Thursday, May 31, 2012

Of Mice and Men

Our home is surrounded by fields. 

This means mice. In my house. Invading my security.

I hate mice. And I let them have too much control. If I hear one in the kitchen, then I sit paralyzed in the living room. If I'm unsure where they are but I know they're there then I will go outside. Yes, I let mice run me out of my own home. And recently I haven't slept well, because I wake up in the middle of the night and feel like they're in bed with us. It's a real problem.

Logically, I get it. They're little. They're hungry. They're scared of me. But that doesn't stop me from being terrified. And from letting them invade my haven. My safe place. My home.

Now, I am a clean person. I am obsessive about making sure our home is clean. But having mice has made me take it to a whole other level. I have bought plastic containers for all of our pantry-food. And I am so looking forward to completely cleaning out my pantry this weekend. Rubbing it down. Reorganizing. Cleaning any evidence of mice and trying my best to secure that the problem won't happen again...I'm a little too excited about this cleaning and reorganizing. I'm very Monica about it all (Friends). Very Martha about it all (the Bible). 

If the cleaning and organizing and dozen traps set in my kitchen don't get rid of the husband says we'll call an exterminator. 

As I sat down to write my blog about my fear of mice and my excitement to clean, I was reminded of God and life and sin. 

How many times do we let sin control our lives? Make us feel unsafe in our own home? Dictate our decisions and leave us paralyzed.? Sure. It starts out small. It climbs its way in through a little hole - one we didn't even notice. It stays hidden for a while - and you don't even realize when it begins to disrupt your life. Next thing you know you are in a ball on the couch, wanting it to go away but unsure of how to get rid of it...and unsure of how you got to this point. 

Maybe its time to clean out the pantry of your heart and mind (yes, i know it sounds stupid - but you get my point). Get rid of the sin. The temptation. The things that may cause you to stumble. The bonds that have you paralyzed. The chains that are keeping you from freedom. The addictions, abuses, memories, temptations, scars that are keeping you from feeling secure in your own home.

Getting rid of the filth and temptation and stumbling blocks - and guarding your heart - is important. But  it isn't enough. Sometimes the sins keep finding holes, weakness, crumbs of insecurity. We can try our best to safeguard our hearts and minds, but when it comes down to it - we need to start and end with a really good exterminator. And God is the only One Who is up for the job.

 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” 
For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;  
but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by 
their own evil desire and enticed.  Then, after desire has conceived, 
it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
 James 1:13-15

 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, 
whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—
if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 
Philippians 4:8

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Love Deeply.

I was really struggling yesterday with a few key questions: What am I doing to make a difference in the lives of others? How am I making an impact for Christ? Am I just wasting my time, my opportunities, my talents? What more can I do today, right now?

...and so I decided to share a passage of scripture with you that God shared with me. Hopefully it will inspire you. Don't you love when you look at a verse or passage that you've probably seen at least a dozen times before but this time it means more?

 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.  Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.  Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:7-11

There are so many great morsels of truth tucked away in this passage, but I will focus on those words and principles that touched me today, in hopes that they may touch you too.

"Above all, love each other deeply."  Love deeply. Love passionately. Love completely. Do love. Feel love. Act in love. Show love. How often do we - do I - forget to show love to others in everything that I do. And to love those around me deeply and completely. 

"Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling."  The first part of this command is great...but the second part is humbling, and I think it probably speaks to many of us. How often do I volunteer for something or to help someone and yet complain and grumble and have a negative spirit while anticipating actually "offering hospitality". Even though my spiritual gift is exhortation, I am selfish. I like using my time for me when I get the chance...and too often find myself - if only in my mind - having a poor spirit about being kind, welcoming, and helpful to others. 

"Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others..." This is something I try to do everyday but never do enough. We each have different gifts, talents, skills that God has given us. Everyone is different - and its awesome how He made us all unique. And we each have gifts that we've been given that we can use every day to touch others, serve others, encourage others. Never focus on what you're not good at, but take a good look at what you are good at, what you enjoy doing, the talents you have - and then use those traits to serve others and to worship God.

"If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ."  I think this one builds on everything above. If I'm serving with God's strength and to His glory then I shouldn't have a negative spirit, but a spirit of love. If I'm looking for ways daily to use my gifts for God's glory then I can have faith that He will give me strength so that His will and His praise will be accomplished. 

I hope this has encouraged you today. 

To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

My Blog - a Book!

For two years I've been writing my next book, and I didn't even know it. I've been sharing my heart, sharing my stories, and trying to use my gifts and God's words to encourage others.

It didn't even occur to me until my mother-in-law suggested it. "Why don't you print your blogs?" At first it seemed like an only-okay idea. I mean, why would you want a book of my blogs when you can read them online? 

But it evolved into an amazing project. Something I'm proud of. Something I'm passionate about. Something that shows how God has used me and created me with certain skills for a matter how small it may seem.

As I sit here with the book in hand and read the words, I am in awe that God used me to write these things. I am in awe that God has blessed me with experiencing these things. This mixture of advice column, devotion book, and love story. It has already made me cry and laugh this morning - and I'm excited to share it with you! There's something about holding a book in your hands, smelling it, highlighting it, being able to search it and know it that trumps looking at a computer screen.

If you're interested in having your own copy or buying one for a friend, mom, grandma, daughter, aunt, cousin, coworker, teacher...please let me know! I'll be selling them for $10 a book. I can order any time. 
Here are the different sections offered in the book (Or the different "Pieces of my Heart"): 

I.                   About Me
Learn my heart, my quirks, my insecurities, and my passions.

II.                Life
My random musings on life: advice, stories, observations, and encouragement.

III.             God
Meet my God and learn about His redemption, His heart, His purpose, and His hope for each of us.

IV.             Women of the Bible
There are some pretty amazing women who set examples for us long ago – hear just a few of their stories and be encouraged by their heart.

V.                Friendships
I’ve been blessed with some beautiful, amazing, godly friends. Get to know them and take time to appreciate your friends and the special people in your life.

VI.             Our Story
This is my own love story written by an awesome God and starring my partner, best friend, and forever love

VII.          Relationships
Dating relationships – relationships in general – can be tough sometimes. I share my thoughts and experiences with romantic relationships and life before and in preparation of marriage.

VIII.       Marriage
The topic I am most passionate about is marriage. How it works, what God intended, and my own personal experiences as a newlywed.