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Have you ever been confronted?  Have you ever been told that there is something that you are doing that isn’t right. Maybe not sinful but possibly just irritating, or not what someone else would do.  Have you ever been misunderstood?  It happens to me all the time, and it is happening again.

It is not a place I like to be. It is painful and it is easy to start down a path of self destructive talk. That is right where satan wants us isn’t it. ‘We are not worthy’, he says.  What does God say?  I love you.  You are mine.  What does God want me to hear right now? How would God want me to respond?  What is it I am supposed to take from this?  What is the truth?

Those are the questions going through my head right now. It is what keeps me up late at night.  I am choosing to be quiet for now and try to listen because surely some day I will actually learn something and these types of situations will stop coming my way.  Right now I must obey, and say “I trust you” and be thankful that God finds me worthy enough to want to teach me something.  It’s all I can do.

Susan

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You know, Christmas. It is coming right up quicker than you can get to the middle of a tootsie roll centered lollipop.

Well, I have.  I have thought about how every year, I am going to do something different. I am going to make it simple, and stress free. HA!  Never happens.  I really want to focus on Jesus more. I want to teach my kids to focus on Jesus more.  I want them to not be greedy and only think of how many presents they get to open up.  But each year, I get lost in all I have to do and I get stressed and while I am planning and doing fun things with the kids, my mood is often grumpy and grumpy.  That is not a memory I want my kids to have.  What to do?

Our pastor taught this morning on the Advent Conspiracy–“An international movement restoring the scandal of Christmas by substituting compassion for consumption.”  This is not to exit the culture nor is it giving up all our family traditions.  We were challenged to look at how we spend our time and resources this season and see if we are led to make changes in how we worship the King.  This was a timely sermon because it is the exact thing that was on my mind.

I have been trying to figure out what things make the season difficult for me.  One is the Christmas tree.  For some reason the whole event of getting the tree, setting it up and decorating it doesn’t quite fit the Currier and Ives image in my head. It is a lot of work and often disappointing.  How can I make this different.  Well, some changes we have decided on this year is to not take out all the ornaments.  While I love the ornaments I have collected throughout the years for myself and my kids, I don’t want to risk them getting destroyed by a puppy.  As far as getting a tree, we have that problem solved too.  We just so happen to have a volunteer tree in our backyard that is the right size for cutting down.  We will cut it and drag it into the house. No deciding on where to go and how to get it home this year.  As for decorating it, I will have the girls make paper ornaments out of some premade papers I bought. All they have to do is punch them out and fold and glue them together and decorate with glitter if they want. We will hang pine cones, from our yard, and string popcorn and cranberries.  It will be homespun and hopefully enjoyable to put together.

The second and probably the most dreaded tradition is the Christmas card.  More specifically the Christmas photo. Oh, how I put so much pressure on myself to have the perfect image of our family to share.  Photography is not my strong point and my kids are not very cooperative.  Then the decision to buy a card, make a card, write a letter or not, insert a photo or make a photo card.  Finally it’s the long list of names that cards are sent to.  Ugh!  I tired just thinking about it.  I have decided to start early and the goal is to have them finished before Dec. 1st.  I also will not spend a whole lot of time looking for the perfect photo.  And my list is going to get dwindled down to the most important people.

Lastly, getting presents for my inlaws and my parents is highly frustrating. What do you get people with no needs, and very few hobbies. Each person is quirky and extremely difficult to buy for. Add that to a person whose love language is giving and receiving gifts and you have a problem on your hands.  Not sure what to do about this yet.  As far as my own kids go, I could buy and buy and buy. The problem here is self control and not indulging them too much. I have an idea for one very special gift each for the girls and some stocking stuffers and I hope to call it good with that. I am also working on very specific lists for the grandparents to get for the girls. They appreciate this and in my declutter mode I have been on for oh, about a year or two, this will be very helpful to me.

Another thing to think about this Advent season is how we will worship our King.  What our pastor mentioned is that our worship will be inconvenient (monetarily, time, and sacrifice). What will we cut out to make room for how we might serve His people this year?  Our worship will need our persistence, as there will be obstacles to overcome and our worship should be joyful. As we do things and give things for Jesus, we need to have an attitude of joy and in doing so, He will fill us abundantly with His peace.

May the joy and peace of our Lord be with you as you contemplate how you will celebrate the Advent Season, and may you also join our family in the Advent Conspiracy.

God Bless,

Susan

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Weeds

One of the things I have been learning about my husband is that when he has a home project to do he doesn’t like to do it by himself.  Sometimes he needs my help, but most of the time he wants my company.  He is gone everyday at work and when he comes home the last thing he wants to do is go into the garage or outside to work on a project by himself. He wants his family with him. I can understand that. So I have been making an effort to be the helper he needs.

That brings me to this weekend. On Saturday he needed to work on the roof, getting the rest of the moss off and power washing. Well, since I can’t be much of a help with that, and I needed to be outside I decided to weed the garden.  There were a lot of weeds that were taking over.

As I started I noticed that there were probably about three or four varieties of weeds.  I also noticed that some were easier to pull than others. I started with easy ones.  As I was crouched down and grabbing them by the core stem and gently wiggling and pulling them out I noticed that I had a certain satisfaction when they would slide easily out of the dirt.  As I continued on with the easy ones, I started thinking about how similar these weeds were to our sin.  I wondered if God feels that same satisfaction when our sinful weeds slides effortlessly out of our flesh.  How satisfying when we can recognize our sin quickly and repent of it before it takes a strong hold onto our lives.

After  a while I finished the easy weeds.  Wow, what a great feeling to see the garden bed clear up of the ugly weeds and see the fruit of plantings have space to grow and mature.  I moved on to the weeds that were more difficult to pull. They needed more coaxing, a shovel to loosen the dirt around it, a tighter grip, but eventually they came out.  As we let our sins hang on to us it becomes more difficult to let go. Maybe it takes us longer to recognize it, or maybe we are just stubborn and are unwilling to let it go. Either way, it will take more effort for us to loosen the roots of it and pull it from our lives.

Finally, it was time to tackle the tough weeds. Now these were the ones that not only had roots that went deep, but these had thorns on it too.  Thankfully I had my gardening gloves on. I definitely needed the shovel for these and more effort and more persistence.  I scratched my arms up but finally I got these out too.  These are the sins that have been with us a while.  They are the sins that truly hurt not only us but the people around us.   Anger, envy, gossip – all these and many more hurt ourselves and the people we love. These can also have deep roots.  They can cause us pain as we try to remove these from our lives.

Wouldn’t it be easier if we didn’t allow these big thorny weeds to take over our flesh? Wouldn’t it be more satisfying if we could pull them out while they are still small, with shallow roots?

Lord, help me to recognize my sin quickly before the roots grow deep.  Help me to want to let them go, to repent, so my life can be free of hurts caused by yours truly.  Amen.

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