Thanks to all of you who participated in the JOY Swap! It was so much fun! I was paired with the lovely and sweet Leanne - what a fun box of treasures she put together for me! But, I'm ashamed to say I forgot to take pictures and now am 1800 miles away from my house! Hope she will post on her blog today! Thank you, Leanne!!!!
Ok, here is what I sent her:
Go link up your swap and see all the other goodies over at Carrie's!
A tad on the blurry side - but my absolute favorite few minutes of the day for looking at the mountains! It doesn't last long - but this silhouette look has long been my favorite. The sunset makes the mountains look like a big cardboard cut out just sitting up there looking huge and amazing! Taken just a few minutes ago!
I'm sorry these have been so spread out - but I have a few thoughts left to drop in here and there.
I should have had this as the very first thing! Prayer. It seems that so often I say, "All I can do is pray." as if that is not enough - when it is more than enough and should be my first thought! It is the very BEST thing I can do while waiting on God!
Pray for His direction, for His guidance.
Pray for your future husband. I had a copy of The Power of a Praying Wife. I used to make a tally mark in the back of the book every time I finished praying through the whole thing and then I would start it again. I just prayed each of the things for my future husband. I loaned that book out a few years ago and never got it back - I do have another copy, but I am sorry not to have the one with my tally marks in it.
Pray over your prospects. I prayed that God would prevent me from anything that was not in His will. I turned down requests to dinner or out for coffee if I did not feel God's blessing in that direction. Sometimes, this was really hard. But, I continued to pray that He would lead me and I was thankful for all the ways He showed me and guided me.
I will share one time being asked to dinner by a friend of a mutual friend. I really wanted to go and I prayed about it as I had committed to do. I did not have God's peace and knew that it was not what God wanted for me. In the past when I had declined for not having God's blessing, I was met with some less than favorable responses. But, in this particular case - the gentleman was so gracious. His response blessed me so much and it was the only time I was met with a response like that. We never had contact again after that - but wow, did it impress and bless me and is still a sweet reminder of God's care.
We could bring these thoughts into our lives at any time and in any place.
Graciously responding to one another.
Praying even now that my children will seek God above all else, even my opinion. He is worthy!
Four generations in one room today representing three states!
As we drove through Nashville, we saw the exit for the Grand Old Opry House and I vaguely remembered that my Dad had been there. Well not only had he been there - but played on stage when he played the drums for Gospel music band - The Peacemakers in the early 70's! I love all the time we've had in the car to just be together!!
To say we have one or more symptoms implies a higher standard. If we are sick, the higher standard is feeling better! In this case, if we are beginning with our symptoms - but haven't yet studied how God sees us - how doe we know something isn't right?
May I submit a few ideas?
* Through God nudging our hearts, when we know Him and follow Him - our hearts are to be sensitive to hearing from Him.
* Just through what we know of God's character! We know that God would not spend His time in useless criticism of Himself - and even in us. He would rather see healing, restoration and growth.
* We were made in His image. I think we know when we are not of one heart with our Maker.
* Asking God to seek us out and show us any way that is not of Him. We need to be soft-hearted to receive instruction from Him. Psalm 139:23, "Search me, God, and know my heart; test me, and know my anxious thoughts."
I think we know in our heart of hearts if we are not pleasing Him in a certain area.
So, what are the symptoms of eyes that need checked when it comes to how we look at ourselves?
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but you get the idea - these are things I've struggled with or God brought to mind during this study.
* I'm not good enough. I have often found myself believing that I failed at something (s) during the day because I didn't do enough. Maybe I only read three books, but said no to number 4, and later felt like a bad mom.
* I'm not as good at _________ as _________ is. You can easily fill in the blanks with a number of things that you see others do that you can't do as well. God doesn't ask me to do things the way others do, He asks me to be the me He created.
* Thinking to myself that I'm nothing special or great. Consistently feeling not good enough or like a failure.
Conversely, each of these things mentioned could be taken to the other extreme where thinking too highly of ourselves and wallowing in pride can cause our vision to blur in the way He wants us to see.
When we think of making an appointment for an eye exam - it stand to reason that we either have a symptom (or symptoms) that we are concerned about or we are proactively seeking an exam just to make sure we're taking good care of our eyes.
I haven't been to the eye doctor in several years - but when I sat at a computer working full time at a desk - I was noticing some fuzziness and difficulty reading signs. These symptoms prompted me to get my eyes checked.
The same can be true for our spiritual vision. We might notice recurring concerns and know we'll need care and correction for healing to take place.
We've often heard the idea that recognizing or admitting we need an outside source of help or advice is the first step in the healing or correction. Same here. We must recognize and admit our need.
Do you have symptoms of needing a spiritual eye exam? Ask Him to search your heart and show you anything that is not from Him.
One night last week, God began speaking an idea to my heart and not for a long way off but for the next morning! He reminded me of our evening of creative worship last December and I wanted to recreate that in a new way this year.
As I was planning in my head and figuring out exactly what we should be doing - I realized that going to a lot of trouble and doing things like this is one of the ways I worship. It is worship for me to add beauty, blessing and memories to our lives.
I just can't seem to get it out of me - no matter how it does not simplify my life to make homemade cinnamon rolls and set up a fun breakfast for my children. I try to make simpler choices - but some of the moments in life that I feel most alive are moments like these that involve a big idea.
This idea was His and that spurred me on even more.
After my children went to bed, I moved the dining room table into the living room and set it to look inviting and cozy. I snipped a few holly leaves/berries, set out some candles and a little nativity set they are allowed to play with.
Incidentally, this little nativity set has been one of the best things I have bought for Christmas in the past few years. My children love hearing the story and opening each of the little boxes and they love even more just setting it up over and over and over again.
I got things set up and had the cinnamon rolls ready to bake and tucked into the fridge for the night. As I cozied up in bed with my Bible and my calendar for the next day - I wondered how exactly I should lead the morning? I knew God wanted us to spend a special morning together and to involve worship - but how to do enough without cluttering it up with too much?
All this time, I had been praying and asking God what He would have us to do. And, as I sat there with my Bible - He gently guided my thoughts.
We started with a yummy breakfast - oh, it was really nice! Everything was so cozy and so inviting and special. This kind of beauty really does something to me - it is just what I need and love and enjoy and appreciate.
I prayed and we sang, "O Come Let Us Adore Him" - just the chorus a couple of times through. We talked about what it means to adore and then I read Luke 1:26-56 and 2:1-20. I put on some quiet piano Christmas music and passed out paper and crayons and we worshiped in art.
It stayed quiet longer this year, and we stayed at the table much longer - when do we spend an hour at the table to eat our breakfast? We usually read our Bible story, practice verses and eat and then get busy with our day. But, to linger - was very sweet and special. It was peaceful and invited a restful heart and attitude into me.
After our quiet moments, I asked them to share about their pictures. Then, there were requests for me to draw more pictures for them to color, Samuel just slowly ate and watched most of this time - he did try to color for about one minute and played with the box of crayons for a while.
After getting things cleaned up and getting on to my chores - Samuel got a hold of the nativity set and played with that for quite a while. "He's the daddy, here's the mommy..." walking the characters to and from the stable. So, so sweet.
Lord, please continue to inspire and encourage me to slow down and worship together with my children. Remind me of these precious times and don't allow me to forsake them. Thank You for this idea, for the reminder and for carrying it out so beautifully. You were here and it was very precious.
Rachel's drawing of Emily: And, her coloring in of a nativity picture I drew:
Emily's drawing of church - with us inside worshiping:
Emily said this was her Sunday School class:
And, the shepherds watching their sheep:
And, my offering - a night sky filled with stars overlooking our home. Praise, wonder, worship, glory, honor, joy and peace coming out of our home and wafting heavenward in worship to Him. Oh, may this be true of our home - of all our homes. That they would send forth praise and worship to rise higher to our God.
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." Luke 2:14
After completing all the garland orders - I have a few left over! I have three Easter garlands and one Christmas garland available right now if you are interested. These are already made and ready to be mailed! They are $10 each including shipping. Leave a comment or e-mail me if you are interested and I'll send them your way!
Updated at 7:46am: Christmas garland is gone - still have the Easter ones!
You may remember my post relating my experience in hearing Ann speak at Relevant. One of her ending questions was, "What is God asking you to surrender?" You may remember my heart being raw and open in sharing how I struggle with seeing myself the way God sees me.
In the hours following the conference - I spent a lot of time alone in the car and it provided an opportunity for me to listen more to God on this idea.
I have a bunch of thoughts scribbled in a journal and as I process all this means - I'll be adding to the series here. We'll begin with how we see ourselves and how God sees us. Lord willing, we'll move on to seeing others and spiritual truths.
Are you ready for your eye exam with our Heavenly Optometrist?