Monday, July 28, 2014

Seasons.

A familiar passage in Ecclesiastes says,
"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:  A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;.........."
I've known those verses as long as I can remember, but recently those Words have spoken to my heart and made me understand something I've been struggling with for years. 

I'm sure I'm not the only one who has down days; days where nothing seems right, when even the best just doesn't seem good enough. It's not anyone else bothering you, it's just that nothing seems to work in your favor. Then there are days where nothing in the world could possibly bring you down, you're just that happy. The only problem is: I don't have up and down days, I have up and down weeks.

I'd noticed long ago that my spiritual life was that way. I love Jesus all the time, but at certain times it just seems easier to be a Christian. It's not that everything is going my way in those times, because I talk to Him about the things that don't. There have been days where I talk to God all day long, singing songs of worship, listening to sermons. I could read my Bible for hours in those times. I just feel so close to the Lord, and His Presence makes me yearn to be even closer.

Then, maybe I'll have a little while where it's so difficult to do anything. I'll pray and it just feels like it's hitting the ceiling; I'll find it hard to focus on the Word. In those times, I'll usually pray or read my Bible mostly because I'll feel guilty if I don't.
Like I said, I've always wondered why that was. Why is it so easy, so natural at times and so taxing at others? 

Recently I had a spell like this and it started to bother me. Why have so many hills and valleys within myself? It's not as if my life is changing; good and bad things happen all the time. Maybe I'm not a good Christian. Good Christians never struggle to be happy, right?
Wrong.

28 And I say this for the benefit of those, many last night who accepted Christ: Don't expect the road to be a flowery bed of ease. It's going to be a rough and rugged road, but it's going to be a blessed road, 'cause He promised He'd be with you. Remember, it always takes the valleys to make the mountain. It's the washing out of the earth, makes the valley, and has the mountain above it.
    57-0613A -  God Keeps His Word
    Rev. William Marrion Branham

I realized that these seasons are just that, seasons. There's mountains and valleys, some are tougher than others, but they all pass. God's Word doesn't, and He promised to be with me no matter what season I'm in at the time.
My favorite verse in that chapter would have to be 11.
He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

So many things have happened in my life, good and bad, that I didn't recognize at the time. Situations I thought couldn't possibly turn out ok were actually for my good in the end. I still don't enjoy my valleys, those times when being close to God is such a struggle, but if I didn't have them I wouldn't appreciate it when the going is easy.
God didn't promise me that everyday would be sunny, He said He'd be there no matter what. So no matter what, I'll keep serving Him, regardless of how I feel.

James 3.17

Lately I've been thinking and praying about certain character qualities I'd love to have. These qualities I've read from the Bible and would like to have them as a Christian, and Lord willing, someday, as a wife and mother.
One night, I ended my Quiet Time by reading from the Book of James. The whole chapter is great, but this verse stuck with me.
James 3:17 KJV
But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
I thought "I'd love to be that way, that people can come to me and truly see Jesus in my manner, in the way I behave. I'd love to be easily entreated; not quick to argue or be judgemental. I desire to be that way."

So I prayed for those Godly traits, and others I'd read about. 
A little while later, I was falling asleep and kind of talking to the Lord. I somehow began to think about things people have said and done that hurt my feelings; observations that I felt they pointed out just to hurt me or make me be quiet.  And I thought to myself "seems like no one has a problem pointing out my flaws." 

I started to feel sorry for myself. Then I surprised myself by thinking, "well, you do it to others. Don't get mad when it comes around." Of course I immediately threw that thought from my mind. 

I began to comfort myself by singing "He's everything to me" and thinking "it doesn't matter what anyone thinks, God loves me. " I continued thinking about how I've never heard God tell me all the things I'm doing or I've done wrong. He never writes me a note listing "everything I hate about you." Or " what Danielle does that annoys me." Sure, He gives me correction and steers me in the path when I veer off, but He's never put me down the way people have. The way God teaches me, makes me want to do the right thing. 

By now I was feeling pretty justified, self righteous in my new realization. 

"Are you the same way?" Was the next shocking thought that popped in my mind. "Are you slow to anger and patient when someone treats you bad or says something out of turn? Or do you immediately add it to the growing list of 'things I hate about you' ?" I might not always say what I'm thinking at the time but often my attitude and thoughts lean toward the latter.

I realized I'd received that correction I mentioned earlier; the one that makes me want to do right, and this time was no different. I don't want to keep a list on anyone anymore than I'd want God to keep a list of my shortcomings. 

By my attitude and interactions with others, I want them to see Jesus through me. I want to live James 3:17- not to look smart or put on a show- but so that by my life they'd want to be more like Jesus.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

When You Make A Masterpiece.

What if you made something you were proud of? You took months to carefully plan and execute your project, and when you were finally satisfied with your creation, you revealed your masterpiece to the world.

Everyone revered and exclaimed over the wondrous thing you'd made. They handled it carefully, lest they break such a marvelous creation. "It's perfect!!" "The cutest thing I've ever seen!!" "Absolutely gorgeous!!" Will be all you'll hear for a while.

But after a few years, the novelty wears off and people began to notice the "flaws" in your creation. After a while, your creation realizes the flaws exist as well. You began to constantly hear comments such as "I look like a cow, I'm so fat!!!" "Look at these acne scars!!" You see your awesome, wonderful creation begin to doubt themselves or take pride in superficial things that don't matter.

I realized that God must feel this way often. I know most girls(including myself) and guys put a focus on their appearance and while I can't fault them for that, I've been wondering how it became so important and so shallow.

When did smiling become about how teeth look or if eyes become squinty and not about joy being expressed on a face? When did suntans start coming from a bottle and not from spending all summer at the beach enjoying yourself? And when did being "healthy" become a bad thing?
                                            
Paul talked about worshipping the creation instead of the Creator. And I've realized that's what I've done. Sometimes my version of getting ready for Sunday service is making sure my dress doesn't make me look like a beached whale.         

I haven't suddenly become a beacon of wisdom, I still wonder what I should do to my hair or whether to bleach my teeth or lose weight. But those things don't really matter. God doesn't make any mistakes.

When He makes something He makes it perfectly, and while the outside is important to please people, the inside is even more so to please God. If anything needs changing, it'd be my heart, my attitude, and my actions.

Monday, March 3, 2014

You Can't Change Someone's Dish Soap.

As I was falling asleep yesterday, a random thought popped into my head, an epiphany, if you will; "you can't change someone's dish soap." At first my foggy mind smiled to itself, impressed, then I snapped to reality and thought, "well, what the heck does that mean?"
"I'm guessing dish soap is someone's mind, based on the context. Or maybe a certain way of doing something." "So, if I see someone making a big mistake, I shouldn't even try to help them?" "Dish soap isn't that serious. "

Conclusion: we all have friends and family who have a certain way of doing things. We love them anyway, but 'that thing' they do just irks us. That's their dish soap. Everyone has one, sometimes more than one. It can be as petty as the way they chew or say a certain word, but it manages to annoy someone else.

What I realized yesterday is that the same way the dish soap we use doesn't really matter as long as dishes are clean, our individual 'dish soaps' don't change the person we actually are. They're usually an extension of our personalities.

If you like a person, however irritating that habit of theirs may be, it doesn't weigh in comparison of who they are. I don't go to a restaurant and ask what brand of soap they used, I check that my dishes are clean and go on to eat my food.

While others dish soaps are annoying to me, and I know mine are annoying to others, it's important to remember that you can't change that about them and you really don't have to. If they're your family, then you're stuck with them unconditionally, and if it's your friends, then, you're friends because of the simple fact that you like the person they are.

So if you happen to see someone washing dishes with a stupid soap, build a bridge and get over it.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Motivation Monday.

Blah, Mondays. For me, it's the true start of my week. Whatever I do today set a precedent for the next five days. So I've been trying to set great vibes on Mondays!
Here are a few Scriptures and songs that help me get going when I have a case of the Monday blues.

Scriptures:

1. 2 Corinthians 12:9 KJV

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

2. Romans 8:31 KJV

What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

3. Philippians 4:8 KJV

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

4. 1 Peter 5:10 KJV

But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.

5. Colossians 3:23 KJV

And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;

6. Philippians 4:13 KJV

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

7. Isaiah 40:31 KJV

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Songs:

1. Courageous
          Casting Crowns
2. Ready Or Not
          Britt Nicole
3. Losing
          Tenth Avenue North
4. This Is The Stuff
           Francesca Battistelli
5. Strong Enough
           Matthew West
6. Words I Would Say
           Sidewalk Prophets
7. Love Does
           Brandon Heath

Hope you enjoy, and have a great week!!!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

More Than Valentine Love

Happy Valentine's day to those that celebrate today and Happy Friday to the rest of us. It's a belief of mine that you shouldn't wait for one day a year to show a loved one how much you care, whether it be a S.O., parent, sibling or friend. Everyday we're given another  opportunity to love someone else, and here to explain all that is my best friend, Mary G, in her first guest post with many more to come. Enjoy:-)
Danielle.

What is love?

Well let me tell you what love is not. Love isn’t rejection, hurt, constant fighting, and pain. Love isn’t hard because when love is real it comes automatically. Love isn’t just saying the three words (I Love You). Saying “I Love You” is good, but without any actions behind it to show and prove the words it means nothing. In my life love hasn’t always come easy so I’ve always been a strong believer and person for love. Without real love what is life? To me life is nothing without having someone to love you straight from the heart. If you gave me all the riches of the world without love I will still have nothing. Material things can’t be there to comfort you when you are lonely or be there to hold your hand when life gets hard. When someone love you when you dream small they’ll dream bigger for you. When you can’t hope they’ll be there hoping for you. When you are stuck in the darkness of the night they’ll fight to bring you to the light. When you have nothing they wouldn’t walk away they’ll be there to make sure you receive something. It wouldn’t ask you to lower your standards because they’ll be too busy making sure you hold them even higher. You may say real love is hard to find, but when love is real it come find you. We have to ask ourselves what have we taking for granted or who have we let become common to us. Love isn’t always just in a man or a woman. It could be in that friend that annoys you the most, the family member you stopped giving so much time, or a child you just haven’t realized you become a role model for. Every day we should wake up ready to show and remind someone just how much we love them. We have to make sure when life is so great when don’t forget who stood by in love when we had nothing. So let us just not show plenty of love today to the special people of our lives. Let us take every day and love all the people that matters most to us just like it’s our last time.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Swords and Tools.

Dear best friend,
You're always there for me. You're an almost limitless source of information. You help me read my Bible and listen to Messages. You remember everything I forget and help me get home when I'm lost. You help me get food when I'm hungry and then help me workout to burn all those calories. You keep a record of everything I've ever told you and you know my taste in music to a tee. You're always teaching me new things and I absolutely love it when you finish my sentences for me :-) But this relationship has a big problem. Your constant cries for attention are taking their toll on this friendship and while you don't seem to mind hanging in a group as long as you're included, you act like you always have to be present. You distract me from spending time alone, and make it hard to focus on things that don't involve you. I love you and I think we have a great relationship, but I need space sometimes.
-sincerely, Danielle

You may or may not have gathered from my letter that I'm talking about a phone. I do tend to personify inanimate objects, but I know I can't be the only person with a phone for a bff.

And I think the saddest part of my letter is that if someone else had written it, I would probably think they were having a real-life bff breakup. If I gave them advice, I'd tell them not to throw away a great friendship, but the recipient really need to learn some boundaries.

Then I remember I'm referring to an inanimate object. An electronic device that I'm supposed to be in control of.
But more often than not, I find my phone in control of me. It tells me what to do and who to spend time with.

And if I'm not careful, I could let my phone replace The Compass that's supposed to be guiding my life. It's true that man gave us an awesome tool in the phone,(and similar devices)but God's given us the most powerful Weapon ever.
Hebrews 4:12 KJV

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

So if I'm going to utilize the "tools" that I've been given, I think I should also make sure I keep my "Sword" sharp and ready for battle against the darkness of sin.

So I'm issuing myself a challenge: before I pick up my phone to do something unnecessary, like playing a game, or checking my social sites, I'm going to read a Bible verse, or whisper a word of prayer.

It's not a law; I just don't want to feel so consumed with the things of the world anymore.  And it doesn't stop at cell phones; I'm just a taking a step away from this in particular, and I hope it's the start of many steps away from the world and closer to God.

Because in the end, that's all that matters.