Saturday, April 30, 2011

Ant Lessons

Proverbs 6:6(MSG)
You lazy fool, look at an ant.  Watch it closely; let it teach you a thing or two.

I knew exactly where to go.  My husband was busy doing something in the other room, so I quietly slipped out the front door.  I went to precisely the spot that I had noticed them yesterday.  I peered into the corner and began to carefully track their path.  It was easy at first, cuz the line was visible from my vantage point.  But, as they moved into the grass, it became a wee bit trickier to maintain the lead I had on them. 

I persevered though....following them through blades of grass and over miniature stick bridges that they had made from the twigs that had fallen on the ground.  Just when I was sure that I had found their castle, they would surprise me and appear on the other side continuing their journey to their final destination.  I carefully tip-toed beside their trail and had just found their connecting location to a swift incline up the tree.  I stared up into the branches, standing on my tippy toes, looking higher and higher into the tree trying to figure out where they had gone.....when all of a sudden a loud deep voice came booming from across the yard, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" 

It was my sweet husband.  I guess he wasn't as busy as I thought he was, cuz he came out and had been watching me for a time.  Seems that I might have looked a little bit "unstable" to the casual onlooker as I followed my creature trails.  Oops.....might have carried this verse a little too far.......chuckle...
Have you ever watched an ant....for real?  Well, that's what I was doing out in the front yard.  Interesting creatures.  Here is what I observed.  They are very organized.  There is a lot of them!  They make straight lines following each other to a certain place and then turn around to head back the other way.  They come back the same way they go out....in fact sometimes they run into each other and have to veer off course.  Some of them are carrying food in very large pieces.  Here is a picture of them:


So....here is what they taught me after observing them today: 

First, we should stick together; we're a team.

Second, I  learned we should move over and agree to share the road when we are on a     collision course with someone.  You can see it in the picture.  See where there are two ants side by side?  They are yielding to one another.

Third, we have to learn to follow our leaders....although, I wasn't sure which ones were leading..so, I guess I could learn that a good leader needs to stand apart from the pack. 

Fourth, I observed that they all worked.  Some were going slower than others, but they were all working.  Most of them were carrying something...small pieces and big pieces of food?  Lesson learned...work for your food.

Fifth,  I found one I thought was dead, but when I gently touched it, it jumped up and marched on!  I guess it was resting~another thing to learn....when you're tired.....lay down and take a nap! 
There you have it....what I learned from the ant today....

Lord, I have so much to learn about life and serving You.  Please continue to show me Your patience and favor as I discover Your path.  Asking for comfort tonight for those who have suffered such great loss in the tornadoes and flooding.  Amen



    



 

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Trapper

Proverbs 6:5 (MSG)
Run like a deer from the hunter, fly like a bird from the trapper!

They parked their cars and began filing in.  Some of them were quick and sure footed and others were slow and steady.  A few had canes and still one other was ushered in by wheelchair.....but they came.....they most certainly came.  As I handed out the programs, each of them smiled and seemed thrilled to have the chance to peek into the life of their sweet grandchildren.  Just the mere mention of their little one's (or in some cases...older one's) name and their face would light up with enough glowing power to fill an auditorium!!  What a privilege to be a part of such a special day...........

Today was Grandparents Day at my
daughter's school.  It is one day set aside each year to honor and serve our children's grandparents.  What a pleasure to greet each of them as they arrived.  As one beautiful elderly woman came in the door of the school, we wanted to take a picture of her.  She truly was beautiful in every way, as you could sense her gentle spirit flowing freely in just the little time we talked. 

I asked this beautiful lady if it would be alright to snap a picture of her.  She quickly had this to say....."Oh no~no pictures!!  I look in the mirror and that person looking back at me is not the young person that I still feel like on the inside."  We went on to talk some more, and I discovered that she remains the same youthful spirit on the inside, but is frustrated with the "old person" that stares back at her every morning in her mirror.  You see where my thoughts are going now, don't you?  No?  Well....keep reading....

This amazing woman has been trapped by the "trapper".....of age.  Even more intriguing to me, is that we will all eventually be caught by the trapper of age...some of us sooner than others....as I can relate with some of this already....I am sighing.... 

Now, having said that, there is more than one "trapper" out there.  You might feel trapped in a relationship, a career, a habit....the list goes on and on.  The powerful answer on 'how to get out of the trap' is written down right here in this verse!!  The solution is to MOVE!  For the deer it is to run.  For the bird it is to fly.

For the elderly, the solution is to love, pray, and be a part of their children and grandchildren's life.....just like this special grandparent was doing today.  In a failing marriage?  Run to a Christian Marriage Counselor and seek help in restoring your lives.  (If physical abuse and safety are a concern for you, however, please seek help by clicking here.)  In a job you are not satisfied with?  Explore your options and the gifting that God has given you and follow your open doors, after prayer.  Chained to an unhealthy habit?  Admit it to yourself, then a trusted friend, and then commit to getting the help you need to break the cycle.   

Being "trapped" is not a good feeling.  I guess the point of this verse, in my mind, is that I'm not really trapped, I just feel like I am.  Thankfully, I do not have to act on my feelings, but on my convictions.  When I take a good honest look at my situation and pray about it, I begin to see clearly through God's perspective the changes that I need and CAN make through the power of our ressurected Savior!

Leaving you with a scripture that I read during my time with Him this morning~

I Corinthians 15:34(MSG)
Think straight.  Awaken to the holiness of life.  No more playing fast and loose with resurrection facts.  Ignorance of God is a luxury you can't afford in times like these.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

There's No Time To Lose

Proverbs 6:4(MSG)
Don't procrastinate-- there's no time to lose.

Oh boy....that's in the Bible!!?  Wow....there's no way of getting around it then...I better get moving. 

In this particular verse, the writer is telling us if we've made a deal with a neighbor or a friend and it's gone bad, we need to get out of the mess we're in .......NOW!  Don't wait another day to make it right....go and clean it up; untangle yourself from the web you got caught in and run to fix it!!  That's such tangible advice.  How clear is that?  Phew!  Pretty impressive straightforward stuff. 

Now, I want to look at the second part of that verse, cuz it's always on my mind, hence the name of my blog: "Only~A~Little~While.  The part in the verse about not having any time to lose!  We reeeeeally don't have any time to mess around here.  The tragic events going on everyday all around us is proof of the urgency for action that is palpable in these words.  Think about it for a minute.  We are seeing tornadoes dropping out of the sky and tearing a path of destruction for miles around.  There have been tsunamis barreling across the ocean and crashing into land snatching up whatever is in their path and tossing it back into the sea.  Earthquakes opening up huge crevasses of earth and swallowing up entire villages.  Fires burning out of control, devouring anything or anyone who is in their wake.  Flood waters creeping toward and through entire towns sweeping property and life away.   Evil twisted minds exerting their angry violent plots onto an unsuspecting people both locally and abroad.  I am sure the list goes on and on.....unfortunately.

A call to action....but what action?  Run away?  Nope...not hardly.  Once again, the answer is in the Word of God and it's just as clear as it's ever been!  I just keep forgetting...I guess that's why He wrote it down....so I could keep reading it over and over and over again.  I close with His Words...they are powerful and true~and I'm clinging to 'em!

 Ephesians 6:10-18  
10-12And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we'll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.
 13-18Be prepared. You're up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it's all over but the shouting you'll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You'll need them throughout your life. God's Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other's spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.  (Italics/bold mine.) 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Mess

Proverbs 6:3 (MSG)
Friend, don't waste a minute, get yourself out of that mess.  You're in that man's clutches!  Go, put on a long face; act desperate.

Cold and rainy old day again today!  Not complainin'....just stating the facts. 

I've been in the spring cleaning mode for the past few weeks, although, I'm not sure you would be able to tell it if you came to my house.  I've been working on getting rid of the clutter that is hidden from the naked eye, but slowly eats away at you because you know it's there, lurking behind every closed door.  

There are shirts and shoes that no longer fit that have been squished into the back of my closet to pass on down the clothes trail. In the bathroom, I bravely open the cabinet under the sink.....only to shrink back in horror!!  I'm just wondering exactly how many travel bottles one person needs......or how many contact holders is necessary for one pair of contacts?  Do you think eight is enough....cuz....that's how many I have?  How about hair ties, barretts, head bands, and ribbons?  Does one little girl really need twelve of every color? 

In my office, I open my desk drawer to do a quick clean sweep and well....I can't hardly even get the door open cuz there are so many little scraps of important "notes" crammed in there. 
So, when I read, "Get yourself out of this mess" tonight, I had to chuckle.  I don't have to "act" desperate, because I am desperate!  I am desperate and determined to simplify my life and not be taken over by "stuff"! 

There you have it.  If you want to get out of a mess, just get busy.  One step at a time....inch by inch...it's a cinch!! 

Thanking God tonight that I have a wonderful place to live that I call home!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Shivering Out In The Cold

Proverbs 6:2(MSG)
If you've impulsively promised the shirt off your back and now find yourself shivering out in the cold,

This is my sweet puppy after a run through the winter snow....and yes....she was "shivering out in the cold".  You can see her looking at me with a longing look as though she is saying, "Let me in!"  I, of course, promptly let her in....I mean seriously, who could resist those eyes?

My personality is not impulsive.  In fact, I can be driven to analysis paralysis if I'm not careful.  Do you know what I'm talking about?  Where you look at something for so long that you become completely frozen.  That would be me.  However, I know some people with tendencies toward impulsive decision making and it certainly can get them in trouble from time to time.  I suppose each personality has it's strengths and weaknesses.

Having said all of that, it appears that in the verse tonight, there was a promise made without much thought to the various outcomes of that commitment and now the worst has happened.  The person is left with absolutely nothing!  To add injury to insult, (or is it insult to injury...hmmm?....well you know what I mean...) they are left out in the cold without anything!  What to do about that?  We will have to wait for tomorrow to find out.

Praying tonight to acquire a heart that hears the needs of people and responds with a loving and gentle spirit.  Asking the Lord for discernment in decision making.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Healing Rain

Proverbs 6:1 (MSG)
Dear friend, if you've gone into hock with your neighbor or locked yourself into a deal with a stranger,

Webster's Dictionary defines hock as "in debt" or it could be "out of debt", but in this case, I'm guessing that it's "in debt".  I have a feeling I'm getting ready to learn from the next few verses what to do if I find myself in a sticky financial situation.  Don't you just love the book of Proverbs?!  These verses cover everything!  It's fascinating to think that they are as relevant today as they were when they were written however long ago that was.  A long, long time ago...right?  Anyway, stay tuned for the upcoming verses, as I bet they're filled with insightful truths for handling our dealings in the "money world".

Today has been a record rain day for these parts.  People are experiencing flooding in their homes, rivers overflowing their banks, and lakes past flood stage.  There have been mandatory evacuations of homes located in low lying areas that are situated too close to the water.  I have been glancing at my sinking pond off and on all day.  It is no longer sinking...it's growing! 

Setting the negative effects of the rain aside, however, I did really enjoy the sound of the water as it gently splashed into puddles from the gutter.  The leaves rustling on the trees as the wind stirred the branches made a musical melody fit for a king.  The occasional rumble of thunder joined in the chorus to complete the production.  Listening to the symphony really did help to pass the time as I folded mountains of laundry and searched for missing partners to lonely socks that got separated from their mates.  I even started singing myself....not loud...just softly to myself.  Maybe you've heard the song that came to my mind today.  It is called Healing Rain by Michael W. Smith.  The words are poignant and quite fitting for this past week of my life.  Enjoy!  (Click title to listen and watch this awesome video.) Healing Rain by Michael W. Smith 

Praying for those who have been affected negatively by too much rain.  Asking the Lord to protect property and lives tonight.  Thanking God for His healing rain.....let it fall! 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Foolish Decisions And Abundant Hope

Proverbs 5:23 (MSG)
Death is the reward of an undisciplined life;  your foolish decisions trap you in a dead end.

Happy Easter!!  What a beautiful day in God's House!  I promised I would keep you posted on the "Tulip Regeneration Challenge" involving three frozen...dead...tulip bulbs.  I fed them, watered them, put them in the sun, and gave them lots of protection from the wind.  I am sad to report, however, that they are still dead.  I know this does not come as a surprise to all of you horticulturists out there.  Apparently, once the bulb blooms that's it for the year...who knew!? 
The lesson I learned in the literal sense is that, despite my willing it to grow, the laws of nature that God applied to vegetation still exist.

Now, from the spiritual sense, I have learned much, much more.  First, I learned that there are exciting things that God still has for me to complete to help fulfill His purposes down here on planet earth.  Second, I learned that I need to serve God and not put him in my little box and expect Him to serve me.  (A lesson I needed to learn~sadly.)  I have come to understand that some dreams that I have placed in the back recesses of my mind need to be pulled out and laid before the Lord in His light, to determine if they are worthy of pursuing, or if they need to be extinguished. 

Finally, one of the last things I learned involves tonight's verse about foolish decisions trapping you in dead ends and consequences that often affect a lot more people than just ourselves.  The result of unchecked sin in our lives is so devastating and the Bible has much to say about it.  One of the stories I studied is the story of Absalom and Amnon found in 2 Samuel 14-16. Within this story, I discovered some sad, but true realities about sin and the wake of destruction that it leaves behind.  God's forgiveness doesn't always take away that compilation of debris, but that doesn't mean that He is through with us yet, or that He has somehow given up on us.  Eugene Peterson, in The Message Remix, puts it this way, "Even though some consequences may live on, God's purpose for your life still stands.  When God gets started, nothing can get in His way.  Not even you or me." 

A message of hope for sure!  That's what Easter is all about!  The resurrection of Christ and the hope of an abundant life with Him now and in eternity!  It doesn't get any better than that!
Praising God tonight for new life and the hope of a future!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Shadow Of The Cross

Proverbs 5:22 (MSG)
The shadow of your sin will overtake you; you'll find yourself stumbling all over yourself in the dark.

On this the eve of Easter, how fitting it is to reflect on the consequences of sin in my life.   The depiction of sin as a shadow is so descriptive when I think of viewing my own shadow at the close of a day.  The shadow, in most cases, appears a lot bigger than I am.  It multiplies my actual size by two to three times, depending on the angle.  Is it not this way with sin?  When I sin, it becomes this thing that overtakes my life, becoming all consuming and growing day by day, if left unchecked.

I am so thankful for the cross and the remembrance of the Lord's sacrifice for my sins. 
Praising God tonight for allowing His son to bear the burden and shame of my sin.
John 3:16-17(ESV)
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Friday, April 22, 2011

God Doesn't Miss A Move You Make

Proverbs 5:21 (MSG)
Mark well that God doesn't miss a move you make; He's aware of every step you take.

Absolutely lovin' this verse!!  I adore the fact that God doesn't miss any of my steps....good or bad.  I know that God has designed my life and, as long as I'm listening, He will direct me every step of the way.  When I do misstep, I count on His gentle hand to put me back on the right path. 

What security there is in these words.  With today being Good Friday, I am extra aware of the price that the Lord paid for every one of my poor choices! 

Thanking God tonight for His Son and the sacrifice He made for me on the cross.  Resting in His promises of love and protection.  Psalm 121:3(NIV)~He will not let your foot slip~He who watches over you will not slumber.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Why?

Proverbs 5:20(NIV)
Why be captivated, my son, by an adulteress?  Why embrace the bosom of another man's wife?


I decided to ask my husband this verse as a literal question.  This was his answer:
The question...."Why be captivated......?"  The answer..."selfishness."  


Praying this scripture over my family tonight~

(Father help us to......)
Ephesians 5:8-13(ESV)........"Walk as children of the light for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true, and try to discern what is pleasing to (You) the Lord.   (Help us to) Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.  For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.  (Italics are my prayer addition.)

(Thank you for your grace and love,)
Amen

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Don't Ever Take Her (Or Him) For Granted

Proverbs 5:19 (MSG)
Lovely as an angel, beautiful as a rose-- Don't ever quit taking delight in her body.  Never take her love for granted.

Isn't it interesting how simple and succinct God's Word is throughout the book of Proverbs.  It's no wonder the book starts out in Proverbs 1:1-6 (MSG) with these words:

These are the wise sayings of Solomon, David's son, Israel's king--  Written down so we'll know how to live well and right, to understand what life means and where it's going;  A manual for living, for learning what's right and just and fair;  To teach the inexperienced the ropes and give our young people a grasp on reality.  There's something here also for seasoned men and women, still a thing or two for the experienced to learn--  Fresh wisdom to probe and penetrate, the rhymes and reasons of wise men and women. (Emphasis mine.)

Taking this verse to heart today.....I need to NEVER take my mate for granted...!!
Asking God to open my eyes to see my husband in a whole new way.  Thanking the Lord for the marriage bond and asking Him to show me different ways to let my spouse know just how important he is to me.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Fountain

Proverbs 5:18(MSG)
Bless your fresh-flowing fountain!  Enjoy the wife you married as a young man!!

Today I spent the day with my daughter at our state capital!  It was wonderful to get to spend this time with her and tour our historical buildings.  This fountain sits outside of the Governor's  Mansion.  It was beautiful...you can sort of get the feel for the cool and fresh water that is flowing freely here. 

Praying tonight for marriages to be strengthened in His name. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

My "Jonah Mood"

Proverbs 5:17 (MSG)
Your spring water is for you and you only, not to be passed around among strangers.

That word "strangers" has me thinking about the mood I am in today.  I would call it a  "Jonah Mood".  What does that mean?  Well, going forward from Proverbs to the book of Jonah, we find this guy that has received alot of attention on flannel boards in the kids Sunday School departments throughout history.  Usually, the focus gets put on the "big fish" that swallows Jonah alive, where he then lives in the belly of the gargantuan creature for three days and three nights before getting spit out on dry land....unharmed I might add.    Pretty cool story in and of itself, but that misses my "mood" portion.  Let me try to explain.

You see, the way I figure it, when you start at the very beginning of the book, you have a man feeling pretty much the way I'm feeling right now.  He's feeling sorry for himself and doesn't want to do what God, very directly, told him to do. 

Listen to it in Jonah 1:1-4(MSG) "One day long ago, God's Word came to Jonah, Amittai's son:  "Up on your feet and on your way to the big city of Nineveh!  Preach to them.  They're in a bad way and I can't ignore it any longer."  But Jonah got up and went the other direction to Tarshish, running away from God.  He went down to the port of Joppa and found a ship headed for Tarshish.  He paid the fare and went on board, joining those going to Tarshish--as far away from God as he could get.

Are you catching his mood?  He doesn't want to do what God has asked him to do.  He really seems to be a little ticked off at God.  We know that he certainly wants to run away from God!!  Why on earth would he want to run away from God?  Weird huh?  Well, Jonah gets thrown into the water by the crew thinking that he has made His God mad and created this storm.  (I figure that Jonah probably did make God a little cranky.)   That's when the whale enters the story.  As Jonah is being tossed over....cue the whale.....he is scooped up and saved by the whale and placed in the beast's belly.   After a very touching prayer in the belly of the fish, Jonah is spit out on dry land. 

That is the part of the story that gets most of the attention.  But, if you keep reading, you find out what this is all about....in my estimation anyway.  It seems that the second directive to Jonah from God is identical to the first~Jonah 3:1-2, but this time the response from Jonah is totally different!  Jonah 3:3~"This time Jonah started off straight for Nineveh, obeying God's orders to the letter."  He told the people that "In forty days Nineveh will be smashed!"

The immediate response of the king of Nineveh was to throw down his royal robes, dress in burlap and sit in the dirt.  He ordered everyone else in his kingdom to due the same, including all herds and flocks.  The king told them to turn from their evil and violent ways, quit eating and drinking (even water), and cry out to God for help.  He proceeded to tell them that if they did this, then just maybe God would let them live.  He must have been a pretty impressive leader, because the people did exactly what they were told to do.  

Pretty cool thing happens next....if I didn't think that talking to God can sometimes alter the course of His plans...I got my proof in this story cuz....guess what?  Yeap...Almighty God decides to let them all live and not smash the city to smithereens.  I know...isn't that the coolest??! 

That's where my friend Jonah's mood comes in.  Listen to it in Jonah 4:1-2(MSG) "Jonah was furious.  He lost his temper.  He yelled at God, 'God!  I knew it--I knew it--when I was back home, I knew this was going to happen!  That's why I ran off to Tarshish!  I knew you were sheer grace and mercy, not easily angered, rich in love and ready at the drop of a hat to turn your plans of punishment into a program of forgiveness!'" (emphasis mine)  It's like Jonah is irate because God is going to help a bunch of no good strangers that aren't even worthy of His attention.  But check out what God says to him.  God replies to Jonah, "What do you have to be angry about?"  Jonah doesn't answer...he just walks out of the city and sits down.

The story continues outside in the hot sun, where God grows a tree for Jonah to have shade and then sends a worm the next day to eat it.  When that makes Jonah mad, God refers back to the fact that Jonah neither planted nor watered it...had nothing to do with it.  It is the same with the people of Ninevah, God explains, and if God wants to spare it....who is Jonah to get all mad about it!!?

Yeap....I'm definitely in a Jonah Mood.  Mad because I understand God's sheer grace and mercy is extended to each of us with a plan for forgiveness....even the those who hurt us and betray our trust.  The problem with living in this anger is that I hear His gentle voice asking me, just as He did Jonah, "What do you have to be angry about?  Did you create this person?  Were you anywhere around when I designed this life?"  My answer to Him is: nothing, nope, and absolutely not!  Please forgive me Lord! 

So, I can live in my Jonah Mood for awhile, I suppose.  I can curl up in the bottom of the boat and try to go to sleep with the storms of life tossing me to and fro.  Or, I can get up and walk on...living in my convictions....not my emotions?  Huh?  What are my convictions you ask?  Pretty simple.....God is a good God and does all things well.  God is a loving and just God and will care for my needs and the needs of my family.  God sees all of our hurts and cares deeply for us as we weep. 

Praying tonight for God to help me to grow in my convictions and to pull me out of my Jonah Mood!!  Praising Him tonight for giving me His word to freely read and reminding me of stories about plan old people like myself.

Book Review: Max On Life by Max Lucado

 
Max On Life by Max Lucado deserves a prominent location on your personal library bookshelf!!  It is a must read for anyone wanting answers to some of life’s most difficult questions.

Reading the book Max on Life by Max Lucado is like sitting down at the kitchen table with Max and talking over a cup of coffee.  His candid transparency is a refreshing change to the frequent dodging of issues that has, unfortunately, become so prevalent in our culture today.

The book is divided into seven sections.  Each section contains crucial and pointed questions that have been presented to him throughout the course of time.  Max tackles each inquiry head on with a spiritual fervor that is unparalleled.  Standing on the word of God as his platform and drawing from his experience as a pastor and author, he brings clarification and logic to some extremely challenging topics.

Pressing questions such as:  “How should I react to poverty?”, “Why do Christians suffer persecution and violence?” and “What will happen on judgment day?” are each answered gracefully with sound Biblical base, to give the reader an increased faith and confidence in God and His loving character.

I enjoyed reading this book and found it to be an extremely engaging and thoughtful work.  I would highly recommend it to anyone who has lingering unanswered questions about God and His dealings with man.
Thank you to Thomas Nelson Publishing for this review copy presented to me through Booksneeze.  The opinions in this review are my own.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Polluted Water

Proverbs 3:16(MSG)
It's true.  Otherwise, you may one day come home and find your barrel empty and your well polluted.

Interesting thinking about this today.  The verse before (yesterday's verse) mentions that we need to be drinking from our own wells.  Today we find that if we don't drink from our own wells, or in my words...if we neglect them...when we finally wake up and realize that we need water from them...they are contaminated.  Sad thought...
This is a shot of my "sinking pond" that sits right outside of my office window.  I gain so much insight from looking out this window.  I don't know if you can see it in the picture, but at the mouth of the pond there is clear water.  Along the edges, however, there is a lot of what we lovingly refer to as "pond scum".  It's a pretty descriptive word for the yucky stuff.  Sort of like the scum that gathers around the base of an uncleaned drain...dark, slippery, and slimy.  The water only gets this way when the farmer doesn't have cattle in the field.  When there are cattle in the field, they are constantly drinking out of it and I suppose there isn't anytime for the water to develop this icky stuff. 

Application....I don't want to neglect any part of my relationship with my husband.  I am so blessed to have been given a spouse who loves the Lord and loves me.  It is a gift that I frequently take for granted and I am cautioned in this verse that I better not be lazy in my attention to him!  A great reminder.....

Father God,
Thank you for the gift of marriage.  Thank you for the special bond between a husband and wife.  Help me to build my husband up through my speech and actions, thereby showing him the nurturing attention that will ultimately glorify Your Name! 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Spring

Proverbs 5:15 (MSG)
Do you know the saying, "Drink from your own rain barrel, draw water from your own spring-fed well"?

Sounds delicious....a spring-fed well.  It would be fresh, clear water.  Always new with the promise of never running dry.  The sound of bubbling water as it hits rocks.....so relaxing.  I know where this verse is going....but as it stands alone...I am enjoying just thinking about the beauty of a spring.

 Adoring God's creation tonight....and praising the artistry of His hands!

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Unbroken Side Of The Window

Proverbs 5:14 (MSG)
 My life is ruined!  I haven't one blessed thing to show for my life!"

As I open the paper, look on-line, or even drive down the street, brokeness is what I see.  Hearts are breaking and crumbling all around me.  Is your heart shattered like the window in this picture today?  

I still get a newspaper delivered to my door.  I know I am dating myself by sharing that information with you, because it seems that only us "older" folks are hanging onto that tradition.  I can't help it though, I love everything about the paper...the smell of fresh ink, the feel of soft trees, the sound of the crackling pages as they turn, the anticipation of some great knowledge to be gained, and the taste...no I don't really eat it...I was just kidding about that part! 

Each day, after my run, I take our neighbor's paper and quietly place it on their front step so they don't have to get out in the weather.  Then I proceed to my driveway where I snatch up our paper and head inside.  It is like a birthday gift to me.  I never know what's inside until I tear it open and peer in!

With the passing of time, the number of stories with dark and tragic endings seems to be increasing.  Most recent headlines involve that of ridiculous crimes against children, natural disasters claiming unsuspecting lives, horrendous illnesses, and tragic accidents involving vibrant lives taken from us right in the middle of their prime.  If left to my own accord, I would curl up in a tight ball and cry for the rest of my existence here on planet earth.

Thank goodness I am not left to my OWN "not so brilliant" ways of handling things.  I am learning that I need to look through the side of the window that is not broken.  Go back to the above picture and study it for a minute.  Do you see what I see?  The crack is right down the middle of the pane of glass.  When I look through the side that is shattered, everything outside  is blurry and distorted by the crack.   However, when I look through the side that is not broken, I can see all the details and colors outside the window.

I am not suggesting that we put on blinders and do some happy-positive-weird chanting technique to help us ignore all of the bad stuff that is happening to us.  Nor am I even hinting at the fact that I understand what someone is going through who is suffering a tremendous loss.  What I am saying is that I have observed the deep despair of a mother who lost her child.  I have witnessed a wife's immeasurable grief to the news of suddenly losing her husband.  I have seen a young woman fight after being diagnosed with a life threatening illness.  I have watched the grace in the life of an elderly person as their physical strength faded away.  I have experienced a mother's angst as she stands by while her child makes unhealthy choices that will set the course for that child's life on a difficult path.  The list goes on and on.

The one similarity that I observed in each of these people during their trials, nevertheless, was their unwavering devotion to the Lord.  Was there window (life) broken?  Absolutely!  Did they ignore that damage?  No!  But, what I noticed them all doing, regardless of their circumstances, was making the decision to grasp onto the Lord!  Instead of crying out...as in the verse above...."My life is ruined!!"....they chose to cry out...Psalm 91:2 (MSG)-"God, you're my refuge.  I trust in you and I'm safe!"  They fell to the foot of the cross and stayed there until they had a firm hold on Him~The Giver of Life, because He promises to carry us through and direct our gaze to the unbroken side of the window.

My prayers are not always me talking....but me listening.  Today's prayer is all listening....and this is what He is telling me!

Psalm 91:14-16 (MSG)
"If you'll hold on to me for dear life," says God, "Ill get you out of any trouble.  I'll give you the best of care if you'll only get to know and trust me.  Call me and I'll answer, be at your side in bad times; I'll rescue you, then throw you a party.  I'll give you a long life, give you a long drink of salvation!" (Bold and italics mine.)

Did you hear Him?  He loves you so much....and He's calling each of our names!  I have to go now...my phone is ringing too!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Take Your Teachers Seriously

Proverbs 5:13 (MSG)
Why didn't I listen to my mentors, or take my teachers seriously?

I am definitely taking yesterday's revelation and applying it!  I even started my new eating habit on the way home from church last night.  Usually, we drive through our local drive thru and get a "lowfat frozen yogurt" treat for our snack.  But last night we past it by...(with much moaning from the kids I might add)...and we went straight home.  Upon arriving at the house, I pulled out the fruit and water and made fruit smoothies!  They were delicious!

Next meal came this morning, when I pulled out Kristen's book and thumbed through it to this delightful "baked oatmeal" recipe.  It was wonderful~notice the missing pieces...yummy!
So, there you have it, I am "listening to my teachers and taking them seriously!"  I don't want to reject discipline and end up with the consequences.....instead, I will reap the rewards of a disciplined life...look out cholesterol level!!

Thanking God for this day, for my family's health, and for His saving grace.
PS.~The tulip is still dead....but, I am still watering and feeding it....who knows what it will look like in eleven days.  I know that I am growing!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Disciplined Life

Proverbs 5:12 (MSG)
Saying, "Oh, why didn't I do what they told me?  Why did I reject a disciplined life?"

Ok....the curtains are going to fall off here.  I have a confession to make.  It's huge...
Curious yet?  Here you go...my recent cholesterol level was 275!!  "What?  No way!" you say.
That's what I said too, but unfortunately....'tis true.

I mean...I exercise faithfully...I don't chow down on french fries every night...I don't eat omelets every morning with ham....NO FAIR!!  I guess I feel somehow cheated.  I think that if I ate that way, then perhaps there would be some justice in a cholesterol reading that is off the charts like this..right?  Hmmmm.....so what 'ya gonna do about it, I ask myself? 

Well, I had a high reading last year (not this ridiculous, but high). As it turned out,  I had already decided to do a "Daniel Fast", prior to obtaining this particular lab result.  The Doc wanted to recheck my labs in six weeks.  I committed myself to this way of eating and an increased time in prayer and Bible reading, as is the discipline of this fast. 

At the end of six weeks...guess what?  The result was about ninety points lower than it was before this fast!!  Hooray!!  The doc was happy...I was happy...everybody was happy in my little world.  Until, that is, I had the yearly lab again in January...now nobody is happy (about the lab anyway) and the Doc even said that the other drop must have been an error and it probably never came down.  The problem with that theory is, that I don't believe it!  I think the labs were correct.  I think that this amazingly healthy way of eating nothing but chemical free plant and fruit based foods did lower my cholesterol.  The issue was not that the labs were incorrect, but that I "rejected a disciplined life," like today's verse talks about, and I quit eating that way promptly after I got my good level back.  I didn't stick to the plan.

Now, if you're like me right now....you are feeling the weight of a very heavy yoke on you (or at least on me).  But, I push that yoke off...probably push it off a lot easier because I just received a Word from the Lord.  (Seriously, as close as one can get to writing on the walls these days.)  A very sweet friend of mine who has just been through the battle of and for her life with breast cancer,  just e-mailed me this verse: 

She writes: 
"I live Isaiah 30:18 everyday, 'Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; He rises to show you compassion'.  I am so thankful for all He has done!" 

This wonderful friend is currently cancer free!
Did she do what the doctor's told her to do?  You bet she did!!  Did she pray and ask God first for help and direction?  Absolutely.  Did it take discipline and amazing courage to follow that direction?  I can't even imagine how much discipline and strength it took to do all that was recommended she do....but the fact is...she disciplined herself and by the grace of God is now cancer free! 

 So, what about my lab?  Well, I am deciding today to apply this verse and not "reject this disciplined life"!   Why?  Because....the Lord longs to be gracious to me!!  He has equipped me for this and given me the tools to be healthy.  I just need to use the tools....starting now!

I bought an amazing book by Kristen Feola called "The Ultimate Guide To the Daniel Fast". http://onlyalittlewhile.blogspot.com/2011/02/book-review-ultimate-guide-to-daniel.html 
(I wrote a book review on it, and it is linked to a purchase site if you are interested for yourself, click on the previous link.)  This book is filled with recipes and devotions to assist me with my new eating plan!  I am so excited to see what the Lord will do through applying the knowledge that Kristen shares with her readers.  In about 4-6 weeks, I will have another blood draw to reveal the results....I will keep you posted!  (I love to say that on a blog...it still cracks me up...get it..."posted"....these are "posts"....ok...enough.)

Lord...please help me to remain disciplined in the gracious path You have provided for me.
Thank you for the compassion that You continue to show me and my family today.
Amen

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

No Regrets

Proverbs 5:11 (MSG)
You don't want to end your life full of regrets, nothing but sin and bones,

Probably one of the saddest things I witnessed during my fifteen years as a nurse in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, was not the actual death of a patient, but the anguish of a patient who felt their life had not been lived robustly.  As they were faced with a grim diagnosis of a failing heart, many of them were full of regrets.  Some people were remorseful for things they had done and others were rueful over things they had not done

Either way, there was a heavy burden in their soul that they had somehow "missed the boat".  They had a sense that their life was not complete and that they had not lived it to the fullest.  Today's verse refers to this same sense of incompleteness.  It is describing a life that comes to the very end of the journey and finds out that they spent all of their time heading in the wrong direction and in this case with the wrong "uncaring" people. 

Praying for clearly defined boundaries in my life.  Asking the Lord to set His hand upon my family and direct us into His perfect will for each of our lives, so that we will come to the end of our time on earth with no regrets!! 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Take Good Care Of Each Other

Proverbs 5:10 (MSG)
Why should you allow strangers to take advantage of you?  Why be exploited by those who care nothing for you?

The Webster's dictionary defines exploit as an action that makes unethical use of someone for one's own profit.  This verse is still talking about the seductive woman in verse 5:3.  Apparently, allowing this woman (man) in one's life is asking to be used.  That's not something that I have any desire to experience.  I think even sadder still, is this part about "strangers that care nothing about you!"

It's so important that we care about each other.  I mean really take care of  each other.   Not just when people are looking, but when people aren't looking.  When there is nothing in it for you.  To walk the walk....not just talk the talk.  To be a friend through thick and thin.....when it's not all perfect, is when it takes a true commitment and lots of love.  That's the kind of "care" we should lavish upon one another!

Praying tonight that the Lord would help me to be the kind of person who wholeheartedly cares for those that He puts in my path.  Thanking Him today, for His grace that He poured over my family in abundant fashion!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

It's A Wonderful Life

Proverbs 5:9 (MSG)
You don't want to squander your wonderful life, to waste your precious life among the hardhearted.

What a great verse!  As I sit here and think about my life, I recognize that I frequently don't take enough time to truly stop and recount my blessings.  If I am not purposeful, the worries and stresses of the day can override the positive aspects of my "wonderful life." 
Of course, this verse is also focusing on the fact that we are all given the "precious" gift of life and we should carefully pick who we hang out with.  Those people who have a heart that is insensitive to the things of God, should be our mission field...not our home field. 

Thanking God today for each member of my cherished family.  Asking God to open up the gates of heaven and pour out His blessing into each of their lives!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Stay Out Of Her Neighborhood

Proverbs 5:8 (MSG)
Keep your distance from such a woman; absolutely stay out of her neighborhood.

Pretty clear instruction.  Reminds me of when I am trying to eat healthier and I choose to make myself stay completely away from the "Carb Cabinet."  That is the term that I have lovingly chosen to call the cabinet that holds all of the junky foods... albeit... yummy, that are not generally known for their healthy content.  I am coming to grips with the fact that I shouldn't even have one of these storage spots in my house, because it is too easy to give into my temptations.

Praying today for an increased awareness to those areas in my life that are challenging to my health/well being and the tenacity to "stay out of the neighborhood!"

Friday, April 8, 2011

Don't Treat My Words Casually

Proverbs 5:7 (MSG) So, my friend, listen closely; don't treat my words casually.

Tulip report:  No growth...appears to be dead!  Hmmmm..... Conclusion~some parts will never grow back and that's ok, because I don't want them to.  I haven't given up on the parts that I want to grow!  There is some activity that I can see, however.  A bunch of gnats are attacking and eating what is left of the plant.  I suppose I can apply that to my heart and say that I always need to be on guard...from destructive things that would devour me.

"Listen closely!!  Don't treat my words casually."  In my Bible reading this morning, I was drawn to this verse from Mark 13:31(MSG)~ "Sky and earth will wear out; my words won't wear out."  How powerful is that?!  His Words will always be there, and we should never treat them casually.  I am so thankful for His Word.  Thanking Him for His Word and that He counts me as a friend!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Real Life Is At The Foot Of The Cross

Proverbs 5:6 (MSG)

She hasn't a clue about Real Life, about who she is or where she's going.

I've been thinking about this whole "seductive woman" warning.  I have been looking at it primarily from the aspect of being certain I don't want to imitate her behavior.  I've also been focusing on the husband and the trap that she is laying for him.  Today, however, I started thinking that the roles could be reversed.  Do you follow me?  I mean that it could be a "seductive man" leading a woman astray as well, couldn't it?  Damage would be just as destructive....right?  Just a thought.

Anyway, there's a different focus tonight.  Instead of the description of the behavior and it's outcome, the verse is actually talking about her characteristics.  The conclusion I come to, is that this woman has no direction for her life.  She has missed the purpose for her existence, and she doesn't even realize it.  A wandering and lost soul, she (he) searches for meaning in what others can offer them.  It brings an element of emptiness within my heart when I consider these things.

One of my all time favorite verses in the Bible that keeps me on track and continually reminds me what "real life" is and who I am is found in Galations 2:20.  It states, "I have been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.  And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for  me." (ESV)  Isn't that beautiful?!

Thanking God for His Word that brings me hope and direction.  Asking Him to daily infuse our family with His Word, so that we might live a life full of love, service, joy and hope....never turning from the path that He has carved out for us!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Sycamore Tree On The Primrose Path

Proverbs 5:5 (MSG)
She's dancing down the primrose path to Death;  she's headed straight for Hell and taking you with her.

It was predicted days in advance.  We were given concise direction on how to remain safe.  Nearly every detail of it had all been explained to us prior to the unfolding of the event.  Now the decision was up to us.  Do we believe what we were being told and act accordingly?  Or do we ignore the advice and remain complacently standing on the back porch watching the destruction unfold?

The events of January 9, 2009 will remain engraved in my mind forever, due to the severity of the storms that came through the area we live in.  It is not at all uncommon for us to have tornado outbreaks.  On this particular night the forecasters had been predicting the weather conditions to set themselves up in such a way that the end result would be high straight line winds and long lasting tornadoes.  Those of you that know me understand that I take these directions seriously.  (Yes, I am certainly a rule follower, but really...can you be too serious about something that has the potential to take your life in the blink of an eye?!)

In an effort to be prepared,  I have a tornado shelter set up in our basement closet with mattresses, blankets, flashlights and a few other emergency items.  So, needless to say, when the sirens sounded this particular night, in predictable fashion,  I rounded up the crew and we dove in the closet.  We listened to the radio intently, as it tracked the storm.  It was on a path heading directly for our neighborhood.  As we sat huddled together, the lights began to flicker and the house started making a strange creaking sound.  Our ears got muffled and tight, similar to when you travel in an airplane.  We could hear a loud roaring whoosh....and then...it got quiet.  That was it.  Phew...we were safe!  Everything was ok....or was it?



                                Nope....WE were ok, but everyTHING was not!



When the sun came up over the hill, the light revealed what was left of our huge Sycamore tree that once proudly stood in our back yard as the tallest tree in it's grove, looming at about 90 feet high.  It's wood was heavy, hard,  and extremely durable.  The dilapidated old fence that stood next to it went unscathed.  Go figure.  The family tree house and swing set were smashed under the crushing weight of the tree as it fell, taking the roof with it and splintering pieces throughout the yard.
  
After the neighborhood assessed the damage, it was unofficially determined that there had been a tornado coming partially down, never making it all the way to the ground, but extending low enough to rip the tops out of the tree shown and several others in the field and pasture behind us.  In addition, several homes suffered moderate damage.  

When I think of how quickly that tornado came and went and the destruction it left behind, I am drawn back to tonight's verse.  The seductive woman will reek havoc on my life.  She will annihilate my marriage and eradicate my family and home.  The good news is that we are given very clear warning about what will happen if we go down this "primrose path."  Will I listen and take action to prevent injury?  The choice is up to me....and you.

Father,
Thank you for your Word that gives us clear and orderly warnings on how to avoid calamity. Literally, You are teaching me that the seductive woman will separate me from life.  That I will be apart from You if I follow her leadings.  I can't imagine anything worse.  Please help each one of us to abide in You and to heed Your warning.
In Jesus Name,
Amen



Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Consequences

Proverbs 5:4 (MSG)
But it won't be long before she's gravel in your mouth, a pain in your gut, a wound in your heart.


Oh man...here it is...the result of responding to the seductive woman.  None of these options sound very appealing.  I mean, the last time I remember chewing on some gravel was....wait a minute, I've never chewed on gravel...there must be a reason for that.  I'm thinking broken teeth, sliced up mouth, and absolutely no taste here, so probably pass on that one.  A pain in the gut is not my first choice of illness...in fact the stomach flu is at the bottom of my list for sicknesses to endure.  Finally, a wound in my heart sounds deep and extremely serious. 

Nope...I wouldn't want any of these consequences!  Not for myself, not for my husband, not for my son, and not for my daughter.  Praying tonight for the God of heaven to encamp around men (especially married ones) and guard them from the smooth talking ways of the seductive woman.  Also asking the Lord to strengthen each of us by the power of His Holy Spirit to stand firm in His word. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Seductive Woman

Proverbs 5:3 (MSG)
The lips of a seductive woman are oh so sweet, her soft words are oh so smooth.


Brrrr.....who let the cold back in!!  Gee wiz!  Temperatures are hovering in the forties today and are supposed to dip into the twenties over night!  That's a hard pill to swallow after yesterday's gorgeous day....oh bother.  My cat pictured here..
wasn't too impressed either.  I guess when she found out it was cold and rainy and ...a Monday...she slyly snuck inside (where she doesn't usually get to be), curled up in this tight ball, and buried her face under her arm hoping to go undetected with the naked eye.  You know that theory that if I can't see you, then you can't see me.  I left her alone for much of the day...pretending not to see her. 

Yes, I confess, I'm stalling.  When I read this verse today, my mind began playing the words over and over again.  Quite the opposite of my kitty cat is this woman described in the passage above.  She isn't hiding and hoping not to be seen.  Instead, she is wanting to draw attention to herself with the well defined intention of luring in an unsuspecting prey.

I am reminding myself, that a few verses ago, the writer told me that I needed to pay close attention, because he was going to give me wisdom.  Well, here we go.  Right out of the gate, he is telling me to watch out for this type of woman.  Since, I am a woman, I am left to apply it to myself.  I do not want to be this type of smooth talking, attention seeking woman....not even a hint of her.

I have enjoyed a wonderful marriage to the same amazing man for almost twenty two years now.  I am certainly not perfect, and thankfully he isn't either, but we are committed to one another and our family.  The key to that success falls squarely on our faith and reliance on God.  Through His word, prayer, worship, and fellowship with other believers, He has allowed us to travel up and down hills, across valleys, and on top of mountains together.  We have had to work at it sometimes....(because of his imperfections...teehehee..just kidding), but we are determined to remain under the umbrella that God has opened for us~side by side through thick and thin.

Praying tonight for my marriage and each couple represented that might be reading this post.  I am asking the Lord to empower us and give us eyes only for one another.  That He would knit us together with our partners and open the lines of communication, so that we can be united to one another in all areas of our lives.  Finally, that God's name would be glorified through our families, and the net effect would be to draw others to Him by the example of our bond and love for each other.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

May The Lord Bless You And Keep You

Proverbs 5:2 (MSG)
Then you'll acquire a taste for good sense; what I tell you will keep you out of trouble.

Ahhhh....Sunday....and what an amazing Sunday it was.  Absolutely beautiful inside and out!  The sun was shining brightly again and the warm wind was blowing strongly.  As the morning service  came to a close, our Pastor shared with us that he would like to begin speaking a blessing over us before we leave every Sunday just as Aaron spoke a blessing over the Israelites in Numbers chapter six.

It was one of the most touching and heart felt blessings that I have ever heard.  The words washed over me like a cool spring of bubbling crisp water.  I want so badly for you as you are reading this to experience the love that he expressed to us.  At first when I thought about blogging this, I figured it was pointless since you weren't there in person to hear it....but then I remembered....the Pastor spoke God's Words....not his words or my words, but God's Words!  God's powerful, transforming, regenerating Word! 

So, I decided to pass on the blessing that he placed on us, in faith, knowing that because God's Words are alive and availeth much....you will experience God's love through them, as I did.  This scripture has also been set to music and was played at the close of every service when I was a child in the church I grew up in.  The melody flooded my mind as he spoke as well.

I'm praying that God will richly bless you tonight~and "keep you" out of trouble as the Proverbs verse above says.

The scripture is from Numbers 6:24-26 (ESV)
The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Way He Sees It

Proverbs 5:1 (MSG)
Dear friend, pay close attention to this, my wisdom; listen
very closely to the way I see it.

What a beautiful day we had here today!!  Warm and sunny.....not a cloud in the sky and 74 degrees.  It was such a welcome change from the dreariness of the past week. 

Tonight's verse gets my attention in a huge way.  This is the beginning of a new chapter, so I can't wait to hear the way the writer of Proverbs "sees it."  Those words are very intriguing to me, because our perception of things.....or the "way we see it," determines how we will respond to our surroundings.  If my perception of what's going on around me is distorted, then I am frequently going to  be responding inappropriately to those circumstances.  I have to have His perception of wisdom, to be able to make wise decisions in every area of my life.

Praying tonight for continued revelation of His wisdom and the perseverance and strength to fulfill His purposes through my life.

Friday, April 1, 2011

A Cloud Of Dust

Proverbs 4:27 (MSG)
Look neither right nor left;  leave evil in the dust.

I used to have a very precious Great Aunt and Uncle who lived out in the country in the Missouri farming community.  They have since gone on to be with our Lord, but we frequently enjoyed long visits with them.  Several summers, in fact, my Mom and Dad would let me go there and stay for an entire week. 

There are many special memories that I have of the time spent with them in their little farm house.  The smell of freshly mowed fields, the taste of home made ice cream, the ear piercing sounds of the insects at night as the breeze gently blew through my room are all bursting to the front of my mind.  But, one of the most profound memories I have is traveling on the dry dirt roads.  I remember riding in the car and looking back at the enormous cloud of dust that we would leave trailing behind our car as we went into town.  The ground was usually so dry at this time of year, that tiny particles of dirt flew in such a thick veiled wall behind us that you couldn't see anything through it.

Leaving "evil in the dust," suggests placing it behind a thick impenetrable wall where we cannot have contact with it.  It conjures up pictures of a complete separation from the schemes of Satan.  Praying tonight that God would pour His Holy Spirit power into my life and allow me to recognize the tricks of the enemy, so that I can remain entirely removed from evil.