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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thankful for... God's Handy Work

Three days a week I head to the gym to work out at 5:45am. As I step out of my home each morning I am almost always greeted with the most beautiful dome of small sparkling lights filling the night sky. It is breathtaking.

Last week I took this picture as the sun was going down in the field across from our home.





If you look around you every day you will have the opportunity to be amazed by God’s handy work in nature. From the Great Smoky Mountains to the Grand Canyon to the sunsets on the African plains, God’s fingerprints are all over the earth.

But God’s handy work is not evidenced in nature alone, but in my life and in yours as well. God is the ONLY one that can take something bad in us and turn it for OUR good. When we give God the ashes of our lives He can take it and create something so wonderful and so beautiful. It would be like opening our pantry and fridge to Paula Deen and her turning what we deem as nothing into the best meal you’ve ever had (of course with a little “Hey y’all!” sprinkled in too).

So today I am thankful for a God who can take my messes and my nothings and use it as the ingredients for something so amazing!

Reflection:

What ugly things has God turned and made wonderful and useful in your life?

We do not think about those times or situations very often, so today give thanks to the only God who can and does make beauty from our ashes.


"To all who mourn in Israel, He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for His own glory." Isaiah 61:3

Hope Y'all have a great Thanksgiving!
Tina

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thankful for... God's Promises

Saturday, November 22, was my 18th Wedding Anniversary. When I turned to my daily devotional reading and read the title for that day’s devotion, A Good Wife, it made me wonder if God was trying to send me a message. Was He telling me I am a good wife or I need to be a good wife? I hope it was the former but I am smart enough to know that the largest room in life is the room for improvement and ‘perfect’ is defiantly something I am not.

Although there have been ups and downs one thing has remained over the past 18 years, a promise. A promise Mark and I made to love and honor each other. Sometimes those promises have been kept and sometimes they have been questioned. But through all the vicissitudes of our marriage, our commitment to do our best to be the best for each other still remains.

We are human and sometimes we can make a promise and because of circumstances beyond our control we may be unable to make good on them. Maybe you promised a new toy for your child for Christmas and because of a job loss you were not able to deliver.

But have you ever thought about the fact that God can and will ALWAYS deliver on His promises. If He said He will make a way where there seems to be no way, He will. If He said He will never leave you are forsake you, that’s just what He’s going to do. If He said your eternity is secure, it is. If He said you can have peace, you can. If He promised to forgive you every time you fail, He will. If He said He will deliver you, He will. If He said He’s coming back, He is. If He says His love will never fail, it won't.

If He said it, He will do it.

So today I am thankful for ALL the promises of God!

Reflection:

Sometimes His promises can be so far “out there” if you know what I mean. Sarah does. God promised a child not when she was a really young woman but at a time when Abraham should have been bouncing great-grandchildren on his knee. Romans 4:21 says, “He (Abraham) was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises.” Today are you fully convinced God will do what He said He will do?

If you are struggling to believe and trust God today, pray and ask Him to help you stand strong on His word. Romans 4:20 “Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God."


Eighteen years ago I said, "I do." Today I still do!

Have a great Monday!
Tina

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Thankful for... The Rents*

(*The Rents is teenage for Your Parents)

My parents celebrated their 41st wedding anniversary yesterday. It is becoming more and more uncommon to hear of marriages lasting so long. For instance, I was very shocked to find out 12 years ago, when my child was in kindergarten, that there were only 3 students in his class with both of their parents still together.

I know that the past 41 years haven’t been the easiest for my parents because no marriage has smooth sailing all the time. But because of their commitment to each other they have been able to instill in me the great value of working hard, always doing what is right, honoring your word and how to live a selfless life.

You really do not appreciate some things until you grow up and have a family and responsibilities of your own. My children depend on me and Mark for everything. They may know this intellectually (because we remind them of that often as any good parent does, right?), but one day they will understand it experientially.

When a friend’s wife had their first child, he told me as soon as the baby was born he called his mom and apologized for every wrong thing he ever did. You do not understand the love of a parent until you become a parent. He knew his mom loved him with a love that could never be articulated, only experienced.


So today, I am VERY thankful for my parents. By the way, I am their favorite child! Ok… I’m their only child.

Mom, Dad, thank you for all your sacrifices, love and commitment to me and each other!
Happy Anniversary!


Reflection:

If you were blessed to have your parents love you and make sacrifices for you, whether their marriage lasted or not, give thanks today to the One who IS love.


Do you have children yet to marry? Start praying for their spouses and the parents who are raising them, even though you may not know who they will marry, God does. I am very fortunate to have a mother and father-in-law who raised my husband to love God, honor His’s word and love and honor me and our kids with every ounce of his being!

Stay Warm!
Tina

Monday, November 17, 2008

Thankful for... God's Healing Power

Originally posted on November 17, 2008


Sunday night Tyler, my son, went hunting, as him and his father so often do this time of the year. He harvested a buck, brought it home, cleaned it and prepared it to grill last night. This is what I am thankful for today! Sounds weird but let me explain.


On October 7, 2000 Tyler was diagnosed with Gillian Barrett Syndrome. He was paralyzed from head to toe and in the worst pain I don’t think I could ever handle. There is no cure for this, only a treatment. We were blessed that the treatment did work for him and by the end of the first week the doctors at Shands were ready to release him to a rehab hospital in Jacksonville.


Tyler’s neurologist informed us it would take 6 months to 2 years for him to learn how to walk again, feed himself again, ride his bike again, and we should check him into the facility they suggested and “leave him to the care of trained professionals” (the doctors words exactly).


Well, trained I’m not, but I was not leaving my 9 year old son alone for someone else to take care of.  I didn’t leave him the week we were in Shands and I wasn’t going to do it now.  So we brought him home and every day I took him to rehab, fed him, bathed him and took care of his every need.


Four weeks later, FOUR WEEKS, he was walking, feeding himself, riding his bike and shooting his BB gun his Papa promised him if he worked hard to get better.


The following month, Mark and Tyler went on a hunting trip a short distance from our home. One of the greatest moments between father and son happened that first evening. A small buck came in the field, Mark prepared Tyler with his gun, and in just a few seconds Tyler had harvested his first deer. 


There was no prouder moment for Mark but before the celebration started, Mark simply bowed his head and breathed a word of gratitude to God for it was only by His healing power and grace Tyler was hunting that night.


So, today I am VERY Thankful for God’s Healing Power.


O Lord, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things...” Isaiah 25:1


REFLECTION:


Has God ever healed you or someone you love? Why not today, simply bow your head and breathe a word of gratitude to the God that healeth thee.


 
Tyler grilling his deer last night!


Have a blessed day!

True Friends

HELP….. I feel another Calgon moment coming on!

I arrived home last night from another awesome ladies event, I looked over at my neighbor’s home and I could not believe what I saw… Christmas lights, garland, bows and all.

It’s only November 17th. But to be honest, before we can blink, Christmas will be in the past, another year will be gone, and we will stand once again before the dawning of a new year.


This is how fast time is passing us (well… me) by. I turned on my CD player a couple weeks ago in my car, Bing Crosby rang out with one of my favorite songs. It was a Christmas song… in my CD player… in October.

No, I was not like my neighbor and preparing early for Christmas, I was actually late. It was in there from Christmas 2007. Not one, but three of my Holiday CD’s were still in my six CD changer.

They say the older you get the faster time flies. It’s true. I like to think I’m not THAT old, but when your 17 year old son is playing basketball at the same High School you attended it makes you feel really, really old. It was just a few years ago I sat on that same basketball court for my Baccalaureate Service.

Graduations will come and graduations will go. Holidays will come and Holidays will go. Children will come and then Children will go. A new year will come and a new year will go. Good and bad times will come and then they will go.

So here’s a question for us all, what are we doing with our lives that seem to be passing by so quickly?

My honest and sincere prayer is to not be so consumed with life that I forget what makes it worth living is the relationships we make on our journey through the holidays and graduations of life. I shared last night with my ladies at Christ Central Alachua the importance of having friends. I read this story to them and I want to share it with you as well.

Jackie Robinson was the first African-American to play major league baseball. While breaking baseball’s "color barrier," he faced jeering crowds in every stadium. While playing one day in his home stadium in Brooklyn, he committed an error. His own fans began to ridicule him. He stood at second base, humiliated, while the fans jeered.

Then shortstop "Pee Wee" Reese came over and stood next to him. He put his arm around Jackie Robinson and faced the crowd. The fans grew quiet. Robinson later said that arm around his shoulder saved his career.

Now you may say to yourself, "I wish I had a friend like that", or "I’m glad I have a friend like that." But I want to challenge you today to be able to say, "I want to BE a friend like that!"

I told the ladies the way to define a true friend in your life is by asking yourself this question, “Is my life better because of their presence in it?”

But let me change that around today and ask, “Is someone else’s life better because of YOUR presence in it?”

This Holiday Season let’s remember what is really important. The important things in life are not about how well you decorated your house for Christmas or how perfectly you cooked your Thanksgiving meal, but it’s about the people sitting around the table of our lives.

So whose life are you going to make a difference in today? Who are you going to stand next to, place your arm around and face the crowd? You may just save their life, maybe not physically, but their life may just be a little bit better because of your presence.

Happy Monday!
Tina

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Gaining Wait

A lot can go through our minds while we are waiting. Thoughts like, “What if…..” and “How come…” or “Why me?”

In 1 Samuel 13 we read where King Saul gathered his army to fight against the Philistines, but being so outnumbered, the men ran in fear hiding in nearby caves.

This was Saul’s time to shine. This was his opportunity to have his kingdom established in the annals of history forever (V. 13). If only he had waited on the Lord.

Samuel instructed Saul to wait seven days for him to arrive to offer the sacrifices to God before they engaged in battle. As the days progressed so did Saul’s fear and impatience. His army was disintegrating right before his eyes. He could not wait one more moment to commence the battle, or so he thought. Saul does the unthinkable, he offers the sacrifice himself.

We live in the confines of time. God does not. So with God, timing is way more important than time.

As soon as King Saul finished making the offering (which only a Priest could do) Samuel shows up. How many times have we given up waiting on God, taken actions into our own hands, only moments before He would have shown up?

Samuel demands to know what Saul had done. The king’s response reflected his fear of public opinion, his lack of trust in God and his cavalier attitude toward obedience. Saul said when he saw the men scattering and Samuel had not yet come, he “felt compelled to offer the burnt offerings.” (V.12)

Saul had a clear command from God. He disobeyed, and it cost him his kingdom (V.14). He lost it all... all because he would not wait.

I have to say I cannot blame Saul. Faith, trust, wait, these are very difficult roads to walk on. But what if we do wait… we do trust… and we do exercise our faith? If the repercussions for not doing these are total loss, then the reward for doing them must be total GAIN.

So is today your day to shine? Is today the day the Lord is going to show up on your battle field? If you give up you may never know, but if you wait on the Lord I promise He will renew your strength for the journey ahead. Don’t look at the circumstances surrounding you, look to God who is securing you.

Reflection:

What are some of the thoughts that have bombarded you during some of your times of waiting?

What do you think are some issues God maybe wanting to purge out of us when He forces us to wait on Him?


Trying to gain wait,
Tina

Proverbs 8:34 says, “Blessed are those who listen to me, watching for me daily at my gates, waiting for me outside my home!”

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Got Plans?

How many of you remember the commercial where a woman is seen in a chaotic home scenario and as the tension rises, she utters her famous line "Calgon, take me away!"? In the next scene you see her relaxing in a luxurious bath in a nice and quiet room.

Yep, that’s where I’m living. Not the peaceful bath in the luxurious quiet room, but the chaotic tension filled room.

This week I had plans. Plans to organize closets, catch up on work, maybe even go to our county fair. But as I stated in my last post, Change Happens! So what’s a girl to do? Adjust, stop complaining, and stop worrying about the summer clothes that need packing up and remember what’s really important.

My kids are not going to remember the perfectly organized closets I kept or all the work I accomplished. But my son will remember when I dropped everything to spend hours at the doctor’s office this week. How I helped take care of his injured knee, nursing him back to health. And my daughter will remember the hours of fun we spent yesterday laughing in dressing rooms and the exciting time we had getting a jump start on Christmas shopping.


So, my word to you today is to really look at the plans in your life and prioritize them, starting with what’s really important. Our time can be foolishly spent or it can be wisely invested.


I want to leave you with a great recipe I got from my friend, workout buddy and College Pastor’s wife, Caley. This one pot meal will allow you to invest your time in the things that will give you the biggest return, your family and friends (not to mention it’s really good).


Taco Soup

1 lb browned hamburger
1 can corn
1 can French cut green beans
1 can Rotel tomatoes
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can pinto beans (drained)
1 can bar-b-que baked beans
1 packet Ranch seasoning
1 packet Taco seasoning
1 cup water
Salt and Pepper

Brown the hamburger and dump everything else in together. The longer it cooks, the better, but everything is cooked, so once it is heated you can eat it. Top with cheese, sour cream and tortilla chips.

Enjoy!
Tina

Psalm 20:4
May he grant your heart’s desires and make all your plans succeed.(NLT)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Change

Today is Election Day!

One of the Presidential Candidate’s theme of the past 22 months has been Change.

If there is one thing in life you can always count on, it’s change! We can predict some changes, like the seasons, graduations, marriage or the birth of a child. Then there are those unexpected changes; loss of a job, end of a relationship, death of a loved one.

Whether change is welcomed or dreaded, it still rocks our boat for a little while. During all our times of change it is very important to have an anchor and a plan.

If we are anchored to our jobs, our friends, our accomplishments, we are adding to the instability of life. When the waves come, it is very likely you may fall apart and wash away. But if you anchor your life to God and you plan to obey and follow Him, true peace and stability is possible no matter what the change.

Since God is unchanging and eternal, anchoring to Him is the best way to find rock-solid security when you are in troubled waters. Even when your circumstances change your neatly laid out plans, you can still find peace in the middle of any storm.

By the end of today we may know who our next President will be. Change is coming and no matter who will be the next Commander in Chief, God is still the ultimate Anchor AND Captain of my ship!

Reflection:
How can you find security and peace in the midst of change?

Remember Malachi 3:6, “I am the Lord, and I do not change” and Hebrews 13:8-9, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever… Your strength comes from God’s grace.”

God is in ultimate control of not only your ship but the storms of life too!

Happy Voting!
Tina