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Happy Halloween

Farmer John’s Garden

Pumpkin Garden

This is from my 2009 Retreat – it always remind me how far God has brought me

Farmer John wandered back and when he reached
the pumpkin patch, began to speak he said
“the weather’s getting colder summer’s over
and it’s almost Halloween that’s the day,
the reason you were raised when everything
about your life will change

You will have eyes to see, and for that night,
you’ll be a bright lamp burning in the darkness but
remember that candle shines for only the
briefest time in a jack-o-lantern’s heart”

The pumpkins held a meeting then
some were very apprehensive and afraid
“Could this really happen to us?
what could be the meaning?” is what they were saying
“This is home, it’s all we’ve ever known”
then one bold, outspoken pumpkin spoke

He said “I don’t need eyes to see,it
sounds like a lie to me
I like it just fine here in John’s garden
And remember that candle shines for only the
briefest time In a jack-o-lantern’s heart”

There is much to ask and to ponder
in the pumpkin patch when imposing
old October shows up at last

Then a pumpkin from the farther end
who had been silent up till then
Over the commotion, said
“What would you rather have my friends
A chance to shine, or die here on the vine?
The better way seems very plain to me

You will have eyes to see, and for that night,
you’ll be a bright lamp burning
in the darkness
and maybe that candle shines
for only the briefest time
In a jack-o-lantern’s heart
Oh, but one goblin’s smile should
make it all well worth while
you know you might even see the starlight
and knowing that time is brief,
makes it that much more sweet
when you have a jack-o-lantern’s heart”

John’s Garden (Written & Performed by Peter Mayer, from the album Million Year Mind)

These was part of my retreat last year (2009). This really hit home to me because last year was
when Matthew’s health was so uncertain and many times I and the doctors were not sure he would live out the year.

When I went to the retreat I went for some rest (I had not slept in 8 months at this point) and some
quiet time with Our Lord. I needed to some find some peace inside my soul as far as Matt’s health.
When the very last paragraph was sung, I had a deep feeling inside me that Matt would not live out
the year but I was at peace because I took to heart with:

“A chance to shine, or die here on the vine” this statement made me realize that there is something very important about the quality of life and if Matthew was confined to a bed at 20 years old then he wasn’t doing much living.

“and knowing that time is brief, makes it that much more sweet” this statement made me realize that no matter what happened Matthew’s life was filled with a lot of purpose, teaching many people (including myself) through austism, asthma and CF what truly mattered in life.

After much rest and an improved outlook filled with peace, I realized that God was waiting for me to give up my control to Him so that He could heal Matthew.

To look back now 4 years later, I can’t tell you how right I was in realizing I needed to give up my control to God so He could work in my son’s life. God has done amazing things in my son’s life, but also for my daughter who faced a health crisis last year. When I think about how far God has brought my family, it brings me to tears – in thankfulness and joy.

This song is near and dear to my heart.

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My One Word

I have been reading MY ONE WORD by Mike Ashcraft & Rachel Olsen.  On Christmas Eve morning I began reading Chapter 3 ~ Pick Your Word.

I found it very fitting that I at Christmas Eve Mass, God gave me MY ONE WORD.  At first I thought it was DAUGHTER because the opening reading was from Isaiah 62:3:

You will also be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.

As I heard that Scripture being read I clearly heard the word DAUGHTER.  However, it must have been the LORD using it to get my attention.   Before the Gospel reading, EMMANUEL was on my heart and mind.  Father Ed’s homily helped me to know for certain.

Father Ed opened his homily asking “what can we do to grow?”  Today is born for us a Savior!  Salvation was born 2000 years ago and again today in 2012.  Salvation lives within us.  Salvation is not a what, it’s a Who.  God is with us – Emmanuel.

Mary and Joseph are the first witnesses of the Who of Salvation.  Salvation was born through Mary and Joseph.  Yet Salvation lives within us now, in this year, Christmas 2012.  This Christmas calls us to live lives that proclaim “God is with us!”  He is with us through caring, merciful, compassion, generosity, and kindness.  We too are giving birth to Salvation through these loving actions.  We see them daily and sometimes we take them for granted, such as a parent tending to a small child, showing compassion.  God among us, transforming us into God’s very presence  for us (being His hands and feet.)

As the Christmas song states “do you see what I see?”  All through the centuries people have been compelled to announce this to others.  Christ is Born! For us a Savior is Born!  We make known that message very clearly by the way we live each day.  Our own priceless gift this Christmas Season and everyday is to bring Christ’s presence to others.    The greatest gift we will ever give to another person – our parents, a child, our lover, our boss, our employer, our neighbors or our friends – is Christ’s presence.  The gift of Christ’s presence also invites us to allow God to live in our lives, to open our hearts to the presence of God within us.

The story of Christmas never grows old.  Perhaps because it tells us of God’s great love of us.  God loves each and every person, with an everlasting love.  Your presence is important to God and everyone!  Believe that!!!  Every one of us are precious!

Father Ed’s homily hit every point I thought of as I was praying for MY ONE WORD.  I want to bring Christ’s presence to others.  i want to be kind, merciful, giving, compassionate.  I want to be those things not only to my family and friends but my co-workers, my boss, my neighbor and the stranger I meet.  I want to be those things not only when I feel good but when I don’t feel like it.  I want others to know God’s absolute, everlasting love through me and my actions.

EMMANUEL ~ GOD IS WITH US!

OneWord2013_Emmanuel

Time to Connect

I would like to introduce you to another dear friend of mine, Dawn Whitmore.  Dawn is another one of my valuable She Speak Sisters.  I love the encouragement and support she gives to me and countless others.  Thank you Dawn for posting a very important message today, about God’s plans for us.  Also, today is the August 30th, which means that it’s August Fan Day ~ more information can be found at the end of the post.

I have made a decision today. This decision actually came about after reading a guest post on this blog (you can read it here…)  However, before I jump into this post, I feel that I need a disclaimer:

This blog post is in no way meant to say any of my She Speaks Sisters or fellow bloggers are doing anything wrong.

Okay, with disclaimer done, here’s my heart.

I am trying to live out my calling in someone else’s shoes.   What exactly do I mean by that?

Here is an example:  Yesterday I posted on someone’s FB page “My blog wants to be like yours when it grows up.” Don’t get me wrong this woman is a great encourager and I love reading her blog. She is actually one of the few that I will click-through to keep reading. However, my comment even if meant to be a compliment to her actually told God:

 “Your calling for me is not good enough. Why didn’t you give me her calling? She has more of an outreach and more likes on her blog. Why can’t I have her calling?”

Think two-year old temper tantrum ~

Photo Credit: rafa2010 (Creative Commons)

Did God promptly pick me up and discipline this tantrum-throwing girl? Nope. Instead, He lovingly reminds me through a blog post…ha of all things, a blog post!

He then starts slowly revealing things to me. See, He knew in the middle of my tantrum I wouldn’t have heard Him. Do we realize that with our little ones?

I have been reading some great books lately on to build a community, tribe and platform. Some of them are really good.  However, for me to blindly follow them without seeking God is me “living out my calling in someone else’s shoes.”

After reading Jamy’s guest post and spending some time with God, I didn’t walk away with warm fuzzies. Instead, I walked away feeling like a car salesman.

I feel like a little kid who is promising you cookies if you will just be my friend. What does this mean for my platform, community and tribe? It means, hopefully you will see more of God through me and less bribing, “I have cookies…be my friend”, on my part.

I understand the importance of a platform…I really do. But, I can’t continue being the car salesman. It is hurting my calling.

Photo Credit: linkedmediagrp (Creative Commons)

My true heart is to connect with others in a communication-saturated world and see their walk and life with Jesus grow.

On an extremely personal note: I have been holding back from connecting. It has been easier. However, to walk in my calling it will require me to connect. Pray for me about this. It is a truly difficult step but a necessary one.

Photo Credit: Dew Photography

Awhile back, Beth Kinder discussed the importance of making our words count instead of counting the words. This freed me from counting the words in my work-in-progress. I am grateful for Beth’s accountability at the most God-appointed times. Now, I am stepping out and asking for accountability of “not living my calling out in someone else’s shoes” and further accountability on if I am only communicating or connecting?

 Does this ring true for you? Are you communicating God’s Word but not connecting?  Are you trying to live out someone else’s calling?

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To learn more about Dawn Whitmore visit her website by clicking here .  I don’t know about you but this post has me doing some serious thinking and soul-searching.  Thank you once again Dawn for your genuine honesty.

August Fan Day….it’s super easy to be entered, all you need to do is fill out the entry form (click here) on my Facebook page.  That’s it, you will be entered.  If you don’t want to miss other monthly giveaways then considering liking my page, not required though 🙂

Guest Post ~ TAPP

Today you will get to meet a very special friend, Heather.  Heather and I met through Melissa Taylor Online Bible Studies, we connected in real life at She Speaks – yes room 415 WAS the place to be!  Please make her feel welcomed and leave her a comment.  Thank you so much Heather for stepping in when I needed! 

 

The following is a guest post by Heather Bleier from her blog Transformed where her passion is to help women be transformed by the renewing of their mind and the Word of God {Romans 12:2}. She lives in sunny south Florida with her AMAZING husband Daniel. They are expecting their first bundle of joy this Christmas.

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I love spending time with God and I strive to make it an important part of my day. This is a little something I came up with earlier in the year to help me stay organized….even when my life is NOT! I call this little no brainer TAPP…

Time

God’s Word gives us direction on spending time with Him, both in the Old and New Testaments. King David records in Psalm 5:3, that He meets with God early in the morning as does Jesus according to Mark 1:35. The quiet of morning seems to be the prime time for God time. It’s in this quiet before the storm, we are able to receive strength, focus, and direction for the day and give God our first fruits. Now for me, morning makes the most sense…then again I don’t have any children {got one brewing now though} and I can only imagine the dynamic children must add to a person’s morning routine. I also know mornings weren’t the only time Christ set out to meet with His Father; though it seems to be His first choice. Christ was often found ministering to God’s people, teaching and healing them. I wonder at the complete physical exhaustion Jesus must have felt as people were brought to Him at all hours of the day…and night.  It would make sense then that there were times Jesus couldn’t meet with God in the morning and instead, He would take time later in the day {see: Mark 6:45-46, Mark 14:32-34, Luke 5:16, Luke 6:12}. This must be my first step, I must set a Time to spend with God each day and dedicate it to Him.

For me, that is 6:00-8:00am each morning; like I said, I don’t have kids yet! When will your Time be?  Will it need to change each day because of work, school, or family?  Whenever it is, put it on your daily calendar either on your phone or the one hanging in the kitchen, let your family know when this time will be and ask them to honor it by letting you be alone.

Accountability

Satan would have us believe that we can’t do this and he’s right. On our own…we will falter every time, but “{We} can do all this through Him who gives {us} strength,” Philippians 4:13. God is the one who will give us strength to do this and in Proverbs 27:17 He reminds us that “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”  What we need is some tangible Accountability. We need someone who will ask us each day, “How have you spent one on one time with God today?” or “What did you learn and how does it affect your faith?”  Some of us may even need someone who will make us feel a little guilty if we skip our Quiet Time; though for others, that may be counterproductive. Let that person know when you plan on setting aside your Quiet Time and send them a text, email or call them when you’re done, or have them call you, but find what works.

For me, it’s my friend Angie, but whether our Accountability partner is our spouse, dear friend, sibling, co-worker, mom, dad, or whomever, we need to know someone is going to help us stay on track.

Place

We all have those places where we can focus and those places that keep us hopelessly distracted. Our Quiet Time space needs to be set up so that when we sit down with the Lord, nothing will get in our way. One thing I know, I cannot have my iPhone within reach of my Quiet Time area!  I have no internet at home, so my laptop posses no problem, but that little 4.9oz phone might as well be dipped in glitter…or chocolate!  When I get myself up for my Quiet Time, I have to set my phone in the kitchen or some other space in the house where it cannot disturb me. I have also set up my little Quiet Time space with everything I need; my Bible, journal, a light, a delicious smelling candle, extra pens, pencils and highlighters, note cards, a few devotion books, and of course whatever Bible study I’m doing at the time. {My hubby is up and about by 7:00am, so a good pair of noise reducing ear buds and an iPod are also essential for my Quiet Time space.}  If you have a little wall space, you can put up some corkboard and pin up Bible verses, questions, prayer requests, pictures, or whatever else draws your heart to God.

My space is a desk in my living room my hubby bought me for Christmas and it’s set aside for one purpose, a Place for God and I to meet. What Place will you set aside for your Quiet Time?  It could be your kitchen table, a desk in a spare room, a nook in the laundry room or garage; I tried using my couch for a while…but found myself falling back asleep. You could add an empty chair, a picture, or light a candle to remind you of God’s presence there with you.

Plan

What will you do during your Quiet Time?  Will it be the same each day or will you change it up each time?  Here are a few ideas…

  • Begin with a prayer. It doesn’t have to be long; after all, the Lord’s Prayer only takes 30 seconds to say {I know, I timed it}. Simply ask God to join you and help you understand whatever He reveals to you in His Word.
  • Spend a little time each day memorizing Scripture. Need tips on how?  This post just might do the trick: Memorizing God’s Word.
  • Start a Bible reading plan or create one of your own. There are TONs of reading plans out there, from reading the Bible in a year to the top 100 passages of the Bible. Choose one and stick with it: YouVersion Bible Reading Plans
  • Purchase a devotion book or subscribe to a daily email devotional. I recommend the Proverbs 31 Devotions which include application steps, additional resources, and extra Bible verses.
  • Use those pencils and highlighters!  God isn’t going to be upset if you mark in His book; after all, it’s His gift to us!
  • Jot down your thoughts on whatever you read. Whether you read a devotion, passage of the Bible or answered a few questions from a Bible study, write down what it means to you and how it will affect your faith. Write down if it made you happy, sad, mad, confused, or whatever, but simply write your reaction to what you have read.
  • Close with prayer. Perhaps you have people who have asked you to pray for them, this would be a great time to lift them up to the Lord. Have a long list of requests?  Divide them up throughout the week. Wendy Blight has a great example how in week four of her study called Cultivating a Heart of Prayer. You could also dedicate one day a week just to praying; believe me you will be able to fill that time up quickly and wish you had more time!

Whatever your Quiet Time looks like, make it your own, the above are just a few ideas and suggestions to help get you started, they aren’t rules, must-haves, or requirements.

More of Heather’s posts you may be interested in reading: Memorizing God’s Word, Praying Back God’s Word, and Prayer 101. She also has an extensive list of faith resources on her Developing a Faith that Sticks! page.

Would you like to win a copy of Lysa TerKeurst’s NY Times Bestselling book Unglued? Click HERE to be entered into Heather’s August giveaway. Good luck!

So how about it? What does your Quiet Time look like these days??

An Old Tree Stump

I have some exciting news!!  Welcome to the very first “Fabulous Friday with Cheryl.” Fridays will now feature one of my bestest friends, Cheryl.  We have jumped into some adventures over the last couple of years ~ adventures that have thankfully turned out to be incredibly funny stories even through our own stupidity.  I am so excited that she has joined me on this adventure.  A few words that describe Cheryl.  Generous ~ Kind ~ Loving ~ Caring ~ Laughter ~ A Smile that Lights up a Room ~ Inspirational ~ Beautiful ~ Endearing ~ Jesus’ Light Shining ~ A Friend that Gives Everything.  If you have Cheryl in your life, you have more than a friend, you have a sister forever!  Please help me welcome Cheryl!!!

When I was a little girl, long ago, and needed time to myself, I would walk down past the stinky chicken coop into the garden, through the tall rows of corn and the tomatoes, finally past the potatoes and squash I would go. There it was, just past the hog fence, which was not the most pleasantly smelling place to sit, yet there in a small line of trees was a very large tree stump.  That was my favorite “alone” place.

I would crawl up onto the old stump, and talk to God.  I would cry out to Him “Why is this happening?  Why doesn’t anyone love me?”  I would yell, stomp, scream and cry. As usual I felt as no one heard me.  But then I would hear a voice in my head that would say “Are you done now?”  He would say “My child, I have never left you, I am always here!”  He would then dry my tears and want to see me smile.  He would say “look at those silly pigs playing in the mud!”  I would giggle until it was time to go back to the house.

I really believe that God met me there in the middle of that line of trees on the big old tree stump.  Why as an adult do I not feel free to find a safe place to yell,  scream, cry and ask God “Why?”  It may not be that old tree stump out by the hog pen, but it could be a room, a car or even inside my head.  I don’t allow myself to feel these emotions, in denying them I have hopes of being normal.

But what if it is normal to feel these things? What if it is normal to ask God “WHY?”  His Word tells us to come to Him as little children.  What if we all had an old stump that was waiting for us through the garden right past the fence of the hog pen? What if we took all of our troubles to Him even if it means yelling, screaming and asking “WHY?”  What if we were real with God?  What would happen?

I think I would be much happier with myself, my life and my choices if I were “real” with God.  He is still with me every step of the way.  When I remember that  ~ I smile!  What makes you smile?  Do you have your own version of an old tree stump?

And He said “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven…”  ~ Matthew 18:3

Praises

This is going to be short and sweet, which in itself is a miracle because I normally don’t do short and sweet!!!

I have much to be thankful for every single day but this morning I am praising Jesus even more.  I woke up this more migraine and headache FREE for the first time in 30 days!!!!  I can’t tell you how glorious that feels and how much I probably took that for granted at one time in my life.

To celebrate I am going to bless someone else.  All you need to do is leave a comment on my Facebook page telling me one thing you are thankful for today (if you don’t have Facebook, you can leave your comment here).  Click here to go directly to my page ~ Veronica’s Facebook Page.

That’s it, told you short and sweet today 🙂

Cleaning with Jesus

Can I let you in on a little secret?  I hate to clean!  Oh, I also hate to go to the grocery store and cook!  It wasn’t always this way.  Before computers, the internet and Facebook, cooking and cleaning were my hobbies.

Now I tend to put it off until there is no other choice.  Half of the problem is the lack of organization in our home.  The other half is my perfectionist tendencies.  I want the situation to be perfect before beginning to clean or organize.  Yep, still waiting for that….

For the past eight weeks I have participated in Melissa Taylor’s Online Bible Study of I Used to be So Organized by Glynnis Whitwer (whew that’s a mouthful!)  The study has been amazing.  I have incorporated small new habits into my days, such as not sitting anything down except where it belongs and taking an extra five minutes to straighten up a room before I leave.  Besides those two things, not much else has been accomplished.

Waking up Saturday morning with another migraine, I looked around in disgust realizing our house hadn’t been cleaned in three weeks.  Knowing some basic things need tidied I prayed “Please LORD block the pain for just thirty minutes, please!” A funny thing happened, with each area I cleaned, my migraine eased.

It was then that the LORD placed on my heart “Some of your migraines are an attack to keep your from doing the work I call you to do.  The only way to fight them is to call upon Me and do the work anyways.”  Which opened the door to a conversation with Jesus about how much I really hate cleaning.  I wanted to know “who elected me to be responsible for housecleaning?”

Moving from room to room Jesus kept speaking to me, “Don’t think of it as cleaning, think of it as prayer.  Dedicate each room as an offering of prayer for someone.  Someone who can’t clean but would give anything to do so:  a mom battling cancer, a mom with a newborn baby and no sleep, a mom with a special needs child, a wife who just lost her husband, a family losing their home, the list my daughter is endless.”

As I cleaned the fridge I told Jesus “It is so pointless to cook, I hate it!!!  Here I am a week later tossing the uneaten leftovers out.”  Jesus spoke to my soul, “Don’t despise the service of nourishing the loved ones I have blessed you with, instead as you prepare a meal for them, use this time to offer them up in prayer to Me.  Make this the time you pray for them.  Make this the time you tell Me all about your family.”

Getting on my hands and knees to mop the floors, I asked Jesus “Really, all the advancement in technology and I am still doing the old-fashioned way of mopping?”  I knew He would have words of wisdom and I wasn’t wrong.  He said “Do not despise any part of this daughter – for through this whole day you have been in contact with your Father.  You have been in contact with your Healer, your migraine is gone, right? You have also been in contact with your Personal Trainer, there is no need to spend money on a gym membership, this takes care of two needs at the same time.  See daughter, I am always providing.”

Let me just say my house sparkled, my migraine was gone, my muscles are sore and it was the best four hours of housecleaning ever!!!!  I hope this encourages you to use those things you hate as prayers to your Father.  I leave you with this reminder, from one of my favorite songs….

Well let me remind you, it all matters just as long
As you do everything you do to the glory of the One who made you,
Cause he made you,
To do
Every little thing that you do
To bring a smile to His face
Tell the story of grace
With every move that you make
And every little thing you do

Do Everything ~ Steve Curtis Chapman