Saturday, July 30, 2011

Love and Death

    The Bible tells us that, above all other commandments, to love one another. We go through life falling in love, loving our neighbors, and forming lifelong relationships. We feel close to God when we are in loving relationships.

    Let me be clear that I am not talking of only love between spouses. There are many friends in my life that have walked through far more with me than my husband of only 4 years.

    Last night a dear friend was killed when he hit a tree in the road on the interstate. He was 29 years old, and his wife and two-year old were in the back seat. The next few days for our family will be torturous because of our love for him.

    Psalms 90 tells us how fleeting life can be. We understand that with a brush of his hand, God can end our time on earth whenever he wishes. Right now, in our pain, all we feel is the loss of love.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Teaching Our Children

    I have said often that teaching my son to believe in and follow God is my most important teaching assignment. I want him to truly "get it." Sure, he prays to Jesus at night and thanks Him for candy and mommy and daddy, but he is too young to really understand the love God has for him.

    I had a minister once tell me that my job was to show God's unconditional love for him by loving him unconditionally. Then he would understand when the time comes.

    Today I read Deuteronomy 6. Here is a short piece of it.

4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.[a]
5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

    Did you know the Jewish people actually did that? They would write the laws inside their doorframes. My hope today is that I can teach God's laws to my son so that he can "get it!"

Thursday, July 28, 2011

10 Commandments

    Deuteronomy 5 recaps the 10 Commandments. It seems that every few months, someone tries to either post or remove this list. A lawsuit makes headlines. Then people sit around and argue over whether or not these rules should be posted.

    Basically, it doesn't matter if they are posted in public places or not. We are simply asked to follow them. Furthermore, we have laws that uphold most of them.

    The only one that gives me trouble is coveting the belongings of others. It is easy to look at your friend or neighbors and wish for the things they have. The whole, "grass is greener on the other side" idea rings true for many of us.

    Regardless of where these rules are posted, they are rules to live by!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


    Do you ever feel alone? The book of Psalms often has the author crying out to God because he feels alone. I know that many people feel abandoned by God at times. I also know that God never truly abandons them. So why does God allow us to feel this way? I have no idea. Maybe he tests us by making us feel like we are going through trials alone. I am thankful that I always feel God's presence.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Psalm 85

10 Love and faithfulness meet together;
   righteousness and peace kiss each other.
11 Faithfulness springs forth from the earth,
   and righteousness looks down from heaven.
12 The LORD will indeed give what is good,
   and our land will yield its harvest.
13 Righteousness goes before him
   and prepares the way for his steps.

    I am visiting my parents for a couple of days. My son loves it here because he can play in the creek, ride the four-wheeler with his grandfather, and they always have ice cream for him. I love it because it is the most beautiful place I've ever seen. This morning, as the sun rises, a fog lifts to reveal the mountains that stand guard over this valley.

    As beautiful as places can be, I also found beauty in these words from Psalm 85. I often read by Bible just to get a lesson or idea from them. I want to know God's plan and God's rules. Today, I just needed to read beauty.

Monday, July 25, 2011

At War

    So much of the Book of Psalms is a cry for deliverance from enemies. Today I read Psalm 83-84. Again, the writer is asking God to deliver him from the enemies who pursue him.

    I don't live in fear. I don't really know what that is like. However, as I type this, a 16 year old girl on the Today Show tells her story of the massacre in Norway.

    There are enemies in this world who look completely normal and innocent. We can't live in fear, but this child and thousands others will forever be scarred by the events last week.

    I am sure I join many of you in your prayers for Norway.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Book of Deuteronomy

    I was surprised this morning when I realized that finished Numbers yesterday. I didn't look ahead at today's readings, so I didn't know yesterday was the last chapter. It didn't feel finished. Before I read Deuteronomy 1, I did some research.

    I found that the title means something near "the second reading of the law." There are many who believe that Moses's death actually was written at the end of Numbers. It was decided to put Deuteronomy here to bridge the gap between the death of Moses and the Book of Joshua. When that was decided, the death of Moses was moved to Deuteronomy, so Numbers does end abruptly.

    The first chapter begins a recap of the past 40 years. Wouldn't it be fun on your 40th birthday to recap your life up to that point? Maybe I will do it now as I approach my 30th birthday!

    On another subject, I am working on bettering my friendship with God by being honest. When I am mad, upset, disappointed, or even happy, I will have a conversation with Him about it.

    I hope you are able to do the same.

Saturday, July 23, 2011


    I am not always comfortable sharing private things, and my relationship with God is very personal. However, I need to share what happened yesterday. My money is running low with another week before payday. I know it is my own fault. I didn't create a budget for this month. I just spent whatever, whenever while working on my house. I spent an outrageous amount on school supplies, and my car needed work. Therefore, I had my husband make the car payment.

    Well, he wasn't too happy. He also had to pay for the car insurance this month. So I was sweating how I would repay him. I wasn't sure I could. I prayed for God to show me how I could repay my husband. I was thinking maybe he would allow me to get a more lucrative writing job.

    This is what happened. I was awarded a writing job that pays about $200 a week, while I am still teaching full time. As I sorted mail yesterday, I also found a check for $500! Apparently I overpaid a hospital bill! It was bizarre. The first thing I did was thank God. Then I went to the bank and cashed the check. I took out 10% for church on Sunday, and I sat down and wrote my budget for next month.

    God is good and He provides!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Control v. Surrender

    You know those days when you seem to have everything together? Your house is clean, you have money in your bank account, laundry is caught up, and you sit back and breathe a sigh of relief. Who gets credit for that? Do we praise God or pat ourselves on the back?

    I read something about surrender last night. I was reminded that when we surrender our lives to God, he tests us. It isn't easy to hand over control, especially for those of us who enjoy control. It is hard for us to put complete trust in God when we constantly worry over what is to come. We try to hold on to money for the future rather than trusting that God will provide.

    I don't have any easy answers to this. All I know is that deciding to relinquish control is a decision we have to remake every single day.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Knowing Your Boundaries

    Numbers continues to be an odd book for me. Numbers 34 is a list of boundaries. God tells Moses exactly, and I mean EXACTLY, where their land will be when they enter the Promised Land. He gives specific details on the boundaries.

    Can you imagine if God spoke to your heart, and he told you exactly which house you should live in. Don't worry about wishing for a bigger house or more land. He simply told you to be happy with this certain one, because it is all you are going to get. Would we work as hard as we do, knowing money won't change our living situation? Or maybe we would be more generous with others because we wouldn't hoard the money.

    Money is the biggest thing that separates many of us from God. We don't trust his plan, because we aren't sure it will make us enough money. We can't give ten percent, because we are saving for retirement.

    Just something to think about!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Reasons for Reading the Bible

    One of the skills I teach my students is Author's Purpose. We talk about why an author wrote the story or article. Along with that, we talk about why a reader would choose certain books and articles to read. I was thinking about that this morning when I read Numbers.

    The Book of Numbers has so many lists, it doesn't really interest me. I read the Bible to learn how I should lead my life. I don't read it to study the geography or historical facts of the time period. Today I read all about the different places the Israelites camped when wandering the wilderness. I can see why others might be interested, but I wasn't.

    I guess I had not thought about reasons for reading the Bible in the past. I hope you can read with a purpose!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Deciding to Follow God

    I have heard that battling alcoholism is a daily battle. Each day the person has to wake up and decide if they will stay away or give in. As much as I hate to use something like alcoholism as an example, I think deciding to follow God is similar.

    Every morning, we make a decision. We choose to either lead a life that is right in the eyes of God, or we choose to follow what the rest of the world tells us is right. It won't work both ways! Watching ten minutes of TV will tell you that the world has a very different set of rules.

    This is not an easy decision. It can put you against your family, or alter your career paths. It can drastically change your life and the lives of your family members.

    Psalm 77 begins with all the woes of the world, but then the author makes a decision. He chooses to praise God and remember that God is in control. Even when life spirals, and it is hard to keep your feet on the ground, God has it under control.

    I pray you make the decision to follow God today, but remember that you will be faced with that decision everyday!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Psalm 74

Psalm 74:16-17

16 The day is yours, and yours also the night;
   you established the sun and moon.
17 It was you who set all the boundaries of the earth;
   you made both summer and winter.

    Everything here on earth and beyond was created by God. We all know that and don't think too much about it. Let's take that a little bit further. Everything here on earth and beyond was created by God, for God's plan and God's glory. God didn't make my husband so he could follow my plans. God didn't give me gifts so I could be praised and choose my own career path. Everything, whether we like it or not, was created for God's purposes, not our own.

    Sometimes that can be tough to swallow. I struggle daily with my own will against God's will. We must remember that our time here on earth is so short compared to our time in eternity. We have to humble ourselves to God and his plan for us.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


    It is hard to not look around at others and think they have it better than we do. There is always someone at work who seems to be luckier than you. There is always someone who is a better parent than you. Other people's kids may be faster at potty training or know their ABC's earlier. Friends always have nicer, bigger houses. It is hard to push away the thoughts when you wonder what it would be like to have married THAT person instead.

    Jealousy, envy, and that uneasy, unsettled feeling can destroy your life. Psalm 73 is all about envy of others. This is how it concludes.

23 Yet I am always with you;
   you hold me by my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
   and afterward you will take me into glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
   And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
   but God is the strength of my heart
   and my portion forever.

    After reading this, it is easy to see that God tells us not to be envious, because there is nothing of importance that we don't already have. We don't need to judge ourselves by earthly standards, they don't matter. If we look at our lives by God's standards, we have plenty!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Slowing Down the Journey

    There are some books that are so wonderful they need to be read again and again in a lifetime. My favorite book is To Kill a Mockingbird. I read it in high school for the first time, but I think I've read it five or six more times since then. I love reading the profoundness of the situation from the eyes of a seven year old.

    Another book that I have decided to reread is The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. I read it shortly before I got married, and I have decided this point in my life needs just as much direction. Last time, I think I read it in about a week instead of one section per day as suggested. This time, I will take it slower and try to process each piece a little more.

    That made me think about how I am reading my Bible. Sometimes we think we need to rush through everything to hurry up and be finished. With writing deadlines and a flurry of housework, I rush through most of my day. I forget that God values our journey and uses this journey to test us and teach us. My new plan is to slow down each day. I want to take time to enjoy my journey too!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

On the Hunt

    My husband is an avid hunter. He would much rather spend his Saturdays in the fall and winter deer hunting in the woods than watching football. To him, life doesn't get any better than a tree stand, warm clothes (camo, of course!), a trusty rifle, and woods full of wildlife. Nothing is more satisfying to him than know our freezer is full of meat for the winter and spring.
    Our two year old has a different definition of hunting. He likes to grab a bucket and go on a berry hunt. Our yard is lined with blackberry and raspberry vines that are now ripe. Every couple of days, we go with our buckets to see who can pick more. He loves eating his blackberry pancakes or muffins, knowing that he picked the berries himself.

    Hunting means searching for something that can satisfy a need or a hunger. David said in Psalm 70:4, "Let those on the hunt for you, sing and celebrate."(Msg) If any of us have a hunger or need, God can fill it. Yet, how often do we really hunt for God? Do we search for him? Are we willing to wait in a tree stand patiently for a sign of his presence, or do we brave the briars and dive right into a life full of His Spirit?

    How are you hunting for God today?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Leading Others

    The Bible says that the one thing worse than sinning is to lead others to sin. As a parent, we hope that we do everything right. We do not want our children to fail in any way, but we certainly don't want their failures to be our fault. Psalms 69 says,

"5 God, you know every sin I've committed;
   My life's a wide-open book before you.

 6 Don't let those who look to you in hope
   Be discouraged by what happens to me,
   Dear Lord! God of the armies!

   Don't let those out looking for you
   Come to a dead end by following me—
   Please, dear God of Israel! "

    This has become my prayer for today. I hope that my influence on my son is only positive. I pray that I teach him love of God, the need to pray, and how to worship.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


    There are so many different versions of the Bible. I suppose to truly study the Bible, it would probably be helpful to read many different versions of the same passages. I don't have time for that right now! Instead, I decided to try reading The Message today instead of the NIV. I get all of these versions on They are all free online versions.

    Today I read Psalm 68 and Numbers 25. Both are harsh! Psalms is all about God striking down his enemies in war. Numbers has an Israelite killing another with a spear because of sexual acts with another woman. Lots of death in the readings today folks!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Listening to our Prayers

    We had a guest minister yesterday at church. He brought up a point that has me thinking. He said that God is much more likely to answer our prayers, if our prayers are in line with what he wants for us. That makes perfect sense, but how do we know what God wants for us? We pray and listen. Psalms 66 and 67 are all about praising God for our blessings. They assure us that God is listening to our prayers. We just have to listen to him also.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Why Go To Church?

Psalm 65:8

8 The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders;
   where morning dawns, where evening fades,
   you call forth songs of joy.

    My father-in-law and father refuse to go to church. They both had arguments with members of their churches years ago, and they don't want to go through the process again. So why do we go to church?

    As a kid, I thought we went to church because we needed a Sunday School teacher to tell us about God and the life of Jesus. Then, when I really decided that the belief in Christ was important to my life, I thought I went so the minister could teach me how to live. Just after college, I found myself getting very involved with the church. I was in the choir, I taught a Sunday School class, I helped with Bible School, and I attended a young adult group once a week. I thought church was a way of life.

    Now, I am rethinking my definition of church. My current church still meets in a high school. Weekly groups and Sunday School groups meet in people's homes. There is no Vacation Bible School. Church is now about the people. We gather each Sunday for the sole purpose to praise God. I get excited because I know I get to go sing and praise God with some great people.

    Yes, I still learn a lot from my minister. Yes, I still open my home to small groups. I still feel like a life in church is a way of life that we choose for our family. Now, though, learning about God is something I can do at home with my daily study. When at church, I no longer focus on what I get out of it, but what I can give to God.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Filling in the Holes

    I wrote briefly yesterday about a point that I would like to elaborate on today. Today's post has very little to do with today's Bible readings. I read Psalm 60-61 and Numbers 21 for those of you who are following the readings.

    I cook about 5 nights out of the week. The other two nights are reserved for leftovers. Devon likes to stay in the kitchen with me while I cook. He always wants to eat whatever I pickup, even if it is raw meat or a raw onion. I asked him one night if he had a big hole in his belly and needed something to fill it. He said he wanted a hotdog to fill the hole. I asked if the hole was the shape of a hotdog. He giggled and has begun to tell me what shape the hole in his belly is each time he wants something to eat. He has learned to make the shape of the hole match whatever he wants to eat.

    Yesterday, I mentioned that there is a hole inside of each of us. Many of us get married to someone we think can fill that emptiness, but it doesn't work. My husband will never be perfect. It isn't fair of me to expect him to be. He can never satisfy every need I have. Only God can. The hole inside our hearts is a God-size hole. Nothing else can fill it. It doesn't matter how much money we make or how successful we are, only God can fill the hole.

    I pray that everyone asks God to come into their heart to fill the voids.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Finding Rest

    Even though it is summer, and I am not teaching, we are BUSY! We have crammed a lot of traveling into my weeks off from work. We are refinishing the kitchen cabinets. I am on a mission to declutter and clean this house. Devon's room is being remodeled. I am working on several freelance writing jobs. Finally, I am about to work on math pacing guides for the school system in which I teach. Sometimes I just need some rest.

    Psalm 59 repeats the following verse a couple of times. It seemed to fit my overwhelmed feeling. 17 You are my strength, I sing praise to you; you, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely.

    When things get hectic around here, when we feel like we can't get it all together, God is there to catch us and give us rest. If we search for our strength in him, instead of in money or thinking another person can be our source of strength, we will be okay. We can't expect others to pick up our pieces for us. There is a hole inside of all us that only God can fill, not others. I love my husband, but he can't be everything I need. God can be and is everything I need. He can calm us and comfort us in times of need. He can give us rest amid the chaos.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

No Plans

    There is freedom in not planning. I know it is shocking for some to hear me say that, because I am the queen of having a plan. Every night before I go to bed, I plan my next day. I plan my lessons for teaching sometimes months in advance. I plan every vacation down to the final details. It drives my husband crazy.

    Today I had very little planned. I got it all finished by 9:30. So what will we do the rest of the day? Anything we want! We have a free day! Perhaps we will go out for ice cream after lunch! Maybe we will just lay around and read new books from the library.

    God promises us freedom from this world if we put our faith and trust in him. He promises an everlasting life full of goodness if we allow him to plan our lives for us.

    Today is all about listening for God's plan, instead of planning the day for myself.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Dealing with Criticism

    None of us like to be criticized. We quickly get very defensive if we feel like someone is attacking us. A few years ago, I read a book about how to move into the field of writing as a career. The author said that every time you read a response from a publisher, you have to put on your "superhero self." This "superhero self" will handle all the negativity and your own pride won't have to deal with it.

    I never thought I would find those words to be as true as I have with this new writing exploration I am attempting. In order to get a job, I have to find a client with a need and write a proposal that beats out everyone else's proposals. I was okay with that process. I wasn't prepared with criticism from the client and dealing with a need to make changes based on their wishes. I totally get that the product is for them, but often they have a different opinion of what sounds best than I do. I have to just accept that it has to meet their standards, not mine.

    Again this morning, I received an email from a client asking me to make a change to a project that is about two hours away from being completely finished. This will set me back a half a day. I have to try to keep the client happy, though, so I can get more work from them. I started doubting my abilities and the reasons I am doing this.

    As I dropped my son off at the sitter's house, I heard a woman on the radio who was changing careers. She was calling into the Spirit FM, the local Christian station. She said that God would not give her a tough road unless he was willing to walk down it with her. That statement made me feel a little better about this new path I am walking down.

    Then I came home and read Psalm 55. I found this verse.  22 Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you;

    Off I go to make changes and resubmit this assignment. I carry with me my superhero cape and faith that God is seeing me through these long days of typing on the computer.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Rough Days

    We all have rough days. A few weeks ago my mother-in-law broke her ankle. To her extreme disappointment, the entire summer will be in a cast up to her knee. Last week, my eighteen year old brother-in-law shattered his jaw playing softball. Life gets difficult sometimes. So what do we do about it? Do we spend our days complaining or praying for God to take away our trials? Or do we accept our trials as a part of life and simply move on?

    Today I read Numbers 16. Wow!! God got really angry with a group that rose against Moses and Aaron. The earth opened and several men, their wives, and their children were swallowed by the earth alive. Then more than 14,000 were killed in a plague. They had a rough day!

    It is hard to keep perspective during our dark moments, but both injuries in my husband's family will heal. By Christmas, both my mother-in-law and my brother-in-law will be just fine. Bad days come and go, but we have to remember that God is in charge, and everything will be okay.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Create in Me a Clean Heart

    It is easy to blame others. It is easy to complain about others. It is harder to take a good look at ourselves and admit our shortfalls.

    When I was in youth group, about 15 years ago, one of my favorite songs we sang was from Psalm 51.  This is a cry for forgiveness after David is caught with Bathsheba.  This song is a great way to ask for forgiveness, and I was reminded of it after I read Psalm 51 today.

 Create in me a clean heart oh God

And renew a right spirit within me

                Create in me a clean heart oh God                

And renew a right spirit within me


Cast me not away

From thy presence oh Lord

Take not thy Holy Spirit from me

Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation

And renew a right spirit within me


Saturday, July 2, 2011


    One of the biggest struggles we have as parents is teaching Devon to obey us. When he is tired or hungry, he can be extremely difficult to deal with. It is frustrating to try to show him that he must obey our commands whether he wants to or not.

    This is difficult with God, too. The Israelites grumbled and complained about having to fight to get into the Promised Land. They wanted to return to Egypt instead. God punished them by saying that no Israelite over the age of 20 would see the Promised Land, except Caleb and Joshua. When they refused his punishment and went toward the Promised Land anyway, the enemy armies drove them back.

    As much as we don't want to admit it, if we do not obey God, we are punished! God's will WILL be done! If we buck the system, he will find a way to make us obey. He is a loving God, but he will not put up with disobedience from us.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Wealth and Good Deeds

    I read three chapters today, one in the Book of Psalms and two in the Book of Numbers. In just three short chapters I read a massive amount of information. Let's start with Psalms 49.

"People who have wealth but lack understanding are like beasts that perish." Psalm 49:20

    Greed is a horrible monster that overtakes most of us at some point. My husband is a successful salesman. He made several thousand dollars in one day this week. All of his days are not that successful, so he wanted to celebrate. He took a good deal on a condo at a beach for a week in August. Did we thank God first? No, my husband took all of the credit for his success, forgetting that God is the one who blessed him with that job in the first place. Greed overtook us.

    Then I read in Numbers that Aaron and Miriam criticized Moses for one of his wives. They didn't like her because she was a Cushite. God became angry with Aaron and Miriam, and Miriam developed leprosy. It wasn't until Moses prayed on her behalf that she was healed.

    Numbers chapter 13 was about the representatives from each tribe exploring the Promised Land. They came back with reports of the milk and honey, but didn't want to fight the current residents of that land. As a child, I remember singing a song about the 10 who said "no", and the 2 who said "go."

    In all of this jumble of information, here is the lesson I pulled out. I need to give thanks to God always for my blessings, and know that God is in charge, not me.