Tuesday, June 30, 2009


My husband, Steve, enjoys gardening. Not surprisingly, we both enjoy our landscaping the most when it looks its best. Steve reminds me often, that if there is one square inch of planted area in anyone's yard that doesn't have weeds growing in it, someone obviously took the time to pull the weeds.

I started feeling guilty yesterday, when I knew Steve went outside several times, despite the heat, to pull countless weeds. I was working in the air-conditioned comfort of our home, but I felt the tug to go out and pull my share of our weed crop.

After pulling my hair up and donning my oldest clothes, I grabbed my gloves, trowel, and weed bin, and set off to tackle the weeds on the hillside closest to the road. 'Out of control' is the only way I could describe the mess of weeds that stared back at me. I was tempted to abandon my mission and head back into the house. Thoughts of Steve, sweating in the heat, stopped me and I stooped down and got to work.

As I began looking at the weeds I was pulling, it was interesting to see that there were really only a few kinds: crab grass, clover, and tall, tuberous ones with shallow roots. Once again, I was reminded of the similarity between the weeds on my hillside and the sin in my life. Usually I tend to struggle with two or three areas in my life that tend to be what the Apostle Paul referred to as 'besetting' sins (Hebrews 12:1). These are the things that surround us or attack us from all sides, according to the American Heritage Dictionary. They can range from self-centeredness to any number of addictions. It's a conscious, daily battle to experience victory in these areas.

When I allow God to put His finger on the 'weeds of sin' in my life and gently extricate them from the soil of my heart, I know I am much more pleasing to Him and able to be used by Him. According to John 10:10, Christ says, "...I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." (KJV) His desire is to give me victory over my 'crop of weeds.' His will for me is to be conformed more and more into His image - one day at a time. Will you give Him access to your 'weeds?'

Monday, June 29, 2009

Wisdom Teeth

Friday was a big day for us. No, we weren't leaving for a fun-filled vacation, or shopping at the mall for all of the great sales; Riley was having her wisdom teeth removed. We had the initial consultation at the oral surgeon's office just one week prior to her surgery date.

Things have definitely changed since I had my wisdom teeth out - thankfully! Back in the dark ages, when I had the procedure done, I only had local anesthesia and don't remember having to take the assortment of medications that we were sent home with following Riley's surgery: two different pain medications, antibiotics, and steroids.

We were told Riley would experience quite a bit of pain the first couple of days with facial swelling. Most of Riley's friends who have endured wisdom teeth extractions, warned her that she'd probably be out of it for at least two days. Liquids and foods that are easy to swallow, like pudding, ice cream and applesauce would be her diet for several days.

We were pleasantly surprised when Riley was able to get into the car unassisted, following surgery. She wasn't out of it at all, and in fact carried on a coherent conversation as we drove home. She didn't need us to help her up the stairs into our house and only got light-headed after taking her first dose of pain medication. Fortunately, she was close to the couch!

Through the entire day, I was reminded of the power of prayer. God's word tells me to, "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." Philippians 4:6 (KJV); and to cast all my care upon Him because He cares for me (I Peter 5:7). We had asked for prayer for Riley at our Wednesday evening church service. I posted a request for her on my Facebook page and on Twitter. I'm so thankful for all those who prayed - God answers!

Riley had minimal pain or facial swelling and was even able to sing a duet at church on Sunday evening. Our God is amazing. While I greatfully realize He doesn't always answer our prayers in the way we would like Him to; it's humbling to think of all the times He does! It's hard to imagine that the great God of the universe, who created everything, would love us so much that He'd desire to be intimately involved in the minute details of our lives. I'm thankful that we have a God who hears and answers prayer. What about you?

Thursday, June 25, 2009


What a beautiful morning! As I walked the last of the bags out to the trash can, I couldn't help but notice the gurgling sound of the water rushing by in the creek. Our dogs were extra affectionate this morning; leaning in close for snuggle-time. It was pleasantly cool for a summer day in late June in Georgia.

As I get busy about the things that I feel I need to accomplish for the day, it's easy to miss all the beautiful things God's created and all the ways He's working in His world. I was reminded today of the importance of taking the focus off of self and my needs and placing it on God, and simply praising Him for who He is.

Maybe you can relate to grabbing your Bible and seeing what God has for you today. Praying down that lengthy prayer list for your needs and those of friends and relatives, yet getting to the end of your quiet time and realizing you've not stopped to just thank Him for the great God that He is.

The prayer of praise is so powerful because it elevates God to His rightful position, and reminds us that everything was created by Him and for Him. Revelation 4:11 says, "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created."

Struck by my lack of praise, I grabbed a hymnal and sang the words to a familiar old hymn:

I sing the mighty power of God, That made the mountains rise;
That spread the flowing seas abroad, And built the lofty skies.
I sing the wisdom that ordained The sun to rule the day;
The moon shines full at His command, And all the stars obey.

I sing the goodness of the Lord, That filled the earth with food;
He formed the creatures with His word, And then pronounced them good.
Lord, how Thy wonders are displayed, Where e'er I turn my eye,
If I survey the ground I tread, Or gaze upon the sky!

There's not a plant or flower below, But makes Thy glories known;
And clouds arise, and tempests blow, By order from Thy throne;
While all that borrows life from Thee is ever in Thy care,
And everywhere that man can be, Thou, God, art present there.

Isaac Watts, author of the powerful song, I Sing the Mighty Power of God, was in tune with His God and was inspired to write this song of praise. Today, my goal is to remember that it's all about Him and not about me. May I be a person of prayer, praise and thanksgiving to my most worthy God!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Wishing Or Living?

My friends are amazing. I think of Darlene, who is a great listener and definitely has the gift to encourage; then there's Patricia, who seems to be able to juggle a dozen projects at once and be good at all of them! Cherie has a knack for blessing others with timely gifts and cards, and Pat's care and concern just overflow when she calls.

On particularly challenging days, instead of thanking God for the special talents and abilities He's given my friends, I begin wishing I had their abilities. Can anyone relate? The cycle begins with coveting their gift and ends with a feeling of defeat because I can't live up to all the things I admire in them.

I remember arriving early to pick up my daughter at a teen camp a couple years ago. Since one of the missionaries was still speaking, I quietly sat down in the back and listened. I remember it like it was yesterday. He was talking about how unwise it is to compare ourselves with others. Boy, if that didn't strike a chord with me.

Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10:12 "For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise." (KJV)

When I remember who God says I am: that I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14), and that He created me to be one-of-a-kind; it frees me up to do what He has for me alone to do, while appreciating those around me with different talents and abilities. How refreshing to know that as believers, "we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." Ephesians 2:10 (KJV) There are things my friends can do and people they can reach that I would not be able to, and vice versa.

What about you? Do you compare yourself with those around you? Thank God today that you are uniquely you and fulfil the job He has for you to do!

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Vet

Yesterday, my husband, Steve, took our Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Joe, to the vet for his annual check-up. If I had to describe Joe's personality in a few words, I'd say he's sweet, loves to play, but he's very cautious.

We got Joe from a breeder in Alabama when he was a yearling. At 15-months old he had never been out of his kennel or been on a leash. You can imagine how interesting it was to make the drive home to Georgia, when we had to stop at a rest area to let him out to do his business. Remember Jethro from The Beverly Hillbillies? The make-shift leash we had for Joe looked very similar to Jethro's rope belt. Having never been on a leash, Joe was very curious about the whole experience - but not quite sure what to do.

Three years have passed since then and Joe has gotten very comfortable in his surroundings. He loves his very own bark park that is separated from his Golden Retriever sister, Precious' area, by an invisible fence. He loves to chase his ball and go for walks these days and doesn't give much thought to the occasional car parked on the side of the road that used to unnerve him.

At the vet the other day, the only challenge for Steve was in convincing Joe that it was safe to go into the building. After some coaxing, ok, after pulling him inside, Joe followed obediently and proved himself to be the model 'patient.' He even calmly allowed the poking and prodding that go along with a vet visit. He kept his eyes on Steve and stayed as close to him as possible.

The entire experience reminds me of our walk with the Lord. Do we trust our Heavenly Father as he leads us into those situations that we're not familiar with, or do we chicken out and stick with what's familiar? Proverbs 3:5-6 is such a great reminder:

5Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (KJV)

As I come up against the difficult things of life today, I'll have a choice to make: Will I refuse to embrace what God has for me by staying in my comfortable surroundings, or will I, in faith, follow God's leading, keep my eyes on Him and stay as close to Him as possible? I choose to trust Him today.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Compliments make me feel good. Someone told me I looked nice yesterday, and it put a smile on my face. My husband and daughter thanked me for a tasty dinner last night. It made finding a new recipe, getting the ingredients, and putting a little extra effort into getting things in the crockpot in the morning - all worth while.

When I'm complimented and appreciated, it definitely gives me a desire to do the same for others. I think of a friend of mine who has a gift for encouragement. Do I let her know I appreciate that quality? Or the thoughtful friend who brings me my favorite Bath & Body Works hand soap. Do I just say a quick "thanks," or really take time to appreciate her by sending a card or meeting her for a cup of coffee.

Too often, I get side-tracked by my agenda and don't look at those around me for who they are and what they mean to me. It's about getting beyond me, and demonstrating the love of Christ to others. The Old Testament book of Leviticus reminds me in chapter nineteen, verse eighteen: thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. I can't deny that I love myself, after all, I take care of myself to the best of my ability - get the right amount of sleep, take vitamins, eat right (within reason - I can't deny my sweet tooth all the time!). The verse in Leviticus is challenging me, actually commanding me, to have that level of love for others.

I'm thankful that God's word assures me that "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Philippians 4:13 (KJV). When I see others through His eyes of compassion, it makes that compliment so much easier to give. How will you choose to see others? Choose to give that compliment that will encourage someone's heart today.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


I love summertime! There's just something about the cloudless, blue skies, warm temperatures and the more relaxed pace that's very refreshing. I look forward to getting outside and beautifying our yard - although the process can be hard work. Weeding, planting and laying pinestraw are all necessary to accomplish the goal. And it's not something I can do just one time; there is weekly and sometimes daily maintenance.

I've found the same to be true with our hearts. If you're familiar with the old hymn, "Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us," maybe you can identify with the new title I came up with as I was bent over on the hillside, garden trowel in my hand: "Savior, Like a Gardener Weed Us." Because God's not finished with me yet, I know I need to pray for His 'weeding' in my life to remove those weeds of self-centeredness, jealousy, impatience, etc. Boy, when I'm not careful to give God permission to examine the soil of my heart, I end up with a fine crop of weeds.

"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" Jeremiah 17:9 (KJV) It's easy to fool ourselves into thinking that everything is just fine, until we get 'bumped' with the 'junk' of life, and out pour hateful, judgmental words. Where did that come from? That's when I've needed to look at my heart's soil, identify the 'weeds,' and replace the bad soil with the good soil God makes available to me.

From the verse in Jeremiah, I know the bad soil comes from being deceived. Many times I've jumped to conclusions about what someone has said to me, ended up believing a lie, and gotten bitter as a result. Instead, I need to follow the advice of Paul, in 2 Corinthians 10:5 "Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;" (KJV) Focus on the truth, and assume the best unless God gives me reason to believe otherwise.

I used to think that it was unfortunate that it wasn't a one-time weeding. Now I realize that if it was, I'd not depend on Him daily (and even moment by moment!) as I should. Allow the weeding, so the garden of your life will be beautiful!

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Have you ever thought about all the choices we have in life? From the simple things, like what to wear today, to the complex things, like what career to choose. As I was reading in the screen room this morning, I was reminded that I also have a choice about the attitude I have today. All too often I let circumstances determine my attitude - if it's bright and beautiful outside, and things are going well in my family, it's easy to be cheerful. But when it's stormy outside and stormy in my house due to conflict, it's easier to let myself feel down and out.

Instead of allowing my circumstances to control me, it's liberating to know I can choose to control my emotions and see circumstances for what they are: God's opportunities for me to be stretched and to grow in my relationship with Him. Paul put it best, "...for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." Philippians 4:11 (KJV) It didn't come naturally for Paul, and I know it doesn't come naturally for me, but going through the ups and downs of life help us to 'learn' to be content, knowing that the One who created us, loves us, and is intimately involved in the process of growing us up to be conformed to His image (Rom. 8:29).

Digging through my quotable quotes and articles file, I ran across this great article:

by: Charles Swindoll
The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home.The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude... I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you... we are in charge of our attitudes.

So today, when things don't happen like I expect them to, a family member is sick, I don't accomplish everything I'd like to, and the serviceman doesn't show up, I have a choice to make - will I cave in to my circumstances, or choose to be content and joyful in spite of it? I'm glad God created us with a free will - and He gives me every reason to choose a positive attitude! What about you?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Letter

I carry the letter with me in the front pocket of my Bible. It's not just any letter. It's a letter from my Dad. It's very special to me for lots of reasons. I received the letter almost 12 years ago now. He wrote the letter to me when I was an adult. I don't recall any other letters he wrote to me.

Another reason I cherish the letter is that my Dad passed away about 6 1/2 years ago. I love the ornate but shakey handwriting that covers the envelope. In spite of the rheumatoid arthritis that caused him to suffer with such pain for as long as I can remember, it was important for him to write to me. I cannot describe how special that makes me feel.

He was writing to me to thank me for a tape I had sent him for his birthday. It was a compilation of songs I had played and mixed on my brother-in-law's keyboard. Nothing fancy - just my Dad's favorite hymn arrangements; some I had played since my grade school days. His favorite was, "Crown Him with Many Crowns." He wrote, "At 3:30 a.m. you would think I would be sound asleep, but instead I opted to listen to a sweet little girl's fingers running over a keyboard at a neighbor's piano...Your recording reminds me of something very important and appropriate for the occasion - Laudate Dominum in sanetis eius. "

Despite the pain in his wrists and fingers, my dear Dad wrote out the entire 150th Psalm:

1 Praise ye the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. 2 Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness. 3 Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp. 4 Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. 5 Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals. 6 Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord. (KJV)

Looking back, I'm so glad I took the time to make that simple recording. It wasn't an expensive gift, and I'm sure I made a few mistakes, but to my Dad, it meant a lot! I know, because his letter means so very much to me.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Bogged Down

This morning I felt bogged down with the weight of having to 'fix' lots of situations - ranging from concern about whether I had offended someone, to feeling like I had to find a summer job for my daughter . Usually, I have a pretty clearcut list of things I have to accomplish for the day and I thoroughly enjoy a routine: getting up to exercise (which also serves as time to focus my thoughts in prayer), making breakfast and spending time in Bible study before I dive into my "to-do" list. After I discovered the BIG leak from the hot-water heater (something I had not planned for!), however, I was having a difficult time re-focusing on what needed to be done. Once I made a call to our plumber, I sat down - eager to see what God had for me from His Word.

I'm on week 3 of Believing God, by Beth Moore. Needless to say, I was a bit disappointed to see that today's lesson was dealing with God's ability to perform miraculous physical healings if it's His will. I was trying to bridge the gap between what I was experiencing and the lesson for the day, when God showed me a simple truth: I'm not responsible to "fix" things (whether situations or people) just to pray for each and leave 'fixing' in His hands - after all, He's sovereign! In the Apostle Paul's case, he was given the amazing power to heal physically sick individuals in the book of Acts. Imagine his disappointment when he had to leave Trophimus behind in Miletum because Trophimus was sick. No doubt Paul had prayed just as fervently for Trophimus as he had for those in the book of Acts, yet the outcomes were different. No healing in one case, healing in the other. But Paul wasn't confused. He didn't put God in a box, demanding that He respond the same way in all situations.

It may be a female thing, or that mothering instinct, that convinces me that I'm responsible for how things turn out. Wow, have I been deceived. I need to pray and seek God's will in each situation, knowing that He is able to work things out far better than I could. Ephesians 3:20-21 says, "Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen." (KJV)

How about you? Are you a 'fixer,' or are you looking to our all-sufficient God to work things out in His way and timing? How encouraging to realize: He is in control!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Free Donut, Anyone?

Have you ever been awakened with a start, glanced at your alarm clock and realized you were late for something? Well, this morning was one of those days, except that it wasn't me who was late, it was my daughter, Riley. Knowing Riley's schedule and being in that "Mom" frame of mind, I woke up at 6:15 a.m. thinking, " Uh -oh, I don't hear any sounds of movement and I know Riley wanted to leave soon, not only to get to her job on time, but my goodness, to get her free donut from Dunkin' Donuts since it's National Free Donut Day!"

I threw on my workout clothes, (after all, I plan on getting my donut today, too!) and burst into Riley's bedroom. Because Riley can get ready in 10 minutes flat, she decided on a few minutes of extra sleep. Exactly 10 minutes later, she had grabbed her jacket, was down the stairs and ready to borrow my keys to make her 'sweet' journey over to Dunkin' Donuts.

Her call came a half hour later - the apple fritter and large, iced coffee were well worth spending less time getting ready! And she made it to her baby-sitting job with 2 minutes to spare! Whew! Relax, Mom!!