February 26, 2013

What Are You Hungering For In Life?

I'm beginning a short devotional series on the "I AM" statements of Jesus over at The Writer's Alley. Stop by and share what you are hungry for.

The Writer's Alley

February 25, 2013

Using Your Life Experience To Serve The Lord

            graur razvan ionut at freedigitalphotos.net

How should we use our life experience to serve the Lord?

That was the question that John Ketchersid asked in his sermon yesterday. Taking the passage in Luke 5, John explored the situation where Peter lets Jesus preach from his boat, then, because Jesus asks him to, puts his nes into the water even though he had been fishing all night without catching a single fish. He catches a ton of fish, then when Jesus asks him to leave it all and follow him, Peter does just that. He leaves all to follow the Savior.

So what does this teach us about serving the Lord? This is what John said:

  • We serve the Lord by USING our experience, expertise, and resources. Peter was a fisherman and had a boat. He used what he had to help Jesus teach the people by letting Jesus use his boat.   We all have things in our lives that we can use for God's kingdom, whether it is our time, our money, or our experience. God's kingdom is blessed when His people use whatever He has given them.
  • Serving the Lord IN SPITE OF our experience, expertise, and resources. When Jesus asks Peter to put out his nets after they had fished all night with no success, you can just imagine Peter's thoughts. Seriously? I have been fishing for years! I know how to fish and I can tell you right now, we are not going to catch any fish. It is late in the day and I've already cleaned my nets. And then "Master, because you asked, I will do it." Sometimes we let our experience, our knowledge, and our abilities get in the way of the kingdom. We think we know best, when in fact we know nothing about what is best for the kingdom. It is when we follow Jesus in spite of what we know that life gets exciting and God's kingdom is realized here on earth.
  • Serving the Lord by LEAVING our experience, expertise, and resources. Jesus told Peter to follow him, and he would make Peter a fisher of men. What I thought interesting is that he added, "Don't be afraid." Leaving what you know and do and are good at is frightening! We like feeling secure in what we know. We want to feel in control of our life and do what we think is best. But Jesus says to not be afraid of leaving it and following Him. We can rest in His love for us as we take that leap of faith to follow Him with all that we are. 
Following Jesus is such a great adventure. Sure, it is scary. Sure, we don't like the insecurity. But oh...let's not miss out what God has for us! He has a great mission for us if we will only let Him show us the way. 

It is in our submission to Him - serving God by using...in spite of...and leaving our experience, expertise, and resources - that we can truly participate in this adventure as a Christ follower. What an exciting journey! 

May God bless you this week!   

February 20, 2013

Making A Pin With PicMonkey

I found a cool toy through Mary DeMuth! She has created a free PDF file with step-by-step instructions on how to create a Pinterest Pin with PicMonkey. You can find the instructions on her site HERE.

I uploaded one of my own pictures on the PicMonkey...which is FREE by the way...and added text.

Once you have your picture, save it to your computer, then upload it to your blog. Once you have your blog post published, you can then upload it into Pinterest. Just go to your Pinterest page, click the Add button, then Add Pin. Paste in the URL of your blog post, pick the picture you want to be pinned, then Pin! The Pin will directly be linked to you blog.

Check out Mary DeMuth's blog for detailed instructions HERE.

February 18, 2013

How To Know You Are In A Wilderness

Photo by James Barker
Amy McLaughlin-Sheasby spoke at church yesterday and she had a great message for this Lent season. Taking the passage from Luke 4:1-13 where Jesus is led into the desert, she brought up the whole idea of being in the wilderness and what that means.

The meaning is lost in the translation of when the devil said to Jesus, "If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread." Basically, in the Greek it would read "Because you are the Son of God" or "Since you are the Son of God". Jesus is not being tempted to prove He is divine. Even the devil knows who His is. He is really being tempted to show He has the ability to control the situation, whether it be turn stone into bread, or call angels to His aid.

Jesus knew whose mission He was on...God's mission to reconcile the world to Himself. Knowing this mission, Jesus could rest in his dependence on God, even in the midst of great trial in the wilderness.

According to McLaughlin-Sheasby, you can know you are in a wilderness season when:

  • You didn't choose to be where you are.
  • Your circumstances are beyond your control.
  • God is silent.

So often we cry out to God, asking for a road map...a sign...something to let us know where we are going, but if we had a road map, what would we do? We would dodge the wilderness!

Amy McLaughlin-Sheasby
And why is the wilderness so important? It is in the wilderness where you learn to truly depend on God. So often we try to control our situations. We want to "fix it" and make things better. We don't hear from God so we think we have to do it all on our own. Well, that is not depending on God, and we will make ourselves exhausted in the wilderness if we go that route. It is when we truly give up control and rely on God that we find rest and peace in the wilderness.

So what is it that you are reaching for control in? What areas of your life do you need to let go and depend on God? 

Thank you, Amy McLaughlin-Sheasby, for your God-given words Sunday. They gave me much to reflect on as I enter this season of Lent.

February 15, 2013

Valentine Sweets

I received some wonderful goodies yesterday on Valentine's Day. And I took pictures! Just because I like playing with my camera, you know. Now this first shot is with my dumb phone at the office. I work with such a great group of ladies!

Now for the cupcakes! I found these on the kitchen counter when I got home from work. They are from my oldest son and his wife. I wish I had taken a picture of the smoothie my second son made me for breakfast...it was delicious!


And here is what my husband gave me. Flowers and fruit. Such a sweet man...I am spoiled rotten and love it!

I hope your Valentine's was a nice one. Have a great weekend!

February 11, 2013

What Is Your Purpose?

Photo by Victor Habbick
God has used doves to speak to me at various times. You might be rolling your eyes at me, but it's true. Once I was going through a hard time and asked God to show me He was really there with me. I was on the front porch swing and a dove across the street flew right toward me and swooped up at the last second. My heart just about stopped with awe, because it was such a tangible way for God to show me His presence. Since then  He has continued to use doves in the the same way. It always happens when I am troubled or hurting or upset about something, and it always reassures me of God's presence in the midst of my angst.

So when a dove practically led me to church yesterday (the dove flew in front of my car on the street to our church, leading me for several blocks, then lit on the the telephone line directly above the church's entrance), I knew God had something good in store for our church gathering. As we walked into the church building, I told my boys how God speaking to me through doves made me feel like my life had more meaning being connected with God like that...that my life had purpose.

And then guess what the sermon was about? PURPOSE. Yes, indeed. Don't you love it when God orchestrates an awesome string of circumstances to speak to you directly?

Basically the sermon hit upon the very thing I told my boys...being in tune with God, loving Him with my whole being gives me purpose in this life.

Every inventor creates something for a specific purpose. If you used a light bulb to make a flower arrangement, you are not using the light bulb for its intended purpose...a purpose that would be glorious in its illumination...a purpose that would benefit the world in darkness.

God created us for a specific purpose and when we don't use our lives for that purpose we miss His glorious presence and will never be fulfilled on this earth.

So what is our purpose? You know it, really.

Our purpose is fulfilled in loving the Lord.

    “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. ..." Matthew 22:37-38

When you love Him...truly love Him and spend time with Him...you fulfill His purpose for your life. For when you love someone, you want to spend time with them. You admire them and want to be like them. And that is true with God. When we spend time with Him, we learn how to be like Him. And when we are like Him, we can love others better.

Loving God and loving others. Simple really. But so often we stray from our purpose. Oftentimes we think our purpose in life is the talent or abilities that God has given us. That may be our calling in life, but it isn't our purpose. We can be a great artist and make our living at it, but it is not our purpose in life.

Our purpose is simple. Love God with your whole being. 

So how do you do that? How are you going to grow in love for God? Here are some suggestions:

  • Spend time with Him. You prioritize your time to spend time quality time with Him. He is important and deserves our time above all other activities in your life. During this time, talk to Him, read His word, meditate on His goodness. 
  • Go to church and worship with fellow believers. There is something special about the collective worship of people to the same GOD. There is unity and there is purpose in it. 
  • Spend time with other believers. There is much encouragement to be found when you take the time to be with others who love God like you do. 
  • Seek God throughout your day. He is working around you each and every day. Try to find Him in your day to day activities. You will be surprised at how He is at work in the small details of your life.
How are you growing in love for God? I'd love to hear what you do!

**Thanks to John Ketchersid at the Plymouth Park Church of Christ for an awesome sermon!

February 08, 2013

My New Projects

So we were driving down the street and saw a table on the side of the road. It was nothing to write home about, but we stopped and put it in the back of the van. While my husband was stuffing it in, the owner came out and asked if we were interested in some other things. He had a horrible looking wood chair...which we took. He also had the coolest rocking chair EVER! Here is what we got:

The legs and sides are real wood, but the top is a veneer. That's a shame, but it looks to be in pretty good condition. I think it will clean up nicely with some good paint.

Yeah...pretty ugly, but oh...think of the possibilities. It could be a crazy chair like this:

Okay, now for the best find ever...my rocking chair.

Isn't it awesome? I have never covered a chair before so I am nervous, but I am researching and hope I can really make it really awesome. I'm so excited, because this will be my rocking chair. This will be my GRANDMA rocking chair!!! And no, I am not getting a grandchild anytime soon, but when I do...I will be ready.

So these are the things I will be working on in my spare time...which won't be very often I'm afraid since I have a wedding to plan. It's all good. This will be my de-stresser.

What do you do to de-stress? Do you exercise? Read? Watch movies? Craft? Give me some ideas!

February 06, 2013

What NOT To Do When Taking Pictures

Learning about your camera takes time. Obviously, I need a lot more time. While at the park with my daughter and husband last weekend, I pulled out the camera and began shooting. I tried changing the setting, using the manual focus, but then I forgot to change it back to auto.

Big mistake.

Many of my pictures got over-exposed.


 Now, my daughter LOVED them and thought they were interesting, but me?...I prefer the normal "colored" ones.

Yep, much better! Later, I just started playing and took pictures of just about everything. That's what I think is fun...seeing beauty in things that I normally just pass by.

 And then my daughter got a hold of the camera and we got this...

Good times! I love time with my family and I love a beautiful cool day with a warm sun and bright blue skies.

Do you ever take pictures just for fun?

February 04, 2013

Are We Deserving?

Photo by tungphoto
 What goes through a person's mind when they make a promise to someone who doesn't deserve it? What kind of person makes a deal with a bad guy?

God does.

He is a God of covenants and makes them over and over with flawed people like you and me. From the very beginning, He made promises to people who would fail him, but He loves His creation so much, he chooses to enter into a relationship with us and commit to us 100%.

Take Noah, for example, God destroys the earth because of the wickedness but promises Noah and His whole creation that he will never destroy the earth by water again. So what does Noah do? He plants a vineyard, gets drunk, passes out naked, and his kid makes fun of him. Deserving of covenant, huh?

How about Abraham? God promises to make a great nation of his line, he and Sarah lie about their relationship to a neighboring king so that the king won't kill Abraham for Sarah's hand in marriage. They don't trust God enough to be honest. God is going to build a nation of distrusting people? Yep.

How about David? He is chosen by God to be King of Israel, yet later commits adultery and has the husband murdered. Did God chose wisely? Of course he did, He is God.

We all are flawed people, just like those God made covenants with in the Old Testament. And what is so awesome is that God wants to have a close relationship with us messed up humans. He wants us to come to Him and converse, and He wants to talk right back to us.

He promises to be us and hold us up. He promises to love us and catch us when we fall. He is Father God. He is Rapha Healer. He is the King of Kings and wants us in his Kingdom forever and always.

Sigh...what a GREAT GOD.

**Thanks again, to a great preacher of the Word, John Ketchersid of the Plymouth Park Church of Christ. You always speak truths from God's Word each and every Sunday! I love learning from you.

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