Tuesday, May 31, 2011

SOAP Devotion: Psalm 42

What is SOAP? Click on the logo above to learn more about it! 

My quick answer is…it’s a new tool for me to use to help me with regular devotional time.  I’ve done well in the past with having regular devotional time, but have “fallen off the wagon” yet again. I want to have a firmly established routine of regular time spent with God in His word…but I’m also a homeschooling mother with a very busy three year old, so it’s not like I can just spend as much time as I want every day lounging at the feet of Jesus, much as I would like to do just that. Even though I’m not a big fan of timers or saying “OK God, I can give you 20 minutes today…” I have to be realistic about the season of life in which I find myself at the moment.  In a Mary day, there has to be some Martha moments…

Today’s Reading is Psalm 42

ScriptureBy day ADONAI commands his grace, and at night his song is with me as a prayer to the God of my life.  Psalm 42:8

Observation: God is with me day and night, not one second of any day is He not there beside me. He commands His grace in my life and places a song within me, a unique and precious song for me to sing back to Him…a prayer only He and I share.

Application: The title of this Psalm in my bible is Yearning for God in the Midst of Distresses. How appropriate for me right now! While it’s not the typical external shaking I’m used to, but rather an internal sifting and shaking, it is still distressing. I still yearn for God’s presence, because I don’t always feel Him near me. Sometimes I feel alone. Sometimes I feel abandoned. Sometimes I feel like my son must feel when he wants something and I’m busy doing dishes…or wasting time on Facebook…like I’m bothering Him with my requests.

But, God is always there, even when I don’t feel like He is. Day and night, He is with me…He is watching over every nanosecond of my day, He is guarding me as I sleep…He sings over me…a special song that only He knows. I can know this song too, He longs to share it with me…it is a love song between my Lord and I…if only I will quiet my soul, my mind, and listen. And when I sing this song back to Him, it touches His heart and He moves in my life and on my behalf. He commands his grace…and it must obey His voice. I must also obey…and obedience brings blessing!

Prayer:  Adonai…help me to quiet my soul and my mind! Help me to set aside those thoughts and feelings that distract me from your presence, that interfere with hearing your sweet and precious voice. I want to hear your song each day…I want to sing it back to you, as a prayer of devotion and love, of praise and wonder for who You are.  I want to be a blessing to those around me…help me to be obedient so your blessings will flow through me and touch everyone I come in contact with…even those who are hard to love. Help me to hear Your voice only, and not my own, which will tell me that someone may not deserve your grace. In truth, no one “deserves” your grace, including myself…and yet, You pour it out on us anyway, because You love us. Thank You, for loving me so very much.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

If You Fail to Plan, You Plan to Fail

Schedules and plans and routines - oh my - three words that are not essential parts of my vocabulary! What about you? I know many people plan, have set routines and schedules, but I never seem to be able to pull it off...at least not for any length of time. They say it takes 21 days for a habit to form. If I can just stick with a "plan" or a "system" for 21 days, then maybe it will stick! The problem is, I don't know how to make myself stick with the program.

I had a supervisor at a job once who helped me see, somewhat, what my trouble with time is:  for me, time is fluid, not concrete.  I don't see time in little blocks that can be stacked or lined up and rearranged at will, but rather as a large, constantly moving mass that is just all over everywhere at any given moment. Multi-tasking is not my strong suit, really. For example, as I type this right now I am burning a pancake. Why? Because I was checking some blogs while my sourdough pancakes were cooking and came across this great post at Graceful Abandon about 21-Day Meal Planning. Which inspired me to blog about time, planning, and schedules. And the next thing I know, I turn around and notice the burners under my skillets are still on...and I had a foggy notion about cooking something...OH NO!! MY PANCAKES!! Seriously...I may need some medication...

Fluid is dynamic. It is powerful. It can carve through granite over time...when it is channeled properly. It takes on the shape of any container it's put in, so it's also flexible and easily manipulated. It can also quickly engulf a low-lying area and destroy and drown everything within when it is out of control. What a perfect analogy for time in my life. When I think of all of the good, productive things I could have done with time wasted or just not channeled properly, I want to cry. I'm turning 40 this year...and can never get one mismanaged second of those 40 years back for a "do over."

I have to chuckle a little...when I came up with the name for this blog, I was set on living my life on purpose with the principles I hold dear. And yet, a year might have gone by...I can't remember for sure when I started this blog...and I still struggle with the same issues when it comes to time and the management thereof.  My purpose each day is vaguely to get up, get through the day, go to bed and start all over...hopefully doing something important that will have a positive impact in the light of eternity. I don't really think I'm doing what I set out to do. So, the chuckle turns to remorse...and a renewed sense of determination to finally tame time. 

Just as with the changes I've made in how I cook and what we eat were made with a little here and a little there, along with plenty of grace for the times we end up eating something less than ideal, I also have to try and implement changes in this area in baby steps too. I can't wake up tomorrow and be instantly scheduley and routiney, no matter how much I may desire that. But what change to start with first?

First, I need to remember to not solely rely upon my own understanding...

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6

My devotional times need to include checking in with God about His plans for my day...fortunately, His plans for me are good, and I will find them when I seek Him with my whole heart...

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 29:11-13

Ultimately, my priorities need to be in line with God's heart and will for my life each day. No amount of time management, scheduling, planning or routines will matter at all if I am not living fully and purposefully for God. And as my priorities line up with God's, my days will become more purposeful, more meaningful, and more satisfying. I have to remember that life is more than checking off items on a to-do list...but that to-do list, that routine, plan or schedule - if implemented properly - will allow me to live more purposefully and have more time to devote to the things that matter most...

Serving my God
Loving my family
Blessing my friends
Reaching the lost
and savoring really, really good coffee...

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mushrooms and Memories on Mother's Day

My 10 year old daughter took this picture today...I love it!

Today is Mother's Day...how did you celebrate the day? We spent the afternoon at a local State Park, on the hunt for the elusive (at least for us, anyway) Morel mushroom. My husband always says that Mother's Day weekend is the best time to find them. How ironic for me, though...to spend "my" special day searching for something I don't even like! Yeah, I am not a big fan of mushrooms. But I enjoy looking for them with my husband, and our daughter seems to have the mushroom eye. Daddy said she could go along mushroom hunting with him any time!  One word of advice though...mushroom hunting with a three year old...a very busy three year old boy...is not easy. But it was so fun to see him having fun and experiencing the wonder of God's creation! Here are some pictures of our day, one we will all remember, I hope!

First, we play...while daddy scouts out some potential mushroom spots

The first casualty of the day...a splinter

Not sure how I got Little Mister to be still and pose so nicely, but glad for the great shot of my precious kiddos!
After texting daddy that the natives were getting restless and thirsty, he came back and unlocked the van. We had a quick snack and some water and then hit the trail...each with our own "mushroom stick"

Mushroom Hunter and Apprentice...lesson one, the stance

Mister tries his hand at searching for mushrooms

Look what Hannah found! Daddy walked right by it!

Her first mushroom...a half-free Morel

I couldn't believe I actually found a real Morel...this is the first Morel I've ever found!

We love nature...it's so fun! Except for the swarms of gnats lying in wait along the trail...

The kids and I stopped at the lake while Daddy ventured into the deep, dark woods to find some more mushrooms. Mister probably tossed half the gravel there into the lake! Here, he is observing the effects of gravity and fluid dynamics (:

It was very beautiful and serene here...I wished that Bob Ross was there to help me paint some happy little trees...

Some people say "cheese"...we say "Happy Stinkin' Gnat Day"
There were A LOT of gnats...it was like a Biblical Gnat plague, seriously...

Mister did great on our long trek in the woods at "Tato Creep" park...but fizzled out at the end and Daddy had to carry him a while. What a trouper though!

Our Morel "Motherload" - about a pound or so. Daddy found the biggest ones on his first search while we were at the playground.

Today was just absolutely lovely. The weather was perfect...a little over 70 degrees and sunny...we all just had a great time. It was so relaxing to stroll along in all that nature and drink in the beauty of all that God created. And marvel at the children He used me to create as well. I am so blessed to be their mother! God could have picked anyone to fill that role, but He chose me...sometimes I can't figure out exactly why, but I wouldn't have it any other way. 

I will lay down and sleep in perfect peace tonight...

Friday, May 6, 2011

Watch Out…Extremists are Attacking Women!

Sometimes I just can’t believe what is going on in this country. Observing political “discourse” is like hanging out at an elementary school playground…or a junior high school…and watching the superb socialization and interaction that goes on there.   I recently signed a petition to support not using some dangerous chemical on our food crops. Today, I checked my email and found an email from CREDO, the organization behind the petition, declaring that extremists are attacking women. Being a woman, of course, I was alarmed…

The subject of the email was “Rep. Stutzman voted to redefine rape.”  Alright, that is intriguing…just how can one redefine rape? I’m a pretty black-and-white person…rape is rape, there is no gray area…just like gluten-free, to me, means there’s no gluten in something, not just a trace…something the FDA apparently can’t decide on. Right is right, wrong is wrong…and yes, there are at times difficult and extenuating circumstances but for me, it all rests on a black and white foundation.

I was then informed that “251 extremists in the House of Representatives voted yesterday to approve an anti-choice bill that would significantly restrict women's access to abortion services and even "redefine rape." “ Anti-choice, of course, means anti-abortion…pro-choice does not tolerate a person choosing to not support abortion. I was also informed that my representative voted for it and was then encouraged to click on a link to tell him that I “consider his vote on H.R.3 to be an attack on women.”

Good grief…really? An elected official, voting according to what he believes to be right and good for the nation, is attacking women? Anyone with any sense of morality, any amount of maturity above the level of a teenager, and any common sense should be able to see that this group of people, while passionate about what they believe to be right and good, are stooping to juvenile levels and viciously attacking and name-calling because someone else has the audacity to have their own (differing)  opinion!

What about tolerance? What about diversity? I thought we were all supposed to be free to believe and live (and vote) how we want? This double-standard absolutely drives me out of my ever-lovin’ mind.  Pro-choice only means choosing to support abortion…what a misleading choice of wording.  Even more disturbing is that so many people are apparently incapable of rightly discerning the truth behind the pro-abortion movement’s “noble” cause of affording women everywhere the right to “choose.”

I have exercised my own right, as a woman, to choose to not support abortion. And don’t argue with me about poor women not having access to the health care they “need.”  The end does not justify the means. There is no situation in which I can believe that a bill that restricts abortions in some way is going to negatively impact women’s health. You want poor women to not be denied health “care”? How about we start with what gets them in trouble to begin with? But then we have to examine morality, and since morality can not, in actuality, have gray areas, it infringes on a person’s right to live their life how they please, consequences be damned.

I can not, in good conscience, remain on the email list of an organization that supports and encourages women to kill their own children. Fortunately, not only was there a link to be removed from the email list, there was also a box to comment on why I wanted to be removed. I doubt I’ll ever hear back from them regarding my comments…although if I do, I suspect it will be to condemn me for the CHOICE I made to not support the “pro-choice” movement.

Here is my comment:
I can agree with some of CREDO's positions (such as not using dangerous chemicals on our food), but can not support an organization that supports the killing of innocent human beings. CREDO obviously is infected with the same juvenile, hypocritical intolerance typical of many liberals...evidenced by the inflammatory and outrageous statement that "extremists" voting on an "anti-choice" bill to redefine rape is an "attack" on women. It apparent to me that "pro-choice", as defined by liberals, means people have the RIGHT to CHOOSE...ONLY as long as they choose to support abortion. If they exercise their RIGHT to CHOOSE to NOT support abortion, then they are demonized and called "extremists" who "attack" women. How so many people can be blind to this obvious double-standard, this INTOLERANCE to any beliefs or positions that are different than their own while demanding that everyone has the right to live and believe as they want to is beyond me. Honestly, watching the political discourse in this country is like observing children on the playground...cliques and temper-tantrums and name-calling...I can't believe this is the America I grew up loving and believing was the best country in the world. PROGRESSIVE? I don't think so...progress means moving forward, not regressing to elementary-level tactics.
And so, in light of this, I do not wish to receive any more emails from CREDO. Please, consider my opinion with an open mind, if that is at all possible for you, before labeling me one of those "extremist" right-wing nut-jobs who are out to "attack" women...I am a woman, and I am exercising my RIGHT to CHOOSE - and I choose to believe that human life begins at conception, that every embryo is unique in his or her own DNA and has the potential, if not destroyed, to become something wonderful. What if, in one of these abortions you so passionately fight for, the one human being who could have cured cancer was killed? Or the group of people, had they been allowed to live, who could have established world peace, now are tossed out like trash...and what if your own mother  had chosen to kill YOU...do you ever think about that? This is what I have chosen to believe, can you put to practice what you preach and let me believe it without resorting to calling me names...can you be tolerant of MY beliefs?

So, if you consider believing that a human being is a human being at the moment he or she is conceived, just like a dog is a dog, a chicken is a chicken, a cat is a cat (for that is, after all, what each will become if they are allowed to develop unmolested); or if the term “pro-choice” actually means one is allowed to choose a side in this issue without being viciously attacked and called names, then please, by all means, call me extreme. I love my children, whom I chose to carry and give birth to, in the most extreme sense of the word…and I’m quite proud to be extreme. But don’t you dare say that because I don’t support your twisted view of human life that I am “attacking” women.

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