“Father, make of me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road;
make me a fork
, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.” - Jim Elliot

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Fruit of the Spirit: This is Good and Pleases God our Savior...

Ugh! Do you ever push "Publish Post" when you didn't mean to? You remove the post, but for some... it is too late. Bloglines for example will pick up your post and hold it until it is read by the subscriber.

Okay, just did that! I wrote a post... and then I thought... "this post will surely bring misunderstanding, so I'll remove it... and just let God's word speak for itself." But I know that some of you will read it... and I want you to feel free to touch base with me. Who knows... if there will come a time that I will publish it... but for now... here is the TRUTH...


1
I urge you, first of all,
to pray for all people.
Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf,
and give thanks for them.

2 Pray this way for kings and
all who are in authority


so that we can live peaceful and
quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.
3 This is good and pleases God our Savior...
1 Timothy 2:1-3 NIV


13 Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake
to every authority instituted among men
:

whether to the king, as the supreme authority,
14
or to governors, who are sent by him
to punish those who do wrong
and to commend those who do right.
1 Peter 2:13-14


1 Everyone must submit to governing authorities.
For all authority comes from God, and

those in positions of authority
have been placed there by God.


2
So anyone who rebels against authority
is rebelling against what God has instituted,
and they will be punished.
Romans 13:1-2 NLT


21 He controls the course of world events;
he removes kings and sets up other kings.


He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the scholars.
Daniel 2:21 NLT


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Trying to Keep Out of Trouble!

Soon, my Tuesday Bible Study will draw to an end. In three short weeks. Our next study will begin early January. That leaves me seven weeks to keep out of trouble!

I've been trying to decide on a Bible Study that I could use during that time. I was just about to purchase an on-line series of Experiencing God when I felt prompted (by a recent event... which I will gladly post about at a later time) to research Bible Studies on women's friendships.

These were the two I found to be the most appealing.

I'd be interested in any feedback if you are familiar with these studies. Or if you are interested in working on a study with me.

My first choice is A Woman of Healthy Relationships. It is by Dee Brestin, the same author who wrote The Friendships of Women that I reviewed almost a year ago. (Okay, I didn't finish my review yet, but I feel strongly that I will one day!) It has a five day format which tends to help me keep on track. It has nine weeks of study which I would condense to fit my time constraints.


A Woman of Healthy Relationships


My second choice is Celebrating Friendship by Judith Couchman. It is part of a Women of Faith Series. It consists of six studies. It is very conversational in its style.


Celebrating Friendship

I'd appreciate your input!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Has Recycling Gone Too Far?


I had to laugh last night when I passed by our Information/Visitor Desk last night. I sent this photo to our pastor and asked if we might want to rethink our "friendship" ministry! LOL

He responded,

"Our new attempt at merging a visitor friendly approach with green technologies."

What would be your caption to this photo?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Fruit of the Spirit: A Vote for Peace


"Peace I leave with you,
my peace I give unto you:
not as the world giveth,
give I unto you.
Let not your heart be troubled,
neither let it be afraid."
John 14:27 KJV

I have not been peaceful lately. I have asked God to give me peace. But I have not felt it.

And that is the problem. Like love and joy, I have discovered that the peace God gives is NOT based on my feelings. It starts with a decision. A choice. A vote... if you will.

I am anxious about the Presidential election. The peace that I was asking the Lord to provide had to do with my current circumstances. I thought I wanted peace, but what I really wanted was for God to fix it so I wouldn't be stressed. I wanted Him to answer my prayer by making my circumstances turn out to my liking. Basically for me to get my way.

The type of peace that the Spirit bears within us does not depend on our circumstances. Beth Moore discussed in Living Beyond Yourself that peace comes with the authority not with the answer.

And this is where I am, making the willful decision to make God my authority. He is in control. He always has been. And if He is my ultimate authority... that means all other authority is under Him... and He has ultimate control.

So, perhaps... before you cast your vote for President... first, settle the question of authority.

"Don’t worry about anything; instead,
pray about everything.
Tell God what you need,
and thank him for all he has done.

Then you will experience God’s peace,
which exceeds anything we can understand.
His peace will guard your hearts and minds
as you live in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:6-7 NLT

Friday, October 24, 2008

Fruit of the Spirit: Outside of the Garden


Sometimes, I think everyone should have a garden. There are so many parables and verses in the Bible that deal with reaping, sowing, growing, tending, watering, roots... By physically gardening, the words of the Bible come to life for me.

Gardening is such a calming hobby for me. My backyard has become an oasis. Amazingly quiet some days... and the weather has been so nice lately... that I'm even dabbling in planting bulbs.

Just me... my garden... and the Lord. It is a solitary time. Refreshing. Renewing. And I love it. Sometimes, I don't want to leave. It is safe in my garden. When I garden, I am never misunderstood. I rarely second guess myself. I never consider my motivation. I don't have to worry... if I get it wrong. There will be a new season... and all will be forgiven... and possibly forgotten.

But the Lord calls me to leave my garden... my safe haven. A place where I would surely spend every moment...

When I leave my garden, I change. I am not as sure of myself. I get it wrong. My motivation is questionable. I second guess myself. I worry... because sometimes there may not be a new season.

In wanting to share my thoughts on my blog... I sometimes have forgotten that some of you may see yourselves in my posts. And some of you truly have. Unfortunately, when I have meant to be pointing the finger at my faults, I may have done so at your convenience. And I am sorry.

It makes me consider... perhaps I shouldn't be writing a blog. I'm almost a little dangerous. Tossing words and thoughts around. There are times when the Lord uses this vessel... and there are times that this vessel brings pain. How do you weigh one against the other?

And so, with hesitation, I continue to write. Being obedient to the Lord. And humbled by the fact that you even read these words at all.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fruit of the Spirit: "For You"

This week Beth Moore shared (in the Bible Study Living Beyond Yourself) how she has been amazed at how God granted her a ministry from her misery. When asked by women attending her seminars... why God allowed those things (abuse) to happen to her knowing that she was going to work for Him... she responds "For you."

This is a re post from July 20th, 2007.

Reflections from My Garden


Radiant Perfume, Grandiflora
Portland International Rose Test Garden

Last week I was in my garden trying to kill an ivy plant. The ivy (inherited from the previous owners) has decided to take over one of the mulch beds. I don't like the look of this particular ivy, and I especially do not like the way that its deep roots have begun to interfere with the growth of the plants that are in the same area.

While I was doing my maintenance of the ivy...pulling the leaves and roots...the Lord brought to mind my friend’s daughter. She has been battling with deep depression for many years and the Lord has laid on my heart to intercede in prayer for her.

As I began praying for her and still pulling the ivy, the Lord began to show me how the ivy and the depression were in a way somewhat similar. I can pull the ivy, but the roots are still there...deep. I can try to spray it with herbicide, but it just ends up being a short-term solution. But, I know the Lord can kill the ivy where I can't even see it. Deep down. The ivy that is overtaking my friend's daughter. She will still need to do her part of pulling the ivy...maintaining the garden. But there gets to a point that we can only do what we can do. It doesn't matter how the ivy got there...it's time to get rid of it. I just keep praying to the Lord. Do the thing, Lord. Just do the thing!

I shared this with my friend. She was deeply grateful and was able to share it with her daughter as an encouragement. My friend told me "I am amazed at what is happening. Revealing the deep roots just as you visioned. She is being honest and open about what is going on and seeking help."

As my friend and I were sharing this with other ladies at the Tuesday Bible Study/Prayer time, another dear friend reminded me of a conversation I had with her last year. I immediately remembered the conversation and looked it up in my journal on September 18th. She had told me that the Lord had given her a vision. She said that I was in a field of weeds. God was digging out the weeds. A big flower begins to grow. The past has been harmful and has robbed me. Now, God is removing these things and will make me effective in the lives of others and ministries as well. Weeds are of the past. Circumstances and experiences are painful. But, walk with God and He will remove them.

How cool is that! Thank you, Lord. For all the times You did the weeding. And for using my pain and Your healing to benefit others.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,
who comforts us in all our troubles,
so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort
we ourselves have received from God.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Fruit of the Spirit: It takes one to know one

The other day a Christian sister was telling me that there are so many hypocrites in "the church."

Today, as I was working on my Bible Study on patience, I was asked to review Romans 2:1-2

"... But if you think that leaves you on the high ground
where you can point your finger at others,
think again.
Every time you criticize someone,
you condemn yourself.
It takes one to know one.
Judgmental criticism of others
is a well-known way of escaping detection
in your own crimes and misdemeanors.
But God isn't so easily diverted.
He sees right through all such smoke screens
and holds you to what you've done." The Message


In the study, Beth Moore expresses the point, "We do many of the same things we condemn in others... We often sit on the judgment seat as if to determine and compare degrees of sin. Judgment bears hypocrisy."

And it made me think... Isn't it judgmental to call someone hypocritical? Shouldn't we be slow to judge those who are hypocritical? Because really, instead of judgment... wouldn't it be better to pray for them... to not be hypocritical?

And if we judge someone as hypocritical, and "judgment bears hypocrisy"... then are we hypocrites because we are being judgmental?

And what if those "many hypocrites in 'the church'" are actually hypocrites because they are judgemental?

And what can I say about myself? Yes, I did judge the sister who said "there are so many hypocrites in 'the church'"...

Father, please forgive me for judging those who judge those who judge others. It takes one to know one!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fruit of the Spirit: Giving Birth to JOY

Excerpts from My Pregnancy Journal 1999

(I would encourage you to read yesterday's post prior to this post for more background information...)

January 7, 1999
OB/GYN was very kind. Recommended I see a postpartum psychiatrist now. He even felt I could up my Synthroid… What a relief. [Unfortunately, Endocrinologist didn't agree.]

It’s hard to explain/admit my emotional state. I haven’t adjusted well to the pregnancy and I can find no joy or excitement in your upcoming arrival. I want to enjoy your birth and you! This should be a time of anticipation. Not fear or dread.

February 9th
I’ve begun to see a postpartum psychiatrist. She made 2 statements that really were memorable to me:

1. Becoming a mom is a development phase. Essentially, I’m not going through this phase very smoothly, and I need some help.

2. Although past issues may have been resolved, pregnancy is dredging them up again.

My friend said something similar to this. I was telling her that I feel ungrateful about you. She said she has not known me to be ungrateful. Perhaps there are issues that are just on top of the gratefulness.

All of these statements are encouraging. I am basically so into this depression, I can’t see what’s really going on.

March 3rd
I try to watch a “Baby’s Story” everyday. It helps to see the anticipation of the arrival of the baby and the JOY afterwards. I’m beginning to believe that I will be surprised at how much your birth will change my feelings. To JOY and love. Just trying to be optimistic.

April 19th
OB/GYN suggested inducement of labor on April 28th! Sounds like you’ll be an April baby! Your dad says this has lifted my spirits. He is right. Knowing an end is near. And a beginning, too!

April 23rd
You are born! You are so adorable! We just love you. 10 lbs. 21.25 inches. What a big and wonderful baby.

April 24th
Yesterday and today were gorgeous days. I can’t wait to get you home and share a beautiful summer with you. I love you, pumpkin. Love, Mom

April 25th
We’ve fallen for you much harder and quicker then we expected. You’ve captivated us.

May 12th
Visited psychiatrist today. Asked when I should reschedule my next appointment. She said that she could not justify seeing me again. I was doing just fine. And you know what? She was right! No postpartum depression.
***

What an amazing transformation I see over the last few months of my pregnancy. Once I admitted to myself and to Anthony and my OB/GYN that something wasn’t right…

It was the beginning of me choosing JOY.

Even through the end of the pregnancy I was scared to death… but I began trusting that the Lord was in control. Although the emotions were still there… PEACE began to settle in… and then… by the time our precious “little” boy was born… I was the most JOYFUL mother ever… and to this day.


I pray that God,
the source of hope,
will fill you completely
with joy and peace
because you trust in him.

Then you will overflow
with confident hope
through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13 NLT

Monday, October 13, 2008

Fruit of the Spirit: Aquainted with Grief

Will you bear with me today? I spent last night weeping over the words I chronicled during my pregnancy. The grief that I was so acquainted with during that time has now become peace and joy. Abundant JOY.

Part of choosing JOY is remembering how faithful our God is during our times of grief. How sometimes it is enough to know that God is my salvation... that He is with me... that He restores me... that He provides the body of Christ to encourage me... that He alone is my JOY.

There are times in our lives... circumstances... seasons... hardships... difficulties... sufferings... sometimes beyond our control... when joy does not appear as an option. That was my pregnancy exactly 10 years ago.

We wanted to have a child. We had been married 10 years. But the fear and the grief that overcame me for those months... well, it made me wonder who I even was in Christ.

Truly, when I was pregnant I couldn't choose joy even if it was on a menu.

I kept a journal during my pregnancy. Mostly, I wrote it to Christopher. But really, I kept it for me. I share it today because I know the sweetness of joy after the bitter taste of hopelessness and grief.

Excerpts from My Pregnancy Journal 1998

September 7 -
[4 weeks into the pregnancy] Your dad and I are worried about losing you. Due to medication I am taking (for my Thyroid Cancer), my doctor thinks my chance of miscarriage is higher than normal. My medications have been lowered so I am not hyperthyroid. [The doctor keeps me hyperthyroid so that the cancer has no opportunity to grow.] Unfortunately, my medications control my entire being. My metabolism.

I'm really scared when I think how much my life is going to change when you are born. I'm overwhelmed. I know God has prepared us for you, but change is normally never easy.

September 20th -
I watched a baby on Friday... You can't imagine how inadequate I felt! I thought God is definitely giving the wrong person a child. He knows me. How could he trust me with a child? I won't know what to do. I guess God knows something I don't.

September 27th -
Sometimes, it scares me. What if the Lord takes you before you are born. How sad everyone will be.

October 2nd -
I really thought about it this morning... not wanting to talk on the phone; not being excited about you; and feeling distant from God. It's all related. I really have nothing left to give. It all goes to you. I am tired. I am nauseous. I am unfeeling. I am a grump.

And what really makes me MAD are the people who tell me I am going to forget about all this -- so maybe to have another child later. How could I? It wouldn't be fair to you or your dad, or me! I don't like how tired and unfeeling I am. Others don't understand. I know they think they do. I really am different. My change in medication would be difficult enough without you. Why do people feel the need to tell me not only their opinion, but as if they are my decision maker? Do I do this? If I do, I hope to learn better.

I think I've said it before, but you are it for me. No other pregnancies. I know God may want to deal with me about this at another time, but right now... I'm barely hanging on.

October 6th -
Sometimes, it's hard to be happy about anything.
December 3rd -
I hope to take a blood test soon for my thyroid levels. They looked fine the last time, but I want to keep track. I think you're fine with my dosage, but I'm not sure I am.

People still ask if I'm excited." I really can't answer that "yes" truthfully. I'm still not feeling well. I still fear my ability to parent. I still dread losing my "freedom." I know you are going to be a blessing in my life, but I don't know how feeling this sick helps me to be "excited."


I'll continue the rest of the story in the next post. Thanks be to God, "weeping may endure for a night, but JOY cometh in the morning"! (Psalm 30:5)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Fruit of the Spirit: "that never occurred to me"

Be joyful always...
1 Thessalonians 5:16

Rejoice in the Lord always.
I will say it again: Rejoice!
Philippians 4:4

My pregnancy with Christopher was difficult. Long story... But the last thing you would say about me during my pregnancy was that I was joyful. I actually had a well-meaning Christian woman say to me during that time... "Be joyful, Sheri!" And that was it... essentially... just go, and be joyful! "Oh," I sarcastically thought, "that never occurred to me."

I grew up thinking that love was a feeling. And I thought my feelings were fact. I ended up doing a lot of stupid things based on my feelings. I was relieved when I learned that "love" was actually a choice. Something you can choose to do... In the study Living Beyond Yourself, Beth Moore says that love is a response. Even better. Not easy... takes work... but much better than my roller coaster emotions.

So, it makes me think... what about joy? Could we choose joy? Could joy be a response, too? What if our joy wasn't based on our emotions... What if we really could... just go, and be joyful?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Fruit of the Spirit: Love Always Protects


1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV
Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast,

it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

It always protects,

always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.


I want to talk about gossip. Sometimes we call it "sharing our burdens"... and sometimes we really need to do that... We need someone to come alongside with experience and help us to get through a situation with integrity.

But I'm not talking about gossiping about a co-worker, or another mom, or the pastor's wife... I'm talking about when we gossip about our husbands.

In the Bible Study, Living Beyond Yourself: Exploring the Fruit of the Spirit, Beth Moore discusses that one of the characteristics of love (agape) is that it always protects... "to cover in silence"... does not expose the faults of others... covering with such a cloak of love that the fault cannot be seen...

I am of the mindset that it is important to have a confidant who you trust that will help you through a difficult situation. A woman who knows how much you truly love your husband and will help you work through a situation without condemnation. Will pray with you and for you. Will hold you accountable to the words you speak and thoughts you think.

But I think I need to be careful with how many people I share what I consider to be Anthony's "faults"... because it taints how others view him. Sometimes, Anthony's so-called "faults" aren't really his at all... They're mine... and the Lord may be calling me to deal with how I handle a situation... or our relationship.

And if I think about it... Do I gossip to Christopher about Anthony? Or do I protect Anthony... as a father to our son? Do I try to work out the difficulties within our marriage between two adults... or do I think it is beneficial for me to point out Anthony's faults, so that Christopher will not "repeat" them?

Here's the thing... I cannot love like this on my own. This is where the Holy Spirit in me has to bear fruit... not me. But the Holy Spirit within me. I ask the Lord to help me protect my marriage... from my own harsh words and thoughts.

It's interesting... that I would never allow someone else to gossip about Anthony... so why would it be okay for me to do so?

Please! Help me to be accountable! Not that I ever do this... LOL... at least not intentionally... does that count?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Another Year, Another Marathon(s)

Yesterday, Anthony completed his 7th Marathon! Congratulations! He set a personal best time... and is looking forward to the New York City Marathon in November.

This is a re-touched re-post from last year, but it gives you a rather interesting idea of what a wife of a Marathon Enthusiast does during the marathon. I'm thinking about doing a post on how I train for the marathon... you'd be surprised at how much effort goes into it.

And yet... I still forgot where I parked the car!



Re-Post (re-touched) from October 13th, 2007

Confessions of a Marathon Enthusiast's Wife



Still Smiling after 26.2 Miles

Anthony completed his 5th marathon on Sunday, October 7th... well, if you add in the Ultra (50 Miler) from last year that would make 6!

So, what do I do on Marathon day?
  • Wake up around 5:30am
  • Drive to Marathon
  • Drop Anthony off close to start
  • Find place to park by myself in the darkness of the morning
  • Try to find Anthony amongst 5-6,000 participants
  • See Anthony start race and try to take photo
  • Try to find friend who is walking marathon
  • I don't find her AND I miss seeing Anthony at the 1.5 mile mark
  • Run to car to get to next meeting spot
  • Drive close to mile markers 7 and 11
  • Try to figure out where to park
  • Guesstimate when Anthony will cross mile 7 amongst sea of runners
  • See Anthony at mile 7
  • Kill time cheering for other runners
  • Guesstimate when Anthony will cross mile 11
  • See Anthony at mile 11
  • Run back to car
  • Can't find car
  • Ask around -- no one is from around here
  • Think... if I could only look at my map
  • Realize that the map is in car
  • Go into coffee shop to get help
  • Start to cry
  • Someone asks can he give me a lift to find my car? No, thanks...
  • Walk in another direction to find car
  • Find car... Thank you, God!
  • Keep crying as I'm driving to 20 Mile marker
  • Park
  • Pay attention to where I have parked this time
  • Arrive 20 Mile Marker
  • Fiddle with camera which persists flashing... frustrated!!! Trying to look like I haven't been crying...
  • Guesstimate when Anthony will cross mile 20
  • Meet up with Anthony at 20 mile
  • Give encouragement without revealing I've been crying
  • Back to car to head to finish line
  • Yeah! I found the car this time!
  • Try to find a place to park near finish line
  • Park
  • Pay attention to where I have parked
  • Run to finish line
  • Try to cross path of runners
  • Get in trouble with marathon volunteers, Yikes!
  • Make it to finish line
  • See Anthony cross finish line for first time ever at a marathon
  • Cross back over path of runners without being noticed by aforementioned marathon volunteers that yelled at me the last time
  • Hang around for about 30 minutes in waiting area by myself (and hundreds of other fans) not knowing when Anthony will get through finisher's area... waiting... waiting....
  • Pick up freebies (dish washing liquid?)
  • Munch on free sandwich wraps
  • Cell phone rings
  • Meet up with Anthony
  • Walk to car... slowly
  • Yeah! I found the car, again!
  • Drive home
  • Crash on couch
  • Drive to Red Robin to pick up a burger for marathon finisher
  • Park
  • Pay attention to where I have parked...
Well, there are no medals for a Marathon Enthusiast's Wife.
What would I do with a medal anyway?
Knit it a cozy?

Congratulations, honey!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Perfection


I was accused of being a perfectionist. I was shocked and aghast! I have never considered myself to be a "perfectionist"... why just look at how imperfect I am!

Look at how messy my car is! or how unorganized my spare room is! or how I leave dishes in the sink... and don't make my bed! How I normally just want to get the job done more than I want a well done job. I mean, really!

But the person who pointed it out... is very truthful... and she knows me... very well... and I have given her permission to call me on the carpet. So, I really had to consider it. She didn't say it flippantly or without thought. She saw it in me... and for my benefit... confronted me with it. In love. Having prayed over me.

I immediately thought about my blog... especially my Substandard post. All the unwritten words... or written and kept in draft because they just weren't good enough. Words that could have brought hope or healing... left unsaid... because I am afraid of what you might think.

I think of my friendships. How I want everyone to like me... and when there is someone who continues to reject me... how might I win them over?

I think of Christopher and how I want him to succeed in school. But deep down... not only succeed, but to be better than most.

I think of my health and how I want to not have to deal with the ups and downs of having Thyroid Cancer, and low calcium, and clinical depression.

I think of how I feel after leading my Bible Study table on Tuesdays... wondering if I made a difference or did I offend someone?

Hmmm...

And why did my friend see the need to talk to me about it? Because, she wants me to relax. She wants me to depend on God and not myself for the outcome. She wants me to be okay with the ordinary because sometimes that is what is called for... and she sees it in herself... and wants me to pray for her, too.

So, what about you? Is there an area of you life in which you are a perfectionist? Let me know... and we can pray about it together...

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Freebie Klinkenberg Winner...

You know, there is only one thing I detest about giving away FREEBIES... is that I can't give one to each of you! Honestly, after the Sisterchicks giveaway... I actually looked into buying a book for all who entered... okay, nice thought, wasn't it?

The winner is... one of my local sisters... Melissa!!! Melissa is one of those kind friends who visit your blog on a regular basis, but puts up with hearing the same stories in person, too!

Melissa, I'll bring your prize when I see you after school. Oh, and some of those delicious muffins I've been talking about, too. I can never just give the prize... there's always a surprise with the prize!

Thanks to all who entered!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Advice... Take It or Leave It



I feel I would be remiss to not give you this advice.

Unfortunately, you are learning from my poor judgment...


Never buy a toilet plunger from the Dollar Store.


Please, no questions!