Random sharing

This week’s Five Minute Friday prompt is “share.” The idea is that you’re supposed to take the prompt and write about it for 5 minutes. Raw, unedited thoughts put to pixels.

But I have nothing on “share,” so instead, I’m going to share five minutes of thoughts with you.

water from sky

My writing is sometimes paralyzed by looking at other writers. I see certain bloggers gaining followers, publishing a book, going to conferences. It’s hard sometimes. I dream of making it big or going viral. But realistically, I know that I’m not ready for that. I’m grateful that God is sovereign and I am not, because I would screw up so many things. I’m not ready for that the way that God has shown I’m not ready to be a mom. It’s not that it may never happen – it could – but that it’s not his plan for today.

With writing, which is the point of this exercise, I’m still hesitating. I’m still holding back. Not ready to share the full story within me. Still afraid of what others will think of me. Not willing to bare my soul and share the good, bad, and ugly. Especially the bad and ugly. Until I’m ready to be transparent, whether on this blog or with friends, until I’m ready to be vulnerable, my reach is limited. My impact is blunted.

I’m not sure where this is going or what you can get out of it by reading. Perhaps you can be equally challenged to see where you’re holding back and what you should let go of. Perhaps this is just one of those FMF posts that don’t really make a lot of sense to anyone but the writer.

At least we keep writing.

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday.

Go where I send thee

It’s time for #fmfparty again. Five minutes to write on a word prompt. Last week it was welcome. This week, the word is send.train

And the first thing to hit my mind is the old children’s song:

Children, go where I send thee
Well, how shall I send thee?
I’m gonna send thee one by one
One for the little bitty Baby
Born of the Virgin Mary
Born, born, born in Bethlehem.

I’ll have to search youtube for the whole thing. It’s a little silly, especially when it gets stuck in your head. (Hey! I found a Hall & Oates version, who knew?)

Child, go where I send thee. And how shall I send thee?

train_graffitiWe have to be ready to go when/where God calls. And for some, like my friend, Eric Papp, or my sister’s friend, Sue Takamoto, it’s across the world. But for others, it may only be across the street.
Across the office.
Across the counter.
Where you are is where God is calling you in this moment.

Stop reading and look around you. This is where you have been sent. Is it a coffee shop? a bus? your living room? your cubicled office? a doctor’s waiting room?

Child, God is whispering for you to go where He sends you. It’s time. You are there. You have been sent. If you don’t know what comes next, pray to Him to show you who to reach out to, where to speak words of comfort, peace, healing, truth, and what to do next.

Go where I send thee.
I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday.

To the new year

Fireworks_tallWelcome new year.

Welcome blank slate. Welcome fresh start.

Welcome new challenges. Welcome the old faithful ones.

Welcome temptations. Welcome trials. Welcome hardships. Welcome stretching experiences.

Welcome new friends. Welcome unexplored places. Welcome firsts.

Welcome health; welcome sickness. Welcome riches; welcome empty pockets.

Welcome laughter; welcome sadness. Welcome births; welcome deaths.

If I truly believe God is in control and sovereign over this new year with its good and bad, joys and sorrows, easy and hard times, then I welcome them all. If…

…we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

…then – welcome. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for His glory in 2015.

Fireworks_long

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday.

Bombs and Relationships

I just realized that today is my four-year blogiversary! Happy, happy! So, I didn’t want to let this special day go by without a post.

This Buzzfeed video vastly amused me this week – couples trying to defuse a bomb together. I admit it. I laughed a lot at the crazy and sometimes harsh things that were said in the tense moments of trying to defuse the bombs. I also know from past experiences that my husband and I approach problems from very different angles. It can create frustration at times, but it also can create happy surprises (sometimes).

My conclusion is that we would (probably) have a decent chance at success (maybe). No, really, I totally think we could do it.

What about you? Do you think you could work through it to turn off the bomb in time?

Since this relates to how couples work together, I’d like to remind you about one of my favorite marriage resources, refineus.org. Justin and Trisha Davis are recapping their top 5 posts of 2014, so it’s a perfect time to hop over there and find some encouragement at being intentional in your marriage.

Merry Christmas from my husband and me!

Defusing bombs together since 1996!

Thanks for sharing my blogiversary with me! I’m looking forward to another blogging year together.

3 ways you can change the world

WHG_Community-Development_3Isn’t that a wish deep inside of most of us? The chance to affect huge change in the world around us?

The easiest excuse is that I’m just one person. There’s not much that I, personally, can do that will change the world.

However, there are small things that have huge impacts on others. There are ways you can give that will change the future of others who, in their turn, may be able to change a family, a community, and even the world.

One Christmas several years ago, my nieces excitedly showed me a catalog, through which they were searching for the perfect gift. They were shopping, not for gifts for themselves, but for something bigger. It was a catalog, much like the World Help Gift Catalog, and they were trying to decide if they would buy a chicken, or mosquito nets, or books for children in another country. I was surprised, but I loved the idea.

So, this year, here are three ways you could change the world:

WHG_Sustainability_41. Supply a food source to feed a family, not just for one meal, but with years of food.

  • pair of chickens could supply a family with potentially up to 600 eggs in just one year ($22).
  • A goat will provide a family with nutrient-rich milk as well as a source of income from selling milk products ($100).

2. Help a community find clean water or have access to health care, which leads to longer, healthier lives and a stronger community.

  • Participate in a clean-water project to help people access clean water or build new wells ($45 and up).
  • Help with the costs of providing a health clinic to a community ($300 and up).

3. Save someone’s future, by saving a life.

Watch a baby rescue in action in Guatemala:

Wow, that is powerful.

I recommend World Help, because Tom and I have known the founder, Vernon Brewer, since our college days. This isn’t a huge corporation, where things get lost in the shuffle. That’s Brewer’s daughter in the video. World Help works with local groups in the areas where they help, to have a greater impact in the communities.

Today, if you did not know, is #GivingTuesday. I encourage you, if you are part of a local church, give there first. But, after that, would you add a line on your Christmas giving list this year to feed a family, restore a community, or rescue a child? Together, we can change the world.

WHG_Education_4WHG_Sustainability_1

There are many other opportunities through the gift catalog that you may want to browse through. Also, today, as part of #GivingTuesday, a financial gift made to World Help will be matched at 100%.

Still

The Perfect Gift - an Advent series

I’m joining with Kate Motaung and the Five Minute Friday crowd, even though it’s way past Friday by the time this posts and I definitely took more than 5 minutes in writing.

Years ago I was home from college on Christmas break when I caught a bad cold. That same Christmas I was given a Mannheim Steamroller CD cassette (I hate to date myself, but it was a cassette). While feeling miserable and sleepy, this peaceful arrangement and hopeful lyrics were soothing to me. I listened to this song over and over and over, rewinding the tape and replaying it again and again.

Still, still, still, one can hear the falling snow…

Listen to it here; the video will begin at this song:

See why that was so peaceful and calming while I was sick?

If you ever go outside while it’s snowing, the world is hushed. All sounds are muffled, and, if you’re still enough, you can hear the snow landing on the ground or your coat in almost a shushing sound.

cat watching snowOne of the blessings of winter is the world slowing in hibernation. Tree branches are bare, flowers dormant, and cold temperatures outside keep us bundled under warm blankets inside. We need this slowing ourselves, from the busyness that sweeps us along with it.

Sleep, sleep, sleep, ’tis the eve of our Savior’s birth…

There are things we miss by racing about with our agendas and checklists. As we approach Advent, take time to be still. Sit in front of a fireplace or in a dark room lit only by the Christmas tree (whenever you may put yours up). Quiet the sounds of the TV and constant chatter – both inside and outside of your head.

The other song I find so calming on this album is Traditions of Christmas, written by Chip Davis to sum up all the warm memories that make Christmases past so heartwarming: cookies baking in the kitchen, a log crackling on the fire, laughter of family and friends nearby, the soft sound of snow falling outside, lingering scents of evergreen and cranberry, and the familiar strains of beloved carols. It’s everything I remember Christmas being as a child.

Dream, dream, dream of the joyous day to come…

If all Advent means is a baby born long ago, then there is no hope, no dream for the future. But it’s more than that. With Advent, we remember the birth in the past and look forward to God returning to earth to claim those who are His.

Are you ready to begin seeking him in earnest as we count the days toward Christmas?

***

I’m linking up with:

152 Insights to My Soul

I don’t know what you’re doing

green teaMy husband is addicted to Lipton Diet Green Tea.

I suppose (full disclosure) you could say that I’m addicted, too, but not quite to the extent that he is.

So, when we go to Sam’s Club about once a month to stock up on green tea, we don’t just buy a case or two. We buy 10-12 cases. Of 24 bottles of tea. 10*24=240 bottles of green tea. Minimum.

I stopped by there tonight on my way home from work and grabbed a modest 9 cases to get us through a few weeks. Did I mention the addiction?

What I neglected to consider is that my trunk is full of boxes, so I ended up stacking the cases in my backseat. During the ten minute drive home the cases slid or fell over as I rounded several curves. With each plastic crunching crash, I cringed. And then sighed. Now my car – like my house and my life – is a mess.

(It’s not as hopeless as all that, and I’m reminded that my mom reads my blog and hurts with a momma’s heart when I talk about hard things. But I’m learning that I can’t always stay silent to spare her further pain. To all the mommas, your children are going to go through hard stuff in this life, both when they are under your roof and years after they have flown the coop. Of the joys and pains, heights and depths of being a mom, this is one of the lows).

Where was I? Oh, yes, the mess. There’s a lot going on that I cannot control right now. I can’t fix the problem in our basement. I can’t fix my husband’s chronic pain. I can’t fix problems with relationships. I can’t fix my heart. Etc, etc. It’s all way too much for me to handle. And lately, I’ve been not handling it in very destructive ways.

Who You Are

So, I’m driving home with cases of tea scattered across my back seat and Great Is Thy Faithfulness (Jimmy Needham’s version) playing through the speakers. I found myself asking God, how? How can I sing that your faithfulness is great? How is it great?

I know the answer as soon as I ask. It’s faith. It’s believing everything I know about God as revealed in the Bible – that he is true, that he is unchanging, that he is sovereign. It’s also God’s faithfulness, not mine that I lean on. I run away. I abandon him. He never leaves me. He never stops loving me.

And, so, tonight, this is where I am. This is what I can say: I don’t know what You’re doing, but I know who You are.

I had never heard this song before today, but that line hits home so perfectly and gives me the strength to hold on for today. And then one more day. And then another.

I hope you take the time to listen to this song. I hope it helps you find faith to trust what God is doing in your life.

I’m linking up with:

The Perfect Gift – an Advent series

After an October that should have completely overwhelmed me, I’m amazed to say that this year, the first in three years, I ended the #write31days challenge more excited about writing and blogging than before I began. I can only guess at why, but it definitely seems like God is at work in my heart and, perhaps, my words.

Earlier this week, I talked with my husband about starting another more relaxed series, perhaps looking toward Advent. It’s a little early for me; I typically prefer to keep the Christmas and all its trimmings on hold until after Thanksgiving dinner. I’m realizing, though, that this year will be very different. Due to the continuing upheaval in the state of our house (see Four lessons from a flood and the follow-up, Counting blessings and revealing messes), it seems silly to even think about Christmas decorations – there’s just no room in this mess! Combine that with other circumstances which mean we will most likely not spend Thanksgiving or Christmas with family, and I’m realizing that Christmas needs to happen in my heart this year or it may not seem to happen at all.

And then this gem of a song and You Tube video appears in my inbox. JJ Heller is one of my favorites (and her smile is contagious!). The song was just released today and you can buy it on iTunes. I immediately knew this song would be my theme for this Advent season.

Have we forgotten, we need some sorting out? Clear our minds; we will find what the story is all about…

Do we remember the wonders of His love? Will our voices join with the chorus up above?
Do we remember how on that silent night there was a baby who came to recall us back to life?

Instead of focusing on the gifts to be bought or exchanged, the decorations with which to deck the halls, the tinsel and lights and Hallmark movies, I want to highlight the Savior, born of a woman, born under the law to redeem those under the law. Would you join me here every week from now until Christmas for another reminder of the wonders of His love? Together, let’s explore this Perfect Gift, given for you, given for me.

He was the Perfect Gift. He came to bring us peace. Holy Child, our King.

The Perfect Gift - an Advent series

~~~

I’m linking up with Simply Beth for Three Word Wednesday:

Day 31: Continually crushing

crushing your kingdoms

Every day for the month of October, I have participated in a 31 day writing challenge and today is the last day! If you would like to read all the posts in this year’s series, click here for the index post.

One thing I’ve recognized this month is that, while on this earth, we will never completely crush our kingdoms. We have the sin nature in us, always at war within us to regain control, to put self back on the throne. It’s part of the sanctification process that we continue to journey to be more like Christ.

To fight against this tendency, we need to learn to preach the truth about God to our hearts. Tim Chester, in the book, You Can Change, identifies four life-changing truths that we can cling to in this daily struggle:

  1. God is great – so we don’t have to be in control
  2. God is glorious – so we don’t have to fear others
  3. God is good – so we don’t have to look elsewhere
  4. God is gracious – so we don’t have to prove ourselves

This is a continual process. We are to be continually crushing the kingdoms of our own making as we grow closer to God. You can follow these steps as you grow.

  • Acknowledge: I’m completely sinful, but I’m completely loved.
  • Admit: I see the sin in my own life and I own that it’s wrong.
  • Determine: I choose turn from the sin to not do it anymore.
  • Recognize: I’m a bigger sinner than I thought.
  • Rejoice: I’m a bigger sinner than I thought, but he’s a bigger Savior than I knew.

Thank you for journeying with me this month. I hope you will continue with me as we continually crush our kingdoms and build up God’s kingdom.

Day 30: Seeking the True Kingdom

Fall LeavesYou may be asking yourself what the deal is with all this kingdom talk. It’s not normal in our day and age to talk about kingdoms. Why should it matter?

When we live for ourselves, we are focused on things that satisfy ourselves. At our worst, we hurt others to achieve the things we want. At best, we are seeking only our own good – or the good of others to promote our purposes. All of this falls short. In Isaiah, it says that the good things we do are equivalent to filthy rags:

We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

Forget the good things we try to do, which clearly don’t amount to anything worthwhile – our iniquities or sins sweep us away like the wind carries off dead leaves. A few chapters earlier, Isaiah speaks prophetically of Jesus as being crushed for our iniquities:

Surely he has borne our griefs
    and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
    smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
    and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
    we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.

God caused his son to pay the penalty of our sins, death, in our place. In exchange, we are given the righteousness of God. By faith in his name that exchange happens, and we are reconciled to (restored to a good relationship with) God.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Once that reconciling has occurred and relationship is restored, we are then free to focus on building his kingdom rather than our own. From the passage of scripture mentioned in Day 8, we set our minds on things above, not on things of the earth. We put to death the things in us that build our own kingdoms. In their place, we:

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness,humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

If you’ve never done this, would you join me as we seek the true kingdom, the kingdom of God? Recognize that your best attempts at being good are still like filthy rags in the eyes of a holy God, accept that God took the responsibility for your sin and exchanges it with the righteousness of Jesus, and then, turning away from the earthly things within you, seek to live a life focused on the true kingdom, with God on the throne.

~~~

Tomorrow is the last day of the series. You can view all the posts on this index page:

crushing your kingdoms

  • Hi, I'm Janice. I'm part bookworm and part creative. I love both science and music (and the science of music). I'm stumbling around trying to grow closer to God. Click the photo to read more about me.

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