Sanctuary, Contentment Part 3

>> Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sometimes we set our minds on things that we just KNOW will make us happy but doesn’t last, does it? We need to learn how to be content. We can learn. It’s never too late. Really truly.

“When I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing Your likeness.” Psalm 17:15 This should be our goal:)

Remember Paul. As he wrote the letter to the Philippians, he was sitting in jail. Well, the jail looks more like a tomb. He learned to be content even in those circumstances.

How did he learn that? What is the secret? Of course, that is my goal in this blog series, to find the secret to contentment.

Paul prayed. He prayed continually. He wrote, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in EVERYTHING, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:6-7)

We should go to the throne room of God and spend time with Him there. It is there where we will begin to learn contentment. “A glorious throne, exalted from the beginning, is the place of our sanctuary.” (Jer. 17:12) A sanctuary is a safe place. A place that brings us comfort and rest.

God said to Jeremiah, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” (Jer. 33:3)

This is the first step in learning to be content. It’s not hard. It’s so simple that we overlook it at times. We need to spend time with God, sitting at His feet. I challenge us all to do that very thing. Right now even. He told us to call to Him and He would answer us.

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If Only..., Contentment Part 2

>> Sunday, October 26, 2008

"Oh man, if only we win the cruise…. " I’ve been repeating this phrase a lot lately. I can’t help it. I really, really do want to win that cruise to Mexico, but you know what? I had no idea how badly I wanted to win it until I saw the button advertising the contest. Not a clue. I was perfectly content with Mari coming to see me in Illinois. And I will be content with her coming here if we don’t win. I’ll be so very happy to see her. BUT I WANT TO WIN! If we don’t win, Mari knows she’s going to have to scrape me up off the floor. (November 1st is THE day we find out. Just in case you have one little bit of curiosity) And you know, if we do win, all of you are going to get very tired of hearing about it. Sorry in advance.

But anyway… we always think something else will make us happy. Is it just me or is everyone easily swayed by things they see? The other night Jim and I were watching a how things are made show on the History Channel. They were showing some of the secrets of Krispie Kremes. Did you know that the delectable donuts go through a glazing machine? Yumm… I told Jim I would love to go through that machine myself. Ummm… never mind. This is a PG blog. I’ll stop there. But do you know what I did today? I broke open a container of biscuits, you know – the POP! kind and I fried them up and drowned them in sugar. This isn’t a good time to remind everyone that I’m on a diet, right? So I look good for our cruise, which we’re going to win. See? I'm easily swayed.

In my last blog entry I began to talk about contentment. This is the second in the series. If you have any thoughts, feel free to chime in. Let’s all learn together. I’ll begin to get into the meat of the matter in the next entry, I promise. For today, this is my Sunday musings: some fun thoughts as my mind meanders.

My mind is especially hurting today, too. It’s been a really rough weekend. Would I be happier, more content if my headaches suddenly went away? It makes sense. By the world’s view, it would have been much better if I never had them in the first place. In reality, my chronic headaches have brought me much growth and maturity. I’ve also met some really outstanding friends that I probably never would have met otherwise. I do say at times, “Okay God. Enough already. Will You please take them away now.” But He’s strangely quiet on the subject and I still struggle and do lots of moaning and whining.

If only… then things would be so much better. If only… What do you “if only…” about? I would love it if you shared.


Enjoy Your Day! Contentment, Part 1

>> Saturday, October 25, 2008

As Nik and I were driving to church a couple of Sundays ago, we passed a pasture that had some horses. One of the horses poked his head out of the fence eating the grass on the other side. On the way home Nik said something to me about it. We were both amazed that it was still munching on grass almost out of his reach. It must have looked awful enticing to go to so much work to get. Oh my.

It reminded me of contentment. There are so many times that I don't live in the moment. I am constantly looking forward to the next thing. I am not content in where I am or what I'm doing.

About five or six years ago I memorized the book of Philippians. I'll have to share that adventure with you sometime because it was awesome. As I was studying and memorizing the book, I realized that I really really liked Paul. He maybe had some personality quirks but don't we all:) Maybe that's why I like him. He was very real. He had so much to overcome in his Christian walk. So much guilt he had to contend with but he overcame and he did so much for the Kingdom of God.

Paul wrote about being content. When we know about his life, it is quite an amazing thing, thinking he was content in where he was and what he was doing. (The picture is the inside of a prison that Paul would have spent so much of his life.) He was forced to be alone when he was such a social man. He was active in his life but was then forced to be chained and confined to a small space and no sunlight. He loved to preach the Gospel yet many of the avenues he used to do that were taken away from him. Satan must have intended on making him utterly hopeless. Cause him to question what he believed. Give him a good reason to maybe even end his life but instead, all this had the opposite effect on him. Look at what he wrote:

"I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Philipians 4:10-13 NIV)

How do we live a life of contentment like Paul? I'll try to share his secret with you after I study more and get it figured out:) In the meantime, let's try to enjoy the day, okay?

Aloha baby!


The Linus Effect

>> Monday, October 20, 2008

I am feeling very insecure today. I am battling my headaches again after a couple weeks of reprieve. I'm sitting in the corner right now, holding on to my blankie for all I'm worth and hoping no one gets tired of me as I go through this time -- AGAIN. Medicine isn't working and rest doesn't seem to help. I am snatching at anything I can to have some semblance of order and relief. I am trying to take hold of God and His promises. I am trying to let Him be my blankie.

For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. (Isaiah 41:13)

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6)

The Lord is my light and my salvation--whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life--of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)

So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can Man do to me?" (Hebrews 13:6)

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)

I'll hold on to these verses and to God's promises as tightly as I can. Will do my best anyway.



>> Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I have decided to enter the National Novel Writing Month in November. The goal is to write a 50,000 word novel in one month. That's 2,000 words a day. That should be within my reach. Am going to attempt it anyway. There is no punishment by death if I don't get it accomplished anyway so I should be safe there. I usually work well with short goals. Now I need to figure out what to write about. A minor technicality.


Time out for a Birthday!

>> Monday, October 13, 2008

Today is my very good friend Shirley's birthday. I wanted to send birthday greetings and lots of love clear to Canada via my blog.

Happy birthday, Shirley, my sweet sweet friend! Hope and pray your year is full of blessings and health.



Audience of One

>> Saturday, October 11, 2008

Today I went to Berean Christian bookstore, and bought the book, A Sisterchicks Devotional: Take Flight! I've only read the first chapter so far but am loving it already! It's talking about worship. Robin Jones Gunn, the author, writes about a time when she wants to worship God but passes up the chance because of people around her. She says this, "I didn't release the praise welling up inside."

I can relate to this. Every Sunday in church I am inhibited because of others around me. No one stops me from praising God the way I want. No one but me. Sometimes I don't want to stand out. I just want to blend in with the crowd. But sometimes I am so powerfully touched by the Holy Spirit that I feel like I'm going to burst. That would be needing to release the praise that wells up inside like Robin writes about.

Her co-author and best friend, Cindy Hannan, writes this: "God knows our hearts, and He patiently asks us to bring more of ourselves to Him than we have before. He waits for us to realize that when we worship, there is an audience of only one.

Look at 2 Samuel 6:14 -- David danced with great abandon before God. He didn't care who was watching or what they were saying.

2 Chron. 6:13 -- Solomon knelt in front of a whole congregation, stretched his hands to Heaven and prayed.

Psalm 95:6, (The Message)-- David writes, "So come, let us worship: bow before Him, on your knees before God, who made us."

John 4:23-24"It's who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That's the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration."

Sometimes our praise comes out in different forms. It might be a poem or a story. Maybe you break out into song or speak in a different language. One time you might lift one hand and the next two. You might kneel or be flat on your face. Some even dance before the Lord like David.

Psalm 27:6 (The Message) "God holds me head and shoulders
above all who try to pull me down.
I'm headed for his place to offer anthems
that will raise the roof!
Already I'm singing God-songs;
I'm making music to God.

"Psalm 100:1-2 (The Message) "On your feet now—applaud God! Bring a gift of laughter,
sing yourselves into his presence."
Tomorrow, I'm hoping and praying that I will be able to respond to God's love the way I feel I ought to without worrying about how anyone else is worshiping or what they think about how I am worshiping. Hopefully, roofs will be raised all across the land in praise and worship and honor and glory to our Lord of Lords and our King of Kings!

I can't wait for Sunday! Psalm 122:1, "When they said, "Let's go to the house of God," my heart leaped for joy."


Bend, Stretch, Reach, Stand Still and KNOW!

>> Friday, October 10, 2008

One fall day this week as I was walking back to school after fleeing for a bit for some fresh air, I saw the prettiest fall leaf I had seen in a long time. I couldn't resist. I had to bend down and pick it up. When I did, I realized it wasn't real. That was very disheartening. But as Nik was driving me to school today I realized this is a great illustration to show that sometimes things are not what they seem to be.

As I first started reading and studying Zephaniah, I read that he was killed. I assumed it was because of the stand he was taking for the Lord, proclaiming His Word. Now that I've dug in a little deeper, I'm seeing this might not be the case. The answer isn't jumping out at me very easily so I am going to work on that this weekend.

Just like the pretty artificial leaf, we need to remember to closely examine something before we wholeheartedly attach ourselves to it, whether it be a boyfriend/girlfriend, a thought or belief, TV shows... And it goes the opposite way, too. Closely examine God and His attributes so that we can firmly attach ourselves to Him.

As we see in Psalm 139, God searches us. He knows us inside and out. I challenge you today to search Him.

Psalm 139
For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.
1 O LORD, you have searched me
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.

3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.

4 Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O LORD.

5 You hem me in—behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?

8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, [a] you are there.

9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,

10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

11 If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,"

12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

17 How precious to [b] me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!

18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand.
When I awake,
I am still with you.

19 If only you would slay the wicked, O God!
Away from me, you bloodthirsty men!

20 They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.

21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD,
and abhor those who rise up against you?

22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.

24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

Search Him today and rest in the knowledge that even though God knows us inside and out, He loves us anyway. That's a pretty awesome love to think about. Bend down to pick up a piece of God today. Stretch to pull down a bunch of hope. Reach out to grab hold of a branch of joy. Stand still and KNOW that 'I AM' is with you ALWAYS. Rejoice in the abundant life that God offers to us when we give ourselves wholly to Him.


Mighty to Save, Zephaniah part 2

>> Tuesday, October 7, 2008

In chapter 2 of Zephaniah, our prophet/worship leader spreads the word to the people:

3 Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land,
you who do what he commands.
Seek righteousness, seek humility;
perhaps you will be sheltered
on the day of the LORD's anger. (Zeph. 2:3)

Everyone else who does not humble themselves and do what the Lord says, they will be destroyed. If you read chapter two, you will see that this path isn't pleasant at all.

In chapter 2, Zephaniah describes the wickedness:

2 She obeys no one,
she accepts no correction.
She does not trust in the LORD,
she does not draw near to her God.

3 Her officials are roaring lions,
her rulers are evening wolves,
who leave nothing for the morning.

4 Her prophets are arrogant;
they are treacherous men.
Her priests profane the sanctuary
and do violence to the law. (Zeph. 3:2-4)

These people didn't obey anyone and did not want to be corrected. Worst of all, they did not draw near to God. I know I've fallen into these categories at various times of my life.

Contrast the people to our Lord:

5 The LORD within her is righteous;
he does no wrong.
Morning by morning he dispenses his justice,
and every new day he does not fail,
yet the unrighteous know no shame. (Zeph. 3:5)

We are not able to look to anyone and know for sure they will never fail. I've personally seen great men and women of God fail and I know you have, too. Isn't it great to know that our God never ever fails? He is ever-faithful.

Verse 7 shows us the people being given another opportunity to correct their ways but they still didn't change and God doesn't lie. If He says there will be punishment, we better believe there will be.

We've been promised Heaven but Hell is also waiting for occupants. Everyone will have some place to go.

All the prideful and haughty will be punished but in verse 12 Zephaniah says that the meek and humble, the ones who trust in the Lord, will be left.

So we've seen punishment being promised and the faithful being rewarded. This is where Zephaniah 3:17 comes in:
The LORD your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing."
This small book is packed with a punch. It certainly confirms our need to come to know the Lord as our Savior and trust Him with all that is in us and then some:) It shows us the day of the Lord will be a day of judgment, for sure. Are you ready?


Spontaneous Songs of Praise

>> Monday, October 6, 2008

As Beckie and I were on our way to Chicago last Thursday, she had a friend call her with a verse of encouragement. When I heard Zephaniah, I knew exactly what verse she was reading to her because that is my other friend Becky's favorite verse.

Zephaniah 3:17 "The LORD your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing."
The next day I decided I wanted to study the book of Zephaniah. It's only three chapters. That was a very attainable goal so I began. I copied the first chapter onto my word processor and looked at each verse and when I hit a word I wasn't quite sure of the meaning, I looked on It is so great to have so many helpful study tools at our fingertips.

I'm going to share some things with you about the author:

He was a Kohathite -- served by preparing for and directing worship

A prophet in days of Josiah

A priest in the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah -- Sent by the king to Jeremiah with a message soliciting the prophet's intercession and prayers

Shows Jeremiah the false prophet's letter

Taken to Riblah and killed

So basically, the way I read this is that Zephaniah was a worship leader and he gave prophetic words to the Kings of Judah. Reading Zephaniah 3:17 one would get the feeling this book would be comforting and give you a mushy feeling in your stomach. That is far from the case. In chapter one, Zephaniah warns the people about a coming destruction. It isn't pleasant. Not at all.

He warns the ones who worship idols and the ones that not seeking the Lord or inquiring of Him. Ummm.... I think I fall into those categories at different times of my life. Ouch...

In verse 7 he says, "Be silent before the Sovereign Lord, for the day of the Lord is near." He goes on to say who will be punished: those are aren't going to church and the ones that do but cause trouble. (vs 9) Also, the Lord is looking for complacent people (pleased, esp. with oneself or one's merits,advantages, situation, etc., often without awareness of some potential danger or defect; self-satisfied.) Ouch...

14 "The great day of the LORD is near—
near and coming quickly.
Listen! The cry on the day of the LORD will be bitter,
the shouting of the warrior there."

This same word could be spoken in the Church today, don't you think? "The great day of the Lord is near - near and coming quickly." We are still waiting so many years later and we are still sinning in so many of the same ways. We still grow complacent, forgetting WHO we are waiting for.

So, I'm sure Zephaniah was not the favored worship leader in his time. Obviously since he was martyred. I'll talk about that more later this week when I continue on with the small but powerful book. But for now, I still want to think of God in this way:
"The LORD your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing."

The same God who punishes and corrects also takes great delight in us. That is very comforting. It makes me want to break out in spontaneous songs of praise to my Lord. Maybe I'll do that right now.

Happy Monday everyone!


The Dark Side

>> Friday, October 3, 2008

With many urging me to come over, I finally succumbed to the "dark side." The Starbucks side, that is. I have proof. This is my second bottled frappuccino in two days. Yesterday on our trip to Chicago to see the doctor, Beckie dared me to buy one and I gave in. I trusted her and she was right. I liked it. It was a caramel frapp. Today I got a dark chocolate mocha. Is that funny or what? I knew Mari, Laura, Beckie, Shirley, and Kristen would appreciate knowing how their gentle encouragings has sent me over the edge:)

Okay, I must admit that I went to McDonalds for lunch because I had a free coupon for a coffee. I have to say, as if I'm an expert, that McDonalds coffees are bitter. Mari helped me figure that out. I felt it was strong but she said it's probably more a bitter taste. I'm sure that's it. Although they are cheaper and more readily available than Starbucks in central Illinois, Starbucks fans are right -- it is worth the money to drink their coffee. Oh boy, as if I'm such an expert on coffee now. Too funny!

I had my shunt tapped yesterday. The pressure was up just a bit but even a little is enough to send my body into a tailspin. It does not like the higher pressures for sure. Today I woke up feeling like my head was clear for once! Am excited about that and am praying that this relief will last a long while.

This time my trip with Beckie was just twelve hours instead of 24. It's always an adventure when she takes me, though. Well, she may have gotten me to try bottled Starbucks but I got her hooked on texting -- so I think we are now even:) She had fun texting Mari while I lay with a needle in my side being drained (my lube job.) We had lots of fun and I thank Beckie so very much.

Maybe I'll be seeing you on the "dark side."

Cha cha cha!

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Aloha CWO! Girl's Get-away Contest

>> Wednesday, October 1, 2008


From the book, Sisterchicks do the Hula!, I discovered what aloha means:
Alo means presence or in the face
ha means breath or spirit
so Aloha means breathe into the face or share spirit with one another

God came face-to-face with the very first man, Adam: forehead-to-forehead. That closeness was all that was needed to breathe life into him and from that first breath, all the people from then to now were created. Amazing. Mind-boggling. Wow! (Shaking my head to clear it so I can continue!)

Aloha moments are times when two people draw close to each other. They come close enough to trust who the other really is, close enough to breathe into the other’s face.
This past summer I had many aloha moments with my very best friend, Mari. I still remember looking at her; forehead-to-forehead that last morning, right before we were leaving for the airport. I wanted to memorize her because I had no idea when we would see each other face-to-face again – one of our aloha moments. We shared spirit with one another for sure. She is my Sisterchick. God plopped her down into my life for all time.
Sisterchick definition from Robin Jones Gunn: "a friend who shares the deepest wonders of your heart, loves you like a sister, and provides a reality check when you're being a brat."
Mari and I are very close but we had never met face-to-face. You see, I live in Central Illinois and she lives in Washington state. God brought us together through Because of this common interest in writing, a friendship was born. We texted, phoned, IM’d and used web cam but until you are able to share an aloha moment with your best friend, the deal just isn't sealed, not in my book anyway. The internet leaves a big old hole where aloha should be. I can’t wait to share another aloha moment with Mari. When I found this contest, I felt my heart jump. It gave me hope that our dream would come true again.
Mari loved watching me soak in the sights, sounds, and smells of 'her' Mt Rainier. She laughed at my silly questions and attempted to answer each. She stopped at funny places so I could take pictures of things that can’t be found in the Midwest. She laughed in amazement at my ignorance of pilot cars and tsunami signs.
Our silly aloha moments will last forever in my mind. As majestic as the mountains were, what stands out is the shivery feeling of being barefoot in the snow with our flip flops tossed aside. I watched through the camera lens as Mari made snow angels in July and we giggled as we made our way down a slippery snow bank.
I have never laughed so much in my life, but now as I write this, I can’t stop crying. I have such joyful memories tucked away in my brain and photographs forever captured and able to be retrieved with the click of a button.

Her laughter is engrained in my memory. Her fresh vanilla scent lingers in my nose and remembering her hand in mine as we walked down the mountain paths like little girls – these are just a few memories that bring tears to my eyes.

Mari and her pastor husband are going through major life-changes. While they wait to hear what God's next plan is for their lives, they are living in their RV. We are praying that doors open quickly and that God starts revealing His awesome plan for them.

Even though her life is topsy-turvy, she continues to reach out and minister to me as I deal with a life of chronic pain. We grow closer and closer through each struggle as we help and encourage each other along. And God is so good to both of us. When I’m down, Mari is there to help me back up and when she’s down I’m there for her.
We have the most perfect Godly friendship there could ever be. We both are sure of that – EXCEPT we’re so very far away from each other. We plot and scheme trying to figure out how we can get back together and then we stumble onto this contest. Just like Lucy and Ethel, we will continue to blunder our way through life -together -and wish and pray for another meeting, just as good as or better than our first.
So, CWO – I hope this was a good explanation of just why Mari and I would LOVE to win this contest! We are so ready to share another aloha moment with each other, especially since February, the date of the cruise, will be our one year sisterchick anniversary!
Cha, Cha, Cha!!!
Enjoy this video as Lucy and Ethel sing, Friendship, our new sisterchick theme song.

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