Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Bible Study, Lesson 5

(Please click on the picture for a direct link to this study's home page)

Discussion Questions:
1. Have you ever found yourself 'in faith' yet bewildered or demoralized?

Yes, I think often times we have to walk by faith rather than sight. Things don't make sense or seem irrational in the world's eyes, but that's when we have to just simply have faith and "keep chugging along" (quote from my Mom)

2. Do you consider yourself content? Would you describe it as Decidedly Content or Dreamily Content?
Hmmmm.....right now, even with DH gone, I'd have to say that I am in a dreamily content stage. However, that has happened after quite a few years of being decidedly content. Things weren't optimum, but I was willing to simply accept and trust God. Moving here to Utah, I truly feel like I'm in a dream....a beautiful house, a beautiful state, a good church, etc.
3. If you are not content, are there circumstances that keep you from this feeling?
I'm very content right now.
4. Have you ever found yourself in a place where you looked back on a period of your Christian walk and believed a great opportunity passed you by?
Hmmm, I can think of friendships that I didn't pursue simply because I didn't want to take the time. I don't know if I "missed out" or not because I didn't give it a chance.
5. Do you ever believe your faith was stronger in an earlier time in your Christianity and find yourself floundering now?
I think there is a slight ebb and flow to my faith, but overall, I know that it getting progressively stronger. I flounder at times, but those are the times when I look up and God stretches and grows me further.
6. Can you recognize that this season may be one of great preparation instead of a period of "I Was"?
Ooops, guess I kind of answered that above. One of my all time favorite books is Pilgrim's Progress, by John Bunyan. What I love most is that the Christian walk is pictured as a journey. There may be setbacks, but always we can learn from that and we are always heading to The City of Light.

I'm a little out of it today, think it's close to my cycle, so not totally sure this makes sense. I did thoroughly enjoy this study today though; please forgive my "fuzziness".

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Bible Study, Lesson 4

(click on the picture to go to today's full lesson)

1. I am going to present to you a little acrostic to begin our discussion today. What is your latest NLIP? (Not Like I Planned?) Well, this time of Hubby's deployment is not at all going like I planned. I was sure I was going to fly through this with no struggles (well, very few, anyway) and things would be fine. I would not be like all the others.
2. How did you react to your NLIP? Are you still upset about it? Happy about it? Baffled by it? Explain. Well, I was disappointed with myself and confused at first, scared too, because this was NOT the way things were supposed to go. But I've come to realize that the sadness, loneliness and struggles are okay. This is something I need to experience. God never asked me to go through this time with no feelings, and as a matter of fact, I really believe that God has heightened my feelings. I never before realized that you could love and miss someone so much that it actually sometimes physically hurts! God wants me to feel this feelings, to be alive. My heart, truly, is being resuscitated!
3. Have you ever attempted to step into an area of ministry and found your desire rejected? Did this cause you to question God and yourself? Perhaps distrust what you perceived to be your calling? There have been times I really thought I had found something that I needed to do, a ministry I needed to step into or set up or what have you. Many times God uses my hubby to let me know that is not something that I should be doing. And yes, I question hubby and question God, sure that this must be something I need to do. It also makes me question whether I'm doing my own thing or God's things. I have learned to simply take things step by step.
4. Do you harbor any bitterness towards any individual or situation which you believe waylaid your best laid plans? I don't think that I do any more. Someone once told me that nothing you do or people you've known have been a waste...and I have discovered that God can use anything and anybody in my life, so when things don't work out as I thought, I know I can trust God.
5. Have you had a life experience or trial that left you with a shaken faith because it ended in an NLIP? Please share if you feel free. Hmmmm....don't know that it was my own experience or trial, but I vividly remember the day I cried out to God about my faith. In church that day the pastor had shared stories of the persecuted church. My heart was pricked because I really didn't think that I would stand up for God no matter what. That really bothered me. As we were driving home, I tried to talk to dh about it, but just couldn't work it out, so I started praying and ended up praying to God for that kind of faith. It was several years later that I realized that God had indeed answered that prayer and that I had been given the gift of faith.
6. Based on Moses' response of faith to his own rejection, how will you re-evaluate your own experiences or look at future ones differently if a NLIP presents itself? I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that God can and will use anything in my life for His glory! That helps me to walk through rejection and struggles and bumps in life!!
Wow! I am looking closer at Moses' life, and God clearly has a purpose for every moment of his life!! God's fingerprints are all over it. I think because we're looking back on a specific period, it's easy to see how God worked it all out, but in the midst of our own life, it can be hard to see the bigger picture sometimes. That is where trust is vital. Praising God that He will be glorified in and through me!!!!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Bible Study, Lesson 3

Discussion Questions: my answers in green
1. It was stated in the Lesson that God has made you "once, twice, three times a lady." Where are you in this progression? Obviously we have all been physically born, but are you 'twice a lady'? Have you been born again spiritually? This may be a private matter you'd like to discuss confidentially. If so, email me. If you have already received this gift, write a brief prayer of thanksgiving or testimony.
I know that I have been placed in this exact place and time for His great purposes. I am so thankful that He has redeemed in order to be a part of His beautiful masterpiece! Me!! He picked me!! As to the deeper desire and heart stirrings He has placed in me....I REALLY feel burdened to minister to other women simply through daily life things. Right now, however, I am in a time of growing, stretching and learning....it seems as if there are times of outpouring to others, and then times when I am called back to be refilled, refreshed and grown further. Once I realized that, I am able to more fully immerse myself in those different times in my life. I've realized it's okay right now, to step back and do some soaking in the Lord. I like to think of it as feasting, and boy oh boy, what a banquet has been set before me. Some things I'm not sure about, but like Mama always says, "You don't know until you try it." and God surely has never yet let me down! His things are always good!!

2. Are you three times a lady? Has God given you a stirring deep within your Spirit to be a 'deliverer'? Do you have a desire or are you already meeting a need in the life of the church, a particular ministry (such as jail ministry, food ministry, etc.) or perhaps individuals who share common issues?
Well, I've felt the desire to minister to other women, as I said, through daily life. For a long time I tried to come up with a way to do that. A Bible study is always good, but timing and place and such....I just didn't feel that was what I needed to do. Then I pondered a newsletter, but that takes a lot of time and money. Finally (why did I wait so long), I talked about this desire with my husband and this blog was begun. See my first post about that here.

3. Do you ever get tired of waiting for that opportunity to do something
worthwhile for God? Do you ever feel God is using someone else instead of you?

Oh golly, I am trying to contain my excitement here, because I'm telling you...wow!! I was wanting to do something, sometimes thinking something big, but I know that my husband wants me home with the kids, and home in the evening with him too. So I thought, Well, am I going to have to wait until I'm old? Then I realized I can be a minister to others simply by ministering to my own family; providing a haven for them, meeting their needs, supporting and encouraging them. People merely look in upon our lives and they note that something is different, a seed is planted, and once planted, it takes hold and they have to find out more. It's amazing!! :) I remember the neatest "God experience".....Our pastor in Louisiana had asked hubby to lay tile in his bathroom, so hubby was gone. I had just quit my Pampered Chef business as my husband didn't like the time I was away from home. So, this one night, I was standing there, washing dishes and crying out to God for MY purpose (do they put something in the dish soap that creates a direct connection to God????). I was telling Him how *I* wanted to be out there doing things for Him, but how could I when my hubby was always off helping this or that person. Ha! God kind of shushed me and then showed me that I am part of hubby's ministry. By being home tending kids and preparing food and such, hubby was free to go out and serve others. He (dh) really thinks of this "handyman thing" as a ministry, and that could not happen if I was out and about doing MY thing! I realized, right there, in front of the sink, was exactly where God wanted me to be!! That is when I realized that we are a picture, a lighthouse in this dark world. My ministry right now is simply to tend to my family, and through that, God is working mightily!! Wow!!

4. What do you consider 'worthwhile ministry'? Are you like me and sometimes find yourself mistakenly thinking it has to be Big to be Important?
Okay, guess I answered that in question 3. and aren't you happy about that, since question 3 had such a lo-o-o-ng answer?? :)

5. Have you ever taken a spiritual gifts test? If yes, what are yours?
Oh wow! Yes, I have, and the first time I did, I was thinking it was so silly, that everyone would have the exact same answers, they just had too......my gift then, was faith and I was kind of disappointed, thinking, Well, yeah! Everyone has that gift, those answers were so obvious!" Well, I realized they were obvious to me because that was my gift!! Others did have other gifts and felt the same way about theirs that I did about mine!! And you know, I thought back and remembered a time that I had prayed specifically for faith...and I didn't realize that prayer was answered until I did this test!! Amazing. Since then, I think other gifts have been added....encouragement and helps. All I can say is, God is amazing. (Oh, and the last two I found out about while at River Valley Church in LA. They offered a class, using a book, to discover your gifts......they did this to help you find your spot in the church body! How cool is that!?)

If no, here's a good one from Ephesians 4 Ministry. Will you take it and come back with a response? Knowing some of you like I already do, I can almost pick out what your gift is before you say it. I can't wait to see if I'm right!

Ladies, this has been a great study. If you're reading this and haven't checked more into the study, I definitely encourage you to do so! Wow!!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Bible Study, Chap 2

What is your initial response when anyone suggests you are beautiful? Ouch! Painful question! Before I was married, I really distrusted and disliked men who told me I was beautiful. I thought of them as liars. God has been doing a great work in me lately (read through this blog!) through my husband, and I am being healed of that. My husband now makes it a point to address me as Beautiful, Gorgeous, even Sexy. What a difference that is making in my life, when I choose to believe that (believe God!)

Do you find you engage in a lot of negative 'self-talk'? How much of your thought life does this form of thinking consume? Lately, this has been happening a lot less, but I had a very negative self-image when I was younger. I did not think I was beautiful and so I relied on wily skills to get what I wanted, because I didn't think I was worth more than that (if that makes sense). Even now I struggle with it, but when something comes up ("I'm stupid", "I'm lazy"), I take it before the throne room of God and ask for the truth in this situation. And then I have to purpose to believe what God says even if I don't really feel like it.

Has it ever occurred to you that you are a City Girl? I love this! This does make such a difference to me, when I remember that I am a princess. People do see a difference in me, I really don't feel like I fit in here because I choose to live according to kingdom ways rather than worldly ways (not always! understand that! still a work in progress!!)

How do you plan to use this knowledge? It's a wonderful reminder as I've been struggling a lot this past week with negative self-image. There are some circumstances in my life that can't be changed, but that does not need to shape me in a negative way.

In what ways has your view of Godly beauty changed as a result of these Scriptures? It is so comforting to know how completely God knows me, how He shaped me for His divine purposes. I have naturally curly hair which can get unruly at times....but this is what God blessed me with, and like so many other things, I need to see it as a blessing!!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Sharing a Bible Study with You

Are there any circumstances or relationships in your life where you can see God has intentionally placed you to be a light for Him? Oh wow! Yes! It has slowly, over a few years, dawned on me that I am intentionally placed. Upon moving here to Utah, I became friends with K and it is so obvious that God intended this friendship. I kinda feel like a puzzle piece, picked up, moved to Utah and snapped in place right beside K!

Can you honestly describe yourself as a woman with a 'yes' in her spirit? There are times that I truly have 'yes' in my spirit and eagerly look forward to God using me for His glory, but then there are also those times when my eyes and heart wander and my 'yes' becomes to myself rather than God.

Are you in an emotionally and spiritually healthy place today? If so, what will you do with your series of unrecurring events? Will you commit to ask for spiritual eyes to see opportunities to defend a weaker sister? If no, are you taking steps to seek out wise counsel from a sister you admire or perhaps a Christian counselor if needed? If not, will you resolve to do so? Well, I thought that I was in a good place.....guess I forgot that when you start feeling contented where you are, you need to move on. All of a sudden I am seeing so many things that need to be dealt with and worked on in me. It's kind of like I looked up and realized the path had taken a turn and I missed it and am suddenly out in the middle of a field (if that makes sense). So I am seeking out wise counsel from older sisters. Also digging deep into the Word and praying a LOT!

Well, those are my answers to this first lesson in the study, "I Am". To find out more for yourself, click on the link at the top of this post. I pray that it will bless you (and that God will have His way big in us!) Blessings!!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Happy thought

Thankfully, my coffee time with God this morning wasn't just ouchy convicting stuff. There was a neat little morsel God showed me. I am writing two posts this morning as these two thoughts are kind of at opposite ends of the spectrum. God showed me, in His Word, the miracle that He is bringing about in me. I hadn't been able to really put words to it, but I discovered that God already had (and thanks to the Amplified Bible for really hitting the point home for me)

1 Peter 3:2:2 When they observe the pure and modest way in which you conduct yourselves, together with your reverence [for your husband; you are to feel for him all that reverence includes: to respect, defer to, revere him--to honor, esteem, appreciate, prize, and, in the human sense, to adore him, that is, to admire, praise, be devoted to, deeply love, and enjoy your husband].

Now, this does not mean I'm there yet, y'all know I'm still a work in progress, but this IS what I feel inside now for my husband....my actions are just slower to catch up with my heart. :) But I AM working on it!!

*sigh* another Ouch!

This morning as I read Created to be His Help Meet , I was really convicted about being sober.....not as in drink, but as in being well balanced, not affected by passion or prejudice (thank you Webster!).....I have not been sober; and worse, I have gotten less sober with Hubby being gone. I let things slide, I'm not careful, I just do what pleases me without really thinking it through or praying for direction. Ouch!!! That was a very painful thought to see this morning. The clincher verse was 1 Timothy 3:11, which is a verse I have always really loved, and though it is written regarding the wives of "bishops", I think it applies to all of us. I Timothy 3:11 says, "Women likewise must be worthy of respect and serious, not gossipers, but temperate and self-controlled, [thoroughly] trustworthy in all things." I have to confess that this has NOT been me lately. Okay, gonna be naked here.........I have gossiped (a lot, and boy am I being naked here!!!), I have not been trustworthy with Hubby's money, with our home, with my responsibilities, I haven't even been very self-controlled in my eating and exercise. Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!! So I am praying for redirection, clarity and mostly for forgiveness! Oy!! Ladies, I don't know that we fully realize how important it is to be under the headship of our husbands!! He is like a reminder for me and he's willing to correct me when he sees me straying. Oh I miss him and I have been so thankful for God opening my eyes to all this, no matter how painful the realization is!!

{{I cannot believe I just blogged that....God, please use it for YOUR glory!!}}

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Mango Salsa!

The other day at Harmon's grocery store I sampled some Mango Salsa. Boy was it yummy! I asked for, and they sent me, the recipe for it. We are having this for dinner with nacho chips, and bean and cheese burritos! Yummmm! So give it a try!

Mango Salsa
4 medium mangoes, peeled, pitted and cubed
12 medium red onion, minced
2 green onions, sliced thin
1/2 med jalapeno chili, stemmed, seeded, minced
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp minced fresh cilantro leaves
salt & pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients, including salt & pepper in small bowl. Transfer to airtight container & refrigerate at least 1 hour. May be kept 4 days.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Ouch!! Do I do that??

This morning, as I was reading Created to be His Help Meet , I came across something that kind of stung me a little bit.

"In our own strength, we women tend to have minds like old LP records that
are scratched. We take our husband's faults and replay them in our
thoughts over and over again, 'he's insensitive....he's insensitive.....he's
insensitive....' We get worked up over the smallest offense until our
agitation sours into bitterness. He will forget to feed the dog three days
in a row. We will look at the empty dog bowl and attribute all kinds
of evil motives to him. He will leave us waiting in the car for an extra
ten minutes, and we convince ourselves that his lack of consideration is just
the tip of the cold iceberg of his heart. Since we are 'Christian' ladies,
and the kids are watching, we don't rant and rave; we just give him the
stone-cold, silent treatment.
He must know how much he hurts us,
and the best way to retaliate is to hurt him back by depriving him of what he wants most--respect, honor, and love

Okay, as much as I truly hate to admit this, I do this. I am very skilled in the "fine art" of passive aggression. That saying, "If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy," yeah, I've witnessed that in my own home. The kids start being hateful and such, which makes me madder, and then I realize, they're all playing off my emotions. And I do this silent treatment thing, withholding respect, honor and love from my Beloved because I think, "Now he'll know I'm mad and change!" What a dummy! It's never worked, and yet I keep on using that same useless method.

Now, I know this is my blog, and I haven't asked my Honey's permission, but I want to share an email he sent to me a while back. It was such an eye opener for both of us!!

The women has some pretty awesome powers, she can melt her husbands heart
with her words or turn his heart to stone. Sometimes I wonder if women
know how much they really can be that helpmate and direct the heart of their
Maybe she sees her husband be so strong in almost every situation that she doesn't realize it is she that gives him that confidence. Why do you think guys fall apart so much when they split from their girlfriend after being together for so long?

Wow!! They (the guys) may not say it, but here's my guy saying it.....he needs me to support and encourage him, and when I withhold that, I am really hurting him, a lot more than I intend. We're playing with fire when we carelessly toss their hearts around like that! Yikes!!

Father-God, I know that in the past I have withheld respect, honor and love from my husband. I often choose to respond this way rather than trusting You be reverencing him. Father, please forgive me. Teach me to always see beyond my Beloved, to seek always to be a blessing to him, no matter what. Thank You for this teaching. Shape our marriage into a heavenly example of Your mercy and grace. In Jesus' name....Amen

Thursday, July 5, 2007

I'll Choose What's Behind Door #1

Proverbs 15:15 {Amplified Bible}

All the days of the despondent and afflicted are made evil [by anxious thoughts and forebodings], but he who has a glad heart has a continual feast [regardless of circumstances].

This morning as I was doing my quiet time, I was struck again with the fact that we have a choice to make! So many times we hear, "He makes me so angry!" or "She is driving me crazy!" or what have you. That so easily rolls off of my tongue sometimes. But think about that, when someone makes you do something, they are your master. They control your actions! But that's not how it has to be! We have choices to make! We can choose to lose control (allow someone else to dictate our actions) or we can walk in the freedom that Christ freely offers, and we can choose to allow God alone to dictate our actions. The world expects us to be tossed and swayed by every Tom, Dick, and Harry that comes down the pike. If someone does something we don't like, the world says, "What a jerk! Forget him! That was so not fair!" God expects us to trust Him in all things. He wants to be our refuge, our hiding place when times are tough. Remember a few posts back, Making Music, I talked about the sacrifice of thanksgiving, of giving thanks no matter the circumstances? Well here it is again! The above verse, like Bob Barker, is saying, "Do you want what's behind door #1 or door #2?" Only God is much more fair than ol' Bob, He's actually letting you peek behind the doors! You can choose "a continual feast" or all your days being evil; joy despite the circumstances or bitterness because of the circumstances. Really! It's a choice we have to make. And yes, either way, YOU are the one choosing. Just like The Price is Right, the audience will be shouting at you, trying to direct your choice, but the choice is yours, God's asking you and it's a choice that you will have to live with.

So between Bob Barker and Joshua, we gain this motto........"As for me and my house, we choose what's behind door#1!!" (Hee hee!! Sorry, I could NOT resist!! And since I wrote this, I say that door #1 is a glad heart, okay?)

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Raisin Bran Muffins

My friend Ashley emailed me this week for a recipe I had made for her many years ago for a baby shower gift. I had mixed up a batch of this muffin batter, printed out cooking instructions and put a big bow on it. Voila', fresh baked muffins with very little effort. Well, I'm thinking that more people need this handy recipe, which, by the way, was given to me by my sister, B.

Raisin Bran Muffins
1 (15oz) box of Raisin Bran cereal
3 cups sugar
5 cups flour
5 tsp baking soda
2 tsp salt
1 qt buttermilk
4 eggs
1 cup oil

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Add buttermilk, eggs and oil. Mix well. Pour in lined muffin tins. Bake at 400 degrees fro 15 minutes. Unbaked batter can be stored in the refrigerator for 1 month. (Works great for camping!) Makes 4-5 dozen.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

What I'm reading

I finally got the book, Created to be His Help Meet by Debi Pearl. I have to tell you how I came about getting this book, because I stand here laughing and shaking my head at the way God works.

I have wanted this book since it was first being written!! A bunch of friends found and read chapter 8 online before the book was even published, and I have to say it changed my life! It talked about 3 types of men, Mr. Steady, Mr. Commando, and Mr. Visionary. I won't go into all the details here, except to say, when I realized the kind of man my husband was, that helped me to see the kind of woman I needed to be for him! It was so freeing! (I'll just say that I am not married to a Mr. Steady! And that's great, we're perfectly suited for each other once I stop trying to measure up to the rest of the world!)

Well, as seen in previous posts, God is working big in our marriage. We have been married for almost 14 years now, and we have come such a very long way. About 6 years ago I had a friend, who, when her husband went TDY for a year, she mourned for that time they would be apart. I will never forget what she said. "When we've been married 49 years, in my mind it will be only 48 years because of this year we have to be separate." First I thought she was looney, then I realized that she was truly in love with her husband. I began then, to pray for this kind of love in my own marriage. I knew I would miss my hubby, but I couldn't imagine actually mourning for the time apart. 6 years I've prayed that, and I had no idea how incredible an answer God had in store for us. All that to say, Though I've wanted Debi Pearl's book for 4 years (it was published in 2004), now is the time that God had for me to read this book. See, No Greater Joy Ministries has set up something special for military families; when a spouse deploys, they send care packages to the military member and their family. I was so excited I almost cried when I opened our box and saw this book. There were lots of other goodies in the box too, but this book was a precious gift to me. Now, as I sit here and read it after God has begun this healing in our marriage, the things God has taught me over time are just confirmed time and again. I wasn't crazy for staying with this man and trying to always give my 100% regardless of what dh was doing (and y'all know I rarely, if ever, actually hit my 100%). I am so excited by what I read, because this stuff is happening now in my marriage. Allow me to quote a passage from the book that just.....wow....I don't even have words for it!


Many women think their husbands are not worth the effort. They feel they are forced to humble themselves in order to love him when he is the guilty party. Do not be deceived. When a woman is willing to forgive and win back her husband's affection, she is winning more than just his affections. Once a man comes to his senses and sees how close he came to losing all that he holds dear, he will be profoundly thankful to the good woman who loved him through his foolishness. She will win his respect as well as his love, because he will know that she is the kind of woman who will stand by her man. Few women ever know what it means to be cherished by their husbands. but if you love him through this kind of trouble, you will be cherished. Being cherished is much, much more than being loved. It will be worth all your effort.

God stands with you when you stand by your man, but you will stand alone if you insist on standing by your rights. Always remember that the day you stop smiling is the day you stop trying to make your marriage heavenly, and it is the first day leading to your divorce proceedings.

Amen and amen!! Being cherished....there aren't words to truly describe it. I consider it a precious wedding gift from our heavenly Father. Praise His name!!