Thursday, January 26, 2012

Fear Not

The Bible study group I am involved in is working through "Taming My Fears" by Carol Kent.  This week we discussed destructive and constructive ways to respond to our fears.  The constructive approach (otherwise known as the OBEDIENT approach) takes us through these steps:
  • Sorrow--Honestly and openly telling God of my fears, sadness, anxiety, anger, hurt, etc.  
  • Brokenness--Again, honestly admitting before God that I can't fix this.
  • Surrender--Submitting to God.  Admitting that I need HIM!
  • Faith-filled decision--Responding in obedience to God's guidance
I played out a conversation with God in my mind.
         Me:  "God, I am scared to death.  
         God:  "I know."
         Me:  "I can't get rid of the fear, God"
         God:  "No, you can't."
         Me:  "God, would you do it for me, please?"
         God:  "Now, we are getting somewhere!"

 God's paths get you where you want to go. 
Hosea 14:9 (MSG)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Skiing Lessons

The sun was shining so brightly in the clear blue sky.  The gentle wind blew across my face.  I breathed in the fresh air.  Ahh! 

Now before pictures of summery days on sandy beaches or spring mornings in a lush green meadow start forming in your mind, let me add that the air temperature at the moment was 11o and the gentle breeze was 20mph with gusts of at least 40mph.  That paints a different picture, doesn’t it?

It was our second day on the ski slopes in Colorado.  And it was COLD!  And I should have been miserable.   I am the gal who lives in wool socks and fleece jackets all winter.  I leave my coat on when I come inside.  I have been known to take more than one hot shower in a day because that is the only time I am warm. 

But here I was having fun in the snow and the cold and the wind chill.  About half way through the morning I thought, “What am I doing!  I don’t like being cold.  But I am having a blast!  What gives?”

I spent a few moments contemplating the situation as we rode up the lift for another run down the mountain and two words came to mind:  Perspective and Preparation.


I did not see this day as a miserable day outside in the cold.  I saw it as a day of fun with my husband, daughter and son-in-law.  I viewed it as a great day of skiing with adequate snow and no lift lines.  I was enjoying the fact that this middle age body could still manage the slopes.  I understood that skiing is done in the cold months of winter.  I expected to be chilly.    

If I had been back home in the flatlands on such a day I may have seen it as a day that was too cold to venture out to the mailbox.  I would have bundled up in my fleece and wool and hunkered down inside, shielding myself from the frigidness.  I would have fought the urge to grumble about the temperature.  I would have longed for the coming of spring. 

But here in Colorful Colorado I was rejoicing in the snow and the chill.  The context was different.  My focus was on all the reasons to rejoice and as a result the cold didn’t seem so terrible and I didn’t mind it so much. 

What if I had the same mind set in the uncomfortable situations of life back home?  What if I looked for the good; set my mind on the things above more?  What if altered my expectations? 

Then I thought on the second word, Preparation. 

I considered the way I was dressed for the day in the cold.  I was wearing a ski helmet that not only shielded my head from hitting something hard but also kept my ears and head warm.  The ski goggles protected my eyes from the glare of the sun.  The fleece neck gater covered my neck and chin and mouth and cheeks and nose.  (Get the picture?  Nothing was exposed to the elements.)  I wore a layer of cold weather gear under my insulated snow pants and jacket.  My hands were toasty in the waterproof mittens with hand warmer inserts.  My wool socks kept my toes from becoming icicles. 

Back home I may have dressed in wool socks and fleece but I would have left the house with a bare head, stylish knit gloves and no extra layers to keep me warm.  I wouldn’t have prepared the same and I would have felt the cold more. 

I saw the life lesson that God was revealing through my day in the cold and snow. 

"Mary, If you would develop the correct perspective by setting your eyes on My blessings and goodness each day and prepare yourself appropriately by dressing up in My armor each morning you would experience the joy of each day in a deeper way." 

       Romans 8:6 (NASB)
            For the mind set on the flesh is death, but
            the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.

        Ephesians 6:13 (NASB)
            Therefore, take up the full armor of God,
            so that you will be able to resist in the evil 
            day, and having done everything, to stand firm.

I was so thankful for God showing up in the midst of a snowy vacation day.  It is just like Him to make an object lesson out of life situations.  I am so thankful that He speaks so clearly. 

And if you see me out and about wearing a helmet and goggles and neck gater and layers of clothing on a below zero wind chill day, you will understand, right?


Sunday, January 8, 2012


Yesterday was a monumental day for me.  I crossed a task off my to do list that had been there for-ev-ah! 

I cleaned out and organized my "craft room".  Woo Hoo!

I made an attempted over a year ago to convert the basement bedroom into my crafty area but only succeeded in creating a dumping zone of leftover craft supplies, unfinished projects, ideas in the making, and shopping sacks full of stuff I "knew" I could do something with sometime.  It had reached the point that the thought of going downstairs to fetch something from the room or work on a project in it made me cringe.  Obviously my creative juices where being stymied not encouraged.  So I geared up and began by taking everything out of the room and double closet, sorting it into somewhat sensible piles and tossing the real junk.  (But keeping the valuable junk, of course.)  My piles filled the pool table and the ping pong table and the small game table and the futon and the couch and spilled over onto the floor.  You get the picture of how much was packed into that room.  After two afternoons of decision making (what to toss, what to garage sale, what to keep, what was I thinking!) and letting go I now have this...

And this...
I found out that I had good intentions at one time because I already possessed all of those plastic storage containers and labels.  I was sure that the process would require a trip to the store for organizing stuff. Love it when a project is low or no cost.

I feel so much better with that job completed

But before anyone starts to think that I am an organizing genius I offer to you this evidence of how far I still have to go...

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Fresh Start

I decided to spend some time reading through the minor prophets in the Old Testament beginning with Hosea, a book about a man whom God asks to marry a prostitute knowing that she would eventually be unfaithful and break his heart.  

The lesson I learned today was so appropriate for the first month of a new year.  It was all about fresh starts.

God instructs Hosea to marry Gomer, a prostitute, and have a family with her.  Her harlotry was an example of God's people chasing after other "loves" and forsaking their God.  The couple have three children and then Gomer returns to her former way of life saying, "I will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink." Hosea 2:5

My translation--"Someone other than God can fulfill my needs better."

Little does Gomer realize that her husband, Hosea, is the one who really was supplying all of those needs.  Hosea says, "For she does not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the new wine, and the oil and lavished on her silver and gold." Do you see that?  Hosea gave her even more than she needed. Eventually she comes to her senses. (Mainly because God hedged up her way with thorns and built a wall against her so that she could not find her path. Hosea 2:6) 

Gomer's indiscretion is revealed and her shame is made evident. 

But this is where I was really amazed. 

Hosea says in 2:14, "And now, here's what I'm going to do:  I'm going to start all over again.  I'm taking her back out into the wilderness where we had our first date, and I'll court her." (The Message) 

After her unfaithfulness, her looking to others to fulfill her needs, Hosea says he will take her back and give their relationship a fresh start.

Gomer's new start began with her returning to her first love, Hosea.  She recognized the error of her ways, the foolishness of her thinking.  She found out the hard way that chasing after the wrong "supplier" could not fulfill her needs at all. 

A fresh start!

That's what January 1st represents.  That's why there is a first of the month 12 times a year.  That's why every week has a Sunday.  That's why every day has a sunrise.  Every 60 minutes there is a top of the hour.  Every minute starts with a new count of 1 to 60. 

God offers fresh starts, new beginnings.

Lamentation 3:22,23 states that "The Lord's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning.  Great is Thy faithfulness."

When I find myself on the wrong path and relent and return to the Supplier of all my needs, the Lord meets me with a new compassion and gives me a fresh start. 

As a new year begins, it signals a fresh start.  The house is cleaned up of the Christmas decor and clutter and feels fresh and simple.  I am anxious to begin a new set of goals and objectives.  I am ready to get started on a new Bible study guide.  I am looking forward to what a new year has to offer.  

I will try to be intentional to fulfill the goals I have set but I know that there will be set backs.  I am not expecting myself to fail but I am trying to be realistic here.   If or when those stumbles occur I can have a fresh start after confession of my errors.  This knowledge gives me the encouragement I need to start again, to accept God's offer of a fresh start.

Thank you, Lord, for fresh starts, for new beginnings.  Thank you for Your compassions that are new every morning. Thank you for this new year, 2012.