Don’t Give Up!

Epic cartoon sermon ūüėČ

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never give up

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art from recycled computer boards

 

Ready for a geography project with the kids?

This is a world map by UK artist Susan Stockwell for Bedfordshire University’s Luton Campus.
She used recycled computer components to create it.
Americans are notoriously BAD at geography and map making is a great way to help kids learn what’s where on planet earth.
It doesn’t have to be perfect, but some concern for scale should be part of the process.

Let your kids use old Legos or other plastic toys and glue them onto a piece of masonite board.
If you have the skills and the tools you can cut the masonite to form the major land mass and attach all of the smaller pieces with wire.
If not, just use the masonite as a big rectangle and glue everything onto it.  

Raid your recycle bin for colored plastic caps and any small metal debris you can glue or screw onto the masonite. ¬†Old washers, screws, a portion cut from a worn out tape measure, whatever is in those little tiny drawers of Dad’s tool box.
Yeah, the one he never opens.
Just ask first ūüėČ

Make it a treasure hunt first and an art project second.  
Now you have a good use for that broken piece of train track at the bottom of the toy chest!

Take $5.00 and head to OSH with the kids to peruse the aisles looking for funky hardware, bits of wire, and metal for your masterpiece.

I promise you this is the kind of family experience they’ll remember all their lives.

I haven’t done this yet myself, but I’m inspired to try.
If you’ve done something like this I’d love to hear any tips or tricks you discovered.

Have a great weekend!

 

Embed from Getty Images

 

Today I had a revelation in my prayer time.

 

I kept drifting off topic.
Roaming around my invisible prayer list and touching each person or need like a toddler playing with toys strewn across the floor.
And moving from praying to just thinking!
Forgetting altogether that I was having a conversation with God about these people and these needs.

Then Satan chimed in, “You’re terrible at prayer. ¬†You don’t love your family enough to even pray for them consistently!”

I remembered my two great grandsons as they played in Judah’s bedroom.
Turning over trucks and blocks in their chubby hands for a few moments before discovering another well loved toy and giving it some of their attention.

OH NO—I pray like a toddler!
I joined Satan in his rant.
I fed him ammo, more fiery darts, more accusations to hurl.

 

 But what does God think about my prayers?

 

And because you are sons, God has sent¬†the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‚ÄúAbba! Father!‚ÄĚ
Galatians 4:6

 

God listens to my prayers with love not condemnation and criticism.

Toddlers have short attention spans and we love them anyway.
We happily listen as they try to communicate.
We take video and make our long suffering friends  listen to their stumbling bumbling sentences.
We proudly post it on Facebook.

 

We’ve been invited to pray and the only requirements are that we ask in faith and not for selfish purposes. ¬†(Jas. 1:5, 4:3)

If we ramble, God is patient.
If we get distracted, He waits.
If we fumble, the Spirit helps us out. (Rom. 8:26)

Abba is the Aramaic word for God as Father.  

It’s an intimate family word. ¬†The closest thing we have is Daddy.
I am His child.
I’ll always be His child.

God listens to us with a sympathetic Daddy-like love.
The very last thing He wants is for us to give up because we know we don’t ‘sound’ very spiritually organized in our prayers.

I started off this morning praying this one thought for our grown kids,

. . .asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding. . .
Colossians 1:9

I’m praying that prayer all day today.

In the car, at the doctor’s office, and peeling carrots.
I might get interrupted by the phone, or my husband.
My thoughts will drift, but my heavenly Father, my Abba, won’t miss a word.

He never tunes us out.
We have His promise on that.

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
    and his ears are open to their prayer.
1 Peter 3:12

 

Have you ever felt inept at prayer?
Maybe you are.  I have been.  I think we all probably are sometimes.

God can handle it ūüėČ
The thing is to not let our enemy use it. ¬†Because he’ll try.

The apostle Paul said he wasn’t ignorant of Satan’s devices. (2 Cor. 2:11)
If he can discourage us because we’ve focused on our inconsistency, our lack of skill, or our unworthiness—really anything that relates to our performance, then he has kept us from enjoying the access we have, the relationship to God we’ve been given—in Christ.

If he can keep us from praying then his strategy has succeeded.

 

God’s eyes are on us.
His ear is open to us.

What’s on your heart to share with your Abba today?

Ever gone to make a call and found your cell battery has died?

 

It’s happened to me several times.
Murphy’s Law dictates that I never have a charger cord with me when I absolutely need it most.

That never happens to us as believers.
The Holy Spirit is always there, the paraclete, the Comforter Jesus promised.

One of the greatest ministries He performs for us is His intercession in prayer.

I loved how Lysa TerKeurst translated that idea in this post on Instagram.

 

 

It takes a little effort for me to quiet myself enough to let Him speak.

I have to resist the urge to fill the silence with my ideas, desires, needs, complaints. . .and simply wait until I feel His presence and His love surround me.

He intercedes for us.

 

Today I saw this as a renewed invitation to lay down my burdens, even the burden of prayer, and let Him fill the place of prayer with His intercession.
Dependence should characterize every aspect of a walk with God.
Figuring out what to ask for, or how to ask it—today I’m resting in His requests for me.

HGTV Stars of the Hit Show ‘Fixer Upper’ Give Their Amazing Testimony of Faith.

 

Here’s a little convergence that occurred in my life recently.

~ First, I’ve been studying the book of Ecclesiastes ~ especially chapter 3.

 

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven. . .
Ecclesiastes 3:1

~ Second, I discovered the HGTV series Fixer Upper.

I thought Joanna Gaines might be a Christian, but I know that people can simply sound like Christians without having faith.
In this little video Joanna shares how God has directed her life, and especially the timing, the sequencing of things in her life.

That’s where the truth from Ecclesiastes 3:1 intersects with what Joanna experienced.

When it comes to our dreams—marriage, children, and even career related decisions, God’s timing is an essential element in His will for His children.
Just because it’s not NOW doesn’t mean it’s not EVER.

If you read down through the chapter a little further yo come to this truth,

He has made everything beautiful in His time. . .
Ecclesiastes 3:11

 

Running ahead of God is as foolish as digging in your heels.  
He’ll whisper the word when it’s time to take action and He’ll call you to move when it’s time for a change. ¬†If we practice dependence on Him we’ll be in the right place at the right time, and He’ll make it all beautiful. ¬†

 

Don’t be like the horse, or like the mule, which have no understanding,
    who are controlled by bit and bridle, or else they will not come near to you.
Psalm 32:9

 

Joanna doesn’t share in detail how she came to have a relationship with God.
This isn’t a testimony in the way you might expect at a church event, but I’m encouraged by the fact that she listened when God laid it on her heart to step away from her ‘dream business’ and back into her home for a season.
I’m including a link to her blog which currently features a DIY Citrus scrub I thought you might¬†wanna try;)

http://magnoliahomes.net/blog/

 

 

 

woman at a window

 

 I love how David talked to his own soul.

He speaks words of instruction and encouragement and reminders about the things that we are so prone to forget.
At least I am.
Until my selfishness and entitlement bubble up and seep out through the holes in my faith making a mess of everything.

Then I remember what God never forgets.

For He knows my frame.
He remembers that we are dust.
Psalm 103:14

That beautiful Psalm is the place to run when you’ve failed and you know it.

 

The first back step is worship.
Don’t you love that?
It’s not beating yourself up over your weakness, it’s refocusing your heart and mind on God. ¬† Even His name is holy!

Yet He forgives all my iniquity.
Not in little bits measured out and rationed.  He forgives all and keeps forgiving.
He heals all our diseases, He redeems our lives and crowns us with steadfast love and mercy.

Thinking about Him calls my heart back to Him. ¬†I’m drawn in again to His perfection, assured of His loving acceptance by His own description of Himself as my father. ¬†He speaks to me of His compassion and tells me He understands my innate weakness.

I am not yet what He knows I will one day be.

I love how Paul Tripp has described our experience as believers.
He says we are living between the already and the not yet.

I’m born again by the Spirit, a new creation in Christ.
And I still live in a body fashioned of dust; the already and the not yet.

Knowing that I’m suppose to look not just to my own interest, but also to the interests of others—I still let the dust dictate.

But He forgives and His steadfast love, His Father love pulls me back in close so that I feel no distance between us.  There is no rejection, no denial, no holding me at arms length.

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name.

Photo by Milada Vigerova
https://unsplash.com

sculpture near Ikea Sacramento, CA

Who doesn’t love Ikea, right?

Yesterday I trekked out to my local Ikea to grab some Billy Bookcases for my new walk-in Pantry.

Kate and Zay were with me.
For you who just tuned in—that’s my granddaughter and her 1 year old.

I can’t go to Ikea alone because I always get lost;)
I can see it from the highway, but I never can get to the other highway that has the Ikea exit.
Not alone anyway.

I encounter another space-time dimension when I get within a mile of it.
I’m like Matthew McConaughey in Interstellar.
That scene when he’s in that weird inside-out looking building and peaking through a bookcase into his daughter’s bedroom.

I can see Ikea, but I can’t quite get there.
So Kate and Zay came along to help navigate.
Mostly Zay ate cheddar puffs, but his Mom used her cell phone and got us safely to Family Parking.

One more reason to love a device that has consistently over-delivered.
Talking is about 10% of what I use my cell to do.
I can’t recall life without it, because I didn’t carry around a camera and if there’s no photo on FB or Instagram—well, how do I know something really happened without a photo?

PS I’ve now added Ikea’s address to my Maps app.
But—I still can’t load that crazy heavy stuff myself so I’m not going alone to Ikea even though I could if I was just getting—say, meatballs or a plastic drawer organizer insert.

I couldn’t believe the variety of people at Ikea.
Older than I expected, which means older than me!
Granted it was a week day, so there were none of the typical Saturday crowd of Office types with 2.4 kids in tow and trying to get a weekend project underway before Sunday.

We got the bookcases, after about 2 hours of walking up and down aisles ogling the cool edgy Scandinavian creations.

They must have a higher than average number of above average product designers because they have such cold winters.
I mean Sweden, not Ikea.
But the two are almost synonymous to Americans.

The Billy Bookcases are the only assemble it yourself items that have not made me want to scream or set the thing on fire.
Let’s see if I can keep that optimism going through 4 more bookcases.
Photos to follow.

 

Just so I know it really happened;)

Also, this is my Saturday post.
I still have a love-hate relationship with the ‘improved posting experience’.
It decided I was done writing and ready to post this immediately.

Does anyone remember HAL from 2001?
Could he be the brains behind the ‘new improved posting experience’ at WordPress?

baby in the bath

 

Lord give me fresh eyes to see the goodness and wonder in life!

 

That’s been my prayer as I’ve watched little Isaiah this past week.

His family has been camped out at our house because of a ‘mold situation’ at theirs.
Here’s Little Zay as he discovered the joy of water flowing from the faucet.

I must turn on a faucet 20 times a day, and I realized I’ve been dulled to the wonder of the experience and fun of water.

Lord jumpstart my experience of joy in the ordinary essentials of everyday life.

 

¬†That’s my prayer after spending some time reading and studying the book of Ecclesiastes.

Solomon, the wisest person who ever lived, made a short list of brilliant Life Hacks for the people of God.

 

Are you familiar with the term Life Hack?

life·hack
ňąlńęfňĆhak/
noun

informal
noun: life hack
  1. a strategy or technique adopted in order to manage one’s time and daily activities in a more efficient way.

Efficiency is good, but it doesn’t necessarily engender happiness and enjoyment of life.

Solomon’s Life Hacks are designed to help us manage our expectations and increase our enjoyment of life.

 

Here is a sample of the wisdom of Solomon for getting the most out of your life.

 

Go and eat your bread in happiness.
Drink your wine with a happy heart.
For God has already been pleased with your works. 
Let your clothes be white all the time.
And let there always be oil on your head.
Enjoy life with the one you love all the days of your life that will soon be over.
God has given you these days under the sun.
This is the good you will get in life and in your work which you have done under the sun.
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your strength. . .
Ecclesiastes 9:7-10

 

Solomon’s List of Life Hacks for the people of God:

  1. Eat in happiness.  Let your workday end in the delicious experience of good food and shared laughter.
  2. Drink your wine—or whatever—with a happy heart. ¬†Set aside the frustrations & disappointments of your day and relax with those you love.
  3. Remember God is for you.  Romans 8:31  He loves you & thinks of you all day.  Ps. 40:5 Ps. 139:17-18
  4. Keep short accounts with God.  Confess your sins & ask forgiveness.  1 John 1:9
  5. Continually be being filled with the Holy Spirit, rely on His leading in your life.  Ephesians 5:18
  6. Let your marriage be a source of joy in this life that is so brief compared to eternity.
  7. Accept your life as a gift from God and be thankful.
  8. Your ability to enjoy the gifts of God and the fruit of your labors is tied to your awareness that they come from God.
  9. It’s not what you do, but how you do it and why you do it that brings real satisfaction in life.

 

 

baby at breakfast

Watching Zay eat reminds me that a prerequisite to cultivating thankfulness is noticing and relishing the simple gifts of God.
He’s been a daily reminder that I should both savor my favorites yet be curious enough to try new offerings.

 

little boy and toy dog

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your strength!

 

God longs to see us enjoy the life He’s given and to experience the goodness of His creation.
Food and family, work and play are the most fundamental of His gifts.
In Christ we have access to a relationship with God and by His grace we have the promise of eternal life.
This life is fleeting, over in the blink of an eye and engulfed in a tidal wave called Eternity.

Take some advice from the wisest man who ever lived.

The world around us runs on ambition and a quest for more, more, more.

As the people of God we’re free to embrace what He’s given and enjoy it.
What a shame to miss out on what is in an empty pursuit of more.

 

 

old jars on an old wooden fence

 

These old jars weren’t manufactured as fence decorations.
Nope.
They had a whole different life before they became fence decorations.  But someone had a new purpose in mind for each one.

That is just what God does with some of us, He repurposes us.
Today I was thinking about Moses and Samuel.

 

Moses didn’t start out as a prophet.
He was semi-royalty and presumably living a life of privilege in a palace. ¬†He easily could have been a brick maker or a mason except God had a different ‘ultimate plan’ for his life. ¬†It involved him being raised as the son of Pharoah’s daughter. ¬†The repurposing came along a little later. ¬†Moses sensed God was doing something in Egypt with the Hebrews, so he showed some initiative, and got busy trying to right some wrongs.
He jumped the gun and had to run for his life.  That was OK because he had to learn to listen to God before he was really gonna be useful.
That part took about 40 years.

Some of us are slow learners when it comes to discerning God’s voice.

Samuel on the other hand began his life’s work at a very early age. ¬†Probably 3-4 years old. ¬†He always knew the role God designed for him. ¬†He grew into it as he grew up. ¬†Hearing from God and being used by God to guide and minister to Israel were part of his everyday experience.

 

How about you?
Which man’s experience more closely resembles yours?

I’ve always envied those girls who knew by 7 years of age that they were gonna be a nurse or a teacher, or write code and develop websites.
My life experience resembles a game of Twister.  Or the way the Garmin screen looked when we were driving switchbacks in the Italian Alps.  All squiggly lines and no apparent rhyme or reason to any of it.

But when God introduced Himself to me at the Avon lady’s home Bible Study one night—I got repurposed.
Walking home afterwards along the wooden sidewalk of that Mill town I was embraced by a knowing.  Not of the what, but of Who.  I knew that by knowing Him my life would have real and lasting purpose.  Completely enveloped by a confidence, I felt a restfulness settle deep into my heart.  Only for a brief time, when I took my eyes off the Who and focused on the what, has that ever been disturbed.

I read somewhere that within 50 years no one will remember us.

For the most renown or notorious among us some record will endure, but for you and me there is little likelihood of even a footnote of mention. ¬†That somehow doesn’t bug me in the least.

I’m so incredibly grateful that God came and found me. ¬†His purposes for us are the only ones that merit mention, the only ones that have any power to endure. ¬† Knowing Him has answered the big questions I hadn’t realized I was asking.

Have you been repurposed?

If you’re a Samuel then I’m happy for you.
Most of us aren’t. ¬†Most of us are like those bottles decorating the fence.
Finally fulfilling a glorious purpose reflecting the light and hopefully bringing a smile to the face of those passing by.

 

 

Photo Rula Sibai unsplash.com

 

One Flaw in Women

Of course not all women, all of the time—still this is a lovely tribute to women and every stanza describes a woman I am privileged to know.

Morning Story and Dilbert

Morning Story and Dilbert Vintage Dilbert ‚Äď November 7, 1991

Women have strengths that amaze men…..IT IS THAT
They bear hardships and they carry burdens,
but they hold happiness, love and joy.

They smile when they want to scream.
They sing when they want to cry.
They cry when they are happy
and laugh when they are nervous.

They fight for what they believe in..
They stand up to injustice.
They don‚Äôt take ‚Äúno‚ÄĚ for an answer
when they believe there is a better solution.

They go without so their family can have.
They go to the doctor with a frightened friend.
They love unconditionally.
They cry when their children excel
and cheer when their friends get awards.

They are happy when they hear about
a birth or a wedding.
Their hearts break when a friend dies.
They grieve at the loss of a family member,
yet they are strong when they
think there…

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