A new day


Good morning, friend,

Snow-covered field Photo by Jimfbleak

Seek (inquire for and require) good and not evil that you may live, and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you, as you have said. Hate the evil and love the good and establish justice in the [court of the city’s] gate. It may be that the Lord, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph [the northern kingdom]. Amos 5:14-15AMP

Sometimes, I wish I could get a landscape view of my life while I’m in the midst of all the stress. That I could just stop, put a pause button on the chaos, confusion, fighting, whatever, step back and take a breath and wonder, what am I after now? As I struggle with a child, separate this squabble or that testy remark , help another with this problem, review  his Awana sections, or have a child speak back to me in frustration…at that moment, that is the moment for me, what I do in that moment, I believe, can bring honor to the Lord or well, not. This is my mission field. These four lives, these are my field. Do I get a do over button? Nope. Is there grace? Yes.

I have found in my readings these past few days that it isn’t so much about doing better, being better, looking better. No, that’s not it. We are looking to a heavenly goal. Making our Father God in Heaven proud. Keeping our minds focused on the gift of grace. Preparing our minds for action. How do I do this in the middle of stressful situations? I go back to what I know to be true.

I am thankful. I am thankful today for God’s continuing grace that brought me through the day. It was not a perfect day, yet we accomplished our goals.

I am thankful for the gift of clean drawers in my kitchen. Not sure how long it will last, but I sure do appreciate opening a drawer and finding what I need.

I am thankful for heat. As we launch into day three of being in the house, I’m very grateful to be warm.

We stay thankful. No matter what.

4 Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, gladden yourselves in Him]; again I say, Rejoice!

5 Let all men know and perceive and recognize your unselfishness (your considerateness, your forbearing spirit). The Lord is near [He is [a]coming soon]. Philippians 4 AMP

We remain focused, prepared for action.

A Call to Holy Living ] ·So [Therefore; For this reason] ·prepare your minds for service [prepare your minds for action; or, be alert; L gird the loins of your mind]and ·have self-control [be disciplined]. ·All your hope should be for [Focus all your hope on] the gift of grace that will be ·yours [brought/given to you] ·when Jesus Christ is shown to you [L at the revelation of Jesus Christ].1 Peter 1:13EXB

We live in the light.

Living in the Light ] You are God’s children whom he loves, so ·try to be like [imitate] him. ·Live a life of love [Walk in love] just as Christ loved us and gave himself for us as a ·sweet-smelling [fragrant] offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1-2EXB

And I don’t know about you, but I sing. My family is a bunch of singers. We may sing off-key, but we love to sing and we love to listen to music. The song that I shared with you yesterday rang through our house several times. Silly songs. Songs that bring joy and laughter and reminders of the One who is in control and who loves us.

The most powerful lesson I am learning is the beautiful gift of forgiveness. Listening to the DAB last night (1/7/2014), Brian Hardin was speaking of how forgiveness on our part isn’t a choice, it’s a requirement. We fight the act of forgiving others. We hold back, we could never forgive this or that. Yet, what we fail to see, what we fail to realize as we hope to keep the one who hurt us in chains with bitterness and anger, the one who is in chains is, well, us. Gulp.

14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6 NKJV

That may sound harsh. Yet, freedom awaits us when forgiveness flows. The Father knows this lesson all to well. How do I teach that to my boys who hurt one another so often? How do I help them understand the gift of friendship and brotherhood? Yes, well, I am still learning these lessons as their mother so it is a flowing lesson, isn’t it?

So, many things to ponder this day, as I begin anew. Start again. Pray on. Pray on.

 

 

Categories: Bible teaching | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Man of Sorrows


Primula vulgaris in snow. By “color line”

Good morning, friend,

Living in the Light ] You are God’s children whom he loves, so ·try to be like [imitate] him. ·Live a life of love [Walk in love] just as Christ loved us and gave himself for us as a ·sweet-smelling [fragrant] offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1-2 EXB

We have another day of crazy cold around here. Yesterday was filled with experiments like throwing boiling water into the air and watching it freeze, seeing how long a wet wash cloth takes to become a solid and for good measure, we wanted to see how long it would take for an egg. A friend on Facebook gave us the idea..it has been amazing to see our community react to these temperatures. Our area has just shut down. No classes, no basketball, the kids are a little antsy to get back into the swing.

I am thankful today for a day at home with all four, to getting back into our routines and schedules. It begins again.

I am thankful for  the Daily Audio Bible to my whole family. It is good to hear the Bible spoken at night across our house.

I am thankful for alarm clocks! My teenager is up and getting his day going! LOL

These past few nights have found me awake in the middle of the night. Have you ever noticed how, in the hours before dawn, you really cannot think clearly? Rational thought is not my best friend. Very often I turn to praying for family and loved ones,  last night, though, my mind traced on old routes of worry and stress. The chains that had been gone for so long seemed to be creeping back in. I lay there stunned as the thoughts tumbled one after the other. I cried out, Jesus! And this song popped into my head, Man of Sorrows. Now there are two versions I know, one we sang on Sunday by Hillsong and a very old version by Phillip Bliss (another favorite.)

I kept singing what I could remember to myself. Over and over.  The focus in my head became Jesus, Man of Sorrows rather than my worries. Check this out:

Now my debt is paid
It is paid in full
By the precious blood
That my Jesus spilled

Now the curse of sin
Has no hold on me
Whom the Son sets free
Oh is free indeed Lyric Freak

Free indeed! Whom the Son sets free! I throw my hands out in worship and thank Jesus for His precious, precious blood spilled. Yesterday, my daughter and I were discussing grace and she needed to write in her own words the definition. Grace is one of those words for me…a cue…grace=unmerited favor. Another one for me, salvation=deliverance, for some reason the words on the right of the equal sign keep the definition close. However, my girl wanted to just use my words. Ahh, no. So, how do you describe grace?

Grace (charis)-

  1. of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues

Of course, my girl was wishing she could copy that, which then led to entirely new conversation..I digress. Mom! He loves me! I don’t deserve it, do I? It’s a gift! She’ll learn more and more about His merciful kindness that turns her to Jesus as she grows. What is important now for her to remember, she is loved. It’s a crazy, wild love, she hasn’t done anything to earn it, yet it’s hers.

How I need that truth in the middle of the night!

Oh that rugged cross
My salvation
Where Your love poured out over me
Now my soul cries out
Hallelujah
Praise and honour unto Thee

Man of Sorrows…

3 He was ·hated [despised] and rejected by people.
·He had much pain [L A man of pain/suffering/T sorrows] and ·suffering [one who knew/was acquainted with pain/grief].
People ·would not even look at [turned their backs on; L hid their faces from] him.
He was ·hated [despised], and we ·didn’t even notice him [or did not esteem him].

4 But he ·took [bore] our suffering on him
and ·felt our pain for us [carried our sorrows/sickness].
·We saw his suffering
and thought God was punishing him [L …stricken and afflicted by him; C God].
5 But he was wounded for ·the wrong we did [T our transgressions];
he was crushed for ·the evil we did [T our iniquities].
The punishment, which ·made us well [brought us wholeness/peace], was given to him,
and we are healed because of his ·wounds [lacerations; T stripes; 1 Pet. 2:24].
6 We all have ·wandered away [T gone astray] like sheep;
each of us has gone his own way [1 Pet. 2:25].
But the Lord has put on him ·the punishment
for all the evil we have done [L all of our sins/iniquity].

7 He was ·beaten down [oppressed] and ·punished [treated harshly; T afflicted   

but he didn’t ·say a word [L open his mouth].

He was like a lamb being led to be ·killed [slaughtered].
He was quiet, as a sheep is quiet ·while its wool is being cut [L before its shearers; Acts 8:32Matt. 26:63Mark 14:61John 19:91 Pet. 2:23];
he never opened his mouth. Isaiah 53 EXB

Today, I begin this day weary, but encouraged. I know Jesus feels my pain. His punishment brought me wholeness and peace..so this creeping thought of worry and unrest, it is not welcome, nor is it from the Lord. I am healed because of His wounds. I am well! I am thankful. Today, a new day, the sun shines even with this incredible cold and reminds me I am free indeed. Yet, friends, this is not just for me! We!

Remember that beautiful definition of grace?

.. merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues”

Remember that today. We are kept. We are strengthened. We are being increased in our faith, in our knowledge, and our affection! Not for the things of this world, not for the earthly pleasures that fade away, but for the Man of Sorrows, Lamb of God. 

Pray on. Pray on.

 

 

Categories: Bible teaching, Cara thoughts..., Music, Old Testament, Prophecies, Thankfuls | Leave a comment

Thanks


Landscape with snow From Dælivannet, Bærum Photo by Randi Hausken

Good morning, friend,

The beginning of the second semester of school officially begins tomorrow. GRIN. Today is get back to reality day. This day has many possibilities but I know it has to begin with Jesus. It has to start with the Lord, acknowledging His presence in this house, His Spirit, His guidance. Doesn’t every day hold that possibility? Can’t every day hold the chance to be a gift waiting for us to open?

I’m thankful today for my husband. He’s up and out to work. I’m thankful for his job and for our provisions.

I’m thankful for my little man that came home safely from his retreat, had a great time and is now snuggling with me.

I’m thankful for my family. I’m thankful for these past two weeks of rest and retreat for the craziness of life. It has been a good, deep breath.

Why not take a moment and write out or say out loud three things you are grateful for this day? Start this day with thanks.

A snowrabbit. Taken in a private garden in Oxfordshire, England on 24th January 2007

A Call to Holy Living ] ·So [Therefore; For this reason] ·prepare your minds for service [prepare your minds for action; or, be alert; L gird the loins of your mind]and ·have self-control [be disciplined]. ·All your hope should be for [Focus all your hope on] the gift of grace that will be ·yours [brought/given to you] ·when Jesus Christ is shown to you [L at the revelation of Jesus Christ].1 Peter 1:13EXB

We have a call, friends, to live holy lives. To live for Him…and Peter tells us how…

1. Gird up the loins of your mind…to be prepared:

“…a metaphor derived from the practice of the Orientals, who in order to be unimpeded in their movements were accustomed, when starting a journey or engaging in any work, to bind their long flowing garments closely around their bodies and fastened them with a leather belt.” Greek Lexicon, blb.org

So rather than just flying into our day, not prepared, not thinking, Peter calls us to think differently, respond differently. Prepare.

2. Have self-control, be disciplined:

  1. to be sober, to be calm and collected in spirit

  2. to be temperate, dispassionate, circumspect Greek Lexicon, blb.org

3. All your hope should be for the gift of grace that will be ·yours:

  1. to hope

    1. in a religious sense, to wait for salvation with joy and full confidence

  2. hopefully to trust in Greek Lexicon, blb.org

So this is my first week back, yet, I begin anew this day. I begin with thanksgiving. I begin with a plan for my day. I ask the Spirit of God for a calm, collect spirit, to have discipline this day. (No matter, how this day ends, Jesus is with me.) And finally, I look to the hope, a future hope that awaits all believers.

Pray on. Pray on.

Categories: 1 Peter, Bible teaching | Leave a comment

Retreat!


Rhoen Schneetreiben Photo by Mg-k

Good evening, friends,

Well, the snow has given way to COLD! :) Now we are in a cold snap. And genius me decides today is the day to go shopping. Yep. Everyone else in Northern Illinois had the same idea. However, here’s the deal with shopping, grateful to be able to GO shopping. To have money to get food, a car to get me there, gas in the tank, I’m not kidding you, there have been times…so today, today is a good day. And I’ll take the crowds and the need for turn lanes in the grocery store and turn signals on the carts and courtesy lessons for my fellow shoppers. And my kids! I’m grateful. They are healthy and so it is all good.

We put our second on a bus this night for his very first retreat as a junior higher. Yikes. He is so very excited. I, however, hold on very tightly and worry and get teary. I’m waiting to check in and get to the front of the line with my boy..and bam! He’s done. He’s checked in and he runs off. Oy. Last night, he came up, tucked me in (I had a migraine), prayed over me and reassured me that he would be just fine. (Who is the parent here?) I don’t know, friends, I think all the health issues over the course of his life, all our time together in hospitals, doctor’s offices, speech therapists, have made me a little more clingy. Maybe the allergies that have come to surface as of late. Maybe just the emotional issues…I don’t know. I am WAY over protective of this little guy. And I feel the Lord’s gentle touch of my white knuckle grip on my son, and His asking of me, Daughter, am I enough for him as well?

I mean, if….

Your love never fails, never gives up
Never runs out on me

Higher than the mountains that I face
Stronger than the power of the grave
Constant in the trial and the change
One thing remains

On and on and on and on it goes
It overwhelms and satisfies my soul
And I never, ever, have to be afraid
One thing remains

Then, can God not do that for my children? When I cannot be there for them? When he sits in a bus with a bunch of kids, I can be confident that Jesus is with him. When he is figuring out where he is sleeping tonight, Jesus is there. If he is lonely, Jesus is there. When he is joyful, Jesus is there. When he is worshipping, Jesus is there. When he is sleeping, Jesus is there.

Actually, some good reminders for us all, right?

Friends, I don’t know if you need this reminder tonight, but…let’s put our eyes on…

12 I turned to see who was talking to me. When I turned, I saw seven golden lampstands 13 and someone among the lampstands who was “like a Son of Man [C referring to Jesus; the title he most often used to refer to himself; Dan. 7:13–14].” He was dressed in a long robe and had a gold ·band[sash] around his chest [C the clothes of a dignitary; Dan. 10:5]. 14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow [Dan. 7:9], and his eyes were like ·flames of [blazing] fire [Dan. 10:6]. 15 His feet were like bronze ·that glows hot [refined; fired] in a furnace [Dan. 10:6], and his voice was like the noise of ·flooding water [rushing water; L many waters; Ezek. 43:2]. 16 He held seven stars in his right hand, and a sharp double-edged sword came out of his mouth. ·He [L His face] looked like the sun shining ·at its brightest time [or with full power/force; L in its strength]. Revelation 1 EXB

So we fix our eyes on…

 2 Let us ·look only to [keep our eyes on] Jesus, the ·One who began[Pioneer/Founder of; or Leader/Prince of] our faith and who ·makes it perfect [completes it]. He ·suffered death on [L endured] the cross, ·accepting the shame as if it were nothing[L disregarding/despising the shame] because of the joy that ·God put before [lay ahead for] him. And now he is sitting at the right ·side [L hand] of God’s throne [1:313Ps. 110:1]. Hebrews 12

God is enough. And I’m going to have to keep putting my boy back in His lap, but I will. As I do with each of my kids, my God loves them so much more than I do. Thank You, Jesus. Thank You, Jesus, for the sweet gift of You.  Thank You for being in me, yet being in, being with each of us. You are the gift. Thank You.

 

Categories: Bible teaching | 1 Comment

Snow


winter landscape Photo by Chwalkowko

Good morning, friends,

Looking out my bedroom window this morning, I smile as I watch the birds fly from branch to branch tossing snow effortlessly to the ground.  A few of the little birds are perched close to our window, peering in. The day dawns bright and clear, have you noticed how snow helps the world seem clean and new? I know what lies under the snow in our yard (trust me, I have kids and a dog). Our dog is a stinker. She loves to sneak things out into the yard and sneak things in FROM the yard. *Sigh* . Luke is begging this morning for “snow cream”. I told him we would need to find VERY safe snow. VERY.

The cardinal is over by my window now and the color contrast!! I like to think that God gives us reminders in nature. What do you think?

Cardinal in snow Photo by Mike’s Birds

 6 You ·want me to be completely truthful [L desire truth/faithfulness in my inward parts],
·so teach me wisdom [L and secretly you make me know wisdom].
7 ·Take away my sin [L Remove my sin with hyssop; Ex. 12:22; C a plant used in purification rituals; Lev. 14:4649–51Num. 19:18], and I will be clean.
Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow [Is. 1:18].
8 Make me hear sounds of joy and gladness;
let the bones you crushed ·be happy [rejoice] again.
9 ·Turn [L Hide] your face from my sins
and ·wipe [blot] out all my guilt. Psalm 51 EXB

Snow is a lovely thing, as I said, it does cover the ugly, doesn’t it? But, it never stays covered, eventually, it melts. Eventually, if you drive by my house, you’ll see the toys, the shoe the dog dragged into the yard, etc. We like to cover up too, don’t we? Oh, I’m fine. I’m good. Yet, if we are completely truthful, all the way to the inward parts, we are not good. Wisdom calls us to call out and say, Lord, I’m not good! I’m struggling. I need YOU! And you know what, friend? He’ll answer! He’ll teach you wisdom.

The fake us that says, oh, I’m good, can only last for a certain amount of time before the facade will give way. We listen to the lie that it’s better to hide than to come clean! A lie from the pit of hell that we need not listen.

I love verse 7…Remove my sin with hyssop (have to include a picture, I had no idea!)

Za’atar growing in the herb garden of the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens, Jerusalem, Israel Photo by Gilabrand

 “Hyssop” was a small plant (see 1 Kgs 4:33) used to apply water (or blood) in purification rites (see Exod 12:22Lev 14:4-6, 49-52Num 19:6-18. The psalmist uses the language and imagery of such rites to describe spiritual cleansing through forgiveness. Notes by https://net.bible.org/#!bible/Psalms+51

David knew his cleansing could not be his own doing. He could not cleanse the sin. I will be clean. I shall be whiter than snow. This is said with confidence not found in himself. David knew his confidence rested solely in his God. And friends, we can learn so much from this confidence. This confidence was born out of pain. Take note.

It’s not about being strong, looking strong. He is LORD, LORD of all. He is your strength. He is your all. Oh, but us trying, attempting, looking a certain way..ya, that’s filthy rags to Him, the King of Kings…remember, He knows you are weak. Friend, He remembers we are dust, for heaven’s sake. What are we trying to do running from Him?? Mercy.

A few things I would like to share with you as we enter a new year…if you would like to add the discipline of reading/listening to the Bible in a year, I had never done this before this past year when I found the Daily Audio Bible.  Before I go to bed, I listen to Brian Hardin read portions of the Old and New Testament, a Psalm and a Proverb each day. It’s been a great addition to my daily routine. I purchased the app for my phone for a buck and I love it.

I’ve finally had enough of the clutter and I’ve enjoyed this woman’s website and how she breaks down into 52 weeks. If that sounds overwhelming to you, then think how long it took you to get to where you are today. LOL. Home Storage Solutions 101

May God bless you this day. May you remember that you are loved, deeply and forever.

All this from snow…snow…

I digress.

 

Categories: Bible teaching, Cara thoughts..., Old Testament, Pictures from commons..., Psalms | Leave a comment

Operation


Good morning, friend,

Today finds me with a dog snuggled next to me on one side and a cuppa on the other. The loud dishwasher (which should have been run…) is chugging away. The darkness still fills the house. Lights under the stove and cabinets cast strange images across the walls. The wind is blowing fiercely. Trains disrupt the quiet, shaking the neighborhood. All these impressions I have run through my mind, fast, and I realize these are benign thoughts but the same can be said for thoughts that are not so cozy, so picturesque.

I wrote about this yesterday. Allowing my mind to think on, allowing myself to waste time brings me to a night like last night, where I needed to make some decisions. I hate writing posts like this, but change isn’t easy, it isn’t fun, it is, however, necessary. Facebook has given me an outlet to share my blog. I am grateful. It gives me a chance to stay in touch (truly) with messenger with a few people. However, these past few weeks have found me trolling more and more. Searching more and more. and in the end, losing more and more. Gosh, that sounded kind of nice.

Truth is, I’m spending WAY too much time. And today, I deleted facebook off my phone. I took Internet Explorer off my start menu. I took email off my start menu. I’m writing a sign for my laptop. Face time. Not Facebook. I am seriously thinking of asking my husband to change my password, like I can’t handle just saying no? On my own?

I know where the trolling habit began. It began with a hurt, to cover a hurt, to help me feel better.  Sheesh, even as I type it, I see the lie. I know where to go to “feel better”. I know where to go to HEAL the hurt.  And it ain’t Facebook, folks.

Please, don’t misunderstand me. Facebook isn’t the enemy. Time is. I’m running out of time. I just have to look at my sweet kids and I know…I’m running out of time. Completely. So spending it foolishly? Oh, dear God, forgive me. Have you ever noticed how instructive personal pain is?

*Sigh*

But don’t let it faze you. Stick with what you learned and believed, sure of the integrity of your teachers—why, you took in the sacred Scriptures with your mother’s milk! There’s nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us. 2 Timothy 3:16-17MSG

Stick with what I’ve learned and believed…

So, starting on my Monday, I’m back to a Precepts class at a local church. It’s time for me to study the Word with other women and study it the way God wired my brain. I’m excited and ready to begin. The timing couldn’t be more perfect and I know not a soul in the class. I’ve studied Precepts style since Luke was an infant..wow, ten years, but it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to join a class.

How about you? How are you being counseled and shown through the Word? Maybe you are in a time where you can’t join a class (been there, done that), are you attending a church that preaches the Word? Are you studying His Word ? Please avail yourself of time, of quiet with Him.

Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another…

At night, over the past few months, I have listened to the Daily Audio Bible. Now that, my friends, has been a huge blessing to my nighttime routine. Huge. What this man, Brian Hardin, has done…well, I’m going to let him tell you about it.

Welcome to the Daily Audio Bible!

Some nights I fall asleep to him reading. Some nights I listen to the entire thing. Some nights I pray alongside of him.  I’ve never read the Bible through and through in its entirety. Right now we are heading through Jeremiah, 2nd Timothy and always through Psalms and Proverbs. Love it.

Study Says the Writer

Showing the Truth…

I believe these insights about Facebook were God directed.  Nobody said any of this to me. Nobody had to…it was the Holy Spirit’s direction on me last night into this day today. He has direction for my life! Each time I get slogged down in trolling through…well, you know, I’m not doing His work, I’m wasting time.  How has His Spirit been guiding you? Directing you?

I’m going to tell you, as I’ve been writing, I’ve already been tempted. Already been wondering, what’s on Facebook? Any messages? Nobody would have to know. Wow. The truth is…the truth is…He does.

Exposing our rebellion…

Correcting our mistakes...

Training us to live God’s way...

When I was little, there was a very cool game that my neighbors owned. I would go down to their house and beg to play. Every time. I loved it. Operation. This guy laid out on a table, his innards exposed to all and I had to pull them out gently, not touching the sides. Ya, right.  I always felt a little bad for the guy. Exposed. Revealed. Known.

When God operates on me, when He operates on you, it can hurt. It can sting. It is revealing. It is painful. Yet, we learn. You don’t have to share your learning experiences with the entire blogging community like I’m doing here but my hope and prayer is that by my sharing of my weakness, you may see the power of Christ in me. Not by my strength, nor by my power, but by His.

Just like the Operation guy can’t pull out his own innards, we can’t pull out our own sins, learn from them and live free on our own. We need Jesus. We need His Holy Spirit.

BECAUSE…

Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.

Run the race He has for you.

Pray on. Pray on.

Categories: Bible teaching | 1 Comment

Whac-A-Mole


I start my morning with a slurper, well, two actually. One is already on his way to work. The other is memorizing the Foxtrot comic book resting on his lap. I begin to have a cognizant thought and slurp! And then, I am reminded of the many pages I follow on Facebook. The Mamas chronicling the one year anniversaries of losing their babies to cancer, fighting to keep their children from the grip of cancer or discovering their fight is just beginning. Slurp away, kid.

Sunset in Belo Horizonte Photo by Higor Douglas

Life is like that, isn’t it? We were meant to live this life in the present. To enjoy this gift, to peer out of the windows, see the sun shining through the trees and rather than just smile and close the blinds, run out with the dog and kids and join the chorus. Of course, it would require that my other children arise and join the rest of the open-eyed population.  I’ve been spending way too much time in my head lately, in regret, in the past, what I should have said. How I should have been.  And guess what I’ve done? I’ve smiled at the joy set before me (my family), closed the curtain and listened rather than run out and joined the chorus.

How often do we close the curtains in our own lives? How often have we briefly seen whatever the joy was the Lord set before us (the beauty of the day, the family, the friendships, life, whatever) and chosen to keep our focus solely on the stress? Has your neighbor’s dog bark finally crossed that line? Do your church’s music choices set your teeth on edge? Are there people at your church that you wish would worship elsewhere so you could finally have the church you want? Are your children not doing everything according to your gospel? Shall I continue? Did I mention yours? Fill in the blank ________. You tell the Lord. But I’m going to tell you, here’s what He says in Philippians 4:

4-5 Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you are on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute!

All those questions, those curtains they close the door on celebration. Celebration is open the doors wide.  Open your heart wide. As I type that, it’s hard. Down and dirty hard to do this with people…especially when people are not like you. When people don’t understand you and you don’t understand them, we forget. We forget that we aren’t here to be perfect, we are here to work together, harmoniously. Our love for one another doesn’t have to be constant time and attention but it can be a touch on the shoulder, a smile that reaches your eyes, knowing that love comes from the Father in heaven. You can’t love the difficult people on your own. You love them from Him. He is your love and His love pours through.

Romans 12: 11-13 Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.

How do we burn out? How do we keep fueled and aflame? Most certainly not by working on our own strength or love. It all starts with Him. All of it. It stops when we… back to Philippians 4:

6-7 Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

We have got to get to this point where we trigger an automatic response to worry. Right away. The worries begin and bam! we begin to pray. I’m not kidding. I keep thinking of that Whac-A-Mole game, right? You know the game? Sometimes, I feel like that’s my worries in my life. One crops up, bam! Another, bam! A child has no problem whacking a mole with all their might, why do I allow my “moles” to just hang out above the surface, grabbing some rays, checking out the hot moles in the other holes…You get my point.

What if today, I turn my back on the whole stupid game? And I let petitions and praises shape these moles into prayers and I just give ‘em over to my God? Then as I do this, I will begin to feel and know I am complete in Him, I will and am remembering that all comes together for good!

It’s wonderful, isn’t it, when Christ displaces worry in the center of our life?

Well, you’ll have to excuse me, I have a slurper and dog to take on a walk.

Pray on. Pray on.

Thankfuls

I’m thankful for the gorgeous sunrise.

I’m thankful for my Kimberlee who checks on me every morning to make sure I’m having my QT. I love you, girl.

I’m thankful for a new alarm clock that didn’t work today and we slept in.

Categories: Bible teaching, Cara thoughts..., http://www.hellomornings.org/, Music, New Testament, Pictures from commons..., Psalms | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Marshmallow shooters


Creeping thistle. Photo by Ivar Leidus

Good morning, friend,

Ever sit to watch the coffee drip into the pot, waiting for enough to fill even half a cup? Recalling this past night, wishing for more sleep…knowing that the day spreads before me, knowing this truth: when I begin my day with the Lord, no matter the amount of sleep, I still have staked a claim. This day shall be for the Lord. As the garbage truck passes by the house, one of the boy children is awake and the day begins. It must begin with the Lord. I must..

I continue to ponder the first chapter of Joshua. God keeps it simple.

Yes, keep this book of the Torah on your lips, and meditate on it day and night, so that you will take care to act according to everything written in it. Then your undertakings will prosper, and you will succeed. 9 Haven’t I ordered you, ‘Be strong, be bold’? So don’t be afraid or downhearted, because Adonai your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1 CJB

For me, this day, this means to keep my mind securely on the Word. To meditate on the Word…

hagah- to speak with oneself, and in a low voice, as is often done by those musing.

Repetition. Repetition. Repetition.

1 How blessed are those
who reject the advice of the wicked,
don’t stand on the way of sinners
or sit where scoffers sit!
2 Their delight
is in Adonai’s Torah;
on his Torah they meditate
day and night.
3 They are like trees planted by streams —
they bear their fruit in season,
their leaves never wither,
everything they do succeeds. Psalm 1 CJB

Where is my delight? What does my mind meditate upon? Do I ponder more upon the fears? Do I remain fixed upon the truth of His Word?

15 (14) May the words of my mouth
and the thoughts of my heart
be acceptable in your presence,
Adonai, my Rock and Redeemer. Psalm 19 CJB

As I type, my son, my early riser, is attempting to configure his marshmallow shooter. Some of the marshmallows are stuck in the barrel of his gun. (Even though his Grandmother told him to use cornstarch with the marshmallows). So, he has tried a straw to push them out, he has tried water to wash them out, and now he is using a hairdryer to dry them out. However, had he listened to his Grandmother (you can pay me later, Mom), he would be gleefully shooting the dog, the other members of his family even at this moment.

He didn’t.

God tells us to meditate on His word…we start our day worrying about ________________________ (your worry here).

God tells us to speak His truth…instead frustration pours from our mouths because our day is not looking how WE think it should look.

God tells us to meditate on it day and night…instead we are distracted by Facebook, email, Twitter..

We are clogging up our marshmallow shooters, people.

Now, my boy has gone back and listened to the advice of our wise Matriarch. His marshmallows are covered in cornstarch. Then, he decides to coat his brother and sister’s bags of white fluff to help them so they do not run into the same issues as he.

So I hope by my words I may point you to our Lord, His Word and His teachings. Don’t start your day with worry. Get your coffee, grab His Word and begin your day by meditating on His Word. It’s all about Jesus (Haven Today). I end with this quote of Paul’s today.

14 Above all these, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together perfectly; 15 and let the shalom which comes from the Messiah be your heart’s decision-maker, for this is why you were called to be part of a single Body.

And be thankful — 16 let the Word of the Messiah, in all its richness, live in you, as you teach and counsel each other in all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude to God in your hearts. 17 That is, everything you do or say, do in the name of the Lord Yeshua, giving thanks through him to God the Father. Colossians 3 CJB

Pray on. Pray on.

 

 

Categories: Bible teaching, Cara thoughts..., New Testament, Old Testament | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Great I AM


Wupatki National Monument Photo by Stephen M Alden

Good morning, friend,

So, I found a new Bible on the Biblegateway website. I love it. I think I go through phases of which is my favorite. I love the Expanded Bible which gives background and word definitions right in the text. For some, it clutters the page. For me, dragging my eyes from the text to the bottom of the page for commentary and such feels disjointed. I love the Amplified Bible (pretty similar to the Expanded). This new one I am sharing with you today is called the Complete Jewish Bible. Love it (she says with a song in her heart) ! The names of God are right in the text, the names of the people are in the Jewish form, So in the following text, Moshe is Moses. Torah is the first five books of the OT.

6 “Be strong, be bold; for you will cause this people to inherit the land I swore to their fathers I would give them. 7 Only be strong and very bold in taking care to follow all the Torah which Moshe my servant ordered you to follow; do not turn from it either to the right or to the left; then you will succeed wherever you go. 8 Yes, keep this book of the Torah on your lips, and meditate on it day and night, so that you will take care to act according to everything written in it. Then your undertakings will prosper, and you will succeed. 9 Haven’t I ordered you, ‘Be strong, be bold’? So don’t be afraid or downhearted, because Adonai your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1 CJB

Be strong- chazaq- to tie fast, to bind bonds strongly, to hold fast, stick fast. 

Be bold-amats- alert, courageous, brave, stout, bold, solid, hard

I look at these two words and at first glance, I wonder how in the world God expected these people, Joshua to be strong. However, the definition of strong, to tie fast, to bind bonds means that the one who needs the strength should hold fast to one who is stronger. It makes no sense in the midst of a strong storm to bind yourself to a sapling but to a 100 year old oak tree. God wasn’t expecting Joshua to just be strong on his own. Adonai knew Joshua and the Israelites could not do it on their own.

Yes, they were going to be given the land. Their success came in following ALL the words of the Lord. Knowing His word. Keeping His commands. Keep their eyes on Him. Not turning from the right or left.

How in the world do they not turn to the right OR the left? Memorizing the Word. Keeping it on their lips. Meditating on His word all. day. long. So the tying, the binding was to the Lord, to His word, to His promises, to His guidance. This was crucial to their success.

It is crucial to mine. To yours. How can we not be afraid or downhearted? Well, I think it begins to tying myself early in the day to the Lord. Binding myself strongly to the promises contained in the whole word of God.

16 Always be joyful. 17 Pray regularly. 18 In everything give thanks, for this is what God wants from you who are united with the Messiah Yeshua. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

Pray. Give thanks. Keep His word in my heart, on my tongue. Speaking His words are so much better than my own. I get muddled in the middle of my day and the words I start my day on seem so far away. The boys are fighting. The girl is wandering off listening to her book. We need to get school done!! And all of a sudden, the whispers begin. Your kids are so far behind. You are doing a horrible job teaching them. If only you kept a better schedule. If only you had a clean…

STOP! Are these the words of God? Are these the promises of God? Nope. Instead, I’ve forgotten. What if instead of allowing my brain to take over with accusations and guilt trips (which are not fun trips) I turned it around.

The boys are fighting, Lord, how should we handle it? What words can you give me? My girl is wandering off. How can I gently, yet strongly enforce our rules? Lord, are my kids far behind? It’s September. Horrible? Really? Wow. Where did that come from?

Peace. Be still and know that I AM God. (Psalm 46:10)  “Courage,” he said, “it is I. Stop being afraid!” (Mark 6: 50b) The Great I AM is here. The I AM is here. The I AM is here. I am not alone. I am not homeschooling these gifts on my own strength. I can do ALL things through Christ who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)

Walk in His truth today. Bind yourself to Him. Walk closely to His side.

Pray on. Pray on.

 

Categories: Bible teaching, Cara thoughts..., Music, New Testament, Old Testament, Pictures from commons... | 5 Comments

Believer


Island Archway on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

Good morning, beloved,

I think my favorite worship/praise/hymns have to be anthems. The songs begin slow, quietly and continue to build and with great feeling and emotion, crescendo. One hymn we taught our children early on, Battle Hymn of the Republic, rings in my ears.

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free;
[originally …let us die to make men free]
While God is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! While God is marching on. Cyber Hymnal

Anthem: a rousing or uplifting song identified with a particular group, body, or cause. Hmmm, I need to be roused. To be lifted up by the truth, to remember this life, this time is so brief. All of it is a breath…I breathe in and realize I have stopped folding Sparky uniforms. I only have TNT jerseys (and up) to fold and give to children. This day, this family, this is my ministry. This is my day.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body[a] and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But[b] God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness towards us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2 ESVUK

Rise up, friends. What is before you? Where is your allegiance? His mercy reaches out. His great love calls to you, to me. You were dead. I was dead. Grace reached out. As I type I’m listening to Passion belt out a song. I am inspired, encouraged and moved to trust more, hope more..

Our minds are truly a battlefield. I sing to bring the truth to my mind. I sing to fight feelings. To fight fear, to remember, to state CLEARLY that the Lord Our God is faithful. Never failing. How can I doubt this? How can I wonder at what He is doing? Why do I forget to give thanks?

By grace we have been saved…

Grace…it’s all about Him. It’s not anything we have done. It’s all about what HE has done, is doing, and will continue to do. Save us.

So this day, as you walk through your day, as I walk through my day, let’s remember, it’s grace.

Once and for all times. We believe our God is Jesus. We believe He is Lord. We believe HE has saved us.

The power in His name..

 

Categories: Bible teaching | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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