Thursday, January 28, 2010

Take Time Tuesdays

Good morning to all... My computer is still overtaken by malware and not functional, but I decided to go ahead and borrow Blaine's computer to post the final chapter of Becoming a Woman of Simplicity. (Never realized how "comfortable" I had become with my own computer and it feels strange to use someone else's - even though it's my husband's!) It got me thinking - my life became simplified and complicated all in the same moment... And, while I'm mostly disconnected from my computer world, I'm still fully connected to the One who is my source of life.

Chapter Eleven ~ The Beauty of Simplicity

"Don't be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. " 1 Peter 3:3-4

"When I purchased the home from Mrs. Crighton, my childhood teacher, she said, "I will sell you my house if you promise to do one thing every morning." "What's that?" I asked. "Stop whatever you're doing at ten o'clock." she told me. "Go sit on the front porch or backyard swing and just listen to the bird." Ingrid Trobisch

And so we begin looking at the final chapter of our study... I will likely work through this study again (in the near future) to remind myself of so much that God lovingly taught me through this study. In addition, the Lord opened my ears to hear another source of blessing and encouragement to empower me as a woman of God: Lisa Bevere - great resources and audio messages for all of us. She and her husband both share powerful messages... You can find her here!

The 1 Peter scripture verses above are special to me and how I hope and pray His beauty is reflected through my life in words, actions and personal physical beauty... And, the quote from Ingrid caused me to squeal with sheer delight! Oh, to be blessed with a home so lovely. It's a beautiful word picture for all of us. I often stop to watch the birds flit about the yard and neighborhood and quiet myself to hear their lovely songs...

Slow down... Such a difficult "action" to take in our busy, busy, hustle, hustle world. I've often been so guilty of it myself - running from place-to-place and hurrying children here and there. So much to do and NOT enough time in each day. We often think that don't we? Not enough time in the day! And yet, I'm reminded that God created day and night and said it was "GOOD". Therefore, I must be the one who has an issue that need to be dealt with... I love what Cynthia shared in the study, "Simplicity is about living as God intends. It is focusing on living simply and purely in devotion to Christ. When this is our goal, we begin slowly to cultivate an inner beauty - a beauty of spirit that is gentle: kind, gracious and thoughtful, and quiet: calm, peaceful and composed. This is the beauty that adorns a woman of simplicity."

This week's study discussed 4 specific areas:
  • Gentleness
  • Quietness
  • Rest
  • Contentment

Let's take a closer look and discover how much freedom God's Word brings to our lives when we abide in Him ~

"But, whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." 2 Corinthians 3:16-18

Isn't that a beautiful picture? For me, it gives renewed hope that I am being set free, that abiding in Christ brings freedom into my life and that I am continually being transformed. I am not stuck in one place, but always being made into His likeness - and that is exciting news!

I love, love, loved what Cynthia shared about "becoming" a woman of simplicity:

"We become thoughtful and loving because we have abandoned ourselves to Christ and have presented our bodies as living sacrifices." 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 talks about that kind of self-less love!

What a beautiful picture ~ especially when we see it lived out in people's lives. I am still being transformed and I hope one day to be a picture of these verses!

Cynthia shares about "allowing God to direct her day and being available to Him" ~ and this is a Rule of Life that I try to follow on a daily basis. While I have "my plans", I truly desire HIS PLANS to always take priority in my life. That doesn't happen every time, but it does happen often..

Cynthia shares: "We become gracious because we have accepted the graciousness that comes from God. We are no longer driven by the tyranny of the urgent and are free to serve according to His plan without the irritability that an overly busy schedule produces. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says:

"There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven."

Wow. An amazing concept to grasp, isn't it?!

Cynthia also shares that "we can be truly quiet and peaceful ONLY when we trust God with all our hearts." I love Psalm 59:16-17 that she shared regarding this understanding...

"But I will sing of Your strength,
in the morning I will sing of Your love;
for You are my fortress,
my refuge in times of trouble.
O my Strength, I sing praise to You;
You, O God, are my fortress, my loving God."

Isn't this absolutely beautiful? During the dark and deeply troubling times in my life, while I did not know these verses ~ this was the condition of my spirit ~ even though physically and mentally it seemed I would be overcome; my spirit praised God, knew He was my refuge and fortress and oh, how He loved me! His Word and songs praising Him kept me going...

Now, I am still learning. I am not calm and quiet in the midst of every challenge and difficulty that comes my way, but I continue to learn and my trust in the Lord grows with each trial I face.

Cynthia shared David's response to God, "My heart says of you, "Seek His face!" Your face, Lord, I will seek." Psalm 27:8

I really appreciated Cynthia's discussion on REST ~ a subject that I have struggled with for many years... I've never heard it shared as she did:

"Jesus confirmed that the Sabbath, a day of rest instituted by God, was made for us (see Mark 2:27). Christians now set aside the Lord's Day for worship, for our rest is not in a day, but in a Person. We are no longer bound by the Old Testament Law to keep the Sabbath, but nevertheless I think that as we observe the rhythm of God, we would be wise to rest one day a week. I do my best to schedule one day where I do not have to do anything. ...I think that this is God's way for us to manage stress - to stop and rest from our labor one day a week."

She shared that during this time she visits a friend, has extended time with God, no pressing appointments or obligations... Her explanation makes sense according to what I "see" the church living out, but I'm still seeking out God and what His definition of rest and Sabbath is for my life. I don't think we should just accept what others share, but all things must be measured against God's Word and how He defines our lives. She has given me food for thought. However, the bigger issue here is that God designed us for rest and not to work continually without a time to rest, be refreshed and rejuvenated.

Contentment is an area I have struggled with my entire life. I know what God's Word says, but I'm still not "there" yet...

"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have." Hebrews 13:5

This has been a MAJOR distraction in my life for as many years as I can remember. I grew up in a military family and we moved often. I said I wouldn't marry a military man, as I didn't want to move around constantly with my own family. Well, I didn't - but God's plan for my adult life has included moving often from place-to-place, although remaining in the same general geographic area (Puget Sound region near Seattle). All I ever really wanted was to find a house, settle down, live in the same place for a long time and to have our children grow up with long-time friends in their lives. This was not our reality. So, everywhere we've lived I've been frustrated with "where" God planted us for a time when what I really wanted was just out-of-reach. However, looking back, I do see how God has used our lives to touch others and He plan has blessed our family with many opportunities that would not have happened if we lived in one neighborhood for many years... In addition, money was always tight growing up and there are memories that I have of not being able to do or acquire something I really desired. I was determined that my children would not have to do the same thing. Pretty much any interest, supplies, materials, etc they needed - we supplied; even to the extent that we racked up quite a bit of credit card debt. I justified it all with the argument that it wasn't frivolous - but meaningful in supporting the gifts and talents in their lives. (It was challenging living on one income all of our family years...) And today, one child has a spending habit (getting whatever he wants), another had a similar habit (but has chosen a difficult road to walk now with little money) and the other is a "saver" and spends little (and the one who received the least growing up). I hold myself responsible for some of their actions, but I do see more clearly now and I'm still learning how to hold possessions and ideals lightly... And, living in discontent is troubling not only to yourself, but also to everyone in the family. I know He is able and one day I shall get there!

I was really touched with what Cynthia shared from Oswald Chamber: "Every now and again our Lord lets us see what we would be like it it were not for Himself; it is a justification of what He said - "without Me you can do nothing." She goes on to share ~ "That is why the bedrock of Christianity is personal, passionate devotion to the Lord Jesus."

"Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; He rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for Him." Isaiah 30:18

"We simplify, not just to be less busy, even though we may be right to pursue that. Rather, we simplify to remove distractions from our pursuit of Christ. We prune activities from our lives, not only to get organized, but also that our devotion to Christ and service for His kingdom will be more fruitful. We simplify, not merely to save time, but to eliminate hindrances to the time we devote to knowing Christ. All the reasons we simplify should eventually lead us to Jesus Christ." Donald S. Whitney

The study has contained powerful and eye-opening lessons for my own life. I pray that it has helped you to desire more of Christ and a willingness to let go of things that keep you from being devoted to Him. I'm not "there" yet, but I see His transformational work happening in my own life. May each of us continually desire to "become a woman of simplicity" and be a light in this dark world so that many people will experience His love, Truth and grace through our lives!

A special thanks to Cynthia Heald and this great new study. I am thankful she made herself available to our precious Lord, so that I could learn and grow from all she shared!

Lord ~ may You continue to bless each of us that we are a blessing to others for Your glory. May Your love be shared through our lives that many would come to know You as we abide in You and live lives simply and purely devoted to You. You are so good. In Jesus' name ~ Amen

Monday, January 25, 2010

Take Time Tuesdays...

Will be delayed until Tuesday afternoon, as my uncle is visiting overnight and I'm teaching him facebook stuff...

*Update 1/26: As I prepared to post my comments regarding the last chapter in Becoming a Woman of Simplicity, my computer was attacked by malware. My husband is working to remove it from my computer. I will post the final Take Time Tuesday when this is completed.

Abundant blessings! Remember, God is good in all things!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Ellen's Homerun Chocolate Chip cookies!

Yes, these are gluten-free and dairy-free and so YUMMY!

Once again, Ellen has outdone herself and created a fabulous chocolate chip cookie recipe for all of us to enjoy! Click here and be prepared to indulge in an "old favorite"...

Chocolate Chip Macadamia Nut Cookies

1 cup brown rice flour mix* (from Annalise Roberts Gluten-Free Baking Classics)
1/4 cup sweet rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
2 tablespoons almond meal
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup softened butter
1/2 cup turbinado sugar (or brown)
1/2 cup white sugar
1 extra large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease two large baking sheets.

Blend flours, almond meal, baking soda, xanthan gum, and salt in medium sized bowl.

Blend softened butter, sugars, egg and vanilla with a spoon until creamy.

Using a wooden spoon, add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well. Add the chocolate chips and macadamia nuts. At this point, you will probably need to use your hands to mix the ingredients together.

Pinch off about a tablespoon of batter. Roll it in your hands in order to make a small ball. Place on the baking sheet, leaving a generous amount of room between cookies. Bake for 10 minutes, rotating the trays halfway through the baking time. Remove from the oven. After five minutes, transfer them to a cooling rack.

*Annalise Roberts Brown Rice Flour mix
2 cups brown rice flour
2/3 cup potato starch (not potato flour)
1/3 cup tapioca flour

  • Update 4/27/2011: These are amazing fresh out of the oven! They don't store really well, so we only bake the amount we desire to eat and store the dough in a glass container in the fridge. Over the next couple of days, we set the dough out to warm up slightly and bake the amount we desire to eat; using all the dough within 3 days.
  • We have not made these with macadamia nuts.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Bible study - Take Time Tuesdays

Great lesson this week with the finale next week... Hope you'll read through this week's lesson and share your insights too. I've learned so much!

I will be taking the month of February to prepare for the next study I'll be sharing through my blog. And, I will be moving the publish date to Thursday ~ Take Time Thursdays!

Saw this video and knew it was the next study God had for me! Hope you'll join me!

Next study:
Click on the picture to order the book from LifeWay Christian Stores ~ which in the U.S. seems to be the only distributor for now... Amazon offers it in 1-2 months!

New study will begin on my blog: Thursday, March 4th!

Please begin praying now, seeking God's leading and come expecting amazing things to happen in each of our lives! I know I am!

Take Time Tuesdays...

Chapter 10 ~ Perfect Peace

"You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You!" Isaiah 26:3

"Drop thy still dews of quietness
'Til all our striving cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,

And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace."
John Greenleaf Whittier

As Cynthia shares: "Whether we encounter medical emergencies or the routine responsibilities of our everyday lives, we need a perfect peace that steadies our spirits and prompts our responses. We need the dews of quietness and the beauty of God's peace. A woman of simplicity is at peace because she trusts God who is her Source of peace and she is willing to step out in faith to seek His peace.

Welcome to another week of pausing for a few moments in our busy lives and taking time to focus on God's Word and all He desires to teach us. This week is an especially difficult chapter for me. Peace - His Perfect Peace - is the area of my faith journey where I need the greatest amount of work. I am still seeking it and know that as I work through this study and continue to meditate upon His Word and walk out His Truths in my life, I will find it. I am confident that He will enable me to find it! So, grab a cup of tea, coffee or hot chocolate and join us as we seek to become women of simplicity...

Having the peace of Christ requires us to do a couple of things ~ receive it and actively go after it, as shown to us in His Word:

"The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace." Psalm 29:11

"Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it." Psalm 34:14

"The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace" Romans 8:6

I'm still learning and growing in this area. I want my life to be filled with His peace and it is to certain degrees, but it's not where I truly desire it to be. I must continue to not only be open to receive it, but also pursue it. And yet, there are more facets to truly having His peace... Read on!

"The unfathomable peace of God who controls the universe and pursues a faultless purpose, is the peace that Paul commended to his Philippian friends... This divine peace kept Paul's mind and heart. The word translated "keep" in Philippians 4:7 is phroureo, which is translated "kept with a garrison." ...Between Paul and threatening circumstances stood a garrison. God's peace had taken him custody. A great river of peace was thrown like a moat around the citadel of his soul." John Phillips

J.N. Figgis said, "If the basis of peace is God, the secret of peace is trust."

Wow! This short statement contains alot of information... The key is TRUSTING God. Trust is a word God has spoken to me so often for many years and it's also an area where I continue to learn and grow. One thing I learned this week ~ the more I trust Him, the more I will experience His peace in my life.

"Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart to Him, for God is our refuge." Psalm 62:8

"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." Psalm 91:1-2

I really like these three verses, especially Psalm 91 which has been one of my very special verses for some time now... I love the visual for the Jeremiah passage - so powerful! How I desire to be steady, trusting at all times and calm in the midst of every storm. To be a strong, healthy tree by the water and unchanging no matter the conditions around me...

"This means that we trust all that the love of God does; all He gives, and all He does not give; all He says, and all He does not say. To it all we say, by His loving enabling, I trust. Let us be content with out Lord's will, and tell Him so, and not disappoint Him by wishing for anything He does not give. The more we understand His love, the more we trust." Amy Carmichael

This quote "knocked my socks off". It's yes and no; giving and not giving, etc... And trusting Him no matter what comes our way. God has given me some really difficult lessons this past year and I'm learning to trust Him as He grows my faith even deeper.

Practicing solitude is part of living each day in God's perfect peace. I've got this one mastered - NOT. Getting away, finding time to be alone - got that part down. It's the "stillness" and "quiet" that I'm not so good at. I want to sit and listen to God, but I find that my "voice" begins to speak and share much with God; that when I try to be silent ~ my mind/thoughts start running wildly and I can't seem to quiet them to listen; that so much is happening in my world that I "must" pray about everything before quieting myself before God. So much to learn, so much to learn... God already knows EVERYTHING that is happening in my life, but what He has to say to me should always be my priority instead of "taking off with my own agenda."

An amazing verse and this picture leaves me in awe of ALL He is. Please take a few moments and just sit silently before Him...

"We enter into solitude first of all to meet our Lord and to be with Him and Him alone. Our primary task in solitude, therefore, is not to pay undue attention to the many faces which assail us, but to keep the eyes of our mind and heart on Him who is our Divine Savior. Only in the context of grace can we face our sin; only in the place of healing do we dare to show our wounds; only with single-minded attention to Christ can we give up our clinging fears and face our own true nature... Solitude shows us the ways to let our behavior be shaped not by the compulsions of the world, but by our new mind, the mind of Christ. Silence prevents us from being suffocated by our wordy world and teaches us to speak the Word of God." Henri Nouwen

For your consideration: "Finding solitude in a noisy, busy world is a challenge. As you consider your schedule, what time and place would be best for you to be silent before God?

For myself ~ I find the best times of solitude are when I physically remove myself from other people and the house and go to the beach, a local gathering spot (where I don't know anyone) or walk around Green Lake - just He and I.

Now for the toughest aspect of this week's study for myself: Peace with others and having a forgiving spirit.

Weatherly made this statement, "Forgiving those who hurt us is the key to personal peace."

I forgive others who have hurt me (by faith - and sometimes I must forgive a person again and again; a daily process) , as my biggest challenge is dealing with the pain/wounds inflicted and learning how to move forward with my life ~ and seeking God for how to develop a relationship with the person when I don't trust them or I am on-guard at all times to protect myself from further hurt. I know I have alot to learn about this specific aspect of peace and have few answers.

"For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." Matthew 6:14-15

This is a familiar passage to me. I do understand it, but I get hung up on the pain. In my head, I understand forgiveness of others ~ but the pain in my heart keeps me in protective mode around offenders and it often keeps me from moving to reconciliation and restoration...

"Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far is it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. On the contrary:

"If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head."

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." Romans 12:17-21

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." Colossians 3:12-15

I really try to live according to the Romans and Colossians verses above. I know I fall short, but I continue to seek God's forgiveness when I mess up, learn from my mistakes and ask Him for new insights and wisdom regarding what this looks like and how to live it out!

Powerful: "Forgiveness has little to do with your abuser. Forgiveness is about freedom from destructive thoughts and emotions. Forgiveness is about fellowship with God." an anonymous survivor of sexual abuse ~ but this could be anyone who has suffered at the hands of another...

These words gave me powerful insight. I have never thought of forgiveness in this manner before. How I pray God enables me to truly learn from these words - at a heart level - and to trust Him that I truly walk in His forgiveness daily. Step-by-step, He will lead us if we desire to move to this level of devotion to Him.

Oswald Chambers: "My worth to God in public is what I am in private."

Cynthia shares that we must allow God to search our hearts. "...if we truly desire to become women of simplicity, we will abandon ourselves to God and let His Spirit free us and keep us on the right path." She suggest praying this prayer: "Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I'm about; see for Yourself whether I've done anything wrong - then guide me on the road to eternal life." (Psalm 139:23-24, The Message)

  • is listening to God
  • is thinking His thoughts with Him
  • is the finding of His will and viewpoint
  • is the discovering of Truth
  • is giving God a chance to speak
(by Peter Lord)

I know that I will be revisiting this chapter and the lessons taught here, as I seek to become a Woman of Simplicity. I desire to live in His peace each day. Remember ~ He is able.

Next week is the final chapter of this study. How I pray God continues to reveal more of who He is and that we become pure and devoted to Christ; our amazing Lord and Savior.

Abundant blessings and may His peace fill your lives today!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Challenging times for organic farmers...

Capital Press agriculture news

Interesting article! It's during difficult times that we discover who is committed and who really isn't... Praying sales begin to rise again for organic farmers!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Today is my "halfway to 90" Birthday!

From Thursday ~ the Birthday Girls!

Our birthdays are just 6 days apart, so Pat and I treated each other to lunch... Fun!

Special gift ~ Kirstin wants to learn more about a family tradition we had and Benjamin shared this with her!

Also blessed with a Starbucks card from Nicholas, Wii Fit Plus and two books I really wanted from Bill and Sharon, a new fleece jacket from Blaine (he wasn't supposed to get me anything, as I'm getting some gardening things at the Garden Show in a couple of weeks)...

Oh yes, and I met Kate for coffee on Thursday and she treated me! She texted me a birthday message to me today (and sang Happy Birthday to me - on my voicemail, which I saved to listen to again...)

Went to my first Seattle Tree Fruit Society meeting at the Center for Urban Horticulture ~ and met some really great people! Looking forward to getting involved with group and learning much...

@ Alki Beach ~ love the contrast between the large container ship and all the sailboats...

Happy Birthday to me!

Quite chilly today ~ not alot of people on the beach.

Apricot Bliss cake at Flying Apron Bakery

Nicholas enjoyed his pumpkin spice cake and latte

Blaine made homemade pizza!


Playing Scrabble...

Got to see Benjamin for a couple minutes this morning before he left and get a hug! Also, Elizabeth called late this afternoon (on her lunch break) and we had a good conversation... Plus, I got to talk to my Mom and Dad for a while - with plans to see them on Monday. :)

So thankful that God blesses me with abundant life each day and that I have received the gift of another year of life! If it's His will, I'm only halfway through this journey on earth ~ but I'm not counting my chickens before they hatch; still making the most of each day! He knows the exact number of my days... Thanks Lord!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Gluten-Free Granola!

To see the post and be able to print the recipe, visit I Am Gluten Free.

Ellen is so creative and has great recipes! So excited to try this recipe!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Take Time Tuesdays

Chapter 9 - The Good Competes with the Best

"And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice - the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him." Romans 12:1

"In seeking the Best we soon find that our enemy is our good things, not our bad. The things that keep us back from God's best are not sin and imperfections, but the things that are right and good and noble from the natural standpoint... Very few of us debate with the sordid and evil and wrong, but we do debate with the good." Oswald Chambers

Wow! I knew reading the first two quotes of the chapter that I was in trouble this week. My biggest struggle is with "good things"... Sigh. So thankful God is patient with me. Okay, Lord ~ let's work on this next area together! Please help me make wise choices so my life and my time are completely devoted to You.

So, it's really about choice isn't it? It's about giving up control and allowing God to guide our lives, our choices, our actions... Such a simple concept to understand, but a monumental challenge to live out in reality. I've done alot of really good things over the years, but have they been the BEST for my life? Possibly not. And yet I could get really stuck here wondering about choices that were made, I know I cannot dwell on the past - living in the present - but I can ask God to help me learn to hear His voice and make the best choices from here on out... Our lives are about ongoing transformation.

Good versus Best (scripture examples)... Sacrifice, burnt offerings BUT the best is:
  • obedience
  • a broken and contrite heart
  • a broken spirit
  • doing what is right and just
  • mercy
  • acknowledging God in all things
"The offering of ourselves should be voluntary. No other can be a true offering, and none other can be acceptable... It implies that he who offers it presents it entirely, releases all claim or right to it, and leaves it to be disposed of for the honour of God." Albert Barnes

So we offer our lives for service, in relationships, in ministry because we feel an obligation or is it a free offering with no strings attached. I know I've fallen short in this area from time-to-time. We all desire to be valued for our service, to be recognized ~ but it's really ALL about God. When we do things as a "sacrifice" to God, it's good but not our best...

"Judaism sought mercy by sacrifice and service; St. Paul teaches that God seeks man's true sacrifice and service by showing mercy. We are to come to Him not that He may love us in the end, but because He loves us from the beginning. Our obedience to God is to be, therefore, no task-work, but love-work; not servitude, but sonship. God's love is the great motive-power of the new life." T.F. Lockyer

Are you wrapping your heart and your head around what this says? He loves us from the beginning - way before we ever considered loving Him. Our life should be filled with love-work, not as the drudgery of chores; not as ones who must serve, but as those who desire to do their Father's work. Perspective and insight do much for us. And, when you realize just how much God loves you, it will leave you speechless, stunned and overwhelmed...

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these." Mark 12:30-31

The best of the Best! I've been wrestling with these verses for the past year or so... The greatest commandment God gave us EVER! Impossible to accomplish. At least, humanly impossible. Without the love of God, without Jesus as our Savior, without His amazing love and without the help of the Holy Spirit ~ we cannot possibly accomplish this. But WITH ALL, we shall be able! It means giving up ALL control and going after God's BEST...

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31

This verse caught my attention this week ~ even when I eat or drink something. No matter what I'm doing ~ ALL should be for God's glory. This was a big revelation for me. When you begin to put that food into your mouth or that glass up to your lips or choose to engage in some type of activity - stop and ask yourself, will this bring glory to God - then proceed with the BEST answer!

"Why are you doing what others can do, when you are leaving undone what only you can do?" Bruce Bugbee

Another big revelation for me this week... I know I've done this so often over the course of my life. But, this quote makes me wonder what I have left undone that only I could do. That's much to consider, but instead of pulling myself down and being critical I must remember that God is able to redeem my life and I can live according to this now and for all the days ahead that God gives to me. I'm going to post this where I can read it often and pray God will bless me with discernment to know when to act and when it's not my responsibility. I must remember that my time is His and my obedience to His Best will bring glory to His name. It is the outward evidence that I am inwardly devoted to Him.

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you." Psalm 32:8

A promise of God. He has shared this with me many times over the years. How thankful I am, no matter how painful the lessons may be, that He continues to instruct me and teach me; counsel me and watch over me. There are times when the pain is nearly unbearable when I finally learn a lesson, but I am so thankful to finally have understanding and I trust that His grace, mercy and love shall bring healing to others for the many times I've fallen short and let them down... And, if there is action needed on my part I know He will show me what to do.

"I Am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go." Isaiah 48:17

Why is it so hard for us to understand that God desires to teach us, knows what is best for us and He will show us the way to go? How often I've thought I know. I know. And then, He reveals again that I must relinquish control and allow Him to be my Master in every way!

"O Lord, may I be directed what to do and what to leave undone." Elizabeth Fry

Cynthia shares a prayer she prays when she gets out of bed each day, "Lord Jesus, I present my body as a living and holy sacrifice to be used as You will. I relinquish all rights to myself and ask for You to guide me and enable me to choose that which is best. May I, this day, continue to live in simple and pure devotion to You."

I pray you and I will desire to lay down the "good things" that keep us from God's BEST and continue to allow Him to transform our lives to become Women of Simplicity. Abundant blessings...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Take Time Tuesdays...

A new look! I found this artwork at a local Christian bookstore and knew it was exactly what my vision was for Take Time Tuesdays. We're all different, but we share a commonality in wanting to know God more. And, this is the verse that God has been speaking to me for the past 2 years...

I've really been making what I'm learning, through this study, a part of my life and I was really excited when I saw the title of this chapter. So many wonderful lessons!

Chapter 8 ~ The Sacred Present

"Teach us how short our life is, so that we may become wise." Psalm 90:12 TEV

"Those who sanctify time and who give time away - who treat time as a gift and not possession - have time in abundance. Contrariwise, those who guard every minute, resent every interruption, ration every moment, never have enough. They're always late, always behind, always scrambling, always driven. There is, of course, a place for wise management of our days and weeks and years. But management can quickly turn into rigidity. We hold time so tight we crush it, like a flower closed in the fist. We thought we were protecting it, but all we did was destroy it." Mark Buchanan

Just had to share the beginning of this chapter with you, "In the book Distracted, Maggie Jackson makes these comments: Yet increasingly, we are shaped by distraction... The seduction of alternative virtual universes, the addictive allure of multitasking people and things, our near-religious allegiance to a constant state of motion: these are markers of a land of distraction, in which our old conceptions of space, time and place have been shattered. This is why we are less and less able to see, hear and comprehend what's relevant and permanent... We are on the verge of losing our capacity as a society for deep, sustained focus... We rarely are completely present in the moment or for one another."

Have you experienced this in your life? Been on the receiving end of someone who wasn't totally there? Has this been you?

I answer YES to all three questions. However, I am trying to be more aware of getting caught in this "way of living" and stop myself and refocus on the now and who I'm with.

The author shares, "Time is a gift; it is not a possession. It is to be used wisely. George MacDonald reminds us that each moment is to be valued as, "The Sacred Present.""

Do you take life for granted? Do you think you'll always have another tomorrow? "Why do today what you can put off for tomorrow?" I've thought this way - said those words... In reality, we don't know how many tomorrows we will have. Each day is a precious gift from God and we ought to live as so!

Proverbs 27:1 "Do not boast about tomorrow for you do not know what a day may bring forth."

I know I've often taken it for granted that I have lots and lots of time in this life. And perhaps, I do ~ but God instructs me to live in today, be fully present and not always thinking how tomorrow will be different and live in a "planning and preparing mode". For years, I have lived in the now, but shared that time with "planning and preparing" for an even better life in the future. I missed out on nearly half my living time each day, but I don't want to do so any longer. I want to make the most of every day - right now, today!

"What becomes important is not that I manage time, but that I let God manage me." David W. Henderson

"We must convert our spare time into another kind of time: time when we study the Bible; time when we turn our thoughts toward the throne of God in prayer; time when we pick up a good book, go for a walk, do some gardening, or visit someone in the hospital; time when we do what we have sinfully neglected because we were "too busy". John Phillips

I have good intentions in my life. I really do. There are times when I do realize each day is a gift and I must make the most of it. At others times, I am selfish with my time and I "deserve" time to myself ~ when I can do whatever I feel like and no one should bother me. And, there are things that I want to do for myself that are important. Oh yes, and did I mention that I have really good intentions in my life...?

Lately, as I've reflected on my life and the choices I make about my time ~ I realized how short I fall sometimes. I tell myself to drop someone a note, a card, to call them, or mention that we should get together for coffee ~ and then time goes by and it doesn't happen. It's because I was "too busy"... This became a reality for me this past week when I received one of our Christmas cards returned to us. Written on the front of the envelope - "deceased". Grandma Anderson was 92 and passed away last August. She was my brother's godmother, but she and Grandpa Anderson were like another set of grandparents to us. I loved visiting them or having them visit us! Every year, she sent Blaine and I an anniversary card. I told him that we really should get over the Gig Harbor and visit her, as I hadn't seen her in years. It's only an hour+ drive from our home... We never did and now it's too late. What a wake-up call. Lord, I want a new attitude about making the most of each day and using my time wisely!

A question in this week's study: Paul exhorted the Ephesians to use their time wisely, to make the most of every opportunity. What helps you in making the best use of your time?

For me ~ when my heart and attitude are focused on Christ I do very well. However, I struggle with selfishness and that I deserve "my time" (which is a lie of this world). I'm thankful I can recognize my shortfalls and go to the Lord and ask Him to transform my life in this area.

A word of warning: when you ask the Lord to do something in your life - get ready, as He may do just that. This past week, Blaine came down with a nasty virus and instead of sharing household duties, I've had to take them all on. Now, I usually have an attitude about not being able to get "my projects" done - but this time I'm really working on giving my day to the Lord and allowing Him to unfold it. Adding in making dinner, cleaning up and other household work - it hasn't left much time for any of the projects. I've had my moments when I feel sorry for myself, but I remind myself that all time belongs to God and if this is what I need to be doing now, He will enable me in His time to be able to accomplish all He desires me to do... And if I never get some of those "projects" done - He didn't want me spending my time doing them in the first place. What a concept!

"In other words, we need to make an active and determined effort to become acquainted with wisdom. We need to make an active and determined effort to get to know the word of God where the highest wisdom is stored... When we hear and receive God's words, hide His commandments in our hearts, apply ourselves to understanding, and ask earnestly for divine wisdom, we will be on our way to understanding the fear of the Lord... It is a reverential awe that inspires all those who find themselves in the presence of an all-powerful, all-wise, all-loving God." John Phillips

Did you read this passage carefully? It states that getting wisdom requires EFFORT! It's work on our part. We can't just absorb it...

Living in the present requires our full attention!

I worked on my Bible study this week while sitting in Starbucks. I actually laughed out loud when I worked through this section and realized I had to keep rereading verses and the study, as I kept looking away while watching the people coming and going and those sitting around me visiting... So easily distracted, but my full attention is required!

Okay, this blew me away when I read this...

"Think of the things that take you out of the position of abiding in Christ. You say, "Yes, Lord, just a minute - still have this to do. Yes, I will abide as soon as this is finished, or as soon as this week is over. It will be all right, Lord. I will abide then." Get moving - begin to abide now. In the initial stages it will be a continual effort to abide, but as you continue, it will become so much a part of your life that you will abide in Him without any conscious effort. Make the determination to abide in Jesus wherever you are now or wherever you may be placed in the future." Oswald Chambers

I've said all those things before. Have you? I want to abide. It's going to take effort, but it will so be worth it!

Thoughts from Cynthia Heald:
" I need to be vigilant to guard my heart each moment and be careful in redeeming my time."

"Often our days do not go as planned, but when we are abandoned to God, we are free to allow the Lord to use our days as He wants. We need to be realistic in realizing that interruptions are part of life and are often God-ordained, but we also need to be discerning in knowing when an interruption needs our full attention and when someone else's perceived need can wait."

Good words.

In closing this week, Cynthia's prayer that I am posting on the board near my computer:

"O Lord, impress upon my heart how short life is. Give me wisdom to live as You intend. Let me be a woman who engages people and tasks wholeheartedly for Your glory. Help me to know how to deal with each day's distractions. Give wisdom in knowing how to respond to interruptions. May I be fully present in Your presence and focused on anyone who crosses my path. May I learn to value each moment, for it is a gift. May I sanctify each day by living in simple and pure devotion to You. In Jesus' name. Amen."

Yes, this is the prayer of my heart. May you live simply devoted to Him.