Far More Valuable

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This is a post about the timing of God and how He can be found in every moment of our lives ….

I think it started about two years ago when we had all the windows on our house replaced. The new window in the master bath was a new size, which meant we now had painting to be done. With that, we decided to strip the wallpaper border and repaint, except we stripped the wallpaper and stalled. The bathroom stayed undone.

This past week my husband announced he was going to finish the bathroom this weekend. He has never, ever been one to leave a project undone like this. My son and daughter-in-law volunteered to come and help. So they came and slept over on Friday night. Saturday while we all sat at the kitchen island, enjoying breakfast and conversation, Tim shared a TED video he had found interesting ….

It was a fascinating piece of how things are repeated and woven in and throughout our lives. We had some lively discussion about the video and then went to work on the bathroom. While my husband and son painted, my daughter-in-law and I headed to Target to buy what was needed to finish the transformation of the bathroom.

We picked shower curtains, window curtains, bath rugs, soap dishes, wall hangings. We moved onto bedding for my bedroom and more window curtains. My daughter-in-law suggested a trio of pictures to hang above out bed. While I loved her selection, her choice had no significant meaning to me and so I hesitated and decided to pass on her suggestion. Getting everything we had set out to buy, we headed home. We worked all day Saturday, including a second trip to Target and a stop at Lowe’s. We were determined to finish the project which had been put off long enough. And finish we did. We are so thrilled with how it all came out. Our master bathroom now looks like this …

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I woke up early Sunday morning, as is my usual routine and read …

“Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.” 
(Matthew 6:26, MSG)

The verse struck me deeply, for several reasons, one of which was the bird pattern on my new shower curtains. After several cups of coffee and more reading, I headed to take a shower in our other bathroom so as not to wake up my husband. I went to pull back the shower curtains and stopped dead in my tracks as I looked at what was before me …

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Without ever realizing it, I had picked out the same exact shower curtain for our master bathroom as I had picked out in May for our main bathroom, only in a different color palette. It was then the TED talk, current situations in our lives, and the recurring thoughts on birds began to connect in my head and the tears began to flow.

Jesus taught of anxiety free living based on simple trust in God for caring for our lives. His desire is to instill in each of us our deep worth to God. We are not defined by a job description, social position, achievements or lack of. We are defined solely by God and because of His great love for us.

I returned to read once more ….

Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?” (Matthew 6:26, NLT)

In the midst of painting and redoing our bedroom and bathroom, God was speaking deeply into my soul. He was imprinting His message of His great love for my family. He was just as concerned and provisional toward each of them as I. No, He was even more so!

A delayed home project was actually done on time – His time. Not mine.

And remember I mentioned the trio of pictures my daughter-in-law suggested? I made another trip to Target to get them.

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They now have deep significance and a home!

 

Today I am joining … Unforced Rhythms and Sharing His Beauty and Mon. Musings and Inspire Me Mon. and Making Your Home Sing and Motivation Mon. .

Keep Nothing Back

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“Open up before God, keep nothing back, he’ll do whatever needs to be done. He’ll validate your life in the clear light of day and stamp you with approval at high noon.” (Psalm 37:4, MSG)

Lord, I invite you to examine the depths of my heart.
When you ask me the question, “What do you want?”
I confess that I don’t always know the answer.
Sometimes I don’t desire enough,
so ignite my faith, restore lost hope.
Sometime I desire amiss, so root out pride,
greed,and selfish ambition.
Give me the desire of Your heart so that when
You ask, “What do you want?”
my answer will be pleasing to You.
My heartfelt desire will be to follow You,
my deepest longing, to love like You and become like You.
Amen.

(from “The Wonder of His Love” by Nancy Stafford, page 174)

 

Today I am joining … Give Me Grace and Still Saturday and Spiritual Sundays and Scripture & A Snapshot and Sunday Stillness .

5 Of My Reads

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Labor Day Weekend. So hard to believe the summer is done. Put your feet up and enjoy a few of my favorite posts from this past week:

1. Growing older can often be hard to accept. In this post, Renee shares what she has learned as she had another birthday.

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2. A new book by author Michelle DeRusha will be coming out September 16th. In this post, Michelle shares, with her usual humor and honesty, how the book came to be. 50 Women Every Christian Should Know is wonderfully written and will be a resource you all will want on your shelves.

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3. We can love going to church. We love the music. We love the sermon. We love God. And yet church can often be the loneliest place. In this post, Misty shares some practical steps we each can take to begin to make a change.

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4. Many things seem to be out of our reach. Yet in this post we learn exactly what is in our reach every day. May we reach for what is good. This post was a part of the Five Minute Friday linkup.

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5. Disappointment is not fun to experience. And yet we all disappoint others and are often disappointed by others as well. So how are we to look at this? In this post, filled with much wisdom and compassion, Holley shares how we are to look at disappointment and still love.

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And there you have five of my favorites this week. I hope you make time, on this long weekend, to put your feet up and enjoy them!

Love.

Joanne

 

Today I am joining … Saturday Recommendation and Whatever is Lovely and Saturday Linky Love and Faith Along the Way and The Weekend Brew and The SITS Sharefest and The Friday Five .

Reach

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I”m joining Kate Motaung for Five Minute Friday. One word prompt. Five minutes. No editing. Lots of women. We all write on the same word.

Today’s word is …

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We’ve all said it at one time or another … “I love you to the moon and back.” Somehow the distance being so great from the earth to the moon is supposed to express how greatly we love. Hearing we’re loved to the moon and back somehow seems to out our hearts to rest.

For the last few weeks, I have been watching as some are going through struggles. Some are near to me and greatly loved. Some I have never met yet their stories have impacted me deeply.

I have found myself praying for healing, for provision, for employment, for answers, for miracles.

I have had some sleepless nights, restless in bed as I have wrestled and questioned God. He has tremendous ability to remain silent, not providing answers no matter how much I have hounded Him. And so I wait. Just not as silently as He.

I have asked “Why?”, “When?”, “Will You?”, “How?” and “Where?”.

And He has remained silent except to let me know this one truth ….

“Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.”
(Psalm 36:5, NIV)

I guess you can say … He loves each one of us to the moon and back!

 

Today I am joining … Five Minute Friday and Everyday Jesus and Friendship Fri. and Faith Filled Fri. and Essential Fridays and Fellowship Fri. .

Good News for Weary Women

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Women today really do bear a great deal of pressure each day. We seem to become inundated with lists and not just grocery lists. In her book, Good News for Weary Women: Escaping the Bondage of To-Do Lists, Steps, and Bad Advice, Elyse N. Fitzpatrick, tackles the problem of living in order to maintain our list of rules, goals, and to -do’s.

978-1-4143-9538-81While these all have their place in our lives, and can often be well meaning, the problem is they become the means by which women begin to measure their worth. They also become an act of futility as no one can keep such a standard for very long, including:

  • have well behaved children 24/7
  • be a Mary AND a Martha
  • be meticulously groomed and feminine 24/7
  • be involved in every Bible Study
  • have a home cooked meal every day
  • be up before the crack of dawn for devotions
  • stay up way after everyone is in bed to pray
  • have a perfectly clean home 24/7
  • have the perfect marriage
  • never have a personal struggle

While each may be a good goal in and of itself, none will cause God to love us any more than He already has. These lists, often received from church, well meaning friends, Facebook or another social media outlet, can place unrealistic expectations which then become a source of frustration.

The author brings us to the realization we are already loved and accepted by God – as we are.

“There is good news for you. You don’t need to learn secret steps, try harder and harder, wear yourself out to be beautiful, snag Mr. Perfect, or raise perfect children. You are already welcomed, loved, forgiven, and completely okay. You can laugh and rest and resist all the ways the world lies to you and tells you  you’re not good enough. And you can love God because He has already loved you. You can be free to fail, to rest, to love, to be weak, to grow, and to know that everything is already given to you in Him.”

In each chapter, Elyse shares wisdom which shatters these burdens we place on ourselves. She also includes a “Bad News/ Good News” article, stories from the lives of women she met or interviewed, and questions for discussion or thought making this a wonderful book to use for Bible Study, a book club, or small group.

** While Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book, all opinions expressed are my own.

Today I am joining with … Thought Provoking Thurs. and Quitting Thurs. and Thurs. Favorite Things and Cozy Reading Spot and Booknificent Thurs. and Hearts for Home and Make My Saturday Sweet .

 

Let’s Celebrate Together!

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I’m still thinking about “success”. I just can’t seem to let go of it.

For most of us, we chase after success thinking we achieve it when we achieve a certain goal … perhaps number of friends on social media, or “likes”, or retweets. It may be when we hit a certain income level or title at our jobs. Or for some, not mentioning names :) ,  perhaps it is when our scale tells us we have hit our desired weight.

Success – it really does look differently to each of us.

Dictionary.com tells me success is “achieving an outcome, the attainment of wealth or fame, triumph”.

This brought to mind a servant who was entrusted with some money, belonging to his master, for safekeeping while his master was away. He did a good job investing the money, earning double the amount. Upon his return, the master had this to say to his servant:

Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!” (Matthew 25:21, NLT)

Sounds like the servant was successful. He was given a promotion.

We have no idea how long the master was gone on his trip. We do know for whatever the length of time, the servant was on his own. He had to work with no supervision from his master.

We can learn three things regarding success from this passage:

  1. Success means being “good”. This speaks of our character. We are to be … morally excellent, honorable, kind. “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.” (Proverbs 22:1, NIV)
  2. Success means being “faithful”. This means we are true to follow through on our word. We are reliable and can be trusted. We can be counted on.
  3. Success means “handling this small amount”. Whether the job is viewed big or small, we are responsible to do what we have been given. “Do not despise these small beginnings…” (Zechariah 4:10, NLT).

Here’s the thing about success ….

It doesn’t matter whether the job is big or small. If we are faithful to do the job, God views us as successful. And He invites us to celebrate with Him.

What is it He is calling you to do today?

Do it.

And let’s celebrate together!

Today I am joining … Three Word Wed. and Wedded Wed. and Wed. Prayer Girls and Whimsical Wed. and Works For Me and A Little R & R and Tell His Story .

 

Clouds & Fire

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It was the last day of our vacation. How had it gone so quickly?

I was out of bed at 5AM. The comforting aroma of the coffee dripping enveloped me as I waited for my first sips to fully awaken me. The kitchen was dark as if it was the middle of the night. The water and mountains were still and black until about 5:40 when the sun began to rise.

I read my Jesus Lives devotional, several times, for what God would say to me in this moment …

“My Presence continually moves along before you – keeping you from stagnating and showing you the way forward. In spite of the difficulties of the arduous trail you are following, your success is certain: I will be found by you!”  (pages 88-89)

We would be leaving, going back home and the days ahead are unknown to each of us. We think we know what they hold but, in actuality, this is presumptuous of us as we truly do not know at all.

PillarI turned in my Bible to read, in Exodus, where God promises to go with His people. They wandered in the wilderness, longer than ever originally intended, and yet God went with them. He gave them a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. They were in the wilderness, en route to the promise, not sure of the way. The only sure thing was that He was with them.

As the sun rose (which was just beautiful FYI) and the burst of orange spread over the lake and mountains, I remembered He is also with each one of us. We each are desirous of “success” in the days ahead and for each of us, I imagine “success” looks differently.

And here’s the thing … the only “success” which is certain is that He will be found by us as we, individually, seek Him. So if success is finding Him, think of this … He was found in the cloud and in the pillar of fire. He looked different at different times of day.

I cannot help but wonder this morning if part of our problem is our own expectations. Our expectations of what He should be, what He should do and how He should do it can keep us from finding Him. In other words, we are looking for the pillar of fire when He is the cloud or looking for the cloud when He is in the pillar of fire.

My prayer for the days ahead is simple … May we each experience the success of simply finding Him in our days.

No expectations.

However He is found.

In the cloud and in the fire.

Simply find Him.

 

Today I am joining with … Unite and Testimony Tues. and Playdates With God and Titus 2 Tues. and Titus 2sday and Coffee for Your Heart .