Monday, May 21, 2007

The Real Life

If you read my last post you will know that I made a list of things I hope to accomplish this summer. The first item on my list is daily devotion to the Lord. I referenced I Timothy 4:7b-8, which says, "...and exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come."

I like the term Paul uses in this verse, exercise. We need to exercise ourselves toward godliness, it doesn't just happen. We need to exercise toward it. It isn't something you get all at once, we have to move toward it.

Paul goes on in verse eight and points out that, "bodily exercise profits a little". From my own personal experience I'd say Paul hit the nail on the head when he said that. The older I get, the harder I have to work to sort of maintain this earthly tent.

A few years ago I joined a women's fitness club with the intention of losing a few pounds and getting in shape. I was pre-forty at the time and with discipline and diligence I did manage to do just that. I really enjoyed that club (it was not a franchise of the one you hear so much about) and I looked forward to maintaining my fitness level at this club. Then, the owner sold and the new owner wasn't able to keep the club open. I was bummed out and didn't really want to go anywhere else to maintain. Within a few months everything that I had worked so hard for went south (literally). So I went ahead and joined the nationally known women's fitness club. Now I'm post-forty and I need to work even harder to get back to where I was. Bodily exercise isn't something you do once and wha-la you're done, it's something that you have to keep at and as you get older it seems to take a little more effort.

The question I ask myself though is how much does all that bodily exercise really profit me in the long run. I may get a couple of extra years to live but I have no control over that. It's in the Lord's hands anyway. Okay, my clothes do fit better and my physical quality of life is maybe better than most. But statistics show that 10 out of 10 people eventually meet their demise. If that's the case then the really important things I need to be concerned about is where I'm moving to when I do meet my demise and how am I doing in knowing the Lord while I'm still here.

Paul tells us that "godliness is profitable for all things." It is profitable in how I think, in what I choose to spend my time on, in my relationships with others and particularly my relationships with my husband and family. It is profitable in how I spend money, in how I serve the body of believers and in what I choose to read and watch. The list goes on and on. Godliness has the promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come. Life now and life to come hold promise when we exercise ourselves toward godliness. I think it is because when we are exercising toward godliness we are building our relationship with the God who saves us. We are learning daily more and more about Him, who He is and how much He loves us. When you know the author of life then the life He authored (yours and mine) holds promise. Promise of deep down joy that does not disappoint. Promise of peace that passes understanding especially in the midst of trial. It is the real life. The one every person hopes for and that those who place their trust in the author of life find.

I hope that you who are reading this have found this real life. The one that is real and filled with promise. Jesus told us He is the way, the truth and the life and that no man can come to the Father except by Him. If you haven't already, I hope you will pray a simple prayer that puts your life in the hands of the author of life. It doesn't have to be a fancy prayer. Here is an example of one below.

Dear Jesus, I put my life in your hands today. Please forgive me for
my sins. I turn from them today. I believe in you Jesus. Please help
me in this new life with you. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen

If you prayed this prayer, please let me know so that I can be holding you up in prayer as you walk in your new life with Him.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Of Lists and Sonshine

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. - Philippians 4:13"

I made a list.

This is a hard thing for me to do. I don't, in general, like lists. They make me feel constrained, hemmed in, a slave to the list. Some little thing in the back of my brain kicks in and I feel driven to finish the list. This may be due, in part, to the fact that I tend to be a procrastinator. I wait until the ninth hour to start working on the list and then get grouchy and upset with myself for not starting sooner. Then I get grouchy and upset with myself for making the list in the first place.

Never-the-less, I made a list.
As I get older I am finding that I don't remember all the things that I want to do. Or I forget important things like appointments and birthdays. Or I forget toilet paper. So I have found myself making lists. My husband is very proud of me. He likes lists. He likes writing down everything he needs to do on a Saturday with a little line next to it so that he can check it off when he finishes the task. He likes making the same kind of list for me on Saturdays. I hate it. I generally only get half of my things done and at the end of the day I'm left with a list of mostly undone things. I feel like a failure. It's depressing.
Never-the-less, I made a list.
Homeschooling has been a motivation for making a list. A list is like a map. If I make a list then I know what I need to teach, what the kids need to learn and whether I've successfully gotten from point A to point B.
So, I made a list.
My list for this summer is sometimes specific, sometimes very general but it is a list. It has fun things on it and things that make me tired just thinking about them, still, it's a list. It is my map for this summer and hopefully I will navigate it successfully.
Here is my list.
1. Daily devotion to the Lord, digging deep, strengthening myself for the school year ahead and seeking what the Lord most wants me to teach the children. (I Timothy 4:7b-8)
2. Organize: closet in hallway, school carts, books and shelves, cupboards under sinks, shelf in Son's room, purge!
3. Paint: both bathrooms, hallway and doors and moldings.
4. Clean carpet in family/school room and hallway.
5. Prepare Unit Studies for next year, gather materials and organize (more lists!).
6. Make homemade ice cream on 4th of July.
7. Take the kids to the lake a few times.
8. Read aloud daily with the kids, go to the library frequently.
9. Practice my guitar.
10. Sleep in on Mondays.
11. Entertain friends a few times.
12. Go to the fair, maybe even ride a ride (hee hee)!
13. Really enjoy my vacation with my husband. :)
14. Lose 5lbs. - exercise 3 -4 times a week.
15. Can and dry apples and peaches like crazy in August. Make this a family affair with harvesting, a lesson in food safety, peeling fruit, cutting it up, etc. etc.
16. Plant a small garden - have the kids help tend it daily (watering, weeding, harvesting).
17. Do some crafts with the kids.
18. Learn how to play marbles with the kids.
I think this is a list I can live with and feel okay if I don't get everything done. There are no little lines next to my list. I like that. It will bother my husband a little. But it's a list.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

My Life Verse

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

My mother gave me this verse as I lay on a gurney in an emergency room after my first (and only) serious accident. (I have had a few fender benders since then but PTL, I was not seriously injured). I'm not sure that 19 year old girl really believed her at the time. In fact, there would be a lot more situations in the next few years in which she would give me that verse. But, being the headstrong, rebellious young woman that I was, it would take still many more years to see how God took all the things that happened and worked them for good and continues to work them for good AND give me beauty for ashes.

As the years go by there are different words in that verse that have new meaning for me. In the beginning the words that resonated for me were "things work together for good". I must admit to thinking it was some sort of magical formula that only God knew and somehow he took all the things that happened to me and made them good. It never occured to me that some of the things "happening to me" might actually be a result of my own sin. Don't worry He cleared that up for me and He used my experiences to help others who were venturing down the same wide path.

Later, when I felt deep remorse for my sins and repented for the things I had done He showed me that He would take "ALL things" and work them for good. He is still teaching me new things from those years and working good from them. Once more, He gives beauty for ashes.

Lately the words "the called according to his purpose" and "those who love God" are what I meditate on. THE called. Not just plain called. Many are called but not all respond. That little word "the" carries a lot of meaning with it. THE called. Those who respond to His call and surrender their lives to His purpose. Those for whom He can work out His purpose. He has a purpose for us all, the question is will we surrender to it? It's always good. Never second best, or sorta good. And the surrender, if I love Him won't I do that? He sacrificed His Son and all He desires from me is to love Him. To surrender to Him so that He can do ALL the good He desires for me.

God is so good (all the time!). Good seems like a highly inadequate word to describe what He does for this poor sinner. When I look at my life thus far I am amazed at His protection, provision, comfort, mercy, grace, and most of all His great love for me. He takes "all things and works them for good to those who love God, to the called according to His purpose." I'm so glad that when He called I answered. And I'm so glad He called.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

A Quick Meal

Here is my, gotta go out, won't be home 'til suppertime, favorite crockpot meal. It's really almost a no brainer and it's really fast to put together. I use both fresh and/or frozen ingredients depending on what is in my frig and freezer.


2 frozen boneless-skinless chicken breasts
3/4 Cup sliced carrots
3/4 Cup chopped celery
1/2 Cup chopped onion (I like to use the frozen, already chopped kind)
1/2 -16oz. package of egg noodles cooked (set aside in ziploc bag and refrigerate)
4 Cups chicken broth
2 Cups water
1 packet of dry chicken gravy mix
salt and pepper to taste

Put all ingredients except noodles in crock pot and turn it on. I have an older crock pot so I usually turn it on high. This can cook for as little as four hours or up to eight hours. When ready to serve take out chicken breasts and cut up. Return chicken to pot and add noodles. YUMMY!

The other thing I like to have ready to go are homemade biscuits. (I really don't like the kind in a tube.) I mix up my biscuits, cut them out and put them on my baking sheet. Then I cover them with plastic wrap and put them in the frig. When I get home I fire up the oven and put them in for their normal amount of time.

This is such an easy, satisfying supper. Whithin about 2o - 25 minutes max of returning home I have a nice, warm meal ready.