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Archive for October, 2010

Cold Snap

Don’t you just love the first cold snap in the weather?  I do!  It got really chilly around here for the first time this fall last night.  Rick and I had our windows open wide and the cool breeze made our bedroom feel as good as camping out!  I find rest so much more restful when I’m cool rather than perspiring.  And since moving to Virginia I’ve done more sweating than I think I ever had before.

This morning I awakened invigorated and ready to roll!  The sun is shining and there is actually a good breeze (a rarity here in the valley).  It gives one’s spirit a bright new energy and I’m really ready for it!

And it turns my heart toward the holidays.  It still amazes me that we’re still mowing and deadheading flowers with Thanksgiving just around the corner.  Out here it just feels like the holidays sneak in the back door when I’m not looking, so this year I’m pleased that I’m planning already—in spite of the heat.

My Christmas music has been playing for several weeks now (ok, several months) and I’m really starting to get into the holiday mood again.  I am eager to pack the fall decorations and pumpkins away and string lights around the doors and on the fir trees out front.  And just thinking of spending time with friends and family at Thanksgiving and Christmas fills my heart with sweet anticipation.

Yes, the cold snap is another of God’s wonderful gifts, and I am thoroughly relishing every moment of it!  He is SO good!

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Have you ever stopped to consider how very subtle Satan really is?  Oh, that great deceiver of our souls.  How it makes me shudder to think how quickly he can rob me of my joy.

After all these years of serving my Lord with joy, Satan can still find that weak spot and slip the knife blade in to sever my tender connection and make me think I’m no good to God at all.  Suddenly, a slip of the tongue, or a memory of past (and forgiven) sin will grow large and menacing in my mind and before I know it, I’m wallowing in defeat instead of standing tall in the victory that I have in Christ.

This week as I have spent much alone time in my kitchen with the Lord and Lover of my soul, we’ve had some wonderful conversations.  And then, yesterday, God used a simple sentence from a dear friend to confirm in my heart what He’d been telling me all week:  that I’ll never be perfect as long as I’m in this body, but I’m forgiven!

Forgiven!  There’s the victory!  That’s the source of my joy!  I often hear beloved fellow believers wallowing in regret for their sin and weaknesses and failures, and it puzzles me and frustrates me.  And now I understand!  It all boils down to a choice of focus!

I, too, have sinned horribly through the years.  I still sin in spite of my love for my Lord and years of walking with Him.  But knowing the joy of the Lord, is a daily, constant discipline of focus.  I have to accept God’s forgiveness, and discipline myself to forget those past sins; ‘past’ as in years ago as well as ‘past’ as in this morning or yesterday.  Philippians 3: 12-14 says this:  “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do:  Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”  Do I deserve God’s forgiveness?  No, I certainly do not!  Satan would have me wallow in my worthlessness and failure.  But God would have me forget what is behind (and forgiven) and press on toward perfection by placing my hand in His, accepting His forgiveness and trying harder to be obedient.  This, my friend is victory!  This is the first step in finding the joy!

The second step is found in the next chapter, beginning with a much-ignored verse.  Verse two of chapter 4 says this:  “I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord.”  I believe God is using this verse to show us that in spite of creating us as individuals with differing tastes and opinions, He wants us to choose to get along and be willing to not always have everything our own way.  My husband once used a phrase in a message on this verse that has stuck in my mind and heart.  We must ‘agree to disagree’—with grace and joy!  There is actually much joy in NOT having things my way; in knowing I have given my will over to let someone else have their way.

And then there’s the third step in being victorious.  It is the discipline of where I will place my focus.  Will I grovel in my unworthiness?  Or will I choose to accept God’s forgiveness and revel in the spiritual gifts He wants to give me?  Chapter 4, verses 4 through 9 tell me how to do that:  “Rejoice in the Lord always.”  I have to stop here to point out that period.  It doesn’t say to rejoice after I’ve learned to get it right, or after I stop sinning, or when I’ve reached a certain pre-determined level spiritually.  This is a choice friend, and he repeats it!  I will start again, but notice the period as well as the repetition for emphasis:  “Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again:  Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice.  And the God of peace will be with you.”  Those are Paul’s exact words from the NIV Bible.

I love how Paul explains that joy and peace are a discipline of our minds.  We must stop groveling in our sins (that are forgiven already if we have confessed them to God) and we must accept His forgiveness with joy and victory!  We no longer have to carry that burden!  We can leave it at the ‘foot of the cross’ and accept the joy of the Lord instead!  Because, when we truly understand forgiveness, we can’t help rejoicing!

It is a choice, dear friend, and I, personally, choose to accept His gift of forgiveness and the resulting joy!  And I hope you will also!

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Autumn Harvest

What a deliciously busy week I’ve had with all of our apples we purchased from the orchard last weekend.  What a treat they will be throughout the winter.  And isn’t it just like God to make something that is such a delectable treat also be good for us?  He is just full of goodness and blessing.

Our freezer is simply bursting with pie apples (peeled and sliced and bagged, ready to be baked into pies all year long), and applesauce.  I also made apple jelly and a huge batch of apple butter.  I’m not personally a big fan of jellies as a rule, but oh, how I love apple butter!  My favorite breakfast is a thick slice of homemade bread toasted lightly and piled high with apple butter.  Yum!

I had to think as I worked in the apples this week of the satisfaction and joy that is derived from providing well for my household.  I have always enjoyed keeping house and caring for the family with whom God graciously blessed me, and I don’t understand why society wants to make the roll of housewife and mother out to be something less than glorious.  Is there anything in the world more fulfilling than tucking your children into clean beds after giving them baths and kissing those precious, still moist little cheeks and necks good night, knowing you have cared for them throughout the day and that you are teaming with God Himself in growing strong men and women to lead the next generation?  Is there anything more fulfilling than keeping their home clean and orderly and teaching them God’s ways and truths and watching through the years as they begin to understand and claim it for themselves and then develop and mature to be godly adults?  What can be better than that?

I will always, always miss having children in the house, but when I ache at the end of a not-nearly-as-long-and-hard-as-it-used-to-be day, I have to admit to myself that I have somehow slipped past those child-rearing days that spent more energy in an hour than I now spend in a day, and have entered my own autumn years.  As I hummed about my kitchen this past week knowing that now I provide only for my husband and myself, I was grateful that I could pace myself to do only what this body can take for a day.  And even though it’s a fraction of what I could once do in a day, still there’s a sense of satisfaction in knowing we will eat well and have plenty to share, and that the cupboards are full of apple goodies for when the children and grandchildren come to visit.  After all, they are my real harvest.  God is SO good!

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Taming the Tongue

I just can’t get it right!  Am I the only one in the world that says things I don’t mean, and means things I don’t say?  Am I the only one that eats more words than I feel like I actually said?  Or at least, I wish I could eat them and make them totally disappear!

At my age, you would think I would have this mastered, but alas!  I’m still regretting most words and thoughts it seems.  Why do I have to be so strongly opinionated?  And why, oh why, oh why can I not keep those opinions to myself?

I often think of James 3:1-12.  Now obviously, if you read these verses I’m not the only person with tongue-trouble, but still, that’s no excuse.  And it doesn’t make me feel better that at my age I’m still fumbling and wishing I could eat my words.

Did you ever wish that you could replay a conversation and correct it after it happens like we can a Word Document, then, when we have it perfect, hit ‘send’?  I do!  I wish, like a Word Document I could go back over it and delete half of it before it gets out there to hurt others’ feelings or make me look like the fool I am.  Sigh…

Well, the first half of James 3 is pretty depressing, but at least the last couple of verses give me hope.  If I can just fill myself more and more with God’s wisdom, perhaps someday even I can become ‘pure, and peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.’  Do you think I can live that long???

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Apple Orchard Fun

There is no end to the amazing gifts God pours into my life, and I will ever be grateful.  I have eagerly anticipated a trip to an apple orchard somewhere as the days become shorter and cooler.  I typically buy already-picked apples, but for some reason this year I really wanted to go to an orchard that lets us pick our own.

We had planned to visit our son and daughter-in-law and grandson over this past weekend, and when they heard my dream of visiting an orchard they got on the stick and found a great place where we could all go and enjoy the picking together.  Saturday morning we all piled into one vehicle and made our way through the autumn-painted countryside to the orchard of choice.  Oh, my!  What fun we had!  And of course, the more I saw, the more I wanted!  There were so many kinds available and the tree branches were bent low with the season’s bounty.

We picked and ate and picked and sampled and picked some more.  I got apples to make applesauce for in the freezer, and to peel and slice and freeze for pies.  I plan to make jelly with the skins as well as some dumplings and some pie with fresh apples.  And, of course, there’s a half bushel of the crisp, tart treats to eat raw.  I feel like a child in a candy store!  And the best part is, these are nutritious treats!  I’ll be busy all week long with this bounty!

Apples are definitely more expensive each year, but you know, I have to think it’s the best money I’ve spent all year!  When I think how much good eating and nutrition is provided, as well as the fun of picking and canning and freezing and baking…I can’t help smiling and praising!  What great memories!  There’s just no end to God’s glorious gifts!  And I’m ever grateful.

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God’s Faithfulness

Rick and I have had several things on our minds and in our hearts lately for which we are praying for wisdom and guidance.  I find it is so easy to try to tell God what to do and how, as well as when, to do it!  Such is my nature.

But yesterday in our worship service the first hymn we sang was straight out of the old hymn book, but I love this old hymn and it truly spoke to me.  I think it was written in the same era as the old King James Bible was translated, so I will alter the words just a bit to bring it into today’s world, which is where I happen to live.  I encourage you to pray through it with me and I hope it blesses you as it has me.

Great is Your Faithfulness

Great is Your faithfulness, O God my Father, there is no shadow of turning with You; You change not, Your compassions, they fail not; As You have been You forever will be.

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest, sun, moon, and stars in their courses above join with all nature in manifold witness to Your great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endures; Your own dear presence to cheer and to guide; strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, blessings all mine with ten thousand beside!

Great is Your faithfulness!   Great is Your faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see.  All I have needed Your hand has provided.  Great is Your faithfulness Lord, unto me!

How could I ever doubt?  Again I worship as I allow those words to penetrate my praying heart and reassure me once again that no matter how difficult things may seem to me, my Father is in control and He is ever faithful!  As I say so often, but it never grows old:  God is SO good!!!!

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