New Year’s Eve

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I sit here tonight reflecting, as we all probably do in some form.   There have been times this year that have been amazing and times that have been extremely hard.

What has your year been like?  I’m guessing it’s been kind of the same-some great things and some not so great things-maybe some horrible things.  At this time of year, it’s easy to focus on how to make next year better.

We begin to dream about what would make our life easier or happier or less chaotic or more fulfilled.

I guess it’s ok to dream but what would it look like if we focus on joy in the moment?  Not joy for a year or even for week or a day, but for this moment.  What would it look like to live in this moment?

Yes, it’s important to plan and to prepare and to look ahead.  It’s also important to look back and reflect so that we know how to change, but we can’t change on our own.  We’re not promised tomorrow or even the next moment.

So how will we live in joy in this moment?

What can you praise God for right now?

How are you living for Him right now?

What do your relationships look like in this moment?

Where do you see God at work in this moment?

How are you seeing Him work in your life or your friends’ lives or your family’s life right now?

Are your thoughts glorifying Him in this moment?

Do you have sin to confess right now?

What can you talk to God about in this moment? (maybe it’s the sadness or the fear or the sin…maybe it’s the gladness or the thankfulness.  Whatever it is, He wants to know. He wants a relationship with us).

What choice can you make to live in joy right now?

 

(Yep, you’ll have to make another choice in the next moment…but let’s not worry about one yet:).  God will be there meeting us in the next moment just as He is meeting us in this moment.

Happy New Year!  Let’s commit to living in this moment this year.

 

Monday Moment-Thankful for Memories

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Tonight I was thinking about what I was grateful for.  I’m in a Bible study that is studying  prayer.  Tonight we talked about the different kinds of prayer-one of those being thankfulness.   When I got home, I was reminded  grateful I am for the body of Christ.  I’m thankful for long term and shorter term relationships.  This Bible study is a combination of both.  Several of us have been together for years but about a month ago, several new women joined our study.  Tonight I was grateful for getting to know these new women (even though I’ll admit that a month ago, I wasn’t so sure I wanted to open up to a new set of people:).

When I got home, I found a list of things that I was thanking God for in December of 2009.

Here are some of them…

  • Fun family gatherings – birthdays, spur of moment times, Christmas celebrations-thank You for growing us and helping us to love each other more and more
  • Healing-time to grieve-as I stepped back from leadership at church ,You gave me some time to be emotional and to do a little more healing and to see Your presence
  • Tears
  • Smiles
  • Newness of life
  • Times of grace within relationships in the body of Christ
  • The women’s ministry at church growing to be more real
  • The women that have been involved in my life from church
  • Your grace in the midst of my sin and my inability to give grace to others on my own
  • My job-in the midst of a very hard year, You’ve shown me Your grace and helped me to give grace to some students and families that I never would have been able to give grace to on my own. Thank You!
  • Thank You for those students and families that are hard to work with.
  • Long term relationships –friends from high school, family, friends from church, youth at church, students and families from school

Wow!  What a great blessing to find that list of prayers of thanksgiving written down.  It make me realize how important it is to actually thank God for those things that I am feeling grateful for.  When I got home from Bible study tonight I was grateful for the body of Christ, but I hadn’t actually lifted up that prayer of thanksgiving to God.

Thank you God for the body of Christ!

What are you grateful for?  Have you told God yet?

Sunday Worship

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What an amazing day of worship.  I’m thankful for a body of believers and relationships that stand the test of time.  This weekend was a long, hard weekend of grieving for my former church.  I’m glad I was able to be there during this time.

It was good to see friends I hadn’t seen in a long time even though it was under difficult circumstances.  I’m thankful for the way the Gospel was shared multiple times throughout the weekend.  The raw emotions that were shared kept it real.  Life is hard, and it may not get easier on this side of heaven.  We need words of truth.  We need hope.

It’s hard to figure out how to keep walking through life when something like this happens.  We need others to walk alongside us.  We need the body of Christ to remind us of truth.

I don’t have answers for the “why” questions, but I do know that God is faithful and that He promises to be with us as we continue to live in this broken world. I’m thankful that He hears me when I cry and that He walks beside me.  I’m thankful that this world is not the end.  I’m thankful for the hope that we have of a future with Him.

Where do you run for comfort?  Where do you run when it seems like there are no answers? Do you run to our Savior or do you try to survive on your own?

Monday Moment

Today I’m thankful for a new week.

I’m thankful for the joy that comes from watching students get excited about learning. It makes me wonder can I help to facilitate this joy more often?

 

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I’m also thankful for….

-Fall weather and beautiful colors

-Full moons (I might have to remind myself of this as the week goes on and there’s a full moon and Halloween:)  They are so beautiful though!  Thanks God for your gorgeous creation.

-Friends who keep me accountable and encourage me to pray often

-God’s Word that reminds me that my hope is certain and it comes from Him not from my circumstances

-Family who listens to and encourages me daily

-The body of Christ

-God’s presence with me all the time

What are you praising God for today?  I’d love to hear!

 

 

 

Sunday Surprises

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I sit here in shock, in sadness and in prayer.  The last few weeks, it has been my goal to start blogging again.   I thought that I’d start with a post on a Monday so I could begin, again, a pattern of praising God for what He’s done.  I began thinking of things that I could share-things that God has done recently but today I realized I couldn’t wait until a Monday.

Today I’m mourning the sudden death of a friend’s son. It came as such a surprise.  There have been conversations about why this happened.  Our church has had many surprise deaths in the last few years.   What is God doing?  How come He took someone so young?  How will this family and the body of Christ get through this again?

There’s hope in knowing  that this world is not all there is but it doesn’t make the pain go away now.  It did, however, remind me that today matters.  We don’t know what tomorrow will look like or whether we’ll still be here.  We don’t know what God has in store for us, but we do know that He is present with us today and that He holds the future.

How will I make today matter?

I don’t always understand why things happen but I know that I have a God who cares about me and desires to be in relationship with me.  I can go to Him with my fears and my questions and my anger and my shock. He’s big enough to hear all of those emotions, and He promises to never leave me.   He promises to walk alongside me in the good times and the most difficult times.

These things may have surprised me but they haven’t surprised Him.    I don’t understand His ways but I can look back and see how He has been faithful in other hard times.

Today I’m thankful for His presence and that I can run to Him when I don’t understand this life.  I’m thankful that He invites my questions.   I’m thankful that even when I don’t know how to express my feelings, He is there listening to my tears and walking beside me.

What are you questioning today?  Run to Him and talk to Him about those things.

Grateful Monday-He guides and leads us.

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Today I’m thankful for God’s sovereignty.  Listen to what Isaiah 52:12 says.  “…for the Lord will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard.”

As I think about this new year, there are many things that I could be anxious about.  There are also many things that I’m excited about. I don’t know what the future holds.  I don’t know what tonight or tomorrow will be like, but I can trust that God is there ahead of me.  He will lead and guide me along the way.

I remember kayaking down the Colorado River a few years ago.  I was a bit nervous at times about what was around the corner.  Would there be a power boat rushing at us?  Would I be able to navigate around that log or that rock that’s jutting out up ahead?  I had to learn to trust our guide who had navigated this river hundreds of times.

As I think about this new year and all the unknowns, I can trust my Savior and Lord. I may not know what is around the corner, but He is already there!  He’ll know how to guide me around that corner.

That verse also says that He is our rear guard. I take comfort in knowing that He protects us from behind as well.  Sometimes, bitterness or regret or frustration or anger creeps in from our past.  As I read that verse in Isaiah, I am encouraged to know that God will guard us from those things as we move into the future.  There’s hope in knowing that He walks with me before and behind.

I pray that as we move into this new year, that we ask God for his courage to step into those new adventures, for His joy and forgiveness as we move through things that have happened in the past and for His hope as we consider His sovereignty and His active care for our lives.

It’s over! Christmas really is over.

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Yes, it’s true!  Many of you have probably already realized that:)  but I have felt that my Christmas season has zoomed by so today, I thought “Wow it really is over.  Where did it go?”

I taught through December 23rd.  I had a sinus infection since Thanksgiving so I was ready to sit on the couch and do nothing for the first few days of break.  But of course, that doesn’t happen when you “have to” do all those great things to get ready for the holiday.

You know, you need to wrap the presents.  Oh wait, you need to buy or make them first!  You need to make sure you remember all the people on your list and then also remember those people who might give you a gift.  You know how important it is to have those extra gifts ready.  You have to bake the cookies and prepare the food for the big day.  You have to go look at lights and model trains.  You have to go to church.  You have to lead the pageant or sing in the choir.  You have to make sure you have the right dress for the Christmas party.  You have to rush from party to party.  Oh no, did you make the cookies for the third cookie exchange?  You have to host the family.  You have to watch the Hallmark movies and stay up late enjoying the lights on the tree.  You have to decorate the house.  Wow, no wonder that season flies by!

This year, though, my Christmas season flew by for other reasons.  That sinus infection that I got the week of Thanksgiving didn’t go away until last Wednesday so by the time Christmas came around, I was exhausted.  I would get home from work and have NO energy to do anything except finish the 7 IEPs that were due, try to plan for the next day, shove some dinner down my throat and then climb into bed.

I did manage to wrap a few presents on Christmas Eve but most of those other things on that list just didn’t happen.  All of a sudden there were 3 days left of break, and I began to get a little sad that I hadn’t checked all of those things off my list. I felt like I missed out on Christmas.

Then on the 2nd day before the break ended, I came down with the flu.  Hmmmm  not exactly part of  that crazy Christmas plan.  I ended up on the couch for  4 days.  It made me stop!  It also made me start to think.

I do take a lot of joy from doing most of those things on that list above.  When I couldn’t do all of those things, I began to think about where my joy comes from. Does it come from happy feelings about what is going on around me or does it come from who Jesus is and what He’s done for us?

I’m thankful for God meeting me where I am.  I’m thankful that I had to slow down this Christmas and not do all those time consuming things on my list.  I’m thankful that God reminded me that He is my all in all…that I can’t make my own joy or happiness.  It comes from Him.

Satisfied Saturday: a Funeral, a Wedding and the Body of Christ

Here it is Saturday evening, and I sit here satisfied.  Last night as I thought about my schedule today, I began to dread the long day.  I had a funeral and a wedding on the schedule for today.  Both were things that I wanted to go to, but I was a bit worried about my tiredness since I was still getting over the flu.

Tonight, however, I’m thankful!  During both events, I was reminded of God’s faithfulness.  His faithfulness to a couple who had been married over 60 years.  His faithfulness to that family as they are now mourning their mother, their grandmother, their great grandmother.  I pray for her husband who, with his wife, has modeled a life of joy for years and years.  I pray for comfort and joy for him in these new circumstances.

I’m thankful for the pastor who preached about God’s peace and about how God is present with us now even as we miss this dear woman.  We can and should grieve our loss but also find strength and hope in God’s presence as we continue on to live our life for Him for as long as He has us on this earth.

I’m also thankful for God’s faithfulness in the body of Christ.  I’m thankful when the body of Christ works the way God designed it.  Tonight I got to reconnect with some dear friends who I spent years in ministry with.  We got to celebrate one of those couple’s son’s wedding.  What a joy to watch him lead worship with his wife.  What a joy to see how God continues to work in people’s lives even when we don’t see each other often anymore.  It made me stop and remember how much I learned about the body of Christ through these believers.

I’m praising God for the way that He works through the people in our lives to point us to Himself.  I’m satisfied in His faithfulness.

Thankful Monday

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“Great are the works of the Lord.  They are pondered by all who delight in the Lord.”  Psalm 111:2

So another school year has started for me.  I started the day with great positive thoughts and ended it feeling more stressed. Sometimes days (or weeks) just don’t go way I plan!

As I began to think about posting my Monday Moment of Joy, I was having a hard time coming up with thoughts that made sense. 

Then I read those words from Scripture.  “GREAT are the works of the Lord.”  I began thinking….”what are the works of the Lord?”  Psalm 111 then says “They are pondered by all who delight in the Lord.”  So I was reminded that the act of remembering and pondering God’s great works can give me joy.  

So, today I’m just going to make a list – a list of God’s great works.  Why don’t you help me make that list?  Feel free to comment and add to the list of God’s great works.  

Then let’s ponder those together!  It will help to put our focus back on Him instead of on our circumstances.

-He saved me.

-He showed me His grace in sending Jesus to die for my sins

-He loves me with an amazing love.

-He gave us His Word.

-He gave us the body of Christ to encourage and sharpen us.

-He gave me a family that loves me and is always there for me.

-He made me unique with gifts and talents that He allows me to use for His glory. 

-He gave me a job that I love with a team that I love.

-He knows me inside and out and yet He loves me anyway.  

-He gave me friends that help point me to Himself.

-He takes care of His people over the ages.  Remember all those times that Israelites walked away from Him or grumbled against Him?  He forgave them over and over and continued in relationship with them!  He does the same for me!

-He left the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us.

What else?  There are millions more of His great works!  Let’s ponder them together.  

There’s peace when we are still and think about Him!