That Sunday Night Elijah thing…

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By the time you read this, it will be Monday.

I don’t mind Mondays really. They offer a fresh start. The week lies ahead full of possibilities.

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Monday is clean the house, get the calendar scheduled into an action list and get my ducks in a row.

But tonight. When I’m writing this….not so much.

 

Oh, I love Sunday. I love church and I love teaching and I love worshipping with the Body of Christ in song and offering and study under our pastors teaching.

But it seems after all that intense time, I can feel a bit like Elijah as the sun begins to set. A weary feeling can begin to overtake me and I can relate to the prophet when we find him camped out under a broom tree in 1 Kings 19.

God sends an angel to wake him and feed him, twice. And the angel comments that the journey has been too much for him.

Now I am not a prophet. But all of us get worn down when we are zealous in service to the Lord.

That service might be prayer, tending a family, working a demanding job that exceeds the 9-5 time frame. It might be care of elderly parents or tiny tots. It might be teaching, attending meetings, making music, cooking meals, leading a small group.

But we get tired.

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And when we get tired, we need to remember about that 7th day thing. Granted, He rested because His work was completed….

Oh wait…His Work is completed…in fact…It is Finished…

And so, we can R-E-S-T when we are weary. We can trust Him and take Him at His Word.

I know.  You have a million things to do this week and so little time to do it.

But no one needs you worn out. They need you rested.

If you didn’t take the time on Sunday, take some time today.

Put aside the list and pull out the Book.

Feed on His Word. Lean into His goodness.

Rest in His completed work.

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God bless you, each and every one <3

When you hope it was “just one of those weeks”….

Thankfully it is Friday…and hopefully the string of events that have threaded  through our home since last Friday are coming to a close….

For instance, yesterday’s post on the First Thanksgiving fiasco….that was prompted by another poultry fail that happened Wednesday night/Thursday morning.

I had a couple of meals to prepare and decided to kill two stones with one bird. I bought a whole chicken, made my own poultry rub and snuggled it in the crock pot at 10:00 pm when we headed to bed.

The idea being, I would have a nice roasted chicken to de-bone at 7 am and voila.

I thought it was odd that I didn’t wake to the delicious aroma of roasted bird, but doing a mental inventory, I vividly remembered turning the crock pot specifically to low before I headed upstairs.

Must just not have permeated the upstairs I thought, hopefully. As I descended the stairs, I started to get nervous….should be smelling something savory by now…

And then…I saw it…raw bird in a crock pot set on low… and the cord resting on the recipe box inches from the outlet.

I felt almost barbaric dumping an entire raw chicken carcass in the garbage and whisking it out to the curb. Another thankful…it was pickup day!

I quite possibly muttered something about what kind of loser forgets to plug the crock pot in.

There were other things this week. I could list them and believe me, they all had potential to side line us – but in each and every one, God seemed to bail us out, or minimize the damage, or turn it around for a greater good.

It wasn’t fun. And it wasn’t easy. But even in the midst of “one of those weeks”, we have seen His Faithfulness.

And in the words of kind and loving husband: One thrown away chicken does not a loser make.

I wonder what kind of week you have had. I wonder if events have come at you causing you to become discouraged.

I hope you have had people in your life to speak words of encouragement. I pray I am one of them.

Lift up your head this morning and look to the heavens. Your God is FAITHFUL. He has not abandoned you and whatever He has allowed…it is not meaningless waste.

He will use all things for your good and for His glory. He loves YOU and He is FOR you!

God bless you as you enter the weekend!

Hello, Butterball?

This morning I am taking some time to reflect on the first Thanksgiving. Not the one with the Pilgrim’s.

No, I was reminiscing about Thanksgiving 1981. Newly married and Russ newly employed, we were saving travel to see family for Christmas and New Year. I was excited to have our first holiday in our apartment.

This was pre-google, Pinterest, Food Network days. Truly the dark ages. The only resources I had were the Better Homes and Garden cookbook from our wedding and the advice picked up from more experienced turkey cooks. Word on the street was to employ the use of the new-fangled cooking bags. You couldn’t mess up a turkey with one of those babies. Having never touched a raw turkey, it sounded good to me.

So I gathered all the necessary parts of what I thought Thanksgiving meal should offer and set to work while Russ settled in for a marathon of football games.

Following the directions: I floured the bag and washed the bird and marveled at how low the oven should be set to cook it, reasoning that the plastic must be the issue. I remember mentioning to Russ how our oven setting didn’t even have a number that low. In between plays on the screen, he blinked and kind of nodded in agreement.

Being a Home Ec major (seriously…. I was), I timed the start of everything else and alternated between watching my new husband watch football and preparing the remaining side dishes. From time to time, I would check on the turkey which seemed to be looking pretty much the same as when I put it in the oven.

With only a half hour to go til dinner, I wondered what miracle of science it would take to transform this late bloomer into a roasted delight. This was getting interesting. Again I expressed this enigma to Russ. Again he blinked and nodded encouragingly.

Even though he didn’t seem phased, I was starting to doubt. I decided to look at the directions one more time. That was when I saw the fine print….bake TO INTERNAL temperature of 170 degrees….oh….that’s different….

Yes yes…in my rush and ignorance, I had only looked for a time and temperature without reading thoroughly. Hurrying, I took the first number I saw. Being in uncharted waters, I did not have enough knowledge to question the “facts”.

We can do that with our Bibles. Pick them up and look for an answer that suits the situation we are dealing with. But if we just pull out a “fact” without digging into the directions, we could end up with half baked results.

As for our first Thanksgiving, I set the dial to 350 and dinner was a little late. I also learned to be thankful that back to back football covers a multitude of sins.

Be careful what you pray for….

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It started with this Circle Maker study by Mark Batterson.

When he used the word that starts with f…you know….fasting….

And I felt conviction, because I used to fast quite often when our children were growing up. Having them in our home, navigating school and peer pressure and teen years was a strong motivator to fast.

I have been praying for God to motivate me again to times of fasting and prayer.

Then I asked our small group to pray for me on Sunday night. One of the ladies mentioned that it didn’t have to be meals, it could be a beverage.

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I ignored the nudge. No, it should be food. Food is what I fasted back in the seasons of mighty intercession.

Sunday night after small group, I picked up a very old book called Teach me to Pray by W. E. Sangster. He talks about how when we do the discipline of prayer when we don’t FEEL like it, we are truly honoring God and not ourselves.

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Then last night, while I walked around the track at the Y, I listened to a sermon by Mike Baker. In a series his church is doing, he was teaching on Ridiculous Love.  The one I listened to was *”Ridiculously Not in Love with the World”.*

Towards the end, he talks about things we love that could be interfering with our love of God.

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He asked some questions….like…

What is something you love that everyone else knows you love?

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When something comes to mind, do you think…”NO! not that!”?

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And that’s the thing…the thing you need to intentionally give up for a while.

Ouch….

And I have to say…I love coffee.

I love the taste of it, the habit of it, the presence of it in my life.

And can I confess in a most horribly embarrassing way that I have had to say, numerous times this morning….I love You, God, more than coffee….because in my deepest heart I know it…but yet…it is hard.

I am being honest and transparent here.

The Lord God is everything to me, and yet…I am actually struggling to think of meeting Mike’s challenge to forego my morning coffee, my Starbucks visits, my coffee with dessert…for a period of time.

That is how shallow and selfish I am.

And thankfully, He is so good and kind, He knows this about me and prepared me with the knowledge that I don’t have to wait til I want to do this…I do it now when I don’t want to.

Dear one…what comes to mind if I challenged you as Mike challenged me?

What is the activity or food or drink that fills in those hard blanks I had to answer?

Will you join me? Whenever you read this, IF your heart is convicted and you know God is speaking to YOU too!! Join me from whenever you might read this until Christmas morning…and say “I love You, God, more than I love _________’

It’s gonna hurt a little….but I am praying for you to know God’s love more by denying yourself…

Until then…

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* You can listen to this sermon along with the entire Ridiculous Love series on the Eastview Christian Church (Bloomington IL) website

 

By faith they overcame…

I finished the book of Hebrews this morning, starting with Chapter 11.

It starts with the statement that faith is the substance; the concrete stuff, that makes up the things we hope for.

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From these opening words, the chapter rolls out a litany of what faith is and one example of another of what faith does.

By faith…. by faith…and name by name is called off as an example of the mighty power of faith that worked. Testimonials of great successes that faith brought about.

I can almost hear the music swelling, like in a movie when the hero comes through and your heart ramps up with joy and hope that all has been made right….Enoch, Abel, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jericho, Rahab, Gideon…on and on and the stories of these great God-successes pop up in my mind and my own faith soars.

And then….I run into…the Others….

Yes, just as the weak are made strong, and the lowly are made valiant and women are getting their dead children handed back to them – living and breathing…I jump to…

Others…

Others who were tortured rather than deny Christ….others who were mocked and scourged, stoned, sawed in two…wandered about destitute, afflicted and tormented….

All of a sudden, the music kind of pauses. And can we be honest?

Is this really what we signed up for? Because all of that stuff that the Others experienced doesn’t really seem like the abundant life, does it?

But God continues about the Others…He calls them people that the world was not worthy of.

How about that? These Others who were chased down, ridiculed, imprisoned and even killed … were way better than the world deserved.

He goes on to say, in closing Chapter 11, that all of these…the ones with the great stories, the David’s and Daniel’s AND the nameless ones who the world disregarded and discarded….all of these obtained a good testimony THROUGH faith…whether they saw and experienced the manifestation of the hope, or they died still not seeing it….

and we are there, too, you and I…right there in the last sentence of Hebrews 11….

In verse 40: God having provided something better for US, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.

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Whatever your testimony looks like to the eyes of the world, God honors your faith <3

Hang in there today, dear one, the world is not worthy of you <3