Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Eat and be Satisfied!

Yesterday was a hard day for my son. He is 7, he is extremely picky and he is stubborn. Not a good mix! Especially at the dinner table.

I admit, we have been lax in this area. We are changing our ways and setting up some hard rules. Eat what is put before you or don’t eat. It’s that simple. I know. We are mean and he is going to starve, at least that is what he tells us as he lifts up his shirt and sucks in his stomach as far as he can muster so we can see the damaging results of our new rules.

On Easter we had a wonderful ham that our dear friend Linda prepared. Jeremiah had nothing but praise for this ham. We heard “this is the best ham I ever had!” at least ten times at the supper table.

The very next day we are sitting at our dinner table with a nice spiral ham I had bought as our centerpiece. It smelled heavenly. Jeremiah couldn’t wait. My hubby placed a piece of ham on Jeremiah’s plate, he took a bite and immediately told us this ham tastes like soap. He refused to eat it. He wanted something different. Something better. He wanted Ms. Linda’s ham. Not ours.

What was wrong with the ham? Both my husband and I took I bite, expecting a “bad” ham. Nope. If you put Ms. Linda’s ham and ours in a blindfolded taste test, you’d have a hard time telling them apart.

So…what was the deal? At one point in our frustrating conversation he did mention the bone protruding from the ham looked gross. I tried to explain to him that Ms. Linda’s ham had a bone too, but it was in the pan and he didn’t see it. It made no difference. He refused to accept the facts and he refused to eat the ham. Which meant, he went an entire day without eating. He didn’t eat breakfast. And our dinner hour is more like a late lunch. We offered him ham several times through out the evening. He got really desperate and accepted only to tell me to forget it when he took the tiniest of bites.

He went to bed hungry. I felt bad. Yet, at the same time, I know that in the long run, this is the best thing we can do for him.

I imagine this is how God feels when we stubbornly choose to hold on to our sin. He pleads with us. I have a better way, a way that will leave you full and satisfied.

Psalm 34:8 tells to “taste and see that the Lord is good…” He says…here, have a bite. I am not bitter. I am not salty and I definitely don’t taste like soap.

John 6:35 reads: I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.

First, we must take a bite. We must taste and see that indeed the Lord is good. We must step out in faith. We cannot stubbornly hold onto our sin, our fleshly desires, and think we will be satisfied. We will continually hunger and thirst until we partake of the One who will sustain us forever.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

An Hour a Day Part 2

A couple of days into my special prayer time, I was kneeling at the recliner in our living room, sitting quietly, listening for the voice of the Lord to speak to my heart. I remembered our pastor telling us how God would sometimes speak a scripture to him to look up and how it would apply to his life. I have heard of others doing this as well. I asked the Lord to give me a scripture like he did those around me. I was quiet. I was listening.

All the sudden Ezekiel 4:12 popped into my head. I wasted no time. I went straight to my Bible in anxious anticipation of what the Lord was going to reveal to me. I read these words: You shall eat it as barley cakes: and bake it using fuel of human waste in their sight.”

HUH? Really? This is the verse you had for me? I shook my head, hoping this was my flesh and not the word the Lord had for me. I told this story to couple of people, hoping for some insight, only to receive laughter. I will never forget what Ezekiel 4:12 reads. I guess that is one way to memorize scripture! God does have a sense of humor!

While working on a Bible study by Donna Pyle on Jeremiah 29:11&12, I came to understand the message that God was trying to teach me. While it is great for me to ask the Lord for revelation, through His word, through words of affirmation by those around me, and through Him speaking directly to my heart, I am to desire what He has for me, not what others have. I desired the type of communication others enjoyed with the Father rather than the communication itself. I wanted to see the Father do for me what He did for others.

I am sure that someday God will choose to use that method of communication to communicate with me. It was not wrong of me to desire Him to communicate with me in that manor. My only error, my only mis-step, was in desiring what other’s have.

Jeremiah 29:11&12 gives us this insight: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future, then you will call on me, and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.”

I’m going to add verse 13 as well: “You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with your whole heart.”

God has plans for me! Those plans are not leftovers from someone else, they weren’t thought up at the last second, in hopes to appease me. They were mine from the very foundation of the earth. His desire for me, the road that He has chosen for me, was carefully and meticulously set-aside just for me.

I don’t know about you, but that knocks the wind out of me and makes my legs a bit wobbly. God believes in me!

So God knows the plans he has for me, all good mind you, but He wants me to call on Him, pray to Him and seek Him with my whole heart. Ladies, I do not know that I could accomplish that if I wasn’t spending time on my knees!

When Donna Pyle won a contest in which a copy of my novel, Until Forever, was the prize, she graciously offered me one of her Bible studies. After going through the list, she has many wonderful titles, all applicable to our lives, I chose “Our Hope and Future” which is a study of Jeremiah 29:11&12. If you comment on this posting, Donna is offering you this study, completely free of charge as well. She will need your email to forward your copy to you and your email address will not be sold or used for any other purpose. She, as do I, simply desires you to be in the Word of God as much as you can.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

An Hour a Day

For the past month or two God has been dealing with me on the subject of how much time I spend with Him in the Word and intimate prayer.

I have always been one to read a couple of chapters and say a quick prayer, maybe ten to fifteen minutes total, then get on with my day. This time, while better than none, became rote to me. It was something I needed to do, felt better about myself after doing, and could lift my chin a little higher because I was a “holy” Christian who spent time in the Word and in prayer each day.

Then came the conviction. First, my pastor asked us in Bible study if we had a specific time of prayer set aside in our day, every day. My answer was no. I tried to etch time out of the day first thing, but sometimes I didn’t “get” to my alone time with Him right away. Another conviction came in the form of participating in a Bible study at a good friends church on “Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World.” In Ms. Weaver’s book, she places emphasis on spending an hour a day with the Lord so we might accomplish what He has for us to do.

While these convictions spoke to my heart, my bed was very comfortable. And the idea of extra sleep was very convincing. In other words, I ignored them. Well…until last Tuesday.

Last Tuesday morning I woke up at 8ish. I heard the still small voice say to me, get up and spend some time in the Word and in prayer. I closed my eyes tight and said it’s just me. I heard it again. Knowing my husband and daughter were at work and my son would sleep in, my reply was I’ll have plenty of time to read and pray when I get up later. There will be no one around to bother me. I closed my eyes, turned over and went back to sleep.

An hour later, I felt someone touching my arm. I opened my eyes to my daughter who was home from work early and wanting my attention. I spent the rest of Tuesday knowing I did not obey the voice of the Lord. At every turn, I was reminded of this fact. It saddened me to know I would choose sleep over spending time with the Lord.

Wednesday morning when I woke to the still small voice, I threw my legs over the side of the bed and said I’m up! I spent a wonderful hour in the presence of my Lord.

Matthew 6:33 reads “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” I believe the key word in the above verse is first. We are to give God the first of all we have, our treasure, our talents and our time. Is giving Him an hour of our day really too much to ask?

I believe Mr. Luther had it right. “If I fail to spend two hours in prayer each morning, the Devil gets the victory through the day...I have so much business, I can not get on without spending three hours daily in prayer.” — Martin Luther

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Sleep Deprivation

I vaguely heard the alarm. It goes off at 2:55 every week day morning. I personally believe there shouldn’t be any hours between 3-7am, but hey, that’s just me. I’m entitled.

I try to ignore the thing and settle back into dream world. I am a light sleeper so this takes some concentration. I cannot let my mind start to wander. I cannot be cold. There cannot be too many noises (I have a fan running full blast to help with this matter). I try and ignore the thirst, for this elongates my eyes being open and therefore promotes thought. (I have heard this is a common problem among women…thinking all the time!)

I just manage to drift back into la la land when I feel the bed start to jiggle. Oh no! The one thing that can ruin everything! My son has just crawled into bed with me. He knows his father goes to work early and he is just stubborn and determined enough to wake himself up when that alarm goes off. Darn it all!

I do not cuddle when I sleep. I want my own space. Do not touch me. Do not cross the middle line. My husband knows I do not use his shoulder as a pillow. I don’t like his arm around me when I am sleeping. I use the middle decorative post as the imaginary line. Do not cross it. There have been times I have thought of putting one of those invisible electric fences down the middle and using a remote when I suddenly have an arm slug me in the middle of the night. Dastardly, I know! I can’t help it.

I try to ignore the child next to me. He is a cuddler. He does not take after me. It’s not long before I feel his foot running along my calf. The torture has begun. For some reason unknown to man, this child sleeps better when he is pressed up next to me. Maybe nursing wasn’t such a good idea! I sit up and with every ounce of energy I have, at 3 am, I push him back onto his side of the bed and I tell the sleeping child to stay there. I smile, snuggle back in and go back to sleep. For ten minutes. He’s back. Again and again we repeat the process.

I fear the neighbors are going to report me for child abuse because I am yelling at a child who is completely oblivious and is sleeping peacefully. “Stay on your side! I mean it! You are going to get it!” I wake the next morning in a foul mood. I am cross and impatient and I tell my son he may never climb into our bed again. That rule will stand firm until the next thunder storm or my husband decides to have “man” movie time with our son and aliens are in every closet in our house.

After having a cup of tea and spending time in the Word and in intimate prayer with my Lord it dawns on me how glad I am that my Savior does not push me away. In fact, He beckons me closer and desires that I’d stay longer. James 4:8 tells us to draw near to God and He will draw near to us. He wants intimacy with us, His children. He wants us to cuddle up with Him and rest in Him. He wants to wrap His arms around us while we take refuge in His protective strength. He delights in me.

As I ponder all the verses that my God has provided for me, letters assuring me of His love and grace, I think on all the attributes of God. His love never fails. His Grace is sufficient for me. His mercy is ever lasting. He is always near; He never leaves me nor forsakes me. I can call upon Him at any time and He will hear me. It doesn’t matter what time of day or night I am in need of “His touch”, He is there, delighting in my company. All I have to do is snuggle in close to Him!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

7-up Meltdown!

I walked into the house on Saturday afternoon and almost had a melt down. My husband stood at the counter with an almost empty 2-liter bottle of 7-up.

I looked from the bottle to him. “What are you doing?”

His puzzled reply, “Drinking 7-up.”


“Because I want some.”

My facial expression must have registered a fear that is normally only present during a national disaster. “That is for the punch! You never drink 7-up. Your soda is in the fridge.”

In his most calming voice he reassured me “the store is two blocks away and we can get more. This is no big deal.”

In no uncertain terms I let him know not to make a no deal out of my big deal!

Was my meltdown really about the 7-up? No. It wasn’t. I know the store is 2 blocks away. I also know they still carry 7-up. Between book signings, planning a wedding shower, getting very little sleep for three nights running and being attacked in a very personal way by someone I thought I could trust, I was at my limit. The 7-up was the catalyst for me “losing” it!

The stress continued through the day. I forgot to add sugar and eggs to the last batch of cupcakes. My frosting curdled. I was impatient. I was demanding. I was childish. I was close to throwing a temper tantrum. Sound familiar? No, I am not your two year old. I’m not that familiar!

Had I really forgotten the words I had just posted on my facebook page several days earlier? I had commented on Acts 17:25 when Paul and Silas were in prison praying and singing praises to God. Glorifying God in the midst of trials is not what I do best. It’s not my first reaction. I’m not sure it ranks in the top ten! I get to it eventually, when the Holy Spirit starts whispering in my ear, calming me, reminding me who I am.

During the 7-up meltdown when I realized how foolish I sounded, I did not stop my tirade. I continued to pout. It wasn’t until later, when I spent some time reflecting on all that happened, that I adopted an attitude of thankfulness, knowing that I grow in these times of trouble. Through trials I am made to depend upon my Savior. Through heartache I learn that He is my ultimate source of strength and wisdom. As of late, these fitful “episodes” only rear their ugly heads once in a great while. I am growing. I am changing. I am beginning to look like the woman God intended me to be.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Dirty Dishes

Today is a special day. Today is the day my dear, loving daughter gets a blog devoted entirely to herself. Jonna dear, this is for you!

On my list of today’s “to-dos” includes putting the dishes away that my 18-year-old daughter washed.

One would think that her level of dishwashing skill would be at least level 410, that of a college senior, right? She has been washing dishes for at least 8 years. By the amount of time she has been studying her craft, she should have her doctorate in it.

Lo and behold, I pull out the first dish, a fry pan. The bottom of the frying pan is covered in grease. Back to the countertop to rewash it goes. Next up, a glass casserole dish I used to make corn in. It still has corn in it. Maybe she is thinking to save me a step for our next meal? The tongs? They still have crisp portions of crumbs on them from turning the baked chicken breasts. The glasses still have milk rings in the bottoms of them and on and on the list goes.

My first reaction is anger. I believe it is righteous anger, so it’s ok! I have been making her rewash dishes for years now. She is a very intelligent gal. This should be grammar school stuff!

I think about calling her up (she’s working) and telling her she is never allowed to eat in this house again! Ok…I have to add a bit of drama and extreme reaction to this or you might think I am perfect…(this is sarcasm…so you know). Instead I run to my computer and begin typing my frustrations away. A few minutes ago, I was filled with anger, now I am laughing my way through this post.

Do you think God is filled with anger when He tells us over and over what to do, how to do it and we still fail? Or do you think He chuckles and says “I know she’s going to get it eventually.” She’s come so far in so many ways. I am a patient God. I have tried her heart and know that she loves me. She will succeed.”

I am not condoning failing again and again. I am saying, our humanness declares we are going to mess up. What we do afterward, how we react determines our future. I love the wisdom in Proverbs 24:16. For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again, but the wicked shall fall by calamity.

Notice here it does not say the righteous man will fall. It says he may. If you find yourself lying in the dirt, again, get up, dust yourself off, and try once more. Do not continue to lay in the muck. Do not get comfortable there.

I would have my dearest daughter rewash the dishes, for the umpteenth time, but she is going to be MIA for a few days. So, I must cover her “failings” with grace. Just like my Father covers me.

Jonna, be careful or your “dirty laundry” is next! hehe