"Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:15

Monday, March 21, 2011

Things You Can Count On Now!

Things You Can Count On Now!
There is a Grace that is sufficient;
a Mercy that endures;
an Atoning Blood that cleanses;
a Hope that doesn't disappoint;
a Love that never fails;
a Purpose that works all things together for the good;
a Peace that passes understanding;
a Joy unspeakable;
a Kingdom unshakable;
a Foundation indestructible;
a High Priest who prays;
a Savior who lives;
a Spirit who comforts;
a Father who cares.

Therefore, we who have fled to Him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. Hebrews 6:18-19 NLT

-Roy Lessin

Read more encouraging messages by Roy Lessin, DaySpring co-founder and writer, on Roy's blog,
Meet Me in the Meadow.

Encouragement for Spring!
In the ever-changing circumstances of life, there is a faithful, never-changing God in control.

Every day begins and ends with His purpose-
there isn't a detail that escapes His eye...
a trial that doesn't touch His heart...
or a single experience beyond His compassion.

Every moment of your life is in His care-
and I pray that He gives you overwhelming peace and hope today.

Pray about everything; tell God your needs... If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6, 7 TLB

Be blessed today as you enjoy the beginnings of a beautiful Spring!  It is definitely 'in the air.'

Monday, March 14, 2011

What Can I Say? I Love Music

"Hold Us Together," by Matt Maher

"More Beautiful You," by Jonny Diaz (Awesome video and lyrics!)

"I Will Rise," by Chris Tomlin

"You Are More," By Tenth Avenue North (If only everyone believed this about themselves)

"Revelation Song," by Kari Jobe

"God You Reign," by Lincoln Brewster

"That's What Faith Can Do," by Kutless (I have to constantly remind myself of this)

"Give Me Your Eyes," by Brandon Heath

"My Own Little World," by Matthew West

"I Am New," by Jason Gray

"You Are," by Jason Castro

"Come Home," by Luminate

"I'm Alive," by Matt Maher

Again, I hope you have enjoy listening to these as much as I do. Be blessed!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

And Then Some

Friends, I love Lysa TerKeurst, founder of Proverbs 31 Ministries, and her daily blog.  I have it daily sent to my 'in box,' and I actually read it. Not like some of the other things I have daily in my 'in box.'  No, this is good stuff, thought provoking stuff, stuff to grow with, to grow into.  And that's the reason I am copying her blog from yesterday.  I  think it's appropriate for this time of year, and then some.......

And then some…
Today is the beginning of lent.  A time to take a reverent walk towards the reality of Easter.  I want these days to count for something.   More than just preparation of my heart for Easter, I want focus.  I want application.  I want to take the idea of lent and turn it into an activity.

One of the themes of my life these past couple of years has been, “If I want to grow closer to God, I have to distance myself from distractions.”

Mostly I’ve focused on what I need to give up.  I’ve spent seasons giving up different things… TV, sugar, diet coke, and other life comforts.  But this year for lent, my focus isn’t going to be on what I’m giving up.  This year my reverent walk is going to have the theme of giving more.  I’m calling it… “and then some.”

My Pastor preached an amazing message this weekend.  Tucked inside this great message on “Honorology” was this statement, “and then some.”  I can’t exactly remember why Pastor said this statement but I do know that God Himself started speaking to me.

The statement grabbed me.

It got all up in my business and interrupted me.

It challenged me past the typical and into the realm of atypical.

It pushed me out of what is common and into the zone of uncommon.

It made me want to release the propensity toward being normal and into being more like Jesus.

Jesus was the Master of “and then some.”

He came to save us but spent His first 30 years living in the trenches of everyday life.  Can you imagine what patience and humility that took?  To live for 30 years swallowing the reality that you are the King of Kings… doing chores, getting along with your brother, learning the art of carpentry, and figuring out what’s for dinner… it really is amazing.

He could have just appeared as an adult and started preaching His messages.
But He didn’t.  He started at infancy identifying with us.  

Then, He started at 30 inspiring us.  Him identifying with us made His inspiration more real, more authentic, more touchable.That was just the first of His, “and then some” living.
He taught, don’t just forgive your enemies- love them.

He taught, don’t just feed the 5000- have left overs.

He taught, don’t just pray for the lepers- touch them.

And then some.
And then some.
And then some.

So, this is my lent proclamation, promise, and premise this year.  Each day I will take a reverent step toward Easter by implementing an “and then some” activity in my life.

Do something…and then just to glorify God, I’ll add in a little more.  Reach past what is possible in my strength and grab hold of God’s strength.  That’s how we add “and then some” to our life.

Atypical.  Uncommon.  More like Jesus.  Yes, that’s what I want… and then some.

For more of Lysa's thoughts and ponderings, go to http://lysaterkeurst.com/ and sign up for her daily email.  You won't be disappointed.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Dover, Xander, Koda--Whatever His Name Is

We have an addition to our family.  I think his name is Koda, but  I'm not quite sure.  He's eight weeks old and utterly adorable.  One of the best things though, is that he's laid back.  He's also quiet and paper trained. YES!!!  Acquiring our new puppy was definitely a God thing.  I mean, I've been looking and looking practically everywhere for a  Golden Retriever.  I didn't care what age--old, young; it didn't matter to me.  I just knew that I wanted to adopt a Golden.  I mean, we adored Sam, our Golden Retriever that recently passed away, and we wanted another one just like him.  Over the past two weeks, I'd applied at a few shelters and rescue centers, however, I had yet to hear anything back from any of them.  Thus, my patience was wearing thin.

I did, however, learn that Golden Retrievers are rarely  ever at shelters and they are extremely expensive to buy from breeders.  I really don't believe in buying from breeders when there are so many dogs in shelters, however, I was seriously wanting a Golden and wasn't getting anywhere.  So....I continued to look online, put in my zip code, do searches, etc.  Every time I would find one within a relatively short distance, I would call and the shelter would either tell me that he/she had already been adopted out or that I had to complete an application and have a home check.  All of which would take quite a while.  So...I would complete the application and wait for the phone call for a home visit, and it had yet to  come.

That's why I so excited yesterday when I saw Koda and his brother and sister listed on an adoption website.  I called the shelter and sure enough, all three were still there ready and waiting to be adopted.  It was already late in the afternoon, and the shelter was over 2 1/2 hours away, so I asked if she thought that the puppies would still be there in the morning, and she assured me that they would.  I mean, I wouldn't want anyone to pick up all three today, and have me miss my opportunity to adopt a Golden Retriever puppy just because I was too lazy to jump in my van and race down to Marysville.

At the Shelter
But then a little voice inside me said that I should go immediately.  If there's one thing that I have learned in my life, it's that I should listen to that little voice inside my head; so I did.  I borrowed my girlfriend's GPS, jumped in my van, and raced towards Marysville.  I didn't even stop home because I didn't think that I would have time to make it there before they closed if I had.  The conditions were not the best--it was pouring rain and the roads were yucky, and I despised the way the GPS worked.  I really missed Joy's GPS--that sweet voice that constantly updated me on my progress and told  me where I was.  Ahhh...This Garmin GPS honked a loud horn whenever I went over the speed limit (quite often, I may add), and the voice was not as friendly. It also kept me totally in the dark as to my progress and such. I may work in Geography and Planning, but geography is SO not my forte.  Anyway, I made it to the shelter in time to adopt Dover. That was the name they had given my puppy.

In the van with my workout towel
Just after I arrived, they informed me that Dover's sister, Fontana, had just been adopted.  Then, a family entered and they wanted a puppy, too.  So, I quickly claimed Dover because he was so very laid back, friendly and light  in coloring.  His brother, Louden, would have been an excellent choice as well.  But Dover it was.  I quickly learned that Dover really was quite a puppy.  Have you ever tried driving a van, in the pouring rain, when you didn't really know where you were going, and having a puppy running around your van?  Geesh!  It was definitely a memorable ride home.  Thank God, I still had my work out bag in my van.  In it, I had my beach towel and swimsuit because I had planned to go swimming after work.  Instead I seemed to be swimming in the rain, and Dover was peeing on my beach towel.  At least it wasn't on the carpet. I'm finding lately that my life is often being reduced to remembering that, 'it's all about perspective.'

Dover seemed to adjust perfectly, from the moment I pulled into the driveway. He bounded into the house and didn't even lift his leg.  I mean, I totally love this dog--and a male at that.  Every male pooch I've ever owned has lifted his leg to mark my house.  Sometimes, even marking my leg or a friends.'  Uggh!

But not this one.  Nope, he was definitely a God send.  After setting our alarms to awake every couple of hours, and cleaning up a few mistakes, we made it through our first night together.  I kept Dover in my room, Jonathan had Oreo (the neighbor's puppy, who by  the way was not housebroken either), and Bethany had Domino (she definitely had the easiest of the three).  We realized immediately that we need to name this little guy but that was proving to be a difficult task.    Everyone seemed to have opinions on his name, but none as strong as Joy, who at the moment was in a hotel in Florida, biding her time until her cruise departs on Monday.  I was keeping her updated and texted her some pictures of Dover. 

Enjoying lunch in Florida (awaiting their Bahamas cruise)
Well, Joy (and her girlfriend, Kelly) texted me a bunch of potential names, none of which really stood out.  Bethany, Jonathan and I made a list of about 20 names that we liked. Then I asked them to pick their top three.  Xander and Drake were on both lists, and Bethany also liked Koda. Joy liked Koda and Louden, while I liked Xander and Dover.  Goodness, let's keep his original name because it was rather cute. Joy was appalled that we were even considering naming him Xander because that is her cousin Autumn's, dog's name.  It didn't matter that Autumn lives in another state and that we see Autumn less than three times annually, and her Zander even less frequently.   Nonetheless, I aim to please. So, I kept thinking and trying out names.

All day, I kept calling him Xander until someone would balk at that.  Then, I'd call him Dover.  Finally, tonight after I got home after midnight, we finally decided on Koda.  It's seems like a good fit.  He seems to be totally oblivious to it, but that's OK, he'll adjust.  Koda.  I like that name.  It's of African origin and it mean's "last born."  I'm not sure if he was actually the last born, but I know that he has last born characteristics.  Laid back and sweet. I'm a last born, too, so I definitely have a preference of the birthing order of my pup.

Now, about this little guy---he is just what we wanted.  Although the shelter told me that he was all Golden Retriever, after I had paid and signed papers, they notified me that his father was Husky. Domino's part husky, so that's fine with us. I think he may also have some Great Pyrenees in him, too. Whatever.  I do believe that Koda was God ordained to be in our family, so his family lineage is fine.

Home at last
I ended up staying home all day today because I knew that someone would need to stay with Koda and reinforce his housebreaking rules by letting him outside every 45 minutes. Whew! That's work.  I mean, it seemed like every 5 minutes I was letting him outside.  It was all good though.  This little guy caught on quickly.  He also came paper trained, so he's doing quite well for his age.  So, it's our second night together, and he is lying next to me while I am typing.  He's sound asleep because it is 1:30 am, and he's exhausted. Ha.  I am going to put him in a cage that I just got in the hopes that he will sleep soundly and we won't have to wake up every hour.  Maybe just every three hours or so.  I'm not sure how he'll like the cage, so I have decided to sleep in the living room on the coach, so that he'll have company.

Last night, Koda immediately followed me to my room and laid on Domino's dog bed and feel right asleep, as if he owned the joint.  Every time I would move, however, he would get up and follow me.  I put some newspaper in my room and barricaded my door with a suitcase so that he couldn't get out.  I wanted to leave my door open but barricaded.  A couple of times, I stepped over the suitcase to go to the restroom or to get a cup of water, and mild mannered, quiet Koda went berserk.  He cried and cried and cried.  I mean I was gone all of 30 seconds max, but he couldn't handle it. Yikes.  I need to figure out this cage thing tonight because I plan on putting him in the cage when I go to work on Monday. At least until he is totally housebroken. Then, he can roam wherever, whenever he wants.

***A quick update.  Koda did remarkably well overnight in the cage.  I led him in with a treat and locked it.  Then I laid down on the couch.  He started to cry, and when I firmly said, "No," he immediately stopped, laid down and went to sleep.  Wow.  That was way too easy.  Bethany and I both took him out during the night, and he always dutifully (and quietly) returned to his cage.

Jonathan showing Koda his cage
I will continue to update you on Koda's progress, as I plan on getting him into dog training classes immediately.  My schedule is rather hectic right now, but I absolutely believe that this is a priority. I may even have Domino return to a few classes, just so he can be reminded of what excellent manners really are. ha.
Thanks, everyone, for praying for Sam and now for Koda.  Be blessed on this gorgeous Sunday afternoon.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Little Pain Never Hurt Anyone

As much as I love working out, it can be tiresome and painful. Even moreso, it can be time consuming. I work out pretty much every single day for at least 90 minutes each time. Lately, though, it feels like I have been abusing my body instead of helping it. I mean, it seriously hurts. I have been doing a lot of cardio, kickboxing, turbo kick, and machines, and lately, I've been 'stepping it up a notch' and have added weights. Yikes. Weight training. I actually kind of like it. It really, really stretches me to the point of pain. It's like that kind of pain you get when crack your neck. It hurts, but in a good, 'I know this is good for me,' way. The pain eventually goes away, and then I add even more weight next time.  Then my body feels even more abused.

As I struggle to find not only the time to work out, but the energy to work out, I am reminded of just how necessary it is. It's become more necessary, albeit critical, the older I get. It's actually something that I should have been doing my entire life, but have taken time away from for months at a time. Sure, last year, for medical reasons, I couldn't work out, then I got into a car accident, yada, yada, yada, but since January, 2011, I have been able to work out, and it feels totally awesome. It gets my adrenaline going, my blood moving, and my serotonin levels up. It motivates me to do even more things, even greater things. Now, if I can only find the time.

As I was working out, I was thinking that if I spent same the amount of time and energy on my walk with the Lord as I spend on working out, goodness, our relationship would be fantastic. Not that it isn't good; I'd venture to say it's even great, but it can always be better. I am pondering just what it is that I could do to 'step it up a notch,' when I am working on my relationship with the Lord? I mean, should I spend more time in the Word, in prayer, in conversation, in praising and worshiping? Just what is it?

Well, I think all of the above would be great. And in a perfect world, I would be able to do these things all day, every day. But, unfortunately, I live in a fallen world, one that requires me to work 40 hours a week outside my home, that comes with parental responsibilities and the like, and there just isn't a lot of leftover time for me. Just for me. But....as with any awesome relationship, I need to nurture it, spend time on it, and spend time with that person. I need to know His likes and dislikes and be acutely aware of His needs. OK. I realize the Lord doesn't have needs, but He does have likes and dislikes. I need to know these, recognize these and live accordingly.

The Bible says to pray at all times and to give thanks in all circumstances. Is that even possible. I mean, should I actually be praying in the shower, at the drugstore, in the car, at work? Yes, I should and could. I know that there are many circumstances that I really just don't feel like Praising God about. But then I am reminded that the Bible says that through Christ, it is possible to maintain a spirit of praise and thankfulness during all circumstances. Doesn't it say in Philippians, "I  can do all things through Christ who strengthens me?" So, I guess it is quite possible.

Matthew 19:26 says, "With man this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible." Goodness, isn't that the truth.  God is omnipotent and omniscient, and I think that means that He can pretty much handle anything and everything that we throw at Him.  Not only can He handle it, but He will handle it.

So, in essence, if I spent the same amount of time praising God and giving thanks to Him, as I do working out, I think all of my days would be outstanding. The little irritants of daily life would not bother me, because I would have given them over to the One who handles them all.  I mean, all of the stresses of the day and the intense speed at which I run, would seem less bothersome and exhausting when I lay them out before the Lord. The working full time, managing three very active teens, along with volunteering, home maintenance and the like, seems so less daunting when I give it all to Him. I love my life now, but I would love it even more (if that's possible) if I would just give it all up to God.  I mean everything.  The good, the bad and the ugly.  The 'Why didn't you do this?,' when you know you either have already done it or didn't even know about it, circumstances; the 'I'm running late for my son's dental appointment because my daughter's doctor appointment took too long,' circumstances. The telephone call at 6:00 am that says, 'I'm sorry. Did I wake you?' circumstances.  The dog dying and the weather freezing circumstances. Yup.  All of them.

Does this mean that I should go through life totally oblivious to time constraints, death, people's negative comments or untrue accusations?  No, it just means that as a Christian, my take on life's trails and sufferings is unique.  I know that God has a plan and that everything ultimately works out for my good.  Doesn't Romans 8:28 say, "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," and doesn't that mean everything's gonna be ok? I'm who Paul was speaking about. I'm the one in that verse that loves Him, who has been called according to His purpose. Does that mean that God will make something good out of every bad situation?  Yes, that's exactly what that means.

As a Christian, I know that absolutely everything that happens in my life, and in the world around me, will ultimately be worked for good.  What Satan would have be destructive, God will turn it around and make it perfect.  Does that mean that there won't be any more suffering in the world? Nope.  Unfortunately, it just means that God will ultimately use those situations for pointing to something else that is good. There will still be starving children in Africa, hurting children in war torn countries, earthquakes and homelessness, sickness and depravity.  But it also means there will be good people who assist, who help, and who make this world a better place to live in. Those who will comfort those on earth that need comforting, who will become His hands and feet in this hurting and broken world.

I think that the more that I study the Word of God, the more I come to realize that God really, really does always have my back., just as He will always have your back, assuming you're a Christian.  When the world lets me down, God has my back.  When I'm falsely accused, God has my back. When work is difficult and my life is busy beyond control, God has my back. And when I am working out and my body is feeling as though it is being abused on a daily basis, God has my back. Whew! Because when push comes to shove, and others let me down by not having my back, Jesus really is the only One that needs to have my back.Yup, He's the only One.

May you feel God's hand upon your back (and your life) today and everyday. May you realize that He can handle absolutely anything and everything that you throw at Him (but you must give it to Him), and He will lovingly take it, mold it and use it for good. Be blessed today.