Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Christmas Unwrapped

Let’s face it, sometimes Christmas can feel like a big burden. I’m mostly referring to the shopping. First of all you have to think of something to get for everyone, then you have to scrounge up the funds, which can be a difficult task. Sometimes buying Christmas gifts means giving up something that you really want. Then there’s the whole thought that you might be wasting money on something that the person won’t use and doesn’t really need. (Okay, maybe this is something that only practical minded little me struggles with.) Then, there’s the receiving of the gifts. It’s so easy to sit in horror and dread as a set of excited eyes is glued to you. You open the gift and do your best to pretend that you like it, but inside you’re thinking “This is not what I had in mind,” or “They were thinking of me when they bought this?” or “Man, I didn’t get what I really wanted.” Even though we may all tend to have similar thoughts once or twice over the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, there is so much more to think about.

This whole gift giving thing points to something so much bigger. Let me unfold some splendid parallels for you. Why do we buy Christmas presents for people? Is it because they deserve them, or because they did something to earn them? No, when it all comes down to it, we buy Christmas gifts to show the recipient that we love and care about them. There is certainly a sacrifice involved. Sometimes this sacrifice is small and rarely felt, but financial purchases outside of the norm are sacrifices. This is reminiscent of what Christ did for us. He gave us the gift of His life here on earth, and then His death. He sacrificed Heaven and so much more, not because we deserve it, but because He loves us and He wants us to know that.

There is more to this interesting parallel though. What about us as the recipients of God’s magnificent gift? Just as I get frustrated with Christmas gifts sometimes because they don’t fit the mold I have decided they should fit into, I get frustrated with salvation because it doesn’t look like I think it should look. Sometimes I feel like I deserve salvation, like I deserve better. I don’t deserve salvation, just like I don’t deserve Christmas presents. They are wonderful gifts of love and sacrifice.

I pray that as I both give and receive Christmas gifts over this holiday season that Christ will help me to remember the great gift that He has given me and that He will open my heart so that I can accept that gift with totally open arms.

Monday, November 20, 2006

We're all familiar With...

W.W.J.D. It has become one of the biggest cliches of our time. We are to constantly ask ourselves "What Would Jesus Do?" before we make a decision to act. Yet what would this really look like? If we truely and honestly seek to know Jesus better through prayer and the Bible and then ask ourselves how Jesus would react in our situation, how would it change our lives? How would it change work? School? Covernsations? Priorities?

It is true that with this decision, there is truly a cross to bear. Following Christ is not always easy. People may not understand, they may think you are being foolish, but the question is what is more important, mans acceptance and praise, or worshiping and honoring God? The Bible says "No one can serve two masters." While the context is refering to money, it also refers to other aspects of our lives. Are we willing to put everything else aside and follow the example of our Lord 100%, no matter the cost?

These and many more are questions that I have been considering in my life lately. My husband and I are reading a book called "In His Steps." It is the original "What Would Jesus Do?" presentation. Written in 1896 as a sermon series, author Charles M. Sheldon traces the lives of people that have made a pledge to live their lives for a whole year asking the question "What Would Jesus Do?" before making any decisions. The results are shattering for some, some break under the pressure, and some have lives that are totally transformed. This is a highly recommended read. Even if you don't read the book, consider truley asking yourself the question, "What Would Jesus Do?"

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

New Arival in the Family!

On October 23 at 11:32pm, Aurora Anne was born, weighing in at 6lb 9oz. We had a birthday party for her today. Here she is (along with her very happy family of course!)

Create Your Own!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

It Speaks For Itself

That's right, I could write all of the ways that this text is absolutly amazing, and how it speaks to me, but it really speaks for itself. Therefore I have posted it. But don't just read it arbatrarily. Think about what it is saying. How does this apply to you? Your sturggles? Do you get off track? Just read it, ponder it, and pray over it.

"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us,
let us also lay aside every encumbrance
and the sin which so easily entangles us,
and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
fixing our eyes on Jesus,
the author and perfecter of faith,
who for the joy set before Him endured the cross,
despising the shame,
and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself,
so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."
Hebrews 12:1-3.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

But it doesn't make sense!

My husband and I have been reading the autobiographical sketch of Ellen White in the first volume of Testimonies for the Church. It’s very good and quite exciting. We’re always trying to find little slots in our day when we can squeeze in another chapter. I never realized that Mrs. White had so many personal spiritual struggles. This book is really helping me to see her as a human and it makes all of her other writings make so much more sense as well. I find that I can relate to her on way more levels than I thought I could. She always seemed kind of up on a pedestal.

When we were reading yesterday morning, while Arlen was making breakfast, something we were reading disturbed me greatly. Ellen had a son. He almost died due to some surrounding conditions, but God spared his life. So if we’re following – she has a son, she almost looses him, she gets him back, and this next part is what I struggled with. The White’s were quite poor and they were doing a lot of traveling to spread the work of the Lord. They realized that they could not continue in God’s work and take care of the baby, so they decided to give there son up to another couple for a few years. What?!? Give away your son?!? OK – I’m a family studies major, so I’m sure you can imagine why this is difficult for me to grasp. Why would God give someone a son, almost take him away, give him back, and then take him away for like 5 years again? That’s crazy!!

First of all, I struggle with this whole idea of her giving up her first son. To me, this is difficult to reconcile in my mind. I guess it’s certainly better for the child to have a good stable home for the first few years of his life than to be emotionally, and maybe otherwise neglected. I just don’t understand why God would give them a child, almost let him die, and them make them give it up again. This is where I struggle. So often I let reason win over God’s command. I’m sure God had His reasons for what He did. I guess it’s not my job to know them all right away, or some of them even until Heaven. (Maybe he knew that the White’s would not have the financial means to care for their child as they should). If this is what God called the White’s too, it was important that they were able to put His calling before their desires, and maybe even everything that made sense to them. In these times it’s important to trust that God knows what He’s doing and that He will help things to turn out alright in the end.

“And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” Romans 8:28. I suppose that trusting in this statement is part of what it’s all about. If we are striving to serve God and follow His will, the things that we do won’t always make sense, but we have to have faith, blind faith. We have to trust that He will in fact, take care of everything. I pray that I can have that kind of faith and trust in God!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Insanity of Itching

Well, I must say, Arlen and I had a wonderful weekend, and I'm learning a lot about how to give things up to God. This weekend God revealed to me some of the areas that need the most growth. He is also bringing about great visable change in my life already including joy and better priorities. I still have a long way to go, but with His help I will continue to grow!

We went to John Muir trail, which was loads of fun. We ended up actually staying there only one night, which turned out to be a good thing for about a bazillion reasons. First of all, it poured on Saturday night, so we would have gotten soaked. Secondly when we returned Saturday night we both began to itch. We suddenly realized that we were COVERED with bug bites. Not just any bites though. Arlen has a nice smattering of mosquito and spider bites, while I have those, plus a nice little batch of chigger bites for good measure.

Yesterday morning we were both going so crazy that we made an emergancy trip to Walgreens. There we picked up calamine lotion, After Bite Xtra and fingernail polish (for the chiggers). I'm telling you, if the itching doesn't stop soon, I'm going to loose it!!!!

But you know, even with all of the itching, I'd say this weekend was a big success! God brought us both back to Him in a very real way - which is what we needed! As usual, God reminded me this: "If we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for He cannot disown Himself" 1Timothy 2:13

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Mrs. Grouch

Mrs. Grouch, that’s me…well, at least it has been for the past while. When I look back on life, I used to be so positive and cheery – so happy about everything. Life seemed so exciting. I knew where I was going and I knew I was going to make a difference in life. And people … I was so patient! I was not easily made frustrated, nor did I dislike anyone. Now I’m harsh, and judging (at least inwardly). I am so easily frustrated and it seems that I can always find something irritating in any situation. I have gone from being a Pollyanna to being a bona-fide Grinch, or Mr. Scrooge – you take your pick.

Honestly, I don’t like it at all!! I want to go back to being the fun-loving, easy going girl that I once was. I want to see the good in people. I want to enjoy life to it’s fullest. I want to be able to make the best out of any situation and actually mean it. I want to change. For this reason, I solicit your prayers.

I know part of my problem is that I’m not as close to God as I used to be. I’m not allowing Him to truly work in me as I once did. I know there is much more to it than that. I don’t know all the ins and outs, but I don’t think that’s important. The important this is that now I take the time to give God a chance and give me His joy. With Him living in me, the fruit of the Spirit will be real!!!

“But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” ~Galatians 5:22-23

This is what I want!!!!! I know God will answer my prayers.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Now! Now!! NOW!!!

Waiting. Waiting. I’m sick of waiting!! Waiting is not something I’m very good at. When it comes to patience, it’s very obvious that I’m a little underdeveloped in that area. But alas, that’s what I’m doing. I’m waiting. What am I waiting for you may ask. Well, first of all, I’m waiting for school to start again. I miss the people and having things to do. I didn’t think I would actually say this, but I’ll be very happy to have studying to do again.

I’m also waiting to get things going again with Joshua’s House. I’ve written several professors here at Southern – I’m trying to meet with them for guidance in some of the specifics. I’m waiting to somehow find a way to raise money so that I can get my 501(c)(3) and much needed software. I’m waiting to hear from Zondervan so that I can begin the recordings of the Bible. I’m waiting for people who are willing to help me, to write stories, create graphic documents, act in the audio productions, and the list goes on and on.

I don’t want to wait anymore!! I want it all to happen NOW!! David can relate to me. When Saul was seeking His life, David longed for it to end. He was sick of running and hiding. He wanted to be safe NOW – not later. During this time, he wrote the 27th Psalm. The last verse of this Psalm sums up what I need to hear right now: “Wait for the Lord, be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Even though I don’t always feel like it, and it’s usually not easy, I must trust God…even His timing.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
~Ecclesiastes 3:11

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Walking blindfolded

I am so excited, yet overwhelmed at the same time. Yesterday, I wanted to devote the day working on Joshua’s House. Arlen helped me a lot, and by the end of the day we had created a logo, a purpose statement and the beginnings of the temporary website. It's so exciting. As I sat there, thrilled to death. Suddenly a bomb hit, and discouragement became very real.

Yesterday morning, I was told that I could make an announcement at church to get help with the Joshua's House project. I was thrilled. No, I still haven't heard back from Zondervan, but I know God will provide us with rights to make Bible audio recordings. With that being the only thing holding me back, I was prepared to plunge forward to make my appeal. As Arlen and I were talking I came to the realization that the rights to the NIV Bible are not the only thing preventing us from beginning. When I had originally talked to Arlen, he felt that the equipment we already owned would be sufficient for Joshua's House needs. However, as he has begun to understand the scope of the project, he feels positive that we need more professional equipment and a sound room. AHHHH! I don't have enough money to buy the computer programs and sound card needed for my computer (let alone the 401(c)(3) that we still don't have yet), how am I supposed to get a studio to record in?

Well, of course, being here at Southern does have some advantages. I plan on talking to the person in charge of Southern's recording studio. I know that we need someone who knows how to work all of the equipment, so if he says we can use it, I will ask him if he can make it available as a project or something for students in his classroom to do the recording. This is just such a huge thing. I'm not normally the type to be this bold and pursuing. I like to have things planned out, to know exactly what to expect. This is not the case with Joshua's house, but as Arlen reminded me, we are to walk by faith, not by sight.

As I see all of the faith displayed in the book of Luke, I can't help but be inspired. But the lingering question remains, why can't I have that kind of faith in my own life. Well, I guess God is giving me that opportunity right now. He's giving me the chance to completely trust Him, even when I can't see the next step. Please keep Joshua's House in your prayers. I know that through it, God will do amazing things...if I'll only let Him.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

What's with all these sheep?

Being a newly married couple, Arlen and I often share with each other our dreams and visions for the future. One thing that we share is a desire to have lots of land. We don’t care if we have a small house, we just want to live in a place in the country where we have a lot of space. What’s all the space for? That’s the fun part. There are so many uses! Of course we want to grow lots of food. Not acres and acres of it, but maybe some fruit trees and/or bushes and various veggies such as corn, squash, cabbage, lettuce, and of course tomatoes. It will be so much fun. We want to have a place that our kids can explore. So much can be learned, especially about God, in the great outdoors. We don’t want all of our land to just benefit us though. We want to create a place where people can come away from the fast pace of city life, the tangle of the world and enjoy a simple life for a week, maybe longer, and enjoy the chance to focus on spending time getting to know their savior better. Of course, with my love of kids, this dream home would be a place where kids could come. Kids from troubled homes (I’ve played with the idea of foster care, and we’re pretty sure we’re going to adopt at least one kid if that’s where God leads.) They don’t have to come alone, they can come with a class, or their families, or all sorts of things, but basically I want this to be a place where kids can find out what it means to truly feel love.

Oh, and I can’t forget the animals. That’s an important part of all of this – especially with the kids. Arlen and I have talked about many different kinds of animals that we might want to have on the “farm.” We’ve thought about goats, alpacas, and even sheep. Oh, by the way, I learned a LOT about sheep yesterday! I was reading in Luke 2. I’m especially referring to the part where the angels were telling the Shepards about the birth of Christ, and it got me thinking. There are shepards and sheep all over the Bible. Tons of people have sheep and the dedication of their caretakers proves that they were quite valuable, but why? As I researched this topic farther I found out a few things. The whole sheep was quite useful. It was a source of food, clothing, burnt offering and the hide was used for coverings on the tabernacle. This animal made a huge impact on the lives of many. But, as I read further, I found something even more remarkable. These sheep know their names. The Shepard names each sheep (no matter how many he has), and when he calls that sheep by it’s name, the little lamb joyfully comes to his Shepard. Wow, that’s crazy. Apparently these animals are quite faithful, loving and the trust their caretaker 100%.

Okay, if you’re like me this whole analogy of us being sheep and Jesus being the Shepard is beginning to become clearer. I want to love God like that. I want to learn to come right away, with joy when he calls me by name. I want to learn to trust him fully and to be filled with gentleness, meekness and faithfulness just like the little lamb. I guess a good place to start is letting God guide all of my hopes and dreams so that I can live a life that glorifies Him in every way.

Friday, August 04, 2006

I Actually Got Out of Bed!!

Good morning everyone! I hope you’re having a wonderful morning. My husband and I were talking last night and we realized that ever since we got married, we have had a really hard time getting out of bed and getting ready. This is completely unlike both of us. We are typically both early risers, and when that alarm clock goes off, we’re up. We decided to try setting different alarm clocks for each of us, and when our alarm goes off, theoretically, we’re supposed to be up. Well, obviously it worked for this morning, or else I wouldn’t be sitting here typing. We’ll see if this trend of actually getting out of bed when the alarm sounds the FIRST time continues.

In other excitingness, I’m supposed to hear from Zondervan about the rights to the NIV for audio recordings by Monday. I have been praying my little heart out. Please pray for me too. I decided that I am going to start with Luke for about a bazillion reasons. And I figured that since I’m starting with Luke, I should probably study that book pretty thoroughly so that I can make better study guides (with the help of the Holy Spirit of course!). Yesterday I finally caught on to how I should study and it was so much fun! I was reading Luke 1 about Zachariahs and Elizabeth and Gabriel announcing the births of Jesus and John the Baptist. Try as I might, I could not avoid this one theme I found creeping up in all over in this one chapter. It was amazingly relevant too! It’s super simple: Trust God!

Zacharias had been praying for a son forever. He was so old, he was sure his request would never be granted. Yet, as he entered the temple to burn incense, God sent an angle to answer his true and deep longing. However when the angel told him he was going to have a son, Zacharias did not believe him. I mean, it was weird, he and his wife were old, and why would God wait so long to grant him his request. No, it couldn’t be true. Zacharias didn’t believe. He was like the foolish man in James 1:5-8

Then there was Mary. Gabriel visited her and said that she was going to have a son. She was a bit confused, not understanding how this could be so. The angel explained to her the process, and although she still didn’t understand, she said OK. Despite the tremendous changes this would bring to her life, she trusted completely in the Lord and His Word. This also reminds me of what Jesus says in Matthew 16:24-26. Mary was willing to trust explicitly what the Lord had in store for her.

So it’s that simple – trust. But why? God keeps His promises. All the things God attested to happened. We have a God we should trust, so why not let go of my crazy notions and rationalizations, and just trust God? “Trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Friday, July 28, 2006

Life Gets Busy, Wedding Pictures Get Posted

I'm sorry I haven't written anything in such a long time. My life has been so increadibly busy. I can't wait until I can write at least one good blog a week. I like it - it's so much fun!

I've been working lots of extra hours and running around being busy. And guess what! I finally started my physical therapy for my knee injury that happend last summer! Horray!! I'm on the way to recovery. My PT even said that Arlen and I will be able to do the backpacking trip we've been longing to go on. If I keep improving at the rate I am currently, we'll even be able to go before the school year starts.

Other than that life has been pretty much normal. God has been teaching me many lessons, as usual! Today He's been pointing out quite a few areas we need to work on. (It's actually a little bit overwhelming). However as James says, the perserverance that comes from such a revealing inhances our characters. And, as always, God doesn't just leave us there to suffer through it alone. He gives us wisdom to make it through - we just have to ask and trust that He will do as He has promised. (James 1) Sometimes that's really hard for me. I feel like wisdom is something I lack in droves, but God will keep working one me.

Well, before I run off to do a massive house cleaning before Sabbath rolls around (we're going batwatching tonight - how fun is that?) I must give you the web address for our wedding pictures. It is www.studiolaura.com Click on weddings and then click the link with our name on it. Enjoy!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

An Answer

When I woke up yesterday, I was filled with doubt and confusion. I didn't know what to do, and I felt as if all guidance and direction was gone. I was rather grouchy and felt mucy like Eeyore. So, I decided to write a letter to God (I keep a prayer journal). After pouring out my soul to the Lord, He began working on my heart.

I was working on some lessons for Joshuas House, and God really used that to speak to me. I was studying Luke 1-2:20. Here, there were three promises God made and followed through with. He took away and gave Zacharias back his speech, He gave Elizabeth the birth of John, and He gave Mary the birth of Jesus! This tells me that I serve a God who keeps His promises. And, He has made promises for me. He has promised to guide me (Ps 23:3), He has promised to provide for me (Mt 6:31-32), and He has promised never to leave me (Joshua 1:5). With these promises in mind and the knowledge that God will follow through, I have peace. :)

Friday, July 07, 2006

It's Going to be OK?

I’m totally impatient, and I’m a bit of a worry wart. If something doesn’t go according to my plans, I have a tendency to freak out a little bit. I have to have things planned well in advance too. For example, on Wednesday, Arlen and I were getting ready to go up to his house to eat and spend the evening with his family. It’s kind of an informal weekly family night we enjoy together. Just before we were ready to leave, Arlen was able to get a hold of a client he’d been trying to reach for a while. Immediately I began freaking out. “We’re going to be late,” I thought. “They’re going to have to start eating without us. I’ll feel weird coming in late.” You get the idea. All this and it wasn’t a big deal at all that we were a little late.

I was reading in 1 Samuel 1-3 today. Chapter 3 is where God calls Samuel and tells him all of the things that are going to happen. One of the things that God says is that He is going to destroy Eli’s wicked sons. Of course, Samuel doesn’t want to tell this to Eli. What kind of reaction will he give? Well, of course Eli is curious about what the Lord had to say; and Samuel, being the good kid he was, told Eli. Now, here’s the part that really caught my attention. Eli’s response to the news of his sons’ pending death was one of total faith and trust. All he said was “It is the Lord; let him do what seems good to him” (1 Samuel 3:18). Obviously, I’m not that good at letting go of my circumstances and trusting God to be in control. Now I pray that the next time I get anxious about a situation that is beyond my control, I can stop, take a deep breath, remember Eli, and trust God!

My Vision

Wow, it seems a lot has happened in the past couple of days. I think the coolest thing was that yesterday I met with someone about my dream ministry. The meeting went really well, and things are going to start rolling. It’s going to take a couple years before the ministry actually gets going (I’ll be laying the ground work until then), but I’m excited about it none the less.

Now that I’ve mentioned this ministry several times, I guess it’s about time I start telling you what it’s all about. God has opened my eyes so that I could see a major problem in our lives as Christians. This problem is that we learn to compartmentalize Christ in our lives rather than allowing Him to infiltrate every part of our being. We go to church and speak of God, we may even spend time with Him in various worship programs and our morning devotions. Yet what happens when those programs, Bible studies, and devotions are over. Do they affect our lives utterly and completely? Are we sharing Christ with those we come in contact with? Are we allowing full and total surrender? All too often I think we keep Christ in His compartments.

The other observations that I have made in our post-modernistic society is our dependence on our own intellect and reasoning and our lack of turning to the Bible for the final word. Many of the college students around me, raised in the church (myself included) have never read the Bible all the way through. I hear more sermons on the thoughts and opinions of others than I do on what the Bible has to say. I could easily go to a weeks worth of worship programs without once opening the Word of God. Yet, this is God's main tool for communication.

So, what are we to do about these problems? This is where God has planted a seed in my heart. Kids learn young and often their morals and values are set by the time they are a thirteen (Barna Research Group). Children learn the most by example. While parents can tell their children about the love of Christ, the importance of a relationship with Him and the need to follow His commandments, they must show this as being true in their own lives. Are they teaching their kids through encouragement and example to seek God first when faced with an obstacle in their lives? Are they encouraging personal time with God? Are they openly sharing throughout the day the blessings God is giving them in their own lives and the prayers that God is answering? Do they encourage witnessing by example? Are they helping their children to integrate Christ into every part of their lives? Unfortunately all, to often, the answer to this question is no.

Christ has given me a burden for all of this. I have a desire to provide materials to parents so that they may strengthen and deepen their walk with Christ, so that their children may grow as they follow the examples of their parents. I also feel a burden to write books for children that are 100% Bible based; books that will not substitute the Bible, but will teach the children to go to the Bible. Each book would have a parent's guide with it so that the parents can be involved in sharing that story with their children in a real way, can discuss the issues, and can dig deeper into the passages for their own edification. I am also interested in providing material for children to learn how to study the Bible on their own.

However my vision doesn't stop there. I would love to provide two montly newsletters - one for children, and one for parents - to help them on their spiritual journey. I envision a website with forums so that parents can share with each other, where their will be answers for various questions and a place to e-mail more specific questions and to seek for a personal answer. This site would be filled with resources for parents to help build their families to be strong. However, this would not be the end. There would be a whole section just for children. Here, there could be downloadable books and Bible studies. There would also be the question and answer section as with the parent's section. The coolest part about this is that there would be games for the kids which required the use of their Bible. One important thing about this is that it would have in mind the growth of all Christian families. Not just Adventist Homes. Just as ADRA provides relief for people all over the world, not just Adventists, so would this program provide help to any family who would want it.

I know this is kind of long, but this is my calling in life. Thanks for sharing in my excitement with me, and pray for me as God guides me in this venture!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Fire Away!

Sorry I’ve been kind of spotty with my writing these past few days, but I’ve been busy; oh so busy! I’ve been working two jobs, and have been enjoying Fourth of July festivities when work is over. Yay!

Yesterday Arlen and I went with his family to the symphony that was playing for the big celebration here in our home town. (I know, they were a day early.) I was proud to see that my nephew is officially unafraid of me now. He was terrified of my big wedding dress and hasn’t really been comfortable around me ever since. Yesterday, however, he treated me just like he did before the scary white monster appeared.

The Fourth of July has always been kind of a funny holiday to me. People drive from various distances to a very crowded spot to stay up late and watch big, colorful fireworks explode. There is an Adventures in Odyssey episode called “By Dawn’s Early Light.” It’s about the American Revolution and the birth of our national anthem. It’s actually one of my favorite episodes. You see, it gives me a better mental picture of what was going on in the time of our country’s birth. As Francis Scott Key sat aboard the ship, watching the bombing of Fort McHenry, the only way he could tell how his fellow Americans were doing was by the state of the flag. If the flag was still raised high, the men were still fighting. If the flag was lowered, they had surrendered and lost the battle. The only way he could tell the condition of the flag was by the bursts of the cannon shells in the air.

Today I was thinking, and I realized that it is much the same way with us. We are in the midst of a spiritual warfare, and we have a choice to make. When the shelling gets too hard to bare, we have two options. The first is that we can lower our flag, retreat, and surrender. The second is to keep our flags high, no matter how tattered and torn it becomes. Exodus 14 recounts the parting of the red sea. The Israelites were terrified. They were sure they were done for and that there was nothing they could do about it. Yet, tucked away in this exciting chapter, there is a small verse, a small verse which speaks volumes. In verse 14, Moses tells the people, “God will fight for you, you need only to be still.” That’s the key. When the fighting gets so bad we can’t take it anymore, we must not surrender and forfeit our loyalty to the cross. We must pray, we must cry out to the Lord, and we must let Him fight for us. I pray that God will give me the strength to hold my banner high, even when the going gets tough!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Hello?? Can anybody hear me?!?!

Honestly, this weekend has been a really rough one for me. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a good Sabbath and have had a lot of fun times too. However, I have been struggling. I often feel misunderstood, and the past few days have been no exception. There is one thing that has made things a little rougher too. On top of not feeling understood, I have not felt listened to. It’s been almost as if I’ve had to fight for everything I’ve said. It’s quite exhausting and draining to be honest.

Although I know the scale for me is much smaller, I feel as if I can relate to Jesus a little bit. The book of Mark records three times when Jesus tries to tell his disciples of His impending death. The first time, the disciples don’t even sort of get what He was trying to say, and to make matters worse, Peter argues with Him. The two other times after that, the disciples are still confused. I’m sure Jesus felt frustrated and unlistened to then.

One of my favorite texts is Hebrews 4:15 and 16. It says, “For we do not have a high priest [meaning Jesus] who cannot sympathize with our weakness, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore, let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in our time of need." Hebrews 4 is filled of the news of Christ’s comfort for us. It’s encouraging to know that even when we feel like no one in the world understands us, or no one in the world is listening, Jesus is there ready to hold us.

As I close, I am going to leave you with the words of the first and third verses of a hymn that has been playing in my mind today. It’s called “Abide with Me” and was written by Henry F. Lyte.

“Abide with me;
fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens;
Lord with me abide!
When other helpers fail,
and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless,
O abide with me!

I need Thy presence
every passing hour;
What but thy grace can
Foil the tempters power?
Who like Thyself my
guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine
O abide with me!"

Friday, June 30, 2006

Ahhh!!! Must Hurry!

Went to work…helped make lunch…ate lunch…went to the grocery store…went to the post office…did some laundry…made bread…made breakfast for tomorrow…made soup…made homemade peach sorbet…dealt with workman’s comp until I couldn’t take it any more and Arlen took over…did the dishes…swept and mopped (more like scrubbed on all fours) the kitchen…folded and put away laundry…straightened the house…hubby helped and kept me sane…sat down for a break. Pretty busy huh?

I’ve been rushing around for the past few hours, getting ready for the Sabbath. But as I sit here now and take a breather, one thought is running through my mind. “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10. I know I posted this Psalm the other day, but it is still running through my mind. It seems that every Friday I get so caught up in the rush of preparing for Sabbath that I don’t really take a break and think about what I’m doing all this rushing around for. I know it’s not meaningless. In Mark, Jesus says “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” Mark 7:28. What does this mean? It means “Be still and know that I am God,” It means, “Six days shall you labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the Lord your God, in it you shall not do any work.” Exodus 20:9,10a. It means that God has made the Sabbath a special day to commune with us like on no other day during the week. So, rather than getting caught up in the stresses of Friday, I should prepare excitedly. I should look at it as an opportunity to have the best company of all time over to my house. Yay!

Okay, okay, I have to go here really soon, but before I do, I want to share with you one more thing God has been bringing to my heart today. It’s a text we all know from Mark 8. Where Jesus said, “Whoever wants to save his life will loose it, but whoever looses his life for me and for the gospel will save it” Mark 8:35. I had never read that in context before. (Man, my time is running short.) Well, instead of writing about the wonderful things God has showed me, I’ll let you discover it for yourself. I’d never looked at this verse in context before – it changes the whole meaning. Read it and keep in mind what Jesus says to Peter about His motives. Now think of what makes up your life. Are you willing to lose it all if Christ calls you to that? Just something to think about.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Lost in a Funk

Ok, so I've been kind of in a funk lately. I don't know if you've ever been there before, but if you have you'll know what I'm talking about. It's been one of those weeks where I have no motivation and absolutly no sense of purpose. I come home after work, eat lunch with my hubby and work on our ten minutes of dishes together. So far, so good, but this is when the funk begins. I spend the rest of the afternoon wasting time on whatever I can find. Anything to keep me away from more dishes, cleaning, laundry, calling workman's comp, running errands - you get the point. Then, when the day is over I feel so lazy and frustrated because I haven't even started any of the important things I was supposed to do. I vow to do better tommorow, and tommorow is just the same as the day before. What gives?

What's made it more difficult is that I'm at that place I think most college students in America are fully familiar with. I have no idea where I'm going and what I'm doing. What am I supposed to do with my life? Am I going to have my dream job, or will I have to do something else? Do I really know what my dream job is? What about my husband? What is he doing? Where is his buisness going? What does God want us to do? Between the funk and the unknown, I've been in a rather odd mood lately. I haven't even felt all that close to God. Sure I've been faithful, including Him throught my day, but I haven't felt that connection.

Today, however has been different. As I was praying this morning, and pouring my soul out to God, He began answering my pleas. First He responded to my unsurity about the future by bringing to my mind Joshua 9:11-13. "'I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the Lord. 'Plans for welfare and not calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all of your heart.'" I may not know where I'm going in the next few years, but God sure does. As long as I seek Him, He will guide me every step of the way.

A little bit later at work, the hymn "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms" began going through my head. It was looping so many times that I stopped resisting the urge to belt it out. And suddenly I was filled with joy. For the first time in a while I actually felt close to God. In Ephesians 5 Paul tells us to be filled with the spirit. There's no wonder that includes "speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord." (v.19) There's no comparing to the healing and joy the Holy Spirit can bring through a simple song.

So what did I learn today? Keep singing, and trust God. Horray!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

But It Looks So Good!!

Yesterday, while I was at work, one of my wonderful bosses gave me this increadible piece of choclate. I lept with joy inside as I recieved this small morsel because, you see, I'm a chocoholic. I grew even more excited as I read the lable "Dark Choclate with Mint Cream." Dark choclate is my absolute favorite. I like it for two reasons! First of all, the flavor is out of this world. Secondly, dark choclate has much less milk in it, so I don't get as sick.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, I'm alergic to milk. This little fact makes my continual cravings for choclate a bit of a burden. I usually do all right and am able to resist the urge to indulge, but occasionally, the temptation is just too strong. I have the hardest time at resturants and parties when a nice big decadant piece of choclate cake is delicately placed in front of me. (Work with me here as I get discriptive, it helps me set the mood so you can see how strong of a temptation it really is). It's sitting there in it's shimmering shade of beautiful brown beconing me "Laura, eat me, you know I taste so good!" As I longingly stare at the delicacy before me, my eyes start to sparkle as a battle begins in my head, "That thing must be loaded with milk! But it looks soooo good! It won't hurt me just to have one bite." Before you know it, I'm sitting with a belly full of exquisite choclate cake. Then a few hours later, I'm as sick as a dog; making sure that at any given moment, I am no more than 30ft away from the closest bathroom. At that point I'm sorry, very sorry. I vow to be good to my body. I vow never again to eat another piece of rich, creamy choclate cake. And I mean it. I mean it of course, until the next beautiful piece of choclate delight is placed before my feasting eyes.

Why am I bothering to write about this increadible weakness? Because God used it to give me a little wake up call today. I was reading in Judges about how the Isrealites totally ignored what the Lord told them about mixing with the Cannanites. "Oh boy," I thought,"they're in for trouble." And I was right. God sent His angel to rebuke them. They wailed and cried and felt so bad. Then, they turned around and disobeyed God again. This was the beginning of an endless cycle of disobedience and being sort of sorry. This cycle continued on for quite some time. As I've heard this story before, I've always thought, "You dumb Isrealites,don't you ever learn?" Then God kind of turned the tables on me and said, "But Laura, don't you do the same all the time." Immediatly my mind was flooded with choclate cake and a bazzillion other examples of when I am just as repentant as those crazy Isrealites.

As I sat there, I thought, "Okay Lord, now you have my attention, but what am I supposed to do?" He guided me to Psalm 51.This is a Psalm of David written after he messed around with Bathsheba. He was truly sorry for what he had done. It was through this passage, that God showed me what being sorry is all about. Now, I just pray that He will work in me to produce true repentance whenever I muff things up.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Me? Gullable? Maybe...

I'm going to tell you something. If you don't know me very well, you are in for a treat. If you do know me pretty well, you will simply laugh and say "yup, that's Laura." Okay, here goes. I'm gullable. Not just a little gullable, I'm very gullable. Many people find great amusement out of this because this little fact makes me very teasable! However, there is another personality trait I posess that makes me likely one of the most teasable people in the world. I react. I don't just react a little bit, I react whole heartedly.

That's kind of how I am about everything. I believe and I react. While these two traits can be wonderful at times, they can also be huge personality flaws. Basicly when it's at it's worst, I overreact and jump to conclusions. This reminds me very much of the Isrealites in Joshua 22. They were freaking out because the tribes of Ruben, Gad and Manasseh had built this massive alter on the other side of the Jorden. The sons of Isreal simply assumed that this alter was being used in ways that are contrary to God's law. They were so upset that they were ready to go to war against them. That's pretty bad. Come to find out, it was nothing at all like what the Isrealites thought! It's a good thing they checked things out before heading to the Jordon suited up and ready for war.

Only God knows all the ins and out of what's really going on. 1 Samuel 16:7 says "Man looks at the outward appearence, but the Lord looks at the heart." It's easy for me (and I'm assuming some of you can say the same for yourselves) to come to conclusions and react too quickly. However, it is important that we a) seek the Lord's counsel, b) gather all the facts from the appropriate sources and c) practice patience with our reactions.

In closing I have one thing to say! I'm so thankful for the promise we find in Philippians 1:6 "For I am confidant of this very thing, that He who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ."

Monday, June 26, 2006

Some Land and A Letter

Okay, so I've decided to follow the example of my good friend Jacki. Although I'm not a writer like her, I'm determined to write a blog a day (unless of course, I have a really good reason not to.) The problem with today is that I'm just not sure what to write about. Now, I could wait until later to see if something absoultly fantastic happens (not likely), or I could blog now, when I have time. Well, I'll asume my choice is rather obvious.

Today was pretty normal. I woke up a little late, ate and got ready for the day. Went to Thatcher South front desk to work - it was rather busy today. Made vegan pizza for lunch - yum, and ran errands - woo hooo! (not quite.) I did find out that God is really blessing me financially next year for my school bill far more than I could imagine - it's just like Him.

Speaking of God, I had a really good meeting with Him this morning. I began reading in Joshua 15. "Oh boy," I thought, "alottment of land - how boaring!" As I was reading, however I thought for a moment - surely there is something here that God is trying to tell me. And sure enough, as usually, God spoke to me in that still small voice. As I read about all the land the various tribes recieved and looked at the maps I realized how much territory the Isrealites really got and it struck me - God always provides so much more for His children than we could ever imagine! In fact, just this very second, I see how that's true in my own life. Just as I'm sure the Isrealites lept for joy when they saw all this amazing land God was giving them, I lept for joy when I saw my financial aid award letter today. He always provides! (You know it's funny how He drives a point home like that too).

Anyway, as I close out this blog, I want to leave you with a Psalm I read today in which God was yet again, encouraging me to trust Him more.

"God is Our refuge and strength,
A very present hlep in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth shoule change
And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
The holy dwelling places of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved;
The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered;
He raised His voice, the earth melted.
The LORD of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold.

Come, behold the works of the LORD,
Who has wrought desolations in the earth.
He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spar in two;
He burns the chariots with fire.
'Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exaulted amont the nations, I will be exaulted in the earth.'
The LORD of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our Stronghold."
~Psalm 46

Sunday, June 25, 2006

I'm Not Superwoman!!

Have you ever noticed that every once in a while you get a break in life. When you're in school those breaks are namely Thanksgiving break, Christmas break, Spring break and summer break. During these periods of our lives, we decide once-and-for-all that we are going to get caught up. We are going to get caught up on school, caught up on sleep, on friends and family and the lives of those around us, on all the little things that we want to do, but never have time for. Then, as the break comes to a close, we realize that far too few of the tasks on our list have been accomplished, and sometimes we're even more behind than we were when we began. What's with all of this?

If you haven't already guessed, this is where I'm at right now. It's not that summer break is almost over, but since I'm only working part time this summer, there were so many things I was eagerly waiting to do. There's learning to be a wife, keeping up with the house, growing closer to my family, and Arlen's family, keeping in touch with friends I haven't seen in a while, spending more time with friends that are around, devoting a lot of time to a ministry I feel called to start (more on that later), getting files on my computer orginized and the list goes on. Yesterday the bottom fell out. I discovered how exausted I felt, how far behind I am on all the wonderful things I had planned to do, and how I can't be streatched to be five places with five different people at one time.

I have been reading in Joshua lately (by the way, Joshua is a very inspiring individual). Yesterday I began reading in Joshua 9. (You'll have to read it). The basic outline is that people were deciving the Isrealites and "the men of Isreal took some of their provisions [to give to the decievers], and did not ask for the counsel of the Lord" Joshua 9:14. That was it! It hit me hard. So often I feel like things are so clear - it's a good thing, and I enjoy it, so God must want me to do it. If I have no reason to say no, why not. Yet, I don't consult with God. For the hard decisions, sure, but what about the easy stuff. Maybe it's not as easy as it seems.

I'm not superwoman. I don't claim to be. I can't keep everyone happy all the time. I can't keep up with the fast pace of this world. I can't save every friendship, or save every soul (that's God's job for sure). So what now? I pray every day, for every decision. "God, do you want me to make this appointment?" "I have two options for this time slot, which thing should I do?" "How should I spend my time for You today?" "Which people do You want me to focus on today?" No I won't get it all done, but that's okay. It's okay because with God's help I will accomplish the things that are important to Him.

Bible Study

Ok, so the words Bible study scare a lot of people. Where do I begin? What do I do next? What if I don't get it? And there's devotional time. What am I supposed to do there? Pray? Read the Bible? Is that it?

To be honest, studying the Bible is something I haven't struggled with a whole lot, but I know a lot of people have. I mean, for goodness sake, it's the biggest book I've ever seen, and it's certainly not the easiest to understand. And there are those tough parts like Revelation and Leveticus. So what's to be done? Buckle down and just drudge through it, right? Wrong.

I am a strong believer that the Bible can be interesting to everyone. That's right. The problem is too many of us think there is only one right way to study the bible. That's where we're mistaken. Don't get me wrong, there are lots of wrong ways to study the Bible too. My point is, however, that we must find what works for our personality. I mark all over my Bible, write down all sorts of questions and then search for the answers. It is also very important for me to be systematic - working through one book at a time. However, my husband jumps all around, singing in the middle of His reading and sometimes searching the Bible topically. Both of these are good, but they are very different approaches. The important thing is that we are truely seeking to find what God is saying to us through the Bible authors, not what we want Him to say, or what we think He's saying. We want to know what God is really telling us.

Anyway, I just thought it would be fun to share your favorite Bible study methods and or your favoriate thing to do for devotions/worship. Who knows, you might even see something you'd like to try.

Blogging Away

Ok so we blog. But what is blogging really? How do we decide what to write? How do we know anyone will even care? It's kind of a funny system really, and although I participate with the scripting of my own blog, and I enjoy reading my friend's entries, I can't help but ask these questions. So I guess I have a few questions for anyone who's game to answer. (Don't worry - I'll answer my own questions as well.)

1. Why do you write a blog?
I honestly can't answer that question. I guess to let other people know what's going on in my life

2. Why do you read other people's blogs?
To find out what's going on in my friend's lives.

3. What is your favoriate kind of blog to read?
I honestly like the ones that are just kind of random thoughts. I don't know why - I just like them.

4. What is your least favoriate kind of blog to read?
Surveys (heh *blushes*)

5. What is your favoriate kind of blog to write?
I haven't done it enough to really say yet.

The End :D