Wednesday, April 30, 2014

With Friends Like This...

"You're so fat"
"Your hair looks terrible today!"
"You'll never be able to do that"
"That outfit looks just awful on you"
"You're a bad mother"
"You're not good enough"
"I don't think you can do this"
"You're too scared to do that"
"You're such a failure"
"You're not smart enough"
"You'll never be as good as so-and-so"
"You can't do anything right"

If you had a friend who talked to you like this on a regular basis, you probably wouldn't be friends with that person for very long.  (assuming you somehow managed to think of them as a friend in the first place) Right? 

Right!  I know, I wouldn't! Who wants to be around someone constantly putting us down and feeding us such negative energy all the time? 

So...  what makes us feel that it's OK to speak to ourselves like this? 

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Puzzle Pieces

You are made exactly the way God created you to fit into a particular plan, a specific place He has for you.

Like pieces of a puzzle.  Some may appear very similiar at first glance, but each one is uniquely crafted to fit into a specific spot.  Each piece fitting in a particular place until the complete beautiful work appears.

That's how God's plan is: each of us unique, with a spot to fill.

Maybe we can't see it now.  All we may see is our own oddly shapped piece of things.  But someday, the completed, beautiful work will be revealed to each of us.

"For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do" ~ Ephesians 2:10

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Monday, April 28, 2014

That Cross

That Cross.  That empty Cross.  

The sacrificial altar where Jesus - battered, broken, scarred - was given over to death, so that he could carry sin into the grave.


Only to rise again on the third day into new life. Freedom.  Leaving sin behind him in the darkness.  

The Cross where sin was carried away and left in the realm of death.


So that new life could burst forth and be mine.  Freeing me from the burden.  Into a bright new morning.


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Friday, April 25, 2014

Half - Baked

I have been in a baking sort of mood this week.  It started with the lemon pound cake I made last weekend for Easter. Which I didn't get a picture of - but it was yummy.

Then I made a pan of cornbread to go with a pot of Pioneer Woman's Black Bean soup.  (also yummy)

And the next night, since we were having breakfast for dinner it only seemed right to make a batch of fresh biscuits.

Is it odd that I suddenly want to do a bunch of baking just as the temperatures start warming up?  If this keeps up I'm going to have to pull out the bread machine to avoid heating up the kitchen too much!

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Problems With Prayer

I am participating in the Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible Study "Living So That", based on the book by Wendy Blight.  This week we are studying Bible verses teaching us to "Pray So That..."
P31 OBS Blog Hop

My prayer life growing up was.. well... religious. Being raised Catholic, there seemed to be a specific prayer for every occasion or situation.  Prayers to be memorized and repeated.  I don't remember often - if ever - praying from the heart.  Just talking to God and telling Him what I was thinking... feeling... struggling with.  I never saw prayer as simply pouring out my heart to him in a free, open way.

I no longer pray those all head - no heart, routine memorizations.  Which is good.   However, it's also left me with what I perceive to be two major problems with my prayer life:

Problem #1:
Now when I pray I have no ritual or routine to my prayer life whatsoever.  I pray whenever and where ever.  I pray when I feel I need to or should.  I pray when I feel grateful; when I am overcome with joy.  I pray when I hear of someone in need. I pray when my heart is heavy, when I am sad or angry, or in doubt.

But not always.  I don't go to God as often as I could - or should.  Just when it occurs to me to pray.  Prayer isn't a regular part of my life. It just happens as it happens. Not exactly a bad thing.  But when entire days manage to slip by without prayer - that's a problem. 

In "Living So That", Wendy talks about using prayer triggers.  Things to remind us to pray for a particular person when we see that item.  I love this idea to help remind me to pray for my family and for people I know are struggling or in need of prayer.  I'll be putting that concept into place immediately!

Prayer is about building a relationship with God.  It's about constantly keeping the lines of communication open.  It's about spending time with God and learning to be aware of His presence.

You can't have a relationship with someone you rarely talk to!


Problem #2:
When I do pray, I find it difficult to do so with confidence.  Perhaps it's a leftover result of all those memorized "this is what to pray when" prayers from childhood.  But, I often usually struggle with feeling as if I'm not doing it "right".  I feel like I don't know what to say. Or how to say it. 

As if God isn't going to listen or hear unless I say exactly the right thing - in exactly the right way. 

"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need" ~ Hebrews 4:16

When I talk to a friend or family member, I don't struggle with every word - wondering if I am saying it "right".  I just say what I am thinking. Expressing what I am feeling.  Asking for help or guidance.  Telling them what is going on in my life. That's how my prayer should be.

Slowly... oh, so slowly... it's starting to sink in.  Prayer isn't about having the right words.  It's not about being oh-so-eloquent.  It's not some magic turn of phrase that's going to make God sit up and listen.

"He delights in us. He rejoices over us.  Whatever we are doing or thinking, He seeks to be included." ~ Wendy Blight (Living So That)

God wants to hear my prayers.   He wants me to pour my heart out to him - the good and the bad.  The praise and the doubts. Not in some list, form, or agenda.  But straight from my soul to His throne.  He wants to help me through the difficult times.  He wants to hear about the things which bring me joy and make me thankful to Him. 

Prayer is about having a relationship with with God.  Opening up an honest two way conversation. Telling Him what's on my heart.  Being in His Presence.  And eagerly listen, anticipating His response. And then thanking Him when the answers come.

Do you struggle with prayer?  In what ways?

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A Spirit of Gratitude: April 24

This Week I Am THANKFUL For:

Not having to wait for car inspection
Clothes hanging on the clothesline

Staying up late to watch Les Miserables with the Man of the House
Morning walk at the park
Geese in the empty cornfield
Afternoon errands with the Man of the House
The Man of the House buying the book I wanted for me
Time to enjoy each other's company
Picking up needed parts for new stair railing
Easter-eve service
Watching the children's egg scramble
The Cross
A beautiful Easter day
He is risen!
Baked ham
Broccoli salad
Laughing at myself
Helping the Man of the House with the stairs (or trying to)

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Foolish Things

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. 
~ 1 Corinthians 1: 27-29

 The foolish, the weak, the lowly, the despised. 

When you look at the list of people God has used - a liar, a drunk, a stuttering murderer, a divorcee, an adulterer, a prostitute, an orphan, a fisherman, a guy who ate bugs, and one who persecuted His followers - you realize these weren't what would be considered "great people" by the world's standards.

Not wise by humand standards. Uneducated. Not influential or of noble birth.

Foolish. Weak. Despised.

These are the ones the Lord calls.  These are the ones he uses. 

So that His wisdom, His influence, His strength can shine through.  To demonstrate His power. 

Ordinary people. Used by God to accomplish great things.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

While We Were Still Sinners

"But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us"
 ~ Romans 5:8

"While we were still sinners" 

Not once we confessed and repented.
Not once we got our act together.
Or once we stopped sinning.

"While we were still sinners"

His love made a path.  Opened a door. Created the way to His heart - full of love and grace.

Not waiting on us.  

But, waiting for us. 

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Don't Just...

It's easy to get into a "comfortable" place with our faith.  A place where we believe in God, we know about God, and we talk to Him (pray) - so we must be doing OK.  But in the words of one of my favorite songs (Through the Motions by Matthew West) "just OK is not enough"! Just OK can be a place of complacency and apathy.  God wants to grow us.  To stretch us.  But we have to be willing to step beyond where we are comfortable with Him. 

So I am challenging myself - and all of you...

Don't just believe in God - Believe God!

Don't just know about God - Know God!

Don't just talk to God - Listen to God!

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Waiting In Anticipation (Repost)

Tom Petty sings that: “The waiting is the hardest part”

Balzac said, “Our worst fears lie in anticipation”

"Waiting in Anticipation" first appeared on My Really Real Reality on March 27, 2013

 The anticipation – the waiting – is often the worst part of anything we must endure.

I know I can work myself up into quite a tizzy just thinking about having to go to the dentist, get blood drawn or having a shot, getting a medical test, getting my license renewed. Pretty much any event I know has the potential to be unpleasant. But most of the time I know it is something that needs to be done, so I brace myself and carry on.

This led my thoughts to Jesus in Gethsemane. Waiting for what was to come. Knowing full well how agonizing and brutal the events that were about to happen would be. And knowing the importance of them. Bearing the weight of all that on his fully God, but fully human shoulders. Knowing this was what had to be, there was no other way. 

I suddenly saw the story I had read many times from a new perspective.

“Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”"  ~Luke 22:39-46

It makes anything we may look forward to with dread pale in comparison, doesn’t it?

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Friday, April 18, 2014

The Cross Is Personal

The cross is personal for me.  

I realize that I am responsible for the death of Christ on that cross.  

Just as much as anyone else at any time in history or the future.  

It was me.  

He took my punishment.  My beatings.  My cross.  He took my place. 

I can not remove or distance myself from that.

Had He not taken that upon Himself for all of us me; it would be mine to bear.

The pain, the punishment, the scorn, the death. 

Jesus in my place.

And that makes the cross personal.  It's mine. That cross was meant for me

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Spirit of Gratitude: April 17

I apologize that things have been quiet around the blog this week... focusing on having the offspring home on Spring Break spending more time on devotional and Bible study time than on the blog. Things should be back to normal next week. (normal being a relative term here...) Until then - here's my gratitude journal for the week.

This Week I Am Thankful For:

To Do lists
Blowing bubbles
Crocheting on the back porch
Delicious "clean eating" recipes
Bright stars on a velvet black sky
Opening all the windows to let the Spring air inside
Spring break
Playing at the park - two days in a row
Being ready for Easter a week early
My new planting boxes - handmade by the Man of the House
Curtains dancing in the breeze
Creating a bumble bee motif crochet pattern
Time alone with the Man of the House while the offspring go for a walk together
My newly crafted clothespin bag
Grand baby helping back cookies
Good advice
Talking with the male offspring in the car
Dogwood winter
A safe drive to and from the zoo
Seeing the female offspring blush
Cool new tiger sunglasses
The Man of the House (and his co-workers) enjoying new broccoli salad recipe I found

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Away From Home

I am just a pilgrim here
Far away from my true home
Here on a mission to do His work
Always waiting longing to return
Lonely in my exile
And yet, somehow, not.
His Words like love letters
Written to keep us close in Spirit
Until we are face to face
until I return home
my work here done


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Friday, April 11, 2014


I'm seriously considering volunteering at my local library a few hours a week.

It makes sense.  I love books.  I love book stores and libraries. I'm pretty sure the bookstore doesn't use any volunteers. So the library is a good match.

And  part of me is hoping that maybe they'll let me work off some of my library fines.  Just kidding.  I don't have any library fines.  At least not at the moment. 

If I decide to do this, the hardest part might be trying to not bring all the books home with me at the end of my shift each week! Which I think is the same reason some people can't volunteer at animal shelters.

Do you volunteer anywhere? Tell us about it in the comments!

*How much do I love books? Find out at "The Endless To Be Read Pile"
* You can read more about my history with overdue fines at "Long Overdue"

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Spirit of Gratitude: April 10

This Week I Am Thankful For:

Opening the front door to find a large, beautiful moth on the screen door right in front of me
Wildflowers (aka: weeds) blooming in the yard
Spring breeze
The grand baby laughing at bumble bees
Moonlit clouds in the predawn sky
Listening to the world outside waking up
Family working together to rearrange the living room
Bright pink blooms on tree
New haircut
The grand baby getting so excited about playing at the park
Great deals (freebies!!) w/ coupons from Earth Fare
Baking pancake bites for family and our Connect group
The Man of the House saying "You can keep reading"
Talking to the Male Offspring about his classes for next year (his Junior year! *gulp*)
"Free" pizza
The family working as a team to clean
Lots of ideas for new blog posts
Cuddling up with the Man of the House to watch "Game of Thrones" season 4 premiere
Green grass suddenly everywhere
Finding time to clean out the care
Proverbs31 Ministries "Living So That" online Bible study started this week
 The Male Offspring pushing himself a little by signing up for Honors classes
My "baby" sister's birthday
Fresh cut grass

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

One Simple Truth

If there is one simple truth, one message I could give to you, one thing I want you to step away from this blog knowing - it is this...

God Loves You:

no matter what you weigh

no matter what you wear

whether your hair is:  long or short - curly or straight - brunette, blond, red, gray, or white
even if you have no hair

whatever your job is

even when you are grumpy

with makeup or without

whether you cooked dinner, or ordered takeout

whether your house is clean or messy

whether the laundry is clean or not

if you made it to the gym today or skipped it

with pimples - or wrinkles

if you have a house full of children - or no children

Despite of what you've done

Because of who you are


No matter what

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Other People Aren't the Problem

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." ~ Ephesians 6:12

We so often get frustrated with other people.  (and by "we", I mean me) How often does another person ruin part or all of your day by something they said or did? 

But, maybe other people aren't the problem.  They aren't the enemy to our peace and joy.
 The problem is how Satan uses other people to annoy, aggrevate, and anger us into acting in a way which is against God's nature.  He will use their personalities, actions, and habits to trick us into an attitude which is not loving or caring - but selfish.  Or even mean or spriteful.  And we often excuse it all away by thinking "well, they deserve it".

Once the enemy gets this ball rolling - it can quickly become one big snowball.  Flying along, gathering more and more into its trap. 

For, once he manages to annoy and anger us with someone's behaviors or words - then we often pass those emotions on to others. We take those feelings and allow them to cause us to lash out. Be cruel. Speak words which are not encouraging or uplifting.  To sin in how we speak and act towards others.

When we feel someone starting to get on our nerves and make our blood boil - is it possible to take a moment and remember that they are also only human.  To realize that this other person is not the problem.  The problem is the enemy - as he goes about trying to break apart human connections and destroy the pathways of human kindness.  And to recognize we have a choice to make:  We can forgive - and respond in kindness, gentleness, and self-control.  Or we can allow ourselves to be used as just another tool the darkness uses to continue the hurt.

Which do you want to be: someone who spreads darkness and hate - or love and light?

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Monday, April 7, 2014

Plank, Interrupted

Some of you may have noticed in one of my Spirit of Gratitude posts about a month ago I mentioned doing a 30 Day Plank Challenge with the Man of the House.  Some days we even got the entire family in on the daily plank time!
All was going along well.

Ok.. in all honesty - there was some shaking.  And groaning.  And complaining.

But it was going.

Unfortunately it seems the length of time to hold the plank position increased a little too quickly for my body to keep up.  In an effort to hold the plank longer than I was physically able to do - I must have done it wrong.  Because I suddenly found myself spending an entire week with some pretty intense lower back pain.

Not good. At. All.

I see to have recovered.  And I'm ready to get back on that plank.  I  am thinking a modified plank challenge this time around.  Just holding the position for a set amount of time, only increasing when I feel good about it - not trying to push too far, too fast like the last time around.

Have you ever tried a 30 day plank challenge?  Or have you ever tried to exert yourself too soon or too far while exercising and ended up hurting yourself? 

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Friday, April 4, 2014

The Day We Almost Ate Fake Food

The other day I was making a quinoa taco bake for dinner.  I thought a little sprinkle of cheese could make it extra yummy, so when I went out to pick up the male offspring from his driver's ed class. (yes, he's taking driver's ed - yikes! But that's a story for another time) I stopped at the dollar store to grab some shredded cheese.

There was a bag with "Mexican Cheese Blend" in big letters on the front.  "That works!", I thought to myself and grabbing a bag, headed to the register.

While waiting in line, I took a second look at the package.  There in smaller (much much smaller) letters I see the words "cheese food".  Uh oh.  Flipping it over to look at the ingredient list - the first thing I see is "This product is not processed to melt" (in even smaller letters)


A quick read through of the ingredients confirmed there was little to no dairy in this product.  It wasn't cheese at all.  Rather some fake cheese item disguised as food.  As the male offspring put it: "I think that means it's plastic".  Ick.

So, another trip back to the refrigerated case to switch the "cheese food" for a bag of Sargento's real cheese.  And a lesson learned... always - ALWAYS read the labels! Otherwise you have no clue what you're consuming!

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Thursday, April 3, 2014

A Spirit of Gratitude: April 3

This Week I Am Thankful For:

The grand baby singing in the car
The male offspring practicing his driving through the neighborhood
Watching Game of Thrones season 4 trailers with the Man of the House
Tree outside dining room window beginning to bloom

Sick grand baby sleeping in my lap
The Man of the House telling me I'm "awesome"
Spring rain
The Man of the House running a 5K
The gray hairs in his goatee
The surgery scars on his shoulder
Sleepy "I love you"s
The grand baby playing Super Grover 2.0
The male offspring sweeping - without complaining about it first
Psalm 34
Waking up in a good mood - on Monday!
Beautiful dusky blue and deep pink sunset
New media cabinet
Bright Spring sun
Delicious Gala apple - crisp and sweet
New charging cord for Nook
My favorite coffee mug
Blooms on the peach tree
Grand baby dancing with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Shameless Self Promo

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Lean Not On Your Own Understanding (repost)

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; ~ Proverbs 3:5

I've been thinking about this verse a lot.   

You see, I'm a bit of a control freak.  I like things to go the way I think they should.  The way I expect them too.  And I get more than a little flustered when they don't.  When I'm faced with something I don't feel I can control, I tend to get discouraged and doubt whether I am up to the challenge at all.  As a matter of fact - when that happens it's entirely possible that I might even talk myself into just walking away from that particular mountain rather than risk failing to climb it.  

This aspect of my personality makes trusting God and His Word - really leaning on Him and relying on Him - a bit of a challenge.  When I'm faced with something that challenges or scares me, my first thought is almost always along the lines of "I can't do that! It's impossible"

I was pondering all of this in the car the other day when this thought occurred to me:  

When you find yourself thinking "I can't do this!"; God is right beside you whispering, "You're right - you can't... but I can.

I can do all this through him who gives me strength. ~ Philippians 4:13

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. ~ Isaiah 41:10

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” ~ Deuteronomy 31:6 

for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. ~ 2 Timothy 1:7

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on
 me. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9

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