Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Things I Know To Be True

1. If everyone got a little Andy Griffith Show in their day, maybe the world be a little kinder. At least, smile and laugh more. Barney cracks me up! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBuPQgV8yBM)

2. I yelled, "Ignoramus, that was just plain dumb!" at a lady today for doing something stupid. Hmm. I might be spending too much time playing the peg game at Cracker Barrel.

3. It never fails, when on a road trip and nature calls, the nearest exit is at least 20 minutes away. Sometimes further if one accidentally misses the exit.

4. List or no list, I always forget something when going to the store.

5. On the rare occasion I actually leave early for work, there will be a traffic jam which will cause me to be at least 20 minutes late.

6. When my nephew laughs at something silly I've said or done, it makes me feel like the best Aunt!

7. The best blog ideas come when I'm no where near a computer.

8. People underestimate me.

9. Without adventure, I feel like a caged bird.

10. When I'm behind a camera, I worship God through my adoration of His creations.

11. I'm "addicted" to Publix's Peanut Butter Cup frozen yogurt.

12. I realized I was watching too much TV, so I put my DVR on a diet.

13. If Udderly Smooth is good enough for a cow, then it'll do for my feet.

14. You know it must be love when a boy lets you drive his pickup truck.

15. When counting magnets, it's easier to group them in batches of 10.

16. If I spill on my shirt, it's usually one of the last bites.

17. Bananagrams is a fun game!

18. So is Quelf!

19. Who says you can't get anything for free? Check this out: Free Crossword Puzzle.

20. I've missed blogging.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Don't Be a Punching Bag!

"If you do what the LORD wants, he will make certain each step you take is sure. The LORD will hold your hand, and if you stumble, you still won't fall." Psalm 37:23-24 (Contemporary English Version)

Recently, while doing my LIFE (Living in Freedom Everyday) small group homework, I was asked to read the above verse and say what happens when the godly stumble. However, what I found more interesting is that the writer, David, says "if you stumble". As though it's assumed we won't fall (sin) the closer we are to Jesus. Right before I was getting up the nerve to speak up at my small group, God gave me a revelation about this. At least, He spoke to me in the way I learn best, through analogies.

Do you remember those punching bag toys from the 80's, where the bottom was filled with sand? Usually they were about four feet high once fully inflated, with a picture of a clown or something on the front. Well, if we continually stand and hold on the promises of God (which by the way, according to Google, there are more than 3,000 in the Bible), then they are like grains of sand to anchor us down; much like the sand in the punching bag. The more "sand" in your life, the less likely you'll be to fall (sin). Jesus is there holding your hand to give you balance and support. We just have to remember to keep holding on to His promises, so when the devil or outside forces attack, we'll be on guard and ready.

Here are some to you started:

  • Psalm 50:15 - "Pray to me in time of trouble. I will rescue you, and you will honor me."
  • James 4:7-10 - "Come near to God and he will come near to you."
  • Psalm 32:8 - "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you."
  • I John 1:9 - "But if we confess our sins to God, he can always be trusted to forgive us and take our sins away."
  • Jeremiah 29:11-13 - "I will bless you with a future filled with hope--a future of success, not of suffering. You will turn back to me and ask for help, and I will answer your prayers. You will worship me with all your heart, and I will be with you."
  • Thursday, August 12, 2010

    Melting Unbelief

    "The best reason to pray is that God is really there. In praying, our unbelief gradually starts to melt. God moves smack into the middle of even an ordinary day... Prayer is a matter of keeping at it... Thunder claps and lightning flashes are very unlikely. It is well to start small and quietly." -- Emilie Griffin

    Monday, July 5, 2010

    Thursday, June 10, 2010

    Magic Eye is Magicical!!

    I know it's been forever and a day since I've written. I've been a tad busy with life. Writing about my angst took a back seat to my fairytale romance. :) More on that another time.

    While sitting in traffic today, I had a thought. Well, to be more precise, I had a strings of thoughts, but I want to write about one of them: Magic Eye. Do you guys remember these from the 80's? You'd stare at a 2D image for a while until your eyes adjusted and a 3D image would magically appear and leap off the page! Once I "find" the hidden treasure, I'm able to look all around the page and take everything in.

    I Googled Magic Eye and found THE coolest site: 3D Stereogram where you can make your own Magic Eye Picture like this: Check it out! So cool, huh? Can you tell what it says?

    You might be saying to yourself, 'This is neat, Mer, but what's the point?" My thoughts exactly. God gave me the analogy that my life right now is like a Magic Eye picture. Thanks, God, but what does that mean?

    The other night at church, Pastor Steve Blair told us a story how he taught his girls how to ride bikes when they were little. When they first started out, he'd have a firm grip on the back of their t-shirts, that way, if they fell off, he could quickly pull them up and out of harm's way. As the girls progressed and got more independent, he could loosen his grip up a bit. The girls thought they were doing it on their own, but their daddy was still protecting them. Steve said that God does the same thing with us. Sometimes He's got a tight grip on us and we feel it; feel the protective love and safety. While other times, when it feels as though we're footloose and fancy free, He's still got a hold of us.

    When we look at our life and everything seems all out of focus and there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to anything, if we'll just focus on Jesus then everything else blurs away and HE becomes our focus.

    On the surface, my life is peachy-keen, as my Grandfather used to say. Nothing is perceivable wrong, however, I've felt this restlessness for a few weeks now. I've been trying to figure out what God wants me to do next. What new project am I to take on for His glory? I, of course, would love to write another book, but the time isn't right. Jason and I have been praying that God will reveal to me the path I'm to take next. Jason found this verse, in John I think, where the Holy Spirit goes before us and leads us before we even think about a decision.

    We sing this song at church that feels like my heart beat lately: Awakening by Chris Tomlin.

    For You and You alone
    Awake my soul, awake my soul and sing
    For the world You love
    Your will be done, let Your will be done in me

    It gets me every time as tears stream down my face as I worship. I believe God's been trying to bring forth an awakening in my own life. Far too long I've been going with the flow of life traffic; instead, shouldn't I be salmon? What could I be doing to change the destiny of someone? Will you pray with me as I try to discover my new God-Project? Thanks.

    One last thing, completely unrelated to anything I've previously said, yet very cool and should inspire you nonetheless:

    Monday, June 7, 2010

    Love Learning?

    If you love learning, you love the discipline that goes with it— how shortsighted to refuse correction!

    A good person basks in the delight of God,
    and he wants nothing to do with devious schemers.

    You can't find firm footing in a swamp,
    but life rooted in God stands firm.

    Proverbs 12: 1-3 (The Message)

    Saturday, June 5, 2010

    Who Sings This??

    Anyone know who sings this? They are some of the lyrics from a song that came on "So You Think You Can Dance" the other night. I would love to have this song in my collection. Help?!

    "...You are a lighthouse when I'm lost at sea and you are the language I'm trying to speak and you are a taste that keeps me thirsty in the air and on the ground it's rising"?

    Friday, April 30, 2010

    Not The Way You Planned It

    Once there were three trees on a hill in the woods.
    They were discussing their hopes and dreams when
    The first tree said, 'Someday I hope to be a great
    Treasure chest. I could be filled with gold, silver
    And precious gems. I could be decorated with an
    Intricate carving and everyone would see the beauty.'

    Then the second tree said, 'Someday I will be a
    Mighty ship. I will take Kings and queens across the
    Waters and sail to the corners of the world. People
    Will eel safe in me because of the strength of my
    Hull .'

    Finally the third tree said, 'I want to grow to be
    The tallest and straightest Tree in the forest. People
    Will see me on top of the hill, look up to my branches,
    And think of the heavens and God and how close to
    Them I am reaching. I will be the greatest tree of all
    Time and people will always remember me.'

    After a few years of praying that their dreams would
    Come true, a group of woodsmen came upon the trees.
    When one came to the first tree he said, 'This looks
    Like a strong tree, I think I should be able to sell the
    Wood to a carpenter, and he began cutting it down. The
    Tree was happy, because he knew the carpenter would
    Make him into a treasure chest.

    At the second tree the woodsman said, 'This looks like
    A strong tree. I will be able to sell it to the shipyard.'
    The second tree was happy Because he knew he was on
    His way to becoming a mighty ship.

    When the woodsmen came upon the third tree, the tree
    Was frightened because he knew that if they cut him
    Down his dreams would not come true. One of the men
    Said, 'I don't need anything special from my tree, I'll
    Take this one,' and he cut it down.

    When the first tree arrived at the carpenters, he was
    Made into a feed box for animals. He was then placed in
    A barn and filled with hay. This was not at all what he
    Had prayed for.

    The second tree was cut and made into a small fishing
    Boat. His dreams of being a mighty ship and carrying
    Kings had come to an end.

    The third tree was cut into large pieces, and left alone
    In the dark.

    The years went by, and the trees forgot about their dreams.

    Then one day, a man and woman came to the barn. She gave
    Birth and they placed the baby in the hay in the feed box
    That was made from the first tree. The man wished that he
    Could have made a crib for the baby, but this manger would
    Have to do. The tree could feel the importance of this event
    And knew that it had held the greatest treasure of all time.

    Years later, a group of men got in the fishing boat made from
    The second tree. One of them was tired and went to sleep.
    While they were out on the water, a great storm arose and
    The tree didn't think it was strong enough to keep the men
    Safe. The men woke the sleeping man, and He stood and said
    'Peace' and the storm stopped. At this time, the tree knew
    That it had carried the King of Kings in its boat.

    Finally, someone came and got the third tree.
    It was carried through the streets as the
    People mocked the man who was carrying it.
    When they came to a stop, the man was nailed
    To the tree and raised in the air to die at the top
    Of a hill. When Sunday came, the tree came to
    Realize that it was strong enough to stand at the top
    Of the hill and be as close to God as was possible,
    Because Jesus had been crucified on it.

    The moral of this story is that when things don't seem
    To be going your way, always know that God has a plan for
    You. If you place your trust in Him, God will give you great gifts.

    Each of the trees got what they wanted, just not in the way they had imagined.

    We don't always know what God's plans are for us. We just know that His Ways are not our ways, but His ways are always best.

    Monday, March 29, 2010

    O My Soul

    "O my soul, bless God. From head to toe,
    I'll bless his holy name!
    O my soul, bless God,
    don't forget a single blessing!
    He forgives your sins—every one.
    He heals your diseases—every one.
    He redeems you from hell—saves your life!
    He crowns you with love and mercy—a paradise crown.
    He wraps you in goodness—beauty eternal.
    He renews your youth—you're always young in his presence. "
    Psalm 103:1-5

    Saturday, March 27, 2010

    Hello From My Backyard!

    If you didn't already know, life with me is an adventure. Case is point, I'm locked out of my house in the backyard!! Earlier I thought, wow, what a pretty day, why don't I answer some emails and play my Facebook Scrabble turns outside. I obviously unlocked the doors to come outside. I was happy. Listening to music and playing on the computer, when I realized I was kinda cold. I came out here fresh from a shower, so my hair's wet and I have no shoes on. I said to myself, "Self, why don't you go in and get a jacket". I put the computer down and went to open the door and ran right into it! I jiggled the handle and realized the handle was locked!! "OH, NO!", I said. I jiggled it some more as if that would cause it to magically open. Nothing occurred. My cell phone is charging inside so the only contact I have with the outside world is friends with iPhones who get emails on their phone.

    I quickly put out an SOS on Facebook and through email. Not knowing what else to do, I sat back and started to pray... and cry. I cry when I get really stressed out. So as tears are streaming down my face, I'm starting to envision what will happen if I can't get in touch with anyone. I'll be out here all night and freeze; which only made me cry harder. So I had to redirect my thinking into something more positive.

    I thought, "How hard could it be to climb the fence (in my bare feet)?" I drag a chair over to the side and size up the situation. It wasn't going to be easy. I would get hurt, but I would be "free". But then I would be without a computer and hurt, probably bleeding without contact with anyone again. So I delayed that idea for a time. I sat back down and was trying really hard not to freak out. That's when I heard my neighbors voice from two houses down! Yes! Someones home! I dragged my chair over and yelled until he heard me. He came out of the house with a bewildered look and looked my direction. He was quite surprised to see me above my fence!

    "I'm locked out of my house, will you please call my mom?" He said, "Why don't I bring you the phone and you can call her yourself?"

    He lowered the phone and I immediately called my mom at home. Oh no, no answer! Hands shaking, I called her cell. When she picked up, I said, "Mom, where are you?" "Pulling out of the driveway. Amy called and said you were locked out of your house. I'm on my way." Was that the hallelujah chorus I hear??

    My neighbor said, "Do you need anything?" "No, I don't think so. Thank you SO much!" But what I was thinking, a bathroom would be excellent. Mom lives 40ish minutes away... wonder if I can hold it? Hmm.

    This is the second time THIS WEEK I've had a key emergency. And the 2nd time my Mom was able to rescue me! I have the greatest Mom EVER! No matter the situation, she's always been there for me. Thanks Mom!!

    I think once I'm freed, I will go get copies of my key made. That is, after I go to the bathroom.

    Wednesday, March 24, 2010

    Census 2010

    Let's talk about the Census for a minute, shall we? Unless you've just been living in a hole and haven't heard, the Government is polling America to basically find out: how many are living at your house, age, race, and sex.

    Maybe I'm the only one in America, but I LOVE filling out questionnaires, so I couldn't wait for mine to show up! The fateful day came and I thought, "Hmm, this isn't very thick." Come to find out, it's a letter telling me all about the Census (as if I don't own a TV and haven't seen all the commercials) and alerting me to the fact it will be here soon. Um, complete waste of money! I was so frustrated, I immediately threw it away.

    When the actual Census came, I immediately sat down and filled it out! (I know, I'm a goober!) I was disappointed there wasn't more to it. "That's all?!", I said to myself. I kept flipping pages to see if I'd missed something. No, there were like 4 pages to add more people to your household, but nothing more to answer. Unless you're from "19 Kids and Counting", how could you possibly fill in all those blanks??

    I did my duty and mailed it the next day, especially since my "response to the U.S. Census Bureau is required by law".

    "Check out these numbers: According to the U.S. Census Bureau, it will cost just over 14 billion dollars to complete this year's census. That's about 45 dollars per person in the United States." (Quote taken from Fact Finder)

    So today I pick up my mail and there's a postcard, reminding me to fill it out and send it back because my "response to the U.S. Census Bureau is required by law". Seriously? Can we say wasting money? Surely there's a way to do this online (FREE!)? Just think how much money that would save? Even if people can't get online, they can always go down to their local library and use their computer. It just seems extremely wasteful in my opinion. I know the Government enjoys spending money they don't have but it's getting ridiculous!!

    OK, I'm done. *hops off her soap box*

    Monday, March 22, 2010

    Oh Where Are My Keys?!?

    I had an interesting morning.

    As I picked up my purse to walk out the door, I reached for my keys on their hooks and my hand grasped air. I took a double-look and said, "Ohmygosh, where are my keys??" I immediately and frantically started searching all the places I thought they might be... in my purse, in the back gate lock, mixed in the bags from Walmart, upstairs in my bedroom, even in the fridge! (I learned that trick from my friend Tommy. If you ever don't want to forget something in the fridge, put your keys on top of it.)

    I thought, well maybe I accidentally locked them in the car. I looked in all the windows the best I could, but didn't see anything. I came back in and just stood in my kitchen wondering where to look next. Not knowing what else to do, I began to pray. I also texted (is that a word?) some friends to have them pray as well. (Thanks: KP, CP, and JP) I also called my Boss who took the news surprisingly well and my Mom to see if she had a spare house/car key.

    My Mom volunteered to drive 40 minutes out of her way to come help me search for them. While she was making her way here, I started to clean and straighten up my house. It wasn't exactly dirty to speak of, but it definitely wasn't in order. Ironically, last night I said to myself, "Self, you need to take some time to tidy up a bit." Little did I know, a mere 10 hours later I'd be doing that very thing.

    It's my belief that God set in motion certain events, starting with the neighbor kids who distracted me when I got home from Walmart last night; asking me a million questions, including but not limited to, "Why are you never home?". Actually, for some strange reason, I put my groceries in my back seat; something I never do. And, I always hang my keys on their hook as soon as I walk in the door, but I had to race upstairs to turn my alarm off. All these abnormalities led to my lost keys. However, I think God just wanted me to clean my house!!

    Seriously! He has a sense of humor and has always used real world applications to teach me lessons. Oh, I should mention, yesterday's sermon was on worry. :) I calmly sat down in my chair closed my eyes and said, "Lord, I'm not worried. I'm just a little stressed out that I'm late for work. You know where my keys are, would you please let me know too?" I sat in silence for a while and didn't hear anything. I methodically started organizing/straightening/cleaning each room with the intent to find my keys. Alas, they were no where to be found.

    I went back out to the car and checked in all the windows again. Nothing.

    So, I started cleaning the kitchen, all the while just talking to God about what's going on in my life right now. Asking for wisdom for this and that. Thanking Him for all His many blessings in my life. I made the conscious effort to surrender my stress over to Him, as it wouldn't help my anyway. Yesterday, my Pastor said there are 7,000 different promises of God where He takes care of us. I knew He knew where my keys were and eventually they'd show up.

    About that time, my Mom arrived. The first place she checked was my car. I didn't see her get in, only that she had arrived and was in the back seat of my car. She got out and held my keys above her head like she'd scored the winning touchdown (not that I know anything about football)! I pumped my fists above my head and said, "Praise the Lord!"

    Come to find out, my keys were in the backseat of my UNLOCKED car!! It didn't even occur to me to check to see if my car was locked when I looked through the windows like five times! I'm such a dolt! Yay Mom for finding the missing keys!!

    The moral of this little adventure is two fold. One, don't worry. It doesn't help anything. God's in control and regardless of the outcome, He knows what's best. Two, never ever ever shut your car door without your keys in hand!!

    Tuesday, March 9, 2010

    Fall on Jesus

    Tonight, while cooling down after a great cardio workout, I was listening to my "Godtunes" mix and "Untitled Hymn (Come To Jesus)" by Chris Rice permeated my ears. I've heard this song countless times before but this time something clicked. It was like an "ah ha" moment:

    "And like a newborn baby
    Don't be afraid to crawl
    And remember when you walk
    Sometimes we fall...so
    Fall on Jesus
    Fall on Jesus
    Fall on Jesus and live! "

    Isn't it funny that we assume we don't need to learn how to "walk" just because we're adults. How pompous am I to think I have it all figured out. Quite the opposite is true really. Maybe I don't want to appear weak. Maybe I get tired of asking for help and not getting a reply. Maybe I depend too much on humans, rather than turning to the Father. Whatever the reason, I need to "remember to crawl".

    I'm not sure why I think I can always hit the ground running (in life). It happens every time. My stubborn-strong-willed self will get an idea in my head and leap! *SPLAT!* Once I pick myself up, I can't figure out why I fell. Without learning anything, something else will come along and again, I "gird my loins" and take off. *SPLAT!* You'd think after a few "*SPLATS!*" I'd learn my lesson, but no. I suppose it's a good thing that I leap in faith; trusting my instincts and all. But perhaps I need to learn a few things first.

    "Don't overlook the obvious here, friends. With God, one day is as good as a thousand years, a thousand years as a day. God isn't late with his promise as some measure lateness. He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn't want anyone lost. He's giving everyone space and time to change." 2 Peter 3:8-9

    Wow, read that verse again. Go on. I'll wait... "God isn't late with His promises" is a phrase you can take to the bank (as my mom would say)!

    I'm a pretty patient to a point, then all bets are off. I get frustrated and far too caught up in comparing my life to others. When I was younger I fully believed I'd already be married with a gaggle of kiddos, however that hasn't happened yet. I don't know why. Who am I to question God? Do you remember what happened when Job questioned God? Here's a tiny exert:

    "Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. "Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it?"

    It makes me smile that God's sarcastic in 38:5. God's "conversation" with Job goes on and on through chapter 41. Go read it for yourself starting in chapter 38.

    Tiny, but semi-relevant rabbit trail. Back to my original point. Don't be afraid to fall. You know you're going to. You might as well wake up and put on knee pads. It's inevitable. But when you go *SPLAT!* remember to fall on Him. I often wonder if He doesn't allow certain circumstances to occur so that we'll learn to depend on Him.

    One of my favorite things as an Aunt is when my nephew's face lights up when he sees me and takes off running into my arms for a big hug (usually knocking me over)! How much more does God want that too? I'm sure He gets so excited when we come to Him with good or bad news, as long as we come. In the coming hours and days, let's practice depending on His strength rather than our own.

    One more promise for the road: "I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. "When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I'll listen. "When you come looking for me, you'll find me. "Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I'll make sure you won't be disappointed." Jeremiah 29:11-13

    Happy trails, Friends!

    Monday, March 8, 2010

    The LORD's Wonderful Love

    I'll mess this post up if I say anything. I was researching a topic when I stumbled upon these verses and was overwhelmed by Jesus's love for me (and you)! Be blessed, friends:

    1With all my heart

    I praise the LORD,

    and with all that I am

    I praise his holy name!

    2With all my heart

    I praise the LORD!

    I will never forget

    how kind he has been.

    3The LORD forgives our sins,

    heals us when we are sick,

    4and protects us from death.

    His kindness and love

    are a crown on our heads.

    5Each day that we live, he provides for our needs

    and gives us the strength

    of a young eagle.

    6For all who are mistreated,

    the LORD brings justice.

    7He taught his Law to Moses

    and showed all Israel

    what he could do.

    8The LORD is merciful!

    He is kind and patient,

    and his love never fails.

    9The LORD won't always be angry

    and point out our sins;

    10he doesn't punish us

    as our sins deserve.

    11How great is God's love for all

    who worship him?

    Greater than the distance

    between heaven and earth!

    12How far has the LORD taken

    our sins from us?

    Farther than the distance

    from east to west!

    13Just as parents are kind

    to their children,

    the LORD is kind

    to all who worship him,

    14because he knows

    we are made of dust.

    15We humans are like grass

    or wild flowers

    that quickly bloom.

    16But a scorching wind blows,

    and they quickly wither

    to be forever forgotten.

    17The LORD is always kind

    to those who worship him,

    and he keeps his promises

    to their descendants

    18who faithfully obey him.

    19God has set up his kingdom

    in heaven,

    and he rules

    the whole creation.

    20All of you mighty angels,

    who obey God's commands,

    come and praise your LORD!

    21All of you thousands

    who serve and obey God,

    come and praise your LORD!

    22All of God's creation

    and all that he rules,

    come and praise your LORD!

    With all my heart

    I praise the LORD!

    Psalm 103 (Contemporary English Version)

    Wednesday, March 3, 2010

    The Pickle Jar

    "So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it." Colossians 3:12-13 (The Message)

    I don't know about you but picking out my clothes for the next day has always been a source of contention for me. First of all, I'm not your average girl; therefore, I don't have a ton of clothes. Pickin's are slim so I don't have much with which to work. At my old job, it was "business casual", which essentially meant dress pants and a nice top. Ugh! Secondly, that's my least favorite category to wear so I was never a happy camper. I remember one week I went on "strike" and wore the same thing to work every single day: khakis and a polo. I'm not sure anyone noticed and if they did, nothing was said.

    In contrast, my not-so-new-job (where I've been for nearly a year), there is no dress code! Zero. Zilch. Nada. Imagine that! I literally can wear whatever I want; except maybe a bathing suit, but that's just not practical. I'm a million times more productive when comfortable rather than dealing with something fussy. The thing is, even given complete freedom, I still find myself standing in my closest, starring at my clothes, hoping something new will show up in my wardrobe. Surely the Lucy from Narnia brought something back from me while I was sleeping, but so such luck

    Regardless of what I physically wear, I still have to "gird my loins"; prepare for the day ahead mentally and spiritually. Mentally usually takes care of itself by getting a good night's rest, drinking caffeine and eating something for breakfast. Oh yeah, and music. I must have rockin' music in the morning. But, I have to be honest, I don't do a very good job getting myself ready spiritually. Oh sure, I talk to Jesus all throughout the day here and there, but I don't pray over my day like I should.

    My priorities are all out of wack. My Pastor gave the best example to illustrate this point and I hope I can recreate the scenario. Imagine an empty pickle jar. The goal is to fit everything in: rocks, pebbles, sand and water. First, start with the rocks (about 1"-2" in diameter); it appears already full but see what happens next! Second, the pebbles fill in the holes where the rocks left. Third, the sand fills up every nook and cranny, but there's still room for more. Finally, the water is mostly soaked up by the sand. In fact, more water fills the jar than you thought possible. Now, as you look at this imaginary jar filled with all these 'ingredients', let's translate that to a tangible real-world application and associate each 'ingredient' with something as well:

    Water = God.
    Sand = Family
    Pebbles = Work
    Rocks = Media (Facebook, TV, Movies, Video Games, etc.)

    Given our first scenario, Media (Rocks) are taking up a huge part of our lives. I know this is true in my life. Once I'm finally home from work or working out at the Y, all I want to do is sit down and veg for a bit. Turn on a movie or watch TV, while often simultaneously playing on the computer (Facebook, emails, etc.) The next thing I know, it's bedtime and I haven't accomplished anything meaningful.

    Sand (Family) is a big part of my life already, but how much of the time spent with them in quality time? Are we talking about life? Are we investing in an other's lives? I went to lunch with my Dad last week and learned things I never knew about my Dad! What else don't I know?? One of my favorite things to do with my family is play games, but we usually only do that at the beach. Is one week really enough to last the whole year?

    Pebbles (Work) has honestly never been an issue for me. When I walk out of the door, I leave everything there, then pick it back up again when I come back. I have to compartmentalize or I might go insane. With my current job, I do have a lot more responsibility so I do tend to think about it a bit more than I should, but not obsessively or anything.

    Water (God) can be the most difficult for me. I know people think I'm this great Christian and a prayer warrior, but honestly I don't deserve the credit you're giving me. Yes, I spend time with Him, but not like I should. I don't hunger for His Word like I should. I don't even read the Word necessarily. My best time spent with Him is when I'm writing and listening to music in the car. That's when I hear Him the most.

    But anyway, back to my analogy. OK, mentally dump out all the ingredients again, except, maybe pour the water out first or you're going to make a mental mess! What would happen if you reversed the order? Would everything still fit in the pickle jar? Let's give it a try!

    Use the same amount of water (God), but pour all of it in first. How about that, it's already 3/4 full! Add the sand (Family) next and watch what happens. The water (God) allows the sand (Family) to be quite solid with not much room for anything else, but let's add the Pebbles (Work) to the mix anyway. Look, they sink a little bit into the water (God) and sand (Family) mixture, but mostly sit on the surface. Lastly, see how many rocks (Media) you're able to fit in now; not too many huh? In fact, if you try to cram them in, the water (God) and sand (Family) spills over the edge. Surely you see where I'm going with this by now?

    The benefits of having and keeping priorities in check can make all the difference in your life. If things seem out of wack, maybe it's because they are. You're like a washing machine, stuffed with too many clothes. You're off balance and not centered in Him. I know this to be true in my own life. Sure, things look OK on the surface, but there's still that discontentment I referred to yesterday. Perhaps it's just God's way of saying, "Hey goofus, why don't you spend some quality time with me and then see how you feel!" Unfortunately I sometimes need a konk on the head with a 2x4' to put things into perspective. Or perhaps a silly, yet memorable analogy of a pickle jar. I bet you'll never look at pickles the same way again; I know I won't.

    Happy trails, friends.

    Monday, March 1, 2010

    Secret Decoder Ring

    "Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
    My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."
    Psalm 73:25-26 (English Standard Version)

    Early today, I was listening to "You're All I Want" by Lifehouse and I had a "moment". I was instantly transformed back to that day in the van. You see, this song and I have a history. I remember the first time I heard it. I was on the first leg of what was to be a four-day journey across the country to Seattle, Washington. 10-hour plus days in the van gives this analytical girl way too much time to think and journal. We were hardly on the road when this song came on my CD player (predating my iPod). The song was apparently new at the time, as I'd never really listened to the words and were blown away by them. (FYI: I have to memorize the words to a song before I can really enjoy listening to it.) My eyes began to fill with tears. It was as if God was sending me off with a little love letter from Him.

    God speaks to me all the time, but especially through music. When it comes to learning life lessons, music is like my secret decoder ring. It helps makes sense of the senseless. Often, words in a song will strike me to the core like nothing else. Back then I was standing at a precipice and had some decisions to make. I had to maneuver my way across an "Indian Jones" style bridge which took me from childhood to adulthood. But this trip was my one last hurrah of being a kid.

    I learned a lot on that trip but most importantly I discovered what it meant to live life in utter and complete abandon, chasing whole-hearted after Him. I fell in love with Him all over again. Isn't it a shame it takes a road trip of isolation away from the media of everyday to bring life back into focus? Why is it to hard to keep Him at the center? I don't know about you, but my life is BUSY! From the moment I finally wake up, I hit the ground running. The next thing I know it's nearly bedtime. Whew! Where did the day go?

    In my life, I feel like I'm on another precipice. But this time, I'm in the vortex of a whirlwind. Sometimes it feels like life is spinning out of control, in that, *blink* it's ten years later and what do I have to show for myself? Mostly, I suppose there's a feeling of discontent; like I should have done more. I want to have done something that matters. I want to have made a difference. I don't merely want to exist. I want to thrive!

    I'm sure you've seen this skit on YouTube before, but it NEVER ceases to bring me to tears. I think it brings this post to a close:

    Monday, January 25, 2010

    I Seized the Moment

    I caught a sunset tonight (Sunday) in Target's parking lot and couldn't resist watching it to the end.  The deep colors took my breath away.

    I love how the sun reflected off the water in the parking lot.

    Goodbye, sun.  See you tomorrow.

    Friday, January 22, 2010

    Carpe Diem

    "Today is unique! It has never occurred before and it never can be repeated. At midnight it will end, quietly, suddenly, totally. Forever. But the hours now and then are opportunities with eternal possibilities." - Charles R. Swindoll

    I had a "ah hah!" moment earlier when I read this quote at the post office.  Have you ever really thought about how each day can only happen once?  I mean, when I was younger, I seriously thought time travel was possible.  (I've always had an over active imagination!)  Therefore, I thought I could go back, "putting things right that once went wrong"; perhaps I watched too much "Quantum Leap"?  Which, by the way, was a great show! 

    But think about it for a minute...

    How often are we guilty of wishing our life away?  I'm guilty of it just about every day.  What am I doing for Him in the in-between times?  Recently, it's come to my attention (only because I over-analyze everything) that I'm not doing enough for Him.  Sure, I appreciate His beauty in everything.  I'm kind to strangers; even smile when I don't feel like it.  But what am I doing to win souls for Him?  Far too often I'm just busy being busy. 

    Philippians 3:13-15 (The Message): "I'm not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back. So let's keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you'll see it yet! Now that we're on the right track, let's stay on it."

    There's a stirring within me that something grand's about to happen.  I've felt this way for all the major events in my life.  I kinda feel like what a snake must feel like when he sheds his skin.  Have you ever watched that happen??  I'm kinda fascinated by it, actually.  When you have some time to kill, check it out on YouTube.  It's really quite amazing especially since they don't have arms.  (Random, but true!)  His old skin looks normal, that is, until you see the new vibrant skin.  (I know, it's actually scales.) I suppose the same could be true in our lives.  When we "shed" our old skin, becoming more like Christ, then we become all shiny and new too; figuratively speaking.

    I try to seize the moment as much as possible, especially when it comes to photography.  I LOVE trying to capture God's creation!  It's honesly one of my favorite things in life and always makes me feel so happy and fulfilled.  The other day, it was absolutely gorgeous out!  I was out getting a smoothie for lunch from Smooth King.  I always drive through this really nice and ritzy neighborhood on the way back to work so I can savor my full lunch break.  There are some a-maz-ing trees there that I love looking at.  I always want to stop and take pictures, but don't.  I'm not sure why.  But the other day, my sunroof was open and I just couldn't resist!!  I wanted to share a few of the better ones with you.

    Lesson for the day: SEIZE THE DAY!  Make the most of the day, because at midnight it will end.

    Monday, January 18, 2010

    Plastic Oreos

    Adventure tends to follow me everywhere I go.  Sometimes I chase after it, but more often than not, it just happens.  Take tonight for example.  I've been putting off going to Walmart for as long as possible, but if I didn't go tonight, I wouldn't be able to go until this weekend.  I tackle one side (of Super Walmart) at a time.  Last week was food, tonight was non-food stuff (shampoo, tooth paste, etc).  I've been on the lookout and pricing different larger storage containers and finally found exactly what I needed and AND for really cheap ($3.48).  I picked up a lid directly on top of the container.  One might assume they organized them this way on purpose.  It didn't even occur to me test and make sure I'd picked up the right lid.  (Each time I type "lid" I type "lip" and have to erase and start again.)  It wasn't until I got home that I noticed the lid is entirely too large for the container!  The kicker is that there's only one red container, so again, that's why I assumed the lid would be correct.  So, what do I do now?  Take the lid back and ask for an exchange?

    Ok, that's not exactly an "adventure" as previously mentioned, but stuff like that happens to me all the time.  Perhaps I should be more aware of what's going on around me?  I do tend to stay in my happy, little world a lot.  For instance, I was wandering down the cereal isle when I realized I was singing "Pant On The Ground"... outloud... and I got a very strange look from another customer.  Oh well.

    Have you ever tried the peanut butter stuffed Oreos?  They are delicious and my favorite.  I was at Publix ("where shopping is a pleasure") and got a pack on a whim.  (I had a hankerin'.)  I pulled back the seal and was expecting to find that yummy Oreo smell, but it smelled like plastic.. like Play Doh even.  I didn't think this was a good sign, but took an apprehensive bite and quickly realized it tastes like plastic too!  I spit it out and tried again, but still tasted yucky!  I ended up throwing it away!  Tonight at Walmart, I tried again.  Surely they won't taste like plastic again, right?  After I bring the groceries in and realize I have the wrong lid, I opened the pack up.  Much to my chagrin, I discover it too is tainted by the plastic-grossness.  My question is, are my tastebuds revolting against me or is there "new recipe" yucky!  Let me know if you've had a similar experience.

    I haven't written in a while... I'm not even sure I talked about Christmas yet?  Blogging is like a perverbial snowball bumbling down a hill.  If you don't stay on top of it, there's no catching up.  You just have to start fresh and mention things from the past.  I'll work on that post another time. 

    Sometimes I feel like I need to be eloquent or say something super Spiritual, but I'm just a goof-ball and need to write about nothing in particular from time to time as well.  I know I enjoy reading other friend's blog when they ramble about life.  I hope it's the same for you.  Since I technically only had ONE lurker de-lurk: My Blue Morning and my Mom (via email), I don't know who reads my blog.  It's funny, the post I think many will comment on, it's like tumble weed blowing through my blog.  While others are super silly and got a lot of traffic.  You never can tell.

    Last weekend (not the one that just ended), I mustered up some serious gumption and tackled my 2nd bedroom closet.  I haven't been able to walk in it for at least a year or more.  I started Saturday afternoon and worked for a long, long time.  I lost track of time and got my days and nights a little mixed up as a result.  Though, I was VERY productive!  I took pictures all along the way to catalog my adventure.  Who knows what I might find!  Boy did I find some interesting things!  I also went through thousands of pictures and many, many, many boxes of memories and life stuff.  I'll post some of my finds later. 

    I somehow managed to hurt my back last Monday and it put me out of commission to do anything.  I could barely walk or move without groaning.  Thankfully, through the healing power of Jesus and magnets, I'm all better now.

    Ok, enough roulette subject blogging.  I've got "Chuck" waiting on me.  Happy trails, friends!

    Sunday, January 10, 2010

    Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are!

    January 10th-12th. They're big days in the blogging world. They are officially National Delurking Days.

    (Actually, there seems to be some confusion as to whether National Delurking Day is January 10th or January 12th, so I'm just declaring it to be January 10th THROUGH the 12th.)

    First, a definition. According to Urban Dictionary….

    Lurk - To read without commenting or contributing, therefore effectively invisible to the rest of the group or community.

    Now don’t get me wrong, I’m quite thankful for my lurkers. According to my stats, over 80% of my readers actually fall into the “lurker” category, so don't feel bad if you're one of them. I love you guys!

    However, one of the reasons that I do this whole blog thing is for relationships, and that’s kinda hard to do if one person in the relationship is "effectively invisible".

    So….what better day to de-lurk than on National Delurking Day(s), right? It's a day to celebrate you!

    But why de-lurk?

    Commenting is a very crucial part of the blogging process. It’s kinda like tipping your waitress…it’s appreciated, the value of the service offered is measured by the amount given, you get better service if you do it, but if you don’t do it, someone might spit in your food.

    Okay…I won’t spit in your food. But you get the point.

    Anyway, say hey. I like you for reading my blog, and I like knowing who I like. I also love reading my reader's blogs, so be sure and let me know if you blog.

    So join the fun - because lurking is something that you do in dark alleys, not on overly-patterned and nearly-neurotically-colorful blogs.

    If you're new to blog commenting and don't have a Google login, once you click on "# comments" or "post a comment" , you can either select "Name/URL" and just put your name in (you can leave the URL blank if you don't have a blog), or "Anonymous" and sign your name within the comment.

    Repost from my friend's Blog: Grasping for Objectivity in my subjective life.

    Wednesday, January 6, 2010

    On The Verge

    I wrote this... what seems like a lifetime ago. Do you ever feel as though "something" is about to happen? You don't know what, but you can just feel it in your bones? It's like, for me, I can tell when it's going to rain, as my joints ache. Well, in the same way, I'm aching. God's up to something. I can just tell.

    Regardless of how I feel in other areas of chaos in my life, I know-without a shadow of a doubt-that my Creator is up to something. He has plans for my life and for yours. I mean, stop and think about that for a minute. The CREATOR of EVERYTHING has a plan for your life! It brings tears to my eyes to even think about it. God, why in the world, would you choose to use me?? I don't understand your love. Unending. Unfailing. Forever. You amaze me. I'm sorry I don't tell You more often just how much you mean to me and how I'm so thankful You chose to save me.

    So, I wrote this "poem" during another time in my life, when I felt that "ache". And wowy! Did God every use me. Out of, I don't know how many people, my poem just happen to be picked to be the theme for this youth conference, "The Verge". It almost seems surreal now to think about it.

    What amazes me most is that no matter the person, no matter what you've done in your past or how you think you're invisble and no one sees you, your Father in Heaven SEES you. Don't think for one moment you aren't precious in His sight! What's funny to me is that God continues to use me, even when, especially when I don't deserve it.

    Again, I'm telling you, God's up to something. I'm excited to see what the next journey for me is. It's never an easy journey. Pilgrim and I have a lot in common sometimes, but oh, the rewards, they are immeasurable. I might not see them until Heaven and then, I'm only going to give them back to Jesus anyway. But the mere fact He desires to use me, blows me away.

    I wanted to revisit this poem that quite honestly, changed my life. May it be a blessing to you as well.

    On The Verge
    Meredith C. Quintana

    Do you ever feel as though you’re on the verge of something great?
    It’s a restless anxiety
    A feeling of impending excitement
    Thoughts and ideas run through my brain a million miles a minute
    I step out in faith
    Is this what I’m supposed to do God?
    Is this all right?
    I continue walking along the path
    Slowly putting one foot in front of the other
    Just hoping that greatness is over the next ridge
    Off in the distance I see the future
    It’s big and grand
    Is that my destiny?
    Only God knows my future is.
    Only He knows the greatness that I could become
    But really, as long as I’m in His will, I’m great
    As long as I’m walking in faith, shouldn’t that be all that matters?
    Not by the worlds standards…
    We’ve come so accustomed to living in this world
    That we now think like the world
    If just for one day, we could see what He sees
    Hear what He hears

    How often do we stop focusing on ourselves long enough to realize the needs in this world?
    People are hurting, blindly roaming around
    Seeking hope in a hopeless world
    With needs no one sees but Him
    Who really cares about me?
    Would anyone notice if I were gone?
    Where will the hurt end?
    When will we realize that we aren’t here to live our lives?
    We are here to tell others about Him.
    Tell them about His unconditional love
    How many people have you told about Him lately?
    Have you stopped living selfishly long enough to live selflessly?
    What if the next person you met, you told them about your Savior?
    What if He blessed you with the ability to listen to peoples spiritual needs?
    Would your life be any different?
    Would it freak you out enough to think you were going crazy?
    Or would you realize what a blessing and a gift He granted you?

    What if you woke up tomorrow morning and you had this gift?
    How would your life change?
    All around you, voices of hopelessness and agony would fill the air
    Just looking around at someone, you’d hear their real pains
    The things no knows but God… and now you
    Would you address their hurt?
    Tell them that there really is Someone who loves them unconditionally
    Just as they are, no matter their past
    Would you seize the Divine appointment He’s brought across your path?
    Or would you just go about your daily life, as if nothing was different?
    Would you ignore that still soft voice?

    "Speak to that man over there. He needs My help."
    "But Father", I whisper into the quiet void. "What am I going to say?"
    Through the gentle breeze, I hear Him, "With Me all things are possible."

    My brain connects the right synapses, which in turn tells my right foot to take a step forward
    …then the left…
    …and the right…
    The next thing I know, I’m standing before this man.

    "Excuse me, sir", I say, with shaky confidence. "I know you don’t know who I am but it was impressed upon my heart to share something with you. There’s Someone who loves you unconditionally. No matter what has happened in the past… what you’re doing currently, or what the future holds. I know Someone who will love and care for you regardless."

    The man looks at me, and incredulously states, "Look, I don’t know what your deal is, but I’m not interested!" The man abruptly turns around and starts to walk away. Before he goes too far, I say, "You know, I know you feel as though there’s no hope, no reason to go on, no purpose…"

    As the words hang in the doubt-filled air, he slowly turns around. Looks at me, almost through me, and with tears brimming in the corner of His eyes, He says in a shaky voice, "That’s exactly what I was just thinking."

    "I know", I quietly say.
    "But how?" he asks amazed.
    "Like I said, Someone impressed upon my heart to come talk to you."
    "I sure would like to meet this ‘Someone’."
    I point to a bench near by, "Well, I’d love to tell you about Him."

    As we sit on the bench and I tell him about this ‘Someone’. The glassy hopelessness begins to recede from his eyes and is replaced with tears of amazement and unworthiness. As his tears continue to stream down his face, he asks, "But why would this man die for me?"

    With my own tears filling my eyes, I say, "Because… He loves you that much. If you had been the only one on this whole earth, He still would have suffered and died for your sins, past, present and future." The man, now openly weeping, "What do I have to do to get what you have?"

    "Just ask… ask forgiveness for all that you’ve done, turn your back on your old ways of living, and tell others the things that I’ve told you. Tell them how He has changed your life. You know something, right now in Heaven, the angels are rejoicing over one more lost lamb has come to the Father and entered into His kingdom. From this day on, you are a new creature. Your old ways have passed away. You are changed!"

    As I bask in the afterglow from this Divine appointment, I thank Him for using me… providing me with the words to say... and most of all, for dying for me as well. I am abundantly aware that He didn’t have to die on that cross, but He did. And I am eternally grateful.

    So, as I look around me, on the road they call life. I realize it doesn’t matter what the world thinks about me or the things I do. All that matter is that I’m winning souls for Him.

    So, what’s this verge of greatness?
    It’s when I hear that still soft voice and decide to obey or not
    No matter what occurs, He’ll receive all the honor and glory
    But it’s in that moment… that people hang on the verge.

    "On The Verge" Written May 2001

    Sunday, January 3, 2010

    The Main Thing

    Happy New Year, Friends!  If you're like most of the people, the New Year brings "resolutions".  A desire to change a bad habit or more commonly, lose weight/work out.  However, I resolved not to resolve a year years ago.  I prefer it that way.  I still set goals for myself, but I hate that feeling of failure when I dissapoint myself over whatever I'd resolved. 

    That being said, I was on the way home from my parent's the other night when I was lost in thought; reflecting and pondering over the past year.  I've been blessed in so many ways, but my heart still longs for what I don't have.  I was also wondering if I've done enough for Him; used the gifts He's given me to glorify Him.  I definitely feel like I need to do more; be more creative, write, paint, whatever.  I need to do more.  I need to put myself out there and allow Him to use me. 

    During my conversation with myself, I had to stop for a pretty long train.  (I don't usually mind trains too much, unless I'm trying to get to somewhere and they just sit on the track or hardly move.  That's just annoying.  But this one was moving.)  Right as I stopped at the crossing, a song by Charlie Hall came on, "One Thing".  The real time analogy made me laugh.  God usually shows me lessons in ways I can't miss.

    (If you're reading this on Facebook or by email, please click over to Strength in the Struggle to see the video.)

    How often are we stopped at a crossroads in life unsure of what to do next?  What job should I take?  Should I date/marry this person?  Where should I move?  It's far too easy to get bogged down with questions of the 5 W's and 1 H (Who, What, Where, When and How). 

    I suppose we're often like Peter, when he was walking on the water to Jesus. (Can you even IMAGINE what that was like??)  As long as his eyes were on Jesus, he was footloose and fancy free, but the second he got freaked out by the huge wave coming, he started to sink.  How much are we like Peter on a day to day basis?  I know I am; more often than I care to admit.  Why don't I trust the Creator (of everything) with my everything?  What gall to think that I know best!  Silly human. 

    The thing is, life boils down to one thing (no pun intended):

    "All of life comes down
    To just one thing
    And that's to know You oh Jesus
    And make You known"

    Someone once said, "The Main Thing is to Keep the Main Thing, the Main Thing."  Simple, but true.  If we keep Jesus the main thing in our life, everything else will fall into place.  This reminds me of a quote from "Elf":

    Gimbel's Manager: Why are you smiling like that?
    Buddy: I just like to smile, smiling's my favorite
    Gimbel's Manager: Make work your favorite. That's your new favorite.
    Don't be a cotton-headed ninny-muggins, make Jesus your favorite in 2010!  (Cheesy, I know!  But I think it's a memorable point?)