Friday, February 25, 2011

What's that Smell?

As I was driving down the road the other day, the car in front of me swerved a little to the right. I quickly saw the reason as I approached the same spot.
A dead skunk in the road!
I only had time to straddle it, hoping that my tires wouldn't make contact. I've heard that even a dead skunk can still do some serious damage to the smell in your car for quite a while. Since it's been kind of warm here, I had my thermostat on outside air. Even though I didn't hit the animal, the pungent odor began filling my car. I quickly turned the vent off to escape the horrible smell.

I realize that skunks are made to put out this odor as a defense mechanism against predators. But isn't it amazing how they are still so offensive after they are dead?

We humans also put out an odor "spiritually" speaking. The Bible says in 2 Cor. 2:16
"To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume..."
This aroma of life or death can cause people to react to us without our having done anything at all to them personally. If we're not careful, we can become offended, or be defensive, and like the skunk, make a big stink!

Instead, we should be like Ephesians 5:2
"And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour."
Christ was a sweet aroma of life to the Father - and we should be the same.

I've heard there are many remedies for getting rid of the smell if you've been sprayed by a skunk. As I mentioned, even a dead skunk can be potent. Sometimes we have smelly areas in our lives where we've been hurt by others, and we think the offense is dead. Yet, if when think about, or re-tell the events it brings back the same feelings and emotions, it's like the skunk still putting out an odor. In this case, we need a remedy to completely remove the stench of offense.

Often times the remedy is simply remembering how you've been forgiven. Jesus washed away our sins, took our filthy garments and replaced them with His righteousness. We've been commanded to forgive others just as we have been forgiven. Therefore, we choose to forgive ourselves and others for all "dead" things in our past. Then we offer up a sweet smelling sacrifice of praise to God!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Change Your View

My husband wanted me to go get us breakfast this morning while he was at home waiting on the plumber. As I approached our usual "go to" breakfast stop, it was so crowded I kept driving. In the back of my mind, I remembered that our town has a Bojangles. I've only eaten Bojangles take out maybe twice in my life, and have
never been to our local restaurant. It's kind of tucked away on a side street and I usually forget all about it. So I decided to give it a try.

It was crowded on the inside, and the drive through was packed as well, but the service was very fast. I kept thinking, "I had no idea all these people come here." Suddenly it felt like I'd been missing out on something. It was such a different experience going somewhere I'd never been before in a town that I know so well.

I came home & ate my breakfast (which was very good by the way). As my usual routine, I was going to check my emails from my laptop which I keep on the kitchen table. It's a warm, sunny day, so I had my side door open and I decided to sit in the chair across from where I normally do so I could see out the door. This allowed me a different view. I normally see the creek and the woods, but today I saw the bridge going over the creek.

This week has been filled with some difficult circumstances. Of course, the enemy is trying to use them to make me feel discouraged. As I began to sit down, I noticed the different view, and immediately the thought came to me, like a light bulb...
"You need to change your perspective."
Just like I changed my normal scenery at the table, or experienced something new in my old town, I need a different view of my circumstances!

I must look first and foremost at God - when I see how Big my Heavenly Father is, everything in life seems so small. My circumstances haven't changed - but just like this morning at the table, the only real difference was that I turned my position so I had a different perspective.

Second, I need to look at every situation through the eyes of the Holy Spirit - maybe it's a moment like in 2 Kings 6:17, where Elijah prayed for his servants eyes to be open to see what was going on beyond the natural.

Last, I need to be grateful that God knows where I'm at now, but He's also seen the full picture. I choose to trust His view over mine any day!

No matter what you're outlook on life is at the moment, make sure you have things in the proper perspective.

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Work of Art

I just got back from an amazing "Art" weekend. Three of my girlfriends and I went to my Aunt & Uncle's home. My Aunt Linda is a wonderful interior decorator/artist. She was gracious enough to let us come and agreed to teach us several techniques on how to paint. I have to tell you that I have never painted anything before in my life, except a paint-by-number kit when I was a child (and I couldn't even do that well). In my mind, I was just allowing this opportunity for my friends who are much more creative and talented than I am. I was just going along for the ride...

We started painting after dinner on Friday night, and we stayed up until 2 a.m. - we got up Saturday morning, painted some more...went to lunch and browsed around the cutest little town filled with antiques, then home for more art lessons. We painted Saturday night until 2:00 a.m. again. I'm exhausted...but I had a blast!

We talked, we laughed, we ate, and we learned a lot about art. I was really touched by Linda's ability not only to teach us the techniques, but to make it so much fun. Her enthusiasm was contagious, and her generous heart to give her time, energy, supplies, and knowledge, was an inspiration.

Because she was such an excellent teacher, I was able to complete several art projects that were not half bad considering my lack of skill. I would dare to even be impressed if I wasn't comparing them to my friends work.

On one particular project we painted a landscape using pastels. I was standing next to Linda and whatever she did, I copied. If she used a certain color blue, so did I. If she took her finger and blended the colors, I did the same thing. It was my best piece of art from the whole weekend, yet strangely enough it was quite different from her piece. In fact, each one of us were doing the same landscape, hearing the exact same instructions, using the same tools, and yet all of our pictures came out with our own unique interpretation.

I think this is a perfect example of how Christians must look as we attempt to follow our Teacher(Jesus). We have the same tools (the Bible, the Church and their gifts, and of course, the Holy Spirit). Yet, each one of us represents a beautiful and unique picture of what Christ is like. We shouldn't be comparing ourselves, as we were not meant to all look the same. I am a masterpiece...and so are you!

I also learned to try new things. I would have missed out on a wonderful experience if I'd only observed and not taken part in the art projects. I didn't think I could do anything like that. It just goes to show you the importance of a good teacher. The Bible says that the Holy Spirit is our "Counselor" and that He will lead and guide us in all things. Truly knowing that will allow us to step out of comfort zone and do things we never thought were possible.

Let's all listen closely to our Teacher this week and see what amazing things He will enable us to accomplish.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Trash to Treasure

Last night I wanted a snack, so I popped some popcorn in the microwave. I had a different brand of popcorn, so I looked at the cook time on the back of the bag. It said 2 to 5 minutes. So I made an executive decision to cook it 2 minutes & 45 seconds.

Bad idea!

I went upstairs to grab something and came back down to the smell of burnt popcorn filling my kitchen. I opened the microwave to a puff of smoke and steam. Not wanting to have my whole house stinking, I carefully grabbed the bag and headed straight for the door to the deck. I opened the door and tossed it out onto the deck and thought, "I'll deal with it in the morning".

As I woke up this morning, there was a little dusting of snow on the ground. Not enough to keep the kids from going to school (yeah!) but enough to make the otherwise brown looking ground pretty.

Burnt popcorn bag forgotten, I was sitting at the kitchen table with my laptop, checking my emails. I glanced out the windows to the door on the deck and saw the popcorn lying on top of the fresh snow. Then I saw a tiny, round little brown bird come out of the bag.
He's having quite a feast on my burnt popcorn!
I watched him for about 10 minutes going in and out of the bag with popcorn in his beak.

I don't know why, but this made me feel such joy! I thought of the snow, and how hard it probably would have been for the bird to find food on the ground today. I was happy that my misfortune turned out to be his blessing - my trash became his treasure.

Then I thought, God does that all the time. He takes bad situations and turns it into something beautiful.
Romans 8:28 "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them."
Isaiah 61:3 - "To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory."
2 Cor. 4:17 - "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all."
On & on I could go with Scriptures that talk about how God turns bad things into a blessing for His children. Sometimes the blessing will be for other people, just like my popcorn helped the bird. The hard lessons we learn can be used to help encourage others who are struggling with the same thing.
2 Cor. 1:4 - "He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us."

If you're facing some tough situations today, be assured that if you surrender them to your Heavenly Father...He'll turn your trash into a treasure.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Do You Talk to Yourself?

I'll admit when I was a kid, I had an imaginary friend...not in a creepy way where I saw someone, but in a "I have a wonderful imagination kind of way". If I'd had a bad day, I'd go in my room, shut the door, and my "friend" and I would work it out until I felt good about it. My Mom would often hear me in my room just talking away. My brother heard too, and teased me quite a bit.

As I got older, obviously I put away childish imaginary friends, and recognized my need to go to the Lord with all my cares.

But if you drop by my house unannounced, you may still hear me talking to myself. You'll hear me praising the Lord, you'll hear me proclaiming His Word out loud, and maybe even a shout or two of victory.

Even as I am out & about, you may see my lips moving, because under my breath, I'm decreeing God's promises over a situation.

AM I CRAZY? That's probably up for debate, depending on who you ask. But according to the Word of God, I'm in good company.

That's right, one of my favorite people in the Bible, someone after God's own heart, I believe talked to himself.
David said in Psalm 43:5 "Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God."
He talked to his own mind (soul) and told it to trust God!

Sometimes you need to remind yourself what the Word says. My husband has been given many prophetic words that confirm his future over and over again from different sources. All of these words of encouragement line up with the Word of God, and they bare witness in our hearts as God's will for our lives. However, without fail, the area where we have been promised victory, is the area where we are constantly attacked. If we were to look at our circumstances with natural eyes, it would look hopeless, and completely opposite from what the Lord has promised.

God has been faithful and patient to keep reminding us of His plans. But at some point, He really wants us to stand on what He's already said. I believe when we hear the lies of the enemy, it is our responsibility to say "no, that's contrary to what God has spoken over me, therefore it's a lie".
2 Cor. 10:5 talks about "...taking captive every thought to the obedience of Christ."
This is why the Lord said to meditate on His word, and fill your mind with good things. Cause He knows that one of our biggest problems is "stinkin thinkin".

So, if you're feeling down and need a pep talk...start declaring God's goodness and blessings in your life. Speak those things that aren't as though they are.

Who cares if some may think your crazy...go ahead and talk to yourself!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Go to "Plan B"

Well, it's the day after "Man's Big Holiday"...that's right, the Superbowl!

I wasn't particularly interested in watching the Superbowl this year, because I didn't have a favorite team to root for. However, my son has a girl in his class who's Uncle is the head coach of the Green Bay Packers. She had almost her entire class cheering for the them, including all the guys in my house.

We borrowed a trailer from Bobby's brother-in-law that was set up like a home theater. It had theater seating, lighting, surround sound, and a big screen. We were telling everyone how lucky we were to be able to use it to watch the big game. We had the Direct t.v. guy come on Friday to hook up the satellite. Everything was set.

We had a couple coming over - the men were going to watch the game in the trailer, and the ladies were going to watch the commercials inside (and talk during the game). At the last minute, we also ended up inviting a new friend who had nowhere else to watch the game, along with his two sons who are friends with my boys.

Not long after the start of the game, the screen projector in the trailer just died. They could hear the sound, but couldn't see an image. When they were unable to fix it, the men came in the house and ended up in my living room. This pushed me and my friend upstairs (where unfortunately I hadn't bothered to clean up!) Yes...I was embarrassed...

On top of this unexpected change in plans, the father and his boys were very talkative and were grating a little on my husband's nerves (but he didn't show his frustration). He didn't get to enjoy the game as much as he would've liked. This family are not believers in Christ. In fact, from some of their conversations it was clearer than ever that they are quite lost. But God has put them in our path lately on several occasions, obviously for a reason. So we pray that we're a witness of God's grace, and He'll use us to draw them to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

After thinking about the situation, it became clear to me that this is a perfect example of life...

Life doesn't always go the way we plan. The key is to adapt in every situation and remain flexible. Instead of getting upset over something we can't control, we go to "Plan B".

Even in relationships, we look past our differences, and find the common ground. We ignore the offenses and the frustrations, to see the potential of what God might be up to.
Proverbs 16:9 "We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps." (NIV)

Or to put it another way - "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade". While not a Scripture, it's still very much truth.

So no matter what comes your way...choose to make it a great week!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Don't Look Back

Let me tell you how I spent my morning...I was a chaperone for my son Jay's 5th grade class to check out the Middle School. As if that wasn't bad enough, Jay informed me that he will be there in 6 months and 10 days! WOW, I was NOT ready for that...

All the kids were so excited - the "tour" of the school was being conducted by some very mature (and happy to be at the top of the "social chain") 8th graders. We saw the cafeteria, the classrooms, the gym, the library, the computer lab, etc. Do you want to know what the kids were most fascinated by?
The lockers...

I remember being totally stressed out about the lockers when I was in Middle School! I could never remember my combination. Even when I did remember it, I couldn't get it open. I eventually figured it out, but I don't have fond memories of the locker.

As I listened to the many electives and clubs that are offered in Middle School these days, I couldn't help but take a trip down memory lane. Which then led me to think how different my life in Middle School would have been if I could go back and do things over. Knowing the things I know now, I would have been a much better student. I would have participated in more clubs, met a wider variety of people, and I definitely would have joined the year book staff and the school newspaper.

Since none of us can go back, the temptation is to live vicariously through our kids. Hopefully I won't try to do that...but I have found myself TRYING to give him all the advice that I wish I would have followed when I was in school.

It's probably not a coincidence that my husband has been hearing this verse from the Lord all week
Phil. 3:13-14 - "Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."
It's one thing to remember those days in order to give counsel to my son. But it's really not a productive thing to look back with regret.

When I'm old & grey (but hopefully by the grace of God, not too wrinkled, LOL), I want to look back fondly over these years I'm living now. As I have learned from my mistakes, I will hopefully be able to say like Paul,
2 Tim. 4:7 - "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."
So, I will let my past serve only as a reminder to live my life now in a way that glorifies God and produces much fruit.

As for lost opportunities, I will forget those things behind that I can't change, and press on toward my future - knowing that as I obey the Lord, it will help guarantee a future without regrets.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

You Asked for What ? ? ?

Guess what...I got a new phone yesterday! It's a Droid 2, with all the bells & whistles. I don't even know what I'm doing, but I already love it! My hubby & I went to the store because we had an upgrade credit, but we also found out we get a monthly discount through his company. This news changed our plans from me getting a regular phone, to getting the phone of my dreams. I love when something good and unexpected happens!

Also, my friend Beth at I'm Heading Towards My Destiny sent me a package in the mail - she had all my blogs from 2009 until January 2011 printed into a beautiful book. I was overwhelmed with joy and gratitude. Another great surprise!

In the past, I've sometimes had a hard time accepting gifts without feeling guilty, or as though I "owe" someone something in return. Freely giving is much easier for me than freely receiving.

Bobby & I we praying together this morning and he asked God for something. It wasn't anything we needed, just a desire on our hearts that would bless our family. We have many things we NEED, so it was interesting that he would make this particular request.
Immediately my mind started thinking "would God really answer a prayer like that?"
Even as I was about to entertain that thought, I sensed the Lord was trying to teach me something. For years I struggled with the lie that good things happen for other people. Feelings of unworthiness, undeserving, lack of understanding God's love - whatever the root of it, it's a lie of the enemy to keep me from enjoying God's grace & favor. The Word says I am God's child, and a joint heir with Christ! I'm the "apple of His eye", and "He loves me with an everlasting love".

Often times God isn't the one putting stipulations on blessing us, we are. I was the one thinking only of what we NEEDED. This is NOT how I deal with my own children. I don't say "well, I know you want a birthday party, but you don't need one. All you really need is a roof over your head, clothes on your back, and food on the table.
"If you being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will my Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask".
So, I'm asking God to completely change my mindset once & for all. I want to proclaim God's goodness and show off His faithfulness! He's
leading me to believe that He wishes to make a distinction between His people and those who don't know Him (Malachi 3:18). That He would be glorified and others would notice and be drawn to us (and ultimately Him). The world will say "what is it that is different about you?", or "I want what you have". We (the Church) will be the answer for the rest of the world as they see our God at work in our lives, while they are struggling in many different areas. We'll be able to point to our Savior and say "He is the only answer".

So help me Lord, to believe and accept ALL things you have for me. Things I need, and even things I desire. Help me not to be afraid to ask You, as my Heavenly Father, just as a child trusts and asks their loving Father for good things.