Somebody better call the Waaaambulance…

Okay so maybe it’s not that bad, but I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again (Although I, of course, did not come up with this novel idea)…

The greatest way to enjoy this gift of life we have been given is to foster gratefulness.

Complaining of course being the antithesis, I stumbled across this article and thought it worthy of sharing.

CUTTING THE NERVE OF COMPLAINING

It was written by Stephen Altrogge, who wrote the book The Greener Grass Conspiracy, if you haven’t read it, I would say it is certainly worth looking in to.

Hindsight is always 20-20.

I know, cliche, right? But as cliche as that may be, there is so much truth to it. When we are in the midst of our day to day we can’t see more then what is in front of us. We may look backwards clear as day, and forward is the unknown, for we don’t know if we should even have a minute more. But I think of the past as a work of art the Master Painter has hung in the gallery of our lives. Some of the pieces are bright and cheery bringing joy to the onlooker. Some dark and eerie. But none the less they are clear, not abstract and we look back at them with the full clarity of having already been brought through it.

As the end of this year draws near, I find myself thinking back on the events that occurred, or didn’t occur, and usually read through my prayer journal to see those prayers that God has answered. The trials He has grown me in and delivered me through, the people He has brought in and out of my life and tend to find myself in awe of His majesty.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not always walking in the awe of my Savior, I’m still a sinner, my heart and my mind are not perfect, but I am thankful for those reminders because when I see clearly and honestly the depth of my own wickedness, the beauty of God’s saving grace always shines that much brighter. I still need to remember that applies also to others, but I’m learning.

Anyway, this year has sure brought me many challenges, a little grief and a lot of joy. Last December I helped our company open a new store, and that has been quite the journey, getting a business off the ground is tough and I certainly have a new found respect for those of you out there that have done it, and done it successfully.

My little girl is not quite as little these days. She is a very sweet little girl that brings me a lot of joy, and I have to laugh at some of the things she has said this year. She informed me that cleavage is called “boob-crack” that she has taken an interest in “Crotch Stitching” and the thing that birds eat out of are called “feed birder’s”, just to name a few. I surely enjoy the time we spend together.

I started taking a drawing class and have found that I am developing a talent for it, and really really enjoy it. Lulu is taking it as well and has always been quite the artist so it’s neat to see her skills develop.

I also started taking a class on Biblical Greek, and while I also really enjoy that, I’m not the greatest student in the world, but I still keep up, for the most part. It’s definitely a lot harder then I anticipated. I do however enjoy the challenge.

I acquired everything needed for a darkroom. I’ve always had a love for photography, but even more so a love of chemicals. 🙂 So working in a darkroom has always been a dream for me and this year, it came true.

Lastly I realized this Christmas season just how great my job really is. I get to forge new relationships everyday, and even though it’s only a short time we spend together, that short time has an impact. I’ve received many cards from my customers this year thanking me for great service. I am especially thankful for all of my customers, they make my day a little brighter and remind me who it is I truly work for.

Anyway, this year has had a lot of ups and downs and as I focus on living one day at a time I pray that this upcoming year I will foster an even greater joy for God’s word, and that I would bind it around my heart. I pray that I would love others more than myself, that I would die to myself DAILY as Christ requires of us. That I would spend more time in the Word, spend more time with the body of believers I’ve come to love deeply, taking hold of those opportunities to share my faith and reach out to those in need, and spend more time in prayer. As A.W. Tozer puts it The Christian is strong or weak depending upon how closely he has cultivated the knowledge of God.

I also thank those of you who take the time to read my ramblings.

Merry Christmas!

O Come, O Come Emmanuel performed by Belle And Sebastian

The High Road

It seems its been a while since I’ve made a post proclaiming my thankfulness. Seems it should be fitting too since it is the season. I know that all kinds of people struggle with the holidays. You can put me in to one of those groups. It was the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas that I was first kicked out of my Mom’s house. I was 13, and like I said before, knew it all. It was cold, and snowy and I spent that first night under Monroe Street Bridge. I’ve come a long way since all that. After all, it has been 14 years since then, I would hope a lot would change. I, of course, cannot and will not take the credit. I’ve been brought to where I am today by God’s glorious grace.

I often take that for granted.

I now sleep in an oversized bed in a warm house with more room than I need. I have a bright, beautiful daughter that brings me more joy than I ever thought possible, I have running water, and toilets. I travel in a vehicle that adapts to a multitude of road conditions. I can speak openly about my faith, or anything else for that matter, I can carry my bible with me wherever I go. I can dress however I like, I can do whatever I please.

So what on Earth do I have to  complain about?

Touche! Yet I do find things to complain about. I know I’m not alone on this matter, and I’m not saying that in a misery loves company sort of a way, but have you ever really stopped to think that complaining is sin. Ultimately we are proclaiming to the God of the Universe that His plan isn’t good enough for us. Because, after all, we know whats best.

Ha.

Are we really that stupid? The answer my friends is not blowing in the wind. Yes. We are that stupid.

I was in the car today listening to John McArthur preach on Philippians on this very subject. Lack of thankfulness, complaining and murmuring, and there I sat guilty as charged. Thank God for conviction. He really is removing my heart of stone, bit by bit and just as surely He is replacing it with a heart of flesh, a heart that desires to be molded in to His ways. To reflect the pure and holy light of His son to turn from the petty distractions of the day and turn to Him. I am thankful that I am being softened to my sin, because sometimes I honestly worry that I’m hardening my heart towards it. But He is faithful to to finish the work He has started in us. I’ve said it before, all though they are not my words, but the easiest way to battle lack of contentment (which is really why we are complaining in the first place) is a heart full of gratitude, so here’s my list, ya know since it’s been a while…

I’m thankful for;

God’s saving grace, for which the price paid is so much greater than I will ever fully comprehend in this lifetime.

A Church that lacks nonsense and preaches the Word of God with passion and desire to see others grow in Christ.

A church body that seeks to reach out to its own flock and take care of the needs of those not only in the body but  to those outside it as well.

My incredible daughter.

Those who care for her everyday.

The job I have in which God has given me the means to care for not only myself but others.

The opportunity to serve. Because through it I have created lasting relationships and friendships.

Sleep.

My hunger for learning and reading.

The fact that I fear man less and less and fear God more and more.

That God has granted me the ability to forgive and through that have rekindled relationships with friends and family.

There is sooo sooo much more, but alas I shall save that for another day. It’s helpful though to really think these things through, to flesh it out and dwell on the things that matter, instead of gripe about the things that don’t. I certainly don’t want to be nothing more than a clanging cymbal, so if I get sidetracked and seem to be headed down that direction, please by all means, give me a swift kick to the head. I won’t ask questions, I’ll know what it’s for.

Inventory Control

Last week as I was trying to figure out exactly where all my time was going. I decided it would be wise to take inventory, if there are 168 hours in a given week, not counting the short time it takes me to travel back and forth to work, and the time I spend shopping, preparing and eating meals, I’m wasting approximately 60-65 hours a week. Where is that time going? Some of it is vegging out watching movies, some of is is spent reading, some browsing the internet, but I can say not nearly enough of it is spent reading and studying God’s word.

I want to be changed by it, shaped by it, led by it, and without spending a good amount of time reading and studying it and spending time in prayer what other means shall God use? Don’t get me wrong, of course He could use many other means, BUT if I am not spending adequate time searching the scriptures, and meditating daily on His word I can easily be swayed by the winds like the chaff that is blown in every which way.

Therefore I am on a mission to slowly but surely continue to weed out those things which are not only complete and udder time wasters, but also those things that will not help me run the race (which by the way, I think we already covered the struggle I have as it is with running, not like I need anything else to weigh me down).

So, I challenge those of you who actually know me, and maybe even those of you who may not, hold me to this. Leave your comments, call me, email me, track me down and ask me how I am doing with this. Ask me how much time I’m devoting to the things of Christ, as opposed to how much time I’m devoting to the things of this world.

With that being said, I’ll shall end with this…

…“One of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove at the Last Day that prayerlessness was not from lack of time.”  – John Piper

I’m not a runner…

I never have been. But I roller skate, and I used to play roller derby. I’ve played all positions, but naturally the most challenging was the Jammer. Talk about endurance. If you don’t understand roller derby go Here for a rundown. You have to skate your heart out for two minutes straight while looking for holes and ways to get around the blockers who are trying to take you down as if their lives depended on it. It’s intense, brutal and requires everything you got.

But that is still nothin compared to running the race of your faith.

Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith. The author of Hebrews says that it is for discipline that we have to endure. Automatically many of us probably look at discipline in a negative light, but it is so meant for good. Not that it’s always carried out that way, but it’s intended to grow us and teach us. I’m a mother, when my child disobeys, there are consequences, it’s my duty to discipline and I do it because I love her and wish for her to be sanctified by it. The author of Hebrews in that same passage also points out for us our example, and that is Christ. He suffered the death we deserve, endured the cross, for the JOY that was set before Him.

This month had been a rough one. Although I would say my faith has not been shaken, my flesh has still been weak. Through the trials the Lord has brought me, I’ve failed to thank Him, I’ve instead been angry, not looking as these trials as a way for Him to sanctify me, and grow me through them.

But today I’ve been convicted of that and therefore give thanks to the Author and Perfecter for the trials I have been facing, for the people who have let me down, for the grace to forgive, for the strength to endure. I will run this race, because He has granted me life, and given me the ability to do so.

In an instant…

…everything you own, including your life can be stripped away.

Gone.

Kinda makes you think, or at least it should.

Wednesday a couple I know lost everything they own in a fire.

Saturday another young man I was acquainted with lost his life.

The best thing about these two events, in both cases, they gained Jesus.

It’s hard, I believe, to be thankful for other people’s tragedy’s. But at the same time we who put our hope and faith and trust in Jesus know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. This couple lost everything and often times when all else gets stripped away, your faith gets tested and knowing this couple I truly believe their love for Jesus only grew. What an amazing thing to really see, what a testimony to believers and unbelievers alike.

The  young man who lost his earthly life Saturday morning was a police officer for a small town nearby, I’d met him only a few times, but I have dear friends who knew him well. This was a man who was my age (27) and full of genuine zeal for Jesus. This was apparent to everyone who knew him, this man truly touched many people’s lives, and he now gets to rejoice fully in his eternal home with his Savior.

The thing that I keep thinking about is this…

Life is but a moment, your earthly treasures gone in an instant but the gift of our Lord is everlasting.