Thursday, August 6, 2009

choosing to see the beautiful

"He is the Rock, his works are perfect,
and all his ways are just.
A faithful God who does no wrong,
upright and just is he."
Deuteronomy 32:4 (NIV)

Life is full of pain, frustrations and situations that we would all rather not deal with. And yet, if we force ourselves to stop complaining and look around us, we're bound to find the beautiful.

The Bible tells us that God is in all things. No matter where we go, He is there and He is always working for our good and for His glory.

As I weed through offers to buy our furniture and come in contact with people who are trying to lie, cheat and steal from me, I'm frustrated by people's lack of integrity.

As my family waits hours for a potential buyer who never shows up, I'm frustrated for the time wasted.

As I telephone the car repair shop to request a refund for work done on our vehicle that required twice as much money to fix, I'm frustrated. Our lives were put in danger, our car was out of service for over four weeks and our money was wasted.

As I overhear my children bickering because they want their way and will say and do anything to get it, no matter how hurtful, I'm frustrated.

And then Grace showed up and turned my head and allowed me to see the opportunities before me. Grace showed me that instead of allowing frustration and grumbling to control me, I could choose instead to forgive. (And repent for my judgements and words spoken against those who offended me. Sigh.)

Grace brought us a kind couple to purchase our furniture. From what I can tell, they are servants for the Lord blessing others with their time and energy. It will be a privilege and joy to pass on our bedroom furniture to them.

Grace gave me the words to communicate calmly with the car repair shop. They are willing to refund our money and the dealership was able to repair our vehicle. All's well in our world again. (And as I said before, how blessed are we to have two cars at our disposal? Extremely.)

Grace gave me the ability to see my own areas of sin before I focus on my child's. Compassion is a much better parent than shame. Grace brought peace to our home.

Grace forgave me of my sins so that I might be gracious to others and receive the gifts He has for me.

Grace brought beauty where death threatened to reign. Isn't He amazing and good?

"The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love." Psalm 103:8

It's an every moment, every day, decision. I can choose to wallow in the negative emotions or I can turn to Him, seek His face and choose His will. It's not easy, but oh, is it ever worth it!

Friend, in the good times and the bad, God is always there, laying before us two paths to take, two options to choose from.

May we both choose life and enjoy LIVING A BLESSED LIFE!

Ever-so-thankful for His grace,

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

lessons from Sara

"And all thy children [shall be] taught of Jehovah,
and great shall be the peace of thy children.
Isaiah 54:13 (DT)

A couple of Sunday's ago, my three (stateside) children greeted us in their Sunday school class sportin' these very tall (and smile provoking) hats.

My Pastor's beautiful wife explained that they were 'helmets of salvation.' And, because my kids adore Miss Lisa, all THREE of them agreed to wear them on the way to our car.

Makes you smile, doesn't it? Wouldn't you know that my youngest is a huge fan of Dr. Seuss. Her 'salvation helmet' is a bit Cat in the Hat'ish, isn't it?

The three words on the front of Sara's hat (understanding, hope and self-control), happen to be three of the things she readily relies upon the Lord for in large doses. (As do I!)

Sara needs the people in her life to understand that she gets stressed out very easily. Although she may appear to be extremely outgoing and full of energy, the reality is that she gets easily overwhelmed and struggles with fear.

Like this morning at the dentist. He thought she was absolutely adorable (and she is!) He was impressed with how well she was handling the Novocaine-free filling he was giving her. The dentist had no idea that Sara's little heart was racing as fast as can be. And, he was honored that she asked him if he could be her dad. (All of these are signs that Sara is recovering from an attachment disorder.)

Sara's start in life requires that she would have hope in the Lord. Hope that God is good, that He loves her and that she is safe in His care. Although her birth parents' only choice was to abandon her in the hope that she find a family who could provide for her needs, God did not abandon her.

And, because Sara desperately needs understanding and hope, she also relies upon the Lord to help her with self-control. It sure is hard to make good choices when you're stressed out and overwhelmed.

As I parent my youngest, I find that I too rely upon the Lord for understanding, hope and self-control.

Without the Lord's strength, I struggle greatly with parenting. I need His goodness in me to be the best mom I can be. And, wouldn't you know? I need Him to be the best Amy I can be.

I love that Sara came home from church wearing her adorable hat, because once again, the Lord used my little girl to teach me a new lesson.

What about you, my Friend? If you were to fashion for yourself an adorable 'helmet of salvation," what words would you paste on it? (And, if you're the creative sort, what color would it be?) :-)

Whatever you need, God is able to provide it. The key is that we keep turning to Him to meet our needs and that we rely solely upon Him. (And that we give ourselves grace when we forget to do so.)

As we rely upon the Lord more and more, He equips us with the tools we need to continue LIVING A BLESSED LIFE!

May you be blessed in all you do!


Monday, August 3, 2009

water

"Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come;
and whoever wishes,
let him take the free gift of the water of life."
Revelation 12:17b (NIV)

Tonight while I was making dinner, my kids and I watched an IMAX movie about Africa's Serengeti. My eyes were drawn away from the stove when I heard James Earl Jones' deep voice say, "Where there is water, there is life."

For the past couple of weeks, the Pacific Northwest has experienced a bout of hot, HOT weather. Triple digits is not something we see very often, so we're all doing our best to get creative and stay cool.

Water, of course is key. Without it living things die. Grass, plants, trees, flowers, animals, people.

Jesus talked a lot about water while He was alive on Earth.

In John 7:38, He said, "Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him."

And later on in John 14:13-14: "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."

Of course, the references to water in the Bible are great. What was once used to end all life on Earth now symbolizes new (and eternal) life.

There is nothing as refreshing as an ice cold glass of water on a triple-digit day! Without it, our bodies and minds begin to suffer.

There is nothing as refreshing for my spirit as spending time in the Word, journaling my heart to the Lord and worshipping Him with song.

When I fail to make the time to purposely connect with and seek God each day, my spirit suffers greatly. It doesn't take long before I become parched and in desperate need for a refreshing drink of His love, His grace and His joy.

What about you, my Friend? Are you in need of refreshment?

I pray that whatever season you find yourself in today, that His sweet Spirit will wash over you and give you whatever measure of strength, peace and joy you need.

All that Jesus has for you, for me, is free. We only have to ask. Trust in His love for you, my Friend. It is safe and He is good. He has so many blessings to shower upon you.

Remember, where there is water, there is LIFE.

May you be refreshed in Him, and may you continue LIVING A BLESSED LIFE!

In need of another sip,