This is just a blog about my thoughts, my family, my everyday life. Because I am a Christian and have ups and downs like everyone else, I hope it will encourage others to either turn to Christ for the first time, or lean on Him when times are rough. Often life is just random and funny. I started this blog after many years of writing to my church about our vacations. They began to encourage me to blog and finally I am. Thanks for reading.

"Behold, upon the mountains, the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace!" Nahum 1:15

God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him. John Piper

Thursday, September 6, 2018

The Undivided Hearts Have God's Ear


Image result for scales

We are not supposed to compare ourselves with others, but instead set for ourselves a higher standard - One without flaw or imperfection.  Still, I look at others in their walks of faith and I am shamed.  Why can't I be steadfast and true?  Why am I so slow to conform to what is right every day?  Am I SO rebellious that I fight against what is good and perfect?  Why is my devotion so haphazard and spotty?  Grrr.
You would think that if I am aware of my own inconsistencies, I could change, right?  Not so. It just doesn't happen that way. I can't help but think that it is the undivided and steadfast hearts that have God's ear. That just makes sense to me.  I see their prayers get answered more often than mine.  I see their faithfulness rewarded time and again.  And...wouldn't I, as well listen to someone who talked to me and worshiped me every single morning at the same time, before they did anything else?  Especially if they put nothing before me?  Except, we as humans tend to neglect and take for granted those devoted to us.  We 'ho-hum' and grow to expect the attention.  And...isn't it the squeaky wheel that gets the attention?  Isn't it the unable child that needs the focus?
Then again, maybe it is the needy one that recognizes his great need for a Savior and acknowledges that he can do nothing at all without first going to the One with all the answers.  That just sounds right.
I know I have choices and I will answer for them someday.  I don't want to take that lightly, but I seem to at times do just that. Its reality to me ebbs and flows.
I am working to eliminate pride.  It is a tough battle.  Maybe by voicing my own struggles, I can humiliate myself to its death.  Possibly.
Maybe I should quit writing down and confessing my wayward habits and read and pray instead.  Now, there's a thought.
Tell me I am not the only one.  There I go comparing again.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Why Is It So Hard to Die?

Romans 7:22-25  For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.  

Why is it so hard to kill self?  No matter how hard I try, it is like the germ that thrives 'in spite of' and for which there is no vaccine now or ever…on this earth.  Self exists for reasons good and bad...mostly bad. It resurrects after every attempt at murder that has been thrust upon it.  No matter how hard I try, it just Will. Not. Die.
God said it first.  It is in my heart to look out for myself at all costs.  I am born in sin. 

Romans 3:9-12  For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin, as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one." 

Thankfully, my gracious, merciful Maker gave me an out; a ‘get out of jail’ card if you will - a way to be free of pride, selfishness, and self-centeredness and this Gift cost Him everything.
Perfection is to be my Standard in the person of Jesus Christ.  The flaw, the sin nature I share with Adam will forever be with me until I go to the Father.  Inside me dwells the new nature, coexisting with the old. I battle every single day. Some days bring white flags of giving up and other days I am able to overcome, but every skirmish is designed by my loving Father who is making me into the image of His Son.  It is a painful process.  It’s that self…that part of me who loves and looks out for my own well being, my reputation, my desire to appear holy when I am anything but…that self is my enemy.  Self is often disguised; wearing many faces, but always recognizable in the end. 
I am ambushed by pride.  Dying to it is an endless, every day event that persists as I attend church, hug my kids, serve others, wash dishes.  Would that I could just die. And yet.
Every defense imaginable is available to me as a Christian.  I am fully equipped to face the enemy within. My sword pierces and wounds with the truth and righteousness of God’s holy word.  Where and when I fall, He picks up and fights on my behalf if I do not grow weary, but instead persevere for His name’s sake.
So, I will fight again today. I intend to use all the strategies I can find when encountered by the enemy.  When tired, I will call for help, knowing and believing I do not war alone, for He is forever by my side.  
I will take heart.  I will be encouraged.  He who is faithful will remain so until my battle is over.

1 Peter 2:9-12 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. 

I must end this post with the next verses that follow the first verses I posted.  It is what matters most.  It is everything.

Romans 8:1-4  There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 


Friday, July 27, 2018

Ring Your Dinner Bell Often


Dinner bells are sweet reminders of simple living.  They bring people to the table where food and conversation are joyfully blended.  It is unusual to find a family that sits together for meals today, especially as children grow older and outside activities and jobs call for eating on the run. We shut the window of opportunity too often according to our schedules and do not take advantage of the fresh air available on the other side. Dining around the table is almost a lost art, but what a treasure that small amount of time can be!  Much is missed by keeping ourselves to ourselves, noses down as if looking at our bellybuttons, as we eat alone with heads bent.
Breaking bread with community benefits everyone involved. It isn't popular in society to serve others. Establishing a place for yourself and developing your individuality are the trend, but this process places "me" first.  What if we forgot about self for a little while and focused on the people right around us - up close and personal? How long has it been since a neighbor darkened your doorstep....invited? (Believe me, I am talking to the mirror!)  It is easy for Christians to gather with those who are like-minded, but that is not what Jesus did at every meal.  He ate with everyone.  He shared with everyone.  He spoke truth to everyone.  How can we do any less if He is our example?  Who is the Lord pointing in your direction?
Make the "welcome" sign on your front door mean what it says. God is looking for His people to keep looking for His people, the ones not yet believers.
Romans 10:14-15  But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" 
Feet become beautiful, friendships are made sweeter, hearts become closer, difficulties are discussed, problems solved, and Jesus is exalted in front of bowls of soup or yummy desserts.  Some of the best things happen over a plate of spaghetti. Yes, they do.
I have been challenged to open the doors to both my home and my refrigerator and so I am challenging you as well to invite a family or a few friends over for dinner.  It doesn't have to be fancy.  Open a jar of tomato basil soup and make a salad.  It isn't the food that is needed as much as human contact.  Be the difference someone needs. Make them feel special and their company desired. You will be changed by your own actions and surprised by the results.
Ring that dinner bell and see who shows up.  It just might be me.
Acts 2:46-47   And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,  praising God and having favor with all the people.
Hebrews 13:1-2  Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.


Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Garner State Park 2018

We visited our favorite campgrounds again this year for a few days in the Frio River.  This time we rented a cabin and brought my mom. Just let me say right here - a cabin is the only way to go - with or without an eighty-seven year old tagging along.  It was wonderful, with AC and everything!  The downfall was that there are no supplies whatsoever, so we toted bedding, kitchenware, and all the amenities we might need or want. 
Below are some pics I took, though I did not carry my camera to capture every moment and freeze it in time.  Enjoy the view!




























So, this is Garner 2018.  Already booked a cabin for 2019.  I know it will not disappoint!  Thanks for sharing in our fun!

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Bouts With Depression



Most if not all of us struggle with depression at one time or another in our lives and some face it more frequently than others.  A few months ago I was asked to write down my feelings when depressed.  I could not.  I read the Psalms and see that David grieved so in his writings, but I have thus far been unable to pen my lows.  My thoughts are ugly, base, negative, and ungrateful...which is where I believe depression begins - in failure to give thanks.
Ascending from a recent valley, I see God all around me and as I ponder His ways and listen to songs of praise, I am moved beyond words.  It is the Spirit - with utterings and groanings too deep for my voice that well up within my soul and spill out through tears and fill my mind with thoughts of Jesus, my Savior.  I am overcome with remorse for my lack of trust and vision, and so very grateful that the valley is behind me...and yet I am grateful for it as well.
Without touching the base of depravity, but being reminded of my humanness, I can come to a point of coasting in my faith - repeating holy habits and portraying a virtuous front when inside I am vacant.  I don't know if other Christians feel this way, but I do - especially when life gets hectic with actual demands, leaving little time for refreshing.  Priorities go awry and self screams for quiet when none is to be found and often all of the above takes place with no one else around.  I am my own worst enemy.  Then all of a sudden, there He is...seeing me, loving me in my darkness and forgiving my doubt that He ever existed for me personally.
"O Lord, You are good....always good.  All that You do and allow is working good for me.  How could I ever doubt Your faithfulness? Is it because all I see is my faithlessness? Why would you ever call me to be Yours?  I am weak and feeble, forgetting the cross and the Love that gave nothing but love in death. My heart is full as I remember that You will complete all You begin, and You began a work in me that I ignored and rejected and doubted for a period.  Help me not to compare myself with anyone but You. You are my only Standard, my Redeemer, Savior, and Friend.  Praise Your holy name and forgive my belligerent heart.  Make me thankful for the valley and even more thankful for You, Who walked before me, behind me, and beside me through it all."
Psalm 3:3-4  But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. I cried aloud to the LORD, and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah 

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Enabling: Good, Bad, or Both?

 


This subject crosses my path frequently.  When does helping someone become something negative and nonproductive?  How does a person know when investing time, money, and effort has grown into a hindrance of the recipient's maturity, delaying the imminent call for a change?  When should consequences be allowed to fall?
Let me say right here - I do not know.  I have observed parents making decisions for grown children, and grown children having to take over decision making for their parents all with good intentions, but so often with uninvited advice.  The line is unclear, and probably crossed more times than it should be.  It is frequently hidden behind what some would mistakenly call love.  It isn't love to keep someone from growing up and reaching his/her full potential in life.  One who is slow to embrace adulthood or responsibility might resist the challenge to break free and experience the pains of life, but the one who is wise enough to observe the reluctance and act at the right time will later be thanked.  It takes wisdom to know how to maneuver and encourage such undertakings.  Scripture reminds us -
2 Thessalonians 3:10  For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. 
Enabling usually has a less than positive definition.  The enabled love being enabled and the enabler might get a sense of purpose in enabling...resulting in co-dependency.  The enabler feels needed and the enabled takes advantage of their need to do so, and the cycle begins without anyone realizing it.  The pattern is set and will soon grow to be distasteful to all involved, including onlookers.
Helping others so that they might learn to help themselves is always rewarding.  Knowing when to step away is key...and there is a time when one must step away.  Most people desire independence, but may be unaware of their own capabilities until someone comes alongside and draws out their strengths.  A simple nudge or word of encouragement might steer one to venture out.
Dealing with the aged is another area where enabling might be necessary, though unwanted.  Losing independence can be so difficult.  Even when assistance is necessary. it is not always appreciated.  Caregivers live this. The extended hand is often the bitten hand.  It is a beautiful picture when both are in agreement of the inevitable and can share sweet moments of collaborating comfort in the latter years of life or maybe your hand extends to one younger whose need is greater than what they themselves can accomplish.
Proverbs 16:31  Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.
If you find yourself falling into any of the categories above, you will need help in knowing when to step back, take some down time and rest, or accept help from a friend/relative.  Be sure to seek advice from wise counsel - one that will be honest and not tell you only what you want to hear.
God gave us consciences.  Rightly informing them will help alleviate the guilt that will come as we back away - temporarily or permanently - from what we are so used to doing.  Therein lies the challenge in discerning where and when to change your habits which might change the habits of another.  Just know that not all good works are good works.
Colossians 3:23-24 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.  


Thursday, May 3, 2018

I Came Not to Bring Peace, But a Sword

This title might make you think I have gone from promoting peace (in my last post) to denouncing its existence and importance in faith. Quite the opposite. There is no true peace without Christ, but peace on earth lies in the heart and not always in relationships.
Matthew 10:34-39  "Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person's enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 
Some will take these verses and see them as license to argue with and/or reject family.  This was never meant to be the Believer's attitude of heart.  It was/is a call to stand for righteousness and truth when challenged to remain silent and ignore wrong.
So often Christians poorly represent their faith either by elevating themselves and their standards in haughtiness (which the Lord hates  - see Pr. 6:16-17) or by remaining silent in the face of evil, making no choice at all in order to avoid rejection and controversy.  Scripture tells us we will be rejected when we live steadfastly in a fallen world that is not our home.  We are made aliens simply by our declaration to follow Jesus Christ, Son of God.
Albert Barnes states in his commentary on Matthew 10:34 ff:
One part of a family that was opposed to Him would set themselves against those who believed in him. The wickedness of men, and not the religion of the gospel, is the cause of this hostility. It is unnecessary to say that no prophecy has been more strikingly fulfilled; and it will continue to be fulfilled until all unite in obeying his commandments.
Christ must be loved supremely, or he is not loved at all. If we are not willing to give up all earthly possessions, and forsake all earthly friends, and if we do not obey him rather than all others, we have no true attachment to him.
The cross was usually composed of two rough beams of wood, united in the form of this figure of a cross It was an instrument of death. To carry it was burdensome, was disgraceful, was trying to the feelings, was an addition to the punishment. So "to carry the cross" is a figurative expression, denoting that we must endure whatever is burdensome, or is trying, or is considered disgraceful, in following Christ. It consists simply in doing our duty, let the people of the world think of it or speak of it as they may. It does not consist in making trouble for ourselves, or doing things merely "to be opposed;" it is doing just what is required of us in the Scriptures, let it produce whatever shame, disgrace, or pain it may. This every follower of Jesus is required to do.
He said it better than I ever could.
Hebrews 12:14  Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. 
Romans 12:18-21  If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." To the contrary, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. 
We make a million decisions every day. They will not all bring with them controversy. Sometimes the controversy lies within us as we fear repercussions for our decisions.  Just make sure your heart is without guile or malice and full of grace and truth and the love of the Lord Jesus as you gently speak truth when it is called for in dealing with others...and that you are prompted by the Holy Spirit to do so.
1 Peter 3:14-17  But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil. 
Remember to be gentle and respectful.
1 Peter 2:7-9  So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, "The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone," and "A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense." They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 
Steve Camp wrote a song in the 90's entitled "Consider the Cost." The chorus is a challenge for us as Believers.

Consider the cost of building a tower
It's a narrow way that you must come

For to do the will of the Father
Is to follow the Son
To love Him more than father or mother
You will love Him more than even your own flesh
To give all that you are, for all that He is
This is the gospel according to Jesus.

Let's give all that we have for all that He is for this is the call in following Jesus.