Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tired Tuesday!

I had the best time at Bible Study last night! Even though the weather was bitter cold and windy, and there was a downpour of rain in West Michigan ~ it was a Magnificent Monday, nonetheless!!

God has hand picked 74 of the most warm, beautiful, fun women to journey together! I am SO EXCITED to see what God has planned for our group!!

But for today, I am exhausted! I've been on the go since early this morning and am just plain tired. I am in need of a divine infusion!

Today's post is a repeat from the Spring when I had similar feelings of exhaustion. Enjoy! :) I'm off to take a nap!

I'm exhausted today. Overwhelmed with all of the school notes and phone calls to return and bills to pay. Hockey starts tonight, t-ball this weekend, I have forms to fill out, dance recital papers to sign, field trip $$ to send in, and someone just called to see if I could bring in 2 dozen cookies for tomorrow's Spring Program.

My hair is too long, my nail polish is chipped and I've worn these jeans one too many days in a row. My life feels cluttered and disorganized and in need of an intervention!!! Anyone else?? :)

And so I turn to God's Word (don't worry...I am reading God's Word with a venti Starbucks latte in my hand). I love Philippians 4:13 in the Amplified Bible…

I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me –

I am ready for anything and equal to anything

through Him who infuses inner strength into me…

That's what I need today ~ an infusion of His inner strength into me!

I picture myself in my comfy purple chair with my arms stretched out, palms facing upward, and an IV of His strength slowly dripping right into me. And I pray....

Infuse me with Your STRENGTH, O Lord..., and I think about how STRONG and MIGHTY He is...

Infuse me with Your PEACE..., and I reflect on His peace, His perfect peace, that surpasses all understanding...

Infuse me with Your PATIENCE, O God..., and I think about how patient He has been with me. May I extend that same patience to my kids (and my dog!) today!

Infuse me with Your GRACE..., and I am overwhelmed as I ponder His amazing grace. His grace that saved a wretch like me. May my life (and my thoughts and actions) reflect His grace to all who encounter me today.

Let's be honest. After I've finished praying, my circumstances have not changed. I'm still tired. My desk is still cluttered and now I'm late for recess duty!

But by asking God for an infusion of His strength, peace, patience, and grace ~ I can leave the house equipped and empowered by the One True God to face any and all circumstances that life will throw at me today. Bring it on!

What about for you?? Could you use a filling of God's strength today? An extra dose of His peace? May I encourage you to sit back, relax and allow God to infuse you with everything that you need to face the circumstances that come your way!

Let's pray: Dear God, Please forgive us for trying to meet the challenges of our day in our own strength. Thank You for the promise that You will equip and empower us with everything that we need for victorious living. Please infuse us with Your Strength and Grace so that we might reflect You to our friends, family, neighbors, and this lost and hurting world. We love You! In Jesus Name. Amen :)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

What's On Your Nightstand?

I love books!! As a little girl growing up in Indiana, one of my weekly highlights was a visit from the Bookmobile. (Does anyone else remember the Bookmobile? My son Jake thinks I'm making it up. He also thinks his mom was weird for loving the Bookmobile!).

My husband John lovingly teases me about books being "my friends" (they are!). I usually have a huge pile of books near my bed...and have even been known to hide extras under my bed. :)

Imagine my delight when I recently came across Whats on your Nightstand from 5 Minutes for Books. What fun! :) Techinically you're supposed to participate on the 4th Tuesday of the month (I'm a couple days behind, sorry), but I couldn't resist joining in on the fun!

Here is what is currently on my nightstand...
A Bible (The Leadership Bible)
A Chance to Die by Elisabeth Elliot
Shame Lifter by Marilyn Hontz
Life Lessons from the Hiding Place ~ Discovering the Heart of Corrie Ten Boom by Pam Moore
Having a Mary Spirit by Joanna Weaver
Lord, I Want to Know You by Kay Arthur
Clippings from My Notebook by Corrie Ten Boom
When the Enemy Strikes by Charles Stanley
Jesus the One and Only by Beth Moore
Tramp for the Lord by Corrie Ten Boom
Prison Letters by Corrie Ten Boom
Amazing Love by Corrie Ten Boom
I did have the book "I Stand at the Door and Knock" by Corrie Ten Boom on my nightstand, but somehow it made its way over to John's nightstand!! John has been very gracious, though, and has been reading a chapter from it to me each night before bed (which is even better than reading it myself!)
What's on your nightstand these days?? I'd LOVE to hear from you!!
Blessings to you!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Family Fun Idea ~ Letterboxing!

If you've been looking for a fun, family adventure, I have the perfect idea for you ~ Letterboxing!

Regardless of where you live, how old you are, and/or the age of your children (or even if you don't have children) ~ Letterboxing is a ton of fun, educational and free! You can't beat it!

Here are some pictures from our Letterboxing Adventure this past Sunday...

Top picture ~ the happy Adventurers ready to begin! (Jake was with a friend watching football.)

Below ~ Daddy helping read the compass. Good thing Benj just learned his N,E,S,W directions (Never Eat Soggy Wheat) in class last week!

Below....the Letterboxers are closer to finding the hidden treasure!

Benj found it!! (Although I think Amanda ~ smiling behind the tree ~ is happier than Benj is!)

And the happy Mom and Dad resting while the kids play at the park! Another beautiful Sunday!

Ready to give Letterboxing a try?? Here's what you'll need:
Access to a computer
Rubber Stamp
Ink pad
Bag to store your supplies ~ (We keep everything in our pink "Letterboxing" Barbie backpack)
Bug Spray (Little Sarah got 10 mosquito bites on Sunday!)

After you've gathered your supplies, go to http://www.letterboxing.org/. Here you'll find everything you need to know about letterboxing and more!

As we ended our day Sunday night and shared highlights, we all agreed Letterboxing was a great way to spend our afternoon. The weather was beautiful. The sibling fights were minimal. We didn't spend any money. It was a GREAT family day!

What about for you?? What are some fun, family things that you like to do together?? Share with us please! :)

Let's pray....Thank You, God, for the gift of our families. Thank You for the beauty of time spent together. Lord, would You protect our time from the distractions of this world? Would You remind us to take time to rest in You? Also, please give us fun, fresh new ways to enjoy each other's company (especially for moms like me who has kids that like to fight and whine when they are bored!). Thank You Lord for our health and our strength and for the joy that is found in LIFE in YOU! In Jesus Name. Amen.

P.S. If you live near Grand Rapids, Michigan, we just found the Pad-dler's Prize hidden at Lakeside Park in Caledonia this past Sunday. It'd be a great first Letterboxing Adventure to try!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Red Hot!

I was walking with my spiritual mentor a few weeks ago. We were praying for our upcoming Monday night Bible study and for all of the women that would be attending.

As we were praying, something that my mentor shared really stood out to me. She prayed that all of the women (ourselves included) would be "redhot for Jesus!".

Now for me, being a woman that likes to operate in themes, I couldn't get "Redhot" out of my brain!! All night long I reflected on what it meant to be Redhot for Jesus. I went to the Word. I consulted my Commentaries. I kept praying...Oh God, wouldn't that be awesome to have a group of women fired up and passionate about living Redhot lives for Jesus!!

Soon others caught the Redhot vision! Julie, my close friend and ministry partner loved the idea! Lindsay (our Administrator Extraordinaire) encouraged us to go with it! And then Natasha "Party Queen of the Decade" Ohlman took the Redhot idea and totally brought it to life!!

You should have seen the Sunshine Room at Sunshine Church on Monday night! It was Redhot!

After Bible study ~ all of the women received Redhots to take home!

Natasha created this amazing background for our teaching area. The wreaths are filled with red peppers! Isn't that awesome?!

Here are some of the women that came to our Kickoff! We had over 60 women come our first night, and almost 20 more have recently signed up!

And here is a picture of me sharing about the pit the Lord rescued me from, and the healing and wholeness I now have in my life. Jesus alone is the difference!! I want to be Redhot for Him!

I love how God wires us all different, but with everyone using their gifts a vision can become a reality! I love that Bible study can be colorful and creative and fun! I love that Jesus can take a shy, insecure girl (me!) who made tons of poor, self-destructive choices, and fill me with a Redhot passion for Him!! I love it!!

Thank you, my dear Magnificent Monday sisters, for helping the first night of Bible study be so welcoming, safe, and fun!! I can't wait until we meet again on the 28th!!

Here's to Redhot living!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

More than Enough

Monday was the start of our new Fall Bible Study (or Magnificent Monday's...as I like to call it!!)

God brought over 60 of the most beautiful, fun, caring ladies to our group ~ and I am so excited to see what He has in store for us this fall!!
I think Monday's are going to be "Red Hot"! (In case you weren't at Bible study, more about that later....) But for today, I'm exhausted!!

Instead, I'd like to share words that have really ministered to me. On Monday afternoon I was feeling anxious about sharing my testimony that evening (and the lies/fears that come my way when I have this opportunity).

My dear friend sent part of her daily devotion to me, and it really encouraged me. May it bless you as well...

"Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life" (John 4:14).
Jesus knows that we hunger and thirst for more than this world can offer. He created us this way so that we would be in constant fellowship with Him.

When Jesus saw a great multitude of 4,000 who had followed Him for three days, He did not want them to leave hungry and was moved with compassion for them. There were only "seven loaves and a few little fish". BUT, it says that they "all ate and were filled" AND afterwards, "they took up seven large baskets full of the fragments that were left" (Matthew 15:32-38).
There was more than enough! There was even some left over. This is what He wants to do for us. He moves with compassion for us. Daily, and moment by moment, we can call upon Him for more.

Jesus always had more than enough. Jesus was overflowing because He was in constant fellowship with His Heavenly Father. He said He did nothing on His own initiative, but only did what He saw His Father doing (John 14:10). We can walk through life in this same way.

Nowhere in Scripture does it say that we should be famished, full of disorder, filled with negative thoughts, and live a dreary life. Jesus says in Luke 11:13 that our Heavenly Father gives the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him. It's true! Let us seek our God who lavishes His love upon us by giving us access to the Holy Spirit, just as Jesus had.

Let us be imitators of Christ Jesus. How? By the power of the Holy Spirit. Are you thirsty? Do you long for more? James 4:2 says, "You do not have because you do not ask." Call upon Him. He hears your cry. Ask God for more of Himself today. (By Brigitte Straub)

Let's pray...Oh God, THANK YOU that You are a God of more than enough!! Would You please fill the empty places of our hearts with more of You?? Would You please infuse us afresh with Your Spirit? Would You please encourage us and strengthen us and fill us to overflowing? THANK YOU that You alone, Lord, are all that we need! Help us to live Red Hot for You !! In Jesus Powerful Name. Amen :)
P.S. Are you in a Bible Study that is starting this month?? I'd love to hear more about it!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Sweet Note

I recently received the sweetest note from a new Bloggy friend. She was so kind and gracious, and also asked some really great questions that made me think! Today I'll share her note (anonymously) and my response to her with you. I would also love to hear how YOU would answer her questions. Here is her e-mail...

Hi Cindy. I have been reading your blog recently, and today I read several old posts and just really felt so blessed by your amazing and obvious love for the Lord. I myself have been a Christian since I was a child and I love the Lord too. However, I feel my walk with Him is often so dry . . . my life in general often feels that way.

Anyways, I wondered if you would be willing to share how you structure your quiet times - how do you fit them into your hectic life, how do you know what to read/study/do to really grow and walk with Him? I feel like I really need some input from someone who seems to be thriving in their relationship with the Lord. I'd appreciate your advice. I know the Lord doesn't promise us an easy life with Him, but I know it's supposed to be more "abundant" than I'm experiencing lately.

Thank you for not "judging" me and for modeling a godly life through your blog entries. I so look forward to them.

God bless you and your family

And for my response...

Hello dear one ~
You are so sweet. Thank you for your kind words and encouragement.

I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I’m always blessed to share what I am learning!

You are right…my life is hectic! With 4 kids (5, 6, 8,and 15) I’ve learned I definitely MUST make time in the Word a priority. And first thing. For me personally, (in the summer) I let my kids have some TV time in the morning while I read the Word. Not all moms would agree with this approach. My spiritual mentor (whom I dearly love and value her insight) let her 6 kids watch Sesame Street from 9-10 every morning when they were little. They all now love and serve the Lord. So I make sure every morning I sit with the Word and let it wash over me. (And my kids are thrilled to have some early morning TV time). I study the Word, write verses on index cards and carry them with me throughout the day, pray, and try to start my day with my eyes focused Up.

As for studies, I have such a hard time sticking with one study. (I drive myself crazy!). Thankfully I’ve been leading studies lately, because it then forces me to stick with the study until the end. If you are ever looking for a study, I would be happy to recommend some to you.

Besides being in the Word, I always make sure to spend time memorizing scripture. I do this whenever I have spare time. I have index cards by my bathroom sink, on my kitchen cupboards, by my computer, in my gym bag, EVERYWHERE!! When I walk the dog, I go over my verses. My life has been transformed because my mind has been transformed. And this has come by renewing my mind with the Truth of God’s Word. I was such a mess before Jesus. A real mess. But Jesus has set me free…and I don’t ever want to go back (I won’t ~ Lord willing ~ I won’t). I have learned I MUST be intentional about studying, memorizing, meditating, and reflecting on the Word of God. It is my Life.

I certainly can relate on feeling “dry” and like my life should be “more abundant” than I am experiencing. Believe me, I can relate. This summer has thrown me for a huge loop ~ I’ve had such health issues (not big ones, just little irritating ones…but enough to rob me of my joy if I would let it). Life is hard. Just last week as I was talking with Christian friends, I had friends share their very real struggles with divorce and bankruptcy and depression and affairs and other yucky stuff. And these were my Christian friends. Life is just hard. But I’ve also learned (esp. when my fiancĂ© was killed)…we always have a choice. Always. I can choose to be better or bitter. Pitiful or powerful. I can choose to live defeated or look for God’s goodness. And I choose to look for God’s goodness! The treasures in the hard times, as He promises.

For me personally, even this week …my ear is finally healed and I came down with a horrible cold. I was frustrated. Couldn’t believe it. Thought I’d finally “get my life back” after weeks of ear trouble, and then I get a stinkin’ cold. Boy was I discouraged…at first. So I asked for God to show me His goodness. I asked Him to help me see His hand in the midst of my illness. The blessings….like the Starbucks skinny vanilla latte my husband picked up for me on the way home from work. My mom and her offer to take all 4 kids overnight. My mother-in-law who brought Panera soup for lunch and dinner for my husband. My new Beth Moore DVD’s to watch while I was on the couch. So rather than allowing my cold to rob me of my joy…I asked God to help me find the joy in the midst of it. And you know what…it worked. He is so faithful, isn’t He?!

I’m not sure if any of this makes sense…but please know, I would never judge you. I admire your desire to learn and to grow. Your note was a real bright spot in my day. May God bless you on your journey and reveal Himself to you in new and fresh ways!!

In Him,

And now it is your turn! How do you structure your quiet times? How do you fit them into your hectic life? How do you know what to read/study/do to really grow and walk with Him? Please share with us your tips so we can all learn and grow! I'd love to hear what works for you!!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Not Shaken

First the good news...I am healthy!! Woo Hoo!! Today is the first day since the end of July that I have felt like myself!! Yippee!! No ear fluid! No flu!!

The picture is from the Grand Rapids Labor Day Bridge Walk. (from left to right...my son Jake, Mayor Heartwell, my son Benj, me). It felt GREAT to be able to walk 5 miles (with my Mom and Dad too). Woo Hoo!!

What a weekend!! John and his friend were cutting down a tree in our yard Friday night. Unfortunately, the rope broke and the tree landed on our neighbor's house!! Ahhh!! The tree also took down our power lines!! Needless to say, we were without power for the next 24 hours and without cable/phone/internet for the whole weekend.

I sat in my dark living room, thinking about "my" Labor Day Weekend plans now down the drain. Gone. However, God's Word, once again, encouraged me and reminded me to keep my focus up. I began to meditate on one of my favorite verses, Psalm 16:8.

Psalm 16:8 (NIV)
I have set the Lord always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Even with our pine tree on my neighbors house and all of our neighbors gawking as they drive by...I will not be shaken.

Regardless of my circumstances, my health, my finances...I will not be shaken.

In spite of my full To-Do list, e-mails to return, phone calls to make...I will not be shaken.

The lists could go on and on, couldn't they??

But because I have set the Lord always before me, I will not be shaken. I WILL NOT! The tests will come, the trials will come, but (with God's help), I will not be shaken!!

Want to know one of my secrets?? I always keep a bracelet on my right hand to remind me of this promise. Always! Usually the bigger, the chunkier the bracelet, the better. I must remind myself of God's presence and His goodness and His sovereignty in the midst of my crazy days.

A chunky bracelet on my right wrist is like a string tied around my pinkie finger reminding me of God's promises and care.

Now, do I always get this right? Of course not! (please do not ask me how many lattes I consumed this weekend!) But in the midst of a challenging weekend, I was filled with joy and love and patience rather than experiencing despair and defeat.

What about for you?? What challenges or difficult circumstances are you faced with this week? Please be encouraged! Give your circumstances to Him, sense His presence with you, and then stand tall on His promises! And whatever you do, do NOT BE SHAKEN!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Thankful Thursday

First, a huge note of THANKS for all of your kind words and encouragment through my ear pain ordeal! I am THRILLED to announce my ear is finally better! Woo Hoo!!

However, unfortunately, Sunday night I caught a horrible cold/flu bug and have been "under the weather" all week! Ahhh! I want my life back! :)

Today's Thankful Thursday is a perfect chance for me to reflect on God's goodness in the midst of another week difficult week. Here are some of the Top 5 Things I am Thankful for this week.... (in no particular order)

1. My husband John

John has been such a HUGE support during my month long (plus) sickness!

He has stopped by Starbucks after work to pick up a latte for me, reads my Corrie Ten Boom book to me at night (I think he's even starting to like it!), gets medicine and ear drops and more Kleenex for me, prays over me, and most importantly, extends so much love and grace and patience and care. I am THANKFUL for my caring husband John!

2. My dear friend and ministry partner Julie Richardson

I am so THANKFUL for my dear friend and sister in Christ Julie.
We had the BEST time on our Prayer/Planning Retreat Friday night. Being with Julie is like being "home". Julie has such a big heart for Jesus and for women ~ and it is a GIFT to serve alongside of her. We are so FIRED UP for this fall!! I can't wait until September 14th! :)
I am so THANKFUL for our special, sacred friendship!!

3. My Kids

Saturday night my 3 little ones and I spent the night in a hotel. I wanted to give John a bit of a break (and with Priceline.com I couldn't resist the amazing deal).

Even though I didn't feel great, we had a ball. (The picture is of me and little Sarah jumping on the bed to "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun!). We went swimming (3 times), ordered pizza in, played cards, colored, ordered room service breakfast, and mostly just had GREAT family time.

(Even my son Jake and his buddy came out to the hotel and hung out with us for awhile.). I am so THANKFUL for my amazing kids! :)

4. My Mother-in-Love Jackie (shown in the picture below with my brother-in-law Jim)

I am so THANKFUL to be blessed with such a caring, generous Mother-in-Law/Love. She is one in a million! For example, Wednesday she brought Panera Bread soup over for lunch (when my throat felt like it was on fire), a Starbucks latte in the afternoon, and dinner for my family. What a woman!! :)

5. My Mom :)

Do we ever outgrow needing our Mom??

My mom has ALWAYS been an amazing, hard work, generous, caring Mom. When I was a single mom and Jake would get sick in the night, my mom would come over and help clean up the mess. And when John and I need to get away, guess who is more than willing to watch ALL 4 of the kids?? Yep - my mom :)

Of course, this week, when I couldn't stop sneezing and had no voice, guess who came by to pick up all 4 kids. For a sleepover!! My kids LOVE going to Grandma's, and I'm not sure I would have made it this week without the extra time on the couch. I am so THANKFUL for my mom's love and care. I am blessed! :)

There you have it...my week in a nutshell. What about for you?? What are YOU thankful for this week?? I would LOVE to hear from you!!

Let's pray, shall we.... Oh Lord, We THANK YOU that every good and perfect gift comes from You!! Thank You for Your Word and for Your Spirit and for the LIFE we receive from You!! Thank You for revealing Your love and Your care through the family and friends that surround us. Lord, please use us to reflect Your goodness to those around us. Would You please reveal to us anyone who might need an encouraging word, a helpful deed, or a gentle hug? We desire to be ALL that You have for us to be! Keep us close to You, we pray. In Jesus' Powerful Name. Amen :)

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