A Few Thoughts. . .

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Last night we started our Ladies Bible Study back up at church. We finished studying Romans in November, and took off the month of December. Our new study is a topical study – we are going through the book “Overcoming Fear, Worry, and Anxiety” by Elyse Fitzpatrick. I am really looking forward to seeing what the Lord has for us in this study, as I, like most women, deal with many of these issues in my life.

We have only begun with the first chapter, but I wanted to share just a few of the things that have impressed me and encouraged me already. Some of these came from reading the book and some of them from our discussion last night, which is always a blessing as the Lord uses other believers to minister to me from their own experiences and by sharing what the Lord has taught them.

– One comment that was made was the fact that so many of our fears are based on “what if’s”, and we imagine having to go through so many things from our present point of view. What really hit me was when someone reminded us all that God gives us grace for those times at the time of need, not before – so it is needless to worry about “what if” something happens, when we really need to spend that energy trusting the Lord to give us that grace when it is needed. This has been such a comfort to me, as I tend to be one who thinks about these “what if’s” more than I should, and I am trying to remember this truth whenever I find myself worrying in this way.

– Another comment that was shared that really impacted me was in relation to parenting and perfectionism (eek!). Someone shared something she had read that stated that our focus in parenting is not to make perfect children, who make no mistakes, but to teach them to recognize their sin and lead them to the Savior with a repentant heart. I totally agree with this, but realized that – in practice – I probably lean more toward the former rather than the latter. I expect to be able to teach them the right thing to do, and then expect them to just do it, and then I get frustrated when they fail over and over again (as I do!). It was further pointed out that parenting this way actually drives them away from God, rather than towards Him – in realizing their need for Him – which was a huge wake-up call for me. There is a chapter later in the book on perfectionism, which I can’t wait to read (and may not wait to!)

-One final thought comes from the final paragraph in this chapter, and deals with the truth that trust in the Lord is the antidote for the harmful fears and worries that beset us – this will be greatly delved into throughout the course of the book, but these words really touched my heart –

“Look deeply also into the heart of the One who loved you so much that He walked into the jaws of death and His enemy’s grasp for your sake. Love like that just demands to be trusted. So whether your fears are real or imagined – whether you’re just beginning to understand them or you’re too familiar with them – you can throw yourself on the mercy of God, the one who loves you more than you could possibly know.”

I’ll try to share more insights as I work through the study over the next 6 months.

Have a wonderful day!

Blessings,
Nancy

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Psalm 148

Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord from the heavens;
Praise Him in the heights!

Praise Him, all His angels;
Praise Him, all His hosts!

Praise Him, sun and moon;
Praise Him, all stars of light!

Praise Him, highest of heavens,
And the waters that are above the heavens!

Let them praise the name of the Lord,
For He commanded and they were created.

He has also established them forever and ever;
He has made a decree which will not pass away.

Praise the Lord from the earth,
Sea monsters and all deeps;

Fire and hail, snow and clouds;
Stormy wind, fulfilling His word;

Mountains and all hills;
Fruit trees and all cedars;

Beasts and all cattle;
Creeping things and winged fowl;

Kings of the earth and all peoples;
Princes and all judges of the earth;

Both young men and virgins;
Old men and children.

Let them praise the name of the Lord,
For His name alone is exalted;
His glory is above the earth and heaven.

And He has lifted up a horn for His people,
Praise for all His godly ones;
Even for the sons of Israel, a people near to Him.

Praise the Lord!

Fun, Sun, Family and Faith

It’s been a busy week around here – thought I’d fill you in on what we’ve been up to.

Last week was filled with repairmen, carpet cleaning and house cleaning. Then on Friday night, Laura and I went to a Ladies Mini-Retreat at church. We had a potluck dinner on beautifully decorated tables and wonderful fellowship and teaching. Our speaker taught on the subject of anxiety and worry, which really turned out to be full of testimonies about what a great and big God we serve. The practical application of this was interwoven throughout the teaching – Bible reading and memorization. We were strongly encouraged to be reading daily and hiding God’s Word in our hearts by memorizing Scripture. She really made the point of the power of God’s Word – something that we tend to forget about all too easily (or I do anyway!). It was a rich time of encouragement and reminder of God’s love and care.

Saturday began with another trip to the movie theater to see Prince Caspian – this time with Jeff, Tommy, Sarah, Laura (again) and Matthew. I really like this movie and love the chivalry and message of our victory through Christ alone – not of our own power and strength.

Sunday was our annual Memorial Day Weekend Celebration and Birthday Party. This means that the extended family comes over for the first swim party of the year. We always celebrate my oldest two boys’ birthdays at this party since their birthdays are right around the corner. The weather was beautiful and we enjoyed swimming, and chips and dips by the pool. Our dinner consisted of pizza, chicken nuggets and salad, with birthday cake and ice cream for dessert. It was a fun day/evening and a good time was had by all. Robert (#1 son) stayed late after everyone left and watched a movie with the Late Night Crew until about 3 am!

Today (after sleeping in a little bit – we were all recovering from our day in the sun yesterday and the late night), the big boys went in to work and Laura & I went to see the new Indiana Jones movie, leaving Jeff home to stay with the littles. It was really crowded at the theater and we ended up on the third row, but we survived (never mind the strange tilt of our heads we have had ever since ūüėČ ). The movie was enjoyable enough, in true Indiana Jones style, but we both kind of rolled our eyes at the “treasure” they uncovered (trying not to spoil anything for anyone!) – if you’ve seen it you’ll know what I mean. After a quick stop by the grocery store for a few items, we returned home to find everyone in swim suits, waiting to hit the pool. We swam for a little while, then grilled some hot dogs for dinner, which we have just finished eating. The big boys will be home soon and will be helping Jeff remove all of the Rubbermaid containers from both attics (all of our holiday boxes as well as clothing storage boxes). Tomorrow we have workmen coming for the whole day to install radiant barriers in the attics – we’re hoping this will help keep our house cooler through our hot Texas summers so that the air conditioner won’t have to run as much. (Maybe we’ll save enough on electricity to pay for gas and groceries as the price on both keeps zooming up!)

Having the clothing containers down will be good, since I’ve been needing to clean them out and send most of it to Goodwill anyway. I guess I have my plan for tomorrow already set!

I hope that you all had a wonderful Memorial Day and that you took some time to think about the price that was paid by so many for the freedoms that we now enjoy, and to say a prayer to the Lord for his continued favor and hand on our country, which we are growing to merit less and less in this present age.

“Whether American independence will be a blessing or a curse depends on how our people make use of what God has given us. If they are wise, they will be great and happy. If they are not, they will be miserable. Righteousness alone can exalt a nation (Proverbs 14:34). Reader! Whoever you are, remember this, and in your world practice goodness and encourage it in others.” – Patrick Henry

Blessings,
Nancy

Good Friday


One of my favorite Psalms is Psalm 22.¬† It is a powerful and moving portrait of Christ as He hung on the cross (although written hundreds of years before it ever occurred!).¬† In honor of Good Friday, I want to share it with you here.¬† May you be blessed by God’s Word today!

Psalm 22
“My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?
Why are You so far from saving me,
so far from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry out by day, but You do not answer,
by night, and am not silent.
Yet You are enthroned as the Holy One;
You are the praise of Israel.
In You our fathers put their trust;
they trusted and you delivered them.
They cried to you and were saved;
in You they trusted and were not disappointed.
But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by men and despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads:
‘He trusts in the Lord;
let the Lord rescue him.
Let Him deliver him,
since He delights in him.’
Yet You brought me out of the womb;
You made me trust in You even at my mother’s breast.
From birth I was cast upon you;
from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.
Many bulls surround me;
strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
Roaring lions tearing their prey
open their mouths wide against me.
I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
it has melted away within me.
My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
You lay me in the dust of death.
Dogs have surrounded me;
a band of evil men has encircled me,
they have pierced my hands and my feet.
I can count all my bones;
people stare and gloat over me.
They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.

But You, O Lord, be not far off;
O my Strength, come quickly to help me.
Deliver my life from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dogs.
Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
save me from the horns of the wild oxen.

I will declare Your name to my brothers;
in the congregation I will praise you.
You who fear the Lord, praise Him!
All you descendants of Jacob, honor Him!
Revere Him, all you descendants of Israel!
For He has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one;
He has not hidden His face from him but has listened to his cry for help.

From You comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
before those who fear You will I fulfill my vows.
The poor will eat and be satisfied;
they who seek the Lord will praise Him –
may your hearts live forever!
All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations will bow down before Him,
for dominion belongs to the Lord and He rules over the nations.

All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
all who go down to the dust will kneel before Him –
those who cannot keep themselves alive.
Posterity will serve Him;
future generations will be told about the Lord.
They will proclaim His righteousness to a people yet unborn –
for He has done it.”

Blessings,
Nancy

On the 5th day ’til Christmas…

Today I finally get to stay home and wrap, bake, etc. . . .kind of.  I had to take Matthew to work this morning and will be picking him up again this afternoon, but other than that, I get to stay home and do some things. 

Cherry cookies are on the list for baking today.¬† I always seem to start my baking with these cookies – I think because they are so festive.¬† It’s simply a drop sugar cookie recipe with pecans in them.¬† After dropping the cookies on the cookie sheet, you place a candied cherry in the center of each and then bake.¬† I grew up watching my mom bake these at Christmas¬†and now I love to make them, too!¬† My children love to put the cherries on.¬†

Here’s the recipe:

Cherry Christmas Cookies

1 1/3 cups shortening

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 cups flour

1 cup pecans

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

8 teaspoons milk

Thoroughly cream shortening and sugar.  Beat eggs Рadd to creamed mixture.  Add vanilla and mix thoroughly.

Sift dry ingredients.  Stir into creamed mixture, together with milk.

Drop from spoon onto greased cookie sheet.  Top with candied cherries.  Bake at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes.

I stayed up too late last night working on the Christmas cards – it helped (?) that I had caffeine for lunch and dinner!¬† I made good progress, though so I’m glad I did – of course, the kids may not feel the same way later when I start snapping at them from my lack of sleep. . .sigh!

Growing up at Christmastime, we would always watch “The Homecoming” on television.¬† You know the one – the Walton family, before the series, with a different Mom and Dad, but mostly the same kids.¬† In this movie, some of the children joined their neighbor children down at the general store – there was a lady giving away toys to anyone who could quote a Bible verse – ah, the excitement!¬† Well, one of the little children quoted the shortest verse in the Bible:¬†

“Jesus wept.”¬†¬†¬†¬† (John 11: 35)

I used to think that this verse was just a statement of Christ’s grief over the death of his friend, Lazarus.¬† The truth of this verse actually goes so much deeper than that.¬† I learned this in a Bible study years ago, and it has deepened my understanding and relationship with the Lord.¬† Jesus received word of the illness of Lazarus days before.¬† He could have gone immediately to his side and healed him.¬† But, that was not the Father’s plan.¬† He was planning to use this situation for His glory.¬† After Jesus knew that Lazarus had died, He began His journey back to Judea.¬† When He arrived, He found many people gathered around Lazarus’ sisters – Mary and Martha – comforting them in their grief.¬† Lazarus had been in the tomb for 4 days already.¬† It is at this point in the story that we find our verse of the day – “Jesus wept.”¬† Naturally, we tend to think that He was simply grieving along with the rest of them, but remember, He chose to stay away until He knew Lazarus was gone.¬† He also, in His divine intelligence, knew that He was about to raise him from the dead. No, the reason He wept was over the effect of sin on the world and mankind.¬† It showed His great love for us – He hates sin and the effect it has had on His creation.¬† People didn’t die, or experience grief before sin entered the world through Adam & Eve.¬† Christ was weeping over the sadness and grief that sin has caused.¬†

My point in picking this verse is this – He knows our situation and¬†HE CARES!!!!¬† Isn’t it wonderful to have a God Who is moved to tears by our own hardships and grief?¬† He, having walked the earth in human form, has experienced what we experience and loves us enough to come to die for us.¬†¬† He also intercedes for us with the Father.¬† Hebrews has a wonderful¬†passage pertaining to¬†this:

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest Who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.¬† For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have One Who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin.¬† Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† -Hebrews 4: 14-16

He wept, and He still weeps over our sin today, but He has defeated it!¬† His death was for the sole purpose of paying our sin debt to God.¬† He did this freely, without requiring anything from us, except that we accept His free gift of salvation from our sin and it’s penalties.¬† It is a free gift – and yet, how many will believe and accept His gift?¬†

Christmas is so much more than the celebration of Christ’s birth – it is the celebration of the wonderful gift that God gave us – His own Son as payment for our sin and the freedom from the slavery to sin that we are born into.¬† Praise the Lord!

Oh, and in case you don’t know the rest of the Lazarus story – Jesus raised him from the dead (just as He does us, from our spiritual death in sin) and the Father was glorified and many put their faith in Him that day.¬†

Blessings,

Nancy

My new Bible

I have a new Bible. I told Jeff that I didn’t want it for Christmas because I needed it now!

You see, I have been having a hard time consistently spending time in God’s Word – there is always someone or something else clamoring for attention. It seems that there are so many more things to do than hours to do them in. I’m sure that many of these “things” are on my list and not God’s. Some of my priorities are truly God-given (my family, for example). But many things I think are priorities simply aren’t. Funny thing is I don’t realize it in the thick of the day. THIS is why I need to be in God’s Word…daily…hourly! I need to be constantly reminded what my true priorities are. I need to sit at His feet and listen to Him and learn from Him, as Mary did.

Part of my problem has been not wanting to just pick up my Bible and read aimlessly, anywhere. I do pretty well when I have a Bible Study to work on, but this doesn’t always get me in the Bible on a daily basis.

I have had a growing desire to read – really read – through God’s word. I have never read through the whole Bible systematically and have been thinking lately that I would like to do so.
I had even mentioned to Jeff a week or so ago that I thought I would like to have a One Year Bible for women. (In case you haven’t heard of these, they divide the Bible into 365 daily readings, so that you can read it all the way through in a year.)

On my way to town the other day, I decided that I did not want to wait any longer to get started reading – partly because I’m excited about it, but more importantly because I really need to, for the above mentioned reasons! Well, I just happened (?) to be on my way to the Christian bookstore to do some Christmas shopping, so God’s timing was perfect.

At the store, I found a One Year Bible especially for women – all pink and pretty. This version has me reading daily in the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs. If I had started on Jan. 1st, I would have started with Genesis and Matthew, but since I’m reading the December selections, I am reading Hosea and the Johns (I, II, III). I have enjoyed this format, as Hosea is so sad and it’s been nice to have something else to follow it up with. I am wondering, however, if I will have trouble with continuity as I go along. If so, I will just read one of the sections each day and take longer than a year to get through it – which is fine – it’s just SO good to be reading each day and I look forward with great excitement to the lessons the Lord has to teach me in the year ahead.

“It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ” – Matthew 4:4

Blessings,
Nancy