Friday, March 24, 2017

What Does Your Kitchen Say?

Kitchen plaques are so popular because they often express exactly how we feel about the tasks of cooking. No matter what the family looks like, they have to eat...and often!

Do any of these resonate with your feelings about cooking?

"I only have a kitchen because it came with the house."
"If you want breakfast in bed - sleep in the kitchen."
"Keep this kitchen clean - Eat Out."
"My next house will not have a kitchen, just vending machines."
"This kitchen is closed due to illness - I'm sick of cooking."
"My dream kitchen has someone else in it cooking and cleaning."
"Two choice for dinner tonight 0 take it or leave it."
"A clean kitchen is the sign of a wasted life."

Like most household chores, some we like, some we dislike, but in the end they all have to be done for a home to run and to meet the needs of the family.

Since vital tasks like feeding the crew need to be done, our attitude while doing it can make a huge difference.  Turning our minds toward thankfulness and away from complaining will bring new life into any situation.  Just look what it can do to our kitchen attitude: 

"Love bakes good cakes and brews good stews."
"Mom's kitchen - Love served here."
"The kitchen is the heart of the home."
"Divine service rendered here - 3 times a day."

For the Christian woman, our family and home are blessings we are given that along with the daily tasks we find a sense of unequaled purpose. "Home is not an add-on to our spiritual life. Home, family, home, is part and parcel of our discipleship and our calling as children of God."  When we serve our family, we serve the Lord.  May we do it all with gladness!  

"And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men," Colossians 3:23

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Bring In Some New Life

Spring is in the air! Although our weather down here in the south doesn't reflect a huge change, there is just something special about spring. It's a time of new growth, flowers that come alive with color and vibrancy, a time when things that were dreary wake up to beauty.

Our oldest son just purchased his first home. It didn't take long for his father and I to make the few hour journey up to see it!  It is a beautiful home and land but came with a bit of a sad story. The previous owner built his dream home a few years ago. His love for horses and the outdoors is evident throughout the property. Apparently, his failing health took away the ability to care for his passion and his home and he made the decision to sell . 

While doing what moms do (examining everything) I was looking in the flower beds, I found this mum plant buried under old, dead debris.  It almost represented the dreams of the previous owner, as he at one time planted something beautiful, but the seasons of life took away the vitality and beauty of it. It seemed to represent much hard work and love that got buried under the mounds of broken dreams and pain.  

But once I removed the dead growth and fallen leaves from the plant, new growth appeared. New growth with a promise to bloom and again be a sign of beauty. It also seemed to represent this new home, a place built with love and now continuing on a legacy of joy and beauty. Although the previous owner had to move on, his hard work will continue to flourish and be a blessing. The newness of a life on this land can continue through new generations. .  

Sometimes we need a springtime in our soul. Our hopes and dreams can often feel drowned out by weeds and debris (daily life that bogs us down).  We may lose sight of joy and feel dormant. But our God is able to bring a renewal to our lives.  Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life, He holds all power and He alone has defeated death on the cross. He IS LIFE and brings life to all things.  

This spring, may we be encouraged to seek Him afresh and anew. May our prayer be as the Word of God says that Rivers of Living Water may flow from our hearts. May His love and grace flow in us and through us. There is such vibrancy in His love that brings love and life to all it touches. 

"I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will [continue to] perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus [the time of His return]." Philippians 1:6 AMP

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Willing Others to Victory

On a recent Sunday night the Super Bowl was on and in a house full of men, it monopolized the house.  Since I'm not much of a fan, I kept an eye on the score and since mornings come very early, went to bed before the game was over.  

The next morning I awoke to the news of a great victory, made even greater by the team coming from behind to eventually win.  Doing a little reading about the victory, I found this quote by a team member regarding the team leader and quarterback: (on the play of Patriots QB Tom Brady) "He's a great leader. We followed his lead. He was motivating us the whole game, even when we were down. He just willed us to another victory."

This type of action inspires me....encouraging others, spurring them on to greatness, seeking and speaking on other's gifts.  These are some of the heart rules I try to live by. But the last of that quote 'he willed us to victory' stuck me. Sometimes,even while encouraging others, there may be a point where defeat threatens. Whether through actions, choices or situations sometimes giving up a situation seems like the answer. To truly seek the best for others, it will require us to will them to victory at all times.  

Willing to victory is seeing beyond what is in front of us.  It is praying for one another for God to make a way, to bring a miracle, to bring a transformation. We know that with God nothing is impossible. There are things that can only be done through a heart change and that can only be done when the heart is touched by the hand of the Lord. As we wait on the Lord, our faith and prayers can be that source of willing them to victory.

May we be steadfast to seek the best for others, may we look for good in them and then look  beyond to see what God can do. Love conquers many an obstacle and if we keep our eyes on Jesus while freely showing our love, we can truly will others to victory.

 “Encouraging words have imparted bravery and empower doubting souls to accomplish what they never dreamed they could.” Karen Ehman

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Restore My Soul

Did you know it was tax season? For years I eagerly awaited tax forms and filed early. That was when our children were young and refunds were bigger!  Doing our family taxes was never a chore but it got more complicated through the years.  When a free tax school was offered in our town, I took advantage of it to gain a little more understanding. 

From that class, a part time seasonal job was gained.  It was a perfect fit with another part time job to keep my skills sharp and stay active.  Last year, I added another part time job but still jumped in on tax season. It has been an exciting and demanding few months!  Longer work days, work weeks, juggling home responsibilities etc.finally culminated from guiding customers through the maze of filing into the joy of watching hard working clients receive their refund.    

A break came with a weekend trip to see our oldest son, who had recently moved about 4 hours away. It was a weekend of pure refreshment!  The day after we arrived, a little time was spent outside enjoying the beautiful countryside and inhaling fresh air. It was one of those times when the heart just bursts forth with praise to the Lord.  Truly, my soul found refreshment. 

The weekend was spent exploring a new town and enjoying being together.  Here are some of the highlights of our trip:

The guys found a local golf course.  This is my oldest and youngest son, I love that they both played on the high school golf team and are wearing their team shirts!

The girls hit the downtown area to explore the quaint shops.  This one was our favorite!

Beautiful downtown streets

Lazy mornings spent on the back porch enjoying the sunrise

Looking behind the house for deer!

A beautiful day for a picnic!

Of course we had to take some photos!

There is nothing like family and the outdoors to renew the spirit!  So thankful for a beautiful weekend. 

Monday, February 13, 2017

Do You Need To Go Heavier?

I classify myself as a 'fitness loner' since most of my fitness routines are done by myself.  I like to think I"m disciplined enough to keep a fitness routine and although I am consistent, the same routine is done over and over.  This is great to stay healthy and active, but is a  poor plan when additional results are desired.

Recently the opportunity to attend a fitness class came.  During class we were using hand weights and our instructor would periodically ask "Does anyone need to go heavier?"  She would often encourage the class if the weight being used felt comfortable, it may be time to go a bit heavier. This is a benefit of group exercise, to be challenged to reach goals and to do a little more than what is comfortable. The instructor knew that if we were comfortable with our weights, we would not achieve the greatest results.  It takes tension and resistance along with more effort for continued progress

In fitness, the more tension and stretching of the muscle, the more it builds. Strength training is also called resistance training because it involves strengthening and toning your muscles by contracting them against a resisting force. When you strength train with weights, you're using your muscles to work against the extra pounds (this concept is called resistance). This strengthens and increases the amount of muscle mass in your body by making your muscles work harder than they're used to.

To be spiritually fit, it is not the easy routines of life that bring growth. It again calls on tension and resistance. To grow stronger in the Lord, choices must be made with what is most beneficial to take in and to give out. The goal for Christians is to be more Christ-like in our words, actions, thoughts and deeds.  It is His love that equips us to make the needed changes such as daily drinking in His life giving Word.  What we put in our minds and hearts will come out in actions.  Setting aside a time to read the Bible sounds easy, until something interferes (like sleep, activities,work etc.). Then the challenge begins!  Prayer is a discipline that when pursued gives great strength to us, is a blessing to others as we pray for them and in hard times brings deliverance and help from the God with whom nothing is impossible. Being Christ-like in our actions works well until the resistance of self desires are brought into the situation.  How willing are we to defer to another whether in attitudes, words or actions?  But as we seek to be like Christ, and as we put our focus on allowing His love to flow through us, we gain spiritual strength and bear spiritual fruit, (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness etc.)  No one enjoys the pain of trials, but to the Christian, God is always at work for our good and we can rest assured He is still in control as we draw nearer to Him and those times can bring great spiritual growth. 

Just as that group fitness class encourages the participants to be focused, to join side by side to work to achieve goals the church is the place for us to be with and be encouraged by other believers. When our instructor (pastor) speaks words that require us to 'go heavier' or dig deep into our hearts to grow in areas, we are strengthened. 

So, whether physical or spiritual, don't be afraid of heavier weight, effort or diligence.  That's how we get stronger!