The Pursuit of God

Have you ever set your mind to do something on a particular day and then that day comes…..and goes…..and still you’ve not accomplished it?  Two months ago I shared my excitement about a book I had just finished reading and planned to share how God has used that book in my life.  Some of you have even bought the book with anticipation of working through it with me.  Oops!  Life and distractions took over, but I believe all things happen in God’s perfect timing, so here goes.

My current favorite book is “A Woman After God’s Own Heart” by Elizabeth George.  I’ve always had a desire to grow closer to God but I wasn’t consistently and actively pursuing this in the best possible way.  After sharing my frustrations (you know….job, balancing work/home, parenting, etc.) with a friend, she led me to seek out some wisdom from the pastor’s wife, someone whose life experiences I could relate.  It was through these meetings with her (this book and the Bible) that I discovered I was focusing on what I DO for the Lord instead of time WITH Him.  This became the total shift in my priorities and perspective.  So, here are my thoughts and reflections on the first four chapters, entitled “A Heart Devoted to God”, “A Heart Abiding in God’s Word”, “A Heart Committed to Prayer”, and “A Heart That Obeys”.

One of the first things I was encouraged to do was set aside a daily quiet time, and by that I mean time to pray and study scripture.  Without that, nothing else was going to work.  None of this was new to me; I’ve been taught this but haven’t been serious about guarding this daily time with God and making Him my number one priority.  I prayed about the best time and getting up early before everyone else in my household works for me.  My daily time is 5:30 a.m……me, my coffee, my little binder (more on that later) and Bible.  I start my mornings praying over each person in my family and since I’ve been doing this with God’s help, I’ve noticed a tremendous change in my heart, my attitude, my perspective and it has trickled down to Fred and the boys.  Some of my prayers include praying that we’d have a heart on fire for God’s word; praying that God would purpose in my heart to become a woman after His own heart; placing us all in God’s hands to do with as He will’s.  Don’t start thinking that I’ve got it all together though, because I STILL mess up.  But God’s grace and mercy are there to help me start each day again.  The transformation into becoming a woman after God’s own heart is God’s work in us.  We have to place ourselves before God and let Him do as He wishes for He knows best.

To have a heart devoted to God, not only did I need to guard my daily time with Him, but I needed to say no to things which are wrong, as well as things that are good, so that I could say yes to the best things.  Anything that was taking away time from my top priorities:  God, Fred, the boys, etc, I said no to.   So, I took my cake page down from Facebook.  Decorating cakes is something I enjoy, but now I can enjoy making special cakes for my family.

Becoming A Woman After God’s Own Heart

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My heart’s desire has always been to do God’s will and grow closer to Him, but I had been going through the motions for awhile!  This November will be 5 years since Mom went to heaven and it seems that I let Satan use my grief to rob me of my joy and purpose since that day.  Emotions can control you if left unchecked and it certainly spilled over to my husband and kids.  In one of those frustrating moments, I felt led to ask a wise Christian woman to “mentor” with me as a way to learn how to better help one of my sons.  She agreed and after some thought she lovingly said, “It’s not your son that is the problem…..it is you.”  Ouch!  My toes were stepped on, but you know, she was right!  We started reading the book, “A Woman After God’s Own Heart” by Elizabeth George and that is when God began working on my heart to grow, stretch and strengthen me.  I will be honest, I didn’t always want to meet with her and some days I cancelled.  In looking back, I KNOW Satan did not want me to go because he did not want me to grow in the ways of the Lord.  Now we are nearing the end of this book and let me just say, if you have not read this book….you need to!!!  It has been life changing for me!  God has used this book in ways I couldn’t even imagine!  My husband and kids are reaping the benefits of this book as God has altered my heart, my perspective, and renewed my passion and purpose.  My heart’s desire is to become a woman after God’s own heart, much like the Proverbs 31 woman.  I will be starting this book over again on my own and blogging about it.  I welcome you to purchase your own copy, read and comment along with me here!  Let God fill you up so that it overflows to others.

The War Against Our Minds

One of my favorite places to be is sitting on the porch with a cup of coffee. I would rather retreat there than to clean the house or tackle the laundry that is always calling my name. That’s where I was this morning, along with Dr. Stanley’s In Touch Devotional Magazine. As Christians, we need to devote a portion of our day toward reading God’s word, praying and meditating on how He is speaking to us through the passages we read. I know this, yet time and time again I let other things fill my mind and day; gardening, yard work, pool, kids’ summer work packet, etc. I think about my boys and all the things satan uses to corrupt their young minds. We have to be so careful of what they watch on T.V., music they listen to, the various forms of technology – iPod’s, internet, etc. I still remind the boys of the song they were taught in Sunday School, “Oh Be Careful Little Eyes What You See…” and try my best to explain what that song means for us as Christians. As adults, the war against our minds is still there.

Honestly, today was the first day I picked up my devotional magazine. I totally missed the month of June! So, I’m starting again with the month of July. I’m only 1 day behind! One of the articles, “Taking Thoughts Captive” spoke to me this morning. Our minds are a gift from God. Just as we teach our children to “be careful…what you see/hear/do/go…”, as adults, we too must be careful. I needed the reminder today of Philippians 4:8 ~ Whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”

The wise king Jehoshaphat went into battle, led only by praise singers. 2 Chronicles 20:20-24 states, “So they rose early in the morning and went out into the Wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem: Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper. And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who should sing to the Lord, and who should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army and were saying: Praise the Lord, For His mercy endures forever. Now when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated. For the people of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir to utterly kill and destroy them. And when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they helped to destroy one another. So when Judah came to a place overlooking the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude; and there were their dead bodies, fallen on the earth. No one had escaped.” The reflect and explore question from the In Touch Magazine says, “Why does praising God dilute and defeat tricks against the mind?” From my experience, when I’m down or have had a bad day, turning on Christian music lifts me up, takes my focus off my problems and back onto the Lord. Please feel free to add your comment. I would love to read your responses to this question.

A Simple Prayer From the Heart of a Child

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on my blog but, as a wise friend reminded me, God will lead me when I need to post something.  It’s always like that with God.  His way, His timing, His plan.  And it’s always for my good! 

Last night, as I tucked my youngest into bed, I knelt beside him as he said his nighttime prayer.  It went something like this.

“Dear Heavenly Father, (Yes!  This is how my almost 8 year old starts his prayers now.)  Thank you for this day.  Please help me to have lots of dreams of Grandma Wade because I miss her.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

Awe.  I love to listen to the heart of my children through their prayers.  His prayer reminded how simple it is to go before the Lord and talk to him from my heart.  Believing with simple, child-like faith that my Heavenly Father is listening.  My youngest son still wants me to be in his room as we either pray together or he leads his own prayer.  My oldest son is at that stage where he doesn’t always want to pray out loud, so I am learning to respect that as his private conversation with God.  I certainly need to be more consistent with our nighttime routine, because it is such an important part of our day.  This is the time when we read from the bible, talk about it because they usually have questions, and pray together.  There are many things I want my boys to know and learn, but a big one is to learn how important prayer is in their lives.  Last night I almost didn’t go upstairs, but I felt a need to.  Thank goodness I listened to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, because I would have missed out on hearing my sons heart.  I would have also missed the lesson God wanted to remind me of.  That no request is too small to take to Him in prayer.  He wants us to “cast all our cares upon Him”.  Matthew 21:21-22 says, “So Jesus answered and said to them, Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, Be removed and be cast into the sea, it will be done.  And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”  In Matthew 6:10, “Your Kingdom come.  Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  I can remember my mom talking about prayer and how she always brought her requests to God, but also prayed “not her will but God’s will be done.”  Having been taught to pray for God’s will to be done in my life by my mom, this is something I want to share and pass on to my boys.

My mom passed away in 2009 from lung cancer, and although I know she is in heaven having a great time, there is still a void in my heart and life from her absence here, just as my children feel the same void.  This verse is a good reminder to me of how Christians should view death and mourning.  I Thessalonians 4:13, “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.” 

Obeying God’s call, no matter how small!

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The quote in this picture sums up my reason behind creating this blog site. I felt God speaking to my heart about sharing his truth and how he has and is working in my life. I certainly do not have a “way with words”. Some authors can write amazing sentences that vividly paints a picture in my mind! I often have beautiful conversations going on in my mind as I am making connections with verses and how God is showing me to apply it. However, by the time the words come out of my mouth, it more resembles children hurrying out of the building during a fire drill! Everyone is trying to get out at the same time, therefore my words get jumbled and it doesn’t sound quite as eloquent as it did in my mind. During one of these times, as I’m trying to share insights with my husband and it comes out wrong, he gives me this strange look as if I’m speaking another language. Or other times, as I’m having a hard time finding the right words I want to say, and end up rambling, he says “Land the plane, woman!”. Thank goodness I can laugh at myself!

Anytime I feel God leading me towards some new venture, I have an internal debate taking place. I’m not good enough. Other people can write so much better than me. What if no one reads my posts and I’m speaking to myself? LOL, you get the idea. The Pastor’s sermon yesterday was titled, “What’s in Your Hand?”. In Exodus 4:1-4 it states, “then Moses answered and said, But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say, The Lord has not appeared to you. So the Lord said to him, What is that in your hand? He said, A rod. And He said, Cast it on the ground. So he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it. then the Lord said to Moses, Reach out your hand and take it by the tail (and he reached out his hand and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand).” I can certainly relate to Moses in these verses. I wouldn’t want to reach out and pick up a snake, no more than I want to do anything that causes me to step out of my comfort zone. But as I’ve learned (and am still learning), if God calls me to do something then He will also be with me and provide all that I need to do His perfect will. My bible provides notes to some of the verses and it explains these in this way, “A shepherd’s rod was commonly a three to six foot wooden staff with a curved hook at the top. The shepherd used it for walking, guiding his sheep, killing snakes, and many other tasks. Still, it was just a stick. But God used the simple shepherd’s rod Moses carried as a sign to teach him an important lesson. God sometimes takes joy in using ordinary things for extraordinary purposes. What are the ordinary things in your life – your voice, a pen, a hammer, a broom, a musical intrument? While it is easy to assume God can use only special skills, you must not hinder his use of the everyday contributions you can make. Little did Moses imagine the power his simple rod would wield when it became the rod of God.” So, I am but a simple stick, but when I allow God to work in and through me, I can be so much more! Little is much when God is in it.

Stressed-Less Living

I have just begun my first online Bible Study using the book “Stressed-Less Living: Finding God’s Peace in Your Chaotic World” by Tracie Miles. I have read through Chapter 1 several times and each time something different pops out at me or God is helping me to see things in a clearer light. The first phrase I have highlighted in this book is “my eyes were opened”. That’s exactly how I’ve been feeling; like God has opened my eyes, or removed the blinders from my eyes to see things about myself that I didn’t really like. However, I am so glad that He did. In Dr. Stanley’s In Touch Devotional for Friday, he said “if we want to see the Lord use us, we must allow Him to get rid of the “chaff” that prevents us from reaching our maximum potential.” I don’t know about you, but I want to reach my maximum potential and not stand in God’s way of what He wants me to do in my life. I want to live the abundant life that God has planned for me. That will not happen if I do not turn over every part of my life to be under His control. Another sentence that I highlighted reminded me of my indecisiveness at times. “I felt like a wayward stick in the middle of the ocean, tossed in tumultuous waves that were constantly crashing in from every direction.” When I can’t make up my mind or I go back and forth about a decision, like a ping-pong ball, it’s usually because I have not taken it to the Lord. I’m glad for God’s patience with me and He surely knows what I need to go through in order to lead me to a path of greater understanding, a stronger faith and dependence upon Him alone.

One of Those Days!

Ugh!  I know EVERY parent has had one of THOSE days.  Where peace and harmony is replaced with whining and arguing.  When all you desire are a few quiet, uninterrupted moments to rest or get your thoughts together. Since Spring break, I’ve been trying to get myself back into the daily habit of spending time with the Lord.  However, missing a few days of reading my bible and praying consistently certainly showed in how I responded to my boys as testy situations arose.  I was less patient, more grumpy, the opposite of everything I wanted to be.  You think I would have learned by now that to be ready for anything, you first must be filled with the one who will sustain and strengthen you. How can I go from a week of bliss where everything goes smoothly in the home to a day that’s stressful? Well, for me that was due to trying to live that day in my own strength; “I can do it myself!” NOT! “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” ~ Philippians 4:13. Do I always remember and practice this? No, but God is not finished with me yet. I am still a work in progress. When I make parental mistakes, lose my temper, etc., I try to apologize to the boys so that they also learn the importance of saying “I’m sorry”. It is also a great teachable moment where I can remind them that we will all make mistakes. That’s why we needed a Savior!