Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Open Doors


If you know anything about me, you've probably figured out that I like knitting. Almost obsessed with it, actually :-)

If I could knit for a living, I totally would. So I've discovered "test knitting." That's where a designer has a new, often secret, pattern that they need someone to try out before it's published. Perfect for me since I get bored with the same projects over and over, and I don't have to keep them when I'm done.

I was working on 2 at a time, and was a bit frazzled trying to finish them both. I was anxious to finish the dress, but had made a mistake in my haste on the second one and wanted to fix that.

So I did, and got down to the finishing touches on the dress. I was being careful now, paying close attention to each stitch. While I was so diligently working, I heard this ever-so-quiet voice say, "You don't work this hard on My assignments for you."

Unmistakeably, God had just called me out.

Instantly ashamed, I knew that He was right. He gave me a book to write a few years ago. I started it. Even pitched it to two editors, who were interested enough to ask to see it when it was finished. I shouldn't have to point out that their response alone is HUGE. Each time, I knew that God opened those doors for me. And what did I do? Did I go through those doors?

No.

Once in awhile I write a little more. Then I convince myself that it's just too hard. That I've wasted too much time, and God can't possibly use me now.

To top it off, last week He gave me a new idea. And the thoughts are flowing like the Mississippi! But once again, I find myself afraid to do what He's asked. And so I spend my time doing other things that, while they may be for charity or to help someone out, just aren't as good as God's plan for me.

Please pray that I have the courage to step through those doors. I don't want to get to Heaven and try to explain why knitting a baby sundress was more important than answering God's call. Pray that I have the quiet time I need to concentrate. Pray that God's words flow abundantly onto my keyboard. Please pray that I will be a good steward of the resources He has given me, and most of all that He will be glorified when I finally finish the task He gave me!

And I'll pray that you don't get distracted by the good and miss out on God's best for you, either.

I'm going to go through the door. I want to see what's on the other side!

Care to join me?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

What a difference a day makes...

*Warning: This may bit a tad bit long. Just a tad.*:-)



This time last night, as I reflected on my day, I remember being grateful for the hugs and "I love you"'s that come at bedtime. The sweetness of tiny hands in mine as we sat in a circle and said bedtime prayers. I embraced every second of it, because the hours leading up to that were quite different.

Aaron, the 6-going-on-16 year old, was a complete challenge ALL NIGHT. Bad attitude. REAL bad attitude was all I heard from his little lips. Complaining about sitting at the table to eat. About saying grace. About the food. About not getting dessert after refusing to eat dinner.

Which I seriously comtemplated NOT making tonight. Teach them what starving kids feel like, that's what I'll do! An evening with no meal. Won't hurt us, right? No soup for you, or you or you!

I made Aaron sit in the dining room chair, and told him he wasn't to get up until I told him he could. He couldn't play, read...nothing. Just think about his behavior. Reflect. It wasn't fun watching him try to hold in his tears. But it was necessary. Until the next round started. Again with the dessert. Fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies: his favorite. Nobody makes them like Mommy. He was crushed that we wouldn't let him have any. (Which I never even made.) The result? Much more bad attitude, this time from both of us. I actually told him that if he couldn't say anything nice I'd tape his mouth shut.

Yep. I said it.

I'll bet you won't find that in our parenting bible study!

And then I thought, "God, if you love me, you slap a piece of tape over MY mouth right now before I say anything else like that."

It was a trying night, but it ended so much better than it began. In a circle, holding hands, taking turns telling Jesus what we were thankful for.

Now, I sit reflecting on today, my 34th birthday, and how different it was.




As soon as I got to work, my dear friend and Beth Moore buddy Sandra greeted me with her rendition of "Happy Birthday." And a plate of fresh-baked oatmeal raisin cookies.

She's got quite a voice, so the whole place knew it was my birthday. I must have heard it a hundred times. The workday was just right. Not too busy, or too slow. I came home to cards from unexpected people (Love you Angie!), internet messages from old and new-ish friends, and phone messages from even more unexpected people. Two aunts and my brother Gary. I know that sounds strange to say unexpected, but you have to understand that my family is not very affectionate, and we don't see or speak to each other all that much. So having those messages was quite touching.

My mom had told people about my sister's birthday in January and she was so blessed by the calls that mom decided to do the same for me, too. Listening to those messages almost made me cry, in a good way. Thanks, mom!!

The previously misbehaving one called Aaron wished me Happy Birthday ALOT. He gave me good hugs, and those are infrequent, too. I'm not usually his favorite person. (Probably because I tell him I'll tape his mouth shut :-))

My dad brought my teenager home, and Jeff decided to have me blow out my candles while dad was around. So I stood there, surrounded completely by the men in my life: my husband, my three sons, and my dad. Not a female in sight but me.

And they sang to me. Every last one of them. Even the teen boy who's too cool for me. I can't remember my dad ever singing. EVER. Not even in church!

They won't be winning "American Idol" any time soon, but they sure get my vote! I felt so blessed to be with all of them. That very moment could not have been more perfect.

No fights over dinner. An actual conversation with my teenager Michael. Everyone getting along. Nice gifts from my husband. Lots of "I wuv you, Mommy"'s from my 3 year old Eli. But most of all, a truly memorable birthday. This just might be the best one ever.

So, to everyone who played a part today, thank you for a blessed, wonderful, amazing day. Thank you, Father, for another birthday, another year in my journey. I pray that You help me follow Your plan for me and make this year count. Thank you that each day is new, with a whole new set of experiences, whether they be fun, deep, educational, challenging, or just a good old fashioned blessing.

Thank you, for the difference a day makes...

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Rain

Rain is necessary for growth. That is an undeniable fact. Not only in the plant and animal worlds, but in our spiritual lives as well.

It comes in many forms.

Maybe it's just a drizzle. A word taken the wrong way, a thoughtless, quick action, the realization that something has slipped by yet again. Enough to put a gray cloud over you, dampening your mood. Enough for the Holy Spirit to convict you, and lightly mist the surface. Wetting the leaves, washing off the dust. Just enough to offer the hint of growth.

Maybe it's a steady, soaking shower. A daily annoyance, a temptation resisted yet again. A nagging feeling that there's something you should do, and still you don't. God speaks to your soul, saying "Trust me." Finally you do. And the faith roots begin to grow deeper.

Maybe it's a storm. A temptation that got the best of you. A flood of emotions that dictate your actions. An unpleasantness from the past returns. A task that you avoid, hide from, because the thought of facing it scares you to death. The lightning flashes, exposing your hiding place. The thunder resounds, reverberating in your chest. The storm is a frightening place that calls you to find your courage. And when you do, you find a strength that wasn't there before. You realize that God is with you. The first signs of life emerge from the dark soil.

Maybe it's a hurricane. A terminal diagnosis, an unexpected death, a truth revealed that rocks you to your very core. The winds blow so hard against you, you often fall. The torrents beat relentlessly down on you, and you don't think you can get up. You're drowning in this maelstrom, and you cry out. And God hears. You may not hear His answer in the howling winds, but He is there.

James 4:8 promises that when you reach for Him in the rains, He reaches right back. When the rains are gone, the sun shines again. In the Light you may see devastation left by the storms. You may see fresh blooms emerging to beautify your path.

No matter what you see, He is there. And He will use every raindrop to grow you into exactly who He created you to be.

"And I'll praise you in this storm
and I will lift my hands
for You are who You are
no matter where I am
and every tear I've cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
and though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm"
Praise You in this Storm by Casting Crowns

Sunday, February 17, 2008

We're Ba-ack!

We finally got out of town around 1pm Tuesday, and after 2 gas/potty stops, 1 fast-food drive-thru, a detour on I-4 for a FLAMING 18-wheeler, and a torrential downpour-in the dark-through the Jacksonville construction nightmare, we safely arrived in Orlando after a mere 9 and a half hours. With perfect internet directions to the hotel. Yay!

It was so late when we checked in that most of the rooms were full. So the king sized bed we requested was replaced with 2 shoeboxes. Oh, wait. I meant double beds. The remote only worked occasionally, the toilet didn't flush well, and the maids kept leaving decaf coffee in our room.

But it really wasn't that bad! The shoeboxes were comfy and the room didn't smell like smoke-covered-in-air-freshener.

I was in awe of the conference center. I truly think it was bigger than my hometown! There were shuttles running between the buildings, and if you decided to walk, there were moving sidewalks to speed up your commute. The food was outrageously expensive, but pretty tasty. The classes were great and informative. And the exhibits were out of this world! Photos weren't allowed in the exhibit hall, so I don't have any pics to share. Sorry :-(

We met some old friends and had lunch one day. Jeff and I were even spies for them and went to hear the sales pitch of their competitors! All's fair in love and business, right?

We really did have a good time, although the only places we saw were the convention center, IHOP, the hotel restaurant, and some other eating establishment on Valentines Day. We were pretty pooped at days' end.

Saturday we sat through one last class, waited 50 minutes for the every-20-minute shuttle, and made 2 neat contacts. One was a builder from the Cayman Islands, whose wife does builder websites and search engine optimization. The other was the president of a large homebuilders association.

We had almost skipped out on the final day, but decided to go. That's when we met this guy. I think it was a divine appointment, personally. Jeff got a call from a customer while riding the shuttle, and this guy overheard the conversation. He could have just sat there quietly and went on about his day, but he didn't. He immediately struck up a conversation with Jeff and starting giving him advice. Jeff finally met the mentor he has so desperately needed.

We even got some ideas for our future church building! So, all in all, it was a really good show. Shoot, I came out wanting to build a house! And I'm not even a builder!

I tell you, both of our minds were whirling with ideas on the ride home. I think we might have some hope for this year, even though the real estate stinks right now. Thanks for sticking around after the silence around here! I think I might have some other news this week, so come back and check in!!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Tagged for Technorati

I was tagged by Becky at Boys Rule My Life and figured I'd play along since it's so easy to do...and having a blog presence is a good thing :-)


*Start Copying Here*
I have randomly selected 5 of you below to be tagged and I hope that you will similarly publish this post in your blog. You will have to tag 5 other bloggers and just keep adding on to the list. (Do not replace, just keep on adding! Yes we hope it will be a long list!)
It's real easy!
Tag others and see your Technorati Authority increase exponentially!
The benefits of Viral Linking:

1.One of the fastest ways to see your technorati authority explode!
2.Increase your Google PageRank fast
3.Attract large volume of new traffic to your site
4.Build your community
5.Make new friends!

Linky Love Tag

The Strategist Notebook
Link Addiction
Ardour of the Heart
When Life Becomes a Book
The MalaysianLife
Yogatta.com
What goes under the sun
Roshidan’s Cyber Station
Sasha says
Arts of Physics
And the legend lives
My View, My Life
A Simple Life
Juliana RW
Mom Knows Everything
Beth & Cory's Mom
A Mind Forever Voyaging
enjoying the ride
Jennifer's thoughts
Mom of 3 Girls
Amanda
Don't Make Me Get The Flying Monkeys
ExPat Mom
Just Jessie
Wilson Six
Krisitn
Nuttier Than You
Shonnte
Summer's Nook
Laura Williams Musings
Melissa's Idea Garden
Eve atConfessions of an Everyday Housewife
ChristiS of the Blah Blah Blog
Stephanie at Stop the Ride!
Diane at Soap, Blings & Girly Things
Amanda at Amanda:Mama's Musings
Kristin at An Ordinary Life
Mama Zen at The Zen of Motherhood
Atomik Kitten
The Sassy Southerner
A Room of Mama's Own
Exploring Autumn
Immoral Matriarch: Catechizer
Real Life
Boogiemum
Living and loving every minute of it
Huckdoll
The Daily Rhythm
The Rocky Mountain Retreat
Peace is Every Step
Life According to Lizzy
Following Forward
Boys Rule My Life
A Quest for Relevance
Not Trying for a Boy
The Gaspards
Orryally's journal
My Life with Boys
Love Well
My Montana Moments
South Breeze Farm
My other blog, Givin' Knit Away
Knittymuggins





The last five blogs are ones I added.
*Stop Copying Here*

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Road Trip!

Yes, I know I haven't been here lately. I had to work this weekend, and have been getting adjusted to having a new pet around. That would be Fuzzy the hamster. More on him later.

And today, I'm waiting for my dear husband to finish packing so we can leave. We're driving to Orlando for a big builder's show. Many, many hours in the van. Without the kids, at least.

I have no idea what the computer/internet situation will be in our hotel, so it may be quiet here a bit longer. Regardless, I ask for your prayers today for a good, safe trip, that my kids behave for their "gramma," and that we come away from from this conference with some really good, useful information.

And maybe a tan. :-)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

So Selfish!

Yep. That's me! Selfish. I always have been. I was a surprise baby, born so much later than my siblings that essentially, I was an only child. And I was spoiled rotten. I always got what I wanted, and I only had to share with my friends. Usually, that was fine. But I still thought it was all about me.

But now I'm older, and I'm still selfish. If you called me that as a little girl I probably would have stuck my tongue out at you. But now? I'm sticking it out at myself. Pbbbbt.



I don't want to be selfish. I want to be more Christlike. I don't want it to all be about me, because it isn't!

At least I have made the first step: I recognize my problem. And I want to change!

So, "God, change me" has become a prayer of mine. I even wrote it in my prayer journal. And how I love it when He answers!

I know that I have a purpose, God-breathed and designed just for me. And, you guessed it, and can get pretty selfish, even with that. "But why can't you give the kids a bath? Clean up the kitchen? I worked hard all day and now I have to write! I have important stuff to do!"

Ick. It's sickening to witness in print, and even more when I catch myself saying or thinking things like that. I can take my "purpose," writing as a ministry, and make it all about me. Doesn't that defeat the purpose?

And what about my family? God has plans for them, too. But I easily forget that. When you're always thinking of yourself, that happens.

Yesterday morning, my devotional calendar was reminding me of the fact that God did prepare me to do His work. I struggle lately with actually doing what I know God has asked, so that spoke right to my heart.

This line was front and center on the page: "He desires to transform your sin nature into the very nature of Christ Jesus." Echoing my prayer. "God, change me." Yes, Lord. I hear You.

My morning reading was about the fruit of the Spirit, coming from Galatians 5. I just have to share the thoughts:
"Ask most believers if they would like to accomplish what the Lord has planned for them to do with their life, and they will say, 'Yes!' To be the person He calls each one of us to be, we must surrender our will to His. That means telling God that we are willing for Him to do whatever He must to drive selfishness out of our life."


I hear You, Lord! I was excited to keep reading...
"Surrendering our will to God's better plan clears off the throne of our life, enabling the Holy Spirit to take His rightful place there....we are transformed from the inside out. First, we begin to recognize when God's hand is at work. Second, we experience freedom from selfish pursuits or earthly attachments...In serving the Lord, we gain a confidence that we never had while serving self."


I am just beginning, but if I keep asking, I know God will answer. We are promised that when we delight ourselves in the Lord, when we desire what He desires, it will be given to us. (Psalm 37:4)

I know God wants me to surrender to His will, instead of trying to live by my own. So I will excitedly and expectantly wait to see how God wants to change me...

Monday, February 4, 2008

Just a Tad Bit Silly...

Ok. I'm still blaming this on the cold medicines...

I'm finally trying to read the Bible in a year. I know there's tons of good stuff in there that I've just never laid eyes on. And I must say, I haven't found it in Leviticus just yet. One more chapter about sacrificing animals because you have a heat rash and I was going to lose it. Seriously. I mean, did acne-prone teenage Israelites get quarantined for a week every time they had a breakout? And then have to sacrifice livestock to get to rejoin the family? And we think our teens are stressed!



Photo courtesy of Dubuque Community Schools

I finally got to verses that had nothing to do with sacrificing anything. Here's where we're told to respect our elders, and even get a glimpse about God's view on immigration. Really.

Fortunately, this little chapter caught my attention today, just in the nick of time. Either that, or right after I went over the edge. Not sure yet.

So Leviticus 19:28 says, "Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD."

Did you get that? "No tattoos. God said so." Well, I never seriously considered getting a tattoo, and it seems that's a good thing. I just never realized that the Bible actually talked about tattoos.

But this next one was the kicker. Leviticus 19:27 (I know it came first!) says, "Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard."

So I'm going to tell you the first thing that popped into my head when I read that. Try not to laugh. Well, I can't hear you through my blog anyway, so go ahead. I did.

I read that and thought, "No mullets. God said."



Maybe Leviticus isn't so bad after all...

Saturday, February 2, 2008

And the winner is...


JewelsHud! Congrats!

I was so blessed by all your comments. Thanks for your honesty -- I wish I had a prize for each of you!

For those of you having a good prayer life, I pray that it continues, only gets even stronger as time goes on, and that you may be a light to others who need it most.

For those of you who struggle in your prayer life, like me, I pray that God will provide the means for us to find time to be still before Him; that He will help us overcome our fears and distractions; that we will feel fulfilled when we do , and most of all, that He will be glorified!

Thank you to everyone who left a comment. You will all be prayed for by name. I hope you stumbled across something you liked here and will visit again. You will always be welcome!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Say hello to my little friends...



Sorry I haven't been around the blog much. Between moderating all the comments from my contest (you guys ROCK!) and spending time with my new BFF's pictured above, there's just not been much time to write.

I plan to remedy that real soon...

Here's wishing you a crud-free weekend!

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