Friday, December 30, 2016

Starting Over

 So it's been a while since I've done anything with my blog... life. Life happened.

 Another year has passed, and a new one is right around the corner. I hate "new year's resolutions" because it seems they only last a month or so and that's the end of them. For the most part they are pretty impossible anyway.
 This year however, I am making an attempt at setting achievable goals. I wouldn't do it at the beginning of the new year... but you know, there's no time like the present... and that happens to be the beginning of a new year. So here goes. (y'all are most certainly welcome to join in on any/all of these)

 Let's begin with Attitude:

 Psalm 118:24 says "This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it."
 Notice, it doesn't say "we should rejoice and be glad", it says "we will rejoice". That's not future, and it's not dependent upon circumstances. It's present tense, and simply because this is the day the Lord has made, and we have no reason not to rejoice.

 What does it mean to rejoice?  Is rejoicing being giddy and silly, denying that there's anything bad in this world, and that things go wrong? I think not.  It's not a state of denial, but rather always choosing to give thanks to the Almighty, Who saw fit to give us life here and now - and for a purpose (mostly) unknown to us.

 According to Webster, Rejoice means: "To experience joy and gladness in a high degree; to be exhilarated with lively and pleasurable sensations; to exult."

 How do we "experience joy" when it seems everything is crashing down around us?
 Even when things are not the ideal - or even remotely "okay" let alone "ideal", there is one reason to always rejoice: God and His salvation of us wretched sinners (Habakkuk 3:18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation). He didn't have to save any of us - but He chose to. How then can we not rejoice?

 Part of rejoicing is being thankful.  So what if we started each day by finding five things to be thankful for. They can be the same things every day - just so long as there is a real thankful heart behind that list.  Ideally, the list will be different every day.  Stretch yourself, find things to be thankful for. If nothing good comes to mind, find ways to be thankful for/in the things you're not particularly happy about, because Paul said: "...we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose."

 Along with rejoicing, we have learning to put others ahead of self. This is what Christ did when He died on the cross to save others, and as we are to follow in His footsteps, I believe this is something worthy of our focus.

 What if each day we chose five people, and pray for them that day. If you don't know what to pray for them, try asking; I'm sure they'd know a few things they could use prayer for.

 Next, we have Fitness:

 Aside from altering my attitude, it wouldn't be so bad to alter my shape. *giggles*

 What if each day began like this:
 List five things for which we are thankful - and for each thing do a push-up.
 Pray for five people every morning. While praying for the first, do jumping-jacks. For the second, do crunches. Third, stretch. Fourth, run in place. Fifth, bounce on a rebounder.

 For the first month try cutting out all grains, and processed sugar.  After that, of course re-introduce them - in moderation.

 Finally Mental Health:

 Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

 Start each morning by reading as many chapters of the Bible as fits your needs/schedule, then read one chapter from any good, educational book.
 Every evening before bed, read a chapter of Psalms, or Proverbs, and if time permits, one chapter of your favorite book of any genre.   Challenge your mind.  If necessary, write a book report when you finish, just to help retain what you learned.  Or, even, keep as journal as you read, and jot down the things that stand out to you most, or things you want to remember later. Writing helps to retain any knowledge gained.

 I guess that's about it.  Those are my main areas of focus this year, and easily attainable, realistic goals.

 What are your goals for the coming year? What are things you need done for the future that you can start today?

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

It's a Heart Issue

 So we all know that Proverbs 31 is the ultimate model for women to look to in regards to biblical womanhood, right?
 I'm here to tell you - it's one thing to read it, and quite another to live it.

 Being raised conservative by conservative parents, in a conservative church, with conservative friends, you'd think it wouldn't be hard for me live it, right? I mean, I've been immersed in that sort of "culture" all my life, so it should be second nature, right?

 Not by a long shot.

 It's one thing to believe something, and another to actually live what you believe.   Something I've been failing miserably at.

 I read the passage in Proverbs 31 and see just how far I have to go before being anything remotely like her.   But what strikes me about it is; she's always doing - and I think of the things she does as being what a virtuous woman is made of.
 But what of the thoughts behind it all?   Surely these actions originated as thoughts?

 Growing up with/around people who held to a high standard (modesty, speech, intellectual etc.) it seemed so normal to find a P31 woman.
 Now, being away from the culture in which I was raised, and living in "the world", it's nigh impossible to find a virtuous woman.   Not just with her actions - there's quite of few of them (thankfully) - but in word and thought.

 In today's culture it has become acceptable to "live like hell" just so long as certain people don't know about it.  Or act like a virtuous woman, but not guard your heart or mind.    I've fallen into that trap.  
 Just recently I've found myself thinking horrible thoughts, liking ungodly things, spouting idiotic things, and thinking this is totally acceptable - just so long as I don't act on them.     I've never been so wrong in my life.

 Virtue is not an outward thing. Not something we wear around certain people, but "slack off" certain standards when around other people.
 Virtue is a condition of the heart.   And the outward manifestation is just that - a manifestation of what's in the heart.
 You can't "keep up appearances" if the heart isn't right.   That's just hypocrisy.

 It's hard, not being (physically) surrounded by virtuous women that you can look to for encouragement and as an example.    Sure, there's women at a distance that can be in for accountability and as counselors/advisers - but it's really easy to fall in the pattern of dismissing a lot of what they say with the excuse of "They aren't here, or they'd see it different."

 It's shocking to find just how deeply you can fall into hypocrisy without realizing it at all.  Only to wake up one day to discover you're in over your head, and haven't the foggiest idea of how to get out.

 It's the "frog in the pot" problem.  Allowing certain influences in your life thinking (since you already know better) it's not going to have much if any effect on you..... only to find out months/years later, it had major effect on you, and now you've got a lot of sins to repent of, and wrongs to make right.

 If there's any one lesson I've been learning the most on this last year, it would be: I don't care how alone you are. Girls, don't ever go it alone.  Seek wise counsel of older women who have been there, or else have successfully avoided it themselves.

 "Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.   The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.   She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life."

 How are we supposed to do our future husbands good "all" our days, if we're not paying much attention until some guy comes along?

 I've fallen into the rut of thinking I can "work on other things" beside preparing to do my husband good all my days, because "there's no way anyone is going to want me anyway", so I've got "plenty of time" to "whip into shape".  
 It wasn't until the last few months when guys actually have shown interest, that I woke up to the sobering fact: I am nowhere near being a P31 woman, and actually, am probably farther from it now than I've ever been before.     That's a terrifying realization to have.  Especially when your goal is to be a witness to those around you..... and you suddenly see how much exactly the opposite is happening.

 Not only is it scary to realize that you are slipping into the world (quite rapidly), but also that you are influencing other girls around you. Especially considering that you may be the closest thing those girls ever get to a godly example of a virtuous woman.

 "Strength and honor are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.   She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness."
 This is a result of a clean heart, not just good actions.

 "Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised."

  That being said.  I would like to challenge every girl (even guys) I know, to memorize Proverbs 31 in the coming month of July.  It's just one verse every day.
 One verse every day: gaining rare, valuable wisdom for all of life.

 Don't just memorize it.  Live it.  
 Don't wait. Don't put it off for any reason.  
 Discipline yourself to learn faithfulness to God's word.    This is something I need to focus much attention on from now on, and I'd love it if y'all would do it with me.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Of perfection, mud, glory, blood and battles

 What is life but a race (Hebrews 12:1-2) and a battle (1 Timothy 6:12)?

 What happens in races and battles?    

  •  Winning. 
  •  Losing. 
  •  Glory.
  •  Humiliation.
  •  Fame.
  •  Shame.
  •  Exhilaration.
  •  Exhaustion. 
  •  Faith.
  •  Fear.

 And mud.

 I tend to see only the good things.  I see others winning, exercising faith, earning glory and fame. They're clean, and look the part of the winner.

 Me?  I'm exhausted, covered in shame, feeling humiliated when I see how much better they are.... Fearful of losing.   I fall in the mud time and time again.  Sometimes getting so discouraged I willfully throw myself in the mud, and start thinking about crawling back to the last mud puddle I fell in....
 When I've fallen, I see the others running past, in all their glory. There I sit in  all my mud, blood, and shame, and I don't think I can ever make it. There is no fixing it.    Perfection is remaining clean. I'm filthy. I'm bruised and bleeding. Mostly from self inflicted wounds.  How can I ever finish? 

 It's not about finishing in pristine condition. It's not about winning with all sorts of pomp, and glory.

 "When we feel the stirrings of the sinful nature raging in us, we ought to grasp the sword of the Spirit - that is, the Word of salvation. Then we will undoubtedly be victors, though we will feel the total opposite as long as the battle lasts."  ~  Martin Luther

  It's about finishing

"Rise to the occasion; do the thing. It does not matter how it hurts as long as it gives God the chance to manifest Himself in your mortal flesh." ~ Oswald Chambers

  •  It's about enduring
  • Not. Giving. Up
  • It's about picking yourself up again. 
  • Getting back in the race. 
  • Getting back in the fight. 

 In the end, we're not rewarded for how "wrinkle free" our running suit is, or how shiny our armor is.  We're rewarded for our faithfulness. We're rewarded for overcoming.

 "God wants you to love Him with your whole heart and with all your strength. He knows your shortcomings. That is why He gave you His Spirit, who knows about the deep secrets of eternal love with which He desires to fill you." ~ Andrew Murray

"Jesus seeks fellowship with sinners and goes after them in boundless love." ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

About Me (revised)

 So, the "about me" post is extremely outdated.
 Here's an attempt at bringing y'all up to speed. :)

 My life has changed drastically in the last year/year and a half.   Literally, nothing is the same.

 Currently I live with my grandmother, attempting to help her... but she's so active she helps me more than I help her. ;P  
 Living with her has been an experience. She's such a character, and full of fun stories of family history, and the towns we live in/near. She thinks she has nothing to offer since she's gotten older, but I'm constantly learning something from her.  She's been such a blessing.

 Since moving here I've been working in the local nursing home. The policy is not to talk about any of the residents, which is good, because each one of them is a book to themselves. ;)   I love working with them, and getting to visit with them.  Old people are a riot. :)

 Living in Iowa is very different from living in the Black Hills. It's very flat..... what people call "hills" here, are really only bunny humps. :P   I very much, miss my hills.

 In the last year I've been very blessed to have visited Alabama three times, and absolutely love it there!!!!  (There's HILLS!!!)  The people are the bestest. :D  Lord willing I'll move there one day.   (so you 'Bama people - brace yourselves)

 Good gracious. There is SO much to "update" y'all on, there's no way I'll ever get it all in one post.

 The main jist, I guess, is that God is steadily showing me how His kingdom extends to all areas of life, and how I can bring glory to Him, even in the mundane, everyday, nose-to-the-grindstone, living.

 So. the current "about me" is that I'm just a stubborn, thickheaded girl, learning to serve God in whatever situation I find myself in, and how to incorporate the future work I'm to do in my regular daily duties, right now.
 That may be simple and easy for all of you, but I'm too doggone stubborn to learn it all the first time around. (And yes, this is the bazillionth time I've gone around this bush :P)

 I'm not officially back to blogging, but do hope to post an occasional thought once in a while. (and believe me, there's a lot of them, if once I get them pinned down ;P)

         That's it for now.