April 26, 2013

When Bad Things Happen

When bad things happen, I used to question why. Was there something in me that deserved this bad experience? Was this God's loving discipline? Was there something I needed to learn before all the bad goes away?

After quite a few of hardship, I believe I'm finally learning that sometimes there is just not a "why".  He blesses the righteous and the evil. He allows hardship on the good and the bad.
He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. Matthew 5:45
Sure, we may "need" to learn something through hardship. But even if we don't need to be taught a lesson, we learn to have faith, trust, perseverance, and joy...yes, joy! When we can look at these times with trust in the One who made us and loves us, we can find the joy that will get us through. He will send blessing, big and small, to encourage you in the dark times.

Sometimes we are not in need of more lessons from God...we are just being attacked by the evil one. Look at Job! He wasn't perfect, but Satan wanted to show God that when all of the good things in Job's life were taken away, he would curse God. And what about the prophets? Many of them were persecuted and ridiculed while they were just doing the Lord's work.

The evil one is out to destroy God's mission in this world, plain and simple. What better way than to discourage God's people?
“Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. 10 “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. 11 But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.” Job 1:9-11
Well, I'm not going to let God down. Even in the midst of a home robbery, car problems, and plumbing problems (yes, the bathroom that took 7 weeks to remodel last year is leaking and has to be torn out and redone next week!), I will rejoice in the Lord!
I will bless the Lord at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth. Psalm 34:1
I praise God for His unbelievable power! I lift up His name because of the awesome God He is. And I thank Him for the beautiful family and friends that He has sent to love on me and my family during difficult times.

And really...we have such an awesome life! People across the world face death every day. People are persecuted every day! I live in a land where the norm is to have more than one car, smart phones, and 3 meals every day. I am in the top 2% on the "wealthy" scale in the world!!!

Yes, I have a great life.

What are you praising God in the midst of today?

April 22, 2013

Robbed But Not Defeated

We were robbed last Friday. While we were at work someone broke into the house and stole some things. I won't go into details, but I have to say that I was disappointed. It was disturbing to know that someone had entered my house and looked through all my stuff....and made a big mess. Drawers were dumped out, a table turned over, even Q-Tips were strewn everywhere!

And they took the pillow case off my bedding that I got for my birthday last year! The nerve!

While it is a sad thing to lose your things, I was able to keep it all in perspective given the recent tragedies in Boston and West. What's a few electronics in the face of death and destruction?

All in perspective.

And of course, there is the security that knowing God is present in all our circumstances...good or bad. When my husband called me to tell me the news and I got into the car to head home, the song that began to play on the radio was Blessed Be Your Name. Yes, indeed! Whether the sun is shining down on me or my road is marked with suffering, still I will always say..."Blessed Be Your Name, LORD!"

God also spoke to my heart in Bible class Sunday morning. Listen to our scripture for the class:

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."  Matthew 6: 19-21

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.  Matthew 6: 25-34

Amazing, isn't it? I love that God reminded me that my treasure is not here on earth. It is stored in heaven, awaiting me there. I love that He reminded me that I do not need to worry about "things". I don't need to worry because He will take care of me and my family. He loves us so and has showed us through all the hugs, prayers, calls, texts, and emails.

I am so incredibly blessed to have a God and friends who care and love so unconditionally.

April 17, 2013

Be Strong

There are days when you just need the encouragement to know that God is with you...always...forever by your side. No matter what comes your way, God is always for you. He leads you and is your rear guard. He is your forever friend.

Now go...be strong and courageous.

April 15, 2013

The Reoccurring Recall

Photo by Stuart Miles
Have you ever experienced purchasing a product only to have it recalled? Disappointing to say the least. Yes, you get your money back, but the recalled products are not to be used again. EVER. Why? Because they are rejects...worthless...unusable.

In John 21, Jesus once again appeared to his disciples after his resurrection. One might wonder why Jesus would return to these disciples, for they certainly didn't have a good track record. These were the disciples who deserted Jesus when he was arrested. Peter denied Jesus three times. Thomas doubted Jesus' return. Deserted, denied, and doubted - not a great basis for building God's kingdom upon.

But Jesus returned to these men to do a disciple re-call. He had called them to follow him years ago and he is now re-calling them to the same mission he had originally called them to...they just didn't understand it back then.

Jesus' disciples needed to learn a lesson about God's kingdom, and the greatest way to learn that lesson was to re-call them to the same mission. To give them a new start. A do-over. They needed to learn the lesson of grace and mercy...of forgiveness and restoration. This was the essence of God's kingdom, and a re-call was the best way to experience that kingdom.

The great thing about God's kingdom is that we, too, are recalled. We are the recipients of grace, mercy, forgiveness and restoration. We are given a fresh start to become a part of God's mission here on earth and the life to come.

The best part is that this recall is a reoccurring recall. 

Yes, God recalls us continually. We will mess up. We will desert. We will deny. We will doubt. But God offers his forgiveness and restores us to His kingdom. We need only to open our hearts and receive it.

Aren't you thankful for this kind of recall? 

***Kuddos to John Ketchersid for an outstanding lesson on Sunday. He always makes me think and leads me to a better understanding of God and His mission.

April 10, 2013

New Photos

I haven't taken as many pictures lately, but I thought I'd share some of the ones that I liked.

I'm sooooo loving the microphone hanging in this picture..sigh.

Wait a minute...what's that in the background?

Aha! A lovely print!

One of these days I am going to learn to set the camera manually for better lighting. I've been pinning a lot of tutorials onto my photography board on Pinterest. Now if only I would take the time to really study them and  PRACTICE them! 

I'd really like to get good enough to take my own stock photos so that I don't have to keep using freedigitalphotos.com for my blog pictures. 

April 09, 2013

Scheduling Your Blog PLUS Free Printable

I'm posting over at The Writer's Alley today about blogging and scheduling. I've even created a blog scheduling calendar to download for free. Stop by and share any tips you might have for blogging!

April 08, 2013

The Scarred Body

Photo by luigi diamanti
Our society is obsessed with youth and the perfected body. Women devour anti-aging products, do hundreds of sit-ups to diminish that sagging middle, and lather on the tinted lotions for a sun-kissed glow. If you have money, you can even lift, tuck, and suction your way to the body you once had...er, kind of.

While we may strive for the perfect body here on earth, the Bible gives us hope for better body in the life to come....eternal life with the perfect body. Our body now is like a tent (2 Cor. 5:1-3). In heaven our bodies will be like Jesus' body (Phil. 3:20-21).

We long for...hope for...a resurrected body that is perfect. We don't want bald heads, stretch marks, cellulite, and long ear hairs (just to clarify, I do NOT have long ear hairs!). We don't want the aches and pains that old age brings. We want a strong, healthy, good looking body, fit for the kingdom of God for all eternity. And we shall get it...with one exception.

The resurrected body is a wounded body...a scarred body.

After he arose from the grave, Jesus appeared to his disciples in bodily form. He showed them his scarred body...the marks from the nails in his hands and feet and the spear thrust in his side. He still had the scars. Yes, his wounds had healed, but he carried the scars even after death. Those scars are the badge of honor that spoke of his sacrifice for the world.

We, too, will carry scars into heaven. For the resurrected body is a wounded body. Healed, yes, but scarred for eternity. As Christians, we will have battle wounds. Every wound for the sake of Christ will heal and bear the mark forever.

The scars we bear, whether visible or invisible, become signs of grace and mercy. They are a reminder of God's provision, His love, and His acceptance. They are the mark of triumph.

What scars will you carry with you? 

***Thank you, Chris Dowdy, for an excellent and thought provoking communion meditation during our worship gathering yesterday. Your words touched my heart.

April 03, 2013

Death By Chocolate Cake

This chocolate cake recipe that I found on Pinterest is so incredibly good! Plus, it is really easy to make. SCORE!

1 box of yellow cake mix
1 box of vanilla instant pudding
1 box of chocolate instant pudding
4 eggs
3/4 cup of oil
1 cup of sour cream
1/2 of a 12 oz bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
Hot fudge (or chocolate syrup) - Optional

Mix all ingredients together for 2 minutes.
Pour half the batter in a bundt pan and pour half of the remaining chocolate chips in.
Pour in the rest of the batter and sprinkle on remaining chocolate chips.
Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.

I topped my cake with some hot fudge that I happened to have on hand. It was delicious!

April 01, 2013

The Bloom of the Cross

I love Easter and the hope that is celebrated. I love the colors of spring worn by the congregation...women in their new dresses, men with new ties, children with their fancy Easter baskets, ready for the egg hung after church. Families come together for this special day of  celebrating our Lord's resurrection. Lots of laughter. Lots of love.

Our church has begun what I hope to be a new tradition of "blooming the cross". At the front of the sanctuary stood a cross covered in palm leaves. These leaves were the ones used to celebrate Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem before his death...Palm Sunday. It is the reminder of the hope that the people had for Jesus as the Messiah, the hope that was dashed by his death on the cross. They did not understand his death. Their hope for something better was destroyed.

But they had not yet experienced the rest of the story as we have. For we know that on the third day after his death, Jesus rose from the grave. The grave could not contain him. Death could not hold him. He is alive now and forevermore. 

And therein lies the hope we have. Because of Jesus' death and resurrection, we have life. Real life...a better life here on earth, and a life to come in the presence of God, experiencing Him fully in all His glory. 

As we all sang the song, Lord I Life Your Name on High, the church filed up to the front of the sanctuary and placed flowers upon the empty cross. This act is such a powerful picture of the beauty of Jesus' sacrifice.   When we placed our flowers on the cross, we show we are placing our life in God's hands and accepting Jesus's sacrifice. Yes, the cross is an ugly reminder of His death, yet when we accept that sacrifice...when we give up our own life, that cross becomes a gorgeous portrayal of the true life He brings. 

My family...missing my daughter and her fiance.

The bloom of the cross is the victory of Easter. I can't think of a better way to celebrate.

What was special about your Easter this year? 

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