  At one point, I had been praying all night, and the next day, before I went into work, I asked God to please help me balance it, because I needed to take care of some things, and this was just taking so long.  Well, I went over it two or three times, and finally, on the last time, it all balanced.  I just lifted my hands and said, "Praise the Lord.".  Isolino was there, and he raised his hands, and I said, 'YES!  Praise the Lord, I finally got it balanced."  We laughed, but it was a huge thing for me.  I could feel the warfare of the enemy.  When you are getting different amounts and you are doing the same numbers, there is definitely something going on!

Now, I know I was praising Him for what He had done for me, but I was also praising Him for Who He Is, because He was the only One, Who could cut through the mist that the enemy was putting up there.  Our God is Victorious.  He is Mighty.  He is able to do so much more than we can ask or imagine.  That is what His Word says.  He says "we have not, because we ask not."  One of my favorite verses has always been, "Seek and ye shall find, Ask and ye shall receive, Knock and the door shall be opened."

I use this verse in my prayer time.  It means so much to me.  I pray that it will help you too.  I apply God's Word to my life.  When He gives me a verse to ponder, I usually think how I can use it in my everyday life.  God's Word is active.  It is sharper than a two edged sword.  It cuts through the marrow and the bone.  It really does have an affect on our lives, if we will believe it.  Apply it.  Live it.  I encourage you to think on what I have shared here today.  Think of those people in your lives that have helped you.  Given you gifts that weren't expected.  Shared their lives with you in some special way.  Especially think of where God has been there for you.  He loves you so much.  He loves to be appreciated.  But you know what the really neat thing is?  God's Word says. "that God inhabits the praises of His people."  That means, as you begin to praise Him, He shows up in a big way.  I don't know about you, but I like having God in my life in a big way.  He has done so much for me.  I believe He has done lots for you too.  Have you seen it yet?  Have you recognized where His footsteps have been in your life?  I love you all.  I pray this will encourage you to see more clearly than before.  Have a wonderful Sunday, tomorrow.  I pray your night tonight is blessed.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Turning A New Leaf

In January, we always talk of turning a new leaf, of getting a new start in our lives.  Many of us plan to lose weight, work out more, eat healthier, read more, talk to friends and family more, be more involved with our family and church or activities we love to do.

What kind of new leaf change do you want to make?  Is it personal, for business, for fun?  Are you planning to make a whole new lifestyle change or just small changes?  Do you plan to work on the inner you or the outer you?  Do you plan to laugh more, hug more, love more, stay in touch more, go to church more, be on time more?  Do you plan to weed out habits that hinder you from going forward?  How about the good things in your life, that still interfere with what you know you need to be doing?

All of these things are good to think about.  I believe the reason we look forward to the new year, is we want to get rid of old things that have been keeping us from all the things we want in our lives.  I had a friend (Cheryl, this is you), who made this statement to me once.  "Each time I go into a room, I try to do one thing to make it better."  She was trying to work on getting her house in order, and that was the solution she had come up with.  Do you know, that one statement has helped me tremendously over the years.  I may not be able to do everything that I had planned to do, but if I just accomplished one thing, to make it better, than I had done something to improve things.

You see, I took this for not just cleaning a house, but for anything in my life.  If I just took one positive step, I had done something good.  I may not have accomplished it all, but I had taken a step forward.  I wasn't taking a step back, and I wasn't standing still.  I have been dealing with a lot of physical limitations, and that can really bring you down in your mind and spirit, but following this one rule of thumb, has helped me not to dwell on the "not done's", but to applaud the "did do's".

Perhaps you have struggled with some of these things in your life.  Take just one step to make it better.  Don't try to go the whole complete journey in a month.  Take it one step at a time, one day at time, one minute at a time.  Soon you will be applauding those major steps you are making.  I had a real addiction to soda at one time.  I am not completely weaned off it yet, but I made a conscious decision that it was not good for me.  It was a comfort blanket in my life.  I began to wean myself from this soda bug, one day at a time.  There were days that I'd fall back and have a large gulp of the sweet stuff, but as I was getting away from it, I began to not crave it so much and soon, I realized I wanted water more than soda, and I felt more refreshed and saturated with the water, whereas if I chose the soda, I was still thirsty.  My thirst was only quenched with the refreshing taste of water.  Now, if I have a soda, it is within reason and it does not make me yearn for it, like it used to.

God's Word says, "Do not be weary in well doing, for in due season you shall reap your reward.".  In other words, we need to keep on keeping on.  Don't let one failure or many failures stop you from trying.  Just pick yourself up, and keep on going forward.  Some people do things more quickly than others.  Some plod along at a steady pace, and seem to get there just as well.  Find your pace.  Do one positive thing a day to go for the goals you've set yourself.  Turn that new leaf into a budding tree.  I'm rooting for you.  I know you can do it.  Once you have put your hand to the plow, don't look back.  Just keep moving forward.  I believe in you.  Hear me cheering?  You can ask my family, how loud I like to cheer for my team.  They usually move away from me because I am so exuberant about what is happening on the field.  That is how I am cheering for you.  Hallelujah!  We have a Father who loves us so much, He helps us along.  He is there too, cheering you on, and there is a host of witnesses in heaven who are cheering you on too.

God bless you all.

It's All In Your Perspective

I got this picture when we were driving through a shopping center in Manteca, CA.  I thought the design was really neat, with the angle that I was seeing it at.  My perspective happened to be just right, to capture this great design.

That is how it is for us too.  Sometimes we need to adjust our perspective in just such a way, so that we can see things more clearly.  We need to get a different view of the situations we are in, so that we can adjust our thinking.

I will give you an example of that.  Around the summer of  our twenty-seventh anniversary, I began to think I had a right to "have my own way" in things.  I became a bit grumpy and snappy with both Isolino and the kids.  I wanted it to be about me.  I wanted things to go my way for a change.  Well, one day I was grumping in my mind about something Isolino was doing.  Something small and something that shouldn't even have been a problem, but I was making it a problem in my mind.  God began to speak to me.  He was very stern with me, because the road I was taking was a dangerous one.  He told me that I was making mountains out of molehills, and I wasn't appreciating what I had.  Boy, talk about being spiritually spanked!  I began to ask Him to forgive me, and I began to work on changing my attitude right then.

What God said to me was true.  My perspective was on my own needs, and I had forgotten that my needs were being taken care of, it was just that I had begun to think that I deserved to take out my displeasure on those I loved, because they weren't doing enough for me.  It wasn't that they weren't, it was that I had suddenly decided that they had to do more to make me happy.  You may say, "Well, you do deserve more."  I have all I have need of.  Truly.  I have a roof over my head, I have food, I have transportation, I have family, I have friends, I have clothes, I have fun.  I have a husband who loves me the way I am, and kids that appreciate their mom, even with all her flaws.

My problem was that I lost sight of those things and began to "wish for what others had".  That is the road to disaster.  Paul said, "I have learned to be content in all things."  He then quoted all the ways he'd learned to be content.  He went through stonings, being a prisoner, being shipwrecked, being rich, being poor, having clothes, not having clothes, and so on.  I have never been stoned with rocks.  I have never been a prisoner.  I have never been shipwrecked.  I have always had food to eat and clothes to wear.  So, learning to be content that summer was what God wanted of me.  He wanted me to not be looking outside for the answer, but inside.  Looking at what thoughts were holding me captive to discontent.

We are to take our thoughts captive and make them line up with God's thoughts.  We are to learn to praise in all things.  I had lost sight of those two things.  I had stopped being alert, and because of it, had let "stinking thinking" become a part of my mindset.  I definitely needed a new perspective.

How about you?  Do you need to take some thoughts captive?  Do you need to hold them up to Philippians 4:8?  Do you need to praise through some situations?  I don't ask you this to bring you down, but to lift you up to a higher place.  As I got rid of those thoughts that were bringing me discontent, I found my peace and joy again.  I found delight in my situation again.  I was lifted up to a better place.  I pray that you, too, can see that happen in your life.

I see so many sad and hurting and rude people out there.  It is because they need "their time" of "me".  Not realizing that to get to what they want, it will take them surrendering their "me" and submitting to God.  God gave me a discipline to change my thinking a long time ago.  When I was unhappy about my marriage, God told me to find 5 things that I truly liked about my husband that day.  As I did that exercise each day, I began to find more and more things to love about my Isolino.  That is something I began to do about my discontent.  I found things to be grateful about each day.

I encourage you to try this.  It really works, and it does make you see things in such a different light.  Change your perspective to new heights.  I would love to hear if this works for you too.  I would love to see more content and happy people out there.  I pray that each of you will be uplifted and encouraged in your lives.  God bless you richly in Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

There's So Many Of Them

As I was thinking of what I should share today, this photo that I took came into my mind.  My thought was, "there's so many of them".  I wondered what am I supposed to share based on that?

So, I continued to pray all day, about this picture and what I was to share.  Here is what came to me.  So many of us are struggling with the problems that are coming up in our lives.  We are seeing more and more of them crop up, as we take care of one.  Like a hydra's head, that is chopped off, but then three more crop up, so that the heads begin to multiply at a very fast rate.

I thought, what encouragement comes out of a message about problems?  Here is what I can share.  Jesus is Lord.  He is not surprised by our problems.  He is not overwhelmed.  He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, so if He gave the Israelites good health, long lasting clothes and shoes, and food and water each day, will He not do the same for us?  He told the disciples "not to worry about what they were going to eat or drink, because if God cared about the sparrow, and the lilies of the field, how much more would He watch over them, for He knows what they needed."  He knows what we need too.  He counts the number of hairs on our heads.  He knows that!  I don't know how much hair each of my kids has.  I know its a lot of hair between all four of them, but how many?  No way could I count them all.  And don't we think, "why does God number the hair on our heads?"  Because He cares about even the tiniest detail of our lives.

So, you may have many problems, but remember, you have a Champion who cares.  He knows what you need.  He is here to help you each day.  Be encouraged.  Look up, for your redemption draws near.  That is the key, you know, looking up to God for the answers.  Waiting is the hardest to do.  Waiting for His answers.  Waiting for Him to come through, but He always does answer and He does come through.  Not always the way we want, but He does not leave us alone.  We are called over comers.  I guess that means we have to overcome problems that come our way.  I think God allows us to experience problems so we have a testimony of His love and care through it all, if we hold onto Him.

I have read a few books on people who have come through tremendous challenges, and how they determined to trust God and keep their joy through it all, and you know, their testimonies are powerful because of it.  What we choose to do with our problems, praise or complain, changes us. " Trust and obey, for there's no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey."  That is line from a hymn I love.  It helps me when I am in a split road place.  Go to the last place God asked you to do something, and start there.  Trusting and obeying Him.   Step out in faith to that place God has asked you to go.  A friend mentioned in church on Sunday, "God doesn't always call the equipped, He equips those that are called."  So, you may not feel like your faith is very big or very strong, but just step out in obedience and watch what God will do for you.  I pray you will be blessed with the new adventures He will take you on.  I love you all.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What's In A Name

Do you often wonder what is in a name?  What does that name mean?  Is it important to who you are and what you will become?

I happen to think what you name your child is important.  I always have.  As I have gotten older, I have been more interested in people's names and what they mean and how that affects them.

One reason I have always felt names meant something important, is how God always changed the names of His people when they were at a point of listening to Him.  Abram became Abraham.  Jacob became Israel, Sarai became Sarah, Simon became Peter, Saul became Paul. I believe that God has a special name for each of us, whose meaning is what is important.  Abram means "the lofty one is father", Abraham means "father of the multitude".  God changed Abram's name when He gave him the promise of being the father of a nation.  He said that "they will be like the sand of the sea and the stars in the sky, a multitude you cannot count."    Jacob means "supplanter" (he took his brothers birthright).  Israel means "ruling with the Lord, wrestling with the Lord".  He got his name Israel after wrestling with God all night, and God changed his name.  After that, Israel cleaned up his act and got serious about his destiny.  Sarai means "noble".  Sarah means "princess".  God gave her this name when she was struggling to believe they would have a son.  Simon means "he who hears".   Peter means "rock".  Peter received this name as he struggled with his faith.  Saul means "asked for".  Paul means "small".  Given this name after Jesus showed Himself to Saul on his way to jail and kill Christians.  After that supernatural meeting, Paul became one of the greatest evangelists of Christianity.

So, what is in a name?  Apparently a whole lot.  Are you limited to your name?  Of course not.  Your name cannot stop you from going into the destiny God has for you.  Ask God who you are in His Kingdom.  Ask Him how He sees you.  I used to feel I was a nobody.  Someone God couldn't possibly use in anyway to bring any kind of change to His Kingdom.  As He revealed Himself to me and helped me to see myself as He saw me, I began to see my worth.  So, what He has done for me, is open to all of you.  I am on equal ground with you all.  I had a friend that said one time "If God could do it for Laura, He can do it for me."  That is so very true.  What He does for one, He is more than willing to do for all.

My dear friends, walk in your destiny.  Seek God's face on how He sees you.  I want each of you to know the joy of seeing yourself through God's Eyes.  His eyes are so revealing.  You will find out things that will give you hope and a future.  Things that will help you to go beyond what you ever dreamed of doing.  Be blessed with wisdom and knowledge of your precious lives.  Of how dearly you are loved by the Maker of heaven and earth.  Have a wonderful night and day tomorrow.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Trying to capture beauty is sometimes hard.  We want perfection, and strive for it, and when it doesn't happen, we feel like our lives are not as good as someone else's.

Today, I was trying my hand at knitting again.  I love it, but always feel my attempts are not as good as someone else's.  We can't compare ourselves against others.  Our gifts are different than theirs.  Our perspectives are uniquely our own.  So, why do we do it?

What makes us think theirs is more perfect than ours?  When we look at someone else, why do we think they are prettier, skinnier, taller (well, they may be, but then someone is probably taller than them, right?), shorter, fatter, funnier, smarter, gifted, talented, and so forth?  Why can we not be content to be who God made us to be.

I am realizing that as I look at people out there, there really is no normal.  There is no standard for beauty.  There is no set gift or talent that is more fantastic than the other.  Soon you will find someone who's gift outshines the next person's.  Voices? Art? Writing?  Ect.  In this day and age, we see that talent is being found faster than we can keep up.

Take a good look at yourself.  I had to.  I used to hate myself.  I always thought my sisters outshone me.  They are all beautiful and talented ladies.  So, when God told me to find something I liked about myself, it was hard to do.  I finally realized that I liked my eyes.  I thought I had pretty eyes.  I began there, and soon, I learned to love myself just the way I am.  I love myself more today than I did when I was young and skinny.  I know who I am much better today, and I realize that I am somebody worth loving.  I am someone who has something of worth to give out to others.  I am not limited by others perceptions of me.  I know I am a beloved child of God.  I love being a child of God.

Find your "eyes" my dear friends.  Find your beauty.  Find those things that make you uniquely "You".  God bless you tonight, and may your life be changed by realizing what a wonderful, unique, and beautiful person you are.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

About Angels

Our Pastor has been doing a series on angels, good and bad.  Last weeks was on "God's Messengers", this week was on "Hell's Angels" not the motorcycle gang, but the ones from the actual realm of hell.

Mostly speaking on where the devil came from, his names, and that there is 1/3 of the angels from heaven that fell with the devil.

It was a good sermon, not so full of the enemy, but full of what power and ability God has.  What we need to be aware of, what we need to be on guard against.

Do angels still walk among us?  I believe they do.  One thing all the angels from God say is, "Do not be afraid.  The Lord has sent me.  Do not worship me."  We are cautioned not to be worshipful of angels, but to know that they are ministering spirits from God.  They are sent for a purpose or with a message.  They are sent to help us or warn us.

I do not know that I have ever seen an angel, but I have felt their presence around me, of both kinds of angels.  I used to be afraid of the enemy and his power, but since I have learned who I am in Christ, that lie of the enemy has been broken.  For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind.  My kids asked me one time, when we were watching a scary movie, "Why are you laughing?"  Well, the reason I was laughing was that I know God's Power.  The enemy has no power over us, unless God gave it to him, and if God gave it to him, it is up to me to walk in faith, knowing that God will bring me through that trial or test.

I think of Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednigo in the fiery furnace.  They were put there due to their refusal to worship the golden statue.  They said, "We will only bow down to the Lord God Almighty".  The king was so incensed with fury (now that is a sign of the enemy's presence) and he told his people to put them in a fiery furnace and make it seven times hotter than it was.  The servants were killed, due to the heat of that fire.  But lo and behold, the king looked in that furnace and there was an "extra" person in there, that he thought looked like "the Son of God."  He asked, "Didn't we put three in there?  Why is there another person walking among them?"  Now, they were all walking in a fire that was meant to kill them.  They came out, and they didn't even smell of the fire.  Their clothes were not scorched.  Talk about God's Presence.  Whether that person was an angel or God come to minister to His servants, we know that a supernatural occurrence had happened.

The enemy's plan was to not only kill them, but to make it seem as if they had never existed.  Burned away to ashes.  He was so incensed that they had the courage to stand up in a heathen land, for the One True God.  This was a big deal.  They were slaves.  They were not supposed to rock the boat.  But because they knew God, they were willing to die, rather than give into the status qua.  The enemy is out there, looking for fresh meat to devour.  Our greatest blessing, is that our God is so much bigger than this schemer.  It says in the Bible, "If God is for you, who can be against you."  I believe this verse.  I quote it to myself often.  I stand on these verses and flex my spiritual muscles with my faith in God being True to what He has said.  

Do I fear?  Of course I have times of being attacked with the spirit of fear.  I just choose to quote that Scripture back to myself of God not giving me a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.  Then I think on what that means.  Power.  God's Power.  The power to move mountains.  The power to walk in a fiery furnace.  Miracle working power.  Love.  God's Love.  Love so incredible and bold.  Love of life.  A Father's Love.  Sound Mind.  God's Mind.  His Revealing Mind.  No secrets from Him.  He knows it all.

So, dear friends, may you be encouraged to hang onto God's Word to you.  Apply those Scriptures to your fear and see what He will do.  God bless you with Power, Love, and a Sound Mind.