Tuesday, March 31, 2009

From a Nobody to Somebody

Endings are so bittersweet.....

Yesterday was our final meeting for the study of Esther. Can you believe it??!!?? We have journeyed with God for nine weeks and it seems like only yesterday we began.

I am very appreciative and humbled at the fact that 7 busy women dedicated 9 weeks to study the Bible with me.....a simple, goofy nobody.

Let me tell you what God did with this simple, goofy, nobody.

He gave me strength. He gave me encouragement. He gave me wisdom. He gave me love.

Like Esther, I have often thought that I could do nothing. But I've come to realize that I am where I am for such a time as this. I never thought that I could lead a Bible study. I've never really felt like a leader. But with God's wisdom and strength, I was able to do this. Through my rambling, I tried to relay what He was telling me. On the days where I was tired, worn out, and unmotivated, God gave me the comforting words of Beth Moore and these women to encourage me to keep on moving. His mighty word touched my heart each and every way possible. I felt His amazing love through His word and the fellowship of these women.

God chose me.
He chose me to be the wife of Jeffrey.
He chose me to be the mother of Colin and Carson.
He chose me to be the teacher of the students in my room.
He chose me to be the leader of this study.
He chose me to be me.... a simple, goofy, Daughter of the King....an Esther.


God chose me.

You know, He chose you too. He chose you to be His. He chose you and has a wonderful plan for your life. God doesn't promise you that it will be easy. He doesn't promise you sunny skies along the way, but God does promise you that He will be with you along the way.

As I finished this study, I was reminded over and over again that God is in control. If I make a mess of myself and my situation, He can fix it. I just have to allow Him. I have to trust Him. I have to surrender all. I have to believe.

I believe in the sun, even when it is not shining.
I believe in love, even when I do not feel it.
I believe in God, even when He is silent.
(Author Unknown)

I believe I am not a nobody. I am somebody to someone because of what God has planned for me.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:13

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Next Sunday

I love to write. I'm not always confident in what I write, but I still love it. There's just something about words. The way the are used is so important. I'd rather write that talk to people. Sometimes, I feel like a complete idiot when I talk. My words don't always come out the way I want them. But when I write, I can really meditate on words and choose the right ones. I can move them and change them. When I go back to revise and edit, my light bulb goes off on how to better get my point across. Can you tell that I've taught fourth grade writing in Kentucky?

Anyway, I'm sharing the latest "thing" I've written. I've been thinking about this topic for a while, but brushed it off a couple of times. Then 2 Sundays ago after God's message was preached, I knew I had to write it. In a matter of minutes, I was done. It was easy for me to write because I could relate to what I was trying to express.

I hope you "enjoy" it. I hope that someone can relate and it will change your life for the better. If you know someone who can relate, email them the link to this.

Next Sunday

One Sunday as I sat in the pew listening to the preacher’s sermon and the choir singing,
I felt a tug at my heart.
When the invitation was given at the end of the service,
I felt the tug again, but I brushed it off.

One Sunday as I sat in Sunday School, I was amazed at how the lesson related to what I was dealing with in my life.
Then as the preacher spoke, again, I was amazed at how I was experiencing those same things and feeling those same emotions.
But I brushed it off as a coincidence.

One Sunday, a sermon was given on
Repenting of your sins,
Turning from those sins, and
Receiving Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
He would carry my burdens.
He would give me comfort.
He would love me unconditionally.
He would never break His promises to me.
That sounded nice.
Maybe I’ll do that next Sunday.

The next Sunday, I arrived at church with a heavy heart.
Throughout the service, I became restless and fought back tears.
When the invitation was given, I wanted to go forward,
But I was in the middle of the pew.
Next Sunday I will sit on the end.

The next Sunday, I sat on the end of the pew.
Again, God was calling me.
But what would all of these people think?
They will wonder what I’ve done wrong.
I’ll wait until next Sunday when it’s not so crowded.

The next Sunday I arrived early to church.
What a crowd!
Again, I was in the middle of the pew.
I grew restless again and prayed for the preaching to be over.

Then He spoke.
Not the preacher, but God.

“My child,” He said, “you are not promised next Sunday.
If you deny Me, I will deny you.
If you receive Me, I will never forsake you.
My child, come to Me today.”

The next Sunday, I sat in the same pew…..
A new creature,
Not given in to fear,
But born again of the Spirit of God,
Never again to worry about next Sunday.

Natasha Grimes
March 15, 2009
If you have ever thought, "Next Sunday," please don't. Don't wait another minute. You don't have to be at church on Sunday morning to receive Jesus Christ as your Savior. You can do that anytime, anywhere. I've heard testimonies of people being saved in their living rooms and cars. Please, don't wait until next Sunday. None of us are promised tomorrow.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

And the Winner Is.....

This afternoon Colin participated in the Boy Scouts Pinewood Derby. The boys are encouraged to build their cars from kits (a 7 inch block of wood, nails for axles, and 4 wheels). Jeffrey and Colin (and PawPaw and Uncle Gene) have spent some time on Colin's car. Colin was the only representative for the Tiger Scouts so he automatically went to the championship race. He still got to show off his car and race it alone. We were quite impressed with how it ran. In the championship, Colin won 4th place overall. I am very proud of him and his daddy. Carson enjoyed the race too and wore himself out. Enjoy the pictures.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A Fun Day

On Friday, Kylie and Jacob came to stay with us for a few hours. The kids had a great time and we enjoyed having them over. Kylie and Carson are 5 days apart in age. Colin and Jacob are about 3 months apart in age. They all play well together which makes things easier.

Kylie and Carson played checkers (as much as 2 year olds can), Barbies, and Frisbee among other things.

Colin and Jacob shut themselves up in Colin's room to watch TV, play Legos, and play PSP and DS.

Before you watch the video of the little ones, be sure to pause the playlist. You've got to hear it to get the full affect of the situation. Carson was trying to help Kylie get the roller skates on and then get up.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Humble Pie

I have to admit that God really spoke to me through this past week's study of Esther. I am so enjoying the study, spending time with God, and spending time with the other girls.

As I read about Xerxes and his own sleeplessness, I was reminded of my own sleepless nights. You know 'em. You wake up. Eyes wide open. You think to yourself, "Man! I'm not ready to get up. I've still got a few more good hours." Finally, you drift back to sleep. The next night, it happens again. Then again. And again. I'll tell you. I've been there, done that. Within the last year and a half, I was really under conviction about the amount of (or lack of) time I was spending alone with God. I wanted to do something about it. After Carson was born, my personal Bible study time had really gone down hill. My body was programed to sleep as soon as I put the boys to bed (which sometimes took hours). Waking up in the mornings was bad. I was totally exhausted. I was in my routine. Get up. Work. Come home. Supper. Bath. Bed. Have you ever been there?

I was praying for time to spend with my Father. He would awaken me an hour before I had always gotten up and call me. I wasn't answering. I looked at the clock morning after morning, groaned, and went back to sleep. I would wake up at my regular time filled with guilt. My Gracious Heavenly Father was only trying to give me what I was asking for, but I wasn't accepting the gift.

Finally, I accepted. I committed myself to getting up earlier to spend time in my devotional reading and prayer. This time is so wonderful. God really talks to me during this time, and I've learned to have an attentive ear and open heart. Sure my mornings get interrupted occasionally by the boys, but that's ok. I still find time throughout the day to spend time with God. Sometimes it is difficult and hectic, but it is worth it.

Throughout the remaining lesson, God served me a huge piece of humble pie. As I read about Haman's bad case of presumption and entitlement, I saw myself in some aspects. I think at some time in our lives, even in our Christian walk, we have thought of ourselves more highly than we ought to. We've done something: worked hard on a project, volunteered our time, helped someone in need and then felt that we were owed something. We wanted some sort of recognition for what we've done. We've sat in a group setting and someone was recognized for their effort, but we weren't. We sat there brewing, "What about me?" Oh, just me???

Philippians 2:3-4 says, "Let nothing be done of selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others."

God's word reminds me that I am no better than anyone else, even if I am a Christian. I should DO because I LOVE, not because of what I will get. It burns me up that my students say, "I was good so I should get a treat." My reply is, "No, you shouldn't get a treat for doing what you are supposed to do." Another serving of humble pie, please. I shouldn't get recognized for doing what I'm supposed to do.

Haman took a HUGE fall in so many ways. When I fall before the throne of God, I don't want to have far to go. I pray that He will continue to serve me my portion of humble pie when my ego begins to get the best of me.

Chew on this....
Sunday we had the Commonwealth Quartet perform at church. One of the gentlemen stated, "If we have entertained you tonight, yet not glorified God, then we have not done our job." That is a bold, humble statement. If out of all that I do each day and I do not glorify my Father, I have wasted my time.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Just Some Things to Consider

Have you ever done something you regretted? We all have. No matter how goofy I've been, I can always look back on one particular thing without regret. What's that? The day I became a Christian.

In my Hope for Each Day devotional, Billy Graham asked the question, "Does anything happen when a person repents of sin and receives Christ by faith? " He then stated that he can only tell you it worked in his life. At fifteen, Billy Graham was a rebel. Sound like anyone you know? One night, he committed his life to Jesus. His life took a whole new direction. His attitude changed and he began to seek God's will instead of his own. Billy Graham wasn't made perfect, but his life was changed. Now, does that sound like anyone you know?

It sounds like me.

Back in the day, I was somewhat rebellious so to speak. My attitude about some things and some people was pretty terrible. I was bitter and unforgiving about certain aspects of my life. Up until June 18, 2004, I was on the path to Hell. That day, I was saved by the grace of God and nothing else. I remember sitting in my preacher's office praying the sinner's prayer, tears streaming down my face, feeling the burden of my sin lifted off of me. I remember floating out of his office. My life was forever changed. Like Billy Graham, my attitude changed. I found forgiveness and handed over my bitterness. I had a whole new outlook on life. I wasn't living for myself. I was living for God. Billy Graham said he has never met anyone who regretted giving his or her life to to Christ. You know what? Neither have I.

As I prepared for our Sunday School lesson for tomorrow, I discovered the topic was PREPARE. One thing I hate is to be unprepared. You and I both know that being unprepared can be embarrassing. We prepare for vacations, weddings, births, parties, ballgames, and all sorts of things. Sometimes we overlook the most important things, preparing to do God's will. Our lesson is about Nehemiah and how he prepared to go to Jerusalem to rebuild. He prepared first off by praying. This allowed him to set clear goals for getting the job done. He also enlisted people to help him. Throughout all of this, he remembered and told how God saw him through this journey.

God wants us to be a witness, to bring others to Him, to feed His sheep. We have to prepare to do that. Before I became a Christian, I could not have talked to others about God. I wasn't prepared because I hadn't studied His Word and I didn't have a relationship with Him. Now though, I am feeling more confident. Each day, I prepare more for what He may have in store for me. I do this through prayer, my daily devotions, and studying His Word. I spend time with God to find out what He wants me to do. I want to be prepared for whatever lies ahead. I know I can't make it on my own.

As I thought about all I had to do today, read my devotionals, work on my Sunday School lesson, and work on my Esther study, I felt totally overwhelmed. I thought, "I'm reading too many devotionals each day. I've got to pick a couple to give up." With that thought, I admit that I suddenly felt guilty. I opened one of my devotionals and read Psalm 119:40 (I love Psalm 119),

Behold, I have longed after thy precepts: quicken me in thy righteousness.

I remembered what it felt like when I read the book of Romans, how God spoke to me. I remembered how He spoke to me when I read all of Psalm 119 last summer. I remembered how He speaks to me in each of my devotionals and studies. I still long after His precepts. I still hunger for His Word. At this point, I can't choose which devotional to put on the shelf. God speaks to me each day through them. Satan wants me to choose; after all, it would make things easier for him. I just have to be sure that I am allowing God the time He needs to speak to me through these devotions and studies, to PREPARE ME.

I am loving this Esther study. I am making so many connections. As I read Nehemiah, I could see Esther, both prayerful, both planning ahead, both enlisting others. Should we be any different? No. I could have easily "done" the Esther study by myself. I know me. I would not have been fully committed. So, I enlisted others. I have Edie, Hilarie, Sara, Ginger, Jan, Sheteka, and Kerry to keep me in check. We all need that. We need to understand that we can't do it alone and that's ok. Know your weaknesses. God knows mine. That's why He put these amazing women in my life. He had a purpose for bringing us together.

I guess what all this is about is to live for God. He's the ONE and ONLY. Prepare yourself to be used by Him and then allow Him to use you. Allow Him to bring others in your life to strengthen and encourage you. If you do these things, you won't regret it.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Feed My Sheep

Spring is almost here. What a beautiful time of year! I like to think of spring as God saying, "Your winter is almost over. There is life after death." What beautiful life spring brings....green grass, blooming flowers, birds singing, hope of a better tomorrow.

Last night at our Bible Study we talked about our prayer requests. There are SO many people with SO many needs. Children and adults. There are personal issues, illness, job security (or insecurity). As Christians, we need to pray for these people, not only for their needs to be met, but to be thankful for the blessings God has given them. It is so easy to get down about what's happening in our lives, but look at what all we have to be thankful for!

1 Thessalonians 1:2 says, "We give thanks to God for you all, making mention of you in our prayers." Let God know that you are thankful for the people He has placed in your life. Then go further than that. Let those people know that you are thankful for them and for something specific they have done. So many people feel unnoticed, unimportant. The minute they are told, "Thank you for....That really meant a lot to me," they receive a blessing (and you do too). There are people who love to tear people down. As Christians, we should build them up, help to repair them, all of them. Its easy to put ourselves above people for whatever reason. A lot of times we think we are better than people. Jesus wasn't like that. God sent Him to "feed" us. As His followers, we are to do the same. We are not all called to be missionaries, preachers, teachers, or evangelists, but we can feed His sheep. We are called to be loving friends and neighbors. We are called to be encouragers and helpers. Often, we ask, "I am but one person. What can I do?" The answer is simple, "With God, anything." We need to make a choice to be that difference in the lives of others that picks them up and lifts them up to our Heavenly Father.

We need to spend some one on one time with God. Mark 4:34 says, "When they were alone, He explained all things to His disciples." What makes us any different? For a long time, I wanted my alone time with God, but I had so many reasons why I couldn't meet with Him. Being too tired or busy was right at the top of the list. However, when I finally committed myself to spending time with Him, I was immediately blessed. I'm able to really listen to Him. I'm able to be a better mom and wife. I encourage you to find your one on one time with Him. It is a time that will bless you in so many ways. God uses that time to tell us His plans. He will mold us and shape us into what He wants us to be. That is one of my prayers, "Lord, please make me into the person You want me to be."

Some where, some time, someone fed you. Won't you do this same for someone else? Be the person God wants you to be.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Future Musicians?

I love to sing. I'm not any good at it, but I love to sing. The songs that play as you read my blog have special meaning. There's just something about putting to music what you feel inside. Well, I don't put it to music. You wouldn't want me to. Colin and Carson love music too. When Colin was a baby, we could get him calm by playing Matchbox Twenty. He loves the Temptations now. Carson, well, he loves anything that gets him excited. I've added a video...if it works...of them dancing to a Toby Mac song. Hope you enjoy it. Oh, be sure to click pause on the playlist.

In other news....

Tomorrow the Esthers will meet again. I'm really looking forward to it. We could have two new ladies join us also. Kelly and Kerry, please come.

Jeffrey's cousin Brian is "home" from Iraq. He is back in Hawaii where the family is stationed and they will be coming back here toward the middle of the month. We are looking forward to seeing them. Colin was so excited to talk to Brian on the phone the other night.