Thursday, December 23, 2010

Breath of Heaven -Hold Me Together

What a month its been. (What a few months--what a year.) This month has been crazy--every free day I've had while the kids have been in school and preschool, I've been Christmas shopping. I'm not much of a shopper usually. (I lack the time and money:) But God gifted us this Christmas as He always does with some financial blessings. So I took off on my sprees to buy my children the things they want and I would love for them to have. I also bought gifts for others, which I love to do. I can see how shopping can be an addiction. Even attempting to get the best "deal" is addicting. And though it brings me satisfaction to know my children will be blessed with a "good" Christmas and I have bought some really great gifts for others, there has been times its been so overwhelming to me just surviving the season and all the expectations that go with it. I know my struggles are a part of the human condition.

I have within me the desire and God's command to give to others, especially at Christmas. I teach my children to give away our money by giving to those ringing the bell in front of the stores, and to the family our small group adopted at church. We give candy to our neighbors, send Christmas greetings, and sing traditional Christmas carols. The season is wonderful and I see my children's joy. I want them to have happinesss, peace, and joy as all children deserve. I want them to understand the beauty of Christ's magnificient birth which led to the fulfillment of His ultimate sacrificial purpose.

There have been many times I've wanted to stop and write, but there has never been time. I'm finally done buying gifts, the children are home from school, we stay in our pjs and make Christmas candy and make-shift gingerbread houses. As I pause for a moment before I tackle the craziness of my kitchen and house and then get ready for more festivities, I listen to the words of the Christmas song, Breath of Heaven. Breath of heaven hold me together be near me, breath of heaven. Breath of heaven, light of my darkness pour over me Your holiness for you are holy. Breath of heaven...

As I pause for a brief moment and think over the past year, I have much to be so grateful for--healthy children (especially in light of my son being sick most of last year), children who are growing more interested in the things of God, who know who Jesus is, and who have the freedom to worship the Holy One. I have a husband who has a job and who loves his family. I have a house, a car, clothes, clean water and food. I have wonderful family and friends and church. And so much more. Even so the cares of life are sometimes overwhelming and are almost too much for me. So I am thankful for the reminder that my Savior, who was born long ago knowing that I would struggle at times--came for me just as I am to hold me together.

Breath of heaven hold me together be near me, breath of heaven. Breath of heaven, Light of my darkness pour over me Your holiness for You are holy. Breath of heaven...

I am reminded to keep my eyes and heart focused on the baby King, the Prince of Peace, the Babe born in a manger, in all seasons of life. Emmanuel God with us...as we celebrate His birth and always.

Oh come let us adore Him O come let us adore Him O come let us adore Him Christ the Lord. May I truly adore Him. May I give Him all the glory. For He alone is worthy.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Giving Jesus Away

I've been thinking lately about how I have this precious gift of Jesus Christ that is available to all, and yet I keep Him to myself when I'm not sharing Him with others. So tonight my precious Savior challenged me to give Him away.

I stopped at Walmart to pick up a few things. I was wearing a beautiful new necklace that I had received at a recent small speaking engagement where I talked about Moms in Touch International. My cashier commented on my necklace. She told me her 30-something year old daughter who lives out of state had just had a double mastectomy and is now undergoing reconstruction. She was glad that her daughter doesn't have to undergo any further treatment. She asked me where I got the necklace and mentioned she would really like to have one like it. We shared our pleasantries and I left. Before I got to the sliding door to exit I heard that still small voice say, "Give it to her." I smiled and chuckled. I got to my car. I took the necklace off and admired it. I asked, "Lord, what do you want me to do? Do you really want me to give it to her?" Followed by, "Lord, I really like this necklace. I've only worn it a couple times." Followed by, "Holy Spirit fill me, empower me. Speak your words through me to this woman. Let her be alone at her cashier."

I went back inside. There was a customer checking out, so I paced. Then there was just one lady with one item in front of me. I got in line behind her. The cashier looked at me inquisitively--I smiled and said, "I'm back." I was silently praying that no one would be behind me (there wasn't anyone), and that the Lord would prepare her. It was my turn. I leaned over and put the necklace in her hand. I said, "I prayed about it and I feel like the Lord said you should have this." She said "no, no, no." I said "yes, yes, you and your daughter need this more than I do." With tears in her eyes she asked if she could hug me. We hugged and with tears in my eyes I said, "I went to my car and prayed about it and this is what Jesus wanted me to do." She said she was going to call her daughter right now. She asked for my name and we exchanged names. As she thanked me I walked away pointing to the sky and said, "its from Him, not me."

In my car again, I prayed in tears thanking God. I prayed for my new friend, for her daughter, for the people working at Walmart; that God would multiply this gift to many.

I wish I would have asked her if she knows Jesus and explained that like the gift of the necklace that she received, she can also receive the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. But I have prayed that we will talk again. I'm praying that this small gift will point her to Christ, and that I will see my new friend in heaven some day. I am praying that this is one of many stories I can share of the priviledge and the responsibility of giving Jesus away to others.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Let Us Run With Perseverance The Race Marked Out For Us

Below is a letter I wrote in response to the Bass Pro fitness festival's request for runners to write about their experiences,(training, what motivates you, etc.) regarding the upcoming November 7 event (marathon and half-marathon.) The fitness festival coordinator's response was very positive. She said that on race day my running bib will say, "let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." I say, Hallelujah!
Here's my story:

Dear Fitness@basspro:

I am a 39 year old wife and mother of two children, ages 4 and 7. This is my first half-marathon.

I started running when I was in my 20's during graduate school. I was inspired by a guy that I was dating who ran from where he lived to where I lived; and it was a long way. He encouraged me to go running with him. When I did, I ran for 30 minutes because I didn't want him to think I was a wimp. The dating relationship with the guy was very short-lived, but I will forever be grateful for the love affair that began for me with running. It has been my friend throughout the seasons of my life.

In the late 1990's I trained for my first marathon with the Leukemia Society Team in Training. I got up to 21 miles, which I ran two Saturdays in a row. I over-trained, got hurt, was getting married, was stressed, and regrettably never ran the marathon. The marriage did not survive, but the running remained.

Now 11 years later I considered training for the Chicago Marathon with some friends who ran with team World Vision. Love the cause, but couldn't commit to that level of training at this stage of my family's life. So a friend of mine said she was going to do the Bass Pro half, and I was in. I was ready to have a goal to work toward in my running. I wanted to accomplish this especially as my 30's are ending. (The best years are yet to come.)

So my two girlfriends got my rear-end out of bed at 5:00 a.m. in August. I was already running, but wanted a training schedule. So my friend came up with one and off we went. I started having insomnia. I would look at my clock all night long and think, "I have to get up in 2 hours and run without sleep." Or my 4 year old would come in our bed and steam roll me all night. Other than being exhausted, I was enjoying training. However, due to a variety of different stressors, I started feeling really overwhelmed and wondered if I could continue with the training. I took a whole week off in September. I thought I was ruined for taking a week off, but I had already invested too much in my training, and I'm not a quitter. I persevered, and with the encouragement of my awesome running buddies and my husband, I just started right where I left off. My morning runs haven't been as consistent since its been cooler in the mornings. I haven't run as much or as often as I should some weeks, but I've done my long runs.

I have wondered some times if I will be able to complete it. I've wondered if my thighs will ever stop chafing (just discovered Body Glide:) For awhile I had diarrhea after my long runs. Sometimes I've felt guilty when I've had to leave my family to go for a long run. I've wondered if my toe nails will ever be pretty again. Sometimes I've dreaded my long runs. Some have been more difficult than others. But I've done it right. I've walked for a minute when I needed to. I've taken days off before my long runs. I've fueled and hydrated and stretched. I've had the support of my running partners and family. I've prayed and felt God urging me to press on. I've listened to praise music that inspires me. I've blogged about my running experiences. I've revisited in my mind all the places, cities, and seasons I've run in. I have felt the freedom and empowerment that comes as I run.

I will run, I will succeed. To God be the glory. See you November 7.

"..one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14.)

"..those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint" (Isaiah 40:31.)

"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever" (1 Corinthians 9:24-25.)

"let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.." (Hebrews 12:1-2).

HAPPY RUNNING!!

Sincerely,
Jenny Parker

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Confessions of a Mad Mama

Well, this may prove to be quite a different post than the others so far. A bit more of the rambling and venting variety, so you may choose to get off here:) I guess I've hit a point that comes for me occasionally--one of feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, unsure, and feeling like a failure. Not sure where it started this time. Maybe it was when my 6 year old son asked me yesterday what I was mad about it--and I wasn't talking at the time. And then today when (I also wasn't talking at the time) my husband asked more than once what was wrong. That means I look angry, which means I'm frustrated and/or overwhelmed. It usually comes out sooner or later verbally as well; and that's when it gets really ugly around here.

My son has been in school for a week, which may be one of the reasons for my feeling overwhelmed. First grade seems to be quite a bit different than kindergarton already--there is more work, there is homework, there are more papers coming home, and greater expectations of the students. So my prayers have increased for my son over the last week.

My daughter starts preschool next week. I will be glad for her to start preschool so I can have a break. We are working on getting her speech services. But also with her starting preschool I am faced with how to use that brief bit of time I will have to myself. I will go to the Dr. and make appointments I have put off. I will meet with my newly forming moms in touch prayer group. But I am also feeling like I should get a part-time job. I haven't worked in so long, I don't even know if its possible, especially part-time. Money is tight being a single-income family; and I get weary of that. I know that is not the right attitude, as I know I am to be content in everything; and compared to so many, we are so blessed.

Sometimes I feel like I am failing as a mother. To be honest, sometimes I have a hard time enjoying the now --and I don't know why. Because then I walk around feeling guilty and knowing that this time with my young children at home is fleeting and I will probably look back and wonder why I was more concerned with my agenda than sitting and playing with my children and actually enjoying them. Don't get me wrong, my children are precious precious to me--the sweetest things on this earth. Sometimes the demands for attention, answers to questions, and general service are overwhelming to me (although no amount of stress is equal to the joy my children bring:)

So I put myself in a no-win situation, feeling I'm a failure at times as a stay-at-home mom, but being too scared to go back to work. I'm scared because I don't want someone else caring for my children; I'm scared that my children will be scared if they are left with someone else, I'm scared of missing out on their lives if I leave them with someone else, and I'm scared because I feel incompetent to be successful at work. Crazy I know.

I'm also getting up at 5:30 a.m. to have a brief quiet time with the Lord before going running and training for a 1/2 marathon in November. I'm tired. A lot of days I feel exhausted because I feel like I have barely slept. My body hurts. On top of that I don't have a good handle on my eating habits. With all this running I'm not losing weight, and I'm not eating as I should.

So I am looking ahead to the weeks to come. My daughter will be in preschool Monday, Wednesday, Friday from 9-1. Tuesday mornings I plan to facilitate ladies Bible studies. Wednesday nights I will be in choir. Thursday mornings I'm going to help in my son's class. Things may change with my husband's job in December. Most weekends ahead are already filled with activities. So do I try to get a part-time job?

Just living in this world is overwhelming--just reading the news.

I know that God is in control and everything is going to be alright, come what may. I don't have any real problems. This is just a day in the life that will pass. I will wake up again in the morning priviledged to have the freedom to meet my Lord and to have legs to run with while running with my running buddies. I will have the priviledge of getting my son ready for his day and driving him to school, saying a prayer for him on the way. I will have the joy of picking him up after his day. I will have the priviledge of having my 4 year old daughter by my side throughout the day. I will have the satisfaction of attending her preschool open house at her Christian preschool. I will have money to buy groceries. I can lay my head on a soft pillow tonight. I have a husband who is here--who cares for me and for our children. There are many blessings to be thankful for. And many trials to be thankful for too. This will be my focus this week--thanksgiving.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

After School Snack: Banana Chocolate Chip Surprise Muffins (requires no sugar, no eggs, and no butter)

I didn't measure most of the ingredients, so this will be a guesstimation:

3 bananas
about 1/4 to 1/2 cup date honey (see below)
about 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
about 1/4 cup milled flaxseed
about 1 TB. almond milk
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)
1/2 cup pecans (optional)

Mix together bananas, date honey, applesauce, and flaxseed. Mix milk in to moisten. Add flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix in chocolate chips and pecans. Bake at 350 until golden brown. These were enjoyed by the kids and the husband, and myself:)

Date honey is a recipe from Kristen Morrow Feola's blog Those Who Hunger. You can go to her blog from my blog (she is a follower on here.) The date honey is made by boiling the dates down in water and adding some cinnamon. Delicious! Its great in oatmeal, on toast, and in recipes.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Jehovah Jireh--the Lord will provide

The focus of my Bible study right now is on praise. In my quiet time appointment with the Lord at 5:30 a.m. I am focusing on Jehovah Jireh--the Lord will provide. He is my provider; He is willing and able to meet every need. Yesterday the verse was Genesis 22:8, 13-14--the incredible story of God testing Abraham by instructing him to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. As Abraham and Isaac went up the mountain for the horrifying deed, Isaac noticed that they had the fire and the wood, but was wondering where the lamb was for the sacrifice. Abraham answered, "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." Later as Abraham was ready to sacrifice his only son, God stopped him and told him not to do it. "Do not lay a hand on the boy, he said. "Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son." Right then "Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by his horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The Lord will provide. And to this day it is said, On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided."

In an amazing portrayal of what was to come, Abraham was willing to sacrifice his only son out of obedience to God. This sacrifice was ultimately fulfilled when God gave His only Son, Jesus Christ, as the sacrifice for our sins. Jesus was our substitutionary lamb. God himself provided the offering both for Abraham and for us. The Lord did provide. The Lord will provide. I praise the Lord that He foresaw that we would need a Redeemer, an offering; that He is my Provider, My Deliverer, My Sacrifice.

Today the verse was Acts 14:17, "Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your heart with joy." The beauty was, it was raining while I was reading the passage. I was reminded that God provides for us physically as well as emotionally and spiritually. He gives us rain, He gives us food, and He gives us joy. I followed up my appointment with the Lord with another important appointment with my running buddy. We ran 8 miles, something I couldn't have done just two months ago.

In the last couple of days I have received a couple of small checks in unexpected reimbursements --at the same time that our A/C went out and we had to have a part to fix it--the reimbursements helped cover some of the cost. God does indeed provide!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Easy Homemade Pesto Pizza with Mozarella and Tomatoes

Easy Homemade Pesto Pizza with Mozarella and Tomatoes

1 Rhodes frozen white bread loaf
Homemade pesto
Fresh Mozarella
Fresh Tomatoes

Follow directions on the back of the Rhodes white bread loaves for thawing and making pizza crusts. Put pizza crusts on greased cookie sheets. Cover with homemade pesto (see recipe below), slices of fresh mozarella cheese, and slices of fresh tomato. Bake at 400 for 6 minutes until golden (or longer depending on oven) and broil for about 2 minutes.

Homemade Pesto

2 cups basil leaves
1/3 cup pine nuts
1-2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Pulse basil and pine nuts in food processor until combined. Add garlic until chopped and combined. Add olive oil and combine until smooth. Use spatula to scrape down sides. Add parmesan cheese until incorporated. Season with salt and pepper and pulse until smooth.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Runner's Prayer

Oh Lord, how I praise you. Praise you for the beauty of your creation. You make me run on the hills and down low in the valleys. As I literally run these hills I see the parallel to life. And I know you are with me when I reach the top and when I am at the bottom. You alone keep me going. I cry out and say your name, Jesus, and shout thank you. I claim your victory. I keep my eyes ahead and neither waver to the left or to the right. You compel me to persevere. I think on your Word. I relate to my brother in the faith, Jeremiah, who goes from the heights of exultation and sinks to the depths of despair (Jeremiah 20:14-18.) Yet he rises again and again to fulfill his divine call. "Sing to the Lord! Give praise to the Lord! He rescues the life of the needy from the hands of the wicked" (Jeremiah 20:13.) Come Lord Jesus. Come Holy Spirit and fill me anew for this day.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Honey and Flaxseed Wheat Muffins

recipe is adapted from Savory Tender Muffins found in Usa Weekend (usaweekend.com) Feb. 2009 from Cook Smart by Pam Anderson. I changed a few of the ingredients (left out dijon mustard and added honey and flaxseed. Also used 1/2 wheat flour and vanilla yogurt instead of plain.)

1 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 & 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 TB. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 tsps. sugar
10 TBS. butter, softened
2 TBS. honey
2 TBS. milled flaxseed
2 large eggs
1 & 1/2 to 2 cups plain or vanilla yogurt

Heat oven to 375. Mix flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Beat sugar and butter with electric mixer until fluffy. Mix in honey and eggs. Mix in flour mixture. Mix in the yogurt and flaxseed. Put into greased muffin tins. Bake until lightly golden brown. Cool in pan. Turn out onto dish rag or cooling racks. Serve with butter (and honey:)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Sacrifice of Praise (in adversity)

I am preparing to teach a study entitled Igniting a Passion to Pray by Fern Nichols, of Moms in Touch International. The focus will be on learning to pray according to God's Word using praise, confession, thanksgiving, and intercession. In the praising God department Fern talks about a sacrifice of praise--praising God even when our situation is dire and we do not feel like praising Him. Jeremiah 14:8 says "O Hope of Israel, its Savior in times of distress." This is repeated at the end of the chapter where Jeremiah proclaims that our hope is in the Lord our God--the only One who is able to deliver.

I began to think about the idea of a sacrifice of praise--the sacrifice of praising when praise is the opposite of what we want to do; when praising seems a sacrifice of ourselves--when we've been wronged, when our child faces serious health problems or even death, when we are faced with a situation that just won't seem to change and go our way. The pastor recently preached on having peace. He talked about being a prayer warrior when we are in dire straits. A part of this is that we praise God in the middle of our circumstances--we focus on who He is. As Charles Stanley writes in his book, How to Handle Adversity; we must focus not on the problem, but instead on the Problem Solver.

Charles Stanley explains in his book that although it is not natural for us to praise in the midst of adversity, we praise because the adversity is what draws us deeper into the Lord. It enables us to be more like Him. "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything" (James 1:2-4.) Not that we find joy in the trial itself, but we have joy knowing that the testing of our faith develops perseverance--leading to spiritual maturity. We will not experience spiritual maturity without adversity. It is what we do with adversity that matters. Do we respond as the world does, with anger and to avenge ourselves? (That's certainly what I tend to do in my flesh.) Or do we respond as Christ did when he faced adversity? Do we offer up a sacrifice of praise in faith believing that God is Sovreign and Omniscient--He is in control and He is all knowing?

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28.) As Charles Stanley explains, the good we will experience may not be the good we have in mind. God's good for us will be, at times, for us to experience adversity. Because His ways are higher than our ways, we may not understand why or how, especially in the middle of the crisis; but our circumstances are to make us more like Christ. The scripture in Romans goes on to say "for those God foreknew he also predestined TO BE CONFORMED TO THE LIKENESS OF HIS SON,..." We have been called according to His purpose...to be conformed to Christ, our ultimate sacrifice of praise in adversity. This is our high-calling.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What's for dinner at the Parker's

Italian Pesto Chicken a la Jenny

4-5 chicken breasts
olive oil
butter
salt and pepper
1 garlic clove
1 green onion
1 garden tomato
garden chives
garden basil
penne or other pasta
homemade pesto (see below)

Boil chicken until cooked in large skillet in water just covering the bottom of the chicken. Season with salt and pepper. Pour out most of the water. Add olive oil, butter, sliced garlic clove, cut up tomato, pinches of chives, and a few basil leaves, and let simmer in juices until juices are almost gone.
In the meantime, cook your noodles (penne or other) and make your basil pesto.

Basil Pesto

2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup pine nuts
1-2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Put basil leaves, (pressed) into food processor with pine nuts. Pulse several times to combine. Add garlic cloves and pulse. Slowly pour in olive oil, scraping down sides in between pulses. Add parmesan cheese and mix. Add salt and pepper. Heaven!

Combine noodles, pesto, and chicken!! Delicioso!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Eating God's Word

"When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart's delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God Almighty" (Jeremiah 15:16.)

From the NIV notes: When your words were found, I digested them; I made them a part of me; for I belong to you, my ever-present Savior (and I have your gracious presence (Jeremiah 15:16, 14:9, 7:10.)

My interpretation: I eat your words Lord, I digest them, I make them a part of me--they are my joy and my delight--I have the unbelievable priviledge of bearing your Almighty name.

Wow--this verse hit me hard today. God continues to make me uneasy about what I'm eating and what I'm allowing my children to eat --our addiction to sugar and processed foods. I am considering a fast and an overhaul of my family's entire diet. I am wanting a new and fresh in-filling of the Holy Spirit for the upcoming Bible study I will be teaching, (Igniting a Passion to Pray.) I am wanting God's favor, God's answers, God's healing, God's work in me to experience anew a sacrifice of praise. I desire to focus not on what food I will eat but on eating God's Word, assimilating it into my life--making it my own, being the real deal--allowing it to be my joy and my delight, to have God's gracious presence--to be one worthy of bearing the Name of the Lord God Almighty.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Recipes for Sunday

Breakfast: Jenny's Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients:

Sister Schuberts Yeast Rolls
1 stick butter
1/2 cup sugar
a bunch of cinnamon

The night before set out Sister Schuberts yeast rolls (in the aluminum tin they come in.) (You can buy these in the freezer section of the grocery store. They also come in a bag. Once you start buying Sisters rolls, you will never attempt to make homemade yeast rolls again.) The next morning, the rolls are thawed. Slightly pull them apart but leave in the aluminum tin. Melt 1 stick of butter, 1/2 cup sugar, and cinnamon for about a minute in the microwave. Stir together. Sprinkle cinnamon over tops of rolls. Then pour butter, sugar, cinnamon mixture over rolls. Put into cold oven. Set to 350 degrees. Go take your shower. Let them cook for about 10-15 minutes once the oven gets to 350 degrees. Cinnamon sugar mixture will be crunchy on the top. Serve them to your family and listen to them tell you they are the best cinnamon rolls they've ever had:)

Lunch: Jenny's Crock Pot Pork Chops

Ingredients:

Butter
Carrots (about 4-5)
Potatoes (about 4-5)
Celery (about 2 sticks)
Onion
Garlic Clove (1)
Pork Chops (4-6)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 package lipton onion soup
salt and pepper

Butter (grease) bottom of crock pot. Cut up carrots, potatoes, celery, onions, and garlic clove and put in the bottom of crock pot. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Stir to mix in crock pot. Place pork chops seasoned with salt and pepper on top of veggies. Mix soups with at least 1/4 cup water. Pour over pork chops. Set on high for about 4-5 hours. Come home from church--lunch is ready!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

An Undivided Heart

Man, I am so tired. Last night I had insomnia. I was still up at 1:30 a.m. I had committed to meeting my running buddies at 6:00 a.m. We are beginning our training for a half-marathon, my first. At 1:30 in the morning I thought there was no way I could get up at 5:30 and run at 6:00. But lo and behold, I woke up without the alarm clock at 5:30 something. I met my girls and we ran. I'm a little concerned about preparing for this half-marathon. I'm already exhausted and feeling run-down physically and emotionally (I have been sick the past couple of weeks with upper respiratory junk.) And I don't have a plan for exactly how I'm going to train yet. But I know I'm going to have to start running more frequently and longer distances to be ready for the Bass Pro Half-Marathon in early November.

Here are some of the other reasons for concern about training: I will be 39 in less than 2 months. Its not like I'm training for this in my early 20's. I have two young children and they start back to school and preschool in a month. I don't want to waste any precious time we have left of our summer. I don't want the days to go by without me teaching something of God to my children. And I know I need sleep and energy to accomplish that. I am also preparing to teach a six-week Bible study I've never taught before that starts next month. I am trying to form a Moms in Touch prayer group for my son's elementary school. I am debating about going back to school by taking some classes at seminary. I also plan to facilitate a Bible study in September. I've been approached about helping teach a small group at church; and about heading up a prayer team for another ministry. And I'm wondering if I should continue to volunteer my counseling at the church in the fall. Oh yeah--and I have a husband:) He is a good man.

Which leads to why I think I had insomnia last night:) My husband and I were arguing before I went to bed. And I kept saying I just wanted to go to bed because I knew I had to get up in a few short hours to go running. But the thing about our exchange is that my husband let me know for the first time how he feels about all my activity. We had been to my son's last baseball game and then to the after-party at a pizza place. But I wanted to stop on the way to get the coach a card and gift. So my son was worried about being late, and then my husband was worried about being late. And then we got there and I was running around helping everyone. I could tell my husband was annoyed with me, which annoyed me. So we got into it before bedtime--and he let me know that he just wanted me to stop worrying about everyone else and sit down with him and our son. He said that there is always something...I'm always worried about a child that's crying or worrying they are being abused, etc; that I'm always trying to help every child. Last night I wondered how this could be a bad thing and I responded by telling him I wish he would focus on the positives about me and be appreciative:)

So today I met with a sweet sister in the Lord--my regional rep. for Moms in Touch. She opened her Bible and read this verse: "Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name." An undivided heart. God had shown me over this summer that my focus needs to be on my children. I want to work on being a mother that doesn't just react to my children but one that actually teaches them something. I know that sounds crazy but there are days that have gone by where I feel that I haven't taught my children anything of value. I know that I need to take time each day to read the Word myself, but also with my children. There are many days that I fail at this.

All the things I want to do are good things--and helping others is good. But when I get overly involved even in good things, my heart is divided. I must pray that God will give me an undivided heart. I must be completely dependent on and devoted to God to save me from myself -to stay true to Him; to fear Him; to do nothing, even good things, without going to Him first. In this season my ministry is to my husband and children. I am reminded of Matthew 6:33 which instructs me to "seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." I know all the other good things I want to do have to be in God's timing. I can't do it all right now, but those desires and opportunities will still be there when the time is right.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Prayer and Fasting

I have been feeling lately that I should fast and pray. I am not in a regular practice of fasting though I know it is one of the disciplines of a Christ follower. I believe that God is bringing me into a new season of prayer. I also see this parallel the pursuit of prayer happening in my church. We are doing Jim Cymbala's DVD series on When God's People Pray, which I have just finished watching myself. It stood out to me that the church is to be a house of prayer. It also reminds me that nothing should be done without first praying about it. I believe Christians and churches have moved away from the practice of bathing issues in prayer. We must pray and we must repent of our individual and our corporate sins as God's people and as a nation.

I have recently been going through a painful time in a close relationship. In the midst of this I had been on my face in prayer crying out to the Lord and in the process asking Christ for more of Himself. He showed me through the painful relationship that in repentance of my sin and in forgiveness of other's sin do I receive more of Christ. I am made more like Him only in my willingness to forgive --as He so willingly did as He suffered immeasurable pain while hanging on that terrible cross for each of our sins. If He could sacrifice Himself for me and for all of us and love us and forgive us, then surely I can forgive. If Brother Yun, Pastor in China, author of The Heavenly Man, who has suffered unbearable torture and persecution for his faith in Christ Jesus can forgive, then so can I.

In talking with the Lord today, I felt God was telling me that it is time to fast and pray. As I continued dialoging with the Lord, He told me to pray that there will be an outpouring of prayer amongst His people and an outpouring of the Holy Spirit amongst us. I am to fast and pray for healing; healing for our nation, our government, our relationships, our churches. He told me this should be the focus of my fast today. He showed me that the wisdom that I ask for will sometimes come moment by moment, bit by bit. Healing and blessing will occur. I will fast and pray for this day. Today's devotional from Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Life email tells how to have a quiet time with the Lord. To begin with Psalm 46:10, "Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." I will be still before you Lord. I know that you alone are God. I will exalt you. You will be exalted among the nations and in the earth. Then in Isaiah 30:15, "This is what the Sovreign Lord, the Holy One of Israel says: 'In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.'"

As I'm reading in Jeremiah 5 today, I see as I saw in Isaiah the book of the prophet, that God has given us guidelines, rules, boundaries, that we have not followed. I read Jeremiah 5:27-31 that speaks of God's people "like cages full of birds, their houses are full of deceit; they have become rich and powerful and have grown fat and sleek. Their evil deeds have no limit; they do not plead the case of the fatherless to win it, they do not defend the rights of the poor. Should I not punish them for this? declares the Lord. Should I not avenge myself on such a nation as this? A horrible and shocking thing has happened in the land: The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end?" It seems God is talking to our nation and to our churches--to Christians who have fattened themselves up but who aren't doing the real work of the cross--pleading the case of the fatherless and defending the rights of the poor. I am encouraged to not just read the Word for knowledge and information to build up myself, but that as Rick Warren says, I must feed on His Word to know Jesus more--to be more like Him. As I look at the story on the MSN homepage today about the obesity of people in our nation--and see which states are the most obese--I see that we have done as the prophet Jeremiah spoke of many years ago--we have grown fat and sleek physically and spiritually as a nation. We are all guilty of this. We must confess our sins of pride, lust, envy, greed. We must repent and turn from our sin. We must be in prayer for healing. First comes confession and repentance. Then comes healing.

Monday, June 7, 2010

My First Musing

Well, I'm finally starting my blog. There have been many times I've wanted to share and have felt that I really need to start this. So welcome to Mama's Musings. I have no idea what I'm doing yet as far as how to start a blog, but plan to have fun on the journey. I will write only when inspired so no one gets bored.