The View from the Porch Swing

Sit a spell, kick your shoes off...we'll chat about life and love and God and all the things that matter most.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Under the Microscope

So, God is really working hard on me these days. I've been forced to look at my faults under a microscope. Not a pretty sight, these sins that keep me from God and his purposes for my life. Daily, I pray to be directed to the scripture I need to read. More often than not, God has been sending me to James 4, verses 7-10 in particular:

So humble yourselves before God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, you hypocrites. Let there be tears for the wrong things you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. When you bow down before the Lord and admit your dependence on him, he will lift you up and give you honor. (NLT)

I'm guessing the repeat readings mean I'm not getting the message. Ok, I'm not guessing. It all sounds so easy but humbling myself and admitting dependence goes completely against the grain of who I am. I was raised to be independent and strong. Now God is telling me that for him to bless me as he wants to, I have to be broken, dependent and weak. I have to be nothing at all without him. This has been the major stumbling block in my walk, this complete letting go. I haven't been able to do it. I always have to have that little bit of control.

Today's lesson in the First Place bible study was about how things may be impossible for us, but with God all things are possible. What a "coincidence." The rest of this week's lessons will build on that. I pray that God speaks to me and that my heart is open to what he says. I pray that he will show me how to let go and give my life over to him completely, no holding back. He's already given me the first two tools:

1. I am to resist Satan. Each time I resist him his hold grows weaker, his influence and power to separate me from the Father wane.

2. I am to draw close to God. The closer I am to him, the closer he is to me. When I am near him I walk in his power. He protects me, strengthens me, prospers me.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

It's a dirty job...

but somebody had to do it, and that somebody was me. The job I'm referring to is cleaning out the chicken coop. I love having chickens, but cleaning the coop is a nasty job. We're talking dust, spiders, the occasional mouse, flies, feathers, squawking, flapping birds and lots and lots of chicken poop. It was time to do it anyway, but I had to do it today so I could put the new row of nesting boxes in. (We found it sitting along side a country road on Sunday with a "FREE" sign on it.) Glad it's done for now and will only be that bad one more time this summer. As soon as we get back from vacation later this month, the majority of the birds are going to be butchered and caring for the rest will be much easier. Six chickens make a lot less poop than 27!

Note: Yeah, it really is gross, but I love it. I'm a country girl trapped in the 'burbs. I'd actually love to live on a small homestead and raise more animals. Poop and all. :o)

Monday, June 28, 2004

Hope

Megan stayed with the friends we visited with yesterday. I drove up to get her this evening. She had a great time and even learned to drive the quad by herself (very, very slowly). She's been very calm since I've picked her up. I mention this because she was the same way yesterday. The pediatrician started her on a new ADD medication last week--Adderall. Is she just wearing herself out lately or is the calmness a result of the med? The first two days she didn't seem any different. Maybe it needs time to build up in her system? I don't know much about Adderall and this is just a 30-day trial so I guess we shall see what happens. I am praying so hard that this is finally a med that will help her. Just a little while ago I told her no about something and she just said "ok" and walked away. That NEVER happens. She fights me on everything big or small. I view the incident as nothing less than a miracle!

Why Ask Why?

Here are some questions to ponder on a Monday morning.

Do hungry crows have ravenous appetites?

If a lawyer can be disbarred and clergymen defrocked, can electricians be delighted, musicians denoted, cowboys deranged, models deposed and tree surgeons disembarked?

When cheese gets its picture taken, what does it say?

If a word is misspelled in a dictionary, how would we ever know?

Why do fat chance and slim chance mean the same thing?

How can the weather be hot as hell one day and cold as hell another?

Why doesn't glue stick to the inside of the bottle?

When you lose your temper, shouldn't that mean you get happy?

If someone is deceased, did they just come back from the dead?

How do you get off a non-stop flight?

If blind people wear dark glasses, why don't deaf people wear earmuffs?

If humans evolved from monkeys and apes, why do we still have monkeys and apes?

Rainy Monday

Monday morning. Rainy.

Looks like no sitting on the porch swing for me today, but that's okay. I got plenty of swinging done yesterday. Friends of ours have a small farm and Tim is helping them build a large metal garage/shed type structure so we spent the day there and had great fun. The kiddos rode the quad, played basketball, and caught tadpoles and frogs in the pond. The menfolk worked on the building and loaded cattle to be sent for butchering (ours was not in this bunch and won't go until September). We women prepared the dinner, walked the property talking flowers (my friend has several beautifully planted sitting areas on her property as well as numerous flowerbeds....each one a themed surprise), kept an eye on the kids, ran cool drinks to the men and of course sat visiting on the swing and surrounding chairs with a multitude of farm cats vying for position on our laps. It was a great day, but I am sunburned and tired today so a rainy day to curl up with a good book sounds wonderful.

Cancel that.

I nearly forgot we are only two weeks from our vacation. I've got a million things to do!


ABOUT THE GARAGE SALES:

Amy asked if we found anything unusual on Saturday. No, can't say that we did, but we did find a few bargains along with the fact that Matthew has a great talent for making deals. He must get it from Tim, who is also gifted that way. Me? I just pay the price on the tag. Anyway, the big deal of the day was a set of golf clubs for Matt. They are very nice condition, nearly new. Matt was able to talk the man into selling them to him for $40! At another sale, we found rack after rack of girls clothing....ALL IN MEGAN'S SIZE!! All of it was Old Navy, Limited Too or J.C. Penney's. A lot of it still had the store tags on it. I've mentioned it before, when it comes to bargain hunting for clothes, Megan is a whiz! She spent at least half and hour sorting through clothes (her brother begging her to finish the whole time) and we ended up with a whole paper grocery bag of new and gently used name brand clothes for $15. At another sale she picked up a couple of hooded sweatshirts for $1 that run about $40 new. Matthew collected a whole stack of hardcover horror books for no more than 25 cents each. They picked up some other small things, including a vintage 1960's metal bowling game that's pretty cool.

The thing I liked best was that the door was finally opened to meet and talk with our freaky neighbor. I don't know his real name. He's a professional D.J. and goes by the name of Fat Daddy. He flies the American and Confederate flags in front of his home. The dashboard of the van he drives is covered with his collection of small skulls and skeletons. A life-size skeleton rides in the passenger seat. As I said, Fat Daddy is a bit freaky and very large. He is an intimidating character to say the least. He's lived across from us for about two years now and I've never had occasion to speak with him or his wife (and was a little scared to waltz over and introduce myself) till I visited their yard sale on Saturday. We actually ended up talking for a while. He is quite nice. Odd. But nice and he is good to my kids (major brownie points). I don't see our families being great friends, but it is nice to know the neighbors and be on speaking terms and hey...you never know when the chance will present itself to talk of more serious matters.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Saturday

A beautiful day, mellow kids....we're off to the garage sales. Have an awesome weekend!

By the way, has everyone's Blogdom of God roll disappeared along with the whole TTLB Ecosystem? Or is it just me?

Thursday, June 24, 2004

A Lazy Day on the Porch Swing

It was an absolutely gorgeous day here-temperature around 80* and loads of sunshine along with a nice breeze to keep it from getting too hot. I really didn't have anything very pressing to do so I drug my books, my bible, my journal, writing paper and my ever present water bottle out to the swing and had a lovely day writing letters, reading and writing down the things swirling around in my head.

Just so you don't think I was completely lazy, I did get up to throw the occasional load of laundry in the washer and I had to feed the kids as well as the animals. Assembling the new Slip 'n' Slide pulled me away from the swing, too, as did running Matt to his new job as a busboy at Jioio's (home of that pizza I keep telling you about).

Hey, I did try a new recipe for breakfast (but it'd be good for lunch, too). It came out of the back of my First Place bible study. I know some of you are trying to lose, too, so thought I'd pass it along. Low in fat, low in calories, low in carbs.

OPEN-FACE HAWAIAN SANDWICH
1 English muffin, split
2 slices tomato
3/4oz low fat ham slices, divided
2 pineapple rings
1 slice low fat cheese, halved

Put one slice of tomato on each muffin half, then divide the ham evenly between the two. Add a pineapple ring to each muffin. Top with cheese. Put in hot oven or broil until cheese is melted.

This was so good and very filling and yet it hardly put a dent in my food exchanges for the day.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Where were you when......

Here's a little something that's making its way around the blogosphere. I borrowed it from Susan over at Sisters' Weblog.

Where Were You When...

1. ... you heard that Ronald Reagan died?

I was at home with the kids (summer vacation had begun). We don't turn on the television much except to watch movies so the news was probably hours old before I heard. I was sorry to hear of the passing of a president who will most likely, in death, become a mythic figure much like John Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln.

2. ... on September 11, 2001?

I was home alone that morning when I turned on the television. The first thing I did was phone the church. The second thing I did was phone Tim. I remember sitting there actually shaking and in disbelief. Tim didn't believe me when I told him the towers were completely gone. Then when Flight 93 went down less than an hour from here.... I don't think I've ever been that scared in my life, but I made one choice that in retrospect I wish I could change. When I heard about everyone taking their kids out of school, I left mine there. My reasoning was that our rural school would most likely not be a high priority target and that it would be better to keep things as normal as possible for the kids. As it turned out, so many kids were pulled out (my daughter was the only child left in her classroom) that the schools couldn't begin to function in a normal way.

3. ... you heard that Princess Diana died?

I had just woke up on that Sunday morning and shook Tim awake. It was so unbelievable. Even our pastor addressed it in the service. There had been such constant coverage of her life that it was a real blow. It was like losing someone I knew. Weird.

4. ... you heard Kurt Cobain had died?

I don't remember ever hearing the news. If I did, it probably just didn't register because I didn't listen to his music.

5. Take one for The Gipper: What's your favorite flavor of jelly bean?

Jelly Belly Pear

6. ... Magic Johnson announced he was retiring from the NBA due to AIDS?

Probably at home watching the news. I don't really remember.. I just remember thinking it was a shame, but that when you play with fire you're bound to get burnt eventually.

7. ... Reagan was shot?

At school. I had stayed after for practice for some sport and I called home to ask my mom something and she told me. I passed the news along to my teammates and coach. It really didn't affect us. We just went on with practice.

8. ... the Challenger exploded?

This is one I will never forget. We lived in Orlando, Florida at the time and I was working in a clothing store. We all knew the shuttle was set to launch so hauled a television from the breakroom out to the counter. When it was time, we all (customers, too) stepped out into the parking lot because whatever launched from the space center you could see in Orlando. We all watched it go up and then just seconds later when the explosion happened and the smoke trail divided we got really quiet and someone said "Something's wrong." We ran back inside to the television and were glued to it the rest of the day.


9. Where were you when the 0J verdict was announced?

At home watching. I was glad it was over, but wondered if the legal system would ever be the same.




Tuesday, June 22, 2004

My Son the Man......Almost

Matthew had his Senior pictures taken this morning. The way things were set up I was able to be out of the way, but still watch what was going on. He looked so handsome in both his formal and casual outfits. He also looked so grown up. It hit me hard, how quickly he is growing up. Sometime during the past months he has physically left boyhood behind and become a young man, losing the last of the baby roundness and acquiring a slightly harder edge to his looks.

Tomorrow morning he has a job interview with Wal-mart. Just last week when I forced him to apply, he was, shall we say, less than enthusiastic. Now having seen the school he hopes to attend after graduation and hearing the cost, he is gung-ho on pretty much any job that turns up and helps him achieve his goal. He is beginning to leave his childish ways behind, too.

It seems that lately my life has been revolving around Matt. Others who have gone before me assure me that we are just getting started with the whirlwind that is Senior Year. I've been thinking that while we need any and all income available to us for the next few years, I may take the chance and pass on driving any trips for work this year unless they are during the school day. There will be so many important events in Matt's life this year and I don't want to miss them. There will also be a lot of things to deal with, decisions to make, questions to ask, etc. Matt's going to need his mom one more year.

I will be making some adjustments this coming year, too. While I want to be there for Matt, I'm also going to be praying for God to help me begin to let go and hold my son lightly rather than tightly. The time is fast approaching to trust him to God and the seeds that have been planted over the years by his father and I as well as the countless Sunday school teachers, camp counselors, pastors, and youth workers in whose care he has rested.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Answered Prayer

I see that Blogs4God gave my post about honoring Tim a mention and a few people have actually stopped by to read it, so guess I should post an update on the situation.

The news is good! Your prayers are working! Yesterday afternoon while we were talking, the name of a man from our old church came up. I don't even remember the rest of the conversation but at one point I asked Tim if he really thought he was ready to sit down to dinner with the man. He said yes, and cynic that I am, I asked, "Really?" Tim said that, yes, he was. That he wasn't even angry with the couple he had felt used him to achieve their goals in the church any more. He said that one day this past week everything just came together for him and he is over it. I certainly saw evidence of it in his willingness to attend Sunday school and also in the way he greeted people. He was a lot more open to contact.

Now that he is ready to let go of his anger and hurt, I pray that he will begin to walk more closely with God and allow the fellowship of other believers help him retain his integrity in all things. All of that will make my job of honoring him much easier.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Fathers' Day

Happy Father's Day! I hope you all enjoyed a good day with your families. We had a nice day, getting up early so the kids could give Tim his gift before church. They gave him a drill press. I know, I know, but it was exactly what he wanted. My mom and John were here for dinner. I made a roast, mashed potatoes with gravy, a tossed salad (so I could be good) and homemade biscuits (all with the kids' help). We had a very nice meal and visit with them for a change. Conversation flowed freely and we didn't feel like my mom was judging us, which was nice. Tim was even sociable rather than withdrawing as he often does when around them.

Our pastor is still in Indonesia so we had a guest speaker. He spoke on the passage about being salt and light from Matthew. He went a direction with it that I hadn't heard anyone speak on before and was quite interesting. He chose to relate it to the tendency of Christians (the whole church, too) to isolate themselves from unbelievers in their daily lives, but still think they are doing a great job of reaching out. He challenged us to get out there and go where the unbelievers are. He also asked us to consider that maybe the church as a whole keeps its people so busy taking care of its own that there is no time to minister to the people on the outside. Oh, wow. That is how Tim and I have always felt about reaching people. We were used to our thoughts on the matter being met with blank stares, resistance, refusal or hostility. To find people who are like minded is so incredibly energizing and uplifting.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Whoa.....

My mind is not quite ready to wrap around the reality of having a son who is about to become an adult. Today was a milestone. We went and looked at our first college, Pittsburgh Technical Institute. Actually, it will probably be the only one we look at. Matt loves it and it offers exactly what he wants. Network Systems Security and Forensics....the wave of the future in computer careers, so I am told. And it's offered in a two year program with very little of that pesky gen ed stuff. After sitting and talking with his admissions contact person for a couple of hours, Tim and I are very impressed with the curriculum, placement program, support system, etc. We definitely think it's the place for Matt. He still has a year of high school, but it will take me that long to adjust, I think.

One perk for me in all of this.....the area's only Ikea store is just five minutes away from the campus. Yes! I convinced Tim to take me there for the first time when we finished. Oh man, forget Disney World. I wanna go to Ikea. That place is totally awesome. The good news? Tim liked it, too, so I'm gonna get to go again.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Learning to Post Pictures

Ouch! I've got a plank in me eye.

This diet stuff is hard. So, I'm spending a lot of time following Alicia's advice to open my bible every time I feel tempted or weak. It's a good thing. All this time spent in God's Word is probably doing more to restore my spirit than anything else has. I mean, I read the bible before, but I have no willpower at all so I am whipping out my bible about 100 times a day (ok, slight stretching of the truth, but it's a lot) looking for something to get me past a rough spot. And God's really working on me. He's digging down deep and getting at some core issues he thinks I need to work on.

One of the things God's making me examine is my struggle to honor my husband. This has been on my mind and a huge problem area for me lately. Since we left our old church, Tim has been pretty bitter about some things and he's really kept himself detatched from anything to do with the church. Yes, I know we've been in bible studies and Sunday school and attend services, but he's held back in all of them. He isn't totally shutdown to God, but he kind of is to God's people. And distancing himself from other believers and therefore a lot of teaching has affected his walk. Please don't get the idea that he's out there doing awful things, but there are lots of little things that have slipped into his life that have been bugging me and making it hard for me to honor him. I want to obey God, but Tim's actions and my bitterness and resentment get in the way.

Then the other night at my First Place group, one of the other women shared how she couldn't submit to her husband at all. As she talked, I got a pretty clear picture of how ungodly her attitude was and how out of line I felt her thinking was. That's when I started thinking about Jesus's sermon on the mount when he advised taking the plank out of your own eye before condemning someone else.

Uh-oh.

God, does that mean you think my attitudes toward Tim are ungodly?

Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner!

But God, look at how he's acted. Don't I deserve to me upset? Aren't my resentments justified?

Stacy, have you ever done anything wrong?

...yes...

Do you think your wrong doings have hurt me?

Yes, I'm sure they did.

Do you think I had a right to be angry?

Yes.

Would I have been justified in punishing you?

Yes.

Did I punish you?

No.

What did I do?

Showed me mercy.

And?

Forgave me.

And?

Loved me.

So, what do you think you need to do about Tim?

Nothing. I need to work on me, right? I need to let go of my resentment and forgive him.

Anything else?

Love him and...gulp...honor him as the head of this family even if he doesn't deserve it?

And why is that?

Because it's what you did (and still do) for me even though I don't deserve it. Because I made a promise to you and Tim when we got married. Because my own living example of obediance to you will encourage him to change more than anything I can say or withhold. Because it will please you.

You've got it. Now go and live it.





Do You Speak My Language: Part 2

Ok, here's the much anticipated conclusion to my list of local terms.

Ats: That's

Church Key: A bottle opener

Crick: A creek or a stiffness in one's neck.

Dupa: A person's posterior.

Gutchies: Underwear

Sammitches: Sandwiches

Sketti: Spaghetti

Slippy: Slippery

Spicket: A faucet

Stoop: A small porch

That's it, Fort Pitt: That's all.

Worsh: Wash

Yunz: You ones/all of you, as in, "Can yunz hear me now?"

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

What's Your Theme Song?

tumble 4 ya
I'll Tumble For Ya by Boy George. youre so lost in
the 80s but your lovin it!! nothign can stop
your optomizim and good feelings!


What's Your Theme Song?
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Which Blues Brother are You?

elwood
CONGRADULATIONS
u are elwood
ur a bit of a speed demon and a little reckless but
ur just so lovable, keep up the good work but
try to remember, the cops can be ur friends do
not run from them


BLUES BROTHERS (which one r u)NOW WITH PICS!!!
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First Place

I was too tired last night to really get into how the meeting went, but I wanted to let you know.

We met for the second time last night and had more of a chance to share and get to know each other a little more. I am feeling so blessed by these ladies. They are just awesome! They are so warm and supportive and encouraging. They are also very honest. The talk and the sharing goes far beyond the superficial. Everyone, including newbies like me, felt comfortable enough to share their personal struggles and not just those centered around food. It was so amazing to me that everyone felt safe enough to do that. The love and support were unconditional. I have needed a group like this for a very long time. These women are everything the women at my old church were unable or unwilling to be. It is absolutely wonderful to be able to ask for prayer for what I really need it for rather than for what doesn't make anyone else uncomfortable or leave me feeling judged and found wanting. Between the ladies and the bible study I am feeling valued and loved in the church for the first time in a long, long while. I can't praise and thank God enough for bringing me to this group and these women!

As for the diet...I don't think I lost anything the first week. Maybe a pound or two at most, but we had our initial weigh-in last night. Since my blood pressure tested high, I've been being very good except for one thing. I need to drink more water. Could you all pray that I'd have the thirst of a camel?

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Thanks everyone!

I wanted to thank everyone for all the support with the whole weight loss deal. You guys are the best and your love, advice and prayers have really encouraged me the last couple of days.

Alicia, thank you for your advice to open my bible every time I feel tempted or weak. I started doing that last night and let me tell you....I have been doing a lot of reading. It's been wonderful. God's got a lot to tell me. If you have a blog, please let us know the address if you don't mind. I'd love to check it out.

Rita, you are so right about how fortunate I am to be part of a support group. We met for the second time tonight and really started to open up and share and get to know each other. What an incredible group of women. I have the feeling I'm going to make some great friends.

And Sharon, your prayers always lift me up and they always come at just the right time. You, sweetie, are a treasure and I am blessed to have come to "know" you and have you in my life.

Thanks again. Love ya all!

Monday, June 14, 2004

To Draft or Not to Draft

An article in the latest issue of Family Circle has me questioning whether I am as patriotic and supportive of my country as I've always thought I was. The article is about the draft. Being the mother of a son who is 17 1/2 and will be graduating from high school next year, it's a topic of great interest to me. Consider the items below as presented in FC.

The big question is: Is the draft being reinstated?
Well, the answer gets a little tricky. The administration says it isn't going to happen, but as Ron Paul, M.D., a Republican congressman from Texas said, "You don't listen to what they say, you watch what they do."

So, what points to the draft making a comeback? For starters, our troops are spread very thinly through two-thirds of the world's countries and the high casualty rates in Iraq and Afghanistan have greatly reduced recruitment and reenlistment levels. FC reports that in a poll taken last year by Stars and Stripes, the Pentagon-funded newspaper for service personnel, 49 percent of respondents were not planning to reenlist. Our country is committed to a long-lasting presence in the Middle East. If no one is reenlisting, we are going to run out of troops. Personnel must come from somewhere.

In addition, 40 percent of the troops now being rotated into Iraq are National Guard members and reservists...a level not seen since the Korean War.

If House and Senate bills HR163 and S89 pass, college will no longer be a loophole to avoid active duty. All men and women ages 18-26 would be eligible once they graduate high school. Plus the Smart Border Declaration was signed by Canadian and U.S. officials in 2001. It will effectively keep draft dodgers in this country.

The Selective Service admits it is planning for a possible draft of Arabic linguists, computer experts and medical personnel-doctors, nurses and technicians. The Vietnam War was the last time doctors were drafted. Also, according to the Selective Service Annual Performance Plan for 2004, before next March 31 draft boards must be potentially operational within two and a half months of a return to conscription. The plan also calls for testing the draft lottery, examination system and the system that classifies, places and monitors conscientious objectors.
They know where our kids are.
The U.S. spends $3 billion annually on recruiting. Did you know a great deal of that money is spent in schools? The No Child Left Behind Act, signed by President Bush two years ago, includes a provision that if secondary schools fail to release the names, addresses and phone numbers of students to military recruiters, they will lose their Federal funding. Schools must allow military recruiters the same access to students received by civilian recruiters and colleges.
High-school juniors and seniors are given the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery tests and recruiters then show up at their homes.

I've always considered it a person's duty to serve his (or her) country if called upon. It is part of the price to be paid for the freedom we enjoy. But as the "war" in Iraq continues I find myself questioning more and more my support of it, or at least of the way it has been handled, and now I wonder just how willing I would be to give my son to the cause. If the draft is reinstated and he is called, I would expect him to serve. It's the way he's been raised. It's the way his parents were raised. In the meantime, there is nothing wrong with exercising some of those freedoms we so gallantly defend and letting my voice be heard as a concerned citizen and questioning the rather sneaky way the government is going about things.

There are two things you can do now if you have concerns.
1. Call the Capitol in Washington, D.C. (202-224-3121) or go to the web sites www.house.gov and www.senate.gov for your congressman's address or email. Write him about your concerns.
2. You are legally entitled to block your children's names, address and phone number from being given to the military recruiters by their schools. To do this, mail a letter to the school district headquarters (preferably by certified mail), with a copy to the school principal, directing that no information about your child may be released to armed forces representatives.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Be Careful What You Ask For

I shared that I started the First Place weight loss program this past week. I also shared how I was feeling so stressed over things with Megan and how I really hadn't done so well with the diet (I eat for comfort). I don't remember if I actually mentioned that I was praying for something that would make me get serious and stick to the plan, but I was.

God answered me. I am being very, very good about eating only what I should. I just wish He hadn't chosen to scare the bejeebers out of me to get through to me. But He did.

Somewhere along the way I jokingly said I was sure my blood pressure was up. Yet at the same time, I hadn't felt good since Thursday. Not really sick, but just not right. Last night when I was at Wal-mart I walked past one of those blood pressure machines and thought "why not?"

It hurt. I probably should have stopped it like the directions said, but I wanted to see what the results were. 166/85 is not a good thing. I am scared straight.

Tomorrow I call the doctor.

IN OTHER NEWS....

I didn't go watch Matt play on Friday. Hardly anyone did. Matt said there was only one teen other than the 4 who'd been asked to provide music there. Ouch! At least Matt had a good time hanging out with his friends and seeing their parents. I don't know what the turnout means for the plans to restart the youth group. I hope whatever they do, they make sure they're in God's will and not just jumping in because they think they need a youth group. Before I left I was struggling with the relevancy of the group because all of the youth except my own kids were attending youth groups at other churches. Their needs were already being met, so why reinvent the wheel? I was trying to figure out a new way to minister.

Church was good today. The senior pastor is on a mission trip to Indonesia (that's not why it was good) and the youth pastor filled in. He spoke on Romans chapter 8 and about how a lot of Christians these days just don't get it and are very complacent because heaven and eternity seem so far away. How it's like we know we're saved so why work on it in this lifetime....there's plenty of time.

Matt, Megan and I are meeting with the youth pastor tomorrow.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

I Learned Two Things

Armed with a full tank of gas, an empty trunk and the classified ads, the kiddos and I set out in search of treasure in the form of other people's castoffs.

Garage sale number one offered lots of baby clothes and items. Not really something I'm hoping to have need of. Matt bought another Stephen King book. Stop two resulted in the purchase of a big vanilla pudding scented cake candle. It's burning now....mmmmm. Stop three had lots of antiques, snowmen and be still my heart...chickens! Unfortunately, prices were high. There was a small flea market in town because of the joint 150th birthday of the town/69th annual county firemen's parade. Nothing we couldn't live without, though we returned to the car to find a dog cage we hadn't bought in the back seat. We had to hunt the owner and move it to the correct vehicle. Megan found a book at the last stop before we headed to Derry for a sale at the local Christian school.

The school is where I learned one thing. My daughter is probably a better bargain hunter than I am. I'm not big on searching through stuff. I'm sure I miss some good stuff that way, but I just don't have the patience. Megan, who when it comes to anything else has the attention span of a gnat, systematically sifted through an entire classroom filled with clothes one item at a time. Matt and I had long passed our boredom thresholds, but she contentedly worked her way through it all....holding up, checking quality and size, trying on, refolding, etc. Once she poked me to rouse me from my coma-like state, I had to admit I was quite proud of her. She managed to find two pairs of slacks, a vest, a skort, a blouse, pajama pants and something else, all in like-new condition and all from Old Navy or Limited,Too. It cost me a whole $1.25. I guess it was worth the wait. I could learn a lot about patience and perserverance from Megan.

The other thing I learned is that Tim needs to take Matt out driving. I am always the one that gets to do it. Matt did the driving today. I nearly had at least 3 heart attacks today. I don't know what was up, but he sure wasn't doing a good job of paying attention. He wants to go take his test, but if he is goofing up when I'm in the car with him, it doesn't give me a lot of confidence about how he'll do out on the road alone.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Walking the Talk

Reid, shares what happens when he gets a second chance with a homeless man. Keep the Kleenex handy.

What Do You Think?

Our old church is trying to resurrect the youth program. Tonight they are having a kick-off party/coffee house kind of thing. Matt used to be part of the praise team at the church. He was asked, along with a couple of other teens, to play tonight. He's excited about getting to play as part of a band and for an audience. He wants Tim and I to go and watch him.

I'm not sure what to do. On the one hand, I'd love to see Matt play. Plus, I love all the youth at the old church. It would be great to see them. I want the best for them and am always willing to support their efforts. On the other hand, I love all the youth at the old church. They were a huge part of my life and my family's life for a long time. I have been with all them since they started youth group. Youth pastors came and went, but I was always there. I've reached a point where seeing them would for me be bittersweet, but not a temptation to return. That door is closed. What I'm afraid of is making any transition difficult for them or giving them false hope that I'm coming back. I know from experience that some of them have problems letting go and moving on.

So, do I disappoint my son and stay home or do I go and take the chance of stirring things up?

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Singing the Blues

This has not been a good day. In fact, as a day, it pretty much sucked.

Have your children ever pushed you to the brink of totally losing it? After an incredible day yesterday, where Megan was pleasant and at least somewhat obedient, she woke up in a whole different mood today. If you don't know, she has Attention Deficit Disorder, which in her case means she has an incredibly hard time focusing or maintaining attention. Because of that she can seem rather scatterbrained, forgetful, and willful. For the last six months to a year, she has become quite belligerent and openly defiant. Every single thing she is told to do, asked to do, or forbidden to do ends in a battle. No matter how big or small the issue, she fights it. Punishments don't work. They just make her act out all the more. We are thinking perhaps there is something else, specifically Oppositional Defiance Disorder, going on. I need to take her to a psychiatrist to be evaluated. Anyway, Megan pushed me as close as I've ever been to the breaking point today. Besides her actions, she has learned well that words can cut like a knife and I've been on the receiving end of quite a few nasty comments today. It breaks my heart that my beautiful daughter seems so lost and out of control. I hate how rotten I end up feeling about myself, for the way she is able to goad me into responding in anger. I'm not proud of myself at all. Physically, I feel awful. I have been so stressed all day. My muscles are all knotted, my head hurts, I ache all over, I'm totally drained and I'm pretty sure my blood pressure has been up all day. And as for the diet....forget that. Stress makes me eat and today was no exception. I didn't overeat, I just ate fatty, comfort foods.

I have been praying all day, but I just don't have any sense of peace. If you feel led to pray, I'd be grateful.

Sleep deprivation, Diets and Amusement Parks

No guarantees of coherency this morning. It's early. I'm tired. I wish I was still asleep. Tim's alarm going off at 4:30, followed by his actually getting up and preparing for work, left me awake and unable to drift off again. So, I blog.

Had a busy couple of days. Tuesday evening I went to my first First Place meeting. Don't know what First Place is? From what I can tell it's Weight Watchers with a healthy serving of God thrown in. The actually food exchanges and the advice we were given in the first session are very close to the WW program, but beyond that, First Place ministers to the spiritual and emotional person as well as the physical. I didn't get my books yet so this week of trying to learn and follow the plan is going to be interesting. It would be easy to get discouraged and give up trying.....especially when I have this attitude about dieting where though I need to, I don't want to. So far I'm doing kind of so-so at it.

Megan's friend, Mackenzie, spent the night on Tuesday. She is a very nice girl, loaded with manners, respectful, and while she wears nice clothes with all the right brand names on them, she is not all wrapped up in material things and she encourages Megan to behave better (not a single fight did we have while Mackenzie was here). She stands out from Megan's usual group of friends who, while not exactly "bad," have a very materialistic, me-first worldly take on things. Mackenzie also comes from an intact home, which is highly unusual among Megan's friends. In fact, the only other one of her friends that I can think of that has both parents in the home (and married to each other) has told Megan that her parents are "happy" but date other people as well. I hope we see more of Mackenzie around here.

Yesterday I took the girls to the school picnic at the local amusement park, Idlewild. It was sooooo hot. How hot was it? When I stopped at Wal-mart for sun screen I saw an egg that had been dropped on the pavement. It wasn't sitting there sizzling, but it was definitely working on being cooked. Following two 12 yr olds around all day left me feeling the same way. Other than the heat, it was a really good day. The girls had a blast and so did I. We are anxiously awaiting the paper's arrival this afternoon because we stopped for a snack before leaving the park last night and as the girls sat on the side of a fountain enjoying ice cream and holding the stuffed animals they won, the photographer from the local paper took their picture and got their names. He told them they'd be in today's paper. They are so excited.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Do You Speak My Language?

The last time I was at Barnes & Noble I picked up a handy little book that offers English/Pittsburghese translations. You see, in theory those of us who live in and around Pittsburgh speak the English language, but in reality we often use words and pronounciations heard nowhere else on earth. So, I thought I'd share some of them with you just for fun or in case I have use them so you'll have a clue what I'm talking about.

Ahia: The state west of Pennsylvania; also a major thoroughfare into the city. "Morning rush-hour traffic is always heavy on East Ahia."

Alright: Well, fine; used most often as a reply to "How are you?" "Alright."

Anymore: Signifies a prevailing condition or situation, as in "Anymore there's so many new buildings, you can't tell which is which."

Arn: Iron, as in pressing clothing, a metal or a popular local brew, Iron City Beer. "There's nothing like a cold Arn."

Babushka: A colorful, patterned scarf, commonly worn on the head by women while shopping or spring cleaning. (Not so common these days.)

Bahks: A container, usually cardboard; sometimes the act of packing a container, as in "Most downtown stores will bahks gifts at Christmas."

Cahch: A piece of furniture usually found in the livingroom. "Dad's asleep on the cahch again."

City Chicken: Has nothing to do with chicken; instead, a combination of breaded veal and pork skewered, breaded and simmered in chicken broth.

Couttent: Could not, as in "I couttent make it on time."

Cupboard: A closet for storing coats, hats, babushkas, etc. "Hang your coat in the cupboard."

Dawn: A popular man's name-Don or Donald. "Dawn and Rawn are still good friends."

Dittent: Did not, as in "I dittent do my homework."

Filum: Used in most cameras, essential to good vacations. "Make sure we have filum in the camera."

Grinny: A small wild animal common in Pennsylvania; also known as a chipmunk.

Gumbans: Pieces of soft elastic rubber, occasionally used to keep trouser cuffs out of bicycle chains, or papers from flying around in your briefcase. "Where are the gumbans and paper clips?"

I 'n near: Eye and Ear Hospital or doctor.

In regards to: A wordy expression, attempting to make the speaker sound intelligent, as in "In regards to the recent speculative activity on Wall Street..."

Jaggers: Thorns.

Jynt Igl: A popular local grocery chain also known as Giant Eagle.

Leave: Let or allow, as in "If you clean your room, Mom will leave you go to the movies."

Nebby: Nosey, as in "Aunt Edie is so nebby nobody can stand her."

Needs: Used for "needs to be" as in "The car needs washed."

Pensivania: The state Pittsburgh is located in.

Redd up: Clean or tidy an area, as in "Quick, redd up the house, Mom is coming."

MORE TO COME.

Playing with Fire

Literally.

We did a lot of cleaning up around the yard on Sunday, including cutting back all the weeds that had overtaken the garden plot. All the cuttings, some scrap wood and who knows what else was piled in a corner of the garden for later burning because by law we can only burn on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays between 8:00 a.m. and dusk.....and then only if there is no burning ban.

Woo-hoo! Today is burn day. Matt and I get the job by default. Tim is a pyromaniac who has raised fire-building to a dangerous artform. All of his fires involve accelerants and reach near mythic proportions. They all also cause me to worry about his safety in near mythic proportions. Thanks to the burning restrictions he is rarely home when it's okay to have fires, so Matt and I have the job.

I've already laid down the law to my disappointed son. No accelerants. He is taking after his dad in the daredevil department. The difference is that Tim, while a bit of a daredevil, is careful and attentive to detail and not at all stupid about what he does. Matt, is inexperienced, a little careless, lacking in common sense at times and he has the attention span of a gnat.

I do not want to entertain the local fire department for lunch.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Viewed Earlier from the Swing

The sun is shining for the first time in several days. It's warm (also for the first time in several days), the birds are singing, the bees are buzzing (thankfully not too close to where I am sitting), the kitties are chasing each other through the flowers and the kids are not up yet. I am just enjoying it all.

Soon enough I will have to delve into my adventurous and thrilling plans for the day.....sorting through heaping mountains of truly odiferous laundry (that may or may not be a breeding ground for new lifeforms) without the aid of gloves or natives to do it for me, seeing that it gets purified and then crossing the grassy plain to hang it out in the sun to dry; taming the wild bush known as "the yard" with the dreaded shin-chipping weedwhacker; bouncing through the great wilderness (have you ever driven on the roads in Pennsylvania?) to deliver young native peoples to their destinations; deciphering hieroglyphics to unlock the secret of the recently purchased iced tea machine; and so much more. Indiana Jones, eat your heart out.

Wrapping Up

Day 40: Living with Purpose
There are many "good" things you can do, but God's purposes are the five essentials you must do.

You Need a Life Purpose Statement:

~Summarizes God's purposes for your life.
~Points the direction of your life.
~Defines "success" for you.
~Clarifies your roles.
~Expresses your shape.

Questions to Consider in Preparing a LPS:

~What will be the center of my life (worship)?
~What will be the character of my life (discipleship)?
~What will be the contribution of my life (ministry)?
~What will be the communication of my life (mission)?
~What will be the community of my life (fellowship)?

Question to Consider: When will I take the time to write down my answers to Life's Five Great Questions? When will I put my purpose on paper?

I plan to begin working on it today.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
So, that's it. The 40 Days of Purpose are over. What did I get out of it? Maybe not as much as someone working through it for the first time. There was really very little in the book that was new to me. I think it served more as a way to get me focusing on God again and thinking about things a little bit differently. The purpose I feel like I've seen the most growth in during the 40 days was fellowship. Going into this I was hurting and not at all trusting of relationships with other believers. Working through all of this and having to be a part of a small group has helped me do a great deal of healing and I now look forward to forming relationships in the church.

Do I recommend reading the book? Yeah, I guess I do. There are some very good lessons, but I'd also caution anyone that isn't further along in their discipleship to take it with a grain of salt, ask lots of questions of more mature believers and to cross reference the scriptures used. Sometimes I felt they were bent just a bit to fit what Rick Warren wanted to say or that he used a particular translation over another to make it say what he wanted. It was kind of simplistic and now and then trite, but it does get you thinking and it is probably a very effective tool for new believers.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Day 38 and 39

Day 39: Balancing Your Life

My Five Purposes:
~To love God through worship.
~To show love for others through ministry.
~To share God's love through evangelism.
~To identify with God's church through fellowship.
~To grow to maturity through discipleship.

Keeping these five purposes in balance is not easy. We tend to overemphasize the purposes we feel most passionate about and neglect the others. Churches do the same thing.

How to Stay Balanced and On Track:
~Accountability with a small group or spiritual partner.
~Regular spiritual check-ups. Evaluate yourself periodically.
~Record progress in a personal journal.
~Pass on what you know to others.

*We pass on what we learn because not only does God want us to live out his purposes, he also wants us to help others do the same.

Question to Consider: Which of the four activities will I begin in order to stay on track and balance God's five purposes for my life?

I have a small group, I'm always evaluating myself and I keep a journal (outside of my blog) so it would seem I need to work on passing on what I know. To some extent I did that when I taught youth, but evangelism is what we're talking about here and that is a weak area for me. I need to pray for two things. Opportunities to share and the courage to act on them.


Day 38: Becoming a World-class Christian
You have a choice to make.
Are you going to be a world-class Christian or a worldly Christian?

Worldly Christians look to God primarily for personal fulfillment. They are saved but self-centered. Their faith is about how can God make their lives more comfortable.

World-class Christians know they were saved to serve. They are excited about the privilege of being used by God.

How to Think Like a World-class Christian:
~Shift from self-centered thinking to other-centered thinking.
~Shift from local thinking to global thinking.
~Shift from "here and now" thinking to eternal thinking.
~Shift from thinking of excuses to thinking of creative ways to fulfill your commission.

Question to Consider: What steps can I take to prepare to go on a short-term missions experience in the next year?

Since I'm new to the church we're attending, I'm not very familiar with how things work. So, I guess the best first step for me would be to start asking around. I've been on two short-term mission trips and so has Tim. We both came away from those experiences knowing that we have a call to do that type of thing whenever possible. And while we are not sure we are called to it, seeing ourselves in the mission field for longer periods at some point is not a real stretch of our imaginations.

Celebrating 40 Days of Purpose

Today was the wrap up on the 40 Days of Purpose campaign at church (even though I am behind on posting, I have finished reading the book). It was good. Actually, it was great. The church put on a western barbeque after the second service that all anyone had to do was sit back and enjoy. The food was catered. There was a band, games for the kids, horseshoes, one of those moonwalk thingys, horse rides, volleyball, etc. Tim said the pastor told him close to 250 had signed up to attend, but over 450 had been served!

Tim and Matt were in church for the first time in a few weeks. I am so glad they went. It was the kick off for the new Sunday School quarter and we all went for the first time at this church. Matt and Megan really liked their classes. Tim and I picked the wrong one for us, I think, but everyone in the class was very nice and welcoming. In fact, everything seemed to be falling into place today and we were greeted by a lot of new people and talked to some familiar faces. It did a lot to lift Tim's spirits. The kids would have gone to youth group for the first time tonight, but it was canceled because of all the other activity.

I am very much hoping that we've found our new church home. I am beginning to get involved in other groups (women's ministry and First Place)and we are beginning to talk of things in the future. Do we have a close community there? No, but it's a big church. It's going to take time and we'll have to connect with folks through smaller groups. In the meantime, we are atleast in a church with a right attitude. Ministry and missions are what's important. They don't seem to get bogged down in the small stuff or egos of the leadership. Tim and I appreciate that VERY much.

Anyway, wanted to thank all of you who have been praying for all of us, Tim in particular and our whole situation. I know that paved the way for today.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

It's a cold....ok, so it's not cold. It just feels that way after getting used to temperatures in the 70's and 80's. How about it's a slightly chilly, rainy Saturday. My plans to forage through two community-wide garage sales were squashed. Not much fun in it when you're dripping wet and your teeth are chattering. Instead, I've spent most of the day reading and I finally watched Disney's Haunted Mansion. The family got it for me back around Mothers' Day because the Haunted Mansion is my favorite ride at Disney World. It's a pretty fun movie and I admit it, I jumped once or twice. Usually when Ramsley would unexpectedly pop up. That dude is freaky!

The PDL group was good last night. Tim didn't make it home from work in time to go so I went by myself. It's too bad he is missing so much. I am making a connection with the other couple that's there and it is really nice to be reestablishing the relationship with Tim's sister and her husband.....and taking it to a new level as Christians. It looks like we're going to continue on as a group in the fall, meeting maybe every other week instead of weekly. A goal for then is to bring unsaved couples into the group. With that in mind, I suggested we try the Andy Griffith bible studies. They are sound, but not so deep as to scare anyone away, and hey, they are fun. I've done some of them before. They liked the idea so well, they are talking about pitching the idea to the pastor and maybe getting the whole church involved in it somehow. Wow. A whole church searching for the Mayberry in their souls. Now that would be cool.

Day 37: Sharing Your Life Message

Your life message includes 4 parts:
~Your Testimony
~Your Life Lessons
~Sharing Your Godly Passions
~The Good News

Question to Consider: As I reflect on my personal story, who does God want me to share it with?

A friend from work comes to mind specifically and in general I'd have to say he wants me to share it with anyone he presents me with the opportunity to share it with.


Day 36: Made for a Mission
God is at work in the world and he wants you to join him.

The Importance of Your Mission:
~It's a continuation of Jesus' mission on earth.
~It's a wonderful privilege. It's an honor to be used by God.
~Telling others how they can have eternal life is the greatest thing you can do for them.
~It has eternal significance.
~It gives your life meaning.
~God's timetable for history's conclusion is connected to the completion of our commission.

What It Costs:
~You must abandon your agenda and accept God's agenda for your life. If you commit to fulfilling your mission in life no matter what the cost, you will experience the blessing of God in ways few people ever do.

Question to Consider: What fears have kept me from fulfilling the mission God gave me to accomplish? What keeps me from telling others the Good News?

Shyness, which is nothing more than a fear of what people will think of you and/or of failing. I worry that I don't have what it takes, or that I'll screw it up, or sound stupid, or that I'll blow a relationship.

Which LOTR Character Are You?

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?


I AM GANDALF
A wandering spirit caring for a multitude of just concerns, you are an instrumental power in many of the causes around you.



Link found via the Proverbial Wife.

Friday, June 04, 2004

In the Garden

Warning: this is pretty long.

Sitting out on the porch swing this morning watching the world wake up, I felt the closeness of God. Why is that? Why, I wondered, does nearly everyone say they feel closest to God when they are outside, in close contact with nature? Why isn't our answer church? Or when we're reading our bible? Or any of a hundred more "spiritual" times and places? I have a theory.....

First of all, there is the fact that nature is God's creation. He created all that we see. When we are outside, observing the wonders of what he has made and seeing how intricate and extensive it is, how it all works together...how can we not worship and praise the Creator? Consider verse 2 of How Great Thou Art:

When thru the woods and forest glades I wander
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees,
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur
And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze,

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee:
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee:
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!


Secondly, in all of creation a garden (Eden) was the place God lavished his attention on. It was his focus. It was his special place. He spoke everything else in the universe into being, but Genesis 2:8 says he planted a garden in Eden. Like any gardener, he planned it, planted it, watched it, waited on it, and tended it. God invested himself in his garden. Why? Because he was creating a home for his most beloved creation....Mankind. Eden was to be our home and the place God met with us. Genesis 3:8 says they (Adam and Eve) heard God walking about in the garden. God spent time there. It was his special place. The garden still is.

In The Garden

I come to the garden alone,
While the dew is still on the roses;
And the voice I hear,
Falling on my ear,
The Son of God discloses.

And He walks with me,
and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share
as we tarry there
None other has ever known.


Third, when we are in the garden, or camping in a forest, or fishing on a lake, or sitting on a porch swing watching the first rays of sunlight peep over the treetops while birds serenade the new day and kittens roll about one's feet....we stop. We pause in our busyness and notice what is good. Even God did that after each day of creation...God saw that it was good. We appreciate what's around us. We enjoy it. We're thankful.

Now the trick is to find that feeling no matter where you are. Garden moments happen all the time. They may be fleeting, but they are there. To experience the joy and peace of such moments, remember how you behave in the garden: Stop. Look around. Really notice what's there. Thank God. Acknowledge that what he has done is good.

For the Beauty of the Earth

For the beauty of the earth,
For the glory of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies:

Lord of all,
to Thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Strange

I met with my ladies group from the old church tonight. I haven't attended since we left the church. I'm not upset with any of the ladies (or anyone else for that matter) so thought I'd give it a try since I had the evening free.

It was kind of strange. Everyone was really nice and it was nice to see them, but..... I'd guess that 90% of the conversation was about things going on in that church. Uh, kind of off-putting for me or I'd guess anyone else that would happen to join the group but doesn't attend the church. Also on my mind, probably because of today's earlier PDL posts, is the fact that within 5 minutes of being with them I felt the need to put the mask on. None of them are willing to be vulnerable. They all have on these happy faces. Everything is great. The only thing anyone ever shares or asks prayer for is health issues. Sickness is acceptable. Anything else? Not gonna hear about it. I know I'm not supposed to compare, but having experienced at least a little more honesty in our PDL group, I now know what I've been missing. I don't want to go back.

Everyone wants me to keep attending. They've already ordered me a book for the next study which begins in two weeks. I've got to tell them I don't think it's going to happen. I don't like the study they just finished and they are going to do another one by the same author. I am also wanting to join a First Place weight loss group at the new church. I don't think I could keep up with the work load from two groups. And honestly, I've reached a certain level of peace with how things are. I think going back to the group would just muddy things up for me again.

SCHOOL'S OUT!

Giddiness reigned this morning as I led my elementary students in a wild, foot-stomping, head-banging, bus-rocking, ear-splitting, dance of joy! It was awesome....and contagious. By the time we were taking everyone home, about half of the other drivers were "doin' the dance" when they passed me.

We had a little party at the garage before we had to take the kids home. Lots of fun. Lots of good food. I took wings from Dino's, which is another part of local culture. If you ever come visit you have to have Joioi's pizza and Dino's wings and/or ribs. I'll leave the decision on whether or not to have a bottle of Rolling Rock up to you.

So, now I'm home and beginning the process of stripping away the stress and easing into the mellow freedom of Summer. And yes, I have already spent time on the porch swing, cuddling the kitties (who are doing very well) and visiting with two neighborhood boys who stopped to chat. The house could use some work and the laundry's piling up, but it will be there tomorrow. Today I am taking time out, searching for the Mayberry in my soul. Tomorrow, after a full night's sleep (and maybe a good part of the morning, too), is soon enough to face the house.

Day 35: God's Power in Your Weakness
"God purposely chose....what the world considers weak in order to shame the powerful."

A weakness is any limitation that you have no power to change.

God is not limited by our limitations. He enjoys putting his great power into ordinary containers.

God will use us if we allow him to work through our weaknesses. And how do we do that?
~Admit your weaknesses.
~Be content with your weaknesses. Contentment is an expression of faith in the goodness of God.
~Honestly share your weaknesses. The more you let down your guard, take off your mask and share your struggles, the more God can use you to serve others.
~Glory in your weaknesses. Don't pose as self-confident and invincible, see yourself as a trophy of grace.

Question to Consider: Am I limiting God's power in my life by trying to hide my weaknesses? What do I need to be honest in order to help others?

I was very guilty of wearing a mask at our old church. I didn't want to, but I always felt there was this expectation to be "just so" among the people there and judgement if you weren't. I saw it happen to others so on went the mask. I don't get a sense of that in the church we are attending now, but I haven't really gotten to know anyone yet. I tend to be kind of shy (yes, it's true) and need to know people fairly well before I trust them with my feelings. I know I'm nothing without God and I've trusted him to use me to do a lot of things I never thought I'd do. I guess I need to just lay it out there with people and trust him in that, too. Unfortunately, that's easier said than done.


Day 34: Thinking Like a Servant
To be a servant requires a change in your attitudes.

*Servants think more about others than themselves.
*Servants think like stewards not owners. You must settle the issue of money in your life.
*Servants think about their work, not what others are doing. They do not compare, criticize or compete with other servants or ministries.
*Servants base their identity in Christ. They remember they are loved and accepted by grace. They don't have to prove their worth.
*Servants think of ministry as an opportunity, not an obligation. They enjoy helping others.

Question to Consider: Am I usually more concerned about being served or finding ways to serve?

In all honesty, I spend way too much time worrying about what the church is doing/not doing for me.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Blog, blog....blah.

It's a good thing the end of the school year and a slowing down of our schedules is looming. I'm so frustrated with my blogging because I have all these half-formed "profound" thoughts swirling around in my head, but I just can't seem to grasp them and bring them to fruition at the moment. I'm too busy stressing over who has to be where (and when) and how am I going to coordinate two games on the same night and all the housework that has been going undone and why won't my kids lift a finger till I blow a gasket? I need a day or two to stay in my pajamas, nibble comfort foods, nap as much as I want (maybe on the swing?), and lose myself in a good book (the swing again?) . Maybe Friday?

Day 33: How Real Servants Act

Your primary ministry should be in the area of your shape, but your secondary service is wherever you are needed at the moment.

You can tell a servant by what they do.
~Real servants make themselves available to serve.
~Real servants pay attention to needs.
~Real servants do their best with what they have.
~Real servants do every task with equal dedication.
~Real servants are faithful to their ministry.
~Real servants maintain a low profile.

Question to Consider: Which of the ix characteristics of real servants offers the greatest challenge to me?

Remaining faithful. I tend to have a short attention span and while I start out strong, if a ministry goes on for an extended period it's tough for me to follow through.


Day 32: Using What God Gave You
He shaped you for a purpose, and he expects you to make the most of what you have been given.

Discovering Your Shape:
~Assess your gifts and abilities.
~Consider your heart and personality.
~Examine your experiences and extract the lessons you have learned.

*We are to cultivate our gifts and abilities.
*If you don't utilize the abilities and skills God has given you, you will lose them.
*Whatever gifts you have been given can be enlarged and developed through practice.

Question to Consider: How can I make the best use of what God has given me?