He Speaks To Me {drawing near}

1 Mar

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” James 4:8a

Josh taught from the book of James this morning in Sunday School. It was a good lesson that he spent much time preparing. It challenged me in a couple of ways:

1) I was challenged in my repentance. There are too many days that I don’t spend time in confession of my sins and allow God to cleanse my hands and purify my heart. 

2) I was challenged to examine my walk. Are there areas in which I need to sacrifice in order to draw near to God?

I realize Jesus loves me and there’s nothing I can do to diminish His love for me. That’s a settled fact. He drew me near to Him first. He loved me first. I get that. And that WHY is the foundation for desiring to draw near to God.

There is, inside me, a desire to love Him back and to “draw near to Him.”  I want to recommit myself to waking up well before the kids. They are with me all day, so if I don’t have time alone with God in the early morning hours, it’s challenging to have that kind of time any other time of the day. Do I pray all throughout the day?  Yes. Do I practice my scripture memory at different times of the day?  Yes. But the uninterrupted time in God’s Word in the morning is priceless. I need to hear from Him. I need wisdom and guidance. I need to spend time with Him. I want to! So I’m recommitting to be consistent in my waking up earlier. It’s worth sacrificing sleep to be with God. Or maybe sacrificing reading another chapter of a book the night before so I can get enough sleep to wake up!  I love being up so early that there’s nothing else I can do besides spend time with God—you know, when the grocery store is closed, no one will answer the phone at the doctor’ office if I called because they aren’t there, when it’s too early to cook or clean—I think you get my point. 

And then throughout my day I need to allow for moments of quiet and reflection….instead of filling any down time with Facebook or blog articles or even books. Maybe God has something to speak to me about or maybe He wants to bring a verse to mind for a certain situation.  I won’t hear that in my day if I am constantly absorbing mindless entertainment.  

How does that practically look in my life?  How do I intentionally draw near to God?  It most definitely looks different for each person, but it’s vital for me to have a plan…to think ahead and prepare for these times.  From setting my alarm to maybe purchasing a commentary or Bible dictionary or downloading a scripture memory app. 

Here’s an example of having a heart for something and putting it into action:  Whenever I talk with someone considering home schooling their children, I tell them they must know and write out and believe in their “why.” I know my personal “why” for home schooling, BUT I can’t just tell you why I am going to homeschool my kids and then not have a plan in place to teach them!  That would be ludicrous and that type of reasoning won’t fly in any job or career!

Or what if you knew why you should save money, but you never actually planned and budgeted ways to do that?  Would only knowing why help you?  No. The practical application of what you know helps you get somewhere financially. 

I can see that same principle holding true spiritually. 

Do I know why I should draw near to God?  Yes. 

Do I know some “right” things to do to draw near to God?  Yes.

Am I DOING them?

“Anyone who knows the right thing to do, but doesn’t do it, to him it is sin.” James 4:17

My Two Cents

26 Feb

I assume that seeing families say their blessing at meal time is becoming more and more of a rare sight. But oh the importance of this simple act of gratitude to God. Taking time to pause and acknowledge that God has, once again, provided for our needs. 

In 1996 I saw a guy bow his head in a crowded cafeteria at Middle Georgia College in Cochran, GA. Not only did I take note of it mentally, I also walked over to him and said something like, “I saw you say your blessing and that’s really good.”

That guy was Josh Dorminy. 

When I told Molly that story, there was a pause accompanied by a strange look and then she said, “Well, that’s awkward.”

Yes, it may have been a bit awkward, but it worked out well for me in the end!  He actually told me that he had already noticed me before that time. So there. 

I want my girls to keep their eyes open for a guy who isn’t ashamed to bow his head in public, in front of peers and thank God for his meal. 

And I pray that Mack would be that kind of guy.  

An attitude of gratitude is an attractive, godly characteristic…..that’s my two cents. 

He Speaks…to me! {restlessness}

25 Feb

Restless

Sometimes I long to move to the absolute middle of nowhere where I don’t know a soul. I don’t understand exactly why that is. 

I do realize I am an introvert. While I don’t have any trouble being with people or carrying on a conversation, I recharge by chunks of time alone.  I truly enjoy being by myself in quiet with no schedule.  So maybe that’s why I sometimes long for the middle of nowhere. 

On the other hand, I love my friends. I enjoy the familiarity that comes with living in the same town for nearly 14 years. We have a phenomenal church! And Josh has two amazing jobs.  The home school co-op we belong to is also a huge blessing. I know our librarian, the checkout person at Publix is usually someone I see regularly, and I live less than a mile from WalMart and have a Target at each end of the main road I live off of—not to mention three Starbucks within a five mile radius of home. We know and like all of our neighbors.  We like our home…I don’t even daydream about a kitchen remodel anymore. I just want the thing paid off!

So why the restlessness?  Why is it when I see acres and acres of empty land do I paint a picture of a house and envision my family living there?  

There are definitely responsibilities and even callings I attempt to run away from which bring on restlessness. There is a craving in me for simplicity. And I think if I didn’t know anyone  and I didn’t have as many responsibilities, then my life would be really simple. Haha!  And sad, but still. 

In  a recent season of restlessness I was in the car alone with Josh. I asked him, “So what do you think I should do with my restlessness?  What do you think it means?”

He didn’t really give an answer. What he did say was simply a recap from the last time I came to him with my restlessness. If the restlessness pushes you into Jesus, it’s a good thing. We talked a little about it and moved on to something else. 

The next morning I woke up and went downstairs to read my Bible. Lying in bed just before that, I prayed that The Lord would speak to me and told Him I could really use a word from Him this morning. 

I got comfy on the couch with my Bible and my coffee. I checked my reading plan and saw that Psalm 55 was where I should turn. It didn’t take long to really wake me up.

  Verse 2 says, “I am restless in my complaint and am surely distracted,”

Wow. 

Verse 4 goes on to say, “My heart is in anguish within me….” 

Yep. I know that feeling. 

And then there were verses 6-8, “Oh that I had wings like a dove! Behold, I would wander far away, I would lodge in the wilderness; I would hasten to my place of refuge from the stormy wind and tempest.”

Someone was listening in on my conversation with Josh. 

The reality is that most of us feel this way from time to time. A hard marriage can make us want to run away. A difficult child can make us long for peace and quiet. Seeing so many others being used in exciting ways while you do laundry and dishes can make you wish you didn’t even know anybody to compare your boring life to!  A demanding schedule with no end in sight can encourage us to daydream about a simple, even boring, life. 

So, what to do?  In Psalm 55 the writer has been betrayed by a close friend and wants to fly away to the middle of nowhere. Hurt can make us want to flee, to long for a change of scenery. 

Verse 16 gives an answer, “As for me, I shall call upon God, and the Lord will save me. Evening and morning and at noon I will complain and murmur, and He will hear my voice. He will redeem my soul in peace from the battle which is against me.”

It didn’t say He would move me or that He would immediately change my circumstances. It says He hears my voice. That is comforting and encouraging to this needy stay at home wife and homeschool mama.  

Verse 22 gives more answers to the restless soul: “Cast your burden (what He has given you) upon the Lord and He will sustain you. He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.”

Maybe, just maybe, God has given me restlessness—the very thing I think needs “solving” or to be gotten rid of—not to necessarily physically move me, but to spiritually move me closer to Him. 

G Campbell Morgan, whom I quote so often, had this to say about verse 22:

“To cast the burden on Jehovah is not to be rid of it, but to find One Who carries, sustains the burden-bearer, and so the burden also, in a fellowship of love and might.”

Maybe you are in a state of restlessness.  There’s a plethora of reasons why you may be feeling this way. But have you considered that God has given you restlessness to drive you closer to Him?  To strengthen your fellowship with The One who loves you so much? 

Cast your burden upon The Lord. He will sustain you. Or like The Message version puts it, “Pile your troubles on God’s shoulders. He’ll carry your load, He’ll help you out.”


Taking the Longview

23 Feb

I am married to an extremely positive person. Josh can see the best in any situation. He was reading a book that referenced a book entitled Learned Optimism, and I told him he didn’t need to read that book…he could have written it!
Always finding the silver lining.
It’s a great quality; it’s also one I have painfully lacked over the years. But living with an optimist teaches a girl! I truly think I’ve gotten better. I can no longer tell you the absolute worst case scenario for any given situation in 3.5 seconds or less. I am tending to search for the positive and think on that instead of the negative. I need to start using Josh’s line: “The good news is…..” It can be quite astounding the things he comes up with to finish that sentence.

This past week I was able to tell Josh that I really like who he is. I like how God made him and one quality,in particular, that I love is the way he takes the long view in life. He takes time to pause and think through how a situation might shake out. He doesn’t seem to react rashly. He doesn’t discount God’s activity in any situation. I verbally expressed what I often have admired about him in my heart and head. “I love how you take the long-view as opposed to being short-sighted.”
We had a lovely conversation that I hope encouraged him.

Then, on Sunday we were in 2 Peter 1. We’ve been studying the qualities that should be increasing in our lives as followers of Christ. Diligence. Moral excellence. Knowledge. Self-control. Perseverance. Godliness. Brotherly kindness. Love.
For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For He who lacks these qualities is blind or shortsighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.

I venture to say that there is nothing as awful as being shortsighted about your own redemption. Could you imagine forgetting your own salvation? It’s a scary thought. That’s why the writer goes on to encourage us to be all the more diligent to know what God has called you to and to practice obedience, walking with God.
Taking the long view is not only a great characteristic; it’s a godly characteristic.

And keeping the long view in focus is greatly aided when we preach the gospel to ourselves regularly.

The good news is “He rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Col. 1:13-14

The good news is “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
Romans 5:8

“For the wages of sin is death,” but the good news is, “the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord .”
Romans 6:23

Preach the gospel to yourself everyday. Keep the long view. It will affect your relationships. It will make an impact on how you work. It will change the way you use your finances. It will help you rise above the junk of the world. It will keep you depending on The Lord.

I’ll close with a quote from G. Campbell Morgan on 2 Peter 1:9 and the shortsighted man:

“Such a man sees things of time and fails to discern those of eternity. He sees the material facts, but not the facts of which they are but passing expression. In short, he sees himself and his fellow men, but not God…making spiritual advancement impossible. That is to say he has failed to respond to all the enlargement of life and vision which came to him when he received the cleansing of his nature at the very beginning of the Christian life.”

Winter Break

22 Feb

Josh and I most definitely got a break from the winter this past week!
The kids and Irvin/PawPaw?….not so much.

We delivered the kids to him last Friday. Molly woke up sick, so we got her taken care of and she was taking medicine and feeling a bit better even by the time we were leaving to head back home. However, strep throat made its was from Molly to Ruby and then to Mack. PawPaw was amazing!!! He took such great care of each of them…checking their temps regularly, giving them medicine and checking on them in the middle of the night. All the while cooking for them too. GG brought pizza over twice! I am so thankful for them taking care of the kids.

I felt so torn for the first three days of our trip since there was nothing at all I could do to help.
Mack was pitiful and cried on FaceTime, whimpering out, “I just wish you and Daddy didn’t have to go on that mission trip.”

Mission trip? Hmmmm…..

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We were, obviously, not on a mission trip. We relaxed. We slept. We ate. We laid by the pool. We planned and had some great talks together. We enjoyed time with friends. It was heavenly.

This was my favorite morning:

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I got to my chair and read a wonderful book by Sally Clarkson, OWN YOUR LIFE. It’s challenging and encouraging. I journaled and did some praying. And the sun came out in full force.

One morning the sunrise behind the clouds made a heart shape.

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We came home to cold, wet weather. But we were so glad to be reunited with our kiddos! And I got started on laundry and then decided to overhaul my closet. And wow. It was a bit more than I bargained for, but it feels great to be rid of a RIDICULOUS amount of clothing.

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I’ve gotten my home school lessons organized,and I think we’re ready for a great week! Happy last week of February (which can only mean spring is getting closer!) !!!

My Two Cents

21 Feb

Has anyone ever given you their two cents? You know, their opinion. Sometimes it’s welcome and sometimes not so welcome. I read that the phrase “my two cents” came from the phrase “a penny for your thoughts.” If you ask someone what they think about something, you may say, “a penny for your thoughts,” and if they give you a bit more than you bargained for, then it becomes their “two cents.”

So on this here blog of mine I am going to start giving my two cents on a variety of topics that I choose. In particular, my audience will be my kids–Ruby, Molly and Mack. I have weird thoughts from time to time about me dying and not being able to tell them all the things I want to tell them. Morbid? Maybe. But the fact is, I don’t know when I may die. And neither do you. And I know God will take care of them and provide people in their lives to tell them important things. But while I am here, they need my two cents. Some topics will be light-hearted and maybe some will be deep. We shall see…..

But for the first topic, let’s keep it simple and practical. This one is about manners and politeness. Ready for it?

Sidewalk Etiquette
I know. Serious business.
But really, I value proper sidewalk etiquette. Whether in my neighborhood or in an other country, I am aware of those around me when I am walking. When I am alone, it’s usually simple to be polite. The tricky part comes when someone is walking with you, right by your side. Josh and I walk this way often. And just last week we were in another country on a walk on a sidewalk and encountered rude people all along the way, which inspired this post. I want my kids to know proper sidewalk etiquette.

If the sidewalk is wide enough for two people to walk down, which most are, then you can walk together with your walking partner side-by-side. However, if another couple is walking towards you, then it only stands to reason that one person of EACH couple should file behind their walking partner so that everyone still walks on the sidewalk and has room to walk.

You may think this a no-brainier and may even wonder why I would take time to write on this, but trust me when I say not many people follow this etiquette. It’s a little frustrating. They just walk right towards you and don’t change their position whatsoever. It’s like they don’t even see you there even though you know they do. They simply don’t want to be inconvenienced.
Josh and I laugh about it as we watch this happen over and over, and we decided that we must be quite prideful and maybe God uses the inconsiderateness of others to remind us that we aren’t as special as we think we are.

But when someone exercises proper sidewalk etiquette, I smile and say hello and cheer inside that, indeed, there are other people in the world who know and understand the importance of it!

So, there you have it, my two cents on sidewalk etiquette.
Important stuff, people.

Puzzles!!

29 Jan

So maybe I’m just plain crazy because it isn’t like I don’t have plenty to do around here, but we have become a puzzle family, and I am so happy about it.

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I have enjoyed puzzles for many years, but mostly at Thanksgiving or Christmas time. Well, this past Christmas we moved a chair upstairs to make room for our tree….I never loved the chair, so I decided we should leave the chair in its new place and put a table in the living room where the tree had been…”You know, so we can do puzzles together. ”
Josh gave me his normal look when I want to change things around. It takes him a while to come around OR he just says no. I’ve recently learned that it’s better to ask for help moving everything back than ask if he thinks it is a good idea. Like a few months back I had him on the phone, mentioned I wanted to expand my family picture wall, heard him groan a bit and say something about doing it later. I enlisted Mack to help me move a book case out of the living room and got to hammering nails in the wall. When Josh came home, it was pretty much too late to turn back.

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And it turned out great, if you ask me. See, Josh tends to be a perfectionist. He likes thing done really, exactly right. I, on the other hand, am not a perfectionist at all. I could have used a few doses of obsessive compulsive or something. It’s just not in me.
All this talk reminds me of the time he went to see his dad and took Mack with him.
I painted our dark cherry dining room set…and painted the walls of the dining room.

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It also turned out pretty good. No doubt, it could have been even better if I waited for Josh to join the fun, but it is done.

Ok, so back to the puzzle table. Josh actually does like this now! And the kids, especially Ruby and Mack, have come around to enjoying putting the puzzles together. We have good conversations around this table. And wouldn’t you know I did a little research and found lists of benefits to doing puzzles! Like this little snippet:

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There’s more where that came from, too!

I even became some sort of rewards member of a puzzle company. Who would have thought?!

So, if you’ve been dying to know if you should put a table in your living room for puzzles, I strongly encourage you to do so….while your husbands at work.

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