Saturday, February 28, 2009

2 Month Check-Up

I'm 2 months into the new year. How am I doing with my 2009 goals?

Prayer: I have found myself spending more time interceding for family and friends, but could definitely be spending more time specifically praying for changed lives and the salvation of those God has brought into my life.

Reading through the Bible: I've missed a few days in the Chronological Bible, but I'm currently reading Numbers (both in my read-through and in BSF.) I've definitely gleaned more from the first 5 books after studying the Life of Moses this year. Leviticus and Numbers are more alive than they've ever been.

Serving my husband: I'd love to say I'm the perfect wife. I've got a long way to go on this one, but I'm really trying to love him the way he deserves. I'm trying to pick up more of the slack around the house. The honest truth is that I've really got to consciously work more toward being the wife he needs me to be.

Shepherding Dayna's heart: Yikes...I haven't started memorizing any new passages, particularly with Dayna. I think we'll be starting on the Lord's Prayer this week. I should also find a new hymn to sing. I'm leaning toward "Great is Thy Faithfulness."

Finding joy in housework: Believe it or not, this is getting easier. My home is still not the spotless picture from a magazine that I'd like it to be, but it has been downright fun finding special jobs for Dayna and letting her see in my life that maintaining our home is something we can take joy in doing.

I guess I still have a long way to go toward reaching these goals, but it's good to look back over them every once in awhile to keep myself on track.

Another Day

Last month, Dan's company announced the termination of 1,300 jobs over the next year or so. This week was round one of mass layoffs. We've done the unemployment thing before. We've done the underemployment thing before. Every time, God has been faithful. He has been Jehovah Jireh...our provider.

Why is it, then, that this week was filled with so much anxiety? Why are we putting our hope in a President to make things right when only God can be our perfect provider? Why is it so easy to trust in the good times, yet we so quickly forget that the hard times are when we draw closer to God?

So, during some very anxious hours yesterday, I turned to the book of Psalms. In chapter 57 I found these words of comfort (emphasis added):

1 Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me,
for in you my soul takes refuge.
I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings
until the disaster has passed.

2 I cry out to God Most High,
to God, who fulfills {his purpose} for me.

3 He sends from heaven and saves me,
rebuking those who hotly pursue me; Selah
God sends his love and his faithfulness.

4 I am in the midst of lions;
I lie among ravenous beasts—
men whose teeth are spears and arrows,
whose tongues are sharp swords.

5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth.

6 They spread a net for my feet—
I was bowed down in distress.
They dug a pit in my path—
but they have fallen into it themselves. Selah

7 My heart is steadfast, O God,
my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and make music.

8 Awake, my soul!
Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.

9 I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations;
I will sing of you among the peoples.

10 For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the skies.

11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth.

I pray that my heart would remain steadfast as I remember God's love is extravagant...reaching to the heavens. That I would recall the countless times He has proven Himself faithful.

Dan survived this week...we don't know what the future holds, but we know he will have his job another day.

Thank you God for giving us another day to see Your faithfulness. Keep our hearts steadfast as we daily learn to trust You to be our perfect provider.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Why I'm Not Mother of the Year

We had a huge scare yesterday. Dayna was putting her clothes away, which is a job she's had for several months now. She opened every drawer to her dresser at once. (I'm sure the experienced parents can see what happened next.) The entire dresser toppled on Dayna. We heard a scream, a crash, and instant crying. Running to her room, we see the dresser on the floor with all four drawers underneath it. We couldn't even see Dayna at first.

The good news is that Dayna is fine. She had a couple of marks on her forehead and chin. No broken skin, no broken bones, no bumps on the head! She was scared senseless (as were her parents.)

When I went in to clean up the damage, I noticed that the glass lamp from the top of the dresser was unbroken, as was Dayna's CD player. The wood floor in her room doesn't even have a scratch in it.

God was definitely protecting Dayna, and His angels were working overtime yesterday. Lesson learned...Dayna now opens ONE drawer at a time, and Daddy will be anchoring the dresser to the wall this weekend.

Seeing God Move

A while back, I wrote of some discouragement I was facing in my Bible Study. We are studying the life of Moses this year, and Leviticus was getting long and difficult for some of the women in my group. Their discouragement was starting to pull me down a little as well.

Well, I can't say that Leviticus (or Numbers now, for that matter) has suddenly jumped off the pages for every member of my group, but I did see God move in an amazing way this week. As different group members are struggling with different issues of life and faith, I witnessed each young woman in my group reach out and encourage each other. I literally saw the unconditional love of Jesus being poured out for each other. These are women who, for the most part, didn't know each other 6 months ago.

These women are emailing each other specific verses of encouragement, inviting each other out to coffee to wrestle with their faith together...being the hands and feet of God.

I received a call this week from one of the ladies in my group who said, "I hope everyone in our group feels as loved and encouraged as I have!" As their discussion leader, I can't think of any greater encouragement I could have received myself this week.

I don't mention myself as the discussion leader because I feel like I've done anything to make any of this happen in the group. I truly saw God push me into the background on Monday as He told me to buckle my seatbelt and hold on for a great ride. As I sat back and watched 14 women just loving each other, I couldn't help but thank God for bringing each of these very different women into my life.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Twice Adopted

I've put off posting this monumental event, because I'm kind of at a loss for words. (I know that surprises those of you who know me.)

I returned from my retreat last weekend sick, tired, and completely energized to jump back into life. We pulled into the parking lot in Omaha at about 8:00. None of us had eaten dinner, and we were all tired. By the time we stopped at "M for Mommy" (Dayna's version of McDonald's) and drove home, we were all pretty zonked.

After tucking Dayna in bed, I stayed for awhile to snuggle with my girl that I hadn't seen all weekend. While enjoying the snuggles and the silence, Dayna tells me, "I'm ready to ask Jesus into my heart." I call for her daddy to come back upstairs and we sit together as a family on her bed. Dayna confirmed to us that she know that Jesus died on the cross to forgive her sins, and that He was the only way to be with God forever. (Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." - John 14:6) She then said a simple prayer asking Jesus to live in her heart and forgive her sins forever.

I can think of no greater moment for our daughter. This was the one thing we couldn't give her, and had to keep trusting and praying that God would move her heart at the right time. I will admit to having specifically prayed that when she came to a saving knowledge of Christ, that I would have the privilege of being there, and that it would happen before her fourth birthday. Specific prayers, I know, but God is in the business of answering prayers.

Dayna now knows that she has had the privilege of being twice born and twice adopted.

John 3:5-8 Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."

Ephesians 1:5 He predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

My Funny Valentine

Last night, Dayna picked out some super special clothes "just in case" her daddy wanted to take her on a date today for Valentine's Day. Sure enough, Daddy got dressed up too and took his little Valentine out for breakfast at the lodge at Mahoney State Park. Hope she never forgets her first Valentine!

Simple Pleasures

We had a wonderful snow day yesterday, and it looks like our snow will be around for a few more days. It seems that since Dayna has joined our family, she has rarely had time to just be a kid and play in the snow. It's too cold, or she's sick, or we're sick...things just never work out. Not so this year.

Yesterday we made Valentine snow angels. Today we walked 8 blocks to go downtown and treat Dayna to a cup of hot cocoa. Can simple pleasures get any happier? Enjoy the pictures!

Friday, February 13, 2009

No Flour Cookies

I'm sitting at home on a snow day before Valentine's Day, and my daughter really wants me to make some cookies. What to do after being so good for so long? I ran across this recipe from my best friend and adapted it a little. Yummy!

No Flour Cookies

1/2 c. peanut butter
1/2 c. sugar (I used Splenda)
1 egg
1/4 c. chocolate chips or raisins

Mix together, drop by (small) spoonfuls on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Let cool one minute before transferring to a wire rack. This made 16 cookies that are a little smaller than a walnut.

Low-carb, small batch, tiny cookies...a great way to satisfy a sweet tooth while on a diet!

Pressing On

I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. (1 Cor. 9:27) This is the verse that has been running through my mind a lot in the last six weeks. It may not be for the same reasons that Paul wrote, but somehow it resonates with me. I have always struggled with the final trait listed in Paul's fruit of the Spirit (found in Galatians 5:22-23): self-control. Ouch...that one always hurts. I speak before I think, I react before I weigh the consequences, and I live in the here and now, expecting immediate gratification.

And so, starting on January 2, Dan & I started a "healthy living campaign" (most people call it a diet). In the beginning, we severely limited our carb and calorie intake; now we are closely guarding our portion sizes and have eliminated most starches (potatoes, rice, bread, pasta...) I must say, 17 pounds later, I'm feeling so good. I still have 23 pounds to go before I reach my ultimate goal, but I've noticed that I have a waist again (and almost an hourglass figure.) I had to buy a belt, and it's already on the third notch. I'm not sharing this to let people know how wonderful I am (hardly!), but rather how much better I feel for having shown some restraint, or dare I say self-control, in my life.

We also purchased a Wii Fit as our Christmas gift to each other. I've been resistant to bringing any form of video games into our home, but this one is different. In December, I could barely do a three-minute run. Two weeks ago, I ran for two miles on a track. This morning, I completed a thirty-minute run and still felt good to go. In six short weeks, I've seen so many changes in my body. So now, as I feel like I'm dying while doing a 60-second plank, I remind myself that I am beating my body so I will not be disqualified from the prize of a happier, healthier me. Not that my happiness or joy are found in my health, but as a good steward of the only body God is going to give me, I do feel better about myself.

Having said all of that, I am now at the point where I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14) The finish line is still several months away, and at that point I hope to be able (with God's help and self-control on my end) to be able to maintain a healthy lifestyle. But I must press hasn't been tempting until recently. I'm craving my sister's beef stroganoff, I won a bag of creme' brulee filled chocolates as a door prize last night and gave them to a friend, lasagna sounds SO good to me right now... I must keep pressing on toward the prize. It's about this point where food starts to consume me, not because I'm eating it, but because I'm thinking constantly about what I'm missing. I'm praying that I will continue to be filled with the Spirit so the fruit of self-control will win this battle with food. And I continue to tell myself that "Nothing tastes as good as thin feels."

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

On the Mountain

While leading the Israelites out of Egypt and into the Promised Land, God made a stop along the way. For 40 days and nights, Moses went alone up Mt. Sinai to spend time with God. It's a good reminder for me that God will bring His leaders up to spend time alone with Him on the mountain so they can go back into the valley to serve.

I love serving God! I count it such a privilege to be able to do His work and further His kingdom. I am never so aware of my weakness and utter dependence on Him as when I'm doing His work. Even so, God doesn't have me serving Him on the mountain; He has me down here in the trenches. The valley, as it were. Moses was in the desolate wilderness with 2 million grumbling Israelites!

I confess, sometimes I feel like I'm not even in the valley or the wilderness; sometimes I feel like I'm in a cave and I can't see my way out. Maybe it's because February is a rather bleak time of year; maybe it's because my hormones are out of whack this week; maybe it's because I'm just plain tired. I'm praying for a refreshed spirit and attitude toward serving God and others. Praying that God would take away my own tendency toward grumbling.

I've hit a patch of discouragement lately with some women I love dearly. As we're studying the Life of Moses, we've now entered the world of Leviticus. Let me tell you, Leviticus is hard! These women are getting discouraged reading lists of rules. In trying to encourage them to press on and find the rich truths God has for them in EVERY part of His Word (even Leviticus), I find their discouragement to be a bit contagious. And yet I press on, inviting God to fill my spirit, remove my grumbling, and allow Him to use me to encourage others.

I have the privilege to attend a leadership retreat this weekend in St. Louis. I'm excited for the time away, and waiting in expectation for God to pull me aside for some time with Him on the mountaintop so that He can send me back into the valley to serve with a renewed desire and spirit.