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Days 4-30 of November Thankfulness: All at Once I Realized….

Okay, I realized that if I don’t do the rest at one time then I probably won’t finish it so I’m just jumping ahead…. Here are the rest of the 30 things I’m thankful for in no particular order….

Just a part of my job

4. My job– On any given weekend I come home with great stories from the kids that I work with… whether it is a funny story (like the kid who asked if he could say bad words and when I said no, he said to his friend, “@#$%, we can’t say bad words.” or the sweet little girl who insists we call her “Dog”) or a sweet one (the kid who requires a hug from the other party of the dispute after the apology), I always have something great to share.  Plus, because of what I do… I pretty much much get to be a kid…  I love it.

5. My co-workers– I realize that not too many people can say that they love everyone that they work with … and if they say they love them, they may not like them so much…. But I love and like my co-workers.  They are a great group of people who put up with me and love and like me back… at least, I’m pretty sure they do… I also know, not too many have co-workers that feel like family…. I do and am thankful.. (If you see my boss make sure you tell him I said these nice things)

6. My husband– Another one who puts up with me… So few get to see the funny side of him but the man cracks me up… plus he is a great dad and husband. ( You can also tell him I said these nice things. )

7. My freedom– I will be voting tomorrow and realize that for whatever reason, I have been fortunate enough to be born and live in a country that is free.

8. My kids– My girls are such a perfect addition to my life.  They are all funny, compassionate, sweet (most of the time… well, okay… sweet to others), they love each other now and someday may become friends with each other (actually, I see it happening already) They aren’t perfect by any means but then again, they have an imperfect mom so what do I expect.

9. Our alphabet– abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz…. there may be a lot of them but thankful there are no ~ or ` or other symbols over the tops of them….plus, I like to write and am glad I don’t have to write in pictures..

10. Flip-Flops– I love the idea of slipping on a pair of flip-flops and letting my feet feel the sun… yeah, leather, canvas and other shoes are great too, but flip-flops are the next best thing to bare feet...

11. Hummingbirds– Our summer is made better by these little guys… They zoom past our heads, flutter around our back porch and though we may sound easy to entertain, they are more fun to watch than most shows on TV.

12. Friends– some to laugh with, some to cry with, some to do both with, some male, some female, some who brighten my day unexpectedly, some who mentor me, some who we learn together…. some who have passed in and out of my life……….all have a special place in my heart

13. My health–  thankful that I can walk, talk, and do most anything I want to do because I have good health

14. Ale8– The Central Kentucky soft drink that has made it’s way to a few other places in the country…. I’m pretty sure it is an acquired taste, but for those of us who love it … we really love it.  And I’m thankful that they now have Diet and caffeine free, too.

15. Baby Animals– They are just so cute…  puppies, kittens, baby rabbits, baby bears, etc… well, except baby narwhals

16. Creativity-I’m a person who loves to create…. whether it be a story, a painting or a sculpted caricature of someone….It is what I love to do… I’m thankful for a creative Creator and amazed at what He createdLightening outside our house

17. Nature– Waterfalls, the change of seasons, stars, storms, lightening, weird animals (narwhals, angler fish, tarsiers,etc)… whatever it may be it all goes back to the creativity….

18. Technology – I’m thankful to live in a day and age where people thousands and thousands of miles away can communicate as if they were next door neighbors.  I also love that we can get to them by plane, train or car rather than only a horse or on foot.

19. Chocolate – ‘Nuff said…

20. Modern Medicine –  I can imagine that without what we have today, I probably would have been one on the side of the road in need of healing when Christ walked by…. AND – can you imagine surgery without antibacterial items??   that’s what I’m talking about

21. The Bible – I used to never understand it nor care much about the stories from it, but once I began to dig into it with the help of Christ, it changed my world….

22. Music – It can perk up your day, help you worship God, mellow out a crying baby, make memories, sooth a tortured soul, help motivate, help memorize… It is a pretty powerful thing.

23. Grace– I know I’ve already written about it but I’m just doubly thankful that I don’t get what I deserve…. because I can never do enough to get the good portion of deserving all by myself….

24. Fruit-something good for you and tastes good too…. bananas, apples (fuji are my favorite), grapes, kiwi, raisins, watermelon, actually all melons, strawberries, cherries, clementines ….. add a little chocolate to some and then it’s even better…. shall I go on?

25. Humor -sense of humor- glad I have one, even if I am the only one who thinks I’m funny… and laughter,  not at the expense of others but wholesome laughter could possibly bring the world together

26. Bug sprayCitronella, flea and tick repellent, after bite….. whichever it is, it was a genius invention

27. Gloves– They keep my hands warm. (particularly on days when my office is Freezing) I can even text in them now and best of all,  I don’t have to touch things that are yucky if I don’t want….

28. My family-my parents, by example taught me how to work through arguments, dance, laugh, love each other, give to others and love God and church….I have no siblings but do have cousins, aunts and uncles… brothers and sisters-in-law, father and mother-in-law (deceased- but wonderfully remembered), a wonderful step mother-in-law…. so many great memories

29. My home– Yes, there are times when I wish I had a bigger yard or one more bedroom or a live in maid, but I am blessed to have what I have and know it

30. A Loving God– anyone who makes a way for you to get to them must love you a lot…. thankful that the Creator of all did that for me…. and for you…. so when I am thankful, that is who gets my thanks… without the Creator and his grace, all of the other things are pointless.

If only November had more days…….. Maybe I should just be thankful all of the time….

Ephesians 5:20

Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2012 in Devotions, Faith, Fun, Life Stories

 

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Conversations… The Epiphany Factor

I’m not sure if it is my age, my stress level or just the way I’m wired, but I’ve taken notice of something lately that shoots my conversations to a whole new level.  One might call it the lack of common sense, but I just call it the “epiphany factor” which is triggered by the “oh” gene.  You know what I’m talking about; a time during a conversation, when you begin to see things differently or when someone explains something to you and you finally “get it” ….even if it is a conversation of useless knowledge or trivial chat… that moment is the “epiphany factor”.   You tend to see them on sitcoms quite a bit, but at our house in 2011, I have been keeping notes of them for a time such as this.

As far as the reasoning for why these conversations are happening and since I seem to be claiming this “oh” gene (which, by the way, lies dormant in my parents), I’m beginning to believe that I’m wired that way.  I’m not just thinking this because my husband has been trying to tell me this for years, but because I am seeing it in my children more and more and that helps establish the theory that it may just be a wiring issue with me… yep, born that way.

Here are a few of many examples of what I mean…. these conversations include my 16-year-old (Allison), my 18-year-old (Catie) sometimes my 9-year-old, my husband (Chris) and me….

Allison:  So are Vera Bradley and Vera Wang related?
Me:  How does that even make sense? They just have the same first name.
Allison:  I know… Are they related?
Me:  ?? (silence)
Catie:  So, are they related?
Chris:  Yes girls, they are sisters!
Allison and Catie:  Oh…

OR

Conversation in the car in the dark:
Allison: Mom, are my contacts in?
Me: Allison, how on earth am I supposed to know?
Allison: What?? I thought you said the eye place called you and said they were in.
Me: (short pause) Ohhh, I thought you meant in your eyes.
Chris: Oh, brother

OR

Conversation in the car-
Allison:(who was sitting behind me) Mom, I just sent you a picture.
Me: Okay, text or email?
Allison: Text. Did you get it?
Me: No
Allison: Now?
Me: No
Allison: I sent it. Now did you get it?
Me: No, Allison.
A few minutes later…

Allison: Did you get it, mom?
Me: No

After a few more minutes of the same dialogue….
Chris: Wouldn’t it have been easier for you to just hand your phone to mom and let her see the picture?
Me and Allison: Oh…

OR

Conversation after taking photos of my daughter who was climbing out of a tree….
Allison: Mom, help me
Me:  You’ve got it… Come on down
Allison:  I’m scared. I’m afraid I’m going to break something.
Me:  You’re not going to break anything. This tree is strong and sturdy …. You couldn’t break it even if you wanted to
Allison:  I’m talking about me, Mom! I’m afraid I’ll break my arm or leg!
Me: oh…

AND

Regarding a glitch in our van’s brake lights, to stop concern about the battery dying, Chris and I decided to trade cars for the day. Our phone call:
Chris: Hey, I’m not going to trade cars now. I put a band aid on it so it is temporarily fixed… at least until I can get home tonight.
Me: Wow, that is hilarious
Chris: What is?
Me: That is so funny, kind of ironic, that you used a band-aid to fix it.
Chris:(with laughter) I didn’t use a real band-aid. It was a figure of speech
Me: Oh….

This genetic flaw seems to have been passed down to my poor children and unfortunately, the “voice of reason” gene that their father so perfectly owns, lies dormant or at least will be a late blooming gene.    I hope they are late bloomers because I will have to say that the wisdom of the “Oh” gene is about a 1 on a scale 1-10 while the “voice of reason” ranks way up there with a 9.9-10…. It just comes in so handy… and it has saved our family embarrassment over and over.  (Well, not counting that I’ve just now posted our conversations for the world to read.)

But you know, so often my conversations with God are also laced with the Epiphany Factor.  Common sense can’t always play a role in conversations with God because he is so much bigger than that, but I do tend to forget so much when I talk to him.  I forget to be quiet.  I forget to get rid of barriers between us.  I forget that when he makes a promise he keeps it.  I forget that he loves me., etc.  Many times God has to jump in and, either through his word or his people, stop me and be a voice of reason.

In the Book of Job, Elihu, to a certain degree, was like that; the voice of reason.  After listening to Job and his friends, Elihu spoke some things that he felt needed to be said.  Job was wondering why God wasn’t filling him in on the reasoning of why he had to endure his suffering and wondered why God was being to quiet.  Elihu piped in and stated that God was indeed speaking ….. he was pretty much always speaking but Job wasn’t prepared to listen.

Now, we know that Job had been listening and that God doesn’t always answer our prayers in a way we can understand.  He is not always going to tell us why we have to deal with things certain things or go through certain experiences, so Elihu wasn’t completely correct there.  He did say, however, that God does speak to us in many ways, we just have to not try to put words in his mouth. He uses things to get our attention and sometimes we don’t understand what he’s trying to get from us because of our pride…. we can’t make out what God wants because we are caught up in our suffering.

I find myself in that same situation so many more times than I like to admit… even though what I experience may not be as great of a suffering as what Job went through, I will often find myself so caught up in my own suffering or uncomfortableness that I can’t hear why God is allowing me to go through it.  When I finally let go of myself and allow God to be there, he may not show me exactly why I have to experience what I do, but he at least is there to be a compassionate, protecting, listening and mighty friend who comforts me and provides a peace that I can only get through him.  Job’s epiphany factor came a few chapters later when he realized that God’s ways are best…. when I remind myself of that I so often will be given the “voice of reason” and a brand new outlook.

I’m not sure what you may be dealing with today but should you be in a place where God seems quiet or distant, a great start may be not asking why but by asking for his help in taking the focus off of your suffering and allowing him to consume it.  I may provide a peace like you’ve never known.

Job 33

13 So why are you bringing a charge against him?
Why say he does not respond to people’s complaints?
14 For God speaks again and again,
though people do not recognize it.

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2011 in Devotions, Faith, Life Stories

 

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Stop! In the name of pug….well, more like poodle.. and Nix the Resolutions

Taking the back roads has its perks.  Things like few stop lights, if any… scenery prettier than buildings and concrete… and just all around less boring…. I also like to think that they are shortcuts but often times they take just as long if not longer because of the hills and curves.  Anyway, the other morning I had stopped to grab a cup of coffee and then began rushing myself to work through the not-so-shortcut back road shortcut.  I came zooming over the hill only to come to a screeching halt….. coffee was sloshing, but no problem for me… the lid stayed tight.

I looked ahead to find why traffic wasn’t moving and there, sitting in the middle of the road, was a little bitty poodle.  He was dirty and matted and had apparently decided that the line in the middle of the road was a comfy spot.  Amazingly, that little animal was backing up traffic about 7 cars deep on both sides of the road.  The school bus that was leading the line of cars opposite of me was honking the horn…. the dog just looked up… I wondered if possibly the dog was deaf but it seemed as if he heard the noise but just was too stubborn to move.  Finally, after sitting in traffic for a bit, a lady a few cars in front of me hopped out of her and started walking toward the dog.  Still the dog sat.  The lady began yelling at the dog and clapping her hands. In essence, pushing the dog without touching him.   The dog moved…. but only a small step… she now sat in front of the bus…. the lady continued clapping until the dog finally retreated to the middle of another road.

Traffic began moving along as normal once again.  I noticed as I passed by that there was another lady who had maneuvered her way out of traffic to the side of the road to see if she could rescue this poor little, confused, dirty, matted dog.  She very gently and slowly walked up to the dog and though I couldn’t hear what she was saying, it was apparent that she was talking sweetly in that “you’re a good puppy, aren’t you” voice.   You would think that this unattractive little dog would have been excited to hop in a warm car with a sweet person who obviously cared about its welfare, but instead it barked and growled and when the lady backed up a bit the poodle took off running into a tangled brush area just off of the road.

As I drove past I could see the look on the helpful lady’s face and I think it was one of disbelief or frustration or that of helplessness.  She had done all she could do.  The poodle made its own choice.

A part of me chuckled at the whole situation… a little dog holding up so much traffic.  He got warnings and he even got sympathy but even after he begrudgingly moved, he accepted nothing from anyone and continued on the same path that he was already on. All I could think of was what a sad, little stubborn (or maybe dumb) dog.  And it was then that I think I got a little kick in my rear …. you know, I tend to be just like that little dog.  I’ll sit in traffic (theoretically, not technically) … as dangerous as it might be… and a warning may push me to move a little bit, but even at times when I am completely moved, I may run back to the same old routine. Are ya with me?

I usually don’t make  New Year’s resolutions but the New Year  is a great time to begin a new routine.  I heard on the radio yesterday morning that the average person will have abandoned their resolutions by day 18.  But I have also heard that it takes 6 weeks to create a new habit… so pushing beyond day 18 for a little over another 18 days will create a changed person.  I can imagine that if that poodle had gotten into that car, he would have been cleaned up, nourished and ended up looking like a cute, lovable little guy.  That is a good ending to a bad situation.  So what makes us stop before day 18 rolls around? Could it be fear of the unknown, fear of change, fear of failing, fear of stepping out of what is comfortable?….

But you know something else… there were two women in that situation who were very important… the one who moved the dog and the one who tried to rescue the dog… Sometimes we don’t even realize we are in the middle of the road and we need a reminder, someone to move us.  I think that is where God jumps in and does the motivating that gets us to move and provides the rescuing of our lives… maybe it is a friend or family member who urges us to get help, maybe it is an invite to church, maybe it is a song or story that is heard or maybe we look up and step out of ourselves and see the lives we are affecting (just like the backed up traffic).  Then we find ourselves at a crossroad to an encouragement, a safe place, a hope…. a loving God…..or back to the same old tangled brush.

Maybe you are a like that little dog in the road…. possibly in a dangerous situation… maybe it is a habit that is killing you,  a lifestyle that consumes you,  a relationship that alienates you, an attitude that robs you,  an ailment that embarrasses you, or a spiritual neglect that is calling you… Whatever it is, you don’t have to sit in the road or run to the tangled brush… you can hop in the car and be changed.

This can be the year to not make a resolution to change but to actually change.  That’s my prayer.

Philippians 4:13

13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

 
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Posted by on January 7, 2010 in Devotions, Faith, Life Stories

 

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Celebrate the Season-Advent Day 1- What’s in a name?

I find it pretty funny that, according to several books, my name translates to the meaning, “Graceful” or “full of grace”.  Assuming the translation refers to the art of being graceful (or “lady-like” as my mother would say),  hang around me long enough and you’ll find out how graceful I am not.  My name was not picked by happenstance… I was named for two of my aunts.  Though I could be wrong, I’m pretty sure my mother didn’t name me with the thought that either I was a graceful baby or that I would live my life gracefully just because my name translated so.

Picking a name for a child is a tough job… my husband and I had the hardest time deciding on each of our girls’ names.  Honestly, I didn’t look at the meanings of their names or if I did, I didn’t give it second thought.  I just went with the name that I liked.

My advent reading today was Isaiah 9:1-7 and I focused on the names that this prophecy gave Christ…the names were descriptive of who this “son” was going to be… Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  I love these terms, not just because I can sing them (Hallelujah Chorus), but because of what these four or possibly five names can really mean.

Wonderful- astonishing, amazing.. wonderful goes beyond good, even beyond great….. wonderful exceeds expectations and in most cases blows us away

Counselor- who can I depend on to guide me in the best direction?  Who can I confide in? Who can I gain understanding from?  Yep, it would be the counselor…. or rather, the Wonderful Counselor

Mighty God-  I love the term mighty.  From what I can comprehend about God… there is nothing that can touch Him… He is mighty and more powerful than all

Everlasting Father- Never ending…. No death…. infinity and beyond … However you best understand it, God is forever.

Prince of Peace- I’m not sure if this title is descriptive of world peace or peace within but I believe that Christ showed us how to live peacefully within ourselves and among the world

I love the fact that Christ lived up to his names…. I’ve experienced the Wonderful and was blown away.  I’ve experienced the Counselor and was guided in the correct direction.  I’ve experienced the Mighty God… so much power and never backs down… fights the enemy for you.  I’ve experienced the Everlasting Father…. time is of no issue… He is always there.  I’ve experienced the Prince of Peace…. there have been times when I thought my world was falling apart or times when I was broken… Peace came in and rescued me..

Christ lives up to his name…Just one of the many reasons to celebrate the season and the hope that it brings.

Isaiah 9:1-7

1 Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory.

2 The people who walk in darkness
will see a great light.
For those who live in a land of deep darkness,
a light will shine.
3 You will enlarge the nation of Israel,
and its people will rejoice.
They will rejoice before you
as people rejoice at the harvest
and like warriors dividing the plunder.
4 For you will break the yoke of their slavery
and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders.
You will break the oppressor’s rod,
just as you did when you destroyed the army of Midian.
5 The boots of the warrior
and the uniforms bloodstained by war
will all be burned.
They will be fuel for the fire.

6 For a child is born to us,
a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor,[d] Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 His government and its peace
will never end.
He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David
for all eternity.
The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies
will make this happen!


 
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Posted by on December 2, 2009 in Devotions, Faith

 

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“Hey, Jephthah… You might want to change your shirt” -A not so common Bible story

Anyone who knows me knows that I am not much of a morning person.  I love a beautiful sunrise …… but only in photos.  There is not too much I love about mornings except maybe the concept of a snooze button.  Now, in reality, I would love to be an early riser who could get up about 5:30am and go jog (if I can get up at 5:30 then, yes, I can also jog), come home and fix my family breakfast, have my daily quiet time and then take my time getting ready and still be on time to work.  Yes, that is the way that I would love for it to be but I’m pretty sure that even though it was a recessive one in my parents, I believe that I was given an “unearly” gene somewhere in my system.

My mornings are more like this….. hit the snooze button,  hit the snooze button,  hit the snooze button…. get out of bed, stand somewhere between the bed and the bathroom, stare at something until the snooze button goes off again…. slowly go about waking myself up while I manage to get dressed, fix breakfast and get my youngest ready for school.

How safe it is for the rest of the world, I don’t know…. but because of my husband’s work schedule, on most school day mornings I am the one who delivers the youngest to school.  The fortunate thing is that she attends the school in the building where I work.  Some mornings I stay at work when I take her but often I will return home for some quiet time and finish getting ready for work time.

The other day was one of those hurried mornings.  After rushing to get her to school, talking to her teacher, stopping on the way back to the car to have a detailed conversation with two other parents, and running into my office, passing a multitude of parents, I decided to slow my morning back down by stopping at the nearby food mart for a cup of coffee.  Once home I made my way to the mirror for a makeup refresher and noticed something that completely woke me up……my shirt was on but it was on inside out!

Now, you might say that was not a big deal… even stopping to chat with others or going into a public place… it could have been a lot worse and you are probably correct.  It is just the thought of what people may have thought…. it was actually pretty funny (though I had no one to share the humor with) but I laughed, corrected the error and went about my regular routine.

Funny how no one told me that my shirt was on inside out…. maybe they didn’t care, maybe they didn’t want to embarrass or offend or maybe they just didn’t notice… regardless of the reason, if I hadn’t gone back home then I would have really made a fool out of myself at a later time during that day.

Life is kind of like that.  People live their lives seeking and searching and filling voids with “stuff”… actually living life inside out or upside down.  They think they are on the right path but have it mixed up just a little… It is not something uncommon or distinctive of our day and age.  The Bible has stories that took places thousands of years ago and are totally relative to living inside out.

Jephthah  was a prime example of finding out that, though his intentions were good,  he was living inside out.  The story is one we often don’t hear … (I definitely know why it isn’t taught to children…unless you want them to have nightmares).  Jephthah lived in a time period when the Israelites were caught up in idol worship.  They knew about God and even worshiped Him to some extent but their faith was intertwined with false religion… making it easy to get confused about exactly what God wanted.  So, Jephthah was apparently quite the warrior…. he was winning battles but his call out to God to defeat the Ammonites had a twist to it.  Jephthah made a promise to God (remembering that breaking a promise to God was a law that if broken would have been sin… and there was no grace of a savior at that time).  He told God that if he would let him defeat the Ammonites then he promised to sacrifice to God “whatever was the first thing to come out of” his house when he arrived home.

Jephthah defeated the Ammonites, so being a man of his word he headed home ready to sacrifice the first thing that came through his door.  Now I’m not sure what the guy was thinking.  Maybe he was thinking that his beloved dog would come running out to greet him … yes, that would be a sacrifice.  Maybe he was thinking his mother-in-law would step out the door to see who was coming… yes, that would be a sacrifice…a sacrifice maybe or a blessing.  Maybe he was thinking that it would be his wife… maybe he pictured her coming out of the door saying,”Well, it is about time you came home.  Do you know while you and your little warrior buddies were out galavanting all over the countryside I have been here cooking and cleaning and raising a family.  Now get in here and help me already.”  Yes, that would be a blessing… er, uh sacrifice.  In reality though, he had to know that if that was his home then something of value to him would walk through that door and that is exactly what happened.  His precious daughter came out singing praises to God because her father had won against the Ammonites.  He grieved and told her of his promise to God…. she understood and agreed that he needed to keep his promise and Jephthah killed his daughter as a burnt offering.

So what is so “inside out” about keeping a promise to God?  Probably nothing if it was actually a promise that God would approve of (however, I’m not so sure how God feels about cutting a deal with him) but that was the problem.  Jephthah had his faith mixed up with the false religions of those around him… nothing pure about what he believed.  And because of that mixed up faith he ended up doing the unspeakable…. he was no different that those around him.  He definitely needed someone to tell him to turn his shirt inside out.  That what he was he was doing was honorable but not necessary.  There was a wholesome way to give praises to God that did not require a human sacrifice…. those kind of sacrifices were left up to the believers of false gods.

People today are still caught up in living inside out.  They seek another unhealthy relationship just to fill a lonely heart. They drown their sorrows in substances trying to hide pain.  They work more hours to avoid facing a relationship struggle. They leave a relationship just because they want something new.  They try to find answers through seminars and self help books…..I would say most of the time I am completely guilty of not sharing what could fill the void.  Why is so hard to let them know that they might want to change their “shirt”?  Maybe it is because we don’t care. Maybe it is because we don’t want to offend.  Maybe it is because we didn’t notice…. If I am guilty of the first two then maybe I need to evaluate how much I want to see them make fools of themselves later because I didn’t say anything.  If the last one is the case then maybe I should find out why I didn’t notice…. maybe I might find out that my shirt is on inside out too.

 

Judges 11:21-39

21 “Then the LORD, the God of Israel, gave Sihon and all his men into Israel’s hands, and they defeated them. Israel took over all the land of the Amorites who lived in that country, 22 capturing all of it from the Arnon to the Jabbok and from the desert to the Jordan.

23 “Now since the LORD, the God of Israel, has driven the Amorites out before his people Israel, what right have you to take it over? 24 Will you not take what your god Chemosh gives you? Likewise, whatever the LORD our God has given us, we will possess. 25 Are you better than Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab? Did he ever quarrel with Israel or fight with them? 26 For three hundred years Israel occupied Heshbon, Aroer, the surrounding settlements and all the towns along the Arnon. Why didn’t you retake them during that time? 27 I have not wronged you, but you are doing me wrong by waging war against me. Let the LORD, the Judge, [c] decide the dispute this day between the Israelites and the Ammonites.”

28 The king of Ammon, however, paid no attention to the message Jephthah sent him.

29 Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah. He crossed Gilead and Manasseh, passed through Mizpah of Gilead, and from there he advanced against the Ammonites. 30 And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD : “If you give the Ammonites into my hands, 31 whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the LORD’s, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.”

32 Then Jephthah went over to fight the Ammonites, and the LORD gave them into his hands. 33 He devastated twenty towns from Aroer to the vicinity of Minnith, as far as Abel Keramim. Thus Israel subdued Ammon.

34 When Jephthah returned to his home in Mizpah, who should come out to meet him but his daughter, dancing to the sound of tambourines! She was an only child. Except for her he had neither son nor daughter. 35 When he saw her, he tore his clothes and cried, “Oh! My daughter! You have made me miserable and wretched, because I have made a vow to the LORD that I cannot break.”

36 “My father,” she replied, “you have given your word to the LORD. Do to me just as you promised, now that the LORD has avenged you of your enemies, the Ammonites. 37 But grant me this one request,” she said. “Give me two months to roam the hills and weep with my friends, because I will never marry.”

38 “You may go,” he said. And he let her go for two months. She and the girls went into the hills and wept because she would never marry. 39 After the two months, she returned to her father and he did to her as he had vowed.

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

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Tell me about it, Moses P. Diddy Hall…

flipperI don’t know why I have such high expectations for the animals that I choose to own.  Maybe those expectations were formed because of reruns of great shows such as Flipper (though I never owned a dolphin), Lassie or Fury…. or maybe it was Lady, my cousin’s collie who was incredible well behaved… or Babe, my uncle’s dog that was showbiz intelligent…..or Benji. How could I forget Benji? Whatever the reason, with a little training, I knew it couldn’t possibly be that difficult for my very own dog to become something of legend… nothing short of a human on four paws.

So let’s see, first there was Gustavia.  Gussy was a little white poodle who chased cars, chased cattle and rolled in manure… smart dog.  Then later came Rascal.  An adorable little dachshund that turned out to be an incredible bully in the amateur dog show circuit.  Then there was Sam.  Another poodle who, for all practical purposes, was a pretty good dog, but he did bark at himself in the mirror. (Wouldn’t it be funny if people acted surprised to see themselves in the mirror each time?) There were more pets down the line… Buddy 1, Buddy 2, Bandit… and some cats, hamsters, and even a skunk (Yes, you read that correctly) but none have met the superstar expectations that I have believed in for so long… that is, until recently… .

Now, our ever-lovable shih-tzu, Moses P. Diddy Hall (a.k.a. Moe) is a dog that when told to sit, he sits…. well,  he might lie down…. or  possibly he will continue to go about what he was doing.  He is also a dog that wears a diaper… well, technically it is a “belly belt” but you get the idea.   Moe also knows to get in his bed when told, he knows to “hit the rock”(our family’s ultra hip term for shaking paws), he knows to go to the car when the van door opens.   He even hates hanging out at the dog park… he waits by the exit gate until we are ready to take him home.  See, it is hard for me to decide if either Moe is very intellegent and just pretending to be a dog to get out the whole “work dog” group, or if he is just like all of my other dogs in the past…. just a regular ol’ dog.   I have been leaning toward the regular ol’ dog thing for quite some time, that is, until one night not too long ago. Moe at Dog Park Gate

Moses P. Diddy Hall is not allowed to be on the couch.  He has his bed. He has his spot near our feet.  He is totally fine not to be on the couch, but on occasion there are those special times where we give in and give him some supervised couch time.  Such as it was on that evening when I was certian that Moses P. Diddy Hall would be paying for my children’s college education.  I was sitting on the couch and Moe was comfortably resting on my daughter who was on the couch next to me.  Allison’s position was perfect as she laid on her back because if I turned my head slightly then Moe and I were face to face.

As Moe and I looked at each other, just as usual, I said something to him.  I can’t even remember what it was but when I said it, something amazing happened.  Moe began to talk back!…. and I’m not talking barking kind of talk… it was conversation kind of talk.  Now, I might not have thought anything about it if I hadn’t seen the youtube clip of funny talking dogs but I knew Moe was trying to tell me something.  I kept asking him, “What is it, Moe?” And he kept voicing something that was clearly a concoction of vocal movements that were trying to form words.  To get him to continue his talking ability I started looking at him and saying things like, “Mama” (I never think of my dogs as kids so this was very awkward for me) and ” I love you.”  Moe would look at me and try to repeat it.

I was so excited I could hardly believe it.  I had a plan. He and I were going to work on this daily until he could speak in conversation.  I started counting the dollars in my head.  I called my husband, who was out of town (explanation of the couch time that Moe was getting), and told him the whole story.  He didn’t share my enthusiasm.

The following day, Moses P. Diddy Hall and I went to work.  I got down in his face and began talking to him.  “Mama,” I said.  Moe looked at me.   “Mama,” I continued.  Still Moe looked at me.  I changed my pitch.  I changed my tempo.  Moe looked at me then cocked his head and looked away.  It was time to change my game plan.  I began the whole, ” I love you” verbiage.  Moses P. Diddy Hall looked at me and walked away.  I didn’t get it.

I began telling my story to anyone who would listen.  My husband, my other daughters, but it was while I was telling a friend about my incredibly talented, Hollywood bound dog that would surely be whisked away to star in his own movie, when my hopes and dreams for him came to an abrupt halt.  Allison felt it was time that she stepped in and prevented me from the inevitable… making a fool of myself.  She quietly pulled me to the side and said, “Mom, I was blowing in his face.” It seems that the only reason Moe was “talking” was because he apparently doesn’t like to have someone blowing in his face.  I was stunned. Moe is just a plain ol’ dog …. he is no different than any other dog that I have ever had.  After the initial shock of the whole confession, I found it all quite funny.  Fortunately, I was halted from looking like a fool and fortunately, I listened to what she had to say.

I wish faith was that simple.  You know, something like….we may be a bit out of line, acting foolishly, forgetting to include God in our everyday life and then we are told we are being a bit foolish and we fall back into line…. that would be simple.  I guess sometimes it might be that way, but there are those other times when we get so busy doing the right things in life that we may not realize we are doing them on our own…..depending on our human ability rather than trusting in God’s ability.   In Galatians, Paul comes down pretty hard on the people.  He even states that they are being deceived and they don’t even realize it because they are so caught up in living by the religious law that they have forgotten about what Christ did for them/us all.   Still today, we may not be in Galatia, but we still tend to lean on our human ability, thoughts and decisions rather than allowing God to guide our way. I wonder what would happen if we all began to lean on the gift God gave us rather than wearing ourselves down and eventually looking foolish……

If Moses P. Diddy Hall really had the gift of gab, I’m sure he’d have the answer.

Galatians 3

1You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? 3Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? 4Have you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing? 5Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?

6Consider Abraham: “He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”[a] 7Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. 8The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.”[b] 9So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2009 in Devotions, Faith, Fun, Life Stories

 

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American Idol …. Stay Away From Me..,,,Well, You Don’t Really Have To….

Don’t you hate it when you tell yourself, “I will never…. ”  and then you do it? Like for instance-

“I will never gain that weight back”- 20 pounds later while sipping on a milkshake you wonder why your pants feel tight

or …

townandcountry“I will never buy a red car much less a minivan”- “Ma’am this van has everything you want and at this price it won’t last long…”  SOLD!

or….

“I will never keep the puppy if I constantly have to tell you girls to take care of him”- He is four years old.. you know where I’m going here

or….

“I will never be like  ‘cough,cough’ and be hooked on some reality show”- I get sucked into the American Idol tunnel two nights a week and can hardly wait for the next week’s show…

In my defense I like American Idol for several reasons-

  • Our whole family can watch it and worry very little about being surprised with foul mouths or sex talk
  • You can actually see some great singers as well as unbelievably eager but not so great singers
  • You can pick a favorite and watch how far they go(I actually picked one winner from his very first audition and I think I have again this year)
  • My favorite reason- the stories behind the people

I love watching the stories of the people who are participating.  Sometimes it is of hardships they have overcome or sometimes it is a little something about their life that helps them stand out. Like a few years ago there was a contestant whose father was in prison and she was raised by a loving grandfather, or like this year a contestant is young but is a widower… or even another one this year, Scott, who actually went home tonight, is the first contestant to ever be on the show that has been visually impaired.  As he left tonight he was praised for his encouragement for others.  Scott’s story, shown on the big screen week after week, showed that Scott isn’t that much different from anybody else…. He lived the life that was given and was grateful for the good and worked around the inconvenient. scott_macintyre_210x202

I think that is the great thing about faith… it has a way of turning the bad into the inconvenient.  Inconvenient is something that kind of messes up things or is that road that you really didn’t want to have to travel but it still gets you where you need to go.  Without faith, it is hard to see beyond the bad. It is in those bad times though that we are able to decipher if our faith is real… it is easy to have faith in the good times… that is the genie in the lamp kind of faith.. or then again, maybe that is not faith… our faith shows up in the dark times….faith is believing what you can’t see… yep, dark times… it is the hope in the midst of the faith that turns that bad into inconvenient.

We all have a story.  We all have traveled the road of inconvenience or darkness… some maybe even are traveling it now.  As we say goodbye to Scott this week on American Idol we can hold on to the “never” that God has promised us….

Deuteronomy 31:6

6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

God’s “nevers” are true…. Have faith and be blessed

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2009 in Devotions, Faith, Life Stories

 

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Pride vs. PRIDE…… will the real jerk please stand up…

In the past few days I’ve had to do some dealing with pride…. I think there are two different kinds of pride- the first kind of pride is the standard definition of pride… something to the tune of the “quality of being proud” or “a reasonable self respect.”  When I have worked hard at something and it meets the goals that were created there can definitely be a sense of pride in a job well done.  I’m not so sure that there is anything wrong with that … But there is also the other definition of P.R.I.D.E.  –

Personal

Respect

In

Doses

Exceeding

(Necessity)

I suppose maybe that is more likely PRIDE(N) but you get the picture… this is the kind of pride that gets us into trouble … this is the kind of pride that keeps us from allowing ourselves to be humble… this is the kind of pride that is not only dangerous but can be hurtful… this is the kind of pride that make us look foolish in the end anyway…

My daily reading led me to the story of Balaam and his donkey. (Numbers 22:21-24)

The story in a nutshell is about Balaam on his way to visit Balak who thinks Balaam will place a curse on the Israelites for him.  On the road, Balaam’s donkey suddenly takes off into a field.  He gets so upset at her behavior that he beats her and she gets back up on the road.  Then the next thing the donkey does is as they are passing through a walled area she pushes Balaam’s leg up against the wall and again he gets upset and beats her. Finally the donkey just stops and lays down… again, Balaam(seems like such a pleasant guy)takes his frustrations out on her.  This time, little miss donkey has had enough and turns around and asks Balaam (yes, she spoke) why he keeps hitting her.  He said he was embarassed (his pride was hurt) because she was making him look like a fool in front of others who were supposed to respect him.  Little did Balaam know that his faithful donkey was only protecting him from an angel that the Lord had sent that would have probably killed him and Balaam finally sees the angel and is so sorry for his actions.

So all of this takes place and I noticed something… The writer of this acts as if a donkey speaking is a natural thing.   There are no double takes from Balaam and his traveling crew, nor are there any out of control screams of horror or even laughter… there is nothing.  So here is my take on this… Balaam was so focused on his pride and looking like a fool that he forgot he was conversing with a donkey…and I’m pretty sure looked pretty foolish anyway..

Yep, that is the way PRIDE(N) works… or at least in my life… I focus on what I don’t want others to see because it may embarrass me only to find myself talking to a donkey I end up looking foolish anyway.  There are times I don’t ask others for help and it haunts me later…

Are you experiencing PRIDE(N)?  Balaam saw what he had done wrong… and he was sorry…. me too.


Numbers 22:21-34

21 Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey and went with the princes of Moab. 22 But God was very angry when he went, and the angel of the LORD stood in the road to oppose him. Balaam was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him. 23 When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand, she turned off the road into a field. Balaam beat her to get her back on the road.

24 Then the angel of the LORD stood in a narrow path between two vineyards, with walls on both sides. 25 When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she pressed close to the wall, crushing Balaam’s foot against it. So he beat her again.

26 Then the angel of the LORD moved on ahead and stood in a narrow place where there was no room to turn, either to the right or to the left. 27 When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she lay down under Balaam, and he was angry and beat her with his staff. 28 Then the LORD opened the donkey’s mouth, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?”

29 Balaam answered the donkey, “You have made a fool of me! If I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now.”

30 The donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?”
“No,” he said.

31 Then the LORD opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown.

32 The angel of the LORD asked him, “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me. [i] 33 The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If she had not turned away, I would certainly have killed you by now, but I would have spared her.”

34 Balaam said to the angel of the LORD, “I have sinned. I did not realize you were standing in the road to oppose me. Now if you are displeased, I will go back.”



 
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Posted by on March 4, 2009 in Devotions, Faith, Fun, Life Stories

 

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Where’d She Go? … Falling down again…

Several weeks ago a nice little rainstorm came into our area and left behind some reminders in our yard.  We have one area that, though it seems to drain well, doesn’t get a lot of sunlight so it takes a while to dry.  The ground is very soft and in the summer, even in dry times, is very mushy so you can imagine what a good winter rain leaves it looking and feeling like… pretty much a muddy slip and slide.

It seems that with three daughters we are always trying to rush to get to where we need to go.  This story begins on what just happened to be my oldest daughter’s birthday celebration night.  We were all rushing to go meet grandparents at a restaurant and impatience was running rampant.  My husband and oldest daughter were in the other car while our youngest and myself were in our van.  We were waiting for our middle child.  She knew she was holding everyone up and could probably sense our frustration so when I looked up I noticed that she was rushing to the passenger side of the van.  I looked back down and continued digging for something really important in my purse when I noticed in my peripheral vision … pretty much a slow motion scene… I noticed her laying horizontal in midair and then disappeared… It was like a magic trick gone wrong… Being the sympathetic and compassionate mother that I am,  I laughed….and got out to check on her.  As I rounded the hood of the van there she was sitting in a cushion of mud.. Now, Allison has always had the ability to be a tad bit dramatic… well, really a lot dramatic especially when sympathetic mom is not being so sympathetic … so now was her time to shine.. She was not about to fall, have mom laugh at her and then not make us all feel guilty for it… So she got up, with tears in her eyes and a cracking voice, held on to me as she limped her way into the house to change clothes… something was surely broken… Well, apparently Cheddar’s can cure a broken something because she was fine and laughing about the whole thing a little bit later…

Now, you would think that Allison and I would have both learned our lessons… Her little drama was remembered and smiled about from time to time but for the embarrassment she experienced (our neighbor asked her later if she was okay) and for the guilt that I endured, it was not something that any of us wanted to relive…

Well, then it snowed and rained ice and our driveway became a downhill skating rink.  Again, we were running late for something and I was digging for that ever important something in my purse when I looked up and noticed Allison coming out to the car.  I went about my business and the next thing I know, Allison was once again, horizontal in midair and then disappeared.  I knew better than to laugh.  I quickly opened my door to get out and check on her and I saw her shoulders bobbing up and down and I heard laughter so I joined in… I felt a sense of relief as I was able to laugh this time, not at my daughter but with with her.  As I made my way closer I laughed a bit harder and louder… my daughter looked up at me with tears in her eyes and said something like, ” I can’t believe you are laughing at me!”  It was at that moment that I realized that Allison wasn’t laughing after all, she was sobbing.  She got me again, I was completely guilt-ridden.  I tried to comfort her by explaining that I thought she was laughing and so therefore I thought I had the freedom of sharing a humorous moment with her… She looked at me like I was crazy.  I helped her up, nearly falling too, and directed her back to the house so she could get dry clothes on.

So, two times down (literally) and one to go… Tonight,  for a change, I wasn’t truly in a hurry but my daughter was.  She was semi-pushing for us to make our way out to the car, but for whatever reason I was able to get there before her.  I was doing my thing … you know the routine by now… looking in my purse for something important when I saw her coming to the car.  It had been about six weeks since the first fall and about three since the other so they were long forgotten… but quickly remembered when I, once more, saw Allison disappear …. This time though,  it was a bit different. Before I even had time to maneuver my way out of the car to check on her, she popped straight back up, looked at me through the window and laughed… she shrugged her shoulders and said, “I’ll be right back.”  I chuckled as I watched her go into the house to change out of her muddy clothes…

You know, I fall quite a bit too.  Not physically fall so much, but I fall in other in ways.  I fall in patience, or understanding, or compassion or giving of my time… those are just a few of many.  Falling isn’t really the same as failing.  Failing is at the end of the road, falling is a bump in the road.  After each fall, Allison went back inside, changed clothes and finished what she had started.  She may have been a bit dramatic about it but she didn’t let it keep her from doing what she had intended.

I don’t know where you are as you read this… maybe you are feeling a bit overwhelmed after a fall… maybe it is a health fall, an emotional fall, a financial fall, a spiritual fall… maybe you really don’t have the support that you need to help you get up after that fall.  Sometimes those falls are easy to pop up from, other times a good cry is a natural precursor to getting up and then sometimes we can be totally embarrassed or angry… whatever the case may be, Christ is there with a hand held out to offer you help and hope… holding that hand and allowing him to be the strength is what directs us home….

Mark 5:35-43

35While Jesus was still speaking, some men came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher any more?”

36Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

37He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. 38When they came to the home of the synagogue ruler, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. 39He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.40But they laughed at him.
After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!“). 42Immediately the girl stood up and walked around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. 43He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.


 
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Posted by on February 19, 2009 in Devotions, Faith, Fun, Life Stories

 

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Five o’clock in the Morning is not a Myth after all….

I’ll be the first to admit that I am not a morning person. My family, close friends and co-workers can vouch for me here.  Fortunately, I’ve never had to travel any distance in the morning to work or school that would require me to get up extremely early.  In fact,  until this morning I thought 5:00am was a myth.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve stayed up many late nights and I’ve seen the clock pass by 5:00am, but in those cases I just thought it was some fluke of nature or science.  You know, kind of a Quantum Leap or a Close Encounters type thing.  I’ve also been up at 5:00am when the girls were babies.   But again, I thought that was only caused by some postnatal hormonal collapse or something… Regardless, I never realized that I could ever get up at 5:00am and be civil much less star in my very own sitcom episode…

Here’s how the episode played out….My thirteen-year-old daughter plays violin for orchestra at school.  They won some award that gave them the honor of performing a special concert in front of the governor.   Like any normal performance they have a certain look they must achieve.. black pants and white shirt… but this time her teacher added something a bit more to the attire…. She told them to look “elegant”.  Well,  apparently elegant means curls in your hair because my daughter asked me to do the honors of curling her hair so she could sleep in them.  When all of the curlers were in we laughed a little about her curler head appearance and then she went on to bed.

This morning I made sure she got up (well, lets just say I set the alarm) at 5:00am to finish getting ready.  Just as I was about to doze back to sleep I heard this howling laugh coming from the other room.  I covered up my head and was just thankful that she hadn’t woken up anyone else .  Then the laughter came again only this time a bit longer.  Then I heard footsteps and she stood at the bedroom door and said, “Mom!  You have to see my hair!!”  I uncovered my head, squinted my eyes and turned to look…… she began singing, “Animal Crackers in my soup…” and “On the Good Ship Lollipop..”  My first reaction was to say… no, it was 5:00am, “say” is too gentle……My first reaction was to yell,  “What are you doing?!?”  And I did….. but when I did, I saw what was making her laugh…. at that very minute, I was stunned as a 5 foot 3 inch Shirley Temple stood at the bedroom door… It was a remarkable resemblance.  I know, I know… it was early in the morning but I’m telling you I know the secret to Shirley Temple’s hair.  .  shirleytemple1Allison continued her song and I jumped (literally) out of bed to get a closer look… My daughter kept bobbing her head and singing.  I couldn’t stand it, she was hilarious and her hair was horrible!!  I began using my fingers to loosen up the curls but like those little animals that grow when exposed to water,  her hair started to expand.  It got bigger and bigger and bigger.  Again, we doubled over with laughter.  Finally after about 15 minutes of laughter, intermingled with trying to create an elegant (wasn’t happening) look, my daughter shook it all off an put her hair up in a ponytail.  We even laughed at the ponytail’s awkward appearance… looking somewhat like a second head.

As all sitcoms seem to do, our “episode” ended with a happy ending when I dropped her off at school.  As she walked into the school I thought to myself, “this is a morning I want to remember.”  My teenage daughter was incredible.  I was so proud of her….If I had been in her shoes I would have probably been sobbing  in my room and trying to figure out how to get out of going to the performance.  She didn’t though,  she remained calm,  laughed it off and used plan B; the ponytail.

What an example she set. After all, why do we worry?

Matthew 6:25-34

25“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life[b]?

28“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2009 in Devotions, Faith, Fun, Life Stories

 

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