Roller coaster

Out of Control

I have a little quiz for you today.  No groaning.  There are just a few questions, but you have to promise to answer honestly.  No hedging or justifying – just a simple yes or no.

  1. If you are going somewhere by car and traveling with others, short or long distance, do you prefer to be the driver?
  2. Do you prefer to do certain jobs around the house yourself (mowing the lawn, putting dishes in the dishwasher, doing laundry, etc) and typically reject offers for help in these areas?
  3. Do you take a leading role in projects and sometimes secretly revise others’ work when you are part of a group presentation?
  4. Do you seek opportunities at work or church where you can right the wrongs that you see (maybe you think the former person in this role didn’t put their full effort into the position)?
  5. Do you ever feel like your prayers are directing God?

I’m sure I could create more questions in other areas of life, but these are enough for now.  How did you score?  Did you answer yes to 3 of the 5 questions?  I think it’s time for all of us to look into the areas where we feel we need to be in control.

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Mary Pickford sad photo

Valentine’s Day with a Broken Heart

BROKEN HEARTHow do you feel about Valentine’s Day?  If the thought of it leaves you feeling depressed or lonely, you’re not unique.  According to one statistic, about 40% of people have negative emotions when thinking about the ‘Holiday of Love’.  If you are currently single, widowed, divorced, or have recently broken off a relationship it may seem like everyone in the world is celebrating except you.  Although I can’t change your circumstances, my aim in this short post is to give you some alternative things to focus on.  What if you are happily in a relationship and these ideas seem far removed from you?  Chances are you know someone who could use a boost in their perspective.  Read my suggestions and reach out to someone who may be lonely.  Better yet, send them a link to my blog and suggest they read it for themselves.  It might change a dreaded holiday into one they cherish.

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Sunset

New Year – End Your Day Well

Today is the last posting for my New Year series. I thought I should use this final topic to discuss setting ourselves up for a good tomorrow by finishing our day well.

My days have drastically changed in the last year. Many days have no specific deadlines now. I could wake up and go about my duties in a leisurely way, although I think that would be a foolish waste of precious hours.

Gears and cogs

There is one day that stays consistent through the waxing and waning of my life – Sunday. Sundays are…well, dare I say it?…choaos in high gear. Looking back, I have no idea how I held Sundays together when my children were little. Even now, when I don’t have little mouths to feed and little arms and legs to stuff into their Sunday best, I can barely get out the door. Some might point to the fact that I travel almost an hour to get to church or that many times I stay in my church area all day long. However, I really don’t think that my problem lies in those excuses.  I wake up 2.25 hours before I am supposed to leave. Any reasonable person (especially a person without others that are heavily relying on her) should be able to head out the door in peace with that kind of lead.

Instead, my Sunday face is not a pretty one. Most of the time I’m leaving with a look that contains a mix of frustration, panic, and even a bit of anger thrown in. Somehow those two plus hours go by with lightning speed and once again I’m walking out the door ten minutes later than I intended.

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New Year – Prayer

Hello,

Today’s New Year’s topic is prayer.  Once again I’m terribly shortcoming in this area of my life.  In my younger adult years, I really struggled accepting that I needed to pray.  I figured that God knew everything that I ever would think about praying for way before I ever even knew about it myself.  On top of that, I had the attitude that God’s will would win out no matter if I prayed for it to happen or not.  So what’s the use of putting in the time to pray if it really had no purpose?  Oh and here’s the kicker, I actually became convinced that God was doing the opposite of what I prayed for.  People would ask me to pray for them.  Of course, I would tell them that I would pray and I even made sure I did (at least once), but in my head I would think, ‘You don’t know what you’re asking.’  Do you remember the Old Testament story in Numbers 22-24 about how Balak, the Moabite King, hired Balaam to curse the Israelite people?  Every time he attempted to curse them, he ended up blessing them instead.  Well, I felt like my prayer life was similar, only in reverse.  When I cried out for God’s blessings on someone, something bad would happen.  I was not the one you’d want on your church’s prayer team!

<aRomans 12:12 plaque (2)

Even in my rebellion, there would be times I would feel guilty for largely abandoning prayer.  I knew that Christians were supposed to pray.  You can’t read the Bible and escape reading about people who prayed – David, Daniel, Paul, and even Jonah (who was a prime example of a rebel) prayed.  Then, of course, there is the Lord’s Prayer.  If God acted completely without regard to prayer, why would Jesus give His disciples (and us) an example of how to pray?  I finally came to the conclusion that, even if the idea of why people should pray is beyond my comprehension, God wants us to pray and I needed to obey Him in this area.

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New Year – Body Control




Hello again – glad you’re still with me for week three of my New Year blog posts.  This week I felt like I should talk about taking care of our bodies and keeping them under control.  The trouble is, I have no expertise in this area.  If I wasn’t so new at blogging and had more connections, this would definitely be a time I would have a ‘guest blogger’ take over.  I could learn a lot myself!  Instead of telling you what I’m doing to help my body, let me tell you what I should be doing.

I should be exercising.  During the warmer months, I definitely am better at this.  The trouble is, it is incidental exercise.  My husband and I enjoy bicycling and hiking in parks.  We like to walk around the nearby neighborhoods.  We are having fun doing the activity and exercise is just a by-product.  The trouble comes in when it is too hot, too cold, rainy, or icy.  Then we don’t get outside.  If I were more dedicated to movement for its own sake, I would find a way.  We have a treadmill in the basement, but I have come up with countless excuses why I don’t want to use it – the basement isn’t finished, I have no secure way to keep my iPad in place to distract me, I have almost fallen off multiple times….You get the picture and while you’re getting it, imagine an out-of-shape middle aged woman sitting on her comfy couch motionless (unless you count the hand to mouth movement)!  I must say that it did help when I listened to downloaded podcasts/Ted Talks while I was walking.  If the subject didn’t keep me distracted, balancing my iPad did.  If the topic was too interesting, I’d find myself slowing down until I was in danger of catapulting off the end.  Last year I tried walking outside even when it was icy by using crampons on my shoes.  This is a test of faith when your mind is telling you, “Don’t go there.  You’ll slip!” and you know your metal spikes should hold you upright.

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New Year – Menu Planning




Hey everyone, it’s week two of my five week series on New Year’s Resolutions. Last week I wrote about the importance of implementing Bible reading into your daily routine. I’ve decided to mix up the last four weekly posts and not bring them up in any particular order.

This week my subject is menu planning.  Now, I suspect that some of you have the opinion that menu planning is too time consuming, too complex, or maybe too boring.  Your visualization of planning meals is something along this line:

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New Year – Bible Reading




Hello and happy new year!

I’ve had a struggle in deciding what to write about for today’s blog post.  I had decided awhile back to write each week of January about a specific desirable trait that may motivate us all toward being better in some way.  Then I thought that instead of my writings centering around us, I should take on an attribute of God to write about during each of the five weeks.  I also liked the idea of these God reflections being a separate mini course that you would have the choice of joining or not.  However, setting up the separate course would require some extra legwork on my part to get the technology straight.  Because I’ve been a little pinched for time lately and I’d really like this course to be well thought out, I’ve decided to stick with my original idea for now (and be like every other blogger around), but reserve the mini course for another time when it can have my undivided attention.  But for now, I’ll dive into the first resolution of mine. Continue reading

Setting Priorities for the New Year

 

What is your favorite holiday?  My guess is that most people living in a “Christian society” around the world would say that Christmas is their favorite holiday.  Although I can understand the reasons for selecting this day as your number one, I have to admit that my favorite is New Year’s Day.  Part of the reason behind me selecting this day is because it is one of the rare celebratory days that is largely untouched by commercialism (unless you count football commercials).  The bigger reason likely has to do with my personality.  I am an optimist and I love the theory, however faulty it may be, that I can become a better person.

From my earliest memories, I have made New Year’s Resolutions.  I have vowed to be better at reading my Bible and have read the first few chapters of Genesis countless times, but the first few pages of Numbers are much whiter.  I have joined the crowd and pledged to lose weight through a variety of ways.  In an attempt to conquer the mountain of magazines that threatens to start an avalanche any day, I’ve resolved to read one of the issues each week.  Multiple years have found me promising (and re-promising) to organize my family pictures.  I’ve tried setting up rigorous exercise routines.  You name it, if it is a weakness of mine (and I have a plethora to pick from), I’ve tried to make a change for the better at some point in my life.   Continue reading

Chocolate-covered Cherries Recipe

Christmas is less than a week away.  I confess that this year is one of the busiest I remember.  So many things to be done within a limited time span.  One of the things that has kept me busy is making chocolates.  Years ago one of my sweet neighbors took me under her wing and set about to teach me how to make dipped and molded chocolates.  One of the kinds she demonstrated was chocolate-covered cherries.  I decided this week that my gift to you would be to show you how to make them yourself  (step-by-step).  Note: this is the way I was taught, but there are many variations. Continue reading

Traveling through the Desert




My son and I have been reading through the book of Joshua together.  This book of the Bible begins is a very captivating way.  The first chapters contain espionage, the miraculous dividing of the Jordan River so that the Israelites could walk through on dry ground, and the conquest of the formidable city of Jericho that began with a march and a shout.  There is even an unexpected heroine – a woman who was formerly a harlot and who later became a pivotal person in the lineage of Jesus.  I love these stories and believe every single word is true, no matter how improbable they sound to the modern reader, because they are taken from the Word of God.

If you’ve never read the book of Joshua, or even if you have, I would encourage you to read it.  I think you will find it riveting…that is, until you reach chapter twelve.  This is where the tone shifts and most of the remainder of the book gets a bit dull.  There are seemingly endless lists of names – names of former kings who ruled over the land of Canaan, names of regions and cities, and names of the tribes of Israel who inherited land there.  At least in the first two categories, I find the names largely unpronounceable.  I muster through them as best I can and suspect I mispronounce them differently each time they are repeated.  And that’s when the thought emerges: these lists are boring, they have nothing to do with me, and I think I will close down the remaining Dry, parched desert groundchapters of this book and start reading somewhere else – anywhere else.  Surely God can’t expect me to get anything out of reading this stuff.

 

However, I do believe that God is not a God of fluff.  You can’t always trust human writers.  Maybe a publisher has told a prospective author that their book cannot be published unless it has so many pages or chapters.  So they throw in extraneous detail.  It would be easy to think that God is doing that in the latter chapters of Joshua or maybe to think that the information was only relevant to another people or another time.  On the contrary, I believe God has given us the whole Bible and expects that we read the whole Bible.  Once I gave a Bible as a gift.  Expecting that it might get tossed aside, I inserted bills of varied amounts within its pages.  I hoped that if it was read, the diligent reader would find the hidden treasure. Continue reading