Friday, April 29, 2011

What I've Learned Lately

We drove to West Chester to help our daughter move out of the apartment she left one and a half months ago.

I started thinking about how when we helped her move in to her campus apartment, I had placed my hope in the college and town.

She would study hard, succeed in her classes, in this new chapter of her life.

I had placed my hope in a place, a situation.

Then she flunked out of her third semester there. Moved to a different apartment. Worked long hours for little pay. Quit the job and moved back to our area leaving a lot of her "non-essential items" behind.

It was time to load them up.

While her life has been changing, I realized that this was her present, not her entire future.

She is living out a portion of her life and from my parental perspective (although difficult to watch) I love her, pray for her, and am here when she needs me.

I take comfort that God is with her too.

He is a loving Father who knows what is best for her.

He knows her past, present, and future.

I have learned that life is sometimes messy.



I have learned to not place my hope in a place or situation.

I have learned to place my hope in the Lord,
He is here and through His discipline and love,
all will be well.

And I have learned that living life with our daughter will never be boring.

(The next day she came and with help from her boyfriend and her wonderful dad stored all the non-essentials in the basement.)

A happy ending to the move.

(Thank you Daughter for giving me permission to publish this post.)

Monday, April 25, 2011

One Thousand Gifts (146-152)

I have been reading A Holy Experience (Ann Voskamp's blog) for a year. Every Monday Ann adds to her list of One Thousand Gifts and today I'm adding to my list too.




#146 - #152 on my list of One Thousand Gifts. I'm thankful for:

146. Diane and celebrating her birthday over coffee. Such a good sport celebrating a day early and a kind friend

147. rain, rain and more rain. And constantly reminding myself that, "April showers bring May flowers."

148. the joy of Easter. He is risen!

149. worshiping God and placing my hope in Him

150. a baby "blowing raspberries" during church (very funny)

151. reading so many wonderful blog posts about Holy Week and Easter

152. a delicious pimento cheese spread recipe (hmmmm, this might be a southern thing)
Turn on your speakers. Read, enjoy, and thank God for His blessings.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Communion

I'm linking this post to Mary's blog, Giving Up on Perfect, and am writing about subjects that she's chosen for the past seven Thursdays:

March 10 – Baptism
March 17 – Wedding
March 24 – Funeral
March 31 – Worship
April 7 – Bible study
April 14 – Prayer
April 21 – Communion

How appropriate that Mary chose today to assign the subject of communion. Today is Maundy Thursday, the Thursday of Holy Week commemorating Jesus' Last Supper and his washing of his disciples' feet.

When he (Jesus) had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. "Do you understand what I have done for you?" he asked them. "You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them."
John 13:12-17 (NIV)

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body."
Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's kingdom."
Matthew 26:26-29 (NIV)

In February, I read One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp. She writes of eucharisteo and about how Jesus, knowing what his future held, took the bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples.

I receive the bread and grape juice (Presbyterian remember?) and my heart quickens when I hear Jesus "took the bread, gave thanks and broke it. Do this in remembrance of me."

I looked up the definition(s) of communion and read that it means the act of receiving the Eucharistic elements, the elements of Eucharist, and association, fellowship.

It brings me joy to be with others sharing in the remembrance of Jesus and participating in this tradition of our faith ...until he comes again.




Thank you Mary for choosing today's topic and for hosting this series on "A Remarkable Faith." It's made me dig deeper into my faith and I've learned about other's faith from reading their blogs and their insightful comments.

Please visit Giving Up on Perfect to read what Mary and others have written about communion.

Do you have a memory or some thoughts you'd like to share about communion?

Monday, April 18, 2011

One Thousand Gifts (135-145)

I have been reading A Holy Experience (Ann Voskamp's blog) for a year. Every Monday Ann adds to her list of One Thousand Gifts and today I'm adding to my list too.



In 2004, I saw the movie "The Passion of The Christ" and was deeply affected by the visual reenactment of Jesus' journey throughout Holy Week. The biggest change for me is that each time I say The Lord's Prayer "he suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried," that the words are now more moving/realistic than just mere memorized words.

In the same way, while reading One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, where Ann wrote about Jesus taking the bread, giving thanks, breaking it, and giving it to his disciples, is that during communion at my church the words have taken on a deeper meaning for me too.

I am more fully attentive and present while worshiping. Whether I am at church or not and I am thankful.

Holy Week began on Sunday and I have posted what I'm reading this week.

#135 - #145 on my list of One Thousand Gifts. I'm thankful for:

135. for God leading me toward a more mature faith

136. Holy Week

137. Wonderful Husband, our daughter and me going to Virginia to visit our son/her brother

138. safe travel to and from Virginia

139. watching Wonderful Husband hang pictures and put together a bookcase for our son

140. new shoes for walking on the treadmill
 
141. reading The One Year Chronological Bible and being so caught up that I read into the next day's reading! God's Word is alive, active, thrilling and inspiring!
 
142. Wonderful Husband catching stinkbugs in baggies...then disposing of them. He is my hero!
 
143. the hyacinths in bloom


 
144. a squirrel running out of our garage

145. the joy of celebrating Easter next Sunday

Turn on your speakers. Read, enjoy, and thank God for His blessings.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Holy Week

What I am reading this week:

The Triumphal Entry, Jerusalem, Sunday (Palm Sunday)
Matthew 21:1-11

Jesus curses the fig tree, Monday
Matthew 21:18-19

Jesus clears the temple, Monday
Matthew 21:12-13

The authority of Jesus questioned, Tuesday
Matthew 21:23-27

Jesus teaches in the temple, Tuesday
Matthew 21:28-23:39

Jesus anointed, Bethany, Tuesday
Matthew 26:6-13

The plot against Jesus, Wednesday
Matthew 26:14-16

The Last Supper, Thursday (Maundy Thursday)
Matthew 26:17-29

Gethsemane, Thursday
Matthew 26:36-46

Jesus' arrest and trial, Thursday night and Friday
Matthew 26:47-27:26

Jesus' crucifixion and death, Golgotha, Friday (Good Friday)
Matthew 27:27-56

The burial of Jesus, Joseph's Tomb, Friday
Matthew 27:57-66

The Resurrection, Sunday (Easter)
Matthew 28:1-10

Alleluia! Christ is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Easter blessings to you.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Prayer

I'm linking this post to Mary's blog, Giving Up on Perfect, and am writing about subjects that she's chosen for the next seven Thursdays:

March 10 – Baptism
March 17 – Wedding
March 24 – Funeral
March 31 – Worship
April 7 – Bible study
April 14 – Prayer
April 21 – Communion

The Jesus Prayer from June 25, 2010:

This past week I attended Adult Vacation Bible School at my church. Each day we were taught about Spiritual Formation and different ways to practice being in a closer relationship with God.

The first day we discussed Mark 10:46-52. A particular verse caught my attention. Vs. 47 which says, "Jesus Christ, Son of David, have mercy on me!"

This reminded me of The Jesus Prayer that I had learned years ago and I talked with our teacher after the lesson on Monday about it. Since she was finished teaching for the day, she said that I could bring that up on Tuesday. After teaching on Tuesday, she apologized for not remembering to bring it up and I really wasn't concerned about it, so no apology was necessary.

On Wednesday...after spilling Diet Coke on the front of my shirt, the teacher said, "Cindy? Would you come up front and tell us about The Jesus Prayer?"

"Oh heck. I just spilled something on me....but I'll just carry up my folder to hide it."

Laughter followed me as I trotted up to the front and held the mini microphone so I could be heard by all. I had my folder strategically placed to hide my sloppiness.

I said something like this, "After our reading Mark on Monday, it reminded me that years ago I learned The Jesus Prayer. It is 'Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.' I was very stressed and by focusing on this, repeating it over and over, and stressing each word separately....well....I think it saved my life. It helped me become calm, centered, and put my focus on Jesus....and isn't that where we want to be?"

I handed the microphone back to the teacher and trotted back to my seat with my folder still in front of me. (I am not comfortable speaking to large groups and was hoping that I had made sense in my mini explanation of The Jesus Prayer.)

During our break, I had a conversation with a woman who thanked me for sharing The Jesus Prayer. When I sat down, I had a woman turn around and hand me her tablet and pen and asked me to write down The Jesus Prayer.

So I thought to myself, I guess I did make some sense. Phewww.

On Friday, I told Bud, "You know I was a little worried that since I had complimented you on your testimony that you gave on Tuesday, then heard you were in the hospital because you weren't feeling well...I was hoping that it wasn't because of our conversation." Hee hee!

He laughed.

I said, "I was praying for you and glad to see you back on Thursday."

He asked, "You prayed for me?"

I said, "Of course. That's what we do here."

Then he said, "You know, when I got to the hospital, I started saying The Jesus Prayer to myself. I repeated it about 10 times and felt myself relax and rest in Him. Then they started running the tests which came back negative and they told me to go home the next day since there was nothing wrong with me."

All the glory goes to God.

Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.

Thank you Mary for choosing today's topic and letting me "walk down memory lane" from last year.

Please visit Giving Up on Perfect to read what Mary and others have written about prayer.

Do you have a memory or some thoughts you'd like to share about prayer?

Monday, April 11, 2011

One Thousand Gifts (127-134)

I have been reading A Holy Experience (Ann Voskamp's blog) for a year. Every Monday Ann adds to her list of One Thousand Gifts and today I'm adding to my list too.



The grass is becoming green yet many trees are still bare.
We've had a lot of rain and when the sun comes out my soul "breathes" easier.
Finally! Our forsythias bloom and they make my eyes happy.


#127 - #134 on my list of One Thousand Gifts. I'm thankful for:

127. Spring which brings on feelings of hope

128. blooming forsythias

129. choosing the word "grace" to focus on this year. (Of course God knew I needed grace in 2011 and need to show His grace to others.) Thank you God!

130. the beginning of spring cleaning after the painter left. (Note to self: I have a lot of junk that needs tossing:)

131. seeing a hawk fly past my van and land in a tree on my way to work

132. pink polish on my toenails. Flip flops here I come!

133. the girls next door playing jump rope and hearing their laughter

134. Spring trying to overtake Winter and I think Spring is finally winning! Hooray!

The slightest hint of purple in our
church cemetery.




Turn on your speakers. Read, enjoy, and thank God for His blessings.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Bible Study

I'm linking this post to Mary's blog, Giving Up on Perfect, and am writing about subjects that she's chosen for the next seven Thursdays:

March 10 – Baptism
March 17 – Wedding
March 24 – Funeral
March 31 – Worship
April 7 – Bible study
April 14 – Prayer
April 21 – Communion


I used to work at a church and was off on Thursdays. About 5 years ago, I began attending a Thursday morning Bible Study at my church (a different church from the one that employed me). We met weekly through the school year with a group of about 15 to 20 women and we made our way through Beth Moore studies, different books of the Bible, different topics (like heaven and what scripture says about it). I had gained knowledge and developed relationships with these faith-filled women.

I was unemployed for almost three years and was able to devote more of my time/life to studying the Bible. I began journaling and blogging and because of the quiet in my home, I was able to be aware of God's presence in every aspect of my life. The years of being at home were a gift.

I've also do Bible studies on the telephone with my friend Terri in Maryland. We began with a one year women's devotional, completed Me, Myself and Lies...A Thought Closet Makeover, watched "Made To Crave" online and are continuing with another book. We read a chapter a week and use the questions to guide us in our conversation and thoughts on faith. We've been friends for over 20 years and bringing Bible Study into our weekly conversations has deepened our friendship. A gift!

I was hired last December and my days are now spent at work Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. (And please don't misunderstand me, the job is a blessing because as most people know it pays better than not working. :)

But there are drawbacks to not being at home.

I am no longer able to meet with my Bible Study Buddies at my church. I am on the prayer request list and every week I receive prayer requests by email. So a prayer connection remains.

Terri calls every week and after catching up on our families and our lives, we dig into our Bibles and learn more about God's grace and encourage each other.

I am reading The One Year Chronological Bible and visiting Wendy Pope's blog/vlog.

I read (in)courage daily and a few other blogs.

I read Jesus Calling (a daily devotional) each morning before walking into work because it focuses my mind on Jesus.

Through Bible Study, I have become less legalistic in my faith and I think it makes God happy that I don't just know certain parts of the Bible but also am learning of His grace, mercy and am building a relationship with Him.

For years I was stuck in the letter of the law instead of the spirit of the law, which is to love the Lord our God with all my heart and with all my soul and with all my strength and with all my mind, and love my neighbor as myself. (Luke 10:27)

I think of myself as a life-long Bible Study student and am intentionally incorporating God's truths into my life.

And that is a gift.

Thank you Mary for choosing today's topic.

Please visit Giving Up on Perfect to read what Mary and others have written about Bible study.

Do you have a memory or some thoughts you'd like to share about Bible study?

Monday, April 4, 2011

One Thousand Gifts (120-126)

I have been reading A Holy Experience (Ann Voskamp's blog) for a year. Every Monday Ann adds to her list of One Thousand Gifts and today I'm adding to my list too.


Many years ago, my maternal grandparents lived in Larkspur, California. When we went to visit them (from Texas) I always admired my grandmother's raised flower beds. She grew many types of flowers but my favorite were pansies.

I look at pansies today and they still bring a smile to my face. I've also "trained" Wonderful Husband and my kids by asking, "Who do pansies remind me of?" And they dutifully answer, "Your grandmother."

Pansies make my heart happy.


#120 - #126 on my list of One Thousand Gifts. I'm thankful for:

120. the memories of my grandmother and her garden

121. seeing the middle school and high school kids walking to the bus stop in the morning

122. Law and Order: Criminal Intent bringing back Goren and Eames for the last eight episodes of the series

123. the painter painting every ceiling surface in our house

124. celebrating Laura and Janis' birthdays and trying Thai food for the first time. Yum.

125. dinner out with my previous co-workers and celebrating Debbie, the mother-of-the-bride

126. wisps of white clouds across a beautiful blue sky

Turn on your speakers. Read, enjoy, and thank God for His blessings.

What are you thankful for this week?

Friday, April 1, 2011

This is My Life

We hired a painter to come and paint all the ceiling surfaces in our home. He did a walk-thru last week, we talked high ceilings, nail pops that need repair, white flat paint, and later that night he called with the price and said, "plus the cost of the paint."

OK. The deal was struck and I've been looking forward to his arrival for a week.

He showed up Thursday and began unloading his various ladders and drop cloths. His plan was to work until noon so after introducing him to our daughter, I left for work.

My commute is 20 minutes and half way there my cell phone starts ringing. It's our daughter and she says, "Mom, he wants to know where you put the paint."

What?

I told her to hand him the phone and said, "I don't have any paint. When you said the price plus the cost of the paint, I assumed that you would buy the paint and I would reimburse you for it."

Wrong.

Now the plan is for the painter to show up on Friday.

With paint.

Yes. This is my life.

It seems that I live it so that others can learn from it.

Here is the lesson: Don't assume a painter will arrive with paint.

I know I won't.

Oh and by the way, should I assume he's a bit passive-aggressive?

I arrived home and this is what greeted me in my foyer.



How far does it go up you ask?




And is it a coincidence that he left it in front of the half bathroom? I think not.

Good thing I am not superstitious, because if I were I would predict that I will have a lot of bad luck in my future!

Sometimes I have to laugh to keep from crying. Will you join me?