Friday, January 22, 2016

Make a Pretty Place

Virginia’s in the middle of what they’re 
(whoever “they” are) calling a blizzard. 
 From the looks of it, they’re actually right this time! 
 It’s finally Winter. 

I’m not anti-winter, but I’m guessing winter moments
 happen to all of us to some degree – those times where 
you crave something extra pretty and fresh and new. 
Somehow winter makes me want to change things up.  
I don’t know why – maybe a psychiatrist could tell me.

There’s an inherent desire in us that longs for the beautiful. 
 And it’s a good longing. 

Decorating and having beauty in my home is something
 I would say I certainly enjoy, but it’s not my 
priority in life or the in budget for that matter. 
I don’t follow lots of home and decorating blogs, although I 
could let myself get swallowed up in them – all the creativity and
 beauty appeals to me somewhere deep inside.
  Actually, there’s only one blog that I follow, and it’s called
 “Nesting Place – it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful”.  
What this lady named Myquillin says, makes sense to me.  
Her style is not perfect, and doesn’t have to be done immediately, 
but it has beauty in spite of that.

I agree with “The Nester”, that decorating with something big,
 and even bold, makes a great impact.
But what about those days (or weeks, or years) where all your energy
 has gone into cleaning up after a toddler?  
Or there’s not a cent extra in the budget for something “big”?
  Or your health prevents you from even dreaming up
 anything new and big because it’s entirely too overwhelming? 
That was me a few years ago with Lyme Disease. 
The effect of the disease on the brain is not pretty.
  But there were still sparks of creativity now and then. 
That’s when I put this little group of Cacti in our kitchen window. 
I could handle finding some bricks and a board
 and arranging some tiny pots of succulents.  

This window had been a disaster.
 The sill is well below the table that’s in front of it,
 and creates a sort of pit.  
A perfect pit for stuffing used bread bags and such into.  
Not good.  
It didn’t take a lot of effort or money 
(thanks to you dear friends who’ve shared plants with me!)
 to change things up, and I’ve been enjoying
 this collection ever since. 
 It’s a little spot for beauty.

The pottery vase was made by my father-in-law when he was in high school.  Very awesome! 

 So I’d encourage you, even if you aren’t able to accomplish 
something big right now, 
at least do something small.  
Make a little place for something new and beautiful.  
And then ENJOY it!

"Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him 
the name that is above every name, 
so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, 
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, 
to the glory of God the Father."
 Philippians 2:9-11

Friday, January 15, 2016

Listening or Talking. The title is not what you think.

Here’s a quote to stimulate some thinking.

“Most of your unhappiness in life comes from the fact
 that you are listening to yourself 
instead of talking to yourself.”   ― John Piper

I do believe there’s a lot of truth in that statement. 
 From deep inside us come those feelings of self-pity.
 The “I’m a victim” thoughts, the “life’s too hard” thoughts. 
 Those thoughts that justify irritability
because of the difficulties in our lives.  
 Or thoughts that make us critical of others 
so that we feel lifted up.  
Our flesh has a never ending well of lies.  
And it’s far too often we drink from that well 
and feed our distorted mindsets.

These debilitating attitudes are the ones that
 are often so easy to see in others, 
but the same ones we are not so likely to see in ourselves. 
 It’s easy to preach a little “mind sermon” to someone 
when we can “so clearly” see what their problem is. 
 A mind sermon is one of those things you imagine saying, 
but would never actually dare to.  
Ever do that?

But what if we took the counsel of Jesus, 
worked on taking the wooden board out of our own eye,
 and stopped looking for sawdust specks in someone else’s?

What if we did like John Piper talks about in his book 
When I Don't Desire God: How to Fight For Joy 
(long title, life changing book) 
and got into the habit of preaching to ourselves?

Here’s what he says, “Well, God does not mean for us to be passive. 
He means for us to fight the fight of faith—the fight for joy. 
And the central strategy is to preach the gospel to yourself.
 This is war. 
Satan is preaching for sure.
 If we remain passive, we surrender the field to him.” 

When I visit some of my friends homes, 
I can see one way they’re doing just that – preaching to themselves.  
Here’s what some of my closest friends have been preaching 
to themselves (although that’s probably not
 how they were thinking of it.)

Here’s my friend Mandy’s kitchen window.  
She’s our pastor’s wife, in the thick of the battle.

 My sister-in-law, Johanna’s, bedroom was full of 
sermons to herself before she got married last year.
  Bless this dear girl for her faithfulness.  
She’s been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia by the Mayo Clinic.  
Years of sickness and doctors is not an easy road. 
A diagnosis of a disease with no cure is not an easy road.  
And yet, truth doesn’t change when life does.  
That is when we need to hear the truth 
preached every day.  
Even many times a day.

 Here’s Alison’s kitchen window.  
She’s the creative one, so her sermons tend 
to be beautifully hand painted and crafted. J
 Life as a homeschooling mamma and 
pastor's wife requires living in truth!

 And on my dear Mother-in-law’s kitchen windowsill 
is this quote from Francis de Sales.

 And here’s what’s on our fireplace mantel. 
The quote from Jim Elliot, who died taking the gospel to Ecuador.  
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, 
to gain that which he cannot lose.”  
I did this quote near the beginning of 2 ½ years 
of fighting Lyme and Babesia.  
For me, this sermon said,
 “Surrender your health to God, and trust Him no matter what.  
It is worth it!”  
This thing of surrendering all to the will of God 
for something greater – what a hard thing
 for us human beings to grasp. 
But so very essential to living with joy!

So if preaching to yourself isn’t something you’re already doing, 
why not start with something simple and visible?  
Pick a song, or verse, or quote that fits 
what’s going on in your life.  
Hand write it if you’ve got that skill, 
or just type it and print it out.    
It’s a fact that we all have stuff in our lives. 
 Sometimes we just need to listen to the right voices
 instead of the wrong ones.    

P.S. If you’ve got a favorite quote or something that challenges you,
 I’d love to hear it in the comments!

"Send out your light and your truth; 
let them lead me; 
let them bring me to your holy hill 
and to your dwelling!"
Psalm 43:3 

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