"Blessed is she, who has believed, that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished." Luke 1:45

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The forgotten clue

I totally should have included this one!

Clue #6

"Break his heart, I`ll break your face!"
Video

80's Movies Clips

So, my post this week is neither spiritual nor musical (for the most part), but it is sooo much fun! I have been feeling...retro...shall we say. I think I am rebelling against being 33. Why is that you may ask? I don't know, I will answer. Maybe my soul just wanted to have a little fun this week.

I just wanted to hop in the old time travel machine and go back...waaayy back...

You get a quote as a clue. Try to solve it before you click the video link.

Let me know how well you did!


Clue #1

"I don't want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don't want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don't want to do that."
Video



Clue #2

1)He can really cook can't he? 2)Yeah, although for grilled cheese, I might use the wool setting. 1)That's what I told him. 2)Really? What did he use? 1)Rayon. Silk would have been too soggy. Cotton would have burned it. Fortunately, he consulted me before giving it steam. I was four square against it.
video


Clue #3

I'm scared of everything! I'm scared of what I saw! I'm scared of what I did! Of who I am! Most of all I'm scared of walking out of this room and never feeling the rest of my whole life the way that I feel when I'm with you!
Video

Clue #4

(1) You know I just love it how you're always trying to straighten out someone else's life...(2) Well whenever you want me to straighten out yours, let me know.
Video

Clue #5

"Hey, I like that hat, man. They sell men's clothes where you got that?"
Video


For songs that actually inspire and have some relevent meaning to growth, friendship and other assorted things, click on the link in my right hand column!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Trying to live the prepositional phrase

Reading along in the Bible and there are all the horrid things that are going on and how we all stumble and fall and fail...then two words happen.

but God


Every time I see "but God" I get excited to read what comes next. You see, God doesn't leave us there, forget us, forsake us.

We are sinful...but God forgave us.

We are sinful...but God is merciful.

We are sinful...but God is just.

We are sinful...but God is loving.



For all the falling down, messing up and tearing down I have done, I take the "but God" and refuse to hear the "but Shannon".

How often do I stop myself and grant the grace and mercy needed to the people in my life that need it most? If I am to be a "little Christ" I need to start every action and thought of my life with "but Shannon".

Oh how this hurts... to know that I don't live that little prepositional phrase.

How must if feel to my kids to know that instead of telling me of a mistake and recieving the reaction "but Shannon is merciful" they get a frustrated Mom who forgets to give the mercy that is needed.

How must it feel to my husband to not receive the peace of "but Shannon is loving" on those days when I decide that he didn't live up to the expectations I placed on him, ones he didn't even know were there.

Struggling to obtain this Little Christ heart means remembering that I am no better, no stronger, no holier than any that cross my path and striving to live a life that responds with "but Shannon...".

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Set Apart ~ Part 1 ~ Teen Devotion

Set Apart ~ Part 1

This week is a little different. There is a lot of practical application that makes up this week’s devotion. And it is all found in scripture.

You constantly hear us telling you to strive to be set apart from the world. We tell you that it is so important to guard yourself and test yourself. Do you still wonder what that looks like? Are you unsure what you are supposed to test yourself for?

Sometimes God lays it all out there word for word (as in Colossians 3:1-10), sometimes he wants you to apply his teaching on a specific topic to your personal situation. It is important that you read scripture always with your thoughts analyzing the scriptures against every aspect of your life.

Example:
Just because God is talking in the confines of adultery (Matt. 5:27-30) doesn’t mean that the lesson is only for those that are married. Replace the word adultery with your personal struggle. Is it cheating, lying, sex with your boyfriend/girlfriend, drugs, alcohol, cutting, an eating disorder? And when God says it is better to cut off the part of the body that is causing you to sin, it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to cut your hand off for stealing. It means you need to take steps to remove yourself from the temptation and the opportunity to steal (in other words, take responsibility for your thoughts, attitudes and actions and work to correct them, in whatever method you need to).


1 Peter 2:9-10
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.




1 Peter 1:13-16
Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."



Romans 12:1-2
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.



Titus 2:11-14
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.



Galatians 5:16-18
So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.



Matthew 5:27-30
"You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery. But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.



Colossians 3:1-10
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.



That might seem like a lot to take in, but when you think about it, it is all covering the same things. God says the same things over and over because he understands that we are too stubborn to get it the first time. Or the second. But what you need to be aware of is that even though God knows we will most likely not get it right the first time, he still expects us to try.

You might think that it is too hard to do all the things God asks of us. You would be right. It is too hard. If you don’t trust God to carry you through and give you the wisdom and strength you need.

Next week part 2 will be all about God’s faithfulness to give us strength, knowledge and power to set ourselves apart. No, he doesn’t do it for us. We have to do the work. But he is the one that makes it possible.

What Nots

So, I haven't really updated you on the whole "just life" moments going on around the SeeSaw home. Here are some of the what nots that have transpired over the last few weeks.

  • I turned 33. My Dear Hubby likes to rub it in that I am older than him, but I take comfort that he is only a few months behind me.
  • Bob was able to get a new garage door at a super cheap price. We now have a functioning garage again! It is so nice to be able to put Abby in her car seat when it is storming without being drenched in the process. Plus, the old garage door had bowed out so that it looked like we had so much junk in there that it was about to bust the door off. Kinda embarrassing. Now there is no indication of how much junk we have. ;)
  • I am getting close to finishing the redecoration of our living room. We have a large red sectional and dark woodwork and hardwood floors. To keep the room from being too dark I painted the walls a very soft yellow and then used bright colors of marine blue and Illini orange to brighten it up. I only have a few things for the wall and a new rug and this room will be done!
  • Kevin was Paul Revere in a living wax museum at school. He had to memorize a one minute speech (which with his learning difficulties was done with very hard work!) All the kids in his class lined the hall and had an "on" button next to them. Their classmates, parents and teachers could then press the button and they would give their speech. I thought this was very creative and wish I could have seen it (I had to work but the Hubby got to go. He said Kevin did a great job!)
  • Kevin has also started baseball. This is his first year of kid pitch. He is doing well. He is one of the few kids on his team that has a pretty powerful arm, so he is in outfield. Not a lot of action, but he does a good job. His batting is consistently improving. It has been hard to switch from machine pitch to kid pitch, but he is getting better at calling the ball as it is coming.
  • Abby is growing waaay to fast! She is really smart. One of her favorite things to do is sit on the couch and play with her flash cards. She is also in love with the "pick up, pick up" game. Singing the words in a cute little voice.
  • OK, I KNOW that everyone says their kid is super-smart, but Abby really is!
  • she is also in the middle of an allergy/sinus infection. After three days of gooey eyes and runny nose she managed to vomit mucus all over me. That's when I said enough is enough and took her to the Dr. for meds. Praying she is back to full health soon!
  • I am still at Loving Arms. I have been struggling with working as many hours as I do. I would really like to cut them down but haven't seen how that will work yet. I just know that God did not give us the gift of our kids so that someone else can raise them.
  • I just had my colonoscopy and it came back clean. I don't have to reschedule again for 5 years. YIPEE!
  • I am still struggling with the high blood pressure when I work out. As long as I don't do anything that requires bending too far or face-down work like push-ups I don't do too bad. It is just another frustrating thing about my body that really gets to me.
  • I went to the medical supply store and got my order turned in for my compression socks. Yes, I have to wear them because of the swelling in my legs.
  • I would like to have a full body transplant please!
  • I am working on a batch of Amish friendship bread. Tara, does that count as homemade bread?
  • Bob and I decided to go on a second honeymoon next year since we didn't really have a first one. Just a few days in St. Louis. I really want to go to a lot of places so am struggling to figure out where to go. Plus, I have an almost-phobia of new places. I LOVE doing new things and meeting new people, but going somewhere that I have never been and not knowing how to get around absolutely terrifies me. I think I am going to have to try to trust him to do the planning. Everything I plan to do scares the living daylights out of me so I have to quit!
  • I think I am very close to getting my hubby to take dance lessons with me!

Well, I think that is about it for now. School will be out in a few days and we are planning a few fun things over the summer. Kevin will be on a rotating schedule of Nana and Papa's house, day camp and time with Mom (Tuesdays, my day off!:). Bob and I will be going to camp with the youth group next month, Kevin will be going to camp for the first time in July (gasp!), we are planning a trip to Indianapolis to go to the zoo and children's museum and possibly a weekend away for just me and the hubby (oh to dream big dreams!). I will have lots to update over the summer. Just pray that this summer DOESN'T involve any more trips to the ER for Kevin!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Blogger Appreciation Week

Blogger Appreciation Week

My friend, Daveda, is hosting a "Blogger Appreciation Week" this week. I am excited to join in and hope that you will as well! Whether or not you intend to join into the "Blogger Appreciation" portion; I hope that you will consider visiting the wonderful women noted in this posting.

How to join in the fun:
  • Title one of your posts from May 25th-June 1st "Blogger Appreciation Week"
  • Share why you blog, why you like to write, how reading the blogs of others has touched your heart, what God has done in your life through blogging, etc.
  • Tell us about some of the special people you have meet
  • Include the titles to one or two of your favorite post so that those visiting your blog for the first time can read them. After you have posted, go to Daveda's blog (Grace talk with Daveda) and enter your link into Mr. Linky!
  • The next step is to visit the other blogs on the Mr. Linky, and make sure you LEAVE A COMMENT of encouragement! Tell others how their blogs have touched you and what you liked about their writing, their life...etc. If you read through other postings and have a comment please leave ALL comments under the "Blogger Appreciation Post" just name the other title related to your comment, this way we can all read through, and you will be sure that blogger sees your comment next week. If you like what you read become a follower and make a new friend! We all love new friends!

Here's a little about me

I started blogging because my friend April had a blog and told me how fun it was. I wasn't sure what exactly I would blog about, or really even the purpose for it. After looking at a few others I decided it was to be like an on-line journal. My entries were few and sporadic to begin with. I wasn't sure exactly what to say, what to write about or even if it was something that I wanted to do.

Something funny happened. I discovered that I loved trying to put into written word what I was going through, feeling or struggling with. Who knew!? (OK, we all know WHO knew...HE knew).

I generally don't have an issue struggling with talking about what is going on in my life. I like to talk about what I learn from the Bible, what God is doing in my life, and how much I love Jesus, so that's what I decided to talk about.

I arrived at the title focused on the center because I am all about ups and downs. This is especially true in my spiritual life. It was during this time that I figured out that if I kept my focus on God (the center of all I am) then no matter if I was in an "up" season or a "down" season, my center would be steady and unchanging. What image better demonstrates that then a see saw (thus my user name, SeeSaw Faith).

I have been genuinely amazed at what God has been able to do through my blog. I have had great conversations with women from all over the world, I have had the honor of visiting other blogs where I have been able to witness awe-inspiring stories unfold, and I have grown spiritually by working to put my life in paragraph form.

There are women that I would love to meet face to face one day. Until then, we blog, e-mail, pray and praise together over the world wide web. Here are just a few...

My friend Shanda at A Teachable Heart. She has such a gentle and funny soul. There is so much richness to be experienced when you drop by to visit her.

I have a kindred spirit over at Giggles 'n Gulps. Not only is Tara someone who would TOTALLY be on my short list of late night girlfriend giggle fests, but she has a great, random way of glorifying God in ways that I never think to look for.

I have just discovered Susan over at Runner Mom. She has lots of things in common with the P31 woman, but in a really real, totally relevant, entertaining and learn-from-it kinda way.

Chatting at the Sky is really opening up to me how to really SEE the people in my life. To KNOW why they are there, and how they work together with me to make up my life; you know, the story that GOD is writing. Emily writes in an simple, eloquent and touching way. Sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, sometimes inspiring quiet. Her photos are beautiful, as is her soul.

I have to admit...I read The Preacher's Wife because I can get some really good insights into what might bless my own PW. Sure, she is my friend, but sometimes I want to be able to support her and bless her without having to dig it out of her. That's why I started anyway. But once you start reading Lisa's blog, you see how real, talented and passionate she is. Not just at her calling as a PW, mother, wife and friend, but as a woman who wants to honor God.

In my right hand column is a list of blogs that I visit, as well as several links to memes that I participate in. Each is home to a wonderful woman who seeks to glorify God and the work he does, but in many different ways.

There ya go. Several women who will bless you in many ways. Each is so very different, but we are all united in our love of Christ and trying to figure out just what our place in the Plan is.

How We do Sunday School with our youth group.

Today in youth group we were learning the story of Samson and Delilah. The other leader and I decided to make it a little fun so we let Tim Hawkins help.

We couldn't get the video to work this morning, but we did have the audio.




Yes, I'm sure you feel the need to pray for our teens. Please do!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Glorious

Glorious ~ I LOVE this song and this performance is ROCKIN'!

Our God Reigns ~ I love the graffiti on the veil. How often do we forget all of the things that our God reigns over, instead allowing footholds to Satan. What a great reminder that God reigns over the small and seemingly insignificant, just as much as the mighty and moving.

I would have loved to have been there to worship with them in person!




For more inspiring songs, head on over to Then Sings My Soul Saturday by following the link in my right hand column.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thankful Thursday

I haven't posted a thankful entry for several weeks. What is wrong with me?!?

1. I am sooo thankful that my colonoscopy came back clear. This is the second one I have had. I don't mind the procedure, but I sure do hate the prep. Then, of course, my mind goes crazy the night before and I totally stress out because I am POSITIVE that they will find something. Of course, they didn't find anything and I am cleared for another five years.

2. I am thankful for my kids. Not for any reason, other than I love them. I still struggle with figuring out Kevin, but I am assuming that that will not change much in the coming years. After all, I have never been a boy, which means I have never been a pre-teen guy, or a teenage boy. I am sure I will be even more confused in the years to come, but will take every second of it. Abby makes me smile and makes my heart happy. I am stocking it up now. She is way too much like her mother for us to continue having a peaceful relationship. The girl is a stubborn spitfire and I am proud as all get out over her.

3. I am thankful that I got to go out to dinner with my hubby. We haven't been doing too much fun lately, focusing on getting our bills caught up and taking some big chunks out of our debt. It is so hard to keep at it when all you want to do is get away for the weekend and relax. We are persevering though, and it is paying off (ha! Get it, paying off? I kill me!) We are planning a family vacation the end of June. It will just be 2 1/2 days, but it is going to be so much fun and I am soooo excited.

4. I am thankful that focusing on paying things off and getting caught up has made me more appreciative of the things that we get to do. I don't take any pleasures for granted, since we haven't got to experience them lately. They seem even more like blessings when we do get to do something special.

5. I am thankful for Jesus' stubborn Love. That man just doesn't let go, no matter how awful, distrustful, disrespectful, obstinate, whiny, lazy, self-centered, self-serving and ugly I get. He still loves me. Ya, he really, really loves me. That is some stubborn Love and I am so grateful that is is attached to me.

For more inspiring Thankful Thursday posts follow the link in my right hand column.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Letting God be Lord

Sometimes I get really involved with myself. You know...how am I going to handle this, what do I want, how can I move forward, why didn't they think of me, why didn't they ask my opinion, they hurt my feelings.






For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back from captivity.
~Jeremiah 29:11-13a

I spend a lot of time seeking my own council, thinking about what I want, and focusing on my plans for myself. I don't know about you, but God is rarely the first person I turn to when trying to plan my day. He is also not the first person I turn to when I get my feelings hurt, or I am scared to do something.

In verse 12 God clearly states that we will never know his plans for us, his hope, unless we call upon him. We are to pray over EVERYTHING. But not just a "hey God, you there?" will do. We have to seek him with "all our heart".

I was watching the above video and was really honed in on the fact that we "call upon" God, but we only want him to be our confirmation of what we have already decided. We tend to stay in our struggles and fears because when we call on God, we go with a list of things that we are willing to do and things that are acceptable to us. We are telling God that we will only do this much, and then he should divinely take care of the rest. As long as we don't have to get too messy or do work that is really uncomfortable or hard, as long as God comes through with the result we want, when we want it, we will give it to him.

What would it look like if we didn't go to God with any thought but giving our situation to him? No desire for God to fix it, no intention to get God's approval of what we have already decided. What if we truly just poured out our heart and thoughts to him, and then sat in silence and listened to His guidence?

What if we accepted whatever God told us, no matter how hard to do, or how much it would cost us? What if we truly made God our Lord?

Verse 13 is what would happen. We would be brought back from our captivity.

Captivity comes in many different forms. We could be slaves to relationships, food, status, fear, money, situations, failures, frustrations and expectations. What would your life be like if you were not held captive by your current struggle? You would more clearly be able to see the plans for hope and future that God has for you.

Today I would like to encourage you to take your struggles to God, without expectation or desire, other than to hear the voice of your Lord, his direction and his love.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

But when he says it twice...

If you have never read or received a Proverbs 31 devotion in your email inbox, I would love to encourage you to sign up for them. It is a free service through the Proverbs 31 site, and it is a great way to always have a new devotion without worrying about keeping track of another book.

I received a devotion last week from Renee Swope called Failing Forward. It was the devotion I received on my birthday actually. It was wonderful and I really encourage you to follow the link above and check it out, but come back.

So, you're back and you read it, right?

Well, it was really timely for me when I read it. I felt encouraged by it, and considered it a good devotion and moved on. I thought about it off and on for the next few days, but wasn't making the connection that God was trying to show me.

Cut to Church today...

We had a really great message on being a lukewarm Christian. My pastor asked the question of who felt that God would find them to be lukewarm, something God would prefer to vomit from his mouth (Revelation 3:15-17).

This question completely broke me. I have only been putting in the motions lately in the ministry that I am called to. I have been phoning in my parenting because I am struggling to come to terms that I have to be a mom who works outside the home more hours than I want, and I am just too tired and frustrated about not getting to do all I WANT to do, that I haven't been giving my all to the things that I NEED to do. I also have not been honoring God in my friendships. I haven't been investing in them like I should and I have not been honest with them about what I am struggling with.

So, while I was making all these connections in my heart, one of our deacons came over to pray with me and my hubby. He had not one clue about what was going on in my heart, just that we raised our hand that we would like prayer. He prayed with us and he asked God to encourage us to fail forward.

huh?

Say what?

Did he seriously just say "fail forward"?

That is NOT a common phrase. I have never heard it before.

No, wait.

Yes I have.

In the devotion that kept running around in my head.

The one I got on my birthday.

CONNECT. THE. DOTS. GIRL.

If God says it to you once, you should pay attention.

If God whispers it to you again, in the prayer of a friend, girl, hit your knees and thank Him for loving you enough to keep saying what you need to hear.

God wanted me to know that he saw my struggles, and he saw the way through, but I had to keep going. I had failed and stopped. I hadn't failed forward. No pushing through, trusting God to work within my failures to complete his plan. His plan stopped when I did. He needed me to move forward so his plan for me could continue on.

If you are struggling with failures of any kind, please go back and re-read that devotion linked above, then hit your knees and KNOW that God can work it through to his glory, but you have to keep moving forward.

I am so glad I have a patient God, one who is willing to say it twice.

The Test and The Talisman ~ Teen Devotion

Part 1

The Test

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?
~ 2 Corinthians 13:5


Test: a critical examination, observation, or evaluation, the procedure of submitting a statement to such conditions or operations as will lead to its proof or disproof or to its acceptance or rejection, a basis for evaluation, an ordeal or oath required as proof of conformity with a set of beliefs

Have you ever taken a critical examination of yourself? Not "let's list out all the things I like about me" but, "Do I truly believe what I say I believe?" It's a hard thing to look at. We all shy away from it. Who wants to find out that we have not only been lying to others, but to ourself as well?

Have you ever submitted a statement of faith to the conditions of your life to see if what you say you believe is proved or disproved in your life? We lie so well, that we can lie ourselves into thinking that we are doing pretty well. We've all done it. But if you take a statement and hold it up against your actions, what is the final conclusion? Proved, or disproved?

Have you ever been in a situation where your actions or words could either prove or disprove what you say you believe? What was the outcome?


Here are some questions that need honest answers:

Do my actions show that I trust God?
Do my actions show that I place God first in my life?
Do my actions show that I strive to follow Jesus' example?
Do I place more importance on God's opinion of me than I do the world's, and do my actions show it?
Am I willing to lose my friends, my status, my material goods, my GPA, my starting position on the team so that I can put God first?
Does my life line up with scripture?

Like it or not, you will be tested. If you don't do it, God will.

Choose to test your faith now. Figure it out. Turn from the things, attitudes and desires that will cause you to fail and start strengtening your faith by your actions. You can choose to believe that God is who he says he is, and can do what he says he can do and jump into life and live it radically for him. You can choose to follow Jesus and no matter the situation, have peace and joy knowing that God is with you. You can choose to praise God no matter what.

or...

God can bring HIS testing on your faith. Are you absolutely sure that your faith is strong enough to handle it? Will you make it out the other side? Will you have peace and joy to sustain you through whatever he brings? Don't think so. Know so. If you don't test your faith and prove it true, Satan will be more than happy to test your faith and prove it false.

Part 2


The Talisman

Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, "In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out." Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. (One day) the evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?" Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.
~ Acts 19:13-16



Talisman: an object held to act as a charm to avert evil and bring good fortune, something producing apparently magical or miraculous effects

In the above verses we see seven men using the name of Jesus to drive out evil spirits. Not only is the evil spirit not afraid, he actually beats them bloody, strips them of their clothes, and sends them running in fear into the streets.

Now, you may wonder, if they were casting out demons in the name of Jesus, how could they have been so beaten and humilitated? The answer is there.

(One day) the evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?" (verse 15)


They had lied to themselves, thinking that they were powerful in the name of Jesus, doing his work in their world. In actuality, they were professing to a faith that they didn't truly have. Because they lacked a true relationship with Jesus, they did not receive his power and protection. They were trying to use Jesus to work in their power, they were not working in his.

Too often in the world today, we want to use Jesus as a handy talisman. Call on his name to get us out of trouble or to bring us blessing and all without any work or struggle on our part. We don't want the discipline, the work or the study and commitment involved, we just want the magical result.

If we are using Jesus as a talisman, without any true faith, we will fail every test. Just as those seven men were sent beaten, bloody and terrified into the streets by satan, so will we be. Maybe not physically, but mentally, emotionally and spiritually we will be defeated if all Jesus is to us is a magic talisman.

Application steps:

1. Get Focused: Ask yourself the questions in part one above, then ask yourself, do I have true faith to get me though the test to come, or is Jesus a talisman in my life?

2. Get Purpose: You have to decide what you want in your life. Only you can decide if you have a true faith in God and the power of Christ. Do you want the power offered there, or do you want to try to make it through in your own power?

3. Get Wise: Test yourself against scripture. Do your actions line up with Christ's? Do you know Christ's teachings? Read the new testament and hold your life up against what you learn there.

4. Get over it: tests will come. We can prepare and be ready or we can hope for the best doing it on our own. Just remember, no matter what you believe or don't believe, the tests will come.

One to get you started:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Ephesians 6:10-13

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Invisible Woman

I have really been struggling with feeling insignifcant and unnoticed lately. I know God sees me, but in my human-ness, I want to feel seen by the people around me too.

If you have been struggling with this same feeling, this video is for you.

Happy TSMS Saturday.




For more inspiration, click on the link in my right hand column.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

No Obligation ~ Teen Devotion

Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.
~ Romans 8:12-14



I really don't like these verses sometimes. OK, a lot of the time. It goes against what I want for myself. It takes away my reason for not trying to come out of the sinful habits and attitudes that I have.

I like being selfish. I like having an extra piece of cake. I like not having to restrain my natural response to people and situations and just let go with whatever I am feeling at the moment. I like spending money on things I don't really need instead of paying off debt or saving it. I like doing pretty much anything that will keep me from reading the Bible. I like doing things that will bring me glory from my friends and family, even if they have no eternal value.

We like to use the terms "too hard" or "I can't" but they are simply not true if we are children of God. If you have received Christ as your only hope of eternal life with God, and if you have truly given your life here for God to do with it as he pleases, then you have also received the Holy Spirit, which will guide you and give you all you will need to stand firm against your sinful desires, attitudes and actions. Ugh. We don't like that do we?

Romans 8:12 states that we have no obligation to do what our sinful nature urges us to do. Simply put, no matter what you struggle with or what sinful nature you have in your life, you have to change it. It doesn't say that you will easily give it up, get over it, and get on with your life. It says that you can't use "I can't" or "it's too hard". They simply aren't true. God equips you with all the power you need, all the instruction it will take, and his people to support you. But you have to actually WANT to change. Verse 14 uses the term "led by the Spirit of God".

You choose what will lead you. Your wants and desires, or the Spirit of God. Putting God first looks a little like this: I will choose to put others first instead of myself. I will choose to only have the food that God has provided as fuel for my body, not continue eating because it tastes good. I will choose to keep control of my tongue and my attitude, and immediately confess any harmful attitudes or thoughts to God, and then ask him to help me change the way I see others. I will choose to put my desire for that new flat screen, new phone, new computer, new outfit, vacation, night out, etc. aside and get rid of the debt that I have so that I can more fully and freely honor God with my finances. I will spend time in my Bible before I even think about putting in my ear buds, turning on the computer or TV, or cracking open the latest best-selling book. I will put more of my time and energy into glorifying God than glorifying myself.

There is never a time when the excuse of "I can't" or "it's too hard" is acceptable. If we were truthful with ourself and with God, we would simply say, " I don't want to" or "I don't care". Just be careful, because in verse 13 we are very clearly told that if we live by the sinful dictates in our life, we will die. Just so you fully understand, that isn't just talking about physical death. The things we choose, the attitudes we have, what we glorify and what we put first in our lives tells us clearly if we have a true and living relationship with God. Praying a prayer as a safety net to keep us out of hell is not a relationship with God. Matthew 7:16-23 tells us that just calling on the Lord will not save us. It is only when we truly give our life to him, repent, and turn from pursuing the things of this world by allowing the Holy Spirit to lead us can we be sure of our standing with Him.

Application steps:

1. Get Focused: You are not under obligation to live by your sinful nature. Spend some time in focused prayer, asking God to show you if you are choosing to live by it, or by his dictates, and if so, in what areas.

2. Get Purpose: Do you truly want a relationship with God that is active and living? Repent of the things in your life that you have not allowed God access to, or which you have chosen over him. Choose to repent and follow Jesus.

3. Get Wise: Get in the Bible every day. Just because you want to change doesn't mean it will come easily. You need to be putting God's word in your thoughts and in your heart every day. Ask someone that demonstrates a dedicated life with God to hold you accountable. CHOOSE to put God first.

4. Get over it: We will always struggle with putting God first. The world is full of things that seem more fun, make us feel good, and makes us happy. But only for awhile. Those short moments of selfishness are not worth the eternity without God that they lead to. No matter how good it feels, if it isn't putting God first, don't choose it!


One to get you started:

By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.


"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'

~ Matthew 7:16-23

Saturday, May 9, 2009

TSMS Saturday

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!





For more great songs follow the link to TSMS Saturday in my right hand column.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Made from scratch





a three-word phrase divided into thirds and then expounded upon. . .


MADE FROM SCRATCH


MADE
: Made by hand. I love to make things by hand. My scrapbooks that I spend waaaay too much money on. Casseroles. the environment of my home. bows for Abby. Decorations for my front door. It's the little touches that I make myself that make my house my home. I put my heart into the things I make and take great joy in providing for my family through my creativity. Sure, most of the stuff I make is flawed in some way, and it almost never turns out like I envision it, but the meaning and my desire to create for those I love is in every single thing. If I can find that much meaning in the things that these little flawed hands can make, how much more overwhelming is the amount of love that was poured into our home by God? His hands are perfect, and he creates nothing with flaws. It is perfect in his eyes. I like to look around my little section of the earth, what I call home, and see all the little special touches that God places there for me.


FROM
: Seeing "Where it came from". When Abby gets a little stubborn, I know where that came from (ya, it's me :). Watching the way that Kevin moves and his physical gestures and habits, I know where they came from (his dad). My love of planting, and then killing said plants, that came from my mom. I get my sense of humor from my dad. I have my mom's hands. Kevin has his dad's build. Abby has my curly hair. There is a sense of continuing on when I see something of me or Bob in our kids, but there is a huge sense of comfort when I see something of my parents in me. When my mom passed away I felt like I lost a huge part of myself, but finding little bits and pieces of myself that came from my mom helps me to stay connected to her.


SCRATCH
: One of the worst scratches that I have ever experienced was when my cat was sleeping peacefully on my chest with his paws and head resting on my shoulder (yes, he is a HUGE baby). My hubby came in and slammed the door and scared the tar out of said cat. He dug his claws into my shoulder and launched himself off of me, leaving huge cat-scratch welts on my shoulders and stomach (those were from the blast-off of his hind legs). Those scratches and welts burned and itched for a loooong time. I still remember it clearly and that was about a year ago.



If you would like to participate in Thursday Threesome, head over to Wild Olive Shoot.

It's really fun!

Making fairy gardens

I have seen fairy gardens for several years now, but have never had the time or funds to make the one I wanted.

My friend April sent me the link to a blog that had the idea to make container fairy gardens. I wish I had saved the link because I do not remember who it was. I would like to link you to her so that you can see what she did. My gardens don't have furniture yet. I am still on the lookout for some super cute patio furniture for one, and hopefully some Adirondack chairs for the other.

The best part of my gardens? I had an amazing helper. Check out the pictures below!


I let her decide what flowers went in
(by the ones that she dumped into the containers!)

I LOVE THIS PICTURE!

I was so proud of her. She just stuck her hand in the potting soil bag and went to town putting the soil in the containers by the handful.


How cute is this little gardener?


My mom would have absolutely LOVED this idea as well as seeing that her daughter and granddaughter are carrying on her love of plants, as well as her silly and whimsical side.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

May I have some discipline please? ~ Teen Devotion

"Blessed is the man you discipline, O LORD, the man you teach from your law" Psalm 94:12


"Welcome to Burger King where you can have it your way! May I take your order please?"

We like to have it our way don't we? Everything customized to bring us the greatest pleasure and joy. It's human nature. We consider ourselves, our wants and our desires first. But just because it's human nature doesn't mean that it's right. We become so accustomed to getting things our way that we will ignore and reject anything that doesn't fit in with our desires and comfort.

When's the last time you opened your Bible and said, "Can I have some discipline please?" or "God, test my faith by shaking the foundations of all I believe." How about, "I don't feel that I am being tried enough in my walk, please help me look for ways that I will be persecuted for my faith in you." Or, one I struggle with, "I am not content where I am. Please leave me here until I find my peace in you alone."

We want the Bible to give us the hope that Jesus promised and we will search for and believe every scripture that promises it to us. That is, when we bother to open our Bible. Mostly we just live on the belief that if it makes us happy and brings us joy, God wants it for us.

The thing is, when we pick and choose what we believe in the Bible, when we reject the discipline and testing and only accept the promises for hope, peace and joy, we are actually taking away God's ability to give us those things.

Hope comes in the knowing that no matter what we face, God is there, and that we have an eternal life, free from the pain and heartache in this world, awaiting us.

Peace comes in the strength we receive from God. in the knowing of his word. In the following of his commands.

Joy comes in the aftermath of a battle fought and won on the spiritual battleground.

What is so unique about the above three statements? Each is based on testing and discipline that we recieve from God.

Without the discipline of God, we will not make it through the testing that we WILL face. If we don't make it through the testing, we will never know the hope, peace and joy that comes from a life lived in Jesus.

The testing will come. The thing you need to ask yourself is this: Is the faith that I am trying to custom order, this fast food faith, be enough to get me through?


Application steps:

1. Get Focused: Are you customizing your time in the Bible so that you don't have to be convicted or uncomfortable by what you read? If your time in the Bible never makes you uncomfortable, convicted, or even embarassed by your attitudes, words or actions, change the things you are looking for. We all sin, stumble and just plain mess up.

2. Get Purpose: Seek out ways for God to grow you through discipline and direction. What are some things that you feel are keeping you from being truly dependant and growing with God? Ask God to help you get those things out of your life.

3. Get Wise: Get in the Bible every day. Don't look only for things that make you feel good about yourself. Ask God to grow you, change you, and prepare you through his word. There is an endless opportunity for you to be refined in your walk when you read the Bible. Make it your habit, every day.

4. Get over it: The world is focused on self-esteem. What does that mean? It means you and people making you feel happy. Get over it. Self-esteem doesn't matter. How you are esteemed in God eyes is all that counts. Your happiness and joy can only be true and lasting if it is found in Christ alone.


One to get you started:

"He who ignores discipline despises himself, but whoever heeds correction gains understanding. The fear of the LORD teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor."

Proverbs 15:32-33

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Marvelous Light

This is one of my all time favorite songs. I love to sing it...I love to lift my hands and spin around to this... literally. I love to see the light that I have found. The marvelous light.

Ya know.. these lyrics couldn't get any better.

I have asked several people to make sure this song is played at my funeral. Ya, not traditional, but if you have every met me, read anything I have written, or listened to the music I love, well, you know I am not traditional. And you know what, when my funeral comes, I will be running into marvelous light...to the life that I have found. My life eternal with Jesus, and I want everyone to praise that.

So ya, I want this song played at my funeral. I don't care if it's next month or when I am 89. (Wouldn't this just be the coolest song ever to play at a 89 year old's funeral)?

BUT! Until that time comes, I am gonna sing this song as a great celebration of the life I have found here. That I have NOW. Join me!



Head on over to Then Sings My Soul Saturday by clicking the button in my right hand column. There are tons of great songs to be found!